IntoTemptation…..jewellery musings

Thoughts on jewelry, accessories and whatever else takes my fancy

Archive for the month “May, 2010”

Jewel of the day: Karen Bizer tree of life shagreen and diamond cuff

Bizer’s career began in editorial and publicity work (she was at Women’s Wear Daily) and she started her life as a jeweller by doing custom pieces and reworking items brought to her by clients. Custom work is still available, as is an array of her own designs.

Shagreen, or stingray, had its heyday in the deco period. You can still find a lot of shagreen boxes, cigarette cases and small leather goods. I have a soft spot for it in jewellery, and this bracelet is an intriguing mix of hard and soft, shine and matte. I especially like the way the gold was hammered to mimic the shagreen finish. This is made of 18k yellow gold, 5.4 carats of diamonds and the shagreen band. For information on availability, go to


Jewel of the day: Alex Sepkus diamond studded pendant

Alex Sepkus’s designs involve a lot of collet set diamonds in circular patterns. His work is detailed and finely crafted without appearing to be fussy. I like the organic feel of this pendant, the burnished gold, and the fact that it would look just as good with an evening gown as with a casual outfit. I imagine it would have a pleasing to the hand weight and feel.

Available at select jewellers; see more of his work at Called the bean pendant, this piece sells for USD $3,850 and does not include the chain. It is 18k and has a diamond weight of 0.38.

Jewel of the day: Merry Renk opal crown

Marbeth Schon has one of the best (if not the best) contemporary jewelry sites on the Internet. This crown, by San Francisco artisan Merry Renk, is available from her (price upon request). Marbeth is also the author of  Modernist Jewelry, 1930-1960 The Wearable Art Movement, and Form & Function American Modernist Jewelry, 1940-1970. Her site is a trove of modernist and Mexican silver.

This opal and gold crown is wonderful and you can clearly see the influence of the peacock’s tail that was her inspiration:

She gives a lengthy and fascinating description of this crown and I will post what she wrote:

Exquisite 14k yellow gold wedding crown with thirty-five Australian opals by merry renk, titled “James Love Peacock”; this piece just returned from the traveling exhibit “Craft in America;” inside diameter of oval-shaped crown is about 7″ (front to back) x 6-1/8″ side to side; front peacock section is approximately 5-1/2″ wide x 3-1/2″ tall; whole piece is in fine condition and comes with original handmade pouch and box by merry renk.

About this crown, merry renk said, “In the twenty-five years, 1947-1972, I designed my jewelry following the ideas of modern constructivism and non-objective concepts.

I realized in 1972, that I needed to express other ideas concerning ecology, memories and family, using symbolic realism.  I was concerned about how we were poisoning our air and birds became a symbol.

I have always been fascinated with jewelry worn on the head and have made many hair combs.  I have walked the San Francisco zoo those years with my growing children where we often shared space with a male peacock with his tail fanned wide and dragging the ground as he stalked about for his peahen.

In 1978, I designed a comb called “Ebony Peacock” in silver, ebony and pearls.  In 1979, I made a gold comb  that I called “James Love Peacock.” There was not much interest in this comb as the fashion of wearing combs at the opera, etc., was now passé.  When I made plans for a wedding crown exhibit at the Artisans Gallery in san Francisco, I moved the bird from the comb onto a circle of gold peacock feathers and I moved the name along with bird.

How did I name my crown, “James Love Peacock?” 

My desire was to honor my friend, the poet Carolyn Kizer, for her poem called “James Love Peacock.”  When I was asked to send a copy of the poem to be exhibited along with the crown,  I was stunned to discover that I had a very creative memory.  I found that her poem was called “What Was in a Name” followed by “Thomas Love Peacock!”  “Thomas Love Peacock!” There was no James Love Peacock anywhere in her poem.

Nevertheless, I think it is still fair to say that a poem by Pulitzer Prize Winner Carolyn Kizer inspired the name for my wedding crown, “James Love Peacock.”

