TREND REPORT: Summer Embellishments

Summer season is here and we need a reason to update our jewelry box. New designs have arrived just in time. For the simple classic to the carefree spirit we have the finishing touch for any outfit.


Zoe Chicco
L.A. designer Zoe Chicco has created a fine jewelry collection that has become a modern classic. Everyday pieces significant enough to be worn alone but delicate enough to wear layered together. Designs marries 14k gold with diamonds and semi-precious gemstones such as opal and turquoise.


Based in New York, Ann Spence, founder of SheBee, has created designs that blend luxury with a carefree spirit. Featuring vibrant colors and modern silhouettes, her designs bring the vibrancy to match the summer heat.


Workhorse is the lovechild of twin sisters Amber & Nicole Sutton. They take old and forgotten curios and re-imagine them for today using 14k gold, sterling silver, diamonds and turquoise stones. Handmade with love in their Los Angeles studio, the twins create ‘modern heirlooms’, each with its own story to tell – all intended to act as the “workhorses” in your jewelry box.


Julie Rofman
Handwoven beaded cuffs/bracelets combining the craft of bead looming with current color combinations and geometric patterning reminiscent of Bauhaus designs. A mixture of matte, translucent, opaque and shiny glass beads make up each cuff, creating a unique color-field of sparkle.


TNEMNRODA [nem-row-da] eyewear collection is infused with luxe refinement with influences from Caribbean background and drawing inspiration from East and West Indian culture. Designer Samantha Smikle creates eyewear designs bejeweled in 14k gold plated metals, semiprecious stones and other transformative materials.

Lankford’s layerable styles featured Friday at Trunk Show kick-off


Raw diamonds, Sleeping Beauty turquoise, South Sea pearls, leather and hand cast metals. The luxe boho style of Houston jewelry designer Rebecca Lankford is immediately recognizable to her fans and collectors. Her delicate styles are perfect for layering and stacking.


Rebecca started designing jewelry while working as a paralegal in the early 1990s. As her hobby slowly began to flourish, Rebecca was inspired to perfect her craft and enrolled at the Glassell School of Art in Houston. The foundational knowledge Rebecca gained from her work at Glassell allowed her to become a beloved local favorite as well as a renowned national and international jewelry designer.

Rl turq leather bracelet

Rebecca’s designs were introduced to HMNS in 2002 for the Duval Mineral Collection exhibit. Her unique take on gemstones seemed the perfect fit for a museum with the world’s best gem and mineral collection. A true partnership was born during the 2003 The Nature of Pearls exhibit. Rebecca created an entire collection of unique custom designs with one of the world’s oldest precious gems.

RL pearl ear

Thirteen years later and our love of her work has only grown stronger. The Rebecca Lankford for HMNS collection debuted this year. Using gemstones handpicked by our buyers at market, Rebecca has designed a one-of-a-kind collection exclusive to our museum.

RL ruby ring

We will be featuring Rebecca Lankford designs at our first trunk show of the summer. All pieces will be 20% off the day of the show in addition to member discounts.



Feel good about looking great knowing that 100% of museum store and trunk show proceeds benefits HMNS’ educational programs.


You weren’t the only one who found eggs this Easter!

You weren’t the only one who found eggs this Easter. The Houston Museum of Natural Science added over 20 new artifacts to our Faberge exhibition this past weekend – jeweled cigarette cases, brooches, carved bowls, a pendant, a pair of cuff links, and a new Faberge egg.

This cigarette case, crafted in four colors of gold, was a gift from the Tsarina Maria Alexandrovich to the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlona and the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich on the occasion of their golden anniversary (25 years).

The design of this particular piece includes a neat trick. The center medallion of the Gold Anniversary case includes diamonds set in the form of the Roman numerals XXV (25). When viewed from the other direction, the diamonds appear to be an entwined M and V (for Maria and Vladimir).

Diamonds spell out Roman numerals XXV Diamonds make an intertwined M and V

Don’t miss your chance to see Faberge: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars – including these brand new objects on display – at HMNS through July 25, 2010. Get a preview in this interview in the exhibit, with our President and Curator of Gems and Minerals, Joel A. Bartsch:

Can’t see the video? Click here to view it.

