Q & A with Crevoshay, The Queen of Color
In celebration of our new website launch and interview series, we wanted to start things off with an homage to color. Who better to speak to than Paula Crevoshay? An award-winning designer with an incredible eye for design, we sat down with her to chat about her background, inspiration, and breathtaking collections.
You have mentioned you were a painter and a sculptor, and then you went on a tour which changed your life. Can you tell us about this tour and how it influenced you?
The magical mystery tour is when I married my late great George Crevoshay, and he whisked me off to India for 3 years. The Asian aesthetic was etched into my memory banks forever. Rich, steeped in history, and so elegant! I quickly incorporated many elements and inspirations into my jewelry style. I was enamored with the ancient metal techniques and the many fabulous colors of gemstones.
I switched from painting to designing jewelry after George started the gemstone business. George was fluent in seven Asian languages, and could joke in all of them! We began traveling to Thailand and Sri Lanka and sourcing gems directly from the mines.
What specifically in India inspired your colorful work in jewelry, and what pieces of jewelry influenced you wanting to design jewelry?
Jewelry is a major tradition in India from the mangala sutra, to the navaratna rings, to dowries, but jewelry was just part of the great artistic tapestry of the many rich cultures there. I was deeply moved by the great religions and philosophies. George’s work a Fulbright Scholar required us to spend a great deal of time at Ganden Shartse Tibetan Monastery and travel to many ancient temples and universities.
My graduate studies in art history provided a great foundation for understanding and appreciating the grandeur that was India. I was mesmerized! We toured museums all over the subcontinent and then we traveled extensively throughout Asia.
My sensibilities were filled with daily images of lavishly hand-woven gold embroidered saris in every color. The markets were piled with pyramids of colorful spices and acrid aromas, and the inspiration at every turn was so abundantly intoxicating.
It was not a great leap for me to embrace gemstones and gold as my artistic medium. I had always loved jewelry. As a child, I collected costume jewelry from my mother’s friends. It was this simple twist of fate that George Crevoshay handed me the world on a silver platter in the form a magical palette of gemstones to work with. This, along with my deep immersion in both eastern and western esthetics, provided me with endless inspiration to draw on.
Many designers say that travel influenced their passion for jewelry design. What do you think it is about going outside of one’s routine that brings this passion forth?
It is the exotic experience of the richness of another’s culture that inspires the creative senses. One always gains insights into one’s own culture that can only be learned by contrasting it with another. I think the juxtaposition of the familiar with the new excites creative thoughts in everyone, not just artists.
You’ve called gemstones “the tangible light of the earth.” You say you see which gemstones should go in each place before you’ve even started to lay down the gemstones. Where do you believe you inherited or obtained this creativity that is beautifully embedded in you as part of the creative process? Is there a person of particular influence in your life?
I believe that I was born an artist. I have always known that I would create art, and I always have. In the 1st grade, my teachers noticed my innate talent. In the 4th grade at age 9, my teacher encouraged my parents to engage a tutor, and I started private art lessons. It is a passion. I do believe that my artist mind is genetic.
I have had so many people’s encouragement along the way. In college the great abstract expressionist painter, Milton Resnik, took me under his wing. He made a powerful impact on me as a budding artist. There were so many people who gave me encouragement and support as well as the many patrons and collectors who helped to build my dream in jewelry design.
Living in a beautiful place, what about your surroundings fuels the ins and outs of your average design day?
The land of enchantment which is New Mexico, and the beautiful home that my beloved Martin built with me fuels me every day. New Mexico is vast, majestic and so naturally sublime. We live at 7,000 feet, and the light and natural beauty is ever changing, revealing the mystery and magic of our beautiful planet. Even my commute from my home studio to my office studio is stunningly beautiful and gives me a great time to reflect and gather new inspiration.
Wanting the jewelry to mean something unique to the wearer is a keystone of your message. What do you hope your customers feel when wearing a Paula Crevoshay piece?
I want them to feel regal, relevant, empowered, beautiful and loved. Many women have told me that when they put on their Crevoshay they feel beautiful and confident. They know they are the equal of everyone and are up to handling any situation.
What is one of the most memorable pieces, or collaborations, that you have worked? How did it come about?
There are so many projects that I have been blessed with it is hard to select just one.
I first began a very powerful collaboration called “Voices of the Earth”, where I asked nine North American Gem carvers to give me 3 to 5 of their very special pieces that defined their voices as the great artists that they are. That was very powerful for all of us. I wanted to put into a time capsule the best of the best of our creative lapidary artists that inspired me. Nicolai Medvedev was one of them. I had known and been commissioned to create many great works from his brilliant intarsia work for over 30 years. Nicolai approached me at Tucson 5 years ago asking if I would collaborate with him on a box. A little over four years later “Garden of Delight – A Mystery Box” was born!