Friday, January 28, 2011


Brace yourself for the breathtaking scenery within Finland’s Karelia Lake Country; a spectacular region consisting of 60,000 lakes; Europe’s second largest waterfall, Kivatch Waterfall; and virgin tundra woods. Finland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Terhi Tolvanen.

Considering that savvy jewelry buyers are choosing custom jewelry designs as a way to build unique personal collections, it is not surprising to learn that contemporary jewelry continues to find an audience for those who thirst for something out of the ordinary.

Though some contemporary designer jewelry I have seen, like several items from Evelien Sipkes’ (the Netherlands) collection, could easily accessorize a formal gown this vivid jewelry style is less about accentuating the 'pretty' and more about challenging the status quo.

Forty-four year old Tolvanen, who currently lives in the Netherlands, has completely forsaken the understated aesthetic of her Scandinavian heritage embracing the fierce individualism of her Dutch colleagues producing oddly beautiful designs that possess a lighthearted irreverence.

The graduate of Amsterdam’s Gerrit Rietveld Academie and Sandberg Institute enlists an array of materials, both traditional and non-traditional, to create necklaces, cuff bracelets, and brooch pins.

Various combinations of paint, wood, foam rubber, oysters, smoky quartz, gold, silver, amethyst and steel lend their intriguing properties to Tolvanen’s provocative and complex jewelry.

“Nature is an unpredictable power of life that is a great source of inspiration,” she says. “I visualize the relationship between man and nature in my work. I am particularly fascinated by human interference in nature and how nature 'fights back' as it keeps growing and evolving.”

I do admire the fearless sensibility of this jewelry style. Tolvanen takes seemingly improbable ideas gathers equally improbable materials that do not easily render jewelry to bring her ideas to life.

It is lucid imagination gone wild resulting in pieces like her striking yet peculiar wood and pink tourmaline Anthriscus 2 Brooch; the smoky rust hues of her amber jewelry; and her Nailpolish Rings wherein the actual bottom portion of nail polish bottles are used as a distinctive ring setting. Now there is a novel idea.

This is what I have come to appreciate about contemporary pieces; the constant element of surprise and broad re-imaginings.
Photo 1 (top right): Agate, Wood, Paint and Silver Rolexia NecklacePhoto 2 (center): Cones Turquoise Earrings with Silver, Reconstituted Turquoise and Paint
Photo 3 (bottom left): Pierres Bracelet with Silver, Textile and Agate
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