The idyllic backdrop surrounding Holland's Castle Wittem is welcoming and relaxing. The fortress, nestled within Geul Valley, is encompassed by a river, and serves as a hotel. Geniet van uw verblijf (enjoy your stay). Holland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer, Abrasha.
In my feature for Scottish designer Shona Macaulay Fidgett, I mentioned that minimalist, simple designs possess a special kind of power. It is a power that rests in the deceptive subtlety of its lines, curves, and strategic placement of stones. What can be overlooked when viewing this type of jewelry is the craftsmanship that goes into it.
"Even though all of my work has a strong sense of simplicity, most of my pieces are fairly difficult to make and require great skill," the California-based Abrasha acknowledges. A certified goldsmith, Abrasha creates geometric, sleek jewelry that highlight the influence of his mentor, German designer Klaus Ullrich.
Although he incorporates platinum and sterling silver in his creations unlike some of his German colleagues, Abrasha frequently implements 24- and 18-karat gold in most all of his pieces. This inclusion, in my opinion, provides more warmth.
Touching on something I spoke of in my post for Canadian designer Janis Kerman, I am intrigued that Abrasha's use of gold brings warmth and a hint of earthiness to forms that would otherwise possess much cooler, futuristic attributes if fashioned from silver or platinum.
His pieces emphasize spherical shapes and thin columns accented with a tiny single diamond or another somewhat larger, faceted gemstone. Though he implements unconventional items like carbon dioxide cartridges, he is selective about his choice of materials.
"I am a purist when it comes to my materials. I usually combine two or three different materials like CO2 cartridges or pachinko balls, and stainless or rusted steel to create tension between them and their colors," he explains."
He enlists two and three-dimensional computer programs "to work out the designs of my work," and is currently working on a project called "100 Pins." Of the project he says, "This is a work in progress. The goal is that all 100 pins will have specific parameters in common."
Since 1986, Abrasha's superlative artisanship has been honored with numerous awards including the American Jewelry Design Council's First Place Award, and the American Craft Council's Best of Show Award.
His quiet yet powerful, contemporary pieces are exhibited across the United States, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Stainless Steel Saddle Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold, Stainless Steel, and Synthetic Ruby Balls