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- galleria edina, George Sawyer, Michael Bondanza, Quest for Excellence: American Master Designers
It may be early to talk about double headers, but not at Scheherazade Jewelers with the Galleria-based jewelry store’s Quest for Excellence: American Master Designers event. From Friday, April 17 to Saturday, April 18 (10:00 AM to 8:00 PM), New York-based Michael Bondanza and local jewelry designer George Sawyer are teaming up for a one-of-a-kind trunk show event of original, rare treasures from the best in platinum and gold.
Michael’s Path to Platinum
Michael Bondanza’s rise to become a premier designer of platinum jewelry is the consummate humble beginnings story. Back in the 1970’s, Michael made a Western style belt buckle for himself with unique design elements. This kicked off his self-taught creative techniques for jewelry designing. Starting with silver, Michael worked his way up the precious metal ladder ultimately making platinum his precious metal of choice.
Michael’s design skills as a self-taught artisan allowed him to master crafting all precious metals, eventually developing concepts of creating jewelry designs of mixed metals. (Michael also worked with alternative materials such as exotic hardwoods with rosewood a leading favorite.) His platinum and gold statement bracelets became signature pieces and these stunning designs continue to inspire a dedicated following. But at the heart of his work was a passion for platinum. Predominantly working in platinum with bridal and diamond jewelry, Michael trademarked “Platinum Redefined” as a tagline, which captures the spirit of his creative work.
For Michael when setting gemstones – particularly diamonds – platinum is the preferred precious metal given its inherent strength and durability. But when he combines the most precious metal with the most precious gemstone, the brilliant whiteness of diamonds in a white metal setting becomes a unique object of beauty.
Add in attention to detail and superior workmanship, and Michael’s design work – especially his bridal collections – have become recognizable and distinguishable, earning him accolades and awards including the Triple Zero Award from the American Gem Society and most recently the esteemed Centurion Show Design Award 2015.
Michael is most comfortable creating timeless jewelry designs in a time-honored fashion – hand-making them at a jeweler’s bench. In recent years he has embraced CAD (Computer Aided Design) into his work to incorporate modern innovations into his work. Michael Bondanza’s jewelry is continually evolving but always reflects the Bondanza aesthetic and an unparalleled level of artistry.
This inventiveness is evidenced by the designer’s new Fold Collection, which will be featured at the Quest for Excellence: American Master Designers. The new collection was inspired by 3-diamoiensional drawings translated to a 2-dimensional space. The angles of the folds “play” with other damsons of the jewelry be it a pendant, ring or bracelet.
East Meets West in North Minneapolis
Jewelry designers are always looking for breaking technology develop new techniques to produce innovative designs. But for Minneapolis-based designer George Sawyer, he decided to go old school – really old school – when he decided to create jewelry based a metallurgical technique dating back to 17th century Japan. For decades, George has dedicated his jewelry designing and jewelry making career to developing, defining and refining mokume gane (pronounced moku-may gah-nae) jewelry, a technique that dates back to the age of Japan’s famed samurai sword making.
While jewelry designing great call New York or California home, George has called Minnesota home his entire life. His interest in mokume gane started when he studied art history and sculpture at the University of Minnesota. During that time he developed a fascination with Asian art.
But he would later combine his cultural curiosity with his intellectual grasp for metallurgy while working for a company that built specialized racing cars. By day he worked on cars and in his spare time he studied jewelry design. This part-time preoccupation became a full-time vocation when George combined his technical and creative skills to creative patterns in jewelry combining precious and lesser metals.
“Moku” means wood and “-me” means eye. For more than four decades, he has folded and forged precious metals into beautiful patterns that suggest images of wood-grain, swirling water or ancient and mysterious impressionistic forms. The latest manifestation of this career-spanning effort is George’s new Contour Collection, which will be launched at Scheherazade Jewelers’ Quest for Excellence: American Master Designers.
“The top view of most rings is an arc,” says George of his new jewelry collection. “But the Contour Collection has a u-shape to it.” The Contour Collection has a wider look, essentially stretching out the qualities of other collections from the designer with wider rings is set widths of 7mm and 12mm bands. But the Contour Collection features different patterns associated with established collection such as koi and Wabi-Sabi.
Although Contour Collection jewelry will appear thinner to George Sawyer fans, the inherent convex nature of the designs actually makes these pieces as durable as they are visually appealing. Another newness to the Contour Collection is the rings are meant for fashion as well as bridal customers.
George Sawyer is considered one of the leaders in mokume gane jewelry. His jewelry is featured in museums, galleries and fine jewelry stores in the US, Canada and Europe. George is also member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, the Contemporary Design Group, and twice president of the American Jewelry Design Council, he has received numerous jewelry design awards.
Scheherazade Jewelers’ Quest for Excellence: American Master Designers event is an extraordinarily rare event to meet two masters of precious metals. Make it a point to meet the designers and learn more about their jewelry creations from Friday, April 17 to Saturday, April 18 (10:00 AM to 8:00 PM).