Monday, May 31, 2010


The intricate structure of the Borobudur stupa, located in Java, Indonesia, is an astounding feat of architectural design.

The 9th century Buddha shrine is decorated with 504 Buddha statues, and the immense shrine's design is patterned after "a solar model of the universe." Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Made Sriasih.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Union Station is currently undergoing renovations to expand. Over a century ago, it was once the world's largest train terminal serving busy travelers.

Today it houses restaurants including the Hard Rock Café, stores, and a Marriot Hotel. Missouri was also once home to featured jewelry designer River Burke.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Situated along the shoreline of Aughnish Bay in County Galway, Ireland stands what is believed to be the "most photographed castle in Ireland," Dunguaire Castle. Ireland is also home to featured jewelry designer Kate Bajic.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid), located in Madrid, Spain, is the official residence of the Royal Family housing historical remnants such as a 13th century arsenal and weapons as well as fine tapestries, and furniture. Spain is also the home of featured jewelry designer Andréa Candela.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Legend dictates that the high tides of Canada's Bay of Fundy are due to the thrashing of an enormous whale. The rolling tides noticeably influence the waters of the Shubenacadie and Saint John rivers. Canada is also the home base for jewelry brand Bejewel.

Like many blessed with artistic leanings, Bejewel's designers Trudy Gallagher and Sandra Tremblay lived with the nagging presence of creative frustration.

In the early 90s, Gallagher sat uneasily in the lecture hall of a British Columbia college listening to an instructor discuss abnormal psychology.

"I always thought that artists were people who drew pictures," says Gallagher. "It was an epiphanic moment when someone told me that I could actually study jewelry design."

With no hesitation, Gallagher relocated to Quebec City courageously taking on the challenge of learning her art in a program taught in French!

Fueled by the life-affirming energy of finding "the thing I was meant to do" in time, her grasp of the language improved and she set up her company, Bejewel, in her basement.

Fourteen years later, with the company now located on Queen Street in New Brunswick, Gallagher would hire Tremblay who was creating jewelry in the wee hours before trekking off to her financial sector job. Gallagher instantly recognized a kindred spirit.

"If you are a maker, you have that unsettled feeling inside you. I knew that Sandra was a frustrated maker and that she had great potential," says Gallagher.

The designers' minimalist yet colorful aesthetic brings to mind the unique, subtle forms of Scandinavian jewelry. Scandinavian jewelry style, generally speaking, is clean with virtually no frills of bright gemstones, intricate patterns, or surface textures.

Gallagher and Tremblay's design approach, however, is alternately linear and complex. From the beautifully sculpted, cupped sterling silver Satellite Dish disc pendant and earrings, as well as their ridged and hammered version, to the ethereal, sinuous multi-chain links of silver arranged in cascading necklaces and bracelets.

Accents of beach glass, chalcedony, bon bon glass, and crystals add color contrast that seems to soften the white metal. The color intensity vacillates between dusky, pastel, and translucent. The soft hues provide a tranquil energy that evokes the sights and sounds of the beach.

In addition to creating both custom-designed and ready-made trinkets, a project close to the designers' hearts is their Self-Perception/Self-Deception Jewelry Exhibit--where pieces are also sold--currently running at the New Brunswick Crafts Council Fine Craft Gallery through November 20, 2010.

The prompting to do the exhibition came from women's perceived physical imperfections, even when looking for jewelry. Women's self-defeating thoughts emotionally resonated with the duo.

"Our clients will say they can't wear a great piece of jewelry because their neck is too wrinkly, their fingers are too fat, their boobs are too big, or that they have no place to wear it," says Gallagher.

"I feel frustrated hearing comments like that. There is no real fashion police and I feel that there is nothing wrong with wearing a chunky necklace to your kid's soccer game. Sometimes I will say to them, privately, that `We all have earlobes, a neck, and a body. I think what you're talking about is self-esteem.'"

In light of their exhibition, the designing team is encouraged to keep stretching their creative bounds. "The company specializes in custom-made designs, but I feel that artistically you can strike a balance between commercial work and work that satisfies creativity," says Gallagher.

