Friday, July 31, 2009


We are awed by the lush, green surroundings of the José Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden in Bogotá, Colombia.

Named for the famed Spanish scientist and botanist, the garden houses over 18,000 acres of indigenous flora such as the country's largest aquatic Amazonian flower.

 Colombia is also the home of featured jewelry designer Mercedes Salazar.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Today we are taking a long journey, over 625 miles to be exact, through Germany's Castle Road.

The name of the road says it all, as this extensive route highlights 70 of the most spectacular medieval architecture in the country, including baroque palaces,

Renaissance buildings, and Gothic fortifications. Germany is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Barbara Heinrich.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


14K Gold and Sterling Silver Piece
from Furniture for Pearls Collection
The Korea Botanical Garden has plenty for us to see and explore.

As we step inside the Indoor Exhibition Hall, the refreshing fragrance of wild chrysanthemums and chamomile is immediately evident.

Korea is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Kiwon Wang.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today we visit the stately Stubenberg Castle in Styria, Austria, which has gone through a series of transformations. A structure that would later become the castle was built in the 13th century and overlaid a fortress farm. Three centuries later, the building was refurbished into a castle, and took the name of one of the most renowned families in Styria, the Lords of Stubenberg. Austria is also the home base for Austrian jewelry brand Humphrey®.

An iconic American actor's name and diamond-in-the-rough screen persona served as the inspiration behind the Austrian jewelry company.

Humphrey® owner Roland Baldaulf believes that screen legend Humphrey Bogart's character in the film Casablanca embodied the company's product standards of timeless, classic designs.

Over 16 years ago, 46-year-old entrepreneur Baldauf contemplated starting a jewelry brand. Knowledgeable about architecture and the metal industry, Baldauf wanted to reinvent jewelry made with stainless steel by offsetting the alloy with precious and semi-precious stones.

In 1995, Baldauf set up a workshop in his cellar and several years later, he set up a factory--in a separate building--using state-of-the-art machinery.

Designer jewelry from the Humphrey® brand is composed primarily of stainless steel. The designs are sleek, minimalist and highlight geometric curves and angles. Though offset with gemstones such as diamonds and sapphires, in most cases the cool, slick polish of the stainless steel is the focal point of the items included in the brand's collections.

Baldauf includes traditional 18-karat, yellow gold designs one of which is composed of a single cable that suspends a magnificent, grey, Akoya pearl. There is a stainless steel necklace named PacMan, which features disc-like structures that resemble the videogame character.

There is also a multi-cable neckpiece featuring a beautiful amethyst stone set in a rectangular, stainless steel pendant necklace. The jewelry brand also includes wrist watches.

Wanting to broaden the company's design scope, in 2007, Baldauf enlisted the aid of German jewelry designer, Norbert Muerrle. Muerrle's expertise in "old-world craftsmanship" helped to further the company's reputation for high quality and excellence.

The Humphrey® brand is sold around the world including Spain, Italy, Austria, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, and Norway.
Photo 1 (top right): Cable Strand Necklace with Amethyst Set in Stainless Steel Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Angular Cut, Stainless Steel Tension Set Ring with Amethyst

Monday, July 27, 2009


We are going to do some globetrotting today visiting the Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Many say the castle is straight out of a fairytale with its protruding wall supports, painted ceilings, and spectacular Elizabethan fireplace. We leave the regal surroundings of Crathes Castle traveling to Vancouver, Canada.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Today we stand in Seiwa-en, a microcosmic Japanese Garden of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. Seiwa-en means garden of pure, clear harmony, and peace, and its understated beauty creates a compelling serenity. Missouri is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Carolyn Rafaelian-Ferlise.

Presently living in New York, as a child Ferlise accompanied her mother on frequent excursions to the St. Louis department store, Famous Barr.

There Ferlise would stare wide-eyed at the costume jewelry displays full of glistening stones and gold-plated metals.

Dazzled by the finery she beheld, particularly the bangle bracelets, there was no question what career path she would pursue. You could say that jewelry was in her DNA.

When her family relocated to Providence, Rhode Island, her father opened a jewelry factory. "I spent many summers helping my father and started to create my own pieces and design at a very early age," she says.

By 2001, Ferlise's love and fascination with well-crafted baubles culminated once she had children of her own. "It wasn't until my two daughters, Alex and Ani, were born when I decided I wanted to leave a legacy for them and branched off to start my own jewelry company." A company she lovingly named for her two eldest children.

The key focus behind her jewelry is awakening humanity's fundamental need to connect with others and their environment. She uses timeless symbols, such as her Om Pendant, Peace Sign Necklace, and Heart Pendant Necklace, and fashioning them with recycled 18-karat gold vermeil, and sterling silver offset with enameling details.

She chooses specific symbols for their inherent capacity to inspire, "What symbols really do--especially when you wear them--is speak to your conscious, and to your subconscious. When other people see that symbol, it resonates."

Ferlise's signature item gives a wink and a nod to her childhood fixation, bangle bracelets. She adorns them with stones, wood, feathers, and mother of pearl. She also created an innovative sliding mechanism that allows her bangles to expand for a precise fit.

Exotic plumes are integral to many of her earring designs, "Our feathers come from a local distributor and are gathered after naturally falling off birds. No birds are harmed in this process," she emphasizes.

The most important of Ferlise's collections is Charity by Design. In this collection, she designed the limited edition Charm 4 Life Bangle, the Mother Earth Collection, the Tree of Life Expandable Bangle, and the Rock Crystal Wire Bangle to benefit corresponding charities: Merck & Co., the Tonic Foundation, African Rainforest Conservancy, and Stand Up 2 Cancer. "Charity by Design is the heart and soul of Alex and Ani, and it continues to grow," she enthuses.
Alex and Ani is sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Fred Segal; and online at, and among others.

Magazine layouts that feature Ferlise's eco-conscious, charm jewelry include Women's Wear Daily, Cosmopolitan, Ocean Drive, and Elle. Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Simpson, and Vanessa Hudgens wear her uplifting pieces.

