Designer Spotlights

  • History + Highlights of Boucheron

    Amazing 1950's Boucheron Turquoise & Diamond Cocktail Ring Platinum An amazing 1950s Boucheron Turquoise & Diamond cocktail ring. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    The Maison Boucheron of Paris crafted this outstanding turquoise and diamond cocktail ring in the 1950s. Centering the masterpiece is an oval cut turquoise cabochon weighing 30 carats. A halo of 20 round brilliant cut diamonds surrounds the stone. Around this, a second halo of 20 accent cabochon turquoise stones surrounds the whole. Truly, the ring serves as an extraordinary example of the design prowess of Boucheron.


    History of Boucheron

    Frederic Boucheron grew up learning the clothiers trade. Upon reaching the age of maturity, he departed from his family's tradition and opened a jewelry boutique in Paris. Opening first beneath the arcades of the Palais Royale, Frederic eventually made a strategic move to 26 Place Vendome.

    In the crosshairs of the Opera Garnier district and the Tuileries Gardens, Place Vendome was then and remains now the center of recreation and leisure for wealthy Parisians. Frederic was the first to sell high jewelry in the 1st arrondisement.

    Today Place Vendome holds court as the premier marketplace for high jewelry, couture, the arts, and antiques. Today, 160 years later, Boucheron continues to serve the most elite clientele in Paris, offering unique contemporary collections featuring spectacular stones from 26 Place Vendome.


    Three Creative Pillars

    Early on, Frederic adhered to design principles built upon three creative pillars - Couture, Architecture, Nature. These creative pillars remain solidly in place as a foundation for all of the atelier's collections.

    Nature provides endless inspiration. Drawing from nature's wild freedom, the Maison creates bold natural designs expressed in an exotic blend of realism and fantasy.

    Architecture reveals itself most prevalently in Boucheron's Art Deco motifs. From the beginning of the Art Deco period, the atelier capitalized on the contemporary demand for geometric lines and architectural motifs.

    Couture, to be sure, inspires and informs the design principles behind nearly every Boucheron piece. In part, because jewelry serves to accessorize couture. In part, because couture in and of itself is inspiring. Certainly, as the son of clothiers, Frederic cultivated a lifelong fascination with fabric and materials.

    Among his most magnificent creations is the gold mesh scarf he fashioned for the Grand-Duc Wladimir. The Duc met his wife during a ball. She dropped her scarf, and he picked it up for her. The sensuousness and infatuation marked by such a simple encounter inspired him to ask Boucheron to recreate the scarf in gold and jewels. Since then, the Maison continues to work gold to create fabric-like creations fashioned from fine strands of gold and tasseled with pearls.


    Designs for Women

    Without doubt, the most innovative design Boucheron invented for women and couture is the Question Mark necklace, called Point d'Interrogation in French. Conceptualized first in 1883, by Frederic and his workshop manager, Paul Legrand, the Question Mark necklace established a new design for women.

    The necklace, beautiful and contemporary in its lines, really solved a difficult problem women endured with their couture. In particular, the stiff, limiting crinoline made it difficult for women to hook the clasp of a necklace on their own. The Question Mark necklace, fashioned like a peacock feather, is made without a clasp. Instead, it harbors a hidden spring system which allows it to curl around the neck like a feather.

    This represents only one example in a long line of innovations tailored to meet the needs of women. In addition, the Maison invented brand new designs, including the mosaic, mirror, and airy settings.

    The innovation, boldness, and extraordinary commitment to exceptionality in stone choice, design principle, and craftsmanship, surely sets Boucheron above the rest.

    To add this beautiful piece by the Parisian Maison to your collection, give us a call today.

  • Raymond Yard Designer Spotlight

    Raymond Yard Jeweled Church & Tree Brooch Jeweled Church & Tree Brooch by Raymond Yard.

    I first learned about Raymond Yard when I wrote about the Christie's auction, The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller. That sale featured the gorgeous engagement ring that David gave to his beautiful bride Peggy in 1940, which was made by Yard.

    By that time, it came as no surprise that David Rockefeller went to the designer for this most important jewel. Indeed, David's father, John D. Rockefeller, was the person who encouraged Raymond Yard to begin his own jewelry firm. Upon following his advice, Yard quickly became the Rockefeller's most important consultant for all things jewelry.


    Raymond Yard in the Early Years

    Raymond Yard began his career at the age of 13. He started out as the doorboy for New York's Marcus & Co. He opened the doors for clients of the elite luxury jewelry store on 17th and Broadway in Manhattan for a number of years. Over the next decade, he progressively learned the various aspects of the jewelry business.

