This plant, beautiful to see and spiky to the touch, is omnipresent in Mexico, in nature as well as in culture. This is evidenced by the fact that the cacti appears on the national flag. It is a venerated source of food, drinks, medicines, and materials. Add to that the unrealism and beauty of its form, the cactus obviously did not leave Cassandra's creative spirit indifferent.
Cacti were always going to be a joy to illustrate and transform into designs. The spikes, the curves, undulations, their powerful presence, their variety: conveying this unique beauty and texture into jewellery was a beautiful challenge to undertake.
Fields upon fields of agave cacti cover Mexican landscapes. These fields of green gold, as they were once known in Mexico when fibrous henequen ropes were made in the Yucatàn, capture a sense of Mexico's ancient history. Envision those tall and elegant giants, Organ Cacti, for example which decorate the ancient town of San Miguel de Allende, with its picturesque shops and brightly painted streets nestled in a valley surrounded by desert. Cacti have their many shapes and sizes and are synonymous with Mexico, the heat, and the immense landscape.
The creative process...
Sketching out spiky cacti jewels on paper, decorating them with diamonds, seemed easy at first. However, Cassandra knew that the next step - capturing the unique shapes of spiky cacti while creating designs that are comfortable and easy to wear - is never easy as it seems. To begin, Cassandra studied these extraordinary plants, growing them and watching how they flowered, marvelling at how little water they really did need, and often taking a prick to the finger while trying to understand them. How could Cassandra recreate their angular, grey and almost elephantine skin in gold?
In her design journey, Cassandra then began to experiment in the workshop with creating pointed jewels that were comfortable and yet still sparkled with character and charm. Forming the spikes, each were filed down again and again until they still looked like cacti needles but with points that didn't physically spike. Cassandra looked back to old Victorian settings of diamonds, in which tiny stones were often made to appear larger and to sparkle more with sharp setting lines pulled out from the stone, thinking about how she could maybe "pleat" the gold or silver to make the zigzag outlines of the cacti. As a result, they realised the diamonds were better set where they could really sparkle but that they could create the sensation of spikes just with the sharp line of a scorper.