Google+ The Daily Jewel: 7/13/08 - 7/20/08


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bead Weaving – Sculptural Art and Beyond...

The Art of Weaving Glass Beads was the Spring 2008 show at Mostly Glass Gallery in New Jersey!

This show featured Madelyn Ricks and Sharmini Wirasekara along with five other artists working in jewelry and sculptural bead weaving.

I was looking through the catalog for this event and noticed that most of the pieces have sold! So take a few minutes – get over to the website and check it out before they take it down!

Madelyn Ricks – Beyond Kimonos...

For those of you who are involved in Bead Weaving – Madelyn Ricks is a household word. For a metalhead like me – she was a revelation!

Madelyn Ricks works exclusively in peyote stitch using Japanese Delica seed beads for her very popular Kimono series, her whimsical sculptures, and her Jewelry.

For the kimonos, she first graphs her designs by hand, gluing multiple sheets together, then beads it in separate strips which are stitched together.

The art of interlocking beads together with thread is both ancient and universal. Madelyn's designs are a mixture of many different cultures and times. The technique is peyote stitch named by the Native Americans in the US. A very strong multifilament nylon thread is used.
The square glass beads are a high quality glass manufactured in Japan using novel techniques. Many of the beads are plated with precious metals such as 24K gold, rhodium and palladium.

Also used, are lot of silver-lined colored beads to create a lot of sparkle, making the finished piece look like small dots of colored light woven together.
There are very few artists that work with beads this small (about 300 per square inch), or create pieces with such intricate patterns and colors.

Sharmini Wirasekara - Robes

Sharmini creates Robes and Wall hanging Objects predominantly inspired by Mexican Art. For the Robes, she chooses to work in Off-Loom techniques mostly peyote stitch, using Japanese Delica seed beads.

Some of her Wall Objects are Neckpieces. For those, in addition to Peyote, she uses a single-needle right angle weave, and prefers the Czech seed beads because their roundness gives the pieces a different look and shape.

A Brief History of Working with Glass Beads

As fans of The Antiques Roadshow can tell you – beads have been an integral part of most cultures in every region of the world. There are patterns that are specific to Southwest Native Americans and those patterns can even be broken down to northern Arizona tribes versus Southern Arizona tribes.

Glass Beads and Bead Weaving have, throughout history, been used to denote not only region but the “class” of the wearer. With ornate and intricate patterns reserved for the Emperor/Chief and simpler designs for the working class. Alternately, glass beads have been used as currency in some African cultures as well as historically for trading in the Native American tribes.

The great glass center of the world was for centuries The Venetians who originally began working with glass around 1200, and by the eighteenth century had a near-monopoly on the glass bead market. The trade became a staple throughout Europe and when the great European explorers began their travels, these beads became prime trade items and were distributed throughout the established seafaring trade routes.

Glass beads are usually made using one of two methods... drawn glass, a method that involves molten glass that is then stretched or drawn out into a long, thin tube. This method created what we now know as seed beads...the drawn glass is cut and tumbled to soften the edges. The second, and oldest method, virtually the same as the methods used by today’s lampworkers, on a much smaller scale!

In the 1980’s computer control of seed bead manufacturing came into play, both in the Czech Republic and in Japan.

Bead weaving techniques are usually either the use of a bead loom that has multiple warping threads through which beads are woven as the weft, like in traditional textile weaving...or off-loom bead weaving.
The later incorporates the many techniques developed by various cultures worldwide. With names such as peyote, herringbone, right angle weave, ladder, brick and netting stitches these techniques involve working with a needle and threading material to form patterns.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The "Spanish Inquisition Necklace"

The Spanish Inquisition Necklace
Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals Collection at the
National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution

Earliest Cut Gemstones?

There are a multitude of legends surrounding this necklace...indicating that it was worn by the lovely ladies of Spanish and French royalty. In the early 20th century, it was purchased by the Maharajah of Indore, whose son eventually sold the necklace in to Harry Winston. Winston dubbed it the “Spanish Inquisition Necklace”, for reasons known only to him, and the name stuck.

Many of the gemstones in this stunning necklace date back to the 17th century, when Spanish conquistadors shipped large quantities of emeralds from South America to Europe and Asia. Unfortunately very little is known about the provenance of this spectacular double row of diamonds and emeralds ending in the chandelier like drape of unique ”football-shaped” diamonds and emeralds.

