Saturday, July 31, 2010


Spanning an impressive 6.1 million acres across the northeastern region of New York State is Adirondack Park.

It is the largest publicly protected park in the United States boasting scenic mountain ranges, over 3,000 lakes, and the largest stretch of hiking trails in the country. New York is also home to featured jewelry designer Eddie Borgo.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Today we visit the beautiful Taroko National Park, located in Taiwan. The area encompasses breathtaking scenery of mountains, waterfalls, valleys, and gorges. Taiwan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Julie Liu.

Being the daughter of a world-traveling shipmaster certainly has it benefits.
The captain of cargo ships, Liu's father brought home gifts of rare gemstones to her mother that appeared to be "ordinary rocks" to a young Liu.

Nevertheless, even at the age of five, Liu's ability of perception helped her to recognize that her mother's reaction to these gifts clearly indicated these "rocks" were very special.
After relocating to the United States of America from Taiwan, Liu excelled artistically and analytically; lauded by classmates and instructors for her visual aid presentations, drawing and water paintings, as well as her astute grasp of mathematics and science.

Upon her acceptance to Berkeley's University of California, Liu put her creative yearnings on temporary hold focusing on economics, and later obtaining a MBA from the University of Chicago. Once she landed the position of hedge-fund manager with a Chicago-based firm, however, her childhood memories of raw gemstones proved difficult to ignore.

"My first piece was a pinky ring with three hearts. I wanted a ring that I could look at while I typed at my computer," she says.

What began as a creative release quickly developed into something more. "I'd wear pieces I made to social events. It came as a shock when people started asking me about my jewelry, and buying pieces I was wearing!" The reawakening of her creative inclinations brought about a shift for Liu; a change of career was underway.

In 2008, the designer officially launched, Mia Pezzi, a collection of one-of-a-kind, and limited edition couture jewelry. "Jewelry is not just gold, diamonds and other gemstones, but an art form," says Liu.

Her gloriously feminine items are a spectacular convergence of 18-, 22-, and 24-karat white, rose, and black gold with blue topaz, diamonds, and prehnite. The collection's exquisite signature blend of Asian and Italian aesthetics requires plenty of forethought.

Liu's delicate, gem encrusted, two-flower Incantato Rings, from her Limited Edition Collection, took six months to bring to fruition.

"Initially the metalsmith I work with said my concept design was impossible to render. In my design the petals of one flower overlaps onto the petals of the second flower. She didn't think I could get the diamonds inside so I told her to solder together two separate blooms."

Liu takes pride that her high-end, elegant bijouterie is not mass-produced allowing each design precision of creation with prices ranging from $3,000 to $100,000; however, Liu also wanted to create an affordable collection geared toward mainstream women with the same quality of execution.

Liu's pocketbook-friendly Tzen Jewelry is both inspired by, and named for the sunrise and sunset. The assortment of predominantly gemstone jewelry items, accented with luminous gold chains, is composed of such semi-precious minerals as green jade, crystal quartz, peridot, red citrine, and aquamarine.

The faceted stones are arranged in such a way to emulate the play of the sun's rays across landscapes, water, or through a window.
It is an ethereal yet powerful interpretation with prices starting at $110 upwards to $1,500. Such famous clientele as Rachael Ray, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, and even the diminutive style icon Suri Cruise wear pieces from Liu's expanding collections.

"Women want the pretty, beautiful pieces; something that is so stunning it can set by itself on a table and look fabulous. In this regard, jewelry needs to function like a work of art," says Liu.
Photo 1 (top right): Moon and Stars Pendant from One-of-a-Kind Collection
Photo 2 (center): Incantato Rings from the Limited Edition Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Rosso Soia Necklace from the One-of-a-Kind Collection

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Built during the early 16th century, the San Jose Church, located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, is touted as the country's first "significant work of" Spanish Gothic architecture. Puerto Rico is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Felicita Woods.

I love the razzle-dazzle, high glamour quality of gold jewelry and the way its warm glow looks against different skin tones.
Handmade, gemstone jewelry, however, resonates with me in a different way.

I love that the arrangements can be easy and casual or daring and statement making. The design can be a single stone, a string of like stones, or a combination of several different ones.

No matter what the design, there is no question how beautiful these minerals are on their own, without a setting of gold or silver.

