Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Situated in Tel Aviv, Israel are three magnificent skyscrapers that compose the Azriel Center. The center houses a mall, restaurants, and an 8-screen cinema. Israel is also home to jewelry designing team Adi Prachya, and Sami Leder.

Enamored with arts since childhood, twenty-seven-year old Prachya put her art history studies to superlative use when she and sculptor Leder co-founded their company, Adina Plastelina, six years ago.

Incorporating traditional Israeli and Jewish iconography as the basis of their design aesthetic, the jewelers use a 7th century glasswork technique known as millefiori to create glossy, enamel patterns on the surface of polymer clay.

"Our art is the result of tremendous emotional and laborious work," says Prachya. "Our jewelry is characterized by inspiration, and optimistic elements that highlight vivid colors and is especially suited for those of us with "joie de vivre (joy of life)".

Offset with 18-karat gold- and rhodium-plated sterling silver, the myriad of gorgeous colors placed within streamlined outlines of dragonflies, hearts, butterflies and the Star of David is dynamic.

I am as much intrigued by the creation process as a designer's creative process. I was surprised to learn that since polymer clay is very supple and does not require heating or reheating to fuse, the application of enamel goes on cold. The results are obviously just as stunning as enameling techniques that require firings.

For more on Prachya and Leder's jewelry making technique, be sure to check out the company's promotional video.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold-Plated Sterling Silver and Cold Enamel Butterfly Earring
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Gold-Plated Sterling Silver and Cold Enamel Heart Pendant
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold-Plated Sterling Silver and Cold Enamel Star of David and Peace Dove Ring

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


One of Taiwan's oldest Buddhist temples, the Lungshan or Dragon Mountain Temple, is world-renowned for its stunning architectural details designed to honor Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Taiwan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Anna Hu.

Presently based in New York, Hu's custom-made, luxury jewelry brings to mind the multifaceted, intricate work of fellow Taiwanese designer Cindy Chao.

Like Chao, Hu's pieces highlight elaborate and painstaking artistry with exquisite pavé stone settings of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. It is a stunning visual feast.

A young phenom, at age 14 Hu studied to become a solo cellist at Massachusetts' arts boarding school Walnut Hill. However, four years later, tendonitis in her shoulder would force her to relinquish her dream.

Though heartbroken, the jewelry artist recalled childhood memories of assisting her father, a diamond wholesaler, with his precious inventory. The recollection served as a strong incentive that moved Hu into a new career path.

"I opened the door to my father's workspace and lying there was a pile of raw, rock diamonds," says Hu. "I was eight years old and I fell in love with them the moment my father asked me to sort them according to size and shape. I will always remember that day."

Girding herself with two master degrees--one in Art History, and the second in Arts Administration--and a gemologist degree, Hu developed her craft while working at famed jewelry houses Van Cleef & Arpels, and the House of Harry Winston.

Employment with such large houses confined the greatest extent of Hu's creativity, and she chose to pave a road for herself with the help of mentor Maurice Galli.

Using Viennese paintings, and the lilting melodies of Tchaikovsky as inspiration, Hu creates ethereal items that are both lyrical and whimsical.

Her Butterfly Fairies Brooch is a delicate replication of the insects with beautiful detail. Their open wings laced with dollops of colored gemstones and white diamonds is like a flowing, gentle melody.

The Moonlight Bangle is a blend of pavé set white diamonds and a lovely cluster of muted moonstones that resemble floating bubbles. The Ruyi Cloud Bangle features a gorgeous mosaic pattern of gemstones while the Gershwin Jazz Bangle, with its gem encrusted musical staff and notes, is capricious yet stunning in its intricacy.

Even Hu's streamlined Joking Love Knot Series maintains a level of complexity in its curves and twists. "To me jewelry design is like composing music.

I listen to Rachmaninoff, and Bach when I design. I feel the technical challenge, and like, convert the complexities into the jewelry."

With such immense design detail, it came as no surprise to learn that Hu's custom-designed creations take up to one to two years to complete.

"Each project is very different. I create something organic that harmonizes with the client's personality and style.

I am obsessed with making jewelry. It's not even a passion anymore. I have so many ideas that I even dream about gemstones."

Hu's magnificent pieces are available at New York's Plaza Hotel, and the Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie boutique in Taiwan.
Photo 1 (top right): Leaping Koi Ring
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat White Gold Knot Ring with Rubies
Photo 3 (bottom left): Moonstone and Pavé Diamond Moonlight Bangle

Monday, June 28, 2010


Located in Iran's Naghsh-e Jahan Square, the opulent architecture of the Shah Mosque is a popular attraction with its two-layered dome, vibrant mosaic tiles, and fresco-clad doors coated with gold and silver. Iran is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Katayoun Azarmi-Rose (a/k/a Kathy Rose).

A veteran in the jewelry industry for over fifteen years, Rose launched her high-end jewelry line, then called Kaviar Jewelry, in 2002.

She not only shares designers Daphna Simon (Israel), and David Lee Holland's (USA) affinity for nature but Mother Earth also informs her design approach.

"It all goes back to nature for me," says the 48-year old designer. "I have been making the snake bangles for years. One of my first designs features an eagle.

Eagles symbolize new horizons and visions. I love engraving mantras under the wing. My engagement ring is an eagle that says how special this motif is to me."

Presently based in Los Angeles, California, Rose's childhood living in Tehran, Iran was not unlike other jewelry artists; the magnetic draw of gemstones was powerful.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I was obsessed with the encyclopedias we had, especially the letter `G' for `gems. I would spend hours looking through the photos and information on gemstones."

The one-time finalist of the Fashion Group International Rising Star in Jewelry competition, Rose implements 18-karat white, yellow, and rose gold with accents of pavé diamonds, bone, mother-of-pearl, ebony, ruby, enamel, and turquoise into her hand crafted designs.

Her semblances of snails, birds, tree bark, elephants, crickets, and manta rays are clearly defined, idiosyncratic and beautifully sculpted. Her signature pieces, a pair of icicle earrings, were featured in the 2001 film Vanilla Sky as worn by actor Cameron Diaz.

