Gisa Golpira produces unique pieces of jewelry from gold nuggets, which she obtains in an environmentally friendly way from the rainforest of South America
I met Gisa Golpira for the first time in January 2015. At the time, she was one of the young designers involved in accessories with Vogue Salon. Presented at Hotel de Rome in Berlin, her jewelry pieces seemed so valuable in combination with her persona and the story she had to tell, that we all wanted to own a Golpira piece immediately.
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Gisa’s jewelry is made of gold nuggets – found pieces from Papua New Guinea. Since 2014, the 33-year-old has been constantly creating new treasures for the sustainable jewelry label, which she manages together with her parents. The nuggets adorn necklaces and earrings, rings and bracelets. Each piece is unique, just as special and individual as the path that brought it to Gisa’s studio – and finally to its wearer.
As a little girl, she grew up in the rainforest of South America. Her parents worked as gold miners, and her best friend was a small monkey. That doesn’t just sound nice – it’s also true. Gisa has understood what nature means since an early age. “Nature and the Earth are the greatest riches we humans have,” she says. And so respect and love for the environment are the pillars of the label. “No dirty gold” is her mantra – and that’s true.
Today Gisa Golpira lives and works in Düsseldorf. We asked her a few questions about her relationship to jewelry, her routines and her goals, and why she doesn’t like opening mail.
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“I’ve worn a gold nugget pendant on a chain since I was a child. My mother gave it to me when she was going back to the jungle and I was staying in Germany. Since then, I’ve understood how you can emotionally attach to a piece of jewelry. For the most part, jewelry has many values for the wearer, and often the material value is secondary. The pendant that I received that day later became the inspiration to found the Golpira label. As the daughter of gold miners, I came into contact with precious gold nuggets very early on. I accompanied my parents on expeditions to the jungle of Peru. We would live for months in tents deep in the jungle, with nothing but the forest, animals, and the native people around us. This time in my childhood made a big impact on me – I learned to love and to respect nature from an early age.
I started my fashion career as a teenager with modeling jobs. Later, I studied fashion management and worked as an assistant merchandiser at a well-known fashion house. I suppose it was the sum of my experience and a passion for jewelry that influenced me to found Golpira. What I love the most about my job is the creative process. Opening letters, on the other hand…not so much – they’re only full of bills! Instagram plays a big role for me when it comes to positioning my label, sharing news with customers, or just when I’m looking for inspiration.”
Timeless design, the highest quality, and uncompromising sustainability all define Golpira’s DNA. Gold nuggets are the heart of each piece, every one of which is produced exclusively in Germany.
“We don’t process our naturally formed 23K gold nuggets at all, leaving them instead in the original form in which gold miners found them in the jungle. Every nugget is different: Whether angular and matt, elongated and rough, or rounded and shiny, there are no two alike. And that is where the beauty in them lies. Each has its own structure and form – and especially its own energy. So each found piece is a naturally produced one-off, and without the use of toxic chemicals. Our customers value that. They are looking for unusual, sustainable, and timeless jewelry that is connected to a special story. The idea is simple, yet no one had ever done it before.
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Like many others in the industry, I don’t have a set routine – it’s organized chaos. That’s why it’s important to me to have a structured morning. Almost every morning starts with me staying in bed at least 30 minutes longer than my alarm would actually like me to – I’m a notorious late riser. I usually sit in my home office around 10am if there isn’t a shoot planned or if it’s not Fashion Week. Usually I start by reading my emails and handling those. At the moment, I’m working on new styles and the sketches as well as on the mood board. Keeping constant interaction going in my studio is really important to me, so I’m there before lunch. I set my business meetings for around noon, or meet my dad or a friend for lunch. My afternoon today was scheduled around the topic of social media for the coming month. Afterwards, I thought about what the next Golpira lookbook could look like. It actually doesn’t matter where I work from, but it is practical to be near the studio so that I can better coordinate the work processes. My strategy is to focus on sustainable gold nugget jewelry and to succeed in this area without losing authenticity. I will keep coming up with new designs, but they will always be available in limited editions and/or exclusively in selected concept stores. So far, we have focused very much on the German market, but that will change soon. And in five years, it would be great to fill a niche with Golpira internationally.”
Madeleine is a fashion journalist. For as long as she can remember she has been passionate about fashion and accessories, in particular cashmere sweaters and jewelry. After five years of working at Vogue Germany’s fashion department in Munich, she decided to encounter a new challenge and move to Berlin. Her role at hey woman! allows her to combine her passion for styling, creative directing and writing. Madeleine is also good at imitating a Swiss accent and trying to be a cook.