Before I would move to New York City, before starting a blog and before I would meet one extraordinarily talented jewelry designer, I was an Anthropology student at the University of Colorado. What exactly is Anthropology? Its what people do and why they do it in the context of ceremony, beliefs, relationships and the material culture created in response to these practices. It can range form subjects related to language, religion or even daily activities, but what separates it from other social and human studies is the connection to the materials created in these contexts. The desire for art and expression, adornment and fashion is a uniquely human trait that can be found in every culture both past and present.
The jewelry made by Makoto Chiba resonates with the very essence of our human need to create and to wear things with which we may express our culture and our identities of self. It feeds our insatiable need for stories, inspires creatures, suggests a realm of the fantastic, moving the imagination to new places once forgotten. Each collection transports us to a world suspended in time, linked to the ancient past of Japan, yet infused with the ornate decor of Baroque Europe.
I met Makoto, the designer of Makoto Jewelry about 4 years ago and was given the opportunity to model for his second collection "The Chronicle". This Spring I again had an opportunity to meet, this time for an interview about the process and inspirations behind the collections.
Editorial Images by Kei Kondo
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Please do not re-use without receiving prior permission
Makoto Chiba originally began making Jewelry in Japan. His collections were featured in shops in New York, and Seven years ago, he moved to New York where he is currently based.
Makoto hand-makes all of his jewelry and accessories. First a design is hand carved in wax for each component of the item. Next, molds for the castings are made. Once the castings are all finished, he assembles the final pieces together. I asked him how long it takes from start to finish; he said it depends on the size and complexity, but it could take anywhere from 5 hours to 1 week to make a piece.
He primarily designs for men, but does make pieces for women, although I feel that a lot of the men's pieces are so stunning and unique that they could easily be borrowed by women too. He uses precious gemstones and metal materials for the collections including silver and gold, rubies and diamonds.
The inspiration for his designs is one of my favorite parts. You can find Japanese mythological creatures, Tibetan symbols and western legends all intricately detailed in the style of baroque art and architecture. Many of his inspirations come from his travels throughout Europe. His most recent collection Dance of Death was inspired by "Momento Mori", a trend popular in the 14th to 15th Century.
Makoto Jewelry specializes in hand made custom pieces and also collaborates with the brand including Ruffian.
A comparison of a Japanese inspired wax mock up with finished silver lighter
The Dance of Death Collection
Chimera Mask with Girl Skull Ring
The Chronicle Collection
Seahorse with Skull Necklace
The Iconic Collection
Elizabeth B Skull Concho
Nine Lives Ring B/W Finishing
Single Horn Oni Ring