"I don’t believe it's a compromise; it's just a simple reality. We understand that we need to be well-rounded as business people and also as artists."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Kyoto Wide Tapered, Multi-Chain Link Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver Northern Lights Bracelet with Multi-Colored Beads
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Milky Way Multi-Strand Necklace

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


For many centuries, Italy's stunning Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) remained in various stages of de-construction with engineering duties passing along to both French and Italian architects. Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Daniela Boieri.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The Lotus Temple of Delhi, India is a marvel of architectural design. Its construction required that it be built with nine sides. These `sides' consist of three clusters of "free-standing marble clad petals." India is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia.

I made note in another post that India has an enduring jewelry history where body ornaments are more than mere decoration; they are ceremonial offerings, dowries, and symbols of royal abundance.

The country is perhaps best known for the exquisite quality of its filigree and meenakari jewelry. In my opinion, no one takes artistry, color, and intricacy to the level of Indian jewelers.

Presently based in Toronto, Canada, Ahluwalia's jewelry easily falls into this awe-inspiring category. Although--based on what I have seen online--in terms of color she does not entirely follow the traditional meenakari style, her design quality, however, is just as complex and striking. It is ambitious jewelry; elaborate, bold, and extravagant while maintaining a certain amount of delicacy and femininity.

Intrigued by an ancient, Indian poem that depicted two lovers passionately engaged in coitus wearing nothing but their jeweled possessions, Ahluwalia built a design approach that highlighted jewelry's sensual connection to the body.

"In India, jewelry is a part of the body; it’s a part of your skin. I began to explore around the body with extreme exaggeration," she says.

Ahluwalia constructs contemporary and futuristic items that transcend the traditional extravagance of Indian jewelry, working with 18-karat white and yellow gold, Tahitian pearls, and white diamonds (the designer's signature).

The part-time technical drawing instructor's incredible Ethereal Rhapsody neckpiece, a snaking arc of white gold, Tahitian pearls, and black and white diamonds, grandly displays this transcendent quality. Her lavish 18-karat white gold, white diamonds and red enamel Bel Canto Choker is the designer's homage to opera.

"Bel Canto means `beautiful singing.' The design is inspired by the sheer experience of opera. Opera can be playful, prayerful, haunting, and incredibly versatile. I wanted to create a feeling of being suspended in space, surrounded by music."

The exquisite piece is featured on an Antwerp, Belgium postage stamp in celebration of "a five-stamp collection entitled Antverpia 2010.

The city of Antwerp is responsible for about 80% of the worldwide trade of rough diamonds. Diarough, a Belgium-based diamond dealer, collaborated with the designer on the stunning Bel Canto piece.

For me, Ahluwalia is yet another example of what true inspiration can cultivate. It cannot be cultivated simply by saying I am inspired but by capturing whatever has struck imagination's chord by sketching, taking notes, or taking a photo.

This stroke of imagination is then brought into the creation process where an instinctual awakening lends itself to the formation of breathtaking jewelry.

"I am a hands-on person. I was always exploring; playing with wood, paper, and wire. My aesthetic is a conversation between line, structure, and color. I love to explore geometry and exaggerated forms but I like subtlety as well. Overall, I have no boundaries."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat White Gold Bel Canto Choker with White Diamonds and Red Enamel
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karate White Gold Ethereal Rhapsody Neckpiece with Tahitian Pearls, Pavé Set Black Diamonds and Prong Set White Diamonds

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Lake Tahoe, nestled between the borders of California and Nevada, is one of North America's largest alpine lakes. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Alison Antelman.

Friday, May 21, 2010


The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is home to an eclectic array of wildlife including the dwarf minke whale, hawksbill turtle, and white-bellied sea eagle. Spanning over 100,000 square miles, the reef is the world's largest reef system. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Bruce Tully.

The opal gemstone is clearly a wonder of nature; beautiful, iridescent colors of blue, yellow, red, and green ebb and flow amongst one another.

It is like viewing a remnant of a puncture within the arch of a rainbow with each color dispersing upon the extracted dollop in tiny sparkles.

