Monday, May 18, 2009

Astali by Shannon De Jong

Rebels may come in all shapes and sizes, but generally there are a few commonalities...a passion for hard liquor consumption, an appreciation for music that’s both loud and aggressive, and a live-by-your-own rules mentality forged straight from the Old West. Designer Shannon De Jong straddles all of these areas with her Astali line, presenting the maverick personality in distinct collections.

Inspired by Jack Daniels, the Jack Astali grouping flaunts snake vertebrae sourced from rural Africa and memorably mingles it with brass and snake-glass beads. The rocker-influenced set (Rock Astali) pairs weapon charms with repurposed guitar strings in brass, copper and silver, and the Tex Astali pieces incorporates apropos elements such as Fool's Gold nuggets, wheat pennies, and bullet casings (even an antique faucet handle makes an appearance).

We love the stack of snake vertebrae bracelets interspersed with Afghani silver beads strung on brown leather (above right).

To view styles and purchase, visit the designer’s Web store.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Store Spotlight:

Despite best intentions, there truly is no substitute for a well-curated boutique. Because vision is a gift, and being able to translate that laser focus to a merchandise selection is never as easy as it looks.

Which is why hits the perfect sweet spot, serving up the collective viewpoint of Europe’s best boutiques. Farfetch isn’t the first online store to offer collections from multiple retailers, but where it succeeds is in its ability to play the role of an able matchmaker…everything just kind of fits together and makes sense.

The site (based in London) features many of our favorite jewelry designers -- Maria Francesca Pepe, Noemi Klein, Pamela Love, J. Dauphin, Aris Geldis, Mawi, and Daydream Nation – as well as a host of less publicized talents such Daniel Nagels, Boris Bidjan Saberi , and My Little Drama. Of course, not everyone is enamored with edgy, avant-garde pieces, but if you are (as we are), is a visual treat.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Turn Me on Design (TMOD)

Sometimes communication needs to be taken to a different level, somewhere deeper and internal, where it can resonate and bypass the typical “in one ear and out the other” method.

Sydney-based designers Georgie Swift and Milenka Osen of Turn Me on Design (TMOD), whose previous Smoke & Mirrors collection featured puzzle-solving jewelry, such as three-dimensional maze cubes and interlocking keys, recently collaborated with artist Andy Uprock for a new interactive series entitled /\poetry in braille/\.

Uprock, known for large floating cup street installations, imparts his Cuprocking vision to this range of sterling silver pieces, with TMOD evolving them into smaller, dearer, more intimate elements. Necklaces and rings flaunting cascading miniature cups and industrial cones are textured with Braille phrases serenely promoting community and integration. Tiered signpost pendants twist to reveal thoughts in English and Braille, melding the two languages into one. And Pagoda-shaped rings, dangled upside-down on chains, conceal poetic streams along the interior.

To view styles and browse purchase links, visit the TMOD Web site.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lisa Levine

There’s no higher endorsement of one’s work than that of a fellow colleague who inserts your designs into their personal wardrobe rotation, wearing the piece again, and again, and again. And truth be known that Lisa Levine is one those rare talents whose jewelry is consistently worn by New York’s fashion populi.

Her signature pieces are typically ethereal, with mixed metal draped arrangements, but her latest collection serves up bold color, holding fast onto the beat of summer. Vintage brass and copper chains in slinky, chunky widths are adorned with a mixture of beads and stones, some along one side, others broken into color-blocked segments.

To browse styles and purchase visit Creatures of Comfort.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rising Trend: Seed Bead Jewelry

Weaving small beads into intricate patterns has been around for ages, literally, harking back to ancient Egypt, eighth century Japan, and ninth century India. Of course, we still see glass seed beads adorned on dresses, sweaters and other elegant apparel, and now they are making a comeback in jewelry as well.

