Monday, August 31, 2009

SIKARA & CO.

Today we explore one of the most incredible specimens of "living" architecture, the Kailas Temple in India. In the 8th century, various architects--using three different types of chisels--carved out this magnificent rock structure from a volcanic hillside. Built to honor the god Shiva, the temple took hundreds of years to complete and measures a staggering 109 feet in width, and 164 feet in length. India is also the ancestral home of Mousumi Shaw, the founder and CEO of jewelry brand, Sikara & Co.

Shaw was never one to keep herself isolated. Her love of travel and exploration resulted in visits to over 30 countries including Italy, Mexico, Poland, and Egypt.

"The best way to learn about the world, I feel, is to just go to the country and meet the people. I really love those experiences," she enthuses. Already an art lover, Shaw's extensive travels familiarized her with distinctive architecture and jewelry designs.

As a teenager, Shaw gained broad knowledge of the jewelry industry while assisting her mother with her Texas-based jewelry company. "That's where I learned about choosing certain items, customer service, and merchandising."

Working with her mother stirred Shaw's interest in launching her own business, but not in the jewelry industry . . . not yet anyway. After studying business at the University of Pennsylvania, Shaw launched a company geared toward space technology. She ran the company for three years deciding to shut the business down "when the dot com bust happened."

Far from giving up, Shaw earned an MBA at Harvard Business School. While attending Harvard, the compilation of her traveling experiences, and business interests began to form into a new business venture. "I thought, `I love traveling, I love the arts, I love business, and I know the jewelry industry.' I wanted to see if there was an opportunity there, and I was able to gain access to some great resources," she recalls, "I learned that there are very few jewelry brands and the brands out there are high-end. I wanted to create an affordable, luxury brand."

Shaw thoroughly researched her demographic, and saw that it was rapidly changing. "You have women marrying late in life, who are buying jewelry for themselves to celebrate their professional achievements. Women don't normally receive jewelry as gifts, which creates an emotional connection to that piece. My challenge was to create jewelry that emotionally resonates beyond a gift giving experience."

The beautiful jewelry Shaw discovered during her travels served as the element needed to bring about emotional meaning. At this point, she also sought out a suitable name for her company. She wanted a name that spoke to diversity, heritage, and culture. Finally, Shaw came across the Indian word `shikara', which means houseboat. "The name `Sikara' is a variation on the word `shikara'. It fits our concept of taking the customer on a journey."

With her designing team, using 18-karat gold vermeil and sterling silver, they create elegant, classic interpretations of international jewelry. Over a five-year period, Sikara & Co. found an avid following.

"It was a risky concept, but I felt confident about it, and our revenue in the first year exceeded our expectations." Sikara & Co. is composed of 15 collections that pay homage to, among others, Polish, Egyptian, and Indian aesthetics.

To make the purchase special, included with each piece is a card explaining the jewelry's cultural and historical significance in the country from which the design was inspired.

In 2005, Sikara & Co. received the Harvard Business Plan Competition Award, and Shaw continues to work tirelessly doing trunk shows. She eventually hopes to create a program allowing customers to support charitable causes in the countries the jewelry pieces were inspired by.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-karat Gold Vermeil Milano Mesh Link Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Wire Mesh Bracelet

Sunday, August 30, 2009

COMMEMORATIVE QUOTABLE GEMS - DAVID CARRADINE

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

RON HENRY

One of the largest galleries of cottonwood trees is part of an indoor conservatory featured in Albuquerque, New Mexico's Rio Grande Botanic Garden. The garden covers a whopping 10,000 square feet and we are eager to explore the grounds, which is encased inside a stunning glass house. New Mexico is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer, Ron Henry.

The distinctive silver jewelry from the southwestern region of the United States, particularly New Mexico and Arizona, is widely known for its time-honored, beautiful craftsmanship.

According to historians, Spaniards taught Mexicans silversmithing, and they in turn taught the Native Americans, including Navajo Indians, these extraordinary skills.

The Navajo, as well as other Indian tribes, carried on the trade through subsequent generations. Henry is one such artist carrying on this magnificent tradition.

Growing up on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, Henry was surrounded by artistic greatness. His mother excelled as a silversmith, and rug weaver, while his older brother taught him how to work with silver.

Henry possessed a natural dexterity for the craft handling the techniques with precision. His skills were put to the test after he and his family relocated to Rochester, Minnesota in 1975 to set up their jewelry store, Chi-Nah-Bah. At the tender age of 12, while still attending high school, Henry provided the bulk of the designs sold at the store helping to bring his family's company worldwide recognition.

A highly gifted young man, with varied talents, once Henry graduated from high school he accepted a position with IBM; a position that took him to Tucson, Arizona.

Since Arizona housed a portion of the sprawling Navajo Reservation, the energy of its rich culture and tradition seemed to call out to him and not long after he left IBM to begin a career as a jewelry maker. He named his company Tribe Azure Jewelry.

Henry's designs are simply stunning. He creates custom-made designs without the use of molds implementing inlaid gemstones, like lapis, opal, or coral, in most all of his pieces. What is so incredible is inlaying gemstones is an art within itself.

The craft of inlay requires precision, and great attention to detail as a stone must exactly fit the channel it will set in. He creates pictorial etchings featuring animal motifs like snakes, birds, and dragons in some of his pieces. In other pieces, he fashions the likeness of bears, thunderbirds, and lightning from silver.

He blends traditional Navajo aesthetics with contemporary flourishes, but ultimately the spirit of the jewelry is Navajo. You feel the intangible bond between nature and spirit, as traditional animal motifs add the power of inspiration like the Butterfly Pendant, which reminds the wearer that transformation can come when you think a situation will never change.

Henry enjoys working with his customers by creating designs that blend both of their creative visions.

He also works with integrity, refusing to compromise his craft by copying the work of another, often at the request of a customer. I am mesmerized by the artistry of his work, the color combinations, and the high gloss of the silver.

