The latest crop of new designers showing at this month's Couture and JCK shows gleans inspiration everywhere, from ancient maharajas to chic world travelers.
In March 2000, Susan Gordon took a trip that changed her life.
As a member of the State Department and an aide to President Clinton, she traveled to India to begin talks on energy and climate control. Once she finished her work, Gordon left New Delhi and had a calling to go to Jaipur.
"I had no recollection of it, but I found myself asking, where is Jaipur?" Gordon said. "And when I got there, it was the Gem Palace that really captured me and really inspires me to this day — seeing real artisans doing traditional work. Our world is so massed produced and I was so taken by the people doing a ritual or craft in jewelry and embroidery and doing it all by hand, where each piece is different."
Soon after her trip, Gordon retired from the government and in 2004 launched Susan Gordon Jewelry. She bases her design and production out of Jaipur, where she travels twice a year, and marketing and sales out of Kansas City, Mo. Her pendants and drop earrings in colorful tourmalines, rubellites and quartz are inspired by the architecture of the early Mughal Empire of India and later by the work of Henri Matisse.
"I felt like everything had come full circle," said Gordon, who is showing at JCK. "My concern for the global environment brought me to India and once there, India guided me on a new life path."
Gordon's pieces retail from $1,000 to $15,000 and can be found at such boutiques as Cindy Griem Fine Jewels in Aspen, Colo.; Ojai, Calif.'s Pink Crow, and Fragments in New York.
While producing jewelry thousands of miles away is not without its headaches, Gordon couldn't see doing it any other way.
"Doing business in a different culture is very interesting," she said. "I once got a cuff back from New Delhi that was tested for gold and they had taken off an entire chunk."
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