Saturday, September 26, 2009


As we stroll within the lush surroundings of the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, we learn that it is bigger than New York's Central Park, and was once an expanse of sand dunes more than 130 years ago.  California is also the home of featured jewelry designer Sarah Graham.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Sterling Silver and Lapis Brooch Pin
The magnificent Royal Castle of Stockholm in Sweden, built with sandstone and brick, houses over 600 rooms and functions as the reigning king's, Karl XVI Gustaf, workplace.

Among other duties, his majesty holds nearly a dozen annual dinners and is protected by armed, royal guards at all times.

Sweden is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Ulla Hornfeldt.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


There is no mistaking the elegant yet powerful beauty of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

Architect Robert Mills, in honor of the first U.S. President George Washington, designed the century plus obelisk in 1836.

Construction began on the 550-foot tall structure 12 years later--161 years ago--on July 4. Washington, D.C. is also the current home of featured jewelry designer Sandra Mardini.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


As we move along Windsor Castle's sprawling 26 acres, we are mesmerized by the great sense of history and majesty.

At over 900 years old, it is one of England's oldest castles and is a periodic residence of Queen Elizabeth II.

It houses a grand collection of fine art including paintings by Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Canaletto.

England is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ming Lampson.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Today we visit Denmark's Botanical Garden and Natural History Museum, which houses over 23,000 plants from every corner of the world including the Galapagos Islands, Madagascar, Norway, and Denmark. Denmark is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Susanne Friis Bjorner.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Today we explore the incredible Mayan ruin Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico.

Once categorized as an Atlantean outpost, Palenque's remarkable temples--the Temple of Inscriptions, the Temple of Jaguar, and the Temple of the Sun--are architectural wonders covered with colorful motifs reminiscent of Asian art. Mexico is also the home base of jewelry brand Sabido & Basteris.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Today we visit Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan, New York. Named for former Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins, the park's tumultuous and dramatic reputation has settled down in recent years.

Today the park's family-friendly 10.5 acres houses handball and basketball courts, playgrounds, and outdoor chess tables. New York is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Madelaine Mayer.

Friday, September 18, 2009


A former meeting place for kings, princes, emperors, and dukes, today we visit the resplendent Beyerbeyi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

Built by Armenian architects during the mid-19th century under the order of Sultan Abdulaziz, the palace houses crystal chandeliers from France, oil paintings, and porcelain vases. Turkey is also the home of featured jewelry designer Yeliz Titiz.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Today we stand within the majestic walls of Germany's Mespelbrunn Castle.

Its hidden location in a Bavarian valley protected it through World Wars I and II, and it is considered one the country's most beautiful castles. Its halls are filled with gorgeous columns with carved angels, masks, and rosettes. Germany is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Constanze Schreiber.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The Red Sand Garden, the Eucalypt Walk, and the Dry River Bed are just a few of the various landscapes found within Melbourne, Australia's Royal Botanic Gardens.

One other attraction located on the grounds is the National Herbarium of Victoria, which contains over one million-plant specimen. Australia is also the home of featured jewelry designer Simon Cottrell.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Built in the early 18th century, the Rikugien Gardens in Tokyo, Japan is a beautiful area with lush, green hills, a pond, and a weeping cherry tree. The garden's structure is patterned after Japanese waka poems, which are characterized by five lines. Japan is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer, Meiri Ishida.

Ishida's creations are essentially tactile textiles. Try saying that three times in rapid succession. That is quite a tongue twister. One look at Ishida's objects and jewelry made with multi-colored felt, gold and silver had the same effect. I was at a loss for words.

I like it when a designer goes with an unconventional design approach, setting himself/herself apart, establishing their individuality, and expanding their creativity.

A graduate of Tokyo's Tama Art University (T.M.U.), Ishida specialized in glass art, but her love of various textures and aesthetics led to lots of experimentation. Four years after graduating from T.M.U., Ishida attended the Alchimia School of Contemporary Jewelry in Florence, Italy, under the tutelage of Giampaolo Babetto, and Barbara Seidenath

Ishida's designs are full of color and whimsy. The multi-colored, horizontal pattern of the felt material she uses brings to mind winter attire: warm cozy mittens, sweaters, socks, and a skullcap.

Her jewelry is structured like standard necklaces or bracelets. "When the form, color, and tactile feeling are mixed with someone's personality, my jewelry is complete, and creates a new poetry," she says.

However, the objects she creates are altogether different. It is an unusual aesthetic and I enjoy her creative expression. Some objects appear to be silhouettes of rabbits, and the head and shoulders of people, while others are non-descript.

The silhouette cutouts are layered creating a three-dimensional aspect, and as you look closer, you can see that there is perhaps a centimeter's difference in size. This allows you to see levels of colors.

"Color, humor, mixture, and continuation, my work consists of these elements. Color especially is the transcendent sensation."

