Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ruby and Chartreuse

I absolutely love color. The brighter and the more unique the combination, the better. I swoon for coral, fuschia with turquoise (even though it's a total 80's reference), amethyst with lemon...and on and on. I imagine that, if you've seen my jewelry, you know that I am a chromophile.

I especially enjoy working with colors that are a challenge - that is, they are difficult to combine with other tones, are generally considered as "ugly" (browns, oranges and yellow-greens frequently end up in this category), are hopelessly connected to a specific look (e.g. light pink being sweet and girly) and so forth. One of the reasons I'm so drawn to the Mozambique Island trade beads is that they come in a rainbow of colors, all thrown together somewhat wily-nily on fishing line by the boys who find the beads on the beach. I try to work with every single bead on those strands, every shape, every color. It pushes my creativity, makes me look at the beads with new eyes.

Here are a few new pieces from the Alexandra Amaro Mozambique Island collection that incorporate some of my very favorite colors: ruby and chartreuse.

These Cascata Earrings feature a mix of 300-year-old Mozambique Island trade beads and Indian Rubies, with a faceted pear-shaped ruby dangling from the bottom of the cluster. The tiny trade beads are in shade of pink from dusty rose to pomegranate. Pink trade beads are incredibly hard to find, and it literally took me hours to find them among the sea of reds in my collection. I love how delicate this design is, how these old beads worn by centuries under the Indian Ocean can be elegant and feminine.

I loved working with the pink trade beads so much that I decided to make a matching bracelet. This Venezia Bracelet features a mix of antique Mozambique Island beads, Indian Rubies and lovely red-violet Hydrabadi Garnets. I incorporated a mix of handmade Thai Hill Tribes silver beads to add texture and add to the asymmetrical interest. I could look at the shades of pink and purple in this bracelet for hours; no two beads are alike.

This is the Hebron Bracelet, featuring some of the most unique beads found at Mozambique Island. First, there's the history. These beads were originally made some 400 years ago in Hebron, a city in Palestine that has a long glass-making tradition. The artisans who made these beads used salt from the Dead Sea as the alkali in the glass fabrication process, which I find incredible. The beads were traded into Africa by Arabian and European merchants, where they were used as currency to obtain local goods including spices and gold.
Second, there's this brilliant yellow-green hue. It took me ages to find the right match for such a strong color, but it was worth the work. I think this turquoise is the perfect combination, giving the old beads a hint of spring. Handmade Thai Hill Tribes silver saucers and a stamped toggle clasp add to the bright, ethnic look.

Such a unique color begs for a matching set, so I made the Hebron Necklace. The texture in these 400-year-old beads is incredibly beautiful. While making this necklace I thought many times about the trajectory of these artifacts...who made them, who purchased them, how many people over the centuries have handled them before they came to me. I wonder who their next owner will be. Someone who loves color and history, I hope. And maybe a redhead or strawberry blonde? I think the chartreuse and turquoise would be just stunning on someone with that coloring.


Safiya Outlines said...

I'm sorry this isn't related to your lovely jewellery, but since you love colour, I thought you'd find it very interesting, it's about colour in films:


laundrygirl said...

Your work is SO amazing! Plus I love the stories and the history behind the beads. I really admire you Ali!

Meg said...

I love color too - that's why I objected to a diamond wedding ring (along with justice issues). I love the deep blue of my sapphire ring.

I love the red bracelet! I wish I had the funds to buy that bracelet in all the colors. Someday. :-)

Courtney got the bracelet and loves it. I had a brainstorm this morning to commission you to make a bracelet for Reese for Christmas. She loves my bracelets and I don't let her touch them!