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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Eight ‘Protagonists’ Honored As Jewelers And Artists

The statuette by Alex Soldier consists of 35 separate parts of gold and platinum with rubies, sapphires, diamonds and pearls. A removable ruby ring completes the work. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Eight US jewelers were honored by an Italian publication for their uncompromising vision Monday while they showed their jewels during a special event at Bonhams New York.

They were selected by the Italian jewelry publication, Vogue Gioiello, in its annual listing of “US Protagonists,” described as being “the best contemporary fine jewelry designers in the US.” The idea is to give these US-based artists international attention.

Maria Soldier wears Alex Soldier’s Anemone Coronaria (crown) brooches during the “US Protagonists” event at Bonhams New York. Photo by Anthony DeMarco 

The eight U.S. “protagonists” for this year are: Alex Soldier, Alexandra Mor, Heidi Gardner NYC, Hoorsenbuhs, K. Brunini Jewels, Suzanne Kalan, Sylva & Cie and Temple St. Clair.

Approximately 350 jewelry lovers and media representatives attended the event in which each jeweler showed their work in display cases. Since nearly all of the designers were in attendance, people were able to talk with them as well try on and buy their jewels.

Alexandra Mor and her jewels. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Susan Abeles, Bonhams director of US Jewelry, in her welcoming remarks, stressed that the pieces on display are wearable and collectible art.

“These are jewelers of the 21st Century,” she said. “It’s your responsibility to meet them, to hear their story, to find their inspiration, and to touch the jewelry—pick it up, try it on. To understand what the artist was trying to do…. Pick out what you like. There’s something in every taste and for everyone.”

There certainly was something for everyone as each designer showcased their independent, artistic flair.

Alex Soldier pearl ring. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

For example, Alex Soldier specializes in several techniques, including those he created, and combines them in jewelry of differing textures and forms. One of his specialties is using casting techniques to create sculptural pieces made of many separate parts. In fact, in addition to jewels, Soldier is known for his sculptural objets d'art.

Rare amatrin gem (which combines the colors of amethyst and citrine) on a ring flanked by two amethysts by Alexandra Mor. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Alexandra Mor creates elegant, well-crafted pieces with signature characteristics such as the use of large colored gemstones, “floating” diamond melee and knife-edge wire trim. Out of this group, she is perhaps the best at incorporating her work and her persona into her brand.

Wrap your wrist with a woman’s pelvic bone. 18K Gold Plated Brass with five orange sapphires by Heidi Gardner NYC. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Heidi Gardner describes her work as “dangerous and delicate” and for good reason. She specializes in jewels that depict skeletal structures—such as spines, pelvises and (of course) skulls—of humans and all sorts of animals whether they walk, swim or fly. Somehow she manages to make her silver and gold-plated brass pieces to appear playful and even beautiful.

Katey Brunini wearing her large flower brooches made of cow bones. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Katey Brunini of K. Brunini Jewels is artistic, innovative and endlessly creative, taking inspiration from the primitive to the modern and using materials one would not associate with jewelry making, such as cow bones, which she fashioned into large, milky white flower brooches that she wore at the event.

Tree of Life pendant by Temple St. Clair. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Temple St. Clair has been a leader in the fine jewelry industry for many years, known for her signature gold pieces with colored gems and design influences from her travels around the world. All of her jewels are handmade in Florence by traditional goldsmiths. Last year she introduced a couture line of nine one-of-a-kind pieces. Those works were not at the event as she chose to show some of her signature pieces.

Ancient coin necklace with handmade beads By Sylva & Cie. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Sylva & Cie was one of the biggest surprises for me at the event. I never saw its pieces in person or met its founder and designer, Sylva Yepremian. She creates high quality fine jewels but the most interesting items for me were jewels that combine new materials with vintage and period items, such as antique coins and glass beads, into one-of-a-kind pieces.

Patile Kalandjian wears diamond and gold choker by Suzanne Kalan. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Suzanne Kalan, whose jewels are designed by Suzanne and her daughter, Patile, are well known for their “Fireworks” collection, which features baguette-cut diamonds placed in clusters and rows and other untraditional ways that appear like firecrackers.

Long, flowing linked gold chain by Hoorsenbuhs. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Hoorsenbuhs, founded by self-taught designer Robert Keith in 2005, specializes in fashion-forward hand-made luxury gold jewels. The company is best-known for its tri-link rings and its partnerships with a number of celebrities.

Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website

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