Bold Creativity by Allison Sattinger

I meant to take off from blogging for two days, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  However, it seems that bad planning got the better of me and I didn’t have one ready to go up today.  But, the holiday is officially over – no more slacking off.

I saved the following piece of jewelry in my Etsy favorites a week or so ago.

There’s something that I really love about this ring by Allison Sattinger. Pairing raw with refined, I think it makes a bold statement and definitely captures the eye.  From the perspective of an amateur jewelry maker, however, I am impressed with the concept and the execution.  I can tell that the construction of the ring took a lot of planning.  I am still not really sure when or how Allison set that stone.

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.

Repurposed Toy Jewelry

I remember pop beads from when I was a child.  Even then, I was interested in anything that I could turn into jewelry.  For the uninitiated, pop beads look like this:

It’s obvious, I suppose, but one side fits into the other and you can make a beaded chain of sorts.  They get their name from the sound they make joining and disengaging.

Clever jewelry designer Olivia de Soira has played upon the suggestiveness of this shape by pairing two of them together in this ring:

Ring by Olivia de Soria

I think that this piece clearly borders art jewelry.  I think it shows a lot of humor and inventiveness.  In addition to that, though, there is more than just some repurposing going here.  There is the subversion of toy jewelry for children and turning it into jewelry for adults or, depending on how you view the piece, adult jewelry.

Addendum:  Olivia informed me that she’ll be phasing out her website but you can purchase her jewelry through her Etsy store, DeSoriaDeSign.

A Piece of the Night Sky

Gemstones are wondrous and varied.  Isn’t it funny that the earth produces these amazing things then we take them, assign them value and, quite frequently, carry them around with us.

Far and away, my favorite stone is lapis lazuli.  I especially love really dark lapis with a lot of pyrite because it resembles the night sky.  Gorgeous lapis has appeared in jewelry across the aesthetic spectrum for much of human history.  Today, jewelry designers, of all stripes, are still inspired by the dark stone, constantly finding new and inventive uses for it.  I don’t know much about the lapidary arts, but it is my understanding that it is a soft stone and, perhaps, that’s why it can be carved with such detail.

Carved Lapis - Chinese Qing Dynasty

Here, are some fine and varied example of what this versatile stone can do in jewelry.

Antique Lapis Brooch - for sale by Adin

This brooch is available on Adin.  Just look at that color.  It sings against the platinum and diamonds.  It just looks like the ancient treasure it is.

Lapis Lazuli Crinkle Earrings - by Mark Kaplan

These lapis stones are paired with stellar metal work by Mark Kaplan and are available through Etsy.  This is actually my favorite cut of lapis — round and flush in its setting.  I have a small pendant made with a piece of lapis just like these and it is among my favorite jewelry possessions.  I found it a bin of small bits and pieces in Chinatown here in San Francisco and paid $5 — but that’s a story for another time.

Unexpected Wild Flower - by Jean-D

Finally, this incredible piece by Jean-D can be found in Etsy store MonBedo.  It has a piece of fine lapis, which, as the description of this item explains, is lapis without any pyrite.  The ring shows how lapis can also capture an organic shape.  The setting is so striking and bold and does the beautiful piece of stone justice.  As an aside, I also happen to really like that Jean-D posted some detailed comments about the design of this piece.  It’s nice to hear from a designer about how a piece came to be.

A Brooch of a Different Color

As I have I mentioned, I think that good jewelry design creates a beautiful item that is worn on the body and that it is not necessarily about it’s interaction with clothing.  Because of that, brooches and pins tend to fall off of my radar — those are things that your clothes wear.  Sometimes, though, a piece is just so well done that it must be mentioned.

This is the Quatre Cinq Silver Brooch by Dorothy Cheng, which is currently posted on Etsy.

Quatre Cinq Silver Brooch - by Dorothy Cheng

Worn by a sweater or worn by a person — Who cares?  It is drop-dead gorgeous.  It strikes the perfect balance of clean design, inspired architectural touches, well-considered scale, and attention to detail that makes a perfect piece.  I can see it with a dress, with a jacket, anything.

