Touted as a conservatory of American history, we eagerly visit Washington D.C.'s National Museum of American History, which boasts intriguing political, scientific, and cultural exhibits including a display featuring the renowned ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Washington D.C. is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ruth Barzel.
Barzel's delicate, understated aesthetic is reminiscent of New York-based designer Madelaine Mayer.
Both designers create jewelry with streamlined proportions of utmost simplicity accentuated with pops of liquid color.
When the 40-ish mother of two launched her handmade jewelry line in 2005, she was not sure how to categorize her jewelry style. "People were buying my pieces telling me "I love your jewelry! I wear it everyday!" It wasn't until then I realized that was my style. It is jewelry for everyday."
Fashioned from eco-friendly isometric crystals (cubic zirconia), semi-precious gemstones like blue chalcedony, clear quartz, and turquoise, and dainty chains of sterling silver and gold fill, Barzel's jewelry is not intrusive.
The delicately arranged necklaces, bracelets, and earrings seem barely there like a whisper against a skin canvas. A quiet contrast to the bold creations of Iradj Moini (Iran), her designs are intended to accentuate the wearer through hushed but noticeable detailing.
The designer is candid about her early and insecure jewelry-making days, "When I started making jewelry in the early 90s, all I wanted to do was make pieces exactly like Dana Kellin who is based in California," she says.
"I loved her use of beautiful gemstones and meticulous wire wrapping and when I couldn't find anyone to teach me her wire-wrapping techniques I spent endless hours practicing. After awhile, I realized I wouldn't be as good at being Dana as she was, and I developed my own style."
Barzel adds a bonus touch to her pieces through her use of provocative monikers like bombshell, trendsetter, diva, femme fatale, and glamour girl providing a nice subtext of attitude.
Barzel maintains a straightforward, pragmatic mentality about her lovely jewelry. "Although I love designing and making jewelry, my jewelry isn't trendy, chunky, or weird," she explains.
"It is not art. It isn't so expensive that you are afraid to wear it or so cheap that you are embarrassed to wear it. What is my jewelry? It is pretty. It is stylish, feminine, and elegant."
Photo 1 (top right): Gold-Filled Dive Pendant with Blue Quartz Briolette and Multi-Colored Cubic Zirconia
Photo 2 (bottom left): Gold-Filled Sterling Silver Glamour Girl Earrings with Clear Cubic Zirconia Drops