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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Of Pigeon's Blood and Rose Gold

I write about most lifestyle and arts topics, including travel, fashion, art and culture but they don't always connect to each other. Occasionally, they relate in ways that are mind-boggling. I was assigned to write a designer profile for the jeweler's trade publication, JQ International. When I cover fashion, I expect to focus on the designer's artistic process and inspiration. For Miami-based designer J.R. deBellard, travel, art and culture turned out to be all a part of his process. Born in Venezuela and raised in Paris, J.R. mixes fascinating elements of his interests and background into his jewelry. His Ghana collection, featuring Adinkra symbols, sharks teeth, bear claws and rubies, blew me away. I studied the necklaces for a long time, trying to figure them out but I never did.

J.R. had to break it down for me. He only designs in yellow or rose gold because that's what he remembers elegant ladies wearing on the French and Italian Riviera when he was growing up. He has followed African politics for a long time so he chose Adinkra symbols, which are ancient Ashanti designs from Ghana, to adorn each piece. J.R. also loves English Victorian history and how aristocrats would bring back mounts and animal pieces like bear claws and sharks teeth and wear them engraved with flowers. Finally, he's also interested in the Brazilian candomble religion, which uses talismans like the figa, a clenched fist image, to ward off the evil eye. You'll see the fist all over Brazil but it's usually carved from dark wood. He dangles the pieces from black leather and often highlights his favorite stone, the Pigeon's Blood ruby.

So you have representation's from three continents and three different culture's --Ghanaian, Victorian and Brazilian, all in a striking and unlikely mix. It's sensual and deep jewelry that goes way beyond pretty. "I try not to design for a simple mind," I'm making jewelry with meaning," says J.R.

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I'd be very happy wearing any one of these.
Absolutely gorgeous. I love art and jewelry that are not only beautiful but mean something. love it.
I do like jewellery that has a lot of thought and culture gone into it...fascinating mix I visited Chicago for the first time last summer and loved the city!! We based ourselves in Oak Park and stayed at B and B Under the Gingko Tree - it is a lovely heritage area rich in art and this the area where you live??
Loved the Cloudgate!!
Wendy, you and me both!

Yvonne, this is exactly the kind of jewelry I love too.

Catherine, thought and culture and art are my whole life! Yes, Oak Park is the area I live. I wish I knew you when you visited!
Next time I will definitely let you know... I was in Chicago 2 months before I got into blogging...
Very unique. I like it.
Rosalind, I'm sorry but "pigeon blood" in reference to rubies is virtually meaningless these days, unless a lab certificate, from a respected gem lab backs it up. The term Pigeon blood red used to be for exceptional stones from Mogok, or Burma. Ubiquitous usage for every red sapphire has rendered it meaningless.

One man's pink sapphire is another man's ruby, even if it's called "pigeon blood." The idea is to have a good red with no heating or other treatment.
Thanks for the lapidary insight! I am familiar with the obscurity of the term but since few of my readers are jewelers, I used the phrase because it reflects the jeweler's passionate personality so well. I do not use it in the trade magazine profile nor does it appear in official descriptions of the jewelry. Pigeon's Blood conures up a rare and dramatic image and as a writer, I love any word that does that. But thanks for all of your anonymous concern.
Beautiful pieces. I'm sure that you writing will properly convey the artistry.
Thanks Stephen!
Ghana has a great culture led by the Ashanti people. I visited their base city, Kumasi. Beautiful kente cloth and jewelry.
Thanks for visiting, Genaro. Yes, Ghana has a very rich culture of music, art and traditional cloths. Hand woven Kente is exisite but I think a lot of people only get to see the machine-produced knock offs that are popular in the U.S.
I hope to read more from you! Your articles always provide relevant topics that are interesting enough to keep me reading until the last sentence. Thank You and I look forward to your next post.

University Blog
Hi Jake, thanks for stopping by. Please visit my updated blog at www.rosalindcummingsyeates.blogspot for my recent posts!
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