The timelessly elegant jewelry of master Spanish artisan Luis Méndez López is inspired mainly by designs from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, when extravagant accessories of the finest stones and dazzling metals enjoyed popularity with the upper classes of Salamanca, Spain. This historically rich region is home to López’s studio, where he expands upon hundreds of years of elaborately beautiful jewelry tradition.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of López’s designs is how they meld historical and modern creative sensibilities. “We combine new technologies with traditional techniques,” says López, “with the aim of transforming ancient styles into true 21st century gems.” In addition to agelessly captivating techniques of fine, web-like silver filigree work, and dangling earrings set with stone, López also explores more avant-garde themes, eager to share the expressive nature of traditional materials in new ways.
Raw material is purchased from Spanish companies that specialize in precious metals and gems, which include rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds. Filigree is one of López’s most striking specialties and entails painstaking manipulation of gold or silver to form lace-like patterns. The strands of metal may be straight, twisted, or braided, and sometimes the filigree is applied to delicately overlay a sheet of metal. In these glamorous accessories, there are ancient beliefs, both religious and magical.
López produces a veritable treasure chest of gleaming accessories, from delicate rings and earrings to bracelets, statement-making necklaces, and more, resulting in metal items which incorporate inlaid pearl, small coral beads, and even tiny, colorful dried flowers ensconced in a see-through locket. “The main goal of our work,” López says, “is to turn history into jewels with an exquisite presence.