A Man and His Jewelry

Ok, so I’m going to out myself.  I think it’s healthy if I just go ahead and say it.  Here it goes: I am obsessed with Russell Brand.   I am not proud of it.  I am not proud that, at 36 years old, I am obsessed with a celebrity like a teenager.  But, I tell you this, if I had a locker, it would have his picture on it.  Recent events, have put him in the news all the more and, while I am sad for him and his marriage, it has served to feed my obsession.

(To my dear husband, I love you and I am sorry about all this.)

I could go and go and about what I like about Russell Brand (for one thing he’s incredibly bright) but I won’t.  I will get to the point.  Russell Brand is a man who wears jewelry.

Here’s Russell Brand in a People magazine photo. A man and his jewelry.

I’ve attempted to do a little research into the designers that he wears but the information is spotty and dated.  So, rather than take the risk of misinformation, I will allow Russell Brand’s jewelry-laden style to be the inspiration for a post to showcase some awesome jewelry for men that can be found on Etsy.

Call and Response

I’ve only been doing this blogging thing for a little over a month.  Even though it is early days, sometimes I sit down with no idea of what to write.  On those days, the first step for me is to cruise around Etsy to see what captures my attention.  Sometimes that can take a while.  There is plenty great work out there but finding something that really sparks a topic for me is where the time comes in.  Other times, thankfully, it is just too easy — today was one of those days.

I ran across the amazing work of Temi Kucinski right away.  Her lovely line, sold in the Etsy store, Temi,  displays a consistent vision with great metal work and a really unique collection of stones.

Temi’s work brings to mind my favorite phase of working on a drawing or a painting.  I don’t know if anyone else can relate to this but, whenever I am working on a piece of art, there is a point when I know I’ve got it.  A point at which I know I own the piece — it and I are communing perfectly.  It is usually the point that I have the mechanics of the piece down and I am simply listening and responding to what the piece wants in order to be fully actualized.  It is where it becomes stylized, decorated, detailed — when it becomes itself.  Temi’s work has that vibe for me.  I feel as if I can see that there was a point at which she listened the piece and allowed it have all the elements it requested.

Mala Beads

I’ve decided to mine the area of spiritual and religious jewelry for posting topics.  As I sat down to consider this, I realized that there was much to say — anything from rosary beads to the spiritual uses of semiprecious stones might qualify.  But, one thing at a time.  I’ll enter this topic area with mala beads and the mala makers of Japa Mala Beads.

“Mala” is most simply defined as a string of beads used in praying or meditating.  Typically, a full mala is 108 beads and, therefore, long enough to be worn around the neck. The smaller ones, that can be worn around the wrist, typically consist of 27 beads — a quarter of a full mala. The beads are used to count prayers or mantras during meditation and to assist in focus.  Japa Mala’s website provides some useful information about how to use a malas.

We have seen mala bracelets worn as accessories for some time.  The newest wave of this trend started about 10 years ago.  However, malas are spiritual tools first; spiritual reminders second; and jewelry last.  I suspect, although I don’t know, that malas were initially worn around the neck or wrist as a way to simply carry them around.

Japa Mala provides a very nice selection of handmade malas — full and for the wrist.  They use a wide range of materials — both in type and scale — and have something to appeal to everyone.

Jewelry Becomes You

As part of my jewelry obsession, I am enthralled by the idea of jewelry that becomes a part of you — jewelry that you never take off.  The most obvious example of jewelry that rises to that level is the jewelry used in piercings.  I’ve worn a nose ring off and on over the years and, as much as I enjoyed having that piercing, I was typically disappointed in the selection of jewelry available.

Well, with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo knocking critics out of their seats, you can see some pretty cool piercings on posters all over town.  So, today, just out of curiosity, I set out to see what was new in the world of nose rings.  To be honest, not much.  Thankfully, April Baynes, in her Etsy store Aprilsblissed, saves us with a great line of stunning nose rings.

These are just great, unique pieces.  They are edgy but also tasteful and very flattering.  The geometric piece has really got me wondering …Can still get a ring through my piercing.  Hmmmm.

