Monday, May 31, 2010

MADE SRIASIH

The intricate structure of the Borobudur stupa, located in Java, Indonesia, is an astounding feat of architectural design. The 9th century Buddha shrine is decorated with 504 Buddha statues, and the immense shrine's design is patterned after "a solar model of the universe." Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Made Sriasih.

The lyricism of Sriasih's exquisite jewelry speaks to the extraordinary artistic talent of Indonesian silversmiths.

In a recent post, I stated in so many words that jewelers from India were unmatched in their level of artistry and intricacy. Although I do not dispute their exemplary artisanship, I feel now that I was rather shortsighted.

In the same vein, Indonesian silversmiths are masters of buoyant and seemingly weightless intricate form. Their aesthetic, for the most part, is complex without being highly elaborate.

The minutiae is always differentiated and uniquely beautiful. For example, the small detail of layering a repetition of web-like circles--like Sriasih's Moon Legend Earrings--so that a soft, drape pattern develops or carving out metal to form an ethereal design.

Literally born into a village renowned "as the island's center of silver production," Sriasih's father, a senior silversmith, passed on the tradition of metalwork to his daughter.

"I was well trained in the jewelry arts," she says. "I made jewelry from the time I was twelve years old until I got married," she recalls.

"In that time, I learned how to select quality material and create pieces with precision, employing the village's traditional motifs and designs." After marrying, Sriasih went on to study anthropology, but the love of sculpting and shaping metal remained steadfast.

"With my husband's support, I started my own silver workshop. It has not always been easy but whenever I start to feel bad I think about something one of my client's said, "Success won't fall down from the sky and if you want it you must try hard to reach it."

Sriasih currently employs ten artisans to assist with jewelry making. Implementing gemstones like amethyst as accents, her items span the range of streamlined renderings like the Horizons Bracelet, inspired by the spruce-fir tree, to the understated lavishness of the 18-karat gold and sterling silver composite, Balinese Princess Earrings. The tiny granules featured on this piece are placed by hand.

In addition to the granulation, Sriasih also incorporates the gossamer details of filigree in her varied works.

There are traditional motifs such as the sandat and picuk flowers and an item inspired by the heroic exploits of master archer Arjuna, the hero of the tales of the Mahabharata.

It is jewelry cast with the glow of culture, history, painstaking dedication, and a love for artistry.

Sriasih's beautiful designs are distributed through Novica.com.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Filigree Adoration Earrings with Amethyst Stones
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Talisman Pendant

Saturday, May 29, 2010

RIVER BURKE

Located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Union Station is currently undergoing renovations to expand. Over a century ago, it was once the world's largest train terminal serving busy travelers. Today it houses restaurants including the Hard Rock Café, stores, and a Marriot Hotel. Missouri was also once home to featured jewelry designer River Burke.

Floor-length gowns and ballrooms are an integral part of the debutante lifestyle.
For Burke, however, weekends exploring her grandparents' Missouri farm were a welcome alternative. As an adult, Burke studied horticulture earning a degree in sustainable agriculture.

Her exposure to varied species of flora gently stirred her creative instinct. In 2000, during "a seasonal reprieve from organic farming," she laid the groundwork for her company River Song Jewelry.

"The architecture of the natural world inspires my collection. Studying horticulture, plant taxonomy, the vivid journals, and illustrations of 19th century botanists influence my designs," she says.

Presently based in Seattle, River Song Jewelry is yet another superlative example of streamlined jewelry that holds as much visual depth as its more elaborate counterparts.

Burke implements subtle, 14-karat gold-filled wire wrap punctuated by the ravishing beauty of aqua chrysoprase, red coral, lemon quartz, and the iridescent sheen of white, cultured pearls.

According to what I have seen online, most of Burke's nature-inspired renderings are not likenesses of landscapes, trees, or flowers, instead she captures their essence through mesmerizing, dazzling colored gemstones.

"My jewelry invokes the essence of the Earth. My designs celebrate the natural world with refined organic style. I hand select each gem for luminosity and unique character. Many pieces echo the forms of flowers I observe. Others are inspired by the colors and textures I see in nature."

The designer sources spectacular gemstones from India and Istanbul. "I collaborate with all my manufacturers. I have visited many of the factories that I work with," she says.

The feminine, elegant pieces are a testament to the striking beauty of gemstones; how little to no additional accents are needed to reveal pure radiance.

"Each piece is crafted carefully by hand. I love to create pieces that embody a woman's mood, lifestyle, or occasion.
Jewelry is an intensely personal process because the jewelry we wear is an expression of our pleasure, relationships, and individuality."

In October 2009, Burke opened her first store, River Song. The store houses her studio and saleable inventory.
The store also serves as a platform for international designers including jewelry maker Daniel Hiller (Germany), and the ceramic designs of Carol Farrow (United Kingdom).
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Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold-Filled Carved Lemon Topaz Pendant with Sapphires
Photo 2 (center): Earrings from the Autumn Garden Collection featuring Turquoise, Aquamarine, Hematite, and Amethyst
Photo 3 (bottom left): Blue Apatite and Rare Fire Opal Cluster Necklace

Friday, May 28, 2010

KATE BAJIC

Situated along the shoreline of Aughnish Bay in County Galway, Ireland, stands what is believed to be the "most photographed castle in Ireland," Dunguaire Castle. Ireland is also home to featured jewelry designer Kate Bajic.

Considering the wide, homogenous sea of look-a-like actors and models there are times it seems everyone follows the same fashion rules and styles.

However, it is refreshing to see individuals be bold and enlist their own identity through fashion.

As I referenced in another post, bespoke or custom-made jewelry is a growing trend in the jewelry industry due to the interlocking of ideas between designer and prospective wearer.

Spelling a secret name or coded messages using gemstones are a few of the ways in which bespoke jewelry is inherently personal.

Bajic, like Eva Martin (England), James Meyer (USA), Karen McClintock (Canada), and Julie Allison (Scotland) can be added to the growing list of designers that specialize in custom-made bijouterie.

There is nothing like owning an item made especially for you. You harbor the secret of its design. You relish the questions people ask about it, but most of all you love the tangible sense of personality and individuality.

An accomplished metalworker, Bajic incorporates her affinity for nature to bring life to idiosyncratic jewelry pieces. "I use elements of plant life, mosses, and even cell structures to explore themes of repetition, movement, and layering. I intuitively allow an element of chance to take over."

Since she creates limited edition pieces, there are not many photos of Bajic's jewelry online. From what I have seen, her aesthetic is elegant, not elaborate, or complex giving the sense of casual wearability.

The 18-karat gold and sterling silver forms are clean and geometric highlighting a fire opal or multiple turquoise beads. Deceptive complexity is characteristic of pieces such as her Flowers and Oval Pendants, and Circle Necklace.