Fallon’s fringe necklaces were the first to make a splash, and now you can find beaded collar creations at stores like Urban Outfitters. But we love the inspired pieces lovingly produced by artisans such as Patrizia Tager (necklace above) and Carol Deane Sharpe…elaborate and interesting, these jewelry selections are the real deal.

To browse styles and purchase visit:

Triz Designs - Beadwork by Patrizia Tager
Beaded and Fiber Gifts by Carol Dean Sharpe

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Finch Metal

Oh, to be a kid again…whipping paper airplanes into shape, exploring the wind with a flying kite, getting colored chalk under your fingernails as you draw hopscotch patterns on the sidewalk.

Metalsmith Jill Antonishak’s designs are sweet emblems of treasured playthings, from tire swings to the helix-shaped slinky. Necklace pendants take form as three-dimensional pinwheels, flat paper dolls, dainty toy boats and intricate ferris wheels. Perfect, perfect little reminders that childhood pleasures need not reside in the past as a closed chapter. Rejoice, wear rompers, live like a kid again, and make sure to get your feet dirty.

To view styles and shop, visit the designer’s Web site.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Concrete Fruit Jewelry

Fruit and concrete probably sit at opposite ends of the contextual spectrum, which is why pairing them together makes so much sense. Take the sweet, soft and colorful and marry it with something durable, creating a vibrant new form filled with depth and longevity, rather than spoiling under the weight of time. If only all perishable goods could be rid of their pesky expiration dates, staying fresh and tasty forever and ever.

Designer Sue Urquhart’s fruit collection flaunts brushed silver pendants inlaid with tinted concrete, and dangled from 16” inch sterling drawn chains. Red strawberries, green pears, orange slices, lemon wedges, a pair of dangling cherries…no matter what your taste buds crave, each selection is juicy good and perfect for summer picnic days.

Visit the designer’s blog for recent work and purchasing information.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Digby & Iona

Sequels, if done right, generally happen because a continuum was necessary to unfurl the remainder of an idea. More to the story, a layered vision, or just simply additional ideas sprouted from the same plane of thought.

Designer Aaron Ruff wasn't done with his Wanderer in a Sea of Fog theme, paving the way for a Volume 2 collection. The recently introduced pieces build on the maritime theme, adding captain’s signet rings to the mix of spyglasses, compasses, and old-world weaponry. We love the antique feel of this black spot ring, with intricate scrolling and fashioned for a two-finger fit.

To view styles and purchase, visit the designer’s newly launched Web site.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Best of Etsy: Painted Metal

This series highlights noteworthy jewelry selections available on Etsy, the mammoth online marketplace for handmade goods.

To some, texture is the soul of every jewelry piece, separating the artistic from the mass-produced, the inspired from those that have nothing new to communicate, the layered from the mundane. And for Tammy Antoinette, texture is everything, dictating the design and color process.

Utilizing a multi-layered patina course that produces a watercolor finish, the designer creates pieces that are both rustic and beautiful. Stacked brass rings, colored mocha and turquoise, have a weather-beaten appearance, as does her shackle earrings (above). Leaf-shaped cuffs are treated with an external terra cotta patina, with a red tone gracing the interior. New color palettes are introduced frequently, but the prevalence of texture remains…gritty grooves, hammered pockmarks and meandering ripples.

To view styles and purchase, visit the designer’s Etsy store.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Melanie Bilenker Jewelry

Just like the popular children’s book Everyone Poops correctly preaches, we are indeed all creatures of commonplace routines and activities. But there is something extraordinary that resides in the mundane, and it is the clear connection that these everyday rituals bring…each and every one of us eating dinner, opening our mail, fixing our hair, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

It is this premise that Melanie Bilenker explores with her work, sketching ordinary moments with wispy hair (her own) and preserving them within resin. The illustrated blocks are framed with gold and ebony wood, and presented as brooches, rings and pendants. We love the lockets, with a wood slipcover, allowing the image to be revealed at the wearer’s discretion (shown above is Sunday Night, a dip into the bath).