    In his final years at Marcus & Co., Yard became the company's most sought-after salesman. It was here that John D. Rockefeller found him and groomed him to become an entrepreneur. In 1922, upon the urging of his benefactor, Raymond Yard established his own jewelry firm in New York.

    The Rockefellers recommended him to their friends, and before long Yard counted as clients the Woolworths, the Du Ponts, the Vanderbilts, and more.


    Raymond Yard's Distinctive Style

    In the beginning, Yard catered to his conservative American clientele, favoring large diamonds and gemstones mounted in platinum with gemstone accents. Given its 1920s and 1930s beginnings, the firm specialized in Art Deco style, taking the style to a whole new level with their exquisite geometric renderings and gorgeous diamonds, rubies, and blue sapphires.

    Eventually, Raymond Yard developed some more whimsical designs. His most iconic are his humanlike rabbits and his jeweled houses. The jeweled house above features what looks like a jade base (or sculpted emerald) for grass and platinum for the structure of the house and tree branches. The leaves and flowers on the tree are fashioned mainly of cabochon emeralds, rubies, and blue sapphires.

    The tree also features faceted diamonds. A carved ruby bush and carved emerald bush stand beside the platinum porch and blue sapphire door of what looks like a church. The church also features ruby windows and an emerald belfry, as well as diamond siding and a diamond-studded spire.

    Raymond Yard made many of these fun "house" brooches. Perhaps the most famous of his houses was his reproduction of Cee Zee Guest's Palm Beach home, Villa Artemis.

    His more whimsical personified rabbits feature clothing made out of calibre-cut gemstones, baroque pearls, sculpted rubies, and lots and lots of diamonds.

    His most famous rabbits are his butler rabbits, dressed in elaborate finery, carrying cocktail trays and towels, ready to serve the most prestigious of guests. He also fashioned bridal rabbits, fisher-bunnies, yachts-hares, and even British Royal Guards Bunnies.


    Raymond Yard Today

    Raymond Yard retired from his company in 1958, with the Herald Tribune declaring his career "fabulous." {source} He ceded his position to his protege, Robert Gibson. Gibson retired in 1989, leaving the company in the capable hands of his son, Bob Gibson.

    Today, Raymond Yard continues to make jewelry based on the company's original designs. They continue to source the highest-quality gemstones and use time-honored jewelry-making techniques. These original designs are sold exclusively through Betteridge. Of course, collectors can always scour the web in search of auctions of Raymond Yard vintage pieces.

  • Oscar Heyman Brothers Designer Spotlight

    Vintage Oscar Heyman Brothers Diamond Dome Cocktail Ring Platinum Vintage Oscar Heyman Brothers Diamond Dome Cocktail Ring Platinum. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    Oscar Heyman once again delivers modernity steeped in rich history. This gorgeous vintage diamond dome cocktail ring features over 4 carats of oval cut diamonds in varying sizes. The platinum band rises to meet the diamonds as though they were flower stems. This gorgeous vintage piece embodies the eternal style of Oscar Heyman.


    Oscar Heyman History

    In the early 1900s, three brothers emigrated from Russia to New York. Before leaving their mother country, Oscar, Nathan, and Harry worked at the jewelers bench with their uncle. Their uncle made pieces for Peter Carl Faberge, the most prestigious jeweler in Russia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    With the vigorous training of Russia's most exacting jeweler under their belts, the three brothers quickly found work in the States. Eventually, Oscar began working for Pierre Cartier. Meanwhile, Nathan worked at Western Electric in order to refine his tool-making craft.

    Soon enough, the three brothers were joined in New York by their sister, Francis, and three more brothers, Louis, William, and George. Together, the siblings established their own jewelry manufacturing firm in 1912.

    Oscar Heyman Brothers started out manufacturing exquisite pieces for the big-name houses, including Cartier, Crump & Low, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Black, Starr & Frost. With their innovative approach and their adherence to the exacting standards required by the prestigious brands, Oscar Heyman earned the moniker, the Jeweler of Jewelers.


    Jeweler of Jewelers

    For decades, Oscar Heyman gladly stayed behind the scenes in the jewelry industry. Within just a few years, Oscar Heyman became synonymous with master craftsmanship, exquisite diamonds and gemstones, and technological ingenuity.

    They were the first to master the invisible setting, so popular in Cartier and VC&A pieces of the 1920s and 1930s. They also filed several patents related to the linked bracelet components and die-striking processes.

