Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Perhaps best known for silver production, and silversmiths like Antonio Pineda, Mexico is also an area known for its varied and colorful ceramic earthenware.
Pre-Columbian cultures including the Teotihuacans, the Olmecs, and the Aztecs highly influence the techniques and styles of modern ceramic pottery.
Trejo revisits time-honored ceramic handicrafts enlisting the ancient techniques to cultivate fun, festive designer jewelry. Those with inhibitions need not apply as watermelon slices, Mexican mugs, apples, and chili peppers are a few items immortalized in vivid, ceramic jewelry that is accented with wood and glass beads.
The former pre-school teacher embarked on a jewelry making career 32-years ago choosing to “feature regional elements like fruits, exotic birds, and Frida Kahlo” into her distinctive handmade jewelry designs.
Jewelry is all about personality; that of the designer and the wearer. This is not classic jewelry; it is playful and quirky.
It ultimately requires a certain mind-set; a personality that appreciates humor and a sense of frivolity. Cloris Leachman’s blithe and uproariously eccentric antics are a perfect fit with the bold colors, and dead-on replications.
I love the play of colors—the greens, reds, yellow—and the arrangement of the life-like shapes. I have not seen a lot of fruit-inspired jewelry done in this way.
Trejo foregoes the simple, strawberry pendant necklace instead creating beautiful lei-like necklaces and charm bracelets drenched with ceramic fruit.
“I love the handicrafts from my beloved Mexico,” says Trejo, “My collections are influenced by Mexican attires, and varied details of my country’s culture.”
Photo 1 (top right): Ceramic Watermelon Chic Bracelet
Photo 2 (center): Ceramic and Pearl Frida’s Little Deer Jewelry Set
Photo 3 (bottom left): Ceramic Tropical Cocktail Jewelry Set
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The origins of Scandinavian jewelry dates back to the days of the Vikings with even the mighty hammer of Thor--a symbol of protection-- immortalized as a silver pendant necklace.
Scandinavian jewelry is renowned for its clean, minimalist proportions offset by subtle details that highlight the smooth flow of form or texture.
Lindberg, who currently resides in the United Kingdom, adheres to this style tradition in handmade jewelry designs of largely gemstone pendants, gemstone earrings, and sterling and fine silver jewelry.
Her understated jewelry is a gentle play of sleek metal forms paired with the pastel beauty of rainbow moonstone, pale green Peruvian opal, spring water aquamarine, pink amethyst, or champagne citrine.
“My work starts off as an idea in my head, which can be inspired by a particularly fabulous or intriguing stone that has caught my eye for some reason, be it the color, a shape or unusual patterns. From there, I build on an idea choosing components to suit the design,” says Lindberg.
Harboring a keen tendency to mentally restructure “a piece of jewelry or a piece of clothing,” the designer embarked on a career in jewelry design eventually establishing Camali Design.
As part of her specialty, Lindberg eagerly accepts requests for custom jewelry thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to cultivate one-of-a-kind pieces.
Her clean pendant necklace designs have a rustic flair as she slightly oxidizes the silver which in turn provides a nice antique, lived-in quality, while wire wrapping placed at the top portion of a gemstone adds an earthy, casual vibe.
The soft color of the gemstones combined with the white silver surfaces is cool and ethereal. The silver chains she uses to suspend her pendants are varied: silver snake chains, strand chains, box chains, silver ball chains, and bar chains.
“The silver beads I use are mainly sourced from the Karen Hill Tribe in Thailand. I love their organic, handmade look as they work particularly well with my jewelry style.
It is a high quality silver, and purchasing the beads helps to support this particular Hill Tribe family with a means to make a living as well as allow the tradition of silversmithing to be carried on.”
There is an inherent natural beauty to Lindberg’s jewelry; an elegant, quiet beauty. For me, natural beauty is a phenomenal quality as it rests upon the undisturbed flow of things. It just is.
“I tend to prefer asymmetry to symmetry and am happiest with the pieces that turn out looking slightly organic and unorganized. I am drawn to what you would call nature’s imperfections.
Seeing customers walking away with a piece of my work feeling that they have something timeless and special is extremely flattering and makes what I do worthwhile.”
Photo 1 (top right): Hundkex Drop Necklace with Rainbow Moonstone and Cow Parsley Silver Disc
Photo 2 (center): Kyanite Tab Earrings
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and Rhodochrosite Sequin Necklace
Monday, September 27, 2010
It is always interesting to see how a jewelry designer conceptualizes something as everyday as leaves, hair or paper into designs that are truly works of wearable art.
The designer jewelry of Nel Linssen (Netherlands) and Kiwon Wang (Korea) devote their respective collections to reinforced paper and nylon thread, and stacked, paper discs accented with pearls, while among Pawel Kaczynski’s (Poland) assortment of daring jewelry is an incredible metal bracelet in the form of a single, dreadlock.
