Saturday, May 30, 2009


We are visiting the Calcutta Botanical Garden in India today; the grounds of which hold an amazing collection of over 12,000 varieties of plants and trees. Amidst the garden's lakes and ponds are bamboo and palm trees, orchids, and an enormous banyan tree (the garden's most well-known landmark). India is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Amrita Singh.

Amrita Singh Jewelry, launched 6 years ago, is without question stylish, bold, and beautiful. A graduate of the (F.I.T), the former executive of New York's Bergdorf Goodman, who has collaborated with fashion legends Oscar de la Renta and Christian Lacroix, has a myriad of inspiration and experience from which to draw.

Amrita Singh Jewelry boasts a fine jewelry collection in 22-karat gold, and nine, modern costume jewelry collections; the most well known being Bangle-Bangle.

Each collection features statement pieces, influenced by Egyptian, Victorian, and Indian motifs, with precious and semi-precious stones and brilliant colored enamel. It comes as no surprise that the Fashion Group International has nominated Singh three years in a row for the Rising Star Award in Fine Jewelry.

Singh's exotic, intricate detailing comes from years of studying the timeless art and architecture of the Mughal dynasty. She uses Old World designs as a template to build new, modern pieces of jewelry that are sleek and buoyant. Singh definitely offers plenty from which to choose. Her creations can be worn casually with jeans, or add an extra touch of sophistication to that little, black dress.
Her vibrant fashion jewelry has been featured in magazines such as InStyle, Brides, Glamour, and Vogue; and celebrities from Anne Hathaway to Faith Hill are fans.

In 2007, Toronto's Sikh Centennial Foundation presented Singh with an entrepreneurial award. Her fine and costume jewelry collections are sold online and can be found, respectively, at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Macy's and Nordstrom.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Cleopatra Cuff Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): 15-piece Green Bangle Bracelet Set

Friday, May 29, 2009


We're in Torino, Italy today standing in Valentino Park just outside Castello del Valentino (Valentino Castle), which is loaded with history. Centuries ago, monarchs used the castle for feasts and special events; presently, the castle is the center for Torino's Faculty of Architecture. Italy is also the home of featured jewelry designer Licia Mattioli.

Torino built its first chocolate candy factory in the 19th century. It's no wonder that Mattioli devoted her Cocoa Collection to this wonderfully sweet and versatile indulgence.

The collection features chain-link necklaces, bracelets, and earrings in distinctive, 18-karat brown gold. So how did Mattioli come about turning gold into chocolate? Let's step back 14 years in time.

In 1995, Mattioli worked as an attorney when her father, Luciano, purchased Antica Ditta Marchisio, the most revered and oldest jewelry-making workshop in Torino. Luciano, once the head of a prestigious company, asked his daughter to assist him in managerial responsibilities. A fan of contemporary Italian art, Mattioli took on her duties with tenacity and determination.

She respected the time-honored chain-link designs of Attica Ditta Marchisio while also energizing the company with a new, bold directive. She would develop a brand for the company, with her namesake, for distribution to Japan, Europe, and the United States; she would introduce unique designs using blue iolite, lime green peridot, pink rhodolite, and diamonds; and she would develop partnerships with other longstanding brands such as Tiffany & Co. (USA), and Cartier (France) thus maintaining the company's powerful presence in the industry and its history of excellence.

Just recently, Mattioli created an 18-karat gold leaf necklace designed by actor Susan Sarandon for World Gold Council's Leaves of Change charity benefit.

Sotheby's auctioned the lovely piece and the proceeds were given to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, a charity chosen by Sarandon.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Diamond Ring with Horn
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Matte/Polished Gold Leaf Necklace with Moonstone for WGC’s Leaves of Change

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Sydney, Australia is a cosmopolitan hive of culture, history and, of course, great beaches. There's something for everyone. For the animal lover there's the Taronga Zoo, and Sydney Wildlife World; for architecture buffs there's the Queen Victoria Building, an astonishing structure housing shops and cafés; and for the antiquity lover, the Australian Museum. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Victoria Buckley.

The whimsy of fairytales, the high adventure of Holy Grail legends, and the vibrant hues of Jaipur, India all serve Buckley's creativity and inspire her.

In 1992, while serving as an organizer for the Adelaide Arts Festival, Buckley found the unbridled creative expression of the sculptors and performers mesmerizing.

She already enjoyed painting, and the experience at the festival led her to a 3-year stint reading books on jewelry and metalwork, "I read goldsmithing books for 14 hours a day. One day I bought $10 worth of silver and I worked for two weeks making 10 deer talismans. Someone at a market stall bought one for $15."

Not long after the auburn-haired jeweler opened her first boutique in Strand Arcade, a hub for contemporary Australian designers, in Melbourne, Australia. Buckley's designs that include bracelets, stackable rings, pendant necklaces and earrings are fashioned from 18-karat yellow, rose and white gold, and platinum.

She scours different parts of the world for diamonds, garnets, tourmalines, rubies, and sapphires to accentuate the luster of the precious alloys. "Jewelry to me is something of deep meaning carrying as it does something of the hand that made it and the hand that wears it."

A member of the Gold and Silversmith's Guild of Australia, Buckley's most popular item is the posie ring; a gold band with a brief message of love engraved on the outside of the band. She creates custom posie rings as well, and includes distinctive, decorative engravings on most all of her rings.

I think her pieces possess an intrinsic, enchanting twinkle that has nothing to do with shiny gemstones or precious metals. The motivation behind her creations is the simple desire to create "the sort of piece that could be dug up from under ruins in a thousand years and evoke stories in people's minds."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Rose Gold, Rose Window Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Ring with Opal

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


As a symbol of goodwill and friendship between Korea and France, Paris Park was built within the Mokdong Apartment Complex in Seoul, Korea. Here we can walk among zelkova trees, pine, and marronniers along with an array of over 15,000 trees. Korea is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Tana Chung.

