Tuesday, April 19, 2011


24-Karat Gold Foil and Chocolate Brown Venetian Glass
Heart Pendant Necklace
The Great Wall of China is a centuries-old tourist attraction that is among the Seven Wonders of the World.  

Built by three Chinese dynasties over the course of more than 1,000 years it stretches across grasslands, rivers and desserts.  China is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Yumi Chen.

With the cost of gold at over $1,000 an ounce, many jewelry designers are exploring (or were already implementing) other material options to keep production costs down. 

American designers Dana Lorenz of Fenton-Fallon incorporates brass into her powerful aesthetic while Melissa Joy Manning uses recycled 18-karat gold, and Canadian jeweler Karyn Chopik pairs hand-forged brass, bronze and sterling silver to cultivate her boho-chic designer jewelry.

Handmade jewelry designs composed of gorgeous multi-colored beads and crystals is another option that proves 18-karat gold or lone gemstones have not cornered the market on great style or beauty.

Presently, based in New York, Chen is an accomplished woman: she is a classically trained violinist; worked in Boston and New York restaurants as an acclaimed pastry chef; and she is also a mathematician.

In 2003, however, while working as a pastry chef, she suffered an injury that “required a long recovery.”  During this time, Chen recalled her years in Europe studying culinary arts.
Aquamarine Fiorato Venetian Glass Bead Bracelet
“My time in Europe included a visit to Venice, Italy and I was exposed to beautiful Venetian glass,” she says.  “My background in the food industry and mathematics requires precision and creativity and these qualities are needed to build jewelry.”

Although Chen creates charm jewelry that include wishbone and heart pendant necklaces, initial necklaces, and sleek bangle bracelets--each produced from either sterling silver, 14-karat gold-fill or copper--the showstoppers are her magnificent and buoyant glass bead and crystal jewelry creations.

Her arrangement of Swarovski Crystals, seed beads, Milllefiori beads, and Aventurina beads highlight stunning combinations of vibrant, muted and fluid-like color in pared down, streamlined designs.

Her Jasmine Collection doubles as a bridal jewelry collection so ethereal, muted pastel colors are the highlight here.  As I have a tendency to equate the shape or color of jewelry with candy, Chen’s collection Candytuft features delectable pieces composed of Mint Green Venetian Glass, Rose and Chrysolite Swarovski Crystals and sterling silver beads among others.  They look good enough to eat!

Chen’s ring selection is a lyrical dance of remarkable detail and beauty.  Among the designs are a beautifully carved jade rose set on a band of sterling silver beads; a perforated sterling silver Abstract Coral Sponge Ring reminiscent of a tiny shield of armor; and a lovely rotation of twelve, intertwining sterling silver bands that create a lone, sinuous ring.
Rose Pink Swarovski Crystal Filigree Earrings

“It was by virtue of an accident that I began a jewelry business,” she says. 

“My experience as a pastry chef gave me a unique sense of color and balance while being a violinist imbued me with an appreciation for precision and care.  I have redefined myself in each piece of beautiful jewelry I make.”
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