Woods' rustic, earthy gemstone jewelry highlights the rich hues of such semi-precious stones as magnesite, red jasper, blue agate, and freshwater green-bronze pearls in arrangements that are understated and tribal.

The pieces from her What's New Collection seem highly influenced by bijouterie of the American Southwest (Woods has a separate collection called Native American devoted to New Mexico's Santo Domingo Pueblo).

The What's New Collection features what I initially thought to be a variation of turquoise, but it is actually a stone called cuprite.

The gem's beautiful blue-green and red shading really stands out, and brings to mind something the female protagonist in an old John Wayne western would wear.

"I am constantly discovering unique minerals and shells to make new designs. Cuprite is a natural stone mined in a variety of locations around the world," says Woods. "Its ruby copper color with green and blue makes each piece totally unlike another."

The one-time actor and model has always loved fashion by creating new ensembles for her Barbie doll as a child.

Eventually she formally studied fashion design after moving to Baltimore, but after relocating to the beautifully scenic Colorado Springs, she returned to her creative roots of jewelry making.

"I began designing and making jewelry at the age of 14 in my native Puerto Rico. I have always been intrigued with colors, patterns, and textures of the raw minerals and stones I design with.

I have a lot of design ideas that I jot down every morning. Hand selecting and personally examining each of the glass beads, crystals, semi-precious stones, and pearls is one of my favorite steps in my creative process."

To create her jewelry, Wood occasionally enlists the assistance of a silversmith, as well as help with bead stringing provided by The Bead Corner. The lovely, vividly colored renderings certainly highlights each stones' captivating qualities.

"With rare exceptions, I personally handcraft all of my jewelry, adhering to a superior quality of craftsmanship to guarantee a truly one-of-a-kind creation.

My hope is that the wearer feels an inner confidence and pride while wearing them and that my pieces make a statement of their individuality."
Photo 1 (top right): Blue Agate Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Three Oval Stone Sterling Silver Bracelet with Cuprite

Photo 3 (bottom left): Spiny Oyster, Pearl and Carnelian Necklace

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Initially built as a summer residence for the Bishops of Plock, the stunning Jablonna Palace, located in Jablonna, Poland, presently serves as a hotel, convention center, and romantic setting for weddings. Poland is also home to featured jewelry designer Beata Dziegielewski.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Home to seventeen lakes and geothermal areas, the city of Rotorua, located in New Zealand, has been a popular tourist attention since the 19th century.

Due to the city's position along a volcanic crater, the mud pools and hot springs receive large amounts of visits from those wishing to partake in the area's therapeutic gifts. New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer Brian Adam.

Monday, July 26, 2010


In the southeastern region of Peru is the ancient city of Cuzco.

Also known as the `Navel of the World,' the once bustling center of the Inca Empire is a popular tourist attraction where one can explore the Ruins of Qenko.

Peru is also home to featured jewelry designer Carmen Rosa Gamio Alvarez (a/k/a Zilhi).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Positioned in the Intramuros district of Manila, Philippines is the ominous Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica. During the course of more than three centuries, the structure underwent numerous reconstructions due to natural catastrophes. The Philippines is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Crystalyn Yason.

Ladies, sometimes we feel the stirrings of our inner goddess, and on those occasions we feel the need to make an unforgettable entrance to a party or even our workplace.

We often respond to those stirrings by getting a new haircut or trying out a new hair color. We try a different clothing style, or look for a great accessory like a bold jewelry piece.

Yason's statement making, one-of-a-kind bead jewelry collections are a perfect contrast for adding just the right amount of oomph to a solid-colored turtleneck, or tank dress.

The self-taught designer's first foray into the jewelry industry came in 2001 after establishing a small jewelry business with her mother. "My mother taught me some basic techniques on bead stringing and wire working. The business lasted for almost a year," she recalls.

"Several years later my husband and I moved to the United States due to his occupation. My visa does not allow me to work in the United States, so I had a lot of free time and since working with my mom I felt that I should be doing something in terms of jewelry making and design.

One day, while in a bookstore, I found some books about bead weaving and bead embroidery techniques, and I wanted to learn them. I read books like the Bead Romantique by Lisa Kan, and The Art and Elegance of Beadweaving by Carol Cox Wells, as well as finding information on the internet.

