The triad of Joyce Mäkitalo

This designer’s current collection, ‘Memento,’ represents a triad of virtues most essential in this pandemic-stricken world—courage, faith, and luck

DIVINE MAGIC Solae necklace

Her goldsmiths are frustrated.

Not only does jewelry designer Joyce Mäkitalo prefer stones that gleam rather than sparkle, she is also in love with raw and irregular cuts. “I think certain flaws make stones more special,” she says. “The same goes with people.”

I’ve been drawn to Joyce’s most recent work, a triad collection she calls “Memento,” meaning souvenir, her first hurrah for 2021, pieces of which she uploaded on Facebook, explaining that it “represents the true essentials in life, which were much magnified last year, in the form of courage, faith in and surrender to God, and belief in divine magic and luck.”

In “Memento,” these true essentials are symbolized by the sword (courage), the Trinity (faith), and the horseshoe (divine magic). In a way, although Joyce plays around the word souvenir or keepsake, meaning something we take from the past, these creations can be worn as a badge of honor for having survived a year of immense challenge and, more important, as a reminder of how we have survived it so far as we move forward into an uncertain future.

MYTHOLOGIST Jewelry designer Joyce Mäkitalo

The Vittorio necklace in “Memento” is an epic, so to speak. With the sword as its principal pendant, made of solid sterling silver with gold elements, the hilt designed with amethyst cabochon, a mookite cylinder, and raw emerald bar, it is a chronicle of life’s mini-battles. “When I realized that life had changed, the uncertainty was daunting, almost debilitating,” Joyce recounts, sharing the inspiration behind this piece that she created around the virtue of courage. “But at one point I decided to pick myself up, take courage, and rise to the challenge.”

‘What seemed like the most terrible year in our lifetime changed so many of us for the better. I learned so much from last year and I had an idea of bringing those lessons with me in the form of this collection.’

But for Joyce, real courage can only stem from full faith. “When fear rears its ugly head, only wisdom and surrender to the Divine can crush it. Prayer was my main source of strength last year,” she says. Faith is a major player in the narrative of her current collection, where it finds expression in a piece she calls the Trinity. “The main element is the Eye of Divine Providence, which originates in Christianity as a symbol of God,” she explains, adding that many examples of this can be found in religious Renaissance art.

FAITH Trinity necklace

In the triad, the Solae necklace represents divine magic and luck. “I believe auspicious symbols and crystals help sync the chakras, balance energies, and remove blockages and negativity,” says Joyce. “I try to surround myself with crystals at home. My workplace is full of them, too, since stones and gems are a constant part of my work. I also love sacred symbolism and the universality of it. I recently found out that the crescent/U shape is auspicious in many cultures and religions.” This discovery inspired the silhouette of the Solae, with lapis lazuli cabochons and a rhodolite garnet.

Joyce first thought of this collection in November last year, not so much while looking at what a year it had been as while looking forward to a new year. “What seemed like the most terrible year in our lifetime changed so many of us for the better,” she muses. “I learned so much from last year and I had an idea of bringing those lessons with me in the form of this collection.”

COURAGE Vittorio necklace

The designer comes up with a collection at least twice a year—“or whenever I feel strongly about an idea, or when I find cool stones,” she adds. Hers is jewelry that stands out because they are story-driven. “I don’t let materials get in the way of what I want to express. I love rubies, sapphires, and emeralds as much as the next girl and they feature often in my work, but if I need a certain color that I cannot find as a gemstone, I do not shy away from using unconventional materials like hardwood or vintage beads. Beauty will always be my main objective, more than material value,” says Joyce. Already, she is busy dreaming up a collection for PH x Tokyo, FAME’s incubation project with a group of Filipino designers under the mentorship of H30 Tokyo agency, although this collection won’t be launched until 2022 in Tokyo.

Joyce was born under the sign of Dragon Scorpio and, in her book, as she puts it, “mystery is stimulating, to dream is empowering, and transcendental subjects are most inspiring.” To me, her jewelry is like literature, replete with fables, legends, and myths, much like her personality.

View J Mäkitalo Jewelry’s main catalog on Instagram @jmakitalojewelry). Visitors are also welcome at her Makati showroom (BSA Tower Legazpi Street, Makati City | 02 8 8892425) from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.