His impeccable skills manifest so beautifully in his creations, yet he continues to expand his skills. He recently began to add diamonds to his pieces having avoided them for years due to his mother's distaste for them. Through extensive research, he taught himself to set diamonds, including pavé settings.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Coral Wonder Pendant with Inlaid Lapis, Opal, and 14-Karat Gold
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and 14-Karat Gold Dragonfly Bracelet with Inlaid Semi-Precious Gemstones

Friday, August 28, 2009

RUDKLOW PATANAANUNWONG

We stand along the Chao Phraya River's west bank in Thailand, taking in the beauty and learning the history of the Wangderm Palace. Though clearly Thai in its architecture, the structure is actually considered the first Thai building influenced by American aesthetics.

As we move along the grounds, we learn there are shrines to whalebones, Thai coins, and antique ceramics located here. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer, Rudklow Patanaanunwong.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

MARCIN ZAREMSKI

Today we stand within The Great Hall of Warsaw, Poland's Royal Castle awestruck by its majestic opulence. Refurbished 21 years ago after being destroyed during World War II, our eyes are wide with amazement as we manage to move on to observe the Grand Staircase, the Canaletto Room, and the King's Bedroom. Poland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Marcin Zaremeski.

The limitations brought about by communist rule did not dim the fire of creativity in Zaremski or his parents, Jerzy and Jadwiga, who owned an art studio.

"In the 1940s my father scavenged for metal in scrap metal dumps and for silverware in local bazaars. It was difficult to get precious metals; gold was not available at all," Zaremski says.

Only recently has Poland's government warmed up to artists and their material needs. "Before now I'd usually wait for three months and would eventually only get 2 or 3 kilograms of silver for the whole year," he recalls.

A graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Zaremski knew it was only a matter of time before he followed in the footsteps of his parents.  He often watched them work mesmerized by their ability to remain inspired as well as their capacity to create despite limited materials.

"It was inevitable that I would end up a jeweler. My parents loved what they did and that was contagious. My father taught himself the trade, but he always viewed his talent as something practical."

Zaremski's parents were considered pioneers of modern, Polish jewelry and Zaremski still finds inspiration from their designs. "I have about 1,500 pieces of my parents' jewelry. I could never sell them. They have great sentimental value to me," he says.

"People kept telling my parents how modern their jewelry was right at the moment I'd walk in carrying a bucket of coal for the furnace," he jokes. "Their design instinct was incredible considering they were artistically isolated. They had no contact with other artists."

Zaremski carries on his parents' modern, minimalistic approach using sterling silver, copper, and gold in his creations with little embellishment. I particularly like his fluid necklaces and bracelet creations whereby he incorporates vertical, silver discs that he arranges in a lei-type fashion.

Zaremski is most noted for his work with raw amber, a material with a bad reputation in Poland. "Amber is not highly thought of here, and some German and American tourists told me how awful the amber jewelry sold here is. So I came up with some designs I feel are good. I won't sell what I don't believe in."

In all frankness, for many years I--and most people I know--was partial to gold jewelry; but as I have matured, my tastes have broadened. I like the way Zaremski presents amber as well as its raw appearance. The orange-rust tinted, unpolished resin bears a resemblance to dried apricots.

In some pieces, he takes multiple, chunky amber stones setting them side-by-side; some of the chunks have a bit of translucency, while others are darker shades of brown or brick red providing a nice contrast of tones.

He sometimes sets the amber in sterling silver or includes sterling silver accents between the amber. Zaremski also enjoys using materials that are considered unpopular, or a non-essential component such as wood.

"I think using wood is a fantastic idea. I'm constantly inspired--a tree I saw in Thailand, the rooftops of houses in Italy, architecture, geometry. I get inspiration from everywhere."


The Montpellier Gallery in England commissions Zaremski's sleek, modern jewelry pieces. The jewelry artist also sells items from his shop in Warsaw, which he established in 1974.
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Photo 1 (top right): Raw Amber Slices with Sterlinh Silver Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Amber Collar Necklace with Sterling Silver Accents

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CORNELIA GOLDSMITH FINE JEWELRY

Today we explore the lush surroundings of the world's second largest botanical garden, Berlin Botanical Garden in Germany.

Dwelling within the various climate-controlled greenhouses are timber bamboo, orchids, bromeliads, fern, and tropical lilies. Germany is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer, Cornelia Goldsmith.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DANIEL SWAROVSKI | SWAROVSKI

Scenic hiking routes surround the stately Altenhof Castle in Austria. The routes are just a sampling of the breathtaking beauty that helps define the ambience of this centuries-old landmark.

Owned by the Salburg-Falkenstein counts, the refurbished castle and its grounds house terraced gardens, garden halls, tennis courts, a golf course, and a sauna. Austria is also the home base for the Swarovski brand.

Monday, August 24, 2009

DIMA RASHID | DIMA JEWELLERY

Today we soak up the atmosphere of the Stella Di Mira Beach along Egypt's Gulf of Suez. We pause shortly to observe the palm trees' gravity-defying, upright leaves, and then move along to the mainland to try our hand at waterskiing and windsurfing. Egypt is also the present home of featured jewelry designer Dima Rashid.

A native of Palestine, in 2000 Rashid fled with her family to Cairo, Egypt after a bloody uprising.

As she settled into her new environment, she took stock of Egypt's rich artisan history that included jewelry making. "Egypt's culture, the people have become an ideal platform for my creativity," she explains.

Patient and intelligent, Rashid taught herself jewelry design and jewelry making through information on the internet, as well as assistance from her jeweler. She started by creating anklets using strips of leather and beads.

Within several months she felt ready to learn more, and watched as her jeweler arranged materials to her specifications. These initial designs were "limited to my closest friends and me," but Rashid continued to develop her skills while riding the wave of inspiration her adopted country provided. "Egypt is truly a beautiful, magnificent place," she enthuses.

Her growing skills resulted in more sophisticated designs which, unbeknownst to Rashid, caught the attention of Harper's Bazaar Chief Editor Natasha Fraser. While dining with her family at a Parisian restaurant, Fraser approached Rashid and without introducing herself proceeded to inquire about the earrings Rashid wore. Once she learned Rashid was a jewelry designer Fraser asked if she could view other items she might have, Rashid agreed.

Early the following morning, the hotel's concierge awakened Rashid as he informed her that Fraser had arrived. Fraser looked over the baubles for two hours, purchased a couple of items, and left a drowsy Rashid a business card.

"When I saw who she was, I called her to apologize for being out of it, but she brushed it off and told me she set up a meeting for me with Erickson Beamon in London."

