Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ADINA PLASTELINA

Situated in Tel Aviv, Israel are three magnificent skyscrapers that compose the Azriel Center. The center houses a mall, restaurants, and an 8-screen cinema. Israel is also home to jewelry designing team Adi Prachya and Sami Leder.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ANNA HU

One of Taiwan's oldest Buddhist temples, the Lungshan or Dragon Mountain Temple, is world-renowned for its stunning architectural details designed to honor Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Taiwan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Anna Hu.

Presently based in New York, Hu's custom-made, luxury jewelry brings to mind the multifaceted, intricate work of fellow Taiwanese designer Cindy Chao.

Like Chao, Hu's pieces highlight elaborate and painstaking artistry with exquisite pavé stone settings of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. It is a stunning visual feast.

A young phenom, at age 14 Hu studied to become a solo cellist at Massachusetts' arts boarding school Walnut Hill. However, four years later, tendonitis in her shoulder would force her to relinquish her dream.

Though heartbroken, the jewelry artist recalled childhood memories of assisting her father, a diamond wholesaler, with his precious inventory. The recollection served as a strong incentive that moved Hu into a new career path.

"I opened the door to my father's workspace and lying there was a pile of raw, rock diamonds," says Hu. "I was eight years old and I fell in love with them the moment my father asked me to sort them according to size and shape. I will always remember that day."

Girding herself with two master degrees--one in Art History, and the second in Arts Administration--and a gemologist degree, Hu developed her craft while working at famed jewelry houses Van Cleef & Arpels, and the House of Harry Winston.


Employment with such large houses confined the greatest extent of Hu's creativity, and she chose to pave a road for herself with the help of mentor Maurice Galli.

Using Viennese paintings, and the lilting melodies of Tchaikovsky as inspiration, Hu creates ethereal items that are both lyrical and whimsical.

Her Butterfly Fairies Brooch is a delicate replication of the insects with beautiful detail. Their open wings laced with dollops of colored gemstones and white diamonds is like a flowing, gentle melody.

The Moonlight Bangle is a blend of pavé set white diamonds and a lovely cluster of muted moonstones that resemble floating bubbles. The Ruyi Cloud Bangle features a gorgeous mosaic pattern of gemstones while the Gershwin Jazz Bangle, with its gem encrusted musical staff and notes, is capricious yet stunning in its intricacy.

Even Hu's streamlined Joking Love Knot Series maintains a level of complexity in its curves and twists. "To me jewelry design is like composing music.

I listen to Rachmaninoff, and Bach when I design. I feel the technical challenge, and like, convert the complexities into the jewelry."

With such immense design detail, it came as no surprise to learn that Hu's custom-designed creations take up to one to two years to complete.

"Each project is very different. I create something organic that harmonizes with the client's personality and style.

I am obsessed with making jewelry. It's not even a passion anymore. I have so many ideas that I even dream about gemstones."

Hu's magnificent pieces are available at New York's Plaza Hotel, and the Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie boutique in Taiwan.
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Photo 1 (top right): Leaping Koi Ring
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat White Gold Knot Ring with Rubies
Photo 3 (bottom left): Moonstone and Pavé Diamond Moonlight Bangle

Monday, June 28, 2010

KATAYOUN AZARMI-ROSE

Located in Iran's Naghsh-e Jahan Square, the opulent architecture of the Shah Mosque is a popular attraction with its two-layered dome, vibrant mosaic tiles, and fresco-clad doors coated with gold and silver.

Iran is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Katayoun Azarmi-Rose (a/k/a Kathy Rose).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

KATE CUSACK

Today we visit Playland Amusement Park, located in Rye, New York; the only government-owned-and-operated amusement park.

Officially opened 82 years ago, the Grand Carousel is among many iconic rides featured in the park. New York is also home to featured jewelry designer Kate Cusack.

Friday, June 25, 2010

MALIN NYMAN-SMALLCOMBE

At nearly one hundred years old, Millesgården, located on the island of Lindingo in Sweden, is a thriving Swedish museum consisting of sculpture gardens and workspace for artists. Sweden is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Malin Nyman-Smallcombe.

Exploring alternative materials for use in jewelry design and creation is a central goal for many jewelry artists.

