Monday, November 30, 2009
Today's feature is husband and wife team Talya Baharal and Gene Gnida. Canada is the birthplace of Gnida, while Baharal's is Israel.
The married couple has a bounty of artistic gifts between them including jewelry design, metalwork, sculpting, and woodwork.
Once completing courses at New York's Parsons School of Design, Baharal embarked on a career in jewelry design 23 years ago starting her own company; however even with her educational background, she is largely self-taught, experimenting with metal's sculpting possibilities.
About 10 years prior to Baharal starting her jewelry company, Gnida was a skilled and well-known woodworker who designed and created furniture and cabinets. Like Baharal, he particularly enjoyed testing the sculpting possibilities of metal as well as stone and wood.
The two met in 1984, while both were living in New York; four years later, they joined forces to establish Baharal and Gnida Designs. Their unusual, yet striking jewelry is without embellishment and is fashioned from various combinations of copper, sterling silver and bronze.
The elegant designs of elongated ovals, spirals, and half-moon shapes are primal in appearance resembling ancient cave pictographs.
The subdued hues and brushed finish of the bronze and copper adds a gritty, earthy sense while also reinforcing the organic, tribal designs. The structures are basic but very palpable evoking ancient Roman warriors, and protective amulets.
Of particular interest to me is that the choice and arrangement of the metals, though simplistic, evokes something formidable, unflinching, and authoritative.
I am surprised that subtle textures of crisscross, spoke-like structures placed within a metal cutout, or a thin piece of one metal, like copper, wrapped around an elongated orb of silver provide such amazing dimension.
The couple has received numerous accolades and awards both collectively and individually. As a team, their jewelry creations earned them the Best of Show award from the American Craft Council in 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Small Square Choker
Photo 2 (bottom left): Bronze Small Button Earrings with Silver Line
Saturday, November 28, 2009
When I began putting together the write-up for this post, I started to wonder what creativity truly is. Is it a divine gift that only a select few possess or is it a part of us all? Can it be cultivated or is it a state of being?
What I do comprehend, since starting this blog, is creativity seems to have a life of its own; a percolation of visions and ideas that either float softly and quietly within the mind or strikes without warning like an electric charge.
Here again, creativity is embodied through Khalsa's unique jewelry, which effortlessly blends her love for portrait painting and metalsmithing.
She creates an original, miniature acrylic painting on paper that features symbolic nature motifs including violets, bamboo, and the koi fish. She then finalizes the piece by placing the portrait beneath tempered glass, and setting it within a frame of 22-karat gold or sterling silver, with accents of luminous gemstones.
With the exception of a few metalsmithing classes she took in 2002, the former chef is self-taught, and she feels this aspect frees up her ability to create truly distinctive items. In 2004, she established Ananda Khalsa Jewelry.
"I adore stones, but I was always interested in creating items where a gemstone was not the focal point," she explains. "My pieces are inspired by Japanese art and symbolism. I've always been attracted to symbolic imagery."
The blending of two art forms is a wonderful concept with soft, delicate images on paper-- reminiscent of designs made on porcelain tableware--encased within oval, circle, or teardrop frames of gold. It is a beautiful symbiosis, a literal representation of wearable art.
"I love the process of making my little paintings and how they come to life. I love the personal meaning people have assigned to the jewelry when they choose a piece. One man chose my Autumn Maple Necklace for his wife because they married under a maple tree."
Khalsa's items are featured on Martha Stewart's website. In addition to her own website, Khalsa's items are sold from ThePhoenixShopBigSur.com, and ParadiseCityArts.com.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Hinged Bluebird Bracelet with 22-Karat Gold Accents
Photo 2 (bottom left): Plum Blossom Charm Necklace with Painted Blossom Charm, Rose Cut Ruby, and Disc Charm of 22-Karat Gold
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tai's jewelry collections reflect varied design approaches, aesthetics, and jewelry-making techniques.
The pieces range from smooth, cool curvatures of sterling silver to the delicate, breathtaking creations made from 18- and 22-karat gold with spectacular enamel accents.
With a Masters of Art in metalwork, received from the American University of Beirut, Tai implements ancient enameling techniques cloisonné and plique á jour to create exquisite, nature-inspired items featuring lilies, praying mantises, and butterflies.
The remarkable detailing of the designs is heightened by the knowledge that the creations are rendered through crafts that require painstaking attention to detail, and precision.
Unlike the cloisonné technique, plique á jour provides a stained glass appearance to the enamel design adding a life-like dimension to the wings of Tai's butterfly creations.
"Enameling has become my favorite medium of self-expression. I enjoy the long and focused creation process the techniques provide," she says. "Much of the imagery found in my jewelry comes from my memories growing up on the Mediterranean, the setting sun, the scents of jasmine and pine."
Tai's spiritual connection to nature is readily evident in her other, non-enamel jewelry items, such as the richly organic forms from her Sea, and Coral collections. The antique look of the gold coupled with natural, uncut stones or beautifully carved coral displays the bond between the designer and her surroundings.
Having studied under skilled jewelry artists like the late Donald Clafflin, and having spent several years as a designer with fine jewelry giant Van Cleef & Arpels, Tai's expansive range of creative inspiration is full blown.
In July of this year, after three decades in the field, Tai was awarded the Grand Prize of the American Jewelry Design Council's New Talent Contest.
In addition to her jewelry career, Tai also teaches at Parsons School of Design, and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Sea Rose Ring with Carved Pink Coral
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Foliage Bracelet with Opalescent and Transparent Enamels
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Bauer's varied contemporary jewelry forms are unlike anything I have seen. With the exception of some of her necklaces, the items are so organic they are indistinguishable; I did not view a piece knowing it was a ring or brooch. I was intrigued by that and wanted to see if I would be able to ascertain what she is conveying.
