The 13-mile long and 8-mile wide Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, is actually a freshwater lake known to Israelis as Lake Kinneret.
It is the largest lake of its kind in the country, and its spiritual history draws annual tourists from around the world. Israel is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Daphna Simon.
World-renowned for symbolic and spiritual-based jewelry Israel's jewelry industry is also known for its product diversity.
According to the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute in 2008, the country exported $335 million worth of silver, diamond, and gold bijouterie.
Approximately 43% of the jewelry exported at that time-- the highest amount-- was gold jewelry. Simon's smooth, sculptural gold pieces undoubtedly fell into this percentage.
Officially launched in 2007, the theme of Simon's beautiful Untamed Jewels collection is clear: nature. So many jewelry designers acknowledge that he or she is inspired by nature to the point that it has become a bit of a cliché. After giving it some thought; however, I must admit I do get nature's fascination and draw.
Nature's beauty lies within its uncompromising, jarring contrasts, rawness, and unparalleled differentiation. Nature is alternately benevolent and malevolent giving life and taking it just as easily. Needed rain showers resurrect parched, grassy fields, and a single, lightning strike can set it all ablaze.
There is something comforting in the consistency of its cycles; knowing and seeing the seasons change. It is easy to get lost in its scale and majesty. In my opinion, I think this intangible aspect is what Simon, as well as other designers, sets out to capture.
A certified goldsmith, Simon hand fabricates detailed likenesses of lounging grizzlies, reclining leopards, and tree and rock textures from 18-karat yellow gold. "I study live subjects for hours," she says of her animal pieces. "It is important to remain loyal to the animal's nature and essence."
Her animal-inspired rings are so fluid and voluptuous they seem liked whipped, gold cream, and the jagged, rough rock and tree bark textures are spot-on.
With the exception of a few Mandarin garnets, aquamarine, and diamonds, use of gemstones is minimal. Simon also offers pieces from this collection in sterling silver.
As a token of Simon's reverence for the natural environment, 15% of the proceeds from the sale of this collection go to the organization Defenders of Wildlife.
Earlier this year, the World Gold Council (WGC) honored Simon's interpretive jewelry collection "for innovation in the design of gold jewelry."
Beginning June 4 through 7, the designer, and selected pieces will be featured at the WGC's booth during the JCK Las Vegas Show.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Log Ring
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Thin Rock Bangles
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Leopard Ring