Gabriella Kiss never set out to create a collection of scalloped-edge gold jewelry for her namesake line. Instead, it began as the byproduct of her other work, says the Pratt-trained jeweler, who began to see the beauty in the cutout leftovers from the scalloped bezel setting used for her stones. “Eventually I had enough to play with designing pieces around them,” explains Kiss. She even came up with her own term for them. “Scrap scallops became ‘scrallops,’” she says.
Born from that serendipitous realization in Kiss’ upstate New York studio, the gold shapes take on a life of their own: “I wait for them to come to me as scraps from other finished pieces, and then they sit and wait and collect until they head to a next life. They are all completely different,” says Kiss, whose delicate work is often steeped in the natural world, from stick insects to snakes and skulls.
On her bench, the hammered remnants reemerge in varied forms; Kiss’ first major scallop pieces were bracelets and earrings loosely inspired by a combination of early twentieth century Vienna Workshop jewelry and drawings by Swiss-born modernist artist Paul Klee. In that series, which took eight years to manifest, scallops serve as a glowing canvas for whimsical images crafted from semiprecious stones and piercings. “In a way, this collection is about time to me as much as anything else,” says Kiss of the works, noting the instrumental roles of her longtime assistants, goldsmiths Melanie Bilenker and Shihoko Amano, in the design process as well.
The scalloped remnants also show up in works ranging from simple shield earrings to the wings of a damselfly brooch and as shadow-like details behind set stones. “Because these occur after something else is made, and there is an element of waiting, and gathering, and recycling, I love these pieces for their modesty and their patience and their adaptability,” muses Kiss. “They don’t demand much of me other than the preciousness of the material—they have designed themselves.”