Ancient Wisdom

I’m like a ferret.  Dangle a shiny thing in front of me and you have my attention.  It could be a button or it could be a diamond.  It doesn’t really matter.  I have numerous childhood memories of rifling through sewing boxes, old jewelry boxes in attics, or long-forgotten purses under beds. All in search of something that might adorn.  Strung on a string or wrapped around a wrist.  Anything might be possible.  I spent a good deal of time in the care of other people as a kid and letting me search for treasure (read: junk) was the way to engage me.  Looking back, engaging me might not have otherwise been the easiest thing to accomplish.

In my personal psychology, the drive for things of adornment might have been about a lot of things.  A creative outlet or even a way to bond with women who were not my mother but nonetheless my temporary caregivers.  But, I think we all know the desire to create and wear jewelry is not unique to me or our time.

A brief search of Ebay easily bring up items such as these:

While I cannot verify the authenticity of any of these items, I have no reason to doubt it.  Of course, there are places all over the world that buy and sell antiquities and, certainly, sometimes those items are jewelry.  For me, setting aside the flat-out weirdness of being able to buy, from Ebay, the personal item of someone who died centuries ago, it is interesting to connect with the idea of adornment as simply a human thing that refuses to be defined by time or place.  It is just something we do and, seemingly, something we have always done.

For more on this topic, check this out:

Egyptians Created Jewelry From Meteorites

Beautiful Music

I can’t take much credit for uncovering the gorgeous work of Loek Sia in her Etsy store, Minicyn.  The good folks at Etsy were clever enough to make her the featured seller this week.

Loek Sia’s pieces are unique and reflect a special vision but it is the stamped designs on her pieces that really got my attention.  If you could see music, it would be like that.  The patterns that Loek Sia stamps into her work are abstract, well-balanced, and suggest an unspoken meaning — like a beautiful melody.

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.

Clean, Simple Design by Chinchar and Maloney

If you’re into making things, you might understand the principle that a complicated or fancy design can camouflage a number of ills.  You can always make it look like you meant to do that.  Simple and clean is so much more difficult because the mistakes have no place to hide.  Making simple design attractive and interesting can take some work.  It is for such reasons that I was struck by the clean and attractive work offered by Colin and Marian of the Etsy store, Chinchar and Maloney.

Silver Pendant with Tanzanite

I love the color of tanzanite or, perhaps, I should say colors — it changes so much in different light.

Green Grey Diamond Ring

Another fine example of a gorgeous stone that gets to take center stage in a nice clean design.

Comes in Waves - molded fine silver wave pendant

Finally, it’s almost hard to believe that this is a piece of metal because it is so fluid.

Such nice work that reminds one of what good design can do to showcase beautiful materials and masterful metal work.

Negative Space to a New Level

The use of negative space should be a consideration in jewelry design.  When earrings hang from ears — suspended in space — how are they interacting with that space around them?  How does the shape of a pendant appear against the backdrop of skin.  Filigree, of course, a style that has appeared throughout the ages, is all about making shapes out of negative space.

Lorena Martinez-Neustadt brings negative space to a new level with her line of jewelry (available on Etsy in the shop Gemagenta).

The first two pieces below, designed to be two-dimensional renderings of three-dimensional things, like faceted stones, are so clever.  Lorena made the wise choice to leave some of the piece undisturbed.  Perhaps, to suggest a glare off of the stone or even just to let our imagination do some of the work.  Either way, it strikes me as well-considered design element.  In a way, by leaving some of it “blank,” she is using negative space in two ways.  (Does that equal a positive?)  Those little omissions are also what set Lorena’s “gem” pieces apart from some other similar concepts that have shown up in the mass produced market in the last few years.

Faceted Brilliant Pendant - by Lorena Martinez-Neustadt

Faceted Emerald Pendant - by Lorena Martinez-Neustadt

Beyond these gem pieces, Lorena’s collection has a consistent use of negative space that feels fresh.  I especially love these:

Lingerie Elongated Pendant - by Lorena Martinez-Neustadt

Lingerie Ring - by Lorena Martinez-Neustadt

The designs are lacy, yet clean.  Inspired by lace and lingerie without overdoing the concept.  The pieces are flattering against the skin and appear to be very wearable.

Great concept by Yellow Owl Workshop

I’ve been eying these super-cool necklaces by local San Francisco company, Yellow Owl Workshop, for some time.

I’ve seen these pieces around town and, last weekend, I spotted them on a display at Madewell at the San Francisco Shopping Center, which I would think is a great thing for Yellow Owl Workshop.

I just have to comment on this clever idea of crests and flags.  I think, as an idea, it could have all gone terribly wrong and awkward but it didn’t — it works beautifully.  I think that design is saved by the scale.  It had to have been tempting to overdue it in terms of size but, thankfully, they resisted.  The pieces really shine, though, because of the colors and the hand-drawn quality of the images.  It is also a nice touch that the bale is cut into the shape and the chain is tied on.  (As a general proposition, I really like the casual connection of jewelry to its functional component — a pendant to its chain, a bauble to its earring wire, etc.)  As a side note, I have to applaud the glass vial packaging.  All in all, I love them.  Nicely done, Yellow Owl Workshop.