We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Magdolna Washington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina Magdolna, what role has risk played in your life or career?
When I really think about it, taking risks, or rather, subconsciously viewing risks as opportunities, is basically what has shaped my life and career. Looking back, there have been numerous leaps of faith, and they are directly responsible for my favorite parts of my life today. I’ve moved to different countries, chosen riskier career paths, said yes to some wild opportunities, and have had some incredible experiences for which I am eternally grateful, but without risk, none of it would have happened. I try to cultivate as much optimism in my life as possible, and this trickles into the way I approach risk. So, in my mind, the opportunities cast a warm glow over the risks, and it becomes so much easier to move towards the objective with a sense of reassurance. It’s important to be aware of risks and to make informed choices, but as long as I know that my goal IS possible, the risks don’t seem so threatening. If anything, I see risks as potential, temporary obstacles. Instead of thinking, “See? This was a terrible idea” when challenges present themselves, I think, “This is a normal part of the process. Just keep moving forward.” In concrete terms, if I hadn’t taken the risk to move overseas, and if I hadn’t taken the risk to start from scratch and build my own jewelry business, none of it would have happened. As cliché as the saying may be, I really do believe that “With great risk comes great reward.”
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think what makes my work unique is precisely that almost every piece is unique. Most of the pieces of jewelry I’ve ever made have been one of a kind, and my process rarely includes sketching something out before I make it. Instead, I find a stone that I find particularly special (based on its colors and shapes). Then, I just sit down, begin working, and see what happens! I like this method because I love the idea that there is only one piece like it, and the person who is wearing it can know that it’s just as unique as they are. This is one of the main reasons I love working with tourmalines so much. Within one stone, you can have so many variations of colors. One stone alone could have three distinct colors in it, and the wildest part is that nature created it. I am so fascinated by these little details, so I like to keep my designs relatively simple. In doing so, I try to highlight the beauty of the stone. Through this process, I try to maintain a handmade aesthetic to the pieces so that the wearer can see that they’re all made with love. I also use recycled gold because it will never tarnish over time. A person can keep their piece for their entire lifetime and hopefully pass it down to a loved one in the future.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think the most spectacular parts of California have to do with nature. I find it amazing that even just in the city, you have mountains and beaches! If I had to come up with a week-long itinerary, it would most certainly include getting some fried scallops from Neptune’s Nest and driving up to my favorite (semi) unknown beach in Malibu, El Matador. I would also make sure to spend some time at both the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa because they are always teaming with treasures. I’d definitely dedicate some time to either spending a night in Joshua Tree or the Sequoias, and once back in the city, I’d go to some of my favorite little bars like Employees Only. I would also go spend an evening with Magic Bar LA, where magicians from The Magic Castle perform for a tiny crowd in a speakeasy type room hidden in a sushi bar.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh, this is easy. One person, in particular, was instrumental in my path towards creating this business. Martine Hermans Frisvold of Skin & Soul Jewelry, who is now a dear friend, took me under her wing and taught me everything I wanted and needed to know about jewelry making. After a chance encounter in her boutique one day, she accepted me for an apprenticeship in her Brussels atelier not long after I had left my life in Paris and was starting out fresh. She showed me the ins and outs of creation and patiently taught me how to bring all of my ideas to life. The time I had with her in her luminous (both physically and sentimentally speaking) studio was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It is also where I met Pierre and Raymond Makdis, both of whom also taught me a great deal about this craft. I didn’t actually go to university for jewelry (I studied film and French studies), and thanks to these people, I was able to gain a plethora of knowledge without which there is no way that I would have been able to build this business in the timeframe that I did. I feel incredibly fortunate to have met them.
Personal photo: Photography by Daniel Morales
Green necklace and shell: Photography by Chayka Sofia
All other images: Photography by Christina Magdolna Washington