A World of Two

This post isn’t strictly about jewelry.  It’s about behavior around jewelry.

There are two women who I see often around Market Street in San Francisco.  They may be twins but they are, at least, most certainly sisters.  I would estimate them to be in their 60s but it is difficult to say — as it sometimes is with those who have lived complicated lives.  My impression is that they have somewhere to live but they are always endeavoring to transport several boxes, plastic bags, a suitcase or two, and other sundry items and they give the appearance of transience.  With long grayish hair and layers of baggy clothes, they live in a world populated by only two. I wonder what they talk about.

There is one thing more to notice about these women — earrings.  Both women wear different earrings every day.  I find this fascinating. They are not particularly noteworthy earrings but they are usually a good size and clearly visible.  It appears, from a distance, that they are wearing perfectly nice costume jewelry — not handmade, not fine family heirlooms.  I find the presence of these little fashionable touches to be so incongruent with the overall vibe of this pair of people.  I find the fact that these women take the time, on a daily basis, to select earrings sort of touching.  I try to imagine the process.  It seems that this gesture says to the world, “What we are doing with these boxes and things is important to us.  It is a real task and we get up every day to do just this.”

All that from a couple pairs of earrings?  Yes.

Continuing Ring Thing

Rings are my favorite type of jewelry.  A lot of rings have passed through my hands over the years.  I still have quite a collection.  My addiction to rings was once so well known among those close to me that my friend, Kate, who was in art school at the time, photographed me with my collection of rings.  (The details of those photographs I will not share here.  Look, it was for art school after all …)

The post yesterday was about a sampling of some daring designs from Teresa Arana‘s collection and two of them were really unusual ring designs.  That got me thinking.  I began to wonder what else was out there that varied from the typical ring design and I found these blow-your-mind examples of two-fingered rings.

These designs are available in the Etsy stores of Galit, jeneseque, and WearKatherineLincoln.

Carnelian and Silver Two Finger Ring by WearKatherineLincoln

Tiny Armour Says It Well

I love it when people really get their own work.  Being able to articulate your point of view to yourself allows your work to have a consistent voice to others.   I think that can be said of Angi Glenn-Quincy.  She called her Etsy story “Tiny Armour” and describes her designs as  being inspired by “texture, geometry, mid century modern design, rainbow colors, and all aspects of nature.”  In her work of shapes and symbols, I see all of that and more.  The words that come to mind are “graphic design jewelry.”  For my money, the whole line hangs together all the better because she understands her own work.

As a side note, I have to commend the liberal use of brass.  As we know, the cost of precious metals has gone through the roof.  Brass allows Angi to offer affordable pieces to her customers.  But, aside from that, I love brass.  It has a beautiful, warm color and can take on a patina that gives it such character.

Good Fortune

Did you ever see the show, The Riches?  It didn’t last very long but, in my opinion, it should have.  It had a group of great actors including the hilarious Eddie Izzard and the talented Minnie Driver.  In short, the show is about a family of grifters who find themselves impersonating members of a wealthy family.  For a time, it appears that they are going to get away with it and Minnie Driver’s character muses, “What are we going to do with all this good fortune?  What are we going to do with all this good fortune?”  Under the circumstances, it’s a funny question for the character to ask but, really, it’s a good question for most of us.

Make no mistake, I’m a lucky lady.  I have a wonderful husband; entertaining, loyal friends and family; and beautiful pets.  I had the opportunity to be educated and I have a good job.  I have a roof over my head in the best city in the world, if I do say so myself.  Lucky.  Fortunate.  Still, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I am going after next and what my perfect life would look like.  One of the things that comes to my mind in my afternoon reveries is how awesome it would be to be a full time, successful jewelry designer.  Almost immediately, I start to bargain with the Universe.  “Dear Universe, if I were ever able to live that life, I promise to give back more.  I promise to do something with all that good fortune.”

