Saturday, October 30, 2010

MARIA SAMORA

Located in New Mexico are a number of well-preserved 12th century Pueblo structures, known as the Aztec Ruins National Monument.  These structures were constructed by the ancient Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi people. New Mexico is also home to featured jewelry designer Maria Samora.

Friday, October 29, 2010

CHAN LUU

According to legend lurking beneath the waters along the Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is a giant yet affable dragon. The stretch of limestone islands located here is a popular area for tourists to explore. Vietnam is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Chan Luu.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

JUAN CARLOS CEBALLOS

The spirit of long gone Mayan civilizations is alive and well in the Mexican state of Yucatan. Ancient and complex Mayan structures, such as the Governor’s Palace and the Pyramid of the Dwarf, still stand in the city of Uxmal. Mexico is also home to featured jewelry designer Juan Carlos Ceballos.

I have commented before that I am partial to gold jewelry and have found myself seeking out its soft, fiery glow while perusing affordable pieces of costume jewelry at the local mall.

However, as I have viewed the incredible designer jewelry from Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia and the American Southwest, I have found myself succumbing to the cool, sleek tones of sterling silver jewelry.

Even Danish designer Georg Jensen had fallen prey to silver jewelry’s seductive appeal comparing its white luster to the glow of the moon. Though there is only a small sampling of Ceballos’ jewelry pieces featured on his Novica page, I really like the alternately modern, chic and dainty outlines he sculpts.

Having developed computer systems for companies like IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Citibank, Ceballos is someone who understands the complex mechanics of creating. This propensity for cultivating layered patterns and formulas lent itself to his budding interest in jewelry design.

“In 2002, I ventured into the field of jewelry, and the Tec de Monterrey University offered a course in Spain on the internationalization of business,” says Ceballos. “I also took a course in fashion and design taught by Richard Domingo. He was a great help and a huge influence in defining the company’s image.”

While I cannot speak to the scope of Ceballos’ aesthetic, his Novica page highlights his deftness at creating minimalist sterling silver necklaces, cuff bracelets, and silver pendants.

A clear homage to centuries-old Mexican architecture, his Cathedral Window Pendant subtly mixes the colors of green peridot, amber and amethyst while his Enchanted Cuff Bracelet is a chic, modern jewelry item highlighting the contrast of high polished and oxidized silver. In his necklaces, he juxtaposes the delicate forms of silver flowers with edgy, twined black leather cords.

Like the moon, understated yet striking seems to be the definitive quality of silver metal. It can take on any jewelry style regardless of how intricate without seeming garish or overdone.

Silver can exude casual and laid-back or fluid sophistication, and from what I have seen Ceballos more than adequately covers those bases.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Cathedral Window Pendant with Amber, Peridot and Amethyst
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Enchanted Cuff Bracelet with Rose Quartz

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CARLA AMORIM

You have your choice of swimming, rollerblading, cycling, or surfing when visiting the gorgeous Ipanema Beach of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil is also home to featured jewelry designer Carla Amorim.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FEI LIU

Running along the Huangpu River in Shanghai, China is the gorgeous skyline of the Bund Riverfront.

The area consists of tall bank and commerce buildings, and at night the skyline becomes a stunning display of electric lights. China is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Fei Liu.

Monday, October 25, 2010

FATMA OYA BORAHAN

The Turkish city of Bodrum is a great place to visit ancient architectural wonders including the “open-air” Amphitheatre museum, the Castle of St. Peter, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Turkey is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Fatma Oya Borahan.

In my mind handmade jewelry designs seem to hold a great sense of artistic integrity. The organic, free flowing design quality triggers feelings in me akin to whenever I smell the aroma of a homemade apple pie.

There is something homey and comforting about knowing that materials are carefully selected by hand and then cultivated by hand.

The Canada-based designer’s stunning links of crystal beads, gemstone necklaces, gemstone pendants, and 18-karat gold pieces possess warmth that goes beyond the myriad of gemstone and bead colors.

The 70-year-old artisan began her design career as a painter; painting fluid, colorful designs on silk. This outlet would then evolve into the designer painting scenery on silk scarves that ultimately led to a corresponding interest in jewelry.

