You may remember the article I wrote about Katherine Jetter last year. (If not, you’re missing out — click the blue link to read it!) The night before Couture was beginning, I was so happy to run into her at a restaurant at the hotel! While chatting, she told me that she had brought THE most amazing opal to the show, and when she showed me a photo of it on her phone (it basically filled her whole hand), I could hardly believe it! I had to go see it in person!
Here’s a closer look.
So here’s how the story goes…a 68 year-old miner (Bobby) from Lightening Ridge, Australia found this gem covered in muck 14 years ago at the bottom of a bucket of rough, uncut opals. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he cleaned it up and really discovered what he had found!! Fearing it would be stolen, he slept with “The Royal One” under his bed and carried it in a pouch around his neck during the day. Last year he brought the opal to NYC to have it appraised by the Gemological Institute of America. Needless to say, this 306 carat black opal blew everyone’s socks off!
This is where Katherine Jetter enters the picture. She has a solid relationship with other opal miners from that region, so Bobby trusted her to take it to Couture to sell. (Clearly, he’s a great judge of character!) Katherine was thrilled to be showing this “important part of Australian history.” Here’s a CNN clip that will give you some more scoop on this incredible story. (click the blue word “clip” to take you to the video.
Vanessa Leu is another uber-talented designer I had the privilege of meeting at the Couture show in Las Vegas. Born in Taiwan, Vanessa spent years as a journalist in Vietnam…not your typical background for going into jewelry! She came to the states in the 80’s and enrolled in the Gemological Institute of America. Well let me tell you, I’m thrilled she made this career change, as her designs are quite fabulous!
Here’s one of the first pieces that caught my eye. It’s a sculptural cuff made from re-claimed metal and conflict-free stones, as is her entire collection. In fact, she is so adamant about fair-trade working conditions, that she actually visits where the jewelry is being made to make sure everything is up to par.
Vanessa has a strong spiritual side to her, with a life-long Zen practice and following the teachings of the philosopher Lao Tzu. She truly strives to show a meeting of east and west in her designs, which “marries the beauties of two cultures and transcends the soul.” With minimalist lines, she really gets this feeling across in her line. Here is an outstanding pair of earrings, which I’ve spied on more than one celebrity recently!
In fact, here’s Nicole Scherzinger at a London movie premier wearing these dramatic dangles in another color.
Not only is Vanessa a very eco-conscious designer, she’s also got a big heart. She donates a portion of her profits to charity, really paying it forward. What a cool lady!