The large diamond and emerald gems were probably cut in India in the 1600s. Stringing the gems was an extremely delicate procedure that entailed drilling small holes in the large emeralds and the 16 largest diamonds. It is believed that the large diamonds and Columbian emeralds were most likely cut in India in the 17th century, making them one of the earliest examples of cut gemstones in the Smithsonian's Collection.

Characteristics of the Spanish Inquisition Necklace

The lower-half of the necklace which is double-stranded consists of two concentric semi-circles, made up of smaller diamonds interspersed with pairs of large barrel-shaped diamonds and emeralds, placed symmetrically on the strands. There are eight pairs of larger diamonds and four pairs larger emeralds on these strands. A chandelier-shaped pendant made up of five large emeralds is placed centrally on the double strand, with the largest emerald in the necklace centrally placed on the lower strand.

The upper-half of the necklace is single-stranded made up of smaller diamonds only. At the two points on the necklace where the upper-half and lower-half meet, two large emeralds have been placed. Altogether, there are 15 large emeralds, 16 large diamonds, and around 120 smaller diamonds in the necklace.
The largest emerald in the necklace is an old Indian-cut, 45-carat, barrel-shaped emerald placed centrally in the necklace. According to the Smithsonian, "The rich velveteen color and exceptional clarity place the large emerald among the world's very finest quality emeralds. The shape closely approximates the form of the original elongated hexagonal crystal, suggesting that the crystal faces were simply rounded off to yield the largest possible gem."

Ownership Timeline

Designed for a Maharajah - the first known owner of the necklace was Tukoji Rao III of Indore

1926 - Yashvantrao II, the son of Tukoji Rao III, ascended the throne of Indore after the abdication of his father, and inherited the crown jewels

1947 - Yashvantrao II sold diamond and emerald necklace to Harry Winston

1947 – Katherine Hepburn wears the necklace when she attended the 19th Annual Oscars at the Shrine Civic Auditorium

1955 - Harry Winston sold the "Spanish Inquisition Necklace" to Mrs. Cora Hubbard Williams of Pittsburgh

1972 - Cora Hubbard Williams bequeathed the necklace to the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution

Currently - the "Spanish Inquisition Necklace" is displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals of the NMNH of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Masons Studio Jewellers

...jewellers in the true sense of the word, who hand-fabricate one-of-a-kind pieces...

This logo is the maker's mark for Masons. It represents the hand and eye, which is the basis of making work. It is registered with the Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia.

The Masons
Phill is the father; Tyrus the son. In between laughing and entertaining each other, they work very well together side by side; like two peas in a pod.

Phill and Ty work before the public, separated from them by a pane of glass. Nothing is hidden; even their award-winning pieces are made with an audience. Some viewers stand for long periods of time, watching a piece being produced. On a few memorable occasions, the piece produced was purchased by the viewer, after hours of following its fabrication...

Because they work before the public, they must restrict their use of machinery, and largely confine their efforts to working by hand at the bench. Fortunately, this suits their interest, which is hand-fabrication, rather than mass production; so, very little use of machinery is called for, anyway.

With inspiration from the Cosmos – to the Tasmanian environment they live in – this father and son team exhibits a variety of styles. The cosmic feel of the “Saturna” collection, the poignant statements made by the “Three Blades” and “Art of Whaling” collections, to the classic jewelry designs of the modern jeweler...make Masons a company to watch!

COMBING THE COSMOS... This is a tale as much about technique and material, as it is about motif and theme. In the late 'eighties, Phill began playing with differentially colouring titanium, and with setting gems into it, commencing with combs as a form.

Initially, the combs were treated much as 'samplers', to work out the technique of colouring the titanium only in the insets. The rest of the titanium is left the natural grey colour. The recesses in the comb above are predominantly one colour only, in order to simplify mastering the process. As this was acheived, the range of colours was broadened, as in this piece.

Eventually, the combs evolved into brooches, with a larger diversity of set stones than just citrines representing the sun. Moonstones, garnets, etc., were used in conjunction with suitably shaped and coloured insets, to represent saturns, comets, and so forth.


Faceting the Stones
Phill facets all the major stones used in Masons studio jewellery. This is considered unusual for a goldsmith to do, and has several advantages, which give leverage to the pieces Masons make, compared to other makers.

Firstly, the scarcer gem rough can be sourced and imported directly from the mine. This allows Masons to sidestep the usual fare offered by wholesalers to jewellers. Phill travels overseas annually to maintain contacts, and then regularly imports such seldom seen stones as colour-change and green garnets, and blue tourmalines, or even more common stones of uncommon clarity, including facetable moonstone and opal.