Upon observing the forms, composed primarily of multi-colored silicone rubber, wool, thread, copper mesh, and a few gemstones here and there including coral and quartz, I noted that despite their abstract form, many items resemble tangible forms.
One of her silicone necklaces, for instance, the sewn clusters of silicone discs are such a deep, cherry-red hue it looks like a bloody, misshapen heart. Another item resembles a plethora of entangled nerve cells, while another item resembles arteries, and still others looked like non-descript versions of pale green and red bell peppers.
Unable to make an exact pinpoint, I determined that these particular pieces suggested some aspect of humanity, health, or nature. However, the way the pieces are structured, the randomness of the design, speaks to something I could not readily identify.
Once I read Bauer's statements concerning her creative process, the light bulb came on. "To a large extent, my work is colored with the notion that "things" are not clearly defined," she says. "Events and things do not begin or end at a certain moment, but rather are a result of ongoing processes.
This notion, of course, is nothing new, but the aspect that an insignificant line can become substantial and meaningful in the total pattern is fascinating. The process of development and change is a continuous one, involving growth and disintegration. A creation of realities that are unplanned and improvised."
There is an inherent intellectualism in the creation of this type of jewelry that I like. I enjoyed the challenge of piecing together Bauer's possible themes.
The more I think about it, there is an intellectualism involved with any design aesthetic, although creative processes are often times more instinctual. This particular creative experience counteracts a misconception that the jewelry industry is just about making pretty things that are without soul or depth.
Bauer's first step into the world of jewelry design began 20 years ago while studying in the jewelry departments of universities in Israel and Holland. Bauer approaches her creations not unlike an expressionistic artist; producing abstract embodiments of concrete ideas.
"I was occupied with redefining the term "jewelry." I tried to get to the roots of what makes something a "jewel" as such. Through this process, my jewels became more of an object. In fact, they were statements about terms such as decoration, preciousness, and wearability."
For the last 16 years, Bauer's pieces are regularly exhibited in galleries across the globe including Holland, Japan, France, Portugal, Switzerland, and Austria.
Photo 1 (top right): Red Silicone-Rubber, Copper Mesh, Thread and Wool Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Green Silicone-Rubber, Copper Mesh, Thread, and Wool Necklace
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
With regard to jewelry, initially the impact of color registered with me on a subliminal level. I merely saw color as part of the overall aesthetic without fully realizing the layer of depth and dimension it added. Viewing Sasina's beautiful array of handmade jewelry certainly reinforces this newfound realization.
She works primarily with a variety of multi-colored pearls including gold, rosy pinks, purples, green, and of course creamy white. Each color is evocative in its own right; lighter tones add an ethereal effect while darker colors evoke fire and passion.
Sasina also explores the dimension of combining other gemstones like garnets, carnelian, citrine, and lapis, alongside the pearls. She arranges the stones in clusters, chandelier, and fishnet designs that are vivid interpretations of sunrises, flowers, grapes, and waterfalls.
Her inspired creativity and artistic gifts were evident in her youth "My parents use to have a big garden filled with fruits and flowers," she says. "This is the kind of environment I grew up in, one where I could walk and admire the beautiful flowers.
One day I was getting an outfit together for a party, so I decided to use some of the flowers as accessories. I made some jewelry with them, and everyone at the party admired my creations so much."
As the years progressed, Sasina continued experimenting with varied design options in her spare time. After earning a Bachelor's Degree in accounting, she took a position with a finance company to earn enough money to start her own business. Though she remained with the company for several years, the experience caused her to long for creating baubles.
"I missed being able to design. I was the youngest member of my team and was required to do everyone else's tasks. I was under a lot of stress," she says.
Along with the careful selection of gemstones, that include reconstituted turquoise, Sasina aligns each stone along gossamer strands creating designs that are vibrant, feminine and a feast for the eye.
"I love jewelry. I have been fashion-conscious and loved beauty for a long time," she says. "Earrings are my favorite because it subtly decorates the wearer. I believe in the power of stones and include at least one type of lucky stone to attract good things."
Sasina distributes her gorgeous jewelry items through Novica.com, and she donates a portion of the proceeds to an orphanage.
Photo 1 (top right): Iridescent Pearls and Lapis Lazuli Celebration Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Pearl and Blue Topaz Rushing River Cluster Necklace
Monday, November 23, 2009
Beadwork is an incredible art form that is akin to portrait painting. The selection of multi-colored beads by a jewelry designer is the equivalent of an artist looking over his palette and choosing different brushes for different effects. In both cases, little by little something without form or structure begins to take shape with nuance and personality.
Though born in Libya, Al Qasem is actually Palestinian. Intelligent and creative, her varied interests, that include photography, writing, and jewelry design, each lend to a prolific creative life.
She views her inclinations organically as extensions of who she is. "Seeking my life's path encompasses everything I am about. Memories, stories, wishes and dreams all gathered up in my hands as I picked up a handful of semi-precious stones," she explains. "I make no claims to being an artist or a writer--I just try to be creative with images or words and I hope that what I create brings some joy to those who see or read them."
As is customary to so many jewelry designers, Al Qasem's love affair with jewelry design began in her childhood. Her father's garden, a floral symphony of color, provided wonderful color combinations, and she credits her mother's unique approach to home décor for providing her with the key motivation to release her own creative spirit.
"My mother opened my eyes to everything around me," she says. "She always gave extra, creative touches to our home." Al Qasem's specific interest in beads, and semi-precious stones, intensified as she learned their history.
"I have a passion for beads. After considerable time studying beads and their history, I discovered that glass beads have a background no less auspicious than diamonds, pearls and semi-precious stones," she says. "Each bead holds the secrets of the culture that made it, traded it, and wore it."
