Olivia Kissel: tribal fusion jewelry

Olivia Kissel: tribal fusion jewelry
09/10/2015 Alicia L.

She is passionate, enterprising, has a contagious energy and always has a smile for you. Olivia Kissel, professional dancer settled inPittsburgh (USA) is a creator of great ideas and talent.

A few years ago she revolutionized the world of tribal fusion dance with her body chain jewelry, ethnic inspired but with and elegant Art Deco touch. In this time, she been involved in several collaborations and has attracted the interest of big fashion companies.

olivia kissel

We have had the opportunity to interview her and we thank her for her time because we know how busy she is.

How did working as a dancer help with your current position as a jewelry maker? Are those backgrounds reflected in your designs?

My jewelry work comes directly from many years of costuming for dance. I made my own costumes for years and was both inspired and limited by what I found. I would always modify the jewelry that I found at festivals, flea markets, and import stores to fit different body parts. Now, I try to design pieces that highlight the peaks and valleys of the female form while allowing for freedom of movement. I also focus on designs that can be worn many different ways.

olivia kissel jewelry

How has your personal taste evolved since your beginnings?

I think it is cleaner and the proportions are more fine-tuned. I try to create more surprising textures with fewer elements now. There are two reasons for this: cleaner lines and carefully considered spaces appeal to me aesthetically, and the materials are used more conservatively.

I am working with elements like Kuchi coins and pendants that are limited resources. There is a finite supply of these gorgeous elements that inspire me, I don’t want to blow through them until they are gone. I want to spend time with the pieces and ponder the craftsmanship that went into making them in the villages of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, etc.


If you could define Olivia Kissel jewelry in three words, what would they be?

Deco – Tribal Glam
 – Earthy Glamour Unearthed

What was your primary inspiration?

Have you ever picked up a sweet tribal necklace and placed it on your neck, then hold it up to your head, hips then your belly to see how it would work as a costume piece? I can’t even count how many times I have done this! This is a huge inspiration for me. I design pieces that can work as a necklace, or hang from a belt or a halter. Many of my pieces have hooks instead of typical clasps so that they can easily fit onto a belt, or a halter or a head-piece.

One of the most important features of my design process is to make something that can be worn in many different ways.

Your body chain jewelry was a hit, what do you think about imitations?

People say that “imitation is the best form of flattery”, but it doesn’t feel like that. When I think about it, it’s heartbreaking. It brings more Shwag into the world, feeds insecurities and consumes valuable resources. With that said, I don’t waste too much of my time and energy on worrying about imitation. It happens, it sucks.

What music, films, books are currently influencing you?

I just finished reading “Caravans” by James A. Michener. It fuels the desert nomad in me! I’ve been listening to Alt-J and The Books in the studio, along with early jazz and a bit of Stevie Nicks & Nina Simone. I fall in love with those ladies over and over again.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Paint: Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, John Singer Sargent

Film: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Julie Taymor

Street Art: Swoon, Maya Hayuk


You can find the fantastic designs by Olivia Kissel online. If you live in Europe she usually goes on European tour once a year, so if you’re lucky you can buy her jewelry directly from her. Remember that 5% of profits from all Beyond Konflict will go to Enslers V Day Foundation. V Day Foundation is active- on the ground, empowering regional leaders who work to protect the rights and resources of girls and women.

Imágenes via: Beyond Konflict


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