The second advantage of Phill faceting the stones is that the larger sizes can more frequently be gleaned, and more economically, in the rough, than already cut.

20 carat green garnet rough, dopped ready for cutting
Thirdly, more satisfying cutting designs can be used. Even with the traditional cuts, the number of facets can be maximised, increasing scintillation; whereas many professional cutters cut only the minimum number of facets, and still consider the job done...

The 5.85 carat gem cut from the above rough, and set as a ring.
Moreover, new cutting styles can be employed, producing gems which, for instance, show the appearance of checkers in the stone, or other visual illusions.
And, best of all, stones can be cut in Masons own designs.


Three Blades: the Pen.., the Sword..., the Ploughshare...'
The blades were linked by the two biblical quotes; that the pen is mightier than the sword; and that swords were to be beaten into ploughshares.

The blades were wrought from titanium. The handles were polished silver-oxidised bones: a bird leg for the pen; a dolphin vertebae for the sword; and a cow rib for the plough.

The case with display fronts was especially made for the 'Three Blades...', based on the expertise Phill gained after a workshop with Ms. Penny Carey-Wells, who taught at the University of Tasmania School of Art on all things to do with paper, bookbinding, etc.

In that International Year of Peace, Phill was awarded the 'Mobil (Australia) Award for Excellence in Craft, for this sculpture.

The Lapidary
Both Phill and Ty have a deep and abiding fondness for stone. Perhaps it comes from bearing the name 'Mason'...

Phill first joined a lapidary club - the Parramatta Lapidary Club - in 1965, and has been a member of such a club ever since. He remembers in those early days of easy pickings, club members driving direct from Agate Creek, Far North Queensland, back down to Sydney towing a trailer overloaded with world-class agates, directly to the club rooms in time for the monthly meeting, just to awe everyone. And it was awesome in those days when fine stones could be picked from the surface of the earth without digging...Agate Creek has been visited by Phill and Ty since, but it now involves deep digging in the tropical heat.

Photo Above: Phill casting harsh shadows, deep digging at Agate Creek, Queensland, 2004

Petrifactions attract Ty more than agates. He collects the rare petrified manferns (Osmandacaulis) that occur in Southern Tasmania at Lune River. In contrast to the conditions at Agate Creek, digging manfern can be muddy, wet and cold.

Photo: Phill retrieves a chunk of petrified wood from Lune River, Tasmania.

Travelling overseas every year, Phill has seized opportunities to source interesting stone, and maintains a stockpile or rough which varies from opal to chrysoprase, and about a ton of his first lapidary love - agate.

Finessing the cutting of stone, and innovation in its setting, is a pursuit of Masons. Rather than simply cutting cabochons - smooth, round-topped shapes - Phill prefers tablets and columns; and Ty prefers stone-carving. Ty was awarded third prize in the international Opal Jewellery Design Awards, 2002, held at Lightning Ridge every two years, for an innovative opal carving and setting.
The MaSON - Ty

Ty's enthusiasm for the sport of Skateboarding translated into avant garde motifs as he became a jeweller.

Tyrus won the Tasmanian Fine Craft Award, 1997, with this bangle, entitled 'Skating Rink', . The piece was acquired by the Burnie Regional Art Gallery.

The wonderful thing about the design was that the skateboard was held on to the bangle by the pavilions of the gemsetting, in such a way as to allow the board to be spun around the 'rink'. The accompanying ring was entitled 'Ramp Ring'. The finger is actually supported by the four boards resting in each corner.

Don't hesitate - GO - check out their website...this Father and Son team are originals!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Nina Basharova

Find her at

Born in the Russian Federation and raised in the Ukraine, Nina Basharova’s artistic journey began while being exposed her parent’s community of actors, writers and painters. Inspired by the art and poetry of family friends Basharova merged her love of culture with her affinity for jewelry richly steeped in history.

She began her studies with fine arts while living in the Ukraine since she was 12 and went on to get a degree in jewelry design at the Art College in Haifa, Israel. While still in school, she was twice honored with the prestigious Sharett Scholarship of The America-Israel Cultural Foundation and had her work displayed in the Museum of Art in Ramat Gan.

