In an interview with Graziela Kaufman herself, we set out to understand what inspires her and who has been her biggest influences to become such a respected name in the fine jewelry industry.
Q: How did you become so passionate for designing handmade jewelry?
Growing up in Brazil, I used to visit my Grandfather’s atelier and spend countless hours just watching him work his exquisite designs, turning these brilliant stones into wearable, magical pieces! Since Vovo (Portuguese for Grandfather) worked exclusively by hand, it really taught me a deep appreciation for superior craftsmanship. You just can’t get that same look and feel from machine-made jewelry. This is one of the reasons why all of our jewelry is hand-finished . . . And why it looks so well-heeled!
Q: I would imagine this is quite different than how a lot of jewelry gets made today?
It is vastly different! In a world of efficiencies and mass production, even of commodities such as fine jewelry, dies and molds get made and sold to designers of jewelry. Consequently, the only true design component becomes a function of arranging colors and stone combinations and obviously not in the actual design of the piece. While this certainly has its place in the industry, it is devoid of artistry and soul. For me, this is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job! And while we certainly use molds as well, they are designed by me with the customer’s comfort and lifestyle in mind. I do see a lot of value in this big distinction and I’m pretty sure my customers appreciate it as well.
Q: How did you craft such a talent for spotting and working with the best quality stones?
I would say it started in my teenage years. I had the opportunity to actually go out to the mining towns in my native country Brazil and others, to source my own stones. It was then that I began developing relationships with the miners who eventually “got” my design aesthetic and stone requirements. It was at this time that I began designing around the stones. In a sort of magical way, they direct the color combinations and the general shapes of my designs. I later went on to obtain graduate degrees in Diamonds, Colored Gemstones and Jewelry Making from the renowned Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which really solidified my knowledge and grading of stones.
Q: Who are your biggest influences and what inspires you to succeed in this business?
As I said before, my Vovo influenced me greatly but so have my parents. They are both very savvy and successful entrepreneurs who made their dreams a reality. Watching and learning from them has been an education in and of itself! Our beautiful surroundings growing up and the varied cultural experiences I’ve been fortunate to have throughout my life are what I continue to draw from for inspiration. But again, the actual gems are my guiding light when it comes down to designing my collections. It is tried and true!
Q: What is your favorite part of being a jeweler?
My favorite part of being a jewelry designer is seeing the transformation that occurs when a client wears one of my pieces. Their energy and beauty infuse my pieces with life! It is pure joy! Also knowing that these treasures will one day be passed down to somebody’s daughter, granddaughter or niece gives me the greatest pleasure.