c o n t e m p l a t i o n s a n d i n s p i r a t i o n s o f a n a r t i s a n j e w e l r y d e s i g n e r

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Accentuate the Positives (continued): Discover the Right Necklace to Flatter You

By Intern and Guest Blogger - Jenny Kaplan

Just like earrings, the right choice of necklace can emphasize or deemphasize your face shape and completely change your look.  Here is a brief but insightful look at the right kind of necklace for you.

Oval face (face is longer than it is wide, jaw line can be slightly smaller than the hairline, both are rounded)
  • Once again, I must tell you that you are incredibly lucky! Almost all necklaces look good on you and there are no definitive exceptions! 
Square face (strong jaw line, cheek bones, chin, and hairline are about the same width, length and width of the face are the same)
  • Wearing a necklace with a short, fine chain with a small pendant will emphasize the angular nature of your face and will make your jawline look larger.  To make your face look softer, try wearing a longer necklace or a necklace with a thicker chain and larger pendant. 
Triangular face (narrow brow and wider jaw line)
  • If your face is triangular, the right necklace for you really depends on whether your jawline is angular or rounded.  If angular, you should follow the suggestions for a square face, and if rounded you should see the suggestions for a round face.  
Round face (soft and curved with equal length and width)
  • Pearls and round beads should be worn at a longer length, in order to prevent overemphasizing the roundness of your face.  When choosing the size of the pearls or beads, you should consider the size of your facial features.  The larger the beads are, the more they will emphasize the roundness of your face.  Also, chokers create a horizontal line at the neck and will make your face look wider.  In order to make your face look more oval, you should avoid wearing thin chains because they will make your face look larger.  
Heart shaped face (wide brow and narrow chin)
  • Necklaces with an angular pendant directly under the chin will emphasize that stronger feature on your face.  In order to make your face look more oval, try a choker or short necklace with a rounder shape. 
Now that you’ve read my suggestions, go see for yourself what you think works best on you! Maybe this is a perfect shopping opportunity to find a necklace that really flatters your face.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Confessions of a Jewelry Supply Hoarder

The question I get most often is “Where do you get all your supplies?  Do you travel?”  The long and short answer is yes.  I source my components from all over the globe, both when I travel and through the contacts that I have made over the years.  
I have purchased jewelry components while trekking though ethnic minority villages in Northern Vietnam and at the Night Market in Luang Prabang, Laos.  My biggest shopping trip of the year, however, is a little less exotic, but very rewarding - the annual, massive gem show in Tucson, AZ.  This is where I meet with suppliers and buy treasures from all over the globe. 
Over the years I have developed some wonderful sources, from Southeast and Central Asia to Africa and India.  They know me well, what I like and what I will go nuts over.  Some send me boxes to pick through, others send photos. 

And, well, I am a shopper!  I can’t resist loading up on all the wonderful things that provide inspiration and creative energy.  My studio is brimming with beautiful things.  Drawers and drawers of gemstones.  Tibetan pendants.  Afghani beads.  African amber.   Turquoise.  Coral.  And so many pearls.  All of this is accompanied by findings, wire, tools and all of the little details that add the finishing touch.

Can I admit something to you?  I am, in fact, a hoarder when it comes to my jewelry supplies.  Lately my studio has been feeling a little crowded, cramped, over-stuffed.  I feel a need to unload some of it.  So, that is just what I am doing.  I have set up a shop, on etsy.com, where I will start selling off some of the supplies in my studio to make room for more.  Seems a little crazy, but if you make jewelry it is a benefit to you!  I am selling items at the wholesale price, or less.  
I will post new items regularly, as I make my way through the boxes and drawers in my studio.  So keep checking in to see what’s new.  And tell your jewelry making friends.  

