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Who wouldn’t be inspired by the sunny skies, colourful architecture and vibrant music and dance of Buenos Aires? Fernanda Sibilia’s designs are colourful, painterly works of art; as passionate as the tango. So it’s no surprise to discover that that intense dance was invented in the very Abasto neighbourhood in which Sibilia’s studios are found. Her trademark patina work – she encourages metals to oxidise and produce one-off hues and patterns – bold silhouettes and mouthwatering colours make for truly individual, statement pieces.
These design skills have been honed over twenty years in the industry. Fernanda was studying jewellery making in her native Buenos Aires when she was approached by a global brand to make over one million necklaces for a promotion they were running. She designed and had them made in just a few months. And so, in 1996, Sibilia Jewellery was born.
Fernanda now works with a team of over ten artisans and her work is sold worldwide. In 2015 she was asked to create a modern jewellery collection based on the Pre-Columbian galleries of The Met Museum of Art in New York. The resulting, stunning, work fused ancient techniques with modern designs.
The brand is a true reflection of Fernanda’s life and her home city “Inspiration is easy in Buenos Aires” she says, “the sky is blue almost every day, and the trees have a different colour each season. My favourite month is November when they bloom; jacaranda, palo borracho and tipas – one after the other”. The city’s buildings are decorated Fileteado Porteno style –which combines stylised lines and lettering with flowery climbing plants – which has been part of the country’s culture since the beginning of the 20th century.
The tango precedes even that – it was invented in the 1880s – and Fernanda says that the twisting and layering of metals in her work reflect the sinuous forms of the dance.
Fernanda cuts brass by hand, then uses a hammer to bow sheets of metal into graceful threads and gleaming round shapes. She electroplates some pieces with gold and copper, and allows the oxidation process to leave a unique patina varying in colours. She says she “feels like an alchemist” when working with different metals, “mixing the green of copper, the yellowish brown of brass, and the iridescences of oxides”. She is constantly experimenting with new techniques, creating rainbows of bold new colour combinations. It’s this dedication to technique, combined with an eye for the dramatic that makes her pieces more art than jewellery.