Presently living in New York, 24-year-old Chung is a rising force in the jewelry industry. Graduating summa cum laude from Ewha University, she received a bachelor's degree in fashion and product design.

However, while still living in Korea, she initially pursued a career as both a T.V. host and reporter. She didn't forsake her fashion and design background acting as her own stylist for t.v. appearances. In doing this, she developed a reputation throughout Korea as a style maven.

Holding fast to her intuitive sense of style, Chung also began designing her own jewelry using colorful gemstones, such as purple amethyst and gold citrine, in simple and intricate wire designs.

Her designs have a funky, elegant, and ethereal flair; admirers took notice, and took orders.

In 2004, she launched Tana Chung Jewelry in her home of Seoul, Korea. Last month Chung officially launched her jewelry line in the U.S. at the store King of Greene Street in Soho, New York.
Photo 1 (top right): Chandelier Gemstone Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Gemstone Pendant Necklaces

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Today we'll rent a small, motor boat and slowly coast along the still waters of Yarkon River, which is smack dab in the middle of Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, Israel. Having the distinction of being Tel Aviv's largest public park, Hayarkon Park possesses plenty of interesting, and fun activities. We could try our hand at miniature golf at Sportec, or ride the roller coasters at Lunapark. Israel is also the birthplace of jewelry designer David Weitzman.

Clarity of thought, tapping into our inner strength, and acquiring a calm outlook on life are characteristics most everyone wants. Weitzman has learned this firsthand after years of studying "sacred knowledge" found in Kabbalah, Judaism, Egyptian wisdom, and Tibetan Buddhism.

Weitzman wanted to literally channel his extensive knowledge into jewelry designs, "I learned the jewelry techniques from a friend named Yanir Shapira and another extraordinary artist by the name of Michel Ardi."

Inspired by the beauty and intricate detail of nature--the structure of a leaf, tree, or insect--Weitzman developed a deeper understanding for the "sacred geometry" present in all living things.

"I was fascinated by nature and I've noticed the laws and regularities of nature. I read many books about ancient cultures such as ancient Greece and Egypt and the Mayan culture and was amazed at all the structures they built and all their theories repeat the same geometrical shapes and laws."

Weitzman uses sterling silver, 14-karat yellow gold, rubies, moonstones, and lapis among others to create powerful, symbolic images such as the Tree of Life Pendant, the Flower of Life Pendant, and his very first design the Merkaba Pendant.

All of his creations undergo a complex "energizing process" that infuses them with specific, positive, spiritual energy. "The special energizing process is a conscious state, created after a very long process of meditation, where one has the ability to affect reality, not by physical actions, but by thought."

Weitzman says that his clients benefit tremendously from wearing his imbued designs. He gave his Merkaba Pendant to a troubled, drug addicted man he knew. One day after Weitzman gave the man the pendant, the man no longer wanted his drug of choice.

"Until then it was practically impossible to interact with this person and we really thought that he was lost. Within a few months he was completely `clean'." Ultimately, Weitzman's desire is to enhance the lives of others through his compelling jewelry.

I found Weitzman's alternately intricate and simplistic designs aesthetically appealing, and powerfully evocative.

Although he is incredibly purposeful, at the same time he recognizes that not everyone may be`ready' for his `cosmic' approach to jewelry design.

100% of the proceeds for his Mother Earth pendant are donated to several organizations devoted to the Earth's preservation, including Eco Earth and Earth Island. For more on Weitzman, browse his personal blog (a feature of his website).
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Egyptian Scarab Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Mother Earth Pendant Necklace

Monday, May 25, 2009


Today we follow guides through the Rift Valley in Ethiopia, which holds a link of seven lakes: Abaya, Langano, Awasha, Chamo, Ziway, Abijata, and Shalla. Nearly untainted by industrialization, the Rift Valley also contains therapeutic hot springs and various bird species. Africa is also home to featured design team Kefena Regeou and Gebeyehu Addisu.

Addisu and Regeou travel often to Harar, a city located in northern Ethiopia, spending countless hours learning about the jewelry-making techniques of ancient metalworkers, as well as collecting antique ornaments to use in their creations. They also spend time in Dubai, learning from fellow designers.

The design duo incorporate striking enameling techniques while also working with colorful beads, and silver melted from ancient coins. Ultimately, Regeou and Addisu create jewelry mixing aspects of both Ethiopian and Middle Eastern designs. They sell their wares at upscale stores located in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Abala, and the Artisan and Designers Bazaar.
The designers, along with other designers from all over the world, sell their pretty creations at The Hunger Site, founded in 1999 and presently owned by Tim Kunin and Greg Hesterberg.

The purchase of Addisu and Regeou's jewelry helps to provide funding for food in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and North America.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Coptic Cross Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Eternal Rose with handmade Glass Beads and Galvanized Wire

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I love the smell of roses and as we stand in The Rose Garden of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Virginia, the aroma of over 1,800 roses overcomes us.

From here, we venture to The Sunken Garden where we will find a Roman-theme environment with flowing water and dry-laid stone walls. Virginia is also the birthplace of jewelry designer Temple St. Clair Carr.

Friday, May 22, 2009


"The jewels in the yard" is the literal translation of the German word schmuckhof. Schmuckhof is also the namesake of one of many gardens located in Botanishcher Garten (Botanical Garden) in Munich Germany. Over 2,000 species of orchids reside in the garden's spectacular glass houses. Germany is also the home of featured jewelry designer Angela Hübel.

Hübel has a singular focus in her designs, the hand. She designs--almost exclusively-- beautifully constructed rings (both dress and wedding rings) intended to highlight the contours of the hand or the space between fingers.

She also designs rings specifically for the right or left hand, "The ring theme imposes the most limits on the free choice of forms. It's a tremendous challenge to find interesting solutions," she says.

