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Sandra Portilla: Creating with her surrounding elements

Sandra Portilla: Creating with her surrounding elements

I would go out on a limb here and say that it is in every girls DNA to have a heart for jewelry. Who doesn’t love to slip on a new pair of dangly earrings or catch yourself gazing at your new ring while jotting something down. These are the exact reasons why Sandra Portillo loves what she does. Little do we know what that gem in our ring actually goes through to look sparkly and so well put together on our hand, Sandra is here to give us the down low on the gems and beads us girls love so much.


So! Who is Sandra Portillo?!
My name is Sandra Portillo, a 23 year old, talented, up and coming, artist, who’s true passions are for designing and fabricating custom, hand made jewelry. As well as the fascinating field of gemology (the study of gemstones and their physical and chemical properties)

Have you always been interested in making jewelry? When did this love and talent start to grow?
My interest in collecting beads, and gemstones began when I was a very young child, which is also when I started designing and making jewelry and my passion and talent began to become evident. My overwhelming interest transitioned to me being highly involved in jewelry design and fabrication in high school, which in turn led to the pursuit of furthering my education in the fields of my dreams.

How did you learn the ins and outs of jewelry making?
I have had the honor and privilege to attend the worlds leading authority on gemstones, the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad California, where I received a degree and certification first as a Graduate Bench Jeweler, and directly after received a degree and certification as a Graduate Gemologist.

What was the most interesting thing you learned in school?
Learning what parts of the world gemstones come from and how they are formed. Also knowing that each and every gemstone has its own characteristics and properties that help you identify them was very remarkable.

What inspires you most to create a new piece of jewelry?
Many things in life inspire me to create jewelry, the list is never ending! Native American jewelry inspires me a lot. Things like nature, gemstones, geometrical patterns, animals, art, etc

Are there other areas of art you are interested in other than making jewelry?
I am a truly versatile artist, I love to draw, paint, do leatherwork. I participate in the Pasadena Chalk Art Festivals every year where over 200 people create life size chalk pastel masterpieces.

What is your favorite thing about creating jewelry?
Think about it, jewelry often is associated with happiness and lets face it, making people smile is a wonderful thing. Using your own imagination and hands, starting off with raw pieces of metal and materials and watching them transform into something so beautiful is an amazing feeling, especially when somebody puts it on and appreciates the beauty that has become as a result of time, care and craftsmanship.

Where do you get your stones and gems from?
I purchase my gems from a variety of places including various private dealers that are in the downtown LA jewelry district as well as some that are not and different online supply vendors. Because I like to use high quality products, I like to personally touch and see each gem I use, so gem shows such as the Tuscan gem show, JCK and other gem shows are the main source of my purchases of gemstones. I also prospect and mine my own gold and gemstones when and where I can.

What does the process look like when you are beginning to create a masterpiece?
Metalsmithing and making jewelry is a process that usually begins when I sketch out a design I have in my mind. Then I gather the materials needed for that particular project, such as gemstones, beads, feathers, metal sheet, wire, castings, stamps, gravers etc… I then use imagination, elbow grease and many different fabrication methods including waxes, molds, forging, filing, sawing, soldering, stamping, polishing, etc… After all this time and performing each step correctly, a masterpiece is brought to life.

Interesting fact about yourself?
I am a crazy bead lady and I love to collect beads and gemstones! I helped design one of Ben Harpers necklaces, that was pretty awesome!

Who is your inspiration?
It’s just been an overwhelming love and passion since a very young age. It does have a lot of merit that my great grandfather was a jeweler and has definitely inspired me to follow in his footsteps.

What are your hopes and dreams when it comes to jewelry making?
To be a world-renowned jewelry designer and fabricator that creates high-end exquisite jewelry pieces.

Do you have a favorite band or type of music you like to get in the zone with?
Michael Jackson is by far my favorite! I love anything from oldies, Motown, classic rock to R&B.

Thank you so much Sandra educating us on the jewelry that we love so much! I personally love hearing about how the things we choose to decorate ourselves with came from mother nature herself. So cool that you get your inspiration and your main supplies strait from this beautiful world. Everyone be sure to check Sandra’s etsy store out and give her some love!

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