It took me around three years of study, and a lot of trial and error before setting up my online store, Cryst Jewelries, to share my passion with others."

Two of Yason's brilliantly colored collections, Hollywood Glamour, and Fit for a Queen, highlight bold, chunky pieces reminiscent of designers Ayala Bar (Israel), and Elizabeth Wahyu (Indonesia), while her collection Simple yet Elegant displays her panache for streamlined proportions.

She builds her incredible designs from vintage glass, seed beads, semi-precious stones, and Crystallized Swarovski Elements making certain Mother Earth informs many of her creations. The polychromatic assortment of beads and crystals brings to mind shaved ice drenched with multi-colored syrup.

"The details of the things I find in nature--the color combinations and variety of shapes influence how I create a piece. For instance, my Abstract on the Beach Necklace is inspired by the shape and color of ocean waves," she explains.

"A nature photograph I saw from the book The Nature of Wisdom inspires the colors of my A Walk in Nature Necklace. The image is of a lake surrounded by trees that are different shades of green, and I emulated the color combinations."

Nature is not Yason's only source of influence and inspiration, her homeland plays a large role as well.

"My designs are also influenced by my birthplace, a municipality named Lucban. It is known for its annual Pahiyas Festival. Houses are adorned with colorful decorations made of fruit, vegetables, and miscellaneous handicrafts," she says.

"The creativity of the people here – how they create magnificent and colorful decorations by using native products and sharing them with people from around the world--is such an inspiration.

Whenever I lay out a bunch of beads on my work table, design ideas start to pop in my head until a complete design emerges from mixing and matching the beads."

To create her designs, Yason implements four stitching techniques: Peyote, Square, Brick, and Ndebele, as well as Right-Angle Weave and Fringe.

"I express my individuality through my jewelry and my mission is to provide women with truly distinctive pieces they won't find on anyone else."

Yason's skillful arrangement of materials is visually stunning, and also very affordable.

Yason's jewelry prices are listed on her website in Php (Philippine Peso) beneath photos of her jewelry items, so be sure to enlist a conversion table to obtain prices for your region. For example, 1000 Philippine Pesos is the equivalent of $21.62 in USD.
Photo 1 (top right): Abstract on the Beach from Fit for a Queen Collection
Photo 2 (center): Awesome Beauty Necklace from Fit for a Queen Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Red Flower Necklace from Fit for a Queen Collection

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Today we visit the beautiful city of Bogotá, Colombia. The city, founded during the early 16th century by Gonzalo Jiménez, is renowned for its glassware, leather articles, perfumes, and tobacco products.

Colombia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Catalina de la Torre.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The Cathedral of Saint Colman is a 19th century structure located in Cobh, Ireland.

Known for its striking gothic architecture, the ecclesiastical building took 47 years to construct and is considered one of the country's most expensive cathedrals.

Ireland is also home to featured jewelry designer Elena Brennan.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Today we venture to Washington State taking in the scenic and historical location known as Chinook Point.

A one-time camping place during the 19th century to members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Chinook Point presently comprises the Fort Columbia State Park. Washington State is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Corey W. Moraes.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Erected over 600 years ago, the Jongmyo Shrine located in Korea is one of the oldest Confucian royal shrines in the country.

The shrine still serves as a location for commemorative services of deceased royalty. Korea is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Genevieve Yang.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Today we bask in the tropical climate of the city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Founded over 500 years ago, the city contains numerous historical sites including the Fortaleza Ozama building, and the historical center Alácar de Colón. The Dominican Republic is also the ancestral home to featured jewelry desginer Claudia Gill.

When you endeavor to learn something like jewelry making on your own, passion and natural talent is central.

In my opinion, perhaps a greater level of dedication is required as numerous distractions can easily undermine the pursuit as opposed to keeping to a formal, set schedule.

In 2007, twenty-nine-year-old Gill set out to teach herself this detail-oriented craft while majoring in fashion at Miami International University of Art and Design.

"I decided to enter a jewelry design contest while I was attending fashion school. Besides the fact that I love to wear jewelry, I had no previous jewelry-making experience," says Gill.

"I created a concept drawing with Photoshop, and I showed it to my Figure Drawing professor to critique. The completed design was a rather intricate, five-strand necklace composed of leather, Swarovski Crystals, and gold-filled findings.

