Haeckel Pendant - Differences Unite Us

Materials: Fine silver, enamel, pink sapphire and keshi pearl.
Dimensions: chain approx. 20" long; pendant approx. 1 1/4" by 3/4"

This pendant takes disparate elements – a classical frame setting, a champleve enamel based on an illustration by turn-of-the-century naturalist Ernst Haeckel, and an original chain design consisting of an articulated vertebral structure that echoes natural forms – an. brings them together in a unique piece. By uniting aesthetic and stylistic differences across centuries, the piece creates an effect that is modern yet also evocative of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements.

Photo credit: Jeanette Caines

Valerie Blum
New York, New York. USA

In my jewelry I strive to embody the tension between the formal and the organic, the structured and the unrestrained. Often, my pieces mimic the logic of the natural world, with a precisely designed framework providing a foundation for spontaneity, variety and wildness. For every piece of jewelry I design, I begin by creating a set of rules for myself and then pushing them to their limits. This yields pieces that are unusual yet, at an unconscious level, make sense to the viewer and the wearer.

All of my work is hand-fabricated, incorporating both the traditional metalsmithing techniques I study and teach and contemporary methods I am constantly exploring.

Although my training is classical my spirit is experimental. My pieces bring together high-carat gold with broken windshield glass, precisely executed enamelwork with organically balled and bent wire forms, and traditionally “feminine” styles and colors with barbs, stingers and spikes.

Critical to my pieces are the element of contrast and the desire to defy expectations. I prefer materials that don’t behave, combinations that are unusual, and themes that are unconventional. It is where the structured meets the uncontrolled, the armored meets the vulnerable, the fine meets the found that I find my greatest inspiration.

For the past five years, I have been an independent jewelry designer combining classical jewelry-making techniques with unconventional themes, designs and materials to create one-of-a-kind pieces of fine art jewelry. My primary area of interest is enameling, especially the plique-a-jour technique, but I also do granulation.

The basic philosophy of my work is to begin with elements of classical jewelry, and then add unique and unexpected design elements to them. Pieces I have made juxtapose high karat gold and broken glass,

Sell to private clients, teach enameling and classical jewelry-making techniques including granulation, filigree and chain-weaving at the Jewelry Arts Institute, show at their annual exhibition.

Ganoksin hosts the jewelry list Orchid, with over 13,000 list members from all over the world, speaking from a wide range of technical and aesthetic experiences. The exhibition theme grew out of a desire to celebrate the creativity encompassed in this wide variety.

Artists were free to interpret the theme in any way they chose. Each artist could submit up to six pieces. Interpretations include uniting different materials into one cohesive form; intellectual and emotional “unitings”, where the meaning of the piece unites multiple concepts; the uniting of time - past, present and future; and a number that focus on the harmony created when uniting multiple materials and/or concepts.

The work submitted involved a wide range of jewelry techniques, from very traditional to very cutting edge, as well as using materials from traditional precious metals and gemstones to “re-purposed” and “up-cycled” materials.

The exhibition showcases 330 images chosen from entries from over 111 artists representing 26 countries.

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Serbia, Spain, Trinidad, Turkey, UK, USA, Venezuela, and the Virgin Islands

Many of the participants began their interest in jewelry at a young age. Some are relative newcomers to the field, and some have over 35 years of experience as professional jewelers and goldsmiths. While some grew up in families that were goldsmiths, and followed in those footsteps, others only began creating jewelry as adults.