Saturday, February 27, 2010

DENNISON TSOSIE

Today we visit Arizona and are profoundly moved by the sight of the magnificent, world-renowned Grand Canyon. The powerful currents of the Colorado River carved out the intricate layers of rock, the caves of which became a homestead to many Native Americans. Arizona is also home to featured jewelry designer Dennison Tsosie.

The American Southwest is an area commonly known for its exceptional silver and turquoise jewelry.

The Navajo Indians, in particular, are recognized for creating spectacular sterling silver pieces that encompasses about 150 years worth of Mexican, Moorish and Spanish design influences.

The art of silversmithing was not only passed down through generations within the Navajo tribe, but the art was initially passed down from one culture to another.

According to historians, the first Navajo who learned the craft, Atsidi Sani (a/k/a Old Smith), learned the trade from Mexicans who learned it from Spaniards.

Tsosie is a third generation Navajo silversmith who trained under the guidance of his grandfather. At the age of eight, he assisted the elder Tsosie with mold casting and within a few years, he was creating his own jewelry pieces.

Tsosie's grandmother, who weaved elaborate rugs, also served as a prominent role model in the designer's work ethic. Perseverance and detail-orientedness were essential to his grandmother's trade, and he understood these character traits were just as necessary in metalworking.

Imbued with natural artistic gifts, Tsosie also excelled at painting, a skill he taught himself, and the subsequent sale of his artwork enabled him to help with family finances. As an adult, though he continued making jewelry part-time, Tsosie obtained employment that was more lucrative.

His desire and love for silversmithing, however, remained and despite the surge of cheaper, mass produced imitations of Native American silver jewelry, Tsosie wanted to become a full-time silversmith in the tradition of his grandfather.

In 1988, he established his company The Navajo Silversmith, and discovered there was still a populace craving authentic, Navajo sterling silver jewelry. Tsosie creates both custom and ready-made designs.

He divides his collections between traditional styles, and contemporary aesthetics implementing longstanding techniques such as inlaid stones like carnelian, lapis, or turquoise, as well as overlay, a technique commonly associated with Hopi Indians.

Overlay involves carving out a design in one sheet of silver and then soldering it to a second sheet, which serves as a backing. The backing is then oxidized or blackened creating a contrast of high polish silver and black metal.

His gorgeous silver pieces are clean, angular while the more traditional items highlight chunky stone arrangements. Both aesthetics capture the spirit of the Navajo people with designs inspired by horses, eagles, petro glyph stone carvings, and talismans.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Shaman Necklace with Gold Accents and Turquoise Heishi Beads
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Horsing Around Overlay Cuff

Friday, February 26, 2010

ANTONIO BERNARDO

Flanked by small palm trees, Fiscal Castle, located in Brazil, takes up the entire expanse of the island it rests upon. The 19th century structure's lustrous green color was conceived according to Emperor Dom Pedro's specification that the building be a "dazzling jewel." Brazil is also home to featured jewelry designer Antonio Bernardo.

Despite Brazil's reputation as literally spilling over with luminous precious and semi-precious gemstones, Bernardo's primary focus for his jewelry is the precious metal.

With such items as 18-karat gold, vine-like earrings that support small but vibrant dangly gemstones, the designer does not completely forego the use of such materials. However, he loves the flow and movement that is achieved when working with gold metal.

At age 10, Bernardo studied the special tools his father sold to goldsmiths, and when one of the artisan's created a ring based on one of young Bernardo's drawings, his destiny was sealed.

In 1970, he established his own company but for the first several years, he only sketched and prepared drawings, while a skilled staff of metalworkers created the designs. By the start of the 1980s, he obtained tools and from there became the official "author" of his three-dimensional works.

The clean, geometric elements of Bernardo's jewelry seem strongly influenced by a Central or Eastern European aesthetic. Perhaps his affinity for cleaner forms can be attributed to Bernardo's German ancestry.

His blood-ties seem apparent in how he conceptualizes his designs. One of his rings, Sinuoso, is designed to subtlety change shape as it is worn on the finger. This type of innovation has become the designer's signature.

With a flagship store in Ipanema, Bernardo's jewelry is popular in both Europe and the United States. His work has also been recognized for its elegant artisanship. In 2004, his 18-karat gold ring, called Expand, won the Europe-based iF Design Award, and Red Dot Design Award.

In place of a gemstone, the ring highlights a concentric circle in its setting, Bernardo's concise interpretation of the expansive universe.

It was the first time the designer submitted any of his work to an awards competition, and he was happy the judges understood what he wanted to convey with the piece.

"Jewelry has to touch people's hearts," he says. "Jewelry has to have a concept behind it, because an observer sees the piece from both an emotional and physical viewpoint."
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Ar Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Expand Ring

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ZOLTAN POPOVITS

Eighty years after its construction, Hungary's Eger Castle withstood the attack of 80,000 Turkish soldiers. The 15th century structure presently houses several museums for wax creations and paintings. Hungary is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Zoltan Popovits.

Jewelry is more than decoration. It can signify an enduring bond of love, celebrate one's birth, or hold good fortune in a symbolic charm. Jewelry creators understand that wearing jewelry is as much an act of self-expression as creating it.

A 45-year veteran in the professions of sculptor and jewelry designer, Popovits builds curvaceous, fluid jewelry keeping in mind the significance of a specific item to a potential wearer.

"Design and form in jewelry offers the wearer the possibility of discovering echoes of his or her own thoughts and experiences," says Popovits. "Jewelry is an intimate object that evokes memories and emotions."

Popovits is among the international panel of designers who contributes work to Finland-based Lapponia Jewelry Oy (Lapponia). The architecture and art major, who studied at the University of Colorado, and the Kansas City Art Institute, traveled to Finland in 1965 to attend the Finnish Academy of Art.

Ten years later, after accepting a designing position with Lapponia, the artist's first creation for the company, a distinctive, sterling silver chess set, became a hugely admired product.

In my observation, Popovits's items for Lapponia are most similar to those of company co-founder Bjorn Weckström, who is also a sculptor. The designers' work is not exactly alike but they both adhere to sculptural, molten proportions.

There is no doubt that straightforward, perfect structures are beautiful but Popovits' aesthetic incorporates skewed elements of crinkled, puckered, rough-hewn textures that offset free form structures in sterling silver and 18-karat gold with minimal gemstones. Beauty is a rather subjective topic, and Popovits' attention to irregularities is unique, inserting a distinctive visual dimension to the jewelry.

"Designing jewelry is similar to the process of solving a puzzle. This consists of technical, material, and intellectual elements and all these elements must fit harmoniously together.

The resulting pieces are a collection of thoughts that can be compared to a poem or a melody."