British designer Jane Adam's beautiful trinkets of anodized aluminum along with Dori Csengeri's (Israel) exquisite embroidered pieces are two examples of the high level of innovation, and experimentation key to many designers' aesthetic.

Smallcombe's five-year-old company, MALIN Collection, is known for its "eco-chic jewelry" that is composed of such materials as jute, silk, leather, cotton, and cashmere with accents of glass, wooden beads, and semi-precious gemstones.

Taking inspiration from the likes of jewelry designer Tom Binns, and late fashion guru Stephen Sprouse, Smallcombe combines some of the design elements of one collection to build another.



Her collections span the lofty elegance of Victorian lace, subtle arrangements that evoke African beadwork, and the illuminating hues of neon colors. Designs are constructed through a variation of knotting, twisting and looping.

"My work is a fusion of my experiences in Stockholm, London, and Los Angeles, California where I am now based, "says the designer.

Like Adam and Csengeri, and other like-minded designers, Smallcombe's bijouterie challenges perceptions of what is considered valuable in the world of jewelry, as well as provides consumers with options.
"I love the challenge of making something that people want to wear, and my favorite part of being a designer is the freedom that challenge gives me."


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Photo 1 (top right): Bracelet from Neon Collection
Photo 2 (center): Necklace from Lace Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Palmero Bracelet with Jute/Cotton Cords and Ribbed Wooden Beads

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NICOLE RAAB

Get ready to enjoy the feats of skilled surfers that populate Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia. Featured in the final scene of the Keanu Reeves' film Point Break, Bells Beach has been the location of the Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music Festival for nearly fifty years. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Nicole Raab.

Before bringing her life-long passion for jewelry making to fruition through her company, Indi's Charm, the mother of five worked as a Community Development Coordinator at various community centers.

When her then husband-to-be chose to commission a jeweler to create her engagement ring, Raab's own creative stirrings were reignited.

During her fifth pregnancy, she decided to quit her job, and actively pursue constructing handmade jewelry.

"I loved to make jewelry from a very young age. I have always been fascinated by it," Raab recalls.

"I love the way it can make you feel. I love the way jewelry makes a statement about a person. Jewelry brings out a woman's femininity."

The self-taught designer takes a tactile and spiritual approach to her creation process, and the beauty of nature is central to her aesthetic.

"I can get inspired anywhere, really. Honestly, I can be shopping and someone can walk pass wearing something or carrying something in their hand and an idea pops into my head.

I stop to write down my ideas while my family shakes their heads waiting for me. It's crazy. My head is always buzzing with ideas. But I have to say that nature is my biggest influence.

I have spent many years in the mountains of Victoria's Dandenong Ranges. Many of my pieces are inspired by the non-conformists of the mountains, as well as the unique twists that capture the souls of those who live there."

Amalgamating such materials as Swarovski crystals, Balinese silver, leather, freshwater pearls, lampwork beads, copper, old belt buckles, semi-precious stones, and shells, Raab builds varied and differentiated items.

Her elegant and sophisticated neckpieces highlight styles that seem to be variations of African, East Indian, and Turkish aesthetics.

For the most part, these designs are simple yet opulent with either a metal chain or silk cord suspending a vibrant gemstone drop, multiple beads, or a commanding metal medallion.

Aside from pendants, earrings, and bracelets, she also configures beautiful key chains, handbag jewelry, and bookmarks sprinkled with luscious drops of semi-precious stones. I love that she has matched delicate stones with functional items while also punctuating femininity.

I love the idea of having a few aquamarine gemstones dangling right next to my car ignition key. In case you are in a morning rush and arrive to work sans a pair of earrings or necklace, you still have a little bling with you.

"I don't pre-plan or draw sketches. When I make something, I like it to be the first time it has been created. I like the creation process to be pure, and raw.

I have a tattoo of the holy trinity on my hand, and I never make a piece without a simple prayer first. It is a bit like a ritual, if you must."

Ultimately, once a piece is finalized, Raab thoroughly enjoys seeing the visceral response of a potential wearer. "I love for my jewelry to start a conversation. When I see a woman look at a piece from my collection, and she can't walk away without it, I know that piece has spoken to her. That is very important.

For me, I believe every woman has the right to own and wear an individual piece of art in the form of jewelry, without the high cost.

I've been known to sell a piece cheaper than the listed price because the piece spoke to someone. It's not about the money. It's about the love a wearer has for it, and the love of creating it."