I have called it IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS, because that is the truth!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Accentuate the Positives: Discover the Perfect Earrings for Unique You

By Intern and Guest Blogger, Jenny Kaplan

Finding the right earrings has a lot to do with your face shape.  A basic rule of thumb: earrings with the same shape as your face emphasize that shape while earrings that contrast with your face shape do the opposite.  The earrings that are unlike the shape of your face usually make your face seem more oval—the so-called “perfect” shape.  
Oval face (face is longer than it is wide, jaw line can be slightly smaller than the hairline, both are rounded)
  • You are the luckiest of all! Pretty much all earrings shapes look good on you!
Square face (strong jaw line, cheek bones, chin, and hairline are about the same width, length and width of the face are the same)
  • Emphasize the more angular features of your face with square earrings or earrings that have sharp angles or make your face look rounder (especially your jawline) by wearing earrings with a rounder shape.  
  • Rounded earrings will draw attention away from the jaw and make your face look longer. 
Triangular face (narrow brow and wider jaw line)
  • Wearing earrings that are smaller on top and wider on the bottom mirror your face shape and amplify it. 
  • To make your face look more oval you should wear earrings that sit on the ears (rather than below) and are more uniform in width.  
Round face (soft and curved with equal length and width)
  • Round earrings, especially button-shaped, will make your face look more round.  Dangly earrings, whether angular or curved, make your face less round and longer.
Heart shaped face (wide brow and narrow chin) 
  • Earrings that are wider at the top and pointed at the bottom will emphasize your sharper chin.  Drop earrings will make the top and bottom halves of your face look more balanced.  
Now that you have these basic rules have fun trying different shapes and seeing what you like best on yourself! I know that I’ve certainly started choosing my earrings more carefully!
Coming soon: the simplified rules for necklaces!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May: Now’s the Time to Go Green!

By Intern and Guest Blogger, Jenny Kaplan
Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet, flower month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and a loving wife.
-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Happy Birthday May babies! Spring is in the air and everything is fresh and green.  How perfect it is that your birthstone is emerald! I know I said the blogs about birthstones wouldn’t start till June, but emeralds are just so pretty I couldn’t wait (plus Judith showed me these gorgeous earrings and I felt inspired).

The intense green color of Emeralds (truly beloved by those of us who have been in the cast of The Wizard of Oz) is a fantastic reminder of spring and the liveliness that seems to come hand-in-hand with this time of year.  The tiny fractures inside the gem are called “jardin”(garden) in French because of their resemblance to plants—another reminder of spring. 

Ancient Egyptian culture highly esteemed the emerald.  The Egyptians were known to engrave emeralds and bury them with the dead.  Cleopatra had many emerald mines during her reign—it was her very favorite gem.  It was said that when visiting dignitaries prepared to return home, Cleopatra gave them an emerald carved in her likeness as her farewell present.  That’s a parting gift I would be happy to take! 

Many believe that wearing emeralds brings wisdom, growth, and patience.  Giving a gift with an emerald is supposed to be a symbol of love and fidelity—making it the perfect gift for an anniversary (good news for those of us who love the look of emeralds but were not fortunate enough to be born in May). 

Happy birthday once again to all you lucky readers who have birthdays this month! Hopefully someone special will keep your birthday in mind and buy you an emerald or two of your own! (I highly recommend these fantastic earrings!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birthstones Rock!

By Intern and Guest Blogger, Jenny Kaplan

I have always loved birthstones. I love the idea that a specific stone is attached to my identity. It feels really personal when someone gives me a gift with my birthstone (aquamarine!) in it. The gift-giver clearly paid special attention, and what’s better than receiving a well thought-out gift? Birthstones are so special and rich in tradition that for the next year, each month we will post a blog entry about that month’s birthstone!

Before we begin, however, here’s some background info on the tradition of birthstones. The Jewish Roman historian Josephus wrote that there was a connection between the stones in Aaron’s breastplate (Moses’ brother), the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. Ancient Jewish people wore one of these twelve stones according to their tribe. The connection with the zodiac came soon after that followed by a connection to the twelve-month calendar.

Birthstones regained popularity in Poland in the 15th century, where everyone wore the birthstone for each month. The power of each gem was said to be greater during its month. In 1912, the Jewelers of America officially adopted a list of modern birthstones and since that date have added less expensive stones to each month.