It is a fascinating process of transference when a designer hones in on the understated nuances of an object—manmade or natural—capturing its essence within gold or sterling silver.
A graduate of the University of Brighton, Breen holds a bachelor’s degree in Three-Dimensional Crafts. Like her contemporaries Linssen and Wang she shares an attraction to paper, as well as leaves.
The focus of Breen’s aesthetic is twofold: first, she implements “fragments of found paper” such as train tickets, leaflets, and receipts into designs paired with sterling silver. The combination of materials are ridged, crinkled and curved with oxidized sterling silver earrings developing into forms resembling tiny seahorses.
Second, the designer takes individual sterling silver and 9-karat gold sheets forging the metal into finely textured forms that are reminiscent of the withering leaves of fall.
Everything from the gold necklaces offset with freshwater pearls, to silver rings with paper settings to crunched sterling silver earrings seem so weightless and delicate in their distinctive, organic forms.
“I create bold strata-like constructions with found paper combined with silver. The forms suggest a “personal landscape” composed of many mundane experiences,” says Breen.
“Attaching these apparently worthless paper items to gold and silver expresses their value to me, as tangible remains of a personal experience.
The visual language of geological stratas, corrugating metal and the forging process allows pieces to grow into unique forms. No two pieces are exactly the same.”
Breen’s dainty jewelry is available to buy online at lovedazzle.com, an affiliate website of the online gallery Dazzle Exhibitions.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Textured Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and 9-Karat Gold Textured Bracelet
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Layer Pendant Necklace
Saturday, September 25, 2010
As shown in my profile, I was not what you would call a jewelry fanatic when I started this blog.
Aside from the “standards” like Neil Lane or Tiffany & Co., I did not know any other designer jewelry brands.
Of course now that has changed but even with all I have learned I am still discovering designer jewelry and unique jewelry styles that I would not have otherwise known.
Although I have featured designers such as Trace Palmer (Ireland), and Te Rongo Kirkwood (New Zealand) who create lovely pieces from blown or fused glass, I was not familiar with Richards’ lampworking technique that also requires the use of glass rods or glass beads.
Mandrels, striking, cold working, and annealing are just a few lampwork bead making terms I read about after doing a little online research. I also learned that this painstaking, “glasswork” art form is a centuries-old skill used in ancient Syria, Italy, and France.
Upon viewing some online photos of lampwork jewelry, it was clear that Richards’ jewelry is unlike anything I had seen.
She plays with organic forms and small sculptures giving her pieces whimsical originality. She even designs her own beads, such as her Hibiscus Bead, which are equally distinctive and quirky.
A member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB), Richards initially “started out bead weaving, and then wanted to include lampwork in my designs. I took a class here in Portland, and trained with the ISGB,” she says. “I also took a continuing education class with Dustin Tabor, and Stepahnie Sersich.
I use ribbon cane a lot and do a lot of sculptural lampwork with soft soda-lime glass—I like the colors in soft glass. I do flower beads, horses, cats and have tried other things such as sea creatures.”
Inspired by the colors and shapes of natural surroundings, as well as the “watery nature of glass,” Richards injects a bit of instinct and intellectualism into her unconventional, vivid designs.
“I like to use my own lampwork beads with mini macramé, semi-precious stones, and precious metal clay beads. My approach is different in many ways and is truly my own. I am a very intuitive person so I follow my heart whenever I create a new bead or flower.
I also do a lot of thinking. The work can be difficult because I am working with hot glass. The glass has to be kept hot all the time so adding details to sculptural pieces like the horse has to be done quickly to avoid cracking.”
Along with her playful and somewhat off-center designs are more modern jewelry pieces of pendant necklaces and bracelets.
Like the mythical superhero, Richards plays dual roles enlisting two Etsy stores, Beads U Need, and Cats Paw Artifacts, as independent outlets for her modes of expression.
“There are two sides to me: one side loves simplicity, like transparent circle beads with ribbon cane; the other side is showy and loves to try new things and attract attention. I really love doing abstract lampwork.”
Photo 1 (top right): Lampwork 17-inch Ocean Jasper Necklace with Bone
Photo 2 (center): Lampwork Horse Pendant
Photo 3 (bottom left): Lampwork Amazonite Tibetan Prayer Box Pendant Necklace
Friday, September 24, 2010
It is always nice to see timeless and classic jewelry but sometimes I just want to see something a little more unpredictable and avant-garde.
When you talk about explorative jewelry design no one better exemplifies a non-conformist approach than Dutch designers do (and I mean that in the best way).
Such designers as Sasja Saptenno, Thea Tolsma, and Joke Schole respectively incorporate rubber, porcelain or wood veneers in designs that boldly go against traditional fashion jewelry.