I went looking for an example of a jewelry designer who has turned personal good fortune into fortune for others.  There are many great examples of corporate giving from jewelry companies and of jewelry artists supporting their favorite charities.  But, in my search, it didn’t take long to find Joan Hornig and her strikingly charitable style.  As her website states:

Her model of giving 100% of the profits on each piece to the purchaser’s charity of choice challenges women to use beauty and fashion in a new way.

Joan’s jewelry is meant to be noticed and talked about as it carries the all important message that philanthropy is beautiful, personal and worth promoting.

Joan Hornig

Joan has turned her obvious good taste and knack for design into a vehicle for good.  Harvard and Columbia educated, Joan knew what to do with all her good fortune.

While we’re at it, let us not forget that Joan Hornig can help her customers support deserving charities because she makes desirable jewelry.  I have to admit that I was not previously aware of Hornig’s work but it is truly something to behold.  She is confident and assertive in her approach to modern design.  There are also lots of nice, little touches that one notices the more that one looks.  Note, for example, the clasp on the daring garnet necklace.

We should all be grateful to Joan Hornig for her good works and beautiful design.

This Post is Not About Jewelry

That’s not exactly true.  This post is a window into my jewelry fixated mind.  I have collected some images of things that, to me, suggest personal adornment (i.e. should be jewelry — but are not).

I realized a long time ago that my mind is always altering what I see around me.  Somewhere in the back of my head, I am always playing with space and scale and imaging how else things might be put together or altered.  I am not saying I do it well — but it happens unbidden all of the time. Often, but not always, that takes the form of imagining how I might wear what I am seeing in the form of, say, a pendant or a bracelet.  It’s just a thing my brain does.

There is something about photographic or scientific equipment that seems so sophisticated in design that it suggests it a sleek, cosmopolitan piece of jewelry. This, for example, I can imagine as the inspiration for a brooch or a pendant.  I suppose, in general, I love clear glass in jewelry.

To some extent, the use of old lenses and pieces-parts of old equipment is covered by the steampunk folks.  I’ll admit to not being the biggest of steampunk fans, although there are some artists out there doing it really well.  To extent that steampunk doesn’t speak to me, that may be because the materials that are often used are put into a context that I find incongruous.  I do understand that that is the whole point.  Conceptually, though, it just hits a wall in my head. The whole distressed, vintage-y thing (the steam in the steampunk) with modern items only goes so far with me.  I suppose I always want to see the modern realized.

I love stripes, polka-dots, and other tight, repetitive patterns.  While all plants seem to be fodder for jewelry designers everywhere — from patterns to actual casts of plant life — there is something about vines and ivy in particular.  I think they speak to me with their closely repeating pattern of leaves.  I find them the perfect inspiration for chains, cuff bracelets, and beaded jewelry.  Nature has a way of creating the perfect rhythm in a pattern — big, small, and just the right amount of variation in space.

I think fire can be strongly evocative of good design.  It has movement and light and interacts with the space around it.  Under good conditions and not destructive ones, it improves the space it is in with warm light.  Good jewelry design, with nicely set stones, can seek to do the same.  It can create movement, catch and reflect light, and make everything more beautiful.

Reflections of Architecture

It is my impression that jewelry designers are frequently influenced by architectural details. I suppose it’s funny that things so different in scale can reflect each other — aesthetic principles at their largest and smallest.  For some reason, though, this interplay does seem to happen.  I, for one, often see an old window and think it should be the setting for a stone or that the contours of a piece of crown molding could be the pattern on a bracelet.

There are lots of great examples of the juxtaposition of jewelry and architecture.  Here are two.  They range from the “inspired by architecture” end of the spectrum to the actual depiction of an interesting building.

Architectural Geometric Bangle - by Kat

This sleek bangle is available in Kat’s Etsy store, aeliodesign.  I see so much in this piece that references architecture, furniture, and just larger space in general.  I see an atrium, a column, and even a funky, retro coffee table.

Amsterdam Necklace - by Laurie Poast

This miniature building, by Laurie Poast, is available in her Etsy store, ARTISANIEeurope.  This adorable piece, of course, is more directly influenced by architecture.  The little building is just beautifully rendered with just the right amount of detail to give it character.