At first glance, these designs seem understated but take a closer look you see small, movable discs as well as hammered or granulated surfaces atop thin, entwined metal hoops.

"The metal is hammered, heated and rolled with heavy papers to create texture and I overlay it with delicate discs or gemstones or beads to complement the designs, and react with the wearer."
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Scatter Brooch
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Circle Earrings with Turquoise Beads

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ANDREA CANDELA

The Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid), located in Madrid, Spain, is the official residence of the Royal Family housing historical remnants such as 13th century armory and weapons as well as fine tapestries, and furniture. Spain is also the home of featured jewelry designer Andréa Candela.

Spanish jewelry house Candela Hermanos has been a fixture in Spain's jewelry industry for nearly seven decades.

Founded by three brothers, the brand has become one of the leading manufacturers of fine gold jewelry in the world, renowned for its superlative artisanship and its proclivity for expressive detail.

In later years, Andréa would lend her gifts to the family's brand continuing a design aesthetic that is bold, dramatic, rugged, yet unmistakably beautiful.

Implementing an array of materials that include 18-karat gold, sterling silver, gold citrine, blue topaz, amethyst, lemon quartz, and diamonds, Candela draws inspiration for her striking jewelry from a bountiful palette.

Through the Andréa Candela Collections, you are transported to the island of Ibiza; you observe Moorish architecture along with the lavish treasures of the Spanish fleets.


It is magnificent jewelry influenced by the magnificence of the Old World, as well as classic, timeless forms of hearts and circles. The metal, for me, takes center stage while gemstones act as complementary accents.

The contrast of white, gold and blackened metal, the ridged surface texture reminiscent of "armadillo finish and rope edge" is so commanding.

Many pendants, though stylistically understated, are medallion-like in proportion, foreboding and regal. Cutout surface designs, like flowers and the always gorgeous Spanish cross diamond pendant necklaces, are beautifully carved, intricate and complex. These extraordinary cutout patterns are even implemented in the rings!

The jewelry's vintage-like style brings a palpable feeling of scope to the collections. You feel not only the generational history of the brand itself, but also of Spain. Even though the actual proportions of the jewelry are streamlined, you feel its presence and authority.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Swirl Circle Necklace with Cultured Pearl and Diamonds from Marbella Collection
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Shades of the Earth Ring with Citrine, Peridot, and Diamonds
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Oval Shades of the Sea Granada Pendant Necklace with Diamonds

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TRUDY GALLAGHER and SANDRA TREMBLAY | BEJEWEL


Legend dictates that the high tides of Canada's Bay of Fundy are due to the thrashing of an enormous whale. The rolling tides noticeably influence the waters of the Shubenacadie and Saint John rivers. Canada is also the home base for jewelry brand Bejewel.


Like many blessed with artistic leanings, Bejewel's designers Trudy Gallagher and Sandra Tremblay lived with the nagging presence of creative frustration.

In the early 90s, Gallagher sat uneasily in the lecture hall of a British Columbia college listening to an instructor discuss abnormal psychology.

"I always thought that artists were people who drew pictures," says Gallagher. "It was an epiphanic moment when someone told me that I could actually study jewelry design."

With no hesitation, Gallagher relocated to Quebec City courageously taking on the challenge of learning her art in a program taught in French!

Fueled by the life-affirming energy of finding "the thing I was meant to do" in time, her grasp of the language improved and she set up her company, Bejewel, in her basement.

Fourteen years later, with the company now located on Queen Street in New Brunswick, Gallagher would hire Tremblay who was creating jewelry in the wee hours before trekking off to her financial sector job. Gallagher instantly recognized a kindred spirit.

"If you are a maker, you have that unsettled feeling inside you. I knew that Sandra was a frustrated maker and that she had great potential," says Gallagher.

The designers' minimalist yet colorful aesthetic brings to mind the unique, subtle forms of Scandinavian jewelry. Scandinavian jewelry style, generally speaking, is clean with virtually no frills of bright gemstones, intricate patterns, or surface textures.


Gallagher and Tremblay's design approach, however, is alternately linear and complex. From the beautifully sculpted, cupped sterling silver Satellite Dish disc pendant and earrings, as well as their ridged and hammered version, to the ethereal, sinuous multi-chain links of silver arranged in cascading necklaces and bracelets.

Accents of beach glass, chalcedony, bon bon glass, and crystals add color contrast that seems to soften the white metal. The color intensity vacillates between dusky, pastel, and translucent. The soft hues provide a tranquil energy that evokes the sights and sounds of the beach.

In addition to creating both custom-designed and ready-made trinkets, a project close to the designers' hearts is their Self-Perception/Self-Deception Jewelry Exhibit--where pieces are also sold--currently running at the New Brunswick Crafts Council Fine Craft Gallery through November 20, 2010.

The prompting to do the exhibition came from women's perceived physical imperfections, even when looking for jewelry. Women's self-defeating thoughts emotionally resonated with the duo.

"Our clients will say they can't wear a great piece of jewelry because their neck is too wrinkly, their fingers are too fat, their boobs are too big, or that they have no place to wear it," says Gallagher.

"I feel frustrated hearing comments like that. There is no real fashion police and I feel that there is nothing wrong with wearing a chunky necklace to your kid's soccer game. Sometimes I will say to them, privately, that `We all have earlobes, a neck, and a body. I think what you're talking about is self-esteem.'"

In light of their exhibition, the designing team is encouraged to keep stretching their creative bounds. "The company specializes in custom-made designs, but I feel that artistically you can strike a balance between commercial work and work that satisfies creativity," says Gallagher.


"I don’t believe it's a compromise; it's just a simple reality. We understand that we need to be well-rounded as business people and also as artists."
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Kyoto Wide Tapered, Multi-Chain Link Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver Northern Lights Bracelet with Multi-Colored Beads
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Milky Way Multi-Strand Necklace

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DANIELA BOIERI

For many centuries, Italy's stunning Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) remained in various stages of de-construction with engineering duties passing along to both French and Italian architects. Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Daniela Boieri.


Before starting this blog, I expected jewelry to fit into certain criteria: shiny, gold, diamonds and clear form.

As I have continued my research, I have learned a lot about different design approaches that range from the sublime creations of Claudia Lobão (Brazil) to the bizarre, existential renderings of Hanna Hedman (Sweden). Variety is undoubtedly the spice of life . . . and jewelry making.

With a Bachelors of Art in Costume, Fashion, and Jewelry, acquired from the University of Florence, Boieri's jewelry is explorative in both her choice of materials, and design options. Its heart and beauty lie in its lack of conventional glamour.

