Fashion Facets

Margaret Does Minnesota

Minneapolis artist and jeweler Judith Kinghorn was chosen to supply a special gift for Lady Margaret Thatcher upon her visit to Minnesota. Governor Arne Carlson and his wife, who hosted Thatcher at the governor’s official residence, wanted an appropriate gift to honor her. There wasn’t time to comm1ission a specially made piece, but the Carlsons found among Kinghorn’s treasures a graceful brooch of sterling silver and 24k gold with a freshwater pearl. The brooch’s sweeping shape suggested a lily, with the pearl nestled at the nexus of two “leaves.”

Kinghorn also was chosen as commemorative artist for the opening of the Weisman Museum, for which she designed a brooch of sterling silver and 18k gold in a stylized version of the building. She rarely sketches her ideas first, preferring to allow a design to spring from the process used in working with the metal. In the Thatcher piece, she fused the gold to the silver using a blowpipe, which gives the artist a great deal of control over the metal. Once a piece is fused, she puts it through a rolling mill several times to reduce the gauge of the metal, then finally textures the piece. “Fusing the metals rather than soldering them gives the piece of metal a freer, more painterly look,” she explains.

Kinghorn creates and markets primarily from her studio, the Judith Kinghorn Collection, in Minneapolis. She is open by appointment and for special showing dates.

Getting Tanked on Cartier

Cartier’s new Tank Jewelry collection captures the essence of light with an assortment of rings and bracelets incorporating diamonds or colored gemstones set in white or yellow gold. The new Tank rings and bangles have a clean, contemporary design, with diamonds, garnet, amethyst, citrine or iolite. They can be worn either separately or stacked.

Now Why Didn’t I Think of That

For every woman who’s wished for a third hand or a lady’s maid, writer Ellyson August is a hero. While developing a character, the Wilmington, Del., author used the problem of putting on a bracelet by oneself as a theme. He pondered a realistic solution for this dilemma, then realized his idea could become a real-life invention.

The Bracet is a small, lightweight, neoprene-and-Velcro end to a morning of frustration. It’s made to be used on either hand. Just insert thumb and pinkie through the finger holes, lay a bracelet in the holding bar, close the Velcro flap, and voilà! The bracelet stays put so the clasp can be fastened easily with one hand.

August says his product is an ideal profit builder for jewelers, at $12.95 retail, or can be used as a premium or gift with the purchase of a bracelet.

Now, if he can only devise a way to see the necklace clasp behind one’s head…

The Bracet, 1313 N. Market St., #3410, Wilmington, DE 19801; (888) 632-5251.

Design Finds

Dower & Hall is a design duo that has been making jewelry together for more than 10 years. The partners met at England’s Middlesex College of Art and, after graduating, set up a studio in the heart of London’s jewelry quarter. Over the years, their clientele grew to include such prestigious London shops as Jess James, Liberty and Harvey Nichols.

In 1995, they opened their own gallery, exhibiting their extensive range of silver jewelry and a collection of 18k gold and gemstone pieces, which proved to be an immense success. They’ve now expanded overseas and are rapidly gaining clients in the U.S., Japan, Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

Dower & Hall is represented in the U.S. by Fragments, 107 Greene St., New York, NY 10012; (212) 226-8878.French master goldsmith and jeweler Christine Escher blends technical ability and innovative materials, such as precious woods and gemstones, with diamonds. Her jewelry focuses on harmonies of form and nature, such as this diamond, 18k gold and polished wood leaf and bow pin, with matching earrings and ring; or this cluster of grapes created in cultured pearls and 18k gold. Christine Escher, 9, Rue de la Tour, 75116 Paris, France. (33-1) 46-26-02-20; fax (33-1) 45-34-24-60.

Antica Design’s Nancy Klein used to be a buyer for QVC. Knowing how to appeal to so many women helped the designer’s own firm catapult from unknown to well-known in just a year. Her elegant, feminine designs of 18k gold have architectural elements, subdued textures and brightly colored gemstones. All pieces in the line are designed to mix and match, to give a working woman an expansive wardrobe of quality jewelry to complement her clothes. The Antica line has, in its less than two years of existence, been featured in a number of consumer fashion magazines and television programs, and was included in the World Gold Council’s fall merchandise catalog. Antica Design Inc., 19 W. 44 St., Ninth Floor, New York, NY 10036; (212) 730-6920.

Natural forms are the inspiration for Leslie Zwerling’s new line of sculptural jewelry in brushed and polished 18k gold or combinations of gold with diamonds, pearls, colored gemstones or sterling silver.

Zwerling has a degree in sculpture from Cornell University’s School of Architecture, Art and Planning. She draws on this experience as she designs her jewelry. “As a sculptor, I transform solid, concrete materials into soft, sensual forms. I also apply these techniques, using gold as my medium, to my jewelry designs.”

Zwerling also paints in watercolors, primarily botanical studies, and her love of plant forms is reflected in jewelry. Her appreciation for jewelry comes from a stint with Cartier, where she learned a feel for the market, and how to create understated jewelry that reflects a woman’s desire to feel feminine and beautiful.

Zwerling’s line is carried at Nordstrom and at Works Gallery in New York. Prices range from $500 to $5,000. Leslie Zwerling Sculptural Jewelry, 217 E. 86 St., Suite 131, New York, NY 10029; (212) 879-8797.

Consumers hoping to find a jewelry bargain on New York’s famous 47th Street may get some assistance from author Andrea DiNoto. Her 240-page book, Shop New York/Jewelry, helps decode the language of the auction houses and the jewelry shops, leading shoppers up and down the avenues and streets. She covers the entire scene – from specialty shops to department stores, from skyscraper prices to street-wise haggling – and highlights all categories of jewelry from ultra-modern to ultra-classic and even some good fakes.

DiNoto has written about jewelry for Connoisseur and American Craft magazines. Shop New York/Jewelry is available in bookstores; cover price is $15.95. ISBN 1-8854492-34-0.

Renowned platinum jewelry designer Michael Bondanza is watching his entrepreneurial dreams go up in smoke. In this case, that’s good. Bondanza and his jewelry partner Geri are also partners in North, a trendy cigar bar on New York’s Upper West Side. Opened last spring, North has attracted an eclectic upscale Manhattanite clientele.

The concept was originated by Bondanza’s longtime friend (now business partner) Matt Paratore. After two years of scouring Manhattan for the perfect location, the two created a space that boasts of Bondanza’s design touch in original sconces, door knobs and locks and, of course, ash trays.

Michael and Geri Bondanza at North.