They create vivid, distinct items that actively challenge perceptions of value and beauty. This fearless approach, the joy of experimentation is what I appreciate about contemporary jewelry.
An alumna of Holland’s Hoge School voor de Kunsten, Sipkes relies on systemic, natural surroundings to fuel her unique aesthetic. “It’s amazing how mathematically composed these structures are—just think of sunflowers, corals, the marrow in bones—while they tend to look so organic.”
Sipkes keeps an intriguing palette of materials at her fingertips to help create jewelry reminiscent of rolling tumbleweeds or a thick mesh of vines. Wooden beads, embroidery thread, hemp rope, crystal beads, tulle fabric, and cotton rope are a few of the materials she enlists.
I would imagine that some materials, like steel thread for instance, would require her to test their properties to learn what designs they are best suited. I like the aspect of play allowing whatever happens to happen.
Sipkes’ Natureluurs Collection pays homage to three of the four elements: earth, air, and water. The way she captures the essence of each one is fabulous. I love the combination of earthy colors and textures.
Her Cloud Necklace is a bulbous, puffy assortment of off-white silk and cotton rope; her Sea Necklace is a striking combination of thin, cascading strands of blue and blue-green twined silk and hemp rope; and the Earth Necklace is like a rust red and brown explosion of tiny, swirling leaves fashioned from hemp rope and silk.
As is the case with most contemporary jewelry items --composed of unconventional materials—they will often lack conventional beauty. However, that by no means suggests the items are not without an aesthetic appeal.
Granted, Sipkes’ pieces do not have the lyrical beauty of Danish designer Alidra Alić’s but they do possess a similar element of surprise.
The arrangement of a necklace made of pork bones (see bottom left photo) and linen is so striking I honestly did not think about what the piece’s composition was.
While I have no idea where I would wear her jewelry, I do appreciate the creative risk she takes by remaining true to an artistic vision that is hands-down unforgettable.
Photo 1 (top right): Silk, Velvet and Zinc Red Coral Necklace on Model
Photo 2 (center): Silk and Hemp Earth Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): Pork Bones Necklace on Model
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Of Dutch and French descent, Van der Straeten possesses an appearance that evokes the moody, quiet intensity of a silent film star.
With this in mind, it seemed fitting to learn that he is a bit of a restless type doodling endless sketches in his notebooks.
The one-time engineering student has confessed to only “caring about my drawing lessons” while enrolled in engineering courses. Not long after he realized that his artistry was better suited for something a bit more expressive.
Scrapping his engineering pursuits, Van der Straeten became a full-time art student attending Paris’ École des Beaux Arts. His constantly shifting design ideas culminated into stunning designer jewelry marrying the flowing curves of sculpture with the angular, geometric forms of architecture.
His classic structures tempered with understated incongruity are central to his aesthetic and prompted requests from famed fashion designers Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Jean Gaultier for whom he has created jewelry for their respective labels.
His modern jewelry items of “hand-wrought”, textured 24-karat gold plated bronze, accentuated with rock crystals, amethyst, lacquer or enamel, seem to alternately undulate within its proportions into sinuous patterns or explode in a type of random precision.
Many of his gold cuff bracelets are either an enclosure of cut-out designs that softly twist around a wrist or are these wide, rounded curves of glowing gold-tone metal.
Gold necklaces highlighting different sized square discs seem almost like paper cut-outs as their arrangement is arbitrary not side-by-side making the discs appear to float like golden light across a chain.
It is all very elegant, sleek and haute couture; so it was great to learn that he sells his pieces through a few online stores, such as New York's Met Opera Shop, at affordable prices.
A prolific artist, Van der Straeten has left his mark in other areas of the fashion industry including the voluptuous perfume bottle for Christian Dior’s J’Adore; the case for Guerlain’s Kiss Kiss lipstick; as well as his own line of ultramodern furniture. Even in his latest exploit, jewelry is never far from his thought processes.
“I have a chandelier with organic-looking gold rings that is very similar to a pair of earrings,” says Van der Straeten, “Jewelry is a laboratory for studying shapes for my furniture.”
Photo 1 (top right): 24-Karat Gold Plated Bronze and Black Lacquer Circle Necklace
Photo 2 (center): 24-Karat Gold Plated Bronze Hoops Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): 24-Karat Gold Plated Cuff Bracelet with White Enamel
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
An actor, singer/songwriter and jewelry designer, Miller undoubtedly has an active creative life.
Throughout the course of his jewelry making career—his first love it seems—Miller has allowed for time to touch base with each aspiration.
From the tender age of seven, Miller knew he had a predilection for mingling metal and gemstones as he had “always been collecting rocks and tools, bits of wire and metal things. My current workshop is a lot like my bedroom use to be: messy and full of little projects in various stages of construction and deconstruction.”
