On the north banks of England's River Thames stands the Tower of London, a magnificent 11th century structure built by William the Conqueror.
Over the centuries, due to changing leadership, London Tower has become a complex of buildings. England is also the home of featured jewelry designer Eva Martin.
Recently, while perusing an online jewelry retailer, I noted that the site's best-selling item was a simple, 18-karat gold, heart-shaped pendant. I became intrigued by this after viewing the custom-made creations of Martin.
It is interesting to see when selecting a ready-made piece of jewelry--at least from this particular retailer--purchasers chose an ordinary design; however, Martin's collaborative pieces were beautifully unique, and personal.
Though it is true ready-made jewelry collections can and do reflect a purchaser's personality, everything about custom-made jewelry is very specific to the intended wearer making it truly one-of-a-kind.
The jewelry of such designers as Ming Lampson (England), James Meyer (USA), and Mark Scown (Australia) are other dazzling examples of artists who specialize in creating this kind of jewelry.
A former psychology major, Martin studied jewelry art at Boston Massachusetts' North Bennett Street School. Creating custom-made, or bespoke, jewelry is a rewarding experience for the designer, "I think jewelry is something to treasure for life," she says. "I love the idea of secrets within jewelry, of incorporating something known only to the wearer."
Martin's website holds a wonderful array of photos of completed items such as the House Pendant, a beautiful piece composed of Argentium Sterling Silver with a roof made of lapis lazuli, and an 18-karat gold mouse hiding inside.
There is also the romantic Tango Wedding Bands fashioned from 18-karat white gold, emeralds, and rubies. "I designed these bands reminiscent of the couple's first, fiery encounter at the red and green Fiesta Latina restaurant," she explains. "The bride-to-be's ring is set with emeralds and rubies, and both rings are embossed with the lines of two bodies dancing the tango; their special dance."
Generally, Martin receives requests for "event" jewelry like anniversaries, engagements, and births, but she also incorporates an early 19th century trend of writing messages in the jewelry via a gemstone Morse code. This code is also used to spell out the names of children or the wearer.
"The first letter of the stone's name is used to create a word. For example, `dearest' would be spelled with [d]iamond, [e]merald, [a]methyst, [r]uby, [e]merald, [s]apphire, and [t]opaz."
With her studio in Australia, Martin works with overseas customers via email and phone conversations, and will work within budgets. "I like to have some idea of the budget so that I can design within those parameters. The cost will of course depend on how complex the design is, the materials, and size and number of stones," she explains.
"I do find out as much as possible about the taste of the intended wearer: favorite colors, stones, clothes, designers, and such. I will then sketch out some ideas and use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to produce design renderings, which I then email to the client."
Many of Martin's custom creations are award winning garnering such honors as the 2008 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Arts Award. Given the very distinctive, and individual beauty of custom designs, it is understandable why this kind of jewelry is growing in popularity.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Argentium Silver Carousel Cufflinks with Yellow Sapphires and Citrine
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Temple Tree Cuff with Oxidized Silver and Orange Sapphires