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.

With an elaborate style strongly influenced by the majestic baubles of ancient kings and queens, it comes as no surprise that Lofti Mansouri, the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Opera, characterizes Archer’s dynamic jewelry as “operatic.”

In fact, the designer has worked with the San Francisco Opera for many years, and such opera stars as Samuel Ramey, Anna Netrebko, and Dimitry Korneev have all worn the designer’s statement-making jewelry during performances.

Her stunning, vividly colored handmade jewelry designs are a spectacular assortment of multi-strand gemstone necklaces, and gemstone earrings highlighting Chinese and Russian turquoise, vintage yellow glass, lapis lazuli, and African trade beads.

Presently based in San Francisco, California, the graduate of New York’s Pratt Institute has lived in the United States for sixty years (forty three of those years in San Francisco).

While she does not credit any singular influence for her style aesthetic, her parents, Sophia and Mykola Muchin, helped to solidify her interest in the arts.

“Both my parents were artists and teachers of painting and sculpture at Kiev and Kharkov Art institutes,” she recalls, “After the second World War we emigrated from the Ukraine to the United States.

I majored in graphic design and painting while I attended Pratt Institute. I have designed clothing, as well as jewelry; I have also worked as a restorer and exhibitor in Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Mexico.

Ultimately, my work is an outgrowth of what I have learned from my parents, as well as anything I have ever seen and loved.”

The jewelry, reminiscent of Egyptian and Mexican color and design patterns, is not for the faint of heart. Its powerful theatricality befits someone like the opera singers who wear them or on the other side of the spectrum, dancers.

Archer loves the look of her bijouterie against the lithe, supple bodies of dancers believing their fluid movements highlight the jewelry.

Another highpoint for Archer was seeing fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker (a/k/a Carrie Bradshaw) wear a bold colored yet somewhat streamlined design during the Mexican beach scene in the 2008 film Sex and the City: The Movie.

The ornate jewelry style may not suit the tastes of everyone; but for me just knowing that each gemstone and bead was strung by hand really makes me appreciate the time it takes to make such complex and authoritative jewelry items as these.

Celebrity fans of Archer’s festive jewelry are BeyoncĂ© Knowles, Barbara Walters, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Oprah Winfrey, Joan Collins, Miley Cyrus, and Laura Bush.

Publications including Ocean Drive, Vogue Italia, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Marie Claire have featured Archer’s vibrant trinkets in their editorial layouts.

Photo 1 (top right): Carrie Bradshaw Mexico Festival Series Necklace Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver Hunan Tribe Cuff Bracelet
Photo 3 (bottom left): Orange and Black Chieng Mai Necklace
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