When you visit the website of jewelry designer Audrius Krulis, you’re greeted with the words, “playful forms evoked by nature; a glimpse into imagination narrated through sculpture.” This sentiment perfectly embodies this line, where precious materials and sculpture intersect.
I can picture some of the people in my livfe just loving these pendants, with their luxe organic feel and autumn-y color palette.
I got my first in person look at Sydney Lynch jewelry at De Novo in Palo Alto. I was immediately a fan. The color combinations in this contemporary line are simply gorgeous. You can imagine how excited I was to meet Sydney in person at the JCK show in Las Vegas! I didn’t know what to try on first! Can you believe the statement this boulder opal cuff makes? I couldn’t stop taking photos of it.
Sydney was born with an acute sense of color, and you can see the result of this talent in her work. Here’s a shot from her website showing her and Tammy working on the layout for some bracelets.
Wendy Brandes is a force to be reckoned with, in the most positive of ways. I’ve followed her on social media for quite some time, and I’m inspired by both her unique jewelry and her strength of character. When I found out she would be showing at JCK in Las Vegas, I definitely made meeting her a “must do.” I’m so glad I did, as she and her collection were as impressive in person as I had envisioned. I now must share with you some of the most fantastical rings I’ve ever seen before, rife with detail and a story. Without further ado, enjoy this interview with Wendy about her Maneater collection.
Since childhood, I have been fascinated by biographies of women, especially those of long-ago queens and other powerful female figures. In my first career as a journalist (at the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and People.com) I was, of course, dealing with current events. When I switched to jewelry design in 2006, I realized I had a way to keep telling stories, only now I could tell them about the historical women who had always intrigued me. I started my line with designs inspired by real people, ranging from the queens everyone knows about — Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth I — to women Americans might not be familiar with, including Empress Matilda of England, Queen Min of Korea, and Empress Wu of China.
It was Empress Wu, the 7th-century ruler of China, who led to the Maneater collection. I always liked the fact that during her lifetime, Wu was known as “emperor” — the only female ruler of China to use the male title. Historians have treated her differently from her male peers, the same way they did with other powerful women. You can find supposedly serious history books that refer to Wu (and other women) as a “dragon lady” or “maneater.” (Equally murderous male rulers have no equivalent pejoratives.) I like to take the words used against us and turn them into symbols of power. Besides, who doesn’t love dragons? So I created an 18K yellow gold Empress Wu dragon ring that holds the whole world — represented by a spinning lapis lazuli globe — in its fangs.
I believe there are 8 in the series, and I tried on 3 of them at the show: the bull and bullfighter, the pink elephant and Jonah and the whale. Can you give us a little description of each of these?
I originally planned to do a series of eight one-of-a-kind rings — eight being a “power” number if you are into numerology — but then I found a very interesting and large labradorite carving, so now the series is seven rings and a showstopping necklace that uses the carving. The necklace is still in the works.
All of the Maneater rings have a triumphant figure on top of the ring and a small man inside the shank. The Bull and Bullfighter Maneater ring shows a winning bull standing tall over a stadium. If you peek inside the shank, you see the bullfighter standing with his back to us, his cape swirling around him. The rose-gold bull is paved with 350 black diamonds totaling 1.48 carats. I also used 79 white diamonds totaling 0.37 carats. All together, the ring uses 25 grams of 18K rose, yellow, and white gold.
I don’t like to have to choose a favorite from among my children, but I admit that I always favor the most recently completed design. In the Maneater series, that would be the Dragon and the Knight Maneater ring. (I really do love dragons!) In addition to being the newest Maneater, it’s the most complex Maneater design. In addition to 18K yellow, rose, and white gold, I added platinum to the mix, in the form of a sword clenched in the dragon’s jaws and a skull at her feet. The rose-gold treasure chest opens to reveal the dragon’s hoard of gems, and the wings and the skull also have a little movement to them.
Can you believe this work? Jaw-dropping, to be sure. Wendy has a wide array in her collection, and you can see more at her online shop. I have no doubt that there’s a story behind each and every piece.
Wendy, thank you so much for your time and talent! I truly appreciate you.
As I explored the floor of the JCK show in Las Vegas, there was quite a buzz about Little H jewelry. “Amy, you just MUST stop by her booth! You’ve really never seen anything like it,” exclaimed more than one friend of mine. My curiosity was most certainly piqued, as I couldn’t imagine what could be done with pearls that was so revolutionary.
Ok — everyone was correct — my eyes opened wide in amazement when I saw what Hisano Shepherd was doing with pearls. She has created pearl geodes!! Look at these rings I tried on! They are filled with black and white diamonds.
I couldn’t help but admire the ombre effect she created in this pendant.
If you’d like to see more of Hisano and hear about her process, you’ll enjoy this video.
