Thursday, December 31, 2009


Situated along the outskirts of China's Songshan Mountains is the five centuries plus Shaolin Temple.

The temple not only played a pivotal role in Chinese Buddhism but it is believed the origin of martial arts began with the early monks who worshiped here.

China is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Alex Woo.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Overlooking carefully groomed lawns and beautiful gardens stands the remains of England's Belsay Castle.

Built during the late 14th century, as a residence for the Middleton family, it is presently open to the public serving as a location for garden parties.

England is also the home of jewelry prop maker Martin Adams.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It is said that the view of Turkey's Anatolia Fortress at sunset is like peeking into a parallel universe filled with romance and adventure. Turkey is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ceren Keyman.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Even within the ruins of Germany's Heidelberg Castle, you can still get a sense of the structure's majesty and power.

Built a little over six centuries ago, the fortress has been used as a regal residence and a quarry. Germany is also the ancestral home of jewelry designer Ursula Woerner.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


We move through the Visitors Center of Virginia's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden towards the grounds' stunning conservatory.

Underneath the structure's spectacular dome is a surplus of flora from around the world. Virginia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Liz Law.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The picturesque Château de Chenonceau in France sits along the shoreline of the River Cher, and its serene facade betrays a complex past.

The century-plus structure's turbulent history includes sedition, unpaid debts, and expulsion. France is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Laurent Rivaud.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It is summertime right now in Australia; a welcome transition from the frigid air, and snowy weather that looms over a large portion of the United States.

We visit the country's third largest island, Kangaroo Island, mystified by its natural, untouched beauty. Australia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Melissa McArthur.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Every aspect of Japan's Rinnoji Temple from the flowers to the swimming koi fish emits an aura of tranquility. Japan is also the home of featured jewelry designer Momoko Kumai.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Eight greenhouses populate the Botanic Garden of the Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany.

We will also find an arboretum with an array of flora that brings the collective number of plant species to 10,000. Germany is also the home base for jewelry brand GELLNER.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden is one of the many highlights of Texas' Zilker Botanical Garden.

The tranquil garden features ponds fashioned into ideograms, which spell out the city name of Austin. Texas is also the home of featured jewelry designer Christy Klug.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Genius is in the details of a castle's architectural design. Aside from their foreboding beauty, the nearly 3,000 castles of Spain were strategically built to withstand military assaults from Moors and early Christian marauders.

However, it is believed that the Segovia Alcázar Castle is the model from which the Disneyland Magic Kingdom castle is patterned. Spain is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Guillermo Arregui.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Situated along the border between Ontario, Canada and the state of New York in the U.S., Niagra Falls is a virtual natural wonder to behold.

Composed of Canada's Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls, the wall of water has a massive expanse of six million cubic feet that falls every minute. Canada is also the home of featured jewelry designer Claire Vessot.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


A carved idol of Ganesha, flanked by stone images of goddesses Siddhi and Riddhi are focal points of the Siddhivinayak Temple in India. India is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Riddhika Jesrani.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The chill of winter is beginning to settle over Tel Aviv, Israel, but we still want to stroll along beautiful Gordon Beach as we overlook the rough surf. Israel is also the home of featured jewelry designer Maya Offer.

Monday, December 7, 2009


From the days of the Aztecs to the present day, the turquoise gemstone has been around for millennia adorning everyone from Egyptians to Native Americans.

Mined around the world, including China, Israel, and Mexico, the copper aluminum phosphate is found in copper-rich soil and is best known for its pure blue color.

Of course, like many gemstones depending on its composition its color can range from mint green to neon yellow to white. The variation in color is caused by the amount of copper, iron, or aluminum present in the soil.

Widely known as a "sensitive" stone, turquoise nuggets are often treated with clear wax in order to preserve its color as well as increase hardness and durability.

It is also important to handle turquoise items with great care to promote longevity as body oils, heat, and extreme light pose a detrimental effect on the stones.

Believed to be a stone of good fortune, turquoise was worn by ancient Persians to protect against the evil eye, a sudden violent death, and dark forces.

Turquoise is used in gemstone therapy to alleviate depression, and increase confidence. The most valuable turquoise is a pure blue tone without veins or a matrix--as veins are also called--most turquoise of this quality are mined in Nevada.

