Jewelry Artisan Profile: Chris Davies
The Artist: After studying ancient civilizations and art history at Vassar and graduating from New York’s Parsons School of Design, the jeweler Chris Davies, who is a Los Angeles native, began apprenticing with a goldsmith when he found that his own talent for draping and patternmaking could be applied to jewelry. Davies now creates bespoke statement pieces from hundreds of tiny 18-karat gold beads—a technique known as granulation that was popular in ancient Greece. While Davies’s knowledge of jewelry from past eras provides a robust backdrop for his creative process, his work constantly forges forward and investigates fresh motifs. “My studio is really about invention and innovation and reimagining ways to do things. I take these historical design ideas and really push them technically and aesthetically into a new sphere.”
Technique: “My technique is something I’ve developed studying basketry, cloth weaving, and patternmaking,” Davies explains. “I call it ‘woven granulation’ to communicate that this is a unique process inspired by a couple different traditions.” To create his designs (ranging in price from $2,000 to $30,000), Davies weaves 18-karat gold beads together on steel threads, relying on his efficient four-person team for help. Every piece of jewelry “rolls around the room as each person considers various aspects” and takes two to six months to complete, depending on its complexity. “My hand is on every piece, but it is very much a collaborative effort.”
Jewelry: Davies tends to select unique stones—such as tourmalines, bright-lime demantoids, and green citrines—pairing them with peachy moonstones, orange sapphires, carnelian, and jasper for a dramatic medley of colors. “These are hues you don’t see a lot in jewelry,” Davies says. “I work with a stone because of its color and unique vividness, and I try to choose stones that are less typical, in terms of material combinations.”
New pieces include the striking Delos necklace made with 18-karat white- and yellow-gold granulation, large cuts of hematite, white topaz, and blue-green amethyst (price upon request), and the Amber Room necklace made with 18-karat gold and Baltic amber ($18,500). Details of his upcoming spring collection are limited, but Davies hints that he will take his designs in a “totally new direction,” and depart from his trademark woven gold granulation completely.
Where to Get It: Designs by Chris Davies are available through his Manhattan studio. (chrisdaviesnewyork.com)