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.

Since starting this blog, I have learned that jewelry is definitely not exclusive to a single style or subject to limitations where choice of materials is concerned.

The range spans from the stately styles of Tanishq (India) and Carnet Jewelry (China) to the wildly provocative pieces of Ela Bauer (Poland), and Liz Goldwyn (USA).

One other prominent style is timeless simplicity. Whether the focal point is a gemstone or unembellished metal, there is a hushed beauty to understated designs.

The proprietors of Artisan's Designs, Rick and Annette Thurber, specialize in custom creations and jewelry repair, while also cultivating original, ready made pieces that feature beautiful semi-precious gemstones like amethyst, citrine, lemon and blue topaz, and green quartz.

The stones dangle from 14-karat yellow gold chains, are linked side-by-side, or are bezel set.  The designs are reminiscent of the delicate, clean arrangements of New York-based designer Madelaine Mayer, and the robust Canadian jewelry brand Anzie Jewelry.

The Thurbers pool an impressive list of qualifications: Rick, a 38-year veteran, is a master smith of platinum and gold, while Annette is a certified gemologist and jewelry designer. Goldsmiths Kelli Alton and Randy Estes complete the team assisting in jewelry creation that is refined, feminine, and elegant.

"I really enjoy going from the concept phase all the way to the end result, and experiencing that with the customer," says Rick. In February 2008, the team of superlative artisans was provided an opportunity to display their broad and diverse range of skills.

The popularity of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight book series quickly developed into equally popular films. For the first film, director Catherine Hardwicke needed vintage-inspired jewelry items featuring crests that represented the cultured sophistication of Carlisle Cullen's clan of vampires, as well as the elite and deadly Volturi. Widely known for their ability to work under tight deadlines, the craftsmen of Artisan's Designs fit the bill.

"The first movie was filming in Portland at the time we were contacted, and Meyer's books were just starting to become the generation-spanning, pop culture juggernaut that they are now," says Rick.

Using drawings provided by the movie's costume designer, the Thurbers' and their team constructed gorgeously distinguished jewelry items fashioned from sterling silver, colored enamel, varied gemstones, and 18-karat gold plating.

Although director Hardwicke did not return for the series' next two installments, Artisan's Designs made items for Twilight: New Moon, and Twilight: Eclipse. Over 70 pieces were created for the principal actors, and their stunt doubles.

The films' impact have influenced a number of jewelry designers, including Gina Nigrelli of Jules Smith and Elle Jule's Danielle Stirling, who create Twilight-themed jewelry.
Many online retailers sell Twilight-inspired items as well, and retailer Hot Topic sells officially licensed reproductions.

In the midst of all this, Thurber orchestrated a shrewd business move of his own retaining original molds used for the film along with the right to distribute official replicas through his company.

For more on Twilight jewelry, visit Utah-based designer Shelli Ashton's website, Infinite Jewelry Co.

With the permission of author Stephanie Meyer and adhering to her specifications, Ashton has created three rings based on Bella Swan's engagement ring in Eclipse.

They are the Fashion Ring (in sterling silver), the Fine Ring (in white or yellow gold), and the Genuine Ring (in white or yellow gold with diamonds).
Photo 1 (top right): Green Quartz Faceted Briolette Pendant
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Plated Volturi Family Crest

Photo 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold Amethyst Necklace
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