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ART OF THE MATTER Sharon Khazzam


“JEWELLERY IS WEARABLE art,” says Sharon Khazzam. “That’s the common denominator in my work – the meeting of art and fine jewellery.” The New York-based jewellery designer’s pieces – with their bright colours, whimsical designs and handcrafted quality – are certainly as unique as any work of art. Mixing traditional techniques with unusual stones and contemporary cuts, this is jewellery that appeals to those who appreciate individual style. The first to use diamond slices, an approach that


has now become widespread across the industry, Sharon is constantly searching for the latest unusual element to include in her jewellery. “I look for other gem stones,” she says. “I’ve used emerald slices, which are gorgeous but not traditional. Some have inclusions that people don’t like, but I think they are more interesting than the perfect stone at times.” Often featuring a perfect or precious stone next


to something that some might consider imperfect or term semi-precious, Sharon’s work is all about the overall effect. Her favourites include the increasingly rare Paraiba tourmaline from Brazil, where mines are almost depleted, equally rare tanzanite from Tanzania and the pinky peach padparadscha sapphire. “Precious stones are not something we see too


many of,” she says, with such stones appreciating and becoming more prized as their rarity rises. “But they’re mixed with the more commonplace – it has to be wearable and enhance the person who’s wearing it.” Sharon’s clientele recognise the intrinsic value of


her jewellery. “It takes a more sophisticated customer,” she says. “Someone who doesn’t need the assurance of letting everybody know what they have spent.” While a particularly spectacular stone may occasionally inspire a design, which Sharon draws


free hand, it’s the idea that normally comes first. She describes her style as “elegant but with whimsy”, with an element of surprise in each piece. The Reeni necklace, for example, features three


subtle insects, which have flown onto the stones. And the apparently understated Nidar bracelet, with its peridot and black diamonds, hides a complete underwater world on its back with octopus, coral and sea anemones carved in 18 carat gold. “No one sees but you know it’s there,” she says. “Like the lining of a jacket, it’s as important to me as the front.” Other designs, such as the multi-strand Vessny necklace, come apart to suit different situations. This attention to detail extends to buyers


receiving a book that provides an overview of the piece, with a description of each stone, guidance for those pieces that come apart, and a number to certify authenticity and ensure lifelong assistance. As much care is taken in the presentation and preservation of these collectable heirlooms as for any work of art. Indeed, this is a theme that runs through every aspect of Sharon’s jewellery: even her studio has a gallery in the downstairs space, run by her daughter Alexandra Ainatchi, who has a degree in art history. As with her jewellery, the gallery’s exhibitions are


curated to showcase the unique and the unexpected, to encourage people to consider something in a different way. For instance, one focused on photos by the top food photographers on Instagram, reminding the viewer of the beauty of something that they might otherwise take for granted. “It’s unusual, not immediately recognisable,” says Sharon. “You may not have ever thought of this as art.” But as with her own jewellery, there’s more to it than meets the eye. — www.sharonkhazzam.com


PRECIOUS PIECES 263


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