Earlier this year, Rose added fashion designer to her résumé after winning Bravo's Launch My Line. Her highly feminine couture pieces highlight flowing silhouettes and lush color, and her jewelry played a large role in the overall aesthetic.

"I thought to myself `I'm going to make clothing as a canvas for jewelry.' In my mind, it just made sense to do it that way. I have designed jewelry with the intent for them to be worn with bare arms. I have necklaces that can be worn on your back.

My snake cuff served as part of the inspiration for the saffron yellow gown I designed on Launch My Line. I envisioned a woman in the desert, going down the Nile, making a statement in yellow. I referenced gemstone colors for all of my pieces."

Rose uses her seven-year-old store, Roseark, as a platform to promote a large array of both jewelry and couture designers including Kate Lindsay, Unearthen, and Simone Camille handbags by designer Simone Barouche.

"I really can't believe I won Launch My Line. I still design jewelry; I am designing a more affordable collection with different gemstones and metals.

I am also working with Rue La La where my clothing line is concerned. I feel like I have infinite possibilities and the world is my oyster."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Rose Gold Pavé Manta Cuff
Photo 2 (center): Saffron Yellow Gown from Bravo's Launch My Line
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat White Gold Snake Cuff

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Today we visit Playland Amusement Park, located in Rye, New York; it is the United States only government-owned-and-operated amusement park. Officially opened 82 years ago, the Grand Carousel is among many iconic rides featured here. New York is also home to featured jewelry designer Kate Cusack.

I reference in my blog profile that jewelry designers look at the world in a different way than the rest of us.

Items like bicycle inner tubes, wristwatch hands, eggs, syringe needles, and stationery are just some of the components of incredible jewelry fashioned by Thea Tolsma (Netherlands), Kiwon Wang (Korea), and Sergey Jivetin (Russia).

Well Cusack is another designer to include on this list constructing equally distinctive pieces using zippers. "Zippers are exciting because of their association with fashion and costume design.

Their form is appealing to me because of how the metal teeth sparkle, and how the linear construction potential is endless. A zipper is essentially a line, and a line can be shaped into anything."

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts received from the Maryland Institute College, and a Masters of Fine Arts received from the Yale School of Drama, Cusack divides her talents through several mediums.

She cultivates unusual wearable sculptures or costumes using everything from kitchen sponges to bubble wrap; and while doing freelance, window dressing work for Tiffany & Co.--where she created "five Marie-Antoinette-style wigs made entirely of plastic wrap"--she made her first zipper item, the Zipper Pin.

"I made my first Zipper Pin in 2002. I was originally inspired by the Chanel flower as well as the thrifty, resourceful decoration fashion from the 1940s," Cusack recalls. "I made a Zipper Pin for myself and a second one as a thank you gift for the woman who hired me at Tiffany.

In October 2003, I entered Zipper Pins in an exhibition at the Felissimo Design House, and they were accepted. They were later sold at the gift shop.

In about two years, the people who had placed orders for the Zipper Pins started requesting necklaces. In 2006, I made my first collection of Zipper Necklaces, and two years after that I launched my Zipper Bracelets."

Here again, the jewelry possesses a one-of-a-kind beauty that is part whimsy and part edgy modernism. The bracelets in particular evoke feature films like The Matrix, and Mad Max.

The necklaces vary with some resembling the flowing lines present in modern, abstract art while others look like the coiling tentacles and suction mechanisms of an octopus.

It is without a doubt visually intriguing, stylish, artistic, and fun. "As a jewelry designer, I don't set out to make a necklace with beads or sterling silver but instead, I manipulate the zipper into shapes that are like beads or sterling silver, and I make a comparison between sterling silver and the base metals used in zippers.

For this reason, I think my jewelry is "statement jewelry." As far as the world of wearable art is concerned, it is simply art jewelry. It is a mini-sculpture for the body, and the body becomes a living gallery."

In 2009, the designer collaborated with Laotian-American fashion guru Nary Manivong for his Autumn/Winter collection at Fashion Week.

Women's Wear Daily, InStyle, Marie Claire, and Glamour are a few of the publications that have featured Cusack's imaginative jewelry in their pages.
Photo 1 (top right): Zipper Pin
Photo 2 (center): Zipper Necklace

Photo 3 (bottom left): Zipper Bracelet

Friday, June 25, 2010


At nearly one hundred years old, Millesgården, located on the island of Lindingo in Sweden, is a thriving Swedish museum consisting of sculpture gardens and workspace for artists. Sweden is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Malin Nyman-Smallcombe.

Exploring alternative materials for use in jewelry design and creation is a central goal for many jewelry artists.

British designer Jane Adam's beautiful trinkets of anodized aluminum along with Dori Csengeri's (Israel) exquisite embroidered pieces are two examples of the high level of innovation, and experimentation key to many designers' aesthetic.

Smallcombe's five-year-old company, MALIN Collection, is known for its "eco-chic jewelry" that is composed of such materials as jute, silk, leather, cotton, and cashmere with accents of glass, wooden beads, and semi-precious gemstones.

Taking inspiration from the likes of jewelry designer Tom Binns, and late fashion guru Stephen Sprouse, Smallcombe combines some of the design elements of one collection to build another.

Her collections span the lofty elegance of Victorian lace, subtle arrangements that evoke African beadwork, and the illuminating hues of neon colors. Designs are constructed through a variation of knotting, twisting and looping.

"My work is a fusion of my experiences in Stockholm, London, and Los Angeles, California where I am now based, "says the designer.

Like Adam and Csengeri, and other like-minded designers, Smallcombe's bijouterie challenges perceptions of what is considered valuable in the world of jewelry, as well as provides consumers with options.
"I love the challenge of making something that people want to wear, and my favorite part of being a designer is the freedom that challenge gives me."