For more on Popovits design approach, watch Lapponia's video interview with the designer.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Atheras Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Nautilus Earrings with Mother of Pearl

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

KRISTINE DEE

Next month is a great time to visit the Philippines' Tubbataha Reef, an area rich with breathtaking natural wonders like the vibrant corals, unusual bird species, and marine life. The Philippines is also the birthplace to featured jewelry designer Kristine Dee.

A former industrial designer, who has conceptualized home accessories for Banana Republic, Dee is keenly familiar with the detail orientedness required to design and create jewelry.

In 2001, while studying at New York's Pratt Institute for a Master's in industrial design, Dee made an inadvertent discovery that would captivate her creative inclinations.

"I accidentally walked into a jewelry workshop, and became so fascinated I signed up for metalsmithing classes," she enthuses. "It was such a fantastic feeling to hammer the silver and gold myself until a piece was completed."

Inspired by the poised, classic beauty of Natalie Portman's Queen Amidala character from the Star Wars prequels, Dee's jewelry collections reflect a perfect balance of understated and intricate proportions. A wonderful, gentle ballet of fluid metal structures, delicate yet powerful offset with minimal gemstones.

Each of her collections is composed of, in varying degrees, 14-karat yellow or white gold with gentle sprinklings of diamonds, cultured pearls, amethysts, and red sapphires. Based on her website, the focal point and signature of three-fourths of Dee's collections is carved out, open designs and floral motifs.

For her Metals in Motion collection, for instance, Dee creates several kinetic pieces called Chamber. The pieces, suggestive of Brazil-based designer Yael Sonia's jewelry, feature cutout cylindrical structures with several cultured pearls inserted inside that move with the wearer.

The items from her Emotions collection focuses on a single, geometric shape like a square, upon which she builds a larger pattern by placing carved out shapes side-by-side linking them into a bracelet. Instead of repeating a sequence of identical shapes and sizes, she elongates one square and squishes another so that the pattern is somewhat irregular.

The perforated pieces from her Standstill collection are stunning with their arabesque detailing and modest scattering of cultured pearls and other gemstones.

The open designs surprisingly add an intriguing visual dimension. There is something about actually seeing the metal touching the skin and the skin peeking through. The piece becomes that much more a sensual, sinuous part of the body.

"It is very rewarding to see pieces I have envisioned from sketches and mock-ups become beautiful, wearable items with function, proportion, and form," she says. "I feel like all my late nights and hard work melted away."

In October 2009, Dee joined forces with fellow Filipino designers Michelline Syjuco and Paul Syjuco for a jewelry exhibit called Triad: An Approach to Futurism. Having already completed four solo exhibitions, Dee loved the idea of coming together with other jewelry artists. She also loved expanding her audience.

"I want women to feel as unique and beautiful as my pieces. I want them to be noticed when they wear it. Jewelry makes an outfit; it creates a look, sets a tone," she says.

"Wearing elegant earrings or an eye-catching cuff with a plain t-shirt dress will surely make people notice you."
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Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Perforated Cuff from the Standstill Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): Coral Centered Necklace from Firma Collection

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NAREERAT TANSUWANSOPHON

Aside from its wonderful array of flora, another great highlight of Thailand's Sopha Botanical Gardens is its three, 100-year-old traditional Thai houses each holding exhibits of antique Thai utensils. Thailand is also home to featured jewelry designer Nareerat Tansuwansophon a/k/a Lek.

Flowers are an integral part of Thai culture; they are prepared as food fried, boiled or pickled and even eaten raw. They are used to make teas, and for medicinal purposes.

Elaborate flowers carved from fruits or vegetables are popular garnishes accentuating sumptuous Thai cuisine; and flower arranging is an ancient art form initially practiced by women of noble birth.

Lek's beautiful gemstone jewelry is a virtual bouquet of the earth's splendid minerals from rose quartz to carnelian. She pays homage to azalea, daisy, jasmine, orchid, gardenia, and peach blossom in designs that are both direct replications or highlight color selections based in natural floral hues. They are all luscious like candy or ripe fruit.

The former administrative assistant is self-taught first teaching herself origami in 1996, and then deciding to pursue a more ambitious aspiration, building a jewelry business. "While I was pregnant with my daughter, I spent all of my time doing origami. It made me appreciate art, and then after giving birth I went back to work," she says.

"When I was pregnant with twins, I wanted to have my own small business so I bought several kinds of jewelry to sell at a shop my sister owned. It was 2004 when I decided I wanted to design my own jewelry.

I bought a book about jewelry making, and I started from the beginning. It took me a long time to make that first piece. When I understood the basics, I started to create designs without using the book until I got better and in 2005, I opened my own small shop. Outside the births of my three children, one of my best memories is when I sold a necklace I named "Green Silk Curtain" to my first customer."

Handmade gemstone jewelry is unique and beautiful involving a keen, discerning eye for what blends and complements. It is like precise choreography, the shape and hue of each stone must accentuate the other.

Designers like Karen McClintock (Canada), Nate Waxman (USA), Kai-Yin Lo (China), and fellow Thai designer Sasina, beautifully link and arrange gemstones in bold, ethereal, and boho-chic designs. Lek alternates between streamlined and more opulent designs and the varying tones effects the overall aesthetic of a piece.

Bolder, duskier colors make streamlined items like her Tropical Orchid Earrings pop, while translucent, muted hues featured in her Peach Blossoms Earrings are soft, delicate.

On the opposite end vibrant colors on a larger piece helps to build a more statement-making item, while fairer tones seem to cause a larger piece to recede becoming more dainty. Her jewelry is a spectacular array of color, gemstone arrangement, and style.

"Nature is a reference for my designs. I like to sit in the middle of the materials--colorful stones, and pearls in many shapes. I love all of my work, and I am satisfied and happy when I see others appreciate my designs. It inspires me to make more beautiful jewelry."

Lek's luminous jewelry is distributed through Novica.com.
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Photo 1 (top right): Leather and Agate Lush Cosmos Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Rose Quartz Gardenia Garland Necklace

Monday, February 22, 2010

SARA BORGEGARD

Once in a state of disrepair, Sweden's Linnaeus Garden is presently a thriving location for more than 1,300 species of lush flora. Sweden is also home to featured jewelry designer Sara Borgegard.

Taking keen notice of environmental structures not related to nature like water towers, traffic signals, or garbage bins is not something I normally do unless the structure is very unusual, and for the most part, they are not.

Perhaps my lack of interest is due to their cold purpose of mechanical function leaving them void of any aesthetic appeal. Luckily, not everyone sees an impersonal heap of wire and metal when observing these kinds of objects.

Borgegard, a graduate of Stockholm's Konstfack, University College of Arts, Craft and Design, finds the parallel world of manmade structures just as fascinating as the natural world.

