Richmond began his career studying architecture at the University of Sto. Tomas, but after a couple of semesters, he decided that he wanted to design something other than structures. “I come from a family of jewelers”, he recounts, “and was very interested in minerals and metals from an early age.” Soon after, he found the Gemological Institute of America online, moved to Carlsbad, California, and graduated with a degree in Gemology two years later. He went on to study Jewelry Manufacturing and CAD before moving back home to the Philippines to work as a designer for Seven Castles, Inc., a company known for exporting high-quality silver jewelry. Today, he is the Assistant Head Designer for the company, with responsibilities ranging from designing custom collections for international clients to product development and quality control.
In the 2010 Guild of Philippine Jewellers Design Competition, three of the top 10 entries were his. His favorite, the Revolving Gauntlet of Fire and Ice, “represents a unique form of balance and attraction. Two scientific and symbolic elements working together in unison despite opposing characteristics.” His second piece, called Yinnie and Yannie, are twin rings with cubic zirconia and citrine in gold plated and sterling silver, signifying his belief in equilibrium. Meant to be worn on each hand, Yin represents the female, while Yan represents the male entity. His final piece was the Ajna Crown, a favorite among those present during the judging. A headdress pinetta with blue chalcedony, cubic zirconia pave and feathers in sterling silver, the design represents the duality of the chakra Ajna, which is located on the forehead.
The creative process differs from designer to designer, but for Richmond, it always starts with the user in mind. “Whenever I design something, I always picture the person who will be wearing my creation”, he explains. “Most jewelry designers design from the front. It’s always about the top or the main part of a piece. I focus on everything else, from the chapita (the back part of an earring) to the gallery (the sides of a ring), everything must flow-like giving things a sense of ‘movement'”.
This fluidity is present in each piece he produces, from his massive Claw Ring based on the slasher blade used in cockfights, to the Mon Ange, an angel’s wing pendant where the wing continues towards the back to become the bail (where the chain passes through). From charming pieces to showstoppers, his creations are so much more than the sum of their parts. “I believe that jewelry is intimate and must obviously be precious, otherwise they just become accessories.”
Written by Hazel Santos
Photographed by John Ocampo