Originally from Valencia, Fernando has jewelry in his blood, he is a direct descendant of goldsmiths and his whole family is marked by the profession. He is the third generation of goldsmiths in the family, and despite having studied other things, he has always focused on his passion, thus honoring the legacy of his family, which was established in the trade almost 100 years ago.
His name began to resonate in the Aragonese capital with one of his most famous pieces, the medallion of the Virgin of Pilar. Since then Fernando has not stopped being involved in countless projects with entities such as Ibercaja Foundation, Inycom, Patio de la Infanta or the Alma Mater Museum.
This time he has surprised us again with a collection of the most symbolic for the Spanish rock, Siempre Héroes. This brand, created together with Pedro Andreu, is part of a project that not only aims to commemorate the career of Héroes del Silencio, but is also aimed at all kinds of heroes, from fishermen to sportsmen.
Tell us, where does your passion for jewelry come from?
I am a third generation goldsmith, this means that my grandfather next year, or in two years, will be 100 years since he was established, not born, but established, because my grandfather would now be one hundred and twenty-something years old.
So my grandfather started the old-fashioned way, he studied at the School of Arts and Crafts and he soon started working as an apprentice in a goldsmith’s workshop in Valencia, Devesa. The process is as it was done 300 or 400 years ago, you entered a workshop as an apprentice and they began to teach you all the techniques of goldsmithing, not jewelry, because jewelry, goldsmithing and silversmithing have been specializing for a relatively short time. I say relatively, a century, maybe a little more, but in the goldsmith workshops and in the silversmith workshops they made everything, all kinds of objects made of silver or gold.
That’s the goldsmith’s side, my grandfather’s side, and above all, having a place where I would go on weekends or vacations to lend a hand and to be taught. In this case, curiosity when you are younger, and the obligation to go to lend a hand when you are older, is partly what fostered my passion for goldsmithing and later for jewelry. To learn, they would tell me, “look, see how I do it, how I hold the tool, how to do it…”, and when you have been observing for many hours, then they would start to let you do small jobs to see if you were getting the knack.
Well, on the one hand, and on the other hand, my paternal grandfather, Antonio Piró García, had some great uncles who had a silverware store, where they already had jewelry. I didn’t experience that so much because they were great-uncles, but I imagine that something will come from there too.
All this happened in Valencia, I was born in 72, so all this was in the 80s and 90s, then I met my wife, who is from here, and I came to Zaragoza when I finished studying. I studied something completely different, more industry, maintenance, and all this. Later life took us to work abroad, specifically in Puerto Rico, and then brought us back here.
And well, being in Zaragoza I did everything, I worked in construction, I sold insurance, I worked in industry too, but there was always something that made me think “I don’t know, this doesn’t fulfill me”. So I said to myself, “why don’t I do something for myself?”, although I was not sure that I wanted to go back to my family roots, but well, it happened. A priest friend told me, “hey, what your family does in Valencia in maintenance and restoration of pieces, here in Zaragoza it is difficult for me to find people who also do it”. At that time I was out of work and I said “well, I’ll do it for you”, and that was the spark that resurfaced this vocation in me. I spent a year and a bit picking up materials and going down to Valencia to work on them, because at that time I was using the family workshop, until I was able to establish myself here, that was 23 years ago.
Despite your Valencian origins, nowadays your link with Aragon is very strong, we can see it in many of your most popular designs. What could you tell us about this?
My family has always been very Valencianist, that is, my family has a lot of attachment and interest in history, and we have always felt as very “ours” what is Aragon, what was the old crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Valencia, where we pride ourselves to be. Whenever we went up to the Pyrenees we always made a stop in El Pilar, because it was almost obligatory, so we have always been very attached to Aragon.
Besides, when I was young I got to know people from here, I met my wife and I started to come to the Pilar festivities, then Zaragoza was like paradise, because whenever you came here you were always partying and so on. There was a lot of affection, a lot of relationship with friends and in that sense it was not difficult, I said to myself “I finish studying in Valencia and I’m going there”, it was not complicated.
Tell us about how your relationship with Héroes del Silencio came about.
Well, the story is that I prepared some seal rings, like the ones they used to use to seal letters with sealing wax for a story, well, more like an inspiration. I needed to get out of the day to day work, an inspiration came to me, I made the first ring and then I realized and said, “how cool!”. It came from watching the Heroes del Silencio documentary, and when I was in the middle of the process saying “how cool is this going to look!”, I thought about how much I would like each of them to have it.
