Gold Standard

A new alloy obsession with the debut of NUÑ. By Meredith Fisher
Looking at metal storefront grates usually doesn't inspire one to think of handcrafted, 20-karat gold jewelry. But for jewelry designer Jennifer Nuñez de Villavicencio inspiration comes in many shapes and sizes for her debut label NUÑ.
Fall 2008 marks the first official NUÑ collection, (pronounced Noon-yay, it is short for her lengthy last name, which comes courtesy of her Cuban-Spanish heritage), but Jennifer has been refining her technique for the past 10 years. Created around a concept of shifting layers, almost every piece has some element of movement to it. "As a child I had a worry stone that my father gave me in my pocket all the time," she recalls. "And I was constantly playing with it." Her penchant for fidgeting comes through in the rings of the Norte line (Spanish for north). Built by connecting two separate sheets of small round circles that spin at the whim of the wearer. The dessert flower ring (part of the Oueste line) is designed to be both solid and fluid, again creating movement out of metal.
In addition to her unique approach to design, Jennifer has also forged a relationship with The Gem Palace, the court jewelers of India in Jaipur, who have been making jewelry since 1852 for everyone from royal emperors to some of the top European houses. Working side-by-side with the Kasliwal family, all of her pieces are handmade out of 20-karat gold ("it is more durable and seamless"). Though gold is her only material thus far, Jennifer plans on incorporating gems like spinel, sapphire or apatite in the future. "With the Gem Palace at my disposal, I have the opportunity to design some amazing things," says Jennifer, "I work in spurts of ideas—so you won't see me doing just one thing over and over."
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A new alloy obsession with the debut of NU&Ntilde

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