16 June 2021

Beatriz Palacios at her atelier in Madrid  
Photographed over Zoom


 An interview with Beatriz Palacios, a Madrid-based jewelry designer whose cerebral collections 
intertwine surrealism with historical references. 

Can you tell us about your background?

I grew up in Madrid with my parents and two sisters. Occasionally, my grandma would live with us. There has always beena strong feminine presence at home. Feminism is a foundation I grew up with. I find that women possess strength and power in any environment.

Between the ages of 6 to 18, I went to a Catholic all-girls school run by nuns. So again, my life continued to be one surrounded by women. I then started my degree in mining engineering. It was a bit of a shock because the field was dominated by men. Only 10% of the students were girls.

What inspired your shift from mining engineering to jewelry design?

I chose engineering because math and physics came natural to me but I've loved fashion ever since I was little. I wanted to stand apart from others by accessorizing with jewelry I made using found objects; disassembling and assembling to create new pieces. Designing jewelry, at that time, was more of a hobby. My parents were very conservative so making a living out of something artistic wasn't considered practical.

After I finished my degree, I moved to Dublin and befriended artists, designers and architects who were making a living from their creative work. The fact that this was even possible was a complete eye-opener. When I returned to Madrid, I worked as an engineer, but in the evenings I studied with a jeweler to learn the technical skills. I continued working as an engineer for the following 8 years until I was able to make a living solely from my jewelry work.

I've always found your work to be imaginative, innovative, and technical. Certain pieces like the ring braces have 'joints' allowing for full extension while other pieces are transformable; necklace parts can be disconnected and rejoined in various ways (and even worn as earrings). One can see the passion for the delicate technical elements that underlie your work.

This technicality comes partly from my background in mining engineering but also from my apprenticeship with Tomás, a master jeweler. He specializes in jewelry from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. At that time, a piece of jewelry could be converted into several other pieces. A tiara, for example, could be disassembled and worn as a bracelet, a necklace, and earrings. Tomas taught me the jewelry styles and technical skills from this time period and it made sense with my vision of what jewelry is.

You've recently added to your body of work a new line, SUSTAINED, which is composed entirely of vintage and recycled materials. Most notable are the sculptural, biomorphic ear cuffs made from vintage lucite and recycled silver. Could you speak to the inspiration behind this line?

Creating sustainably is how I initially began designing; I relied solely on one-of-a-kind vintage objects I collected from second hand markets. SUSTAINED is an extension of this and incorporates vintage materials I've collected over the years as well as recycled silver remnants produced from my workshop. By doing so, I'm able to reinterpret existing materials and create jewelry in a manner that is respectful to the environment.

Can you describe your atelier in Madrid and the history behind it?

My atelier is located within Casa Palazuelo, a historical landmark building built in 1919. It was one of the first commercial buildings in Madrid. I was shown an atelier in the attic and it just felt right. Opening the door and coming to the atelier everyday is a luxury. I could have never dreamed of a better place.

Can you share a favorite poem or an excerpt (writing or lyrics) that inspires you in these times?

Few weeks ago, a dear, dear, dear friend who knew I was having a rough time, shared with me this quote by Goethe and lifted my spirit:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

A dream?

I started this project from zero without knowledge about jewelry or running a business. My dream is to continue creating and making a living being a jewelry designer.

How do you define beauty?

A nice lunch, a good drink, conversation, a good book; something that makes you feel good. 

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