Monday, November 1, 2010


The centuries-old Waitomo Caves of New Zealand consist of hundreds of caverns filled with limestone, stalagmites, stalactites, and labyrinthine caves. New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer David McLeod.

There is a visible element of restraint in the aesthetic of many New Zealand jewelry designers.

They draw seemingly endless inspiration from the glorious landscapes of their homeland yet incorporate subtle reflections of that within their designer jewelry.

Their no-frills design approach adheres to simplistic, geometric outlines that are punctuated by pops of colored gemstones.

A one-time sculptor, McLeod’s jewelry is crisp, clean yet rustic fashioned from fine silver, sterling silver, and 9- and 22-karat gold accentuated by the subtle facets of such gemstones as New Zealand jasper, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, pounamu jade, and iridescent Paua shell.

The alternate dark and pale hues of the gemstones seem to have a muted quality as he keeps their facets flat, and smooth. Make no mistake they stand out; the creamy mother-of-pearl, and flickering colors of the Paua shell definitely catch your eye but it is as though they are held in suspension by a halo of silver or gold.

“For me sometimes a process, technique or way of attaching or combining materials may be the primary motivation in creating the work. For example, to explore the themes of cultural context and ownership of materials I use pounamu jade, paua or bone in a design.”

The lack of showiness and glamour actually makes the pieces stand out in my opinion. The linear quality of McLeod’s aesthetic has a stabilizing effect. It is interesting because jewelry designs that highlight a myriad of gemstones, facet styles, colors and textures tantalize the senses. One cannot help but repeatedly explore those details.

McLeod's designer jewelry embodies discreet, serene beauty. He skillfully strips down the design components where the piece ultimately seems to settle into a wearer.

In this way the jewelry piece whether a pair of gemstone earrings, gemstone pendant, or brooch, becomes part of the wearer; an accent; an extension.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling and Fine Silver Pounamu Bar Rings
Photo 2 (center): Sterling and Fine Silver Gold Edged Star Earrings with 22-Karat Gold
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling and Fine Silver Lapis Lazuli Oval Pendant Necklace
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