Established in 2001 by Ernesto Ovalle, Oro Negro Jewellery Studio flourished out of Ernesto's need to create contemporary jewellery as he had in his homeland, Colombia. These skills were passed down to him by two previous generations in his family that began training him at the young age of 13.
For several years Oro Negro was based at the Aotea Square Market on Tāmaki Makaurau's (Auckland) Queen Street; where Ernesto experimented with a range of jewellery styles crafted in his home studio. Whanau has always been at the heart of Oro Negro, beginning as a family business with the help of Ernesto's young children, Manuela and Sebastian assisting with sales at the markets.
A few years later, Oro Negro opened their first studio on Beresford Square, near Karangahape Road where Ernesto and his crew began focusing on expanding their knowledge of the traditional methods of Pounamu Whakairo (Maori Greenstone carving). [To find out more about Ernesto's formal training in Pounamu please follow the link to Ernesto's biography below.]
Oro Negro has now been based on Karangahape Road for over 13 years having moved from Beresford Square in 2018 to Matau Samoa House.
In 2017, Ernesto's eldest son, Sebastian began his jewellery training in the Oro Negro Studio. Sebastian developed his brand Frankie Ruins which has a focus on modernising signet rings. The inspiration of working with signet rings came from Sebastian's great grandfather who was a watch and signet ring maker in Colombia.
Early 2019, Ernesto's daughter Manuela joined the Oro Negro team alongside her father and brother. She acquired jewellery and carving skills which inspired the initiation of her own jewellery brand Saint Cecilia Jewellery. Her is a celebration of both sides of her cultural identity as a New Zealand - Colombian coming together.