Her ring designs, created mostly in 18-karat yellow gold, possess soft, sculptural curves, which are offset by gorgeous gemstones.

Aside from Mark Scown, her creations are some of the most original ring designs I've seen, but Hübel is surprisingly pragmatic about her approach to design. "Inspiration is not magic. Good ideas result from intensive cognitive and experimental work motivated by the pleasure of designing."

She prefers an unconventional approach to designing instead of following the latest trend, "My intention is to create jewelry which is simultaneously contemporary and timeless."

Hübel also designs lovely pendants, and the Inhorgenta Munich Fair features her latest designs each year. The ORRO Gallery, and Aaron Faber Gallery have also exhibited Hübel's stunning designs.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-karat Yellow Gold Diamond Eye Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-karat Yellow Gold Laguna Navette Ring

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Today let's forget about the worrisome details of the news and think about the white, refreshing sands of Cancun Beach in Mexico. No matter what's happening, the sand is not going to change anytime soon. Cancun Beach's sands are an imperceptible combination of plankton fossils and crushed coral and are cool to the touch; the soles of your feet won't burn even when the sun is at its hottest. The beautiful, turquoise-blue water of the ocean is like a liquid jewel glistening under the sun.

Let's then take a trip to the seaside city of Mar del Plata, in Argentina, which is known for it's high cliffs, beautiful ravines, and sprawling beaches.

There's a new twist to this intro, designer Felipe Barbosa is from Mexico, and Fabian Ojeda is from Argentina. The two joined creative forces and established Fabian y Felipe Jewelry.

Ojeda and Barbosa's jewelry designs evoke strength, power, and grandeur; and the motivation behind their designs is to inspire the wearer. The words "Abundance," "Dare," and "Be Brave" are engraved on the back of some of their pieces. Ojeda says the words serve as "a reminder for the wearer to stay in a positive and fearless place."

The designers primarily use sterling and oxidized silver, and oxidized bronze (offset by Crystallized Swarovski Elements) to create rings, pendant necklaces, cuff bracelets, and belt buckles.

The handmade jewelry designs pieces prominently feature raised medieval, religious, and Art Deco motifs that add a wonderful dramatic quality. Their creations, without a doubt, are captivating and uniquely stylish.

I will admit that at first glance their approach to designing seemed undoubtedly masculine (Dijmoun Hounsou is a fan); however, the pieces look great on women! Uma Thurman and Finola Hughes are both fans of the line.

In fact, Thurman owns one of the designers' commanding belt buckles the Virgen of the Angels, which was inspired by her.
Photo 1 (top right): Bronze Crusader Cross Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): St. Michael's Small Shield Pendant Necklace

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Depending on the time of year, you can view wisteria, roses, dogwood, azaleas, and peonies within Jindai Botanical Garden in Tokyo, Japan.

There are over 4,500 varieties of trees and plant life spanning the length of the garden, as well as a greenhouse equipped with a lilly pond and tropical plants. Tokyo is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Yoshi Ishizuka.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today we are in Auckland Domain one of the oldest parks in New Zealand. As we stroll along walking paths, we have clear views of splendid varieties of plant such as astelias, bronze flax, and senecio. New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer Jasmine Watson.

From 1992 to 1995, while attending the Unitec School of Design, Watson worked part-time dressing Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo for the Sam Raimi produced Xena: Warrior Princess, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

After Watson graduated, in 1995, the studio offered her a full-time position as the shows' jewelry and costume maker.

Several years later, Middle Earth would summon Watson to provide Galadriel with her Elven ring of power, Nenya, as well as her gold and silver crown. Watson would then create Arwen's stately crown her Evenstar pendant necklace, and lastly she would take on the sinister beauty of The One Ring.

Watson's work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered her immediate, worldwide attention. "Working on Lord of the Rings has been one of the biggest projects of my career so far, and it has certainly generated a huge amount of positive feedback and interest in my work.

Designing for film and television generally allows you to be more elaborate and expressive. However, jewelry for film still needs to be durable and comfortable as the particular piece may be worn every day."

In the midst of creating designs for the trilogy, Watson found the time to create her personal designer jewelry collections drawing on the influence of professors and fellow designers she admired.

Her understated, minimalist pieces feature lovely flower motifs. "I am endlessly fascinated and inspired by nature, and the complexities and minute detail, in particular, of the native plants and flowers of New Zealand."

Walt Disney and Walden Media also took notice of Watson's talent, hiring her to design the jewelry and crowns featured in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (click here for close-up of Susan Pevensie's crown).

She plans to continue working in film as well as adding to her personal line. "I love the creative side of film making, though at the moment, I am focused on producing my own range of jewelry, so it's a case of trying to fit everything in."

If you are interested in checking out replica Lord of the Rings jewelry, you are in for a real treat. Not one, but two jewelers have official authorization to produce recreations.

Tolkien Enterprises officially licensed Badali Jewelry to create items inspired by the books and the film trilogy. The Noble Collection used Watson's original patterns and molds to create its replicas.

In addition, Walt Disney and Walden Media authorized Bob Siemon Designs to create original jewelry inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Photo 1 (top right): From Watson's personal collection Sterling Silver Lotus Brooch
Photo 2 (bottom left): From Watson's personal collection White Lotus Ring

Monday, May 18, 2009


The wonderful fragrance of an array of blooming antique roses, floribundas and shrub roses fill the air as we stand in the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden. New York is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Sandy Baker.

A former graphic artist, Baker transformed a jewelry-making hobby into a long, distinguished career rivaling that of Neil Lane. For close to four decades, Baker remained consistent with creating modern jewelry designs for her primary demographic, career women.

"Women want engaging jewelry that is attractive and comfortable. It has to make a personal style statement yet remain wearable throughout the day," she says.

