April 01 2016
The realm of men’s jewelry has always been woefully underappreciated, in our opinion. Pendants, bracelets, and rings have always been a part of the male sartorial canon, but with the most recent men’s style boom, jewelry seems to have been relegated to low-end, low-commitment styles. New York based designer Dawit Admasu is making a case for the return of fine jewelry for men. His designs have earned him a cult like following since he founded his eponymous line in 2011. We caught up with Admasu in his Brooklyn studio to learn what exactly went into his most recent collection.
Name: Dawit Admasu
Hometown: Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
Current Location: New York, NY
How do you take your coffee? One sugar, drop of half/half.
Can you walk us through the beginnings of Admasu, the brand?
From the moment I started working in retail I felt inspired to experiment with different forms of art such as fashion illustration, printmaking, visual displays and jewelry. At the time, I made most of my own jewelry by assembling a collection of various materials. When I worked at Double RL in 2008, I sold a great selection of vintage Native American jewelry, military and biker jewelry, but I found the styles limited and noticed an overall lack of jewelry for men in fashion. Although those options worked for some, most men wanted jewelry that is subtle, unassuming and unique pieces that can be worn with their everyday wardrobe. That same year, I decided to invest myself in developing the artform in the hopes of introducing and sharing my diverse outlook on what men’s jewelry is and how significant it can become, and in 2011 I started Admasu.
Where did the inspiration to craft this particular type of jewelry come from?
This particular style of beading comes from Ethiopia, it is often worn with a cross pendant or amulet. There are also different styles of metal beads made around the world, in countries such as India, Tibet and Peru.
Where did you learn your craft?
When I decided to develop my interest in jewelry making I found classes for silver and wax work at the 92nd Y. During my attendance, I met Artist and Master Jeweler Klaus Burgel and studied under him for four years. He became like a mentor to me.
Can you walk us through the process of making a single piece?
I start with several feet of half round sterling silver wire. I clamp the wire and a nail together on a vice, I then wrap the wire tightly around the nail. I make several dozen coils of wire that are about 1 1/2 inch long each. I then cut the coils turning them into individual tiny rings. I stretch each bead open and wrap it around cotton I hold stretched against my hands. I carefully tighten each bead and once the cotton is covered in silver I clean individual closures with a small file. Each necklace is made of about 400 beads and takes up to 8 hours of work start to finish.
How would you describe your personal style?
My aesthetic is made of a multitude of international inspirations that range from ethnic wear to contemporary attire. I enjoy breaking different seeming styles and creating comfortable looks that feel organic to me.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I draw most of my inspiration from ancient tribal jewelry that come from the Asia, South America and Africa and Europe’s byzantine era.
Lately I’ve been looking at mid century sculptures, architecture, and interior design.
Although I draw precise inspiration from the world and objects around me, when I am in the process of creating, my intuition and the nature of the materials guide the outcome of my work.
What’s next for you?
I will continue developing pieces that men can feel strongly about so that jewelry for men can be more accessible and accepted as a staple of their wardrobe. I will also further develop pieces that are geared towards women.
As jewelry is a subjective object defined by the person wearing it and the emotional attachment they have to it, I would like to continue producing one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect that unique relationship.