We first spotted Nuno Lopes at the Fatacil fair in Lagoa, working away on a piece of silver as a couple of children stood by, mesmerised. We later found out that some of these children return to his stand, year after year, to watch the jeweller at work, and often get a simple band as a reward for their curiosity. For Nuno, it’s not just about promoting his work ­ beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces designed by his fair hand: “I remember coming here as a kid and losing myself in the crafts tents. I loved watching the artisans at work, so it makes me proud when children come here and ask me questions.”

Although his love of arts and crafts stems from his childhood, jewellery wasn’t his full-time vocation. Originally from Portimão, Nuno admits he was influenced by social norms and enrolled at university to study the sensible but admittedly less artistic Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. He specialised in Aquaculture, a course he didn’t complete but which led him to work as a fish inspector in the capital. But jewellery would always be in the background ­ also prompted by a chance meeting with an Argentinian jeweller in Brazil ­, and it was in Lisbon that he took his first jewellery course at the age of 24. On his return south, however, he became disillusioned with where his life was going and, thanks to his Spanish girlfriend at that time, Carmen, who he credits for being the person that most helped him on his journey, he moved to Spain. He did several courses in jewellery and diamonds in Seville and studied gemology at the Spanish Gemological Institute in Madrid. After being invited to work in the centre’s workshop, in 2012, Nuno returned to his hometown of Portimão. At last, he was where he wanted to be: with a workshop set up in his parents’ garage and extensive training behind him, Nuno Lopes was free to create the signature pieces that have been making waves across the Algarve and beyond. Mostly working with silver and incorporating different stones, he describes his style as a reflection of his state of mind. Able to adapt to various styles, whether it’s classic or Art Deco, often his work showcases a more abstract and somewhat aggressive character that results in incredibly striking pieces. Whilst much of his jewellery is made by commission, Nuno says he often finds himself doing shells, conchs or corals, a reflection of his ties to the sea for much of his life. With beautiful collections comprising necklaces, bracelets and earrings, the jeweller admits he loves making rings, which have become something of a trademark. One thing is constant, though: each piece is the only one of its kind. “For me that’s very important. As most valuable pieces can be passed down from generation to generation, why would it be something that 300 other people have? Why not have your own, if you are unique and there’s no one like you?” For this reason, Nuno designs unusual collections that can be easily adapted to sell on the street. “If it’s affordable, you have the opportunity of having a unique piece, that’s your taste, that you can wear for the rest of your life and leave behind as a memento.” This, in fact, is what best defines Nuno’s work. They are pieces with soul that are quite simply yours and no one else’s.

Now moving more towards galleries ­ although the Fatacil will always be on his agenda ­, in the future, the self-confessed night owl hopes to design more extravagant collections for his own fashion shows, but in the meantime, his goal is to open up his own space, with Ferragudo and Carvoeiro at the top of the list. Here, he plans to use his (fortunate) initials, NL, for his next venture: Número Limitado, to make a numbered series limited to eight or ten pieces, which will put into practice the techniques he learned from his “excellent teachers”.

Find Nuno Lopes Joyas on Facebook or visit the Arrecadação da Luz jewellery shop in Praia da Luz which carries the exclusive collection ‘Às Voltas’.

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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