efore designing jewellery, Giselle Effting was a model. She started her career at the age of 15 and soon caught the eye of fashion designers and jewellers. For ten years she travelled the world, living wherever her contracts took her – until she discovered her true vocation: jewellery. The young woman then followed the classic curriculum of those who want to enter the profession fully, studying at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Immediately after graduating, she went to work with a friend, a gem trader, but she quickly realised that her interest lay not in sales, but creation.
- Endo earhook and Trapez handpiece made in titanium set with diamonds
In 2014 she was hired by a major jeweller in Hong Kong, King Fook Holdings, specialising in pure gold jewellery and gemstones. “My bosses were genuine mentors: first Howard Yeung, who hired me, and then his brother Kin Yeung, who taught me Chinese philosophy,” she points out. “They hired me to develop a collection of pure gold jewellery, inspired by Chinese culture but seen through my foreign eye.” Because she wanted to learn how to create a piece of jewellery from scratch, Giselle Effting enrolled at the Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence, where she obtained a degree in fine arts with a specialisation in jewellery. After that, she could let her imagination run wild.
Europa Star: How did you come to create your own jewellery brand in 2019?
Giselle Effting: When I finished my studies in Italy I was 33 years old, divorced and had no children: I took the risk of starting my own business. I had so many ideas! I wanted to stay in Florence, so I found a small workshop, bought some tools and started to draw, trying different things. I didn’t want to target a specific clientele; I just wanted to express myself as an artist and create jewellery that I had never seen before. One of my teachers advised me to buy some brass and make shapes until something clicked. One day I found myself with fifty pieces on my desk and discovered that I had a concept: everything I had made was an exploration of the body’s shape. It was an interesting thread to pull, because I wanted to create universal jewellery that would fit everyone.
“One day I found myself with fifty pieces on my desk and discovered that I had a concept: everything I had made was an exploration of the body’s shape.”
Your creations embellish the human form in different ways: masks, head or skull jewellery, pieces that cover the ears. Where did this come from?
The body is important to me: I was a model for ten years, I took part in jewellery shows, I worked in about twenty different countries where I spent several months, which forced me to immerse myself quickly in various cultures. This opened my mind to diversity, to a universal language. The body is a universal language. I wanted to explore its lesser-known parts, the back of the head, for example.
What does a piece of jewellery symbolise for you?
It expresses the personality of the person who wears it. The customers who choose my jewellery are not show-offs. If you wear my pieces, it’s probably because you’re self-confident, because you believe in your own beauty and don’t need shiny jewellery to be noticed. My jewellery brings you back to yourself.
Historically speaking, in the aristocracy, men would adorn themselves as much as women. Your jewellery is unisex. Is this a way of returning to a historical use of jewellery, or rather of embracing the contemporary genderless trend?
I didn’t think about any of that. I just wanted to create jewellery that could be part of everyone’s personal style, like a tattoo. I use two colours for this: white titanium and black titanium. I chose them because they are classic shades that go with everything and women and men can wear them easily.
“I use two colours: white titanium and black titanium. I chose them because they are classic shades that go with everything and women and men can wear them easily.”
You are inventing new wearable items, such as jewellery that covers the hand. There are some Indian-inspired pieces that do this, but yours are new. How did you come up with this idea?
In the beginning I wanted to create a ring. And little by little it became bigger and bigger, until it took over the whole hand. Designing is an evolutionary process, and as I make all the prototypes, I can make them evolve. I first create a shape in silver or brass, scan it and refine it on my computer. Once I’m happy with the shape, I use a 3D printer to get a prototype of the part in resin, I revise the shape, then I have it printed in titanium. The result is very granular, I have to polish it. Then I create the colour, and when the piece is finished, I send it to the workshops. Because of this creation process, this hand-made jewellery has to be made to measure.
For a long time, head jewellery was considered old-fashioned, but you’re dusting it off. Did you have a specific demand for these new kinds of tiaras?
I did it for myself first. My dream, when I started my studies, was to become a crown designer, and in the end that’s what I did. For my diploma at the Alchimia school, I created a series of head jewellery. Then I started getting requests from Middle Eastern clients, one of whom, for instance, wanted to pair my jewellery with her hijab.
“In the beginning I wanted to create a ring. And little by little it became bigger and bigger, until it took over the whole hand.”
The Pari HairPiece looks like something out of a science fiction film. What was your inspiration?
This piece was inspired by Chinese hair clips. I started from there and evolved the idea, filling the space and the void with organic shapes.
You were born in Brazil and you live in Italy: is it true to say that your jewellery has an Italian soul?
Italy is an open-air museum and my jewellery comes from Mars: we’re on different sides of the galaxy! (laughs) The fashion scene here is interesting: people express themselves through their clothes, without question. You meet so many people with style! This country is the best place in the world to be exposed to art, design, fashion and creative people in general. Italy inspires me and allows me to be understood: it offers me a wonderful field for expression.
“Once I’m happy with a shape, I use a 3D printer to get a prototype of the part in resin, I revise the shape, then I have it printed in titanium.”