Katarina Ziak is a jewellery maker and artist from Slovakia designing and making beautiful and unique pieces.
House of Coco: What inspired the creation of your jewellery and art brand?
Katarina: My art journey began with a decision to go to university in order to study art and become an art teacher. At the university I learnt of various materials, their implementation in art and art history. Gradually, I explored the principles of creating ornaments across history, and then I found my own style of creation, which I try to apply to my designs.
I think I dreamt of my own brand from the very beginning, when my first designs were made for real and I could hold them. However, I didn’t have the courage to turn a dream into reality until after graduation. I have created hundreds of designs and dozens of prototype designs, which I introduced after I graduated from university in 2016 under the brand name jewellery by Katarina Ziak. I started to create more items just for myself and I continued to do it with the belief that one day I would be successful.
HoC: How do you approach designing new jewellery pieces?
Katarina: Creating a new piece of jewellery is a daily challenge for me, because every design requires many hours of work to make the jewellery just the way I want it to be.
Of course, to be able to produce it physically is another challenge. I am a designer and also a jewellery maker, so all the work goes through my hands, from the first idea, through graphic design, production itself, and finally I also photograph all my work for my website and social media accounts.
I think I’m a perfectionist … that’s why I found myself in designing and manufacturing jewellery. The process of creating a design from the initial idea into a finally finished metal piece of jewellery is unique and I just love it.
Of course, it’s not an easy process and it is impossible without continuous re-drawing and many subsequent changes to the original design. Nevertheless, with every subsequent change, I am gradually discovering new possibilities, and very often the final product is a completely different pattern from my first idea or design.
It is very exciting and fascinating for me to see this process and be a part of it. Sometimes it is literally a game where I do not dare to guess at the beginning what the final product will look like.
HoC: Why do you work with yellow, white, rose and black gold in particular?
Katarina: My domain in creating jewelry is surgical steel. The surgical steel might be later galvanically plated with 23.5 carat gold in different color shades.
I use yellow, pink and black gold, 99% rhodium (also known as white gold) because I create jewellery in order to make it an elegant addition for any woman to wear.
Regardless if she likes distinctive pieces that immediately catch your attention or prefers minimalist jewellery. Therefore, I design each pattern in a variety of sizes as well as color options.
HoC: Horses are prevalent in your work, why is that?
Katarina: Since my childhood my life has been interlaced with horses. I have spent my youth years doing dressage riding – not just for fun but I took part in many competitions. Simply put, horses are still big part of my life.
Therefore it was no surprise that the horse, as a symbol, has appeared as one of the first designs in my creation. I currently have 17 collections, which represent together more than 400 patterns. When designing jewellery, I am inspired by nature, architecture, geometry, but also by traditional Slovak ornamentation and customs.
Thanks to the details of the past hidden in the new modern design, we can recall a fragment of history which for many people is already a forgotten part of our national identity. An interesting reference to history as well as traditional folk technique is, for example, a collection of jewellery named “The fineness of lace in the metal”, which is dedicated to the unique art of bobbin lace.
HoC: What do you think are some of the challenges of running a jewellery and art business in 2019?
Katarina: My biggest challenge at the moment is to introduce the jewellery brand “KATARINA ŽIAK”, not only to Europe but also to the world.
The most difficult task is to find business partners whose vision is the same as mine, partners who would be interested in introducing “Slovak jewellery” to the world and helping me to build a stronger international brand.
HoC: What are your favourite pieces in your current collections?
Katarina: Selecting only one is extremely difficult. Every new pattern, every new collection I create or have created, has helped me to move me further, has given me a new look at what I am doing and where I am going.
With every idea and design I seem to have lived through a bit of “life”, reflected in what influenced me, how I felt at that time. The process of creation will always produce a unique piece of jewellery, which is why every piece of jewellery I design is unique.
A good example of this are the pendants from the collection “SLOVANSKÉ BÁSNICKÉ MÚZY” – The Glory of a Daughter, Marina, Hájnik’s Wife … As the names suggest, I was inspired by Slovak literary works, more precise poetry.
At first glance, you can only see girls in folk costumes, but when you know their story, the poetic muses will not just be a nice pendant – a piece of metal, but for many, they will become a nice memory of childhood, relatives, native land, or first love.
HoC: What piece of advice would you give to our readers who want to set up their own business?
No beginning is easy. It is important to think positive, because every failure must be taken as a new challenge that will eventually help you to move you forward.
But never forget your journey – where you came from and where you have been already, respect people who stand by you, and do not be influenced by opinions that you do not “share” yourself, don’t identify with them. Trust yourself.
HoC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in setting up your business?
All the right decisions need their own time so don’t try to speed up anything. Take your time. Only hard and honest work leads to success. It is important to perceive your work as the life path that you want to walk on.