"I use materials--such as wood and iron--that might be thought of as useless in the world of traditional jewelry. My main source of inspiration is painted metal, machinery, and houses," says the designer.

Her design concept is an obvious one, construction, the singular component of manmade objects, jewelry and otherwise. She arranges materials in a way that reminded me of the arts and crafts objects I made in elementary school with multi-colored construction paper.

In fact, despite the substantial quality of the materials implemented, the items appear to be lightweight with tassels of silk thread spilling form their tops. Even the color of the paints she uses reminds me of those school-made creations: gold, pink, and light blue.

It is a daring aesthetic devoted to stretching the imagination, and allowing the sometimes-frigid urban environment to dictate inspiration and form.

"Both wood and iron are found in the history of jewelry, but what I use is scrap wood and industrial sheet metal," she says. "I use a colored surface on my materials because I am fascinated by paint used as protection and a decorative layer.

Jewelry is made up either by construction or through a decision to designate an object as jewelry. Almost everything in the urban environment is constructed, arranged. These are things that I take for granted but they have become natural to me as if they have always been there."
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Photo 1 (top right): Metal, Gold Paint, and Cord Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Metal, Pink Paint, and Cord Necklace

Saturday, February 20, 2010

MELISSA JOY MANNING

Oakland, California is a region blessed with plenty of warmth and sunlight, and today we visit the Oakland Zoo. For over eight decades, the zoo has provided such attractions as the African Savannah and a simulated tropical rain forest where we catch a glimpse of lounging tigers. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Melissa Joy Manning.

Natural, simple, and raw are the cornerstones behind Manning's jewelry designs.

Working with 100% recycled 14- and 18-karat gold, sterling silver, and rough-cut precious and semi-precious stones Manning creates luminous gemstone jewelry items reminiscent of Devon Leigh Sedlacek, while the geometric forms of her metal jewelry is similar to the aesthetic of Danish designer Lilian Busch.

"I am all about purity of line. I am a metal purist. Having the opportunity to study under a Mexican master metalsmith has shaped my understanding of craft; the fluidity of shape and originality of color." she says.

"I enjoy allowing a stone to speak for itself. This knowledge of holding a piece of nature's history in my hand--formed in volcanic eruptions and asteroid landings--impels me to make jewelry."

With so much passion for jewelry making, it was a surprise to learn that the alumna of the University of California was not completely certain that the profession was her true calling. Thirteen years ago, in a grand twist of fate, while Manning casually channel surfed she landed on the sitcom Just Shoot Me which centers on the office high jinx of a fictitious women's magazine.

To Manning's astonishment, one of the show's models was wearing a necklace created by the designer. "I believe everything happens for a reason. Seeing that was the ultimate sign, and it showed me that the business was meant to be."

Moving forward, Manning was careful to build her company on a foundation of integrity and grounded sensibilities. Like fellow designer Sarah Graham (USA), Manning implements the Kimberley Process in sourcing diamonds, and only uses recycled metals.

"Building a solid business is very important. I am committed to a high company standard. I truly enjoy what I do, and I am so amazed that I get to do it with such an amazing group of people."

Also of great importance to Manning is imparting spiritual significance and our connection to nature in her jewelry items. Drawing from non-Western cultures, items such as her 14-karat gold Talisman Collar features a 150-year old Tibetan tiger claw, and a 17th century Arabic protection coin is a modern take on an ancient aesthetic.

"In Africa it is believed that the teeth and claws carry the spirit of the animal within them. When used in tribal dress, it is believed that the animal's power transfers to the wearer," she explains.

"I am intrigued by charms I find that have been around for centuries. I am intrigued by their beauty, spirituality, and history. I am honored to create a piece that respects our histories; something I believe is more precious than a diamond."
Famous faces like Jennifer Aniston, Usher, Pink, Sandra Bullock, and Cameron Diaz are followers of the designer's clean, simple baubles.

Manning's wares have also been regularly featured in such publications as Women's Wear Daily, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, and InStyle.
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Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold Denim Drusy Agate Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Aquamarine, Moonstone, and Drusy Talisman Collar with Arabic Protection Coin and Tibetan Tiger Claw

Friday, February 19, 2010

ROCIO MELENDEZ ARAUJO

It is rather chilly in Peru today, but we will not let that stop us from taking a trip along the hypnotic blue waters of Lake Titicaca; a journey that uncovers both the country's legends and natural wonders. Peru is also home to featured jewelry designers Rocio Melendez Araujo.

According to the US Geological Survey, the country of Peru ranks first in silver mining and consequently is becoming a prominent force in the silver jewelry industry.

Through websites like Novica and Foreign Jewelry Accents, the work of such Peru-based artists as Claudia Lira and Maricarmen Morales Macedo is being exposed to a wider, international consumer base.

Like her colleagues, Araujo's proclivity for highly creative acts of self-expression eventually led to a career in jewelry making. In 2002, at age 28, after Araujo's creative yearnings made their way into her profession of business administrator, she knew she needed to a better outlet.

"I took some courses in jewelry-making and began to design my own jewelry. I love seeing how a piece begins to take shape through the different stages of the crafting process," she says. "To me, designing is the most natural and spontaneous way to express what one holds inside a moment of inspiration."

With only a small sampling of items featured on her Novica page, Araujo certainly packs a wallop of beautiful jewelry that is simplistic in its overall form; however, she implements a daring and rather unique design approach.

I love the intricate, cutout detailing of her Bubble Dance Pendant; how she contrasts high polish silver with "burnt" or oxidized silver, or using gemstones like turquoise, amethyst, and pink rhodonite to offset the bright metal.

Her ring designs are showstoppers, with their large and, in some cases, multiple stone settings like her Planets Cocktail Ring featuring a large, flat rhodonite gemstone. In other instances, such as her sterling silver Constellation Ring, no gemstones are used at all.

The jewelry is a testament to her skill as a silversmith, her lucid imagination, and an endearing desire to create items the wearer will cherish. "An object, a sound, the touch of something special awakens my senses, and it gets poured into the design of a jewelry piece," she explains.

"Jewelry must have a good fit with a woman's personality and that in some way makes her feel it was created just for her, and is part of her essence. My hope is that women who wear my designs will feel this way."
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Photo 1 (top right): Mystical Treasure Amethyst Cocktails Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Conical Lights Chandelier Earrings

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ZOE BASSI JEWELLERY

The victories and defeats of any country's history lies within its architecture. The castles of the Borders of Scotland practically vibrate with political intrigue such as Neidpath Castle, a residence and safe haven at different times for Oliver Cromwell and Mary Stuart. Scotland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Zoë Bassi.

Design inspiration can come from anywhere: a verse from a poem, an archway of a building, the slope of a mountain, or the curve of a flower petal.

