Inside the World of Contemporary Jewelry

Left: Marie-Antoinette Girandoles; Right: Venetian Symphony earrings, by Abellán New York. Image courtesy of the designer.

By: Elyse Zorn Karlin

It is a pleasure finding an artist of luxurious jewels who is clearly in step with contemporary jewelry, but who reminiscences with the past as well; one who can create jewels that are modern and beautiful and that also refer to the classic. This is the signature style of Abellán – the perfect melding of contemporary beauty with historical references. Abellán creates jewel sculptures with unusual color combinations, offering something fresh to the contemporary art jewelry world.

After having a spirited discussion with the artist recently, I had a further understanding of her works. Her magnificent one-of-kind art jewels are made with rare stone and color assemblages that any woman – from millennials to baby boomers – will look fabulous wearing. Beyond their beauty, they connect the contemporary wearer to the history of jewelry.

The Artist and Her Work


Venetian Symphony earrings with aquamarines, Mandarin garnets,
Akoya pearls, yellow sapphires and diamonds, 31/4 x 1/4 in (8.25 x 1.9 cm),
by Abellán New York. Image courtesy of the designer.

Abellán, the Italian-born jewelry artist behind Abellán New York, crafts her jewels in New York City where each piece is signed by the artist. Every jewel is made only once and has a unique story behind it. She hand selects each gemstone that goes into her creations, sometimes taking months to find the right stones that fits her need for perfection.

Inspired by the 18th-century French Court balls at Versailles, Marie-Antoinette Girandole Earrings by Abellán resemble a contemporary version of the classic girandole earrings. This is an elegant style of earrings characterized by three stones suspended at the bottom, with the centerpiece usually slightly lower than the other two.

Abelláns reverence for historic periods is one of the hallmarks of her signature style, exemplified by the contemporary art design of her modern one-of-kind gem set girandole earrings.  Antique girandoles are typically white as they were comprised of diamonds set in silver-topped gold. The imaginative use of color makes Abellán’s Girandole earrings a 21st-century piece, juxtaposing beautiful and intensely colored amethyst briolettes with turquoise cabochons, and offsetting them with a delicate string of yellow gold-set diamonds topped by London blue topaz and pink tourmaline stones and rubies.

The Artist’s Inspiration

Marie-Antoinette Girandoles with turquoises, amethysts, London blue topaz,
tourmalines, rubies, and diamonds, 31/4 x 11/4 in (8.25 x 3.17 cm), by
Abellán New York. Image courtesy of the designer.

“As I travel around the world, I am inspired by colors, art and the beauty of landscapes,” says Abellán.

She says that she was inspired to create her Venetian Symphony earrings during her time visiting the beloved Italian city. In her design, she sought to evoke the rich Venetian spirit of eclectic architectural facades dominated by indigo and golden hues in the city’s iconic canals. The gemstones in these ear pendants reflect the blues and golden palette she witnessed in Venice, and form this gemstone masterpiece. Abellan’s Venetian Symphony ear pendants are essentially modern kinetic jeweled sculptures, yet evoke the elegance of the Georgian and early Victorian periods.

These influences are infused into the design for her contemporary art jewels of the 21st century. Her unique gems such as the Venetian Symphony Ear Pendants and Marie-Antoinette Girandole Earrings pay homage to jewels that were once glistening on a queen’s ears and are now in a elegant, modern creations that are worn by Abellan’s discerning collectors and by celebrities who walk the red carpet.


About the Author

Elyse Zorn Karlin is the Co-Director of the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA). She is also a jewelry historian who is the author of several books on jewelry history, and a freelance curator, well-known lecturer, and publisher of Adornment, The Magazine of Jewelry & Related Art.