Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The Mexican state of Oaxaca is a great location for finding intact structures built during Pre-Columbian times. One such place to visit is the sleepy town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla. Mexico is also home to featured jewelry designer Rosanna Trejo.

Perhaps best known for silver production, and silversmiths like Antonio Pineda, Mexico is also an area known for its varied and colorful ceramic earthenware.

Pre-Columbian cultures including the Teotihuacans, the Olmecs, and the Aztecs highly influence the techniques and styles of modern ceramic pottery.

Trejo revisits time-honored ceramic handicrafts enlisting the ancient techniques to cultivate fun, festive designer jewelry. Those with inhibitions need not apply as watermelon slices, Mexican mugs, apples, and chili peppers are a few items immortalized in vivid, ceramic jewelry that is accented with wood and glass beads.

The former pre-school teacher embarked on a jewelry making career 32-years ago choosing to “feature regional elements like fruits, exotic birds, and Frida Kahlo” into her distinctive handmade jewelry designs.

Jewelry is all about personality; that of the designer and the wearer. This is not classic jewelry; it is playful and quirky.

It ultimately requires a certain mind-set; a personality that appreciates humor and a sense of frivolity. Cloris Leachman’s blithe and uproariously eccentric antics are a perfect fit with the bold colors, and dead-on replications.

I love the play of colors—the greens, reds, yellow—and the arrangement of the life-like shapes. I have not seen a lot of fruit-inspired jewelry done in this way.

Trejo foregoes the simple, strawberry pendant necklace instead creating beautiful lei-like necklaces and charm bracelets drenched with ceramic fruit.

“I love the handicrafts from my beloved Mexico,” says Trejo, “My collections are influenced by Mexican attires, and varied details of my country’s culture.”
Photo 1 (top right): Ceramic Watermelon Chic Bracelet
Photo 2 (center): Ceramic and Pearl Frida’s Little Deer Jewelry Set
Photo 3 (bottom left): Ceramic Tropical Cocktail Jewelry Set

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Currently serving as a host to authentic Renaissance-style dinners is Sweden’s Kalmar Castle.

The centuries-old fortress replete with a functional drawbridge, secret passages, turrets and pepper pots is a magnet for eager tourists. Sweden is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Carin Lindberg.

Monday, September 27, 2010


A natural wonder composed of limestones and coccoliths has inspired songwriters, novelists, and poets. Located along the British coastline near Kent, England is the White Cliffs of Dover. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Clara Breen.

It is always interesting to see how a jewelry designer conceptualizes something as everyday as leaves, hair or paper into designs that are truly works of wearable art.

The designer jewelry of Nel Linssen (Netherlands) and Kiwon Wang (Korea) devote their respective collections to reinforced paper and nylon thread, and stacked, paper discs accented with pearls, while among Pawel Kaczynski’s (Poland) assortment of daring jewelry is an incredible metal bracelet in the form of a single, dreadlock.

It is a fascinating process of transference when a designer hones in on the understated nuances of an object—manmade or natural—capturing its essence within gold or sterling silver.

A graduate of the University of Brighton, Breen holds a bachelor’s degree in Three-Dimensional Crafts. Like her contemporaries Linssen and Wang she shares an attraction to paper, as well as leaves.

The focus of Breen’s aesthetic is twofold: first, she implements “fragments of found paper” such as train tickets, leaflets, and receipts into designs paired with sterling silver. The combination of materials are ridged, crinkled and curved with oxidized sterling silver earrings developing into forms resembling tiny seahorses.

Second, the designer takes individual sterling silver and 9-karat gold sheets forging the metal into finely textured forms that are reminiscent of the withering leaves of fall.

Everything from the gold necklaces offset with freshwater pearls, to silver rings with paper settings to crunched sterling silver earrings seem so weightless and delicate in their distinctive, organic forms.

“I create bold strata-like constructions with found paper combined with silver. The forms suggest a “personal landscape” composed of many mundane experiences,” says Breen.