For more on Ferlise's charity efforts, click here.
Photo 1 (top right): Jessica Simpson wearing Alex and Ani Bangle Bangle Bracelets
Photo 2 (bottom left): Large Phoenix Feather Earrings from the Earth Sultry Collection

Friday, July 24, 2009


Today we explore the international flora of St. Petersburg's Botanical Garden. In 1714, the garden was founded by order of Peter the Great and is presently one of the oldest botanical gardens in Russia. The garden is home to the tropical, perennial flower called Queen of the Night, which blooms for only one night. Russia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Nikolai Balabin.

Balabin's venture into jewelry design began 30 years ago when he studied with jewelry artist Tatjana Aleksejeva in her studio.

Three years later, he switched gears, to some degree, by studying architecture at Rupin Institute's Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia. While attending Rupin Institute, Balabin met and married Finland native, Melitina, and upon graduation, they moved to his bride's hometown of Lappeenranta, Finland where they both currently reside.

Having situated himself in his adoptive country, Balabin initially gained employment in an architect's office; but jewelry design was never far from his mind. "I never forgot my first studies and in a way jewelry is architecture on a small scale." He then retread familiar territory by attending Finland's College of Crafts and Design.

He was struck by the contrasting teaching techniques of Russian and Finnish instructors, particularly in the way his Finnish instructors wanted students to take a cognitive approach to design.

"Here in Finland they tried to teach us to think why we do things, and how simple objects could be. I started to understand how simply things can be made, and still have beauty." He obtained a diploma for jewelry and stonework design in 1996, and set up his studio not long after.

Balabin's creations are simplistic yet unconventional and abstract in their presentation. He approaches art and design from two alternate positions, objective and subjective. In some instances, he creates items with their function in mind, while other times he creates purely for the artistic impact.

His designer jewelry collections represent elusive themes such as memories, line compositions, and space that invites interpretation on the part of those who observe or wear his pieces. He uses gold, sterling silver, wood and, in some cases, allows patina or oxidation to form on the surface of the alloys giving items an aged appearance.

Balabin eagerly and openly explores the connection between "form and surface graphics," by incorporating a 17th century Japanese laminating technique called mokume in some of his designs.

Since 1996, Balabin's avant-garde creations have been featured in both solo and group exhibitions in Russia, Finland, Germany, and Poland.
Photo 1 (top right): Bronze and Patina Reflections Brooch Pin
Photo 2 (bottom left): Silver Ring from Fragility Collection

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Today we stand within the Bali Botanic Gardens in Indonesia refreshed by the cool climate, and invigorating air. The gardens have a spectacular orchid collection and house a botanical library, laboratory, nursery, herbarium, and five greenhouses. Indonesia is also the home of featured jewelry designer Nyoman Sukartini.

It seemed Sukartini always knew she would bring the beauty of Bali sterling silver jewelry to the world. Raised according to Bali custom, she was taught to center her life around God, her husband, and to the greater society.

She dutifully learned to do housework, and how to cook, but by age 16, she wanted to explore other areas in which to honor her Balinese culture.

For three years, she learned about ceramics and batik (a technique used to dye fabric) while attending the school SMIK (Sekolah Menengah Industri Kerajinan).

At age 19, she became an apprentice to a silversmith who specialized in jewelry making. Sukartini instantly recognized the spirituality and connection to God experienced with molding and shaping hot metal into wearable ornaments.

The skills Sukartini acquired were invaluable as she furthered her jewelry making abilities by working with other local silversmiths "to promote Bali's beauty in our own way." Her handmade jewelry designs, made almost exclusively in sterling silver, reflect both traditional and modern aesthetics.

The Dancing Dragon Pendant, for example, highlights a powerful Balinese legend in stunning detail, while the Secret Love Ring highlights the signature design of textured spheres and tendrils.

There are modern, sleek pieces such as the Angel Wings Ring, Geometry Necklace, and Ohh! Earrings (all worn by the pictured model).

Of particular interest to Sukartini is a necklace featuring three, lacy butterflies, called Free as a Butterfly, which represents freedom.

Sukartini does not have a personal website at this time, however, her effortlessly feminine jewelry is featured at
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Hypnotic Sun Cuff with Carnelian
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Secret Love Ring with Garnet

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Today we are standing at the foot of the Euromast tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Sharing a resemblance to Seattle's Space Needle, the Euromast stands over 331 feet tall and we will take a quick ride straight up on its elevator to the Euroscoop platform at the top. The Netherlands is also the home of featured jewelry designer Iris Eichenberg.

The best word, I feel, to describe Eichenberg's approach to jewelry design is existential. Since I started reading up on jewelry designers, I have noticed what I believe to be a common thread.

Designers create items that are representations of something larger, such as Karen McClintock's (Canada) Ocean Blues Collection, or the spiritual significance of David Weitzman's (Israel) designer jewelry. I also feel that this `larger something' is life, in all its forms, and jewelry designers set out to speak to its scope through their creative expression.

Eichenberg takes her designs to a different level that draws you in to the lives of those who are no longer with us and their connection to those now living. She does not approach this in the way as say Ilias Lalaounis (Greece) does, or Gurhan Orhan (Turkey).

Her approach does not involve a beauty aesthetic, but rather a literal representation of a part of history or a literal take on a concept. Where Lalaounis and Orhan draw from the expertise of ancient metalworkers who designed for royalty and nobility, Eichenberg takes on the labor and idealism of 19th century immigrants working in the United States.

A graduate of Amsterdam's Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Eichenberg has worked as a curator, independent artist, and educator. In 2001, she accepted the position of department head for her alma mater's Jewelry Department.

Upon viewing a hodge podge of items stored in the vaults of New York's Tenement Museum, Eichenberg was moved to design pieces of jewelry that reflected the myriad of lives that came to the U.S.A with hopes and dreams.

She learned that many immigrants worked with their hands making clothes, knitting, or making leatherwork. An item that Eichenberg frequently came across in the museum's vaults is what is known as a chatelaine.

A chatelaine is "a cord worn by women at the waist to carry a purse or a bunch of keys," it was also used by artisans to carry tools. Eichenberg found the importance of this item to their livelihood intriguing. They had a need for these keys to literally open doors to new experiences, and they needed their hands to provide the way to those experiences through their work.