Implementing such components as bone, sterling silver, Australian opals, porcelain, and 18-karat gold, her contemporary jewelry pieces are raw, irregular, and organic. The definitive focal point is form, abstract and non-descript. In my mind, within these vague proportions the materials seem to take on an illusory, unexpected appearance.

The gold is not high gloss but somewhat rough-hewn, the sterling silver is sultry black, creamy white or even gold-tone. "My choices of materials, every time, is like leaving for a journey without booking; a momentary marriage. I love the challenge of working with metal," she enthuses.

"Metal doesn't allow any uncertainty and I establish a type of dialogue that always brings me to solutions full of surprises."

I really love the stripped down look of Boieri's pieces. For good or bad whenever something--or someone--is broken down to its rawer form it captures your attention.

Repulsion or attraction is the general reaction upon viewing something in its more vulnerable, open state. Where jewelry is concerned, rawer, abstract forms can be just as intriguing and powerful as high gloss and convention.

"When creating my pieces I believe that what happens by chance or what I try to find fills me with energy. I love this job in all its facets. Jewels are my illness and my cure."

Boieri regularly participates in exhibitions that span the globe including Germany, Italy, Israel, Holland, and the United States.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Golden Leaf Casalmare Ring with Australian Raw Opal
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Boom Bracelet

Monday, May 24, 2010

REENA AHLUWALIA

The Lotus Temple of Delhi, India is a marvel of architectural design. Its construction required that it be built with nine sides. These `sides' consist of three clusters of "free-standing marble clad petals." India is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia.


I made note in another post that India has an enduring jewelry history where body ornaments are more than mere decoration; they are ceremonial offerings, dowries, and symbols of royal abundance.

The country is perhaps best known for the exquisite quality of its filigree and meenakari jewelry. In my opinion, no one takes artistry, color, and intricacy to the level of Indian jewelers.

Presently based in Toronto, Canada, Ahluwalia's jewelry easily falls into this awe-inspiring category. Although--based on what I have seen online--in terms of color she does not entirely follow the traditional meenakari style, her design quality, however, is just as complex and striking. It is ambitious jewelry; elaborate, bold, and extravagant while maintaining a certain amount of delicacy and femininity.

Intrigued by an ancient, Indian poem that depicted two lovers passionately engaged in coitus wearing nothing but their jeweled possessions, Ahluwalia built a design approach that highlighted jewelry's sensual connection to the body.

"In India, jewelry is a part of the body; it’s a part of your skin. I began to explore around the body with extreme exaggeration," she says.

Ahluwalia constructs contemporary and futuristic items that transcend the traditional extravagance of Indian jewelry, working with 18-karat white and yellow gold, Tahitian pearls, and white diamonds (the designer's signature).

The part-time technical drawing instructor's incredible Ethereal Rhapsody neckpiece, a snaking arc of white gold, Tahitian pearls, and black and white diamonds, grandly displays this transcendent quality. Her lavish 18-karat white gold, white diamonds and red enamel Bel Canto Choker is the designer's homage to opera.

"Bel Canto means `beautiful singing.' The design is inspired by the sheer experience of opera. Opera can be playful, prayerful, haunting, and incredibly versatile. I wanted to create a feeling of being suspended in space, surrounded by music."

The exquisite piece is featured on an Antwerp, Belgium postage stamp in celebration of "a five-stamp collection entitled Antverpia 2010.

The city of Antwerp is responsible for about 80% of the worldwide trade of rough diamonds. Diarough, a Belgium-based diamond dealer, collaborated with the designer on the stunning Bel Canto piece.

For me, Ahluwalia is yet another example of what true inspiration can cultivate. It cannot be cultivated simply by saying I am inspired but by capturing whatever has struck imagination's chord by sketching, taking notes, or taking a photo.

This stroke of imagination is then brought into the creation process where an instinctual awakening lends itself to the formation of breathtaking jewelry.

"I am a hands-on person. I was always exploring; playing with wood, paper, and wire. My aesthetic is a conversation between line, structure, and color. I love to explore geometry and exaggerated forms but I like subtlety as well. Overall, I have no boundaries."
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat White Gold Bel Canto Choker with White Diamonds and Red Enamel
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karate White Gold Ethereal Rhapsody Neckpiece with Tahitian Pearls, Pavé Set Black Diamonds and Prong Set White Diamonds

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ALISON ANTELMAN

Lake Tahoe, nestled between the borders of California and Nevada, is one of North America's largest alpine lakes. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Alison Antelman.

Sculptural and fluid is how I would describe a portion of Antelman's jewelry collections.
Her clean design approach adheres to soft, voluptuous figures of 18- and 22-karat gold, oxidized and sterling silver with gentle sprays of found beach glass, aquamarine, agate, or druzy.

Dusky, high-gloss semblances of manta rays, sea urchins, and legumes are notable motifs that express Antelman's love of nature.
However, her oxidized, barb-like bracelets and neckpieces from her Metropolis Collection evoke a dark, foreboding future world reminiscent of the spiky structures of the Machine City in the film Matrix: Revolutions.

Each jewelry piece is alternately primal and streamlined where perfection in simplicity is key. "I am drawn to the relationship between the metal, stones, movement, and form. Forging jewelry from raw materials is a labor-intensive process that I constantly explore, it is a process of puzzle solving," Antelman says.
"Some shapes have the feeling of movement like seaweed flowing back and forth in slow motion underwater." The manta ray interpretations, for instance, highlight this `flowing' effect in my opinion. The smooth, lustrous seemingly flawless rendering evokes the image of the actual sea animal swimming gracefully beneath crystal-clear waters.

Many of Antelman's ring settings are unusual implementing the legume and Metropolis forms atop a ring band. In some cases, one ring supports as many as three settings shaped like simple pictographs. The marble-like surfaces of the gemstones are faceted smooth and appear to be inlaid maintaining a subtle yet raw aesthetic.

These particular ring settings provide a sense of human origin or at least the origin of creating simple forms of communication through basic symbols or pictures. Here again, Antelman's work displays her masterful skills and the beautiful, supple quality of metal.

"I draw from a palette of joining textures, shapes, and hues. I combine rough and faceted stones, showing two faces of the same stone, usually set up against or joined with an organic shaped hollow form.
I seek contrasts allowing odd relationships to gain new perspectives, which is also what I hope to achieve when the jewelry is worn."
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Photo 1 (top right): 18- and 24-Karat Gold, Oxidized Silver Manta Ray Pendant with Aquamarine and Peridot
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18- and 22-Karat Gold Cluster Ring with Agate, Druzy, and Tourmaline

Friday, May 21, 2010

BRUCE TULLY

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is home to an eclectic array of wildlife including the dwarf minke whale, hawksbill turtle, and white-bellied sea eagle. Spanning over 100,000 square miles, the reef is the world's largest reef system. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Bruce Tully.

