Based in the country of Georgia, Diana Khutsishvili founded KIMILI, a jewelry brand specializing in wearable art made from Georgian Cloisonné Enamel. Diana has always been passionate about fashion and handmade jewelry. Her ambition is to bring Georgian Cloisonné Enamel jewelry into the world, showing off its beauty, ancient techniques and how it has been preserved for generations.
The KIMILI design team is a mix of established designers and young, up and coming designers, who couple old traditions of Cloisonné Enamel making with modern trends. KIMILI is a groundbreaking brand, changing the face of jewelry as we know it. KIMILI combines current fashion trends into jewelry, creating colorful, vibrant and patterned collections, containing statement rings, oversized necklaces and ornamented bracelets.
In this interview with Diana, we discuss her brand’s beginnings, how she makes her jewelry and what the future holds for KIMILI.
How did your brand begin?
KIMILI started after a bit of soul searching to find something meaningful, for which I am passionate about and at the same time to represent my country. The soul searching part was not quick and easy but definitely worth the wait. To pursue my dream I had to quit my job in one of the biggest multinational companies and focus on KIMILI.
KIMILI is wearable art, created by upcoming young Georgian designers ready to break boundaries while preserving the centuries old tradition of making enamel jewelry. Every piece is handmade and is unique.
Are there any specific manufacturing/crafting techniques you use?
The manufacturing technique that we use is called Cloisonné Enamel which is very unique. Cloisonné (French for “partition”) is an ancient technique used for decorating metalwork objects. First developed in jewelry in the Near East, artisans used thin wire to form cloisons. The crafts spread further to the Byzantine Empire and then to China. The rings from 12th century BC found in Cyprus are the oldest cloisonné jewelry found to date.
Multiple artisans are involved in the process of making Cloisonné Enamel. Metals such as copper, silver and gold can be used as a body for the jewelry. The cloisonné wire is made from silver or fine gold and is 0.07 millimeter thin. This partition is applied to the jewelry and is served as a color separator.
Frit – a crushed to powder glass – is mixed with water and applied into the partitions. After the painting is done, the item is fired in the oven. This process is repeated couple of times to make sure coating is built up to the height of the partitions. The jewelry is then polished to ensure even and smooth surface.
Georgian Cloisonné Enamel dates back more than 1,200 years. Georgian collection of Cloisonné Enamel is well known for its richness, diversity and high artistic value. The old tradition keeps evolving and transforming Cloisonné Enamel into contemporary fashion accessories.
How is your jewelry made?
KIMILI jewelry is made with Cloisonné Enamel, which is a very ancient technique. Georgian Cloisonné Enamel specifically dates back more than 1,200 years. Currently most of our jewelry is done in sterling silver. However, we work with all materials, including wood.
The process of making Cloisonné Enamel jewelry is very intricate. It all starts with design creation. Once we are happy with the design we move to the enamel part. We manually cut out and create the ornaments from a very thin silver or gold wire, creating partitions (Cloisonné) and gluing it to the base of the jewelry. This can be an extremely time consuming and a difficult process depending on the design of the jewelry. Once the partitions are applied, the item is fired in the oven for a couple of minutes.
The next stage is coloring. Crashed glass is used for coloring jewelry. Colors are manually applied to the jewelry and fired in the oven. Since the paint is made from glass during the firing process in the oven, the glass melts and goes down the partitions. The coloring of the jewelry is done multiple times (approximately 3-5 times) until the surface is even. Afterwards the piece is polished and the goldsmith finalizes the jewelry.
Since all these steps of applying partitions and coloring is done manually, every piece is unique transformed into a real wearable piece of art.
Can you recall a particular moment with a client that will stay with you forever?
We do custom orders quite often, so each of this experience is very unique and memorable but one comes to my mind. We got a custom request to create earrings in honor of two beautiful toucan birds named Tiki and Kona. I had received the pictures of the beautiful birds and the earrings had to resemble them, which definitely was not an easy task. It took us a couple of days to finalize the design with the customer, starting from the shape of the earrings and ending with how fluffy the feathers seemed and that the beak was not yellow enough.
After all this hard work we shipped the earrings and were impatiently waiting for the reply. The feedback from the customer just blew us away. “20 out of 10 stars, is how I would rate this artist and the amazingly beautiful earrings she created for me!!!!!!!” – this is an extract from her reply. Such reactions always stay with me and encourage me to do even more.
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your jewelry?
As KIMILI creates wearable art jewelry, a person wearing it should definitely feel like a real masterpiece.
Do you have any exciting future plans and where do you see your brand in 5 years?
KIMILI’s ambition is to bring Georgian Cloisonné Enamel jewelry, crafted with ancient techniques and persevered throughout generations to the world. My plan is to open the KIMILI Creative Hub in Tbilisi, which will be a creative workshop for our designers to create collections. It will also give the opportunity for young designers to learn and practice. I hope it will be a place where people can come and learn the Cloisonné Enamel technique or just enjoy the master class and create their own jewelry.