Based in the country of Georgia, Diana Khutsishvili founded KIMILI, a jewellery brand specialising in wearable art made from Georgian Cloisonné Enamel. Diana has always been passionate about fashion and handmade jewellery. Her ambition is to bring Georgian Cloisonné Enamel jewellery 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 jewellery as we know it. KIMILI combines current fashion trends into jewellery, creating colourful, 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 jewellery 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 jewellery. 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 jewellery 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 jewellery 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 jewellery. The cloisonné wire is made from silver or fine gold and is 0.07 millimeter thin. This partition is applied to the jewellery and is served as a colour 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 jewellery 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 jewellery made?
KIMILI jewellery 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 jewellery 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 jewellery. This can be an extremely time consuming and a difficult process depending on the design of the jewellery. Once the partitions are applied, the item is fired in the oven for a couple of minutes.
The next stage is colouring. Crashed glass is used for colouring jewellery. Colours are manually applied to the jewellery 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 colouring of the jewellery is done multiple times (approximately 3-5 times) until the surface is even. Afterwards the piece is polished and the goldsmith finalizes the jewellery.
Since all these steps of applying partitions and colouring 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 honour 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 jewellery?
As KIMILI creates wearable art jewellery, 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 jewellery, 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 jewellery.