Photo 1 (top right): Bracelet from Neon Collection
Photo 2 (center): Necklace from Lace Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Palmero Bracelet with Jute/Cotton Cords and Ribbed Wooden Beads

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Get ready to enjoy the feats of skilled surfers that populate Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia. Featured in the final scene of the Keanu Reeves' film Point Break, Bells Beach has been the location of the Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music Festival for nearly fifty years. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Nicole Raab.

Before bringing her life-long passion for jewelry making to fruition through her company, Indi's Charm, the mother of five worked as a Community Development Coordinator at various community centers.

When her then husband-to-be chose to commission a jeweler to create her engagement ring, Raab's own creative stirrings were reignited.

During her fifth pregnancy, she decided to quit her job, and actively pursue constructing handmade jewelry.

"I loved to make jewelry from a very young age. I have always been fascinated by it," Raab recalls.

"I love the way it can make you feel. I love the way jewelry makes a statement about a person. Jewelry brings out a woman's femininity."

The self-taught designer takes a tactile and spiritual approach to her creation process, and the beauty of nature is central to her aesthetic.

"I can get inspired anywhere, really. Honestly, I can be shopping and someone can walk pass wearing something or carrying something in their hand and an idea pops into my head.

I stop to write down my ideas while my family shakes their heads waiting for me. It's crazy. My head is always buzzing with ideas. But I have to say that nature is my biggest influence.

I have spent many years in the mountains of Victoria's Dandenong Ranges. Many of my pieces are inspired by the non-conformists of the mountains, as well as the unique twists that capture the souls of those who live there."

Amalgamating such materials as Swarovski crystals, Balinese silver, leather, freshwater pearls, lampwork beads, copper, old belt buckles, semi-precious stones, and shells, Raab builds varied and differentiated items.

Her elegant and sophisticated neckpieces highlight styles that seem to be variations of African, East Indian, and Turkish aesthetics.

For the most part, these designs are simple yet opulent with either a metal chain or silk cord suspending a vibrant gemstone drop, multiple beads, or a commanding metal medallion.

Aside from pendants, earrings, and bracelets, she also configures beautiful key chains, handbag jewelry, and bookmarks sprinkled with luscious drops of semi-precious stones. I love that she has matched delicate stones with functional items while also punctuating femininity.

I love the idea of having a few aquamarine gemstones dangling right next to my car ignition key. In case you are in a morning rush and arrive to work sans a pair of earrings or necklace, you still have a little bling with you.

"I don't pre-plan or draw sketches. When I make something, I like it to be the first time it has been created. I like the creation process to be pure, and raw.

I have a tattoo of the holy trinity on my hand, and I never make a piece without a simple prayer first. It is a bit like a ritual, if you must."

Ultimately, once a piece is finalized, Raab thoroughly enjoys seeing the visceral response of a potential wearer. "I love for my jewelry to start a conversation. When I see a woman look at a piece from my collection, and she can't walk away without it, I know that piece has spoken to her. That is very important.

For me, I believe every woman has the right to own and wear an individual piece of art in the form of jewelry, without the high cost.

I've been known to sell a piece cheaper than the listed price because the piece spoke to someone. It's not about the money. It's about the love a wearer has for it, and the love of creating it."

For Raab's latest collections, be sure to view her FaceBook page.
Photo 1 (top right): Medallion Pendant
Photo 2 (center): Keychain with Semi-Precious Gemstones

Photo 3 (bottom left): Silver Tone Medallion Bracelet

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Renowned for its French, Russian, and Italian architecture, the Kukovo Estate, located in Moscow, Russia, is a feast for the eye both internally and externally. The regal locale houses over 33,000 pieces of extraordinary glassware, and ceramics. Russia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Lana Fertelmeister-Bramlette.

Presently based in Chicago, Bramlette has been in the fashion industry for nearly twenty years. In 2000, before embarking on a career as jewelry designer, she designed a clothing line.

However, with a low-key yet sophisticated personal style, Bramlette searched for less robust fine jewelry to accentuate her couture pieces.

She in turn commissioned a jeweler to create a pair of streamlined, gold earrings according to her specifications.

"I simply was not attracted to fine jewelry. It was intimidating, expensive, and definitely not sexy," she says.

"When my first collection came out seven years ago, it resonated with women who understand that the elements of luxury do not have to be flashy but elegant and sexy."

Though her aesthetic is minimalist, with few gemstones, her jewelry possesses a distinctive flair reminiscent of Danish/Scandinavian designs. Lines are long, clean, and fluid with nuances of flat or diamond-cut 14-karat gold with price points from $190 to $10,000.

Her Bombshell Necklace is one of the most delicate, multi-chain necklaces I believe I have seen. Accented with ten, small diamonds it is exquisitely transient like slivers of golden thread, as are the ethereal outlines of her Three Tear Earrings, her signature items.

In this light Bramlette's style brings to mind the work of Dutch designer Marijke de Goey, and Korean-born Sadie Wang. Both designers create items to blend with, and accentuate the wearer.

"The great essence of a woman is her ability to exude style effortlessly," says Bramlette. "I learned very early about style from my mother, how to carry yourself, and what it means to buy a few jewelry pieces that are incredible quality. It is never about excess, but quality. My jewelry is made to become one with the wearer."

With luminous clientele like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, and Halle Berry, success is sweet for the former clothing designer.

It is particularly sweet considering at age six, Bramlette was forced to flee with her parents to the United States from Soviet Russia because they are Jewish.

As they settled in Chicago, Bramlette watched her parents slowly yet courageously rebuild their lives. It was an indelible lesson about perseverance.

"Lana Jewelry is carried in over 150 stores worldwide," beams the designer. "It has been an incredible journey and none of it has come easy. It is hard work, mixed in with determination and heart. Fear is the only thing that stops anyone from achieving anything."

Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Bombshell Necklace with Diamonds
Photo 2 (center): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Talitha Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Small Three-Tear Earrings

Monday, June 21, 2010


A prized symbol of French patriotism, the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile in Paris, France is one of the world's largest triumphal arches standing 162 feet. France is also the home of featured jewelry designer Elizabeth Paradon.

For nearly three decades, Paradon's company, Ziio Jewelry, has consistently produced exquisite gemstone jewelry.

