Idé, is Fernando Rodriguez’ creative jewelry ideas in a sun filled playground, Mexico’s Playa del Carmen Barbara Kingstone January 19, 2011 Indulgences, Jewellry, Mexico, North America There’s no question that after you’ve walked along Riviera Maya’s shores of the truly aqua colored Caribbean and felt the powdery never hot white sand along the long strip of beach of the Hotel Grand Velas filter through your toes, it’s hard to pull yourself away from the sheer delight of this part of Mexico’s natural beauty. But La Quinta Avenida, in the Playa del Carmen area, well translated to Fifth Avenue, is a pedestrian street with just about everything you may want from Starbucks frappachino to Zingara’s terrific bathing suits . Of course, there are the ‘schlock’ stalls that sell typical poor quality clothing and souvenirs and difficult not to notice kitschy souvenir shops filled with sombreros and serapes. But on the new end of this very long , bustling and ever growing promenade, the developers seem to have seen the light and now there are sophisticated chic, well decorated shops worth taking time out of the sun and opportunity to mix with the locals who seem to love the burgeoning La Quinta. Hidden between two large stores was a window that seemed to wink at me, their display of jewelry so exceptional and unbelievable. Sure Mexico is known for silver (925), but in Idé, this niche boutique, silver takes on an entirely new persona, all designed by Fernando Rodriguez. There’s a passion that integrates the lesser metal with the finest designs and semi precious stones. However, gold is the feature with a definite international and sophistical edge. Without hesitation I rushed in to this very small space, perhaps about 250 square feet, and was even more excited when close up I was able to see the exceptional work and mixtures of semi precious and precious stones set in both silver and gold and a few new pieces in wood. Neatly lined up on the wall in this small shop, are glass cabinets that facilitate viewing each piece. Small it may be but that didn’t seem to stop several people from crowding, elbow to elbow to see the new designs. A regular client to whom I spoke makes this one of her first stops when she comes from the States to her condo here in Riviera Maya. Wearing last season’s purchases she was soon fondling a few rings and earrings which she had to have. She has become a Rodriguez jewellery collector. My timing was perfect since designer Fernando Rodriguez just happened to be present. After cooking up a storm as a chef at some of the top restaurants in Mexico for almost a decade, his recipes are now stirring ingredients of colorful stone with intriguing and unexpected outcomes. The 32 year old Mexican born attractive young man wearing two hearing aids is amazing since he lip reads in both Spanish and English. And if the speaker turns away, not aware of his profound handicap and he doesn’t hear the questions, there’s his partner who is there to answer or translate and help with the interested clientele. “So where do all these imaginative and innovative designs come from,” I asked touching the incredible and undeniable statement pieces. “My head spins out new designs every day, I dream every night. I can’t wait to try to make what I think,” he tells me. He does say that much of his inspiration comes from nature and that’s easy to see with the raw stones, often uncut or branches of natural deep coral in not often seen hues of orange and blue. Aquamarine is displayed like a queen on a top shelves. Topaz is intertwined with crystal -clear quartz then as if a spider had its way, there are web like thickish threads of silver or gold spinning around the stones. Neckpieces are his most popular creations. Bold and definitely statement making, most have an array of both cut (which he does himself) and rough stones with a variety of colors. Ditto for his bracelets, although these aren’t Rodriguez’s passion. These days Rodriguez favors amethyst from light to the darkest but states that he also has amethysts which are clear. Another attractive item, and there is only one of these gems, are round balls of jade which hang unexpectedly gracefully from a gold chain Garnet, peridot and black agate are stones seen throughout too. Rodriguez runs the gamut of colors. As for earrings the majority also bold and certainly there is emphasis on color and a mixture of stones and metals that certainly frame the face. However, for those who want more delicate styles, he designs lovely gold oval hoops always adding an extra element to e excite and induce, to add vitality. He also likes mixing natural pearls which he purchases from different countries outside of Mexico with Mexican amber. “I like turquoise. It’s like the sea and I especially like big stones to put into necklace. “As for his new foray into rose wood, he admits it is soft and “but so very organic. I don’t have to go very far for my stones. Mexico has the most wonderful selection.” Small fully cut diamonds dot rose wood rings and a few neckpieces and his intention is to have bracelets by the following week. And among his new collection “You will see that all my jewelry is very comfortable, “he tells me when I pick up a complicated design pair. To prove this I try the earrings which look heavy. Small branches of coral, small balls of turquoise and silver with thin dangling chains of various textures of silver are indeed, lightweight. He also had a similar variation in gold. Mother of pearl, jade, carnelian, smoky quartz makes a dazzling collier. “All the pieces are made piece by piece and if you like the model in silver instead of gold than I try to reproduce it as closely as possible. But often the same size stones and colors aren’t available.” Since Rodriguez’s only makes of one a kind, never repeating a design since an elegant client tells me that she’s learned to buy what she likes when she sees the new collections since she knows “it won’t be here tomorrow”. What’s even more incredible for this former chef is that he has never taken a jewelry course and his atelier workshop, he laughs is “in his apartment and behind the small counter in the store. His kitchen, where he once cooked up great meals is now a hub for colorful and hard to resist hors d’ouvres of stones which he has been offering to private clients for 9 years, well before he opened Idé. He is also the sole craftsman since he doesn’t think anyone could reproduce the quality he demands. And he says this without ego or attitude. However, that may have to change with his growing popularity. Stone, bone, leather, rosewood, silver and 18k gold all play a part in his newest collection. “I see my pieces as very casual and organic while at the same moment I know they are very strong and lineal. I have new stuff every day,” he state, arms akimbo. “This place, Playa del Carmen, is my inspiration. I like irregular forms and nature provides that for me.” About 20% of his clients are Mexicans and 80% are from Europe, the States and Canada. And as he becomes even more prominent, there’s no doubt that Mexico’s own creative son, will start attracting more attention. For information please contact Barbara3@rogers.com.