Rising Stars on the Las Vegas Horizon

Gabrielle Sanchez

When she “discovered” Biwa pearls, Gabrielle Sanchez found the perfect signature for her collection. These irregular “little miracles,” as she calls them, not only fascinate but also inspire her.

“My jewelry designs have always evolved directly from the essence of the materials,” she says. Sanchez, whose father is a commercial artist and whose mother is a painter, knew from an early age that she would be a designer. She earned a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1977 and immediately went to work as a designer. Her work is sold in chic specialty department stores and in many fine boutiques and galleries.

Each design derives its own special character from the size, color, and luster of the pearls she chooses and often becomes a signature of the owner. Earrings, bracelets, and necklaces designed by Sanchez work singly, in pairs, and—strikingly—in groups.

Whitney Abrams

Abrams is a New York City-based goldsmith who has been creating custom pieces on the fine-craft circuit for four years. Her mastery of granulation and other high-karat goldsmithing techniques have earned her recognition in five jewelry books and in many industry publications.

Her most recent work is sentimental message jewelry to commemorate those who have passed on, to celebrate a birth, or simply to keep a loved one close in a unique, personal, and beautiful way. She incorporates photos, locks of hair, or other meaningful representations of the individual into her high-karat gold creations.

Jolanta Gutnik

Gutnik found her way to jewelry design via a circuitous route. Born in Poland, she received a degree in science and spent time in Italy studying art before winding up in Canada where she studied metalsmithing, sculpture, and textile design. She now lives on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts where she creates her own collection of fine jewelry that ties together all of her earlier studies.

Her latest collection, “Between Sun and Moon,” pays homage to nature and science with yellow gold to symbolize the sun, moonstone to embody the spirit of the moon, diamonds to represent the stars, and pearls to symbolize life-giving water.

Ernesto Moreira

Ernesto Moreira says he has been in pursuit of beauty all his life. Born in Havana and raised in both Spain and the United States, Moreira spent his early years training in the studio of his uncle, renowned Cuban painter Juan Moreira. This early exposure to design no doubt influenced his artistic tendencies, and by the age of 19, he’d already had his first gallery exhibit.

Moreira continued to exhibit throughout his college career, winning numerous scholarships through jewelry design competitions. In 1998 he opened his own studio. Moreira’s inspiration for his debut collection is that of an embrace: two contrasting forms, male and female, hard and soft, each juxtaposed against the other.

Translating this idea into his jewelry, one shape appears to capture and flow around another as the metals surround and embrace the gems and pearls. Almost all of his pieces have movement thanks to delicate hidden hinges. Many designs also have interchangeable attachments so that a single piece can be worn either as a pin or a pendant, a lariat or a pearl enhancer.

Ricky Frank

Frank spent years as a professional soccer coach and amateur artist, trying to find ways to reconcile his two loves. Eventually, he found a graduate school that allowed him to create a program combining sports psychology, creativity, art education, gestalt therapy, visualization, self-image … and enameling. An enameling kiln used for a childhood hobby had sparked a lifelong passion for this art form.

His cloisonné jewelry is often narrative, sometimes abstract, and always personal. Enamel is a magical medium, he says—the fusion of glass on metal creates a surface on which Frank emphasizes reflected light. He often engraves or roller-prints a texture into the metal to maximize the effects. Silver and gold foils, wires, and granules added between the enamel layers serve to increase the effect as well.

Sarah Graham

Two major influences inform Graham’s work. Years of travel gave her a wide understanding of the many styles and techniques of jewelry-making and broadened her view of what makes jewelry beautiful. The other influence is the Old World training she received in California. There, Graham served as an apprentice to a German-trained master goldsmith who taught her to accept nothing less than perfection in her work.

These two factors are reflected in her recent collections that feature such contrasting and uncommonly paired materials as blackened steel, Tahitian pearls, black diamonds, and 18k yellow gold.

Graham also possesses a sharp business acumen. With a bachelor’s degree in international business and years of experience as a bench jeweler, she understands what customers want.

Laura Gibson

Although Gibson always loved creating beautiful things, she never took her artistic talent seriously, turning instead to the business world to make her career. It wasn’t until she had spent many years in sales and marketing that she realized the potential of her creative side and began to create jewelry.

The Tucson native first discovered the gem shows that annually invade her city, then found a way to make that world her own. Gibson began making jewelry several years ago, and her designs have evolved from simple strands to elaborate creations using an abundance of beads and stones in a masterful blend of colors.