She sources beads and gemstones of all sizes, shapes, and textures from Jordan, Dubai, England, India, France, Turkey, Canada, and the United States. Her skill at arranging complementary color combinations is sublime. The pieces are stunningly exotic.
She specializes in necklaces and chokers, and items range from the understated combination of muted grey and black alongside a vibrant link of beautiful fuchsia colored rubies from India. In some cases, Al Qasem attaches a pendant highlighting a smooth, coffee-brown stone, or a medallion-like pendant with etchings.
There are nature-inspired items such as her Drifting Autumn, and Ocean Spirit necklaces featuring spectacular respective stones of rust orange and cobalt blue. Her creativity is boundless and eclectic. The color of the gemstones, in particular, is so captivatingly beautiful.
There are beads and gemstones so rich in color they resemble ripe berries, and other items consist of beads and gemstones with fluid-like translucency. The jewelry is wonderfully robust with an international palette of gemstones.
"Glass beads, shells, pebbles are usually perceived as less expensive and less precious," she says. "It is our perception that gives value to things around us. To me if stones perceived as precious and expensive blend harmoniously with materials deemed not precious or valuable, then they are all beautiful, precious, and worthy of our attention," she enthuses.
"My jewelry pieces are an expression of the beauty experienced and seen in the women and cultures of the many places I have traveled. The stones used to create this jewelry carry within them the history, and stories of humanity, full of beauty and sensuality."
To view a slideshow of Al Qasem's magnificent jewelry go to www.slide.com and click Gallery View.
Photo 1 (top right): Filigree Radika Necklace with Faceted Rubies and Silver Accents
Photo 2 (bottom left): Lapis Lazulis Ocean View Necklace with Green Bead Accents
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Sisters Danielle and Jodie Snyder, originally from Jacksonville, Florida, are the creative minds behind DANNIJO; a brand that features a diverse collection of stylishly edgy and elegant trinkets composed of Swarovski Crystals, 18-karat gold, vintage brass, rhodium, and sterling silver.
Each piece is so individual and distinctive paying homage to all things beachside, Native American aesthetics, Keith Haring art, and couture. Certain pieces adhere to bold color, while others highlight bold arrangements.
The bead detailing of some pieces is reminiscent of African beadwork, their elegant Mare Necklace features a gorgeous, uncut Aqua Aura crystal caressed by 18-karat gold, and silver chains, and a few of the duo's more elaborate pieces consist of a metal mesh resembling some of Swedish designer Hanna Hedman's unique items.
The duo's individualistic design approach is no accident; the sisters blend their personal styles. "Making jewelry is a creative outlet and hobby both Jodie and I enjoyed doing together throughout our college years," says Danielle.
"Her [Jodie] style is more Jackie O-inspired and more classic, while mine is more bohemian and rock n' roll. We strive to infuse both perspectives to give the line uniqueness and to provide different types of women--personalities--with various options."
The sisters are self-taught creating basic jewelry designs in their childhood using their father's "medical tool kit to do wirework," says Danielle. "In time our designs became more intricate and expressive."
The two women eventually moved to New York knowing that building a jewelry company was inevitable; especially after the public's reception to items they designed two years ago to raise funds for an African non-profit organization, founded by Danielle, called LWALA. The proceeds for the special collection benefited a health facility in Lwala, Kenya.
In 2008, the sisters officially launched their company garnering Bergdorf Goodman as their first retailer. "We believe in building a brand and using it as a platform to make positive change in the world," Danielle says. "We want DANNIJO to be about something greater than fashion."
Beyonce Knowles, Natalie Portman, Katy Perry, and the Today Show's Natalie Morales wear the brand and support the designers' agenda. The distinctive pieces of DANNIJO have also been featured on the popular television show Gossip Girl.
Publications including InStyle, Glamour, and Elle feature the jewelry line in their respective layouts.
For more on the designing duo, check out Natalie Morales' video interview with them at msnbc.msn.com.
Photo 1 (top right): Aqua Aura Stone Wrapped in Multi-Layered 18-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Chain
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Amadora Stack Rings with Brilliant Diamonds
Friday, November 20, 2009
Hedman is clearly not bound to trends or conventional ideas. Her contemporary jewelry designs come from an uncompromising mind that courageously reaches beyond the concepts normally associated with jewelry and she challenges these ideas.
In another post, I touched on the subject of jewelry's ability to evoke emotion from an observer, and viewing Hedman's unusual pieces did just that.
In all frankness, her jewelry is scary and bizarre in its non-descript irregularities. A distinct, nightmarish quality evokes the grotesque imagery of some of Tim Burton's films.
Due to the muted gray and dusty brown color of the metals, there is starkness, a sense of loss, emptiness, and sadness. At the same time, the arrangement of the materials, a mesh of copper, sterling silver, and oxidized silver, is oddly beautiful. I say all of this as objective observations and these very qualities are what make Hedman's jewelry so powerful.
I viewed photos of Hedman's pieces before reading anything about her. I discovered that she approached her collections with the theme of humanity's dark, frail emotions that lead to escapism, lying, and various defense mechanisms.
Her collection of necklaces entitled "What You Tell is not Always What You Have Experienced" explores how people tend to change or omit information when telling a story. "The sad and disgusting can also be something beautiful," she explains. "Beauty might be seen as vain, but I find it interesting to contrast beauty with the not so nice, and the unpleasant."
Hedman's educational base is layered with knowledge acquired from the United States' Western State College in Colorado, Sweden's Ädellab, and New Zealand's Otago Polytechnic. She has also studied under the tutelage of others in the field including Dutch designer Iris Eichenberg, and Denmark native Kim Buck.
Hedman creates such an emotionally commanding aesthetic by the seemingly simplistic use of shape, texture, and color.
The jewelry is a wildly provocative interpretation of the equally enigmatic human psyche with items that appear weighty, cumbersome, prickly, uncomfortable, and chaotic.
