Screenwriters talk about world building, using their words to establish the stories and “rules” of a place they create. That’s how Sardwell thinks of her jewelry—sculpture, architecture, and design coming together in a multidimensional world she named Renisis.
To call it a brand minimizes what Sardwell—known by just one name professionally—dreams of with Renisis. This trained artist who has lived internationally sees her jewelry as the culmination of things she has learned, places she has lived, and dreams she’s had about how materials can be utilized. Her jewelry represents the artifacts of her world, and she wants wearers to feel a sense of discovery and the joy of exploration when they select pieces from Renisis.
“For me, jewelry is a piece of a world beyond our world. It’s like a fragment or evidence of the future,” Sardwell says.
Sardwell knows her world building is a different approach to jewelry, but that’s what is so exciting to the artist about this phase of her career. She started in large-scale sculptural installations and moved on to theatrical design before finding her way to the jewelry industry; blending all of those practices into Renisis is her life’s work now.
“Jewelry has to be of immense quality and craftsmanship. But it also has to hold this essence, this preciousness, this spirit, so that it transcends into something else” Sardwell says. “When you put on that object, you hold that power and it transforms you.”
Her tale starts at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied sculpture and developed metalworking skills. “I began to understand wood, bronze, brass. Over time you learn the characteristics of those materials and see how you can push, mold, and form them into something that may be beyond what is standard for them,” Sardwell says.
In 2007, a year after graduating, she moved to Buenos Aires and worked in set design for the Teatro Colón opera house, where scenery and costumes were made on premises. Costuming especially intrigued Sardwell, as it could highlight certain aspects of an actor’s personality and changed how people saw him or her.
After which Sardwell embarked to China, learned Mandarin, immersed herself in the creative scene, and designed and developed sculptural installations for commercial use. She visited tea shops, design studios, and silversmiths.
Those silversmiths of southern China got her interested in jewelry—it was sculpture, but on a smaller scale. When she later moved to Brazil, Sardwell apprenticed with master jewelers and began to learn more about precious metals and gemstones.
“I love the exploration of materials. I feel it’s just the beginning for me as I find more materials that are not traditionally used in jewelry but can be used in jewelry in a new way,” Sardwell says.
Her Light Halo necklace is a perfect example. The necklace’s design, inspired by a Japanese vest worn over armor, came to her during the pandemic: diamonds in a “secret” fluorescent pattern that becomes visible—if the wearer chooses to share it—when illuminated under black light.
“There’s always hidden details in my jewelry for the wearer,” Sardwell says. “It’s meant to be special to them, and that’s magical for me as the designer. That is what high jewelry is to me—something that’s unique and dramatic.”
Her life is now centered on jewelry and establishing Renisis as a way to honor her experiences, teachers, and creative explorations. The name is a combination of the Latin renitor—meaning to resist, struggle, or strive—with the word genesis, origin or beginning. It is the essence of a renaissance.
“Jewelry can be transformational, like costumes or set design. There’s a little bit of performance in jewelry, like there is in theater and sculpture,” Sardwell says. “It allows you to portray yourself in a certain way and play with it. You can wear it and change who you are in that moment.”
Top: Sardwell, the artist behind the Renisis jewelry line, has a background in sculpture and set and costume design. (Photos courtesy of Renisis)@jckmagazine
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