The opal gemstone is clearly a wonder of nature; beautiful, iridescent colors of blue, yellow, red, and green ebb and flow amongst one another.

It is like viewing a remnant of a puncture within the arch of a rainbow with each color dispersing upon the extracted dollop in tiny sparkles.

Australia is the world's leading supplier of quality opal gemstones. The country's first commercial mines were discovered in the northwestern area of the continent in White Cliffs and Lightning Ridge.

Tully's bold leap into the jewelry industry seemed predetermined as his cattle rancher great-grandfather, Patsy Tully, found opal on the land he settled over a hundred years ago.

Without relinquishing his rancher position, the elder Tully subsequently established a mine but the gemstones would not be successfully marketed for over 20 years. Adding insult to injury, five decades of drought would halt opal mining for the Tullys.

In 1976, the junior Tully would work part-time alongside his father, Cameron, mining old claims. Not unlike the numerous legends surrounding the gemstone, Bruce became enamored by the opal's ethereal beauty.

Long before venturing into the mines, however, Tully always believed that ranching was not his true calling, and these opulent gemstones would serve as a beacon leading him into the world of jewelry design.

"I love the land but it wasn't a love of mine to be a farmer. I felt pressure not to sell the family farm because our family had worked the land for so many years," he says.

"I walked into the workshop of a Quilpie jeweler and there were big, impressive faces of opal. Good quality opals are extremely rare, rarer than diamonds. I knew this was an industry waiting to take off."

By 1998, Tully decided to sell the family farm, setting out to change his homeland's dismissive treatment of the opal.

He observed that most jewelry renderings were at best cheesy with only a sliver of the stone implemented. Tully wanted to emulate Australia-based retailer Paspaley Pearls, which helped to bring pearl jewelry to the forefront of the country's jewelry market.

His journey to build his brand Depazzi (the name of the family's opal mine) is best described as a whirlwind; both frenzied and exhilarating. Through a scholarship, he traveled to Italy studying under tutors Isabel Herrera, and Gianpaolo Lodi.

For several months, he would develop his design sketches, absorb the ambiance of his surroundings, and build a friendship with an heir of the Gucci dynasty, Elisabetta Gucci.

"After nearly two months in Italy, I had to pinch myself to believe I was there. Elisabetta introduced me to people that could advise me and she became a major influence."

Tully did further globetrotting attending trade fairs, fashion weeks, and meeting with patent attorneys in Germany, the United States, Italy and Switzerland.

Seasoned designers in the field initially met Tully's unique design approach with apprehension. He remained focused, however, taking a stylistic risk of incorporating crocodile, stingray, and snakeskins into his men's jewelry collection.

"Jewelers I talked with about using skins didn't want to work with it because they didn't consider it jewelry.

I was surprised that there seemed to be so many rules about what stones went with what and what you could do and what you couldn't do," he explains. "I couldn't see why the rules couldn't be broken. I started making pieces with the skins to show them what my vision was for it."

His opal pieces, for the most part, are classic and streamlined in arrangement and proportion with the gemstone the focal point. The opal pieces from the Depazzi's Art Series Collection, on the other hand, are more organic and raw with irregular facets.

The animal hide items are beautifully innovative using crocodile skin interspersed with metal as a ring band or the centerpiece of cuff links.

The implementation effortlessly provides a masculine energy that suggests an adventure-driven undercurrent as well as an understated sensuality and sex appeal. Overall, the pieces I viewed online are differentiated, rugged, and ethereal capturing that earthy Australian spirit.

In 2009, Tully established the Depazzi flagship store in Hyman Island Resort, and both he and his company continue to evolve.

The designer relishes every moment. "You get one shot at life and I know I would have died a bitter old man if I had not pursued my dream."
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Photo 1 (top right): Opal Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Ring with Crocodile Skin

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MICHAEL ZOBEL

Presently the meeting place of the German parliament, the Reichstag Building in Berlin is a top tourist attraction. Germany is also the home of featured jewelry designer Michael Zobel.


"Through the connection of precious metals, stones and unconventional materials unique objects are created, which make the extraordinary wearable," says Zobel of his masterfully crafted jewelry fashioned from a wide variation of materials including 18-, 22- and 24-karat gold, sterling and oxidized silver, boulder opals, Colombian emeralds, Sahara root wood, and Tahitian mother-of-pearl.

For nearly 40 years, the former goldsmith apprentice has created visually stunning renderings that highlight intricate textures and surface patterns by swirling yellow gold with oxidized silver or indenting the metal to create a pavement-like exterior. The attention to detail is incredible.

Highlighting the beauty of the materials is Zobel's central focus where innovation takes precedence over convention. For instance, the surface design of an 18-karat gold brooch with small diamonds and lapis lazuli resembles the morning sky against the bluest ocean
water.

The striking arrangement of the lapis, in particular, is breathtaking, as it is not set in the standard way. Instead, the lapis looks like a paste or paint spread across the surface of the metal, simply beautiful.

Metal forms are fluid yet irregular like sculptures, and this quality takes nothing away form the overall beauty of a piece.


Peter Schmid
, Zobel's protégé, currently owns and heads Atelier Zobel and continues his mentor's grand design approach.
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Photo 1 (top right): 22- and 24-karat Gold and Opal Diamond Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver, 22- and 24-Karat Gold Brooch with Amber and Princess Cut Yellow Diamonds

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

DELFINA DELETTREZ FENDI

Set against the backdrop of the tritons and chariot of the Palazzo Poli the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy stands 85 feet high and is one of Rome's largest water fountains. Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Delfina Delettrez Fendi.


For over eight decades, the name Fendi has become synonymous with high-fashion.

The world-renowned Fendi brand, established by Edoardo and Adele Fendi, was the first leather handbag and fur workshop in Via del Plebiscito, Rome.

In the years to follow, the Fendis' five daughters, including Silvia Venturini Fendi, would each bring unique design aesthetics and flair to the company's inventory.

Silvia's daughter, Delfina,  ultimately followed in the footsteps of her jeweler father, French designer Bernard Delettrez.

At age 20, Delfina reinvented the Fendi name through a bold, cutting-edge style that clearly sets her apart from her lineage.
"I did not formally study design. I learned everything I know from my father. He gave me advice about what stones and metals work best together," Delfina says.

"Stylistically speaking my father and I are polar opposites. His jewelry adheres to classic and modern lines. When he saw what I was doing, he thought I was crazy. He asked me, `What did we do to you as a child?'"