Coincidence or Cooperation? Amazon Feathers & Modern Jewels

Here at HMNS, we frequently offer exhibitions that showcase stunning and diverse artistry from cultures around the globe and throughout time. In working here, I’m privileged to be able to walk through each as much as I can while they are here, and absorb the colors, forms, and inspiration of thousands of years of human culture. I love design – modern, ancient, however humans have creatively assembled things. We’re a science museum – but there is just so much art in science. I’m constantly fascinated by it.

Amethyst Necklace,
designed by Ernesto Moreira;
on display in the Gem Vault.

Which was why I am delighted to share something I noticed recently – a commonality between the very modern design showcased in one of our permanent exhibitions and the design of several of the absolutely stunning works of feather art in our current Spirits & Headhunters exhibition – which, while created in relatively modern times (within the last 100 years or so) reflect a design tradition that goes back centuries – if not thousands of years.

Many of the pieces on display in the Smith Gem Vault were created by a local designer, Ernesto Moreira, specifically to showcase some of the worlds most striking and rare gemstones. Made circa 2005-2006, they were inspired by architectural elements – as Ernesto put it, “the ornamental ironwork on windows, doors, and street lights, so prevalent in European cities,” which he has spent many years observing, sketching and photographing.

In contrast, the unique feather art of the Ka’apor tribe is some of the most beautiful and delicate ornamentation produced in the Amazon. Produced for ceremonial use – and then discarded – these objects are created in two sets: one specifically for men, the other for women. The tukaniwar shown below is a “spectacular neck ornament,” made for women from “mythologically harmless bird feathers…the blue color connects the wearer to the sky where all the culture heroes dwell.”  (Check out the exhibit catalog for more info.)

As you can see from the image, there are blue feathers woven into the ornament that would have hung in the front – as well as the smaller ornament that would have hung in back, once the necklace was tied.

tukaniwar, on display in
Spirits & Headhunters

It would seem that these two objects – created by artists from very different cultural traditions – would have nothing in common. However, the hanging feathered ornament is extremely similar to the small jeweled ornaments that Ernesto designed into the clasp of his pieces in the Gem Vault (if you haven’t been in the Vault yet – trust me, you’re going to want to check it out in person).

I wondered if there could possibly be a connection – and when associate curator for Amazonia Adam Mekler was here to install the Spirits & Headhunters exhibition, I asked him. Sure enough – it turns out that Moreira had worked with Mekler many years ago when parts of this collection were first on display.

Pretty amazing coincidence, to be sure – but I had to find out if there was any merit to the theory that one had influenced the other. (This *is* a science museum, after all.) Here’s what Ernesto had to say:

” I can tell you right away Adam’s pieces did not have an immediate direct impact on my work. That said, I have noticed a pattern in the way my brain works in regards to creativity. When I was a teenager, I looked at Japanese prints and architecture… then in my early twenties I made a collection of one of a kind pieces called little people. One time during a solo Gallery show the entire collection sold out. The gallery owner told me it was sold to mainly Asian customers. Sometime later…I realized how Japanese my pieces actually were… in their geometry and their compositional balance. Most recently during the making of the museum Gem Vault pieces I began to adorn the settings with filigree… but not just the normal filigree… a more architectural version. This time it did not take me long to figure out that, once again, I was translating many of the images in my head into my jewelry designs since I had spent many years sketching and photographing much of the ornamental ironwork on windows, doors, and street lights, so prevalent in European cities (something I still do). So it seems I work best absorbing and letting be, then somehow, sometime the subject matter reappears in my work. I worked with Adam Mekler and his incredible Amazonian collection during many years and for months at a time I would handle these amazing works… absorbing as usual. I doubt that such resemblance between the indigenous works and my own are purely coincidental, yet I cannot claim an intentional link.” [emphasis mine]

So, not an intentional connection – but I was pleased to discover such a link between ornamentation designed by these two very different artists and cultures. It’s fascinating to see how artists are inspired and how very different cultures can influence one another, sometimes in seemingly random – but very delightful – ways. It inspires me to take a closer look at everything around me, in the museum – but also out in the world. Part of the joy in seeing real artifacts, up close, is having the opportunity to examine them for these little details that allow you to really experience the object first-hand.

So, how about you – what little things have you noticed about the world?

The Lester and Sue Smith Gem Vault is a permanent exhibition at HMNS – but you only have a few more weeks to see Spirits & Headhunters before the exhibition moves on. Don’t miss it! Before you come, you can learn more about these fascinating cultures in a preview video interview with curator Adam Mekler below.

Can’t see the video? Watch it here.