The Italian jewellery designer spoke to Butterboom ahead of her trunk show at Lane Crawford.
Italian jewellery designer Maria Grazia Baldan was in town to celebrate her first standalone trunk show at Lane Crawford. Butterboom met up with her to discuss her transition from making jewellery with pasta to using a combination of gold and precious antique materials and everything else along the way.
Maria’s journey began in Milan; always a woman to follow her heart, she first moved there for love. The romance burnt out but Maria’s path was set; it was in Milan that she founded her jewellery business. Despite not having studied jewellery design, she told me that her passion came from within and had begun as a young girl, making jewellery from pasta and selling it to her friends in exchange for sweets.
She has come a long way from pasta now, having spent the past 35 years exploring China, India, Tibet and beyond to find beautiful, unique antique pieces to use in her creations. It was love again that brought her first to China in 1976 and a fascination with the stories and history of the Orient, and it is this fascination that is the focus of her jewellery.
Each piece of Maria’s jewellery is one-of-a-kind because each piece is constructed around an original antique; elements from a traditional Tibetan headdress, ancient Chinese coins and various other trinkets, all of them thousands of years old. Once Maria has collected these items, she takes them back to her native Italy where highly-skilled, old school goldsmiths transform them into statement jewellery pieces. Maria most commonly uses 24 carat gold because of the way that it complements the antique materials of jade, jadeite, bronze and coral, but occasionally she will add yellow diamonds or precious stones removed from vintage jewellery to her pieces.
The most important thing is that each element has a history, which gives every piece of Maria’s jewellery its own story. She told me that she loved selling her creations to Chinese people because it meant that they were coming home and the story was continuing.
Finally I asked her who wears her jewellery and she answered, ‘women who appreciate individuality, uniqueness and who are not concerned with wearing something because it looks flashy or expensive’. And it’s true, what draws you to the jewellery is the design and originality; each piece is an understated statement that becomes even more beautiful after you learn its history.
- From March 27 to April 7 at Lane Crawford, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2118 3388
- From April 11 to April 22 at Lane Crawford, 3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. Tel: 2118 3428