She began to visualize the symbolic connection between the hand and the key: the ability for both to open and close, and forge interaction. From this moment, Eichenberg explored the connection of the lives of early immigrants to the lives of today's immigrants; ultimately blending timelines in her jewelry representations.

Her designs, made with the materials of the period copper, silver, leather, wool, wood, tweed, Bakelite, porcelain, and brass, are unstructured and abstract leaving one to ponder the profound meaning in them.

Her pieces will definitely strike up conversations akin to those stirred up observing modern art. Eichenberg's aesthetic is unquestionably bold, original, and complex.

She is currently living in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan serving as Department Head of Cranbrook Academy of Art's Metalsmithing Department.

For 15 years, her work has been featured extensively in exhibitions around the world including Switzerland, Italy, Indonesia, Portugal, United Kingdom, New York, and Spain. She received the Gerrit Rietveld Academy Award in 1994 and the Herbert Hofmann Prize in 1999.

For more of Eichenberg's designs, click on one, or all, of the following:

Eichenberg's take on `warm hearts' made from wool

Tenement Chatelaine made from silver, brass, bamboo, coral, and leather

Weiss Brooch made from beads, porcelain, and silver
    Photo 1 (top right): Leather, Silver, and Branch Testament Necklace
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Wood, Leather, and Copper Chatelaine

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009


    Today we are in São Paulo, Brazil . . . yeah . . . it's all about the beaches, isn't it? Let's not waste another moment because we've got places to see. First, we will take a drive through the resort town of Maresias to the beach of Toque Toque Pequeno. We can then drive a few more miles to São Sebastiâo to Ilhabela, which has 40 beaches to explore. Brazil is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Luciana Cätao.

    An advertising graduate, Cätao takes a decidedly different approach to her designs. There is still the distinctive Latin flair characterized bythe love of textures like faux snakeskin, wood, and beads; however Cätao opts for a more understated aesthetic overall.

    Cätao began her company six years ago, and her design approach stems from the belief that everything related with fashion and beauty possesses inherent grace. She also believes beauty exists in the minute details of everything that surrounds us, most of which, she feels, we do not initially take notice.

    With this approach, Cätao creates quiet, elegant designer jewelry that "comes in small or large details" and engages the observer through the polish of its metals, the shimmering hues of gemstones, the beauty of wood and the whimsy of charm bracelets.

    Her elegant gold bracelets, for instance, were designed with kings and queens in mind. The sculptural and geometric details highlight the alloys used, while the clean designs of some of her pendants highlight the beauty of carved, Brazilian gemstones.

    Cätao keeps busy in her atelier by adding new items to her collection each week. She also designs hair accessories, belts, handbags, and key chains.
    Photo 1 (top right): Gold Finished Drop Earrings with Resin Beads
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Seed Cord Bracelet with Crystals

    Monday, July 20, 2009


    Today we are taking somewhat of a wild ride through the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada. By wild, I mean unusual but I would recommend holding on to your hats. We will walk back through time, approximately 50 million years, to the Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery. Canada is also the home of featured jewelry designer Karen McClintock.

    Viewing McClintock's organic, custom jewelry brings to mind a flesh and blood embodiment of Mother Nature creating her baubles at will. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that McClintock's color combinations and stone selections are inspired by nature's palette.

    "I mix colors that I would not initially consider but seem to work beautifully in nature," she says. Like Devon Leigh Sedlacek (USA), McClintock loves the rich hues, and rawness of semi-precious stones such as Red Fossil Coral, and chalcedony.

    The monikers of her designer jewelry collections, like Old Quebec, and South of France, reflect her travels, while Forest Splendor and Ocean Blues reflect her fascination with nature's outstanding magnificence. Her gemstone jewelry is textured, unique and each collection has its own personality.

    McClintock's career began in an unassuming manner; she knew nothing about jewelry design, or so she thought. There was a ripe, untapped side of her waiting to come out. Preparing for a garage sell, she saw some old necklaces and felt the need to improve them. She did and the necklaces were a hit.

    From there her interest to learn more peaked, but only as a hobby. She set out to the craft department of Wal-mart and bought "stretchy string" at the suggestion of a store clerk.

    A more informed friend of McClintock's, however, steered her in the direction of more substantial items like crimp beads and jewelry wire. She then began to add Swarovski Crystals, sterling silver, Mother-of-Pearl and antique Canadian coins.

    At her friend's prompting, she gradually began to consider turning her hobby into a business. Once the manager of a successful consignment shop, called Déjà New, McClintock was a stay-at-home mom of a blended family and she was looking for something she could do that worked with her unusual home life.

    "I'm only in the city every second week and we travel every week, so I was kind of feeling like `What am I going to do?' I can't just clean house and shop because that's not me." She sold her first necklace to an admirer attending a water skiing tournament.

    In 2005, she contacted Marlene Shepherd, the owner of a Canadian high-end garment store called Rideau Centre, to set up a meeting for Shepherd to view her beautiful creations. McClintock's uncanny ability to combine color and texture won Shepherd over immediately, and in 2006, she officially launched her jewelry line in six of Canadian retailer Holt Renfrow's 12 locations.

    McClintock's easygoing personality and fearless approach to challenges lends itself to creating varied, original, custom designed jewelry. Recalling one of her customer requests, she says, "The buyer told me what she'd like to see and I did exactly that."

    This aptitude led to McClintock's color-coded Bridal Jewelry Collection, "What makes my pieces unique is both the richness of colors and the styles that can be worn long after the wedding or celebrations."

    McClintock has offered her beautiful handmade jewelry designs for inclusion in a book entitled "Our Lasting Legacy." The book features spectacular photographs of Canadian landscapes photographed by Canadian photographer Michelle Valberg, along with photos of distinguished Canadian women including Jann Arden, Linda Lundstrom, and the Right Honorable Michaella Jean Governor General of Canada; each adorned in McClintock's boho-chic jewelry.

