Hawaii, The Bejeweled State

Jewelry design could replace pineapples and tourism as Hawaiian claims to fame, thanks to the Hawaii Jewelers Association. HJA sponsors two design contests each year, at its spring and fall conventions, and the winners are magnificent each time. Here’s a portfolio of some past winners:

  • “Trapeze” earrings by Lucinda Tardiff of The Goldsmith’s Gallery on Kapaa, Kauai, won first place in 1994’s “Diamonds under $3,000” category. The 18k gold earrings have .50 ct. of tube-set diamonds swinging from a textured gold bale.

  • “Intrusion” ring in 14k gold with fire opal, amethyst, citrine, iolite, garnet and princess-cut diamond mlŽe is by Anthony Tomihama of Dean Anthony Fine Jewelry, Honolulu. It took first in the “Colored Stone Jewelry under $3,000” category at the spring 1995 convention.

  • “Anuenue” bracelet by Carrie Nottage Smith of the Rainbow Collection, Honolulu, took first in last spring’s over $3,000 category and also won the Popular Award. The 18k yellow gold and platinum bracelet features a rainbow of 26 sapphires and pavŽ diamond accents.

  • “Tropical Memories” necklace of plumeria blossoms in 14k gold is accented with diamonds and a rainbow of pearls. Design by Dona Wu of Cosmos Jewelry, Honolulu, won both second and popular prizes in 1994’s pearl design category.

NEW DESIGN FINDS

Rugged natural forms with an eye toward fashion mark the new precious jewelry line from New York-based Just Jules. Designer Julie Lynn Bergstein – a familiar figure on the craft show circuit – now is branching out into more precious materials. Delicate, diminutive lines inspired by natural forms like those found in her stack rings suit some of the current fashion trends, while slices of boulder opal and watermelon tourmaline should appeal to rockhounds and jewelry aficionados alike.

Elizabeth Rand originally trained as an interior designer, but began making jewelry for herself and friends as a hobby. By 1988, she had put together a collection of sterling silver belt buckles and the hobby became a business. Today, her designs include belts, handbags and fine jewelry.

Rand’s jewelry is inspired by the architectural detail and intricate carvings that adorn historical buildings throughout the world, giving it a sculpted yet fluid appearance. She works in 18k gold with a matte finish, and is noted for her use of unusual gem materials such as chrysoprase, gem chrysocolla and natural zircons in brilliant blues from Sri Lanka.

She recently added a line of 18k gold or platinum wedding bands for both men and women. Rand says many customers actually buy these to wear as stack rings or to layer with her gemstone rings, rather than as wedding bands. The collection retails between $500 and $1,200; her other jewelry collections retail from $1,000 to $50,000. Her collections are currently available in select Nordstrom stores; select Neiman Marcus stores were to be added recently.

Australian jewelry designer Ann Middleton is used to receiving both local and international recognition, though it originally came in her chosen sport of table tennis, where she was the Australian champion by the time she was 18. She toured the world with the Australian ping-pong team, becoming the first Australian sportswoman to visit China.

Later, as a self-taught jewelry designer, Middleton received the highest accolades in the industry, including a Diamonds-International Award in 1994. She is also a winner of the 1988 Supreme Award for Australia, sponsored by Argyle Diamonds, and the equivalent competition for De Beers in 1990-’91. Her pieces have been exhibited in New York, New Orleans, Basel and throughout Asia, and been commissioned by various royalty and heads of state. Last November, she designed a brooch with Argyle Diamonds for the centenary of Rosella, a major Australian corporation. The brooch was auctioned at a special dinner, with all proceeds going to assist the Starlight Foundation, which grants wishes to sick children. Her pieces are designed in 18k yellow, white or pink gold, or platinum upon request.

The Seno collection by Ippolita Rostagno captures the essence of femininity in leaves, sculpted figurines, gargoyles, caryatides and inscribed medals and lockets inspired by the traditional motifs of the Renaissance period. Rosagno, who grew up in Italy, studied sculpture and jewelry for five years at the Art Institute of Florence. Her handcrafted earrings, necklaces, pins and rings have light, delicate lines and feature a colorful array of freshwater and baroque pearls or gems such as garnet, amethyst, aquamarine, citrine and diamonds, set in gold and sterling silver. The Seno collection has been featured in fashion magazines such as Elle, Essence and Accessories, and is currently sold at Barney’s, Nordstrom, Mark Shale, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Henri Bendel, Eileen Fisher and Anthropologie.