The creative process is all about the raw materials for this New York-based company

© Written by Rachael Taylor for BaselWorld Brand Book 

A Cicada Jewelry creation does not start its journey as a sketch or the whim of a designer; the creative process always starts with the raw materials.

“The way a gem shimmers might set off a design that is based on that feature, or a unique way that a natural pearl is shaped will spark an idea that the piece of jewellery is based on,” affirms co-founder Arsavir Zarokyan. “We are inspired by the qualities of our materials, and each piece is therefore unique and playful in their own way.”

Such playfulness has led to gold necklaces depicting a chick next to a freshly cracked egg atop a nest made of opal, or a butterfly brooch with beautiful wings made of single slices of exotic gemstones.

The company was founded in New York in 1985 and specialises in traditional jewellery making skills that offer a level of uniqueness that Zarokyan believes you just cannot get from jewellery produced by machines. “One is a piece of art because of the human touch, while the other becomes a commodity from mass production,” he says.

Fellow co-founder Aras Tirtirian says that while the company has introduced newer tools to its workshop over the years, these additions have not changed the essence of its working methods. “While our stone setters and model makers still use the same techniques, their work has gotten more precise due to the use of newer tools such as microscopes and laser welders,” he explains. “While we still use hand painted designs, additional changes and variations to them have gotten easier to make from the use of various computer aids. Over time certain tools become so indispensible to craftsmen that they become part of their by-hand toolset, such as the shift to a power drill from a hand cranked drill. We adapt and use any tools available to us, but they are used by craftsmen that have been making jewellery for decades.”

All of Cicada’s jewels are made in New York, something the founders say is indispensable to their process. “We are involved in every step of the crafting process,” says Tirtirian. “The designs evolve while being made and there is constant interaction between design and crafting that would be impossible to replicate if we did not manufacture in house. Additionally, our clients like to see the design come to life over time.”

While customers may be allowed in the workshop, Cicada believes it does not have to hammer home the beauty of the traditional skills to be found there. Zarokyan surmises: “When someone sees one of our pieces, they can tell it is just different. They might not be able to formulate this difference into words, but they can tell it was made differently. The subtle details add up in a way that provides a unique essence to the jewellery.”

Read the original interview in the BaselWorld Brand Book 2014 here (pages 126-127).

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