Saturday, August 1, 2009


Today we walk along the banks of Connecticut's Mystic River moving towards the Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea.

We witness a recreation of a 19th century village replete with craftspeople, woodcarvers, and musicians.  Connecticut is also the home of featured jewelry designer Amy Kahn Russell.

The essence of Russell's jewelry is without question natural, pure, and organic.

Although she integrates sterling silver and gold in her pieces, Kahn makes full use of an exhaustive assortment of semi-precious gemstones that include kyanite, whiskey topaz, and carnelian.

Russell's educational background, which includes fine arts studies in Louisiana, Texas, and England, combined with several years of living abroad in Hong Kong informs her distinctive style.

Russell combines all types of semi-precious gemstones; and bezel cuts many of them for placement in sterling silver settings. The stones range in color from the soft, peach hue of Angel Coral to vibrant blue turquoise to the dark, rich chocolate tones of Petersite.

There is an open, free-form to the way she structures her designs. She rarely uses one type of stone in her creations. She has an uncanny ability to combine different stones with similar hues.

Her gemstone jewelry pieces are sectioned into two or three parts, each section highlighting a different, supplementary stone. For example, she features blue quartz, and natural Peruvian opal in a pair of earrings, which both possess different yet complementary bluish-green shadings. In another pair of earrings, she uses drusy, paua shell, and amethyst, which all share a similar violet color.

Though overall Russell's designer jewelry possess a slight, vintage style with some of her brooches she takes a full-fledged approach to this style by implementing miniature, hand painted Renaissance collectibles.

There are ethereal and feral flourishes like her Angel Wings Earrings made from carved, rutilated, clear quartz; and a piece featuring tiger eye, and a Philippines shell that mimics an animal print.

She also painstakingly carves symbolic images into some of her pieces, namely frogs, starfish, and turtles. They add a nice touch of humor, and whimsy and they are cute, too. :) However, their respective, intangible symbolism of metamorphosis, regeneration, and longevity are equally uplifting.

Russell's jewelry designs are widely exhibited through numerous outlets including galleries, and museums, such as the Asia Society, and the American Craft Museum; boutiques, and magazine layouts that include Essence, Vogue, and Glamour. Iman, Halle Berry, and Madonna are high-profile clients of the talented designer.
Photo 1 (top right): Brooch Made with Carved Brown Tiger Eye, and Sliced, Bezel Set Horn in Sterling Silver
Photo 2 (bottom left): Kyanite, Vintage Glass, and Celestial Quartz Bracelet in Sterling Silver
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