For Raab's latest collections, be sure to view her FaceBook page.
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Photo 1 (top right): Medallion Pendant
Photo 2 (center): Keychain with Semi-Precious Gemstones

Photo 3 (bottom left): Silver Tone Medallion Bracelet

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

LANA JEWELRY

Renowned for its French, Russian, and Italian architecture, the Kukovo Estate, located in Moscow, Russia, is a feast for the eye both internally and externally.

The regal locale houses over 33,000 pieces of extraordinary glassware, and ceramics. Russia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Lana Fertelmeister-Bramlette.

Monday, June 21, 2010

ELIZABETH PARADON

A prized symbol of French patriotism, and standing 162 feet, is Paris, France's Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile.  The structure is one of the world's largest triumphal arches.

France is also the home of featured jewelry designer Elizabeth Paradon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

POPKISS JEWELRY

In Manhattan, New York, nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues, is the world-renowned Museum of Modern Art. Holding thousands upon thousands of archival information on various artists in literature, architecture, and film, the museum is considered one of the most influential. New York is also home to sister-sister designing team Anna and Julie Reinberg.

I really enjoy seeing young people who possess the drive and ambition to pursue a challenging goal.

The jewelry industry, like any industry, is competitive with longstanding brands, as well as up-and-comers to face-off.

Yet in 2009, these two sisters, with no formal training in jewelry design, utilized their collective gift for creativity, paired it with an independent spirit and made a go of it.

After graduating from Georgia State University, where they majored in textile design, both sisters felt a stirring disconnect. While Anna worked in "sales for a children's clothing line in Miami," Julie migrated to New York in the hopes of finding a fulfilling career.

"While I lived in New York, I had been bouncing around from job-to-job trying to figure out what makes me happy," says Julie.

"I've done everything from PR to photography. I finally decided that I loved designing my own line and that I could put all of my past work experience into building our brand."

Anna's defining moment came while preparing for a social event. "Although we are not formally trained in jewelry design, we had always made jewelry with our mom just for fun.

Last year, I made a bracelet for myself to wear to an event and all of my friends started asking about it," she says. "Julie and I never thought those times making jewelry with our mom would turn into a business."


The duo called upon their background in textile design to create their signature Pop Cuffs, composed of entwined, colorful jersey fabric and mesh. "Georgia State University had cut its jewelry design program so we studied textile design," says Julie.

"The course was very focused on traditional Japanese techniques. We took classes in batik, indigo dyes, natural dyes, weaving, screen-printing, and heat transfer. Every part of our design process was done by hand. No computers," she emphasizes.

"Julie and I eventually started using a variation of knitting techniques to create larger pieces like our Pop Cuffs faster but the technique is top secret!" Anna grins.

The duo also creates bold, and unusual cocktail rings fashioned from variations of acrylic, crystals, turquoise beads, epoxy, and metal. There is a playful sophistication to the collection, a funky, youthful vibe.

"We love pieces that are bold, big, different, and outrageous," says Julie. "I think bold pieces and bright colors show we aren't scared to be ourselves."

With their skills fully engaged, now came the time to name their new brand. Their company name, PopKiss Jewelry, is derived from one of Anna's first date experiences. "Julie and I had been trying to think of a name for our line for a few months.

Then one night I went on a first date with this guy. He asked for a kiss and I said `no'. So he asked could he have a `pop kiss', a quick kiss on the lips, and I knew that was the name. He still didn't get a kiss," Anna deadpans.

The sisters continue to evolve, expanding on their design ideas and learning from their experiences.

"We love giving our customers options," says Julie. "We have always loved neon colors and anything that stood out. We just do what we like."
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Photo 1 (top right): Epoxy and Metal Ball Cluster Ring
Photo 2 (center): Two-Tone Lime Green and Yellow Pop Cuff
Photo 3 (bottom left): Gold and Pavé Turquoise Frog Ring

Friday, June 18, 2010

ANA CARDIM

One of Portugal's most beautiful regions is the picturesque Algarve Coast. With its high cliffs, rock formations, fine sands, and crystal waters, it is a fantastic locale for relaxing and enjoying breathtaking surroundings. Portugal is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ana Cardim.


