Friday, May 2, 2014

Nicholas Varney - Elegant Whimsical Jewels

post by Christine Webb

Nicholas Varney jewelry is creative, elegant and even whimsical at times - but always beautiful - inspired from Earth's flora and fauna.  Each piece is crafted by hand with the utmost attention to style, quality and detail.  Nicholas Varney is inspired by nature, color and texture. The jewelry is both timely and timeless - something that can be difficult to achieve - but a true sign of fine jewelry. 

One of my very favorite designs is the Brick Bracelet.  Designed as a flexible cuff comprised of handmade "bricks" that stack together with amazing articulation forming a spectacular bracelet. This bracelet highlights natural black Penn shell pearls encrusted with pave-set round brilliant cut diamonds, tsavorite garnets and blue sapphires.  Each "brick" has a beautifully detailed high polish bow-motif grill on the reverse side.  The bracelet is done in 18k yellow and white gold with oxidized silver.  Each link, or "brick," is gorgeous on its own, but together they create a masterpiece.

Brick Bracelet: Penn shell pearl, tsavorite garnet, blue sapphire, diamonds, silver, 18k gold
Christine's Gem to Remember

Another magnificent Brick Bracelet, this time done in three rows with pink sapphires, moonstones and diamonds.  Again, the backside is finished beautifully; the attention to detail in each "brick" is outstanding.

Brick Bracelet: pink sapphires, diamonds, moonstone in18k gold

The mixing of gemstones and colors makes this bracelet extraordinary.  The shapes and colors of the opals are exceptional - accented with moonstones, yellow sapphires and diamonds. A "wall" of beauty!

Brick Bracelet: fire opal, moonstone, white opal, yellow sapphire, diamonds 18k gold

Another astonishing bracelet design is the "Pilar" bracelet.  Again a flexible cuff that consists of elongated gold links alternating with links set with fire opals surrounded by pave-set diamonds or links pave-set with yellow and orange sapphires with diamonds.  The reverse side features Varney's "sea grass" grill, a textured 18k yellow gold hammered back, almost as gorgeous as the front.

 Pilar bracelet: fire opal, yellow and orange sapphire, diamonds 18k gold

This six-link bracelet of opals and diamonds is set in 18k white and yellow gold.  The freeform opals look like pebbles cast on to round disks of pave-set diamonds.  Each domed link is backed with the sea grass grill.

Round link bracelet set with opals and diamonds in 18k white and yellow gold

I love this bracelet!  Seven fire opals ranging in color from yellowish-orange to red glow like a flame in this incredible 18k yellow gold bracelet.  Each freeform opal is set in a rectangular link that is encrusted with diamonds.  What makes it really unique and special - the diamonds are reverse set - meaning the culet, or point, of the diamond is facing up.  Each rectangular link alternates with a round ball link also set with diamonds in a similar fashion.

Line bracelet set with fire opals and diamonds in18k gold

Nicholas Varney doesn't always incorporate gems into his jewelry.  This cuff bracelet is my absolute favorite all-gold piece.  The time, effort, and ability to create this bracelet is almost incomprehensible.  Only a master artist and goldsmith can achieve this level of detail and craftsmanship. This cuff started as a carved wax model that took more than 440 hours over a period of more than 4 months to create.  Once the model was complete, a cast was made, and then filled with molten gold.  To achieve the different textures of the finished cuff, a master jeweler must polish the raised surfaces and bead-blast the recessed area to accomplish the look of damask fabric. This 18k gold Damask Bangle has a raised polished pattern of scrolling acanthus foliage, lotus, and anthemion against a textured ground. The underside of the cuff has a polished surface.  A true piece of art.

Damask Bangle: 18k yellow gold 

Another amazing gold bracelet, this time accented with diamonds, is the Portonuovo cuff.  The cutout lattice motif is accented with pave-set swags and exhibits an openness and lightness to the bracelet. This reminds me of fabric or lace. The wide 18k yellow gold cuff is sophisticated, elegant and absolutely stunning.

Portonuovo Cuff: 18k gold cuff bracelet with diamonds

The link bracelet below is designed as overlapping crawfish segments, each consisting of pave-set spinels alternating with recessed links pave-set with diamonds.  The underside of each segment is a textured, hammered sea grass grill.  The articulation and dimension of this bracelet are beyond compare.

