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Archive for December, 2008

The Field Museum Information: Press Room

Whenever I see an exhibit of ancient jewelry, I am always surprised by how current it looks.  I have to remind myself that jewelry-making is an ancient enterprise, using the same materials and essentially the same tools that have been used for centuries.

Here’s a picture of the remnants of a gold, turquoise, chalcedony, and glass necklace from 14th century Iran:

A necklace from Iran, circa 14th century

A necklace from Iran, circa 14th century

I had a jewelry show of my own work earlier today, in which I sold gold, turquoise, chalcedony, and glass bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.

The only difference between what I sold today and the pieces from antiquity is that my materials were beads, and they were strung, not set.

Despite those minor differences, some things just do not change.  When I set a stone in metal, it is very likely to be bezel set – a thin strip of metal in the shape of the stone is soldered to the main piece of the work.  The stone – either faceted or cabochon – is placed in the bezel which is then burnished to mold the bezel to the stone and hold it in place. Take a closer look at the necklace above.  The top two pieces, just below what must have been the clasp, are empty bezels.  They have lost their stones.  Take a close look at the clasp and the pendant.  You can see circles that look almost like bubbles in this photograph.  Each of those circles is an empty bezel that has lost its stone.

Not all of the bezels are circles, either. Other empty bezel shapes like oval and paisley are also visible.

This is an ancient technique.  Undoubtedly the solder we use today comes in a different form than they had – for example, mine is very thin sheet and comes in soft, medium, or hard – but the way it’s used is exactly the same.

In February, an entire collection of jewelry antiquities from Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant, Persia, and the Islamic Middle East will go on display at the Field Museum in Chicago.  They will be accompanied by maps and other illustrations that will place the jewelry in the context of its culture and time.

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Women in Uganda rise from poverty to build a better future for themselves and their families. Beautiful handmade bead jewelry – necklaces, bracelets and Bead Parties!

I love to bead, I love beads, I love to buy beads.  Sometimes I think that, speaking figuratively, of course, that if I couldn’t bead I’d die.

And then I heard about BeadforLife, a group of women in Uganda whose handmade beads of recycled paper are “eradicating poverty one bead at a time.” For them, beads are the way to a better life.

These industrious woman make beads and sell them, and make jewelry from their beads and sell those, along with gorgeous handmade satin-lined gift pouches, CDs of their singing, and note cards.

The proceeds of the sales are used to buy food, medicine, and pay for school fees, but it goes way beyond that.  They also developed a vocational training program in an area where traditional education is simply either not available or beyond the financial reach of most and they are building a village with help from Habitat for Humanity.  They also fund loans to other businesses to become as successful as they have.

The women of BeadforLife and some of their beads

The women of BeadforLife and some of their beads

You might not think it’s possible to make such beautiful beads out of paper, or such beautiful jewelry out of paper beads, but take a look:

Bangle bracelets made from paper beads

Bangle bracelets made from paper beads

The beads and jewelry are astonishingly inexpensive, and available from their Website:  http://www.beadforlife.org/

Here’s a video on the basics of making paper beads:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/video/1016/how_to_make_paper_beads.html?cat=46

And here’s step-by-step instructions:

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Paper-Beads

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Modern Jeweler: Articles – Chrome Diopside

I just ran across this article about Chrome Diopside in Modern Jeweler Magazine.

If you are not familiar with this gem, then let me introduce you.  The photo below is taken from the Modern Jeweler article, and the article itself does a great job of describing where the gem is mined, how it found its way into the gem market, and how it got its name.

Chrome Diopside gem, photo from Modern Jeweler magazine.

Chrome Diopside gem, photo from Modern Jeweler magazine.

I think Chrome Diopside gems are what emeralds only wish they could be.

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When I first encountered Joseph Brooks’ sleek website http://www.josephbrooksjewelry.com, with its slideshow display of his work, I immediately wanted to include it in this blog, so I asked for permission to use a photo of  this labradorite necklace with its carved Ganesha pendant.  What impressed me about this necklace was more than the fact that I love labradorite and that Ganesha is my favorite Hindu diety, it was how the pendant had been carefully carved to highlight the flash of labradoresence that is the hallmark of this captivating stone.

A Ganesha pendant is the focal point of this Joseph Brooks labradorite necklace.

A Ganesha pendant is the focal point of this Joseph Brooks labradorite necklace.

Another thing that impressed me about his work was how versatile its appeal was to both men and women.

I asked for a bio so I could include a bit of information about the designer and found more than I could possibly have expected.  It seems that not only was I taken with his work, but I was in good company; it is also collected by Madonna,  Lennie Kravitz,  Siouxsie Sioux, and the Jonas Brothers, and Justin Timberlake wore two of Brooks’ turquoise necklaces for his photo on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Most of the designers I know, myself included, would love to have our work in the hands of rock stars like these and we wonder how to make that happen.  My own claim to fame in this department was having been commissioned to make a pair of guitar pick earrings for Judy Collins to commemorate the two Signature Edition guitars issued by Martin in her name. but my experience pales in comparison.

Brooks had his audience already in hand, because, before he became a jewelry designer, he was immersed in the rock music scene, as the owner of the iconic Vinyl Fetish record store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and later as nightclub host and DJ.   He rubbed elbows with all kind of musical acts and jumpstarted the careers of others, like Guns n Roses.  It seems that I had stumbled upon the Website of a rock legend whose passion for a different kind of rocks is adding another facet to his impressive life story.

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arohasilhouettes.com

British Columbia designer Tania Hennessy has taken recycling to a new level by combining old technology with new technology to create unexpected new designs.

Tania is originally from New Zealand, and calls her company Aroha Silhouettes (from the Maori word for unconditional love).

She  looks at old vinyl records and sees something that no one else does:  great art for great jewelry.  She sees geometric designs in negative spaces and then cuts them out of the vinyl using precision laser technology, and turns that image into necklaces and earrings.

This necklace is from the Phantasmal collection. Tania Hennessy uses laser technology to cut silhouettes from reclaimed black vinyl record which results in design illusions, in this case, a stack of books.  Below are thumbnails of other designs.

This necklace is from the Phantasmal collection. Tania Hennessy uses laser technology to cut silhouettes from reclaimed black vinyl record which results in design illusions, in this case, a stack of books. Below are thumbnails of other necklace designs.

1018phantasmalthumbnail

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Toxic Toy Guide Lists Chemicals Found in Hundreds of Toys

Just in time for the holidays, http://www.healthytoys.org released its list of the worst toys to buy for children, finding that one in every three of the 1500 products tested contained unacceptable levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, or arsenic, with children’s jewelry found to be the most contaminated category.

“There is simply no place for toxic chemicals in children’s toys,” said Ecology Center’s Jeff Gearhart, who led the research.

Find out how your children’s toys ranked here:  http://www.healthytoys.org/product.using.php

If you don’t find the toy you are looking for, you can nominate it.  They will test the most requested toys.

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I’ve been busy designing new pieces for the holidays over the last few months.  As those of you who have been following my work for any amount of time already know, green turquoise is one of my favorite materials, and these deliciously-veined slabs of green turquoise have been begging to be included in a necklace design ever since I got them.  How could I refuse?

Slabs of green turquoise are accented by hessonite and irridescent gold stick pearls that pick up the colors of the veining in this turquoise necklace.

Slabs of green turquoise are accented by hessonite and irridescent gold stick pearls that pick up the colors of the veining in this turquoise necklace.

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