One of the world's largest known turquoise nuggets was found in Sante Fe, New Mexico and is prominently featured in one of the local stores.
Photo (top left): Blue Turquoise Nugget


At over four centuries old, Italy's Botanical Gardens of the University of Bologna remains a fantastic location of the country's indigenous plant life that includes aromatic and ornamental plants. Italy is also the home of featured jewelry designer Carlo Palmiero.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


We visit Massachusetts' Smith College Botanic Garden, which has a long, layered history that played out over the course of 115 years. The study of horticulture was already a fixture at Smith College many years prior to the addition of a botanic garden. Massachusetts is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designers Nina Brandin Jones.

As I touched on in my post for Taiwanese designer Sadie Wang, the impact of subtle, understated jewelry items can get lost, and not seem as exciting as their more eye-catching counterparts.

However, where metalsmithing is concerned  the techniques and skill required to produce an elaborate piece are the same techniques and skill needed to create a less elaborate one.

Like Wang, Jones' range includes classic, elegant forms fashioned from sterling silver to more intricate, one-of-a-kind items in gold, silver, moonstone and carved coral.

In one degree or another, the North Bennet Street School (NBSS) alumna implemented tools like hammers, files, soldering irons, and buffing wheels in creating both types of designs.

Presently living in Colorado, Jones began creating precious metal jewelry during her early teen years, and while attending NBSS she learned everything from "cabochon and faceted stone settings" to "metal forming techniques." Once she developed her repertoire of jewelry making skills, Jones established her company Nina's Jewelry.

Aside from creating designs inspired by her surroundings, Jones also creates custom ordered pieces including wedding and engagement rings.

She also gives a lot of her time and energy to developing the talent of others by generously providing aspiring jewelry artists with customized, jewelry-making lessons that address different skill levels from beginner to advanced.

For more on Jones' classic designs, check out her page at
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Triangular Fossilized Coral Pendant
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver Swirl Earrings

Friday, December 4, 2009


Today we visit the Botanical Garden of the National Museum of National Science located in Taichung, Taiwan. The grounds' focal point is the Rain Forest Greenhouse replete with simulated rain, and a waterfall.

Taiwan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Sadie Wang.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


We visit Indonesia today gearing up for a journey to view several of the many, centuries-old temples. Our first stop will be the lake of Bratan where the Ulun Danu temple sets.

Next is the sea temple Tanah Lot, and finally we visit the 1,000-year-old Besakih Temple, which is often referred to as the "Mother Temple of Bali". Indonesia is also the home of featured jewelry designer Zayd Makarim.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


One of the most astounding natural wonders is Peru's Amazon River. It is a literal wall of water pouring twenty percent of the total volume of freshwater into the world's oceans.

Peru is also the home of featured jewelry designer Maricarmen Morales-Macedo.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The architecture of India is some of the most spectacular in the world particularly the Buddhist and Jaina temples.

In many cases, the designs of these temples blend Indian and Greek aesthetics. India is also home to featured jewelry designer Pavan Anand.


Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don't do that by sitting around.

Monday, November 30, 2009


We are taking two trips today. Our first is to Canada's breathtaking Butchart Gardens, and at 105-years-old, it remains one of the country's most beautiful natural areas. We then travel to the Masada fortress in Israel exploring the preserved ruins of a Byzantine church, and an enormous bathhouse that once belonged to King Herod.

Today's feature is husband and wife team Talya Baharal and Gene Gnida. Canada is the birthplace of Gnida while Baharal's is Israel.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The expansive Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, located in Bristol, Rhode Island, are a virtual feast for the senses with its varied collection of lawns, flora, and gardens. Rhode Island is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ananda Khalsa.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Visiting the centuries-old ruins of Baalbek, located northeast of Beirut, Lebanon in the Bekaa Valley, is an experience so powerful our knees buckle.

Observing the enormous slabs of crumbling stone, and what is left of the towering rose granite columns, causes us to ponder how the structures were made. Lebanon is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Leila Tai.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We walk along the Krakowskie Przedmieoecie Boulevard in Poland observing and exploring the many landmarks like the bronze statue of King Zygmunt; the Holy Cross Church; and the Old Town Market Place.

