Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jewelry of the World: Russia

Russia's history is full of powerful Czars, bloody revolutions, and cults of personality. But, through all the struggles of Russian history, Russian art has been created. One of the most extravagant styles was that used in jewelry. The complexity and richness of Russian design has set it apart as a unique genre all its own.

Russian jewelry puts a unique focus on precious and semi-precious stones. Gold and silver were used for setting these stones but rarely as the focal point themselves; instead, the stones were paramount. A perfect example is the coronation crown of Catherine the Great. This beautiful piece is made up of five thousand (5,000) diamonds patterned into laurel branches. The crown is continued with two rows of pearls and finally finished with a 400 carat ruby mounted on the top.


The imagery in Russian jewelry, specifically the royal jewels, often mimics natural things. Crowns and tiaras are often styled to look like laurels (an homage to the great Caesar whose name is the root of the title Czar) or wheat. Jewelry could feature small scenes such as bees going to a flower, or simply exotic patterns of flowers made out of jewels.


The other stylistic quality seen in Russian jewelry is the intense pattern work. These patterns are so detailed they often seem like mosaics made out of gems. The pattern work is present in most of the oldest pieces and is believed to be descended from the Byzantine Empire's style of jewelry.


One of the most famous names attached to Russian jewelry is Peter Carl Faberge. Most famous today for Faberge Eggs, in the late 1800s Faberge was the king of the jewelry world. Faberge House created everything from snuff boxes to figurines to jewelry for the royal family and other high profile nobles across Europe. The Eggs, however, are the crown of Faberge's achievements. The Easter Eggs were ordered for the Royal Family for 32 years. These Eggs took a year or more to make and needed many craftsmen for each Egg. Faberge had complete creative freedom with the design of each Egg and the surprises it holds. These Eggs each had some sort of surprise in each design. Some would utilize clockwork to move pieces, others followed the tradition of matryoshka (stacking dolls) by having different things hidden within the eggs. The most expensive of these Eggs was almost 3.5 million American dollars in today's currency. Fifty Eggs were made however only 42 have survived.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ladies' Painting Nights

Looking for a new Girls' Night Out spot? DreamScapes has your number! Make beautiful art with a group of wonderful women. Eat snacks and have a little wine with your chat and paint as you create your own masterpiece. Each lady gets her own canvas and a trained professional guides the group through the chosen painting. Have a lovely time with some friends at DreamScapes, sign up online at our website.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jewelry of the World: India

India is a country that sometimes seems ageless. It's culture and heritage runs deep in the traditions of its people and the aesthetics of Indian clothes, jewelry and architecture. Indian jewelry stands out in its intricate design and the sheer amount that is usually worn. Jewelry has also played a significant role in Indian culture both secular and religious.


India has always been known as a mineral rich country and that is seen through its jewelry. Jewelry is used to decorate beyond the usual western neck, ears, and wrists. Indian decoration goes on to be used on the head, feet, hips, nose, hair, and clothes. This practice of being covered in jewelry has roots in both culture and religion. Jewelry was often the only fail safe a woman had if something happened to her family. The more jewelry she owned the more she could sell in times of desperate need. This kind of adornment might have also sprouted from the Hindu principal of Artha. Artha is the pursuit of wealth and prosperity of married adults for the good of their family. The gaining and wearing of jewelry could certainly be part of Artha.

Indian designs sprout from a reflection of the Hindu belief of the order of the universe or R'ta. Designs are usually repetitious and symmetrical copying the cycle of life, dead, and rebirth. But beyond that frame, jewelry becomes elaborate and beautiful simply for the existence of the beauty itself. Etched gems have been found that have etching and designs on the reverse side that would've been hidden by the setting. This is a perfect example of beauty for beauty's sake.

Gold is a focal point of Indian culture and jewelry. Gold is prominent in the Hindu creation myth and the great creator god, Brahma, was born out of gold. Because of its mythical origins, gold has a great value in Indian society, and became the most used metal in jewelry. India as a country has been calculated to contain over 11,000 tonnes of gold. Gold is a symbol of purity in Indian culture.