Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Friends Remember ‘Jeweler Extraordinaire’ Castro

As jewelry lovers mourn the passing of the US-born, Istanbul-based artist extraordinaire, his industry friends salute his warm personality and one-of-a-kind designs.

Castro! A mutual friend described him as “the most unusual, complicated, fiercely loyal, talented, big-hearted and amazing one.” True to these words and his actions, he garnered the love and respect of all he met, like me and his inner circle of industry friends. As usual, it’s only with the passing of someone that we make an effort to pause and reflect on what has just left us forever. We do so now with profound sadness that our Castro, the one and only Rasta High Art Jewels Magician, is gone.

Our friendship began around 2010 in New York’s Diamond District, sharing similar interests and career paths. We continued to bump into each other in Paris, and that’s when I really got to witness the art of the hustle with Castro — hands down, the smoothest cat and hardest-working in the room, never missing a beat. To put it in perspective, the hardest thing for any designer is to have other designers wear your jewelry, but Castro managed to do just that. Most respected designers I know bought and wore proudly his precious armored, articulated, hybrid animal dollies with names like Zeeporah. These pieces were layered with such intricate details, a reflection of his complex imagination, sharp wit on life, and free-spirited soul that we all came to admire.

But beyond the charming persona, I’ve come to respect his unconventional path into the world of high-art jewelry. Castro started out as a troubled youth in Ohio, then worked in a bean factory to pay child support and even ended up in prison for one of his naughty adventures. However, his passion for art and design propelled him to complete courses in jewelry fabrication and gem-setting at [Ohio’s] Drouhard National Jewelers School.

For the next 22 years, he dedicated his time to working as a bench jeweler, hustling his designs, starting with leather and chains on the sidewalks of SoHo. It was there that his work was discovered by rock bands like ZZ Top. He then maneuvered to open his own showroom in the Marais during Paris fashion week. At the same time, his designs were picking up momentum as he incorporated more precious materials and complex constructions into his pieces. This caught the attention of [entrepreneur] Carmen Busquets, who, at [their] first meeting, bought out his full collection. As smooth as it may sound, there were many challenges as he continued to push his creations onward. It was with these new artistic experiments that he blazed his way to the most prestigious international territories, most often elevating his jeweler friends with him along the way.

Castro, the jeweler extraordinaire, was wise beyond his years and a master of his craft. He was unanimously respected for his unwavering rebel spirit. But it was the love for his community that was profoundly admirable. And as love never dies, neither do all the precious voodoo heirlooms that he gifted us.

Nghi Nguyen
Creative director, NN by Nghi

Castro was one of a kind, just like his creations. Unapologetic about what he created and how he went about it. He was not only passionate about jewelry, but also the people whom he met during his illustrious career. His camaraderie will be missed by many in the industry, but his legacy will continue to live on through his designs for many generations to come.

Satta Matturi
Creative lead, Matturi

One of the things I loved most about Castro was his kindness. It ran through him like a river. He was always helping people, giving encouragement and cheering you on when you wanted to give up. He also had these profound moments of wisdom about design and about life. I shall cherish our conversations. From the softly trembling wings on one of his dollies to his medieval modern locks, there was always meaning hidden within the beauty of his work. I admired his wildness and the depth of creativity in his work. He followed his own rules with style and charm.

Melanie Grant
Editor, author, and curator of 2021’s Brilliant & Black exhibition at Sotheby’s

I have looked up to Castro as a designer for longer than I can remember. When I found out that my work was going to be showing alongside his at the Sotheby’s Brilliant & Black exhibition, my mind was blown — I had a real fangirl “pinch me” moment. The first time I met him, I was sitting alone at the Sotheby’s cafe waiting for our press preview breakfast. He saw me and just plopped down at the booth with me and instantly started talking like we were old friends…and so we were. He had a really special light inside of him that is really indescribable and irreplaceable. There was something about him that felt very free; he was unapologetically, simply himself. I am so inspired by who he was and also his work — his work was like magic to me. I am so grateful to have shared space with him in this lifetime, and am also so regretful that we didn’t have more time. He touched and inspired so many people. I know his spirit will continue to live on.

Maggi Simpkins
Founder, Maggi Simpkins

It’s been said that art is not what you see, but what you make others see, and there is no better example of this than Terry Castro. His complicated, brilliant, meticulous perspective — wholly his own — manifested in the uniqueness of his designs and will remain with us in the legacy he leaves behind. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to see the world through his eyes.

Jennifer Shanker
Founder, Muse showroom

I’ll always remember Castro: The shenanigans he and I would get into on the streets of New York City, how we would laugh at the absurdity of people and life. A brilliant mind, a passionate soul, a big, beautiful, soft heart, always open to everyone. He spoke his whole truth, and it didn’t matter if it ruffled a few feathers. We lost touch and reconnected after a few years, and immediately were laughing for hours, cracking up about things until my stomach hurt. His creativity, humor and magic will always shine through his pieces. I cherish the bracelet he gave me for my birthday. Castro, my dear old friend, you were determined and made a name for yourself — the one and only Castro NYC. No one compares to you. Keep ruffling feathers in space. Love you always.

Sharon Chandally Pedrini
Founder, Chandally

Castro and I met in Dubai in 2014 at a mutual friend’s apartment. He was funny, lively, intelligent and kind. Through the years, we stayed in touch. Castro was a protective soul and looked out for people. Multiple times, I woke up and found a text from him calling out a manufacturer who was claiming my work as theirs. His outrage was readable. On a lighter note, he had exceptional taste in music, as we both vibed on the old-school Soul II Soul.

Ana-Katarina Vinkler-Petrovic
Creative director, AnaKatarina

Image: Castro NYC

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2022. To subscribe click here.

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