We never knew sin could look this good
“Inspiration is everywhere,” as many put it, and that you just need to look at things differently to find it. Funny and surprisingly (or not), many artists took this by heart and even brought out works with beauty hailed from the most unlikely of sources, like the Seven Deadly Sins. While instructed to be avoided by Catholic leaders and practitioners, the cardinal sins helped many artists produce the world’s greatest masterpieces, luring anyone to witness a transgression in the most obvious or discreet depiction.
For Filipina artist Cristina Zuluaga, she leans on the latter by presenting the cardinal sins through the delicate charm of her jewelry. But what makes her different among her industry colleagues is that her sense of seeing is not as crystal clear.
Established last 2020, bespoke jewelry brand, The Blind Designer & Company, is the brainchild of Cristina and her husband Daniel Bautista. Through it, they aim to “raise awareness of natural conflict-free gems and reliable laboratories that grow top-quality stones as alternative options over blood diamonds” and “Stargardt’s Disease, a genetic condition that degenerates the macula and Behcet’s Disease,” which Cristina have.
“This is why I call myself The Blind Designer because I am literally blind,” Cristina tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I have lost my central vision and rely on my peripheral vision to navigate and work.”
“We decided to take that chance, that leap and we never looked back, it’s the best decision we have made,” she continues. “Daniel is a member of the International Gem Society and is the ‘science’ and financial aspect of the business. He handles the operations and financial side. I, on the other hand, understand gems as much as Daniel does but I took the design route.”
Crafting the perfect sins
The idea of making a jewelry line inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins has been in Cristina’s mind for years, with the pandemic giving her the push to focus and finish it. Although the inspiration was of devilish origin, the components of the collection’s every piece is far from anything bad.
“All raw materials are ethically sourced. We do not deal with natural gems that aren’t from mines that practice conflict-free mining, from mining camps that abuse and rape children,” she says. “I wanted to make the design relatable to everyone, not bounded by religion or ideation but through experience from social injustices to personal accounts or stories my clients have told me in confidence.”
Greed is depicted through a gold or platinum cocktail ring of a serpent decked with white and blue sapphires and emeralds.
Sloth is a black gold piece, matte but with a satin finish. According to the designer, it shows stagnation and the after-effects of apathy.
Lust is a ring in champagne pink gold-tone, matte, and brushed with pave set white sapphires, and represents the female genitalia,
Inspired by a Harry Winston piece, Pride is a necklace resembling a peacock feather made out of 2,500 diamonds and a beautiful 30-carat oval Paraiba Tourmaline set in gold or platinum.
A pair of reverse dangle earrings embodies Envy. The design shows a serpent, tapered to the bottom. Instead of going with the usual green with envy vibe, the designer decided to go with pink/red tone gems with a chevron cut padparadscha sapphire set in gold.
The Gluttony piece is a pair of brass-toned solid gold spoon earrings with one round ruby sitting at the edge of each.
Wrath presents a broken heart-shaped piece showcasing an attractive broken mix of pink rubies and gold.
Giving in to beauty
While many personalities have been criticized with their blatant showcase of luxury during the time of pandemic, Cristina notes that it is not wrong for anyone to admire and wear jewelry.
“There is nothing sinful about treating yourself to artwork that you can wear during the pandemic or any other time,” she explains. “Not to seem self-serving, but I believe that you should do what you can during these times to make yourself feel good. Jewelry is art you can wear. It is a beautiful heirloom that can hold memories and be passed on to your children and grandchildren.”