Peruvian artisans Lider Rivera Matos and Tania Adeline Chocce make jewelry with very different but traditional materials: horn and silver. Lider began making simple items using traditional techniques to cut, mold, and shape his seemingly inflexible medium, but as he got to know his material, he started inventing his own methods of working. Over time, he developed an eye for clean, contemporary design that manages to maintain Peruvian heritage. By collaborating with metalsmith Tania, Lider was able to take his designs even further by incorporating silver and gold-plated silver elements.
Because of the abundance of precious metals in the country, metal jewelry making is a popular trade. Tania’s work upholds Peruvian traditions, and often features designs that have been handed down through her family, representing ancient cultures of Peru: Chavin, Nasca, Moche, and Inca. She shares her studio with two other trained jewelers, and together they design elements to complement Lider’s work as well as their own pieces, including tupu pins and earrings in sterling silver and gold vermeil.
Both precious metals and horn have been used in Peru for hundreds of years, because of their availability, durability, and beauty. Horn had broad applications from musical instruments to elaborately configured, decorative hair combs—but working with it was never easy or pleasant. Because it is made from keratin, like hair and fingernails, it gives off an unpleasant smell when heated. While metalsmithing has maintained its appeal, the introduction of synthetic materials like Bakelite, plastic, and acrylic resin rendered natural horn less desirable. Thanks to the dedication of artisans like Lider and Tania, this remarkable and unusual art form perseveres.