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Friday, February 8, 2008

Open to the light

Blue-winged Grasshopper Brooch by Bernard Doherty. See more of this piece and buy it here.

I wanted to write about enamel jewelry, an art form I've loved since I was a girl. Mind you, I was just thinking about what we all pretty much know as "enamel" which is basically melted colored glass on copper or other metals: what is called vitreous enamel. I was also familiar with champlevé and cloisonné. Then I discovered Bernard Doherty, a fantastic jewelry artist in Victoria on the southeastern coast of Australia, and his incredible plique-á-jour.

Plique-á-jour roughly translates to "open to the light," and that's because it is. In contrast to other enameling methods, there is no metal to back the glass in these pieces. They are like small stained-glass jewelry objects. And yes, it's more difficult than Mr. Doherty as made it look.

Platinum Dragonfly by Bernard Doherty. $15,048 AUD (about $13,450 USD). See more of this piece and buy it here.

As you can see in the astoundingly beautiful dragonfly piece above, the light is free to move through the finely detailed wings of the insect. The light will also be dancing off of the 6.97 ct pink tourmaline at the center of its back and the five diamonds set in its head and wing points. The tail is enameled, and both the wings and the tail are hinged and sprung to allow them to move on the 18k yellow gold and platinum exoskeleton. I know it looks tiny on your screen, but the wing span is a full 85 mm (about 3.5")!

As you may have guessed by now, work this fine and in materials this precious is not going to be priced at bargain basement rates, but if you have the money to spend on yourself (or your Valentine), these would be a fine investment (just the gold and platinum will likely appreciate even more than they have in the last five minutes). This is not merely jewelry; it is fine art in every sense of the word: museum pieces.

Whether you can afford it or not, you can appreciate it, so I'm featuring more images of Mr. Doherty's incredible insectarium here.

This amazing pendant is a fine example of champlevé. I love the colors and the form, and that gigantic pearl is so beautiful as to be ridiculous.

Champlevé Scarab Beetle Pendant, by Bernard Doherty. 1.75 x 3 cm. 18k yellow gold, south sea pearl, blue champlevé enamel, 0.20ct champagne diamond. Find more info about purchasing this piece here.

Brian Doherty, Southeastern Australian enamel jewelry artist. See more of his work here.

Two Butterflies Pendant by Bernard Doherty. Plique-á-jour enamel set in 18k yellow gold with about .12 ct. of brilliant cut diamonds, two pear-shape blue topaz and large pear-shape amethyst. Get more information and price for this piece here.

A dragonfly and its bug:

Dragonfly Brooch by Bernard Doherty. Ask for more information about this piece here.

Above is a gorgeous brooch with a security chain and clip in the shape of a small bug, set with an oval blue topaz and a yellow diamond. The brooch itself is another beautiful dragonfly in blue and green plique-á-jour with hinged wings. He is 18k yellow gold and set with a blue topaz cabochon, ruby baguettes and a garnet cabochon. The tail is brown enamel. So very Art Nouveau.

Dragonfly Brooch & Pendant by Bernard Doherty. Get more information about this piece here.

And this one may be my favorite. Red and green plique-á-jour, yellow diamonds, white diamonds, tsavorite and green garnets. The tail is articulated and studded with those yellow diamonds. This is a brooch and pendant, and frankly, it makes my mouth water. The pearly iridescence of the wings and the articulated tail draw me in completely. I'd love to handle it. Wouldn't you love to wear it?

Please, do yourself a favor and visit Mr. Doherty's own site here, Brian Doherty Artist in Gold. There are so very many more amazing pieces there.


FrenchGardenHouse said...

wow!! If ever there was a piece jewelry that would make me want to spend thousands, that dragonfly is it! skip the diamonds, these are incredible!

Thanks Becky, I love learning about artists and their work.
xo Lidy

city pretties said...

The best part about this artist, Bernard Doherty, besides his art, of course, is the person: he's laid back, down to earth, friendly and personable.

I look at his art and think this guy should be snooty and unapproachable and he is the complete opposite.

I'd encourage anyone to look at his work and I'd love to know that someone bought from him through my blog!

I'm glad you like it, Lidy. Who wouldn't?