I really like how Dana Bronfman describes her line on her website, “… (it) is for the woman who delights in adorning herself in the precious ore of the earth but whose feet are planted firmly in the city.” This creates a great visual, doesn’t it? I had the pleasure of meeting Dana and trying on her jewelry at the JCK show in Las Vegas.
As I explored the goodies in her case, I noticed how many of her pieces had an element of movement to them. Take, for example her flip rings.
When I returned from Jewelry Week in Las Vegas, I mentioned that one of the high points (aside from seeing all the fantabulous jewelry), was finally meeting people in person whom I had only known online. Judi Powers is one of those lovely people, and meeting her “live” at the JCK show was so much fun! We hugged as if we were longtime friends, which I guess in a way…we were!
One of the first things I had to see at her booth was her Arun Sawad collection. I had been seeing images of these pieces on Instagram, and they did not disappoint in person! On her website she describes the inspiration for this design, “Many years ago while I was traveling in Thailand I fell in love with a riverside temple called Wat Arun, or temple of the dawn. As the sun was rising over this beautiful and sacred place, there was a warm golden glow in the sky. The colors of the diamonds with the gold remind me so much of that special place…”
How can it be that six days in Las Vegas for Jewelry Week flew by so quickly?!? Here I sit, back in my apartment, when just a 6 hours ago I was having lunch at the Wynn with some amazing jewelry industry peeps. I will admit I got a bit teary upon take-off, seeing the Wynn and Mandalay Bay shimmering in the distance, knowing I was leaving without doing and seeing all I wanted to, which is always the case when I attend the Couture Show and JCK. It will be strange not putting one of these badges around my neck tomorrow morning.
And then there’s the jewelry … and this year just blew me away. I cannot WAIT to share all the fresh content with you. I think you’ll be dazzled by what I saw and tried on. Big, bold and colorful to dainty, neutral and sparkly, I saw a l.o.t! So stay tuned for next week, when I’ll begin sharing all my bling-tactic discoveries. Is your interest piqued? I hope so! And if you want a little taste of what I saw, check out my Instagram feed for some teasers.
And Jen…you were missed. xo
One of my favorite things about attending the JCK show in Las Vegas is visiting the “Rising Stars.” There’s always fresh, new ideas in design to explore. Heather Guidero was one of these Rising Stars, and I was eager to explore her line and learn more. Here I am trying on her Confetti large earrings.
Can you guess what inspired these earrings?
Heather began making jewelry when she was only 17 years old, and went on to graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002. After a few years working as a goldsmith in New York, she has now returned to Rhode Island, where all her jewelry is made by hand.
Modernist design is a key inspiration for her, as evident in these carved cone rings. I played around with stacking three of them in different sizes.
Doryn Wallach is a name you’re going to start hearing more and more often. She made her debut at Centurion, where she was named Emerging Designer of 2016! In addition, she’s one of the Rising Stars who will be showing at the JCK show in Las Vegas this June. Way to make an entrance into the world of jewlery! After two decades as an interior designer, Doryn is now channeling her creativity and love of Art Deco line and design into jewelry. Read below as I asked her a few questions about her and her line.
I see that you’ve had a love of jewelry your whole life. In particular, re-designing pieces to fit in with your lifestyle. What’s one of the most memorable re-designs you recall?
I would have to say the gladiator ring from my collection, because that’s what sparked my career change. It started with a diamond eternity band I rarely wore. This ring was a gift from my husband, and I felt guilty that it spent most of the time hidden away in my jewelry box. So I decided to rework the diamonds into something I would wear every day — the gladiator ring. When people asked me who made it, a light bulb went off in my head.
When I was growing up outside Boston, my family spent a lot of our winter vacations in Miami. I was the kid who got my mom from point A to point B by remembering the landmarks, so my eyes were always peering out the car window. I fell in love with the architecture of the city — not only the pastel colors, but the lines of the buildings with their geometric and curvilinear forms. Years later, as an interior designer, I always incorporated Deco pieces in my spaces. I love their timeless glamour.
My agate-and-pearl pendant. I have a deep love for estate jewelry, and I think this piece has an estate feeling as well as a distinctly modern sensibility that allows it to go with almost any piece of clothing – day or night.
For me, the most challenging is simply navigating a new business after spending so many years focused on interior design. Of course, that challenge is also what I love about the change. The most rewarding aspect of designing jewelry is seeing my abstract idea become a tangible object. And I love knowing that a woman will wear the piece for many years and one day, hopefully, pass it down.
When I am not working, I am with my kids, who are five and eight. They take most of my free time! But when I do have a few hours to myself, I love walking around the city, browsing through vintage shops and antique stores and people-watching. It’s very inspiring.