A few medieval cartographers drew dragons and sea creatures into maps with the phrase Hic sunt dracones (Here be dragons) to denote that the region was unexplored and potentially perilous. The ancient practice inspired Liv Ballard to create a series of stunning bejeweled globes wrapped in diamond-studded dragons. This verdant Earth—actually a pendant that spins on a solid gold axis—is covered in brilliant tsavorites. “I’m a lover of globes, maps, and everything that has to do with navigation, wanderlust, and exploration,” says the Los Angeles–based designer. Ballard’s now-signature Dragon Globes “are the pieces I wanted to produce the most, ever,” she says. “I started drawing them two years before they were ever made.”
All of Ballard’s pieces are fabricated in a small atelier in Rome. The designer says she traveled the world to find craftspeople who could “express the things I wanted to express in the way I visualized them.” The Italian artisans have paired with Ballard on numerous variations of the Dragon Globe. “We’ve done globes that have graduated colors of blue, in sapphires, to reflect deeper and more shallow oceans.”
This spinning orb, which quickly sold for $66,000, was fabricated from 70 grams of 18k gold and is covered in 13.5 cts. t.w. green tsavorites. The creeping dragon is swathed in 7.8 cts. t.w. of colorless diamonds. Two tiny blue sapphires double as a set of twinkling eyes.
It’s a Draw
Ballard, a former ceramicist, hand-draws all of her designs, rather than on a computer. “I don’t want the edges rounded off for me,” she explains. “I want the hand of the person creating it to be evident, even if that [results in] imperfections. Sometimes that’s where the real joy is.”