Rosana Vargas, jewelry maker

I had met Rosana before, so I wasn’t embarrassed to ask her to wear a lot of rings for her portrait. We would chat while I took her photo. The order in which everything happened perhaps was not the correct one, but the story is very funny.

Jewelry making was something unexpected. I suddenly discovered that I enjoyed it and wanted to learn it. I was a civil engineering major at CUJAE (university) and I dropped out in my third year. By then I had come a ways in jewelry making.

I lead her to a wall with faded paint…it’s the ideal background. I like how the portrait comes out. Now comes the good part: you can take off the rings!

When I decided to concentrate on jewelry making, I didn’t have any appropriate tools. I had to start from zero because I was living alone in Havana and I’m from Holguín.

One of the rings won’t come off. Try a little soap!

I worked as a production assistant for events like Boleros de Oro, Danzón en La Habana and JoJazz. It was work I enjoyed but I didn’t earn enough to live on.

Run some water over your hand…!!

The first jewelry that I made had a “Rafaciana” influence, meaning from Rafart the Cuban jewelry maker. I liked his style, but it wasn’t exactly the line I was looking for. I’d always like geometrical shapes, polished surfaces, approaches to perfect forms. My time at the university really helped me create my style. My first piece of jewelry was bought by a friend of mine who has passed away: it was a rectangle with lots of geometrical figures inside.

The black eye set within the ring looks at me with fright…the finger is swelling.

I remember that Raúl Valladart once told me, “In the world of jewelry making, you’re either a great artist or a great producer!” I try to merge the two: to be a great producer without losing the artistic touch in what I do. Now my husband Tony and I lead the creative process, but I also have a large team (of 20 people) led by my sister. We’re always looking for inspiration in different places. Right now we’re focused on a project that we’ve called Plata y Vino (Silver and Wine), where the jewelry refers to everything that has to do with wine.

Bring the saw! We’re going to cut!

Designing for women is much more comfortable for me, because it’s like designing for myself, although I also do a masculine line. My husband was a customer, and it was form that I designed my first jewelry for men.

The thin blade is placed on the edge of the ring, close to the wet, swollen flesh of the finger. The silver shavings fall to the side, making the skin shine.

I’ve been making jewelry for more than 13 years and we’ve had this business project for more than three years now. We have more than 1,000 jewelry designs and every day something is added to each piece or a new one is created. Just imagine, that happens 365 days of the year. Now calculate the number of designs. There is no mold for my jewelry; each piece is unique, although a design can be repeated because it’s done by hand. The toughest part is making something likable, and to do that, you have to be persistent and surprising and never stop working.

It’s almost broken…A good strong pull of the pliers and the ring cedes; the piece of jewelry is truncated. It will have to be remade.

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