The German jewelry designer Saskia Diez thinks that jewelry is always a gift, regardless whether someone gave it to you or you bought it yourself. Saskia Diez designs jewelry for people like herself. Her designs are very accessible, playful, artistic, progressive and androgen. “The way I think modern people are”, she explained in an interview with POM Magazine’s Anke Verbeek
by Anke Verbeek
I find it interesting that your designs are minimalistic and at the same time very present and visible.
I try to have both sides in my work. The designs are totally present without screaming. Size doesn’t matter, even a tiny piece of jewelry can change your posture or your attitude for the day. Choosing a piece and putting it on is a moment of self-awareness. It doesn’t matter what outfit you’re wearing, with jewelry you can totally change your appearance. Depending on what jewelry you choose it can shift your look to glamorous, avant-garde or chic.
Jewelry has many social aspects. It could be a gift from a family member, it could be a status symbol or it could make you feel more confident. What do you think of these social aspects?
I am not interested in jewelry as a status symbol. I’m pretty sure that the people who buy my pieces don’t buy them for reasons of status because they are price-wise too accessible. People who look for status will choose the big brands. I think jewelry is like a container that keeps situations, happenings, stories, moods, love. This social aspect is a big part of jewelry. I have never met people who couldn’t tell me how they got the jewelry they are wearing, when they got and why.
Your website states that you design for a woman like you. What kind of person are you?
What I mean is that I design for someone who has the same values and same views on how to wear jewelry. When I started in the jewelry business there were only a few categories. There was the expensive fine jewelry that people bought because it was a status symbol. There was the gallery jewelry that was hard to wear and was more of an object. And of course there was custom jewelry. I wasn’t interested in any of these categories. I wanted to make pieces that make you feel stronger, prouder and more aware. I am originally a goldsmith and started to work for a jewelry workshop that made high quality, expensive jewelry. I didn’t want to wear any of the pieces I made there myself. They were all unique pieces, very artistic, very elaborate. If I wore something like that I would disappear behind it. I wanted the pieces to emphasize me, and not make me disappear.
What does your creation process look like? How do you start?
I make drawings to get the ideas I have in my head onto paper. Then I quickly start mocking things up to test how something shows on the skin, how it moves and whether the length is good. I believe in a quick and dirty way of making mock-ups, using cheap materials like paper, dough, beads, threats or aluminum foil. Working with precious materials for the mock-ups makes me feel intimidated and less free because I want to do it right and don’t want to waste material. I try to be open-minded when I work with these mock-ups. Gradually, the process of leaving out starts until I have the feeling that the idea I wanted to work on is clearly visible.
Where do you find the inspiration that triggers your creative process?
I like to have a starting point, which could be anything: an idea, a song, a movie or a friend. It could be a certain feeling I want the wearer to have, to make something that shows happiness or makes you feel secure.
How do feelings influence your designs?
When the Covid pandemic was over I worked on a series based on the feeling: Ok, let’s go out and party. The pieces are sparkling but in a gunmetal colour. It has this feeling of going out at night, something we hadn’t done for quite a while. And one of our best-selling series was inspired by an armchair with a very thick backrest. When I saw this chair I wanted to do a collection of jewelry pieces based on the feeling this chair and its thickness evoked in me. When I launched the series, customers were a bit hesitant. It took two or three seasons before people started to buy this collection and it is a collection that still sells very well.
When it comes to craftsmanship, do you like to work with your hands?
Totally, because I think your mind and your imagination can cheat you. I could have the most fantastic idea that I would love to translate into a piece of jewelry. But then I start working with my hands and at some point I think: yuck, actually no it’s not such a fantastic idea! Then one thing leads to another. A mistake in the design or something that went wrong during the creation process, will lead to the final design. It is very important to stay open to what is happening during the creative process. When I worked on a series where I used leather, I had this idea of fancy weaving. It turned out to be very complicated and the pieces wouldn’t really connect with your body. I got frustrated and thought maybe I need to add this or that. But it only got more complicated. Then I cut fringes into a piece of leather and the final version was ready! It didn’t need anything anymore. It was a very long and complicated design process that resulted in a very simple design.
What type of materials appeal to you?
Obviously I like gold and silver. I also use plated material if the pieces are bolder. It doesn’t make sense to have a bold piece made of gold if it means that you have to spend a lot of money on it and only few people could buy it. But for delicate pieces I will use gold. At the moment I am very much in love with silver. Silver is the whitest metal there is because it reflects the biggest spectrum of light. I like stones, pearls and beads, but I don’t work a lot with precious stones. I work more with semi-precious stones.
How do you source these materials?
I work with precious metal suppliers who provide gold and silver. We mainly work with recycled metal. I work with a couple of stone dealers I have worked with for a long time, and who I trust. We also do reworking of old jewelry. A lot of people have rings, necklaces or earrings that they inherited from family members. Quite often they are not worn because they are outdated, out of fashion or may not be the person’s style. These pieces often have stones of a quality and size that you don’t come across these days. They came from a certain mine and at a certain point that mine is exhausted. I love taking stones from these existing pieces and rework them together with the metal, into something modern. You get a unique piece that you would never find anywhere else and that retains its emotional value to the wearer, even though it’s a new design. I love making these unique pieces.