The coastal region of Scotland, with its villages and fishing communities, provide Bassi with a great source of inspiration.

"I find the east coastline of Scotland fascinating to visit and to bring to life in my drawings," she says. "I use my drawings to translate into my jewelry."

A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, with a degree in jewelry, Bassi implements boat, fishnet, and creel motifs in creations of sterling and oxidized silver, and wood veneer offset with colored enamel details, gold foil, and sprinklings of semi-precious gemstones.

Her boat-inspired creations are reminiscent of fellow Scottish designer Julie Allison's storybook-style jewelry. Their structure is imperfect but legible and simple like a child's drawing. This naturalness of form yields a pure, straightforward kind of beauty with a hint of whimsy.

I particularly like what appears to be her signature; the texture of coils carved out of the metal within her creel designs. The pieces are soft, pretty, and ethereal; evoking a casual, relaxing day at the beach. Her limited edition pieces take it a step further with brooches covered with layers of simulated gnarled fishnet and scale-like exteriors.

"Detail is an important part of many of my pieces. I love to draw the immense detail that can be found in what looks at first glance to be ordinary," she explains. "I aim to keep my work honest, engaging, and spontaneous."

Bassi's beautifully understated creations have garnered her numerous awards including Heriot Watt First Year Prize, the Katherine Michaelson Prize, and the Marzee Galerie Graduate Prize.

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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver and Gilded Silver Creel Trio Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Wood Veneer and Sterling Silver Drop Earrings

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

POUL WARMIND

Denmark is a country peppered with stunning architecture. Among these splendid structures are Danish castles or slots including the Kronborg Slot, which Shakespeare used as his setting for Hamlet. Denmark is also the home of featured jewelry designer Poul Warmind.

With a career spanning more than 40 years, Warmind has built an impressive résumé including an apprenticeship with the "official jeweler to the Royal Danish Court," for which one of his 18-karat gold necklaces was presented to the Queen of Thailand.

His acclaimed work has been hailed as highly influential to the evolution of modern Danish jewelry. I found only a handful of pieces online; some in unembellished sterling silver and others with inlaid, matte enamel details. The pieces are clean, fluid, and sculptural with some items oxidized, rough-hewn, and even skeletal.

Overall, even within the designs' simplicity, there is a heartiness to the jewelry; a sense of the Old World evoking Viking folklore and legend. Due to this, the items possess a rugged, masculine energy that in turn has a bold sensuality.

During the late 70s, Warmind went into semi-retirement in order to pursue other interests. Recently, however, Warmind has returned to his career in goldsmithing, eager to show both new and "vintage" designs.

Warmind's jewelry has been sold and exhibited throughout the world including Africa, Denmark, Paris, and the United States of America.
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Photo 1 (top right): 1960s Rough Cast Pewter Brooch
Photo 2 (bottom left): 1960s Geometric Enamel Brooch

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

OSCAR FIGUEROA ESCORCIA

Nestled in Mexico's lofty Sierra Madre Mountains is the beautiful Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens. The grounds house 20 acres of gorgeous flora that includes wildflowers, orchids, and roses, as well as the atmospheric Hacienda de Oro Restaurant. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Oscar Figueroa Escorcia.

During the 17th century, Taxco, Mexico was the premier center of silver mining becoming Spain's primary source of the white metal for at least two centuries.

However, the Spaniards, as well as other Europeans, gradually began sourcing silver from closer locales and eventually the mining stopped.

Despite being a mining site, with accomplished silversmiths, Taxco was not revered as a viable location for the production of silver jewelry or objects; that is until the arrival of architect and American citizen, William Spratling in 1929.

Spratling is credited with motivating local silversmiths to redevelop their talents thereby ushering in Taxco's present reputation as one of the world's leading regions for finely crafted sterling silver jewelry. Escorcia is among many Mexican silversmiths who take great pride in this longstanding craft.

His sleek range of jewelry is beautifully minimalistic, and sophisticated replete with varied textures from smooth to bumpy to ribbed and embossed floral motifs. He carves out pieces of metal creating open designs, and pays homage to Mexico's heritage with his bold Aztec Warrior pendant.

"I was born in Taxco," says the designer, "and grew up in a silversmith environment. In 1983, at age 19, I began making my own designs, and in four years I developed collections that are based in the origin and traditions of our culture."

Escorcia implements gemstones like onyx, pearls, malachite, and smoky quartz within his metal designs and you sense the labor of love. The culmination of intellect and instinct; elegant forms literally take shape in his hands.

"The process begins with melting pure silver grains, once the metal is melted and transformed into a sheet it is passed through a laminator to make wires or cases," he explains.

"The metal sheets are cut and sanded on all sides, then the sheets are welded with a torch and this is how they begin to take shape. When the designs are carefully cultivated in the varied materials of our country, it is easy to create jewelry lending beauty and elegance to the wearer."

Escorcia's skillfully crafted jewelry is distributed through Novica.com.
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Photo 1 (top right): Pearl and Smoky Quartz Favorite Memories Butterfly Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Infinity of Mirrors Wristband Bracelet

Monday, February 15, 2010

DORI CSENGERI

In Israel, located just five miles west of Jericho, sits Hasmonean Palace, a magnificent structure with water channels, terraces, and an enormous swimming pool. Israel is also home to featured jewelry designer Dori Csengeri.

The art of embroidered hand stitching has a long history dating back to the fur clothing worn by Cro-Magnon man, which according to archaeologists was adorned with ivory beads!

Archaeological excavations have uncovered decorative embroidery incorporating gemstones and silk thread in Iran, India, Egypt, England, and Russia.

With the introduction of hand powered embroidery looms and sewing machines in the late 19th century, hand-sewn embroidery items became far and few between.

However, Csengeri, a textile designer, was determined to bring back this lost art form melding it with the art of jewelry making.

"Embroidery work is a tradition that is on the verge of disappearing from our world," she explains. "My work contributes to the conversation of hand stitched patterns being a feminine craft. There is an inherent beauty in the fact that we do everything by hand, in a company of women."

A lover of fashion, art, and fabric design, 18 years ago Csengeri developed her intricate pattern work while looking for a new creative outlet. "I practiced textile design for many years, and I was looking for another way to be creative," she says.

"I studied painting at the Academie de Port-Royal after my husband and I moved to Paris. I was experimenting with textile materials and created a soutache (braided) cord, which evolved into lapel brooches.

I then started to develop a needlework technique that allowed for the creation of small or larger braided cord pieces. These cord pieces are the foundation used to make my jewelry."

The kaleidoscopic colors, courtesy of Swarovski crystals, cherry quartz, gold dust and turquoise glass, and crystal briolette are breathtaking, multifaceted, statement making, and bold.