An aura of times gone by encompasses everything. Poland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ela Bauer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Respectfully attired, we enter the beautiful Grand Palace located in Bangkok, Thailand astonished by the architecture and murals. The palace houses the tranquil Emerald Buddha. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Sasina Leerasawatdiampon (a/k/a Sasina).

Monday, November 23, 2009


 Filigree Radika Necklace
with Faceted Rubies and Silver Accents
We are visiting the grandiose ruins of Leptis Magna in Libya. Leptis Magna was once the center of busy commerce; one look at the sprawling amphitheater and the ominous arches and columns of Severan Basilica, we are overwhelmed by the sense of history.

Libya is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Fadwa Al Qasem.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Aqua Aura Stone Wrapped in
Multi-Layered 18Kt Gold and Sterling Silver Chain
Did you know twenty years after its construction in 1931, the iconic Empire State Building towered above 5th Avenue and 34 Street without occupants?

This is an interesting bit of trivia and the 102-story building is the tallest structure in New York State. New York is also the home base for jewelry brand DANNIJO.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Copper, Paint, and Synthetic Fiber Necklace
Enough Tears to Cry for Two Collection
Skåne, Sweden could easily be called the castle capital of the world, as it is the location to over three hundred.

Some fortresses, such as the Drottningholm Palace and Kina Slott, are World Heritage sites while many consider Trolleholm Castle akin to the citadels of fairy tales. Sweden is also home to featured jewelry designer Hanna Hedman.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Sterling Silver Lazer-Tran Sending My Love Charm Bracelet
Today we visit the St. Andrew Botanic Gardens in Scotland that houses over 8,000 species of plants on its 18 acres.

One of the gardens' many highlights, a large ceramic panel called Homage to Paxton, is located in the Mollie Pirie Glasshouse. Scotland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Julie Allison.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


9-Karat Gold and Chinese Freshwater Pearl Necklace
Denmark's Botanical Garden and Museum is home to not only a diverse array of plant life but also the country's largest collection of botanical literature. Denmark is also the home of featured jewelry designer Lilian Busch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today we explore the great outdoors of Mexico's Cumbers de Majalca National Park. We have our pick of activities to choose from including hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Olga Hinojosa.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Once used as a regal backdrop for director John Ford's 1951 film The Quiet Man, Ireland's Ashford Castle is a 13th-century fortress with a long, rich history. Ireland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Shimara Carlow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Carved Jasper Pendant
with Bronze Chain
There is nothing like the energy of New York City and today we are in the thick of Midtown Manhattan visiting Rockefeller Center.

Developed in the 1930s, the complex consists of some of the most iconic buildings and sculptures around including Radio City Music Hall and the bronze Prometheus statue. New York is also the home of featured jewelry designer Stephen Dweck.

Friday, November 13, 2009


24K Gold Plated and Enamel Double Medallion
with Swarovski Crystals and Glass Beads
The varied grounds of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in Israel feature six, distinctive areas patterned after the plants' region of origin.

Israel is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Michal Golan.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


In Mexico City sitting atop Chapultepec Hill is the regal Castillo de Chapultepec (Castle of Chapultepec); a structure built during the Colonial Period.

It currently serves as the location of the Mexican National Museum of History. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Mauricio Serrano.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


18-Karat Gold Hearts in Motion Pendant
with Pink Tourmaline
We feel so privileged to visit the Louvre Museum in France with its astounding collection of paintings, sculptures, and other antiquities.

Located inside the Louvre Palace, which was built in the 12th century, the sense of history makes the air feel electric. France is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Yael Sonia.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


18-Karat Gold To Bend Earrings
 with Small Diamonds
We are eager to explore the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Korea which was built during the 14th century.

The literal translation of the palace's name is "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven," and its massive compound, consisting of 330 buildings, definitely attests to this.

Korea is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Hongsock Lee.

Monday, November 9, 2009


White Gold Jeweline Ring with
Red Coral Stone and Black Sapphires
With its famed Glass Pavilions and grounds spanning 19 acres, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens in England has gained the unsurprising reputation of being a natural sanctuary away from the world.

Built over a century ago, the fixture houses Sarccocca, Diervilla, and Weigela plant collections. England is also the home of featured jewelry designer Stephen Webster.


For the woman looking to purchase a special jewelry piece for the man in her life, or the man interested in making a personal purchase, the experience does not have to be an exasperating one.

