Jewelry as a carrier of messages, a means of communication or a symbol: in the jewelry pieces of the Romanian JULS brand, thoughts are transformed into wearable objects. We talked to jewelry designer Teodora Rus, the founder of the brand. Interview!
Tell us a bit about the beginning: how did you become a jewelry designer? Have you always been drawn to this line of work?
This journey started back in 2015, when I was playing with polymer clay, trying to make some realistic cupcake-shaped earrings for myself. As I was playing with this material, its beautiful translucid color inspired me to make some necklaces as well. I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed it and I started researching futuristic accessories. This opened up a whole new universe to me: the world of art jewelry. I strived to learn as much of this profession as I could, and then I took a course at Assamblage School of Contemporary Jewelry in Romania, where I found a wonderful community of jewelers: that’s where I learned to work with metal and where I acquired the basics of art jewelry. I never thought I could be so passionate about something!
In addition to the course, I studied product design at the National University of Arts in Bucharest: I think this helped in the technical part and the design processes, but I struggled a lot until I could finally make high-quality and conceptual yet wearable art jewelry. This was a completely new thing for me.
What fascinates you the most in jewelry design?
The best things are creation, design and research: when you imagine what your objects should be like. It simply amazes me to hold something that first only existed in my imagination and then I created it with my own bare hands. I think many people working in other fields might feel the same way.
As you already mentioned it, your jewelry pieces are on the verge between wearable items and works of art. In addition, you also place a great emphasis on minimalist, simple and clean shapes, so you often use various geometric forms. What characterizes your attitude and philosophy as a designer?
After high school, I studied architecture and design—I was less fascinated by other forms of art such as drawing, painting or sculpture. I think I was rather training my mind to design in clean, calculated lines that have a purpose. There is more freedom in the field of jewelry design, so I found a way to combine object design and contemporary art. I was drawn to the idea of conveying a concept, thought or message through art, which can be worn by the audience.
My jewelry’s clean, geometric aesthetic is my main way of expression. I don’t want to say that this is my trademark because it would be too early to do that: I think one has to experiment with the various techniques and approaches as much as possible until we find our own style. My brand is ultimately about statement jewelry and searching for new methods.
What’s really exciting about your jewelry pieces is that they always have special, odd or out-of-place elements, or a surprising feature in them—including, for example, your simple, geometric pendants hanging on a transparent chain. What are your main sources of inspiration: what is your design process like?
My goal is originality with every piece and collection, which is quite hard to achieve nowadays, but I always strive to add something new and unconventional to them. I can be inspired by a lot of things: by textures or a certain approach, for instance. In addition to the clean aesthetic of my jewelry, I always strive to come up with a novel, innovative attach system, which makes the jewelry pieces extraordinary while worn: for example, if I want to make a ring seem as if it was floating, I look for methods and techniques that allow me to do that—this attitude characterizes my necklaces fitted with an invisible thread, too, which you’ve also mentioned.
In addition to the wearable art jewelry, your palette features explicitly conceptual pieces, too.
Some of my conceptual artworks or jewelry items are made just for fun, but there are also very unique pieces that are immensely valuable to me—some of these will soon be available on my website.
One of the collections that are very close to my heart is the one entitled Fallen. I created this collection for the ROOM 40 jewelry exhibition organized in the framework of the Romanian Design Week: its concept is about World War I. The collection reflects on the memory of the fallen soldiers as well as their stories and names: these can integrate or disintegrate just like liquid metal in our minds, by our choice. I tried to recreate the liquid metal I pictured in my mind in some white ceramic silhouettes, captured in falling positions. The collection is made up of brooches, necklaces and a ring. I loved the process of making them and the end result very much: I think of them as my favorite pieces. I also had the opportunity to exhibit them at Joya Contemporary Jewelry Fair in Barcelona, and in New York, thanks to Assamblage National Jewelry Association.
You have created several characteristic collections and stand alone jewelry pieces: what other works of yours would you highlight?
The Fallen collection had a great impact on me emotionally. My additional favorites are the pieces entitled The Unnecessary Mattifying brush and Brow brush. I made them while thinking about the beauty tools used a hundred years ago, and the fact that they were precious looking but not very ergonomic or practical. So I created these “vintage” beauty tools that can be worn on your finger and can fit in a tiny purse but are not really useful. This inspired me to create more nail jewelry so I made an entire collection.
What are your plans for the future, what novelties can we expect?
Currently I am working on a few changes. As these times are a bit challenging, things go slower, but I nevertheless managed to create two new collections, which are very different from what I usually do. I also have a collaboration with talented graphic designer Irina Mihut: we are working on a series of illustrations and stickers that we will launch soon. A video has also been launched recently about my brand under the title JULS – The Movie, the concept and production of which was made by the team of Reverb.44. I hope the situation of fairs and exhibitions will change for the better in the fall—I miss this experience very much.