Luminous variations of purple amethyst, red agate, blue lazurite, green aventurine, and freshwater pearls possess a stirring regality bringing to mind the Queen of Sheba.

The gemstones' vibrant color and varied arrangements ebb and flow with several cultural styles I have seen since beginning this blog.

While the sights and ambiance of such countries as Thailand, Greece, and Italy influence Paradon's design aesthetic, I see the bold colors of India's meenakari jewelry, tile patterns of Israeli mosaics, and the chic sophistication of Egyptian bead jewelry.

Suspended within a taut web of precious metal wire, the stones' arrangement is seemingly determined by the web's configuration.

A large chunk of chrysoprase is set within a large gap in the web while small, glistening pops of garnets and Murano glass fill in smaller gaps.

The web of her eye-catching cuff bracelets contains at least three to four tiers. Each tier containing a string of like gemstones such as peridot or the stones vary from tier-to-tier blending the deep blue hues of lapis with the lush beauty of violet agate. The pieces are simply magnificent.

For me, the great aspect about Ziio Jewelry is that Paradon seemingly reaches back into time creating pieces of such stately opulence they look as though they were unearthed from Pharaohs'' tombs.

Incidentally, a select number of Paradon's designs are exhibited in a number of museums around the world, and even the Queen of Jordan adorns herself with these luscious creations.

Photo 1 (top right): Scottish Blue Onyx Bangle
Photo 2 (bottom left): Amore Infinito Cryso Necklace

Saturday, June 19, 2010


In Manhattan, New York, nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues, is the world-renowned Museum of Modern Art. Holding thousands upon thousands of archival information on various artists in literature, architecture, and film, the museum is considered one of the most influential. New York is also home to sister-sister designing team Anna and Julie Reinberg.

I really enjoy seeing young people who possess the drive and ambition to pursue a challenging goal.

The jewelry industry, like any industry, is competitive with longstanding brands, as well as up-and-comers to face-off.

Yet in 2009, these two sisters, with no formal training in jewelry design, utilized their collective gift for creativity, paired it with an independent spirit and made a go of it.

After graduating from Georgia State University, where they majored in textile design, both sisters felt a stirring disconnect. While Anna worked in "sales for a children's clothing line in Miami," Julie migrated to New York in the hopes of finding a fulfilling career.

"While I lived in New York, I had been bouncing around from job-to-job trying to figure out what makes me happy," says Julie.

"I've done everything from PR to photography. I finally decided that I loved designing my own line and that I could put all of my past work experience into building our brand."

Anna's defining moment came while preparing for a social event. "Although we are not formally trained in jewelry design, we had always made jewelry with our mom just for fun.

Last year, I made a bracelet for myself to wear to an event and all of my friends started asking about it," she says. "Julie and I never thought those times making jewelry with our mom would turn into a business."

The duo called upon their background in textile design to create their signature Pop Cuffs, composed of entwined, colorful jersey fabric and mesh. "Georgia State University had cut its jewelry design program so we studied textile design," says Julie.

"The course was very focused on traditional Japanese techniques. We took classes in batik, indigo dyes, natural dyes, weaving, screen-printing, and heat transfer. Every part of our design process was done by hand. No computers," she emphasizes.

"Julie and I eventually started using a variation of knitting techniques to create larger pieces like our Pop Cuffs faster but the technique is top secret!" Anna grins.

The duo also creates bold, and unusual cocktail rings fashioned from variations of acrylic, crystals, turquoise beads, epoxy, and metal. There is a playful sophistication to the collection, a funky, youthful vibe.

"We love pieces that are bold, big, different, and outrageous," says Julie. "I think bold pieces and bright colors show we aren't scared to be ourselves."

With their skills fully engaged, now came the time to name their new brand. Their company name, PopKiss Jewelry, is derived from one of Anna's first date experiences. "Julie and I had been trying to think of a name for our line for a few months.

Then one night I went on a first date with this guy. He asked for a kiss and I said `no'. So he asked could he have a `pop kiss', a quick kiss on the lips, and I knew that was the name. He still didn't get a kiss," Anna deadpans.

The sisters continue to evolve, expanding on their design ideas and learning from their experiences.

"We love giving our customers options," says Julie. "We have always loved neon colors and anything that stood out. We just do what we like."
Photo 1 (top right): Epoxy and Metal Ball Cluster Ring
Photo 2 (center): Two-Tone Lime Green and Yellow Pop Cuff
Photo 3 (bottom left): Gold and Pavé Turquoise Frog Ring

Friday, June 18, 2010


One of Portugal's most beautiful regions is the picturesque Algarve Coast. With its high cliffs, rock formations, fine sands, and crystal waters, it is a fantastic locale for relaxing and enjoying breathtaking surroundings. Portugal is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ana Cardim.

Like other designers who create wildly distinctive conceptual jewelry, Cardim is clearly not afraid of stepping outside the norm.

Educated in Spain, Portugal, and the United States of America, Cardim's work epitomizes what I feel constitutes the conceptual style. It is thought provoking, comical, and whimsical while ultimately wearable.

Even though I understand enthusiasts' love for the classic, timeless designs of someone like Neil Lane or the Cartier brand, I also feel the public has a taste for the unique and idiosyncratic.

From what I have seen, conceptual jewelry often conveys poignant yet humorous reflections of the human condition rather than objects of endearment. Even if people shy away from wearing Cardim's pieces they certainly invite attention and conversation.

Such "device" pieces as Clean Your Mind, Garbage Pin, and Urban Help, reveal a sophisticated and thoughtfully conceived design approach. "The jewel device is itself a place that inhabits a mobile place: the body," she explains.

"The jewel's place of support, the body, is a place of communication that, at the same time, carries it to different places. In this sense, the jewel can be understood as a place of dialectic between the private space of the wearer and the public space he or she carries it.

This mobility reconfigures the jewel as social communicator; an expression device generator of critical speech in the public space."