Rashid later contacted British Vogue's jewelry editor to set up an appointment. The meeting exceeded Rashid's expectations as supermodel Gisele Bundchen graced the cover of the magazine wearing a pair of Rashid's earrings. By 2004, she launched her company Dima Jewellery.

Having a love for gemstones, Rashid builds designs around them.  She spends days creating sketches for  individual stones.  There are plenty of luminous, soft-colored stones featured in her delicate creations from white, pavé diamonds to pink topaz and blue opal set in 18-karat "battered" gold.

The jewelry is as exotic and beautiful as its designer.  With styles ranging from simple gemstone pendants to draping bibs of gold and gemstones to sparkling, protective charm jewelry.

"I source my stones from a family in Jaipur, India with a high reverence for them," she acknowledges, "They believe nature reveals its innate beauty to man through gems, and that a stone should not be tampered with beyond shaping and cutting."

Rashid chose her gem supplier for ethical reasons as well. "I can guarantee both the quality and the sourcing of the stone as I feel it is our duty as designers to ensure that jewelry is as environmentally friendly as possible."

Rashid's feminine, elegant jewelry sells around the world in London, Dallas, and Dubai at Barneys New York, and Neiman Marcus. Such famous faces as Vanessa Williams, Eva Mendes, Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell, and Victoria Beckham covet the lovely fine jewelry.

Ultimately, Rashid's design approach is to create jewels that are timeless not trend driven. "Jewelry is for loving and wearing; for passing on from mother to daughter."


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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Turquoise Earring with Drop Pearls
Photo 2 (bottom right): 18-Karat Gold Amethyst Cluster Ring

Sunday, August 23, 2009

COMMEMORATIVE QUOTABLE GEMS - ED McMAHON

My childhood dream was to be a broadcaster. In those days, before television, it was to be a radio announcer. All my heroes were people that announced on radio.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

JAMES MEYER JEWELRY

The Scott Arboretum, located at Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College, offers year round information on landscaping and horticulture.

The assortment of flowering cherries, tree peonies, and roses not only provide lovely scenery for the campus grounds, but the flora also offers "living examples" to visiting homeowners searching for garden and landscaping ideas.

Pennsylvania is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer James Meyer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

BVLGARI

We are staying another day in Greece traveling to the province of Epirus. We take in the sights of Parga Beach with the astonishing, pristine waters of the Ionian Sea and partake in the local waterside amenities.

We then drive a short distance to view the Nekromanteio Ruins in Acheron. Greece is also the home of featured jewelry designer Sotirios Boulgaris.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

KONSTANTINO

The Balkan Botanic Garden is perched along the hillside of the Kroussia Mountains in Greece.

Within its gates are aromatic plants oregano, mint, and sage; two artificial lakes, as well as an artificial alpine environment.

The garden is multi-functional serving as a conservatory; and a horticultural and environmental research center. 

Greece is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Konstantino Sioulas.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TRACE PALMER | KarmaKulture

Today we observe the assortment of beautiful flora located in the Palm House Botanic Gardens in Belfast, Ireland.

At 181 years old, the botanic garden is a true monument with scatterings of fuchsia, begonia, and geranium inside the "cool wing" of the cast-iron glasshouse knowna as the Palm House. 

Ireland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer, Trace Palmer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ELKE KRAMER

Demanding Pendant in Amrita, Dionysus &
Split Rose Resin with Wine Beads and Rose Gold
Today we stroll along the southern coast of Sydney, Australia's Bondi Beach.

We see cyclists, rollerbladers, and of course surfers. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Elke Kramer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

KEIKO MITA | K. MITA DESIGN

18K Yellow Gold Sand Dune Brooch Pin with Tiny Diamonds
Now is an optimum time to visit Rebun Island, a picturesque area off the northern tip of Hokkaido, Japan. The beautiful landscape is blanketed with some of the rarest alpine flowers.

The best way to explore the island is through a number of hiking trails, one of which is located on Gorota Beach off the island's western coast.

Japan is also the home of featured jewelry designer Keiko Mita.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

EUGENE JOSEFF | JOSEFF OF HOLLYWOOD

The sound of falling water greets us as we take in the sight of Chicago Botanic Garden's Waterfall Garden. This is a beautiful spot with weeping conifers and hanging plants. We observe the sparkling water cascade along a hillside into smaller pools. Chicago is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Eugene Joseff.

The movies made during Hollywood's Golden Age were loaded with broad slapstick, high drama, intrigue, romance, and above all glamour. We're talking flawless hair, makeup, couture, and jewelry.

Ove the years, I have watched a number of classic films wondering who designed the incredible, distinctive jewelry. At the time, I was not inclined to find out that is until I started this blog. Amazingly, after months of searches I found the answer so it is thrilling to share Joseff's story.

As a young adult, Joseff apprenticed for several years in a foundry doing metalwork, but his curiosity and intelligence led him to explore various interests and he later pursued a career in advertising.

In the late 1920s, just at the start of the Depression, he left Chicago for Hollywood, California to try his hand at his newfound profession. Fate stepped in, however, as he deftly maneuvered his way through Hollywood entertainment circles eventually meeting costume designer, Walter Plunkett.

After seeing a period film set in the 1500s, Joseff noticed the jewelry was historically inaccurate--20th century pieces were used--and he informed Plunkett of the discrepancy. Plunkett in turn challenged Joseff to offer a solution, which he did.

Drawing from his fertile imagination, metalworking experience, and illustrations from rare jewelry books he owned, Joseff created majestic, ornate pieces specific to each film. He developed what is known as Russian Gold-Plating for his pieces, which has a matte, coppery finish.

The plating was a huge innovation that prevented glare from bright, studio lights while possessing the appearance of actual gold on film. Joseff's eclectic range of pieces was used in Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Wizard of Oz, Cleopatra and Gone with the Wind, among countless others. His creations became so popular among the luminous starlets who wore them, they asked him to create pieces for their personal jewelry collections.

Flexing his business acumen, Joseff rented his jewelry to studios as opposed to selling them, which allowed him to retain ownership. In 1938, he enlisted the managerial assistance of Joan Castle, from Sawyer Business School, who helped run his company, Joseff of Hollywood.

The two began a relationship that resulted in marriage four years later. Recognizing the impact of his jewelry on women watching the likes of Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, and Bette Davis, the progressive designer sold the jewelry to the public through Neiman Marcus, and Marshall Field's.

