It is rather chilly in Peru today, but we will not let that stop us from taking a trip along the hypnotic blue waters of Lake Titicaca; a journey that uncovers both the country's legends and natural wonders. Peru is also home to featured jewelry designers Rocio Melendez Araujo.
According to the US Geological Survey, the country of Peru ranks first in silver mining and consequently is becoming a prominent force in the silver jewelry industry.
Through websites like Novica and Foreign Jewelry Accents, the work of such Peru-based artists as Claudia Lira and Maricarmen Morales Macedo is being exposed to a wider, international consumer base.
Like her colleagues, Araujo's proclivity for highly creative acts of self-expression eventually led to a career in jewelry making. In 2002, at age 28, after Araujo's creative yearnings made their way into her profession of business administrator, she knew she needed to a better outlet.
"I took some courses in jewelry-making and began to design my own jewelry. I love seeing how a piece begins to take shape through the different stages of the crafting process," she says. "To me, designing is the most natural and spontaneous way to express what one holds inside a moment of inspiration."
With only a small sampling of items featured on her Novica page, Araujo certainly packs a wallop of beautiful jewelry that is simplistic in its overall form; however, she implements a daring and rather unique design approach.
I love the intricate, cutout detailing of her Bubble Dance Pendant; how she contrasts high polish silver with "burnt" or oxidized silver, or using gemstones like turquoise, amethyst, and pink rhodonite to offset the bright metal.
Her ring designs are showstoppers, with their large and, in some cases, multiple stone settings like her Planets Cocktail Ring featuring a large, flat rhodonite gemstone. In other instances, such as her sterling silver Constellation Ring, no gemstones are used at all.
The jewelry is a testament to her skill as a silversmith, her lucid imagination, and an endearing desire to create items the wearer will cherish. "An object, a sound, the touch of something special awakens my senses, and it gets poured into the design of a jewelry piece," she explains.
"Jewelry must have a good fit with a woman's personality and that in some way makes her feel it was created just for her, and is part of her essence. My hope is that women who wear my designs will feel this way."
Photo 1 (top right): Mystical Treasure Amethyst Cocktails Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Conical Lights Chandelier Earrings