Saturday, February 27, 2010


Today we visit Arizona and are profoundly moved by the sight of the magnificent, world-renowned Grand Canyon. The powerful currents of the Colorado River carved out the intricate layers of rock, the caves of which became a homestead to many Native Americans. Arizona is also home to featured jewelry designer Dennison Tsosie.

The American Southwest is an area commonly known for its exceptional silver and turquoise jewelry.

The Navajo Indians, in particular, are recognized for creating spectacular sterling silver pieces that encompasses about 150 years worth of Mexican, Moorish and Spanish design influences.

The art of silversmithing was not only passed down through generations within the Navajo tribe, but the art was initially passed down from one culture to another.

According to historians, the first Navajo who learned the craft, Atsidi Sani (a/k/a Old Smith), learned the trade from Mexicans who learned it from Spaniards.

Tsosie is a third generation Navajo silversmith who trained under the guidance of his grandfather. At the age of eight, he assisted the elder Tsosie with mold casting and within a few years, he was creating his own jewelry pieces.

Tsosie's grandmother, who weaved elaborate rugs, also served as a prominent role model in the designer's work ethic. Perseverance and detail-orientedness were essential to his grandmother's trade, and he understood these character traits were just as necessary in metalworking.

Imbued with natural artistic gifts, Tsosie also excelled at painting, a skill he taught himself, and the subsequent sale of his artwork enabled him to help with family finances. As an adult, though he continued making jewelry part-time, Tsosie obtained employment that was more lucrative.

His desire and love for silversmithing, however, remained and despite the surge of cheaper, mass produced imitations of Native American silver jewelry, Tsosie wanted to become a full-time silversmith in the tradition of his grandfather.

In 1988, he established his company The Navajo Silversmith, and discovered there was still a populace craving authentic, Navajo sterling silver jewelry. Tsosie creates both custom and ready-made designs.

He divides his collections between traditional styles, and contemporary aesthetics implementing longstanding techniques such as inlaid stones like carnelian, lapis, or turquoise, as well as overlay, a technique commonly associated with Hopi Indians.

Overlay involves carving out a design in one sheet of silver and then soldering it to a second sheet, which serves as a backing. The backing is then oxidized or blackened creating a contrast of high polish silver and black metal.

His gorgeous silver pieces are clean, angular while the more traditional items highlight chunky stone arrangements. Both aesthetics capture the spirit of the Navajo people with designs inspired by horses, eagles, petro glyph stone carvings, and talismans.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Shaman Necklace with Gold Accents and Turquoise Heishi Beads
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Horsing Around Overlay Cuff

Friday, February 26, 2010


Flanked by small palm trees, Fiscal Castle, located in Brazil, takes up the entire expanse of the island it rests upon.

The 19th century structure's lustrous green color was conceived according to Emperor Dom Pedro's specification that the building be a "dazzling jewel." Brazil is also home to featured jewelry designer Antonio Bernardo.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Eighty years after its construction, Hungary's Eger Castle withstood the attack of 80,000 Turkish soldiers.

The 15th century structure presently houses several museums for wax creations and paintings. Hungary is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Zoltan Popovits.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Next month is a great time to visit the Philippines' Tubbataha Reef, an area rich with breathtaking natural wonders like the vibrant corals, unusual bird species, and marine life. The Philippines is also the birthplace to featured jewelry designer Kristine Dee.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Aside from its wonderful array of flora, another great highlight of Thailand's Sopha Botanical Gardens is its three, 100-year-old traditional Thai houses each holding exhibits of antique Thai utensils. Thailand is also home to featured jewelry designer Nareerat Tansuwansophon a/k/a Lek.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Once in a state of disrepair, Sweden's Linnaeus Garden is presently a thriving location for more than 1,300 species of lush flora. Sweden is also home to featured jewelry designer Sara Borgegard.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Oakland, California is a region blessed with plenty of warmth and sunlight, and today we visit the Oakland Zoo.

For over eight decades, the zoo has provided such attractions as the African Savannah and a simulated tropical rain forest where we catch a glimpse of lounging tigers. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Melissa Joy Manning.

Friday, February 19, 2010


It is rather chilly in Peru today, but we will not let that stop us from taking a trip along the hypnotic blue waters of Lake Titicaca; a journey that uncovers both the country's legends and natural wonders.

Peru is also home to featured jewelry designers Rocio Melendez Araujo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


The victories and defeats of any country's history lie within its architecture.

The castles of the Borders of Scotland practically vibrate with political intrigue such as Neidpath Castle, a residence and safe haven at different times for Oliver Cromwell and Mary Stuart. Scotland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Zoë Bassi.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Denmark is a country peppered with stunning architecture.

Among these splendid structures are Danish castles or slots including the Kronborg Slot, which Shakespeare used as his setting for Hamlet. Denmark is also the home of featured jewelry designer Poul Warmind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Sterling Silver &
 Obsidian "Chintico Goddess" Necklace
Nestled in Mexico's lofty Sierra Madre Mountains is the beautiful Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

The grounds house 20 acres of gorgeous flora that includes wildflowers, orchids, and roses, as well as the atmospheric Hacienda de Oro Restaurant. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Oscar Figueroa Escorcia.

Monday, February 15, 2010


In Israel, located just five miles west of Jericho, sits Hasmonean Palace, a magnificent structure with water channels, terraces, and an enormous swimming pool. Israel is also home to featured jewelry designer Dori Csengeri.


Selecting any piece of jewelry for a loved one requires careful consideration. Factors such as their personal style and jewelry preferences should always be kept in mind.

Selecting an engagement ring requires the same considerations; however, the gravity of the overall situation often times interferes with this otherwise straightforward process.

