Ali Amaro: Linked to Heritage


The boundary that separates the realm of art from the craft of jewelry making is, at best, ambiguous. Bay Area metalsmith Ali Amaro is making a career from fully embracing the blurring of this line. The jeweler and designer, who lives in Point Richmond, creates work that draws from a wide range of inspiration. Amaro, who is originally from New Mexico, has lived in Brazil and Mozambique, and has spent significant time in Italy. As a result of her time abroad, she believes that jewelry should be an expression of culture and heritage.

In addition to her limited-edition jewelry collections, which are launched twice a year and feature colorful, travel-inspired pieces scaled towards daily wear, Amaro also devotes time towards a yearly gallery exhibition and custom Identity Portraits. The concept for her custom Identity Portraits stemmed from a project called Origin and Routes, in which she created a series of symbolic self-portraits using objects from her travels and heritage. This inspired her to start her Identity Portraits, custom collaborative pieces that use inputs given to her by the buyers, which can range from family heirlooms to meaningful items and found objects, which Amaro then utilizes in her piece. The result is personalized piece of wearable art that represents and continues a person’s heritage and culture. The piece can be worn as jewelry, or it can be displayed on a custom wall mount.


Inspired by her time in Mozambique and the artifacts of shipwrecks that wash up on the shores of Ilha de Moçambique, much of Amaro’s jewelry features African trade beads and foreign coins. She is fascinated by the idea of continuing the journey of these objects, as well as featuring these physical representations of someone’s sentimental ties to heritage and geography.

Amaro is drawn to materials that have a strong connection to place and time, as well as an irregular shape and texture. She frequently uses materials like yellow gold, silver, brass and copper, as well as personal heirlooms, enamel and raw gemstones. While her work is grounded in traditional metalsmithing techniques, her interest in alternative materials has shaped her expertise in “cold connections,” like rivets and prongs that allow her to securely set irregular or fragile objects.

Text by Cale Finta