Fashion Facets

FINDS: ANCIENT LAND, MODERN JEWELS

Many jewelers think Israeli jewelry means big hollow silver, loose diamonds, religious talismans or generic gold jewelry that more or less follows European design trends.

Is their impression accurate? Basically, yes. But Israel’s magnificent surroundings are also home to a growing group of innovative designers, some of whom are already internationally renowned. Here’s a look at three.

Amitai Kav, a Jerusalem goldsmith, has put jewelry on some very important necks. Leah Rabin, wife of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, is one of his clients, and his jewelry has been part of some very important moments in history.

Kav was born on Kibbutz Negbba in Israel. He studied painting at the Avni Institute in Tel Aviv and is a self-taught jeweler. He also studied dance and movement notation for many years, and that sense of movement is present in his jewelry designs.

He taught jewelry at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem for 12 years and was invited to participate in one-year teaching fellowships at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, Pa., and Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Kav created the Dove of Peace, which is the recognized symbol of the Middle East peace process. When Israeli President Ezer Weizmann and King Hussein of Jordan signed the peace agreement between their two countries, their wives wore the Doves for the occasion. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Leah Rabin, both in attendance at the signing, also wore Kav creations. Later, a silver Dove of Peace was presented to each member of the Israeli and Jordanian negotiating teams.

The Rabins presented Kav’s jewelry to such dignitaries as Rodham Clinton, King Carlos of Spain, Jihan Sadat and the wives of the prime ministers of England and South Korea and the Emperor of Japan. “I heard that Mrs. Clinton has been seen wearing my necklace in public on quite a few occasions. I’m honored that she obviously likes it,” says Kav modestly.

Kav’s signature is inventing new ways to fasten a piece of jewelry. While many jeweler-artisans have forged a look or blazed a trail that was followed by others, Kav’s intricate clasps are almost impossible to duplicate. All his work is in 18k gold, employing various techniques to achieve different surfaces and depths.

In addition to his jewelry, Kav designs a line of modern Judaica, or ceremonial objects used for ritual observances of Judaism.

Amitai Kav Art Jewellery, 34 Ha-ayal St., Malhah, Jerusalem, Israel; fax (972-2) 679-4749.

Design

Yvel was founded in 1986. The designer, Isaac Levy, specializes in pearl jewelry in 14k and 18k gold and is noted for his unique incorporation of colored gemstones into his designs.

Most recently, Yvel began to work with oversized pieces in rugged, natural textures. While the style is far from mainstream jewelry design, fashion designers such as Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren have already seized upon similar looks for their runway shows, and it’s a popular look at craft and gallery jewelry stores.

Yvel by Orna and Isaac, P.O. Box 10217, Jerusalem 91101 Israel.; fax (972-2) 673-5812, e-mail yvel@inter.net.il

Design

Osnat Weingarten was born in Israel in 1964. After graduating from Omanit Jewelry College, she came to the United States and studied wax modeling, hammering and other techniques at the Alan Revere Academy in San Francisco, Cal. She participated in craft shows in San Francisco and Minnesota and then returned to Israel in 1993. She now teaches at the Jewelry Technical Center.

As a designer, Weingarten’s specialty is one-of-a-kind handmade 22k gold, combining ethnic and contemporary motifs.

Osnat Weingarten, 6 Bertnov St., Petach-Tikva 49552, Israel; (972-3) 924-2146 telephone and fax.

PUTTING DIAMONDS TO WORK

Polished diamonds are Israel’s largest export, most of them destined for designers and manufacturers in jewelry centers around the world. But Israel’s new Diamond Jewelry Design Competition gives the nation’s own designers a chance to work with diamantaires and show how much creativity exists at home.

The competition finals were held during Israel: The Source, a trade show in April. The 12 finalists’ work was displayed in a special exhibit, with ballots available for all show attendees to vote for the winning designs.

First place went to Batia Wang for this 18k matte gold brooch with 2.30 carats of yellow diamonds and crow feathers. Diamonds were supplied by Avi Maoz.