Delfina's aesthetic is not girly or delicate. You do not look at her jewelry and say `that's pretty'. Her skull, bat, spider, and eye motifs are bizarre and grotesque. You definitely sense that her designs are not for the woman with conventional tastes, and that such designs come from an alternately complex and lucid mind.

"Not everyone is going to wear a ring with a pig on it," she says. "My jewelry is for women with a strong sense of humor and self." Even within the jewelry's eccentricity, it is difficult to place your attention elsewhere. It is difficult not to ponder what Delfina's inspiration is and how she conceptualizes a piece.

The vampire teeth, mouth and eye jewelry make me think of Alice in Wonderland. These disembodied parts, floating in limbo, seem to fit right into the wildly strange world of Wonderland as they seek a new existence apart from the bodies they once belonged.

There is also an underlying otherworldly theme for many pieces, particularly the skull, spider, and bat items. There is a wooden skull necklace with chains of citrine and pearls dangling from the skull's base evoking a voodoo priestess.

One of her most spectacular macabre-themed pieces is a gold and sterling silver Skelton Hand Bracelet. It is an amazing rendering with nuanced, stunning details.

At the same time, however, her animal pieces like the koala and frog rings are brightly colored and whimsical as if they emerged from an enchanted fairy world. The anatomical details of an 18-karat gold derriere ring, fitted with a gem-studded thong, will certainly put a sly grin on the face of the grumpiest grouch!

Delfina also does beautiful work with porcelain-carved flowers. The designer attributes the softer tone of her nature-inspired pieces to her two-year-old daughter, Emma.

"When I found out I was pregnant I started to shift my designs to animals like frogs and pigs. Pregnancy, motherhood gave me a softness I didn't have before."


If anything, Delfina possesses an unbridled fearlessness by exploring occult iconography as the basis of a jewelry piece, or exaggerating shapes and colors.

She obviously explores different, rather controversial inclinations and is open to varied styles making her jewelry thoroughly unique and as aesthetically appealing or unappealing as she wants.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold, Sterling Silver and Ruby Skeleton Hand Bracelet
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and Black Enamel Frog with Crown Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver, Murano Glass and Enamel Eye Ring



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LENA SKLYUT

Built in the 16th century, Belarus' picturesque Nesvizh Castle holds an eclectic array of architectural styles from Neo-Gothic to Baroque. Once owned by the Radziwill family, the structure has undergone extensive renovations to be unveiled some time this year. Belarus is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Lena Sklyut.

Sklyut enlists the slithering, coiling image of a snake as part of her company's logo. To some the imagery is inherently negative seemingly suggesting Eve's fall in the Garden of Eden.

Sklyut, however, has a different take. "The snake represents power, intuition, and grace of movement," she says. While these characteristics are definitely representative of women, they can also adequately describe Sklyut's design aesthetic and creative process.

Her aesthetic, in part, seems influenced by the masterful designs of the Art Nouveau Period, as well as the personal emblems of ancient French kings.

Though not as flamboyant in comparison with less elaborate proportions, her use of strong, classic shapes, 18-karat yellow and white gold, and vividly colored gemstones render items of spectacular beauty.

"Love them or hate them, my jewels are meant to be noticed!" says Sklyut. Indeed, From the Depth of the Sea is a collection that features a necklace with an exquisite fish motif. Fashioned from emeralds, two fish curve into each other--head to tail--forming an open circle; five more of these fish circles are linked to build the necklace.

From the same collection is her Spring Love Set highlighting the dazzling glow of yellow gold, and the flicker of tiny South Sea Pearl accents that are offset by large, smooth pink quartz.

It is quite simply beautiful jewelry with glamour and regal flair clearly built upon a fascination with colors and forms in nature, as well Russian and French iconography.

"My jewelry is for women who are aware of their sense of style and not preoccupied with following trends. These kinds of individuals will find my designs aesthetically pleasing and inspirational."
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Four Snake Ring with 95 Carats of Smoky Quartz and Diamonds
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold, Smoky Topaz and Diamond Ring

Monday, May 17, 2010

SASITHON SAISUK

Thailand's tranquil Lumpini Park is a popular location for people to take refuge away from day-to-day stressors. The park's 142 acres, founded 90 years ago by King Rama VI, holds walking paths, jogging trails and an artificial lake. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Sasithon Saisuk.


The youngest of three children, Saisuk's optimistic personality lends itself well to exploration and experimentation.

She once worked alongside one of her sisters at a newspaper, and 10 years ago studied "Thai dance and music' where she participated in regional dance exhibitions. Saisuk also learned the art of silversmithing and jewelry making.

"Silverwork is a regional tradition. I design the patterns for this kind of jewelry and adjust it to suit both local and contemporary clothing styles." Saisuk offsets such Thai symbolism as elephants, starfish, and the Bo tree leaf with carnelian, amethyst, and turquoise.

Her hand-fabricated designs, for the most part, are streamlined and modern highlighting clean structure. However, the embossed, lacy details of her Lacy Leaves Choker are a tour de force of intricate artisanship.

The beautiful, chocolate brown color of coconut shells provides a unique source material for jewelry pieces like the Floral Medallion, as well as the Coconut Parallels belt. Each of Saisuk's renderings serves as another shining example of the prolific and unrelenting nature of creativity.


"I feel very proud of my work because I design it myself. I especially enjoy working with coconut shells. I love the process of choosing the materials, conceptualizing and finally building the piece."
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Lacy Leaves Choker
Photo 2 (center): Amethyst Beads over Sterling Silver Starfish Glow Bracelet

Saturday, May 15, 2010

JOHN WIND | MAXIMAL ART

We take a walk down memory lane today remembering Philadelphia's Aquarama Aquarium Theater of the Sea. The "theater" was a popular spot between 1962 - 1969 holding educational and entertainment attractions involving gallons of water, fish, dolphins, and seals. Philadelphia is also the home of featured jewelry designer John Wind.

At 6 feet 6 inches, Wind seems better suited for a career in the NBA than jewelry design but fortunately, his aptitudes lay within the creative realm.
While attending London's Slade School of Art during the early 80s, Wind spent his weekends in the flea markets on Portobello Road.

The excitement of discovering vintage charms and creating new contexts for them became a highlight for the designer. This was also Wind's first foray into collecting and arranging materials to create jewelry pieces.

"I'd rush home after weekend visits to Portobello Road and glue these fabulous vintage bits into big, funky brooches, and I'd wear them," he recalls.
"Hey Culture Club and the Thompson Twins played a role in my wearing these creations," he deadpans. "I fell in love with Victorian jewelry--its beauty and the way it tells a story by conveying emotions of love, friendship, and passion.