    Oscar Heyman has long prided itself for its independence. From the beginning, with the combined skills of all the Heyman siblings, the firm managed to oversee the creation of jewel from design conception to completion.

    They maintain their own tool and die shop. By sourcing their own gemstones and diamonds, they acquire the most exquisite and ethically mined stones available. They alloy their own metals, cut and polish their own gemstones, handcraft the settings, and set the gems in all their jewels.


    Moving Into the Modern Age

    For over 100 years, Oscar Heyman has delighted women and men with their exquisite jewels. Today, Adam, Tom, and Lewis Heyman, representing second and third generations in the Heyman family, run the business.

    At some point, they decided to take the brand to the next level. Stepping out of the shadows, Oscar Heyman now offers their exquisite hand-made jewels directly to the customer.

    They continue to adhere to the exacting standards and old world traditions brought by the original Heyman brothers from Russia. Each Oscar Heyman piece is an heirloom, crafted to withstand the test of time and designed with glamour and timeless elegance.

    Make an appointment today to put a piece of jewelry making history on your fingers. Then, we invite you to take the next step and take a piece of jewelry-making history home with you.

  • Bernard K. Passman - The Black Coral King

    Bernard Passman Princess Bracelet Black Coral Diamond Platinum Bernard Passman Princess Bracelet Black Coral Diamond Platinum. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    This Bernard Passman princess bracelet demonstrates the elegance of the Passman Classic line. It features eight stations of black coral and diamonds, set in platinum.


    Bernard Passman

    Bernard Passman discovered his talent for carving during his passage home from the Philippines at the end of World War II. Boredom prompted him to upturn a K Ration crate, into the bottom of which he carved a beautiful ballerina.

    After returning home, Passman he settled in Maryland, where he worked as a stockbroker. Later he moved to Florida, where he established himself as a successful real estate developer. After many years in business, he started making more and more time to express himself creatively. Eventually, he opened an art gallery where he showcased his distinctive works in exotic woods, clay, metals, and light.


    Grand Cayman Black Coral

    In 1974, Passman moved his family to Grand Cayman. As word spread around the island about a new American artist on the island, visitors began showing up to welcome him. One of those visitors brought him a paper bag full of tortoise shell and dull grey twigs.

    Bernard was perplexed, asking what he should do with them. The islander told him he ought to carve them. So he did. He discovered that when this species of black coral, Antipathariais carved and polished it shines with an elegant beauty that naturally pairs with diamonds and other precious stones.

    In 1975, Bernard Passman opened a retail store where he frequently sold out of his creations by noon on the days when the cruise ships stopped off on Grand Cayman. He spent the next 30 days, staying up past midnight to create new pieces to sell the next time the tourists came to shop.


    The King of Coral

    Bernard became known as The King of Coral, and his pieces and principles stand the test of time today and beyond. In all his years working with black coral, he never strayed from his environmental principles. His suppliers had to promise they only harvested pieces of coral that had broken off from the living coral naturally.

    Today, all black coral species are protected under strict trade regulations. The rules governing today's trade agreements are similar to those followed innately by Bernard Passman for all the years he carved the beautiful organic materials. Of course, illegal trading in black coral runs rampant, particularly in the islands. Therefore, it is essential that you purchase black coral jewelry only from reputable designers and/or jewelry stores. This ensures that you are not supporting further depletion of one of the ocean's most valuable resources.


    The Legacy Continues

    Sadly, in 2007, at the age of 91, Bernard Passman passed away. As a result, his galleries began to close and his pieces became even more collectible. Today, only a handful of artisans achieved the skill and craftsmanship mastered by Bernard Passman.

    Mike Tope, who learned at the bench with Passman, continues to carve in black coral and make beautiful jewelry. He and his wife continue to provide services to those who have Passman jewels that are in need of repair or maintenance.

    Also, in 2014, Glyptica, Inc. renewed Passman's design licenses. Sometime between then and now, Brindle & Figg became the exclusive retailer of new Passman pieces. I've reached out to Brindle & Figg for help to bridge this gap. As soon as I hear back, I'll update this article to reflect the new information.

    New Passman pieces are available on the market exclusively through Brindle & Figg. In keeping with Bernard's principles, artisan craftsmen make every piece by hand using Passman's techniques. Brindle & Figg complies with international trade regulations by harvesting the black coral sustainably and responsibly.

    Of course, it is our hope that before you reach for something new, you'll consider purchasing a piece of actual history. It is our pleasure to offer you the chance to own this Passman Princess Bracelet. Bernard personally handcarved this well-loved bracelet in his studio before he passed away. Give us a call to begin (or augment) your Passman collection today.

