Even after more than 100 years, the powerful image of New York's Statue of Liberty looming above New York Harbor is still a magnetic vision. Fashioned from copper and standing a little over 300 feet tall, its official name is Liberty Enlightening the World. New York is also the home of featured jewelry designer Donna Chambers.
Starting this blog has allowed me the opportunity to ogle a fantastic array of jewelry creations, but I also enjoy the element of discovery that goes along with it.
My research has led me to designers I would not have known about otherwise, and there are many more yet to discover. Chambers is one such designer, another great talent with exceptional skills and a powerful, artistic vision.
While still a teenager, Chambers' immense artistic abilities led to a textile design position working alongside fabric designer Vera Neumann. Impressed with Chambers' innate gifts, and eager to expand the knowledge of her protégé, Neumann awarded Chambers with the first George Neumann Scholarship (a fund honoring her late husband).
By 1968, Chambers studied fashion design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After receiving a Bachelors of Fine Arts, she ventured into the garment industry but she found the experience surprisingly tedious and fellow employees difficult.
Four years upon receiving her degree, she married a jeweler, Irving Williams, who owned a jewelry repair company where she learned the trade. When her husband died in 1978, Chambers took over the business finding a niche with jewelry design.
Within another three years of cultivating her jewelry design and goldsmithing skills, she felt confident enough to build her own jewelry collection. Partially inspired by her water-based, Piscean zodiac, Chambers developed a love for pearls. "Pearls are such classic gemstones and most people like them," she says. "I am a perfectionist. I want to make jewelry classics; pieces that can become an heirloom for someone."
With the exception of 14-karat gold, garnets, topaz, and amethyst accents, Chambers works exclusively with Mabe and freshwater pearls, as well as Mother of Pearl. I just melted when I observed the photographs from her collections.
I think pearls have such a strong opulent quality they effortlessly provide a vintage aspect to any design arrangement. Overall, the luscious, creamy color of Mother of Pearl combined with Chambers' unique designs is so gorgeous, so delicate, and ultra feminine. Her creations are some of the most exquisite pieces of pearl jewelry I have seen.
What makes the jewelry so unique is Chamber goes beyond the elegance of strung pearls. She works with a team of three jewelers, Gilberto McFarlane, Virgillio Thomas, and sister Gail Chambers Reed.
Each jeweler has a specific responsibility that ultimately involves slicing Mother of Pearl into various geometric shapes and melding it within a gold frame. A delicate, faceted lapis or coral stone is added as a drop accent at the base of the frame, or a small cluster of rose quartz is added to the top of the frame beautifully blending varied shapes, colors, and textures.
Chambers is also the proprietor of That Old Black Magic, a museum-shop that promotes "African-American culture, lifestyle, and diversity in the communities and those communities that surround us. The shop serves as a bridge to connect the gap between the artist, author, and the consumer."
Her stunning jewelry is sold at Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue, and she has received numerous awards including The International Pearl Design Contest, the Women's Jewelry Association Annual Award for Excellence in Manufacturing, and the Blenheim Award for Design Excellence.
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold and Antique Mother of Pearl Square Chinese Medallion Necklace with Blue Topaz Briolette
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold and Antique Mother of Pearl Abstract Shaped Chinese Gambling Chip Pin