Tragically, Joseff would not see the continued success of the company. A licensed pilot, he died in a plane crash in 1948. His wife, Joan, continued running the company extending the use of his one-of-a-kind jewelry to iconic television series including Dynasty and Knots Landing, as well as feature films like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Joseff's daughter-in-law, Tina Joseff, works as a manager at the company and warns that online antique jewelry sellers who declare they have original items are more than likely fake pieces.

According to Ms. Joseff there is only one active distributor of Joseff of Hollywood, Carol Levy with whom she works closely. Levy--who as far as I can tell does not have a website--can be contacted for info on the jewelry at fishlev@msn.com.

Joseff's pieces are extremely rare, as he did not create duplicates. Once an item was used in a film, it was returned to him and accordingly these items are very expensive. An astounding three million original pieces, ranging from brooch pins to tiaras, are located in labeled boxes stored in an undisclosed warehouse.

Authentic pieces are marked with either one of two identifying stamps: the name Joseff written in script on a round frame, or Joseff Hollywood in block, uppercase letters on a rectangular frame.

In any event, fake or not the photos included in this post are from an online antique jewelry seller. Whether the seller received the items from someone who bought an original piece and then sold it to this seller remains to be seen; however photos were included on the website showing the jewelry's identifying stamps.

From what I have read, replicated stamps can be soldered on to a fake piece so that it appears to be an orignal. I wanted to include these photos to give you an idea of the type of grand artistry for which Joseff was renowned.
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Photo 1 (top right): Princess Face Necklace and Earring Set with Blue Cabochons
Photo 2 (bottom right): Green and Red Lily Brooch Pin with Rose and Green Cabochons

Friday, August 14, 2009

AYALA BAR DESIGN

We walk along the Coral Beach Natural Reserve in Eiliat, Israel careful not to step on sea urchins. With the beautiful Mediterranean as our backdrop, we opt to go on a scuba expedition. Later on, we take some time to journey to another of Eiliat's beaches, Dolphin Reef Beach. Israel is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Ayala Bar.

Since its inception 19 years ago, Ayala Bar Design boasts over 250 jewelry items in every collection. Bar's amazing level of creativity stems from her capacity to take notice of minute details: dark, billowy gray clouds floating ominously behind the lush leaves of tall trees. The warm, chocolate hues of fresh mulch, and plump drops of rain on a windshield.

Bar creates designer jewelry with patterns and colors resembling intricate tapestry. Using glass beads, crystal rhinestones, mineral stones, antique gold and silver, and pieces of fabric the trinkets explode with vivid color.

There are succulent, candy-like reds, yellows, greens, pinks, and shimmery gold. The color combinations are limitless from brilliant oranges to subdued pastels, grays and taupe making the jewelry's ornate, mosaic style her signature.

After graduating from art school in the 1980s, Bar actively explored her inventive, creative tendencies working as an interior designer, and in the theatre. Before choosing jewelry design as her creative outlet, and establishing her company, she worked as a jewelry exporter.

Her handmade jewelry designs boast an eclectic following that includes not only retailers but also art galleries and museums.

Her creations are sold at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama, the Jewish Museum in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Her designs are also sold at online jewelry stores ArtfulSoul.com, and JacobsLadderJudaica.com.

This is stunning jewelry. It is like looking at a field of bright-colored flowers, or stained glass ornaments. It is lavishly regal yet ethereal and delicate.
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Photo 1 (top right): Tiger Eye Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom right): Timeless Necklace in Twilight Blues

Thursday, August 13, 2009

PHILIPPE FERRANDIS

We are visiting the pebble-laden beaches located in Nice, France. We have made sure to purchase beach shoes to secure our footing; however, the thought of strolling along the beach of such a glamorous city holds our attention. France is also the home of featured jewelry designer Philippe Ferrandis.

Established 23 years ago, Ferrandis' company produces handmade jewelry designs implementing bronze, rhodium-plated copper, precious and semi-precious stones, and Swarovski Crystals.

His designer jewelry reflects the type of opulence reminiscent of vintage jewerlry pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels (France) at the height of the Art Nouveau period. Inspired by nature's radiance, Ferrandis works closely with his team of artisans to create trinkets full of romance and vibrancy.

A single, beautiful cameo is the centerpiece of a cuff-bracelet fashioned from sterling silver and clear crystals. Other necklaces are structured from bold, chunky gemstones giving the piece a bold style similar to some South American jewelry.

Some bracelets are free form in structure adorned with a cluster of multiple gemstones in various shapes, colors, and sizes. Floral motifs and delicate charms abound; there are small, branched flowers draped over dark, smooth stones.

There are large flowers, made from colored crystals, literally branching out linking together to form a necklace. In some of his pendant necklaces, Ferrandis' creates stemmed flowers from pastel-colored stones, combining and arranging them into a small, bouquet of flowers suspended from a chain. Overall the jewelry's essence is springtime in France and luxury.  It is an effortless embodiment of the feminine spirit.

Ferrandis' outstanding talent is highly respected within France's fashion circles. Couture designers like Escada, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Balmain regulary request his jewelry to complement their designs.

Publications such as Marie Claire and Vogue routinely feature Ferrandis' jewelry in their layouts. He designs two collections a year, and is currently creating a line for fashion house Nina Ricci.
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Photo 1 (top right): Bronze Set Earrings with Green Stones
Photo 2 (bottom right): Rhodium-Plated Copper, and Brass Floral Necklace with Enamel, Swarovski crystals, and Mother-of-Pearl

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ADRIANA CARADOR

The São Paulo Zoological Gardens Foundation in São Paulo, Brazil is a remarkable place. It is filled with information on animals as diverse as Spix' macaw to white rhinoceros. It is the first Brazilian institution to participate in programs designed to protect the country's endangered wildlife. Brazil is also home to jewelry designer Adriana Carador.

As with all the jewelry creations featured here, Carador's designer jewelry captures your attention and refuses to let go. Prominent within Brazilian's high-powered social circles, Carador admired the fanciful baubles and stylish clothing she saw.

She traveled to Rome, Italy to study both accessories and fashion design. Young and driven she returned to her hometown opening two women's apparel boutiques. Her shops provided her with financial rewards as well as allowed her to display the wares of high-end European designers like Prada and Roberto Cavalli.

