Tiffany Marks a Milestone

Tiffany & Co. is throwing a party to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose original designs in jewelry and sculptures catapulted the venerable retailer into the world of international design more than a century ago.

A collection of 34 rarely seen original jewelry designs created by this master and his studio during the early part of the 20th century recently was displayed at the company’s oldest and newest stores. The exhibition, titled “The Jewelry of Louis Comfort Tiffany: Explorations of Color, Nature, and the Exotic,” was shown in the company’s New York flagship in July and August and at its store in the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y., from September through November.

Culled exclusively from the Tiffany & Co. “Permanent Collection,” housed in the company’s archives, the exhibit included such masterpieces as a bib necklace of amethysts, nephrite, glass, and gold, inspired by the Mughal Court jewelry of India and created in 1906; a “rose window” necklace of pink sapphires, seed pearls, and gold with pliqué-à-jour enameling that resembles stained glass; and a laurel leaf perfume container of Tiffany’s signature favrile glass topped with a gold, diamond, demantoid garnet, and guilloche enamel stopper.

The influence of nature and exotic cultures was evident in many of the pieces, which incorporate a blend of different colors of gemstones, including many native American stones such as Montana sapphires, Arizona turquoise, and American tourmalines as well as Mexican fire opals and Australian black opals.

A couple of the most stunning pieces highlight gemstones that are relatively unknown, including a brooch set with brilliant blue zircons and several necklaces and brooches set with orange and hot pink sapphires. The exhibition was particularly appropriate, as the newest jewelry trends for the turn of the millennium recall the grandeur and splendor of 19th-century Edwardian and art nouveau periods.

For those wishing to see more of Tiffany’s work, there’s a special exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art running through January. It includes jewelry, glass work, and other pieces that came out of Tiffany’s studio.

Fit for a Queen

Dallas designer Naomi Pevsner has a handle on how to make any woman feel like a queen. Her series of unique tiara rings, bearing names such as “Duchess,” “The Royal Circlet,” and “Marchessa,” is made of platinum and diamonds with finely millgrained details. Suggested retail prices range from $2,010 to $3,950.

Pevsner, who grew up in the jewelry business, began her career at age 10 weighing packets of loose diamonds for her grandfather, whose business she inherited more than 10 years ago. Using her college degree in fine art and her work experience as an art teacher and advertising illustrator, she began creating a line of fine jewelry.

Under the name Naomi Designs, she designs and produces her tiara rings as miniature works of art, carrying on a family tradition begun in Europe in 1850. Her collection, known for its use of top-quality diamonds and gemstones, has attracted a loyal audience in the North Texas region, and the designer is currently expanding her scope to include retailers across the United States.

Viewing each of her creations as an art form, Pevsner revels in the fact that jewelry is one of the few remaining products of lasting beauty created by hand.

“My goal in designing these rings is to enable other women to enjoy living the royal fantasy,” she says. “There’s a little princess in every woman.”

Naomi Designs, 5550 LBJ Freeway, Suite 503, Dallas, TX 75240; (972) 385-8985.

John Hardy Makes Himself at Home

Designer John Hardy, known for his self-named collection of handmade silver jewelry designed in the ancient Balinese tradition, is expanding into home furnishings and giftware. Among his newest introductions are place settings of silver flatware and palmwood, complemented by matching plates, unique herb cutters of polished black palmwood with sterling silver blades, and barware in hammered silver with woven and bead trim.

John Hardy Collection, 14 E. 38th St., New York, NY 10016; (800) 254-2739, fax (212) 213-5494.

Leaf Motifs Catching On

Okay, for the past few months we’ve seen some beautiful fall foliage, but that’s not the reason a lot of designers favor leaves. Truth is, many leaf patterns are more interesting and varied than flowers, and their appealing shapes are easier to fashion into earrings, rings, and necklaces than are full-blown blooms.

NOA Gallery Salutes Israel

The NOA Gallery in New York’s stylish SoHo district dedicates itself to exhibiting and selling original jewelry designs in a relaxed and friendly environment. To commemorate Israel’s 50th anniversary, a staff designer at the gallery created a line of jewelry honoring the achievements of his native country’s first half-century.

Designer Ran Oran, a graduate of the Cooper Union School of Architecture, bases his designs on clean, geometric shapes fabricated in silver, 18k white gold, and platinum. The signed, limited-edition collection includes a pendant, a brooch, a medal, earrings, and cufflinks. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these pieces will be contributed to the Fund for Israel Culture in the USA.

Jewelry as Art

Kent State University Museum and the 27 members of the American Jewelry Design Council got together recently, and the results were stunning. At an exhibition entitled “Bridges to Design,” the university, located in Kent, Ohio, showed more than 80 imaginative designs from these artists.

According to the guest curator and Kent fashion professor Roxanne Precopia, the concept was to present jewelry as a work of art and at the same time to show the many steps needed to make it. Using themes selected by the council, such as a wheel, a key, or anything inspirational, the exhibit illustrated some of the innovative techniques used by the designers, including Michael Good’s anticlastic raising, Henry Dunay’s masterly pavé, and Steven Kretchmer’s modern alchemy with precious metals.

Objects ranged from the whimsical bialys and pinwheels of Sandy Baker and the swirl sphere designs of Ron Hartgrove to the artful, one-of-a-kind pieces with handcarved gemstones from Susan Helmich and Paul Robilotti’s Summer’s Dance brooch of silver, silk, a feather, and an antique light bulb.

This exhibition is a departure for the museum, which usually focuses its attention on fashion, but according to museum director Jean Druesedow, the theme was selected “to broaden understanding of jewelry arts by exploring new ways of working with precious metals and gems.”

Bridges to Design opened in September and runs through Jan. 31. For information, call (330) 672-3450.