Jewelry designer Sami Zeira fell in love with the ancient technique of granulation during a visit to the Greek island of Santorini more than 10 years ago, but he isn’t stuck in the past. “What differentiates my designs from other granulation is that my jewelry is a cross between the ancient and the modern,” Zeira says. Indeed, his jewelry includes not only traditional yellow gold granulation, but also a proprietary 21k white gold alloy created by Zeira to produce a contemporary look.
In addition, pieces with turquoise, coral, and sapphires look vibrant against 22k yellow gold, and his non-granulated 18k branch-motif finish is strikingly modern.
The Israeli-born Zeira worked in house painting, construction, and photography before discovering jewelry design. He studied at The Jewelry Arts Institute in New York, and also under Dutch-born model maker Fred de Vos, who taught him how to manipulate wax models. Zeira now teaches jewelry design to others in a small school he runs out of his studio.
A number of women attend his class, which helps him with his own designs. For example, he can create French wire earrings that drop just the right amount from the earlobe. “Like clothing on models, it’s so much easier to see how pieces fit the figure when you have people to try on pieces,” he explains.
Zeira also learns from his students. “They screw up a lot, and I have to learn how to fix their mistakes,” he jokes. “The best way to learn is through making mistakes.”