Hedman was recently awarded Austria's So Fresh Award, and ongoing exhibitions of her work take place in Poland, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, and the United States.
To view more of Hedman's fantastical jewelry, go to Klimt02.net or her website hannahedman.com.
Photo 1 (top right): Copper, Paint and Synthetic Fiber Necklace from Enough Tears to Cry for Two Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): Oxidized Silver, Copper, Powder Coat and Paint Necklace from What You Tell is not Always What You Experienced Collection
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Charm bracelets are a fashionable and simple way to document life's milestones: a long awaited trip to France, a new car, or a new baby. Special moments forever immortalized in charms of silver or gold is a unique way to carry the journeys of the past and the present.
Allison's distinctive, custom-made jewelry takes this concept a step further with rings, brooches, and charm bracelets depicting life scenes in pop-up storybook-like pictures. The creations are fresh, fun, and sentimental all at the same time.
"I would describe my work as being very narrative," she says. "I love creating work that has special meaning or a story behind it." In 2003, the 30-year-old native of Kilmarnock, Scotland received a Bachelor of Design in Jewelry and Metalwork from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.
To create the whimsical, child-like drawings featured on her pieces, Allison implements two processes: photo etching to transfer her drawings from paper to silver, and lazer-tran to add color.
She extracts her own personal experiences that include freeze-framing a long bus drive, a ladybug perched on a blade of grass, and even a representation of her once burglarized studio, DD4 Workshop.
"The source for my work comes from past and present memories of my family, my home, my travels and experiences," she explains. "There is a piece inspired by my trips to London, while I was in art school. My home and family are very important to me so the image of home is used a lot in my work."
I really like Allison's concept of taking actual moments in time or scenes that play out like a child's storybook. This gives the jewelry a strong sense of innocence, buoyancy, and nostalgia.
Allison is the recipient of the Goldsmith's Bursary Award, and she has been featured in many publications including Evening Times, Sunday Herald Magazine, and The Herald Weekend Living.
Photo 1 (top right): Silver and Lazer-Tran Sending My Love Charm Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling and Lazer-Tran Skyline with Moving Cars Brooch
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Ornate jewelry, such as the items of Thailand-based company Lotus Arts de Vivre, is extraordinary in its elaborate, painstaking detailing; however, the subtle details of seemingly simplistic forms are equally captivating.
The particulars of jewelry making originate from small details building upon each other with the final result being either simplistic or elaborate.
"I like simplicity in design," says Busch whose metalwork training, acquired while attending London's Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design, is highlighted in the elegant lengths of thin spirals of gold or silver, and floral cutouts.
The source of amazement for me is just how tenuous the metal is and how weightless the pieces seem; a true testament to Busch's deftness in the craft of metalworking and the incredible malleability of metals.
Busch also works with beautiful, Tahitian and Chinese Freshwater Pearls by stringing them together allowing the beautiful green-gold, green-black spheres to radiate their unique splendor, and offsetting them with a 9-karat gold, floral-like clasp.
In other designs, she incorporates the slender, coiling lengths of gold spirals to cradle a single pearl or diamond.
Busch's hand fabricated, fluid designs are as powerful as their more elaborate counterparts are. In 2005, Busch's delicate creations won her the Tahitian Pearl Trophy in three categories.
Photo 1 (top right): 9-Karat Gold and Chinese Freshwater Pearl Necklace
Photo 2 (center): 9-Karat Gold Flower Brooch
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and 9-Karat Gold Ring with Diamond
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The art of silversmithing has been a longtime staple of Mexican culture. Although some jewelers express concern that the craft is slowly becoming a skill of the past, silversmithing and the jewelry items cultivated from it will always be timeless.
Hinojosa began her jewelry design career nearly four decades ago upon completion of her studies at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social's Talleres de Artes Plásticas y Artesanias.
Within two years of graduation, Hinojosa's impressive silversmithing skills garnered international recognition with numerous exhibits in North and South America, Canada, Germany and Mexico.
In the hands of Hinojosa, the cool tone of glossy silver is blended with lustrous gemstones like green chrysoprase or white quartz culminating in elegant and sophisticated designs.
Her Elongated Pearl Earrings are reminiscent of vintage jewelry, while her Ode to Nature items highlights uncanny replications of leaves in burnished silver.
Since 1984, Hinojosa has taught silversmithing to others eager to keep the craft an integral part of jewelry and object making; and she currently sells her wares at Novica.com.
Photo 1 (top right): Burnished Sterling Silver Leaves and Berries Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Spirit Love Cocktail Ring
Monday, November 16, 2009
Fall is such a great time of year, and it is in full swing in my neck of the woods. The transitioning leaves of yellow gold, rust orange and burgundy never cease to captivate.
Regardless of the season, nature is a never-ending array of beauty, and stirs the imaginations of countless jewelry designers. The varied and eclectic plant-life forms are Carlow's prime source of inspiration for her ethereal jewelry.
Raised in one of Ireland's coastal regions, Carlow spent many of her childhood years walking along the shoreline collecting pods, feathers, shells, and stones. The organic shapes she collected fascinated her, and when she later studied silversmithing at Scotland's Glasgow School of Art, the beauty of those items, gathered in childhood, remained with her.
"My jewelry has been inspired by natural forms, primarily seed pods and I have created a body of work based on pod-like structures."
Carlow's gorgeous pieces, fashioned from silk paper, 18-karat gold, and sterling and oxidized silver, capture the fragile beauty of acorn cups and gum nuts. With the delicate curves of the metallic stems and the lifelike droop of the pods, the jewelry is worthy of Mother Nature herself.
These superlative interpretations suggest a spiritual connection between Carlow and her earthy surroundings, whereby she seemingly absorbs the energy creating a reproduction from materials with origins from the earth as well. The creative exercise and its final rendering therefore seems to come full circle.
