Sea urchin earrings by Lily Gabriella


The Brazilian designer’s recent Collector’s Editions have seen her channel her love of color into a series of unique and striking designs. With the Sea Urchin earrings, mentee JAR has put her technical expertise at the service of recreating the spiky surface and gentle curves of the seabed creature.

Two mismatched four-karat spinels rest on domes of white gold, encrusted with micro-set diamonds, while rays of inverted garnets and aquamarines reach the edges of the artist’s marine fantasy. “I’m inspired by my surroundings – from trendy architecture and to art galleries, living in London you are spoiled for choice,” she says, “but some of the pieces I have I created last summer were inspired by my travels abroad, the Manta Ray Brooch and Sea Urchin earrings in particular. I like to take something from nature ”. She is not the only one, her Brazilian jewelry designer colleague Silvia Furmanovich recently created an installation paying tribute to the Amazon rainforest, for the Art + Design Salon.

With their chunky oval center stones, the earrings are ladies lunch chic with a bit of Princess Diana, but it’s the beautifully mismatched colors that put them firmly in the here and now. Known for her use of color, the designer was influenced by the way light filters through the ocean to the seabed and the alternation of blues and purples, aquamarines and garnets give them life. From sorting through her mother’s jewelry box to her latest investment coin, Lily Gabriella lifts the veil on her work.

How did you come to jewelry? What was your initial inspiration?

I am more than grateful to have grown up in a house that celebrates design in all its forms. As a child, I was never told that I was not allowed to approach a rare object, a painting or a piece of jewelry, and I certainly did not know their value at the time. I was always encouraged by my mother and grandmother, both passionate about jewelry, to rummage through their jewelry as they dressed to go out. Like any young girl, I was fascinated by the sparkle and colors of gemstones, but had no idea that I was looking at beautiful jewelry that spanned centuries of design, each with fantastic provenance and perfectly iconic of the time period. ‘they represent. My mom and grandma were both born with a strong sense of quality, it’s in their blood.

Tell me a bit about your work process. Do your pieces start out as sketches or are you guided by the materials themselves?

I tend to think of color combinations and shapes first – color is at the forefront of my designs, then I like to play with volume and light to emphasize the beauty of the stone. I have a background in fine arts so I start by sketching ideas around a chosen stone and finally, once a piece is done, I paint it in gouache. I find it to be a therapeutic way to end the production process.

Are you drawn to particular themes or materials in your work?

I am inspired by art and architecture and it shows in my designs. I love to express my love of color, sculptural design and exceptional craftsmanship using distinctive materials and non-standard gemstone shapes, cuts and sizes, which add to the uniqueness of the pieces.

How would you like to see the stylized Sea Urchin earrings?

Jewelry, clothing, and fashion in general are an integral part of how you express yourself and of course, it’s very personal. I want my jewelry to be above all an extension of the personality of the wearer and an emotional investment. What is important to me is how my jewelry makes someone feel. I hope the wearer will put on my jewelry and feel empowered, beautiful and happy. Jewelry is for profit, after all.

What is your most precious piece of jewelry?

I was given a beautiful ring to celebrate a milestone birthday. What was special about this ring was that it spelled my name twice, in diamond cursive, as it wrapped around my finger. My grandmother, whose name I am named, had a dear jeweler friend design it for me. She then wrote a lovely letter saying that just as diamonds last forever, she and I are forever bonded – just as our names are entwined in an endless loop.

What new challenges do you have ahead

At the moment, my focus is on unique and bespoke jewelry. My team will always say that making my jewelry is a challenge, but we learn so much because no piece is the same. I like to design without inhibition so as not to limit my creativity – I’m sure my production team would like to rule me every now and then, but they are a talented and dedicated team who always love to find a way to bring my designs to life. , even technically complicated it can be. Working with titanium for the first time recently has certainly posed some new challenges, but I think looking at our Pink & Blue Swirl earrings (above) was totally worth it.

The interview has been edited for clarity.