Who needs jewels when you have azulejos?!? Fashionable Luso-philes must agree! Recently, Portugal Confidential discovered a cleverly-designed product line of contemporary jewelry inspired by Portuguese heritage. Átrio produces handmade bracelets, rings, necklaces, cufflinks and key chains, with iconic imagery from Portuguese culture.
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Believe it or not, all of Átrio products are handmade by an American living in Santa Maria da Feira! Some 30 years ago, Elizabeth Anjos married a Portuguese, relocated to Portugal, and quickly became enamored with the colorful and cultural heritage of her new surroundings.
“What inspired me to begin making this jewelry were the azulejos,” explains Elizabeth. “The tiles have always fascinated me, like jewels on buildings and homes. Portugal is so rich in history and it is my desire to share this beautiful country with everyone and give them the possibility to ‘Wear a Piece of History’”.
Much of the beautiful images on the pieces are replications of traditional azulejo tile. Azulejos are hand painted ceramic tiles, produced for the last five centuries in Portugal and throughout Portuguese territories. They are used to decorate interior and exterior walls of buildings as diverse as churches and palaces, to railway stations and park benches.
Most of the azulejo design in Átrio jewelry are replications of tiles from historic buildings in Portugal. The Palácio de Monserrate, near Sintra, is one source of inspiration, as is the Igreja de São Nicolau in Porto. Tiles of historic homes and buildings in Porto, Aveiro, Coimbra, Tomar, Lisbon and many other cities are all represented in the collection.
Elizabeth uses a polymer clay to create these tiny azulejos. During the baking process, the image actually becomes part of the clay. No glue is needed in the process. The pieces are waterproof and scratch-resistant. And because each piece is handmade, minor imperfections become part of the intriguing design, making each item one of a kind.
Earrings range in price from €9-€14. Bracelets run between €22-€50. Necklaces are priced from €21 for a cross pendant, to €89 for a nine azulejos chain. Keychains are €18.