In her quest to excel as jewelry designer, Janina Garcia-Santos went to Istituto di Moda Burgo, Milan, after taking a course in Accredited Jewelry Profession from Gemological Institute of America.
“Jewelry design courses in the States felt backward and old-fashioned. Showcases were too conservative,” she says. “In Europe there is more influence from its culture, therefore the designs are more unique. The European lifestyle plays a big factor in its designs.”
Her creative streak was evident at an early age. Growing up, she always loved to draw. “I was lucky my mom exposed me to available resources to create jewelry,” she continues. “This was easy as she had a liking for fine jewelry and sold pieces as a hobby.”
Janina’s work shows off how handmade goldsmithing is a highly specialized skill. She aims to educate people on the importance of details and the intricacy involved in making jewelry.
“Handmade goldsmithing is a very meticulous job because it is small and measurements are done by the millimeter,” she says. “It takes a very skilled
worker. Manually drilled individual holes have better settings than machine-made, mass-produced jewelry. It involves many steps and each is done carefully, from the melting of the metal up until the alignment of the stone tables during setting. All my workers are goldsmiths.”
Inspired by nature and antique jewelry, Janina’s pieces are mostly silver dipped in yellow gold and embellished with colorful, semiprecious stones.
“I love wearing white and architectural-type clothes. It simply makes the jewelry stand out,” she says.
Though she encourages customers to step out of their comfort zone so their style can evolve, she still considers the cost and does not believe in coming out with ridiculously expensive pieces.
“I always consider the cost and salability,” she says with conviction.
As experimental as she is in design, Janina also dabbles in cooking. “I like using the oven because it is easy, and healthier than fried food. I make pizza, sandwiches and wraps to make use of leftovers.”
She attributes her waif-like figure to drinking lots of water. “Not only does it give you good skin and keep you hydrated, it can aid in weight loss because it keeps you full. Drink a full glass of water before each meal and you will end up eating less.”
Janina finds peace and happiness in following her mother’s footsteps. “She is such a great role model and the best example I have that I want to emulate. We talk as friends, and our interactions have exposed me to “old” ways, food, music—an appreciation not so common for people my age these days,” Janina points out.