Mafalda Nobre started her Lisbon-based jewellery brand, Poema Jewels, just four years ago, but back then, she had very little clue on how jewels were made. With the few tools she had at home, she started making whatever she could. A couple of years later, she decided to take jewellery-making classes – which she still attends to this day, when needed – and ended up making these beautiful creations. 
Inspired by, and sort of as a homage to, women, nature and jewels worth treasuring, she developed this signature design of hers, precious unique rings with pressed-on flowers. Read more about how her love for collecting flowers with her grandmother as a child would eventually turn into her job as an adult.
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How do you think your Portuguese background has influenced your work?
Portugal is a small country where nature is very much present and intact, its light is absolutely unique and you find yourself connected to the wilderness, making it very easy to be inspired by it. Due to its size, we have easy access to beautiful gardens, forests, rivers and beaches. Besides that, I grew up in the countryside, which I feel deeply connected to and I go there whenever I have the chance. I spent most of my childhood in the countryside walking around barefoot and climbing trees, which I believe is a lifestyle that has had a huge influence on my work.
When did you get into the world of jewellery?
It’s a recent discovery for me, actually. I started Poema in 2014 as an experience, I didn’t know much about it at the time so I started exploring possibilities with the tools I had at home and started to create whatever I could with what I had. It was only a few years later, around 2016-2017, that I decided to take jewellery classes and start Poema as a much more mature project! Every time I need a new technique, I still go to classes. Knowledge is never enough!
Could you describe your designs in a sentence?
If I really had to, it would be part of nature, not of a collection.
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What’s up with the obsession with flowers? What’s your connection to them? Do you have a favourite kind?
It’s not really an obsession, I just love the way they bring me a lot of childhood memories. They make me feel like home and they allow me to take some time to notice them and all the small beautiful details about them, to stop for a while and appreciate the beauty. I don’t have a favourite kind, maybe Limonium and Urze… Just any kind of wildflowers!
What is your creative process like?
I'm always trying to read as much as possible, mostly Portuguese authors like Alberto Caeiro, Eugénio de Andrade and Sophia de Mello Breyner, who are also very much inspired by nature. My workspace is in the old part of the city, it’s a very pleasant walk so I try to walk there to clear my mind, exercise, listen to some music and get some fresh air. Actually, I always work listening to music, it’s a huge help.
In your website, you have a very short explanation about the brand’s name, Poema, saying that it’s sort of an homage to women, nature, and jewels worth treasuring. Do you find these aspects to be fairly poetic already? Or did you name your brand like that taking into account that your designs are already a type of poem – an ode?
Yes, I do, and it is in fact an homage to women, nature, and jewels worth treasuring, but the choice of the name came especially from the influence that made me create it: poetry. As a child, I used to read a lot of poetry with my grandmother, and every time we went out, I had the habit of collecting and pressing flowers into books and even use them as bookmarks. For me, the whole process is like a poem and it has a nostalgic aspect attached to it, memories and melancholy, the simplicity of a feeling combined with growing in contact with nature.
I’m not saying I consider my designs a poem; what I can say and really expect or hope is that people have a profound connection with the pieces, with the flower. That it can, somehow, uncover an amazing feeling, one that reminds that person of her/him or something special, something to treasure.
“I want to be able to express my bond with nature by preserving its beauty in special objects and in hopes that the person getting it and wearing it feels the same kind of connection.”
I’ve seen that on your Instagram page and your lookbooks, you’ve featured work by the likes of Henri Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly or Paloma Wool. What’s your relationship with art, and how do you link it with jewellery making?
I see art as a way of expressing what you feel, what you want to say, what you need to put out to the world and make people feel. I have shared some of those artists’ work because not only do they inspire me a lot, but they also express the same sort of feeling I want to pass on to people with my jewellery. Empathy, in my opinion, is the most fascinating and powerful emotion art can offer – to be able to touch people. That is how I try to link it with jewellery making. I want to be able to express my bond with nature by preserving its beauty in special objects and in hopes that the person getting it and wearing it feels the same kind of connection.
Both these artists’ works and your jewels are very minimalist and often based on simple, geometric figures. Do you believe that less is more?
Personally, I often fall for the simple things: colours, figures, designs etc., but I’m not so sure about the ‘less is more’ concept. I do defend simplicity in my designs due to the fact that I feel the need to respect nature in its purest form and allow it to express its own beauty.
What other everyday occurrences would you say inspire you?
I would say, generally, music, family gatherings, and different species of flowers I wasn't expecting to find.
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Among all the jewels I assume you have, both from Poema and others, which one would you say is the most precious? Not economically speaking, of course, but one that strikes you on a personal level.
I would definitely have to say a medallion from my mother! She has had it since she was a child. It’s a small medallion with a glass frame with a very tiny leaf inside – a huge inspiration for me. The love and purity it transmits are indescribable, and it’s something that inspires me every day just by looking at it. I’m currently developing some similar designs for Poema as well, which will soon be available.
Where do you see Poema in a couple of years from now?
Oh, I’m not much of a planner myself but I found something I love to do, and I hope Poema keeps growing and making me feel as happy as it does today!
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