When my professor saw my concept drawing, he told me to consider jewelry design. At first, I did not think it was an option for me. After creating the piece with my bare hands, I realized it came natural to me. With a few tests and a few mistakes, the finished piece turned out beautiful. I still have it."

Gill's next project was creating jewelry for the bridesmaids of a friend's wedding. From there when time permitted the wife and mother continued to research and study her craft eventually establishing her company Claudia Gill Designs.

Gills' jewelry embodies Caribbean panache with Paua, abalone, and Brown Lip shells in unique, feminine designs.
Such designs as her geometric 1-2-3 Necklace are simple and classic at one turn, while pieces like her Sun Kissed Pendant are exotic and statement making. Crystallized Swarovski Elements and luscious gold-filled and sterling silver chains accent the pieces.

"My jewelry is very eclectic because my inspiration varies and when I am creating a collection I just let my imagination take over. I love feminine pieces that are strong, whether dainty or opulent," she explains.

"Growing up in the Dominican Republic molded my creativity. The lifestyle there is very laid back. I was an avid writer during my teenage years," she recalls.

"In an effort to understand certain things and to find answers to my questions, I turned to writing poetry and short stories. Writing was a big part of my life and it also allowed me to channel my creativity.

In New York, where I currently live, it is much faster paced, and sometimes I have to remind myself to stop, and let my creativity flow."

The neoteric designer enjoys creating pieces that not only reflect her internal life but also that of the women who wear her jewelry. "Those who know me tell me that my jewelry is like me. I am a dreamer and hopeless romantic. I am simple yet a little complicated, as are my designs.

I design with the everyday woman in mind. Before we were career women, wives and mothers, we were individuals first, and I believe our hectic lives should never take us away from who and what we are.

Jewelry has the power to evoke a sense of security and beauty in those who wear it. Jewelry has the power of self-expression."
Photo 1 (top right): Sun Kissed Pendant with Brown Lip Shell
Photo 2 (center): Gold-filled Hammered Chain Cleopatra Goes to Broadway Earrings

Photo 3 (bottom left): Reflections Pendant with Paua Shells

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The Fitzgerald family once owned the 12th century fortress Kilkea Castle, located in Ireland. It presently serves as a hotel; however, the structure is closely associated with one of the family's Earls, Gerald, whose fascination with alchemy earned him the reputation of being a wizard. Ireland is also the birthplace to featured jewelry designer Tom Binns.

Jewelry is most often purchased in celebration of something, an engagement, or an anniversary. Jewelry is often seen as an expression of joy.

However, designers like Stephen Webster (England), Hanna Hedman (Sweden), Delfina Delettrez Fendi (Italy), and Justin Giunta (USA) take daring approaches to their aesthetics creating highly provocative, unconventional pieces.

A graduate of London's Middlesex Polytechnic, Binns implements irregular combinations of materials and forms. Though the designer has jokingly stated he wanted to make jewelry "to meet girls," the 20th century anarchic style of the Dada Movement motivates his aggressive aesthetic.

His bold, haute couture collections, composed of 18-karat gold and rhodium plated sterling silver, and Crystallized Swarovski Elements, are vividly complex speaking to the designer's strong sense of individuality and fearlessness.

"In terms of usage within a design, I can treat diamonds with complete negligence, while making a piece of beach glass central to the design," he says.

"You are not dealing with reason, you are dealing with attitude. Even if jewelry is not made with gold and diamonds, it is a treasure. It should always have that sentiment."

Since the company's official launch in 2004, Binns' edgy yet stylish designs have adorned such women as Julia Ormond, Jessica Alba, and First Lady Michelle Obama. But the designer also has a sensitive side, as they say.

Such pieces as his 24-karat gold plated Faith in Fate Pendant, and his Raj Drop Necklace display his deft capacity for minimalism. At the same time, nonetheless, the safety pin that pierces the heart of his Faith in Fate Pendant instills an undercurrent of angst.

I like his inclusion of the safety pin, the uneasiness of it. For me, it is a metaphor of the makeshift ways incorporated to keep emotions under control while clinging to faith for a particular outcome. The insertion of the pin, a thoughtful detail, brings a different, weighty meaning to the heart symbol.