Like other designers who create wildly distinctive conceptual jewelry, Cardim is clearly not afraid of stepping outside the norm.

Educated in Spain, Portugal, and the United States of America, Cardim's work epitomizes what I feel constitutes the conceptual style. It is thought provoking, comical, and whimsical while ultimately wearable.

Even though I understand enthusiasts' love for the classic, timeless designs of someone like Neil Lane or the Cartier brand, I also feel the public has a taste for the unique and idiosyncratic.

From what I have seen, conceptual jewelry often conveys poignant yet humorous reflections of the human condition rather than objects of endearment. Even if people shy away from wearing Cardim's pieces they certainly invite attention and conversation.

Such "device" pieces as Clean Your Mind, Garbage Pin, and Urban Help, reveal a sophisticated and thoughtfully conceived design approach. "The jewel device is itself a place that inhabits a mobile place: the body," she explains.

"The jewel's place of support, the body, is a place of communication that, at the same time, carries it to different places. In this sense, the jewel can be understood as a place of dialectic between the private space of the wearer and the public space he or she carries it.

This mobility reconfigures the jewel as social communicator; an expression device generator of critical speech in the public space."

Cardim amalgamates such materials as silver, acrylic, tiny paper rolls, bubble wrap, and even hot peppers and puts a decidedly new twist on statement-making jewelry. Her socially conscious items are geared towards societal emotional or spiritual cleansing.

The humorous Clean Your Mind Pin is a vivid, miniature facsimile of a toilet paper roll. The piece's purpose is simple; to help rid the mind of worry and anxiety.

"You pull the hygienic paper, break it in a desired measure, and write down any personal problem or worry," Cardim explains.

You visualize that the problem is not going to worry you anymore, and you throw the paper in the toilet. You repeat this process as many times as needed. The piece serves as a catharsis vehicle."

Composed of a simple sterling silver ring, and small plastic bag, The Garbage Pin's function is along the same lines. "This jewel device calls on the current urban, social pattern that confronts the notions of waste and worth," she says.

"The piece can be symbolic, a place to keep memories of the day-to-day, small nothings. The piece acquires new meanings to whoever uses it so its symbolic value is confirmed through the manner in which it is used."

It is always refreshing to see jewelry designers veer off the beaten path, and reinvent the concept of jewelry.

I like seeing that such innovation, and originality helps to challenge the traditional concept while also transcending it.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver, Acrylic, and Paper Roll Clean Your Mind Pin
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and Paper Book Ring

Thursday, June 17, 2010

MARIELLE BYWORTH

It is springtime in Switzerland so it is a great time to explore the country's attractions including the world-famous Alps; and the blooming foliage and lakes of Geneva. Switzerland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Marielle Byworth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NIELS ERIK FROM

Built by famed Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen in 1918, the bronze statue of The Little Mermaid is Copenhagen, Denmark's most popular tourist attraction on par with New York's Statue of Liberty. Denmark was also the home of the late jewelry designer Niels Erik From.

Eighty-four years ago, renowned Danish jeweler Georg Jensen once compared the white luster of silver to the glow of the moon.

Appreciating the metal's challenging, and unyielding nature, he loved the idea of cultivating and conquering it. For this reason, he believed the metal better than gold possessing greater effect.

According to what I have read, many of the earliest Danish jewelers worked with sterling silver, using native stones like amber in their distinctive, minimalist jewelry.

A trained silversmith, in 1931, at age 23, From opened his first workshop. For the next 40 years, From's floral-inspired pieces from Denmark's Arts and Crafts period, and sculptural, modernist pieces of the 70s would become the company's signature styles.

The metalwork is gorgeously lithe and supple. There are obscure details of oxidation, carved out metal, surface etchings as well as the incorporation of lovely translucent and butterscotch amber.

The overall designs are masterful examples of From's ability to achieve unique detail and sinuous fluidity in simple forms.

His Off Center Amber Ring, for instance, is composed of a slightly patinated, cupped sterling silver disc with a smaller disc placed slightly off center against the larger one ultimately serving as the setting for a smooth, round amber stone.

There is something about the execution of his jewelry. There is something intangible I do not know how to articulate.

It is ultra simplistic yet at the same time visually striking. The combination of slightly voluptuous geometric structures and large, round and flat stones like onyx or carnelian is quietly magnetic.

