WILD THINGS | Solitaire Magazine


Daniela Villegas immortalises Jurassic Park in a playful collection

A SCULPTURAL 18K ROSE GOLD BRACHIOSAURUS RING APPEARS TO LEAP ACROSS THE HAND IN A DARING MOVE, its ridges protrude in pearls while rubies represent its scaly markings. A similar Brachiosaurus ring sports large baroque pearls on its chin and tail, while its companion, a rose gold baby T Rex pendant, shows off a funky ruby ridge.

These large, fun-to-wear pieces are from the latest collection created by LosAngeles-based Mexican designer Daniela Villegas to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie Jurassic Park. Well-known for her large and fun sculptural pieces, Villegas was commissioned by Universal Brand Development to design a collection to commemorate the blockbuster’s anniversary.

“We initially started with seven pieces, and the collection has now developed into more than 40 pieces, most of them one-of-a-kind,” Villegas shares. All the pieces have a strong sculptural presence, but are clearly packed with fun design details that enchant both young and older movie buffs. She cleverly tweaked some of the more ‘scary’ look with fun details to communicate a more playful vibe.

“I like to share a message of happiness through my jewellery”

“I like to share a message of happiness through my jewellery,” Villegas adds. “I work with proportions, elements, and colour combinations to instil audacity and humour, two important attitudes for my life and work.” However, beneath the fun elements is a serious attitude to jewellery craftsmanship that consistently provides an unexpected sophistication to each piece. It is this sophisticated execution that has won her a following of jewellery lovers, including celebrities such as Salma Hayek, Halle Berry, and Christina Aguilera.

“Jewellery has always been part of my life. My twin sister and I were ‘pretend princesses’ in our childhood, playing endlessly with my great-grand mother’s jewellery,” shares Villegas. “I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a designer.”

She studied fashion and jewellery design in Mexico City, but says most of her skill is self-taught. “Jewellery is a vehicle to express myself and I am lucky to be living my dream where my hobby and passion is my job.”

Her homeland, Mexico, has always been a huge source of inspiration. Its colours
and biodiversity, the people and the chaos, the culture, creativity, history and food all inspire her. And now, she says her current hometown, Los Angeles, motivates her in a different way: “it allows me to feel free and express my authentic self.”

For Villegas, every design starts with a dream. The symbolism that she wants to inculcate in the piece and the story she wants to tell usually come to her while she is sleeping. When these ideas are clear, she sketches and sometimes creates 3D models. “I try to use techniques that are best suited to the idea, sometimes combining traditional and new technologies in one piece.” Since her designs are large and have numerous protruding elements, a vast part of her creative time is spent ensuring that the pieces are ergonomically made and comfortable to wear.

As part of her provocative approach, Villegas enjoys combining precious materials with objects found in nature, such as feathers, insects, porcupine quills, shells, and pebbles. These give her pieces a characteristic quirkiness. She is partial to 18K yellow and pink gold, but it is the hues and patterns of gemstones, particularly those with interesting inclusions, that define her creative process.

Daniela Villegas celebrates the 25th anniversary of the movie Jurassic Park with an equally spectacular collection

In the Jurassic Park collection she used a lot of amber and patterned quartz, which are an effortless complement to the dinosaur era. Among her favourite pieces are the amber and pink gold T Rex pin, an amber necklace with T Rex spacers, and the Re-birth T Rex cuff links with a skeletal T Rex on roller skates.

As the company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, she is busy re-working and evolving some concepts from previous collections. “My goal for the company is to grow in a way that we have congruency and evolution, and that jewellery aficionados recognise the ‘Daniela Villegas’ aesthetic in our pieces, which are designed to bring a sense of peace and happiness to their lives.”