She arrived in New York in 2002 and worked as a bench jeweler and assistant designer. Throughout this time she has been diligently creating her own collection, focusing on carving out her own original identity of hand finished pieces that blend together an artisan’s eye for craft and detail with a truly modern sensibility. Each one of the groups in her collection have been recognized by press and various jewelry competitions. A piece from her first collection “Milky Way” was included in the book “500 Bracelets” (Larks Books, 2005) and then again in the follow up books, “500 Earrings” and “500 Wedding Rings”, chosen among thousands of designers worldwide. Her work was voted by a World Gold Council Blue Ribbon Panel of trade experts for promotion for an unprecedented 3 consecutive years in 2006, 2007 and 2008

Nina Basharova is no newbie to jewelry industry with her designs that are far from traditional. Her rich creative concepts are rooted in her native Russian culture, through thorough studies of classic art, drawing and history, old world jewelry making techniques and new world's freedom of expression . Being so supremely capable to accomplish a design starting from it's very conception though the finishing touches exclusively by herself has enabled her to sculpt her designs to be of striking look, very practical, interchangeable and collectable. Coming to US in 2002 she has won 15 Awards for only past 3 years - among them are the highly coveted:

Geometrichemozioni 2006 by 'Trissinooro Consortium,Trissino, Italy
Diva Award by Women Jewelry Association 2006
Tahitian Pearl Trophy by Perles de Tahiti,2008
New Talent Award by American Jewelry Designers Council, 2008
...this number of awards is unprecedented in such a short period of time and Nina is taking the US jewelry industry by storm.

Nina Basharova has secured her place in the jewelry industry as an innovative fresh talent and an outstanding designer with 15 years of experience in fabrication and having developed her own distinctive style with attention to the detail and strong structural concept and unique recognizable look she is definitely the name to watch.

This is the piece that started everything...the image was submitted to the “500 Bracelets” book and was chosen by Lark Books from a field of 3,000 designers worldwide.

The Milky Way Collection

Simplicity and perfection of a circle with its endless associations and meanings—from timeless solar symbol to Plato's perfect geometric form.

Repeating itself upon itself it creates patterns that evoke images of raindrops, freckles, polka dots, cherry blossoms. Unified under one cosmic banner across the sky—the Milky Way.


Purchase Information:

11 Maiden Lane
San Francisco



The Barbed Wire Collection
The Barbed Wire collection is the re-invention of a symbol of oppression and imprisonment into a piece of fine jewelry. The use of this brutally iconic structure to hold precious stones or pearls is key to the impact of this collection.

The term "barbed" also refers to a comment with double meaning. The polished golden wire whose barbs are clasping a beautiful stone is a counter-point to the usual associations, and an ironic statement for a woman who might choose it for an engagement ring

Design Statement
My designs are based on harmony of balance and contrast in use of colors and textures, light and dark, as well as the combination of high sophistication and street chic.

The goal is to transform every day objects into extraordinary pieces of wearable art. With the benefit of old world training in art, I am able focus my rebellious Russian temperament, my restless creativity and my love for innovation into a vision that transforms and reconfigures what I see in the world around me. I find inspiration in watching smoke rings fly or the ripples of rain falling in puddles, or merely staring at the sky. Stargazing led me to my first collection, “Milky Way.” I translated this feeling into fine points of light strung on ethereal threads through adapting the stones and textures into graceful and elegant yet highly contemporary pieces of jewelry. In my “Barbed Wire collection,” I interpreted the brutal barbs of iron into textured gold wire twisted around gentle polished stones.

I choose to work with bold colors and strong, durable structures to create abstract designs which are intended to appeal to a variety of personal and individual styles.

I am equally drawn to the unusual as to the classic, the bold and the elegant, the free- spirited and the sophisticated, the sensual and the strong. My pieces tend to be a mingling of these elements. I have sought to achieve a level of comfort and wear-ability, and pay close attention to how my jewelry will move with the different parts of the body—how they can enhance the neck, nestle in stacks on the finger, flow from the ear and sit delicately on a wrist or climb up the arm.

As diverse as my inspiration can be, all my designs share a common goal: unified pieces that sparks a recognition and originality in modern women to be able to relate to and that reveals the utmost attention to quality of stones, metals, textures and finishes.

Nina Basharova, Jewellry Designer
36 W 47 St. Ste.701,
New York NY 10036
Fax: 646-957-9237

Nina Basharova’s brand is committed to use at least 80% recycled
materials, whether in promotion or fabrication.
We encourage you to do the same.

The Daily Jewel

This will be a short daily post of artists, jewels and gems that have influenced me and my world - I hope that you will draw some joy and motivation from it...

Robyn Hawk
Tucson Gem Show - Live
Jewelry & Gem Artists
Fly On The Wall-Views and Reviews
Now You've Done It...You're On My List

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." -Goethe


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