Since his workshop was closed shortly after his death in 1986, From's legacy of limited, modernist jewelry items are distributed through Scandinavian Silver's website.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Carnelian Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Fish Brooches with Amethyst Cabochon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MARIA BELEN NILSON

The Mount Fitz Roy (Cerro Fitz Roy) sits ominously along the borders of Chile and Argentina. Also known as the "smoking mountain," due to a cloud encircling its peak, among the natural wonder's first ascendants was French alpinist Guido Magnone. Argentina is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Maria Belen Nilson.

Monday, June 14, 2010

EBRU DANYAL

Once serving as the residence of sultans, Turkey's Topkapi Palace has become a significant remnant of the country's history that currently serves as a museum.

It is a structure of enormous proportions with tall gates, pavilions, and courtyards each with its own purpose. Turkey is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ebru Danyal.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DAVID LEE HOLLAND

Taking a little over two decades to build, the "16-sided stone masonry" structure, known as the Nott Memorial, is a unique, dome-top building situated at the center of Schenectady, New York's Union College.

New York is also the home base for brand David Lee Holland Jewelry.

Friday, June 11, 2010

MONICA VINADER

A carving of the likeness of explorer Christopher Columbus is situated atop a looming column in Plaza de Colón in Madrid, Spain.

Plaza de Colón was established to honor the wayfarer's history-changing exploits. Spain is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Monica Vinader.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ASHKA DYMEL

Today we visit the Krasiński Palace in Warsaw, Poland.

The striking fortress built over three centuries ago, is a marvel of detailed sculptures and interior designs heavily based in the baroque style.

Poland is also the former home of featured jewelry designer Ashka Dymel.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

CARLOS CABRAL

Even after Spain's conquest of the Aztec empire, during the early 16th century, the mysterious grandeur of the Templo Mayor temple could not be fully quelled. More than four centuries after the temple's destruction, a major excavation took place in Mexico City uncovering well-preserved artifacts. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Carlos Cabral.


Jewelry is born through the unification of instinct and intellect, while the ultimate creation is a hands-on, sensory endeavor.

It is a play of touch, exploration, and a seeming transference between the creator and his or her materials.

"I studied a variety of courses in jewelry design and silversmithing in order to discover the intricacies of metal work," says the former med student. "I learned how to work metals without hurrying the process--I learned to listen to the metal."

When designing his pieces, Cabral also takes cures from the natural environment. "Nature is the guiding principle behind my jewelry designs. I observe flowers and feathers. I study the contours of rocks, or the texture of a tree trunk. I'd say my designs emulate Mother Nature rather than imitate."

Cabral's sterling silver bijouterie is alternately coarse, organic, irregular, sleek, and sculptural. He contrasts white and patinated metal, high polish with texture adding accents of reconstituted turquoise, opals from Jalisco's Magdalena mines or a single black pearl.

His more streamlined pieces, featured on Novica.com, incorporate Aztecan motifs, and interpretations of a thread spool, and open book.

Although I love the look of elegant jewelry its fluidity, and smoothness of form, I also love the distinctive, hand-sculpted look of his organic items.

Some shapes are crinkled like loosely balled up pieces of paper, others are beaten up, rough-hewn resembling unearthed relics.

Each design is cultivated through numerous techniques including anticlastic raising, hammering, repoussé, and high relief.

Overall, the jewelry is earthy, and sensual a visual language of delicate femininity and quiet strength.

"I worked in graphic communications for over 20 years. I designed jewelry on the side until I realized my greatest pleasure came from three-dimensional shapes as well as working with metals and gemstones.

I derive great pleasure when I see people wearing my designs and see them happy with my products."
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Photo 1 (top right): Hammered Sterling Silver Tara Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Puno Bracelet

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RACHEL EMMERSON

Located along the north bank of England's River Thames is the Palace of Westminster.

After many years serving as a primary royal residence, the palace is presently the location of England's seats of government, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

Its clock tower, the as Big Ben, is one of the most recognizable landmarks of England. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Rachel Emmerson.

Monday, June 7, 2010

KETUT WIDARMA PUTRA

Indonesia's Lombok Island, with its assortment of cities, is a great place for exploration. Mount Rinjani, an active volcano, is among many popular tourist attractions, as well as Segar Anak Lake. Each city of Lombok holds a unique landmark surrounded by natural beauty. Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Ketut Widarma Putra.

