Fine Jewelry, Recycled Jewelry, and Gemstone Jewelry Artists

Must-See Jewelry Designs

by Merle White

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show is always a treat, and this year’s was no exception. Some 200 artists exhibited in all craft media, including more than 50 jewelry artists. Here are a couple whose work really caught my eye.

Standout Recycled Jewelry Artists

For a touch of recycling, doing good, and Cubist collage with more than a passing reference to Picasso, you couldn’t get any closer than Lisa & Scott Cylinder’s latest in wearable figures and still lifes. As a lapsed but serious amateur musician myself, though, the kicker for me was the musical connection. The couple buys up whole lots of damaged musical instruments. They separate the salvageable from those beyond repair then donate whatever could be restored to playable condition for the use of students. They then turn the rest into jewelry that resembles or at least suggests musical instruments or musicians or both.

New work includes individuals with instruments such as the Tambourine Brooch. Animal figures such as the Black Parrot Brooch.
Lisa Cylinder, Scott Cylinder, Black Parrot Brooch, recycled jewelry, jewelry artists

And instruments, as in the Yellow Guitar with Lemon Still Life Brooch or the series of Small Guitar Still Life Earrings.
Lisa Cylinder, Scott Cylinder, Guitars Still Life Earrings, recycled jewelry, jewelry artists

Do these pieces have a kind of familiar look?

One of their earlier pieces perfectly encapsulates the concept and its influences: Trio Brooch is a 3D interpretation of Picasso’s iconic Three Musicians series of oil and collage paintings.
Lisa Cylinder, Scott Cylinder, Trio Box Brooches, recycled jewelry, jewelry artists
The sculptural nature of the jewelry is only one added dimension, though, as the jewelry is also functional. The pieces “live” together in a framelike display case from which each musician can be removed and worn separately. Clever idea, careful construction, quirky and fun.
To see more of their work, visit

Gemstone Jewelry Artists

I can appreciate a beautiful slice of agate all by itself, just standing by a window with the sunlight streaming through. In fact, we have a very large agate slice at home doing just that for a good part of each day that the sun is out. The problem with those agates is that you can’t wear them.

Enter Tom Herman, goldsmith extraordinaire. Tom creates very special jewelry that displays agates, opals, and so many other stones precisely so you can wear them. Besides being an amazing craftsman and stone aficionado, Tom has a true talent for creating pieces that do much more than frame a stone, and yet don’t compete with it.

One example — Tom’s On the Lake Brooch/Necklace with Montana agate, whose misty-looking background blends almost seamlessly into the surrounding, atmospherically textured 18K goldwork.
Tom Herman, On the Lake Brooch, Philadelphia museum of art craft show, jewelry artists, gemstone jewelry artist, On the Lake Brooch Necklace with Montana agate, 18K gold
Another example — his Gingko Opal Brooch that looks like a perfect miniature painting.
Tom Herman, Gingko opal brooch, Philadelphia museum of art craft show, jewelry artists, gemstone jewelry artist, opal, 18k gold,
Perfect, except for the “canvas,” which is natural Andamooka crystal opal with fabulous play-of-color in an unusual pattern. And the “gilt frame,” which is 18K gold carved into leaves that bring into focus what is merely suggested in the opal.

Then there is Tom’s Rose of Sharon Brooch.
Tom Herman, Rose of Sharon, Philadelphia museum of art craft show, jewelry artists, gemstone jewelry artist, blue chalcedony gemstone, 18K gold, mother-of-pearl, enamel, plique a jour
This jewelry design dispenses with a frame and instead, the blue chalcedony gem serves as a platform for the flower. The flower is created with 18K gold, mother-of-pearl, and enamel using the trickiest of all techniques, plique-á-jour. A technique which has no back but allows light through. Classic, contemporary, exquisite. To see more of Tom’s work, visit