On a trip to Milan, while viewing the latest fashion collections, Carador envisioned cuff bracelets and gemstone earrings to complement the stylish outfits. Unable to get the images out of her mind, she began to sketch her ideas. The powerful imagery created an internal stir leading her to study the history of gemstones and jewelry. Enlisting the assistance of Brazilian goldsmiths, Carador established her company. In time, she sold her boutiques to focus on jewelry making permanently.



There was one other aspect Carador envisioned for her jewelry, a U.S. market. For this, she called on Victoria Flores, a business school graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science, and a MBA in International Management. It did not hurt that Flores, a Texas native of Mexican descent, loved jewelry.

"I was sent home from class because I would wear my grandmother's expensive necklaces to Catholic school," Flores says. The two women then formed a business plan that involved giving private trunk shows in upper crust areas like Beverly Hills, Dallas, New York City, Aspen, and the Hamptons.

Carador's creations definitely do not require a hard sell. She gathers up semi-precious and precious stones such as sapphires, tourmaline, and diamonds creating astonishing, opulent jewelry cast in 18-karat yellow and rose gold. The pieces are elegant with an extravagant, bold style like the cocktail rings that feature large, faceted gemstones (they are not for the timid).

There are many gorgeous gemstone combinations, such as a beautiful, hybrid blend of coral and tiger's eye fashioned into earrings. There are two carved, flower rings inspired by the Vatican; one carved from white calcedonia, the other from black onyx. They possess life-like, voluminous detailing of blooming flora.
An exquisite elephant pendant necklace made with brilliant pink tourmaline and offset with gold accents hangs delicately from a gold chain. This is statement jewelry.

"What makes our jewelry so special is that each design is an original," Carador explains, "Women love that they are wearing something no one else has."
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Photo 1 (top right) 18-Karat Yellow Gold Snake Ring with Diamonds and Pink Tourmaline
Photo 2 (center): Yellow Gold Medieval Bracelet with Diamonds
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Tiger's Eye Pendant Necklace with Diamonds and Coral

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CARRERA Y CARRERA

The mere sight of Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain sends waves of gooseflesh over us. Completed in 1755 by architect Alberto Churriguera, the exquisite, baroque detailing stuns us, as we feel transported through time. We stand in the town hall, which once buzzed with the cheers of excited crowds watching bullfights. We move through the ominous arches that lead into a square holding restaurants, shops, and cafés. Spain is also the home base for jewelry house Carrera y Carrera.

Carrera y Carrera stands shoulder-to-shoulder alongside designer jewelry houses Cartier (France) and Tiffany & Co. (USA).   At over 100 years old, the company is the embodiment of metalworker and sculptor Satorio Carrera's aspirations.

In 1885, upon moving to Paris, Carrera set up a workshop where he handcrafted incredible talisman-like pieces featuring the powerful musculature of leopards and panthers. Elaborate, ornate detailing became the brand's signature style as Spain's aristocrats eagerly took notice. As the company expanded pieces were created by special order of the Spanish royal family.

The extraordinary designs created by the goldsmiths presently working for the company follow the example of the company's founder. They design with great care believing that the ultimate placement of gemstones, the structure of metals is creating art.

Satoria Carrera observed nature closely understanding the purposefulness in its design. He implemented everything from textured engravings of both flowers and peacock feathers in 18-karat yellow and white gold.

The immortalization of the Taj Mahal's minute, architectural detail, the Trellis Flower, is set in white gold and embellished with diamonds.

The royal elegance of the brand's princess-themed Bridal Jewelry Collection gives homage to the princess in every woman, and the brand's luxury watches are imbued with vibrant color.

The Carrera y Carrera brand also draws inspiration from another natural phenomenon, actor Ava Gardner. World renowned for her acting talent and luminous beauty, the jewelry house devoted three collections to the starlet: Ava, Sol y Sombra, and Te Quiero.

The collections are magnificent interpretations of Gardner's personality and unique beauty, as well as the passion of Madrid--where Gardner lived for several years during the 1950s. The splendid items fashioned from white and yellow gold--sometimes in a single piece--and pavé diamonds are stunning.

The incredible, distinctive jewelry is sold in over 60 countries including Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the United States.


Throughout its century-plus reign, Carrera y Carrera has acquired enviable clientele including singers Victoria Beckham and Shakira, actors Meryl Streep and the late Audrey Hepburn, and fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga.


Among its most distinguished clients is Spanish noblewoman Fabiola de Mora y Aragon, who wore the brand's bridal tiara when she married Belgium's King Baudouin I in 1960.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow and White Gold Bull's Horn Ring with Diamonds from the Ava Collection
Photo 2 (bottom right): 18-Karat Yellow and White Gold Panther Ring with Round and Baguette Diamonds

Monday, August 10, 2009

AYESHA STUDIO | FINE JEWELRY

The casuarina trees' feather-like leaves shield us from the sun as we walk to the picturesque Digha Beach in Calcutta, India. Today we opt to relax, positioning our lounge chairs in a good spot as we listen to the gentle lapping of the Bay of Bengal's waves. At the close of our day, we are treated with a spectacular sunset. India is also the birthplace of Ayesha Mayadas.

A cornerstone of India's jewelry industry dating back to the Mughal Dynasty is trinkets made with gold. From ornate neckpieces with accents of pearls and diamonds to simple gold chains suspending a single locket, the beautiful quality of India's gold jewelry is unquestionable.

Mayadas' elegant, regal gold jewelry is no exception. The buttery color and voluptuous texture of her nature-inspired, 18-karat yellow gold jewelry reflect superlative metalworking skills.

Several years after moving from Calcutta, India to Rochester, New York, Mayadas enjoyed a successful, thirteen-year stint as a textile engineer. Her fascination with precious metals, however, led her to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where she received a Masters in Metals. Within a few years she established her company Ayesha Studio | Fine Jewelry.

She implements a hammering technique that renders jewelry possessing an appearance that brings to mind ancient queens. Her remarkable, sculpturesque floral shapes, solar trajectories, and simulated raindrops display her reverence for nature.

