Archive | December, 2007

Baubles from Burberry

29 Dec

Baubles from Burberry

Burberry, that bastion of classic English style, has long worked to update its preppy look. Now poised as one of the more forward-thinking clothiers, Burberry is following its penchant for updated classics with a new jewelry line to be launched in Spring 2008.

Designed by Christopher Bailey, the line is inspired by the idea of a "luxury warrior." SaysElle.com. "think strong geometric shapes, tough-looking metallic studs, heavy chains, and the black, grey, and brass palette that have all become a strong part of the Burberry aesthetic in recent seasons." I like the heavy bangle above, and here's a cool dark metal chain bracelet that has an almost Gothic look to it:
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Polymer Clay Bead Beauty

21 Dec

Polymer Clay Bead Beauty

Lori Mendelhall makes beautiful polymer beads. As a lover of beads but a complete ingenue, I am struck with the glorious, swirling colors as well as Lori's whimsical shapes, like this abstract heart above. The smooth, chunky feel of this bead along with the integral copper bale (read: hook for the chain) make it not only a treat for the eyes, but for the hands as well. Her beads are like a big yummy piece of candy…only unlike a sticky candy necklace or lolipop, they last!

Lori is a New Yorker moved-to-Cali who began making clay beads about three years ago. Intrigued with the process, she's found two techniques that she particularly loves: the Japanese technique of mokume gane (which deserves its own post, gentle readers) and swirling. She lauds the latter, saying: "

It's quite simple yet the results are fabulous. It all begins by creating a small ball of clay comprised of two or more colors. Complicated cane slices can be added for extra interest. The ball is then rolled using a flat tile on top until a bicone shape appears. Once the bicone forms, the colors will begin to swirl together. Once the swirl is to the desired point the bicone is flattened into a disc shape. At this point the bead can either be left as is or formed into an number of shapes…". Here you can really see the swirly goodness in her bracelet Galaxy:
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Lori transforms her beads into other beautiful shapes as well as the traditional. I fell in love with these Cala Lily earrings – the form is organic and very true-to-life and then with the unusual colors, they are really striking…and also very wearable!
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Beautiful beaded jewelry by a beauty herself, Lori's line is aptly called Sparklebee, and can be bought on her own website, as well as on Etsy. You can also email Lori at lorimendenhall@cox.net.

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The Incredible Jewelry of Hyungzee Choi

19 Dec

The Incredible Jewelry of Hyungzee Choi

Sterling Silver Kinetic Bicycle Chain Brooch

I'm jaded when it comes to jewelry. While I like pretty much everything when it's done well, in my (too many!) years as a collector, historian, and teacher I have seen a lot and it takes a lot to truly wow me. But when Hyungzee Choi walked into my classroom a couple of years ago with her incredible jewelry, I was blown away. I realized instantly that here was a true talent, a real visionary in the jewelry world, and one of the sweetest and most humble artists I've ever met. Part wearable art, part technical masterpiece, and endlessly fascinating, Hyungzee's jewelry is born of a love of machinery and study in industrial design. Korean-born and trained in both ID and metalwork, Hyungzee's pieces center around machinic forms in sterling silver accented with interesting mixed-media like ruby glass rods used in semi-conductors, computer chips, stainless steel rods, and ball bearings. She says: "…I experienced working with many materials…as well as with studies on how machines work and how to develop them into designs…With this, I focused on experimenting how to include a kinetic factor, based on mechanical research…".

This technologically-rich aesthetic combined with a true understanding of how machines work makes for an interesting take on jewelry, certainly. My favorite piece is her giant gyroscope pendant, below. Part wearable art, part toy (!), but endlessly fascinating, and aptly titled "Orbit," it oscillates just like the real thing.
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But not all of Hyungzee's jewelry is as far-out. This necklace is very wearable: made of hinged sterling silver plaques, it's finished with a body piercing Barbell style clasp:

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Or how about these brooches? Framed in sterling silver, the translucent computer elements inside glow like jewels:

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I could go on and on, but I'll let you check out more of Hyungzee's jewelry at her website, www.mutanthouse.com.