We sent the rings to all the members of the band, and it just so happened that at that moment Pedro was very advanced in the matter of the Siempre Héroes collection, which is how he has always or almost always said, since he has memories of starting to sign autographs. He always made a kind of little drawing of a bass drum, a part of the drums, and he would say “Siempre Héroes, Pedro Andreu“, and that’s where all this came from.
Then I talked to Adrián Garcés, who was in charge of those matters at the time, and he said, “Hey, we’re interested in launching a merchandising section, so if you want to get together here one day”.
Although this project was not intended to be commercialized on a large scale, because we were also talking about that, how it was going to be sold. It is sold physically here (in Fernando’s jewelry store), and for the moment only in physical form, but the objective was to bring it out, not to do business with it, but for the world to see it more as art. It is a personal project of Pedro’s and also a personal project of mine, to have it physically, so that people can come and say “how cool it is!
Obviously the idea was to make a product that is well done, and for the moment this objective is being fulfilled, the product is selling, it is having its trickle, and for the moment here it is.
What else is going to be done?
At the moment this. What is in Pedro’s head is the part he likes us to respect, and that is why there is a good feeling, because I always tell him, “I ask”, and Pedro says “yes, and I answer what I think I have to answer”.
Focusing on the Siempre Héroes project, regarding the ring you gave to the band members, is it an exclusive design just for them or is it also part of the collection?
Totally exclusive, there are four and they are delivered, no more will be made. In fact I have met people from abroad who have come here to ask me to please make it for them, and I have had to tell them no, there are 4 and they are exclusive, in that sense it is like the work I do for any other client, and if they want exclusivity obviously they get exclusivity.
However, I have a ring that is like to unite them all, in this type of project I always like to keep a piece, out of curiosity and especially because you have to show it.
What was the experience of working with a Spanish rock legend like Pedro Andreu like for you?
The day we started working on the project I said to Pedro, “you’ll forgive me two things, first, I might have some fanboy moments”, to which he laughed, “and second, I’ll say no as many times as necessary”. Pedro is a super creative person, and it’s not the first time I’ve worked with creative people, far from it, but people who are like that, we release an idea and it’s like when you throw a stone into a pond that is calm, the ripple starts to expand and you don’t know where it’s going to end up. Then you have to say, okay, let’s narrow it down.
When we started to launch some ideas for the collection, we thought about making a PIN, a bracelet, a necklace, and a thousand other things, then we saw that we were starting to get out of hand, so we decided to limit it. Besides, all this happened 2 years ago, at a time when Pedro was traveling a lot to Panama and Mexico to do the concerts with the tribute bands from there, and he was very active. Then by Mail or WhatsApp he would send me an idea, and I would suggest him to modify some things, but he would send me 10 modifications, and I would say “why so many?”.
At the beginning it was shocking, it’s a bit of an imposition until you get into professional mode, but then he’s a very easy person to deal with, so working with him has been a real luxury.
What does it mean to you to be the architect of a collection that is a symbol of rock music in Spain?
Responsibility, I’m going to put it at the level of professional responsibility. It’s not the same, but when I made the medal of the Virgen del Pilar, it’s not that I was the first to make a modern medal of the Virgin, but in 2008, I could hardly find any medals, pendants, bracelets or rings where the image of the Virgin of Pilar was depicted in a modern way, it was all very classic. The truth is that I was a bit embarrassed to touch that icon to bring it to a modern vision.
In the case of Siempre héroes here we don’t have to touch much because everything is already a bit defined, in fact, Pedro is the one who designs his own typography, because it’s all based on Pedro’s drawings. It is the responsibility of saying “you have to do this well, Fer”, because this project represents the image of Pedro Andreu, and all that this entails in terms of the battery of Héroes del Silencio. That’s where your profession and your professionalism come in, that is to say, you know how to do it well and you are going to do it perfectly, and the truth is that I am very happy with how we have done it, and Pedro is very happy with everything that has been done.
We could have done more things, yes, we can do infinite things, but you have to stick to something that fits in the stand, that is controlled, and that serves as a sample button so that in the future, if possible, this will go further, but for the moment we leave it here. It has been more a question of the concept than of the design of the pieces themselves, a responsibility and a pleasure to be able to do it, because for me it has been a dream.
