The 12th century Almourol Castle, located in Portugal, was once a structure of distinction and grandeur belonging to the Templar Knights who provided military defense to the city of Coimbra.
Portugal is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ana Cavalheiro.
Damsels in distress, fire breathing dragons, and royal courts are just a few of the evocative images that came to mind when viewing Cavalheiro's luminous jewelry.
Not unlike fellow designer Melinda Raney, of Melinda Maria Jewelry, Cavalheiro loved sneaking into her mother's jewelry box uncovering delightful forms of glowing metals and gemstones.
She became particularly enraptured by a 300-year old gold necklace. The heirloom would hold a special place within her imagination.
Despite her fascination with the artistry of jewelry, Cavalheiro obtained a degree in Economics and embarked on a marketing career; a rather glamorous undertaking that allowed for travel. While enjoying time in both Switzerland and Paris, the memories of her mother's spectacular heirloom rested more solidly in her mind.
By 2005, she permitted her somewhat latent creativity to surface, wanting to provide others with the awe and wonder of owning masterfully crafted jewelry. For two years, while living in Paris, she attended École du Louvre acquiring training under experienced artisans from Van Cleef & Arpels to Cartier.
Utilizing longstanding hand fabricating techniques, Cavalheiro cultivates elegant pieces from sterling silver, and 14- and 18-karat yellow gold. She counterbalances her designs with large, brilliant gemstones that include citrine, blue topaz, rose quartz, tourmaline, and amethyst.
Although she implements subtle details, her designs beautifully capture the sweeping feel of medieval times with style influences gleaned from Asia, and Western and Southern Europe.
Her items named Castle feature ring prongs and pendant stone settings that replicate the ridges of a castle's tower that firmly grasp glowing stones like miniature crystal balls.
Every detail is strategic, balanced; from the Arabic dramatic designs of her striking sterling silver cuffs with their contrasting metals to the intricate, maze-like outline of her Japanese Garden items. It is quietly opulent jewelry bringing the grand beauty of Old World regalia into a modern, streamlined context.
"My designs have a timeless appeal," she says. "They are glamorous, sensual, and comfortable. Colorful gemstones and organic designs transmit self-confidence to the women who wear it."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Blue Castle Ring with Blue Topaz Cabochon
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver 1001 Arabian Nights Cuff with Apatites and Blue Topaz