Crawfish bracelet: pink and red spinels with diamonds in 18k gold

Using his much loved pearls, Varney's double strand freshwater pearl necklace is accented with two gold links set with fire opals and diamonds.  The irregular shape of the baroque cultured pearls add interest and dimension when worn.  This necklace looks like it was just washed up on to a beautiful shore - a treasure to be found and collected.

 Necklace of freshwater pearls, Mexican fire opals, diamonds and 18k gold

To compliment my favorite Brick Bracelet - here is a statement necklace - also done in natural Penn shell pearls with blue sapphires, tsavorite garnets and diamonds.  The color combination of the blues and greens accented with the glowing and luminous moonstones and diamonds is drop dead gorgeous.  The Penn shell has the appearance of black opal, with iridescent flashes of intense blue and green against a dark background.  An example of a rare and natural gem.

Brick Necklace: Penn shell pearl, tsavorite garnet, blue sapphire, diamonds, silver, 18k gold

Nicholas Varney loves to incorporates rare gems into his pieces.  This necklace is a prime example. Set in 18k white gold are 12 quahog pearls set in round domed links pave-set with diamonds and accented with moonstones. Quahog pearls are non-nacreous pearls with a lilac to deep purple color and very rare indeed.  He also uses conch pearls, abalone pearls and freshwater Mississippi River pearls - natural pearls and organic gems!  Truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

Necklace: Quahog pearls, moonstones, diamonds and 18k white and yellow gold

A breathtaking creation featuring rare pearls, this Bird of Paradise brooch is fabulous and leaves me speechless.  So I will let the description from the Nicholas Varney website say it all!  "Abalone pearl, yellow sapphire, blue sapphire, tsavorite garnet and diamond Bird of Paradise Brooch is designed realistically as a mature Bird of Paradise flower, the canoe-shaped bud, defined by two abalone horn pearls, sprouting five gently bending "sepals" embellished with ajoure-cut fields of pave-set, circular-cut yellow sapphires and diamonds, surrounding a "petal" field of pave-set circular cut blue sapphires in oxidized silver; smaller abalone pearls further embellish the base of the budding flower; the underside designed with handmade, fancy grill in 18k yellow gold; mounted in 18k yellow gold and oxidized silver." The exquisite interpretation of the Bird of Paradise, the variety of gemstones and precious metals and the amazing craftsmanship all come together to receive Patricia's vote for Gem to Remember!

Bird of Paradise: abalone pearl, yellow and blue sapphire, tsavorite garnet, diamond,
silver and 18k gold
Patricia's Gem to Remember

Highlighting another natural pearl in the Star Burst Brooch, Varney uses freshwater Mississippi mussel pearls.  With the irregular shape, high luster and iridescent colors, these pearls make for a spectacular piece of jewelry.  Complimenting the pearls are green tourmaline, peridot, moonstone and diamonds, all set in 18k yellow and white gold.

Star Burst Brooch: freshwater Mississippi mussel pearl, green tourmaline, peridot, moonstone, diamond, and 18k white and yellow gold

If this brooch doesn't combine the whimsical nature of bees and the hive, with the refinement of incredible goldsmithing, I don't know what does!  This cushion cut orange citrine is prong set in a frame of six-cell honeycomb clusters accented with yellow sapphire "honey."  The honey bee hovers and is embellished with diamonds, reverse set to show the "point" or culet of the gem. The 18k yellow gold brooch also incorporates black rhodium and copper. The colors, shape and form are perfect - a gorgeous art jewel.

Honeycomb Brooch: Citrine, yellow sapphire, diamond, 18k yellow gold, copper and black rhodium

The "Duo" gold rings feature a central faceted gem recessed into a carved opaque gem accented with four tube-set round brilliant cut diamonds.  The pink tourmaline sits "on top" of banded agate, the rubellite (red) tourmaline is framed by iridescent labradorite, and the purple amethyst is paired with beautiful green nephrite jade.  A bold modern ring that will stand the test of time and always be appropriate.

