At El Califa we believe in local businesses and the people that run them. That’s why we work with local suppliers and local artisans like farmers, basketmakers, fishermen, painters, butchers and so much more. We take care of detail to offer the most authentic experience to our clients, from the moment they call to make a reservation in one of our hotels or restaurants, until they check out and decide to take a little piece of us with them. An ‘Alhaja del Califa’. Everything here is a work of art and everything has a story behind.
We are sure that you saw our Jewelry Showcase in the reception of the Hotel La Casa del Califa. In this space you can discover the handcrafted pieces designed by the jeweller Rafael Sánchez.
The artist is the author of the Califa’s own line of jewellery. “A quality product, with a good image, simple, attractive and at a good price,” explains the artisan. You can buy one of the pieces from €20, up to a maximum of €60. Bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings… you can choose whatever you want.
This collaboration started three years ago. “I thought the Califa needed his own collection, to give life to the showcase in the hotel’s hall. We restored it, we looked for a corporate image for ‘Alhajas del Califa’. The word ‘alhaja’ comes from Arabic, so it seemed perfect to me”.
“In jewellery we find different fields: the designer; the one who makes the jewellery in wax, who is the original; the caster; the fire puller, who is the one who polishes the pieces; the setter, who sets the stones; the polisher, that is, the one in charge of polishing the pieces, and so on. There are several stages until you come up with the final product”. It all starts with an informal sketch, “which you make wherever inspiration strikes you. That skeleton is shaped until you make it in wax, it is melted, an original mould is made and the pieces we want are taken out”.
How long does it take to make a piece? For example, the sticks of the delicious brochettes at El Jardín del Califa are made by him. “It can take up to three weeks from the generation of the idea until the skewer arrives at the restaurant”.
His hands have made the plaque that welcomes us to La Casa del Califa, next to the H of the hotel.
His work also includes the key rings and bracelets for customers, which we use on very special occasions, as well as the nameplates for the reception staff and the El Jardín del Califa restaurant.
The customer profile is not defined. “The traveller who comes here gets a very good impression of the hotel, the restaurant and the space. When they check out, they want to take something with them, a little piece of jewellery that they can carry with them and that reminds them of the experience they lived at the Califa and Vejer”.
The truth is that this is not the jeweller’s first “arabesque” jewellery project. Rafael comes from Cordoba and owns a company called Ovio, silver jewellery inspired by a coin that refers to the time of the Caliphate of Cordoba. “They are coins that were minted in Cordoba by order of Abderramán. I have almost 30 years of experience in this line of jewellery, so it was easy for me to develop a special arabesque line for the Califa.
Rafael Sánchez is self-taught. More than 35 years ago, he started working in jewellery workshops, “but they were not creative workshops, they were assembly lines, hard work and very monotonous”. That’s when he began to see the craft “from scratch”. In 1996 he enrolled in a wax modelling design school “and there I began to realise that I had a special ability to express the ideas that came into my head. I saw that I had a sensitivity and love for the sector. That’s the difference between getting things right, having a passion for what you do and then knowing how to reflect it in the piece”. I discovered that this was my path “and I dedicated myself to setting up both shops and workshops”. More than 20 years ago she created her own jewellery line. From then on, “other brands started to look to me to develop their own merchandising”. And it is from his small workshop in Vejer that commissions for clients such as the Vatican or the chef Ángel León come out. “I am currently developing a very cool project in collaboration with the only sculptor in the history of the Vatican, the Spaniard Marco Augusto Dueñas. He is the one who proposed me to develop the merchandising of Pope John Paul II”.
The Califa is a favourite refuge of any traveller who climbs up the hill to Vejer meandering through its maze of streets, in search of traces of a place lost in time. It is no coindicence that the emblem of this group is the ‘Rub el Hizb’, a symbol of Tartessan origin that Abd-al-Rahman I (the first independent Muslim ruler of Al-Andalus) adopted in the 8th century, adapting it to Islamic culture, with the idea of representing paradise and the eight mountains that surround it.
The ‘Alhajas del Califa’ collection, designed by Rafael Sánchez, evokes the essence of this small oasis located in the heart of Vejer”. It is the soul of our jewellery. Those little souvenirs that make us happy. That bring a smile to our faces. That make us relive those unique moments lived in our magical world of the thousand and one nights, like a true marajás.