In addition to creating his personal collections, Disney approached the Irishman for a collaboration project: to create bijouterie inspired by Tim Burton's film Alice in Wonderland. Binns' unorthodox aesthetic was a perfect match to Burton's distinctive filmmaking style.

"Disney showed me some images and I let my imagination fly," says Binns. "My main focus was on the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Tea Party, and the White and Red Queens. So I tried to create jewelry pieces that had the personality and nature of these five major points.

One of my favorite pieces is the Smashing Time Necklace, based on the tea party scene from the film. To make this piece I got teacups, and tiny knives and forks from dollhouses, and put them on a necklace.

The Red Queen is one of my favorite characters and the items I did for her were not sweet but dark. One necklace features hundreds and hundreds of little hearts that are just packed on. The idea for the arrangement is it figuratively suffocates the wearer."

The 2006 winner of CFDA's (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Accessory Designer of the Year award, Binns' audacious cyclical collections can be found at such high-end stores as Maxfield, Nieman Marcus, and Colette, and is sold at
Photo 1 (top right): Sparkling Jeweled Floral Cuff
Photo 2 (center): Alice in Wonderland-inspired 14-Karat Gold Keyhole Ring with Photo Inlay

Photo 3 (bottom left): Pearl and Swarovski Crystal Earrings

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Three islands in Indonesia, Komodo, Padar, and Rincah--along with nearly thirty smaller ones--compose the Komodo National Park

Founded thirty years ago, the arid location serves as a conservatory for the Komodo dragons, as well as manta rays, ocean sunfish, and coral. Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Putu Gede Darmawan.

Monday, July 12, 2010


For this month's Splendor Sidebar, our topic is jewelry for sensitive skin.
Like many people, I have to be careful about what I put on my skin.

Certain types of fabric or cologne can cause sudden and irritating reactions (even some of the pricier items) forcing me to be more selective.

The components of some jewelry, particularly mixtures of alloys that include nickel, can cause earlobes, or other areas to swell or itch.

In some cases, nickel is a component of the base metal of gold-plated jewelry and as the plating wears off--this will happen faster when the piece is worn everyday--the skin will powerfully react to the nickel base.

Gold is a non-toxic, stable metal and because nickel is commonly mixed with pure gold to create lower karats, many people mistakenly believe they are allergic to gold. Of course, this is no fun when you are someone who loves to wear jewelry.

Fortunately, there are jewelry manufacturers who respond to a demand for those individuals with a skin allergy to nickel. These manufacturers provide beautiful gold-plated stainless steel, platinum or titanium jewelry, or plain stainless steel, accented with stunning gemstones like rubies and garnets.

From what I have read online, hypoallergenic jewelry can be a little on the expensive side due to manufacturers' use of unmixed metals and authentic gemstones.

It is probably a good idea to compare prices, as well as to do some investigating to make sure the manufacturer or jewelry designer uses legitimate hypoallergenic materials.

With this in mind, check out the lovely selections of hypoallergenic jewelry of Massachusetts-based Simply Whispers, creating either stainless steel jewelry, or jewelry with 24-karat gold plating over a stainless steel base.


Wiltshire, England is the location today as we visit the mysterious circular stone enclosure known as Stonehenge.

The enigmatic monuments once served as a burial location, and a gathering place for neo-druids. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Diana Porter.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Once the location for a world's fair, San Diego, California's Balboa Park houses many interesting attractions and places of relaxation including the Rueben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Museum of Art, and the Casa del Rey Moro Garden. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Lori Bonn Gallagher.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Are you interested in learning about the origins of Canada? Well today, we visit Pier 21, located in Nova Scotia.

A one-time ocean liner terminal and immigration shed, Pier 21 is presently the location for the country's National Museum of Immigration. Canada is also the home base for jewelry brand Pyrrha Design.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The 15th century fortress Sforza Castle, in Milan, Italy houses the work of the country's most renowned artists including Michelangelo, Andre Mantegna, and Leonardo da Vinci. Italy is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Ariane Arazi.

The granddaughter of the late Italian jeweler Isaac Hasbani, who founded Hasbani Gioielli a little over six decades ago, Arazi's initial fascination with the art of jewelry making began upon numerous visits to her grandfather's Milan workshop.