Cardim amalgamates such materials as silver, acrylic, tiny paper rolls, bubble wrap, and even hot peppers and puts a decidedly new twist on statement-making jewelry. Her socially conscious items are geared towards societal emotional or spiritual cleansing.

The humorous Clean Your Mind Pin is a vivid, miniature facsimile of a toilet paper roll. The piece's purpose is simple; to help rid the mind of worry and anxiety.

"You pull the hygienic paper, break it in a desired measure, and write down any personal problem or worry," Cardim explains.

You visualize that the problem is not going to worry you anymore, and you throw the paper in the toilet. You repeat this process as many times as needed. The piece serves as a catharsis vehicle."

Composed of a simple sterling silver ring, and small plastic bag, The Garbage Pin's function is along the same lines. "This jewel device calls on the current urban, social pattern that confronts the notions of waste and worth," she says.

"The piece can be symbolic, a place to keep memories of the day-to-day, small nothings. The piece acquires new meanings to whoever uses it so its symbolic value is confirmed through the manner in which it is used."

It is always refreshing to see jewelry designers veer off the beaten path, and reinvent the concept of jewelry.

I like seeing that such innovation, and originality helps to challenge the traditional concept while also transcending it.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver, Acrylic, and Paper Roll Clean Your Mind Pin
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and Paper Book Ring

Thursday, June 17, 2010


It is springtime in Switzerland so it is a great time to explore the country's attractions including the world-famous Alps, and the blooming foliage and lakes of Geneva. Switzerland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Marielle Byworth.

As I stated in another post, timeless or classic form does not necessarily have to be something recognizable like a heart or circle.

In my mind, purity of form can also be a little off-center, a little irregular as embodied by the renowned creations of Finnish brand Lapponia Jewelry.

Through her four-year-old company, Marijoli, Byworth's design aesthetic is based in clean arrangements blended with striking and unusual details.

A graduate of Switzerland's Graphic Art School of Swiss Romande, as well as the University of Art and Design of Lausanne, the artist married into one of London's most renowned fine, bespoke jewelry manufacturers, H.A. Byworth & Company.

Sharing a residence with her husband's two brothers, in 2005, was a great learning experience for the budding designer. "My brother-in-laws would consult with me about the creation of new pieces. They were completely insane but they changed the way I looked at the world," she recalls.

"They spent their evenings talking about the merits of being a part of such a unique business. I couldn’t say no to them."

In the following year, her jet setting excursions spent diving in the waters of the Maldives, on holiday in St. Tropez, and ultimately setting up residence in Tokyo, Japan would dictate the style of the items she made for personal use.

Her distinctive ability of interpreting forms in nature caught the admiring gazes of many who commissioned her talents to create pieces for their own personal collections.

Taking a more spiritual approach to design, Byworth's design palette broadened meshing together influences from the opulence of Marie Antoinette to American heiress Barbara Hutton.

"Jewelry is not only about carats and millions of dollars. Jewelry has a force of evocation which, surprisingly, dresses, handbags, and hats do not have," she explains.

"I always carry a sketchbook because I find inspiration in all of my surroundings. I love juxtaposing precious stones with modern materials that are considered of lesser value giving the piece a less excessive aspect while also holding some mystery."

With the exception of one of her Dragon on Fire rings--a composite of sterling silver, black onyx, and rubies that resembles a three-tier cake--the bijouterie featured on her website, like the Elema Bracelet, is non-specific in structure, which I like.

The elongated, perforated metalwork is sleek, sexy, and elegant while also being reminiscent of futuristic mechanisms. The jewelry is an intriguing marriage of earthy and ethereal, striking and sophisticated.

The Marijoli brand is currently distributed worldwide in Geneva, San Diego, California, Paris, London, and Istanbul.

The jewelry has dangled from the famous wrists, necks, and earlobes of Kate Moss, Nelly Furtado, and Madonna.

Photo 1 (top right): Rhodium-Plated Sterling Silver Maying Bracelet
Photo 2 (center): Rhodium-Plated Sterling Silver Dragon on Fire Ring with Rubies and Carved Black OnyxPhoto 3 (bottom left): Rhodium-Plated Sterling Silver Elema Necklace

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Built by famed Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen in 1918, the bronze statue of The Little Mermaid is Copenhagen, Denmark's most popular tourist attraction on par with New York's Statue of Liberty. Denmark was also the home of the late jewelry designer Niels Erik From.

Eighty-four years ago, renowned Danish jeweler Georg Jensen once compared the white luster of silver to the glow of the moon.

Appreciating the metal's challenging, and unyielding nature, he loved the idea of cultivating and conquering it. For this reason, he believed the metal better than gold possessing greater effect.

According to what I have read, many of the earliest Danish jewelers worked with sterling silver, using native stones like amber in their distinctive, minimalist jewelry.

A trained silversmith, in 1931, at age 23, From opened his first workshop. For the next 40 years, From's floral-inspired pieces from Denmark's Arts and Crafts period, and sculptural, modernist pieces of the 70s would become the company's signature styles.

The metalwork is gorgeously lithe and supple. There are obscure details of oxidation, carved out metal, surface etchings as well as the incorporation of lovely translucent and butterscotch amber.

The overall designs are masterful examples of From's ability to achieve unique detail and sinuous fluidity in simple forms.

His Off Center Amber Ring, for instance, is composed of a slightly patinated, cupped sterling silver disc with a smaller disc placed slightly off center against the larger one ultimately serving as the setting for a smooth, round amber stone.

There is something about the execution of his jewelry. There is something intangible I do not know how to articulate.

It is ultra simplistic yet at the same time visually striking. The combination of slightly voluptuous geometric structures and large, round and flat stones like onyx or carnelian is quietly magnetic.

Since his workshop was closed shortly after his death in 1986, From's legacy of limited, modernist jewelry items are distributed through Scandinavian Silver's website.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Carnelian Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Fish Brooches with Amethyst Cabochon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The Mount Fitz Roy (Cerro Fitz Roy) sits ominously along the borders of Chile and Argentina. Also known as the "smoking mountain," due to a cloud encircling its peak, among the natural wonder's first ascendants was French alpinist Guido Magnone. Argentina is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Maria Belen Nilson.