“When I became interested in jewelry making and jewelry design, I began creating scarf clips for the silk scarves I was painting,” says Borahan. “I enjoyed making unique designs for the scarves so much that my art transposed into fabricating unique jewelry based on the designs and patterns of my scarves.”

While Borahan hand fabricated sterling silver and 18-karat gold into fashionable jewelry she took note of a missing element, gemstones.


Determined to carve and cut the raw gemstones she sourced over a twelve-year period, starting in 1992, the designer enrolled and completed a correspondence course with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA); and she received gemology diplomas from the German Gemmological Association (DGemA) and the Gemmological Institute of Great Britain (GemA).

Borahan says this of her time studying in Idar-Oberstein, Germany “I learned gem carving from Hans Ulrich Pauly, and stone cutting from Hans G. Gordner. I hoped that some of their artistic talent rubbed off onto me.

In my opinion, Hans Ulrich Pauly is one of the most talented artists around. I was the happiest person in the world when he accepted to teach me.”

Borahan’s aesthetic is not limited to one style as she alternates between minimalist and sophisticated to chunky and bold to organic and abstract. Some metal pieces are regal and powerful while other designs are interspersed with twined cord, wire wrap and crocheted metal wire providing a gorgeous array of looks.

Maintaining a settled, peaceful temperament and utilizing “green” sensibilities is central to her creation process. “My bedroom is right next to my workshop; so in the middle of the night, whenever I had an idea, I would get up and draw it or write notes,” she says.

“One time while doing some metalwork, there was a piece of gold left over that I did not know what to do with so I melted it down, pushed in the middle and set a garnet in it. I don’t throw away what I don’t use.

I also believe that a sound knowledge of one’s merchandise and gemology is paramount in order to effectively serve customers. Over the years, it has become my belief that some jewelers misinform their customers not as an act of deception but rather as a result of ignorance about their materials.”

Presently, the semi-retired Borahan conducts seminars for members of the Montreal Gem and Mineral Club.

Though her website includes a great photo gallery of jewelry pieces, it appears the website serves more as a place for the designer to share her culmination of knowledge and not necessarily as a conduit to sell her jewelry.
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Photo 1 (top right): Rose Quartz Briolette Pendant with Quartz Beads
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Gold Black Onyx Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Necklace with Transparent and Pink Beads

Saturday, October 23, 2010

JERRY "JAY" SHARPE

The Egyptian Building, built during the mid-19th century, is a historic landmark located in Richmond, Virginia and serves as Hampden-Sydney College’s first medical department. The interior design of “battered walls” and spiritually based color schemes is believed to act as a striking homage to Egyptian physician Imhotep. Virginia is also home to featured jewelry designer Jerry “Jay” Sharpe.

In a world catering to instant gratification with fast-food and online banking, 20-year veteran Sharpe veers away from hurrying his creation process opting to spend months cultivating his sleek, classic designer jewelry.

A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Sharpe wasted no time to launch his official brand, the Jay Sharpe Collection, selling his fluid men’s cufflinks, and textured sterling silver earrings through respective local retailers Cavalier Men’s Shop, and Nordstrom’s. Sharpe also added jewelry repair to his repertoire providing such services to a myriad of local retailers.

In the years following his official launch, Sharpe made sure to keep visible appearing in both local and national publications including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond News Leader, Style Weekly, and Essence Magazine.


By 1994 prestigious retail store Henri Bendel added Sharpe’s timeless jewelry to its list of must-have products; three years later the Richmond Ballet commissioned him to design bijouterie for its production of The Nut Cracker; and finally by 1999 Sharpe opened his first flagship store in Richmond, VA.

Most recently in 2007, during the Bush Administration, Sharpe designed the Christmas tree ornaments for the White House.

Renowned for his exquisitely cut custom jewelry, Sharpe’s collections of diamond pendants, wedding ring designs, and silver pendants is subtle yet striking in their curvaceous, voluptuous outlines, pavĂ© sets, and moderately complex geometric structures.

“Because designs are carved by hand the process of each design can take several months. We believe that something that is going to be with you forever should be special. You will see definite attention to detail, fluent cuts, smooth transitional depths and uniqueness.”

