Today we stand within The Great Hall of Warsaw, Poland's Royal Castle awestruck by its majestic opulence.
Refurbished 21 years ago after being destroyed during World War II, our eyes are wide with amazement as we manage to move on to observe the Grand Staircase, the Canaletto Room, and the King's Bedroom. Poland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Marcin Zaremeski.
The limitations brought about by communist rule did not dim the fire of creativity in Zaremski or his parents, Jerzy and Jadwiga, who owned an art studio.
"In the 1940s my father scavenged for metal in scrap metal dumps and for silverware in local bazaars. It was difficult to get precious metals; gold was not available at all," Zaremski says.
Only recently has Poland's government warmed up to artists and their material needs. "Before now I'd usually wait for three months and would eventually only get 2 or 3 kilograms of silver for the whole year," he recalls.
A graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Zaremski knew it was only a matter of time before he followed in the footsteps of his parents. He often watched them work mesmerized by their ability to remain inspired as well as their capacity to create despite limited materials.
"It was inevitable that I would end up a jeweler. My parents loved what they did and that was contagious. My father taught himself the trade, but he always viewed his talent as something practical."
Zaremski's parents were considered pioneers of modern, Polish jewelry and Zaremski still finds inspiration from their designs. "I have about 1,500 pieces of my parents' jewelry. I could never sell them. They have great sentimental value to me," he says.
"People kept telling my parents how modern their jewelry was right at the moment I'd walk in carrying a bucket of coal for the furnace," he jokes. "Their design instinct was incredible considering they were artistically isolated. They had no contact with other artists."
Zaremski carries on his parents' modern, minimalistic approach using sterling silver, copper, and gold in his creations with little embellishment. I particularly like his fluid necklaces and bracelet creations whereby he incorporates vertical, silver discs that he arranges in a lei-type fashion.
Zaremski is most noted for his work with raw amber, a material with a bad reputation in Poland. "Amber is not highly thought of here, and some German and American tourists told me how awful the amber jewelry sold here is. So I came up with some designs I feel are good. I won't sell what I don't believe in."
In all frankness, for many years I--and most people I know--was partial to gold jewelry; but as I have matured, my tastes have broadened. I like the way Zaremski presents amber as well as its raw appearance. The orange-rust tinted, unpolished resin bears a resemblance to dried apricots.
In some pieces, he takes multiple, chunky amber stones setting them side-by-side; some of the chunks have a bit of translucency, while others are darker shades of brown or brick red providing a nice contrast of tones.
He sometimes sets the amber in sterling silver or includes sterling silver accents between the amber. Zaremski also enjoys using materials that are considered unpopular, or a non-essential component such as wood.
"I think using wood is a fantastic idea. I'm constantly inspired--a tree I saw in Thailand, the rooftops of houses in Italy, architecture, geometry. I get inspiration from everywhere."
The Montpellier Gallery in England commissions Zaremski's sleek, modern jewelry pieces. The jewelry artist also sells items from his shop in Warsaw, which he established in 1974.
Photo 1 (top right): Raw Amber Slices with Sterlinh Silver Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Amber Collar Necklace with Sterling Silver Accents