#08 WESH x Jewelry designer Rafael Indiana

by Amelia Roman

Welcome to the pearly gates of Rafael Indiana's jewelry utopia and discover the story behind the designer and his hand made and unique creations.

WESH: Your designs look like out of a dream to me. What inspires them? Are there specific themes, materials, or experiences that influence your work?

Rafael Indiana: Fundamentally they are influenced by ancient mythology. Hellenistic Greece, Byzantine Constantinople, the Roman Empire and even ancient Persia. They are all versions of one another. I love to visit museums for inspiration. Essentially a piece of jewelry should look like a dream. A heavenly combination of gemstones and buttery gold that sparks a feeling of fantasy. 

WESH: Can you share insights into the craftsmanship and materials used in your jewelry pieces? Are there any unique techniques or sustainable practices you employ?

Rafael Indiana: We use natural gemstones. Aquamarine, emerald, tanzanite, tourmaline.. the list goes on. These stones are sourced from trusted gem dealers from all around the world. Each one comes from a different mine across the globe. Mozambique for rubies, emeralds from Colombia or Zambia, and sapphires from Sri Lanka.. are all conflict-free mines as they come with HDR certification. We work with master artisans who use traditional handmade techniques. The grand bazaar in Istanbul holds some of the few last master artisans left in the world. One of the crafts that we take the most pride in is the process of intaglio engraving. This is an ancient skill that no longer is practiced by many. There are very few intaglio artists left in the world. It is the art of engraving a symbol or mythological depiction onto a stone. It takes meticulous hours of careful carving to create a single intaglio. The process of intaglio has not changed since the times of ancient Greece. 

WESH: Do you offer customization options for your customers? If so, how can individuals personalize their jewelry choices?

Rafael Indiana: Of course. We do a lot of custom orders that are tailored to the client’s specific taste. Sometimes wedding bands, sometimes engagement rings, sometimes zodiac-related pieces. Each zodiac sign has it’s own birth stone, so if for example our client is born in August and is therefore a Leo. We would engrave a lion on a peridote gem. There are infinite possibilities. As long you can imagine it, we can make it happen. 

WESH: How do you balance creating trendy pieces with timeless classics in your collection? What do you think are the current jewelry trends to watch?

Rafael Indiana: I don’t really give in to trends. I never have whether it be jewelry related or not. I create trends and others tend to mimic them. I would say crosses are becoming quite popular these days, we specialize in crosses. I’ve always loved the shape of a cross, I grew up christian and it was always part of our culture in Germany hence the exposure to it. Whether it's a renaissance cross encrusted in gemstones or a byzantine-inspired rustic gold one, crosses are my favorite piece of jewelry. 

WESH: Could you share any memorable stories or testimonials from customers who have purchased your jewelry? How does it feel to be part of their special moments?

Rafael Indiana: That’s an interesting question. I've met so many wonderful people along this journey. It feels strange to know that hundreds of people I’ve never met are carrying my designs. It’s truly an honor for me to create a piece of jewelry for someone. To make someone happy and feel special is something wonderful. Because jewelry makes one feel special, better yet, it makes them feel royal. Not in a pretentious way, it’s a very personal thing if you ask me. We are our own kings and queens, and if we can feel closer to that feeling, I’ve done my job. 

WESH: How did the Rafael Cetin + WESH NYC story begin? 

Rafael Indiana: A good friend of mine, Eda, introduced us to Nessy. It’s been a fun journey so far. With WESH's groovy events and the fantastic location in NoLita it’s truly been a pleasure. We have a lot more to do together so stay tuned!

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