Has soaking up the ambience of an exotic locale altered your perspective in some way?

Has the positive presence of someone you admire played a major role in cultivating the person you are today?

For many people such experiences have changed their lives in ways they never predicted or imagined.

Nilson's story is one such tale of destiny. Although she had never been to Mexico, the designer found herself captivated by the country for years, even as a child.

At age 21, she traveled to the country, to relocate, and the visceral impact was instant. "I came here on my own with nothing, and I fell in love with Mexico the moment I arrived," she recalls. "I had a degree in Educational Studies and I taught literature in Mexico City."

Over time, Nilson would move to the State of Morelos where she developed her aptitude for crafts. "I learned about different crafting techniques and about working with different materials."

She would marry a Mexican jewelry designer and eventually move to Taxco, Mexico's premier location for silver mining.

However, at age forty, her life's journey would take a challenging turn. Newly divorced and caring from three children, Nilson boldly chose to become a silversmith.

"I had to go on by myself to provide for my daughters. I decided to set up my own workshop and I contacted renowned Taxco silversmiths to teach me the craft."

Nilson's love for her adopted homeland is readily evident in her beautifully sculpted sterling silver jewelry. Lithe curves, waves, curls, loops, and swirls are just the beginning.

Mexican iconography like Lady of Guadalupe, skeletal imagery from the Day of the Dead, Aztecan headdresses, and political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posados' character named Catrina each surface in Nilson's expertly crafted designs.

Though Nilson's creations are streamlined, she takes a fearless approach to it, in my opinion. She never allows the fantastic cultural imagery to be diminished by confining it to stodgy, modernized proportions.

The bijouterie is a great marriage of the past and present in pieces that are splendidly unique like her Skeleton Fish Cuff Bracelet, or strikingly bold like her Aztec Warrior Choker Necklace.

"I really enjoy doing what I do; it comes from a deep love for Mexico. I love this country; here is where I discovered my spiritual strength and I learned to follow my heart."

The metalwork is exquisite highlighting the commanding presence of the white and burnished metal.

Based on what I have seen on Nilson's Novica page, she makes limited use of gemstones and it takes absolutely nothing away from the overall designs.

I am amazed how designs of only precious metal or gemstones have such powerful magnetism and beauty on their own, and when placed together do not overshadow or detract from each other.

I think it speaks to these materials' inherent natural beauty as well as their effortless complementary nature.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Wilderness Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Trellis Cuff Bracelet

Monday, June 14, 2010


Once serving as the residence of sultans, Turkey's Topkapi Palace has become a significant remnant of the country's history currently serving as a museum. It is a structure of enormous proportions with tall gates, pavilions, and courtyards each with its own purpose. Turkey is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ebru Danyal.

Danyal's website loads with a view through a keyhole. You catch glimpses of different items located in the virtual, animated room peaking behind it.
Once you mouse-click the keyhole, you are taken into the designer's world full of fun, and high spirits, the embodiment of childhood.

Though Danyal's bold-colored jewelry is reminiscent of Tarina Tarantino's equally buoyant trinkets, from what I have seen online the finer details are the distinguishing marks between the two designers.

Danyal's use of mosaic glass, embroidery, glitter, acrylic beads, and Swarovski crystals, as well as her implementation of distinctive minutiae like figurines of poodles, penguins, dolls, cake slices, high-heel shoes, teddy bears, and ice-cream cones, sets her collections apart from Tarantino's primarily Lucite bijouterie.

While I feel that Tarantino's jewelry is a wonderfully unabashed celebration of eternal girlhood, its essence is lilting romanticism peppered with a sense of angst as depicted with the edgy skull pieces, and her Wicked items from the My Pretty Collection.

The essence of Danyal's jewelry, in my opinion, is pure joy and innocence. There is plenty of pink, lilac, and powder blue; colors that for me evoke the decadent side of childhood like jellybeans, cotton candy, or the excitement of roaming an amusement park with your friends.

Like Tarantino's collections, I found Danyal's jewelry taking me back to those days of first-times and discoveries when everything was new, fresh, and seemingly uncomplicated.

I like that Danyal has not retired that part of herself because I feel there is a daring in doing that. It is easy to let that part be squeezed out by years of day-to-day frustrations.
In fact, Danyal's mental blueprints are so vivid her Bodrum-based store, established in 2004, is like a life-sized version of Barbie's playhouse!

At the same time, Danyal manages to add a mild twist of cosmopolitan sophistication as the WorldWhite and Pink Collection is inspired in part by the cities of New York, Paris, Vienna, and Tokyo with a dash of Holly Golightly thrown in for good measure.

Her splendid embodiment of "childhood sweet memories" garnered the designer the 2008 Best Accessory Designer from the Bijorhca International Jewelry Fair in Paris.
Photo 1 (top right): Kissing A Frog Bracelet with Embroidered Fabric, Plastic Figurines, and Swarovski Crystals
Photo 2 (bottom left): Hollywood Necklace with Swarovski Crystals form the WorldWhite and Pink Collection

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Taking a little over two decades to build, the "16-sided stone masonry" structure, known as the Nott Memorial, is a unique, dome-top building situated at the center of Schenectady, New York's Union College. New York is also the home base for brand David Lee Holland Jewelry.

Originally from Selma, Alabama Holland refers to his luminous, nature-inspired bijouterie as "golden garden jewelry" as his life-like pieces are gorgeous replications of everything flora.

Holland hand fabricates acorn caps, eucalyptus and laurel leaves, and even coffee beans using yellow, white, green, rose, and black 18-karat gold.

His attention to detail, the organic aspect of the overall piece, the color, and texture of the gold and gemstone accents really draws the eye.

Outside of the idiosyncratic minutiae he implements, Holland keeps the outline structures simple.

The realness of the pieces is immensely striking even in the instances where he recreates the bark of thistle brush and mimosa trees, the cross-section of a corkscrew willow, or a tiny twig from an Oak branch.