The boundless patterns are striking whether the hues are fluorescent and bright, deep and earthy, or muted and neutral. You never lose sight of the flowing, vibrant patterns in alternately streamlined and opulent designs, a signature for many Israeli jewelry artists from Ayala Bar to Michal Negrin.

Csengeri captures what I feel is the artistic soul of Israel, an astonishing beauty that, for me anyway, is neither excessive nor gaudy. The pieces are simply stunning in their complexity and Csengeri brings her walk through life to each creation.

"I try to create something different for women; something fresh, and exciting so she can play the game of fashion and participate in the creation of her own image," says the Tootal Fabrics graduate.

The designer's stunning collections are sold around the world in London, Zurich, Tokyo, and Chicago.
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Photo 1 (top right): Hand Embroidered Candy Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Hand Embroidered Pink Fiji Earrings

SELECTING AN ENGAGEMENT RING

Selecting any piece of jewelry for a loved one requires careful consideration. Factors such as their personal style and jewelry preferences should always be kept in mind.

Selecting an engagement ring requires the same considerations; however, the gravity of the overall situation often times interferes with this otherwise straightforward process.

If buying jewelry for your significant other is a regular occurrence, you have a great advantage. Knowing that she has preferences for specific gemstones, yellow gold or clean designs will definitely help in your ultimate selection, and knowing her ring size, of course, is the cherry on top.

Something else important to keep in mind is the proportions of your fiancée's hand. Thicker bands and long-cut gemstones look better on larger hands and flatter slender, long fingers while thin bands and smaller stones accentuate shorter fingers on small hands.

If you have forgotten some of your fiancée's jewelry style, take heart. You can always include your bride-to-be in the selection process, after all the ring is for her. The two of you can decide whether to purchase a ready-made ring from a reputable jeweler or switch it up a bit by getting a ring custom-made.

While custom-designed engagement rings are a tad more expensive, they are fast becoming a popular alternative to ready-made, as many women prefer making this item specific to them and unique. In many cases, jewelers will work within your budget but if your budget is tight, it is recommended to keep designs simple with minimal stones.

Maybe you are planning to make your proposal a surprise, in that case make sure you are very familiar with your bride-to-be's jewelry preferences, otherwise it is recommended to include her family and friends to help you with the metal, stone and style selection.

For more information on selecting or designing an engagement ring, check out buzzle.com and Sharon Jacobsen's article at ezinearticles.com. That concludes this month's Splendor Sidebar.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

ARTISAN'S DESIGNS

With over 2,000 species of plants that include camellias, azaleas, and giant fir trees. Portland, Oregon's Leach Botanical Garden is at the top of our list of places to visit. Oregon is also the home base of jewelry brand Artisan's Designs.

Since starting this blog, I have learned that jewelry is definitely not exclusive to a single style or subject to limitations where choice of materials is concerned.

The range spans from the stately styles of Tanishq (India) and Carnet Jewelry (China) to the wildly provocative pieces of Ela Bauer (Poland), and Liz Goldwyn (USA).

One other prominent style is timeless simplicity. Whether the focal point is a gemstone or unembellished metal, there is a hushed beauty to understated designs.

The proprietors of Artisan's Designs, Rick and Annette Thurber, specialize in custom creations and jewelry repair, while also cultivating original, ready made pieces that feature beautiful semi-precious gemstones like amethyst, citrine, lemon and blue topaz, and green quartz.

The stones dangle from 14-karat yellow gold chains, are linked side-by-side, or are bezel set reminiscent of the delicate, clean arrangements of New York-based designer Madelaine Mayer, and the robust Canadian jewelry brand Anzie Jewelry.

The Thurbers pool an impressive list of qualifications: Rick, a 38-year veteran, is a master smith of platinum and gold, while Annette is a certified gemologist and jewelry designer. Goldsmiths Kelli Alton and Randy Estes complete the team assisting in jewelry creation that is refined, feminine, and elegant.

"I really enjoy going from the concept phase all the way to the end result, and experiencing that with the customer," says Rick. In February 2008, the team of superlative artisans was provided an opportunity to display their broad and diverse range of skills.

The popularity of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight book series quickly developed into equally popular films. For the first film, director Catherine Hardwicke needed vintage-inspired jewelry items featuring crests that represented the cultured sophistication of Carlisle Cullen's clan of vampires, as well as the elite and deadly Volturi. Widely known for their ability to work under tight deadlines, the craftsmen of Artisan's Designs fit the bill.



"The first movie was filming in Portland at the time we were contacted, and Meyer's books were just starting to become the generation-spanning, pop culture juggernaut that they are now," says Rick.

Using drawings provided by the movie's costume designer, the Thurbers' and their team constructed gorgeously distinguished jewelry items fashioned from sterling silver, colored enamel, varied gemstones, and 18-karat gold plating.

Although director Hardwicke did not return for the series' next two installments, Artisan's Designs made items for Twilight: New Moon, and Twilight: Eclipse. Over 70 pieces were created for the principal actors, and their stunt doubles.

The films' impact have influenced a number of jewelry designers, including Gina Nigrelli of Jules Smith and Elle Jule's Danielle Stirling, who create Twilight-themed jewelry.

Many online retailers sell Twilight-inspired items as well, and retailer Hot Topic sells officially licensed reproductions.

In the midst of all this, Thurber orchestrated a shrewd business move of his own retaining original molds used for the film along with the right to distribute official replicas through his company.

For more on Twilight jewelry, visit Utah-based designer Shelli Ashton's website, Infinite Jewelry Co.

With the permission of author Stephanie Meyer and adhering to her specifications, Ashton has created three rings based on Bella Swan's engagement ring in Eclipse.

They are the Fashion Ring (in sterling silver), the Fine Ring (in white or yellow gold), and the Genuine Ring (in white or yellow gold with diamonds).
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Photo 1 (top right): Green Quartz Faceted Briolette Pendant
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Plated Volturi Family Crest

Photo 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold Amethyst Necklace

Friday, February 12, 2010

SERGEY JIVETIN

The stately St. Michael's Castle (a/k/a Mikhailovsky Castle) in St. Petersburg, Russia is a study of beautiful architectural contrasts with Gothic, Italian Renaissance, and French Classicism motifs. Russia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer, Sergey Jivetin.

Jewelry is born from a myriad of influences and concepts; baby toys, planetary orbits, and dark emotions have inspired the designs of such artists as Hanna Hedman (Sweden), Yael Sonia (France), Franco Pianegonda (Italy), and Michael Berger (South Africa).

Jivetin explores the concept of time, stiff interactions within work environments, and body organs. Drawing from diverse studies in engineering, fashion jewelry, illustration, and product design, he creates wildly innovative items fashioned from the most unconventional materials I have seen so far.

