Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kara Ross - Rough and Polished

post by Christine Webb

Patricia and I recently had the chance to visit Kara Ross at her boutique on Madison Avenue in New York City that opened in November 2013.  A perfect location and a stunning presence! Kara was gracious enough to give us the "grand tour" of the cream-colored store accented with brass.  A petite salon that is chock-full of amazing jewelry and handbags, it is an intimate dazzling space.  Kara Ross, celebrating over 10 years in business, has grown to include a fine jewelry line - the Petra Collection, a sterling silver line - the Gemstone Collection, and a fashion jewelry line - KARA by Kara Ross, as well as her luxe handbags.

Featuring the Petra Collection and the Gemstone Collection in her NYC salon, Kara is inspired by the City.  Her jewelry is colorful, bold, and unique, and clearly represents Kara's love of gems and her depth of understanding as a gemologist. The jewelry is presented in an innovative and unexpected way.

The Kara Ross flagship store at 655 Madison Ave. at 60th Street

Please watch this 0:33 second video - it sets the stage for the jewelry images that follow.

The Petra Collection is Kara Ross' fine jewelry line.  Named Petra, the Latin word for "stone," the collection consists of 50 pieces, including statement necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets and rings.  Inspired by the design of the Pangea ring, the centerpiece for the entire collection, it features sparkling, colorful gemstones set in 18k gold.  A little geology here to explain further - Pangea was a supercontinent that existed approximately 300 million years ago, that broke apart and drifted into the continents in the locations we know today.  This is superbly represented in the rings as a globe with the "jagged plates" drifting - alluding to movement. I just think this is beyond amazing - it so speaks to my heart!

Pangea rings - gold, diamonds, blue topaz, opals and tourmalines

I was immediately drawn to Kara's use of rough stones and polished gems in the same piece - I guess it's the geologist and gemologist in me that finds this juxtaposition of smooth and raw stones so harmonious. My favorite piece was in the store the day we visited.  An amazing pendant highlighting a green beryl crystal with a blue topaz gemstone.  A jagged row of diamonds fuses together these two stones - the green and the blue complimenting each other perfectly. A tidbit of gem info - beryl is a mineral that forms in many colorful varieties: blue aquamarine, green emerald, yellow heliodor, and pink morganite - sister stones!  When the beryl is green, but not intense enough to be called emerald, it is simply called green beryl.

Petra Split Pendant: Green beryl crystal, polished blue topaz, and diamonds in 18k yellow gold
Christine's Gem to Remember

Another striking pendant combining rough and polished gems in shades of pinks and purples. Raw and from the earth!

Petra Split Pendant: raw rubellite, polished amethyst and diamonds in 18k yellow gold

Like the pendants above, this statement necklace is truly one-of-a-kind.  Quintessential Kara Ross, this astonishing piece combines colorful rough crystals and chunks of gem minerals in asymmetrical shapes accented with diamonds and textured gold. Beyond outstanding - this necklace is otherworldly. I wish I could wear this masterpiece for just one night!

Petra Bib Necklace: raw green beryl, hemimorphite, and aquamarine with faceted diamonds in 18k yellow gold

For a more modest look, this pendant is much smaller in scale and still undeniably gorgeous!

 Petra Mosaic Pendant: hemimorphite, peridot, opal and diamonds in 18k gold

These were my favorite earrings by far!  Here are slices of hemimorphite with quartz that formed in a vug, a small cavity in a rock, as you more commonly see with slices of amethyst from geodes. The irregular slabs are framed with pavé diamonds in gold following their contours - the rough and polished - a bold elegant look. These earrings are Patricia's Gem to Remember as she adores Kara's combination of beautiful rough material in a sophisticated setting.

Petra Earrings: hemimorphite, diamonds and gold
 Patricia's Gem to Remember

How about these spectacular earrings!  Intense green uvarovite garnet, colored by chromium, these crystals form a dense drusy coating.  Accented with pavé diamonds in a freeform design - what a pop of color.  Rare and unusual - these earrings leave me speechless!

Petra earrings: uvarovite garnet and diamonds pave set in 18k gold

Stud style earrings in the Petra Collection feature raw gems bezel set in gold and accented with diamonds - incorporating the juicy color of the rough stones with the brilliance and dispersion of the diamonds.  Remarkable!

Petra Raw Stud Earrings: rubellite and diamonds in 18k gold

Kara feels that her raw and polished jewelry incorporating the two gem types, reflects the two sides of NYC, the gritty and the glamorous.  I couldn't agree more!

Petra Raw Stud Earrings: hemimorphite, diamonds and 18k gold

I so want this ring.  The color of hemimorphite is an intense blue - like the turquoise waters of the Caribbean - my favorite color.  Then add my favorite gemstone, opal - and put them together in a sculptural ring separated by diamonds - a masterpiece. It reminds me of ocean waves.
Petra Split Ring: raw opal, hemimorphite and diamonds in 18k gold

This ring has the crystals of citrine rising up like a little mountain, a river of diamonds, and the smooth citrine cabochon valley.  A gem of a landscape!