The soft curves of her pieces--poised to drape an arm, neck, or ear--replicate nature's fluidity. Accents of diamonds, rubies, tanzanite, freshwater pearls, as well as silver, platinum, and oxidized copper, add lyricism to the gold's gentle twists and coils.

The designer jewelry is simply radiant due largely to Mayadas' incredible talent to structure pieces that seem weightless and buoyant.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold and Patinated Copper Autumn Leaves Brooch
Photo 2 (bottom right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Linked Swirl Necklace

JEWELRY BUYING TIPS

So far, my Splendor Sidebar posts have focused on information about simple jewelry-making projects, and links to online stores selling jewelry supplies, or gorgeous, affordable jewelry. For this post, I gathered up some information providing tips on buying certain types of jewelry like vintage or gold jewelry (i.e. gold-plated, gold-filled, etc.). I hope the information will be of some help.

There are several factors to keep in mind when purchasing vintage jewelry: quality, condition, manufacturers, and for whom you are buying the jewelry. An article by Pamela Wiggins from
About.com gives some helpful information on getting the most for your money.

Buying gold jewelry is a bit more straightforward. 24-karat gold is the purest and most expensive as there are no additional metals mixed in. There are varying opinions, however, on the durability of gold this pure.

Eighteen-karat gold is considered the most durable because it contains 18 parts gold, and 6 parts of one or more additional metals, or 75% gold; while 14-karat gold contains 14 parts gold, and 10 parts one or more additional metals, or 58% gold, which is believed to be not as durable.

Trying to determine which type of gold-coated jewelry is more durable, however, can pose a particularly frustrating conundrum. Check out Carly Wickell's article from
About.com on buying all types of gold jewelry, which includes the durability, and pros and cons of gold-filled, gold vermeil, and gold-plated jewelry.

Of course developing a better understanding on how to care for gold-coated jewelry can extend the life of the jewelry. In purchasing gold and gold-coated jewelry, it is also a good idea to know if you have allergic reactions to the metals mixed with gold, as well as the metals coated with gold.

Like gold, the purest silver is soft and is mixed with other metals to provide durability; unlike gold, however, silver is more affordable. For an item to be considered sterling or solid silver, the US Federal Trade Commission requires that it must be composed of 92.5% silver (or .925).


Copper is frequently combined with silver to provide durability, but the downside is copper causes silver to tarnish easily. Due to this, some jewelers are now mixing platinum with silver that makes for shinier, tarnish-free jewelry. For more information on silver, read Carly Wickell's article at About.com.

If you love diamonds and pearls,
Jewelerati.com offers helpful tips on buying both kinds of jewelry. Lastly, for those of you considering buying jewelry online, check out Shopwiki.com's tips on how and why to purchase jewelry from internet shops.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

K ROBINS DESIGNS

Today we are standing on a terrace within the Renaissance Court of Virginia's Norfolk Botanical Garden. Patterned after ornate, 16th century Italian architecture, the court is a beautiful microcosm of Italian landscaping. Virginia is also the home of featured jewelry designer K Robins.

World news broadcasts often focus on humanity's brutality and indifference to the point that it becomes disheartening. It is sometimes difficult to keep in mind the common threads linking us together.

During a challenging period, Robins discovered those common threads in symbols as she sought healing and insight.

"Many of the jewelry designs come from my fascination with the language of symbols and how the art of different cultures and times echoes around the world," she acknowledges, "I began the practice of designing symbolic art as a necessity as much as one goes to prayer, goes to meditation, or goes to the mat."

Similar to Israeli designer David Weitzman, over 20 years ago Robins embarked on a journey of spiritual enlightenment by immersing herself in literature written by Judy Chicago, Angeles Arrien and Marija Gimbuta, among others.

She learned that symbolic representations of family, love, friendship, and sacred feminine were themes present in cultures as diverse as Greece, Ireland, and China.

Robins' process to interpret these universal themes required a mixture of "contemplation and inspiration," and precision tools. Robins, a former furniture and house-ware maker, learned to create wax casts while working with flute maker, Patrick Olwell.

From the casts, she created fluid, sculptural pieces in sterling silver and 14-karat gold, and her company K Robins Designs emerged.

The pieces possess a soft, voluptuous quality that adds a unique beauty. They are at once simplistic and intricate, delicate and powerful; ultimately reflecting a oneness with God, nature, and mankind.

Each piece is personal to Robins, particularly the Friendship Knot Pendant Necklace, which she created for her daughter's, Leila, bridesmaids; the Raven Pendant Necklace was created in honor of the unflinching valiance of friend, Raven Ruffner, who died from breast cancer six years ago; and the Journey-Adventure Day One Pendant Necklace was created as a symbol of a friend's courageous battle with AML Leukemia.

"Family, deep friendships, and an array of teachers have profoundly affected my work," she says. In turn, Robins' jewelry profoundly affects others.

In 2005, the HeartBright Foundation--a resource center for cardiovascular disease--chose The Healer Pendant Necklace to promote the foundation's mission, and raise awareness.

The foundation's President, Claire Blocker, said this, "We were drawn to The Healer because of the artist's concept and personal description of the design, `The Healer and the Healed become one.'"

Robins offers this, "I am pleased they have selected The Healer from my collection. This design embodies the strength and hope that comes from learning to take care of ourselves and others."
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Infinite Love Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Healer Pendant Necklace

Friday, August 7, 2009

ALICIA de la PAZ

We are taking a scenic drive today through the lovely town of Taxco, Mexico, which is nestled between Acapulco and Mexico City. Amidst the cobblestone streets, and red tile rooftops, there is a thriving, 80-year-old silver jewelry industry.

The town therefore has the distinction of being Mexico's silver capital. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Alicia de la Paz.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

MONA WALLSTROM

Today we visit another award-winning botanical garden located in Gothenburg, Sweden; its name, Gothenburg Botanical Garden. Over 16,000 species of flora, including orchids and magnolias, cover the 430-acre grounds, as well as a sprawling rock garden, and a traditional Japanese garden. Sweden is also the home of featured jewelry designer Mona Wallström.

I think this statement from the artist best articulates her design approach. "A memory is by disposition disordered; taken from its place in time, and put in another context, once again interacting in our lives." Similar to Iris Eichenberg, Wallström's contemporary jewelry centers on intangibles such as reflections on her grandmother, and reaching midlife.