What is so special about this collection, tell us a little about the materials you have used.
The special thing about it is that despite being a merchandising collection, we have tried not to make it a regular merchandising collection. In the first meeting we all agreed that what had been done in terms of merchandising of Héroes del Silencio until then, was rough, especially for the materials that were used, although I’m sure that someone around the world has made some cool piece of silver, but the merchandising that existed until then did not reflect the quality that could be expected.
And I said, “the first thing we’re going to do is to give this a quality of materials that matches the quality of the band”. I proposed from the beginning natural and noble materials, working with silver, with natural leather and with natural stone, which is volcanic lava, so that it would also have that link with America. And well, that was the original idea, we have also worked with rubber, which is a very rock material, we added the patinas of the dark pieces, and we added stainless steel fasteners.
Everything is a bit reminiscent of the world of rock, we wanted it to have those nods, and that it could be worn by someone who wears a jacket to go dressed up, as well as someone who wears a leather jacket.
What repercussion do you think the “Always Heroes” collection can have on an international level?
I think it would be presumptuous to think that this can have an international impact. Pedro’s fans and Heroes fans are more for the work as a kind of source of hope, that is, they’re waiting for something to come out there, and it’s assumed that this can stir in the fans’ environment, and people can say, “Ah, they keep doing things and so on.”
The truth is that yes, they are still doing things, but not beyond that, that is to say, that this would have an international repercussion was not the objective either, but simply to do it, propose it and start a project that excites you, strive to give the best results, and enjoy the way, and that is what we are doing.
In addition to the “Siempre Héroes” project, what other projects have you worked on during 2022?
During 2022 I’ve basically been doing projects for individuals, which is my day to day. People come, sit here, call me before, or also contact me a lot lately through Instagram, because they see things you’ve done and say “hey, I want to do this”, and they tell you about the project. Especially people come to me who want special wedding bands.
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I think the “new luxury” is that they personalize something for you, that you can say “they have made an exclusive design for me and I know that this design is going to be only mine”, although it is also true that people come with a lot of photos from Instagram or the Internet in general, but then they have an idea about how they want to personalize it and so on, so the client collaborates in the project in a very active way. There are even times when clients tell you part of their life so that you can integrate it into a piece, in fact on Instagram I have always played a lot with that, I upload photos of the piece, I put the initials and so on.
On the one hand, there are these types of projects, which are really cool because it’s very one-on-one, but another project I’ve been working on in 2022, which is more eye-catching or bigger, is a project of corporate gifts for Inycom.
It is also true that working for a company is a different level. Throughout my life, especially since 2010, I have done projects with what was formerly Obra Social Ibercaja, for Patio de la Infanta, for the Ibercaja Goya Museum, for the Viñas del Vero project, then I also have an exclusive collection in the Alma Mater Museum, so I have participated in several projects, yes.
Another very important project you have carried out are the medallions of the Virgin of Pilar, what can you tell us about that project?
Around 2008, my wife and many friends had been suggesting to me for a long time that I should do something of the Virgin, but I was too afraid to touch an icon like that. And then the rumor got to me, plus I always said that when I did something, it would be something different, because doing something that is already very well seen, for me is like doing nothing. So, as I like to mix the old, the very old, and the very modern, I focused my attention on the Plaza del Pilar, one of my favorite places in Zaragoza. The contrast of the refurbishment that was so modern, so diaphanous, then the Pilar itself, the Pablo Serrano façade…
And it was from there that I began to make the first sketches and above all to work, shaping it in the first prototypes and so on, because I draw very little and I work a lot with the material as if I were sculpting.
In this case, the medal was rolling around on my table, which is the jewelers’ work table, for about 6 months. Finally, one day my wife passed by the studio and said to me, “wow, how cool!”, and I said, “well, it’s not finished”, and she said “no way, it’s already finished”. She put it on and first came the word of mouth, then it was time to register it, start selling it and it was such a success, in fact, such a success that immediately there were people who wanted to copy it completely. Versions appeared and, well, the rest is history, as a friend of mine who is in the sector says, “you opened the gap, that is, you created a trend. If they copy you, it’s for a reason”.
What is your favorite corner of Aragon?
And a restaurant we can’t miss?