Working primarily with gold, sterling silver, black onyx, abalone, coral, pearls, and even wood and bamboo, her designs have received many honors. Among Baker's many design awards are
the Women's Jewelry Association Award for Excellence in Design; the Blenheim Award for Continued Excellence in Design; and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum selected Baker's creations for inclusion into its archives.

In addition, the Seebeck Gallery ran an exhibition of Baker's work. Baker shows no sign of slowing down and continues to create beautiful, fashion jewelry for women to wear, "whether we're on the phone, running for a taxi, enjoying a candlelit dinner or dancing up a storm."

McCall's, Glamour, Vogue, and Essence magazines have featured Baker's sculptural pieces, and many celebrities, including Julia Roberts, have worn them. Baker was among the first jewelry designers to sell her delectable wares on television.
Photo 1 (top right): 14-karat Gold Gable Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Hand-painted Wood Pendant with Sterling Silver Chain

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Today we are in Moscow, Russia standing in Sobornaya Square just outside the architectural wonder Cathedral of the Annunciation. There are bronze doors, with gold foil overlay, located at the north and west portals; the walls feature portions of murals painted by Theodosius, and the floor is made of jasper. Russia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Liza Shtromberg.

Shtromberg openly embraces culture. She travels the world collecting gemstones: labradorite from Madagascar, carnelian from Egypt, shells from the Red Sea, and opals from Peru.

Highly knowledgeable about the gemstones she collects, Shtromberg's website features a section with extensive information about the stones she uses. She has fashioned 19 eclectic collections in such a way that the gemstones featured embody the commanding ancient history living within them while also maintaining a quiet simplicity.

"I've always been drawn to other cultures and their crafts--basket weaving, embroidery, jewelry--it's an expression of their value system, who they are," she says. Some of Shtromberg's hand fabricated jewelry pieces capture the unrefined appearance of jewelry made during ancient times. Her Petra, and Destination Greece collections are perfect examples of this.

As a youngster, Shtromberg developed her skills while living in Jaffa, Israel. Her father, a highly experienced cameo designer and stonecutter, owned a jewelry gallery and Shtromberg assisted him in making wax molds for jewelry castings.

At the age of 16, after moving to Los Angeles with her family, she created simple yet stunning jewelry with wires, beads, and crystals loving the level of self-expression creating jewelry provides. Years later she opened her retail-studio, named LS Jewelry, in Los Feliz, California.

Her designs are a favorite of such famous clientele as Nelly Furtado and Rachel Weisz. Shtromberg enjoys assisting her clients in finding their unique style through her collections encouraging them to mix pieces from one collection with pieces from another until they arrive at something truly reflexive of their individuality.

Shtromberg also cares about the environment and her Eco Modern Collection is made from ecoresin a transparent, co-polyester sheet substance that contains recycled content but also retains its core physical properties.

Having attended the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel, where students from around the world search for solutions to environmental issues, Shtromberg founded her eco-friendly retail store All Shades of Green located in Silver Lake, California. The store also serves as an educational hub, and design center.

Aside from carrying an array of sustainable products, the store is a place for people to drop off old 10-, 14-, 18- and 22-karat gold and sterling silver jewelry for recycling. The precious metals are then carted off to a local plant for melting to be subsequently made into new jewelry.

For more on eco-conscious jewelry designers, check out California-based Jennifer Dawes of Dawes Designs. Her collections are expensive but Dawes uses "recycled gold and conflict-free stones" to structure her beautifully sleek designs.

For eco-friendly jewelry on the East Coast (and a tad easier on the pocketbook) check out the dainty creations of New York-based Sarah Perlis Jewelry. Perlis also uses recycled gold and a diamond mining company "that focuses on the environment."

Photo 1 (top right): Memories Necklace from the Eco Modern Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Paisley Pearl Necklace
Photo 3: (bottom center) Dawes' Adze Zen Diamond Ring with Sapphires
Photo 4: (bottom center) Perlis' Crescent Moon Earrings

Friday, May 15, 2009


I love a beach setting and today we are soaking up the tropical, natural beauty of Saona Island in the Dominican Republic. We have blue skies, shade from palm trees, and clear, blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Breathtaking. The Dominican Republic is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Loella Medina.

It is clear that Medina’s signature design style is building her creations around a kaleidoscope of gorgeous, bold colored gemstone beads at every turn.

There's blue apatite, orange chalcedony, and dark pink rhodolite garnets. It is as though she has taken a rainbow, formed the color stream into crystals, and fashioned them into fantastic pieces of jewelry.

At the age of 10, Medina watched her Civil Engineer father take a pair of pliers and beads, which he found at a construction site, and create incredible vintage-style, crystal and button earrings.

In 1982, Medina continued the "rage" her father began by using the tools and instruction books that he used patiently teaching herself to cultivate exotic handmade jewelry designs utilizing "sterling silver and gold filled wire". Initially she made jewelry for her friends and family; however, in 2006 she branched out and started her own jewelry line, which she sells through, and trunk shows.

Though presently living in New York City, Medina draws inspiration from the exotic, tropical culture of the Dominican Republic. "My jewelry collections are inspired by my Caribbean culture which is colorful, flirty, and happy. I like to use bright colors for my designs, so even the smallest pairs of earrings will stand out."

Included among Medina's assortment of designer jewelry items is the lovely La Boda bridal jewelry collection . Of her jewelry items, Medina's personal favorite is the Galilea Earrings from her Limited Edition Spring 2009 Collection of which 20% of the proceeds are donated to the Emily N. Carey Harbor School, a private high school in East Harlem, New York.

Medina says the goal of the high school is to "provide a curriculum and program that prepares students for college and the world of work. They teach these young men and women the importance of, and the skills required for, active participation in our democracy. ENCHS strives to develop them into lifelong learners with a strong moral and ethical set of values."

