Based in New York City, Karen Kertesz works with amber, diamonds, sapphires, natural pearls, rutilated quartz and turquoise. All of her jewels are personal creations and cast by hand in sterling silver, 18k, 14k and 10k gold.
The first time I saw her amber earrings, I was impressed… I followed seeking for her designs and… Incredible! Stylized silver birds and baroque flowers create a ring for a princess, and abstract shapes create a pendant, which is the illusion of an angel.
From that day, I have been wanting to ask her some questions:
Q.- Hello, Karen, and congratulations. If I may choose a stone, I’ll choose a garnet. To me, precious stones have a meaning and healing properties (American Indian thought the same). Do you feel some deep attraction with them or you are only looking for an artistic result?
I love most stones – when fabricating a new collection, I am often drawn to the emotional connection and general “feeling” I have towards the material. I do believe that stones have distinct healing properties and can evoke different sensations within us, such as warmth or joy. My amber collection is influenced by my fascination with the organic flourishes that occur naturally within the preserved stone, which I call “bursts.” Beautiful and strange, each burst was magically trapped within the sap as the stones were formed over millions of years. It never ceases to amaze me. Hence, each tiny florette became the subject of the work, both inside and out. My ring series is a concept in progress that began with my admiration for nature, namely birds and flowers. I began with pearls, defining a single bird ring in pearl that evolved into a detailed piece in perfect proportion. The idea took flight (so to speak), and the latest collection features vibrant colored sapphires. Sapphires promote light, serenity and peace. They are known for opening the mind to beauty and love and clearing the mind of unwanted thoughts.
Q.- As I said before, I saw different influences in your jewels. Baroque influences but also oriental ideas from India (the way of combining colors and delicate forms), and of course, your personal touch. Are you conscious of these influences or you are only looking at your interior to design a jewel?
Nature is my muse. I am struck with awe studying the silky perfection of a flower petal, or the woven pattern of wood grain. Nature’s complexity constantly captures my imagination, whether on a remote woodland trail or walking through Central Park in New York City (where you will often find me!) I am also influenced by Asian art, particularly the simple elegance found in Chinese calligraphy and the graceful silhouette of cranes, a symbol of luck in both Chinese and Japanese art.
Q.- Years ago, I visited a diamond factory in Holland. They told me, they needed 15 years to learn to cut a diamond. How long have you been studying and practicing your art?
I began experimenting with metal more than two decades ago. I took a basic metalworking class and realized in an instant I had found my calling. I had already earned my undergraduate degree in a completely unrelated field (as often happens) and decided to pursue the art of jewelry at SUNY in New Paltz, N.Y. I immediately discovered my love for metal work and learned to hand-fabricate precious metals and stones. I then began working for independent designers and jewelers, and today I design and fabricate my own collection by hand.
Q.- When are you starting a piece, the design is fixed or it happens (as it happens with some painters) that forms emerging alone, as if they had their own life?
My designs usually begin with a rough sketch but the final product often emerges as a different piece. In art school, I made many objects that were beautiful, but hard to wear. Over time I have learned to make my work comfortable, wearable and distinct – not to mention one-of-a-kind.
Q.- What kind of clients do you have? A jewel is expensive and we can think young people cannot buy gold or natural pearls.
My clients range from stylish young women in their 20’s to elegant older women in their 80’s. Men are often looking for something meaningful and unique, and if they have a special request such as a color or other material, I am more than happy to accommodate them. One couple purchases a new stacking ring for every Mother’s day, and another has a different color sapphire ring that symbolizes each child. Couples are very creative and want jewelry to mean something to both of them. I can also cast any piece in sterling silver to make it more affordable.
Q.- By the way, have you ever thought in a collection for men?
I have not thought of doing anything for men in the past, but have been contemplating some belt buckle ideas! Stay tuned!
Q.- Thanks, Karen, and to conclude: which are your future plans?
I just finished working on a collection of vintage-inspired pieces – a series of pendants with cracker jack toys, charms and vintage buttons. It’s perfect for summer and definitely speaks to my whimsical side. This fall, large, dramatic stones are capturing my eye for both pendants and earrings. I’m also working on my first collection of bracelets to debut this fall. I most look forward to embracing summer with my two daughters, who are the inspiration for my future work!
See more: http://karenkertesz.com/