    The book serves as a potent environmental message and is scheduled for release this year. Profits from the book will be donated to post-secondary institutions for grants and scholarships in the field of environmental studies.
    Photo 1 (top right): Gemstone Earrings, Gemstone Necklace, and Gemstone Bracelet from Ocean Blues Collection
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Chandelier Earrings with Red Crystal Cubic Zirconia from The Reds Bridal Jewelry Collection

    Saturday, July 18, 2009


    Today we will explore the beautiful sights of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden in California. As we walk through this natural setting, we see a large number of indigenous plants such as the ficus tree, gooseberry shrubs, coral-bells, and purple needle grass. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino.

    Once you see Tarantino's fuschia-colored tresses (she dyed her hair some years back) you clearly comprehend her sense of adventure, fun, and whimsy.

    Her bright, upbeat, candy-like jewelry is a grand celebration of childhood, or more specifically girlhood. Her vividly colored, chunky designs pay homage to the little girl within or more aptly, Tarantino's own childhood memories.

    At age three, Tarantino's mother surprised her with a gift of colorful Fimo® Clay. "I immediately made a ring, necklace, and pin. I would play like my room was a jewelry store and sell my pieces to my parents. I always dreamt that someday I would make sparkly things as my job."

    Tarantino continued her love affair with creating "sparkly things" through her teens, and as a young adult working as a fashion model in Paris. After photo shoots, she would make pieces from polymer clay, and glass beads and crystals she collected at flea markets. She wore her creations during fashion shoots only to leave the shoots without them; her co-workers had purchased them.

    In a few years, she left her modeling career to pursue freelance work as a make-up artist in addition to a part-time retail artist position with MAC Cosmetics. Tarantino initially loved her retail artist position, but difficult customers and personality clashes with co-workers proved very trying.

    "I was walking home from work to my nearby apartment thinking about quitting and I realized that it was not the job that was bad, it was my attitude. I decided to have a happy attitude no matter what the day would bring."

    Again, Tarantino wore her handmade jewelry designs to work only for her co-workers and customers to buy them right off her. Tarantino's husband, Alfonso was instrumental to what happened next.

    "When he saw my jewelry, he asked me where I got it. He said, `You make that and you're a makeup artist? Well that's cool, but you should be selling that. That's a business!'"

    Alfonso then took some pieces to Fred Segal and Jennifer Kaufman returning home with "a $5,000 order from Fred Segal," Tarantino says. "This company wouldn't have happened if it weren't for him."

    A little over 10 years later, Tarantino's effervescent collections are sold from her showroom on Melrose Avenue to a wide array of individuals including Pink, Katy Perry, Heidi Klum, Ashlee Simpson, and Hilary Duff.

    Several of her collections, made primarily with richly hued Swarovski Crystals, carved Lucite, glass beads, and wood, feature the most iconic childhood images around like Alice in Wonderland, Barbie and The Wizard of Oz. Her designs make great gifts for that special little girl, even when she is not a little girl anymore.

    The sense of nostalgia I felt observing her line made me a little misty-eyed for the more carefree moments of childhood. I really love the sense of "sparkle" and vitality that permeates all of her collections.

    "They say that if you love what you do then it never feels like work. When you hear someone say, `attitude is everything' believe it--a good attitude and love of life in general is contagious."

    For more on Tarantino, watch author, screenwriter and actor Clint Catalyst's YouTube interview below:

    Photo 1 (top right): Sparklicity Lucite Pearl Cuff Bracelet
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Draped Breastplate Necklace with Swarovski Crystals from Gotham City Collection

    Friday, July 17, 2009


    Today we are in Sydney, Australia's largest botanical garden, The Royal Botanic Gardens. Not only is there spectacular flora to behold, but some areas of the gardens hold fantastic views of Sydney's harbor and opera house.

    We are bound to see some native wildlife as well including cockatiels, galahs, and sulphur crested cockatoos. Australia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Sarina Suriano.

    Suriano's design approach clearly reveals the duality living within the designer, a light, ethereal quality, and a bold, uninhibited side. Her creations are without a doubt beautiful and feminine, yet many are extravagant and dramatic.

    Suriano's acute interests in all manner of designing from fashion to architecture led her to study industrial design at Sydney's University of Technology.

    Upon earning her degree, she moved to Milan, Italy and over a number of years designed products for an eclectic list of clients including Swatch, Alessi, Olivetti, Fisher Price, and Mattel. Over time, Suriano wanted to explore other inclinations, and moved to London where she developed her first designer jewelry collection.

    Recognizing that Suriano shared a similar design aesthetic, London jewelers Karen Erickson and Vicki Beamon, of Erickson Beamon, immediately employed Suriano to design for their company. Three years later, in 2001, Suriano returned to Sydney and officially launched her label, Sarina Suriano.

    As part of her jewelry collections, Suriano creates provocative jewelry couture reminiscent of the costumes worn by Josephine Baker during her heyday.

    The couture items, made with vibrantly colored beads, and semi-precious gemstones, possess the same unbridled sensuality as the costumes designed for Baker.

    Suriano's avant-garde style has delighted many in the industry and she is the first jewelry designer to appear at Australian Fashion Week.

    Her elaborate, handmade jewelry designs, jewelry couture, and headpieces have been featured in the pages of InStyle, Oyster, Culture Magazine, Good Living, Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar.

    Currently living in London, Suriano also works as a freelance consultant, and designs for several companies in Europe.
    Photo 1 (top right): Model Wears Jewelry Couture from the Oasis Collection
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Model Wears items from In the Mood for Love Collection

    Thursday, July 16, 2009


    Today we are overwhelmed by the unmistakable majesty of Raton Castle in the Loire Valley of France. The landscape surrounding it is equally breathtaking with the ground's blooming array of perennial flowers and gardens; but once we step inside the castle our knees buckle somewhat. The finely furnished citadel houses paintings and antiques, sitting rooms, more than one kitchen, and resplendent bedrooms. France is also home to featured jewelry designer Brigitte Salomon.

    Salomon's energetic personality reminds me of Wendy Culpepper (USA), and Salomon shares an equally focused, definitive approach to designing. What is of utmost importance to Salomon? "Refinement and elegance," she says, "but certainly never, ever anything flashy."