Watch a video of merry renk’s crowns on YouTube:

Jewel of the day: Soho silver oxidized bracelet

Soho Jewelry offers its designs in both gold and silver, and uses an intriguing mix of finishes and textures. The mix in this bracelet of polished and oxidized silver is edgy and different. (My only wish would have been a more elegant, organic clasp.)

There were several pieces using the oxidized design and it is also available in gold. See more at; this piece retails for USD $510.

Jewel of the day: Chopard animal world

Chopard has launched a fantastically whimsical collection called Animal World to mark the company’s 150th anniversary. Fittingly, there are 150 designs featuring everything from the hippo to clownfish, all inventively woven into pieces of jewellery.

The company notes that these stork earrings “feature white and red gold set with two briolette-cut kunzites totalling 51 carats, as well as diamonds (3cts), black diamonds (2cts) and yellow diamonds.”

My other favourite is this amazing sardine bracelet – you can almost see the fish swimming by. It is white gold set with 4 carats of diamonds and 11 carats of cabochon cut sapphires.

As the old saying goes, if you have to ask the prices, you probably can’t afford them. More lovely pieces are available for viewing at

Jewel of the day: Todd Reed raw red diamond ring

NY jeweller Todd Reed specializes in ethically mined raw diamonds in unusual settings. It’s a visually interesting way to wear a huge rock without attracting too much attention – though the price tag definitely befits big bling.

His web site,, offers an array of styles though prices seem to be in the five figure range.

This ring’s specs: 7.98 carat raw red diamond set in hand forged 18 karat gold, $15,400 USD.

Jewel of the day: Caterina Zangrando owl ring

Know someone with a bird fetish? Made of Swarovski crystals and base metal, this ring is quirky and fun and you won’t see it coming and going – something I prefer when buying jewellery.

Available online from designer Caterina Zangrando, it is available for purchase at Price is just under $300 Canadian … check online for price in your currency. There is also a really unique sea horse ring, and earrings with faux blue coral hanging from rhinestone seahorse clips.

Jewel of the Day: Elsa Peretti rock crystal flask pendant

This design is no longer made by Tiffany, though I believe they occasionally rerelease the small silver flask (in which a small flower can be placed if the wearer desires).

I bought this wounded soldier on Ebay quite inexpensively because at one point, it was dropped, one of the arms through which the chain passes broke off, and it was glued back on. Although the repair was nicely done, it’s evident when you look at it, and lowered the piece’s value dramatically. The rock crystal flask is fitted with an 18k gold and amethyst topped stopper. You could fill it with perfume if you were very brave – I am not!

The repair made it still wearable and it’s one of the Peretti designs I wish Tiffany would reissue. Maybe, though, the rock crystal was more fragile to work than they first assumed…

Jewel of the day: Topaz ring by Dalloz Destro

Love the shank/band of this ring and how it flows around the finger. The chunky topaz stone is bold and clean looking – a perfect marriage.

The ring was designed by Diogo Dalloz, a jewelry artisan from Portugal who sells on Etsy. Best of all, it’s only USD $70 plus shipping. Rings are custom made and take five days to produce. See more of this intriguing work at

Jewel of the day: Man in the moon pendant

These are typically carved out of moonstone and show a serene, smiling and almost Buddha like face. It’s possible that the “moon” in moonstone inspired the whimsical association. It could be the fascination with Wilkie Collins’s “The Moonstone” or Jules Verne’s fanciful writing – the cavings were particularly popular just before the turn of the 19th century.

I came across this gold face pendant in an antiques shop in Montreal. The gold isn’t marked, but if I recall correctly, the chain is one karat and the pendant is a higher karat. No hallmarks makes it tough to know where it originated. What’s really interesting about it is that one side has the typically smiling “man in the moon” face. But flip it over and the man is scowling. I joked that maybe it was an early, primitive precursor of the sixties’ mood rings.

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