Island beauty captured in crystal
Fascination with light, an appreciation for his Caribbean heritage, and a handy way with crystal has made Jamal J Ifill, owner of Crystal Forms, one of the Barbados’ most successful crystal jewellers.
Jamal discovered the wonders of lampworking one day about 10 years ago when he walked into a crystal shop. It was the light from a glass paperweight, the sheer beauty of it that caught his eye. Instantly he was hooked.
In the years that followed, Jamal was taught by a master craftsman and apprenticed under several international master artists. His passion for the art form grew as he experimented with crystal and the ways it captures light. He also began utilizing 24kt gold as well as pure silver to create collections of wearable art, ornaments and decorative functional pieces.
His material of choice is borosilicate, a non-traditional form of crystal. Created in the late 19th century, this type of crystal has proven to be safe and durable. Some uses include astronomical reflecting telescope mirror components—and the thermal insulating tiles on the space shuttle!
In Crystal Forms, Jamal’s design studio, located at Pelican Village, Bridgetown, however, borosilicate is used to craft the most exquisite ornaments, elegant jewellery, innovative lamps and sculptural pieces. Those who visit will also discover Jamal’s fun and flirty flagship collection along with the innovative and exclusive designs.
Drawing inspiration from across the lush, colourful Caribbean, his ideas and creativity come from time spent at the beach as a child, island scenery, the warmth of the people, and the rich wildlife. Miniature ladybirds, dragonflies, turtles and hummingbirds, all in crystal splendour, populate the display shelves of his studio.
Winner of numerous national awards and honours for his work in the fields of art and fashion, Jamal has also created one-of-a kind pieces for royalty, and has exhibited worldwide.
The studio is highly ranked by tourists and locals as a must-see experience. Part of that is down to Jamal’s engaging manner and friendly customer service. He enjoys giving demonstrations and interacting with people who fall in love with his crystal art pretty much the same way he fell in love with the glass paperweight all those years ago.
“Although I’m the artist and have been doing this for some time,” he says, “it’s always magical to see crystal take form, to watch the colours blend to create a striking effect. What adds to my inspiration is the clients’ expressions when they see the finished pieces.”