It has been a real honour and pleasure to be received by Master Juan Carlos Pallarols, the best silversmith in the region. His work is recognized all over the world. He has been commissioned to make the presidential canes for the last 32 years. He chisels masterpieces in silver, gold, precious stones and bronce. World renowned personalities such us Pope John Paul II, Princess Diana, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, and the Prince heir to the throne in Spain, have received his masterpieces.
He welcomed us in his house and workshop in a beautiful apartment in the nicest corner of emblematic San Telmo neighbourhood.
The art and trade of silver has been in his family for more than five generations now. In 1804 his great great grandfather came to Argentina from Barcelona. He stayed in Argentina for only 4 years and he even fought in the English invasions.
Juan Carlos’s grandfather came to our country nearly a hundred years later to work at the Colón Theatre for its opening in 1910, celebrating the city’s first Centenary. His initial plan was to come for 4 years and return, but he was lucky enough to arrive in Argentina’s best moment, so he had plenty of work: the La Plata Cathedral, the ‘Casa Rosada’, the aristocratic families great collections of silverware.
In the 50’s Eva Perón died and his father was commissioned by President Juan Domingo Perón to make Eva Peron’s death mask. Juan Carlos finished this work many years later with the return of democracy to Argentina.
What were your first steps in the family business? When my grandfather became a widower he and I grew very close together. He was deeply in love with my grandmother. I was 3 years old then, the right age to start learning; I learnt through playing.
At the age of 5, Juan Carlos was already a committed apprentice and at the age of 10 he was nearly a professional. He is 75 years old and he has been a silversmith for seventy years.
He sees himself as a craftsman rather than an artist, and he adds “The only thing I know for sure, is that I work everyday to be the best in the world.”
“When I asked my grandfather if he was going to teach me to be a silversmith he replied: I will try, but what is important is that you are happy and honest in this trade. And I will tell you one more thing, anything you are not able to do with absolute passion and dedication, is destined to fail.”
What other lessons did your grandfather teach you? He taught me that if you want people to trust you, you always have to say the truth.
For many years, Master Juan Carlos learnt from his father, who was his coach. To complement his background as a silversmith, Juan Carlos studied drawing, painting and architecture. When his father died, Juan Carlos opened a store in Recoleta. After some years of working with the greatest jewelries, in 1970 he moved to San Telmo where he settled.
“I became aware of the magnitude that we had achieved as silversmiths many years after my father died, when after making some work for the Baron of Thyssen my work appeared in the cover of a european magazine, where Thyssen was with a mate I had made.”
What is the great lesson your father taught you? The same as my grandfather, to be passionate. That we must make every second count, that we have to make a full and absolute use of time, time is a gift that is impossible to repeat, to multiply, to recover. We won’t live a second more than we are supposed to. You need to have the absolute certainty that you are doing what you love, and do it passionately and fully.
Roses for Peace and love.
Roses are a landmark in his work. These roses in particular were made from bullet shells and parts of Argentinian and British planes which fought in Malvinas War.
“I’m fully committed to my work. I am one of the few in this world who makes no copies of each piece.“
How does the Pallarols legacy continue? My sons have their own workshop. It is key to preserve one’s individuality in every craftsman´s trade, where they can dedícate all their time to one piece. If your workshop gets too crowded with orders, you might become something like a small factory without noticing. What I do is different from what my grandfather and my father did; each one’s work is different, it’s singular. And my sons will have to find their path and make their own contribution.
“Fame is not important, prestige is important. One has to be prestigious as a professional and as a person, as a parent, as a friend and as a neighbour.”
What inspires you? Nature and daily events, from my neighbourhood, from my country and from the world.
“In my work I always try to go a step ahead, to find a larger sense, to go beyond the decorative object. Because what makes a piece valuable is not the piece itself but the story behind it, the emotion that drove its creation.”
What would you like to be if you hadn’t been a silversmith? A great tenor, a singer. Being able to express myself through my voice, to have that talent.
“When I make rings for a couple that is getting married, I invite them to come here to my atelier and see how the metal is melted and the different particles become one as love and family should be.”
What drives you on? Life above all things. And right now also painting and writing. I also love welcoming friends at home and working the soil in my small farm in San Antonio de Areco.
A quote or phrase you like to repeat often? There is a quote from Gone with the Wind that says “Do not squander time. That is the stuff life is made of.’