Would you be surprised if I told you that many modern jewelry designers were creating their jewelry from ancient inspiration? Some designers use ancient techniques to create their breathtaking masterpieces, and some designers base their styles on ancient designs. Many jewelry designers do both. Read on to see how the old world styles have been incorporated into some new world wearable art.
Ancient Roman coins and archaeological digs inspire Lika Behar’s jewelry. Since ancient goldsmiths didn’t alloy the gold they used to make jewelry, Lika uses pure 24kt gold for her jewelry too. These ancient pieces often come from dig sites with a wonderful patina on them. Either from hundreds of years underground or perhaps the way they were forged, this patina inspired Lika to recreate it for her line.
Lika’s family lineage goes back to the ancient gold coin dealers of the Mediterranean, and it’s certainly noticeable in many of her pieces. I was able to try on some of her rings at a show recently and was struck by how comfortable they were for their size. I like big jewelry, but I find that it’s often just bulky and uncomfortable, especially for my small hands. I was able to wear her rings, they looked good on my hands, and were not the slightest bit awkward. I came to learn that she spent two weeks shaping the rings so that each one became a comfortable, pleasing experience. It was time well spent as far as I could tell!
Before I even tell you about his jewelry, I’m going to tell you what a Master Goldsmith is. Think of Master Goldsmith as more of a title than a thing. It’s a title one can only assume after YEARS of study and apprenticeship. The process usually requires a degree from an accredited institution, an apprenticeship and the ability to have mastered many, many forms of traditional goldsmithing techniques. Look up what’s required one day. You’ll learn words you never knew existed and each of those words equates to a rigorous training schedule (and often decades of time) to master. Think of these people as the PhD’s of the jewelry world. The techniques required and the process itself, have not changed much from the Guilds put in place in The Middle Ages. It’s a coveted honor among bench jewelers to be a Master Goldsmith and Anthony Lent is one of them. You can see the level of craftsmanship and impeccable detail in each piece, so I’m going to let his jewelry speak for itself.
I wrote a whole blog on repoussé’, so when Margery Hirshey told me that she uses that particular technique to create some of her jewelry, I took notice. I love being able to show people the antique influence in modern designs, so these earrings were always going to find their way into a blog, it just happened to be this one. If you look at the pictures from the blog, you’ll see what repoussé’ looked like in the 1820’s. Margery Hirshey’s earrings are what repoussé’ looks like in 2016.
The inspiration she pulls from ancient designs is evident in the ring above. I’ve seen similar styles in museums from ancient cultures.
The ancient coin influence is obvious in Erica Molinari’s jewelry. Anyone who loves to style multiple charms on a chain will love this whole line. It’s all meant to be mixed and matched. Layer the pieces, put them on bracelets, anklets, earrings, charm rings, EVERYTHING. They go with anything and look great! There’s everything from ancient symbols, Latin writing, bees, birds, crosses and architectural designs. You just can’t go wrong with these charming charms!
Complex but elegant, Zaffiro Jewelry uses the ancient technique of granulation in all their designs. This technique from the ancient Etruscans was reinvented in the mid 1800’s by Castellani (read the blog I wrote on the subject here
The ancient techniques are evident, but it’s so modern and updated. The jewelry tips its hat to the ancient technique, but keeps in mind how we wear jewelry NOW. Every time I see the creators at a show, there are new and interesting gemstones incorporated into their designs. The gemologist in me goes a little crazy over that aspect and I get to geek out over the stones. Basically for me, Zaffiro Jewelry combines all my particular nerdy-ness in one jewelry line- ancient jewelry making techniques and awesome gemstones. What could be better?