After I moved back to my hometown of Philadelphia, I started my company Maximal Art in 1985, and my aim is to evoke the same kind of emotion in my vintage-inspired jewelry. I think I accomplish this in a fun, fashionable way."

There are plenty of charm enhancers to ogle from the 14-karat gold over pewter keys and red crystal hearts to gold initial charms with faux pearls pom poms to a 24-karat gold-plated Eiffel tower, and fleur de lis. There are also fun charm themes to explore like Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Christmas.



"We work on pieces for every holiday simultaneously--everyday. We are never clear just what month it is," Wind says. "Every day is a new opportunity to be creative. It is a lot of fun."

The company's early days, however, were not as much fun as the ever-changing tastes of consumers developed a predilection for less extravagant aesthetics. The company's President, Robbin Cook, skillfully maneuvered through what could have been a significant blow.

"Robbin has worked with me for over twenty years and without her support none of the success of the company would have happened. We ended up a stronger company. Although we redefined our product to find a customer base we did it without choosing to base our design aesthetic on every fashion whim," says Wind.

Wind maintains a philosophy encompassing a spirit of giving something uplifting to potential and longstanding customers. "Ultimately every single piece that goes out into the world finds a home and makes someone happy. That direct, personal uplifting moment is what it's all about."

Presently sourcing materials from New England, Wind's colorful and animated charm jewelry is a part of the permanent collections of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as Paris' Musée des Arts Decoratisfs.
___________
Photo 1 (top right): Midsummer Night Dream Collage Necklace from Jewelry Box Collection
Photo 2 (center): Gold-Plated Brass Bat Charm and Chain with Austrian Crystal
Photo 3 (bottom left): 24-Karat Plated Pewter and Sterling Silver Initial Bracelet with Faux Pearl Pom Pom from Personally Yours Collection

Friday, May 14, 2010

KAREN KONZUK

We take a trip to Canada today visiting Halifax Nova Scotia and its longstanding landmark the Old Town Clock. Built by British clockmakers House of Vuilliamy in 1803, for two centuries the chronometer continues to provide a timekeeping source to the residents of Halifax. Canada is also the home of featured jewelry designer Karen Konzuk.


A material commonly used to erect building structures like the pinnacle of the Chrysler Building, appliances, hardware and surgical instruments, stainless steel has also found it way into the hands of jewelry designers.

A notoriously difficult substance to manipulate in jewelry making, designers like Roland Baldaulf of the Austria-based company Humphrey®, however, readily implements stainless steel into sleek, contemporary outlines.

Konzuk, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in jewelry design, preferred the inherent challenge of using the complex alloy as opposed to more traditional fare.

She sets out to create pieces that reflect strong influences of "industrial design and architecture" making clean lines, sharp angles and flowing curves central to the aesthetic.

Unlike Roland Baldaulf, who incorporates sapphires and diamonds into his collections, Konzuk uses very little to no gemstones keeping the canvas of stainless steel central.

She opts instead for photo engraving, carbon and powder coatings, and laser cutting to provide unique accents without overshadowing the clean structures.

Konzuk's attention to the man-made world such as architectural forms, and contemporary art gave form and life to her Set, and Embellished Collections. In other cases, however, the nuanced occurrences of a misplaced wedding band, or the glowing light from a film projector triggered her Eclipse, and Powered Coat Collections.

In these respective collections, she combines vivid colored powered enamel beneath stainless steel overlays, or photo engraves a vintage wallpaper pattern on a stainless steel sheet to fashion cuff bracelets, rings, and pendant necklaces.

Even though her design aesthetic is highly restrained and streamlined, Konzuk's concept of using materials associated with architecture, including the powder coatings she incorporates, really takes stainless steel jewelry to a new level of innovation.

Her modern and contemporary wares are sold worldwide in North America, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, and Japan. She also designed the alumni ring for her alma mater, Nova Scotia College of Art.
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Photo 1 (top right): Stainless Steel and Diamond Stem Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Stainless Steel Cuff with Photo Engraved Surface Pattern

Thursday, May 13, 2010

JULIE HANNAY

At over a thousand years old, Scotland's Edinburgh Castle is one of the country's most well known fortresses. Built on a volcanic rock, it stands prominently in the city of Edinburgh. Scotland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Julie Hannay.


Hannay's aesthetic captures what I feel is unfiltered femininity in decidedly unpretentious outlines of pastel-colored resin and Perspex with accents of semi-precious gemstones and fabric.

At the same time, her creations possess a sense of fun and joy that, to me, evokes a scene of little girls in frilly dresses playing tea party with their dolls, and colorful drops of hard candy.

While otherwise minimalist in its overall proportions, humor and whimsy are ongoing themes throughout her collections.

"I like to use an instant approach to putting pieces together, working to ensure that the jewelry remains playful and fun," she says. "My jewelry is designed to be worn without pretense. I aim to create jewelry unique enough to be eye catching but also suitable to be worn more casually day-to-day."

From her Candy Collection to her Meadow Collection, the Edinburgh College of Art alumna incorporates resin-made silhouettes of birds, flowers, dogs, and tree branches offset by a single drop of green beryl or a cluster of aqua chalcedony.

There is a purity in arrangement of materials and conceptualization that makes her interpretations fresh and natural.
__________
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet with Chalcedony, Amethyst, and Freshwater Pearls
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Peardrop Bird Pendant with Aqua Chalcedony, Pink and Green Beryl

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

POUL HAVGAARD

Situated in the square of Denmark's Amalienborg Palace is an equestrian statue of King Frederich V. Built in the late 18th century the regal structure is an annual gathering place for Danes to celebrate the queen's birthday. Denmark is also home to featured jewelry designer Poul Havgaard.


Havgaard, a former blacksmith and mural painter, is the last of six designers I have featured that contribute exceptional items to Finnish brand Lapponia Jewelry (Lapponia).
In 2008, however, after 37 years with the company, Havgaard announced his retirement but his pieces remain a part of the company's iconic collections.

Natural, somewhat irregular forms and minimal gemstones characterize Lapponia's renowned aesthetic. Though forms are often accented with fissures, folds, crinkles, or concaves, the overall design is uniquely classic and timeless.

Havgaard's contributions maintain Lapponia's style while also highlighting his own distinctive design approach. Working with sterling silver--one of his favorite materials--he fashions clean, fluid items without etchings or many surface textures.
There is a bracelet and necklace, however, where portions of the metal appear segmented as if they were cut or sliced and then placed side-by-side creating one, uniform shape.

The distinguishing stylistic element that sets his jewelry apart from the other Lapponia artists is his use of round, faceted amber. A dollop of deep, orange-brown peeking from beneath a dome of molten silver, smooth facets linked to silver in a bracelet, or cupped in a ring setting.