She is currently working on a fine jewelry line featuring 18-karat gold, silver, and diamonds.
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold Fill Leyvi Necklace with Turquoise and Whiskey Quartz from Spring 2011 Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold Fill Jacquelyn Limited Edition Earrings with Carnelian, Garnet, and Pink Sapphire

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Today surfers are a bit of a distraction as they undertake the waves of the Pacific Ocean at Punta Hermosa Beach in Lima, Peru. With the sound of waves and voices crackling behind us, we'll meet with Peruvian jewelry designer Anna Lia Barandiaran.

Having worked four years at an international jewelry company, Barandiaran's flame of passion for jewelry making was kindled.

As she developed her skills through involvement in workshops, Barandiaran tapped into her intuitive capacity for jewelry design.

Inspired by the beauty surrounding her and fueled with creativity, Barandiaran has designed 21 collections using manual tools. These designs fashioned from gold, sterling silver, and numerous gemstones are understated and contemporary.

Like Bill and Christina Steenson's jewelry line, her pieces are elegantly minimalistic with clean lines and touches of color.

Barandiaran also collaborates with fellow designer Adrian Miranda to design wonderfully feminine, delicate, and symbolic jewelry for

"We are dedicated to achieving tremendous quality. Our intention is to transmit freshness and joy with each versatile piece." In 2004, Barandiaran displayed various jewelry items at Cirque a Porter in Dedalo, and Art for the Daily Life contest in Brazil.

For more on Barandiaran's designs, click on one (or all) of the following links:

Items from Contemporary Collection:

Items from Collaboration with Adrian Miranda:

Waterfall, Black Pearl and Golden Bead Night Sky Necklace

Silver Linked by Love Ring

Silver Music and Dance Chandelier Earrings

Photo 1 (top right): Spring of Water Choker with Andean Opal
Photo 2 (bottom left): Amazon Sunset Necklace (Red Agate Stone with carved Carnelian

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Today we're in Copenhagen, Denmark at Botanisk Have, a peaceful garden with wild moor and heath, rare trees, orchids and cacti. Denmark is also the birthplace to featured jewelry designer Troels Larsen.

Having spent his childhood years surrounded by a family of architects, Larsen was predestined to become one as well . . . not exactly.

Life has a way of shifting towards unexpected trajectories and Larsen would journey down a different path.

"While walking through rich pastures of land running along the Norwegian Fjords, I stumble upon a perfectly intact dragonfly at my feet.

I gently placed it on the wall above my bed where unknowingly this "symbol" becomes morphed into who I am today. In the Danish language, the word goldsmith is the same word for dragonfly."

In 1978, while attending a high school in Laguna Beach, California, Larsen took a class in jewelry making and gemstone cutting. When he returned to Copenhagen one year later, he began an apprenticeship at Antvorskor Inc. under the tutelage of a third generation, master goldsmith.

Larsen then attended the Goldsmith Institute in Copenhagen, and graduated in 1986. Not long after a friend of Larsen's, from Laguna Beach, contacted him about a job opening for a European trained goldsmith at which he returned to California to begin a two-year stint at Zalton David Fine Jewelry.

He then joined Jacobus Goldsmiths--a fine jewelry fixture for over three decades-- where he collaborated with its owner, Jacobus Bass. For the last 20 years, Larsen has exhibited his unique work of 18- and 22-karat gold, silver and platinum as well as spectacular gemstones at the prestigious Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach.

"My passion is designing simple, understated designs using the most colorful and rarest natural gemstones."

In 2006, he received an AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) Spectrum Award for an 18-karat, yellow gold pendant with tourmaline. His distinctive designs possess clean, geometric lines and rich color.

For more on Larsen, check out n8 Productions' video interview with the jeweler:

Photo 1 (top right): Golden Beryl and Aquamarine Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Semi-Black Opal Necklace with Diamonds

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Today we are in Chicago at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. The landscape of blooming foliage, stone outcroppings, pavilion, and waterfall surrounding a lily pool provides a tranquil setting. Chicago is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Alicia Piller.

Piller is a remarkably talented artist who is also on the cutting edge of fashion. In 2004, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts and Anthropology from Rutger University, Piller moved to New York City to set up a studio.

Here she paints powerful, thought provoking portraits, and she hand paints t-shirts with psychedelic-like images of Stevie Wonder, Billie Holliday, Frida Kahlo, Jimmie Hendricks, Bob Marley, and even President Obama. She also creates necklace motifs on t-shirts, and custom-made painted tees in which she accurately produces any specifications given to her.

Piller's inspiration for her oil, canvas paintings come from a very personal place, "Over the past year I have had to endure a lot of self-examination, as well as confrontations with the bold truth of the state of the world and what may become of it. I feel, "There Will Be Life After Death" was a product of my own need to get away from the world, literally through art; only to be drawn back into the reality of my own subconscious thoughts and fears."

Piller also designs original pieces of fashion jewelry using glass and crystal beads with focal point colorful suede. Piller does not go the route of stringing a pendant through a suede cord. Incredibly, she intertwines multiple pieces of suede into unbelievable miniature pieces of art that resemble intricate spirals. For the adventurous soul, her mostly bib-like necklaces can also double as a provocative top.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have never seen anyone do what she is doing with suede. This is in a class by itself. It is phenomenal. Her designs can complement casual or formal wear.

She has recently started working with New York clothing designers whose models are photographed in magazine layouts wearing her pieces. Piller's designs have been featured in Luire, Fader, Liberator, H.A.S., and Clutch magazines. Many New York boutiques retail her painted tees, ties, handbags, and suede jewelry.
Photo 1 (top left): 2007 Classics Suede Necklace With Beads
Photo 2 (bottom right): 2005 Suede Earring

Monday, May 11, 2009


Andalusian Garden is tucked away from the noise and buzz of the nearby city, Cairo, Egypt. Amidst the lush, beautiful gardens and landscapes, we'll take a quiet walk along the banks of the Nile River and marvel at the scope and magnificence of the garden's terraces, Egyptian statues, and palm trees. Here is where we'll visit with featured jewelry designer Azza Fahmy.

