Friday, February 26, 2010

Endless Inspiration!

We asked Ruth of Ruth Barzel Jewelry Designs what inspires her. On the right is a picture of one of her beautiful creations,

Here is her response:

Answering the question "what inspires you?" isn't as simple as it seems. Inspiration is elusive. Something as random as a shadow on the sidewalk or a grainy newspaper photo can make an idea for a new piece pop into my mind. But if there is one thing that consistently provides me with inspiration, it's the work of other jewelry designers. Knowing that there are so many creative people out there producing all manner of beautiful and interesting jewelry makes me want to be part of it. So I've put together a list of a few of my favorite designers—the ones whose new work always makes my heart beat a little faster. Some are big, some are small; some are artists and some—well—not. And although each is completely different from the other, they're all completely fabulous.

Jamie Joseph. This fantastic designer is a long-time favorite. Although I've never met her, she is from my home town, Seattle, so I feel as if there's a connection between us. Her rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are sold in stores all over the country, as well as online in stores such as Twist, New Twist, and Persimmon. Her rings are especially amazing; the stones (which are cut by her husband, Jeremy Joseph) are so luminous and beautiful that it's impossible to decide which one you like best. The rings are organic and handmade looking but meticulously crafted and chic at the same time. Most recently she has added a “Jamie Joseph Wedding” collection made using white and yellow gold and pave diamonds. The collection is to die for, and you don’t need to be contemplating marriage to appreciate it.

J Crew. This jewelry line is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, because I generally prefer jewelry made by independent designers, but then I have to remember that even though J Crew is a big company, someone must be designing its jewelry, and whoever that may be is doing an awesome job. Plus, J Crew pieces fit nicely into my fashion philosophy, which is all about combining different types of jewelry—a classic engagement ring with a chunky handmade bracelet, for example, or tiny stud earrings and an over-the-top costume-ey necklace. My favorite J Crew pieces are the bracelets. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this company to see what’s coming next.

Jes Maharry. This is one of my all-time favorite designers. Her silver, yellow gold and (my favorite) rose gold pieces are etched with words that express her philosophy and tiny illustrations that somehow manage to be meticulous and rustic at the same time. She also used hand-cast beads and charms and trade beads in her amazing necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. I admire the way she’s maintained her artistic integrity while expanding her business. Most recently she’s added high-end diamond wedding jewelry, and it’s just as beautiful as her earlier, simpler pieces are.

One Stone New York. I stumbled upon this young designer on Etsy one day and was enchanted by his beautifully crafted jewelry made with silver, gold, gemstones, and rough diamonds. His work is so special (and affordable) that it’s hard for me to believe he won’t be a household name among jewelry lovers soon.

Anat Perez. I discovered this Israeli designer on a trip to Tel Aviv last summer. She uses white gold made in a special way that gives the metal a yellowish sheen, so that it appears to be something in between white and yellow gold, and the metal has a gorgeous organic yet elegant look (this seems to be a theme connecting much of my most-adored jewelry). I don’t know much about Perez, since I’ve never seen her work other than in this one shop, and as far as I know, her pieces aren’t sold any at any stores in the United States, but if it were, I’d be shopping there! In addition, her website is written mostly in Hebrew, which I can’t read almost at all, so there’s an element of mystery about her. I hope that I have the opportunity to see more of her work in the future.

Antonio Piluso. If I were planning a trip to Italy, the first thing I would do wouldn’t be to drink a cappuccino, go to the Sistine Chapel, or shop for Italian shoes. Instead, I’d head straight to Milan to visit the store of this incredible artist. Piluso is another designer (like Anat Perez) who has a certain foreign mystique about him, because his work is sold in few places in the United States, and his website is written entirely in Italian. Nevertheless, you don’t need to see many of his pieces to recognize that he’s an amazing artist and designer. You can find a few of his rings and earrings at Relish in Washington, DC, and Barneys used to carry him as well, although the last time I was at the New York store I was told that they no longer did. He works with 14-karat white, yellow, and rose gold and small diamonds and finishes his pieces with a uniquely beautiful matte patina. Each piece is like a tiny sculpture.

Priya Himatsinkga. I’ve seen this designer’s work at only one store, Los Angeles, but looking at it there made me wish it were sold more widely. My favorite pieces are her rings and earrings made with oxidized silver, gold, and small rough diamonds. Her work fuses an antique feel with a funky handmade quality that comes together in jewelry that’s both elegant and casual.

Suzanne Somersall. I me this delightful designer when she lived in Washington DC, and Stanton Gallery in Old Town Alexandria carried both her work and my own. Since then, she’s moved to Japan, but her work is still carried in some DC stores as well as online. My favorites are her pieces inspired by sea life; her starfish earrings and sand-dollar pendants are so light and summery, and she has a great eye for proportion and balance. The best place to buy her jewelry is directly from her website.

Cathy Waterman. I don’t own any Cathy Waterman pieces and probably never will, but if I were to win the lottery, I’d be on a train to Barneys in Manhattan before the ink was dry on my check, ready to pick up several. Her incredible Love of My Life collection is a perfect blend of handmade individuality and opulent elegance. My only question is, if someone gave you a ring from her collection, would the “love of your life” be the man, or the ring?

Ninh Wysocan. A fitting way to end this list is with a description of Ninh Wysocan’s work (although the real reason she’s at the end is because her name is last in the alphabet). Although her work is beautiful in photos, it is impossible to truly appreciate it unless you see it in person, which you can do at Persimmon in Los Angeles, Barneys, and many other stores. (See her website for a complete list.) Her necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are made from super-fine crocheted wire or interconnected rings, chain, and pod-like cast pieces, in some cases combined with rough diamonds or other neutral-colored gemstones. She works mostly in oxidized silver and 14-karat gold, and it’s the shapes and proportions of her pieces that make them so extraordinary and special.

If you have favorite jewelry designers of your own, please post a comment. My appetite for inspiring jewelry is endless!


  1. Thank you for this wonderful post, Ruth. Such beautiful jewelry!!

  2. I'm thinking about creating an inspiration bulletin board where I can pin up pictures of color combinations, and handbags I like. What do other CRESTers do to keep track of their inspirations?

  3. Love your post, but knock out several of your favorites with a trip to Dallas to Ylang 23. Our Cathy Waterman & Jamie Joseph collections are amazing. Best ~ joanne@ylang23

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