Saturday, May 29, 2010

RIVER BURKE

Located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Union Station is currently undergoing renovations to expand. Over a century ago, it was once the world's largest train terminal serving busy travelers.

Today it houses restaurants including the Hard Rock Café, stores, and a Marriot Hotel. Missouri was also once home to featured jewelry designer River Burke.

Floor-length gowns and ballrooms are an integral part of the debutante lifestyle.

For Burke, however, weekends exploring her grandparents' Missouri farm were a welcome alternative. As an adult, Burke studied horticulture earning a degree in sustainable agriculture.

Her exposure to varied species of flora gently stirred her creative instinct. In 2000, during "a seasonal reprieve from organic farming," she laid the groundwork for her company River Song Jewelry.

"The architecture of the natural world inspires my collection. Studying horticulture, plant taxonomy, the vivid journals, and illustrations of 19th century botanists influence my designs," she says.

Presently based in Seattle, River Song Jewelry is yet another superlative example of streamlined jewelry that holds as much visual depth as its more elaborate counterparts.

Burke implements subtle, 14-karat gold-filled wire wrap punctuated by the ravishing beauty of aqua chrysoprase, red coral, lemon quartz, and the iridescent sheen of white, cultured pearls.

According to what I have seen online, most of Burke's nature-inspired renderings are not likenesses of landscapes, trees, or flowers, instead she captures their essence through mesmerizing, dazzling colored gemstones.

"My jewelry invokes the essence of the Earth. My designs celebrate the natural world with refined organic style. I hand select each gem for luminosity and unique character. Many pieces echo the forms of flowers I observe. Others are inspired by the colors and textures I see in nature."

The designer sources spectacular gemstones from India and Istanbul. "I collaborate with all my manufacturers. I have visited many of the factories that I work with," she says.

The feminine, elegant pieces are a testament to the striking beauty of gemstones; how little to no additional accents are needed to reveal pure radiance.

"Each piece is crafted carefully by hand. I love to create pieces that embody a woman's mood, lifestyle, or occasion.
Jewelry is an intensely personal process because the jewelry we wear is an expression of our pleasure, relationships, and individuality."

In October 2009, Burke opened her first store, River Song. The store houses her studio and saleable inventory.
The store also serves as a platform for international designers including jewelry maker Daniel Hiller (Germany), and the ceramic designs of Carol Farrow (United Kingdom).
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Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold-Filled Carved Lemon Topaz Pendant with Sapphires
Photo 2 (center): Earrings from the Autumn Garden Collection featuring Turquoise, Aquamarine, Hematite, and Amethyst
Photo 3 (bottom left): Blue Apatite and Rare Fire Opal Cluster Necklace
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