I had written in my post for Eichenberg that life's scope inevitably spills into a designer's jewelry. Eichenberg's jewelry is a physical representation of her thoughts and feelings about the experiences of 19th century U.S. immigrants.

As with Eichenberg, I am intrigued by Wallström's abstract designer jewelry where physical items are representations of ideas and feelings that are not necessarily connected with a more conventional design idea.

Wallström offers a title, and some information on the motivation behind a design; but she leaves the piece's true essence undisclosed. I like that she challenges an observer, allowing them to attribute their ideas to a piece thereby extracting memories from their lives.

Wallström took the concept of illustrating "a real life situation" to a greater level when she participated in a 10-month "creative process" project that involved workers at a Swedish governmental housing company.

The project involved gathering daily information on the activities of cleaners, caretakers, gardeners, and administrators. Wallström gathered information with cork notice boards, diagrams, and "crossing tracks" on the ground; she then took the information creating computer images and molds thus transforming tangible, physical activity into abstracts.


In 1985, Wallström received a Masters of Art degree from Gothenburg University's School of Design and Craft; and 10 years later accepted a position as one of the school's professors.
During her tenure there, through 2002 and beyond, she took part in solo exhibitions in Iceland, England, Germany, Japan, the United States, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Ilias Lalaounis' magnificent jewelry museum in Athens, Greece.

She implements all types of material into her creations including thick twine, porcelain, oxidized silver, and other unnamed items. There is an unmistakable whimsy and humor to her creations such as her Protect Me From Good Advice arm pieces from her Midlife Report Collection, which resemble arm pieces made during medieval times.

Her 20 Very Important Things to Remember, from the same collection, appears to be a humorous take on tying a string on the finger for memory lapses. Wallström created ankle pieces made with thick, red twine and multiple, clover-like structures linked along the length of the rope.

The unusual brooches from her Evidence Collection explore the mystery of forgotten and unidentifiable items placed in pockets. She explains the concept, "Evidence can be marks from a substance unknown or objects taken from a totally different environment and dropped somewhere else," she says, "In my pockets I have evidence of something that has happened. These strange objects were taken out of their context and found--by me--in another place."

The porcelain items that compose her Ode to F. Collection (paying homage to her grandmother) are equally whimsical and non-specific, made with undisclosed yet familiar objects that interweave her grandmother's practical tendencies.

Wallström's Plywood Palace Collection, however, displays her fascination with the material's capacity to add visual interest to a piece due to its "crossing fibers."

"The stripes on the edges in the material affect the visual expression. Stripes are a wonderful possibility and the easiest way to make a pattern." Again, as with Eichenberg, I like Wallström's boldness to go against convention. Without a doubt, she truly makes jewelry her own.
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Photo 1 (top right): Porcelain Democracy Necklace with Oxidized Silver Chains from Ode to F. Collection
Photo 2 (center): The Lid Brooch from the Evidence Collection

Photo 3 (bottom right): Good Luck Plywood and Silk Necklace from Plywood Palace Collection

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

SHONA JEWELLERY

We are in Glasgow, Scotland today visiting the Green Botanical Gardens, which is a pleasant escape from the city's bustling streets. A marriage of city park and museum the garden houses interesting sights to investigate.

There is the Enormous Doulton Fountain made entirely of terracotta, and believed to be the largest fountain in the world!

Scotland is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer, Shona Macaulay Fidgett.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ACHARA SILVER CO., LTD.

Thailand houses some of the world's most beautiful beaches, and today we will visit the serene beaches of Koh Lao Liang. As we recline on our lounge chairs, we lose sense of time and space staring up at the towering limestone cliffs, and patches of white clouds dancing above them. Thailand is also the home base of jewelry brand Achara Silver Co., Ltd.

This story of a prestigious Thai jewelry company and the Hill Tribe groups of Northern Thailand's mountain region is one of destiny, generosity, and love of artisanship.

For Achara Patthong passion for design and jewelry making is perpetual, like the rising and setting of the sun. She and her husband, Withaya Cheunjit, began working with sterling silver more than 20 years ago when they were still in college.

Fueled by determination, the couple was adamant about fashioning the purest silver into unique ornaments, and in 1980 established their company Achara Silver Co., Ltd. (ASC).

The couple was moved by the plight of Hill Tribe families who had been forced from their homes finding refuge in the slopes and peaks of Thailand's mountains. Achara and Withaya were particularly intrigued by their skill in silversmithing.

"We learned that the Hill tribe people of northern Thailand had wonderful silversmith skills," Achara explains, "but that most of their jewelry wasn't considered very marketable. We decided we wanted to find a way to help them earn a stable living and develop more handcrafting skills improving their designs so they would be more appealing to the general public."

In 1983, the company began working with the Yao and Karen tribes who, respectively, specialize in sterling silver bangles, bracelets, and beaded pendants.

Presently, over 500 Hill Tribe silversmiths work for ASC contributing items of outstanding craftsmanship that preserve traditional techniques passed down through generations such as the arabesque detailing of the Forest Fern Cuff Bracelet, the ethereal beauty of the Ilang Ilang Exotic Ring, and the lacy facets of the Jasmine Filigree Cuff Bracelet. The artisans also create lovely pieces implementing garnets, pearls, and amethyst.

Since its inception, ASC's beautiful silver baubles have a global following, which include Thailand dignitaries as well as controversial actor Mel Gibson who purchased products while visiting the company's flagship store in Chiang Mai. ASC also distributes its products through Novica.com.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Jasmine Tendrils Corset Cuff Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom right): Sterling Silver Violet Fantasy Necklace with Pearls and Amethyst

Monday, August 3, 2009

GAIL KLEVAN

Today we visit the award-winning Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens near Manchester, England. The Bhutan Pine Drooping Juniper is among the eclectic range of unusual flora living amongst its grounds. This quiet, tranquil garden comes alive at different points within the year as it hosts cultural and health activities, and seasonal events. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Gail Klevan.

The myriad of splashing colors within Klevan's kaleidoscopic, acrylic jewelry is breathtaking. With an array of design options at her fingertips, she swirls together slight variations of one color base, or blends different color combinations like red and grey, mulberry and gold, and emerald green and blue. There is no doubt nature's palette of spectacular landscapes dominate Klevan's design choices.

