[Feb 2012 - Big Island, Hawaii]
On our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the highlights was seeing Kilauea and Mauna Loa, the most active volcano in the world and the biggest volcano in the world. They said we were unlucky to be a couple weeks too late to see any active lava flows, but lucky the levels of sulphur dioxide gas was not high enough to pose any health hazards! Luck aside, we were thrilled to see the fragile volcanic samples displayed at our first stop, the Jaggar Museum at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The resemblance of the meteor-like volcanic ‘spatter’ to our ‘Iwa Rock‘ (that we cast in silver from a little granite rock) is superb!
We couldn’t wait to drive out to see if we could find some of our own samples down Chain of Craters Road, a 23 mile winding paved road through the East Rift and coastal area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This road descends 3,700 feet in 20 miles and ends where a lava flow crossed the road in 2003. It was simply spectacular, and boy, did we get to see some volcanic rock! We stopped every time we saw something surreal; which is quite often on this road where surreal seems to be the norm. We studied the different types of rock and lava formations with childlike intrigue and delight. Chasing a rainbow added to the fun of things!
We were surrounded by samples upon samples of cinder fragments, smooth ‘Pahoehoe’ and jagged ”A-’a’ lava rock, as well as the harder to find delicate droplet-shaped ‘Pele’s Tears’ and the wispy strands of ‘Pele’s Hair’. And with much respect to the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes, everything we picked up was left just where we found it – in the magical, mystical area around the Halemaumau Crater of the Kilauea Volcano, the present home of the goddess, Madame Pele.
We stayed way into the night exploring (the park stays open 24/7). We must add that driving back up the winding path of destruction in total darkness was equally as thrilling and unforgettable as driving down in daylight.
For rock-lovers and collectors, there was nothing tangible we could bring home from the trip, but we did come back with something wonderful yet undefinable on a spiritual level. We gained a renewed sense of respect and admiration for Mother Earth’s power of destruction/creation, and so much invaluable inspiration for new designs.
Mahalo nui loa Hawai’i. A hui hou! —- Thank you, Hawaii for a lovely time. We’ll see you again soon!
We often tell people to go visit Kyoto. But when asked what it is about Kyoto that is so wonderful, we are usually lost for perfect words. In short, it’s hard to express the subtlety and serenity that evokes the beauty of Kyoto.
We always love going back to Japan. Literally anywhere there will do, but Kyoto is by far the most therapeutic and inspiring. We like to think of it as a kind of magic that’s just in the air there, guaranteeing to mesmerize and capture us on a soul level no matter how many times we go. It takes us back to a place where we remember that simplicity is good, natural beauty is abundant, and authenticity and excellence are integral components of quality.
Besides the 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and over 400 Shinto shrines, there are more than 1600 Buddhist temples in the city. We particularly love the Zen temples that are architectural symbols of impermanence, serving as a reminder that authenticity, not perfection is the goal. The catch is, they do manage to withstand the test of time and are just perfect. You can energetically sense equanimity, wisdom, and compassion on the temple grounds as you’re captured in the moment by the understated simplicity that is just so immensely intricate. And then it hits you, and you just get it… that non-dualistic contradictory nature of Zen… It is nothing yet it is everything!
What’s fun about Kyoto is the anticipation of encountering the vibrant traditional Japanese culture of your dreams, and then finding yourself pleasantly surprised because it’s all that and so much more. The true essence of Kyoto’s beauty is largely hidden from casual view. There are thousands of pockets of incredible beauty scattered across the city. The more you look, the more you see.
nota bene: Take time to explore Kyoto.
[August 2011, Angkor Wat, Cambodia]
The breathtaking splendor of the Angkor temple complex is ineffable.
A thousand snapshots couldn’t do the actual scenery any justice.
