Words by Debra Edwards—
After a great response to last week’s Fashion Fridays post on Suriname’s Atelier Doré jewelry, we decided to catch up with husband and wife designers Judith and Henk Uiterloo to find out who they are and what inspires them to make such stunning pieces of art.
LargeUp: How did you both get into jewelry design?
Judith Uiterloo: Henk’s father Doré started the company in 1955 and successfully ran it for years until he became sick. During Dore’s illness, we decided to take over his studio and continue to make signature pieces that he loved while maintaining the craftsmanship that he was known for. I quit my job as a teacher and dedicated myself full time to the business, and for Henk it was a little easier since he grown up smiting and making jewelry.
LU: What can one expect from an Atelier Doré piece?
Henk: A Doré is designed to visually stimulate you and draw your attention. You can wear them as jewelry, but they can also double as beautiful pieces of art in your home. A Doré is handcrafted and is designed according to the original methods. We only make one-of-a-kind pieces and we don’t duplicate our jewelry.
LU: With regard to running a fashion brand, what does an average day entail?
Judith: Our atelier is open six days a week and five hours per day. Our clients who we consider family visit us throughout the day. So we take our time fitting jewelry and listening to the stories they have to tell us. Because lots of our jewelry is designed according to the stories people tell us. After closing time it’s back to the sketching board and the making of jewelry.
LU: There are certainly a growing amount of jewelry designers emerging all over the world. What sets Atelier Dore apart from the rest?
Henk: People expect smooth, flawless jewelry, welded into their perception of perfection. Our opinion is that every detail of the silver is used to be visible, we believe in jewelry with an expressive strength. We usually work with semi manufactured silver which comes right off the roller. Silver with a rough exterior.
LU: Where do you find inspiration?
Judith: In daily prayer we dedicate our work to God who is the driving force behind our creations. We are inspired by the lives of everyday people. Every life is colorful and tells its own story. That’s why Doré jewels are so colorfully filled with semi-precious stones and beautiful beads.
LU: Since taking over Atelier Dore in 1996 what have you learned over the time about being jewelry designers, and running a successful fashion business?
Judith: It’s hard for us to get global. People expect us to produce mass and we won’t. We try to maintain an ancient craft, which is very important to us, where machinery is out of the question. We have a small population and our country is not very fashion minded which has made it very difficult for us to get a breakthrough, but we’ve learned that sticking with our concept against all odds works. And we are determined to continue to do so.
LU: What is your proudest moment of your jewelry career?
Henk: This would most definitely be attending the London Fashion Week recently and being part of the history since this is the first time Caribbean designers participated. Also being awarded as Caribbean Master Designers.
LU: What can we expect next from Atelier Dore?
Judith: From June 7-11 we will be in Jamaica for Caribbean Fashion Week. Also we are set to attend Design Caribbean in London. And our customers can expect lots more stunning pieces to come.