Diamonds Unleashed

About 16 months ago, Kara Ross, the New York jewelry designer known for her bold designs, had just reset her diamond engagement ring in an unconventional snake setting, when it occurred to her that the world’s most precious gemstone was still dominated by its association as a token of love and marriage, something given by a man to a woman.

In an age in which women are increasingly financially independent and continue to strive for gender equality, Ms. Ross found that for the most part, they still wait to be given a diamond.

“I spoke to friends and said, ‘Would you buy yourself a car?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘A fancy piece of technology?’ ‘Yes’. ‘A diamond?’ ‘Well, no.”’

So began Diamonds Unleashed, a company that Ms. Ross hopes will drive a movement. “It’s not about ruining the diamond’s association with love and marriage but saying let’s extend that symbolism to women’s strength and empowerment,” she said.

Offering three jewelry collections designed by Ms. Ross

An Art Installation You Can Wrap Around Your Wrist

The fine jewelry designer Monique Péan has always felt a strong connection with sculptors; “I work with natural, raw materials and strive to create a balance between organic textures and geometric structure,” she tells T in an email. Upon seeing the multidisciplinary artist Walter De Maria’s 1979 work “The Broken Kilometer” at Dia Art Foundation’s West Broadway site, she “was struck by his use of line to create an awe-inspiring vision of grand scale.”

So, her latest pieces, which become available at The Line today, draw inspiration from De Maria’s work: With 18-carat, recycled yellow gold and conflict- and devastation-free champagne diamonds, the collection brings “The Broken Kilometer” to necks, arms and earlobes. Indented bars resemble the punctuated installation of De Maria’s 500 solid brass rods. “A significant portion of my design process was considering how my work would look from all angles,” Péan says. She also points out that these pieces weren’t a collaboration or commission by Dia (which will receive 100 percent of the proceeds); rather, the idea “came about organically as I was designing.”

When White Diamonds Won’t Cut It

IF there is a holiday gift almost guaranteed to make a recipient swoon with joy, it is a diamond. But while such stones remain appealing as jewelry, the value of certain colored diamonds has increased while traditional white diamonds have fallen.

Diamond dealers are talking about pink, blue and red diamonds as investments, citing a recent track record of double-digit returns. This new interest in such rare gemstones can make a holiday gift 10 to 20 times more expensive than a similar, high-quality white diamond. Yet there are others in the trade who question whether these stones will pay the dividends people imagine in the Christmases to come.

“Fancy colored diamonds are the flavor of the year — they’re hot, they’re sexy, they’re great,” said Martin Rapaport, chairman of the Rapaport Group, which is considered a primary source of diamond pricing information.

How to Pair Statement Rings and Bracelets

It can be challenging to create a cohesive look. From choosing a blouse that matches your shoes and earrings that complement your necklace, there are a lot of different elements to consider when creating an outfit. One of the most overlooked yet crucial combinations in an outfit is rings and bracelets. Because rings and bracelets share the same space on your body, it’s even particularly important to pay attention to the nuances of constructing a unified look. After all, your outfit is often your first impression. So why not make it fabulous?

1)Keep it Light

The key to wearing bracelets and rings is to keep it light. Avoid jewelry overload by being selective about your bracelets. Statement rings are bold and beautiful, and because of that they deserve to be the center of attention. Even beyond that, it’s important to allow them to be the center of attention. In other words, let your gemstone ring truly shine by choosing bracelets that are thin, subdued and complementary. Such choices will ensure that your hand and wrist don’t appear overwhelmed by accessories.

2)Complementary Colors

Sometimes, matching is fun. Finding bracelets and rings that are exactly the same hue can be an enjoyable challenge. But for

How To Match Jewelry and Hair Color

Hair color and jewelry are unlikely allies. Although it is often overlooked, hair color is a large part of a person’s overall appearance. As such, it is important to consider your hair color when choosing outfits, hats and especially jewelry. Because hair and jewelry share the same space on the face, it is critical that they co-exist in harmony. Even beyond that, it’s important that they complement one another. There are countless guides for matching skin color with jewelry and outfits with accessories, but very few address the importance of hair color. To enhance your overall ensemble and create a cohesive look that flatters, follow the simple guide below.

