I'm cozied up on the same side of the bench at Alfred’s Coffee in the alley on Melrose. Next to me are Gabriela and Tere Artigas, sisters from Mexico City who co-own a jewelry line. We’ve arranged ourselves next to one another like Parisian flâneurs gazing out at the coffee goers, but, as our conversation continues, I find myself slowly rotating toward the Artigas sisters. I ask them both about the origin of their jewelry, but there is no straight answer. There are only answers that go a thousand different ways. “We are not jewelry makers,” they insist. They both passionately take turns clarifying how the intricately carved rings that are stacked and illuminated on their fingers were not conceived with the purpose of making jewelry. Instead, the Artigas sisters are “subtly shaping metal to adorn your body.” As Gabriela continues, while Tere, as only a sister can, dutifully grooms her while she speaks, readjusting Gabriela’s necklace chain that suspends from a silver choker. They move in a synchronized unison, many times echoing each other’s sentiments. I ask them if they were always close to each other while growing up; Gabriela answers “Yes,” Tere “No,” and they begin to laugh as they elaborate upon their family heritage.
Their mother, from a well-educated and well-traveled family, taught them refined elegance and the marvel of exploration. The Artigas sisters credit her for her deep sense of celebration and spontaneity, the one that sparked the creation for their first jewelry piece. Their father was the son of renowned Mexican architect Francisco Artigas, who applied both modern and traditional philosophies of architecture into his projects. Gabriela and Tere describe him as unwaveringly meticulous and begin to list the aesthetic rules of his house: crisp white linens, strictly folded white towels, and immaculate white carpet lining the house, while the entire family wore a uniform of white polo, khaki pants, and loafers. This strict aesthetic regime initiated by their grandfather has deeply rooted itself in their jewelry line, or their metal adornments rather. Now, Angelenos for nearly a decade, the sisters have adopted the West Coast philosophy into their lifestyle. “The jewelry for us is a part of your body. We are very clean in the way we dress, in the way we eat, and our jewelry is also clean and modern and matches our mentality.”
Despite the rules they follow aesthetically, the sisters say there is no defined structure for their design process. Any time one of them is stimulated with a new idea, they are entangled by their wayward spirits and always encourage each other’s passions. Yet they are truly resolute about the aesthetic motif of their collection, which is a true testament to the dichotomy they inherited from either side of their family. As they continue to describe their daily business, I realize both Gabriela and Tere are building their own family legacy far from where it began. They have always been close as sisters, but now living in the same building, blocks away from their West Hollywood design studio and store, creating a brand that reaches deep into their heritage, they have grown a design sensibility that bridges both worlds. “The pieces are beautiful, but I think it speaks louder the relationship we have with the jewelry and every client. We want to give you a part of our lifestyle.”