Petra Split Ring: raw and polished citrine with diamonds in 18k gold

Now this is a mountain of a ring!  A nice chunk of rock - white quartz crystals - forming jagged peaks, set in lightning bolt prongs accented with diamonds.  A ring for a real rockhound!

Petra Ring: raw white quartz with diamonds in 18k gold

I totally fell in love with the Inset Rings.  Kara combines faceted gems bezel set on top or recessed into another gem.  So dimensional and architectural - blending shapes and colors. Pieces of art.

Inset Ring: rock crystal quartz, angel skin coral and diamonds in 18k gold

This ring is sophisticated and bold.  The faceted cube of amethyst crowned with an emerald cut blue topaz and highlighted with diamonds is creative and powerfully beautiful.

Inset Ring: amethyst, blue topaz and diamonds in gold

Another look is achieved with the soft smooth feel to this domed ring with a citrine cabochon and polished gold, and of course, a zig-zag of diamonds.

Petra Smooth Contour Ring: citrine and diamonds in 18k gold

A magnificent bracelet to last a lifetime.  Classic, timeless, exquisite.  The perfect statement bracelet for anyone's jewelry wardrobe.  The bold black jet accented with geometric forms encrusted with colored gemstones and diamonds is refined and elegant.

Horseshoe Jet Cuff with pink tourmaline, amethyst, fire opal and diamonds in 18k gold

Another design motif for the Petra Collection are the mosaic pieces.  Earrings, rings, and bracelets like stained glass, incorporate colored gemstones in irregular golden cells, and as always - accented with faceted diamonds.

Petra Mosaic Earrings: opal, amethyst, peridot, blue topaz and diamonds in 18k gold

Petra Mosaic Bracelet: blue topaz, peridot, opal and diamonds in 18k gold

Not surprisingly, Kara Ross won the coveted GEM Award for Design given by the Jewelry Information Center, the consumer education arm of Jewelers of America.  The GEM Awards recognize the outstanding achievements in fine jewelry and host the industry's premier gala held in January each year.  Congratulations Kara for being recognized in 2014 - well deserved!

Petra Contour Drop Earrings: black onyx with diamonds in 18k gold

Similar in feel to the Inset Design of her rings, these earrings are rounded tear-drop shaped amethysts with rubellites bezel set in gold frames recessed into the gem.  They appear to glow from within!
Petra Drop Earrings: amethyst and rubellite in 18k gold

A simple yet classic and elegant design, the earrings below feature a slice of polished citrine, echoing the octagonal shape of the gold rings pavé set with diamonds.

Petra Gemstone Link Earrings: citrine and diamonds in 18k gold

Even when Kara is not setting colorful gems, she incorporates the fluidity and form in these twisted earrings embellished with diamonds.  Now this is a hoop earring for every woman!

Petra Contour Hoop Earring: diamonds in 18k yellow gold

The Gemstone Collection is Kara's sterling silver line inspired by her love of NYC and its architecture.  The designs focus on the gems and the silver is primarily used to hold the hand-cut and calibrated gemstones that create her fashion forward look.  The Gemstone Collection is the bridge between Kara's fine jewelry line, the Petra Collection, and her fashion jewelry line, KARA by Kara Ross.  The geometric lines and facets echo the grid of the City and the lines of some of its famed sky scrapers.

Utilizing white and black Mother of Pearl along with white and black sapphires, all set in sterling silver, allows for a very clean streamlined look that is very affordable.

Maze Gemstone Cuff: white Mother of Pearl and white sapphires in sterling silver 

Again focusing on the movement of her pieces, the earrings dangle with a dramatic flair.

Triple Geo Arrow Drop Earrings: white Mother of Pearl and white sapphires in sterling silver

This ring is done in both white and black Mother of Pearl.  The design highlights and accentuates the natural beauty of the materials in a very wearable sophisticated design.

Maze Byzantine ring: white Mother of Pearl and white sapphires in sterling silver

I love the black Mother of Pearl - it has a wonderful iridescent sheen that has flashes of green, pink and blue.  And the sparkle of the black sapphires set it off beautifully. So dramatic and elegant.

Deco Cage Gemstone Drop Earrings: black Mother of Pearl, black sapphires in sterling silver

Maze Gemstone Cuff: black Mother of Pearl, black sapphires in sterling silver

Kara Ross jewelry is beyond special.  If you want jewelry that is unique, colorful, and one-of-a-kind, then you've found the right designer.  Combining rough gems and polished and faceted stones into a fabulous creation is artistry at its best.  Kara searches and finds rare and unusual gems and minerals and then takes what Mother Nature provides and elevates it to a level that can be worn and appreciated.  The large scale geometric patterns and unusual materials are classically stylish. Her truly distinctive designs are both visually and conceptually arresting. Wearing one of her earthly treasures would be a dream come true for a rockhound like me!

Sold at her flagship store and online, her pieces can also be found at Neiman Marcus and boutiques all over the country.  Please visit the website to see the extraordinary collection

  All photos and information courtesy of Kara Ross.

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