Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Standing at just over 1,000 feet New Zealand’s Sutherland Falls is among the world’s tallest waterfalls. With water originating from Lake Quill, the currents flow out in three cascades creating a roar as powerful as an airplane’s engine. New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer Debra Fallowfield.

Headstrong and independent a former instructor once compared the largely self-taught Fallowfield to “a bull at a gate.”

Her creative process is tinged with a dose of agitation and impatience as—in terms of jewelry making—she does not like being told what she can or cannot do.

“I am not a huge fan of tertiary institutions, especially art school training,” she says. “I learned far more once I left schooling experimenting on my own.” She would also learn impatience had its drawbacks that would require proper channeling.

“I had always been creative and was working in print and design. I tried my hand at fashion design completing a course at East Sydney Tech in Australia (where I was living) but I became disillusioned with the lack of originality in the industry. I decided to take an eight-week course in computing; however, the course was canceled due to low enrollment so I took contemporary jewelry making.

Here is where I met the fabulous Barbara Ryman. Designing was never an issue for me—it just comes naturally-but Barbara helped me to slow down and taught me the importance of finish.”

With fourteen years of hands-on experience under her belt the designer boldly mixed gold with silver at a time when the practice was not encouraged. Unlike many of her New Zealand colleagues, the jewelry of which is a loving homage to the country’s stunning natural landscapes, Fallowfield’s designer jewelry is reflective of an urban landscape with 18-karat gold a central component.
“Nine karat gold is often favored here. Unfortunately, the New Zealand consumer more often than not does not have the budget for high karat gold pieces. Gold is so much more sexy than silver! I love fusing the silver with the gold—the juxtaposition of cold and warm,” she enthuses.

The jewelry artisan is not one given to philosophical exposition of her handmade jewelry designs but rather says “Sorry I just do it and don’t really think too much about it! My work just “is”—beautiful jewelry. It does not symbolize my journey from the womb. It does not pretend to be anything but gorgeous jewelry.”

There is a moody beauty to her aesthetic that is characterized by alternately sleek, clear-cut and organic forms. There are high polished 18-karat gold rings with encrusted gemstones; weighty, heavily oxidized sterling silver link bracelets for men; and the conservative yet edgy slender form of sterling silver tusk earrings.

The Erosion Collection highlights Fallowfield’s signature design: perforated metal. The punctured surfaces are a striking accent on the metal that are often times filled with tiny gemstones including rubies, blue topaz, amethyst, and conflict free diamonds.
Specializing in custom jewelry design, Fallowfield takes great pride in making such items as wedding bands and engagement rings completely by herself; an undertaking that has allowed her to perfect metal finishes as smooth as silk.

“I love working with solid, heavy gold and silver gaining textures and forms yet still always giving the metal a smooth, lustrous, sensual finish.

I like complete control over my work. At the end of the day I cannot blame anyone else if it isn’t right so it is imperative communication for custom jewelry is direct, honest and upfront.”
Photo 1 (top right): 9-Karat Yellow Gold Erosion Ring
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and Rose Gold Custom Inscribed Link Bracelet
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Star Bubbles Drop Earrings with Black Star Sapphires
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