    A graduate of France's National Institute of Gemology (NIG), Salomon loved the recreational aspect of her studies and did not initially consider jewelry design as a career.

    However, her creative energies became acute by the time she graduated, and her appreciation for gemstones had grown deeper particularly for diamonds, "They represent eternity. They are so symbolic. They really do provide the most magnificent backgrounds with which to show off a beautiful ruby or sapphire," she says.

    Salomon spent several years working for some of France's most prestigious jewelry companies, but she later chose to pave her own road. In 2004, Salomon opened her workshop in the ninth arrondissement (administrative division) of Paris, which is home to the 10-story department store Galeries Lafayette.

    She was also 8 months pregnant at the time with son, Max. "my 5-year-old son is undoubtedly my most magnificent creation. He was born into the world of stones and jewelry."

    When she is away from her workshop Salomon says that design ideas constantly fill her mind; however, she happily admits that she never completely turns off.

    "I am my work. I can't cut off. I will always be looking at what people are wearing so everything, everything is connected in some way to my work."

    In the last five years, Salomon's drive has paid off as Middle Eastern and Asian markets eagerly snatch up her designer jewelry, and her staff is four times the size it was when she started. One of Salomon's creations, called Necklace Rivière (River), won the 1998 Diamond International Award.

    It is a beautiful, diamond embellished piece set in platinum, and worn as a brooch, belt, and necklace. Unfortunately, I have yet to locate Salomon's website. I was, however, able to find a photo of her Necklace Rivière shown above.
    Photo: Necklace Rivière with 58.51 carats of diamonds

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009


    Today we are in Bamako, the decidedly modern and lively capital of Mali in West Africa. There are looming skyscrapers, museums, music clubs, a zoo, and botanical garden; however, the city maintains a rich sense of the country's heritage as we pass outdoor markets to observe beautiful, traditional African crafts. Africa is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Tetou Gologo.

    There is a grand tradition of jewelry making in Mali that rest in the capable hands of the Dogon, Tuareg, and Togolese tribes. Widely known for their finesse, patience, wisdom, and honesty, these tribes have preserved their longstanding knowledge of handmade beaded jewelry with the help of Gologo.

    Gologo wholeheartedly embraces the supreme artisanship of these tribes, which are renowned for their masks, sculptures, and sliver and gold jewelry. Their artistry inspires her creativity.

    In 2005, she founded her company, Tamacali, where she serves as Creative Director, and employs artisans from all three tribes. She makes certain to provide them with high wages, training, medical services, and daily meals.

    Her ambition is to blend traditional and modern aesthetics fashioning gemstones and beads of all colors, sterling silver, bronze, leather, and ebony into vibrant designer jewelry that embellishes the glow of assorted skin tones.

    With her team of artisans, Gologo created seven collections that are a feast for the eye. Exploding with vivid colors and sleek, geometric shapes, her flowing strands of beads possess a regal type of elegance and beauty. Her company also submits its time-honored designs to The Hunger Site.
    Photo 1 (top right): Red and Yellow Lucky 7 Handbeaded Necklaces
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Model is wearing Multi-Strand Bead Necklace

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009


    Today we are stunned by the historic antiquities and natural scenery of Rome, Italy's Borghese Gallery. Also known for its lovely gardens, many of the paintings and sculptures of the Borghese Gallery were collected by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope John V. Italy is also the home of featured jewelry designer Carla Riccoboni.

    Shape, structure, and form are three words that come to mind when viewing Riccoboni's creations. A trained goldsmith and former graphic designer, Riccoboni's jewelry is akin to miniature works of modern art.

    Having worked with clothing, furniture, and ceramics companies her design approach is free in style and undoubtedly one-of-a-kind. Fascinated with the use of gemstones and metals, she once collaborated with fellow designer Beate Weiss to develop ways of combining precious metal with plastic.

    Riccoboni's diverse collections reflect her fearless, innovative spirit. To honor String Nadir, who saved over 2,000 jewelry making molds from the Angelo Tovo Company after it closed down, Riccoboni used the same molds to design the aptly named Nadir Collection. The collection features imprinted metal discs, some alone while others are linked together. There is a wonderful archaic aspect in the embossed detailing.

    She flawlessly connects, and intertwines what seems like endless small plates of silver and gold in her Alphabet Collection; an interpretation of the rhythm of writing and emotion contained in written words.

    Lastly, there is the Venice Collection wherein Riccoboni brings together ancient history with a modern aesthetic (some of the designs in this collection appear to be graphics and not jewelry).

    Since 1981 exhibitions of Riccoboni's contemporary jewelry designs have been held in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany.
    Photo 1 (top right): Coral Colored Necklace from the Alphabet Collection
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Gold Disc Necklace from the Venice Collection

    Monday, July 13, 2009


    Are you still ready to explore your creativity and have some fun doing it? Why not try your hand at making simple earrings. Check out Tammy Powley's article at for simple earring projects, or look at's how-to video.

    If you'd like some information about making jewelry with wire, then take a look-see at's numerous articles on the subject.

    Maybe you have been tossing around the idea of starting a handmade jewelry business. In that case, you would be interested in Rena Klingenberg's blog about getting one started at

    For those of you who would prefer to peruse affordable jewelry instead, you can buy jewlry online's Cheap Chic selection or

    If you're interested in vintage jewelry be sure to visit to view its sprawling collection. was established in 1998 by Tom Johnson and Jim Wilcoxson in order to cater to antiques and collectibles. For additional information, click here.

    Well, that is the scoop for this month's Splendor Sidebar.


    We are taking in the sights along Playa El Agua (The Water Beach) in Venezuela that houses a spectacular three-mile stretch of white sands peppered with shady palm trees.

    Venezuela's most famous beach, the Playa El Agua boasts plenty of fun things to do including para-sailing and, for those extreme types, bungee jumping. Venezuela is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Amaloa Bonvecchio.