The nature-inspired pieces are elegant, feminine and ethereal; a gorgeous blending of nature and art, and an exceptional display of Carlow's metalworking skills.
Carlow's jewelry has been exhibited in the United States, Scotland, Holland, and London. Her collection has also been featured in such publications as Homes and Interiors, Elle Decoration, and Homes and Antiques.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Silver Wrap Rings with Diamonds
Photo 2 (bottom left): Silk and Silver Paper Dome Neckpiece
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Cultivated from the hands of skilled and gifted artists, jewelry creations are far from monotonous. Everything from the tonal contrast of glossy and blackened metals to highlighting the malleability of gold to unusual stone settings, jewelry making is definitely an avenue for exploration and invention.
Dweck's magnificent, one-of-a-kind creations highlight beautiful stones like red jasper, gold citrine, smoky quartz, and reddish amber all with vintage-inspired design arrangements. There is no shortage of bold color or bold design concepts.
Possessing a deft eye for color and form Dweck studied painting and sculpture at New York's School of Visual Arts. He discovered that jewelry design lends itself perfectly to his creative inclinations as well as serving as a link to combine his love of art and sculpture.
His first items were hand carved bangles fashioned from stone. Nearly 30 years ago, a representative from Bergdorf Goodman viewed more of Dweck's distinctive pieces instantly labeling the designer a "romancer of stones."
Dweck painstakingly collects stones from around the world: Brazilian tourmaline, Moroccan ammonites, South Sea pearls, and Australian opals. His pieces pack a wallop displaying his love for semi-precious stones and his fearless exploration of various structures and color combinations. One of the themes of Dweck's collections is travel. The baroque-style items from these collections reflect his varied world journeys.
The Taipei Collection features, among others, the chocolate hues of smoky quartz, while his Beijing Collection features the creamy luster of Mother of Pearl, and a three-strand necklace drenched with sliced, blue agate stones is one of the many highlights. His Trinidad Collection seems to emulate puffs of white clouds and blue skies with pieces constructed from clear rock crystals and aqua-blue turquoise.
With imagination and intuition, Dweck effortlessly captures color, texture, and form; bringing to life creations of exceptional beauty. Dweck signs his one-of-a-kind jewelry with a bronze beetle he calls `Adam'.
Dweck also designs diamond jewelry, which collections he launched five years ago and he also designs home couture, namely tableware and renovated furniture.
Since the inception of his company, Dweck has collaborated with many fashion designers, including Oscar de la Renta, Escada, and Donna Karan, who have featured his jewelry in runway shows.
Publications such as InStyle, Harper Bazaar, and Vogue have used his pieces in their respective layouts; and items from his collections are permanently displayed at Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institute.
Photo 1 (top right): Carved Jasper Pendant with Bronze Chain
Photo 2 (bottom left): Green Agate Drop Earrings with Bronze Floral Accents
Friday, November 13, 2009
Golan's kaleidoscopic jewelry brings to mind the vivid colors of embroidered tapestries. Influenced by Victorian and Byzantine art and jewelry, Golan's pieces possess a distinctive, unrefined Old World quality.
The overall form of the pieces--fashioned with 24-karat gold plating, and the spectacular hues of multi-colored Swarovski crystals and glass beads--is clean-cut. However, the mosaic-like arrangement of the stones, the color combinations, and the varied sizes of the stones provide an opulent and substantial appearance.
The daughter of a scientist, Golan accompanied her father to the United States while he worked for the National Bureau of Standards. A graduate of the University of Maryland, and New York University, Golan respectively earned a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, and a Masters Degree in Studio Art.
"While I attended NYU, I began making jewelry to sell at craft shows and festivals to support myself," she recalls. "Once I graduated from NYU, I started making jewelry full-time."
An early introduction to museums and art whet Golan's appetite for creative expression. "Since I was a child, I have always loved going to museums and viewing art," she says. "I am constantly drawing inspiration from the art world."
Cultural symbolism, such as the Evil Eye and Hamsas (or Fatima Hand) is an integral party of Golan's jewelry. She devotes an entire collection to the Evil Eye, a protective symbol created to fend off the destructive force of envy.
Golan designs four variations of the symbol implementing varied color combinations such as deep red with aqua blue, sea foam green with antique gold, and hunter green with fuchsia.
Golan relishes the explorative aspect of jewelry design, "I love what I do, and I believe my success is due to that," she says. "I hope the joy I feel translates into the jewelry." Golan's jewelry is a beautiful blend of grand color and ancient symbolism.
I really love the explosion of color rendered in her collections through the slightly muted tones of her Safari Collection to the vibrant tones of her Multi-Bright Collection. Her pieces are sold at the ArtfulSoul.com, and Stylism.com.
Photo 1 (top right): 24-Karat Gold Plated and Enamel Double Medallion with Swarovski Crystals and Glass Beads
Photo 2 (bottom left): 24-Karat Gold Plated Five Panel Chunky Flower Bracelet with Swarovski Crystals and Glass Beads
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Exposed at young age to the artistry of silversmithing and woodwork, you could say that Serrano's career as a jewelry designer was a given. His family has been a fixture in the jewelry industry for four decades, and Serrano's passion for creating stunning trinkets of silver began at age 16.
Serrano's creative influences are extensive ranging from the fashion designs of Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford to the literature of Pablo Neruda, and the artistic prowess of painter Frida Kahlo. Nature, with its seemingly limitless array of textures and colors, also serve as inspiration for Serrano's elegant and exotic designs.
The focal point in all of his collections, even the edgier ox skull pieces, is clean lines and clean arrangement of materials. He incorporates the arabesque-like detailing of the sterling silver pieces form his Vida Collection within a clean, sculptural outline.