Most people have heard of traditional and modern birthstones but there are even more stones attached to your personal identity! There are Mystical Birthstones, Ayurvedic Birthstones, and different stones according to the signs of the zodiac. Mystical Birthstones come from Tibetan beliefs from over 1000 years ago. Ayurvedic Birthstones come from traditional Indian spiritual and medicinal beliefs dating back to 1500 BCE. Zodiac birthstones date back to before the creation of the 12-month calendar. During each sign its birthstone was said to have special power. Wearing that stone was supposed to help move the planets in helpful ways for the wearer.

June birthdays get ready! Maybe you’ll get a thoughtful gift with your birthstone this year! Regardless, you’ll be sure to find new exciting information about your birthstone (and every birthstone) on this blog in the month(s) to come!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Symbolism of Hands

By Intern and Guest Blogger, Jenny Kaplan

We clasp the hands of those that go before us,
And the hands of those who come after us.
We enter the little circle of each other's arms
And the larger circle of lovers,
Whose hands are joined in a dance,
And the larger circle of all creatures,
Passing in and out of life,
Who move also in a dance,
To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it
Except in fragments
-Wendell Berry

In everyday life I don’t think most people think about the value of their hands or their symbolic actions—the handshake, for example, is perhaps the most frequently used symbolic gesture to represent friendship, greeting, or the closing of a deal. However, hands are a big deal in art and jewelry all over the world and are represented well in many Judith Altman Designs pieces. Therefore, I decided to investigate what hands mean to these different cultures from all corners of the world.

In Asian cultures, the left hand represents yin and the right represents yang. The left is softer, symbolizing passiveness, justice, emotion, receiving, and the unconscious while the right is harder, symbolizing assertiveness, mercy, logic, giving, and the conscious. Together the hands represent allegiance, friendship, and the balance of the two sides. The positioning of hands is also extremely important in expressing the transference of divine power in Buddhism and Hinduism making hands major symbols in talismans of those religions.

In a totally different part of the world, in Celtic lore hands were a connection to power and a symbol of authority. They show balance and good judgment. Legend says that a Celtic King was actually dethroned because he lost one of his hands in battle. He was returned to the throne after one of his daughters gave him a silver hand to wear around his neck.

Moving back around the globe, hands are similarly significant in Middle Eastern culture. Though I always thought that the Hamsa was a Jewish symbol, it actually came from Islamic culture but can even be traced back further to a time before monotheistic faiths. In Islam the symbolic hand is called the Hand of Fatima and commemorates Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. The Hamsa/Hand of Fatima represents blessings, power, and strength and is thought to ward off the evil eye.
In North America, Native Americans use hands in art to show the presence of man and man’s work, achievements, and legacy. Mexican people made small gold or silver votive offerings in the shape of body parts as a prayer for that part of the body or in thanks for the ability to use that limb called Milagros. The most popular kind of Milagros was of the hand or the heart, hands because they are absolutely necessary for the agricultural life lived by many people in that region.

It seems to me that if cultures from everywhere around the globe value the image of a hand as protective or a sign of balance, there must be something universally true and important about our hands—something we should value more highly! So today think about all the things you do with your hands and the meaning you add to your life through that work, better yet think about the hand symbols in the art and jewelry around you (easily accessible examples are located at www.judithaltman.com!) and for one day try not to undervalue your frequently unappreciated hands.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Great Gifts for the Graduate from Guest Blogger & Graduate Herself, Jenny

Graduation season is here!

I know it can be hard to come up with good, original graduation gifts but as someone who is about to graduate (yay!) I am here to assure you that you simply can’t go wrong with jewelry! Luckily, Judith Altman Designs has pieces that are perfect for girls with all different styles. To help show some of these amazing options (all jewelry that I would love to receive) I have picked out pieces for five generalized fashion types. Just think about the style of the grad you need to acknowledge with a gift and this guide will lead you to the perfect selection!

For the Classic Grad
I love both of these gift options—the bangles and necklaces are really elegant but still fun and young! Classically beautiful, either of these pieces could be worn over and over for years to come!