In 1973, upon completing drawing and sculpture studies at the Claremont School of Art in Perth, the eager artist accepted a job buffing silver in a workshop called Beaut Sausages. “It was the seventies and silver jewelry was hot. People bought everything I made, often before I finished it.”
The enthusiastic designer bounced around the Australia continent building a retail store in Darwin, and later buying gemstones and a setting up a workshop in Broome where he became the first Australian jeweler to hand fabricate bijouterie with renowned Broome pearls.
By 1996, Miller relocated to Yallingup, Australia where he established his present workshop, Jewel of the Capes.
Miller’s gorgeous designer jewelry of hand cultivated 22- and 18-karat gold, and sterling silver possesses a striking allure in its play of textures, and hand engraved semblances of butterflies, stingrays, geckoes, gum nuts, eucalyptus leaves, octopi, and the frightful images of long-toothed dragon and fang fish.
His engraved rings and engraved bracelets are primal and tribal taking one back thousands of years to a time when pictographs and petroglyphs were the form of communication.
One of his gold cuff bracelets beautifully captures a full scene replete with kangaroos running along a landscape of trees and birds flying overhead. It is incredible craftsmanship all done by hand, and the slight oxidation of his sterling silver cuff bracelets makes the embossed textures pop that much more.
There are also sinuous gold bangle bracelets created with subtle waves and dips in their circling lengths. Miller’s understated yet stunning gemstone rings with settings of pink or blue sapphires, yellow and white diamonds, Burmese rubies, Australian opals, and chrysoprase are timeless staples.
His Supernova Gold Ring is a prime example of Miller’s skill at creating rich organic forms that seem to take on a life of its own.
“Ancient and tribal metalwork is always a source of inspiration. I love silver and I love gold and my tool and pattern making is quite sophisticated now.
The Egyptians, Incas, Celts and Mayans had a very sophisticated sense of aesthetic and traditional techniques.
Pieces from Roman times are beyond “fashion style” and that style is what I constantly pursue.
It is about the artistic journey and making jewelry that will last forever . . . or at least a very long time.”
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Supernova Ring with Diamond
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Bracelets
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Rings with Australian Opals
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Presently based in Los Angeles, California, Sakamoto likes to refer to his design style as minimalist rather than artistic.
His geometric, modern jewelry designs of 18-karat white gold, yellow gold and platinum share Angela Hübel’s (Germany) linear, chic forms.
Like Hübel, Sakamoto’s visual language of subtle, architectural patterns is distinctive yet timeless in execution. A one-time student of graphic and industrial design, after working for five years with a respected jeweler, the designer took a leap of faith entering the jewelry industry.
Thirty-one years ago, the Seattle native relocated to L.A. establishing his company Concept 1 (later renamed Sakamoto in 1995) dedicated to creating designs geared towards less ornamental items to ones that quietly accentuate the wearer.
“I like to keep forms as simple as possible,” says Sakamoto, “I like to keep designs partly sculptural and architectural in nature.” Though the hard angles of modern jewelry styles lack buoyance, it is still beautiful jewelry but with cool restraint.
His gold and diamond pendant necklaces are quietly stunning; while his orbital style earrings resemble a cutting-edge weather vane and his flat base gold rings are understated yet differentiated. The jewelry is a testament to its designer’s sensibilities; elegant, streamlined and stylish.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat White and Yellow Gold Pendant Necklace with Diamonds
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat White and Yellow Gold Ring with Diamonds
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Oval Pendant Necklace with Diamonds
Monday, September 20, 2010
Some do not like the concept of predestination feeling that self-determination is undermined.
However, following the call of destiny is ultimately an act of the will through the exercise of choice.
Picchiotti’s destiny seemed cut out for him as he is descendant from a family of intellectuals.
Nevertheless, growing up in Valenza, Italy would prove to hold the key to Picchiotti’s true destiny as it was a center for a grand tradition of jewelry making.
Like most teenagers looking to establish their identity, a thirteen year old Picchiotti went against familial expectations choosing to apprentice at a goldsmith’s workshop. With his family’s hope of seeing Picchiotti become a doctor shattered they were nonetheless captivated by his innate love for the craft of jewelry making.
The young apprentice’s deft grasp of complex techniques stunned those from whom he learned. Upon completing further studies at Valenza’s Instituto Profesionale Orafo, the ambitious and naturally gifted jeweler established his workshop in 1967 with the help of sister, Annamaria.
To the present, Annamaria remains with the company; her managerial background has allowed Picchiotti cherished time to devote to creating stunning diamond and color gemstone jewelry.
Picchiotti’s intense passion regarding the selection, cut, settings and design styles of diamonds, rubies, and sapphires brings to mind Harry Winston (USA). Like Winston, his commitment to finding “stones worthy of his designs” is legendary.
“A guiding force over the years has been my personal romance with precious stones and diamonds. I only seek out diamonds and color gemstones with unmistakable uniqueness and that is what distinguishes the Picchiotti brand from others,” says the designer.