At every corner, on every stone carving at every ruin there is a reminder of the amazing potential and power of human capability. Although some of the oldest ruins are said to date back over a thousand years, the dedication, care and commitment of the regal builders and craftsmen of the Khmer Empire is sensed and celebrated in every detail as if each was a brand new monument. The sheer scale and beauty of the craftsmanship serves as a slap-in-the-face reminder of the creative potential of humankind – capabilities and possibilities that everyone of us holds. Angkor offers a glimpse at what could be achieved if and when we try.
This knowingness of potential seems set in the DNA of the Khmer people of today. Within every person we encountered, be it the hotel manager or a street stall-keeper, we noticed a high degree of dedication to perfection that was partnered with an inner peace and calmness – a sort of egoless pride and richness of spirit that has absolutely nothing to do with actual wealth or status.
Still relatively uncorrupted by materialism and capitalism, life in the town of Siem Reap is so simple. There is a deep sense of heritage, nostalgia and hospitality at a depth that could only be produced by a people with a genuine and true understanding and appreciation of life.
The first time I saw the finished Figroot Dome pendant, it reminded me of obidome ornaments – small brooches worn threaded onto the obijime that make a charming decoration on the front of the obi of a kimono. It is said that they were originally worn and made popular by the geisha…
Combining the Figroot Dome pendant with kimono by incorporating reclaimed kimono silk into our collection was perfect. In line with our endless quest for beautiful sustainable materials, it was simply fitting for DIAZ to revive the gorgeous remnant fabric into a unique piece of contemporary jewelry.
The fabric we used for the collection ranges in age from approximately a century to 50 years old and originates from the south-western region of Japan, in and around Kyoto. We’ve hand-braided it to give a rustic, frayed look to the cord, and love that each one is unique and one-of-a-kind…
I’ve always been fascinated with kimonos. My Japanese heritage would probably explain that, but I never actually saw my mother nor my grandmother ever wearing one. As a child, I was captivated by the black and white images of kimono clad ladies in old family portraits and drawn to stories of geisha – images of a lost golden age steeped in rich culture and tradition.
While some kimonos were surprisingly casual and simple, others reserved for formal occasions were elaborately detailed, depicting impressive images of auspicious or celebratory symbolism, almost always including elements from nature and the seasons. More than a picture, the intricate designs spoke stories and read like poems without words. It wasn’t until I’d met my mother-in-law, a seamstress and collector of antique kimono and obi that my love for the magical silk fabric was confirmed. Sitting with her in her studio, blissfully surrounded by piles upon piles of neatly cut strips of kimono silk, hours would melt away as I listened, mesmerized by the stories each set of silken fabric told… This one, over a hundred years old belonged to her great grandmother; this one, a kimono worn by a bride on her wedding day half a century ago; yet another one, an especially pretty one, was custom made for a girl to celebrate her coming of age… the colorful stories matched in depth and beauty with the fabric itself.
Amid the deliciously rich hues of gold, green, red, purple and pink, the sleek black kimonos would always catch my eye. Although all seemingly similar, upon careful inspection in just the right light, I could trace each thread of silk and see a myriad of colors woven into the pure black threads. There are subtle differences in shades and woven patterns, a subtlety so delicate and deliberately subdued – so Japanese! For this reason, the black kimono fabrics are my favorite. Although most would pick the colorful, patterned kimono or obi to represent and demonstrate the beauty of kimono, I would definitely choose the sultry blacks… as I have for Figroot Dome.
What is jewelry? This is a question we come back to time and time again as we ask ourselves why we do what we do.
As much as we are a jewelry brand, we consider ourselves to be ‘designers of wearable symbols’. Look up the word in any dictionary and you’ll get something along the lines of:
• a thing that represents, stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance; especially : a material object representing something abstract, a visible sign of something invisible
This is by far a better description of DIAZ’s jewelry than the word jewelry itself, which is simply defined as “objects of precious metal often set with gems and worn for personal adornment”.
We create jewelry that represent or stand for something abstract. There is always a deeper meaning – a message in each piece. Whether the wearer wishes to convey the message to the world or keep it hidden is at their discretion. To read a piece and uncover its meaning you need to look at all the elements used and go beyond the obvious.