The SUNY New Paltz and New Parsons School of Design graduate implements watch hands, human hair, fishing hooks, eggs, porcelain handles, and syringe needles in his creations.

These materials are undoubtedly strange and unusual although the designer incorporates 18-karat gold in some of his pieces; however, Jivetin renders jewelry that is, for the most part, weightless, ethereal, and visually stunning.

"I strive to create representations of paradoxical concepts like the sometimes sterile, cold interactions between humans in office environments," he explains. "By choosing jewelry's small scale and proximity to the body, I want the wearer to experience a concept in tangible, three-dimensional forms."

The contemporary jewelry is fascinating by virtue of Jivetin's choice of materials, and that he places these materials in a context so remote from what we commonly associate. This jewelry is evocative and provocative. It triggers emotion, it makes you think, it makes you question.

Presently living in New York, Jivetin exhibits a decidedly bold artistic vision taking conceptual jewelry to a new level, in my mind anyway, while also challenging an industry that does not always cater to designers who follow non-traditional aesthetics comprised of unusual components.

"I search for contemporary developments in high technology and mechanization that are not adverse to the format of jewelry. I am interested in opening new ways of obtaining levels of interaction between beauty, physicality, and knowledge."

For more on Jivetin's powerful creative vision, please view the below video interview with the designer from Sofa Expo New York.


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Photo 1 (top right): Nitinol Ring from Tethered Volumes Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): Earrings made from Watch Hands and Silver Posts

Thursday, February 11, 2010

PURISSA VERAS

Today we are in Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic where we take a scenic drive to the beautiful beach of Juan Dolio. As we enjoy the cuisine in a local restaurant, we ponder which water-oriented activity to take part first. The Dominican Republic is also home to featured jewelry designer Purissa Veras.

Young and ambitious, Veras steadily and carefully carved out a niche in the Dominican fashion industry.

A graduate of Italy's Marangoni Institute with degrees in fashion and graphic design, she also maintains an in-depth knowledge of jewelry from studies at Altos de Chavón School of Design plus training in business and marketing acquired in Spain.

Upon completing her global education, Veras returned to her home in Santo Domingo quickly seeking networking opportunities with other Dominicans making a name for themselves in the industry.

Collaborations with such local designers as former beauty queen, Jenny Polanco, and By Endora & Trapitos de Sofia continued to expand Veras foundation. It would only be a matter of time before she branched out on her own and established her company Purissa's Jewelry Designs.

Vera infuses the Caribbean's wonderful ambiance in her creations. I can almost smell the ocean and feel the warm sand beneath my feet.

She celebrates forms in nature, color, and materials including green jade, yellow quartz, mother of pearl, cobalt Murano crystal, and cinnabar wood.

The jewelry is a lovely, sensual interplay between understated designs and soothing colors of nature. In addition to her ready-made items, Veras also creates custom pieces for baptisms, engagements, and weddings.
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Photo 1 (top right): Blue and Yellow Quartz Bracelet with Sterling Silver Base
Photo 2 (bottom left): Blue Wire with Espiral and Blue Murano Glass Earrings

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

RITA BEY YU LIN

At over a century old, the Taipei Botanical Garden in Taiwan continues to provide the surrounding city with 20 acres housing over 1,000 species of giant trees and exotic plant specimens. Taiwan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Rita Bey Yu Lin.

Putting a fresh take on a longstanding concept can be a challenge but creativity is a volatile, living energy that does not know fear or restraint.

Specializing in metalwork, including goldsmithing and silversmithing, as well as holding a Bachelor of Arts from Taiwan's Fu Jen Catholic University, and a Master of Arts from London's Royal College of Art, Lin makes reimagining look effortless bringing whimsy and buoyancy to nature-inspired designs and amulets.

With a list of materials that include freshwater pearls, agate, jasper, acrylic, transparent textile, crystals, enamel, and 18-karat gold, Lin's creations flow with angles and curves cultivating forms possessing an intricate type of simplicity. The overall designs look moderately simple, but there is a lyricism and flow to them.

For her collection, Amulet of Imperfection, Lin incorporates red nylon string and silver fashioning them into irregular or imperfectly formed variations of moon phases and blossoms. The idea behind this collection stems from the concept of protection associated with the Evil Eye symbol.

"Everyone always try to hide their imperfect part, so this collection is an intended contrast to perfectly formed items making them interesting to wear. The idea behind the Evil Eye is that perfection attracts envy. I decided to develop an imperfect creation process making mistakes on purpose," she says.

"In Taiwan, amulets are usually made of red string because the color signifies luck, positive power, and life. I do not strongly believe in the traditional idea of amulets--that is having magical powers. However, my mother gave me a red thread bracelet and to me it represents her boundless love, and I feel safe when I wear it."

Lin creates alternately colorful and demure creations of enamel and embroidered silver that highlight popular Asian symbols of power and protection, the tiger and lion. In some cases, these particular items featuring the faces of these commanding beasts have the appearance of an optical illusion. You see the face, and then you do not.

Her Ribbon Jewelry collection took form while the designer listened to a musical piece by composer Erik Satie. "I imagined soft silky ribbons following and lying on the body with silver plants breathing and growing among the ribbons," she says.

The collection is meant to be worn any way the wearer chooses, and enlists the wearer to become a living gift when adorned with the ribbon.

Lin has displayed her jewelry in exhibitions since 2004, the most recent being last year at the London Craft Fair at Somerset House in England.
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Photo 1 (top right): Red Nylon Thread and Silver Waiting for Blossoming Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Rhythm Ribbon and Silver Body Jewelry
Photo 3 (bottom left): Silver and Enamel Guardian Tiger with Freshwater Pearl and Red Nylon Thread

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

KADEK WIJANEGARA

The carved out cliffs, warm sand and spacious ocean make Indonesia's Dreamland Beach just that, a dream. One of the country's most popular beaches, it is peppered with coconut and pine trees with plenty of recreational activities to explore. Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Kadek Wijanegara.

Many cultures have an extensive history of jewelry making that highlight superlative, painstaking techniques and innovative designs.

Like Thailand, Mexico, and the American southwest, silversmithing is a highly regarded art form in Bali passed down from one generation to the next. Wijanegara is a part of that tradition, having learned the craft from his parents.

"When I was in elementary school, I already knew how to make simple jewelry," he says. "Silver jewelry has been a part of my life since I was a child. Most of the people in my neighborhood were silversmiths."

Wijanegara's range of jewelry items includes the romantic filigree leaf earrings: a gorgeous filigree tulip, and the minimalistic Six Plus Six Earrings. He also implements very precise and stunning granulation work in many of his pieces adding an unusual form of texture.

