TALK OF THE TOWN: CRISTEL BALL
Cristel Ball has been creating the most beautiful jewelry pieces for a long time now. Cristel’s historical little treasures are hidden in a few small stores in Amsterdam. This is the place she calls home, her favorite city, although she’s lived all over the world.
When I asked her when she first started creating jewelry, Cristel told me she was always busy creating things, for as long as she can remember. She loves jewelry that’s more of the extraordinary type. Antiquity is the most inspiring thing for Cristel. She was a woman of the world for years, the ‘home is where the heart is’ kind of girl. There wasn’t just one city that felt like home. It was in Australia, during a rainy season, when she first started selling her jewelry. She had some time left and money short. The materials she used for her pieces were easy to find over there: shells, real bones, dried flowers, skulls and other natural objects. At first she would just sell to the people that knew her. It turned out that they loved her creations. She then started selling her jewelry online with help from a good friend. That worked quite well too.
Cristel also spent some time in Los Angeles, where she studied documentary film at the filmacademy. But when she came back to Amsterdam on a holiday, she never left again. She felt connected with the city and can’t imagine living somewhere else. Cristel loves to walk through the old city center of Amsterdam. Take the Nieuwmarkt square for instance. Cristel spends hours on the streets of this neighborhood: looking at the beautiful houses, window-shopping and relaxing in bars. The rawness of Amsterdam and the people that live inside of it; she loves it. And while roaming around, Cristel is always attentive for material she can use for her jewelry. All sorts of things can inspire her, but ancient times fascinate her most. The Second World War, the era of chivalry and Amsterdam’s heritage. I guess it’s relatable to the other material she looks for: things that once lived, but are now past.
Everytime Cristel starts a new collection, it gets a bit more interesting. She uses a lot of silver in the collection she’s working on right now, “because it’s timeless and it will hold its value”. But it was a big step to take. “I had to invest more than in my other collections”, Cristel admits. She loves to experience with new techniques and make it her own. Every collection adds something new. I took a look at her items: one of her necklaces had a piece of bone dangling at the cord and another ring was made of crystal. Crystal is a special material that Cristel loves to work with. “People can pick out jewelry, but a crystal selects the person who has to wear it. It really has to fit you. So there is not just one sort of person who wears my jewelry. It can be a fancy 20-year old or a grandma.” Cristel can do it all.
Cristel’s jewelry is booming and I wonder if she might need a helping hand some day soon. Not necessarily, it’s up to her. It’s not just about letting go of your baby. “The whole idea of authenticity gets lost when your jewelry is manufactured in Bali. That’s why I do everything myself.”
You can buy Cristel’s beautiful creations in stores like Hutspot and Bubblekid, or on her own website. But be swift: there’s only one piece of everything. www.cristelball.com
Photos by our Ashanti