Even when combining several materials, like tropical wood, leather, silver, or quartz, he keeps the overall design layered where each material is represented. His collections also prominently feature items composed of a beautiful, deep brown wood that is either unadorned or offset by a single gemstone; the inclusion provides a nicely understated tribal feel.
Exercising his industrial degree, received from Mexico City's Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus, Serrano's jewelry is sold in Germany, Spain, England, and the United States. His wares have been featured in such publications as Modern Jeweler, JCK Luxury, and Trends.
Serrano has designed exclusive pieces to raise funds for the Red Cross, and the Ellen West Foundation, an organization established to assist in the fight against eating disorders.
Photo 1 (top right): Tropical Wood Arrow Pendant with White Gold and Tahitian Black Pearl Accents
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Link Necklace with Hoops, Tusk, and Turquoise
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
To the delight of infants and toddlers, their toys feature attention-grabbing bright colors and spherical objects that roll around inside a larger object. These toys soothe, entertain, and captivate. The kinetic and colorful aspects of children's toys serve as the primary influence for Sonia's elegant and innovative jewelry.
A graduate of New York's Parsons School of Design, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design, Metals and Jewelry Design, Sonia established her company in São Paulo, Brazil. Her jewelry is a blend of classic elegance with kinetic movement.
South African designer Michael Berger works primarily with sleek metals, and no embellishment, but he incorporates moving, metal parts into his signature rings.
Sonia, on the other hand, uses the embellishment as the kinetic element of her structurally clean, futuristic pieces; and unlike most minimalistic jewelry, the embellishment is the focal point while the metal is the accent.
The element of play and surprise is reminiscent of the designs of Franco Pianegonda, and Dorothea Brill. I am amazed how implementing simple tweaks of form, such as Sonia's use of sizable, spherical gemstones with their hammered facets, increases the visual impact of the overall piece.
Sonia's beautiful 18-karat gold Spinning Wheel Bracelet, from her Perpetual Motion Collection, features orbs of blue topaz within an encased track that is open on the sides, however firmly containing the rolling gemstones.
In similar fashion, Sonia's kinetic version of the heart pendant features a single sphere of pink tourmaline set on a small track allowing the gem to move with the wearer. The track and gemstone is placed within a small, open area of the heart design so that the tourmaline sphere becomes the heart of the heart.
Prime examples of Sonia's beautifully faceted stones are featured in her Rock Collection and Kite Collection. In the former, sleek, thin ring bands of precious metals provide the setting for large, fluid-colored gemstones. In the latter collection, the stones are faceted in a rudimentary diamond-shape and the surface of the stones appears to be flat and sloping inward.
Sonia's jewelry is a marvel of innovative design and engineering requiring the utmost precision in the cutting of gemstones to fit the structure of the metal, which ultimately allows for fluid motion.
For more on Sonia's innovative design approach, check out JCK Online's 2008 video interview with the designer, as well as a PDF document featuring fantastic photos of her jewelry.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Hearts in Motion Pendant with Pink Tourmaline
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Bracelet Pendant with Replaceable Gemstones
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Have you ever considered that an inanimate object can stir your emotions and intellect. Maybe the color or its shape evoked a memory, or your response was more subliminal. The power of jewelry, though inherently lifeless, is that it can capture an onlooker's attention through unusual or elegant design arrangements.
In my research, I have often noticed the so-called personality of a piece of jewelry, and I respond to that. Sometimes I am not always able to pinpoint what exactly stirs my emotion, other times I can pinpoint it. I find it fascinating that an intellectual--and even emotional--response can take place when viewing jewelry.
The basis of Lee's design approach is within this visual and visceral connection between an item of jewelry and an observer. "Although we may not have any relevance to an inanimate object, the object can inspire various emotions," he says. "People can be moved by having a sense of mutual feeling emanating from the art."
Lee began his advent into artistic studies in 1995 studying Art and Crafts at Kon-Kuk University in Korea. Here he honed his innate gifts for sculpture receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In 2000, he then traveled to the U.K. to study business at the Bournemouth Business School where he received a Certificate of Completion.
By 2003, Lee furthered his educational base by attending the Rhode Island School of Design where he studied Jewelry and Metalsmithing, and received a Masters of Fine Arts.
Lee's understated, fluid jewelry mirrors a sculptor's eye. Working primarily with 18-karat gold, sterling silver, small diamonds, and a technique called Keum-Boo--the placement of gold to silver with the use of heat--Lee creates pieces that appear weightless and buoyant.
His feather items, for instance, are interpretations of the epidermal barbules that resemble paper lanterns. His Windmill, Cube, and Shadow items each exhibit the same kind of voluptuous, flowing structure.
I am awed by his metalworking skills; the way he channels the metals' malleable qualities creating forms that highlight suppleness, flexibility, and litheness.
His beautiful jewelry has received numerous awards including Bellevue Museum Art Fair's Award of Excellence in Metal, Craft Boston Show's Best of Show Award, and the American Craft Exposition's Excellence in Metal. His elegant jewelry is also widely exhibited in galleries across the United States, in Korea, and Japan.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold To Bend Earrings with Small Diamonds
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Rising Sun Pendant with Diamonds
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Feather Pendant with Small Diamonds and Rubies
Monday, November 9, 2009
It is pretty straightforward actually, considering that men's jewelry generally serves a functional rather than aesthetic purpose.
Though options for men's jewelry are a bit more clear-cut, it is still important to keep in mind personal style.
Is that special guy laid back and casual, ladies? Or is his style classic or flamboyant?
Men, do you tend to follow the latest male fashion trends, or do you like developing your own style? For whichever category be assured that there is a complementary jewelry style.
Watches, tie clips, cuff links, and money clips are considered some of the most foolproof items you can purchase. If you are looking to buy a great watch, a standard is Timex, which has styles from classic to chronograph.