  • The Patek Philippe Legacy

    Patek Philippe Vintage Wristwatch with Diamond Case Vintage Patek Philippe wrist watch featuring a diamond case, crafted of solid platinum. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    This incredible Patek Philippe wrist watch features a diamond case with a mesh band. Crafted in solid platinum, it includes a manual wind movement. The movement includes the serial number 807126.

    The diamond case is set with 18 diamonds, and the watch includes eight adjustments. This means it has eight ways by which to overcome the tendency for a manual watch to lose time throughout the day.

    This incredible vintage ladies watch represents the artistry, ingenuity, and technological mastery of one of horology's most esteemed watchmakers - Patek Philippe.


    Patek Philippe History


    In the early 1830s, Antoine Patek traveled from Eastern Poland to France as a sublieutenant of the Calvary Brigade. After living for a time in France, he left for Switzerland, where he registered as an official resident of Versoix in 1835.

    In 1839, Patek and his partner, Francois Czapek, established Patek-Czapek Manufacturer in Geneva, Switzerland. After five years with his business partner, Patek grew antsy for a more innovative approach to watchmaking. In 1844, he traveled to Paris to visit the French Industrial Exposition.



    Born in France in 1815, Adrien Philippe apprenticed with his father, a skilled watchmaker. Upon completing his training, Philippe embarked on a tour de France to expand his business prospects.

    After three years in Le Havre, he traveled to London. In 1839, he returned to France to find the market for high-end timepieces lackluster. While enjoying Philippe's company, a royal watchmaker wished aloud for a watch without a winding key, commenting that such an invention "would be a ray of hope." {source}

    At the 1844 Paris Industrial Exposition, Philippe presented his innovative winding system. To his dismay, it failed to attract the attention he expected. It did, however, attract the attention of Antoine Patek.

    While at the French Industrial Exposition, Patek discovered Philippe's keyless winding invention. The following year, Patek wrote to Philippe inviting him to come to Geneva in disguise. He included explicit instructions that Philippe enter the city and promptly present himself to Mdme Patek at their #15 location and announce himself simply as Mssr Adrien.

    Philippe seized the opportunity, having long dreamed of working in a manufacturing establishment. At last, he could use the techniques he had learned and invented to manufacture and assemble portions of watches in batches.


    A Partnership is Born

    That same year, Patek ended his partnership with Czapek. He and Philippe, plus a third partner, Vincent Gsotkowski, established a new marketing strategy under the company name Patek & Cie (later Patek Philippe & Cie).

    As technical director, Philippe oversaw the production processes, making sure the latest innovations in watchmaking were used in their manufacture. Meanwhile, Patek took an innovative approach to branding, traveling the breadth of two continents - Europe and North America - to establish their watches as the world's most coveted. He also encouraged his workman to employ the latest artistic techniques to the design of their timepieces.

    Their partnership was the ultimate marriage of art and invention. On the inside, their watches represented the latest in innovation, technology, and precision. On the outside, they represented the latest in lavish artistry. In order to establish their luxury brand, Patek Philippe hired artisans from around the world. These skilled craftsmen combined intricate engravings, enameling, and precious stones with visionary design concepts to elevate a mechanical timepiece into a luxurious piece of wearable art.


    Noticed by the Queen

    In 1851, Patek and Philippe travel to London to exhibit their wares at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. This exhibition was the first of its kind hosted in London, organized by Prince Albert and Henry Cole.

    Queen Victoria reveled in the artistry and innovation on display by merchants from all over the world. Certainly, she purchased many delectable treats for herself and Albert, as well as for her children and her many friends. Among these royal souvenirs was a pair of Patek Philippe & Cie pocket watches, one for herself and one for her beloved Albert.

    As a result of the Queen's approval, Patek Philippe & Cie (eventually Patek Philippe) became the top choice for many royals around the world. Their influence grew, as did their watchmaking skills. In time, Patek Philippe established themselves as one of the world's premier watchmakers.

    The company hit a few speed bumps along the way, as most enduring businesses do. The first came when Antoine de Patek passed away in 1877. The second, when Adrien Philippe died in 1894. However, though the company floundered a bit, it transitioned nicely into a publicly traded entity in 1901.


    The Philippe Patek Legacy

    The final speed bump came when the stock market crashed. Fortunately, another esteemed watch manufacturer agreed to buy the company without changing the trajectory or marketing strategy.