Nefertari. Cleopatra. Nefertiti. Beautifully steeped in Arabic motifs and symbolism, Fahmy's designs bring to mind the power and mystique of Egypt's ancient queens.

In 1969, while working as a government-employed book illustrator, Fahmy held a B.A. degree in Interior Design and she planned to obtain a second degree in Applied Arts. However, when she attended Egypt's first book fair, she saw a book that would change the course of her life.

The book, written in German, was about medieval jewelry design and boasted a hefty price tag. Despite these factors, Fahmy purchased it. Enthralled and captivated by the book's jewelry designs, she chose to work part-time as an apprentice at the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. She was the first woman to do so. With an abundance of enthusiasm, having completed a full day of work as an illustrator, for two years Fahmy threw herself into learning the artistry of jewelry making.

In the mid-seventies, the British Council chose to send her to the City of London Polytechnic School to learn jewelry making from a theoretical standpoint. When she returned to Cairo, she was ready to open her first workshop.

Honoring Arabic tradition and culture, Fahmy wanted to design jewelry incorporating Arabic spiritual ideologies. Some of the symbolism featured in her Ramuz Collection includes the Hoopoe Bird, which symbolizes wisdom; the Spiral symbolizing human spirituality; and the Blue Stone, or color blue, signifying the sky and water.

Fahmy also loves the passionate writings of Egyptian poet Salah Jahin Rubaiyat. Using calligraphy, she engraves verses from his poems on her bracelets, necklaces, key chains, and rings. She makes outstanding use of filigree jewelry making, and she uses silver, inlaid gold, topaz, rubies, emeralds, amethyst, and diamonds to accentuate her designs.

The pioneering Fahmy has become the foremost leading jewelry designer in the Arab world, and Egypt's first design label. In 2007, a partnership with British fashion designer Julien Macdonald provided additional attention for her company. She provided the jewelry for the fashion designer's fashion show at London Fashion Week in 2008.

Fahmy also released a book entitled Enchanted Jewelry Of Egypt: The Traditional Art And Craft, a sprawling chronicle of the history of Egyptian jewelry.
Photo 1 (top right): Filigree Pendant with Large Turquoise Stone, Diamonds, Peridot and Amethyst from Exclusive Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): Silver and inlaid Gold Bracelet with Flower Motif and Mother's Poem from 2009 Mother's Day Collection

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Today we stand at Portobello Road in London surrounded by an array of culturally diverse eateries, and prominent Victorian architecture. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Jane Adam.

Like designer Sasja Saptenno (Netherlands), Adam has an unusual and fascinating aesthetic for jewelry design; she creates stunning pieces of trinkets using aluminum.

In 1981, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Manchester Polytechnic for Three-Dimensional Design; and in 1982 a Masters of Arts for Metalwork and Jewelry from the Royal College of Art (she attended both schools simultaneously).

Adam manipulates aluminum in a remarkable way that would make chemists proud. Let's put our chemistry caps on for a moment. The process, called anodization, involves immersing a clean piece of aluminum in a sulphuric acid solution, and then transmitting an electrical current through the solution that causes the surface of the aluminum to combine with oxygen creating a thin surface layer of aluminum oxide.

The sulphuric acid dissolves the aluminum oxide creating microscopic pores in the aluminum. She then uses colorful dyes that are absorbed into the pores, which are then closed to seal in the color. Adam then compresses pieces of the sealed and dyed aluminum in rolling mills that causes marks and breakage in the metal.

The broken areas reveal the shiny, silvery metal beneath the surface resulting in shimmer and iridescence. "I begin with balanced geometrical proportions - though these will be stretched and distorted - and use sequences to create structures," she says. As you can see in the photos here, the finished result is astonishing.

She implements anondization with silver and gold as well; however Adam prefers working with aluminum because it is cost-effective, durable and light. It also allows her the freedom to create colors. "The resulting jewelry comes alive when it finds a wearer, forming a sensual relationship with her and becoming a part of the expression of herself."

Adam's jewelry has been featured at exhibitions in Patina Gallery in Sante Fe, New Mexico, the Gallery Bielak in Legnica Poland, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland.

You can view more of Adam's work at the Velvet da Vinci Art and Jewelry Sculpture Gallery in San Francisco, California.
Photo 1 (top left): Pink Orchid Pendant with 9-Karat Gold on Silver Snake Chain
Photo 2 (bottom right): Aluminum Bangles and Rings with Acrylic

Friday, May 8, 2009


Today we are in Istanbul, Turkey amidst the bustling energy and excitement of the Grand Bazaar. With the backdrop of multiple types of pottery, exotic spices, and jewelry we will meet with a native son of Turkey jewelry designer Gurhan Orhan.

The purest form of gold is 24 karats.  There is an ironclad consensus within the industry that gold this pure is too soft to create jewelry; Orhan has proved everyone wrong.  When I say that Orhan has a passion for 24-karat gold I am not exaggerating.

He literally fell in love with the precious metal about 15 years ago when he observed sheet, leaf gold.  "I realized the amount of quality, nice feeling, and nice color of it." Oddly enough as a youth, Orhan studied mathematics and business at the University of Ankara in Turkey.

Thereafter he worked as an electrician, a technician, and even owned a discotheque at one point. However, his love for and fascination with pure gold was so powerful it led him to learn techniques used by ancient goldsmiths of Anatolia and Byzantium.

In 1994, after establishing a workshop in the Grand Bazaar, Orhan painstakingly learned to achieve the durability and buoyancy evident in 24-karat gold jewelry from 7,000 years ago. A few of the techniques include hammering the gold for durability, and polishing it with sand granules.