1)      Blonde

For blonde-haired beauties, the possibilities are endless. Most colors look great with fair hair because it is versatile and not too imposing. However, there are some colors that especially stun. Blue hued gemstones like sapphire and blue topaz look breathtaking with blonde hair because they serve as a subtle contrast against the lightness of the locks. Greens look great as well. If you’re feeling bold, opt for orange gemstones that will create a healthy glow when contrasted with fair skin and hair.

2)      Red

For fiery redheads, the jewelry colors that look

Closet Cleanup How To Update Your Jewelry Collection

Life is often about letting go. Whether you’re letting go of the dream you had of being an ice-cream truck driver when you were five, or you’re letting go of your childhood blanket that is now a rag, sometimes letting go is the best. However, it can be harder to let go of items you bought as an adult. Jewelry is no exception.

It’s important to realize that by holding on to jewelry pieces that you no longer wear, you’re actually detracting from your happiness because you’re preventing yourself from moving on and finding pieces that are useful to you now. Letting go is a process; however, there are simple ways to jumpstart it.

Start by determining the last time you wore a piece of jewelry. Although there are some exceptions, most jewelry should be worn at least once a year. Exceptions include heirloom pieces and those with sentimental value. If you are wearing a piece of jewelry less than once a year, then it is time to reevaluate how you feel about the piece.

Perhaps you no longer enjoy it or maybe it reminds you of a specific period of your life that you would rather forget. Regardless of the reason,

3 Creative Ways to Ask Your Bridesmaids

The days of only men popping the question are over. Recently, brides-to-be have started asking a question of their own: “Will you be my bridesmaid?” Instead of merely asking the question verbally or with a small written note, women are now asking their bridesmaids-to-be in elaborate and thoroughly planned gestures. From fortune cookies with the question hidden inside to a puzzle that asks the question once completed, future brides are getting creative with asking their ladies to stand by them on their big day. One of the most popular ways for a bride to “pop the question” is with jewelry. Following in the tradition of an engagement ring, women have begun to ask their bridesmaids with beautiful pieces of bling.

1)      Hidden Surprise

One of the most popular ways for brides-to-be to ask the question is with a hidden surprise. Hidden surprises can be done in numerous ways, but a glass jar is certainly among the most creative. Fill a glass mason jar, or any glass that you like, with tissue paper or confetti and hide a piece of jewelry and small note inside. The note will read, “Will you be my bridesmaid?” The jewelry can range from a necklace to

Pandora looks to expand presence, brand

Shoppers have come to know the Pandora name for glittering displays of customized sterling bracelets and gemstone charms sold by jewelers or the company’s own retailers.

But the Danish company kept a lower profile for its Maryland connection — a U.S. headquarters that’s been lodged in Columbia since the brand arrived in the country in 2003. At first, the small headquarters didn’t garner much notice; then the company didn’t want to advertise the location because its warehouse was filled with high-priced goods.

Now, as sales grow rapidly, Pandora is looking to expand both its U.S. presence and brand. It plans store openings, more frequent product launches and a move to a bigger headquarters where it can add to its workforce of 210 over the next decade. The two sites under consideration are an office near its current Columbia base or a prominent spot at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

“We’ve been a well-kept secret,” said Scott Burger, president of Pandora Americas, which includes the United States, Canada and a small market in South America. At the same time, he said, “the company has grown very fast.”

Pandora’s U.S. sales have skyrocketed, growing 25 percent

Pair sought in jewelry theft at Green Spring Station boutique are wanted in other states

Baltimore County police, along with a growing list of law enforcement agencies across several states, are searching for a Maryland pair who they say have stolen thousands of dollars in merchandise from jewelry stores.

Baltimore County police said Robert Antoine Weathers, 53, and Robin Tracy Nelson, 50, took jewelry from an unlocked safe in the office of Bijoux Jewels at Green Spring Station’s Gatehouse Shoppes on Falls Road on May 8. County police sent out a statement Monday asking for more information about the pair.

On June 14, police in Columbia, S.C., said Weathers and Nelson allegedly hit another jewelry store, taking more than $100,000 in diamonds. Police alleged two other unidentified suspects posed as customers, asking employees to see jewelry, while Weathers walked behind a case and took the jewels from an open safe.