His vivid yet timeless design approach, particularly his brooches and rings, appear to be influenced by vintage jewelry of the Art Nouveau Period. Diamond encrusted rose and feather replications are fluid; the curve of a stem and the bloom of petals organic.
Picchiotti was careful to create all of his jewelry in-house in order to assure designs met his standards. Delicate, cascading diamond necklaces and elegant diamond bracelets are stately and feminine perfect with a vintage-inspired wedding gown.
Some diamond rings with their intricate pavé settings and dangly earrings drenched with diamonds mingled with pops of blue sapphire, or the granny apple green of peridot possess that distinguished air of pomp-and-circumstance.
This jewelry is undoubtedly sophisticated and classic yet statement making. The designs are clean and minimalist but with that distinct Italian flair.
Today, the Picchiotti brand is a family run business where Picchiotti works alongside wife Matilde, sons Umberto and Filippo, and daughter Maria Carola.
Each individual brings their respective gifts to the company assisting with marketing, buying gemstones, and overseeing manufacturing, and design.
Photo 1 (top right): Platinum, Ruby and Diamond Necklace
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat White Gold and Diamond Brooch Pin
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat White Gold, Onyx and Diamond Pendant Necklace
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I mentioned before that I am not an avid fan of charm jewelry. In all honesty, the sheer saturation of this trend sometimes comes off as a gimmick bandwagon.
However, as I have learned about the origins of charm and symbolic jewelry I have developed more of an appreciation for it.
Such jewelry brands as David Weitzman’s Ka Gold Jewelry (Israel), Qeelin (China), and K Robins (USA) bring both empowerment and beauty to their collections through unique symbols that are carefully considered and researched by its designers. Satya Jewelry is one such brand.
Born from the separate spiritual journeys of its designers, Satya Scainetti and Beth Torstrick-Ward, the gorgeous renderings of alternately minimal and bold designs embody their respective awakenings.
A link of gemstone beads, consisting of blue apatite, suspends the revitalizing symbol of a lotus blossom, while the blooming petals of the lotus is the focal point of striking, handcrafted cuff bracelets in glowing 24-karat gold vermeil.
“I am inspired by my many travels across the world. There are so many diverse elements in encountering temples, villages, museums, and local markets,” says Satya. “Such elements as Thai textiles, ancient Indian coins and Sanskrit words, evolve into a unique design.
We pair ancient symbols with the healing properties of a particular gemstone such as our Red Garnet Om Necklace. For this piece, the peaceful Om symbol combines with the garnets’ ability to enhance inner strength.”
Alongside mainstream iconography of cross necklaces, Hamsa pendants, and heart jewelry are the Goddess Lakshmi, the Tree of Life, and Ganesha; their likenesses beautifully carved by hand on charm necklaces, and gold charm bracelets.
I love the look of handmade jewelry designs. There is something more organic to me, something more naturalistic. It seems to possess inherent warmth. I love seeing that subtle combo of gemstone beads offsetting equally understated gold or sterling silver designs.
I also enjoy seeing the complex structure of such items as their textured, woven silver (99.6%) and gold cuff bracelets, many of which are created by Hill Tribe families of Northern Thailand, as well as the flirty dangle of their Seven Veils Gold Vermeil Earrings. The collections are a lovely expanse of symbols and the innate messages of hope, love and protection add special meaning.
“I was given the name Satya at the end of my training at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram. It means “truth”, and Beth and I were excited to use the name for our collections.”
What is also great about this brand is their 24-karat gold vermeil bijouterie does not differ in design quality than items Scainetti, Ward and their team create with pure 18-karat gold. Currently prices start at $38 for gold vermeil and sterling silver jewelry to $5,488 for 18-karat gold.
The brand's men’s jewelry collection is also evocative and striking such as their Catch a Dragon by the Tail silver cuff bracelets with its rich, scale-like surface textures.
The spirit of giving is integral to Scainetti and Ward as proceeds from specific designs, such as the EB Mini Butterfly Necklace, help to benefit non-profit organizations.
“The EB Butterfly Necklace was co-designed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette who partnered with Satya Jewelry to raise awareness and money for epidermolysis bullosa, a skin condition that causes sores and blisters,” says Satya.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds are donated to the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation.”
Photo 1 (top right): 24-Karat Gold Vermeil Large Starburst Cuff Bracelet
Photo 2 (center): 24-Karat Gold Vermeil Fortune Petal Earrings
Photo 3 (bottom left): 24-Karat Gold Vermeil Sunshine Citrine Green Tara Necklace
Friday, September 17, 2010
A vessel of imaginative energy, as a child Moss created rudimentary jewelry pieces cultivated from found objects.
While an exchange student attending Southern Illinois University, Moss’ aspirations to make her mark in the jewelry industry literally began taking form as she learned the craft of metalsmithing.