“Attaching these apparently worthless paper items to gold and silver expresses their value to me, as tangible remains of a personal experience.

The visual language of geological stratas, corrugating metal and the forging process allows pieces to grow into unique forms. No two pieces are exactly the same.”

Breen’s dainty jewelry is available to buy online at, an affiliate website of the online gallery Dazzle Exhibitions.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Textured Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and 9-Karat Gold Textured Bracelet
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Layer Pendant Necklace

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Serving as the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon is the judicial Pioneer Courthouse. At 141-years-old, the structure was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977, and still acts as one of four locations for hearings of the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit. Oregon is also home to featured jewelry designer Judy Richards.

As shown in my profile, I was not what you would call a jewelry fanatic when I started this blog.

Aside from the “standards” like Neil Lane or Tiffany & Co., I did not know any other designer jewelry brands.

Of course now that has changed but even with all I have learned I am still discovering designer jewelry and unique jewelry styles that I would not have otherwise known.

Although I have featured designers such as Trace Palmer (Ireland), and Te Rongo Kirkwood (New Zealand) who create lovely pieces from blown or fused glass, I was not familiar with Richards’ lampworking technique that also requires the use of glass rods or glass beads.

Mandrels, striking, cold working, and annealing are just a few lampwork bead making terms I read about after doing a little online research. I also learned that this painstaking, “glasswork” art form is a centuries-old skill used in ancient Syria, Italy, and France.

Upon viewing some online photos of lampwork jewelry, it was clear that Richards’ jewelry is unlike anything I had seen.

She plays with organic forms and small sculptures giving her pieces whimsical originality. She even designs her own beads, such as her Hibiscus Bead, which are equally distinctive and quirky.

A member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB), Richards initially “started out bead weaving, and then wanted to include lampwork in my designs. I took a class here in Portland, and trained with the ISGB,” she says. “I also took a continuing education class with Dustin Tabor, and Stepahnie Sersich.

I use ribbon cane a lot and do a lot of sculptural lampwork with soft soda-lime glass—I like the colors in soft glass. I do flower beads, horses, cats and have tried other things such as sea creatures.”

Inspired by the colors and shapes of natural surroundings, as well as the “watery nature of glass,” Richards injects a bit of instinct and intellectualism into her unconventional, vivid designs.

“I like to use my own lampwork beads with mini macramé, semi-precious stones, and precious metal clay beads. My approach is different in many ways and is truly my own. I am a very intuitive person so I follow my heart whenever I create a new bead or flower.

I also do a lot of thinking. The work can be difficult because I am working with hot glass. The glass has to be kept hot all the time so adding details to sculptural pieces like the horse has to be done quickly to avoid cracking.”

Along with her playful and somewhat off-center designs are more modern jewelry pieces of pendant necklaces and bracelets.

Like the mythical superhero, Richards plays dual roles enlisting two Etsy stores, Beads U Need, and Cats Paw Artifacts, as independent outlets for her modes of expression.

“There are two sides to me: one side loves simplicity, like transparent circle beads with ribbon cane; the other side is showy and loves to try new things and attract attention. I really love doing abstract lampwork.”
Photo 1 (top right): Lampwork 17-inch Ocean Jasper Necklace with Bone
Photo 2 (center): Lampwork Horse Pendant
Photo 3 (bottom left): Lampwork Amazonite Tibetan Prayer Box Pendant Necklace

Friday, September 24, 2010


Located in the Netherlands, sits a 61-year-old garden, Keukenhof Garden, situated between the towns of Lisse and Hillegom. Located on 70 acres, the allotment is populated by narcissi, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. The Netherlands is also home to featured jewelry designer Evelien Sipkes.

It is always nice to see timeless and classic jewelry but sometimes I just want to see something a little more unpredictable and avant-garde.

When you talk about explorative jewelry design no one better exemplifies a non-conformist approach than Dutch designers do (and I mean that in the best way).

Such designers as Sasja Saptenno, Thea Tolsma, and Joke Schole respectively incorporate rubber, porcelain or wood veneers in designs that boldly go against traditional fashion jewelry.

