Q&A: Jewelry artist Carolyn Tyler talks inspirations and future of beauty, art and design

Jewelry artist Carolyn Tyler is showing work at Karats in Vail from now until Wednesday. The show started on Dec. 26, and the Vail Daily was sent this question and answer article with the artist. In it, she discusses her artistic career, her inspirations and her legacy as an artist.

Vail Daily: Given the interests that you have today, how would you envision your legacy as a jewelry designer?

Carolyn Tyler: I like to think that these bespoke pieces are my precious immortal children, which will still be around long after I am gone. One day, they may be unearthed as archaeological artifacts, much like the ancient Egyptian and Roman jewelry that inspired me so much as a wide-eyed child in the LA Natural History Museum, where my parents frequently took me.

What is most important for you at this time in your artistic career?

I have had several career incarnations in my lifetime — first as a graphic artist and copywriter, then clothing, accessories and fragrance design, home and garden design, and most recently and long-lived: jewelry design, which has given me such a fun and interesting life. Jewelry will be a part of my life for the foreseeable future, so it will always be important to me.

But as of 2020, I am embarking on a new adventure in what is perhaps the most ground-breaking re-invention of myself ever: Health Design. I am developing a stunningly beautiful state-of-the-art Wellness Retreat in Bali, Indonesia, my home since 1993. It is located in Ubud, Bali’s cultural center, known for centuries as a place of healing and rejuvenation, now globally famous for its Yoga and Meditation culture. The name “Ubud” comes from the Balinese word for medicinal herbs, which were traditionally collected in the area. I will put the same focus and attention to detail into manifesting this personal-renewal sanctuary as I have with the creation of spectacular jewelry pieces for the last three decades.

Who or what has influenced you most of late in your designing?

I’ve been scuba diving a lot since semi-retiring 18 months ago, so the undersea world has influenced me greatly. I’ve done several pieces, including a massive buffalo horn arm cuff, depicting stylized octopuses, starfish and waves, rendered in silver and gold with opals, sapphires and other unusual gems. Nature motifs from the sky, land and sea have always featured significantly in my designs. One of my most popular earrings is the whimsical hermit crab, which holds a detachable starfish-capped drop in its pincers. I love working with organic forms like vines and leaves also, and organic gems such as pearls, fossils, coral and iridescent Canadian ammolite from prehistoric nautiluses. But Lightning Ridge lavender Australian opal is my all-time favorite stone, with Ethiopian opal coming a close second. You can see other worlds in some of these magical gemstones.

In 50 years, where will your jewelry line be — with collectors or in auctions?

Most of my jewelry will be happily worn by their inheritors, since my basics like the Rameses ring and Zanzibar earrings are absolutely timeless. In fact, the Rameses ring design (the only design I have ever appropriated from another source—the jeweler of the Pharoah, Ramses II) is over 3500 years old and is still my most requested special order. To be sure, some of it will end up in auctions or with collectors of fine, handmade jewelry art, since there likely will be nobody patient or skilled enough to do precious metal fabrication in 2070. Hopefully, much of it will be displayed in museums so the general public can still enjoy looking at the masterful craftsmanship.

What is the future and definition of beauty and quality in our lives, throughout history and into the future?

Wow, that’s a really deep and interesting question… the future will bring big change, and definitions of beauty and quality become something we can barely imagine from where we now sit, with artificial intelligence and virtual reality bearing down on us at warp speed, not to mention 3-D printing, lab-grown products, and other unimaginable methods of production.

We are at a crossroads as a species. Predictions are that life in 10 years’ time will be as different from the present as the 1800s are different to 2020.

I hope that high-quality hand-craftsmanship will be even more appreciated in the high-tech future, and people will still be able to feel the soul of art pieces manifested from their creators’ ideas, visionary experiences and dreams. We must not lose the impulse for creative expression that arises from love and the deep human desire to communicate thoughts, emotions and feelings through artistic expressions for others to contemplate, be moved by and respond to.

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