Amazing. Astounding. Alluring. Captivating. What else can describe the incredible silver adornments fashioned by French designer Brigitte under her label Kanda Designs? Brigitte is known to just about every Gringa traveler to Oaxaca. I have often seen American women on the return flight to Houston proudly wearing an acquisition or two — a great way to remind them of a memorable Oaxaca visit. Afterall, isn’t shopping for jewelry a cultural experience, too?
By appointment, Brigitte will meet you at a predetermined location — usually a cafe or restaurant — in the Central Historic District near Santo Domingo Church. It is a ritual reunion for many who return regularly to Oaxaca. On this last trip, we meet at a comfortable cafe and order our lattes. Brigitte and her husband live in San Augustin Etla, a thirty minute drive from the city. Scheduling an appointment is easy, though, since she does business by cell phone and wheels. We pull up chairs and settle in. Brigitte gently unrolls her black velvet jewelry cases. The polished and deeply carved silver against the black is stunning. We might even be too preoccupied to sip the delicious coffee that sits steaming next to us.
Brigitte talks about the various designs that she employs. The wax carved molds are containers for the molten silver. The finished product is substantial, impressive and comfortable. Some pieces represent traditional gods or animals, others are symbols for rain, earth, lightening, the four elements, images from the ancient codices. To spend an hour with Brigitte (for that is what it takes to discern the design nuances) is to learn a bit of Zapotec or Aztec history.
Her work is very different from the traditional and delicate filigree silver jewelry that many indigenous Oaxacan women wear. And, her prices are fair and reasonable for the high quality pieces. Rings and earrings start at approximately $80 USD, and bracelets, amulets, and neck pieces are somewhat-to-considerably higher. It is definitely a treat to examine the fine detail of the carved pieces, whether you decide to take a piece home or not. To locate Brigitte you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org