    Today, over 100 years later, the Stern family continues to steer Patek Philippe straight into the future. This makes Patek Philippe the oldest family-owned, independent watch manufacturer in Geneva, with a birthday nearing 200 years.

    The company's renown among royalty and the elite endures today. Patek Philippe continues to manufacture high-end luxury watches with intricate inner workings and timeless designs. They continue to stand above the rest, therefore attracting elite collectors. Hence, their vintage and antique pieces command top dollar whenever they come to market.

    It is our privilege to offer this vintage Patek Philippe watch. The serial number on the internal movement dates it between 1925 and 1930. This means the exterior of the watch was made sometime after 1925 and likely before 1940. {source}

    We'd love to show you this gorgeous vintage luxury watch in person. Call today to make an appointment to visit our Seattle-area showroom.

  • Kieselstein-Cord Jewelry Artist

    Crown Heart Brooch, 18K Gold, 1987 by Barry Kieselstein-Cord Crown Heart Brooch, 18K Gold, 1987 by Barry Kieselstein-Cord. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    Barry Kieselstein-Cord began carving when he was 8 years old. He made giant totem poles, one of which was stolen. The rage and grief he felt stayed with him, but along with it grew a seed for the future.


    The Artist-Designer's Beginnings

    "I decided to be an artist...I announced it to anyone who would listen," Kieselstein-Cord says. {1} Between the ages of 8 and 14, Barry produced large-scale carvings and effigies inspired by his passion for North American Indian art. During this time, he also buried different objects and metal pieces in the ground. Later, he dug them up to note any color and patina changes.

    Between ages 14 and 22, Kieselstein-Cord turned his attention to painting and metalwork. "From the early moments I can recall fascination with all past cultures and an intense attraction to art and architecture." {2}

    This fascination only expanded as he continued his education. He went on to study sculpture at Parsons School of Design and the American Craft Institute in New York. Soon after college, Barry pursued his first career as an art director in the advertising business.

    Then he took a course in jewelry and found his more enduring passion. The sculptural quality of silver captivated him, and he forged ahead. Adding his marketing talents to his artistic expression, he started his jewelry design business in 1972. Subsequently, in 1973, Georg Jensen brought Kieselstein-Cord's designs to the public.


    Kieselstein-Cord's Crown Heart Motif (1987)

    Kieselstein-Cord told WWD that he set out to "build an American powerhouse luxury company based on incomparable quality produced in my own vertical organization...I created products that intersected and cross pollinated. I've been advocating a lifestyle approach to brand building since the day I opened my firm's doors." {3}

    As a result of his superior strategy, by 2009 Kieselstein-Cord had produced more than 25,000 unique and often whimsical designs. His most iconic motifs include the crocodile (circa 1985), Pompeii (1986), and Borgia (1980).

    Another of these iconic motifs, in fact one of his most prolific, the Crown Heart debuted in 1987. The solid gold cleft heart, topped with an ornate sculpted crown, appeared in myriad styles.

    Kieselstein-Cord also designed Crown Heart earrings, pendants, and finger rings. Sometimes he added a dose of glitz and glitter, paving the heart and  crown in diamonds, rubies, and/or blue sapphires. In contrast, sometimes just the band of the crown featured a line of diamonds. Still others were fashioned in his signature matte 18k green (of course) gold.

    We would love to help you add this triplet Crown Heart brooch to your collection today! (See below for more details.)


    Shades of Green

    The color green holds sentimental meaning for the artist. "It's the color of growing things - it's organic and understated," he told Nancy Wolfson. {4}

    Green was his family's color. The color seemed especially important to his father, who always chose green cars. Consequently, despite Kieselstein-Cord's understated approach to marketing, the one telling feature of his design firm was the green door.  He prefers the willow-green shade of celadon green, as well as dollar-bill green. {5}

    In tribute to his family's color, many of Kieselstein-Cord leather jewelry boxes are dark teal green. Some are dark slate brown on the outside with a lush green velvet interior. A striking contrast, indeed.


    Singular Designs

    In the '80s and '90s, Kieselstein-Cord found his stride. His singular designs, with their unique aesthetic and exquisite craftsmanship, captured the imagination of the world's most important trendsetters.

