Many of my designs are inspired by the natural world. While I’ve created several pieces using elements directly cast from flowers, buds, twigs, and branches, I decided to go a different direction with these two pairs of earrings. Rather than directly casting budding flowers, these earrings feature stones that recall the delicate beginnings of a flower.
Pearl and Rhodite Garnet Earrings
These earrings were created with cultured pearls, rhodite garnets 18-karat ear wire, and 22-karat hand formed gold blossom caps.
Rose Quartz Earrings
These earrings feature rose quartz with 18-karat ear wires and 22-karat gold caps.
While all jewelry is art, sculptural jewelry is a special kind of art. It’s jewelry that thinks outside of the box—and indeed sometimes has trouble fitting into an actual box. Some sculptural jewelry is designed to be worn, boldly, while other pieces are intended more for display—whether that’s in your curio cabinet or in a modern art museum. Either way, these designs are far from boring. If you do find yourself wearing a piece of sculptural jewelry, savor the experience of participating in a work of art. After all, while these pieces are quite striking on their own, they ultimately draw attention to the exquisite contours of the human body.
Jeweler Lexi Daly created a series of sculptural necklaces from coffee shop waste including coffee cups, stir sticks, and coffee cup jackets. The series is intended to raise awareness about how much waste is created by disposable coffee cups. According to Daly’s website, “In 2010 Americans consumed 23 billion coffee cups. To create those cups 9 million trees were cut down, 5 billion gallons of water were used, creating 363 billion pounds of waste.”
“FireFall” features coffee cup jackets that have been folded, painted, and varnished. When worn, the necklace sounds like bamboo wind chimes blowing in a light breeze. The back of the necklace can be taken off, and a simple chain can be attached for times when the wearer would like a smaller version of the necklace. It would also make a lovely display piece.
Designed to position the human body as a site of display, Cheryl Eve Acosta’s sculptural jewelry combines various media (including silver, gold, copper, enamel, and fabric) to echo the natural world with an engaging twist. Acosta’s designs are inspired by the cycle of life as well as the beauty of coastal life and contemporary fashion.
“I am really inspired by fairy tales and fables. Especially those with a dark undertone or moral to the story, like the original versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Aesop’s fables. Overall, stories are an important part of my creative process,” Emily Cobb says of her sculptural jewelry.
“I imagine plots and characters that inspire the jewelry’s composition and form, ” she says, “Then I think about material choice, how the work will interact with the body, etc. At this point, the story and the piece are not definitive. The appearance of the characters, or the direction of the plot, may change as the jewelry piece is designed and made.”
Cobb employs computer-assisted design (CAD), colored nylon, and photopolymers to brings her beautiful visions to life.
“I first design the jewelry pieces on the computer using a 3D modeling program called Rhinoceros, which I learned as an undergraduate at Tyler. When I finish building the digital 3D model, I send the file to a 3D printer. Finally, once I receive my 3D printed parts, I dye and assemble the pieces.”
After studying at Studio Berçot in Paris and working at Balenciaga in jewelry design, Charlotte Chesnais began her own jewelry line. Handcrafted in France, Chesnais’ unique sculptural jewelry blends fine craftsmanship with conceptual edge, combining sophisticated, contemporary lines with dainty minimalism. The designer’s materials include silver, vermeil, and 18 karat gold.
Samantha Nania’s creative work emphasizes preciousness—the idea that everything we wear or own should be cherished and well cared for.
Nania also prioritizes reducing her material waste and makes a point to use even the smallest bits of material. Her designs that include wood are created with excess cutoffs from furniture making and flooring installation. Indeed, no piece is too small to be used in a conscious and loving way.
Photo: Lexi Daly, Cheryl Eve Acosta, InLiquid Art + Design, Charlotte Chesnais, Samantha Nania
René Lalique (1860 - 1945) is one of the most celebrated artists from the Art Nouveau period. Lalique was a French glass art designer and is best known for his perfume bottles, vases, jewelry, chandeliers, clocks, automobile hood ornaments, and artistic additions to architecture.
St. Matthew's Church in Jersey. Glass interior work by René Lalique.
His sumptuous style often features nature-inspired elements, including foliage, flowers, and flowing lines. Lalique took inspiration not only from the French countryside but also from nature motifs in Japanese art. In addition to creating period-defining work, Lalique left behind a style that continues to inspire designers and collectors alike.
Broche Libellule (1900)
Lalique grew up in the suburbs of Paris and summered in Ay, whose scenic country views inspired his signature naturalistic style. While apprenticing for goldsmith and jeweler Louis Aucoc in Paris, Lalique took drawing and sketching classes at Collège Turgot. He also studied at Ecole des Arts Décoratifs where he learned to design jewelry and later at the Crystal Palace School of Art Sydenham in London where he studied graphic design and further developed his naturalistic approach. During his time in Britain, Lalique was exposed to and inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement.
After returning from London in 1882, Lalique worked as a freelance artist and designed jewelry for French jewelry firms Cartier and Boucheron, among others. In 1885, Lalique opened his own business where he designed and made jewelry and other glass pieces.
Plaque mounted on gold with baroque pearl (circa 1904-1905)
Lalique’s work was met with mixed reviews. His unique pairings, which included horns and diamonds and carved ivory with enamel and pearls, certainly challenged ideas of what was acceptable in art. Fortunately, Lalique’s glasswork and jewelry were favored by emerging popular voices of the period. In particular, French actress Sara Bernhardt was among his admirers. She wore many of his finest pieces while on stage.
Opal, glass, diamond, and enamel "Rose" plaque (circa 1901)
By 1890, the glass artist was regarded as on of France’s foremost art nouveau jewelry designers. Around this time, Lalique opened a new jewelry store in the fashionable Opera district at 20 Rue Therese in Paris. As his business grew, his experimentation with craft continued. By the mid-nineties, Lalique began producing pieces using the “lost wax method” and pâte-de-verre. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1897.
Lalique’s iconic perfume bottles really took off around the turn of the century, and his evolving glass work with bottles further informed his jewelry design. Lalique introduced a new type of glass called demi-crystal. Containing 12% lead, demi-crystal isn’t as bright as regular crystal; it’s softer effect made it ideal for Lalique’s Art Nouveau designs. Around 1909, Lalique developed a method by with the interior glass walls of a bottle could feature a design that could be seen through the smooth exterior of the bottle.
One of Lalique's many beautiful perfume bottles inspired by nature and feminine beauty.
Perfumer Roja Dove suggests that Lalique’s glasswork be viewed by candle light to get the original effect. His work simply can't be fully appreciated in the harsh light of modern electricity.
What inspires you about Lalique's enduring style?