After many years learning various crafts, including silversmithing and woodcarving, Putra worked for a time making candleholders.

Surprisingly, however, he was not sure a future as an artisan was the right career path to follow.

"I liked making candleholders. I love creativity, but I thought it wasn't my destiny so I quit after six months," he recalls.

"A few days later, by chance, I was offered an assistant's job in the quality department of a silver company."

In time, Putra eventually became the department's manager and he later cultivated his own jewelry designs.

Employment with the company allowed travel to various countries including Australia, and the United States where the young artist compared "the art and jewelry in other countries".

Eventually establishing his own jewelry workshop, Putra contains cultural pride and the beauty of his homeland within streamlined, classic proportions.

"In my country, our handicrafts are extraordinary. I am very attached to Balinese culture, and I want to keep it alive as much as I can."

Putra's keen eye for distinguishing detail like repoussé, filigree, and oxidation bring to life traditional motifs of lotus blossoms and intricate calligraphic symbols.

Gemstones like amethyst, citrine, garnet, turquoise, and amber increase visual depth and idiosyncrasies. You are in awe of the striking artistry and differentiation.

"I am really happy with my life. I have a great job that gives me the opportunity to spread my culture everywhere."
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Photo 1: (top right): 18-Karat Gold Plated Lotus Choker with Rose Quartz
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Plated Sterling Silver Innocent Lotus Earrings with Moonstone

Saturday, June 5, 2010

TAMRA GENTRY

Founded by, and named for, executive Max Adler, the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum is an 80-year-old fixture located in Chicago, Illinois. The structure houses three, full-sized theaters that include the Sky Theater, which simulates the night firmament by way of the Zeiss projector. Illinois is also home to featured jewelry designer Tamra Gentry.


Choosing a long, scenic route to travel to a destination or taking an analytical approach to resolve a problem are some ways that our left-brain, and right-brain peculiarities surface.

For some people, the subtle clash between pragmatism and visceral tendencies manages to exist in relative harmony.

For others, the polarized cerebral hemispheres cause a full-blown war of one's will. Gentry felt the tugs and pulls of intellect and instinct since childhood until a catharsis finally occurred.

Instinctual yearnings manifested itself through the designer's unshakable attraction to color; her first step towards her inner creative stirrings.

"I have always had strong, visceral reactions to color. Things like texture, design, and pattern are all secondary to me. They rarely evoke the response in me that color does," says Gentry.

"The only thing I know with any certainty is that I have always loved color. I was a kid who had to have the brand new box of 64 crayons at the beginning of each school year," she recalls. "I never used them though. I loved to look at them. The colors inspired me."

A fateful, high school trip to the St. Louis Art Museum would hit an unexpected, emotional chord. "I saw a Wassily Kandinsky painting for the first time. My heart raced, my stomach dropped to my feet, I could not breathe, and I felt an overwhelming urge to cry.

Part of me believes that a lot of my reaction could very-well be based on Kandinsky's own theories about art, music, and emotion."

Despite her "Kandinsky-Creative-Crumbles," and the added issue that both her parents are artistically inclined, Gentry pulled the reins on her own artistic interests when choosing a life-long profession.

"I didn't set out to become a jewelry artist. At many crucial decision-making periods in my life, designing jewelry wasn't even a blip on the radar," she explains.

"I had always been one of those creative "artsy" types; my future however was firmly guided by the self-imposed need to pursue a "real" job that could provide some degree of predictability and a steady income.



So I majored in business administration--the ultimate in "safe" careers, but I ended up loathing the extent to which conforming was required and I changed my major to physics."

After completing the physics program, for 10 years Gentry remained internally conflicted vacillating between art and science. Hoping to soothe the raging hemispheric war, she put to use her business administration knowledge looking to pursue a career in university administration.

She met the opportunity with initial enthusiasm; however, her gusto quickly faded, "It felt like I was finally moving forward after all the time I spent flip-flopping, but I started to see all the things I hated about the corporate wold in academia, and it seemed to be a greater degree of dysfunction."

Finally, on Mother's Day in 2004, Gentry made an unanticipated breakthrough. She made a couple of "beaded Swarovski crystal jewelry sets" as gifts for her mother and mother-in-law. "The moms loved the jewelry and I gained a huge sense of satisfaction having created the items myself."