If buying jewelry for your significant other is a regular occurrence, you have a great advantage. Knowing that she has preferences for specific gemstones, yellow gold or clean designs will definitely help in your ultimate selection, and knowing her ring size, of course, is the cherry on top.

Something else important to keep in mind is the proportions of your fiancée's hand. Thicker bands and long-cut gemstones look better on larger hands and flatter slender, long fingers while thin bands and smaller stones accentuate shorter fingers on small hands.

If you have forgotten some of your fiancée's jewelry style, take heart. You can always include your bride-to-be in the selection process, after all the ring is for her. The two of you can decide whether to purchase a ready-made ring from a reputable jeweler or switch it up a bit by getting a ring custom-made.

While custom-designed engagement rings are a tad more expensive, they are fast becoming a popular alternative to ready-made, as many women prefer making this item specific to them and unique. In many cases, jewelers will work within your budget but if your budget is tight, it is recommended to keep designs simple with minimal stones.

Maybe you are planning to make your proposal a surprise, in that case make sure you are very familiar with your bride-to-be's jewelry preferences, otherwise it is recommended to include her family and friends to help you with the metal, stone and style selection.

For more information on selecting or designing an engagement ring, check out and Sharon Jacobsen's article at That concludes this month's Splendor Sidebar.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


With over 2,000 species of plants that include camellias, azaleas, and giant fir trees. Portland, Oregon's Leach Botanical Garden is at the top of our list of places to visit. Oregon is also the home base of jewelry brand Artisan's Designs.

Friday, February 12, 2010


The stately St. Michael's Castle (a/k/a Mikhailovsky Castle) in St. Petersburg, Russia is a study of beautiful architectural contrasts with Gothic, Italian Renaissance, and French Classicism motifs.

Russia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Sergey Jivetin.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Today we are in Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic where we take a scenic drive to the beautiful beach of Juan Dolio.

As we enjoy the cuisine in a local restaurant, we ponder which water-oriented activity to take part first. The Dominican Republic is also home to featured jewelry designer Purissa Veras.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


At over a century old, the Taipei Botanical Garden in Taiwan continues to provide the surrounding city with 20 acres housing over 1,000 species of giant trees and exotic plant specimens.

Taiwan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Rita Bey Yu Lin.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


The carved out cliffs, warm sand and spacious ocean make Indonesia's Dreamland Beach just that, a dream.

One of the country's most popular beaches, it is peppered with coconut and pine trees with plenty of recreational activities to explore. Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Kadek Wijanegara.

Monday, February 8, 2010


On the north banks of England's River Thames stands the Tower of London, a magnificent 11th century structure built by William the Conqueror.

Over the centuries, due to changing leadership, London Tower has become a complex of buildings. England is also the home of featured jewelry designer Eva Martin.


There are numerous studies showing that the amethyst gemstone's beautiful violet color is the result of the intermingling of aluminum, manganese and ferric iron.

This durable variety of quartz is primarily found within volcanic rock in regions spanning Uruguay, Brazil, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.

The stone's purported healing properties have been revered for centuries with its ability to soothe drunkenness being the most well known. In fact, according to Greek legend a beautiful nymph shared the gemstone's moniker.

After requesting Goddess Diana's protection from the amorous attention of Dionysus, the God of Wine, and Intoxication, Diana granted the nymph's request by transforming her into a gemstone. In turn, Dionysus granted the stone its color and the power to fend off wine's incapacitating effects.

Aside from this dramatic property, amethyst is also believed to calm stress reactions, signal danger, and enhance mental or psychic capacities. The stone has been a staple in rosary beads, and bishop rings of the Episcopal Church, as well as the stone of choice for St. Valentine.

In accordance with the theme of Valentine's, during medieval times a presentation of a heart-shaped amethyst by a woman to a knight or her husband signaled great happiness for the couple.

One of the world's largest amethyst geodes, the Empress of Uruguay, is located in Australia's Crystal Caves. It stands an alarming eleven feet tall and is filled with magnificent, deep violet crystals.
Photo 1: Amethyst crystal

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Pink Turquoise Drop Necklace
A spectacular structure of granite and red sandstone, the Old Red Courthouse's 19th century architecture stands out amidst the modern buildings of downtown Dallas, Texas. Texas is also the home of featured jewelry designer Elizabeth Carlock.

Friday, February 5, 2010


There is no shortage of great places to visit in Greece. Taking advantage of the current mild temperatures, we opt to visit archaeological sites like Vergina with its royal tombs, and magnificent ivory and gold artifacts.

Greece is also the home of featured jewelry designer Daphne Krinos.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Though the season right now in Thailand is cool and dry, it is still a great experience to stroll along Patong Beach on Phuket Island.

One of the country's most popular beaches, it boasts plenty of active and relaxing options to enjoy. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ploy Intha.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Initially constructed as a wooden fortress in the 11th century, Poland's Będzin Castle would be reconstructed in stone during the reign of Casimir the Great around the 1300s.

After several centuries of disrepair, the castle underwent a restoration in the mid 1950s and now houses a museum. Poland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Piotr Malysz.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The 15th century Olavinlinna Castle in Finland is situated on a small island that overlooks Lake Saimaa.

Its varied architectural details points towards a past that includes construction by Swedish builders, and a subsequent occupancy by Russians. Finland is also home to featured jewelry designer Pekka Hirvonen.

Monday, February 1, 2010


The times may have changed, but the people are still the same. We're still looking for love, and that will always be our struggle as human beings.


Today we visit the United States' largest municipal building, the Philadelphia City Hall in Pennsylvania.

Scottish architect John McArthur, Jr. designed the building, and at 548 feet tall, it is the second tallest "masonry" building in the world. Pennsylvania is also currently home to featured jewelry designer Hratch Babikian.
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