Some objects resemble a toddler's play toy; another resembles a floral arrangement, while yet another looks like a small bowl of salad.

Over the last seven years, Ishida's work has been featured in exhibitions around the world including the Florida Craftsmen Gallery in the United States, the Contemporary Art Center in the Netherlands, and the Galleria Marcolongo in Italy.
Photo 1 (top right): Unnamed Felt Object (resembles salad)
Photo 2 (bottom left): Unnamed Felt and Gold Necklace

Monday, September 14, 2009


I am delving into a different topic again for this month's Splendor Sidebar. This month's topic is tips on how to wear jewelry. The content of my article is based on a few online editorials I read on the subject, and the suggestions do not necessarily reflect my ideas. Personally, I do not see ways to wear jewelry as being completely set in stone, but I thought some of you might find the information helpful.

Here's the scenario: you've put on a pair of dark jeans, and a button down,
white blouse or an elegant, black dress and you want a little something extra to add a final touch. You gaze over to your jewelry box unsure of which piece adds the right complement.

According to online sources, you should keep in mind a number of factors when selecting that fabulous piece of jewelry: your age, build and height, the size and style of jewelry (bold or classic), as well as the type of jewelry (diamonds, pearls, etc.).

Taking into consideration what you are wearing also factors in the piece you select. If you are wearing anything with a bright print, wear clean pieces with classic designs.

Let's go back to our two examples. Simple, classic jewelry designs also work well with a casual outfit, such as the dark jeans and white blouse; although a single, bold piece like a gold necklace or chunky bracelet can provide an interesting complement.

The key here is selecting a single piece of jewelry. Wearing loads of jewelry of any kind is not the option to go with. A simple string of pearls (faux pearls too) looks stunning with a white blouse and an open collar. A gold necklace with a diamond pendant or a pop of color like coral or turquoise goes well with the elegant black dress.

It is said that long, dangly earrings look best with a straight, smooth hairstyle offset by a lean, long neck. However, small, button-type earrings are believed to look better on petite and stout women. Similarly, rings with slim bands complement slim fingers, while rings with large stones can cause small fingers to look even more diminutive.

Unless the rings are stackable, it isn't a good idea to wear multiple rings with various band sizes. If your jewelry is eclectic and was not bought as a set, the jewelry you choose should complement. The rule is--and it kind of goes without saying-- to wear a gold necklace with other gold pieces, although layering necklaces with varying lengths adds a nice, funky touch.

Ultimately, the bottom line is to wear jewelry that reflects who you are. If you have a take-charge personality wear bolder pieces. If your demeanor is understated, classic pieces will most likely appeal to you.

Sometimes pieces you choose reflect your mood. In her article, Vicky Post said this, "Give your jewelry the same attention you give to the rest of your outfit, and make sure that whatever you wear, clothes or jewelry, that you are comfortable with the result."


The beautiful Zinnia flower is among the 20,000 plant species we will find at the Montreal Botanical Garden in Canada.

The garden, built 73 years ago by Frére Marie-Victorin, houses over 32 greenhouses, and an array of flora that includes bromeliads, orchids, and begonias. Canada is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Anzie Stein.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Today we visit the Sante Fe Plaza in New Mexico, the place where politics, commerce, and social interests mesh. Originally constructed as a fort nearly 400 years ago, the Plaza houses the Palace of the Governors, which happens to be the oldest building in the United States. New Mexico is also the home base for jewelry company Herndon Heald.

The name Herndon Heald is a composite of three names: married couple Mark and Naomi Herndon, and Jeri Lynn Heald.

Seemingly brought together by fate, the trio crossed paths when they all set up homesteads in Sante Fe, New Mexico. "Mark and I moved here when he accepted a teaching job at a metalsmithing school," explains Naomi Herndon, who once apprenticed with Cartier. "I met Jeri Lynn while I was working for a jewelry company. One of us manages the business, one handles manufacturing, and one of us does the creating. Finding the right partners was number one."

Ultimately, the jewelry making skills of all three heavily influence each design. "We take inspiration from older jewelry," Naomi continues. "Jeri Lynn does a lot of weaving and crocheting techniques, Mark brings his expertise in Native American jewelry, and my background is sculpture."

The trio established their company just two years ago, and it is not without its share of challenges. "Some people think it's just about making pretty things, but it is like running a marathon sometimes every week," says Naomi.

One of the most important aspects of running their business is showing appreciation for the additional artisans they employ. "I had worked with a jewelry company that took a stance with the treatment of their employees I did not feel comfortable with," Naomi acknowledges. "We wanted to create a company in line with our morals."

The designers' refined jewelry possesses a distinct, East Indian flair such as their Novia Hoop Earrings made with sterling silver and dangling, pink tourmaline stones. The jewelry is divided into four major collections: yellow gold, sterling silver, rose gold, and mixed metals.