    Saturday, July 11, 2009


    Today we stand underneath the towering, glistening Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. The monument stands yards away from the Mississippi River. The stainless steel, self-supporting structure stands 630 feet high, and was the brainchild of American-Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. Missouri is also the current hometown of featured jewelry designer Camille Peace.

    Originally from San Diego, California, Peace began designing and creating jewelry in 2008 after some jewelry pieces she owned broke.

    "In order to fix them I bought some basic tools, fixed my things, added new components," she says.

    From there she established her company Peace Images, LLC. The twentysomething sociology student, and photographer is incredibly gifted and designs through pure intuition instead of sketching.

    Her handmade jewelry designs are bold, imbued with cultural pride, and reflect Peace's love of nature, color, and the personal styles of singers India Arie, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott. "I often times purchase accessories from discount stores, break them apart to make new, original pieces."

    Peace's jewelry is vibrant, sexy, and playful; each item speaking to the impact her surroundings have on her, "I feel everything and put it all into what I make," she says.

    She incorporates a variety of materials, such as brass, 22-karat gold, sterling silver, cowhide, chunks of turquoise, freshwater pearls, and jasper to create stunning, original pieces.

    Her range of items includes a three-inch long, two-finger brass prowling cougar ring; brass Coffey Necklace and Earrings pay homage to screen siren Pam Grier who portrayed the title character in the 1973 feature film of the same name; eye-catching leaf earrings made with actual leaves, and a playful pendant necklace of Nefertiti wearing headphones.

    There are also The Di's Elephant Earrings, inspired by a close friend's fascination with pachyderms that come in sterling silver or brass.

    There are Peacock Earrings made with real peacock feathers; Cowrie Shell Earrings hand painted in red, brown and cream; and The Marisas Earrings made with a hand painted Capiz shell overlaid with a hammered, brass disc.

    Peace donates a portion of her sales to Thai Freedom House in Thailand, a non-profit organization that assists displaced families in Thailand, refugees from Burma, and Hill Tribe families.
    Photo 1 (top right): Brass and Copper Selah Necklace
    Photo 2 (center): Sunset Earrings with Brass, Baltic Amber and Comrie Shells

    Photo 3 (bottom left): Brass Gold Coast Necklace

    Friday, July 10, 2009


    Kokkino Limanaki Beach in Greece is a quiet, clean area located in a creek near the town of Rafina. Literally translated the beach's name means `Little Red Harbour,' referencing the red color of the surrounding cliffs. Greece is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ilias Lalaounis.

    A veteran jeweler, 89-year-old Lalaounis has an illustrious career. His love of nature, science, and the ancient civilizations of Europe, including Greece, Asia, and the Americas highly influence his exquisite designs.

    A fourth generation jewelry artist, Lalaounis began his career in his 20s overseeing his family's jewelry business, Zolotas.

    Constantly looking to expand his jewelry making knowledge, he studied ancient goldsmith techniques such as granulation; the process of crystallizing balls of gold; repoussé, the process of pressing designs into metal; and filigree.

    Ten years later, having mastered the techniques, Lalaounis created jewelry reminiscent of centuries-old antiquities from various ancient civilizations.

    Within another 10 years, he and his team of artisans, embarked on a full-fledged revival of Greek jewelry by reinventing ancient designs.

    In the years to follow, Lalaounis renamed the company Greek Gold-Ilias Lalaounis S.A., and his diverse, exhaustive design approach resulted in thousands of incredible, distinctive designs.

    In the early 90s, Lalaounis moved the company's workshops to a newly renovated facility that would also contain a jewelry museum--the only one of its kind in the world--founded by, and named for, Lalaounis.

    To date, the museum houses Lalaounis' astonishing collection of 4,000 pieces of gold cuff bracelets, gold necklaces, earrings and micro sculptures. The museum offers educational programs on the art of goldsmithing, annual cultural activities, jewelry design programs, exhibitions, and a children's theater. Accordingly, Lalaounis is the only jeweler elected a member of the French Academy of Fine Arts.

    Hollywood has also taken notice of this amazing jeweler. Actor Charlize Theron wore elegant pieces from his collections in the 2008 feature film Hancock.

    The selection of Lalaounis' ethereal pieces is so fitting being that Theron's character possessed god-like powers. Lalaounis' fabulous 18-, 20-, and 22-karat gold jewelry is sold around the world in London, Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and his New York store, Tresor.

    Lalaounis' daughters, Katerini, Demetra, Ioanna, and Maria, continue the family tradition by assisting in administrative duties for both the company and the museum. Maria in particular develops new jewelry collections.
    Photo 1 (top right): Gold Cuff Bracelet from Africa-Nubia Collection
    Photo 2 (center): Gold Necklace from Classical and Hellenistic Collection
    Photo 3 (bottom left): Gold Ring from Mincan and Myceneaean Collection

    Thursday, July 9, 2009


    Today we will take a guided tour of the 90-Mile Beach in New Zealand. Along the way, we will see the "uncovered" 1,100-year-old trees of the Kauri Forest, observe the wild horses of the Aupouri Pine Forest, and ride across the Te Paki "quick sand" stream. New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer Tania Patterson.

    Patterson's nature-inspired jewelry is remarkable. Her sterling silver renderings of leaf brooch pins, and butterfly pendant necklaces are pure and unfiltered.

    A graduate of Unitech, with a Diploma in Craft Design Jewelry, Patterson's detailed designs are so life-like you will think you are looking at the real thing.

    She works with numerous materials including resin, Perspex, wood, enamel and silver, and she also loves incorporating an element of surprise in her designs. "I work mainly in sterling silver with moving parts and mechanisms often a feature of my work. I enjoy making work that the wearer can interact with."

    The intricacy and detail she captures is extraordinary. Composed of sterling silver and enamel, her feather broochpins look so realistic it is as though they could float delicately to the ground when released. Likewise, she gives her sterling silver and enamel leaf brooch pins the transitional colors that signal the fall season, as well as signs of decay, and insect holes.

    Patterson takes it even further with her Specimens Collection featuring bird, and insect brooch pins. "This group of work continues my interest in New Zealand natural history and the overlap between science and art.