Australia is the world's leading supplier of quality opal gemstones. The country's first commercial mines were discovered in the northwestern area of the continent in White Cliffs and Lightning Ridge.

Tully's bold leap into the jewelry industry seemed predetermined as his cattle rancher great-grandfather, Patsy Tully, found opal on the land he settled over a hundred years ago.

Without relinquishing his rancher position, the elder Tully subsequently established a mine but the gemstones would not be successfully marketed for over 20 years. Adding insult to injury, five decades of drought would halt opal mining for the Tullys.

In 1976, the junior Tully would work part-time alongside his father, Cameron, mining old claims. Not unlike the numerous legends surrounding the gemstone, Bruce became enamored by the opal's ethereal beauty.

Long before venturing into the mines, however, Tully always believed that ranching was not his true calling, and these opulent gemstones would serve as a beacon leading him into the world of jewelry design.

"I love the land but it wasn't a love of mine to be a farmer. I felt pressure not to sell the family farm because our family had worked the land for so many years," he says.

"I walked into the workshop of a Quilpie jeweler and there were big, impressive faces of opal. Good quality opals are extremely rare, rarer than diamonds. I knew this was an industry waiting to take off."

By 1998, Tully decided to sell the family farm, setting out to change his homeland's dismissive treatment of the opal.

He observed that most jewelry renderings were at best cheesy with only a sliver of the stone implemented. Tully wanted to emulate Australia-based retailer Paspaley Pearls, which helped to bring pearl jewelry to the forefront of the country's jewelry market.

His journey to build his brand Depazzi (the name of the family's opal mine) is best described as a whirlwind; both frenzied and exhilarating. Through a scholarship, he traveled to Italy studying under tutors Isabel Herrera, and Gianpaolo Lodi.

For several months, he would develop his design sketches, absorb the ambiance of his surroundings, and build a friendship with an heir of the Gucci dynasty, Elisabetta Gucci.

"After nearly two months in Italy, I had to pinch myself to believe I was there. Elisabetta introduced me to people that could advise me and she became a major influence."

Tully did further globetrotting attending trade fairs, fashion weeks, and meeting with patent attorneys in Germany, the United States, Italy and Switzerland.

Seasoned designers in the field initially met Tully's unique design approach with apprehension. He remained focused, however, taking a stylistic risk of incorporating crocodile, stingray, and snakeskins into his men's jewelry collection.

"Jewelers I talked with about using skins didn't want to work with it because they didn't consider it jewelry.

I was surprised that there seemed to be so many rules about what stones went with what and what you could do and what you couldn't do," he explains. "I couldn't see why the rules couldn't be broken. I started making pieces with the skins to show them what my vision was for it."

His opal pieces, for the most part, are classic and streamlined in arrangement and proportion with the gemstone the focal point. The opal pieces from the Depazzi's Art Series Collection, on the other hand, are more organic and raw with irregular facets.

The animal hide items are beautifully innovative using crocodile skin interspersed with metal as a ring band or the centerpiece of cuff links.

The implementation effortlessly provides a masculine energy that suggests an adventure-driven undercurrent as well as an understated sensuality and sex appeal. Overall, the pieces I viewed online are differentiated, rugged, and ethereal capturing that earthy Australian spirit.

In 2009, Tully established the Depazzi flagship store in Hyman Island Resort, and both he and his company continue to evolve.

The designer relishes every moment. "You get one shot at life and I know I would have died a bitter old man if I had not pursued my dream."
Photo 1 (top right): Opal Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Ring with Crocodile Skin

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Presently the meeting place of the German parliament, the Reichstag Building in Berlin is a top tourist attraction. Germany is also the home of featured jewelry designer Michael Zobel.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Set against the backdrop of the tritons and chariot of the Palazzo Poli the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy stands 85 feet high and is one of Rome's largest water fountains. Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Delfina Delettrez Fendi.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Built in the 16th century, Belarus' picturesque Nesvizh Castle holds an eclectic array of architectural styles from Neo-Gothic to Baroque. Once owned by the Radziwill family, the structure has undergone extensive renovations to be unveiled some time this year. Belarus is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Lena Sklyut.

