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A reflection by Belén Bajo on:

Gold

“All this turns gold into a kind of Zeus, an impeccable superhero”

If I wrote a novel or directed a film and gold was one of the characters I had to include in it, I would undoubtedly have the leading role. His economic value, his qualities, his brilliance... He would be like that handsome, smart guy, with that point of arrogance, who knows very well how to captivate. It would be Marlon Brando, without a doubt.
These qualities were not invented by me, they are part of gold's own past and are traceable even in its name. Aurum, a word of Latin origin, refers to the brilliance of dawn (a quality also reflected in the English and German word gold, which come from the Proto-Germanic Gultham, which means "brightness").

If its brilliance is one of the most appreciated immediate qualities, it is not surprising that it has become the metaphorical object of desire to express power. But that would be an understatement, because it's not just because of its brilliance. Its exceptional material qualities and its scarcity make gold a coveted possession for its beauty and also a secure value.

Gold is practically indestructible, it does not burn, it does not lose luster when subjected to adverse conditions and it is one of the least chemically reactive metals (it is only attacked by selenic acid and aqua regia). It is very dense (a cubic meter of gold weighs 19,000 kilograms) and is a good conductor of heat and electricity, which makes it highly appreciated in industrial applications (3/4 of world production is used in jewelry, including 10 and 15% in industry and the rest in medicine and in state or investor reserves.

All this turns gold into a kind of Zeus, an impeccable superhero.

When someone buys a piece of gold jewelry, they know very well that they have something very valuable in their hands, beyond the additional value that the design provides.

So when I work with gold I also know well who I am facing and who I am going to have as a traveling companion.

“All this turns gold into a kind of Zeus, an impeccable superhero”

ASK

Can you explain this last bit better?
What are the first precautions you take when working with gold?

Because, a priori, it seems that gold can be an intimidating material for a designer…

LOWER BETHLEHEM

The first important issue is that when I work with gold, I have to recognize its economic value. This implies that I know that if I use a lot of metal the jewelry will have a high price. Since I don't want this to be the case, I study the thickness and size of the pieces to make them light and affordable. I try to play with essential, uncomplicated shapes to prevent the final price from becoming more expensive.

“I study the thickness and size of the pieces to make them light and affordable”

UCA BLUE TOPAZ RING

MAY PERIDOT RING

ASK

And beyond economic issues, as a design material, what does gold give you, because of its shine, its color, how it dialogues with stones?…

LOWER BETHLEHEM

Gold is a very resistant metal that retains its shine very well.

If you lose it due to the passage of time or use, it is easily recovered by polishing it. But, more than its shine, I am interested in its color, that kind of warmth that comes from its golden tone... I rarely make pieces of gold alone and that is why I like that it interacts so well with the stones that accompany it. Its golden tone allows me to create a warm and vital color palette. Of course, his character is always that of the protagonist and I allow his companions to respect him, as secondary characters.

ROSE QUARTZ RING 

KUA VIOLET HYDROTHERMAL QUARTZ RING

“His character is always that of the protagonist and I allow his companions to respect him, as secondary characters”

ASK

You talk about the golden tone but you also use other colors of gold, right?

LOWER BETHLEHEM

Different colors can be achieved depending on the alloy used. I mainly use the yellow gold one in two versions, 18 carat (each 1000g has 750g of pure gold, 125g of silver and 125g of copper) and 9 carat (each 1000g has 325g of pure gold and 625g between silver and copper) but I also work with pink gold, in which the proportion of pure gold is maintained but that of copper over silver increases, and white gold, in which the opposite happens, with the white color of the silver prevailing.

ZER RINGS IN YELLOW, WHITE OR ROSE GOLD

“Its special qualities make the stones feel comfortable in its company because the light reflects on the metal and it slightly dyes the colors, enveloping them in its amber tone.”

ASK

In line with the latter, you make a proposal for 18 and 9 carat jewelry. Is this how you try to make them more affordable?

LOWER BETHLEHEM

Yes, it is a way to save on the final price and prioritize design over the tyranny of gold. It would be something like “taking down Zeus”….
Their appearance really doesn't change much and they still have those attributes and that special value that the golden metal gives them.

ASK

Knowing that gold has these connotations, how do you try to make your client not think so much about the value of the metal and rather about the value of the object they decide to wear?

LOWER BETHLEHEM

A brand value that I believe is implicit in my work is that of inviting play. My designs have a playful proposal and for that I have to put the gold “in dance” and make it occupy a certain place in the jewel. It's something like allowing him to play a role that not only depends on his economic value, letting him show that he is also a good actor. In that sense, the fact that he has stones as his traveling companions makes him more serene, more conversational.

Its special qualities make the stones feel comfortable in its company because the light reflects on the metal and it slightly dyes the colors, enveloping them in its amber tone. It is a very poetic way of making friends with two different materials. If the stone is also translucent, such as rutilated or tourmaline quartz, the effect is sensational.

“In some cases, I also force him to live with other, much more humble companions, such as lava balls, which do not have a great economic value but do have a recreational value, because they move and revolve around him. I almost hear myself telling him: “now it's your turn to be a good partner and play with these actors and not always with precious stones…”

ULI TOURMALINED QUARTZ RING

“Now you have to be a good partner and play with these actors and not always with precious stones”

ASK

Deep down, it is a kind of humility cure but it is not pretentious because the jewel works very well as an object on a formal level.

LOWER BETHLEHEM

Exact. That is my way of silently integrating all the actors in my work. Making each one of them put themselves at the service of the whole. It is also the way to propose that spirit of play, which is so important to me. It is as if it were whispering: “this important man, which is gold, can also be an accomplice in this jewel and allow you to entertain yourself by spinning those colored balls” or in other words “you are wearing a gold necklace or earrings.” , yes, but also a smile painted on the face.”

SIA LAVA BALL EARRINGS

DUA LAVA BALL NECKLACE

ASK

Are there any historical uses of gold that you particularly like?

LOWER BETHLEHEM

Yes, but it does not belong to the world of jewelry. I love those words written in gold leaf that come out of the mouths of angels on Byzantine icons. It's like a way to highlight the importance of what they say. They were used a lot in announcements and it was a very subtle way of giving an aura of brightness and lightness to the word. It was a luminous and revealing “say.” I like that image to apply to a piece of jewelry: a small, vibrant whisper.

SEE THE ENTIRE GOLD COLLECTION:

Size guide

A. measure the inside diameter of a ring

b. look for the equivalence between the mm. and the size