He does not implement many gemstones but the ones he does like black onyx, carnelian, turquoise and pearls, are somewhat muted in color and seem to support the design rather than become focal points. I also like his clean, chocolate brown cuffs made of Sono wood and accented with sterling silver; an effortless spark of sophistication.

There is such an ease in the way he moves from a traditional aesthetic like lotus blossoms to the intricate wirework of filigree to sleek and modern pieces to the rough granule accents. It definitely speaks to his gift as an artisan.

"My parents told me this: `When you make something, don't use only your hands but also your heart. This way everything you make will have spirit in it.' This is really true," he enthuses.

"I really want to reach success creating silver jewelry, and continue the family tradition. I love combining my skills with Balinese tradition, dance, carvings, beaches, and nature to create jewelry. I love something comfortable, simple, and good to look at."

Wijanegara's beautiful jewelry is distributed through Novica.com.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Amaranth Earrings with 18-Karat Gold Accents
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Starfish Sands Cocktail Ring

Monday, February 8, 2010

EVA MARTIN

On the north banks of England's River Thames stands the Tower of London, a magnificent 11th century structure built by William the Conqueror. Over the centuries, due to changing leadership, London Tower has become a complex of buildings. England is also the home of featured jewelry designer Eva Martin.

Recently, while perusing an online jewelry retailer, I noted that the site's best-selling item was a simple, 18-karat gold, heart-shaped pendant. I became intrigued by this after viewing the custom-made creations of Martin.

It is interesting to see when selecting a ready-made piece of jewelry--at least from this particular retailer--purchasers chose an ordinary design; however, Martin's collaborative pieces were beautifully unique, and personal.

Though it is true ready-made jewelry collections can and do reflect a purchaser's personality, everything about custom-made jewelry is very specific to the intended wearer making it truly one-of-a-kind.

The jewelry of such designers as Ming Lampson (England), James Meyer (USA), and Mark Scown (Australia) are other dazzling examples of artists who specialize in creating this kind of jewelry.

A former psychology major, Martin studied jewelry art at Boston Massachusetts' North Bennett Street School. Creating custom-made, or bespoke, jewelry is a rewarding experience for the designer, "I think jewelry is something to treasure for life," she says. "I love the idea of secrets within jewelry, of incorporating something known only to the wearer."

Martin's website holds a wonderful array of photos of completed items such as the House Pendant, a beautiful piece composed of Argentium Sterling Silver with a roof made of lapis lazuli, and an 18-karat gold mouse hiding inside.

There is also the romantic Tango Wedding Bands fashioned from 18-karat white gold, emeralds, and rubies. "I designed these bands reminiscent of the couple's first, fiery encounter at the red and green Fiesta Latina restaurant," she explains. "The bride-to-be's ring is set with emeralds and rubies, and both rings are embossed with the lines of two bodies dancing the tango; their special dance."

Generally, Martin receives requests for "event" jewelry like anniversaries, engagements, and births, but she also incorporates an early 19th century trend of writing messages in the jewelry via a gemstone Morse code. This code is also used to spell out the names of children or the wearer.

"The first letter of the stone's name is used to create a word. For example, `dearest' would be spelled with [d]iamond, [e]merald, [a]methyst, [r]uby, [e]merald, [s]apphire, and [t]opaz."

With her studio in Australia, Martin works with overseas customers via email and phone conversations, and will work within budgets. "I like to have some idea of the budget so that I can design within those parameters. The cost will of course depend on how complex the design is, the materials, and size and number of stones," she explains.

"I do find out as much as possible about the taste of the intended wearer: favorite colors, stones, clothes, designers, and such. I will then sketch out some ideas and use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to produce design renderings, which I then email to the client."

Many of Martin's custom creations are award winning garnering such honors as the 2008 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Arts Award. Given the very distinctive, and individual beauty of custom designs, it is understandable why this kind of jewelry is growing in popularity.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Argentium Silver Carousel Cufflinks with Yellow Sapphires and Citrine
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Temple Tree Cuff with Oxidized Silver and Orange Sapphires

GEMSTONE OF THE MONTH | AMETHYST


There are numerous studies showing that the amethyst gemstone's beautiful violet color is the result of the intermingling of aluminum, manganese and ferric iron.

This durable variety of quartz is primarily found within volcanic rock in regions spanning Uruguay, Brazil, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.

The stone's purported healing properties have been revered for centuries with its ability to soothe drunkenness being the most well known. In fact, according to Greek legend a beautiful nymph shared the gemstone's moniker.

After requesting Goddess Diana's protection from the amorous attention of Dionysus, the God of Wine, and Intoxication, Diana granted the nymph's request by transforming her into a gemstone. In turn, Dionysus granted the stone its color and the power to fend off wine's incapacitating effects.

Aside from this dramatic property, amethyst is also believed to calm stress reactions, signal danger, and enhance mental or psychic capacities. The stone has been a staple in rosary beads, and bishop rings of the Episcopal Church, as well as the stone of choice for St. Valentine.

In accordance with the theme of Valentine's, during medieval times a presentation of a heart-shaped amethyst by a woman to a knight or her husband signaled great happiness for the couple.

One of the world's largest amethyst geodes, the Empress of Uruguay, is located in Australia's Crystal Caves. It stands an alarming eleven feet tall and is filled with magnificent, deep violet crystals.
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Photo 1: Amethyst crystal

Saturday, February 6, 2010

ELIZABETH CARLOCK DESIGNS

Pink Turquoise Drop Necklace
A spectacular structure of granite and red sandstone, the Old Red Courthouse's 19th century architecture stands out amidst the modern buildings of downtown Dallas, Texas. Texas is also the home of featured jewelry designer Elizabeth Carlock.

Friday, February 5, 2010

DAPHNE KRINOS

There is no shortage of great places to visit in Greece. Taking advantage of the current mild temperatures, we opt to visit archaeological sites like Vergina with its royal tombs, and magnificent ivory and gold artifacts. Greece is also the home of featured jewelry designer, Daphne Krinos.

Greece's history reveals an evolution in jewelry design and jewelry-making techniques. As early as 300 B.C., Grecians were already accomplished connoisseurs of gold gemstone jewelry creating baubles encrusted with amethysts, emeralds, and pearls.

At the time of the Bronze Age, Greek jewelry makers learned to engrave, cast, and manipulate gold metal sheets. Of course, Greek designers of today bring the glory of ancient aesthetics, in some variation, to their contemporary creations.

Although specific design aesthetics originate from specific regions of the world, since beginning this blog I have discovered that no two designers from the same region share the exact design style, or strictly adhere to their country's traditional design approaches. Designers are susceptible to varied sources of inspiration, and Krinos is no exception.