"At a very young age, I would spend my summers visiting my grandparents.

My grandfather would take me to his office often and show me all the beautiful pieces he was making," she recalls.

"I remember being mesmerized by the beauty, sparkle, and shine of it all. It was so glamorous and I guess I always assumed that one day I would follow in his footsteps."

Though the seeds were planted, the Canada-based Arazi veered off the path for a time studying sociology at Concordia University, and later dabbling in fashion design. "I worked in the fashion industry for a couple of years, but I was not fully content.

I felt there was only so much I could express with clothing. I wanted to be more creative. Jewelry allows that. It is a piece of art that you can wear that never goes out of style," says Arazi.

With the seeds now taking root, Arazi obtained a gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America, and accompanied her uncles, who now helm Hasbani Gioielli, to trade shows to learn more about the business.

"My grandfather was obsessed with quality only using the finest materials. He also had very good relationships with his clients and suppliers/manufacturers," she reveals.

"My uncles followed his example, and that is how I run my business. The most important thing for me is to develop a long and prosperous relationship with my clients. A happy client is a loyal client."

In 2008, Arazi launched her eclectic collections of minimalist yet striking pieces fashioned from white and yellow gold-plated bronze, sterling silver, river shell leaves, cherry and rose quartz, Crystallized Swarovski Elements and cotton wax cords.

In some cases, minimalist designs can lack visual impact, but Arazi's jewelry highlights varied arrangements of simple details. Her keen eye for minutiae is evident from her streamlined, multi-strand necklaces to the bolder, primal arrangement of her Shell Leaves neckpieces to the futuristic panache of her sleek Two-Line Rings.

"I tend to visit my favorite designers' stores and/or websites to see what they are showing that season; what colors and materials they are using. I also tend to observe all details of any object, which sparks my creativity.

The idea for my Dangling Crystal Rings, for instance, came from seeing many actresses, like Angelina Jolie, wearing expensive, colored gemstones.

Instead of using expensive stones, I decided to use crystals and semi-precious gemstones in order to make pieces with affordable price points."

The designer loves to keep evolving her designs giving prospective wearers plenty of options. "I think it's good that I am constantly changing materials and directions. It makes my jewelry line fresh and current. I think it is important to be different.

Making jewelry allows me to express my multi-faceted personality. I can be loud and outspoken at certain times, other times I can be shy and reserved.

I think my jewelry reflects that. I know my grandfather would be very proud if he were here."
Photo 1 (top right): Cherry Quartz Necklace with 14-Karat Gold-Plated Bronze Chain
Photo 2 (center): 14-Karat Gold Plated Sterling SilverDangling Crystal Ring with Green Swarovski Crystals

Photo 3 (bottom left): Gold Satin String Bracelet

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Today we stroll along George Square in Glasgow, Scotland. The area is a civic region populated by the Glasgow City Chambers, the Queen Street Station, and the Millennium Hotel. Scotland is also home to featured jewelry designer Sarah Keay.

It is always great to learn about jewelry artists who boldly enlist a unique design approach, incorporating an unusual assortment of materials to render captivating jewelry.

A graduate of both the Glasgow School of Art and the Edinburgh College of Art, earning a masters and bachelor degrees in silversmithing and jewelry, the designer's fascination with landscapes and sea creatures informs her vivid aesthetic.

"My creative practice is heavily influenced by botanical elements, and I mirror natural structures like tree branches, sea anemones, and lacewing eggs with the repetitive techniques I use to produce the pieces," says Keay.

Implementing such components as Crystallized Swarovski Elements, precious beads, enamel, wool, florists wire, gold, and platinum, Keay creates cuffs and neckpieces that possess theatricality reminiscent of British designer Anoush Waddington's work with polypropylene.

Many neckpieces resemble undulating feather boas, while others have a modern, urban vibe with large, multi-colored chain links.

Ultimately, however, I feel that Keay's collection is ultra feminine in its ethereal and buoyant proportions of thin wires and luminous colored crystals. There is an Old World sophistication about the jewelry that seems to fit perfectly on the lithe models of a Paris fashion show.

"The main technique I use with the florists wire is French knitting. It is a really basic yet old technique that I started doing when I was about five years old. Once all of the elements are combined to cultivate a piece it is lightweight, and sculptural," explains the designer.

