LIMA, Peru — When I first went to Peru, like many, I mainly associated this country with typical touristic sites such as Machu Picchu and the ever present llamas and colourful wool jumpers. When I arrived, I was not particularly surprised by the cloud of tourists wandering around colourful towns. While living there though, I began to divert from popular touristic spots and started discovering a different side of this intriguing culture. That is when I came across another Peruvian tradition which has increasingly been making a trend internationally – Peruvian jewellery craftsmanship.
Peruvian artisans and their stunning, eye-delighting creations are increasingly being recognised and appreciated by adornment lovers from the region as well as others across the globe, helping Peru to flourish and leave a growing impact on international fashion tendencies.
Peru is in fashion these days
Peruvian patterns, colours and forms have been an inspiration to many big names such as Barbara Bui, Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren, to mention a few. Peru, however, has increasingly been producing some big names itself. From the iconic fashion photographer, Mario Testino, to smaller brands such as Ilaria and Out of Peru, consolidating the growing Peruvian influence in the international arena.
The fashion industry has been enriched by the work of Peruvian designers such as Meche Correa and Jessica Butrich who presented their collection in Madrid Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week as well as Sergio Dávila and Lorena Cabrera, who exhibited in New York Fashion Week in February this year. The designs of Noe Bernacelli, José Zafra, and Jercy Gutierrez of Evolét in turn were admired at the Vancouver Fashion Week, which took place between 18th and 24th of March, 2014.
And yet, there has been another discovery and new trend to come, which is that of Peruvian jewellery. It can be said that the one to have paved the way for this trend is Evelyn Brooks, recognised for her work on many occasions, including the Fashion Chamber Choice Award from 2010. Evelyn Brooks comments:
“We are very creative and have a lot to offer. With Peru being the second largest producer of silver in the world and a home country to many talented jewellery craftsmen and designers, there are numbered opportunities to become more recognised for our work.”
The history of silver craftsmanship in this region goes back a long way and the tradition in making individual pieces using unique techniques has been passed on through generations. The peculiarity of those pieces is that they hold a specific meaning, representing Peruvian culture and dedication for this profession.
Jewellery craftmanship on the rise
Thanks to the popularity of jewellery designers such as Brooks, Peruvian jewellery has become increasingly appreciated by Peruvians themselves as well as the international community. As Brooks states:
“Our designs are competitive and unique and people increasingly appreciate our work and the story behind the pieces. It is fantastic when I present my jewellery and I see many who go nuts over my lines.”
According to Peruvian news magazine La Republica, production of Peruvian jewellery destined for the national market grew 15 percent last year, due to the increased purchasing power of the population and their choice of the unique designs handmade by highly skilled Peruvian artisans over mass produced foreign items.
The Journal El Comercio reports estimated growth of 15 percent in exports of Peruvian jewellery for 2014. Some of it is represented by an increasing number of Peruvian silver jewellery brands such as Tuanis and Ilaria mostly selling to the US market and Runna and Out of Peru serving the European and British markets.
Jewellery with a meaning
Evelyn Brooks is an American-Peruvian jewellery designer whose collections featured in many publications including March 2014 issue of Vogue UK. Her work is partly influenced by her parents; her father began working as a jeweller when he was fourteen, and her mother owed a fashion speciality store. Evelyn Brooks has been working as a jewellery designer since 2004 and her work has since been exhibited in museums in New York City such as the Museum of Arts and Design and El Museo. As the talented designer proudly states:
My inspiration is my Peruvian heritage and my pieces are a combination of tradition and culture from Peru and modern design techniques.
She uses sterling silver as well as natural gemstones, beads and seeds for her creations. One of her collections called Nazca is inspired by Peruvian pre-Incan culture for which typical characteristics are spiral motifs, symbolising a belief that every action will not be lost in nature but produce an effect somewhere else. Collection Moschik in turn is inspired by another pre-Incan culture, which mastered metalwork, and is distinguished by abstract patterns and geometric figures.
A glance into the future
“I wish to inspire other women that make jewellery. Thanks to the organisations I support, many women have been given training and a chance to present their work abroad. I would like it to continue as well as expand on promoting Peruvian work with other organisations such as La Marca Peru.”
Evelyn Brooks continues her work promoting Peruvian designs as well as culture and inspiring other Peruvians to do the same. Her co-operation with organisations such as Empowered Women International aids in the progress of skilled artisans, which leads to having their work exhibited in countries such as the US where it can be enjoyed by others. Together with her compatriots, Brooks does a great job of reaching the masses to allow them to explore and enjoy the vibrant and rich Peruvian culture, which has so much to offer.