It is rather chilly in Peru today, but we will not let that stop us from taking a trip along the hypnotic blue waters of Lake Titicaca; a journey that uncovers both the country's legends and natural wonders.
Peru is also home to featured jewelry designers Rocio Melendez Araujo.
According to the US Geological Survey, the country of Peru ranks first in silver mining and consequently is becoming a prominent force in the silver jewelry industry.
Through websites like Novica the work of such Peru-based artists as Claudia Lira and Maricarmen Morales Macedo is being exposed to a wider, international consumer base.
Like her colleagues, Araujo's proclivity for highly creative acts of self-expression eventually led to a career in jewelry making. In 2002, at age 28, after Araujo's creative yearnings made their way into her profession of business administrator, she knew she needed to a better outlet.
"I took some courses in jewelry-making and began to design my own jewelry. I love seeing how a piece begins to take shape through the different stages of the crafting process," she says. "To me, designing is the most natural and spontaneous way to express what one holds inside a moment of inspiration."
With only a small sampling of items featured on her Novica page, Araujo certainly packs a wallop of beautiful jewelry that is simplistic in its overall form; however, she implements a daring and rather unique design approach.
I love the intricate, cutout detailing of her Bubble Dance Pendant; the contrasts of high polish silver alongside "burnt" or oxidized silver; and offsetting bright metal with gemstones like turquoise, amethyst, and pink rhodonite.
Her ring designs are showstoppers, with their large and, in some cases, multiple stone settings such as her Planets Cocktail Ring featuring a large, flat rhodonite gemstone. In other instances, like her sterling silver Constellation Ring, no gemstones are used at all.
The jewelry is a testament to her skill as a silversmith, her lucid imagination, and an endearing desire to create items the wearer will cherish. "An object, a sound, the touch of something special awakens my senses, and it gets poured into the design of a jewelry piece," she explains.
Photo 1 (top right): Mystical Treasure Amethyst Cocktails Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Conical Lights Chandelier Earrings