After graduating with an economics degree from a Portuguese university a little over 10 years ago, Ana Cavalheiro of Ana Cavalheiro Fine Jewelry (now in Charlottesville, Va.), moved to Switzerland to become a marketing manager in a bank. Eventually, another relocation for work took Cavalheiro to France, where she had more time to pursue interests like jewelry making. She took metalsmithing classes—once a week on a Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.—and when the class ended in three months, Cavalheiro didn’t want the learning to stop.
“I felt such a strong urge to continue that I ended up quitting my banking job and enrolled for two years in a program at the L’Ecole Union Française de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie, one of the oldest jewelry schools in Europe,” she explains to JCK. “It was a very good school and training—a little bit of old-world jewelry techniques—but you can’t beat being taught by the master jewelers from Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels.”
In 2006, she and hubby moved again, this time to California, and in 2008, Cavalheiro launched her same-name design firm in Santa Monica. The couple moved again this summer to the East Coast, where Cavalheiro opened a retail store this past weekend that has 650 square feet of showroom space with a studio in the rear.
Jewelry designer Ana Cavalheiro
Editor’s Note: Cavalheiro’s work is being showcased because it’s attractive, got great price points, and, is made in the United States—something more designers might want to promote to appeal to enthusiasts of local handmade goods! Plus, Cavalheiro is knowledgeable about stone sources, a point of transparency that many will appreciate.
JCK: Explain your design process and signature style.
Ana Cavalheiro: I’m so proud to make all my jewelry in my studio. I do send my waxes to a caster and I use a stone setter only for pavé settings, but otherwise everything from beginning to end is done in my studio.
My signature style is a mix of romantic and modern edgy designs, usually inspired by monuments and architecture. In the prongs of the pieces in my Castle collection, you can find the crenulations of the Pena Castle in Portugal, and in the earrings ands cuffs in the Arabesque collection, you can see scroll effects influenced by tile work.
JCK: Do you make all your own findings and components, such as chain and clasps?
AC: Most of my chains and clasps are bought except the big chunky chains that I fabricate. Otherwise the settings and components are all done at the studio.
JCK: Is your jewelry cast or fabricated?
AC: Both. Sometimes the final piece will have a mix of cast and fabricated components.
JCK: Where is the jewelry made?
AC: In my studio—formerly in Santa Monica, Calif., and more recently in Charlottesville, Va., as I just moved.
JCK: What materials do you work in and why?
AC: I love color so I use a lot of colored gemstones. When doing big pieces, I usually use a lot of rainbow moonstones, tourmalines, kunzites, blue topaz, amethysts, rutilated quartz, citrines, and ametrines, amongst others. I work with a lapidary and have a lot of my gemstones cut for some particular designs. It’s perfect because I know the source (Brazil) of most of my colored gemstones and plus my lapidary always finds me some interesting gemstones like tourmalinated quartz, rutilated amethysts or beautiful phantom quartz that I use for one-of-a-kind designs. For accent stones I like to use sapphires and colored diamonds. Everything is set in 14k and 18k gold or sterling silver.
JCK: How many accounts do you currently have?
AC: Nine in the U.S., including Mia Gemma in Washington, D.C., and none abroad.
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
AC: Currently only at JCK Las Vegas, though I have exhibited at others in the past.
JCK: What recognition have you received so far in your career?
AC: I was selected as a Rising Star in the 2009 JCK Las Vegas Design Center.
JCK: What is your starting retail price for each metal you work in?
AC: $130 for silver and $850 for 14k gold $1,050 in 18k gold.
JCK: Tell us something that few people know.
AC: My husband and I travel a lot. We did two big trips this year—Australia for three weeks in the fall, and we drove cross country by car over the summer when we moved from California to Virginia. Oregon is my favorite place in the U.S., and I’ve probably been to about half the states already.