Life Is But a Dream

Onirikka
. The word originates from Oneiric, meaning of or relating to dreams. For Gloria Rank, whose jewelry designs are the very definition of dream—visionary creations of the imagination—blended with a bit of real-life storytelling, the name beautifully befits the brand.

“In my designs, I convey a bit of everything I encounter on a day-to-day basis mixed with my fantasies. They are a reflection of my life, my struggles, my passions and my escapes,” says Rank. “The magic of a unicorn’s horn makes me drift away. The black and white frogs—the realities and adversities of everyday right and wrong decision-making. The bold, firm grasp of a shark’s bite and an eagle’s claw that never lets go of its prey—the way I never want to let go of my dream. And the snakelike textures—a reminder of how it all stealthily flows inside me. This to me is jewelry. This to me is Onirikka.”

A native of San Salvador, the capital city of the Republic of El Salvador, Rank has had a love affair with jewelry since she was a little girl. She began her design training at Le Arti Orafe Jewellery School & Academy in Florence, Italy, the first Italian school devoted to contemporary jewelry, whose teaching philosophy combines technical training, artistic research and modern design. Halfway through her studies, she met her husband of now 11 years and took a several-year hiatus, but a fervent desire to fulfill her career remained. She then resumed her training about four years ago with an intensive jewelry design course at the Gemological Institute of America in New York City.

Today, Rank resides back in San Salvador, sketching her one-of-a-kind jewelry designs and sending them to a team of top-quality gemologists, bench workers and field experts in New York City for production. She then travels to the United States to choose gemstones for the designs and provide direction until the final pieces are made. She also experiments with designs and new materials in her hometown with local artisans.

“Producing my jewelry is definitely a team process,” says Rank. “You can have amazing sketches and ideas, but if the jeweler doesn’t ‘get you,’ the whole concept of the design is misunderstood. I’ve been very lucky to find people I connect with who share the same passion for jewelry as I do.”

That passion for Rank is fueled by the eclectic mix of emotional triggers in her life, among them the green mountains, deep-blue oceans, coconut trees and colorful fruit of her country, as well as the music, costumes and movement of the ballet.

“Life is inspiration to me,” Rank says. “I vent through my designs my own life experiences. My country inspires me. I love to sit down and contemplate silence. That’s when I get most inspired. I also get inspired on a beach, hearing my children laugh, holding my husband’s hand, watching a ballet, contemplating an art piece, looking at my grandmother’s old pictures and when I’m in New York City. Its energy makes me look inside my soul and I tend to get creative.”

Rank’s inspirations, in turn, drive designs that are primarily organic, natural and simple in line yet powerful and romantic. They also center on contrast and asymmetry, mixing unusual materials in irregular patterns for a versatility that expresses a range of emotions.

“I love to mix things up that wouldn’t go together in someone else’s eyes, but to me, they fit perfectly, such as horn and diamonds and lava and rubies,” Rank says. “The use of different materials, colors and shapes is just so whimsical that it allows me to keep my dreams alive. I’m also a perfectionist, so I guess that’s why I tend to use asymmetry in my designs. I feel free. Three black stones and one green one have a rhythm; it’s my own secret Morse code.”

That “secret code,” or rather the visual signals Rank uses to transmit messages in her designs include, for instance, a free-form ametrine fashioned into a necklace. Chosen for its “wild factor,” the bicolor quartz, composed of both amethyst and citrine, is framed by a leaf motif delicately carved out of gold and suspended from a chain of differently sized gold rings. As such, with its unique and strong yet feminine character, the stone and its setting represent love to Rank.

“Love is free, love is strong, love is delicate,” Rank says. “This piece reminds me of a floating cloud. Isn’t that how you feel when you’re in love?”

The Nebula line, meanwhile, composed of blackened hand-hammered silver and yellow gold dotted with diamonds and colored gemstones, represents Rank’s life experiences as well as her dreams. The texture of the metal signifies life’s ups and downs, while the stones signify the colorful experiences.

“As crazy as the components look apart, they all make sense tied up together,” Rank says. “That’s how I see my life: I look back and it makes sense all together. And Nebula has so much more space for color, like I have so much more to live and experience.”

The Nebula Infinito Ring, in particular, reminds Rank of the universe, which simplifies how she feels about her dreams: infinite, timeless, like a sea of possibilities and endless opportunities.

This type of soul-searching is what sets Rank apart from other jewelry designers. She’s self-described as never letting her head rest, constantly looking for new avenues of inspiration and materials. One such material is lava, which she sources from El Salvador. The process is therapeutic for her, sensing the lava’s energy and warmth, starting the creative process around the stone and then sending it to her New York City office to be polished and produced into jewelry. She often pairs the lava with diamonds or vibrantly colored gemstones, which she also enjoys working with, and also fabricates it into animal shapes. This she does with meticulous care until the piece is absolutely ideal.

“Having the opportunity to do what I love is a gift from the universe and I don’t intend to take it for granted,” Rank says. “I take my time to choose right and go over every little detail until everything falls perfectly into place. I’m a jewelry lover, so everything I design, I design as if it was for me, with patience, dedication and love.”

Rank hopes this enthusiasm for her craft translates to the consumer, creating designs that allow Onirikka to prevail for years to come. Currently, her pieces can be viewed and purchased via catalog or by appointment at her showroom.

“My ultimate dream is to create emotion in my audience,” Rank says. “I think of jewelry as a storytelling vehicle. I want my clients to feel like crying, laughing or getting jittery just by seeing my pieces. I want the love I feel creating the jewelry to be passed on to my clients. Positive vibes, emotional escape and love I want to shout out through my pieces.”
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