    Men and women of note, including Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Sir Elton John, Madonna, and Sharon Stone, became collectors. Over time, his cult following turned into what the New York Times called a "Legion." {6}

    His clientele expanded to include Bob Pittman (one-time CEO of MTV), Steven Spielberg, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jay-Z, Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Wayne Gretzky, Barack Obama, and even Vladimir Putin. {7}

    Years ago he expanded beyond jewelry to design belt buckles, handbags, bronze sculptures, eyewear, and tabletop accessories. He also designed lamps, furniture, scarves, ties, and even helicopters. {8 & 9}

    Kieselstein-Cord is an icon, and his exemplary jewels are collected as art. Some of the world's most prestigious museums, including the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, acquired a number of the jewelry artist's pieces for their permanent collections.

    Today, Kieselstein-Cord manufactures new jewels in a joint venture with KUCK Jewellery in Düsseldorf, Germany. In what KUCK calls their "opening act of the Artist Collections," Kieselstein-Cord agreed to republish one of his most successful iconic collections, the crocodile. The crocodile, arguably one of Kieselstein-Cord's favorite of his collections, was released in the mid-to-late 1980s. It came out around the same time as his Crown Heart collection.


    Join the Kieselstein-Cord Legion

    We invite you to join Kieselstein-Cord's legion of followers by purchasing this stunning Crown Heart Brooch. Crafted in rich 18K gold, this triple Crown Heart pin features three cleft hearts topped with sculpted royal crowns. The brooch is exquisitely crafted and has a nice weight to it. Each crown bears the marks: "(C) KIESELSTEIN CORD 18K 1987." This piece has a delectable quality that can only be appreciated in person. Call today to schedule a visit to our Bellevue Showroom.


    1. Barry Kieselstein-Cord Bio., 2009. Accessed July 31, 2018.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Strugatz, Rachel. "Barry Kieselstein-Cord Retrospective Bows in N.Y." WWD Online, October 15, 2012. Accessed July 31, 2018.
    4. Wolfson, Nancy. "Jewelry Designer Barry Kieselstein-Cord is Far From a Household Name, Which is Just the Way He Likes It." Cigar Aficionado, March/April 1999. Accessed July 31, 2018.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Kieselstein-Cord Bio Online. Copyright 2009. Accessed July 31, 2018.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Strugatz, 2012.
    9. Wolfson, 1999.


  • Pacific Northwest Jewelry Artists Exhibit at BAM

    Pacific Northwest Jewelry Artist Una Barrett Necklace BAMArts Fair 2018 Una Barrett Exhibits this Necklace at the BAMArts Fair 2018 in Bellevue, Washington.


    We invite you to see the work of several Pacific Northwest jewelry artists. Every year, the Bellevue Arts Museum showcases the artwork of more than 300 American jewelry artists during the annual BAMArts Fair. This year, Pacific Northwest jewelry artists Una Barrett, Han-Yin Hsu, and Nurit & Mick Vagner submitted gorgeous pieces. They go on view at the museum this Friday through Sunday.

    Pacific Northwest Jewelry Artists

    Una Barrett - Eugene, Oregon

    Una Barrett grew up off the grid in eastern Tennessee. Her parents owned a self-sufficient farm, and Una grew to understand the natural rhythms of the earth. Her sculptural jewelry reflects her intimate connection with these natural processes, specifically the cycle of growth and death. These natural rhythms form the foundation for every one of her jewels.

    In her Eugene, Oregon studio, Una uses traditional, as well as contemporary metalsmithing techniques. In conjunction with her use of mixed metals and other found objects and materials, she immerses herself in the full scope of the creation process.

    Drawn to many different cultures, she is most inspired by the sacred and functional objects used by different people groups. She interweaves her unique interpretations of these objects with contemporary forms associated with industry and architecture. As a result, Una has found a way to cross the divide between ancient practices and modern technology.

    Nurit & Mick Vagner - Oregon

    Nurit & Mick hand fabricate and construct precious metals into 3D organic fluid shapes. Using various surface techniques, they give their jewels rich textures and gorgeous finishes.

    Like Una, they weave together elements from the ancient past with contemporary art principles. They fashion pieces with organic and geometrical lines using traditional, as well as contemporary silversmith techniques.

    The couple states that living in the Pacific Northwest profoundly impacts their current body of work. As a result, they transitioned to fashioning biomorphic scultpural jewelry. Biomorphic jewelry is jewelry that includes design elements reminiscent of nature and living organisms.

    Han-Yin Hsu - Seattle, Washington

    Han-Yin Hsu moved to the US from Taiwan. After graduating with a Master's in Architecture, she worked for many years as an architect and interior designer. After a while, Han-Yin realized she needed a way to express her ideas more intimately. She wanted to use her skills to design jewelry that could be seen, touched, and experienced physically.