Pretty Platinum APlenty

18 Dec

Pretty Platinum APlenty

Recently I read an article in The Seattle Times which claimed that diamond jewelry is "an investor's bad choice." Bah, I thought, so what! Diamonds set in platinum are for wear, not for shares, as in trading thereof. But truth is, although most jewelry is bought for emotional reasons, sometimes the expense makes one pause…especially when it's a trendy piece. When the love is gone, the trend dies out, then what? All that money…what do you do but sell it on 47th st. for a fraction of its worth? Or give it away.

Well, the first thing, methinks, is to try out any diamond and platinum in a less costly, but just as beautiful form. And my new favorite company for beautiful, trendy platinum jewelry is Karat Platinum. Karat Platinum is a ground-breaking alloy that offers all the beauty and benefits of pure platinum (950 Platinum) at a lower cost. I could launch into all the chemical formulations for how its created, but I'm not exactly known as a scientist. So think of it as I do: simple as 14K gold vs. 18K gold. Still gold, still beautiful, just a little more accessible. In many cases, you can't even tell the difference between KP and platinum. Really! (see pieces below for third-party proof).
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And if the beauty of the rings above isn't enough to entice you, check out the super-sultry commercial Karat Platinum recently shot!

Pretty sexy, huh? A nice gift idea and, at about 1/2 the cost of "regular" platinum, not a bad investment, either.

Neat Beaded Bracelet

14 Dec

Neat Beaded Bracelet

I'm the first to admit that I am probably the only jeweler on earth who knows nothing about beading. I can fabricate, forge, weld, solder, form, pierce, and otherwise manipulate metal. I love the spirit of DIY in general…but I am intimidated by the art of beading. Ridiculous, I can hear your say! Well, it's true. However, luckily there are projects which even I can get my head around. I recently found this cool one in The Detroit News: a twisted beaded bracelet designed by Kathy Mamat set with grape-like bunches of beautiful beads of all kinds. Mamat learned beading from a local supply store, and turned her passion into her profession by teaching classes of her own. Some of her designs can be found in Beader's Stash: Designs from America's Favorite Bead Shops as well as beading magazines…and you can see why.

The directions for making this arresting yet simple bracelet can be found here.

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Dazzling Diamonds

12 Dec

Here's a gift idea for the Diamond Diva on your gift list…Helzberg Diamonds, a leading fine jewelry company, has recently launched a new pair of diamond hoops which have a twist: they feature diamonds both on the outside of the hoop AND on the inside, so the earrings sparkle from any angle! Accurately dubbed "The In and Out Hoop", these hoops are sizeable and glittery but – very importantly – lightweight. Check them out…

Dazzling Diamonds

These sparklers come in 1/4 ct. tw for $399 and 1/2 ct. tw at $499, making them not only easy on your ear lobes, but on your wallet as well. More information is available at Helzberg.com. The hoops are so new that they may not be up on the site yet, but you can contact Helzberg for where to buy.

Creative Color by Lulu Smith

11 Dec

Creative Color by Lulu Smith

When I saw lulu Smith's beautiful sterling silver and resin jewelry, I had to pause…In a sea of beads, baubles and bright shiny things (to badly paraphrase a Frank Sinatra song), her matte finish, organically inspired jewels are a breath of fresh air. Lulu hand-pigments and hand-pours each element hand. Part painter, part metalsmith, and all around lover of color, Lulu is a true craftswoman…and it shows.

Lulu is based in Seattle – but all that rain doesn't seem to dampen her love of vibrant color and bold shapes. Her newest collection, which includes the fun flower bracelet above, were created from drawings done after her daughter was born. She says: "I have put my focus back on line." This love of contours is surely apparent in the complex, almost mosaic-like pendants below:
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While organic shapes take center stage in her jewelry, Lulu also takes a cue from nature itself. I love this cherry necklace, which has an almost Pop-Art feel to it!
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For more info about Lulu and where to buy her unique pieces, check out LuluSmith.com And get ready to fall in love with color!.

Loving Leather…Jewelry, that is!

