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Archive for December, 2014

Last Look Back: 2014 Out with a Bang

What better way to end our 2014 blogging than with Lisa Eisner’s explosion-worthy, often flamboyant, jewelry line? Unlike some  jewelry designers recently featured here who lean towards simplicity and understatement, Eisner believes that bigger is better. The way Eisner describes it, her pieces “are not precious, not little,” which is certainly a safe classification given the pieces she had on display this past October. She presented jewelry such as the starburst necklace, which has an egg-sized turquoise stone at its center and brass quills jutting out at every angle.

Eisner has had eclectic experiences, including (but definitely not limited to) acting, publishing, and photography. When she decided to try her hand at jewelry design, her long-time friend—and well-known fashion designer—Tom Ford was immediately on board. In fact, he was so enamored with her work that, in addition to hosting the October event for Eisner’s display, he also hired her to create a 2015 Spring collection for the Tom Ford label. He has high hopes for the upcoming line, which will be all brass. The optimistic conjectures put Eisner in a great position: one encouraged eye on the year that just ended and a hopeful eye on the year to come.

http://www.vogue.com/slideshow/3619873/tom-ford-party-lisa-eisner-jewelry/#3

A Look Back at 2014: Time and Space

French-born Australian jewelry designer Estelle Dévé launched her first line in 2008. Since then, she has produced more than half a dozen collections, each extremely varied but all still containing a common thread that makes Dévé’s work unique. She pulls motivation largely from history and science, producing lines like Paleozoic Dreams and Mars Borealis. Her jewelry often comes with a distinctly celestial feel, with pieces like the Aeolis Ring, a gold plated pewter band. On top of the dome-hammered ring is a shape similar to an asteroid or—perhaps more accurately—to the rugged, porous terrain of the planet Mars. (The name Aeolis, after all, refers to specific coordinates on Mars’s surface.)

Dévé’s most recent collection, entitled The Shape of Things to Come, pulls from styles of some of her previous collections. Pieces like the Hummingbird Bracelet (a band of alternating dark Swarovski crystal pearls and thin brass wings) echo the style of her previous collection, Birds in Space. They also make frequent use of the Swarovski pearls that appear in many of her other works.

To see more of Dévé’s unique constructions, visit her website: http://www.estelledeve.com/

Gem of the Month

Since December is finally winding down, let’s take a break from our review of 2014’s jewelry designers to focus on the months themselves.

Most of us know our birthstones—gems and jewels that for some reason represent the month of our birth. Some of us have even been told not to wear stones from other months. (October’s opals especially are said to bring bad luck upon their non-October-born wearers.)  Tiffany & Co. even published a series of poems that list the months along with each of their respective jewels.

It may or may not surprise you to learn that these month-to-stone connections are not ancient or of divine origin. It appears that the list we have today (sans the recent changes mentioned below) was coined no earlier than 1912.  And, in fact, birthstones of specific months have changed periodically: in 1952 the Jewelry Industry Council of America tweaked the established birthstones list by adding extra stones to June, November, and October, and switching December’s stone entirely.

But although the specific birthstones may be arbitrarily chosen, the tradition of birthstones itself is deeply rooted in a number of cultures. In Western cultures, it is believed to date back to the twelve stones of the breastplate the High Priest wore in the Jewish Temple; in Eastern cultures, to the twelve signs of the zodiac. So the next time you want to insist on a topaz necklace for your December birthday, you can assure people that this tradition of yours has more than stood the test of time.

 

A Look Back at 2014: An Emoticon Year

We typically highlight the newest designs, but some capture society’s trends as well as jewelry fashions.  This past year, New Yorker Alison Chemla released her first collection, based on… Emojis. That’s right, fourteen karats of smiley faces, pink lips, and text-speech in necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings. One such piece is the Eye Love You Bracelet. Attached by a simple gold chain are three shapes: an almond-shaped eye, outline in gold with an inner eye of white enamel (sclera) and black diamond (pupil); a basic red heart; and the letter U encrusted with white diamonds. Another interesting piece is her OK! necklace, a gold chain with a dangling hand that has its thumb and forefinger shaped into an “O” and the remaining fingers raised—the well-known hand gesture for something that is “a-okay.” As Chemla herself describes it, this collection is “a thoughtful and cheeky commentary on the expression of feelings—from the banal to the intimate—through the language of emoticons.”

