If everything in the worlds of art and design has already been done, Paloma Picasso's trick is making people think it's new again.
Picasso, the daughter of Pablo Picasso and a longtime jewelry designer, recently launched her newest collection for Tiffany & Co. based on mosaic techniques that are centuries old.
"I have no objection to going back and looking at old catalogs or old photographs," she says. "Jewelry is about timelessness. A piece of jewelry is here to stay much longer than a dress or gown. You want it to look good, fresh and modern today but you also want it to look good 30 or 300 years down the line."
The collection is called Zellige, highlighting geometric motifs made from colorful tiles. The idea came to her while restoring a tile fountain at her home in Marrakech, Morocco.
In her own personal jewelry wardrobe, her favorites are constantly changing — a set of nine intertwined bangle bracelets are her current must-wear pieces — but the pieces she'd never leave home without are two pairs of simple earrings: one a set of hammered gold balls and the other a pair of white gold earrings with diamonds.
Earrings, says Picasso, are very flattering to a woman's face and they accentuate the wearer's movements, adding a liveliness to her appearance.
She'll go so far as to say that jewelry-making is an artistic craft but Picasso won't call it "art."
"Jewelry and art are not made for the same purpose. ... Jewelry is artistic and it's a creation but it is not art. Art has no purpose except to be what it is, jewelry has the purpose of being worn and has to be pleasing, has to feel good," she says. "Jewelry has a magical quality to some people, it's a talisman for some people, and you receive it at a special moment or as a special reward.
"A lot of emotion is attached to jewelry. It's meant to be part of someone's life, not to stand on its own."