Yvette Cortez grew an appreciation for small, independent designers and their handmade aesthetic after years of working in luxury retail. Clienteles’ desire to know the story behind the brand and products along with consumer demand for unique pieces heavily inspired her to start Sal Miel. After taking several jewelry design courses in New York and Houston, she began to make unisex, raw pieces of jewelry by hand with the intent of integrating the human element back into products and embracing their imperfect qualities.
Process & Technique
Many Sal Miel pieces are carved out of wax; the wax molds are not a preset design, but rather a reflection of recent inspiration. What could take months of planning and building by hand is achieved in minutes or hours without lacking thoughtfulness and honesty. The wax molds are then cast into brass, bronze, or sterling silver. Once the casting is made, each piece requires time and care to clean, shape, and size. This part of the process allows me to build an intimate and sincere relationship between the brand and customer. While in Houston, Yvette began to experiment in hand-forging due to the inaccessibility of casting options in the city. The minimal use of tools forced her to look to basic tools and methods. The hands are the most fundamental tools we have and she believe it is crucial to master this component of jewelry-making before her craft develops to larger items or more meticulous techniques. While hand-forging, she allows the process to become as organic as possible without jeopardizing the quality and character of the piece being made. She follows the natural direction the metal bends while hammering.