    At the Auckland Museum I came across some drawers filled with dead birds, I was struck by how little they told me about birds. I am interested in what the static museum display does and doesn't teach us."

    I don't believe Patterson has a personal website at this time; however, many galleries exhibit her incredible pieces including Quoil, Fingers, Masterworks Gallery, Statements Gallery, and Form.
    Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Pod Necklace
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and Enamel Feather Brooch Pins

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009


    Get ready to explore because today we stand within the Museum and Art Gallery in Bristol, England. The museum is housed inside an Edwardian Baroque building and there is plenty to learn throughout its floors. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Sue Gregor.

    Gregor's airy jewelry evokes sunshine, and women strolling casually along the beach clothed in sundresses and sandals. I am sure her beautifully structured cuff bracelets are just gorgeous when sunlight hits them!

    However, Gregor's pieces come from a heavy emotional place. "My inspiration to create work is to share what has cheered me up and got me through the tough times we all experience in life," she says.

    A truly gifted artist, Gregor expresses her creative energy through wall pieces, and functional items like bowls. For her jewelry, Gregor developed a "method of dying and embossing glass quality acrylic, which I call 'fossilized plastic'."

    Her remarkable 'fossilized' cuff bracelets are made with actual leaves encased in acrylic plastic. Gregor also adds accents of explosive color like golden yellows, pinks, blues, and greens; the results are captivatingly beautiful.

    "I enjoy creating rich surfaces which contain high definition. For the surface pattern, I choose quite ordinary plants and weeds or textiles, using them to create the detailed relief on the surface. Through this method I try to share my appreciation in the beauty of the world around us," she says.

    She also creates double-sided necklaces, with one side highlighting a plant motif and the other side displaying "1960s lace." Gregor says this of the pieces, "I wanted them to seem as if they are lined but they can be worn either way so it is like having two necklaces."

    Gregor also designs brooch pins, cuff bracelets that feature colorful string encased in acrylic, and handbags.

    For three years, numerous exhibitions have featured Gregor's exuberant designer jewelry: the contemporary arts center Arnolfini, European Textiles Network, Royal West of England Academy in Bristol, and the Bovey Tracey Craft Fair.
    Photo 1 (top right): Red Sage Hydrangea Pendant Necklace
    Photo 2 (bottom left): Black Ginger Roman Cuff Bracelet

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009


    There are over 3,300 species of trees and plants in Tel Aviv University Botanic Gardens in Israel, and there is some interesting trivia to learn as we stroll along its paths. Amidst 750 species of eucalyptus, we learn that the cinnamon tree is not only closely related to the avocado tree, but the outer bark lacks a cinnamon aroma. Israel is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Yossi Harari.

    Born in Israel to Turkish parents, the impact of both cultures played a large role in Harari's design approach. As a youth, Harari was fascinated by the jewelry his grandfather purchased for his mother and grandmother.

    "He was a very big antique and art collector, I grew up surrounded with beautiful things and a beautiful environment and jewelry really attracted me."

    Consequently, at 8 years of age, Harari knew he would be a jeweler. Around 1984, he attended The Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.) in Los Angeles, receiving degrees in Jewelry Design and Gemology. He then returned to Israel and attended the University of Tel Aviv, receiving a degree in Art History.

    Like fellow Turkish jewelry designer Gurhan Orhan, Harari's primary interest was to incorporate centuries-old techniques to handcraft 24-karat gold jewelry. "I wanted everything to be made all 100% handcrafted, no machine, no wax carving, no casting; everything from pure foils of 24-karat gold."

    By 1992, Harari traveled to Istanbul to establish his workshop where he continues making jewelry to this day. Harari considers the Mediterranean his "nest" of influence and the distinctive Byzantine art and architecture are a source of constant allure and inspiration.

    In 1999, his breathtaking mixture of modern and historic aesthetics caught the eye of executive, and Ithaca College graduate, Jennifer Shanker, a New Yorker who lived in Israel at the time and fell in love with the easy charm and carefree mentality of the Mediterranean.

    While searching for wedding rings, she stumbled upon Harari's luscious, textured gold jewelry. When she returned to the United States, she wanted to market Harari's elegant jewels and in April 1999, Shanker founded Muse Imports Ltd.

    Harari's designs, many named for women, are alternately minimalist and opulent, but the luminous 24-karat gold remains Harari's focal point. His elegant Melissa Vine Bracelet and Butterfly Bracelet feature gorgeous, dangling, textured gold discs.

    Then there is the sumptuous Sara Mosaic Pendant made of 24-karat gold and embellished with round-cut citrines, garnets, rubies, tourmalines, and diamonds, while lustrous pavè diamonds illuminate the Roxanne Cognac Pendant.

    The key emotion Harari hopes to evoke with his jewelry is happiness. "It's the happiness I can bring to the person, the appreciation of the art behind it, and the love that I have about what I am doing."

    In 2007, Harari's lush, handcrafted Helen Necklace, composed of 41 carats of cognac, rose and white diamonds, 24-karat gold, and gilver, won the Couture Town and Country Design Award in the Haute Couture category.

    Gilver is Harari's personal creation, an oxidized combination of 75% silver and 25% gold giving it a rich, black color that slowly wears over time, but serves as a strong base for setting gemstones.

    In 2009, Harari repeated his magic by winning the same prize for his ring, The Wild Rose, composed of 24-karat gold, gilver, and a single 97-carat fire opal surrounded by 120 carats of emeralds, sapphires, and cognac diamonds.
    A bevy of celebrities including Keyshia Cole, Oprah Winfrey, Cameron Diaz, and Leighton Meester wear his designs.

    Publications highlighting Harari's creations in ads or photo shoots include Vogue, Redbook, Glamour, Allure, Self, Jane, and Ocean Drive.
    Photo 1 (top right): 18- and 24-Karat Gold Helen Diamond Necklace with Oxidized Gilver
    Photo 2 (mid-left): 24-Karat Gold Oval Carmen Citrine Ring
    Photo 3 (bottom right): 24-Karat Gold and Oxidized Gilver Large Libra Mica Hoop Earrings

    Monday, July 6, 2009


    The Emerald Beach in Okinawa, Japan derives its name from the astonishing emerald colored waters bordering the white sands of the beach. Considered one of Japan's best beaches, it is a supervised beach with picnic areas, float rentals, and the incredible Churaumi Aquarium. Japan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Ema Takahashi.