The jewelry isunquestionably beautiful with soft satin finishes, tiny splatters of diamonds, as well as beautifully carved West African Adinkra symbols.

Each design is a testament to Sharpe’s sublime artisanship and reaffirms to me that hands-on jewelry making imparts intangible yet palpable soul to every creation.
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Photo 1 (top right): Gold Pendant with Diamonds and Pink Sapphires
Photo 2 (center): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Wedding Bands
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Earrings with Surface Textures

Friday, October 22, 2010

JULIA DENES

What better way to view some of Australia’s gorgeous scenery than while driving along The Great Ocean Road located in the state of Victoria. Built to honor soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, the 78-year-old road offers such sights as Apollo Bay, and the Otway National Park. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Julia Denes.

The distinguishing hallmark of many 19th century Australian jewelry designs was not a stamp but an emblem; a carved out semblance of indigenous fauna or flora.

Designs of the times were made with gold and usually offset with agates, quartz, blue and yellow sapphires, and of course Australian opals.

Today, Australian designer jewelry is stamped with the respective artist’s personal hallmark, but styles and aesthetics are eclectic encompassing the streamlined, classic pearl and diamond items of Nina’s Jewellery to the sensual, provocative jewelry couture of Sarina Suriano.

Denes’ streamlined design approach gives a nod to the subtle beauty of Asian aesthetics with likenesses of lotus blossoms, fans, and butterflies each fashioned from 18-karat rose, yellow and white gold, and sterling silver.



A certified jeweler, gemologist and diamond grader, after graduating from Sydney’s College of Fine Arts Denes spent two years traveling the world. The close-up viewings of multi-cultural handicrafts kept alive through generations left an indelible mark.

By 2005, Denes was ready to establish her brand utilizing her education, time abroad, and valuable hands-on experience obtained while working for Australian brand Rox Jewellery to bring her fine jewelry collections to life.

The hand-sawed, cutout designs of her gold necklaces and sterling silver earrings provide delicacy and lightness, while the bright red and blue hues of two gemstone necklaces, one featuring red coral, and the other Arizona turquoise beads, exude a tangible primal tone indicative of the rustic Australian spirit.

Overall, she maintains clean lines within classic yet ornamental structures accenting forms with the deep, rich colors of orange and blue sapphires, red spinels, and diamonds.

“I draw inspiration from my surroundings whether it is a lily pad or beautiful symbol,” says Denes.

“I like to keep forms organic with pierced details and a clean finish. I want to create a special piece of jewelry that anyone can enjoy.”
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat White Gold Plated Lotus Pendant
Photo 2 (center): Six-Strand Arizona Turquoise Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat White Gold Ring with Blue Star Sapphire

Thursday, October 21, 2010

YAYOI FOREST JEWELRY

The Kasuga Grand Shrine, an ancient Japanese temple built over 1,000 years ago by the influential Fujiwara clan, is among the most frequently visited structures in Japan.

The shrine’s interior design is punctuated by stunning stone and bronze lanterns. Japan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Yayoi Inada.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CATHERINETTE RINGS | STEAMPUNK JEWELRY

Situated along the Eastern portion of Quebec, Canada, flanked by the Bay of Chaleur and the St. Laurence River, is a small island known as the Gaspe Peninsula.

The area is peppered with gorgeous mountain ranges, beaches, and seascapes. Canada is also home to featured jewelry brand Catherinette Rings |  Steampunk Jewelry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TARANG and MANAS

The 354-year old mosque Jama Masjid, located in Delhi, India, was ordered for construction by the same emperor who commissioned the making of the Taj Mahal, and the temple is touted as one of Asia’s largest mosques. India is also home to featured jewelry design team Tarang Gupta and Manas Arora.

I am most familiar with India’s gloriously colorful, gold and enamel meenakari jewelry.

By `familiar’ I mean that I know what this style of jewelry looks like but for years I never knew the actual name for it until I started this blog.

While I can not say the exact date I first saw this exquisite jewelry, I no doubt believe it occurred during my childhood while flipping through the pages of National Geographic.