Thank you, Dorothy Cheng, for turning my head with a brooch.

The Effect of Bracelets

There is something more personal about jewelry that is worn on the hands.  Perhaps that is because the wearer can see it do what jewelry is designed to do — to be in and interact with the world.  You can see how your bracelets move and how your rings break the light.  I am sure that seeing your jewelry behave as mobile art changes how you feel about those pieces.

While rings are by far my favorite type of jewelry, bracelets have a special place in my heart as the first type of jewelry I tried to make as a child — friendship bracelets and bracelets made out of coiled wire, to be specific.

Bracelets are very expressive and different bracelet styles contribute different things.  Cuff bracelets add a visual break and can foreshorten the arm — much liked cropped pants do for the leg.  Bangles can be musical and dramatic as they orbit around a wrist adding movement.  Then, there are chains with focal points and charms. They swing and sway and add length to arms and hands.  In addition, each type can change a great deal depending on materials.  A leather cuff, for example, is very different in overall effect from a beaded cuff.

Blue Keum-Boo Cuff -- by Judy Parady

Twisted Sterling Silver Bangle Bracelet with a Gypsy Set Blue Sapphire - by Two Trick Pony

Woodland Love Charm Bracelet - by Mark Poulin

These fine examples of fun bracelets can be found here: Blue Keum-Boo Cuff — by Judy Parady; Twisted Sterling Silver Bangle Bracelet with a Gypsy Set Blue Sapphire – by Two Trick Pony; and Woodland Love Charm Bracelet – by Mark Poulin.

I’m not much for floral design but …

I’m not much for floral design, especially in jewelry.  However, when I see some of Klara Markova’s work on Etsy, I have to sit down and catch my breath.  Klara’s work is so creative and detailed.  You can almost hear the breeze rustling the silver, flowered vines that accent so many of her pieces.

She appears to mix fabrication, enamel, and found objects and she does it really well to bring forth a unique vision. She has definitely presented some interesting pieces and I find at least two of them worth a comment.

I mean, seriously, look at this Poppy Doll necklace:

Poppy Doll by Klara Markova

I spend so much time looking at jewelry that it isn’t often that I see something so different and quirky that it stops me in my tracks.  It’s adorable and yet talisman-like.  Are those wings?  I have no other way to say this … but the Poppy Doll necklace has a nice thing-ness to it.  It’s just a beautiful little item that I can imagine fiddling with as it swings around my neck.

Here is another of Klara’s pieces, the Little Castle necklace, that just blows me away:

Little Castle Necklace by Klara Markova

The addition of the skyline (or castle, I suppose it is) here gives it the same vibe as the Poppy Doll necklace … it’s a piece of a scene that you get to carry with you in the form of stunning jewelry.  I love that.  Visually, it’s beautiful but it is also something more difficult than that — it’s clever.

Klara’s collection on Etsy is a good size and very reasonably priced for the work that has clearly gone into each piece.

Gorgeous use of stones (and words) by Michelle Lenáe

Michelle Lenáe posts some beautiful work for sale on Etsy. Of her work, these earnings in particular caught my eye.  These long, dramatic earnings boast prasiolite stones, which is a green-quartz. Stylistically, there is a little clever mixing of metaphors here. Although the ball-chain is made of gold, it is still a ball-chain which makes me think of less refined jewelry.  But, nevertheless, the earrings culminate in a delicate, sparkly stones. Somehow the materials marry together well. I think it is the attention to detail and that the end result is clean and professional.

Other thoughts …Earrings like this are called “dusters.” This got me thinking about how descriptions affect how we feel about an item we are viewing. For my money, these earnings are dramatic and classic but it is the name of the style that captures my imagination. Once I have the word “duster” in my head, I have images of movement … the beautiful faceted gems skimming my shoulders and playing in my hair. The word and the images that it conjures up make these earrings immediately more desirable.

Michelle Lenáe has an Etsy collection that is mid-range in size. The prices are generally higher end for Etsy but, for handmade jewelry, in precious metals and unusual stones, I find her items to be moderately priced.