Officially launched in 1995, Moss’ jewelry is a showcase of universal iconography and modern designs within delicate metalwork.
Fourteen – and 18-karat yellow gold vermeil renderings of heart earrings offset with gemstone beads, gemstone pendants, and her signature butterfly outline in gold and diamond pendant necklaces make her collections elegantly stylish, sleek with a casual vibe.
Moss’ take on charm jewelry is, in some ways, reminiscent of London-based designer Sophie Harley’s approach in that she does not always make a heart, flower or butterfly a focal point of a design.
Many of Moss’ gold rings, for instance, feature the butterfly and flower motifs, however, these thematic elements are used to accentuate the piece. An open butterfly serenely sits at the start of the ring shank while a textured, rectangular quartz is the focus.
There is a unique, wonderfully crafted ring featuring two, vertically placed ring settings each highlighting three, small rubies with two gold flowers in between the settings.
Some of Moss’ rings bands are open another interesting detail. I like the way she keeps reinventing a subtle canvas with different textures, forms and colors.
Her collection of sterling silver jewelry highlights hammered, peaked, open, and cut-out designs called “punched paper” some of which are drenched in pink vermeil.
Moss’ men’s jewelry items highlight silver cufflinks carved into footballs, puzzle pieces, smiley faces, bones and peace signs.
This kind of playful experimentation seems key to her aesthetic and in a nutshell makes for fun and modern jewelry.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold and Pink Tourmaline Pendant
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Open Ring with Rutilated Quartz, Diamonds and Flowers
Photo 3 (bottom left): Silver Vermeil Baroque Double Strand Necklace with Onyx Chain
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Currently based in Washington, D.C., with an ancestral home in South America, Parada’s design aesthetic incorporates Western sensibilities paired with a hint of South American flair.
In 1999, at age 31, having worked with various D.C. jewelers as both appraiser and buyer, Parada cut out his own niche in D.C.’s jewelry district. His interest was to design classic, elegant jewelry pieces for “everyday” wear.
Parada’s interest in producing sustainable, environmentally conscious jewelry through sourcing conflict-free diamonds, fair trade gemstones and using 100% recycled 18-karat gold solidified his reputation as a “green designer.”
His high-end modern jewelry collections are reminiscent of Eastern European jewelry brands Humphrey (Austria), and Henrich & Denzel (Germany); each adheres to sleek, angular lines but Parada’s citrine rings, blue topaz pendants, and peridot earrings bring more vivid pops of color than his contemporaries.
“My travels through Paraguay and Uruguay inspire my designs. My design approach is bold yet elegant jewelry that can be worn day or night for all occasions,” says Parada.
It is often a challenge to pinpoint the idiosyncrasies of streamlined fine jewelry. Clean, geometric forms are central to this aesthetic and the fine, subtle details are not always clear upon the first viewing.
However, among Parada’s most distinctive designs is his Neapolitan-style cuff bracelets; a composite of three layers of 18-karat rose, white and yellow gold. This is an interesting concept as are his “floating” gemstone pendant necklaces, and rings.
“The bold colors of my native South America and European designers influence my style and inspire me to create subtle pieces that stand out.”
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Rose Gold and Diamond Necklace
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Rose and White Gold Citrine Earrings
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Tricolor Cuff Bracelet with White Topaz
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Obtaining ethically sourced materials is a very real concern for many jewelry makers.
Such artists as Todd Reed (USA), Chris Aire (Africa), Marco Bicego (Italy), and L.A.-based Liza Shtromberg (Russia) are just a sampling of designer jewelry enlisting recycled 18-karat gold or sterling silver as well as the Kimberley Process as a way to address problematic mining issues.
Like London-based designer Coll Smith of ArmCandii, and Liz Law Jewelry (USA), Dublin-born Donegan reinvents elements from the past like watch fobs, intaglios, and Queen Anne’s chain into unique, modern renderings of vintage-inspired jewelry.
Harboring a thorough lust for knowledge, Donegan studied Art History and History at Boston College, and pursued additional studies at New York’s Bard College majoring in Decorative Arts and Fashion of the late 1800s, and early 1900s.
Upon completing her studies Donegan embarked on an illustrious career as an Interior Designer. Her ability to collect and blend eclectic decorative styles of different eras earned her the reputation as one of the first Interior Designers committed to “lasting sustainability”.
Having studied jewelry’s history as well, Donegan eventually made the transition of searching worldwide for unusual furnishings to smaller vintage and rare objects. In 2008, she officially launched her company Mannin Studio in Los Angeles, California.
“I discovered that I was beginning to gravitate towards smaller pieces like horsehair chains instead of sourcing furniture,” she says.
“The concept of revival is central to my philosophy. My designs include carefully curated legacies from the past. The Signature Collection is a mixture of haute design and museum studies.”
