Wire and Wonders: Chandally

June 20, 2022   |  Sonia Esther Soltani

The playful filigree creations of Israel-based designer Sharon Chandally Pedrini tap into her Yemeni roots and her penchant for the spiritual.

For Sharon Chandally Pedrini, jewelry-making is a spiritual process, one that involves both respect for her ancestors’ traditions and techniques, and her own interest in geometry and textures. At her intimate studio in Tel Aviv, Israel — which is also home to her workshop — a display of ancient Yemeni jewelry faces her contemporary creations in a meaningful dialogue between her dual influences.

Chandally Pedrini’s grandparents and older relatives were silversmiths who left Yemen for Israel. Born and raised in New York, the designer didn’t plan on learning her family’s craft until a soldering workshop she attended while studying musical-instrument construction revived memories of how her grandfather had used fire to turn metal into jewelry. This connection led her to move to Israel and learn at the bench with her great-uncles Azri and Shimon. In the latter’s Jerusalem workshop, she witnessed friendships between Jews and Arabs and discovered how spiritual jewelry-making could be. From her Dod Azri (“dod” being Hebrew for “uncle”), she learned how to master silver wire and the delicate art of filigree. She still uses some of his wire supply to this day.

The Chandally brand launched in 2009, retailing in the US and — more recently — in Dubai and the surrounding region. The designer’s signature style consists of hammered 18-karat gold pieces that play on negative space and asymmetry, featuring a small hamsa on the back to protect the wearer. All of these elements are present in her latest collection, Wonderland.

Model wearing the Moonshine earrings in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. Photo: Chandally.
Model wearing the Moonshine earrings in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. Photo: Chandally.

Can you tell us more about your creative process, from idea to realization?
Creation always starts at the bench for me. My design process usually starts with the filigree. The thin threads and wires have a familiar feel and define my metalworking language these days. The bench is where I can begin to experiment — melting, soldering, sawing, twisting, filing, until the piece appears in my hand. I usually sit and work on something, then leave it 90% done for a while. I like to take several days to let a piece be, to make sure I’m ready to call it complete.

Myrrh earrings in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. Photo: Chandally.

How is your Wonderland collection a new chapter in your creative journey?
This collection takes history and craft to a place of surprise. It marks a chapter of lightness and fun during these heavy times. While creating the pieces, I took the creative space to play more than usual. I loved using the familiar filigree elements to take the pieces in a different direction.
Where does the collection’s name come from?

From the creatures we share this planet with, to invisible sound waves that surround us, our world is filled with wonder. The Wonderland collection serves as a reminder to appreciate the small and big things in our lives, which we can easily overlook. Creating these pieces was a fun exploration. Incorporating cute and fantastical elements in pieces such as the Kitty Ears [necklace] and the Mirror necklace, I’ve taken this collection to a lighter place. I have a playful side to my personality, so it was great for me to express that in these pieces. I have always felt that 18-karat gold is a majestic material and something that needs to be honored, so it was a bit of a stretch for me to use it in this way. But during these heavy days, I see play and fun as a spiritual survival mechanism.

Model wearing the Kitty Ears necklace and Cocoon earrings in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. Photo: Chandally.
Model wearing the Kitty Ears necklace and Cocoon earrings in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. Photo: Chandally.

What is the hero piece?
The Mirror necklace is a dreamy ode to the importance of reflection — of ourselves and of our surroundings. This piece serves as a reminder to pause and gaze at the wonder reflected all around us. I love how the sine wave translates into a mesmerizing pattern, and the way the diamonds appear to float above the surface.

Mirror necklace in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. Photo: Chandally.
Mirror necklace in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. Photo: Chandally.

Which new markets are you approaching, and how do you feel your creations appeal to these different cultures?
This year, I am excited to introduce my work in Dubai to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market. The budding relations between [Israel and this region] give hope for the future. I love how the shared appreciation of historical motifs and symbols marks a fundamental unifier between the markets.

Main image: Sharon Chandally Pedrini. Photo: Chandally.

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