Orhan employs over 100 assistants in his company locations in New York and Turkey, and each one has been trained in these time-honored techniques. Inspired by the many facets of a woman, Orhan rebuffs any modern technology in creating his designs, everything is handcrafted. As stated on his website, "In the beginning is the image of a woman. And from this image flows another: a design for jewelry that will awaken her potential for legendary beauty."

Orhan's centuries-old techniques result in gold jewelry that is rich in color and texture. He uses accents of luminous Australian opals, Chinese turquoise, and the deepest colored rubies I have ever seen to complement the warm, luscious glow of pure yellow gold. I think Orhan's jewelry is the most beautiful gold jewelry I have seen. It is a combination of ancient and modern aesthetics.

Every year Orhan includes a collection that "reincarnates" jewelry from periods in history. He has an Egyptian Collection featuring Egyptian Scarab medallions; and several years ago, he created a collection featuring styles from the Victorian period. 

The 2009 spring issue of Elegant Bride features Orhan's latest design, a silver and gold cuff bracelet signifying a broadening of his solely golden landscape.
Photo 1 (top right): 24-Karat Gold Rings, Necklace, and Earrings with Rubies
Photo 2: (top left) 24-Karat Gold Clasp Bracelet

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today our setting is the Benmore Botanical Garden in Scotland. Here we will stroll within the majestic Avenue of Giant Redwoods, and crane our necks to view the magnificent conifer trees of Woodland Gardens. Scotland is also home to featured jewelry designer Joscelin Cockburn.

Cockburn's occupation of choice is artist, and her versatile talents include illustrating children's storybooks, painting botanical settings and Celtic designs (primarily for birthdays, weddings and christenings), and even face painting.

Cockburn is also a successful jewelry designer specializing in handmade beaded jewelry and sterling silver jewelry. She gleans from her artistic background to create colorful and intricate designs implementing a technique known as filigree. Filigree is a technique that involves interlacing gold, copper, or silver wire.

Cockburn accents her delicate filigree work with beautiful, tiny beads cultivating arrangements that morph into a bracelet, necklace, or ring. Cockburn also designs anklets, tiaras, headbands, and hair clips using this technique.

As with Tamara Comolli (Germany), I love Cockburn's abundant use of colorful glass and crystal beads. There's green, blue, silver, red, pink, and fuchsia. I personally feel that a little flash of color, whether it's a blouse or scarf, adds just the right amount of oomph to an outfit.

To view some of Cockburn's artwork, click on one, or all, of the links below:

Celtic dragon

African violet


Face Painting

Photo 1 (top right): Lace Triangle Necklace with Silver and Red Beads
Photo 2 (bottom left): Unnamed Bracelet made with Sterling Silver and Pink/White Beads and Crystals

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Buenas tardes!

Today we walk along the golden shores of Loquillo Beach in Puerto Rico. The collective scenery of wispy, white clouds, blue sky, and the sway of the impossibly deep green palm tree leaves is breathtaking. Puerto Rico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Vanessa Quijano.

Quijano received an Associate’s Degree of Science in Photography eight years ago from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Similar to Liz Goldwyn's (USA) early career choice, Quijano primarily works with photographers by retouching and correcting color in innumerable images for beauty, jewelry, editorial, celebrity, and fashion photography.

A seasoned photographer, Quijano is often the person who takes credit for the skilled photography featured in magazine advertisements, billboards, celebrity press, and fashion and beauty publications.

With this kind of expertise there is no question that as a jewelry designer Quijano is someone who knows what looks good and she knows how to accentuate a woman's beauty with colorful, elegant pieces that also possess intrinsic sensuality.

Quijano's eye for beauty easily translates into her lovely designer jewelry that prominently features Crystallized Swarovski Elements mixing elegant outlines with Latin flair.

Her necklaces are infused with a fun, flirty and provocative edge. I particularly like her brass bracelet with connecting sterling silver ring; a unique, sure-fire way to add a touch of sex appeal to a stylish outfit and is definitely an attention grabber captivating anyone who sees it.

Quijano uses tarnish-resistant rhodium plating over brass to build her fashion jewelry designs.

Rhodium is a silvery-white metal belonging to the platinum group and from what I understand is highly resistant to the atmospheric effects.
Photo 1 (top right): Rhodium-Plated Brass Conquest Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): Rhodium-Plated Brass Ice Shower Necklace


The splendid emerald is the birthstone for the month of May known for its rich yet transparent green color. Emeralds are plentiful all across the world including Madagascar, India, Russia, and even Hiddenite, North Carolina.

Unlike the diamond, emeralds are prone to breakage but they make for bold and stunning gems in jewelry designs.

A beryl mineral--the emerald is a variation of this mineral--can range in color from yellowish-green or bluish-green but the color must be medium or dark to be categorized as an emerald.

In order to improve their clarity, emeralds are treated with oils, such as cedar oil, to get better light refraction. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission requires jewelers to disclose oil treatments whenever an emerald is sold.

According to folklore, emeralds are said to possess calming properties for those suffering emotional anguish or anxiety. They are said to provide clarity of mind and increase memory function, and they symbolize harmony, peace, and love.

One of the most famous emeralds, believed to have once belonged to a maharani, is the 38-carat Chalk Emerald, found in Colombia. The gem was recut and placed in a ring setting, surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds, by Harry Winston . The Chalk Emerald is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The largest specimen of emerald in the world--allegedly--was on display last year at the Matrix Exhibition in Hong Kong. The emerald was reported to have been found in Morafeno, Madagascar in 2007.

To view spectacular photographs of this emerald go to (the site says you can click on the photos for better resolution).
Photo (top center): Chalk Emerald

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Today we are in Ireland standing within the exquisite Walled Garden, a horticulturalist's dream nestled in one of Northern Ireland's oldest estates, Glenarm Castle. It is here we will meet featured husband-wife jewelry design team Bill and Christina Steenson.

