The Spirit Of Armenta Jewelry
December 23, 2015
When Texan Emily Armenta created a feminine, Spanish-inspired line of oxidized sterling silver pieces set with diamonds and gemstones, her goal was to have each piece push boundaries and invoke spirit.
“There’s a rough quality to my pieces,” explains Armenta, who founded the brand in 2001. “It’s my way of paying homage to the painful beauty of life and the struggle you go through to achieve greatness.”
This concept of triumph through toil is what the 20th-century Spanish poet Federico García Lorca called duende.
Surrounded and supported by artists at a young age—her grandmother was a jewelry designer, her mother a painter and sculptor—it was not until her poet-muse sister introduced her to the idea of duende did Armenta find her calling.
“I want to express my creativity, tell stories, and most importantly, see what I can give back to the world,” she says. “The jewelry just is an outward expression of that.”
Envisioning and creating jewelry has not only been a vehicle to express her creativity but her thoughts and emotions as well. Though passionate about her art, Armenta did not see it becoming a true career until she took an entrepreneurship class while pursuing her MBA at Rice University. It was as if destiny had brought her to the assignment—create a fictitious company with a business plan.
With the help of a professor, Armenta was able to form a dream into a reality, selling everything she had and pouring her heart into the idea. Helped by her husband and mother, Armenta saw opportunity come quickly. Inspired by Iberian scenery, Armenta has created vibrant collections of romantic jewelry with a rocker edge, with inspiration including Spanish poetry, paintings, architecture, sculptures, and stories.
Now a favorite of Hollywood’s elite and jewelry aficionados abroad, Armenta has ensured each piece of jewelry crafted at her studio tells a story and isn’t limited by one element, as she instead explores all elements to create the unexpected.
While toiling hard for triumph, Armenta knew she also wanted to pay things forward “to create a ripple in the pond.”
Working late one night, she noticed a young woman taking out the office’s trash.
“I watched her for six months working until 1:00 in the morning, singing beautiful songs. I wondered, ‘What could she do if I believed in her the way someone believed in me?’ ”
The woman’s name was Lida De Alejandro, and Armenta offered her a job. Four years later, still singing, this first employee was named Vice President of Product Development for Armenta. She now manages a staff of over 50 artisans in the Houston workshop where every piece is made by hand, and runs the Armenta School, a training program she helped establish for disadvantaged women.
With Lida, the Armenta School, and all the men and women who work in her studio, she has seen lives changed, and that “has been the most rewarding part of my life.”
Ripples created, the designer continues to ensure the social mission extends further, requiring all companies that supply Armenta’s raw materials share in a similar social mission. “We have to be the catalyst for change because we’re all connected,” says Armenta. “At the end of the day, it’s about the mark you leave behind.