Reported in the GIA Insider this month:
Robert Mulligan, whose wife was a fan of jewelry designer Barbara Berk, recently donated Berk's "Dragon Centerpiece" to the GIA Collection. This intricate piece was donated along with a double strand of golden bronze cultured freshwater pearls and a four-strand white cultured freshwater pearl necklace. The hand-woven 22K and 18K gold Centerpiece is a clasp that is worn in the front and can be detached and used with many different strands of pearls for a variety of looks.
Berk, a Graduate Gemologist (G.G.), created the Centerpiece using Soumak, an ancient rug-weaving technique. She says the Dragon is an early example of her use of the Soumak pattern, which laid the foundation for the more complex designs she creates today.Steve Workman, a GIA jewelry manufacturing arts instructor, examined the Dragon Centerpiece before it was put on display. "This is an exceptional piece and there is no easy way to make it," he said. "The gold weave must be done by hand, and it's very time-consuming and meticulous work."
Berk is pleased her piece will be on display at the Institute's Carlsbad campus."While getting my G.G. was a critical component that enabled me to change careers, I had no idea when I started that I would be creating jewelry. So it's personally a great honor that the GIA Museum wants my work represented in its collection," Berk says. "I hope the students will take advantage of the opportunity to closely examine my woven gold jewel."The "Dragon Centerpiece" and two sets of pearls were purchased by Mulligan's late wife, Eileen, whom Berk remembers fondly: "We met opening night at the first retail craft show in which I exhibited. She was such a pleasure to work with. She was very special to me."