Pieces are offset with beautiful smoky quartz, labradorite, rubies, green chrysoprase, moonstones, and chalcedony. Many items feature what is notably the designers' signature touch: hammered paillete discs in gold or silver. "We make our own hammers for creating certain textures," Naomi says.

The jewelry is primarily minimalist, clean with neutral tones like pale greens, and creamy whites, although other items featured at highlight designs with brilliant color.

Some pendants are suspended from leather cords; in fact, there are eye-catching leather items including the Leather Ladder Bracelet with pieces of silver riveted into the leather, and the Tie Me Up in Knots Bracelet, made with small, leather knots set between gorgeous, sage pearls. Overall, the collections are elegantly understated and great for the woman who doesn't like feeling overwhelmed by jewelry or high-end prices.

There's something else special about their pieces, their tag. "Our jewelry's tag bears an anvil with a heart symbol in it. We wanted something that is specifically us," Naomi offers.

"In the past, jewelry was passed down. We want to bring that back. It may be just a silver cuff, but it belonged to a great grandmother. Our tag lets our customers know the care taken to make each piece."
Photo 1 (top right): Five-Strand Cascade Bracelet with Hammered Sterling Pailletes on Sterling Silver
Photo 2 (bottom left): Peruvian Opal Pathways Bracelet with 14-Karat Gold Bead and a Singe Pearl

Friday, September 11, 2009


In 1416 the Duke of Albany licensed James Dundas, of the well-known Dundas Clan, to build what would become the structure known as the Dundas Castle in Scotland.

Some members of the Dundas Clan fought in a few of the country's historic battles alongside William Wallace, and Robert the Bruce. Scotland is also the hometown of jewelry designer Alison Reid.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The palaces of Seoul, Korea are stunning architectural triumphs filled with history. Among the grand palaces is the Changdeok Palace, which consists of 13 buildings, 28 pavilions, 3 main areas, and is encircled by a park.

Deoksu Palace is actually a compound of several palaces made with different materials and styles. Korea is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Tricia Kim.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Carnivorous plants are sure to get our attention as we visit Poland's oldest botanical garden, Krakow Botanical Garden.

Among other areas of interest is the ominous 300-year-old Jagiellonian Oak Tree, and the astronomical observatory, which was the site of the country's first hot air balloon launch over 200 years ago.

Poland is also home of featured jewelry designer Pawel Kaczynski.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Today we visit Finland's Oulu University Botanical Garden located at Linnanmaa Campus' north end.

The garden provides the school's biology department with living specimens for research and educational purposes, while also serving as a lovely recreation area. Finland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Björn Weckström.

Monday, September 7, 2009


There are many places of interest to explore in Mali, Africa. Contrary to popular belief, the ancient city of Timbuktu was once a hotbed of bustling commerce.

Presently, camel caravans arrive in the city each year to distribute merchandise obtained from salt mines. The city of Djenné holds beautiful centuries-old mosques. Mali is also the region where the nomadic group known as Tuareg travel.


A symbol of devotion to God and the mysterious planet Saturn, the magnetic, blue sapphire gemstone is widely known as the "Stone of Destiny."

The sapphire is derived from a non-red variety of the corundum mineral; the same mineral its twin, the ruby, originates from.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Rich with history and natural attractions, we walk along the Redoubt Lake Trail of Alaska's Sitka National Historical Park.

Established nearly 100 years ago, the two-mile long "national monument" consists of giant Spruce trees, flowers, shrubs, and magnificent replicas of native totem poles including the Raven and a Bear, and the Village Watchmen.

Alaska is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Denise Wallace.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Chiang Mai in Thailand can easily be dubbed the "City of Temples" as over 300 Buddhist temples populate the city.

Built for the purpose of uniting people within the community, Chiang Mai temples are multifaceted acting as centers of culture, literature, history, religion, and art. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Sirilak Samanasak.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Today we visit a few of Brazil's historical sites located in Minas Gerais.  The country's colonial past is preserved in the distinctive baroque architecture of cities Ouro Preto, and Belo Horizonte.

Ouro Preto, in particular, was the center of a massive gold rush once the metal was found near the close of the 17 century. Brazil is also the home of featured jewelry designer Christo Kiffer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Widely known as a "masterpiece of architecture," today we take in the astonishing Machu Picchu in Peru.

Also called "The Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu is a remarkable historical site containing structures built with uncanny precision and forethought.

Peru is also the home of featured jewelry designer Marcela Rossl.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Most cynics are really crushed romantics: they've been hurt, they're sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that's protecting this tiny, dear part in them that's still alive.


Today we are awed by an ominous, centuries-old stronghold located in Bilhorod-Dnitrovskyi, Ukraine, the Akkerman Fortress.

Built over an ancient Greek colony called Tyras, the military fortress served as a safe haven against attacks from Ukrainian Cossack raiders, the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. The Ukraine is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer, Nina Basharova.
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