I’ve had a love affair with pearls since I was 16 when I was gifted my first strand, and that was many decades ago The spell is still there, but admittedly the pearls are larger and in a range of colours. So, I was thrilled to see a shop window filled with these lustrous gems.
Danny Eliav’s shop in Jerusalem seems small, but that may be because there are clients sitting at a glass cases, deciding on size, colour, shape, to purchase. Decision made, Danny and I start discussing our mutual love affair with the oysters’ by-product from around the globe – Australia’s large South Sea pearls, Akoya pearls seas around China and Japan and Tahitian black pearls.
“Round is still the favoured shape,” Danny says. However, we discuss the new trend of keshi and baroque which have become so popular with North American and European clients. They are less expensive and equally beguiling but obviously the perfectly round, pit less, pricey perfect pearls are far rarer.
Danny also has a cache of black, white, cognac, brown diamond designs which should no
t be ignored. They are exquisite.
Jerusalem is an incredible city but when it comes to jewelry, there’s little doubt that Tel Aviv is the centre. Here there’s a major cutting-edge diamond industry, and economy speaking, up there with hi technology and pharmaceuticals.
In this “bubble city”, designers let loose their imagination and create pieces for the very savvy consumer.
One of many designers stands out. Oded Kashi, has a stunning shop on a small, elegant side street off the ‘uber’ boutique enclave, Kikar Hamedina.
Oded, an elegant man dressed, wearing a suit (no tie) which is so uncharacteristic of Israelis where casual is de riguer.
A silver/black colored band of silk holds various brushed gold shapes topped with bezeled diamonds. And leather and gold seem meant for each other.
There is a freedom of form with the intricacy and exquisite finishing and exceptional gem stones expected at Oded’s shop.
The designs are so unique and expectedly costly, that there’s no wonder that he’s becoming a success in the USA.
Jewelry making come naturally to Oded, HIs Persian grandfather was a top jeweler who fled to Palestine in 1923. Oded’s father was also a goldsmith.
While at Oded’s boutique, a delighted couple who had commissioned a large pink cabochon tourmaline surrounded with small diamonds, were there to get the finished product. As I looked around, it was clear Oded’s creations are much bolder and forceful, definitely for less conservative collectors.
“Whenever I see a stone that inspires me, I buy it,” says the debona
ir designer “I also have stones cut to order from rough material. And I see a woman, I have the urge to dress her up with my jewellery. I can see exactly what a plus it would be to her appearance,” Oded smiles.
But most of the time, he plans the designs specifically for the stone, hence his one-of-a kind pieces. “I buy stones like a child buys candies..just for the sake of having something that is delicious and beautiful.”
On the other side of Tel Aviv in Neve Zedek, at the old train station, HataChana, is a treasure trove of chic shops among them of course, jewellery. It’s a young, throbbing area. At Hella Ganor’s jewellery boutique which she shares with Dorit Gray, there is definitely something for every gem lover. Each has their own side of the airy, modern white gallery. Their designs, so completely different from each other.
Bold and gold, is Hella’s forte. In the business for over 25 years, she hasn’t allowed modern technology to by pass her and has made the most of a new technique. Her latest line “the NETLINE’ shows her computer design skills and 3D Rapid Prototyping knowledge. She creates jewels with shapes and forms that could never be reached with traditional methods. The system is based on geometry and architectural vision. “It isn’t easy to create and manufacture but I get sheer enjoyment seeing the end results,” she says.
Now her working bench is the computer and her materials include gold, silver, stainless steel, wood, felt, porcelain and other industrial materials.
“Some of my models are hand made in the old school way,” says Ganor.
But now she sends a file to a 3D printer, out comes her piece using a plastic material. It’s then cast in any metal. Rapid Prototype has given her more freedom. Especially appealing are the stretching gold, rings, bracelets and neckpieces.
On the other side of the room are designs by Dorit Gray who joined Ganor four years ago and relocated here for two years Gray’s designs are lovely…and if there’s one word to describe them, it would be ‘polite’. Very genteel and ladylike, perfectly crafted with semi precious and precious stones, they are simply gracious. Her signature is a one carat round diamond set into a circle of gold with almost invisible inscriptions such as health, happiness etc. surrounding the outer circle.
Certainly there’s no competition between the two designers. If you are “bold at heart‘ , you’ll find Hella’s work on the left side of the room. For those who like easily understandable baubles, then the right is your direction. (Hella Ganor and Dorit Gray, Hatachana, Neve Zedek #15 97236040855
It’s difficult to leave this country without a souvenir, so just buy jewellery, a forever memory of a fascinating country.