NatureScapes – Assael’s Tribute to the Breathtaking Beauty of Natural Art
Most of what the natural world offers us is beautiful, alive, and ever-changing, making it continually exciting and intriguing. But occasionally, organic processes freeze that beauty and capture it forever in stone. Assael’s newest collection, NatureScapes, pays tribute to the glory of naturally occurring scenic landscapes in stone and wood – combining them with the finest pearls and precious coral to form wearable treasures. Here, we take our first look at NatureScapes and some of the extraordinary creations that are sure to excite pearl and coral connoisseurs.
Assael Senior Vice President and jewelry designer Peggy Grosz, describes the development of the new collection. “At the gem shows I attend every year, especially recently, I found myself being more and more attracted to unusual materials – Petrified Wood, Jaspers, and Agates, for example. These materials look to me like landscapes, like miniature paintings or works of art created by Nature herself. I see organic scenes in all of them – clouds in the sky, sedimentary rock formations, mountain ranges… they evoked my sense of wonder and my wanderlust. They inspired me to create and to make them into wearable pieces of jewelry.”
Dendritic Agate is a form of the stone chalcedony that has naturally occurring traces of manganese oxide or iron. The inclusions create patterns within the stone that look like trees. Grosz discovered dendritic agates “that truly look like miniature paintings of corals on the ocean floor” or “scenes of a forest with majestic trees that are just miraculous.” She paired them with pearls and coral to create highly unusual and beautiful jewelry.
A square dendritic agate featuring the look and shape of a coral formation at the bottom of the sea was “framed” in 18K rose gold and pink copper garnet and accented with a single natural saltwater pearl and a small miniature branch of Sardinian coral. The impressive piece measures 2″ by 2″ and can be worn as a brooch on the lapel or as a centerpiece on a wide silk choker. This one-of-a-kind gem evokes a thoughtful sense of respect for the very treasures from the sea that Assael has been celebrating for over 75 years.
Another piece of exotic Moroccan agate was carefully surrounded by copper garnets along with round and marquise white diamonds, both colors paying tribute to the swirling sedimentary layers in the agate itself. The piece is a beautiful clasp for the exquisite and vibrant red coral triple strand necklace. The three fiery rows of perfectly matched Sardinian coral echo the wavy pattern of the inclusions in the stone. The overall necklace is rich with sophistication and distinctiveness.
The Dendritic Agate in the Duvall earrings literally look like rocky forage. They pair perfectly with Golden South Sea pearls and Imperial Topaz. This large earring is perfect for earth tone lovers, gingers, and those who love summer sunset hues.
The wondrous range of Petrified woods also pair perfectly with various pearls. According to Grosz, “the Petrified Bogwoods that contain Mother of Pearl-like calcite patterns are phenomenal, and when I can find the perfect color of pearl, it amplifies the beauty of the wood and allows the patterns in the wood to be noticed and fully appreciated.”
The Spotted Petrified Wood and South Sea Pearl earrings make a dramatic statement. The earrings are two and a half inches in length, and the fine white pearls bring out the detail in the blue and white speckled wood. The white “spots” are composed of the mineral group that comprises quartz gemstones, such as amethyst, and in the wood, it has the look of mother of pearl. “The idea was to simply highlight the organic beauty of materials like petrified wood in shapes and forms that work with the body,” says Grosz.
The artistic patterns in petrified woods create really unexpected gems. Grosz combined several natural pairs of petrified wood with Golden South Sea pearls and/or Fijian pearls. The linear or organic designs of the wood offer the story of the wood’s creation. These surprising, fresh earring designs offer true sophistication and exciting new looks for pearl lovers.
Jaspers are yet another combination of gems and minerals that deserve the utmost respect and attention. According to Grosz, “The Maligano Jasper resembles Japanese landscape paintings with Sakura blossoms to me. When I find attractive shapes and more importantly, cohesive pairs, I start the treasure hunt in the office for the perfect pair of complementary Tahitian pearls. I feel lucky that I have access to such a remarkable inventory of the highest quality of pearls. It may take some time, but we always find the precise color of pearl that completes the look! That is real satisfaction for a jewelry designer. It never gets old.”
The Assael Maligano Jasper and Tahitian Natural Color Cultured Pearl earrings feature a scenic landscape on the stones themselves, as if painted by Japanese watercolorists. The fusion of color, shape, and form creates a serene and peaceful pair of mismatched earrings that beckons the eye.
Another pair of lengthy rectangular Jaspers are accented with precious Sardinian Coral and Aquamarine, in addition to the Tahitian Natural Color Cultured Pearls. The vibrant hue of the coral compliments the touches of red that are reminiscent of Sakura cherry buds or fruit. Again, the earrings are not identical to each other, framing the face beautifully and telling a story all their own.
Other – Chalcedony, Lapis, Violane
Grosz also found organic lunar and celestial stories in stones like chalcedony, lapis, and violane. A sizable cut of Violane reminded her of the Sky and Clouds on a beautiful summer day, so she immediately imagined it surrounded by the luster of white Akoya and South Sea pearls. Violane is rarely used in fine jewelry and the craftsmanship required to secure the stone and make it a very wearable ring was tremendous. But the hours of labor paid off as the ring is a gorgeous reflection of the heavens on a beautiful blue-sky kind of day.
Lapis lazuli marbled with calcite also has an atmospheric quality that evokes wintery cloud formations at dusk. Paired with the very finest of large white South Sea pearls, the sizable pair of button earrings makes an incredibly refined statement. Perfect with blue eyes, a navy blue business suit, or a classic white button-up blouse.
When chalcedony is red or reddish in hue, it is called carnelian. And every once in a while, pinkish or reddish carnelian can be naturally striped with layers of color that resemble the most beautiful of tropical sunsets. The “Sunset” carnelian that Grosz found seemingly begged for the feminine, chic, and sophisticated treasure of Angel Skin Coral. The soft yet powerful combination of geometric shapes and stripes is beautifully accented with the elegant, less scintillating look of single-cut diamonds. Grosz made the carnelian drops detachable, too, creating two earrings in one, offering more options for daily wear.
This is just the beginning for NatureScapes, according to Grosz, who hopes to have as many as three dozen new designs by the end of this year. These new pieces are just making their way to Assael’s esteemed retail partners now. Use the store locator to find a partner near you and try them on in person. It’s like holding a masterpiece from nature in the palm of your hand, or more aptly wearing it on your lobe.
“The whole process has been pure joy for me,” Grosz acknowledges. “And I hope they bring people great happiness when they are worn. It’s not only a treat for pearl lovers like me; it’s also a nice way for Nature lovers to find a meaningful connection to the jewelry that they wear every day.”
Feature image at top – Clockwise from top center – Assael Spotted Petrified Wood and South Sea Pearl earrings, Assael NatureScapes brooch featuring Agate, Copper Garnet, Sardinian Coral, and a Natural Saltwater Pearl in 18K Rose Gold, Assael Natural Metamorphic Stones with Pyrite and Golden South Sea Pearls, Assael Fiji Pearl and Golden Oak earrings, Assael Angel Skin Coral, Detachable “Sunset” Carnelian, and Diamond earrings
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