Columbia police said in a statement that surveillance video shows Weathers hiding the diamond tray in his jacket before leaving the store with the others.

In the Bijoux Jewels case, county police said two other suspects distracted employees, and that the theft was not noticed until after the suspects left the store. An employee who answered the store’s

Saxon’s launches new fashion jewelry boutique

“Fun, affordable and edgy” is how Megan Openhyn, store manager of XO by Saxon’s, describes the boutique jewelry store, which opened in November at the Boulevard at Box Hill in Abingdon.

The shop’s glass windows are lined with one-of-a-kind hair accessories and handbags  from U.S.-based and international brands like Botkier and Dareen Hakim. And it’s the only destination in Maryland selling chic, artistic headbands and combs from New York’s Colette Malouf.

“They are done by hand and really exquisite,” Openhyn says. “Nobody else in Maryland will have these unless they bought them in New York.”

Unique pieces and reasonable prices are the hallmarks of XO by Saxon’s, which is owned by Saxon’s Diamond Centers, a family-owned engagement and bridal staple in Harford County since 1958.

XO by Saxon’s carries well-recognized brands such as Dobbs Boston, Kit Heath, Southern Gates and Steven Douglas, which have done well in the few months the boutique has been open.

The shop’s inventory also includes eclectic pieces and costume jewelry from brands like Lauren G. Adams, which sells colorful stacking bracelets; Mariana, whose gleaming “Guardian” necklaces nearly sold out during the holidays; and Stardust, which incorporates tiny cuts

The double lives of the Hazard County Hellions roller derby team

In roller derby, a name says it all. The Hazard County Hellions, Harford County’s only roller derby team, chose a name that seems wild and mischievous, a stark contrast to the responsible citizens who form the team. In this sport, theatrics are just as much a part of a match as athletics, and its players, no matter how shy or timid they seem by day, take on sassy, aggressive alter egos when they lace up their skates.

Formed in 2013, the co-ed team is part of MADE (Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor), an organization formed to promote roller derby as an athletic experience, and hosted its first match Aug. 2. We talked with four of the Hellions to find out how they balance their everyday lives with their roller derby personas.


Tessie Ragan, preschool teacher
Also known as…
Misshown, blocker 

“Someone came to the door the other day and asked if they could talk to my mom!” says Tessie Ragan, 31.

The owner of Perfect Start Preschool in Edgewood, Ragan had to convince the visitor that she was the grown-up in the house. With a perky, girlish voice and a mischievous smile, Ragan looks and

Material Concerns: The Ribbon Room

Susan Pasco, keeper of The Ribbon Room, Nancy’s Sewing Basket, Seattle, Washington

There are places that the International Jewelry Elite know of by reputation, and frequent when travels allow. Tokyu Hands. Karl Fischer GmbH. Metalliferous. Insert-your-local-treasure-map-here. Like them, this room is the stuff of legend. I found out from several locals—people born and bred in the Pacific Northwest are hard to find but happy to share—about Nancy’s Sewing Basket and, more importantly, The Ribbon Room. As it turns out, I had already frequented it before I realized its significance.

The keeper of The Ribbon Room at Nancy’s Sewing Basket is Susan, whose array of vintage attire is personal adornment par excellence. Some of her pieces, she explains with hand-to-shaking-head mock shame, are period pieces she has owned since the period’s inception. One-owner vintage. The envy of car enthusiasts. Others she makes, with 1920s fashion being a favorite. One time, because of a leg cast that finished at her knee, she was unable to get all her seasonal wear into her downstairs storage. She lost 30 pieces to moths that year—19 skirts and 11 tailored jackets. Her wistful longing for those old friends strongly indicates that it won’t happen again. This year’s summer-to-winter

