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An interview with Maddalena Bearzi, Founder of Maddalena Bearzi Jewelry

Maddalena Bearzi is an Italian jewelry artist, marine biologist, and published author. Born in Verona, Italy into an artistic family, she has traveled extensively studying wild animals and learning new ways to express herself. She began to pursue her passion for jewelry craftsmanship on her own, and later studied metalsmithing at the University of California, Los Angeles. Maddalena has learned techniques from Master silversmith and jeweler Gordon Wainwright and world-recognized jewelry artist Harold O’Connor. Her jewelry draws from her experiences in other artistic media such as paint and textiles. Maddalena’s work has been exhibited in galleries and art shows. 

As a scientist, Maddalena holds a Ph.D. in Biology and works as President of the research and environmental non-profit Ocean Conservation Society. She has studied whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals in the field for over 25 years and has published two books: Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins (Harvard University Press) and Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist(University of Chicago Press; with sketches by the author). She is also an official blogger for the National Geographic – Voices: Ideas and Insights from Explorers.

The Maddalena Bearzi jewelry studio is based in Los Angeles, California, where the designer lives with her husband and dog.

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  • What is your backstory?

Since I was just a child, I have been captivated by the natural world and I looked for close-up encounters with animals everywhere I could. I followed my aspirations and became a marine biologist (I have studied whales and dolphins for over 25 years) and a conservation advocate for the oceans and their inhabitants.

Despite my work in the scientific field and being a biologist by training, I’ve always felt the need to use the “non-scientific” part of my brain, so I began to express myself – and my passion for nature – in different ways. My imagination found an outlet first in drawings, writing, photography, and later on in my life, in jewelry making. My ink sketches, my photos, my books and all my jewelry pieces are all connected to nature and my deep respect for the wilderness. Every single piece of jewelry that I make at my workbench is inspired and strictly tied to nature and my life as a field biologist.

  • What inspired you to start Maddalena Bearzi Jewelry?

As I mentioned above, I have always been extremely inquisitive about both, nature and the discovery of new ways to express myself. I began by joining sustainable and distinctive textiles with reclaimed metals, vintage pieces, stones, and pebbles found during my scientific travels around the world, from the beach of Ushuaia, in Patagonia, to the desert of Death Valley, in California. Later on, these textile-based creations led me to a focus on one-of-a-kind, metal pieces that I handcrafted in silver, copper, bronze, gold, and brass, sometimes mixing these metals and adding handmade patinas and precious stones.

As time passed, I started spending countless hours at my jewelry workbench, creating more and more pieces, often crafted with reclaimed metals. Those pieces ended up on the arms, fingers and necks of friends & relatives, and later on, other clients. That was the beginning of my eponymous Maddalena Bearzi Jewelry business.

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  • What is the most rewarding part of doing what you do?

Many rewarding parts come from making jewelry and using your hands to create something new. Above all, there are perhaps the positive and heartening responses of my clients to my handcrafted pieces.

  • What makes your business stand out?

I think what makes my business unique and sets me apart from other jewelers is my background and how jewelry making is, for me, strictly connected to my love for Mother Earth.

Each piece of my jewelry is handmade, organic-looking and one-of-a-kind, and it tells its own, unique, nature-inspired story.

  • How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Part of the revenue from my jewelry sales is used to support different causes, including ocean protection, and during these difficult and almost surreal times, COVID-19 relief institutions.

  • Where can we purchase your jewelry?

My handmade jewelry is available online at maddalenabearzi.com, in selected stores and gallery shops in the United States and worldwide.

  • What final words do you have for your supporters?

Please, continue to help artisans and their work in any way you can!

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