Today we are awed by an ominous, centuries-old stronghold located in Bilhorod-Dnitrovskyi, Ukraine, the Akkerman Fortress.
Built over an ancient Greek colony called Tyras, the military fortress served as a safe haven against attacks from Ukrainian Cossack raiders, the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. The Ukraine is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer, Nina Basharova.
An unmistakable creative force literally surrounded Basharova as a child. Her parents' social circle included painters, writers, and actors and Basharova found their enthusiasm for their respective crafts truly inspiring.
Exposure to such ripe artistic talent helped her to pursue her creative interests. At the tender age of 12, she studied Fine Arts, and later earned a degree in jewelry design from the Art College in Haifa, Israel.
Clearly tapping into her innate sense of form and structure, while attending Haifa's Art College several of Basharova's pieces were displayed in Ramat Gan's Museum of Art. She also received the Sharett Scholarship of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.
Fiercely independent, Basharova moved to New York in 2002. She was undaunted by big city life and the inevitable challenges that she would face. She actively networked eventually building connections that led to work with jewelry companies for many years.
Richly talented and knowledgeable about her craft, in 2007 Basharova launched her own company Nina Basharova Jewellery Design. She creates distinctive, beautiful designs fashioned from 18-karat gold, sterling silver, and rhodium with accents of vivid semi-precious and precious gemstones. She creates pieces that are artistically fascinating as well as elegantly fashionable.
There is her homage to a myriad of constellations represented by the carved out, subtle patterns of her Milky Way Collection. There is her use of voluptuous carved gemstones in her Rock Candy Collection accentuating their succulent, candy-like appearance.
There is the peek-a-boo aspect of the imaginative Pod Collection. The collection features delicately sliced 18-karat gold or sterling silver with links of spherical amethyst, citrine, or tourmaline placed inside the sliced opening creating simulated jeweled peas in a golden pod.
Lastly, she makes a bold statement with her Barbed Wire Collection, wherein she replicates the grotesque, gnarled twists and points with gold or silver wire forming a ring setting for pearls or other gemstones.
The contrast between the harsh symbolism of the barbed formations and the beauty of the metal and gemstones makes for a powerfully haunting piece.
I think these pieces, in particular, are open to the wearer's interpretation. For me, the gemstone, especially the pearl, represents triumph over adversity and hardship.
Fellow jeweler Toby Pomeroy had this to say about Basharova: "The moment I met Nina I was struck by how independent she is. She has no pretenses so it's a pleasure to spend time with her.
She is a jeweler in the traditional and old-world sense of the word. She makes her own models and works at the bench giving her the ability to create pieces that are different and sometimes very edgy. She is a bold yet feminine woman, which comes through in her designs."
Photo 1 (top right): Rhodium-Plated 18-Karat Gold Milky Way CuffPhoto 2 (center): 18-Karat White Gold Barbed Wire Rings with South Sea Pearls
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Earrings, Bracelet and Ring with Red Stone from the Pod Collection