After working with beads and wire wrapping, Gentry eagerly pursued more challenges. "Once I began metalsmithing, my hunt for what to do with my life ended abruptly.

I did not even think about it. This was it, and there was nothing left for me to figure out. My background in physics, chemistry, geology, and metallurgy are all integral components of metalwork."

A major element of Gentry's jewelry is Fordite. Also known as Detroit Agate, Fordite is a colorful remnant of automobile paint hand-sprayed on newly built cars during the 70s.

Lifted from the tracks and skids beneath the cars, Gentry takes these hardened, kaleidoscopic layers of paint cuts, polishes and places them alongside peacock topaz, garnet, sapphires, and vintage glass in designs that are clean, sleek, and modern.

The swirling ripples of multi-colors set against classic outlines of sterling silver, 14- and 18-karat gold is a distinctive visual language evoking tiny, abstract portraits.

The jewelry is elegant, sophisticated, and somewhat whimsical. It is ultimately a culmination of fiery internal yearnings expressed in smooth, sleek proportions.

"It is my need to go through the creative process in particular that regulates how I respond to our complicated existence.

The creative process is my religion in a way. I will do what helps me maintain my sanity and I will create, as I am so inspired. Because of this, I do not seek to become a "production house."
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Photo 1 (top right): 14- and 18-Karat Gold Fordite Car Necklace with Brilliant Diamond and Sterling Silver
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Flare Adjustable Wrap Bangle Bracelet with Garnet

Friday, June 4, 2010

OZLEM TUNA

Nearly 1,500 years ago the ominous cathedral Hagia Sophia, located in Istanbul, Turkey, was built by the order of Roman Emperor Justinian.

Renowned for its spectacular dome, the magnificent structure was considered "the epitome of Byzantine architecture." Turkey is also home to featured jewelry designer Özlem Tuna.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

AMIR HOSSEIN DELBARI

Rocky terrain and humid air are distinguishing characteristics of Chabahar Beach located in southeastern Iran. With its proximity near the Oman Sea, the area is a great place for waterskiing, canoeing, and swimming. Iran is also home to featured jewelry designer Amir Hossein Delbari.

In ancient Iran (formerly known as Persia), the 6th or 7th century saw the cultivation of the handwritten script called Khat-e-Mikhi, a series of vertical, diagonal and horizontal nail-shaped letters.

In the centuries to follow, more curvaceous, fluid alphabet scripts like Avestaaee, and Pahlavi were developed.

However, over 700 years ago two scripts, Taliq and Naskh, were combined creating the beautifully lithe and popular--yet technically difficult--script Nas'taliq.

Calligraphy is a time-honored art in many Asian countries including Japan, China, Indonesia, and India. This precision oriented form of writing is one of Delbari's many aptitudes.

"When I was 9 years old, I took my first step towards the art world by attending a calligraphy course. I am left-handed and was very fortunate to have a left-handed teacher, Ali Toussi," he recalls.

"By the time I turned 13, I started learning pottery and creating ceramic art at the same time. By 18, I had reached the advanced level of the art form."

The 28-year-old artist would later add jewelry making to his forte studying jewelry design and associated techniques at the Parsian International Institute of Jewelry, and the Tala Fonoon Institute of Art.

Delbari would implement striking calligraphic symbols, such as the Siah Mashgh style, into jewelry pieces upon establishing his company Alef Dall.

In some instances, the complexity of the symbols' form is Delbari's interest rather than its meaning. In other instances, Delbari's Talisman Pendant explores characters associated with sorcery, as well as the lovely Eslimi motifs of Islamic architecture.

Most all of Delbari's work featured online is fashioned from sterling silver without gemstones. When viewing this commanding jewelry, I sense the ominous scope of history, culture, tradition, and heritage living within them.

Although the overall physical proportion of the items is simple, the characters are so dynamic they transcend the proportions.

I still find it amazing how jewelry can encompass the history of many lives, or one life, rendering pieces that become a jeweled microcosm of a country's history, glory, and mysteries.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Eslimi Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Siah Mashgh Pendant

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

KEZHA HATIER

Standing amidst Paris' 4th arrondissement is the Pompidou Centre an ominous structure of steel columns built over three decades ago by Italian and British architects. A wildly popular attraction, the building houses a public library and Europe's largest museum of modern art, Musée National d' Art Moderne. France is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Kézha Hatier-Reiss.

