Friday, February 15, 2008

Jewelry Art: "Ivory Tower" pendant

"Ivory Tower"
click image to enlarge

This piece from my archives, completed many years ago, was almost 5 inches tall. I don't know what originally gave me the idea that hanging a building around your neck would be good jewelry design, but this was the second successful effort in that vein. The first one, titled "the Castle", was one of the very first large-scale ambitious pieces I ever made. This variation is more refined than the first, because I developed wax-carving skills by the time I designed the Ivory Tower - the Castle was handwrought, using different techniques.

This piece is done in sterling silver with 14K gold accents. The towers are made of old ivory, inlaid with fossil walrus ivory bricks. The large lower stones are Fire Agates - these are a form of chalcedony with an interior color-play similar to opal ... but fire agates are found only in Mexico and Arizona! They are tricky stones to cut, to reveal the fire within. The "moat" is inlaid with Afghani Lapis Lazuli, and the leaves on the side are made of malachite and faustite laminated together.

The tiny little door is hinged on the bottom like a drawbridge, and when it is open, it reveals a miniature painting on a tiny linen canvas stretched over wood. The door itself is made from Brazilian Cocobolo, a variety of rosewood, and is framed in gold, with a tiny clasp to keep it closed and a little chain to support it when open. The painting is of a little knight in armor, with a heart on his shield - the Guardian of the wearer's heart!

A third piece on this theme was also designed, with predominantly turquoise inlaid towers, called Fortress of the Heart, that was sold to Lilly Lawrence, the People's Princess. It featured the same tower layout, with even more complex inlay in the bottom stones, and another painting of the courtyard scene behind the door.

A piece of this complexity would be $25,000 - 30,000 today .... much more if it were solid gold. Call me at the studio (505) 296-1400) if you would like me to make a fortress for your heart!



  1. Hi Dave,
    This piece is amazing! Hope all is well!

  2. Thanks, Paula! Good Luck in your new studio!

  3. That's a great piece Dave. Did you do the painting of the Knight also? I hope to get a close look at it if I'm around the neighborhood and you still have it. Doug

  4. Yep, I did the painting too, Doug - I stretched a tiny linen canvas over wood, and painted under a magnifying glass. This one went away years ago, but I may be working on a variation for a special customer over the next month or so!

  5. Stunning work, amazing detail! Very engaging!