In 1981, Klevan received her first degree from Manchester Polytechnic in ceramics, wood, and metal. Upon receipt of a scholarship from the Royal College of Arts in 1985, she received a Masters of Art in silversmithing, and jewelry design.

Over the years, Klevan painstakingly experimented with acrylic, learning to sculpt it and implement metallic foils and dyes, as well as lacquer, and varnishes, to create beautiful, iridescent patterns.

Her hand formed rings, bracelets, brooch pins, pendant necklaces, and cuff bracelets are divided into five collections--two of which share the name of renowned painters--Matisse, Airforce Blue, Buttercup, Turkish Blue, and Picasso. The artistry and detailing of her jewelry is simply amazing.

In 1983, her polychromatic jewelry won the Bakri Yehia Prize for Excellence, which she received while attending the Royal College of Arts.

Eight years later, the Merseyside Craft Competition awarded her with its first place prize. Notable galleries, including Dazzle, Country Living, and Origin, commission her work that has been compared to the Bakelite jewelry of the 1930s.

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Photo 1 (top right): Buttercup Pendant Necklace with Silk Cord
Photo 2 (bottom right): Matisse Bangle Bracelet

GEMSTONE OF THE MONTH | PERIDOT

From the distant past to the present day, the peridot gemstone has fascinated many.  Due to its glowing, avocado-green color, ancient Egyptians called it "the gem of the sun" while the ancient Romans called it "evening emerald."

A derivative of the forsterite-fayalite mineral, the peridot is the only gemstone that does not come in different colors, although they do come in subtle variations of green, from yellow-green to olive-green.

This "idiochromatic" quality is due to the lack of impurities within the mineral from which it comes. This uniform color also gives this gem an interesting characteristic: it looks the same in natural and artificial light.

Like diamonds, periodot form deep below the earth's surface and are a result of extreme heat and pressure. They are found in volcanic rock, as well as meteorites. The gemstones are mined in Norway, Brazil, Australia, the Congo, and Hawaii where it is so highly regarded the sands of the beach of Oahu is composed of peridot grains.

Apache Indians in Arizona's San Carlos Reservation mine not only the highest amount of peridot but also the most beautiful. In 1994, some of the largest specimens of uncut, peridot were found in Pakistan.

It is believed the first recorded peridot mine was located on the island of Zebargad near Egypt. Poisonous snakes were said to have killed mine workers that paralyzed the mine's daily functions.  The reigning Pharaoh then had the reptiles killed.

Once work in the mines resumed, however, the mine was kept a secret from outsiders, and the Pharaoh took extreme measures to maintain secrecy. He ordered his guards to kill any unauthorized travelers approaching the island.

Peridots are believed to bestow eloquent speech, emotional security, and sustain marriage to those who own them. Peridot is believed to remove spells, and repel evil spirits. In addition, the gemstone is named in the Book of Exodus representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Some of the world's most famous peridots (each over 200 carats) adorns the Shrine of The Three Kings, a gilded sarcophagus located in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The shrine is said to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men.

The world's largest peridot (a whopping 310 carats) is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
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Photo 1 (top right): Shrine of The Three Kings
Photo 2 (bottom right): Peridot Gemstone

Sunday, August 2, 2009

COMMEMORATIVE QUOTABLE GEMS - WALTER CRONKITE

I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the passing of some well-known people in the last few months. Although controversy often shrouded the lives--and even deaths--of some, each has affected many people with their unique gifts. With that said, for the month of August I will feature a QUOTABLE GEM once a week to commemorate them.
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I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

QUOTABLE GEMS - BETTE MIDLER

I wouldn't say I invented tacky, but I definitely brought it to its present high popularity.

AMY KAHN RUSSELL

Today we walk along the banks of Connecticut's Mystic River moving towards the Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea. We bristle with anticipation as we witness a recreation of a 19th century village replete with craftspeople, woodcarvers, and musicians.  Connecticut is also the home of featured jewelry designer Amy Kahn Russell.

The essence of Russell's jewelry is without question natural, pure, and organic. Although she integrates sterling silver and gold in her pieces, Kahn makes full use of an exhaustive assortment of semi-precious gemstones that include kyanite, whiskey topaz, and carnelian.

Russell's educational background, which includes fine arts studies in Louisiana, Texas, and England, combined with several years of living abroad in Hong Kong, provide her pieces with a distinctive style.

Russell combines all types of semi-precious gemstones; and bezel cuts many of them for placement in sterling silver settings. The stones range in color from the soft, peach hue of Angel Coral to vibrant blue Turquoise to the dark, rich chocolate tones of Petersite.

There is an open, free-form to the way she structures her designs. She rarely uses one type of stone in her creations. She has an uncanny ability to combine different stones with similar hues. It is as though there is a flow of energy between the designer and the stone, which dictates how the gemstones are combined.

Her gemstone jewelry pieces are sectioned into two or three parts, each section highlighting a different, supplementary stone. For example, she features blue quartz, and natural Peruvian opal in a pair of earrings, which both possess different yet complementary bluish-green shadings. In another pair of earrings, she uses drusy, paua shell, and amethyst, which all share a similar violet color.

Though overall Russell's designer jewelry possess a slight, vintage style with some of her brooches she takes a full-fledged approach to this style by implementing miniature, hand painted Renaissance collectibles.

There are ethereal and feral flourishes like her Angel Wings Earrings made from carved, rutilated, clear quartz; and a piece featuring tiger eye, and a Philippines shell that mimics an animal print.

She also painstakingly carves symbolic images into some of her pieces, namely frogs, starfish, and turtles. They add a nice touch of humor, and whimsy and they are cute, too. :) However, their respective, intangible symbolism of metamorphosis, regeneration, and longevity are equally uplifting.

Russell's jewelry designs are widely exhibited through numerous outlets including galleries, and museums, such as the Asia Society, and the American Craft Museum; boutiques, and magazine layouts that include Essence, Vogue, and Glamour. Iman, Halle Berry, and Madonna are high-profile clients of the talented designer.
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Photo 1 (top right): Brooch Made with Carved Brown Tiger Eye, and Sliced, Bezel Set Horn in Sterling Silver
Photo 2 (bottom left): Kyanite, Vintage Glass, and Celestial Quartz Bracelet in Sterling Silver
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