Sklyut enlists the slithering, coiling image of a snake as part of her company's logo. To some the imagery is inherently negative seemingly suggesting Eve's fall in the Garden of Eden.

Sklyut, however, has a different take. "The snake represents power, intuition, and grace of movement," she says. While these characteristics are definitely representative of women, they can also adequately describe Sklyut's design aesthetic and creative process.

Her aesthetic, in part, seems influenced by the masterful designs of the Art Nouveau Period, as well as the personal emblems of ancient French kings.

Though not as flamboyant in comparison with less elaborate proportions, her use of strong, classic shapes, 18-karat yellow and white gold, and vividly colored gemstones render items of spectacular beauty.

"Love them or hate them, my jewels are meant to be noticed!" says Sklyut. Indeed, From the Depth of the Sea is a collection that features a necklace with an exquisite fish motif. Fashioned from emeralds, two fish curve into each other--head to tail--forming an open circle; five more of these fish circles are linked to build the necklace.

From the same collection is her Spring Love Set highlighting the dazzling glow of yellow gold, and the flicker of tiny South Sea Pearl accents that are offset by large, smooth pink quartz.

It is quite simply beautiful jewelry with glamour and regal flair clearly built upon a fascination with colors and forms in nature, as well Russian and French iconography.

"My jewelry is for women who are aware of their sense of style and not preoccupied with following trends. These kinds of individuals will find my designs aesthetically pleasing and inspirational."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Four Snake Ring with 95 Carats of Smoky Quartz and Diamonds
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold, Smoky Topaz and Diamond Ring

Monday, May 17, 2010


Thailand's tranquil Lumpini Park is a popular location for people to take refuge away from day-to-day stressors. The park's 142 acres, founded 90 years ago by King Rama VI, holds walking paths, jogging trails and an artificial lake. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Sasithon Saisuk.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We take a walk down memory lane today remembering Philadelphia's Aquarama Aquarium Theater of the Sea. The "theater" was a popular spot between 1962 - 1969 holding educational and entertainment attractions involving gallons of water, fish, dolphins, and seals. Philadelphia is also the home of featured jewelry designer John Wind.

At 6 feet 6 inches, Wind seems better suited for a career in the NBA than jewelry design but fortunately, his aptitudes lay within the creative realm.
While attending London's Slade School of Art during the early 80s, Wind spent his weekends in the flea markets on Portobello Road.

The excitement of discovering vintage charms and creating new contexts for them became a highlight for the designer. This was also Wind's first foray into collecting and arranging materials to create jewelry pieces.

"I'd rush home after weekend visits to Portobello Road and glue these fabulous vintage bits into big, funky brooches, and I'd wear them," he recalls.
"Hey Culture Club and the Thompson Twins played a role in my wearing these creations," he deadpans. "I fell in love with Victorian jewelry--its beauty and the way it tells a story by conveying emotions of love, friendship, and passion.

After I moved back to my hometown of Philadelphia, I started my company Maximal Art in 1985, and my aim is to evoke the same kind of emotion in my vintage-inspired jewelry. I think I accomplish this in a fun, fashionable way."

There are plenty of charm enhancers to ogle from the 14-karat gold over pewter keys and red crystal hearts to gold initial charms with faux pearls pom poms to a 24-karat gold-plated Eiffel tower, and fleur de lis. There are also fun charm themes to explore like Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Christmas.

"We work on pieces for every holiday simultaneously--everyday. We are never clear just what month it is," Wind says. "Every day is a new opportunity to be creative. It is a lot of fun."

The company's early days, however, were not as much fun as the ever-changing tastes of consumers developed a predilection for less extravagant aesthetics. The company's President, Robbin Cook, skillfully maneuvered through what could have been a significant blow.

"Robbin has worked with me for over twenty years and without her support none of the success of the company would have happened. We ended up a stronger company. Although we redefined our product to find a customer base we did it without choosing to base our design aesthetic on every fashion whim," says Wind.