They create vivid, distinct items that actively challenge perceptions of value and beauty. This fearless approach, the joy of experimentation is what I appreciate about contemporary jewelry.

An alumna of Holland’s Hoge School voor de Kunsten, Sipkes relies on systemic, natural surroundings to fuel her unique aesthetic. “It’s amazing how mathematically composed these structures are—just think of sunflowers, corals, the marrow in bones—while they tend to look so organic.”

Sipkes keeps an intriguing palette of materials at her fingertips to help create jewelry reminiscent of rolling tumbleweeds or a thick mesh of vines. Wooden beads, embroidery thread, hemp rope, crystal beads, tulle fabric, and cotton rope are a few of the materials she enlists.

I would imagine that some materials, like steel thread for instance, would require her to test their properties to learn what designs they are best suited. I like the aspect of play allowing whatever happens to happen.

Sipkes’ Natureluurs Collection pays homage to three of the four elements: earth, air, and water. The way she captures the essence of each one is fabulous. I love the combination of earthy colors and textures.

Her Cloud Necklace is a bulbous, puffy assortment of off-white silk and cotton rope; her Sea Necklace is a striking combination of thin, cascading strands of blue and blue-green twined silk and hemp rope; and the Earth Necklace is like a rust red and brown explosion of tiny, swirling leaves fashioned from hemp rope and silk.

As is the case with most contemporary jewelry items --composed of unconventional materials—they will often lack conventional beauty. However, that by no means suggests the items are not without an aesthetic appeal.

Granted, Sipkes’ pieces do not have the lyrical beauty of Danish designer Alidra Alić’s but they do possess a similar element of surprise.

The arrangement of a necklace made of pork bones (see bottom left photo) and linen is so striking I honestly did not think about what the piece’s composition was.

While I have no idea where I would wear her jewelry, I do appreciate the creative risk she takes by remaining true to an artistic vision that is hands-down unforgettable.
Photo 1 (top right): Silk, Velvet and Zinc Red Coral Necklace on Model
Photo 2 (center): Silk and Hemp Earth Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): Pork Bones Necklace on Model

Thursday, September 23, 2010


France is a country renowned for its architecture (i.e. the Eiffel Tower); however, you can find a little bit of Rome there too.

The Pont du Gard, an aqueduct bridge built by Romans over a thousand years ago, still stands squarely across the Gard River. France is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Hervé Van der Straeten.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Within Australia’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park lies the striking visual of dome-shaped, crimson rock formations known as the Olgas (or the Kata Tjuta). The captivating scenery is best viewed during spring or fall through alternately easy and challenging guided, walking trails. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer John Miller.

An actor, singer/songwriter and jewelry designer, Miller undoubtedly has an active creative life.

Throughout the course of his jewelry making career—his first love it seems—Miller has allowed for time to touch base with each aspiration.

From the tender age of seven, Miller knew he had a predilection for mingling metal and gemstones as he had “always been collecting rocks and tools, bits of wire and metal things. My current workshop is a lot like my bedroom use to be: messy and full of little projects in various stages of construction and deconstruction.”

In 1973, upon completing drawing and sculpture studies at the Claremont School of Art in Perth, the eager artist accepted a job buffing silver in a workshop called Beaut Sausages. “It was the seventies and silver jewelry was hot. People bought everything I made, often before I finished it.”

The enthusiastic designer bounced around the Australia continent building a retail store in Darwin, and later buying gemstones and a setting up a workshop in Broome where he became the first Australian jeweler to hand fabricate bijouterie with renowned Broome pearls.

By 1996, Miller relocated to Yallingup, Australia where he established his present workshop, Jewel of the Capes.

Miller’s gorgeous designer jewelry of hand cultivated 22- and 18-karat gold, and sterling silver possesses a striking allure in its play of textures, and hand engraved semblances of butterflies, stingrays, geckoes, gum nuts, eucalyptus leaves, octopi, and the frightful images of long-toothed dragon and fang fish.