To check out her work, visit: http://www.alisonlou.com In the coming days we will feature still more inventive designers’ 2014 creations.

A Look Back at 2014: Designer Spotlight

With the year coming to a close, it’s time to take a nostalgic look back at the creative endeavors of some of the jewelry world’s most promising new designers. Rachel Boston is one such individual, a jewelry designer who draws inspiration from some of the most intriguing sources. Her most recent collection, called ‘Runes’, incorporates shapes and concepts from the ancient Runic alphabet. She draws on the actual shapes of the runes as well as the mystical aura that the alphabet seems to channel, given its historical use in magical rituals and charms.

The collection is enhanced by its minimalistic quality, with pieces that are simple, mostly monochrome (either silver or gold). There is the occasional splash of color thrown in, such as the Gar, an 18 karat gold double-circle ring with two small squares of emerald clasped where the twin circles intertwine. Other pieces, like the Tiwax neck cuff, are elegant in their simplicity. The cuff is a line in its most basic sense: a single, smooth line of either white or yellow gold, curving around the neck without coming to a complete circle. Instead, each side ends with an arrow, embedded with diamonds, signifying a line’s unending expansion.

To check out the Rune collection, or some of Boston’s other lines, visit: http://www.rachelboston.co.uk

In the coming days, we will we feature more inventive designers’ 2014 creations.

 

Diamond: Still Unrivaled

Most people believe that diamond is the hardest material known to man.

What you may not know is that there are a number of materials that surpass it, such as the aggregated nanorods (ACNR) created in 2003 that had a 0.3% higher density than diamond.  ACNR could easily be dismissed as a rival to diamond given its artificial birth in a laboratory, not to mention, with a common name like ‘nanodiamonds’, one could argue that ACNR qualifies as the same raw material as its namesake.  Most people would still consider diamonds to be the hardest material in nature or in the laboratory.

As it turns out, though, that is not as accurate as you might think.   In 2009, two naturally occurring substances—wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite—were found to have chemical bonds denser than those of diamond. They are even harder than the artificially constructed nanorods.  Wurtzite boron nitride surpasses diamond’s hardness by 18%, while lonsdaleite outstrips them all with a whopping 58% greater density.  Lonsdaleite can be rationalized away, given that it’s made of the same atomic base as diamond (carbon), with only its unusual structure to give it that extra kick.  But, wurtzite boron nitride is made of a different substance altogether!

Despite their hardness, it does not look like we’ll be turning to either of those substances for jewelry any time soon. Their superior strength is rivaled by only one thing: their rarity. While they do technically occur in nature, they are only formed under incredibly specific circumstances. Lonsdaleite forms when the earth is hit by meteorites containing graphite, and wurzite boron nitride forms only during an active volcanic eruption.

We think it’s safe to say that diamond will prevail in the jewelry market for a while yet.

 

Chopard’s Great Outdoors

Chopard, a luxury watch and jewelry company, has been around since the mid-nineteenth century. Their designers come up with some of the most creative and intricate pieces of jewelry, such as the twenty-year-old Happy Sport Line, which marked the then unheard-of combination of diamond elegance with the more rugged (by comparison) material of stainless steel.

One of their more recent lines is their Animal World Collection, which boasts an ethereal, sometimes mystical quality, to animals ranging from polar bears to hummingbirds. All are made with an eye for richness and color. Many of those pieces caught our eye, but the one that arrested us completely was the tiger necklace. One might at first incorrectly identify it as a jaguar (big cats—it’s more or less the same idea) because the myriad irregular shapes that make up the chain give the semblance of a jaguar’s irregular spots more than a tiger’s stripes. But whichever feline you think is staring back at you where it crouches on your neck, it’s the face that most draws you in. The tiger’s head is made of opals, and the eyes—single orange gems tucked inside a cluster of black—really do just stare at you. All the words here simply can’t do justice to the liveliness captured within these animals.

You can check out this fierce piece, as well as any of the others of this line, at: http://www.chopard.com/high-jewellery/animal-world

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