9 Dec

Loving Leather...Jewelry, that is!
Now I love leather…Ok, that's a provocative admission! But then again, I ride a motorcycle! Wearing leather is integral to that culture. That said, who doesn't love a great pair of boots or a pretty suede bag? Leather is prevalent in a lot of fashion…but not often considered a material used in jewelry design.

Enter Najawa Moses who's created a debut earring collection that I totally love. Dubbed "The Hollywood Set," each earring is unique and made by hand by Najawa herself in soft, pretty leather. The earrings are big in scale and feature bright colors and interesting textural details – like these below:
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And as interesting and unusual as the earrings themselves is the inspiration behind this collection. She explains: "'The Hollywood Set'…was inspired by the often bizarre yet productive roles of key players in the entertainment industry. The names of the items: The Agent, The Blogger, The Stylist, The Publicist, The BFF & The Celebrity have forever been etched into our pop culture vocabulary." She's a thinker as well as a designer!

Here's another pair I like, made of metallic leather:

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Most of the earrings from "The Hollywood Set" are priced under $100. They are available at Styleaholics.com. Perfect for gifting!

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Baubles up for Bid

8 Dec

Baubles up for Bid

I just found out about an online auction site called IGavel. Billed as "the only truly online fine art and antiques auction house," iGavel is located in NYC, and hosts a plethora of auctions in fine arts and antiques. I was drawn to the site because of its Fine Jewelry sale ending December 10. They have a wide variety of jewelry offerings in all areas, from costume to designer to estate jewels,and more! Check out the huge 18K gold pendant by Gucci above! Truly wild. And there are other avant-garde pieces from Scandinavian designers such as Georg Jensen, too.

But not all of iGavel's jewelry sale is kookie. I also found this more discreet, beautiful platinum and diamond star bangle bracelet by Chanel:

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What's great about auctions is that you can sometimes get true steals, as well as excellent prices on semi-vintage fine jewelry.

There are also glitzy rings, like this stunning aquamarine cocktail ring from the 1960s. Replete with a huge emerald cut aquamarine flanked by triangular diamonds, it's fab:

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And not to be outdone, iGavel is also offering a gold and diamond Rolex watch.

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With a current bid of $2200, this certainly seems like a relative bargain to me!
Go to iGavel.com for more information and to register. And happy bidding!

Cutting-Edge Steel Bracelets

4 Dec

Cutting-Edge Steel Bracelets

Reuters just published a report that men's jewelry sales are almost doubled from 2004 to 2006 to reach $6 billion! And it's no wonder when you see great contemporary men's jewelry like the elegant, literally cutting-edge cuff bracelets in steel designed by David Feldman, above.

No stranger to the jewelry scene, David is a partner in the NYC jewelry-supply giant Metalliferous. This is his first men's line, crafted in a most unusual medium, Damascus Steel, which usually appears in sword and knife-making. When I heard this, I instantly thought Renaissance Fair and SOC! But used in these sleek, avant-garde cuffs, the steel becomes less Braveheart and more Blade Runner.

Damascus Steel is characterized by a unique patterned surface, often appearing with a wood grain or waves. As David explains, it's created by a welding together a few hundred layers of hard and soft steel and then etching it in acid. The "pinstripe" cuff at top is created by simple pattern welding, while the more complex woodgrain pattern at bottom is created by welding alloys, twisting the sheets, folding them, cutting them, re-welding them…phew. You get the idea. These beautiful pieces are crafted by renowned knifemaker Bertie Reitveldt, who reclaims metals for these cuffs the production of his incredible knives.

Here's a couple more to whet your appetite…OK, bad pun!!

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Despite the weighty look, these cuffs are easy to wear…and surprisingly comfortable. (One doesn't usually think of steel as a comfortable metal!). David dresses up some pieces with inset diamonds or 14K gold ends for a more refined look, but I think as-is is pretty darn good. The cuffs cost between $200-500, depending on width and complexity of design. They can be purchased at Fassbinder at 39 8th Ave. in New York City, or through David himself – email him at dfl@compuserve.com.