Material Concerns Georgetown

Georgetown Trailer Park Mall, Seattle, Washington

My head is routinely turned by overstuffed second-hand stores when I’m material shopping. I appreciate that not everyone wants their material bearing the kind of message that recycled objects convey, but if you’re after rare threads, specialist tools, or recycled metals, combing through castoffs at the thrift store or outdoor market is often the best bet. Enter Seattle’s Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. In the midst of a biker community, Georgetown boasts rail yards to the north and a freeway that hugs the eastern border so closely that in part it looms overhead, and it’s cut off from the river on the western side by yet another freeway sliding south. Then there’s the airport, dead south, whose air traffic patterns routinely interrupt conversation in the streets. Across the road from an old brewery building or two, the car park of Star Brass Works Lounge—what we back home would call a pub—seems a logical place for a random assortment of goods—those for sale and the trailers housing the wares. The “mall” itself is hemmed into a right angle between semi-industrial buildings: these edge a triangular vortex into which fragments seem to naturally pool. It’s just as well

Mission and Repurpose

Mexican artist and educator Mariana Acosta, recently featured in DesignMilk, launched the Precious Waste project as a means to explore the quality of “preciousness” in an academic setting. Acosta leads industrial and graphic design students at Mexico’s Universidad Gestalt de Diseño through an investigative process of sourcing waste materials and transforming them into sleek, thoughtfully crafted wearable pieces. Discarded milk containers, VHS videotape, and egg cartons are imbued with new value once they’re reengineered and presented as art jewelry.

The Precious Waste project itself been a way for Acosta to repurpose the resources available to her. She describes on the project’s website how she had to abandon her dream of staying in the US after graduate school and return to Mexico, where contemporary jewelry isn’t as widely recognized as an artistic discipline. She describes why she made the choice to work with waste materials: “Because they were all I had left as working materials after graduating from a very prestigious but also pricey school. So I decided to make lemonade with the lemons I had, or as I named my toilet paper cardboard rolls jewelry series When Life Gives You Shit, Use It as Fertilizer.”

Makiko Akiyama, Kokubunji, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan

“Introverts Unite! (Separately at our own homes)”

I probably first came upon this phrase when my friend Daim posted a T-shirt with it to Facebook.

I work at home from a cubbyhole. As an introvert writer and translator, I understand the sentiment: I want to connect with others, even if it’s from the privacy of home.

And I can, thanks to my bookshelf and old, slow Vaio laptop. I meet people and learn their ideas through the printed page and a small 15-inch screen. When I work up the courage, I’ll send an email to someone I’ve never met to write or translate an article about them. I can stay connected to the world because there are people who accept my method.

Hello, there. What are you up to? What’s on your mind? Sometime soon I might approach you to get to know you better, to let others know the exciting things you are doing, all the time hoping to see you, one day, in the real world.

Doing the Math

Driven by the uncertainty over the future of the monetary system, attention to the global gold market has been growing over the past few years. Like in any worldwide trade, its price is moved by a combination of supply, demand, and investor behavior. But unlike other assets, gold continues to be a safe-haven investment, and is considered a good hedge against inflation: Speculators as well as central banks favor it in times of economical/geopolitical turmoil because of its stability and easy liquidation. For instance, when the Great Recession hit, gold prices rose.

While reflecting on the above, creators in diverse fields have been inspired to depict these fluctuations through their work. In 2013 Sophie Boons summed up the fluctuations of the gold market since the last century (1913–2012) by visualizing the average gold annual prices in golden rings, resized according to the commercial ups and downs of the commodity. Employing similar methods, the designer Klemens Schillinger, in collaboration with Viennese jewelers A.E. Köchert Juweliere, presented a series of rings called Element 79—Aurum (gold is the 79th element on the periodic table) this year at Vienna Design Week. On a dedicated website, Schillinger also created an app that allows users to flick

Dispossession Couture

If all you want right now is an uplifting story about the indomitability of the human spirit:

The tribal inhabitants of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley are resourceful, resilient people with beautiful teeth. They transform garbage into treasured adornments, literally weaving the by-products of throwaway consumer culture into their traditions and rituals to create “vibrant postmodern couture.” Style is integral to their daily life, with self-decoration and ornamentation establishing one’s identity and place within the tribe. Beauty is valued so highly that the tribespeople make time among the other tasks required to survive their harsh environment to craft elaborate wigs, headpieces, and jewelry.