"I don't just see a tree when I look at a tree, I see a sculpture," he says. "I feel sometimes like I am creating a permanent record of something that is disappearing from the planet."

His parents, Homer and Doris, influenced Holland's affinity for nature and eventual advent into the jewelry industry. Many years of strolling along his mother's well-kept gardens in Alabama helped to cultivate his love for the natural world.

"My mother had a beautiful home with lots of gardens and plants," he says. "I love coming to Alabama, seeing and collecting the leaves."

Although his mother is the proprietor of a high-end jewelry store, and his father is among the first members of the American Gem Society, as well as serving as an instructor at Selma's Holland School for Jewelers, Holland did not feel pressure to pursue a career in the jewelry industry.

After attending the University of Alabama, Holland relocated to New York working for fashion publications Vogue and Vanity Fair. Once he chose to design jewelry, he knew it was a perfect fit.

"Jewelry is very personal. That is what makes it special as a jeweler. Clients buy it knowing they will leave it to their children or their grandchildren."

Holland also specializes in custom-designed pieces and designs a sterling silver collection featuring thick, rope-edge links holding beautiful, bold-colored sapphires, citrine, amethyst, and chrysoprase.

The designer donates a portion of the proceeds from his flora-inspired pieces to New York's Central Park Conservancy.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Star Anise Ring with Diamond
Photo 2 (bottom left): Honeysuckle Vine Ring in Yellow, White and Blackened Gold

Friday, June 11, 2010


Situated atop a looming column in a plaza in Madrid, Spain, is a carving of the likeness of explorer Christopher Columbus. Madrid's Plaza de Colón was established to honor the wayfarer's history-changing exploits. Spain is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Monica Vinader.

Like Chinese designer Debbie Kuo, England-based jeweler Vinader builds her collections on striking subtleties.
The classic, timeless structures of teardrops and circles form the basis of her designs; however, candy-like, softly hued semi-precious gemstones are the focal points.

At the launch of her brand eight years ago, Vinader specialized in creating custom designed pieces for private clientele.
Once word-of-mouth spread, she developed affordable collections, fashioned from 18-karat yellow, and rose gold vermeil, and sterling silver, for a worldwide audience.

Though her overall design approach is streamlined, her illustrious collections feature a few bolder pieces, her Nugget Cuff and Medina Bangle to be exact. The pieces are not bold in the way of extravagant or elaborate details but rather are bold in the breadth of their form.

The Medina Bangle is a thick cuff exquisitely fashioned from hammered, 18-karat yellow gold vermeil accented with a pale, aqua blue chalcedony that parallels the broad, wide proportion of the cuff.

The Nugget Cuff boasts faceted stones set within the open, arabesque design of 18-karat gold vermeil or sterling silver. I also like the commanding, raised detail of her gold vermeil Marie Necklace that can be paired with various stone charms.

Among the brand's most popular items are the Fiji and Rio Bracelets, which are playful yet sophisticated versions of friendship bracelets.
The Fiji is a luscious curve of 18-karat yellow gold vermeil attached to an adjustable, vibrantly colored silk cord, while the Rio is a composite of 18-karat gold vermeil balls wrapped with twined silk.

The two styles are nice complements and can be worn together and I like the youthful, adventurous vibe of these particular items. The overall essence of Vinader's use of color is soothing, laidback and casual yet fun, elegant and feminine.

"My philosophy is to create luxurious yet practical jewelry for every occasion. I love items that are beautifully balanced with sophistication, style, and comfort," says Vinader.

"I make pieces that tell individual stories whether you are in Argentina, Ascot, Marrakech, or Sydney.
The choices of design and color can be stacked, layered, and customized allowing the wearer to express her unique self."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Vermeil over Sterling Silver Medina Bangle with Pale Aqua Chalcedony
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Gold Vermeil Cerise for Love Fiji Bracelet
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Vermeil over Sterling Silver Cabos Necklace with Amethyst Stone

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Today we visit the Krasiński Palace in Warsaw, Poland. The striking fortress built over three centuries ago, is a marvel of detailed sculptures and interior designs heavily based in the baroque style. Poland is also the former home of featured jewelry designer Ashka Dymel.

When it comes to apparel and jewelry people have certain style preferences.

A particular preference is not necessarily a reflection he or she does not like other styles.

However, style preferences may indicate what a person feels most comfortable wearing.

Even jewelry designers can fall into the habit of shying away from one aesthetic while embracing another.

Dymel, an alumna of New York's Parsons the New School for Design, is a purist for form receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Environmental Design.

Since opening her Brooklyn, New York studio two decades ago, Dymel's design approach strictly adhered to the clean lines of geometric forms with little demarcations of structure or color accents.

"Although jewelry making provided me with a sense of creative freedom and control that my architectural training lacked, I always shied away from traditional stone setting techniques," she says.

"I have a keen interest in geometry, structure, and modular designs. In recent years, however, being a mother has had a profound effect on my creative process.

My work is more playful, intuitive, less symmetrical, and controlled. I allow unexpected elements of chance to play part in the process."

Dymel's collections span orbital trajectories, the stunning technique contrasting 24-karat gold against sterling silver, and the incorporation of flexible steel, and unique, freshwater stick pearls.

Her Jeweled Ovals and Dancing Squares Collections highlight Dymel's exploration into color contained witin linear forms like hearts, circles, squares, and rectangles.

The subtle mix of hues between semi-precious beads of carnelian, citrine, green, and red garnet, labradorite, aquamarine, amethyst, and tourmaline fade or intensify going from shades of dark to light like the sun against the horizon.

"After many years of creating monochromatic work, I started using color and I feel more like a painter now than an engineer," she enthuses.

"I create impressionistic compositions with fields of color broken up into small elements. Each bead is like a drop of paint becoming part of the color field."

The tiny, luminous beads resemble exotic caviar or jellybean candies packed side-by-side within open outlines of sterling silver. The granules of color draw you in increasing visual interest, and personality.

