At Galerías Metallo, jewelry-making apprentices have unveiled the fruits of a year or two of pliers-wielding, waxcasting, stone-embedding study at a gold and silver workshop connected to the gallery on San José’s east side.
The workshop and academy, Studio Metallo, opened in September 2004. Several instructors teach Italian-style jewelry design and construction to emerging artists of various levels (TT, July 1, 2005).
Galerías Metallo came to life at a grand inauguration Dec. 1 with live music and 200 visitors, said its manager, Ruth Pineda.
The public can now view or buy from the gallery’s 200 pieces, which are the original designs of half a dozen students and the workshop’s founding artist, Damaris Ortuño.
There are also several made-in-Costa Rica paintings and sculptures amid the glass cases in the small, well-lit room.
Why buy a $40 ring at the mall when you can get a handcrafted one for less than twice that? Pineda asked.
Most of the jewelry is elaborate, even fancy, crafted with .925- and .950-grade silver, 14- to 18-karat white and yellow gold, a long list of stones and, in a few pieces, bone. Prices range from $45 to $2,800.
Pineda unlocked a $110 ring cast in several grades of silver. Explaining how pure silver (1.000 grade) is more malleable than the less-expensive alloys, she bent with her finger the tiny silver wires that shot from the ring like the pistil of a flower.
Metallo artists are regional pioneers in this type of handcrafted jewelry, Pineda said. But the works are to be worn, not collected, she stressed. Buyers are guaranteed a unique piece, as apprentices turn out a maximum of 20 pieces per design.
Galerías Metallo is in Barrio Escalante, six-and-a-half blocks east of the Santa Teresita Church. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 225-1570 or visit www.studiometallo.com.