Every DIAZ piece is a symbol.
It’s been a busy but fun-filled couple of weeks hand-crafting the limited edition RE series in the workshop. I’m told what makes making the RE jewelry such a joy is the ‘no-sweat’ approach – that each piece is cut from remnants of a cuff bangle and then hand filed, shaped, hammered and polished with practically no use of heat or machinery.
I think the real charm of it is the fact that although similar in origin, each one ends up being unique in texture, shape and symmetry, and no two ever look exactly alike, giving each a character of its own – just like family! Embracing differences and promoting uniqueness, both in individuals and in jewelry is just the way we like it – no pressure, just go with the flow…
That’s just what we love about this ring, the RE0005. We don’t recall there ever being a rule that said a ring can’t be any other shape but round or that it can’t double as a pendant that doesn’t look like a ring. It’s sleek chic as a pendant on a chain or leather cord, and is super comfortable worn as a ring, alone or stacked, sideways or pointing straight up…
The first batch of rings and pendants have been shipped out of our workshop and are stocked at ECOLS and the TDC Design Gallery (available mid-June) in Hong Kong. They’ll also be available at US-based online jewelry store, Sulusso.com later this summer making RE available to everyone – where ever you may be.
We hope to create more unique additions to the RE family soon as well as expand our brood of awesome retailers.
- Hope you enjoy the current collection as much as we did putting it together…
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sensing a vibe for handmade. An impulse that violently draws away from the mundaneness of cookie-cutter, lackluster jewelry designs that are out there these days. If it isn’t a typical overworked look that’s screaming out at you from fashion magazines as the hot new accessory worn by so and so in Hollywood, it’s a design that’s been copied from somewhere, mass-produced and sold at H&M for a price that makes you have to wonder how little the workers who toil away at the factories must get paid to piece it together.
Sorry, but resin plastic cuffs at Celine and Fendi crystal embellished brass rings? Has jewelry sunk with the downfall of the economy? Don’t get me wrong, I think resin, crystals and brass are excellent materials for certain types of jewelry, but the way those luxury fashion brands market their products rips the soul right out of jewelry. The industry desperately needs to switch gears to become one that provides jewelry with more integrity, more spirit, more originality and lively stories behind each piece.
I believe a return to handmade may be the very answer, and encourage you to seek out the real jewelers, the true metalsmiths and artisans out there designing and creating real jewelry with passion and meaning. Jewelry that is neither materialistic nor superficial, just genuine and meaningful.
I recently stumbled upon a fabulous online community founded in Brooklyn, NY – Etsy. The Etsy community spans the globe with buyers and sellers coming from more than 150 countries around the world. Its mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Their vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade. Well, Etsy, you have my vote.
Look at it as a fair trade marketplace with awesome, unique handmade products made not by individuals living in developing countries, but by creative minds living in over-industrialized nations.
It’s about time.
Check out the awesome article in the March 2011 issue of Horizon Magazine entitled “Green is the New Black” by journalist writer and DIAZ jewelry wearer Helen Dalley.
“Forget unflattering hemp skirts and kitschy ethical jewellery; eco fashion is evolving into something way cooler as a wave of environmentally conscious style pioneers steer green design into more glamourous territory in Hong Kong”.
The article features excerpts from interviews with local pioneers, including our very own Creative Director, Salina on global trends in sustainable fashion and it’s influences in Hong Kong.
- RE Experiment – The Molten Ring
- Vintage Kimono Pouches
- The DIAZ Travel Diaries – HAWAII
- DIAZ in SilverStyles Magazine
- The DIAZ Travel Diaries – KYOTO
- Which comes first, the poop or the paper?
- The DIAZ Travel Diaries – ANGKOR WAT
- ‘Artisans d’Angkor’
- DIAZ in Post Magazine – Behind the Label
- Quote of the day