Saturday, March 6, 2010


Today we visit the expansive Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois.  The grounds encompass 385 acres spread out over nine islands. Illinois is also home to featured jewelry designer Kristen Amato.

Like so many jewelry-making techniques, the exquisite gossamer detailing of filigree wirework fits prominently into the jewelry origins of countries from Africa to India.

Jewelry antiquities on display at some European museums reveal that the delicate twisting and soldering of gold or silver wires take distinctive form from country-to-country.

Ancient filigree work from Russia generally features rows of plaited and twisted metal wire, while the Tara Brooch of Ireland highlights signature knots from which a single metal wire runs through the entire design.

In addition to implementing lovely beadwork with hues of cobalt, sea foam, and champagne, filigree creations are central to Amato's design aesthetic.

Far from the stereotypical depiction of a science geek, the blue-eyed blonde earned a degree in chemistry.  A self-described "jewelry fanatic," Amato began creating pieces in her downtime to pay for her college expenses.

"The goal of my very first business plan was to sell 30 necklaces in a month, or one a day," she recalls. "Now we are producing 30 pieces in two hours, and we are in 150 stores across the country." It was eight years ago when she decided to establish K. Amato Designs in her hometown of Chicago.

Her ethereal--and pocketbook friendly--jewelry also highlights hammered textures and mesh chain links of 18-karat gold plating, sterling silver, and 14-karat gold fill offset with striking rhinestone beads and Swarovski Crystals.

The collections are yet another example of a stunning play of intricate, delicate structures blended with pops of liquid color.

In the vein of Alex and Ani's designer Carolyn Rafaelian, Amato also creates adjustable, multi-bangle bracelets that expand to a precise fit.

Amato's brand has been featured in editorial layouts of such publications as Vogue, Lucky, and People, as well as caught the famous eyes of Eva Longoria Parker, and Rachael Ray.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Plated Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold-Filled Filigree Pendant with Crystal Drop
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