It is pretty straightforward actually, considering that men's jewelry generally serves a functional rather than aesthetic purpose.

Though options for men's jewelry are a bit more clear-cut, it is still important to keep in mind personal style.

Is that special guy laid back and casual, ladies? Or is his style classic or flamboyant?

Men, do you tend to follow the latest male fashion trends, or do you like developing your own style? For whichever category be assured that there is a complementary jewelry style.

Watches, tie clips, cuff links, and money clips are considered some of the most foolproof items you can purchase. If you are looking to buy a great watch, a standard is Timex, which has styles from classic to chronograph.

Many men love the exceptional quality of watches by Hugo Boss though they are a bit pricier. Cuff links and tie clips range from unembellished gold, silver, platinum, stainless steel, and titanium to diamond encrusted versions.

The aforementioned are probably the best choices for the man with more classic tastes, but fear not ladies and gents for there are more options.

The beauty of men's jewelry, in my opinion, is in its masculine proportions: simple, black cords suspending a small, Celtic medallion or dog tag. A necklace made from ebony beads or a single, simple gold chain peeking from behind a crisp, white shirt or just above the collar of a t-shirt can add effortless sex appeal.

Men's bracelets are also a great style idea that range from woven leather to unadorned metals like Tungsten, titanium, and stainless steel to diamond studded. Simple rings and the single, diamond earring stud also add a touch of elegance or edginess depending on a man's personal style.

A man can go from casual to classic to edgy with just a simple change of materials. Regardless of personal style, however, it is a good idea to purchase separate pieces that can be worn in alternately formal and casual settings. Like women, men enjoy having options when it comes to their jewelry, as well as letting their jewelry say something about who they are.

For more tips on buying men's jewelry, go to or read's Men's Jewelry Guide. To see jewelry items for men check out or Thanks for checking out this month's Splendor Sidebar post.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


14-Karat Gold and Antique Mother of Pearl Square
Chinese Medallion Necklace with Blue Topaz Briolette
Even after more than 100 years, the powerful image of New York's Statue of Liberty looming above New York Harbor is still a magnetic vision.

Fashioned from copper and standing a little over 300 feet tall, its official name is Liberty Enlightening the World. New York is also the home of featured jewelry designer Donna Chambers.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Dentege Vintage Cuff
The incredible architecture of France's Azay-le-Rideau Chateau is mesmerizing.

Built during the 16th century under a shroud of controversy, the castle boasts spectacular amenities such as a grand staircase leading inside; long rows of windows; and high roofs.

France is also the home of featured jewelry designer Aurélie Bidermann.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


24-Karat Gold and Sterling Silver Two-Finger
with Quartz and Diamond
The view of Burghausen Castle perched atop a ridge in Bavaria, Germany is straight out of a modern-day fairy-tale.

Initial construction began on the fortress during the 6th century and since then the castle has undergone several expansions that include six, distinctive courtyards.

Germany is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Regine Schwarzer.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Sterling Silver and Oxidized Copper Clouds Necklace
There is not one but two botanical gardens situated at Japan's University of Tokyo.

They are two of the country's oldest gardens containing varied collections of plant species for research purposes. Japan is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Kristina Kada.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It is an ambitious endeavor for sure but our drive and adrenaline push us to take on a trek across the Sahara Desert to Timbuktu (yes, it really exists).

Our point of departure is Mali, Africa and the upcoming days will undoubtedly involve blinding sandstorms, an occasional desert lake, and a scorpion or two. Africa is also the home of featured jewelry designer Oumar Cissé.

Monday, November 2, 2009


In many ways, the topaz gemstone is similar to diamonds. For one, topaz forms inside volcanic rock and its durability and hardness rivals that of diamonds. At one time clear topaz gemstones were commonly mistaken for diamonds.


18-Karat Gold Atmosphere Ring
with Blue Topaz and Brown Quartz
Positioned in a strategic area, militaristically speaking, the ominous presence of Sarzanella Castle in Liguria, Italy is stunning.

There are many areas within the castle to view the equally spectacular surrounding countryside. Italy is also the home of featured jewelry designer Franco Pianegonda.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I made a commitment to completely cut out drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened upon me - spiritually and financially.
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