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Jorge Gil: The Titanium Jewelry maker

Jorge Gil: The Titanium Jewelry maker

When 15 years ago Cuban artist Jorge Gil discovered the virtues of titanium, he decidedly put aside the metals most commonly used in jewelry—gold, silver and electrum (an alloy of gold and silver)—and since then has constantly experimented and renovated his craft.

Titanium is a silver white metal that is very light, yet robust. Strong and ductile at the same time, this ambiguity enhances the possibility for small or large, complex and even surrealist designs, shapes and forms. It does not rust, corrode, or lose its color. An added feature is that it is biocompatible with all human skin and will not cause any irritations like rashes or discolorations. All of these characteristics make titanium open to artistic and creative experimentation.

Since its accidental discovery in 1791, titanium has been used in the airline, automobile, medical and military industries. At some point in history, it was considered a powerful and strategic material, whose use was limited and confidential. For over 50 years, it has been used in watch making and has recently gained popularity as an alternative to white or grey metals for jewelry. It is stronger than steel and keeps its shape better than most metals. It is also lighter and more comfortable to wear than gold or platinum jewelry.

Each of Jorge Gil’s pieces of titanium jewelry is assembled in his workshop with accuracy and a great deal of patience. To make a piece, he does not use traditional methods such as welding. He does, however, use some very distinctive metalwork techniques, such as hammering. He also uses some traditional decorative techniques including etching and chasing.

The method used by Gil for coloring titanium is an art that requires, above all, great precision and attention to detail. To achieve the beautiful colors that result from the process, the metal is exposed to direct fire. The very high temperatures on the surface of the metal produce a range of colors, which change according the degree of exposure to heat. Obtaining uniform colors is difficult and is only achieved through electrolysis, process by which chemical changes are produced on a compound by applying an electric current. The matt finish to the titanium lends elegance and exclusiveness to his creations.

Gil’s jewelry is unconventional. His designs are aerodynamic and futuristic, modernly glamorous and elegant. He draws inspiration from Nature but does not copy from Nature, creating pieces like the ring that resembles a blue canoe that will swing with the tide on a woman’s hand.

Jorge Gil, the artist, has also flirted with sculpture. Some of his rings have been made larger with more complex designs, but whatever the size, his pieces of jewelry are considered in themselves small-scale sculptures.
Jorge Gil has exhibited in major institutions in Havana, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Amsterdam. His jewelry is on sale in permanent exhibitions in Cuba and the Netherlands. A part of his work has been published in Luxx Jewellery, South East Asia, in 2010. He is a member of the Congregation of Silversmiths of Cuba.   April 2012

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