I love the history and beauty of Portugal’s ceramic (azulejo) tiles and when I saw Atrio’s jewelry collection I was overjoyed.
The combination of designing jewelry made with Portugal antique tiles is unique and original. For a history on Portugal azulejos click Here.
Portugal was home to Elizabeth Anjos and her husband for over 30 years. While there she fell in love with the country and its rich history in azulejo tiles that decorated houses, churches, monasteries, palaces, railroad stations, and restaurants. Wanting to share this Portuguese history with others, she began designing jewelry using antique azulejos. As a result Atrio was born. Today she lives in the United States with her husband, who is of Portuguese heritage.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth to discuss her passion for jewelry design and inspiration for launching the Atrio Etsy online shop. In her own words:
Necklace SET bib Statement Portugal Antique Azulejo Tile Replica – Rhinestone Flowers Pearls – University of Evora founded in 1559
1. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career as a jewelry designer?
Elizabeth (E): The need to create has always been a part of my life. Jewelry designing allows me to work hard and love what I do.
2. Do you have a favourite designer you admire?
E: I love Ayala Bar from Israel.
Silver Necklace Tile Portugal Azulejo Portuguese Antique Majolica Aveiro Blue
Hoop Earrings Portugal Tile Azueljo Antique – 1 1/2″ – from Braga Blue Tile Border
16th Century Azulejo Tile Cross Earrings
3. How did you start your label?
E: While still living in Portugal (we lived there for 33 years), I opened an Etsy shop with my first pieces. For one whole year, I did not have a single sale! My first order was from a lady in the States named Rose. Thank you Rose!
4. What was your inspiration?
E: As a foreigner who lived for a very long time in Portugal, I could see the beauty of the country that most people took for granted. For me, the houses with tiles looked like jewels and I wanted to find a way to share them.
Portugal Earrings Azulejo Tile Chandelier Antique Majolica FRESCOES and Tiles – University of Evora founded 1559 Romantic
Earrings Antique Azulejo Tile Replica Blue Chandelier – Church of Mercy Porto 1590
5. How do you decide what you want to create?
E: Trial and error. Often an idea will come and I will keep working at it until I like the final product.
6. What processes do you use when creating your designs/jewelry pieces? What materials and techniques do you favour?
E: I work with polymer clay where the clay actually gets baked right into the setting. Unusual connectors, Czech glass heads, Vintage Micro Mosaic and silver are my favourite finds at the moment.
Mother’s Day Charm Portugal Tia Acores Antique Azulejo Tile SILVER Plated Pendant for European “PAN..” Brand Bracelet
Earrings SAUDADE Portugal 16th Century Azulejo Tiles – Tomar – Convent of Christ built in 1160
Portugal Rooster Necklace Azulejo Tile Blue Antique UNISEX Galo de Barcelos (reversible)
Portugal Sterling Silver Filigree Necklace in 24k. gold bath – Minho Viana Folklore Portuguese Heritage Russia Orenburg Downy Pashmina
7. Who do you envision wearing your jewelry? Do you think about this when you work on designs?
E: Almost every day I receive an email from someone who just visited Portugal and they would like a “little piece” to remember the country. It gives me great pleasure, not only to make the pieces, but to tell their story. This is the part that takes a huge amount of work, but I believe that the story behind each piece [of jewelry] makes it all the more special.
8. How different is the accessory (jewelry) fashion today from when you started?
E: When I began, I never imagined that people would copy me. It can be very discouraging to work for months on an idea, only to see someone copy my ideas.
Stackable Stacked Rings Portugal Antique Azulejo Tile – from Braga
Portugal Bangle Bracelet Azulejos Tiles Portuguese Antique – from Aveiro Santa Joana Convent 1458
925 Silver Cuff Links Portugal Tile Azulejo Antique 17th Century – from Evora Pousada
9. What’s next for Atrio?
E: My Great Grandmother came from Sicily and it has always been my dream to go there one day, so there might be some Italian tiles in the mix. Azores is also on the wish list. I believe that God gave me this ability to create and I am so thankful to Him for the privilege of having a job I love and for the connection with the land I love…Portugal.
10. Any last comment?
E: I couldn’t do this without the support of my Portuguese husband who is also my photographer. He enjoys the hunt for tiles while on “vacation” as much as I do!
Portugal Bangle Bracelet Azulejos Tiles Portuguese Antique (Front and Back)
Some of Margaret’s Atrio jewelry collection. Top bangle bracelet a gift to me.
Thanks for coming by.