His engraved rings and engraved bracelets are primal and tribal taking one back thousands of years to a time when pictographs and petroglyphs were the form of communication.

One of his gold cuff bracelets beautifully captures a full scene replete with kangaroos running along a landscape of trees and birds flying overhead. It is incredible craftsmanship all done by hand, and the slight oxidation of his sterling silver cuff bracelets makes the embossed textures pop that much more.

There are also sinuous gold bangle bracelets created with subtle waves and dips in their circling lengths. Miller’s understated yet stunning gemstone rings with settings of pink or blue sapphires, yellow and white diamonds, Burmese rubies, Australian opals, and chrysoprase are timeless staples.

His Supernova Gold Ring is a prime example of Miller’s skill at creating rich organic forms that seem to take on a life of its own.

“Ancient and tribal metalwork is always a source of inspiration. I love silver and I love gold and my tool and pattern making is quite sophisticated now.

The Egyptians, Incas, Celts and Mayans had a very sophisticated sense of aesthetic and traditional techniques.

Pieces from Roman times are beyond “fashion style” and that style is what I constantly pursue.

It is about the artistic journey and making jewelry that will last forever . . . or at least a very long time.”
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Supernova Ring with Diamond
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Bracelets
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Rings with Australian Opals

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


There is nothing like a gorgeous view of spectacular landscapes and a visit to Japan’s Okunikko National Park is a feast for the eyes. There is plenty to absorb with famous shrines, temples, mountains, and waterfalls. Japan is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Eddie Sakamoto.

Presently based in Los Angeles, California, Sakamoto likes to refer to his design style as minimalist rather than artistic.

His geometric, modern jewelry designs of 18-karat white gold, yellow gold and platinum share Angela Hübel’s (Germany) linear, chic forms.

Like Hübel, Sakamoto’s visual language of subtle, architectural patterns is distinctive yet timeless in execution. A one-time student of graphic and industrial design, after working for five years with a respected jeweler, the designer took a leap of faith entering the jewelry industry.

Thirty-one years ago, the Seattle native relocated to L.A. establishing his company Concept 1 (later renamed Sakamoto in 1995) dedicated to creating designs geared towards less ornamental items to ones that quietly accentuate the wearer.

“I like to keep forms as simple as possible,” says Sakamoto, “I like to keep designs partly sculptural and architectural in nature.” Though the hard angles of modern jewelry styles lack buoyance, it is still beautiful jewelry but with cool restraint.

His gold and diamond pendant necklaces are quietly stunning; while his orbital style earrings resemble a cutting-edge weather vane and his flat base gold rings are understated yet differentiated. The jewelry is a testament to its designer’s sensibilities; elegant, streamlined and stylish.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat White and Yellow Gold Pendant Necklace with Diamonds
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat White and Yellow Gold Ring with Diamonds
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Oval Pendant Necklace with Diamonds

Monday, September 20, 2010


Positioned off the southern side of Italy’s Gulf of Naples is the Island of Capri, a region ripe with the history of Roman emperors. Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Giuseppe Picchiotti.

Some do not like the concept of predestination feeling that self-determination is undermined.

However, following the call of destiny is ultimately an act of the will through the exercise of choice.

Picchiotti’s destiny seemed cut out for him as he is descendant from a family of intellectuals.

Nevertheless, growing up in Valenza, Italy would prove to hold the key to Picchiotti’s true destiny as it was a center for a grand tradition of jewelry making.

Like most teenagers looking to establish their identity, a thirteen year old Picchiotti went against familial expectations choosing to apprentice at a goldsmith’s workshop. With his family’s hope of seeing Picchiotti become a doctor shattered they were nonetheless captivated by his innate love for the craft of jewelry making.

The young apprentice’s deft grasp of complex techniques stunned those from whom he learned. Upon completing further studies at Valenza’s Instituto Profesionale Orafo, the ambitious and naturally gifted jeweler established his workshop in 1967 with the help of sister, Annamaria.