Donegan’s Classic Collection fashioned exclusively from the smooth, creamy glow of recycled 18-karat gold (also known as Mannin Gold) is aptly named. The collection is punctuated by a sleek, timeless style highlighting sophisticated initial jewelry (with engraved Script letters), cuff bracelets, and the figure eight-like Mannin Link design.
“An old family heirloom can become a new treasure,” says Donegan, “For me, designing is an interpretation of history seen through the lens of innovation and forward thinking in which an authentic, investment piece is created.”
Items from Mannin Studio is available at fine jewelry retailers Barneys New York, and Roseark owned by Iranian designer Katayoun Azarmi-Rose (a/k/a Kathy Rose).
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Recycled Mannin Gold Cuff from Classic Collection
Photo 2 (center): Rose Gold Link Necklace with Jet Locket and Fobs from Signature Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Recycled Mannin Gold Dome Pinky Ring from Classic Collection
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Thinking outside the box, doing something that has not been done before seems to be an approach the public wants in film, music and jewelry design.
I like jewelry that produces a strong reaction. Since starting this blog, my reactions to the wares of contemporary jewelry artists in particular ranged from bafflement to unexpected chuckles to feelings of unease.
Where design concepts and material sources are concerned you cannot get more one-of-kind than contemporary jewelry. Pointed individualism seems to characterize the vivid originality of this style of designer jewelry.
Hanna Hedman’s (Sweden) ominous creations conceptualized dark, human emotions while Joke Schole’s (Netherlands) whimsical blend of porcelain surfaces and pearl strands span fanciful interpretations of global concerns to tiny dogs in handbags.
No matter the concept or theme contemporary jewelry artists always convey ideas that challenge perceptions of jewelry objects as well as jewelry making.
A graduate of Denmark’s Institute of Precious Metals and former goldsmith-assistant to designer Kim Buck, Alić’s strange and beautiful bijouterie evoke images of a deranged fairytale. In fact, one collection of her handmade jewelry designs is named for and inspired by the novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The allegoric collection is a distinguishing assortment of beautifully sculpted plastic and sterling silver rings. The daring, voluminous floral-inspired creations wilt and billow with ring settings that are simply amazing; they seem to grow upward and outward from the shank.
One of her rings, Hyacinth, resembles a gnarled, inverted chandelier and is a great example of Alić’s artistry and imagination. “I work with themes of illusion and lack of function in order to awake my viewers’ curiosity and to show jewelry in new value contexts. I illustrate my concept using a self-invented plastic technique in combination with precious metals and stones.”
I am struck by the jewelry’s organic and naturalistic structure; the exaggerated, somewhat grotesque forms of Orchids and Poppies are so eerily lyrical and poetic they look like real flowers albeit a bit foreboding. It is bright and quirky evoking springtime within odd dreamscapes.
Alić softens the imagery a bit with her collection of floral-inspired 14-karat gold and sterling fine jewelry collection. While every style of jewelry serves as a form of adornment the contemporary jewelry market remains small. With the increasing popularity of custom jewelry, however, it is clear that the public has an appetite for unique jewelry designs.
Perhaps in time, the small market for conceptual, modern jewelry will expand. I enjoy seeing fertile minds explore and experiment with concepts and materials because this style of jewelry certainly keeps in line with artistic expression and after all that is the heart of any form of jewelry making.
Photo 1 (top right): Plastic and Sterling Silver Poppy Ring from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Collection
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and 14-Karat Gold Rings from Interpretations Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Plastic and Sterling Silver Iris Ring from Flora Collection
Monday, September 13, 2010
For generations, Indonesia has produced some of the world’s greatest silversmiths many of which resided in the town of Kota Gede, the district of Celuk, or Bali’s highly regarded jewelry center, Sukawati.
Skilled at such techniques as casting, inlaid work, and filigree their exceptional craftsmanship has helped to make Indonesia the world’s 10th biggest exporter of sterling silver jewelry. Based in Sukawati, Asmana learned his craft from his father while in high school.
“I went away for college, and when I returned to my village, I set out to start my own jewelry workshop. Tourists were my main customers and the business flourished.”
The winds of change, however, would interrupt the designer’s success when global tensions, born largely from the terrorist attacks of 9-11, saw a decrease in tourism. Asmana also was once blindsided by a tourist who purchased $1,200 worth of his exquisite wares.
Unbeknownst to Asmana, a trip to the bank revealed the tourist gave him counterfeit money. Despite his difficulties, Asmana pushed forward ultimately distributing his beautiful, minimal array of silver pendants, gemstone necklaces and sterling silver cuff bracelets through Novica.com.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity to join Novica. Now my jewelry is known in many different countries,” says the designer.
Asmana’s superlative artisanship blends traditional Balinese and modern aesthetics. The engravings, arabesque details, braided strands of silver, and filigree work is lovely.