Wind maintains a philosophy encompassing a spirit of giving something uplifting to potential and longstanding customers. "Ultimately every single piece that goes out into the world finds a home and makes someone happy. That direct, personal uplifting moment is what it's all about."

Presently sourcing materials from New England, Wind's colorful and animated charm jewelry is a part of the permanent collections of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as Paris' Musée des Arts Decoratisfs.
Photo 1 (top right): Midsummer Night Dream Collage Necklace from Jewelry Box Collection
Photo 2 (center): Gold-Plated Brass Bat Charm and Chain with Austrian Crystal
Photo 3 (bottom left): 24-Karat Plated Pewter and Sterling Silver Initial Bracelet with Faux Pearl Pom Pom from Personally Yours Collection

Friday, May 14, 2010


We take a trip to Canada today visiting Halifax Nova Scotia and its longstanding landmark the Old Town Clock. Built in 1803 by British clockmakers, House of Vuilliamy, for two centuries the chronometer continues to provide a timekeeping source to the residents of Halifax.

Canada is also the home of featured jewelry designer Karen Konzuk.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


At over a thousand years old, Scotland's Edinburgh Castle is one of the country's most well known fortresses.

Built on a volcanic rock, it stands prominently in the city of Edinburgh. Scotland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Julie Hannay.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Situated in the square of Denmark's Amalienborg Palace is an equestrian statue of King Frederich V. Built in the late 18th century the regal structure is an annual gathering place for Danes to celebrate the queen's birthday. Denmark is also home to featured jewelry designer Poul Havgaard.

Havgaard, a former blacksmith and mural painter, is the last of six designers I have featured that contribute exceptional items to Finnish brand Lapponia Jewelry (Lapponia).
In 2008, however, after 37 years with the company, Havgaard announced his retirement but his pieces remain a part of the company's iconic collections.

Natural, somewhat irregular forms and minimal gemstones characterize Lapponia's renowned aesthetic. Though forms are often accented with fissures, folds, crinkles, or concaves, the overall design is uniquely classic and timeless.

Havgaard's contributions maintain Lapponia's style while also highlighting his own distinctive design approach. Working with sterling silver--one of his favorite materials--he fashions clean, fluid items without etchings or many surface textures.
There is a bracelet and necklace, however, where portions of the metal appear segmented as if they were cut or sliced and then placed side-by-side creating one, uniform shape.

The distinguishing stylistic element that sets his jewelry apart from the other Lapponia artists is his use of round, faceted amber. A dollop of deep, orange-brown peeking from beneath a dome of molten silver, smooth facets linked to silver in a bracelet, or cupped in a ring setting.

Often referred to as "the gold of the North," amber resin, it turns out, is plentiful in Denmark as amber trees once populated the region. Due to the warm, humid climate millions of years ago, the trees literally sweated resin globs that were ultimately swept up by rivers and washed into the sea for a future unearthing.

If my memory serves me, thus far aside from Polish designer Marcin Zaremeski, I have not seen many designers incorporate amber into their pieces.
I think Havgaard's placement and arrangment of the amber is nicely done. He implements it in such a way where it seems like an extension or outgrowth of the silver. Its smooth contours complement the smoothn curvatures of the sterling silver.

"An essential principle of my design aesthetic is the creation of tension. I achieve this by letting two interesting forms communicate with each other," says the designer.
Havgaard continues jewelry making in his Denmark-based studio, as well as sculptures of iron and steel.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver and Amber Fearless Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and Amber Dawn Bracelet

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The waters of Lake Chapala surround the Isla de los Alacranes, an island near Jalisco, Mexico. Though mired in controversy regarding contamination, the lake provides a habitat for innumerable indigenous animals and plants.

For this reason, the local Audubon Society rallies to preserve the habitat. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Cesar Godoy.

Monday, May 10, 2010


There is a slow shift from winter to spring in some parts of the world, and the seasonal thaw can be felt as far as Japan's Kyoto Botanical Garden. Established a little over 90 years ago the grounds house 120,000 plants. Japan is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer April Higashi.

The painstaking technique of enameling, like other jewelry-making techniques, has origins dating back to early civilizations including the Byzantine Empire, and Rome's conquest of Greece.

