When David Alvarado launched his company Irthly Jeweled Adornments in October of 2012, he had a mission to change the way others view what is precious. Everything we create is proudly produced in Los Angeles.
“I wanted to reassess what is valuable and introduce new elements as precious. I believe that the notion of precious is undergoing a revaluation. I want to be part of that process by introducing elements of the environment that are often taken for granted, but play a crucial role in the ecosystem, into precious jewelry.
I wanted to create something that is nurturing. The womb is nurturing, so I needed to find something that represents the womb. I found the Tagua Nut.”
Alvarado uses the Tagua Nut as the primary element in his designs, which incorporate precious metals, diamonds and colored gems. The Tagua Nut, also known as vegetable ivory, is actually a seed from a palm tree found in the rain forests of Panama, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Alvarado sources his Tagua Nuts in Ecuador, where they are harvested by vendors who are members of the Fair Trade Federation and are Green America approved. This ensures that purchase of the Tagua Nuts benefits the local people and economy. The Tagua Nut is extremely hard, can be carved and is strong enough to stand up to a lot of wear. When the nut is peeled, it is a creamy white color and lightweight, with a natural graining similar to ivory.
In order to be used in Irthly Jewelled Adornments, the Tagua Nut goes through an extensive refining process. First the nut is sliced
in the direction that makes the most use of the material. Once the nut is open, the perfect nut for jewelry must be found — some of the nuts are not pure white, or they have too much graining, gaps and cracks.
Likening it to buying diamonds, Alvarado searches for the nuts with the purest color, beautiful grain and without cracks or holes. Once the nut is selected, it is shaped and cut to the specifications of the design and then polished to give it a shine. Next the nut is fitted with recycled gold or other metals and set with conflict-free diamonds or fair trade colored gemstones using lasers, advanced casting and other high-tech machinery combined with hand craftsmanship. The jewelry is all made by skilled jewelers in Los Angeles, California.
Working with the Tagua Nut is challenging as it is affected by heat and Alvarado’s standards are exacting.
“I want to make sure that each piece is enduring. I wanted the metals integrated into the nut, and the diamonds too. We don’t use glue to hold the metal to the nut and that is a big challenge.”
Alvarado notes that the Tagua Nut should be cared for in the same way as pearls, opals or emeralds.
The design aesthetic that Alvarado brings to Irthly Jeweled Adornments starts with basics and moves to the more complex as he introduces different techniques and elements to his creations.
“The Art Deco period is a favorite era of mine for its design and architecture. It was an era that introduced new technology and new places in the world. The world became more interconnected. There were a lot of different materials, ideas, cultures and technologies being introduced. Now I want to introduce the idea, and awareness of, other elements and materials as fine. I want the symbolism of something that affects the world in a karmic sense.”
Drawing upon his background in philosophy, Alvarado has created each collection within the line to have a specific meaning.
Cycles is about blending opposites in interplay. Affinity is vintage inspired and romantic. Parallel is all about balance and the pieces juxtapose finishes and draw upon Art Deco for inspiration. Return is about returning to the root of the earth, Nurture highlights the four P’s — produce, provide, parent and protect. It is the signature collection of the line as it captures the inspiration of origins and symbolizes the womb. The Cardinal collection points people on their life paths.
“At Irthly, our purpose is to elevate and promote elements and concepts of our world that are just as valuable and precious as fine jewelry. We stand firmly on the notion that fine jewelry and ‘the precious’ in general can be reconstituted to celebrate other precious organic elements and notions. We are proud members of this wonderful community of fine jewelry craftsmen who utilize and showcase diamonds, metals and other precious gems. We want to add other elements to this elegant mix of materials that are just as precious.”
What sets us apart from many designers is the fact that we engage in ethics and sustainability as conversation platforms within our jewelry designs and materials. Combining organic material alongside rare gems make some of our pieces irreplaceable and complete originals.
Although the jewelry industry is strongly responding to the need for fair trade and sustainability, there is much more to improve on. Irthly plays a role in sustainability by using recycled or eco-metals as much as possible. We use Harmony Metals from Hoover & Strong wherever applicable. All of our diamond suppliers are Kimberley Process compliant — a certification system that prohibits the trading of diamonds from war-torn regions. Most of our gems are fair trade, which confirms that the supplier and gem cutters are practicing fair trade protocol. We are not involved in any overseas production. Everything is proudly produced in Los Angeles.
Our passion is to continue creating unique jewelry by integrating meaningful concepts and elements of the world into our designs. By upholding strict standards of craftsmanship and ethical responsibility, we strive to make the proud owner of an Irthly jeweled adornment feel a sense of mutual co-existence between their jewelry and the world.
David debuted his company at the JA New York Summer Show and won Runner-Up honors in the 2013 American Jewelry Design Council’s (AJDC) New Talent Awards. He has also won an MJSA Vision Award, The 2016 Niche Award and first place for the indesign award in 2017.
David got his master’s degree in comparative philosophy from San Diego State University and draws upon that background for inspiration. He first started working in the trade with his father, Noe, who was a master jeweler.