Wednesday, September 8, 2010


A visit to Korea’s Mount Sorak, located in the Taebaek Mountain Range, is not for the faint of heart; but is well worth the journey.

A 40-minute walk from the car lot will bring you to the rushing waters of the Biryeong Waterfalls, and a hike up over 800 manmade steps of the Ulsanbawi rock formation exposes visitors to even more spectacular sights. Korea is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Ji Hwang.

Since 2002, Jewel Fair Korea has been the meeting place for both local and international jewelry designers to display their glittering wares of platinum, gold, diamond, and pearl jewelry.

Although last year, Korea’s jewelry market was down 15% in exports, South Korea remains a lucrative presence in the industry.

Known for its colorful, feminine aesthetic, Korean jewelry is a popular export to the United Arab Emirates, and its export market peaked at $900 million just seven years ago.

Hwang’s jewelry of sterling silver and 14-karat yellow and white gold, adheres to both the subtle, minimalist proportions characteristic to Asian jewelry as well as lovely accents of variegated, faceted gemstones.

Hwang’s designs for the custom made jewelry website, Gemvara; the pieces crafted for Gemvara include sculptural renderings of such trendy jewelry items as an initial necklace or silver heart pendant.

Although keeping in stride with mainstream jewelry styles, the items displayed at Gemvara highlight Hwang’s deft gift for fluid, voluptuous form that is reminiscent of Ippolita Rostagno (Italy).

The bulk of designs prevalent on her personal website, however, are more organic, and modern with patinated sterling silver, engraved surfaces, and luminous gemstone jewelry featuring single, beautifully carved gemstones dangling from a blackened sterling silver chain.

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the alumna of New York’s Parsons New School of Design, and Pratt Institute, incorporates computer aided design (CAD) to cultivate her collections. She prefers to keep her work simple, and understated; taking inspiration from the natural and manmade worlds.

“My early designs depict aspects of urbanism using functional, industrial elements such as pulleys, hooks, and wheels,” she says. “Despite this cold source of inspiration, these pieces are sensual and move smoothly around the body.

I try to reveal nature’s subtle aesthetic in my work about nature. I strive to capture the beauty of its form, the simplicity of its design, and the vitality of its colors.”

Hwang’s delicate, streamlined jewelry is available to buy online at Gemvara with prices currently ranging from about $101 to a whopping $14,469.
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Thangka Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Gemstone Earrings
Photo 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Desert Bloom Band with Emerald
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