I love the powerful symbolism and artistry of Celtic jewelry as it can alternately signify the turbulent periods within the country's history or an unbreakable, passionate bond between soul mates.

Among Ireland's leading contemporary jewelers, the Steensons are a part of a full-blown craft revival in the country. They studied the art of silversmithing, and jewelry while attending The University of Ulster. After graduating, they set up a workshop in 1976 and 12 years later, the couple opened their first store.

In addition to their jewelry designs, their store features the designer jewelry of other European artists. Bucking tradition, the Steensons prefer a different design approach opting for contemporary creations that still maintain the quiet yet powerful spirit of traditional Celtic jewelry.

The sleek designer jewelry featured in their collections is architectural and wonderfully elegant. I love their use of clean, geometric lines as well as their alternate use of two-tone metals of gold and silver. Their Pint of Stout cuff links are delightfully playful and tongue-in-cheek.

Aside from their personal collections, the Steensons also create custom jewelry. To assist them in this endeavor, they use special software that enables them to provide clients with three-dimensional models of prototypes.

"The 3-D model on-screen can be generated into a detailed colour preview. Once the design is finalized the milling machine produces a 100% dimensionally accurate wax model for casting," says Bill. The Steensons' collections also include wedding rings, multi-stone rings, and tie tacks.

Photo 1 (top right): Polished & Textured Sterling Silver Brooch from the Papyrus Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): 9-Karat Yellow Gold and Pearl Necklace from the Vines of Gold Collection

Monday, May 4, 2009


Here at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, China, we have an incredible, panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and all of the lofty buildings standing sharply along the shoreline. China is also home to featured jewelry designer Michelle Ong.

If you have seen the film The Da Vinci Code, you are undoubtedly aware of the film's intriguing yet radical concepts. The film also introduced an item instrumental to the plot: the Fleur de Lis Cross Key used by actor Audrey Tatou's character to retrieve a safe deposit box.

What does this have to do with Ong? Here's a bit of trivia: Ong, through her company Carnet Jewelry, designed and created the key used in the film.

Ong's unflinching purposefulness, focus, and independence are rather intimidating. The offspring of doctors, Ong learned about gemstones while working as an apprentice for a diamond importer, who was also a family friend.

Ong's interest in gemstones developed into experimenting with designs and through sheer intuition she began to create items for her personal use. Because she didn't want her creativity inhibited, Ong never obtained formal design training, "There's no fear. I have no restrictions," she says.

In 1985, she formed a partnership with Israeli gem dealer, Avi Nagar and they founded Carnet Jewelry; Ong serves as Creative Director. When talking about jewelry I am hard pressed to find adjectives other than 'spectacular' or 'beautiful' to describe a piece. I don't think there are other words to be honest so I can't help sounding redundant.

Many of Ong's beautiful designs reflect the femininity and delicacy customary of Eastern designs yet they possess a bold complexity as well. Many of Ong's brooches and necklaces are very intricate and ornate featuring stones such as emeralds, rubies, diamonds, and garnets. Others are a bit more understated but equally breathtaking. Many of her necklace designs are akin to lace patterns. One floral-inspired necklace took four years to make.

The time consumption involved to produce a piece is largely due to Ong's very precise and protective attitude towards her designs. She does not like selling her wares to individuals who want her pieces solely for their bling-bling aspect. She holds dear the artistic value of her work.

"To buy this kind of jewelry, you need to be a little bit educated, sophisticated. You need to be interested in work and design and not just flash." Ong's designs are made in limited quantity as she follows a strict work ethic: she designs only when inspired and she will not sell any creation that she does not consider high quality.

Her designs have been exhibited in London, Hong Kong, and the United States gaining the attention of upscale jetsetters, and Hollywood celebrities. Kate Winslet and Glenn Close are just a sampling of the famous clientele who have worn her stately fine jewelry.

In 2007, Carnet Jewelry opened a store in Bergdorf Goodman, which features rare, artisan designs, and Ong's creations have been eagerly received.

For more on Carnet Jewelry, watch a promotional video at YouTube.

Interested in officialy licensed prop replicas from The Da Vinci Code? The Noble Collection produces several fuctional items based on the Fleur de Lis Cross Key, and the Cryptex.
Photo 1 (top right): Floral-inspired necklace with black/white diamonds, rubies, emeralds, garnets, and pink sapphires
Photo 2 (bottom left): Brooch with white/brown diamonds

Sunday, May 3, 2009



We're standing on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France, with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower. We'll visit with French jewelry designer Cathy Chotard.

Like Sugawara Haruko, Chotard uses an incredible technique to create extraordinary pieces of wearable art. As is the case with Haruko, I am awe-struck by the amount of time required to create jewelry pieces of this nature. The technique not only requires patience and dedication, but a love for artisanship.

Between 1967 and 1970, Chotard studied Art at the École de Beaux-Arts. She worked in sculpture until 1989, and in 1993, after she did research on jewelry at the Ateliers de Fontblanche in Nimes for a year Chotard began making jewelry in her workshop.

The technique Chotard uses involves reducing silver and gold to wafer thin pieces and using a nylon thread to assemble them into substantial creations that appear weightless, almost fabric-like in some cases.

She painstakingly arranges and rearranges wafers of silver or gold into the form of a brooch pin, bracelet, or ring. Chotard is fascinated by the organization of multiple elements to create a single item. As much as 800 or 3,000 individual gold and silver wafers can compose a finished item.

Again, just like Haruko's creations, Chotard's are truly mesmerizing pieces of designer jewelry. It is as though I am looking at something architectural as opposed to jewelry.

Chotard's incredible work has been exhibited in Paris, Switzerland, Montreal, and Tokyo, but unfortunately she does not have a website at this time. There only seems to be a handful of photos of her pieces.

Photo 1 (top right): Unnamed Nylon-Threaded Gold Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): Unnamed Nylon-Threaded Gold Ring
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