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Mark of the maker: hand-beaten silver jewellery
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 1:58:20 PM Australia/Sydney
Hand-hammered silver is a celebration of artistry
With the texture of rippling desert sands or the moonlight dancing across the ocean, the evocative beauty of hand-beaten sterling silver jewellery is enduring and universal.
At the core of its tactile appeal is the imperfect, hand-hewn element. Like nature itself, it is irresistible in the way it plays with light and beckons to be touched.
The technique of hand-beaten silver
Hammered or beaten silver is unique in the modern jewellery world. It’s crafted using techniques and skills almost entirely unchanged for generations – centuries, even.
The process is as simple as the name – and the effect – suggests. Fine, gleaming polished sterling silver is carefully, painstakingly hammered all over by hand to produce an organic texture. Every dint, dent, nick and impression is individually formed to create a one-of-kind pattern.
Because it only requires basic tools (hands, hammer, patience), it’s one of the earliest decorative styles developed by ancient metal craftspeople. Today, it manages to be as prized as ever for precisely these fundamental, handwrought qualities.
NAJO’s own artisan silversmiths in Mexico bring the age-old method to large bangles, petite earrings, spectacular collars, statement cuffs, wide rings and delicate pendants in stunning sterling silver. The shadows cast by each indentation create an optical illusion of movement and colour play. More playfully still, beaten silver covered in luxe yellow gold recalls the nourishing corn so intrinsic to Mexican life.
Hand-hammered silver in history
These beaten silver designs pay homage to the spirit of Mexico and the silversmiths working in the Grand Workshops of Taxco in the 1930s and 1940s. One such workshop was Los Castillo, who produced this beautiful hand-hammered jug with its classic Mexican style.
While it may have ancient roots, the distinctive rustic look of hammered silver only returned to popularity in the US around the end of the 19th century. In reaction to the prevailing fashion for production-line technologies, Rhode Island-based silver manufacturer Gorham developed an exclusive collection of handwrought silver under its boutique label "Martelé" – the French word for "hammered". Martelé silver pieces were exquisite creations that embraced artisanship, proudly showing the hammer marks of the maker instead of the buffed perfection of a machine-quality finish.
It's a sentiment as relevant as ever today, where evidence of the maker is a powerful reminder of an old-school beauty that’s so rare that it’s become new all over again. It sure does give fresh meaning to the idea of a 'maker's mark'.