Magnificent Baroque pearls, expert gold craftsmanship and ancient Japanese arts come together at George Inaki Root’s fabulous jewelry business, Milamore. Milamore is built on the principles of reinventing the stories of culture and nature through the art of jewelry design. Each designed piece is unique, inclusive and for no specific gender or person. Anyone can wear Milamore and create their own story, no matter where you are from or where you have been. Milamore specializes in unique pearl and diamond jewelry. A recent collection, Kintsugi, is inspired by the ancient Japanese art of mending broken objects. He tells us about the new collection, his inspiration and his company.
Have you always wanted to be a jewelry designer or have you ever imagined yourself pursuing a different professional path?
I have always loved jewelry but never thought I would end up creating my own brand. I have a background in public relations and branding, so I never saw myself as a “creative” person. However, as I build Milamore, I am very passionate about my work and the creativity that I can explore. I am also very happy with what we have accomplished and excited about what we have on the way.
Where does the name Milamore come from?
My grandmother’s name is Milagros and her nickname is Mila. I grew up with her, and she is the love of my life, so I connected love with Mila. This is how Milamore Jewelry was named.
Who or what inspired you to launch Milamore in 2019?
I have this idea that “the niche is the new luxury”. When I was working in public relations, I noticed that typical “luxury” brands were becoming more commercial. I want Milamore to be a niche and speak to people who value quality, craftsmanship and individuality instead of buying products because it’s ‘hype’.
Working with Japanese artisans is very important to me. Japanese craftsmanship is known around the world, but not in the jewelry industry. So I wanted Milamore to be the platform to tell the world how highly skilled Japanese art is.
What were the challenges of launching your own jewelry line and how did you overcome these obstacles?
The biggest challenge is to be recognized internationally. I have a physical store and a great customer base in Japan, but I had to expand internationally from scratch. During the pandemic, stores were closed and did not want to take on new brands. Milamore was only launched in April 2019, so we faced a lot of obstacles. This motivated me to focus on my designs and their details to strengthen my collections, especially the Kintsugi collection.
What makes Milamore unique compared to other jewelry lines?
Milamore incorporates the ideology of many cultures, but mainly has deep roots in Japanese culture. Our jewelry has the aspect of a strong history with which many people can resonate, whatever their origins and their beliefs.
My team and I are very young – everyone is between 20 and 30 years old – and we reimagine what true luxury is. I do not come from a huge capital that has supported me financially. I have led the way by working with great partners and investors who believe in my vision and Milamore.
Has your collection always been gender neutral? What does this mean to you?
“No gender” was never my intention, but I also didn’t design the design thinking “it’s for men or women”. I haven’t designed by genre at all. It really depends on my clients and how they view the coins. I just wanted to design jewelry that has deep meaning and is beautiful. Something that I or anyone (regardless of gender) would like to wear. It’s for anyone, regardless of how they identify with themselves. We’re labeled as gender neutral because that’s the language that best describes how this gem is for everyone.
How does your Japanese heritage influence your work?
It deeply influences everything! I was born in the Philippines but grew up in Japan. Japan has a rich culture in which every time I come back I discover new things. I do not apply them all to Milamore. For example, the collection of spiritual animals is based on Japanese folklore, so these pieces are talismans and have significant cultural significance. Traveling the world, it is common to find talismans in different cultures, but I had never seen fine jewelry based on Japanese culture, which is why I created the Spirit Animal and Kintsugi collections.
What inspired the Kintsugi collection?
Kintsugi honors the breaks and challenges of life – it celebrates the beauty of the broken. This metaphor has a deep meaning for me. In my personal story and in the people I have met, I have seen the Kintsugi in everyone. I had a difficult childhood and a complicated family. I never had this perfect “ideal” life. It’s been a challenge, but I own all of my stories. Every challenge I face, I see it as an opportunity to grow and become stronger. I honor and celebrate them now.
I like to stay true to myself and be genuine. That’s why I like the idea of finding beauty in flaws. The wearer completes the design of the jewelry just as they choose to see the beauty of the breakage. Imagine the wearer is the ‘broken pottery’, and by wearing the Kintsugi pieces, he completes the design and creates a whole different story. It is a very unique and special personalization.
What is the message behind Kintsugi that you hope to share through your jewelry?
If Milamore could allow the wearer to be confident and at ease with himself thanks to the Kintsugi collection, it is beyond an honor for me. I have many clients who thank me, saying that the Kintsugi collection saved their lives when they were in the darkest place. I had a client who shared his personal story which made me emotional. I am the one who should thank these people because they are the reason I can have Milamore.
How many pieces are in the collection and do you have a favorite design?
It’s really hard to choose because I would wear them all! In the Kintsugi collection, I have a personalized Kintsugi bracelet that I wear every day and never take off. The duo chains are my must-have, and the diamond braille collection is also very special to me. Braille will be released in the fall of 2021.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.