Often referred to as "the gold of the North," amber resin, it turns out, is plentiful in Denmark as amber trees once populated the region. Due to the warm, humid climate millions of years ago, the trees literally sweated resin globs that were ultimately swept up by rivers and washed into the sea for a future unearthing.

If my memory serves me, thus far aside from Polish designer Marcin Zaremeski, I have not seen many designers incorporate amber into their pieces.
I think Havgaard's placement and arrangment of the amber is nicely done. He implements it in such a way where it seems like an extension or outgrowth of the silver. Its smooth contours complement the smoothn curvatures of the sterling silver.

"An essential principle of my design aesthetic is the creation of tension. I achieve this by letting two interesting forms communicate with each other," says the designer.
Havgaard continues jewelry making in his Denmark-based studio, as well as sculptures of iron and steel.
_______
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver and Amber Fearless Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and Amber Dawn Bracelet

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

CESAR GODOY

The waters of Lake Chapala surround the Isla de los Alacranes, an island near Jalisco, Mexico. Though mired in controversy regarding contamination, the lake provides a habitat for innumerable indigenous animals and plants. For this reason, the local Audubon Society rallies to preserve the habitat. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Cesar Godoy.

Before its conquest by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortes in the early 16th century, the Aztec's broad empire encompassed southern areas of Mexico all the way to Guatemala.

Though not plentiful, Aztec jewelry artifacts in gold, copper and sterling silver, display the culture's dexterity in crafting complex pieces using techniques like repoussé, lost wax, and heating processes.

Individual or collective symbols were regularly implemented in Aztec jewelry to signify everything from religious ideas to the birth of an infant.
Godoy's understated sterling silver jewelry is a streamlined interpretation of this powerful symbolism whereby he implements the lost wax technique.

"I loved to paint when I was a boy, and when I was 15 I used to visit a silversmith's workshop. I would spend hours watching people at work; learning some of their techniques. I especially enjoyed lost wax techniques.

When my father, brother, and I started our own workshop, I kept training with those, and other, techniques. The different pre-Hispanic cultures are a great source of inspiration. My aim is to give them a more contemporary style."

Godoy implements petroglyph-like concentric circles, turtles, eagles, and llamas into items offset by hammered and oxidized silver. These accents bring an organic, rough-hewn appearance to the pieces.
Many of his pendant necklaces double as bracelets and are suspended and/or linked by a thick, leather chord, which adds a subtle grit and masculinity. Overall, it is a great synthesis of the past and present.

"My hope is that people from around the world can learn to appreciate this ancient culture through a piece of jewelry," he says. "My effort is constant, and currently I am working on new collections that range from ethnic to vanguard."

Godoy's pieces are distributed through Novica.com.
_______
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Dangle Aztec Stone Arrows Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Mystical Eagle Pendant with Leather Chord

Monday, May 10, 2010

APRIL HIGASHI

There is a slow shift from winter to spring in some parts of the world, and the seasonal thaw can be felt as far as Japan's Kyoto Botanical Garden. Established a little over 90 years ago the grounds house 120,000 plants. Japan is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer April Higashi.


The painstaking technique of enameling, like other jewelry-making techniques, has origins dating back to early civilizations including the Byzantine Empire, and Rome's conquest of Greece.

Ancient jewelry artists implemented this precision-driven skill of fusing powdered glass to metal as a colorful alternative to gemstones.

Currently, powdered glass from the ethereal hues used in pliqué a jour to the glossy finish of vitreous enamel are used by such jewelry designers as Leila Tai (Lebanon), and Christy Klug (USA) to stunning effect. Higashi also incorporates this long-standing technique in her understated creations.

Raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the tender age of eight Higashi had already decided she would attend an "out-of-state" college, and by age 11, upon receipt of a sewing machine as a Christmas gift, she began creating her own clothing without the use of pre-packaged patterns.

In 1990, the energetic 20-year old studied textiles earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of San Francisco.

Eager to travel the world one year later, she dived into the garment industry gaining employment with Espirit de Corp. The experience, however, left her cold when during a company downsizing she was given the option of being laid-off. She took it.

In the interim, Higashi co-founded a jewelry company, Fortuna Metalsmiths, a successful endeavor that allowed her the financial independence to further her knowledge about all things artistic including tutelage by enamel artist June Schwartz.

By 2002, Higashi established her own jewelry company, Shibumi Studio, which not only exhibits her elegant work with enamel, and 18 and 24-karat gold but her companion's, Eric Powell, sculpture work.

Higashi's aesthetic is clean and understated but the gorgeous 24-karat gold, rich colored enamel, and glowing gemstones brings visual depth. Her enamel designs run the gamut of solid pops of color to mosaic blends of off-white, black, yellow, and red.

"I create rich color fields, markings, and textures with enamel. In most cases the enameling process requires a minimum of six firings in a kiln; however, for more complex patterns between 20 to 30 firings is required to enhance depth and bleeding of the brush strokes," she explains.

Something I have noticed thus far with designers from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan is their adherence to delicacy and their lack of ostentatious arrangement. The key focus is keeping the forms basic with simple accents and a quiet lyricism so that the artisanship takes center stage. Here again, highlighting the perfection in simplicity.

"I look to create a simple sense of beauty. I am attracted to the depth, textures, translucency, and bleeding which happens during the firing of enamel. I mark imperfections in the layers to create beauty and balance."
__________
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Enamel Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold and Oxidized Silver and Enamel Lady Bug Ring with Diamonds

Saturday, May 8, 2010

KENDRA SCOTT JEWELRY

The Texas State Capitol building, located in Austin, Texas, is hailed as a National Historic Landmark. The nearly 130-year-old structure is currently the largest capital building in the United States. Texas is also home to featured jewelry designer Kendra Scott.


Like many jewelry designers, Scott used income from a full-time job to facilitate her jewelry-making fetish.

Employed as an advertising executive, upon the birth of her first child she decided to quit her job.

Whenever time permitted, Scott managed to handcraft a small collection of items using $500 worth of semi-precious gemstones.

She kept her treasures in a tea box for safekeeping not knowing they would soon serve as the launching pad into a creatively and financially satisfying career.

"When I started my business it was during a tough financial spot," she recalls. "My husband had lost his job and even though I felt a little lost I took my little tea box with my baby boy in tow, and went door-to-door to Austin boutiques.

They were receptive and bought my pieces and then I got a call from a sale's rep in Dallas who wanted to represent the line. It has been uphill from there. My first big account was with Nordstrom!"

Eight years later, Scott's retailer base has broadened to Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale's. Despite the high-end names, Scott keeps her collections affordable.