Duo Rings: banded agate, pink tourmaline, diamonds; labradorite, rubellite, diamonds; nephrite, amethyst, diamonds - all in 18k gold

This nature inspired ring highlights a carved aquamarine in the image of a conch shell. Aquamarine, as the name suggests, is the color of the sea. Framed with gentle waves of diamonds in 18k yellow gold, this ring is as alluring as the ocean.

Ring: Aquamarine, carved in the image of a conch shell, diamonds and 18k gold

This spectacular ring features an incredible Burmese peridot of the finest color, masterfully cut to show its brilliance.  Set in 18k yellow gold and platinum, the ring is accented with diamonds and blue sapphires.  One-of-a-kind indeed.

Corset Ring: Peridot, diamonds, blue sapphires in 18k gold and platinum

The Vine ring envelopes a large emerald cut pink tourmaline in twisted intertwined prongs of 18k yellow gold.  The texture of the gold is accented with round brilliant cut diamonds, just enough to give a little sparkle and compliment, but not take away from, the center stone.

Vine Ring: pink tourmaline and diamonds in 18k gold 

The purest turquoise cabochon bezel set in an 18k gold ring is highlighted with pave-set diamonds and Caribbean blue tourmalines.  Refined, elegant, simply stunning.

 Ring: turquoise cabochon, diamonds, tourmaline and 18k gold 

Drops of pure blue turquoise dangle from diamond encrusted 18k white gold caps.  The tops of the earrings feature rare matching Mississippi River pearls cradled in 18k white gold branches that look like coral, pave-set with round brilliant cut diamonds.  And for the finishing touch, a luminous blue moonstone at the base.  Exquisite!

Earrings: Mississippi River pearls, turquoise, moonstone and diamond in18k white gold

A treasure from the sea, natural Mediterranean coral accented with golden lily clusters embellished with diamonds.  The branching red coral hangs from irregular shaped pave-set diamond links.

Coral earrings with 18k gold and diamond lily clusters

These earrings are over-the-top amazing.  Fire opals adorn the tops and drops of these 18k yellow gold earrings.  Surrounding the freeform opals are pave-set diamonds.  But the rare surprise of the pink conch pearls is what makes these earrings truly outstanding.  Conch pearls are non-nacreous pearls that have a silky flame-like pattern.  They are most often pink in color and oval in shape, a natural pearl formed by the Queen Conch.

Fire opal, conch pearl and diamond earrings in 18k gold

"Duo" earrings feature two pear-shaped aquamarines set in carved gaspeite frames dangling from smaller pear-shaped peridots set in carved turquoise frames, accented by bezel set diamonds.  The round links that connect the tops to the drops have reverse set diamonds - a special touch that takes these earrings from magnificent to astonishing!

Duo Earrings: aquamarines, gaspeite, peridots, turquoise and diamonds and 18k gold

Another pair of Duo earrings featuring intense green peridots set in carved coral frames, again accented with diamonds.

Duo Earrings: carved pink coral, peridot and diamonds in 18k gold

Round disks of white Mother-of-Pearl are set into frames of carved purple sugilite.  Diamonds and 18k yellow gold accent and connect the three links.

Carved sugilite and Mother-of-Pearl, diamonds and 18k gold

Another masterful version of these triple drop earrings are black Mother-of-Pearl surrounded by carved black ebony, accented with diamonds.  The iridescent blues, greens and pinks of the shell is remarkable - incredible earrings.

Carved ebony surrounding carved Mother-of-Pearl, diamonds and 18k gold

Unique, statement, refined and elegant - these earrings are a green dream!  The drop earrings have 18k yellow gold spheres pave-set with Paraiba tourmalines, tsavorite garnets and diamonds, connected by a cylinder of carved gaspeite.  Nothing short of outstanding!

Earrings of Paraiba tourmalines, tsavorites, gaspeite and diamonds in 18k gold

Nicholas Varney jewelry takes the beauty of nature and transforms it into wearable art. Using incredible gemstones and rare pearls, combining colors, and adding texture, he creates extraordinary jewelry.  If you are a connoisseur or collector of fine jewelry and want a one-of-a-kind art jewel, you will appreciate the astonishing pieces of Nicholas Varney - beyond compare!

Please visit the website for more information about the artist and his jewelry

 Photos and information courtesy Nicholas Varney, The Jewellery Editor,

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