Ancient jewelry artists implemented this precision-driven skill of fusing powdered glass to metal as a colorful alternative to gemstones.

Currently, powdered glass from the ethereal hues used in pliqué a jour to the glossy finish of vitreous enamel are used by such jewelry designers as Leila Tai (Lebanon), and Christy Klug (USA) to stunning effect. Higashi also incorporates this long-standing technique in her understated creations.

Raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the tender age of eight Higashi had already decided she would attend an "out-of-state" college, and by age 11, upon receipt of a sewing machine as a Christmas gift, she began creating her own clothing without the use of pre-packaged patterns.

In 1990, the energetic 20-year old studied textiles earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of San Francisco.

Eager to travel the world one year later, she dived into the garment industry gaining employment with Espirit de Corp. The experience, however, left her cold when during a company downsizing she was given the option of being laid-off. She took it.

In the interim, Higashi co-founded a jewelry company, Fortuna Metalsmiths, a successful endeavor that allowed her the financial independence to further her knowledge about all things artistic including tutelage by enamel artist June Schwartz.

By 2002, Higashi established her own jewelry company, Shibumi Studio, which not only exhibits her elegant work with enamel, and 18 and 24-karat gold but her companion's, Eric Powell, sculpture work.

Higashi's aesthetic is clean and understated but the gorgeous 24-karat gold, rich colored enamel, and glowing gemstones brings visual depth. Her enamel designs run the gamut of solid pops of color to mosaic blends of off-white, black, yellow, and red.

"I create rich color fields, markings, and textures with enamel. In most cases the enameling process requires a minimum of six firings in a kiln; however, for more complex patterns between 20 to 30 firings is required to enhance depth and bleeding of the brush strokes," she explains.

Something I have noticed thus far with designers from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan is their adherence to delicacy and their lack of ostentatious arrangement. The key focus is keeping the forms basic with simple accents and a quiet lyricism so that the artisanship takes center stage. Here again, highlighting the perfection in simplicity.

"I look to create a simple sense of beauty. I am attracted to the depth, textures, translucency, and bleeding which happens during the firing of enamel. I mark imperfections in the layers to create beauty and balance."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold and Enamel Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold and Oxidized Silver and Enamel Lady Bug Ring with Diamonds

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The Texas State Capitol building, located in Austin, Texas, is hailed as a National Historic Landmark.

The nearly 130-year-old structure is currently the largest capital building in the United States. Texas is also home to featured jewelry designer Kendra Scott.

Friday, May 7, 2010


The precise excavation of reddish-brown pebbles from the arid surface of Peru's Nazca Desert reveals etched lines in the form of man, flora, and fauna.

These lines known as the Nazca Lines are over a thousand years old and are believed to remain there for thousands of years to come. Peru is also the home of featured jewelry designer Carlos González.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


High cliffs and difficult terrain are characteristics of New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, the largest park in the country. New Zealand is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Rebecca Ward.

Upon viewing Ward's eclectic jewelry collections, it was clear that she sets no limit to selection of materials, shapes, colors, techniques and textures.

She possesses an amazing, voracious appetite for exploration. In fact, the Brisbane, Australia-based designer once bravely rummaged through the unglamorous Toowoomba Dump upon her participation in the 2006 group exhibition Flash Trash.

"I had the great fortune to be one of the Flash Trash artists," she says. "It was a fun outing and boy did I find lots of stuff. I liked the challenge of creating artworks from the findings.

I tend to look for the unexpected when choosing and combining materials and the most enjoyable aspects of this is collecting the materials: pebbles from remote beaches in New Zealand, glass fragments from old seaside resort areas, and vintage found objects from junk stores."

Her design aesthetic is unencumbered, and free wherein she takes a smooth, round pebble and makes it the focal point of a pendant or takes the irregular forms of beautiful, blue glass shards from broken gin bottles linking them together to form a distinctive necklace.

Ward's influence by "New Zealand and Polynesian adornment" is highlighted through the pieces' organic form. Here again, this natural aspect is central to her design approach allowing a raw, primal beauty to take center stage.