    A trained classical musician, Takahashi's understated yet organic designer jewelry is quietly poetic with its soft curves, and beautiful dangling gemstones.

    After 20 years of performing in 1997, Takahashi decided to move to New York to explore other aspects of her creative nature at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T).

    Motivated by her fascination with industrial and graphic design, Takahashi launched a jewelry collection about 8 years later.

    Working with sterling silver, 10-, 14-, and18-karat gold vermeil in yellow and pink, as well as splendid semi-precious stones Takahashi's designs are elegantly simple like her Triple Cross Pendant Necklaces, and gorgeously elegant gemstone rings, and chandelier earrings that highlight green prehnite, lemon citrine, and freshwater pearls.

    Open peony and violet flower pendant necklaces, in hammered 18-karat gold vermeil or sterling silver, are the designer's signature pieces.

    These pendant necklaces, inspired by Japanese ink drawings, capture the intricacy of flower petals, and those made in sterling silver are accented with a single, pink tourmaline.

    Takahashi's latest collection, the Script Collection, consists of designs using words of love fashioned from gold. Takahashi takes the curves and lines of the letters and creates unusual shapeS that hang from gold or sterling silver chains.

    In 1999, Takahashi received Italy's scholarship, Centro affair e Convegni; and in 2001, the Women's Jewelry Association honored her work with its Diva Award.
    Photo 1 (top right): 10-Karat Gold Love Pendant Necklace with White Topaz
    Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold Vermeil Peony Pendant Necklace


    For centuries, the magnificent sanguine color of the ruby gemstone has captivated all who see it. Rubies are a red variety of the corundum mineral, and are considered red sapphires as they share the same mineral properties of sapphire except for color.

    Rubies are the most valuable, and durable of the precious stones giving them a slight edge over diamonds. They are also rare and are found in Madagascar, Vietnam, Kenya, and Sri Lanka; however, rubies of the highest value are mined in Myanmar due to their uniform red color.

    Rubies come in numerous red variations including pink, burgundy, and reddish-brown. Rubies of this nature are heated at high temperatures to enhance the red hues and improve clarity.

    In order to charge a price for rubies, jewelers are required to obtain a laboratory report certifying that the stone's red color is natural and transparent. One of the most beautiful types of rubies contain slender, tiny, Rutile needles that create a star-type formation known as asterism. These types of rubies are aptly named Star Rubies.

    Owners of this spectacular gemstone are said to be assured of peace, physical and mental protection, and prosperity. One of the world's most famous rubies is The Star of Bharny, which is a Star Ruby. It is 28 carats and was owned by the Indian dynasty, House of Bharny, which set the ruby in an 18-karat gold ring setting, surrounded by diamonds.

    One of the world's largest rubies is the 125 West Ruby, a crystal found in Myanmar weighing 8 pounds with a remarkable 18,696 carats.

    For more information on Star Rubies, check out Star Ruby: The Eternal Gemstone, a website pertaining to everything Star Ruby.
    Photo: The Star of Bharny

    Saturday, July 4, 2009


    Today we are in sunny Los Angeles, California taking in the sights of The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. It is an astonishing place with plants, trees, and shrubs from around the world filling up its 127 acres.

    We may catch glimpses of turtles catching some rays on the rocks of the Baldwin Lake, or notice splendid, free roaming peacocks. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Devon Leigh Sedlacek.

    The call of destiny is a very intriguing phenomenon. Watching someone's life situations guide him or her back to something or someone is fascinating; such is the case with Sedlacek.

    Her love of natural beauty, art, and design prompted her to create jewelry as a hobby. Holding a B.A. in film and screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University, however, Sedlacek pursued a career in the film industry.

    While working on film sets, everyone kept asking Sedlacek about the beautiful jewelry she wore. They were so captivated by her bold, original designs they bought items she was wearing! Not long after, Sedlacek started her company Devon Leigh Jewelry.

    The focal point of Sedlacek's designs are the beautiful semi-precious stones she uses like Fire Agate, green and purple amethyst, Snow Leopard Agate, carnelian, blue topaz, and druzy quartz to name a few.

    Many of her necklaces, for instance, display one or several magnificent stones in their raw, chunky form. In some instances, stones are cut into slices, and then trimmed, wrapped, or backed with 24-karat gold. Gold, silver, or rhodium chains suspend these gorgeous stones, while other designs possess accents of gold between the stones.

    She also features gorgeous stones on bold, bronze cuff bracelets dipped in 18-karat gold and she makes great use of metals with hammered gold, silver and bronze circle link and mesh necklaces. The results are simply spectacular, original works.

    "People are reaching back to the earth and to things that happen naturally. There are a lot of negative things happening in the world, and ideas found in nature are balancing and comforting," says Sedlacek of her fashion jewelry.

    Sedlacek's tenure on film sets developed into an exclusive partnership with the daytime soap, All My Children, which features Sedlacek's gorgeous designs. In 2008, the fashion savvy women of Sex and the City: The Movie showed off some of Sedlacek's pieces as well.

    Of course Sedlacek has a grand celebrity following including, among others, Jessica Simpson, Toni Collette, Janet Jackson, Debra Messing, Brooke Burke, and Courteney Cox.

    In the last five years, magazines such as Elle, Cosmopolitan, People, Essence, InStyle, Vibe, and Modern Bride have featured Sedlacek's designs in their editorial layouts.
    Photo 1 (top right): Hammered Bronze Medallion and Bronze Multi-Circle Chain Necklace
    Photo 2 (center): Mojave Turquoise Earrings Wrapped in 24-Karat Gold Foil with 18-Karat Gold Vermeil Chain and 14-Karat Gold Filled Ear Wire
    Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Dipped Hammered Cuff Bracelet with Clear Druzy Quartz Wrapped in 24-Karat Gold Foil
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