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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Wear It

I am starting a new series of blog posts I'm calling "How to Wear It".  I hope that these posts help you think of ways to incorporate a fabulous piece of Judith Altman Designs into your wardrobe everyday.  Many of my designs make a statement but that doesn't mean you have to save them for special occasions.  You should feel confident and stylish every day - so here is some help.

Starting with a really nice way to wear this red coral necklace from Judith Altman Designs. A great summer outfit - chic, cool and comfortable.  You can find it in the online store by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pearls and Moonstones for June Birthdays

By her who in June was born
No gem save pearls shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Happy birthday June babies!  I hope you have exciting plans for celebrating.  As promised, here is some information about your birthstones: Pearl, Moonstone, and Alexandrite. 

Your traditional birthstone is unique (just like you!) in that it is the only birthstone that is organic, made from a natural, living material.  Pearls are formed when an irritant, like a grain of sand, enters an oyster, mussel, or clam.  In an attempt to stop the irritation, the mollusk creates a protective substance called “nacre”.  Over time layers of nacre coat the irritant and create a pearl.

Scientists explain the existence of pearls with nacre, but ancient civilizations had much more creative, and entertaining, explanations. The ancient Greeks thought pearls were created from the hardened tears of joy shaken from the eyes of the goddess of love when she was born from the sea.  Arab legend says that pearls were formed from oysters that were lured from the very depths of the ocean by the moon.  Supposedly the oysters swallowed moonlit dewdrops and so pearls were formed.  Ancient Chinese beliefs stated that pearls originated from the brains of dragons. 

Said to be a favorite gem of Cleopatra, worn by nobility throughout the ages, and a symbol of femininity and grace, June you are truly lucky to have such a special birthstone!

Moonstone is also a birthstone of June.  It gets its very appropriate name from its amazing resemblance to the sheen of the moon.  Moonstone’s color varies from clear to bluish white to peach.  Ancient civilizations believed the stone was sacred and gave the wearer great spiritual understanding.  Some ancient people even believed that moonstone could make the wearer invisible! As a gift (and what a great gift idea it is!), moonstone symbolizes health and longevity.

Just in case pearls or moonstone aren’t your style, those of you with June birthdays have one more chance to love your birthstone with Alexandrite.  Alexandrite is yellow or brownish green.  It actually changes color when exposed to a glowing light source (like candlelight) to a red color (how cool!).  As a gift, Alexandrite symbolizes joy and good fortune. 

Once again happy birthday to all of you this month! I hope it’s a great one and maybe someone will be thoughtful enough to give you a gift with your birthstone in it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why do we love the beach?

I am fortunate to have spent the last week on a serene and beautiful beach in South Carolina.  It is my family's 14th year visiting this particular beach.  We stay in a lovely beachy house, directly on the beach separated from the surf only by natural dunes.  This is not a very populated beach and when the tide is out it is wide and flat.  The sand is fine and the surf is warm and gentle.

The minute I arrive I feel a relaxation come over me.  And every year I find myself wondering - what is it about the beach that is so compelling?  Why is it that just standing on the water's edge, gazing out to the horizon, is so renewing?  

I have heard that the percentage of salt in the ocean is exactly the same as the percentage of salt in our blood.  I wonder if there is some primordial draw to the ocean.  An evolutionary memory?  It is also a uniquely broad expanse of space.  There aren't too many other places on the globe where we can feel so connected to the vastness of nature - a similar feeling to a wide, clear night sky sprinkled with stars, or expansive views from mountain tops.  These are moments when we can gain some perspective and context for our existence in this universe. 

And then there are the mysteries of what exists below the surface.  We collect shells that give us little hints of the life teaming in the sea.  We get excited when we spot porpoises coming up for air as they parallel the shore, when we see schools of fish jumping up from the surface, or watch pelicans skim the surface and then dive for their meal.

The lighting at different times of day is another fascination for me - the silvery tones of the early morning, the sharp contrasts of high noon, and the softness of the evening sky. Water reflecting sky, sometimes the horizon disappears and everything can be seen as a continuum. 

Whatever it is - the freedom and renewal, the relaxation and contemplation, bare feet and minimal clothing - for me, the week at the beach is a pilgrimage.  A pilgrimage to beauty, nature and peacefulness.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

And the seasons they go round and round

Most days I try to walk with my friend Terri and her adorable pooch Bella.  We are fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country that fully experiences all four seasons.  While the winters are mild (yay!) and the summers are hot and humid (argh!) both spring and fall are spectacular here in North Carolina.  I usually take a photo or two when the image strikes and I rely on these images for peaceful inspiration back in the studio.
As I mentioned a post back, I got new photo editing software and I have been busy playing with it.  So here is my homage to the seasons as seen on my neighborhood walks, and as edited by me.  Enjoy!





Tuesday, June 08, 2010


One of my creative outlets is photography.  While most of my focus (pun intended) over the last few years has been on taking pictures of my jewelry (a whole world unto itself!), I have recently found a renewed interest in taking pix of the world around me.  Often the only camera that I have with me is my iPhone and I end up taking the picture with it, often disappointed with the results.

So today, I downloaded a new photography app on my iPhone called Camera+ and I am blown away.  It does all kinds of magic and gives you all kinds of magic editing tools.  If you want a techie review, search Google for one.  I just wanted to share my excitement!  I feel like I got a shiny new toy and I am thrilled.  

So, here are some photos that I edited just a bit and to which I added borders.  The flower pot is on my front step, and I just went outside this afternoon and snapped it.  The others were on my camera roll on my phone.  From last winter from the dining room window and two from a trip to Vietnam.  I trust you will know which is which.  What do you think?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Inspiration: Turquoise

The color turquoise is a bit of both heaven and earth. The blue of the sky mixed with the green of the earth, it is a cheerful and happy color. 
Turquoise, the stone, makes a special gift as it is said to be responsible for faithfulness and constancy in relationships. It is an inspirational color for me, a regular player in my creations. 
Here is a portfolio for you to enjoy... turquoise.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hydrangea Envy

I think I have admitted this before on this blog... I am not a gardener.  I live in the South, where gardens are serious business.  Patios lush with planters.  Gardens that are planned to have color most of the year. Fountains, ornaments, leafy things that crawl and climb.  Every Spring I swear I'll plant forsythia for its early riot of color.  Then I see someone's gorgeous tulips and I think, next Fall, I am planting bulbs.  And I always promise myself that I will properly prune my rosebush.

Instead, let's just say, my yard has a "natural" look.  In the shady back there are loads of fern and rhododendron that grow in natural areas.  Lots of trees and shrubs that don't require much attention.  But the other day, out on a walk, I came across yard and after yard of unbelievable hydrangeas.  These big fluffy balls of blue and lavender blooms are almost laughable in their abundance.  The color is so saturated that it looks as though someone turned up the color volume with Photoshop.  I had to stop in my tracks and face the facts - I had hydrangea envy.

I am usually pretty good about simply enjoying the fruits of my neighbors' labors in their gardens.  But at this moment I was plotting.  Could I get away with cutting some of these amazing bon-bons of flowers without my neighbor noticing?  Could I actually ask for some cuttings, or does that violate some kind of gardening creed to which I was oblivious?   I just had to have these gorgeous, over the top beauties.

So far I haven't done anything illegal.  No midnight excursions with pruning shears.  I still hold my breath when I walk by and wonder, how something so beautiful could bring me so close to the brink of criminal acts.  Instead, I have decided to enjoy the bounty and pretend my property line extends across the street!