Many men love the exceptional quality of watches by Hugo Boss though they are a bit pricier. Cuff links and tie clips range from unembellished gold, silver, platinum, stainless steel, and titanium to diamond encrusted versions.
The aforementioned are probably the best choices for the man with more classic tastes, but fear not ladies and gents for there are more options.
The beauty of men's jewelry, in my opinion, is in its masculine proportions: simple, black cords suspending a small, Celtic medallion or dog tag. A necklace made from ebony beads or a single, simple gold chain peeking from behind a crisp, white shirt or just above the collar of a t-shirt can add effortless sex appeal.
Men's bracelets are also a great style idea that range from woven leather to unadorned metals like Tungsten, titanium, and stainless steel to diamond studded. Simple rings and the single, diamond earring stud also add a touch of elegance or edginess depending on a man's personal style.
A man can go from casual to classic to edgy with just a simple change of materials. Regardless of personal style, however, it is a good idea to purchase separate pieces that can be worn in alternately formal and casual settings. Like women, men enjoy having options when it comes to their jewelry, as well as letting their jewelry say something about who they are.
For more tips on buying men's jewelry, go to ShopWiki.com or read Ehow.com's Men's Jewelry Guide. To see jewelry items for men check out Amazon.com or Overstock.com. Thanks for checking out this month's Splendor Sidebar post.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Starting this blog has allowed me the opportunity to ogle a fantastic array of jewelry creations, but I also enjoy the element of discovery that goes along with it.
My research has led me to designers I would not have known about otherwise, and there are many more yet to discover. Chambers is one such designer, another great talent with exceptional skills and a powerful, artistic vision.
While still a teenager, Chambers' immense artistic abilities led to a textile design position working alongside fabric designer Vera Neumann. Impressed with Chambers' innate gifts, and eager to expand the knowledge of her protégé, Neumann awarded Chambers with the first George Neumann Scholarship (a fund honoring her late husband).
By 1968, Chambers studied fashion design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After receiving a Bachelors of Fine Arts, she ventured into the garment industry but she found the experience surprisingly tedious and fellow employees difficult.
Four years upon receiving her degree, she married a jeweler, Irving Williams, who owned a jewelry repair company where she learned the trade. When her husband died in 1978, Chambers took over the business finding a niche with jewelry design.
Within another three years of cultivating her jewelry design and goldsmithing skills, she felt confident enough to build her own jewelry collection. Partially inspired by her water-based, Piscean zodiac, Chambers developed a love for pearls. "Pearls are such classic gemstones and most people like them," she says. "I am a perfectionist. I want to make jewelry classics; pieces that can become an heirloom for someone."
With the exception of 14-karat gold, garnets, topaz, and amethyst accents, Chambers works exclusively with Mabe and freshwater pearls, as well as Mother of Pearl. I just melted when I observed the photographs from her collections.
I think pearls have such a strong opulent quality they effortlessly provide a vintage aspect to any design arrangement. Overall, the luscious, creamy color of Mother of Pearl combined with Chambers' unique designs is so gorgeous, so delicate, and ultra feminine. Her creations are some of the most exquisite pieces of pearl jewelry I have seen.
What makes the jewelry so unique is Chamber goes beyond the elegance of strung pearls. She works with a team of three jewelers, Gilberto McFarlane, Virgillio Thomas, and sister Gail Chambers Reed.
Each jeweler has a specific responsibility that ultimately involves slicing Mother of Pearl into various geometric shapes and melding it within a gold frame. A delicate, faceted lapis or coral stone is added as a drop accent at the base of the frame, or a small cluster of rose quartz is added to the top of the frame beautifully blending varied shapes, colors, and textures.
Chambers is also the proprietor of That Old Black Magic, a museum-shop that promotes "African-American culture, lifestyle, and diversity in the communities and those communities that surround us. The shop serves as a bridge to connect the gap between the artist, author, and the consumer."
Her stunning jewelry is sold at Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue, and she has received numerous awards including The International Pearl Design Contest, the Women's Jewelry Association Annual Award for Excellence in Manufacturing, and the Blenheim Award for Design Excellence.
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold and Antique Mother of Pearl Square Chinese Medallion Necklace with Blue Topaz Briolette
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold and Antique Mother of Pearl Abstract Shaped Chinese Gambling Chip Pin
Friday, November 6, 2009
Like so many designers, Bidermann's jewelry epitomizes the essence of her profession. A grand outlet of self-expression. A representation of life experiences, nature, and cultural influences. It is passion and beauty exploding in matte or glossy metals and brilliant faceted or uncut gemstones.
Bidermann draws from every interest and influence from art to style icon Audrey Hepburn to a myriad of cultural influences. She embraces it all cultivating a brad range of creations.
"I come from a family with roots in the art world, my parents are collectors; art therefore like my natural course," she explains. "I studied Art History before working at Sotheby's in New York and Paris. My grandmother however was very chic, and stylish. She use to commission these amazing pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier and she'd show them to me, which influenced my interest in jewelry."
After completing gemology and jewelry courses, she traveled around the world from Italy to Mexico and India seemingly absorbing the varied sights. In 2004, the culmination of experiences would lead to a full-blown leap into jewelry design.
Fascinated with cultural superstitions, one of Bidermann's first collections was an assembly of lucky charms--stars, dragonflies, elephants, and turtles--carved from Mother-of-Pearl and suspended from colored string. The charms, which have become her signature items, are fashioned in an informal, makeshift kind of way giving them a childlike and endearing appearance.
Her keen knowledge of gemstones is captured with gorgeous, single-stoned pendants like her uncut, Celestine stone gently dangling from a silver chain. Her minimalist styled charms and pendants are contrasted with the dramatic detailing of her exquisite old lace cuff dipped in antique, yellow gold and her gold lace choker.
