Jewellery meets illustration in Castro Smith’s intricately engraved pieces

Castro Smith uses traditional engraving techniques in his symbolic rings and pendants

silver engraved jewellery by Castro Smith featuring engraved insect forms
(Image credit: Castro Smith)

Castro Smith intertwines traditional techniques with romantic references in jewellery which pays tribute to historical engraving methods. Trained as a painter and printmaker, Smith brings his distinctive style to rings created in both typically European and Japanese styles.

‘I'm always trying to push the traditional techniques a little further,’ the jewellery designer tells us. ‘I aim to express my drawings and paintings truly so I tend not to follow techniques to bound methods. Rather, I would learn a technique and adapt it to my own style of carving metal. I also find contrasts in the juxtaposition of symbols, especially if it's a personal commission for someone. I can sometimes discover through personalised custom work a mistake of techniques and materials used, or sometimes it's discovering symbols and semiotics through that person's identity and our way to express it.’

Castro Smith engraved jewellery

silver engraved jewellery with blue pattern

(Image credit: Castro Smith)

He is drawn to personal mythologies, his engraved jewellery becoming a vessel for storytelling. ‘The aesthetics are a kind of ancient projected Babylonian seal carving over a lustre of metal. But in a sense of depth, these pieces have no bounds in terms of traditional layouts and rules. For me, the ring and carving create a secret miniature world for the owner where they can hide and show as much of their lives, dreams, desires and identities as they want.’

Smith uses seal engraving – where the design is etched deeper into the metal than other methods – for pieces that rethink the traditional codes of a signet ring. 

silver engraved jewellery, signet rings

(Image credit: Castro Smith)

‘I prefer to carve for candlelight, where the expression of deep relief carvings really come to life as well as the subtle shadows and lustre of the metal,’ he adds. ‘But using bold glass enamel and ceramic coatings gives the images a contrast to the metal and a boldness that reflects my love of comic art, which is also one of my inspirations while drawing.

‘My main challenges are turning from a juggler to a teacher. I do the drawings, carve the rings and do the photography. So I'm learning to manage and teach and pass on this knowledge. It’s also a challenge to push further: at the moment I'm trying out stones, and how they can be combined with the jewellery.’

Discover Castro Smith at Cockpit Studios

silver engraved jewellery – birds on signet-style ring

(Image credit: Castro Smith)

silver engraved jewellery – bee on pendant necklace

(Image credit: Castro Smith)

Engraved signet ring

(Image credit: Castro Smith)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.