Sara, the designer behind Amali Jewelry, is a lovely friend of mine. Her jewels are unique and so stunning. Read an interview with her below.
How and when did you get started creating jewelry?
While studying abroad in Chile, I became good friends with an artist who was selling his handmade jewelry on the street outside of the University. He made the most amazing pieces out of animal bones, teeth, seeds, and other natural elements he collected in the mountains. He taught me the basics of macramé and ignited my passion for jewelry.
When I finished my semester, I left to go backpacking trip through South America. To keep our expenses low, my friend and I made jewelry to trade for a bus ride or a night in a hotel. To this day, the most amazing meal I’ve ever had was on a beach in Northern Chile. We caught our own fish and traded a necklace for a handful of tomatoes and onions. We cut open an old tin can we found in the dunes and spread it open to use as a pan to sauté our catch. The fish was gritty with sand but I was happy as a peach knowing that all I had to do was make something with my own hands and I could feed myself.
After college, I worked as a community organizer with every intention of becoming a lawyer. When I wasn’t working, I was making jewelry. One day my boss sent me a quote that struck a cord with me: “Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I quit the next day. It gave me permission to choose a different kind of life than I had imagined possible for myself.
Sometimes I sit myself down and sketch for a few days with the intention of designing a new collection. I will have a particular color scheme in mind, and then I go in search of the perfect stones. Other times, it happens more organically. I will pour my hoard of stones out on the table and let them inspire me to design around them.
I am inspired to make pieces for the women who see jewelry no differently than the art she displays on the walls of her home. She appreciates beautiful things, but she’s not hungry for symbols of status and wealth.
When not designing, what do you like to do?
I grew up surrounded by cows and cornfields, so I try to get out of the city as much as I can to keep sane. I love to go on a long hike, or float down a river, but the company I keep is vastly more important than the activity at hand so as long as I’m with close friends and family, I can enjoy just about anything. I’m a big reader, and I love a good yoga class. Oh, and eating. This is my favorite activity.
Who are your favorite artists / designers?
I am really inspired by artists who see beauty where most people would never find it or even think to look. I love the work of El Anatsui. He makes large textured, woven installations with striking color combinations. Only when you get really close do you realize that he has woven together thousands of old bottle caps.