Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elena Kriegner - Jewelry with an Engineer's Heart!

Post by Patricia Syvrud

One of our goals in writing this blog is to introduce our readers to the new, the unusual, the unique jewelry designs that abound.  The interesting jewelry of Austrian-born jewelry designer Elena Kriegner is all that and more.  Her pieces are bright, geometric, and feminine, but with movement and convertability not readily embraced by other contemporary jewelry artists.

Elena Kriegner in her studio in New York City

 Colored gemstone "Uber" rings in sterling silver and 18 karat yellow gold with diamond set removable center bands

When you ask Elena “When did you decide you wanted to be a jewelry designer” she answers very definitely “When I was six.”  She has been making jewelry ever since!  In high school she was selling her handmade and beaded necklaces, bracelets and rings, and upon graduation went directly to the prestigious European Jewellery Design School.  After 4 years of training, she graduated as a Goldsmith, but continued her education for two more years, earning her degree as a Master Jewelry Maker.
Geometric "Firework" earrings in sterling silver set with amethysts

Elena takes inspiration from the world around her and has traveled extensively, even spending years sailing around the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic Ocean on a 32 foot catamaran.  Brave woman!  She’s studied gemcutting in South Africa, jewelry design in Greece and currently makes her home in New York City.
For the globe-trotting jewelry wearer, Elena’s Earth pendant is the piece – the 'earth' is a custom blown glass sphere (with Austria and the US in gold leaf), set in sterling silver and accented with diamonds.  This piece was part of the Forbes Galleries ‘Out of This World – Jewelry of the Space Age’ exhibit in NYC last year, and has now found a home with a globe-trotting diplomat!

The same pendant, up close and personal! Notice the diamonds that accent the 'equator'.

A selection of globe pendants
When you see her jewelry in person, one wonders if she hadn’t studied engineering or mathematics.  So many of her rings are constructed of separate pieces that, fitted together, make an interesting statement on the hand.   Some are true ‘puzzle’ rings made of 2, 3 pieces or more that come apart when off the hand, but hold the center stone and pieces together securely when worn.

18 karat yellow gold, diamond and black Tahitian cultured pearl ring

Many of her designs consist of a solid metal ‘ring’ or band that slides onto the finger, but can be worn separately from the center stone.  This accomplishes a couple of things – one, the bands are made in assorted sizes and metals so they can be purchased separately and fitted easily for all the finger sizes of ones clients; and the piece with the center stone does not have to be re-heated or re-worked in order to ‘size’ the ring. 

By having the ring separate from the center stone, Elena also manages to design her pieces so that chains can be strung through a part of the "centerpiece" and worn as a necklace when the ring band is separated from the center stone.

The center solid band secures the ring on the finger, but can be removed so that the diamond-accented sapphire can be worn as a pendant. So versatile - an18k yellow gold, diamond and sapphire ring/pendant.

Here are some examples of Elena’s pieces that when the metal band is removed, the piece can be strung on a chain and worn as a pendant.  Also nice for the jewelry lover, many of Elena’s designs are done in sterling silver, a much ‘friendlier’ price point for those of us who want to collect jewelry on a budget!
Sterling silver and blue topaz ring/pendant

Sterling silver 'seashell' ring/pendants, seen here as necklaces

Sterling silver and citrine 'puzzle' ring

Not all of Elena’s pieces come apart like a puzzle.  One of my favorite designs, and Patricia’s Gem To Remember, is Elena’s ring whose center stone mounting is set on a hinge.  When off the hand, the split shank of the ring can swivel to sit parallel to the center stone, so that a chain can be strung through the shank and the piece can be worn as a pendant.
Blue topaz and prasiolite ring/pendants set in 18 karat yellow gold, accented with diamonds
Patricia's Gem to Remember

We recently had the opportunity to attend one of Elena’s ‘sample sales’ in Washington, DC.  I love this selection of convertible ring/pendants in sterling silver and 18 karat yellow gold and natural colored gemstones.

Sterling silver bracelet, 18 karat yellow gold puzzle ring

Elena's creativity is not focused solely on rings. If you like interchangeable jewelry in fresh colors, check out her earring/pendant charm line.  She creates gemstone studs with a special back so they can be worn with or without additional drop pendants.  The drops can be removed and also worn on a chain around the neck.  So pretty for summer!

"Amoret" amethyst stud earrings set in sterling silver with blue chalcedony drops

Drop pendants strung on a chain

Elena works with a master gem cutter and selects each and every gemstone for her creations.  It is obvious when looking at her jewelry to see the brilliance and sparkle from the well cut gems as well as the intensity of the colors brought to life by an artist.

A selection of colored gemstone earrings and rings set in sterling silver

Christine modeling the 'Earth' pendant and blue topaz and sterling silver earrings.  The earrings are now part of her personal collection, and boy, do they glow on her ears!  The topaz gems are set in such a way that they appear to "float" against the architectural silver frame that is high polished and reflects like a mirror.

Another Elena Kriegner favorite is this contemporary and geometric tanzanite and diamond ring.  Set in 18 karat yellow gold, the 17.85 carat tanzanite center stone is polished to retain most of its natural crystal shape.  The deep blue color of the gem, with its inherent purple flashes exemplify a fine colored tanzanite, and the setting is truly memorable.  You will NOT see a ring like this walking down the street every day! This amazing gem and incredible ring is truly museum quality and Christine's favorite by far: a one-of-a-kind art jewel indeed.

Christine's Gem to Remember

Unusual and special, all of Elena's jewelry is made in the U.S.  She designs and creates each prototype then oversees the master goldsmiths who produce her line.  Of course the one-of-a-kind pieces are designed and created by her in the NYC studio she shares with her graphic designer sister.

Pendants, rings and earrings set with natural colored gemstones in sterling silver.

For the man in your life - Elena Kriegner cufflinks in sterling silver and colored gemstones, and sterling silver rings!

I love Elena's unique use of cultured pearls.  The jewelry is made so that you can interchange different colored cultured pearls depending on your mood and wardrobe.

You can really see how the band comes apart from the center stone, which can than be worn as a pendant, in this pink topaz pendant set in sterling silver, with an 18 karat white gold and diamond band.

Patricia, Christine and Elena in Washington, D.C.

If you have an engineer’s heart and are looking for something different, something that makes a statement and something that can be worn different ways during the day or to the chicest of events, then you need to visit Elena’s website to see her unique beautiful jewelry:

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