A Pop of Color

Oh, how I love enamel!  I took an enameling workshop and, turns out, that I don’t really enjoy enameling but I’m sure glad that other people do.  People like Michelle Mahler of Teka and Zoe on Etsy and tekaandzoe.com.

Typically, I am in favor of a subtle addition of color in jewelry.  But, in the case of Michelle Mahler’s work, I love that she really goes for it in terms of color because she does it so well.  There is so much more than just a little hint of color — her jewelry is all about the color.  I think one should also appreciate that in terms of skill.  From my brief experience with enameling, I learned that it is not easy to know what color you are going to get when enameling. The color does not come out of the container as it will turn out once fired onto metal.  In order to get such vibrant, consistent color as Michelle Mahler does, you really have to know what you’re doing.

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.

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.