With Love, Jewelry From Croatia

Jessica Ricci Jewelry Former Yugoslavia Stamp Pendant Necklace Jessica Ricci Jewelry Former Yugoslavia Stamp Pendant Necklace Zagreb, Croatia Flea Market Zagreb, Croatia Flea Market City of Dubrovnik, Croatia Stamps from the former Yugoslavia behind plastic First Lost wax attempt at frame

I try to make jewelry from what is left behind. I think of these objects (stamps, coins, keys, lace, amulets…) as cultural artifacts, or proof of history.

In Croatia, I focused on an entire country that existed, and then didn’t, and I hoped to find bits and pieces of that past.

Yugoslavia was a country in Southeast Europe during most of the 20th century and came into existence after World War I in 1918. 

After the Yugoslav wars, the country broke apart, leaving behind devastation that most of us can remember from newspaper headlines.

Croatia was part of this federation and central to the turmoil of the time, as evidenced by bullet holes that pockmark the magnificent and storybook-like walls of the ancient city of Dubrovnik.

Although Croatia is thick with this visible passage of time, I was in search of modern history, which brought me to the Zagreb flea market on a scalding day in June.

Off the beaten path (literally) and in a field of sprawling yet ordered chaotic venders, the market was half car sale lot and half a hoarder’s fantasy.

I zoned in on stamps, which were in abundance at this particular market.  At the time, I liked them because they incorporated the name Yugoslavia and represented proof of a past state where people lived and worked and corresponded. For me, they are a symbol of how boarders and countries are concepts, are fluid, but still matter and make their mark.

Once home, it took me a while to decide on the framework to house the stamp. At first, I wanted it to look like a castle, and carved something in wax that felt bulky and forced.

I settled on a vague reflection of the domed structure depicted on one of my stamps, and hopefully echoing the domes that mottle and dazzle the Dubrovnik’s cityscape.

These stamp pendants make part of the Croatia collection and hopefully remind us of how important corresponding is to everyone, no matter from what arbitrary boarders. What matters, in the end, is the connection.