To the present, Annamaria remains with the company; her managerial background has allowed Picchiotti cherished time to devote to creating stunning diamond and color gemstone jewelry.

Picchiotti’s intense passion regarding the selection, cut, settings and design styles of diamonds, rubies, and sapphires brings to mind Harry Winston (USA). Like Winston, his commitment to finding “stones worthy of his designs” is legendary.

“A guiding force over the years has been my personal romance with precious stones and diamonds. I only seek out diamonds and color gemstones with unmistakable uniqueness and that is what distinguishes the Picchiotti brand from others,” says the designer.

His vivid yet timeless design approach, particularly his brooches and rings, appear to be influenced by vintage jewelry of the Art Nouveau Period. Diamond encrusted rose and feather replications are fluid; the curve of a stem and the bloom of petals organic.

Picchiotti was careful to create all of his jewelry in-house in order to assure designs met his standards. Delicate, cascading diamond necklaces and elegant diamond bracelets are stately and feminine perfect with a vintage-inspired wedding gown.

Some diamond rings with their intricate pavé settings and dangly earrings drenched with diamonds mingled with pops of blue sapphire, or the granny apple green of peridot possess that distinguished air of pomp-and-circumstance.

This jewelry is undoubtedly sophisticated and classic yet statement making. The designs are clean and minimalist but with that distinct Italian flair.

Today, the Picchiotti brand is a family run business where Picchiotti works alongside wife Matilde, sons Umberto and Filippo, and daughter Maria Carola.

Each individual brings their respective gifts to the company assisting with marketing, buying gemstones, and overseeing manufacturing, and design.
Photo 1 (top right): Platinum, Ruby and Diamond Necklace
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat White Gold and Diamond Brooch Pin
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat White Gold, Onyx and Diamond Pendant Necklace

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Built over a century ago by Captain William Smith, the sloop/boat Christeen has a long history of sailing on the waters of New York and Connecticut.

Once used to harvest oysters, the renovated boat now rests in Oyster Bay, New York serving as a museum ship. New York is also the home base of featured jewelry brand Satya Jewelry.

Friday, September 17, 2010


You have your pick of subtropical or alpine climates when exploring the Copper Canyon located in Mexico’s state of Chihuahua. Touted as over three times the size of the United States’ Grand Canyon, hiking, driving and horseback riding are suggested ways to view this unique region. Mexico is also home to featured jewelry designer Tanya Moss.

A vessel of imaginative energy, as a child Moss created rudimentary jewelry pieces cultivated from found objects.

While an exchange student attending Southern Illinois University, Moss’ aspirations to make her mark in the jewelry industry literally began taking form as she learned the craft of metalsmithing.

Officially launched in 1995, Moss’ jewelry is a showcase of universal iconography and modern designs within delicate metalwork.

Fourteen – and 18-karat yellow gold vermeil renderings of heart earrings offset with gemstone beads, gemstone pendants, and her signature butterfly outline in gold and diamond pendant necklaces make her collections elegantly stylish, sleek with a casual vibe.

Moss’ take on charm jewelry is, in some ways, reminiscent of London-based designer Sophie Harley’s approach in that she does not always make a heart, flower or butterfly a focal point of a design.

Many of Moss’ gold rings, for instance, feature the butterfly and flower motifs, however, these thematic elements are used to accentuate the piece. An open butterfly serenely sits at the start of the ring shank while a textured, rectangular quartz is the focus.

There is a unique, wonderfully crafted ring featuring two, vertically placed ring settings each highlighting three, small rubies with two gold flowers in between the settings.

Some of Moss’ rings bands are open another interesting detail. I like the way she keeps reinventing a subtle canvas with different textures, forms and colors.

Her collection of sterling silver jewelry highlights hammered, peaked, open, and cut-out designs called “punched paper” some of which are drenched in pink vermeil.

Moss’ men’s jewelry items highlight silver cufflinks carved into footballs, puzzle pieces, smiley faces, bones and peace signs.