For years I was unaware that the stunning, elaborate gold and crystal Kundan jewelry was also a traditional Indian jewelry style. I was most surprised to learn that sterling silver jewelry is very popular in many states of India including Kashmir, West Bengal and Kanpur.

Intricately carved forms, granulation, and embossed textures are just a few of the superlative details you will find in the powerful designs of Tarang and Manas.


In 2003, after completing a course in jewelry design and manufacturing, the two joined forces to create beautiful designer jewelry influenced by majestic Indian architecture, and the ethereal floral structures of nature.

“We are recognized for our fine, handcrafted sterling silver and gemstone jewelry,” says Gupta, “Our designs emphasize traditional Indian styles, including floral motifs. We melt silver alloy and draw the metal into sheets. We engrave, chisel, and hammer the sheet into a beautiful piece.”

The gorgeously cultivated iconography of elephants, peacocks, and dragons is spectacular and regal evoking ancient cities and maharajahs. The sterling silver cuff bracelets, called Dragon Majesty, that depict three-dimensional semblances of dragons are standouts. The painstaking detail and sense of weightiness is breathtaking.

The delicacy of pieces such as their sterling silver Light Drums Drop Earrings, and the engraved imagery of a singing bluebird featured on the aptly titled Bluebird Pendant Necklace again reflect the designers’ unquestionable skill at varied and complex jewelry making techniques, as well as their ability to create specific tones and moods through a piece of metal.

“We have developed a large collection and we are extremely happy to share our art with the rest of the world as part of the Novica family.

We hope customers feel the same joy wearing our jewelry that we feel creating it.”
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Dancing Moon Dangle Earrings
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver Dragon Majesty Cuff Bracelet
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Bluebird Pendant Necklace

Monday, October 18, 2010

STEFANO MARCHETTI

With the Mediterranean Sea serving as a picturesque backdrop, the Italian city of Agrigento is a locale filled with ancient museums, Roman ruins, and “the world’s best strawberries.” Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Stefano Marchetti.

An artist of contemporary jewelry, Marchetti’s design aesthetic focuses on the exploration of form through the building blocks of tiny, individual components.

A former student and instructor at Italy’s Istituto Statale d'Arte, since 1992 the designer enlists ancient Turkish and Italian jewelry making techniques to produce gold rings and gold brooches with a distinct, abstract twist.

Working with 24-karat white, yellow and red gold, copper, and sterling silver, Marchetti cultivates organic, sculptural designer jewelry that seems to grow into poetic forms. For instance, many of his 24-karat white and yellow gold brooches alternately resemble delicate rolls of textured paper, and hollowed out tree bark.

The buoyancy of the metal structures--the surfaces of which are composed of fluidly welded pieces of various sized metals--bring an inherent lyricism to the jewelry pieces. “Materials, metals in particular with their potential to hold and transmit meaning, occupy the center of my research,” says Marchetti.

“I want to load objects with the greatest amount of information so technique and the study of technological procedures are important to me.”

The items are unquestionably beautiful and I wish there was more to see online. Unless I overlooked it, I do not believe Marchetti has a personal website at this time. However, I was able to view some of his work at Charon Kransen Arts’ website.

For the last 18 years, the designer has participated in international exhbitions located in Germany, Austria, Holland, Spain, Scotland, Switzerland and the U.S.A.
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Photo 1 (top right): Gold and Sterling Silver Brooch
Photo 2 (center): 24-Karat Gold Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): Yellow and Red Gold, and Sterling Silver Brooch

Saturday, October 2, 2010

MOLLY McGRATH

At 103-years old the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California is one of the state’s oldest remaining amusement parks.

With rides like the Hurricane roller coaster, and Haunted House attraction, it still entices tourists and locals. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Molly McGrath.

Friday, October 1, 2010

QUOTABLE GEMS - GLENN CLOSE

It always amazes me to think that every house on every street is full of so many stories; so many triumphs and tragedies, and all we see are yards and driveways.

KARIN WAGNER

The Palace of Nations, located in Geneva, Switzerland’s Ariana Park, was designed by an international group of architects, and is the headquarters for the League of Nations. Switzerland is also home to featured jewelry designer Karin Wagner.
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