Dymel currently serves as a Visiting Professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and her minimalist, colorful jewelry pieces are distributed through the Aaron Faber Gallery in New York, the Chicago Architecture Foundation in Illinois, and the Freehand Gallery in Los Angeles, California.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Bi-Metal and Sterling Silver Leaf Brooch with Multi-Colored Semi-Precious Beads
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Heart Necklace with Citrine, Green Garnet, Lemon Quartz, Peridot and Tourmaline

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Even after Spain's conquest of the Aztec empire, during the early 16th century, the mysterious grandeur of the Templo Mayor temple could not be fully quelled. More than four centuries after the temple's destruction, a major excavation took place in Mexico City uncovering well-preserved artifacts. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Carlos Cabral.

Jewelry is born through the unification of instinct and intellect, while the ultimate creation is a hands-on, sensory endeavor.

It is a play of touch, exploration, and a seeming transference between the creator and his or her materials.

"I studied a variety of courses in jewelry design and silversmithing in order to discover the intricacies of metal work," says the former med student. "I learned how to work metals without hurrying the process--I learned to listen to the metal."

When designing his pieces, Cabral also takes cures from the natural environment. "Nature is the guiding principle behind my jewelry designs. I observe flowers and feathers. I study the contours of rocks, or the texture of a tree trunk. I'd say my designs emulate Mother Nature rather than imitate."

Cabral's sterling silver bijouterie is alternately coarse, organic, irregular, sleek, and sculptural. He contrasts white and patinated metal, high polish with texture adding accents of reconstituted turquoise, opals from Jalisco's Magdalena mines or a single black pearl.

His more streamlined pieces, featured on, incorporate Aztecan motifs, and interpretations of a thread spool, and open book.

Although I love the look of elegant jewelry its fluidity, and smoothness of form, I also love the distinctive, hand-sculpted look of his organic items.

Some shapes are crinkled like loosely balled up pieces of paper, others are beaten up, rough-hewn resembling unearthed relics.

Each design is cultivated through numerous techniques including anticlastic raising, hammering, repoussé, and high relief.

Overall, the jewelry is earthy, and sensual a visual language of delicate femininity and quiet strength.

"I worked in graphic communications for over 20 years. I designed jewelry on the side until I realized my greatest pleasure came from three-dimensional shapes as well as working with metals and gemstones.

I derive great pleasure when I see people wearing my designs and see them happy with my products."
Photo 1 (top right): Hammered Sterling Silver Tara Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Puno Bracelet

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Located along the north bank of England's River Thames is the Palace of Westminster. After many years serving as a primary royal residence, the palace is presently the location of England's seats of government, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Its clock tower, known as Big Ben, is one of the most recognizable landmarks of England. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Rachel Emmerson.

The decorative application of finely crushed glass, known as enamel, to ceramic, stone and metal renders breathtaking results.

The technique of enameling is time-honored used by ancient Chinese, Greeks, Celts, and Russians.

Peter Carl Fabergé's exquisite Fabergé Eggs are perhaps the most well known example of the remarkable beauty cultivated from this precision and detail-oriented technique.

To develop her lovely, contemporary jewelry, Emmerson implements two enameling methods, champlevé and basse taille developed respectively by early Celts and Italians.

Using the buttery glow of 18-karat gold and the candescent glimmer of sterling silver, Emmerson carves out subtle yet distinctive designs layering them with gorgeous colored apple, jade, crimson, and azure vitreous enamel.

"Hand engraving gives me great freedom to express my ideas. It is incredibly direct, like drawing," says the jewelry maker.

"I can control the width and line just by a flick of my hand. I then kiln fire several layers of colored, transparent enamel over the top. I am fascinated how particular angles and shapes of cut will reflect and move light."

The result is striking almost three-dimensional designs, each with nuanced personalities.

There are semblances of a sleek, reclined wing in her Feather Pendant, puckered glass in her Leaf Earrings, textile-like patterns of her Eclipse Earrings, grainy stucco in her Lunar and Tear Pendants, and the opaque color of stained glass in her Trapeze Pendants.

The incredible, painstaking enamel applications and carved metal details contrasted by clean, modern outlines are visually stunning.

"Enamel for me is pure alchemy. I love playing with color, discovering a new combination is a constant joy and watching expectantly as the enamel cools and the underlying design magically comes to life."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Lunar and Tear Pendants with Misty Grey and Crimson Grey Vitreous Enamel
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Feather Pendant with Blue-Grey Vitreous Enamel

Monday, June 7, 2010


Indonesia's Lombok Island, with its assortment of cities, is a great place for exploration. Mount Rinjani, an active volcano, is among many popular tourist attractions, as well as Segar Anak Lake. Each city of Lombok holds a unique landmark surrounded by natural beauty. Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Ketut Widarma Putra.

After many years learning various crafts, including silversmithing and woodcarving, Putra worked for a time making candleholders.

Surprisingly, however, he was not sure a future as an artisan was the right career path to follow.

"I liked making candleholders. I love creativity, but I thought it wasn't my destiny so I quit after six months," he recalls.

"A few days later, by chance, I was offered an assistant's job in the quality department of a silver company."

In time, Putra eventually became the department's manager and he later cultivated his own jewelry designs.

Employment with the company allowed travel to various countries including Australia, and the United States where the young artist compared "the art and jewelry in other countries".

Eventually establishing his own jewelry workshop, Putra contains cultural pride and the beauty of his homeland within streamlined, classic proportions.

"In my country, our handicrafts are extraordinary. I am very attached to Balinese culture, and I want to keep it alive as much as I can."

Putra's keen eye for distinguishing detail like repoussé, filigree, and oxidation bring to life traditional motifs of lotus blossoms and intricate calligraphic symbols.

Gemstones like amethyst, citrine, garnet, turquoise, and amber increase visual depth and idiosyncrasies. You are in awe of the striking artistry and differentiation.

"I am really happy with my life. I have a great job that gives me the opportunity to spread my culture everywhere."
Photo 1: (top right): 18-Karat Gold Plated Lotus Choker with Rose Quartz
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Plated Sterling Silver Innocent Lotus Earrings with Moonstone
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