Finland’s Lord of the Rings: a jeweller’s story
by Carina Chela
Designer and goldsmith Timo Mustajärvi creates stand-alone jewellery that makes a statement. His work is sculptural, masculine and contemporary, while retaining just enough of that signature Scandinavian minimalistic style.
Mustajärvi’s rings are popular among musicians, singers, architects, designers and Japanese tourists who visit his studioworkshop in the artist town of Fiskars. He has designed for Finland’s prestigious Lapponia collection and continuously travels around the world looking for the perfect stones to use in his work. Not many jewellery designers have their work as part of the British Museum’s collection. But Mustajärvi does.
When I was a child I used to collect stones, marble, spectrolite, tuffite. I had wonderful stones! It was always a bother when we had to move house because I would have a whole wheelbarrow full of stones! So my interest in jewellery came through stones. I realised that stones could be shaped and that they also had a function. Later on I really became a stone-freak. Well, I still am.
What I definitely enjoy the most is designing rings. I feel that I am at my best when working with a ring. I enjoy thinking about the surface of the metal or what kind of a stone or colour would be good for a certain design. I think about the sculptural side of it, not the practicality. I think about the art in the jewel. And on average it takes from 10 to 15 hours before a ring is ready. But I also enjoy designing earrings and necklaces.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I’m a very visual person and I’m interested in architecture, sculpture and graphic design. But I also get inspiration from diving. Seeing the different underwater colours and shapes is very inspirational. I am also always looking for stones, even when I’m on holiday abroad. I can find them in Asia, Europe or South America.
What about Finnish gemstones?
There isn’t a very wide variety of gemstones in Finland, and the few we have are of a weaker quality. In my work I use about 10% of local gemstones, the rest I’ve brought from other countries. But we do have the Luumäki gem Beryl which is the most valuable one, the Luosto amethyst and of course spectrolite.
What’s more important, the material or the design?
Both. I am a designer but a good design needs good material. This is implicit in my work. Lately I have also asked my clients to bring their old jewellery to see if we can recycle the metal. Most people want to recycle, and old jewellery usually has its sentimental value.
Rock crystal which is found mainly in Madagascar. It’s an expensive stone but it’s beautiful. It’s a very pure stone, it’s like glass, it shines, there are no impurities in that stone.
How do you unplug from your work?
I like getting my hands dirty in the garden, it relaxes me. Next summer I’m hoping to plant some apple trees.