    As a result, she founded her jewelry design firm, ANNXANN Design, in Los Angeles in 2013. Han-Yin later moved her studio and business to the greater Seattle area. She continues to use her architectural training, including techniques and her unique sense of space. These techniques, in combination with 3D-printing, allow Han-Yin to create jewels that embody the personalities of people she experienced in life.

    She looks at the human body as a landscape for jewelry. Her designs express the elegance of the body as a landscape, as well as the gesture each element of her jewelry makes as it rests upon the skin. Han-Yin considers her jewelry a way for the wearer to see herself in new, unexpected ways. She hopes that her designs will inspire people to imagine possibilities they have never known before.

    BAMArts Fair This Weekend in Downtown Bellevue

    This weekend, visit BAM for a look at Pacific Northwest jewelry that is directly inspired by life in the Pacific Northwest. For more information about Bellevue's Arts Fair weekend, we invite you to visit the BAMArts website.

  • Jude Clarke at Facèré Jewelry

    This bracelet was fashioned by Jude Clarke for Facèré's Tilling Time/Telling Time exhibition last fall. It is called Bridges and is made of sterling silver and pearls. Photo used with permission. This bracelet was fashioned by Jude Clarke for Facèré's Tilling Time/Telling Time exhibition last fall. It is called Bridges and is made of sterling silver and pearls. Photo used with permission.


    Jude Clarke has been pushing metal around for more than thirty years. In her time at the bench, she has drawn inspiration from old tools, machinery, antique jewelry, and historic architecture.

    For this piece, a bracelet she calls Bridges, Jude drew upon the black-and-white images of the medieval villages depicted in Akira Kurosawa's 1960s-era samurai films. The sterling silver has been exposed to a rigorous process of oxidation and then burnished with steel wool in order to convey the essence of having lived through a good many seasons.

    The natural pearls impart to the piece the essence of a poem which also sparked the artist's imagination. The poem, written by Izumi Shikibu, a mid Heian Japanese poet, follows here:

    although the wind
    blows terribly here,
    the moonlight also leaks
    between the roof planks of this ruined house.

    Pearls have long been associated with both the power and the likeness of the moon. In this remarkable bracelet, which Jude Clarke has painstakingly coaxed into beautiful fan-shaped Japanese foliage, we can imagine that the pearls are indeed beams of moonlight leaking through the planks of an artfully constructed form.

    We invite you to view more of Jude Clarke's beautiful creations at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery in the City Centre building on Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle.

    ~Angela Magnotti Andrews

  • Linda Kindler-Priest at Facèré Jewelry

    "Baby Pelican" by Linda Kindler-Priest. Two-part brooch in 14k yellow gold, green sapphires, pearl, and aquamarine rough. Photo used with permission. "Baby Pelican" by Linda Kindler-Priest. Two-part brooch in 14k yellow gold, green sapphires, pearl, and aquamarine rough. Photo used with permission.


    Linda Kindler-Priest tells a story with every jewel. Sometimes her stories are complex and profound, at other times simple and straightforward. The story she tells with Baby Pelican is a simple story of life.

    As the baby pelican toddles along, learning the ropes of life in search of food, he takes in the view of the misty ocean, sparkling in its crystalline beauty. Somehow, he knows that this is where he belongs. Its aquamarine depths will provide safety and sustenance. He will swim, dive, and catch fish. In short, he will live.

    Ms. Kindler-Priest tells the bird's story in two parts. The first act manifests as a masterpiece in repoussé . With only a hammer and a handmade stamp held between her hands and a chunk of 14k gold, she sculpts the pliable metal on her workbench. Pushing, shaping, and coaxing, she calls forth the pelican from both sides of the precious material. By the time Baby has emerged "every millimeter of the metal is worked," infusing it with "subtle textures" and a "rich softness to the overall feeling."

    Ms. Kindler-Priest then begins the more evocative layer of the baby pelican's story. First, she adds just a touch of sapphire flourish, giving the impression that the pelican treads upon the pristine shores of a distant shore. Far below, the misty nuance of the sea is represented by a lovely slice of aquamarine rough. The same flourish of sapphires is echoed in the frame surrounding the cut stone, linking them together in perfect harmony. A single ovoid pearl bridges the gap between the two parts, calling to mind the first stage of life for this sweet baby pelican.

    This gorgeous brooch is one of several on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their "So Fine" exhibition. The exhibit explores fresh interpretations of fine jewelry and fine art in precious metals and gemstones. Ms. Kindler-Priest uses fine materials, but in an informal, asymmetrical fashion.