"I feel jewelry, like art, is more permanently relevant than fashion," she says. "My collections are very like collections of art in that each piece is unique and a lot of work goes into the process of creating them."
Bidermann's extraordinary jewelry has been featured in publications worldwide such as the Japanese, Russian, and American issues of Vogue, as well as Elle, Marie Claire, and Teen Vogue.
Her eclectic pieces are sold through numerous Parisian boutiques including Colette, and are also found at Barney's New York, and Tomas Mailes in Florida.
For more on Bidermann's inspired designs, check out Hulu.com's video feature of the designer at IMDB.com.
Photo 1 (top right): Dentege Vintage Cuff
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Gingko Biloba Earrings
Thursday, November 5, 2009
In some cases, German as well as other Central European designers tend to take what I think is a cerebral approach to jewelry design that leans more towards function rather than aesthetic. The design approach suggests that jewelry should blend with instead of accentuate the wearer, and I say this as an observation, not a criticism.
Unlike the very sleek, unembellished designs of some of her contemporaries, Schwarzer's designs highlight bold colored gemstones in bold cuts and equally distinctive manipulation of 24-karat gold and sterling silver.
Having lived in Australia for 16 years, she is clearly influenced by the continent's rustic beauty. She implements spirals, wavy lines and other geometric engravings and etchings onto her pieces that resemble aboriginal motifs and provides both a primal and tribal aesthetic.
"Living in Australia has profoundly influenced my work," she says. "I discovered my passion for rocks and minerals which occur in abundance here. Stones classified as minor quality, due to impurities, inspire me. I use them as a design element and feature them in a finished piece.
In the last 26 years, she has developed a bulk of skills that include silversmithing, goldsmithing, gem setting, engraving, and repoussé. She combines her skills with intuition, and keen imagination channeling this energy into her jewelry; creating a spiritual core to the beautiful, organic pieces.
The process of creation is one that she relishes. "I have been cutting and processing stones for a number of years. I like to work from the outside in, taking off layer by layer to discover the internal secret life suggestive of landscapes," she explains. "My aim for each piece I make is for it to be beautiful, wearable and to leave room for interpretation by the wearer."
For 16 years, Schwarzer has exhibited her lovely, distinctive jewelry in Australia and Germany. Her pieces are featured in the 2004 book "1,000 Rings," and in 2008, she wrote her own book entitled "Informing Facets."
Photo 1 (top right): 24-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Two-Finger with Quartz and Diamond
Photo 2 (bottom left): 24-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Shell Necklace with Diamonds, Rubies and Emeralds
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Such a strong sense of tranquility and calm emits from the delicate construct of Japanese designer jewelry. For me it is like observing a blooming rose; a gentle yet powerful act as it stretches its petals reaching for the warmth of the sun or the splatter of a raindrop. Yoko Izawa's exquisite pieces, for example, seem as though they were formed through the manipulation of light and air.
Kada's home and workshop, Satomi Studio, is nestled within the majestic redwood trees of Santa Cruz, California. A large source of her inspiration sets right outside her door, and the arrangement of the floral and atmospheric motifs are focal points of Kada's jewelry.
In 1994, Kada received a Bachelor of Arts in metalsmithing from California's Humboldt State University. Implementing sterling silver, 24-karat gold, and oxidized copper, Kada creates beautifully elegant pieces.
The glossy, appliqué-like cutouts of silver and gold nature motifs against blackened copper not only create a great contrast of metals, but also add a wonderful hint of edgy sophistication.
Still, even with the oxidized metal there is a sense of delicacy in the placement of the appliqué flowers.
"I use simple elements in repetition to build up richly textured patterns and interesting forms," she explains. "I like the simplistic yet powerful visual presence created with the negative space between the metals."
For an added bonus, Kada implements a Japanese weaving technique, kumihimo, to create the cords that suspend her elegant pendants. "Hand-dyed silk threads wrapped around weighted spools are braided in various ways to create a woven cord on a wooden, circular loom," she says. "I enjoy the concept of combining contemporary designs with a centuries-old craft of my ancestors."
Kada's work is exhibited in galleries across the United States including the Gallery of Jewels in California, Hanson Galleries in Texas, and the AsiaStore in New York.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver and Oxidized Copper Clouds Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Cluster Ring
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Whether imported from Europe or locally produced; whether glass or clay; beads and beaded jewelry are an integral part of African culture.
For centuries, beads have been used as a form of currency in trade and have been a popular source of personal embellishment. Among the first recorded African bead-making industries was located in Nigeria during the 1800s.
The beautiful detailing of Cisse's jewelry reflects the painstaking aspects of this time-honored craft. The careful selection of a myriad of complementary beads is paramount. There can be as many as 10 to 20 strands of beads in a single necklace. Bead forms range from colored glass to ostrich eggshells to cowrie shells and each is steeped in rich history.
Cissé learned this craft as a young boy and much like Kenyan designer Nasimiyu Wekesa, he strongly believes in the beads' ability to tell their storied pasts to a prospective wearer. "A long time ago the beads were used as money," he explains. "All the jewelry we make with the beads mean something, they tell a story."
Working with unbraided and braided leather cords, Cissé creates gorgeous, varied jewelry pieces using multiple beads following a single color scheme or linking together different yet complementary beads possessing slightly different colors and sturctures. In 2000, he established his company Farafina Tigne, located in Sevaré, which means `African Reality'.
The store holds a wide array of inventory from pendants to bracelets to earrings and necklaces in all its traditional splendor.
Featured alongside the store is a museum packed with West African jewelry artifacts that include beaded regalia. Cissé also sells his wonderful beaded pieces through The Hunger Site.
Photo 1 (top right): Blue Moon Trade Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): Antique Nara Bead Necklace