This kind of playful experimentation seems key to her aesthetic and in a nutshell makes for fun and modern jewelry.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold and Pink Tourmaline Pendant
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Open Ring with Rutilated Quartz, Diamonds and Flowers

Photo 3 (bottom left): Silver Vermeil Baroque Double Strand Necklace with Onyx Chain

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Named a National Historic Site by Congress 48-years ago, the New York-based homestead of the late, former President Theodore Roosevelt, Sagamore Hill, still contains original furnishings. New York is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Alberto Parada.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Situated on Ireland’s Southwestern coast, the Dingle Peninsula is a picturesque location boasting rolling hills and green pastures. Ireland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Suzanne Donegan.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Regal and full of ancient history, Denmark’s Fredericksborg Palace is a 16th century fortress that currently serves as the Danish Museum of National History. Denmark is also the home of featured jewelry designer Alidra Alić.

Monday, September 13, 2010


If you are one who loves flawless, cerulean waters allowing you to view large varieties of marine-life or you love lush landscapes, then Indonesia’s Manado Dive Resort is the place for you. Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Wayan Asmana.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The Thousand Islands, a splattering of islands located along the borders of Ontario, Canada and New York State, is a picturesque yet rather treacherous area boasting crystal clear waters offset by shoals and rocks. New York is also the home base to jewelry brand Bochic Jewelry.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The surviving portion of an enlarged platform that was part of Herod the Great’s expansion of Israel’s Temple Mount, the Western Wall remains a sacred site for pilgrimages and prayer. Israel is also the home base for jewelry brand Amaro Jewelry.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Built a little over 200 years ago in Uman, Ukraine, Sofiyivsky Park is an exquisite location of tranquil beauty complete with a stone garden, ponds and waterfalls. Ukraine is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Masha Muchin-Archer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


A visit to Korea’s Mount Sorak, located in the Taebaek Mountain Range, is not for the faint of heart; but is well worth the journey.

A 40-minute walk from the car lot will bring you to the rushing waters of the Biryeong Waterfalls, and a hike up over 800 manmade steps of the Ulsanbawi rock formation exposes visitors to even more spectacular sights. Korea is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Ji Hwang.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


A finalist in the “New Seven Wonders of Nature,” the ominous Cliffs of Moher, located in County Clare, Ireland, stands a good chance of winning with its breathtaking views that overlook the Atlantic Ocean. Ireland is also home to featured jewelry designer Rachel Swan.

Monday, September 6, 2010


The Coast of Cornwall, which runs along England’s coastline, is like something out of a dream. Populated with coves, cliffs, and beaches such terrain begs for long walks, hiking, and fishing. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Georgina Ettridge.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Initially panned for its gloomy surroundings, the Adventure Aquarium, located in Camden, New Jersey, presently houses the country’s third largest ocean tank and boasts hands-on exhibits allowing visitors to touch live lobsters, shrimp, and moon jellies. New Jersey is also the home base for jewelry brand Lexi Lu Jewelry.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Discovered a little over 200 years ago, Lord Howe Island sets closely to Sydney, Australia. Its tranquil, picturesque beauty has caused many to consider the crescent-shaped island “earth’s heaven.” Australia is also the present home of featured jewelry designer Lisa Marinucci.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Squarely positioned on a rock in Osaka, Japan is the 16th century fortress Osaka Castle; a famous attraction for many tourists.

The structure is well known for its unique configuration characterized by an interior eight-story floor plan with only five stories visible from the exterior. Japan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Koji Miyazaki.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Men are liars. We'll lie about lying if we have to. I'm an algebra liar. I figure two good lies make a positive.


We travel to Baden-Württemberg, Germany taking in the scenery of the dense expanse of pine and fir trees located in the Black Forest.

Home to such wildlife as eagles, owls and the giant earthworm, the surrounding area of the forest encompasses such tourist attractions as souvenir stores and a historical route known as the German Clock Road. Germany is also home to featured jewelry designer Brigitte Adolph.
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