Exotic jeweled bird lands in GIA nest

Award-winning jewelry designer Ziad Noshie of Houston has created a specially designed piece for the Gemological Institute of America’s Signature Collection. Titled “Quetzál,” the piece honors the national bird of Guatemala with a life-size replica, made with more than 1,100 gemstones. It is on display at the Institute’s Robert Mouawad Campus as a permanent installment of the GIA Museum.

“Quetzál” is encrusted with rubies, sapphires, and tsavorite garnets in a pattern that resembles the bird’s colorful red, blue, and green feathers. It is also adorned with black and colorless diamonds set in 18k white, rose, and yellow gold with sterling silver accents. The bird measures about 12 inches in length and is perched on a polished branch of black coral.

Noshie will be inducted into GIA’s prestigious Circle of Honor in 2005 in recognition of his gift and will join others who have made non-cash donations valued at $100,000 or more.

The bird’s extremely minuscule details made Noshie question whether his design could become a finished piece. The hardest part, he said, was producing the detail on the bird’s head. Hundreds of ¼-inch sterling silver wires had to be soldered – one at a time – to resemble tufts of feathers. Not only did Noshie have to make sure every solder held, he also had to curve each one while it was still malleable. For every wire he successfully attached, two fell off, he said.

The “Quetzál” bird and other GIA exhibits are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., and are free and available to the public through scheduled tours. Contact Yvette Wilson, Guest Services supervisor, to schedule a tour. Call 800-421-7250, ext. 4116, or e-mail yvette.wilson@gia.edu. Outside the U.S., call 760-603-4116.