While there are design elements reminiscent of her Grecian roots, particularly the stone settings for her rings, her overall approach is clean, geometric, and sleek. An aesthetic commonly associated with Central Europe. Nevertheless, Krinos does not build her designs around a particular style.

"My jewelry is not entirely planned before I start making it," she explains. "I need to experiment with the materials rather than work to a detailed drawing. I let the materials I choose inspire the design of a piece of jewelry."

Working with canvases of oxidized sterling silver, and 18-karat gold, Krinos selects from a palette of black tourmaline, aquamarine, gold citrine crystals, and white diamonds. She incorporates small or chunky gemstones into designs ranging from thin, geometric compositions to bold gold discs reminiscent of Roman shields.

I particularly like her designs featuring a single, raw aquamarine (or different) stone within frames of gold or blackened silver. Many of her earrings resemble beautifully delicate drop lamps; very ethereal, very feminine.

A graduate of London's Middlesex Polytechnic, and Sir John Cass School of Art, Krinos has practiced goldsmithing for three decades. Her varied sources of influences mesh into her consciousness rendering jewelry that is a hybrid of cultures, everyday structures, and contemporary motifs.

"My ideas come from the world around me: buildings in various stages of construction or demolition, fences, gates, art, architecture, my family, my emotions. My goal is to never over decorate, cover up, or disguise the metals to ultimately create jewelry that is comfortable and easily worn."
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Aquamarine Brooch
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Drop Earrings

Thursday, February 4, 2010

PLOY INTHA

Though the season right now in Thailand is cool and dry, it is still a great experience to stroll along Patong Beach on Phuket Island. One of the country's most popular beaches, it boasts plenty of active and relaxing options to enjoy. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ploy Intha.

Without a doubt, Thailand silversmiths create some of the world's most exquisite silver jewelry.

Once considered an inferior metal, objects, and trinkets of silver were owned by commoners while the wealthy and royalty adorned themselves with gold.

Currently, however, perceptions about the white metal have changed and silver jewelry is a staple of not only Thailand's jewelry industry but the jewelry industry as a whole.

Though living with poliomyelitis in one leg, Intha did not let this deter her from becoming a silversmith. "Thailand is the birthplace of so many handicrafts, and I particularly loved the exceptional silver designs," she says.

"This led to a job in a silver shop. Although I loved working as a silversmith, due to the physical discomfort of my leg I had to leave because I was unable to sit for extended periods."

Afterwards, Intha accepted a housekeeping position with employers who, over a three-year period, allowed her to complete her high school education on weekends. Still, memories of her experiences at the silver shop did not easily diminish.

"I continued to visit the old silver shop when I worked as a housekeeper, so I decided to return to the trade working for myself. This way I can set my own hours, so as not to tire and that really makes me happy," she enthuses.

Intha not only designs gorgeous jewelry items, but also exquisite sterling silver handbags. The cultivation process for both involves painstaking details that include placing silver in a crucible, blending small amounts of ground charcoal with molten silver, and carefully shaping arabesque patterns with chisels.

Intha's implementation of traditional Thai motifs such as semblances of indigenous plants like kanok and argent flowers are breathtaking while items like her Duet Earrings display her deftness at simpler, sleeker pieces.

There is both a delicacy and boldness to her jewelry, which to me is represented by her many wide cuffs accentuated with lacy accents.

I think Intha imparts a little of her own spirit to her pieces; leaving an affirmation that unless limits are set there are actually no limits to what one can achieve even with physical challenges. Intha's jewelry and handbags are distributed through Novica.com.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Floral Spheres Chandelier Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Subtle Indulgence Bracelet

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

PIOTR MALYSZ

Initially constructed as a wooden fortress in the 11th century, Poland's Będzin Castle would be reconstructed in stone during the reign of Casimir the Great around the 1300s. After several centuries of disrepair, the castle underwent a restoration in the mid 1950s and now houses a museum. Poland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Piotr Malysz.

I expected Malysz' jewelry collections to be ultra modern, and monochromatic and to some degree they are; however, Malysz explores varied outlines, colors, textures, and styles in his collected works.

Considering at one time the Polish government was restrictive to the arts, it is nice to learn about a few jewelry designers, as well as other types of artists, from this part of the world.

Malysz began creating jewelry a little over two decades ago and his diverse design approach incorporates sterling silver, carneolite, and beads of silver and acrylic.

One of the collections includes vise-like pendants strung on cables featuring what appear to be rough-cut pieces of amber. These particular items, with their powerful angular structures, possess a masculine type of edginess.

He continues this masculine aesthetic in a second collection that features a series of neutral tone metals carved alternately into circular and square discs. There are no gemstones in these pieces so the focal point is the contrast of two to three different metals he implements in a single disc.

The disc's design structure highlights halves or portions of different metals. One metal is gold with a brushed finish and a small section of it appears torn away exposing oxidized silver with a grooved surface.

Switching gears, his bead-link collection highlights vibrant colored beads and clean, linear designs. Here again, the arrangement of small details can generate such an incredible aesthetic impact.

One of my favorite collections features items that resemble small, chocolate cakes dusted with silvery sugar. Whether or not this is the effect he was going for, I don't know but it is a testament to the incredible structures rendered from metal.
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Photo 1 (top right): Calcite, Carneolite, and Silver Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Unidentified Item (Chocolate Cake)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

PEKKA HIRVONEN

The 15th century Olavinlinna Castle in Finland is situated on a small island that overlooks Lake Saimaa. Its varied architectural details points towards a past that includes construction by Swedish builders, and a subsequent occupancy by Russians. Finland is also home to featured jewelry designer Pekka Hirvonen.

Timeless jewelry is normally associated with recognizable forms like a heart-shaped pendant or any item with white diamonds. Such jewelry is most always clean and simple in structure.

For fifty years, Lapponia Jewelry Oy (Lapponia) has produced jewelry world renowned for its fresh, contemporary approach to the "timeless" aesthetic creating unique pieces in gold and sterling silver. Each of Lapponia's designers brings their own distinctive style to the company's collections.

Hirvonen, an accomplished goldsmith, has designed and created jewelry for a quarter of a century. An alum of the Lahti Polytechnic Institute of Design, he began officially designing for Lapponia in 2002.

His designs highlight fluid, soft curves that, in some cases, resemble melted forms of chocolate; smooth, flowing lines that overlap and seem malleable in their finished form as if one could leave an imprint on its surface.

"My aim as a designer is to create beautiful things that express the personality of the wearer. A piece of jewelry must feel comfortable against the skin and should harmonize with the person's anatomy," the artist says.

If Hirvonen has a personal collection and website, I could not locate them. However, to see more of his lovely pieces, you can view items at Lapponia's website.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Diamond Flow Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Blue Wave Pendant

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