To view designs and browse gallery links, visit the Melanie Bilenker’s Web site.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Reverie Jewelry by Alison Woodward

If the arts and crafts movement is indeed in revivalist mode as many predict, putting vintage Koos van den Akker jackets, mixed print and quilted, front and center along with Mary McFadden braided belts, then surely chunky jewelry is going to stick around for a while. Good news for Alison Woodward, who skillfully crafts large-scale pieces that are highly ornate and rich in tone.

Woodward’s forte is re-thinking the contextual nature of vintage elements, changing their lifeline through reconfiguration. Shells, color-drenched with paint, are arranged in a flower formation and dressed up with vintage ribbon…a brass mechanic’s shop plaque is given new life with 1950s rhinestone adornments. Some of the pieces are more straightforward, but all will have you daydreaming, just as the designer predicts with the jewelry line’s chosen name – Reverie.

To view styles and purchase, visit the designer’s Web site.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blue Bayer

Long time East Village resident Blue Bayer spent many, many years crafting smoking pipes and selling them to locals until he meet a young kid entranced with Steam Punk and everything kind of fell in to place. As if destiny itself was calling, the encounter lead Bayer to become re-inspired with his youthful obsessions like turn-of-the-century science fiction, and he started translating the gruesome design aesthetic he used in his pipe-crafting into wearable jewelry assembled from found objects.

Bayer’s line, called Assemblagio, flaunts pieces that marry clock parts with hand-blown glass eyes, and dangle hummingbird skulls cast in 18k gold. Many designs have been enhanced with modeling clays and aging solvents to impart an antique appearance. But here’s the best part – Blue writes like Bukowski, on full display in his Etsy store listings. From Pat (a battle scarred old guy from Queens) to Stone Gnome (a lady who sells him gemstones and adopts a lot cats) Bayer has stories, lots of them, and he tells them in such a real-deal manner that you can become distracted and forget how frickin’ amazing his jewelry is…almost, but not quite.

To browse styles visit the designer’s Web site. It’s connected to his Etsy store.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yasmin Kuhn Design

Perhaps it's winter doldrums nipping at our psyche that has us turning our thoughts, ever so early, to the coming of spring (the dance of bright colors, the wispy feminine fabrics, the sprightly footwear). So, yes, perking up is in order, and Yasmin Kuhn's cheery jewelry pieces are a flawless tonic for battling the blues.

Emulating flower lei silhouettes, Kuhn, a RISD graduate, bundles clear and frosted acrylic beads in chunky arrangements, some monochromatic, others with scattered colors. Most selections are available as a single 20" or in a longer 36" length that can artfully be wrapped around the neck several times.

To view styles and store listings, visit the designer's Web site.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Metamorphosis of Gauged Jewelry

Will the mainstream fashion industry forever turn a blind eye to the mounting popularity of gauged jewelry? Maybe, maybe not, but the reality is that more and more designers are artistically moving beyond industrial ear plugs, and producing more palatable pieces.

One of our favorite stores Robot, nestled in Portland, has amassed a worthy online collection of ear adornments from local designers such as Lobey Wan, who produces pretty elements in shapes of frogs and angel wings, and Cheryl Lisowski, whose line Heart of Metal flaunts hoops intricately woven with brightly colored thread (above right).

To browse styles and purchase, visit Robot’s online store.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Specimen Jewelry

Designer Carrie Yee is an ardent enthusiast of anthropology infusing her Specimen jewelry line with elements such as coyote teeth (paired with Indian glass beads) and shark vertebrae (nestled with skulls carved from nuts).

Of course, lots of on-trend feathers make an appearance in her pieces, as well as shells and semi-precious stones, but it’s her arrangements that are bewitching, such as the Hawaiian Fish Hook necklace, flaunting an off-center bone pendant on chain braided into cord.

Until recently, one had to visit Yee’s booth at the Brooklyn Flea to snap up one of her creations, but no more…a just launched Etsy shop offers a chunk of the Specimen collection online.