    In Baby Pelican, the essences of fine and precious blend together in seamless harmony. A precious baby pelican discovers the bounty of the seashore for the first time. A shimmering pearl and the glittering yellow gold remind us that nature's greatest gifts are both precious and fine. Faceted blue sapphires lend to the piece an element of fine jewelry, and the whimsical pelican and raw aquamarine evoke art at its finest.

    Ms. Kindler-Priest finds her inspiration in nature, often drawing from the wildlife sanctuary near her home in Massachusetts. She studies her subjects carefully, ensuring that her work will capture both their essence and their form. Her passion for gemstones led her to learn the art of stone cutting.

    She chooses gemstones like a painter chooses a color from her palette, cutting and shaping them to highlight the patterns and textures required to tell her vignettes. She designs her sculptural pieces with an eye to detail, combining all the shapes, textures, and forms found in nature in a symphony of harmony.

    We invite you to visit Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery this week. The show closes on May 12, 2015. You will find more information on Facèré's website.

  • Nanz Aalund at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery

    'Swivel Locket' by Nanz Aalund. This locket will be on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their "So Fine" exhibition until May 12, 2015. Photo used with permission. 'Swivel Locket' by Nanz Aalund. This locket will be on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their "So Fine" exhibition until May 12, 2015. Photo used with permission.


    Nanz Aalund has created several gorgeous jewels in sterling silver and yellow gold which are featured in Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery's "So Fine" exhibition. This exhibit, on display until May 12, 2015, in downtown Seattle, seeks to explore the concept of traditional jewelry in relation to the concepts of fashion and finery.

    Jewelry artists were asked to present works made from precious metals and gemstones which express their unique visions of finery and fashion.

    When asked what the title of Facèré's show means to her, Nanz Aalund said that after the lyrics of a bee-bop song  faded from her mind, what remained was the juxtaposition between jewelry as Fine Art and Fine Jewelry.

    "With this show, as she has done with many others, I feel, Karen is playing with the premise regarding 'fine' materials within our craft, celebrating the fine art of finely made adornments from fine materials. Thus, 'So Fine'," Ms. Aalund remarked.

    Nanz Aalund's pieces are a beautiful marriage of the terms fine and art. She works primarily in sterling silver, with its almost-white delicacy, and in high-carat yellow gold, with its unparalleled luster and shine. Her techniques are those of a true master, defined by this writer as one who insatiably learns new techniques while continually practicing, teaching,  and incorporating old ones.

    Ms. Aalund has several pieces on display in Facèré's exhibition, including several bracelets in sterling silver; earrings made with 24k keum boo gold foil over sterling silver; a number of bold and sculptural two-finger rings in silver, 18k gold, and 22k gold; as well as a necklace called Always Crashing in the Same Car.

    In a post written on her blog, Nanz credits the seven car crashes she survived as a child as her inspiration for Always Crashing in the Same Car. The necklace is comprised of a series of triangle pendants made from mashed up auto glass cast in resin and set in sterling silver frames. These beautiful aqua blue elements are linked together by intricate chains of sterling silver. This piece is beautiful and represents to Ms. Nanz both fragility and strength.

    It is, however, her Swivel Locket, featured in the above photograph, which has so captivated me. Ms. Aalund graciously shared with me the basics of how she fashioned Swivel Locket. Incidentally, she crafted this piece as an inspirational model piece for a lesson she taught to a classroom of high school students.

    Here's what she writes about the process: "[T]he silver is roll-printed, which is an embossing process where paper with a pattern cut out of it is run through a rolling mill with a sheet of silver. The pressure from the mill cause the paper stencil to emboss the metal. Then the locket cases are Hydraulically pressed, which is an adaptation of an industrial production process. Finally the cabochon cut, pink tourmaline is set "volcano" style with rivets holding it in place."

    This piece beautifully captures the essence of Facèré's "So Fine" exhibition. Not only is it fashioned from fine precious metals, but Ms. Nanz relates that the jacquard pattern imprinted on the silver and the 24k gold trefoil embellishment are a direct reference to the textiles of 15th century France, and the faceted tourmaline serves as a reminder of the history of gemstone cutting.

    As she wrote to me, "by referencing the art historical elements of design," Swivel Locket serves as an "allegory to the personal history the locket will hold when the owner places pictures of their loved ones within it." In this way the piece makes a "very subtle artistic statement," which she is certain will enhance the experience of the one who purchases the piece.

    We invite you to visit Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery over the weekend to view in person the beautiful finery crafted by Nanz Aalund. Click here for more information.

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