Finding Inspiration
Seeing Ordinary Things in an Extraordinary Way

Cuff bracelet image courtesy of Erik Stewart, GIA GG
Where do jewelry designers find inspiration?

Some look to influential movements of the past, like the Art Nouveau, Edwardian, and Art Deco eras. Others wander through museums and art galleries and browse through art books, journals, and magazines. And some turn to everyday objects, overlooked items, and curious places.

“Our environment is filled with beautiful things, but because we pass them all the time, we stop noticing them. Inspired jewelry designers are able to translate these overlooked everyday items into symbolic reconfigurations of wearable art,” said Katey Brunini of K. Brunini Jewels.

Here we look at five pieces of jewelry whose inspiration came (or might have come) from looking at ordinary things in extraordinary ways.

Follow the Cobblestone Road


Bracelet courtesy of Neil Lane, Inc.: Beverly Hills, California.
Look at this circa 1933 Cartier diamond baguette bracelet and the cobblestone road. Now take a trip with us.

We imagine a jeweler in some old European city walking down a similar street to his shop. This day, he suddenly notices the beauty and workmanship of the road right beneath his feet. The tight setting, interlocking stones, and mosaic feel of the cobblestone street inspires him to make this bracelet.

Bridging Styles

Graduate Gemologist Erik Stewart shares the story behind Transit, which received 2nd place in the 2012 Saul Bell Design Awards, Gold/Platinum/Palladium category.

“I was in New York to receive an award, and was doing the touristy thing. I wanted to see the Brooklyn Bridge, while at the same time I had these jewelry concepts rolling around in my head. The Brooklyn Bridge really moved me, and its cables clarified design ideas for an original piece of jewelry.”

Stewart explains what went into making the piece: “It took two months of planning and two weeks of working day and night to create Transit. The stainless steel cables on the bracelet are meant to evoke the Brooklyn Bridge. They also give the piece a tactile feel – you can play the strings like a guitar.”

Antique Twins

Did this 19th-century pin inspire the designer of this antique mirror? Or did the mirror inspire the designer of this pin?

The makers are gone, so we’ll never know the answer, but it’s not far-fetched to think a jewelry designer used a similar mirror every day. The oval shape of the mirror, its gentle curving lines, decorative ferns and leaves, and notched wood around the glass could have been the inspiration for the nearly identical-looking pin.

The soft, feminine lines of this classic pin has made it a staple of jewelry wearers. Countless women own similar pieces, which have been passed down from one generation to the next.

These two antique pieces also show that the influence of everyday objects extended far beyond the little space they occupied.


Brooch courtesy of Mary Mathews.
Reinventing Canyons

The title of Richard Kimball’s 36,000 Ft. Above Flaming Gorge brooch (below) tells the designer’s inspiration: a 91-mile stretch of water that slices through a canyon running from Wyoming to Utah. Seeing Flaming Gorge from the vantage point of a plane etched a vivid image in the artist’s mind.

36,000 Ft. Above Flaming Gorge has an organic and natural feel, yet it also has very edgy, futuristic lines. It’s an unusual combination, and it shows that our imagination can reinvent what we see in extraordinary ways,” observed GIA Exhibit Developer McKenzie Santimer, GIA GG, GJ.

Kimball’s piece is part of the GIA collection and is featured In the museum’s current Birthstones exhibit.


Gift of Richard H. Kimball.
A Blossoming Personality


Ring courtesy of Nancy’s Collection.
Zoltan David’s AGTA Spectrum Award winning ring, Homage to Nancy, features a large, intense orange spessartine garnet (20.85 ct) – cupped by four platinum ‘petals’ studded with 320 round brilliant cut tsavorite garnets, and edged with 24K gold. The gold was set using Zoltan David’s patented metal ornamentation technique.

“The design for Homage to Nancy was inspired by a client and friend of mine who had a personality that was always blossoming. She was in a constant state of unfolding – always coming into something greater and more glorious – much like a Morning Glory,” said David.

“The orange spessartine garnet also seemed to be an appropriate choice for my friend. Just like her, the gemstone bursts with color and light,” added David.

David’s ring is currently displayed at the GIA Museum in Carlsbad.

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