Outside of the museums it’s not often you find jewelry with hundreds if not thousands of years of history behind it. You might inherit family heirlooms passed down for generations or even stumble across a rare ornament in the dusty corner of a downtown antique shop. You might imagine what the past owners of these gems were like—where they lived, how they spoke, who they were—but it’s rare to find jewelry that tells its own story. GAROGOSI, however, does just that.
This jewelry designed and created by Sevan Garo Nigogosian (the company’s name a combination of the artist’s middle and surnames) captures a fleeting moment in the lives of Alpine glaciers. Sevan’s current collections include the Glacier des Bossons and La Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) in Chamonix. La Mer de Glace, France’s largest glacier—and the second longest glacier in the Alps after Switzerland’s Aletsch Glacier—once stretched to the border of the Arve valley. Today it flows for 12 kilometers, a fraction of what it might have covered during the alpine town’s 1924 Winter Olympics. The glacier recedes an average of 7.5 meters a year.
With the ephemeral nature of these natural landmarks in mind, Sevan essentially takes a thumbprint of Chamonix’s famous glaciers, translating them into wearable sculpture. The final products are jewelry that both celebrates the unconventional natural beauty of each piece’s source and—as is the artist’s hope—inspires conversation about environmental fragility.
Though the detail and care with which Sevan handcrafts each piece of jewelry might suggest years of perfecting this craft, the artist somewhat accidentally entered the realm of jewelry design. He’s had no formal training in jewelry, but nearly a lifetime’s worth of experience with the manipulation of metals. At the age of 12 Sevan became fascinated by the art of sculptures and went on to study fine art in London before working as an art teacher in central London for several years.
GAROGOSI began quite literally with a bang. In the autumn of 2016 Sevan was preparing to showcase a series of paintings and sculptures on the opening day of a large art exhibition in The Hague. Never having put these particular sculptures on display, he dropped one of his works while attempting to hang it and it shattered all over the floor of the gallery.
“I was distraught,” Sevan recalls. “This was a huge exhibition and the sculpture I’d spent months creating was destroyed. It wasn’t until I was cleaning up the pieces and picked up a nugget of material that I realized it would make an awesome piece of wearable sculpture”
Shortly thereafter Sevan began crafting rings, necklaces, and bracelets to friends and family with the intention of raising money to cast these large sculptures in bronze, preserving his glacial impressions forever. Within only a few months of drafting his first models, the artist had designed a brand for his business, built and launched his website, and begun promoting the GAROGOSI name.
“What’s unique about GAROGOSI is that by selling and sharing impressions of these glaciers, I can bring people to the Glacier des Bossons and La Mer de Glace,” Sevan explains. “My goal was to share and preserve the energy of the glaciers. I wanted there to be more to adorning oneself with an object than just the material. I wanted people to have something of meaning, something with a narrative that connected them to such a powerful landscape.”
By restricting each piece to only 50 editions, Sevan ensures that GAROGOSI pieces remain unique to their source. Each ring, necklace, bracelet, or cuff captures the textural imperfections of the glacier’s terrain on the day the artist makes his impressions. This process is executed without harming the glacier.
After collecting the impressions of the glaciers with a specialized mould, Sevan returns to his studio—a small mezzo transformed into a workspace and showroom. Here he uses specially crafted tools to translate his glacial impressions into polished works of art.
“Transforming these impressions into jewelry is about appreciating the rough, smooth, or chaotic facets of the ice in that particular site,” he says. “Though we can’t see it with the naked eye, the glacier is constantly working its way down the mountain and I want to capture that invisible force.” While Sevan’s pieces are rooted in the influence of art—creative technique, problem solving, and a well-trained eye—he insists that it is nature that creates the stories behind each piece.
“As each piece of jewelry is created and passed down from one generation to the next, a piece of history is preserved,” he explains. The images and impressions on Sevan’s customer’s fingers or wrists will never be seen again.
“It’s the most important thing I can do in continuing the discussion of ecological preservation. By wearing these pieces, people are talking about it more and that’s a good thing,” the artist says of his work.
Having launched GAROGOSI in West London, Sevan now ships his masterpieces worldwide though he continues to sell them in France and the UK. Each piece is customizable with the GPS coordinates of the impression sites. He also creates commissioned pieces.
So what’s next for the artist? Sevan plans to add small glacial sculptures to GAROGOSI’s collection, returning to his roots in sculpture while continuing to craft unique pieces of wearable sculpture.
View the Garogosi collection here.