Acute attention to one's surroundings seems to be a universal characteristic of the creatively inclined from authors who draw upon several personality types to create a single character to actors who capture nuances of voice and movement to embody a role.

I have often referenced jewelry designers' unique capacity for sensory absorption, finding design potential, and beauty in an array of materials.

Nel Linssen's (Netherlands) colorful paper jewelry and the floral-inspired, bicycle inner tube renderings of Thea Tolsma (Netherlands) are two examples of jewelers' subliminal connection to his or her environment.

A variety of Reiss' collective memories informs an aesthetic that is uniquely understated. "I spent most of my childhood on a stool in my father's workshop watching him work with leather and silver or in the museums and galleries of San Francisco and the Bay Area," says Reiss.

"I traveled extensively with my parents to Indian reservations in the United States and Canada. We went camping for weeks in remote places of the American Southwest. I spent summers combing the beaches near my grandparents' house in Tomales Bay in California.

The style of ceremonial jewelry, the colors of seashells, and the shape of gnarled wood and rocks each serve as inspiration. Many of my design ideas are also influenced by the old dress and art of my French and Native American ancestors."

In her Sun Series collection, Reiss incorporates repetition of a simple circle form to build complex yet elegant patterns. Her materials of choice include 24-karat gold vermeil, sterling silver, 18- and 22-karat gold and such stones as turquoise with swirled, black veins, gold citrine and black onyx druzy so intense in color it resembles nutrient-rich soil.

Reiss' use of small elements like the sinewy, intertwined prong settings of her flower rings evoke outstretched branches. These unusual prongs' twisting grasp of a large gemstone is poetic and lyrical.

The airy, arabesque outlines of her Coral Web items evoke the sights Reiss undoubtedly encountered during her beach combing excursions along the California coastline.


"My collections are hand carved and cast blending traditional lines and colors with modern ones. The completed piece promotes a feeling of beauty, connection, and confidence."
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Photo 1 (top right): 24-Karat Gold Vermeil Anemone Ring with Black Onyx and Druzy
Photo 2 (bottom left): 24-Karat Gold Vermeil Sun Series Choker Necklace

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

QUOTABLE GEMS - PAMELA ANDERSON

It's great being blonde - with such low expectations it's easy to impress.

KATE HODGSON

Eleven years ago, the London Eye Ferris wheel, located near England's River Thames, officially opened on New Year's Eve, and is still a top tourist attraction. Its circumference carries 32 egg-shaped passenger capsules each representing the London Boroughs. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Kate Hodgson.

Timeless and classic form in jewelry design is central to the creations of such designers as Melissa Joy Manning (USA), and Shona Macaulay Fidgett (Scotland).

Designs often implemented are geometric structures and cultural iconography; however, longstanding Finnish brand Lapponia Jewelry (Lapponia) redefines the concept of classic design with organic, abstract form.

Lapponia's approach to `timeless' jewelry styles, in my opinion, exemplifies that classic form can be subtle yet imperfect and that mere form, however non-descript, is beautiful.

To a certain degree, Hodgson's understated jewelry is also based within subtle, natural composition.

As the collection's name suggests, her Petal Collection highlights the unique qualities of a recognizable form, however the category or species of the petal is unknown making it non-descript in that sense.

Implementing 18-karat yellow and rose gold, sterling silver and platinum, Hodgson works with patinated, oblong petal forms arranging them in circular layouts to create a flower bloom ring and brooch, or placing two, sculpted petals beside each other providing an illusory type form not connected to a flower.

Hodgson's Fold Collection works along the same lines where slivers of folded, patinated metal are arranged into a sleek and highly idiosyncratic setting for a ring. These folded slivers take on an edgy rocker vibe when combined with sterling silver chain links.

In addition to patina, the 11-year-veteran enjoys incorporating different techniques to add subtle color to her "imprint" commitment rings and bangles.

Publications including The Telegraph, Marie Claire, Vogue, and InStyle have featured Hodgson's modestly detailed jewelry in their pages.
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Photo 1 (top right): Patinated Sterling Silver Petal Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Imprint-Commitment Rings
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