"Once the piece is worn against the body it comes to life with movement, evoking creatures like sea slugs to entire coral reefs, suspended from the wearer.

Experimentation with new techniques and materials allows me to continually develop and diversify my jewelry."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Pink Bangle with Monofilament and Enamel
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and Enamel Wire Link Necklace

Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Bangle with Swarovski Crystals and Enamel

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Today we visit the extraordinary Ajanta Caves of Maharashtra, India. Complex yet beautifully detailed portraits depicting the life of the Buddha cover the caves' walls, pillars, and ceilings. India is also the home of featured jewelry designer Awadhesh.

Here again India's renowned jewelry history includes the painstaking intricacy of gold and enamel meenakari bijouterie, and the exquisite Kundan style characterized by luminous glass or crystal set in gold.

Since gold items and jewelry are considered highly valuable in many cultures, I was surprised to learn that in many regions of India, such as the Kashmir region, silver is a prominent component of decorative items including headdresses, and filigree jewelry.

According to the country's historical records, both silversmiths and goldsmiths were highly regarded. Based on the items I have viewed at, Awadhesh works entirely with sterling silver, and in some ways, his aesthetic brings to mind the superlative work of Balinese silversmiths.

His accents of small, silver granules to frame a design, like his Paradise Bracelet, are one such similarity. Overall, I think his design approach combines the lavish style of meenakari with a modern flair.

Awadhesh's lyrical style is largely informed by instinct. "My family has a long lineage in business, but I was different. I was energetic, creative and I always wanted to do something different in life," he recalls.

"I used to meet people who were involved in some form of art, be it painting, designing, writing, or theater. I fell in love with theater work and I joined the National School of Drama.

At the same time, I met someone who designed jewelry, and he encouraged me to take up designing. Although my father did not approve, I visited different kinds of craftsmen, instead of taking professional courses and I learned from them."

His beautifully crafted pieces feature low relief casts, and unique surface textures, accentuated by citrine, red onyx, and lapis.

Oxidation and granulation hint at India's ancient maharajas and regal décor. The complexity of the design quality clearly displays Awadhesh's deft ability at silversmithing.

"I am doing what I love. Presently, several artisans work with me. I also help young design students by promoting their designs. I am very grateful that Novica provides an international platform to show my designs."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Chandelier Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Desert Tapestry Cuff

Monday, July 5, 2010


Green Sapphire Lariat Necklace
Standing on Livingstone Island in Zambia, Africa we get a breathtaking view of the cascading waters of Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders).

According to historians Scottish explorer David Livingstone first discovered the falls in 1855. Africa is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Shirley Ephraim.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


One of the best ways to see New York is taking one of four tours supplied by the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises located at 42nd Street. Scenic tours along the Hudson River, lasting as long as three hours or as short as 30 minutes, take different approaches for visitors seeking different experiences. New York is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Marty Reynard.

Having received a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York forty-two-years ago, it was only a matter of time before Reynard would follow the example of his jewelry-making mother, a skilled metalsmith of copper and silver.

Reynard would leave the frenetic energy of New York relocating to Victoria, BC Canada where he would eventually establish his company, Reynard Designs.

Though he holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from Queen's University in Ontario, Reynard eagerly pursued sculpting metal into "precious objects" upon graduation. It is a decision the designer does not regret.

"With titanium being a specialty, I work in many metals and take a very untraditional approach that incorporates a wide variety of materials," says Reynard.

"My studio is a laboratory where I run aesthetic experiments on a daily basis. These experiments provide an ongoing impetus to keep my work constantly changing."

Like British designer Jane Adam's work with aluminum, for his titanium pieces Reynard implements an anodization process to add permanent, iridescent colors of fuchsia, blue, and aqua to the metal.

Working with copper, silver and 14-karat gold as well, his overall design proportions are classic but the properties of the metals are just as relevant to Reynard's aesthetic as the ultimate renderings.

"Titanium is an ultra-light metal--three times stronger than steel--that has many personalities and presents a number of challenges such as its resistance to traditional soldering methods," says the designer.

"The thermal treatment that produces the surface colors is the result of an extremely robust layer of oxide, however due to titanium's chemical inertness it is the most hypo-allergenic metal known."

