Juan Carlos Chavajay

Ruk'uk Kaj featured on the cover of The Jewelry Maker's Comprehensive Catalog 2008-09

Meet the Designer-Artist
The cover piece, Ruk'uk Kaj, Mayan for Heart of the Sky, was created by award-winning jewelry artist Juan Carlos Chavajay for the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads 2008-2009 Jewelry Maker's Catalog. Inspired by Mayan culture, which views the crystalline splendor of stars and planets as the very heart of the sky, the intricate piece blends indigenous colors of traditional Guatemala with the intense sparkle of crystals.

Deeply motivated by his Guatemalan culture and by Mayan mythology, Juan Carlos is drawn to working with color through crystal components ... ''The revolving sparkle of the crystals reminds me of the stars overhead.'' The large spherical beads in Ruk'uk Kaj represent the ''stars of my ancestors,'' who according to Mayan mythology, walk the night sky reminding humans that ''life is eternal even in its impermanence.''

Artist Background
Juan Carlos is from Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, a traditional town with a great history of crafts, most notably weaving and painting. His passion for color comes from his family--his father was a skilled gardener and his mother was a weaver. Growing up in such a creative environment, Juan Carlos learned the patience to work with attention to detail and the importance of making each piece distinct and exceptional. Using this passion, Juan Carlos integrates his colorful native culture with contemporary Western fashion in each of his designs.

Juan Carlos joined Firefly Jewelry Company in 2003, and it was no surprise when, at such a young age, he successfully advanced to lead designer creating two collections a year. His designs are known for their mosaic style that draws upon unexpected and desirable combinations of color. His fascination of crystals is apparent as he contrasts their sparkling beauty with matte metals created from vintage molds for a romantic, whimsical style.