For the Trendy Grad
This long necklace or these leather mesh cuffs are the perfect gift for a trendy graduate! The necklace is versatile and would be the perfect finishing touch to a fashion-forward spring outfit. The cuffs could be dressed up or down and the gold-tone clasp and trimming looks super stylish.

For the Casual Grad
These silver and leather earrings or hard leather cuffs are casual enough to be worn often by someone who doesn’t like to dress up but are still really special and unique!
For the Bo-ho Chic Grad
If you’re buying for a so-called bohemian graduate, this turquoise necklace will quickly make you their favorite gift-giver. It is totally unique and beautiful. The golden Buddha necklaces are perfect for someone with bohemian style who likes something a little more delicate while still interesting and fun!

For the Girly Girl
This “Charming” Vintage Locket Necklace truly lives up to its name! It is feminine and beautiful—perfect for someone who loves to look girly or romantic! The Oui/Non Earrings are also a great option, they are simple but would add a finished touch to any soft, girlish outfit.
For the Drama Queen
If the graduate you are shopping for loves to make a statement, this Blue Freshwater Pearl and Sterling Silver Necklace or Yellow Opal and Pearl Bib are absolute jaw-droppers, perfect for those with a flare for the dramatic!

By Jenny Kaplan

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My new addiction

By Intern and Guest Blogger, Jenny Kaplan
How to Wear this Turquoise Necklace
How to Wear this Turquoise Necklace by jkaplan

I have found a website that will change my life forever. It’s called Polyvore and I have spent an embarrassing number of hours perusing the site to make “sets”. To make a set you pick clothing, jewelry, accessories, beauty products and other stuff and put it together like a collage page in a magazine. You can even click on cute items that you find and be directed where to buy them!
In order to feed this new addiction, I decided that every weekday I’m going to make a set with a different Judith Altman Designs piece—kind of a “how to wear” series—and post it here. If you like it, you should click through to Polyvore and “like it” there!
Coming up soon we’re going to do a contest on Polyvore for the best set made with a Judith Altman Designs piece. There are going to be exciting prizes so you should start warming up and playing on Polyvore now!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Meet Jenny

Hi! I’m Jenny Kaplan and as an intern for Judith I will be her guest blogger for the month of May. I am a senior at Greensboro Day School and will be heading to Brown University next fall. I love the arts and enjoy participating in plays and singing groups at school.

As seniors at Greensboro Day, we spend our last month of school doing an internship in whatever area we choose in order to gain a meaningful experience in the working world prior to graduation. I chose to work for Judith (and luckily for me she agreed!) and have now been introduced to the fascinating world of Judith Altman Designs.

Though I have always appreciated the beauty of Judith’s designs, I don’t think I really grasped the meaning of each piece. Not only do many of the pieces I have seen include antique talismans blessing the wearer, but also the stones themselves are put together in a way that creates a unique energy. While I intend on writing about many of these fascinating antiques and stones during my time here, I thought I would start by talking about the symbolism behind a gem that has always been special to me: the pearl.

I distinctly remember my mother giving me a pair of pearl earrings when I was 11 or 12 that she was given during her childhood. Every time I put those earrings on (which is quite frequently because they seem to go with everything!) I am reminded of the earrings’ previous stories, of my mother’s adolescence in Detroit, Michigan, and of the additional stories I add to the earrings’ history with each wearing.

Pearls historically have been symbols of beauty, femininity, fertility, and rebirth. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, love, and sexual desires, rose out of the sea in a clam shell wearing only pearls. Contrastingly, pearls have also been historic symbols of purity and innocence. Ancient Romans had a fascination for pearls and believed they had medicinal and protective attributes while the ancient Chinese believed pearls symbolized wisdom, immortality, and light.

To me, pearls have always lived up to their reputation, filling me with a happy, distinctly girly energy that seems perfect to wear during our current beautiful spring weather. More significant than this energy, however, is the meaning I feel from my pearl earrings. Meaning is more valuable than just the attractiveness of a piece of jewelry and I think that is why I am fascinated by so many of the pieces Judith showed me yesterday during my orientation. Each piece has a unique story, energy, and feel making it more than a pretty adornment into a story that is ready to be furthered by a new wearer.