His copper/silver jewelry, as well as the silver/gold pieces is fused together "under extremely high temperatures." The effects of fusion produce unique results; the way the reddish-brown mixes with the shimmery white to create a hybrid metal is lovely.

His work with all the metals brought to mind the yin and yang concept, or the spiritual union of male and female energies. It is subtle yet striking jewelry.

"For me, the field of jewelry design finds a meeting place of art, chemistry, engineering, and the magic of alchemy. The surprises and discoveries yielded are endless."
Photo 1 (top right): Copper/Silver Pendant
Photo 2 (center): Titanium/Silver Pink Brooch

Photo 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold/Silver Earrings

Friday, July 2, 2010


Though presently marred by increasing pollution and deforestation the majestic Amazon Rainforest, which Peru shares with Brazil, still contains lush foliage and a large variety of wildlife. Peru is also the home of featured jewelry designer Rocio Talavera.

Peru is world-renowned for being a leading producer of silver; but like every country, it also has a rich jewelry history.

Dating back to the reign of Incan rulers, palace interiors, drinking vessels, and even garments fashioned from pure gold were commonplace to the royal families.

While the lavish surroundings of regal living provide inspiration to Peruvian jewelry designers, many contemporary jewelers are also motivated by the inner workings of the Incan empire.

Interpretations of ceremonial knives, Incan message carriers known as chaskis, and the Andean bookkeeping instrument known as quipus, provide jewelry artists with intriguing design motifs.

The spiritual symbolism of nature in concrete and abstract representations also finds its way into the artistry of Peruvian bijouterie. Talavera brings a crisp, modern edge to jewelry items that highlight the designer's extraordinary gift at creating lithe, supple form with numerous surface textures.

The former business administration major "reawakened" her artistic side after letting it fall dormant for several years. "When I was four years old, I had great manual dexterity, and my parents signed me up for piano lesson," she recalls.

"For ten years, learning piano was my favorite pastime until I pursued business administration. After I stopped my piano lessons, I started to feel that something was missing. So I made creativity a profession."

Talavera traveled to Argentina to learn the art of silversmithing in a jeweler's workshop, and to Brazil to learn about gemstones. The educational experiences reinvigorated her, as well as taught her a great lesson in patience.

"When it came to achieving my goals, I always approached it with passion and zeal. I always gave my best effort. Little by little, my zealousness had to make way for patience. Jewelry making is an art that requires serenity and calm energy, and I like to accomplish my goals quickly.

I paid for my lack of patience with burns on my hands. I have since learned that it takes dedication, and time to achieve a great piece of jewelry. With that knowledge, I was reborn."

Flowers, snow, serpents, and the moon inspire Talavera's lovely, minimalist sterling silver jewelry. According to Peruvian mythology, silver is believed to be the physical manifestation of the moon's tears, and Talavera's sleek Moon Halo Pendant is a stunning interpretation of the celestial body.

Her Snow Storm and Cosmic Lands cuffs highlight glorious variations of textures, as I previously mentioned, which I feel is the designer's signature. Textures include small craters, sandpaper-like grains, light scratches, and closely positioned vertical and horizontal slashes.

"I love achieving textures. Many are inspired by the cosmos and they emulate the lunar surface," she says. The fluidity and suppleness of form is very central to her aesthetic. You definitely see her love for the craft of silversmithing.

Her designs span structures as light and transient as her Modern Bouquet Necklace to the sculptural twists of her Serpentines Earrings to the orbital links of her Whirligig Cocktail Ring.

Her subtle, delicate pieces seem to celebrate the subliminal, calming aspect of nature upon the human psyche. Even within the streamlined proportions, the jewelry is uniquely differential.

"My goal is to perfect my work day-by-day, rediscovering silver and I hope customers will experience the satisfaction of finding a unique, well-made piece of jewelry."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Moon Halo Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Snow Storm Cocktail Ring

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I don't believe in pessimism. If something doesn't come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it's going to rain, it will.


Located in the Hauraki Gulf, close to Auckland, New Zealand, is the lush Rangitoto Island, which is actually a young volcano.

With plenty of hiking and walking trails, it is easy to explore the unique and beautiful landscape. New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer Te Rongo Kirkwood.
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