Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Gold-Plated Brass Wonder Woman Ring with
Cubic Zirconia
A fixture in Columbia County, New York for nearly three hundred years, the Clermont State Historic Site is where the former estate of the influential Livingston family is located.  New York is also home to featured jewelry designer Leeora Catalan.

Being a bit of a superhero buff, at the time I added Catalan to my list of jewelry designers I was stoked to learn about her collaboration with DC Comics

In this partnership, she has designed a collection that pays homage to iconic imagery associated with a particular comic but more specifically to female characters including Bat Girl, Cat Woman, Super Girl and Wonder Woman.

In the passage of time between including Catalan to my list and preparing my write-up I feel even more excited about the rest of her fashion jewelry collections. 

Like many jewelry artisans looking for cost-effective ways to deal with the skyrocketing price of gold, Catalan implements plating of 18- and 22-karat gold, gunmetal, and rhodium over brass with accents of multi-colored glass, seed beads or cubic zirconia.

A former fashion stylist, Catalan first dabbled in jewelry making—her first love—while working on a friend’s fashion show.  After an unsuccessful search to find ultra-long “jet necklaces with tassels” for the models, she made her own necklaces.  To her surprise, she caught the attention of a renowned retailer and fashion publication.

“These designs were ordered onsite by Bloomingdales’ fashion director,” she recalls.  “Italian Vogue was also interested in doing a photo shoot with these pieces.” 

Rhodium-Plated Brass Snowflake Statement Necklace
with Cubic Zirconia from Disney Collection
From that auspicious moment, in 1995 she began to make jewelry alongside her business partner and husband, Mash, in their studio apartment; hence the creation of nOir Jewelry.

I am struck by the diversity of styles.  Her animal-inspired, pavé cubic zirconia ring collections in particular bring to mind vintage jewelry from the Art Nouveau era; many statement pieces such as the Deco Drop Fan Statement Necklace seem inspired by Art Deco architecture; and then there are the urban, aggressive spiked jewelry items from her Tapers and Spikes Collection.

There are also mystical Egyptian Scarab pendant necklaces; whimsical rings inspired by Russian Babushka dolls; necklaces whereby the colorful play of patterns are inspired by African tribal jewelry; and Shaka Bracelets made with lanyard plastic.

In my opinion some of Catalan's most spectacular designer jewelry pieces are her collaborative items with Walt Disney.  The Dinosaur Bones Pavé Cuff Bracelet fashioned from 18-karat gold plated brass and “hundreds of cubic zirconia stones”, costs a cool $1,000 (the most expensive item from the online shop).  This piece was inspired by the Rite of Spring scene from Disney’s Fantasia.

The pieces born from Catalan’s partnership with longtime friend Patricia Field that is inspired by artist Keith Haring is featured--among other nOir Jewelry designs--in Beyoncé’s latest music video Move Your Body.

Entertainers including Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Madonna, Fergie and Lady Gaga have also worn Catalan’s eye catching, glamorous designer jewelry in either editorials or music videos. 
Multi-Strand Kickapoo Bead Necklace with
Seed Beads to Brass Ball Chains

“I love costume jewelry.  I enjoy the challenge of working with new materials.  We change the collection each season to include a wider variety than the previous season. 

I love the challenge of exaggerating classic designs while injecting a sense of humor yet striving to keep each collection timeless.”
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