"People are looking for value and quality more than ever. I make a point to source stones directly and to come up with creative designs. I feel my jewelry has the same design quality and structural integrity as pieces costing twice or three times as much."

The natural beauty of stones like blue quartz, emerald jade and orange chalcedony, floral shapes, and seemingly varied cultural influences inspires Scott's design style. The name choices for her pieces such as Albena (a city in Bulgaria), Azura (an African boutique), and Davina (a development near Panama) suggest exotic locales and international intrigue.

Working primarily with 14-karat gold-plated brass, sterling silver, and gunmetal, Scott fashions jewelry pieces that are differentiated; some forms are classic and elegant like her Rori Delicate Chain Swag Necklace while others like her Pella and Salome Cuffs are bold, statement-making pieces.

"If you don't want attention then don't buy my jewelry," says Scott, "Our designs are trend-based at the same time, however, they have a distinct personality."

With the success of her company, Scott strives to maintain symmetry by keeping a balance between career and family. Now the mother of two, she makes sure to keep her schedule flexible.

She also uses her success to help others, and is a board member of the Austin non-profit organization, LifeWorks, which "provides services to homeless and at risk youth and their families."

"Our summer White Party fundraisers are patterned after those given in the Hamptons, and we attract a dynamic group of people. The goal is to raise as much as we can for LifeWorks while also making important connections and contacts."

Scott's ethereal bijouterie is featured regularly in publications like Glamour, O Magazine, InStyle, and Town and Country.

In 2007, the designer received the Texas Women's Chamber of Commerce Rising Star Award. She currently has showrooms in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta as well as Dallas, and Austin, Texas.

For more on Scott's jewelry, watch SpotEdge Media's 2007 promotional video for the designer.


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Photo 1 (top right): Gunmetal-Plated Brass Filigree Ainsley Cuff Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold-Plated Brass Neil Bib Statement Necklace in White Lily

Friday, May 7, 2010

CARLOS GONZALEZ

The precise excavation of reddish-brown pebbles from the arid surface of Peru's Nazca Desert reveals etched lines in the form of man, flora, and fauna. These lines known as the Nazca Lines are over a thousand years old and so long as the weather permits are believed to remain there for thousands of years to come. Peru is also the home of featured jewelry designer Carlos González.


A second-generation jeweler, González' curiosity about his father's profession led him to study how his father channeled his skill and creativity.

"My father was my guide into the art world. Initially I was curious but I didn't give much attention to it until later," he recalls.
"I never attended workshops or courses, as my father was my teacher. I learned by observing."

González works with sterling silver, and a bevy of semi-precious gemstones that includes rhodochrosite, chrysocolla, and amazonite.
He primarily selects stones of dark or muted hues, pale and dusky blues, pink and yellow-green. He chooses simple facets with rounded edges, somewhat flat, smooth contours placed in nearly inlay settings.

The sterling silver outlines are hammered or granulated but the texture is a subtle accent within streamlined and elegant configurations. Several of the items featured on González' Novica page, such as the Imperial Eyes Bracelet, are collaboration pieces with Ecuadoran fashion designer Roberto de Villacis for his Machu Picchu Collection.

These pieces, fashioned from sterling silver, are inspired by the "Inca dynasty." Several cuffs for this collection are bold, curvaceous open designs with chrysocolla accents.
The whole of González' work is organic and somewhat primal in its details. The soft colors of the gemstones take center stage in designs that are ultimately sleek and clean. González switches things up a bit with a few pieces configured from luminous gold vermeil.

"I have dedicated myself to this art from for more than 25 years," he says. "I'm always searching. I am always creating letting new ideas come to mind one after another."

_____
Photo 1 (top right): Chrysocolla Fang Hunger Necklace with Black Leather Chord
Photo 2 (bottom left): Gold Vermeil and Amazonite Radiant Chic Earrings

Thursday, May 6, 2010

REBECCA WARD

High cliffs and difficult terrain are characteristics of New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, the largest park in the country. New Zealand is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Rebecca Ward.

Upon viewing Ward's eclectic jewelry collections, it was clear that she sets no limit to selection of materials, shapes, colors, techniques and textures.

She possesses an amazing, voracious appetite for exploration. In fact, the Brisbane, Australia-based designer once bravely rummaged through the unglamorous Toowoomba Dump upon her participation in the 2006 group exhibition Flash Trash.

"I had the great fortune to be one of the Flash Trash artists," she says. "It was a fun outing and boy did I find lots of stuff. I liked the challenge of creating artworks from the findings.

I tend to look for the unexpected when choosing and combining materials and the most enjoyable aspects of this is collecting the materials: pebbles from remote beaches in New Zealand, glass fragments from old seaside resort areas, and vintage found objects from junk stores."

Her design aesthetic is unencumbered, and free wherein she takes a smooth, round pebble and makes it the focal point of a pendant or takes the irregular forms of beautiful, blue glass shards from broken gin bottles linking them together to form a distinctive necklace.


Ward's influence by "New Zealand and Polynesian adornment" is highlighted through the pieces' organic form. Here again, this natural aspect is central to her design approach allowing a raw, primal beauty to take center stage.

Pieces made from gin bottle glass, such as the Bombay Shards Necklace, as well as items from her Sunken City Collection, I find particularly astounding. The integrity of the glass remains intact; it is still glass. Its color has not been altered yet a common, broken glass from beer and gin bottles has been made over, recycled within a new context.

Within the context of a necklace, earrings or bracelet the material is transformed, and reborn into a glorious entity. That is just how beautiful the pieces look. What Ward renders through her collections is a sheer testament to the active, living force that creativity seems to be.

She leaves nothing unturned using thread, Bakelite, patinated copper, leather, rubber, sterling silver, and 18-karat gold to bring palpable life to her jewelry. From a creative and visual standpoint, I think it is really daring.

"I am drawn to small objects that have their own histories and convey a sense of place and time. It is important for art to tell a story from the heart and jewelry offers a portable medium for this," she explains. "My wok investigates themes of lost times, environment and journeys."

The alumna of Australia's Queensland College of Art majored in gold and silversmithing, holding a Bachelor of Visual Arts. For the last 17 years, she has continued to hone her spectacular creative gift.

From 2008 to 2009, she served as a tutor at the Brisbane Institute of Art, and Longreach's ArtsWest School of Creative Arts.

In 2003, Ward also co-founded the MoB Workspace located in the Museum of Brisbane, which provides "a space for artists to work and a unique opportunity for visitors to MoB to observe some of Brisbane's premier artisans while they work."
_______
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver, Recycled Glass, and Nylon Bombay Shards Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver, Bakelite, Amber, Hematite Necklace from Future Fossil Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver, Glass Beads, Freshwater Pearls, and Nylon Earrings from Revisited Collection

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