If grim truths and the difficult realities of human existence are more your thing:

The tribespeople of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley are adorning themselves with the symbols of their own inevitable destruction. The bottle caps, the wristwatches, the SIM cards, are all spillover from the industrialized, modern world encroaching on their ancestral homelands and eroding their traditional ways of life. The tribes of the Omo Valley are fast approaching full contact with the western world, a process only sped up by the busloads of tourists now coming by to take pictures of “the trendy tribespeople.”

Art Jewelry Forum Trip to Barcelona

There were 24 participants on the Barcelona Art Jewelry Forum trip, mostly from various parts of the US, but we had one person who came from Australia for the trip, as well as one person originally from Sweden and one from Romania, both of whom are now US citizens. It was interesting to have a multicultural group in such a multicultural city.

It’s hard to even dent the surface of Barcelona and its beauty and wonders in four days, but we certainly tried!

The meeting point for the group was the hotel that most of us stayed in, the Casa Fuster. It is a wonderful example of the Modernista style (called Art Nouveau elsewhere) that Barcelona is so famous for, mostly because of Antoni Gaudí. The hotel was built for a wealthy family by one of the other stars of the Modernista movement, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and, when finished, was the largest single-family home in Barcelona. It was completely restored and converted into a hotel about five years ago.

Our delicious opening dinner was held in the hotel and began with an informative talk by Barcelona native and AJF contributor Mònica Gaspar. Monica gave us an overview of jewelry made in Barcelona

Material Concerns Erfurt Enamel

Vials of enamel powder, Künstlerwerkstätten (the artists’ workshops), Erfurt, Germany, 2014

This image of artists in motion is taken from the kiln room at the Künstlerwerkstätten in Erfurt, Germany. Overseeing the action, across from the newly erected air compressor-powered and internally vacuumed spray booth, installed for safe high-pressure liquid-enamel delivery, is a dresser filled with antique powdered enamels. They are relics of not long ago, when the inhalation of heavy metals during preparation and firing of decorative wares was considered of less concern to art makers than access to an extensive color range. What to do with them now? Firing is not an option, not when the neighboring properties are homes, a kindergarten, and a full-care facility. Disposing of them professionally seems wastefully expensive for a community-supported arts space. Thus they sit, entombed (in suspended animation, perhaps?) in the dresser, thereby becoming the only permanent art installation in this art-making space.

Why Pearls?

The Newark Museum’s Acquisitions Committee allowed me to purchase a string of pearls 1454 mm long. This necklace of 352 natural Asian marine pearls was assembled in 1906 by the New York firm of Marcus & Company and finished off with a modest diamond and platinum clasp. When Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857–1935) selected the necklace as a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary gift for his wife, Lucretia, Marcus & Company designed a custom-made heart-shaped box of ivory silk plush, lined with ivory velvet and satin. The pearls were arranged in concentric hearts with the diamond clasp hanging like a teardrop at the center. Henry Osborn was the head of the vertebrate paleontology department of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He had discovered and named the Tyrannosaurus rex in 1905.

So, why on earth would my employer—an art museum—want a string of pearls? Pearls have no style. They say nothing about art or design history. The pearl necklace is among the most ubiquitous forms of jewelry in human history and is as devoid of style-bearing aspects now as it has been since Cleopatra dissolved pearls in wine to keep her skin pure.

And that, of course, is exactly the point. I

Material Concerns A Thai Surprise

The tabletop at Totally Thai restaurant in Perth, Western Australia, 2015

Was it the shallow depth of the drinking vessels laid out on the table that made an immediate impression on my fellow diners and me, or their improbable shine? The aural disturbance they caused soon focused our attention; they rattled on the tabletop as we shifted our chairs. Eyes squinted, and hands reached outward to confirm that the cups were that light. Tactile investigation further diminished them, despite their detailed metalworking, as the incredible lightness that the stamping facilitated made them feel small and flimsy. Temperature analysis did not help their cause. Without the coolness of glass, or even that of their trusted peer—the colorful anodized aluminum cup—low scores were registering on the thirst-slaking-potential index.

But then came the water jug.

Filled, the cups gained much. The water weighted, and cooled, them down. The further from body temperature and the heavier in the hand, the more trustworthy their appearance. The server left the jug on the table, and that’s where the material was finally and overwhelmingly justified. The cups were just a prelude to the real show, that heroically light water pitcher.