Pieces made from gin bottle glass, such as the Bombay Shards Necklace, as well as items from her Sunken City Collection, I find particularly astounding. The integrity of the glass remains intact; it is still glass. Its color has not been altered yet a common, broken glass from beer and gin bottles has been made over, recycled within a new context.

Within the context of a necklace, earrings or bracelet the material is transformed, and reborn into a glorious entity. That is just how beautiful the pieces look. What Ward renders through her collections is a sheer testament to the active, living force that creativity seems to be.

She leaves nothing unturned using thread, Bakelite, patinated copper, leather, rubber, sterling silver, and 18-karat gold to bring palpable life to her jewelry. From a creative and visual standpoint, I think it is really daring.

"I am drawn to small objects that have their own histories and convey a sense of place and time. It is important for art to tell a story from the heart and jewelry offers a portable medium for this," she explains. "My wok investigates themes of lost times, environment and journeys."

The alumna of Australia's Queensland College of Art majored in gold and silversmithing, holding a Bachelor of Visual Arts. For the last 17 years, she has continued to hone her spectacular creative gift.

From 2008 to 2009, she served as a tutor at the Brisbane Institute of Art, and Longreach's ArtsWest School of Creative Arts.

In 2003, Ward also co-founded the MoB Workspace located in the Museum of Brisbane, which provides "a space for artists to work and a unique opportunity for visitors to MoB to observe some of Brisbane's premier artisans while they work."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver, Recycled Glass, and Nylon Bombay Shards Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver, Bakelite, Amber, Hematite Necklace from Future Fossil Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver, Glass Beads, Freshwater Pearls, and Nylon Earrings from Revisited Collection

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The 13-mile long and 8-mile wide Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, is actually a freshwater lake known to Israelis as Lake Kinneret.

It is the largest lake of its kind in the country, and its spiritual history draws annual tourists from around the world. Israel is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Daphna Simon.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The Iguazu Falls, which lies along the borders of Brazil, and Argentina, were first discovered over 400 years ago by Spanish conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. There are 275 falls each with an average height of 269 feet, an astounding example of raw power and beauty. Brazil is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Claudia Lobão.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Established 81 years ago under a different name, the South China Botanical Garden is among China's most significant public gardens. The institution has won several awards relating to its extensive research on plant resources, biotechnology, and ecology. China is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Debbie Kuo.

Careful consideration to arrangement of materials is central to Kuo's designs. Her attention to detail renders jewelry that is classic, and sophisticated with sweeping, exotic elegance.

An alumna of New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as former employee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kuo brings the grandeur of East Indian sculptures, Italian and Byzantine gemstones, and Chinese paintings to her line Kuo Ting Jewelry.

Fashioned from various combinations of sterling silver and 14-karat gold-filled chains, freshwater pearls, sapphire roundels, pink chalcedony, gray agate, multi-colored resin, and "distinctive vintage pieces", items like her India Gold Necklace and Chinese Pagoda Earrings possess a feminine delicacy with striking color and sensual textures. Overall, it is minimalistic jewelry with balanced proportions; visually striking without being elaborate.

Kuo's stunning jewelry has been featured in the editorial layouts of Lucky, and Martha Stewart Weddings magazines. Actor Finola Hughes has draped her wrists, earlobes, and décolleté with various pieces from Kuo's line while hosting the Style Network show How Do I Look?

Kuo's stylish--and affordable--trinkets of exotica are distributed through boutiques in L.A., Chicago, and New York, as well as online at
Photo 1 (top right): Openwork Gold Vermeil Bead Chinese Pagoda Earrings with Pink and Green Tourmaline Drops
Photo 2 (bottom left): Gold Vermeil India Gold Pendant with Garnet Cluster on 14-Karat Gold-Filled Chain

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen - that stillness becomes a radiance.


The Sante Fe Botanical Garden, located in New Mexico, is a vivid, natural landscape.

The structure houses the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve; the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve; and lovely flora including blue flax and velvet weed. New Mexico is also home to featured jewelry designer Michael Roanhorse.
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