The intricacies of the filigree work for the wings of his ethereal Dragonfly Summer Pendant Necklace are like an optical illusion. The gorgeous details seem life-like as if the insect will leap from the snake chain and buzz away.
For me, Asmana’s work evokes the fresh scents, vivid color, and delicate beauty of a garden; everything seems buoyant almost fanciful.
“I will continue to work harder and better. I feel uplifted to be able to do this.”
Photo 1 (top right): Arang Wood and Sterling Silver Balance Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver Radiant Queen Carnelian Wristband
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Filigree White Dogwood Earrings
Saturday, September 11, 2010
When pressed I am sure I could not recite the plot of any of the classic films I saw growing up; even now it would be a challenge.
I do not say that because the films were substandard but rather I was always mesmerized by the fabulous ensembles of the lead female actors.
Screen sirens like Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, and Grace Kelly personified the strong woman: opinionated, intelligent, independent, and blessed with an impeccable fashion sense.
Miriam Salat and David Joseph’s high-end brand Bochic Jewelry is shrouded in the mysterious, seductive aura of those actors. Bakelite and 18-karat yellow, and white gold blended with carved jade, white diamonds and Egyptian tourmaline produce a stunning array of earrings and cuff bracelets that bring to mind vintage jewelry.
With Salat venturing into the jewelry industry after a stint as a New York civil engineer, and Joseph the progeny of London-based jewelry manufacturers, the two seemed destined to build a fine jewelry brand.
“Miriam and I both have diverse backgrounds. She handmade fashionable, bohemian style jewelry and sold it on the streets of Soho in New York.
In about three months, buyers from Barneys New York found out about her and bought her first collection. She and I met around that time,” Joseph recalls.
“I had always been curious about the process of jewelry design since my family was involved in London’s jewelry quarter, Hatton Gardens.
I felt that there was a unique jewelry concept missing from the market, and Miriam and I are hugely inspired by travel, colors, architecture, and art design. I love to watch old films and I adore classic, Hollywood glamour and style.
Miriam is more technical favoring the marriage of interesting and unusual materials. We are an interesting mix and that is what makes Bochic so unusual.”
The design quality is hands-down bold, sophisticated glamour that range from luminous diamond bracelets to large, sleek black onyx earrings to domed rock crystal and diamond rings.
This past spring, during the awards season, the designer jewelry brand joined forces with Executives without Borders to raise funds for the non-profit organization charity: water.
Charity: water works to “bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.” Proceeds collected from an auction of Bochic jewelry items worn by such famous names as Sandra Bullock, during the 2010 SAG Awards, went to “support clean drinking solutions in Haiti” after the devastating earthquake.
Photo 1 (top right): White and Yellow Diamond and Gold Scroll Ring
Photo 2 (center): Fancy and Rose Gold Earrings from Origine Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold, Silver and Pave Diamond Bracelets
Friday, September 10, 2010
A mother of three, and world traveler Irit Goffer-Sasson studied art and design at Italy’s Instituto Europeo di Design.
Her deep love for the art world combined with experiencing Italy’s grand art history provided the spark for Sasson to make her pastime of jewelry making a full-fledged business.
Upon the designer’s return to her homeland, around 2002, she launched Amaro Jewelry; a brand characterized by varied religious and cultural iconography and for a stunning assortment of colors so vivid it is like looking at jeweled candy.
“I draw inspiration from everyday life, from the immense poise and strength of women from various cultures I have encountered,” she says.
“I specialize in designing sets of special fashion jewelry that are a unique combination of color and texture.”
Sasson inserts traditional Jewish symbols such as evil eye and Hamsa jewelry, as well as popular, trendy jewelry items like heart pendants, charm bracelets, cross necklaces and butterfly jewelry.
She creates these pieces with such flair and gorgeous beauty implementing luminous gemstones as tiger’s eye, rose quartz, and pearl alongside an array of sparkling Swarovski crystals and offset with bronze, 18-karat gold and sterling silver plating.
The Amaro Jewelry brand encompasses wonderfully vibrant gemstone earrings, gemstone necklaces, and gemstone bracelets.
I particularly like the weave, tapestry-like pattern of many of her bracelets that evoke the raven-haired harem beauties of ancient times clothed in flowing gossamer fabrics and magnificent jewelry.
The designs are an amalgamation of minimalist proportions with bold flourishes of color without necessarily being what I would call ornate. I think there is more of a sense of ornate although many of her ring designs highlight unusual, and complex small minutiae.
Selected items from the Amaro Jewelry collections are available for purchase at online store Canaan-Online. Prices currently start at $69.95 to $279.99.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Plated Hearts Necklace with Chinese Turquoise
Photo 2 (center): Gemstone Bracelet from Summer Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Plated Oriental Hamsa Pendant Necklace