Wednesday, June 2, 2010


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."
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
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