Reflecting on Diamonds

Every first week of February I fly to Tucson, Arizona, to immerse myself in the world’s largest gem show The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase (actually a collection of aprox 50 individual shows, sprawled across the city – think multiple football fields on end for miles). It’s a once-a-year opportunity to hand pick from the most spectacular gem selection from around the world plus get the best deals. Pretty much everyone who’s involved in the jewelry business flocks to this treasure hunt each year.

While I relish the opportunity to see the most rare and hard-to-find gems, the most cutting edge designs our industry has to offer, and perhaps get a peek at some newly-discovered gem deposits – this year, instead, I took stock of my own business’ wealth of inventoried gems, purchased from a trusted suppliers list (built from decades-long relationships) and realized there’s plenty to work with here at the moment. As much as I appreciate annual Tucson (and my fabulous friends there – kiss you, miss you!) and as hard as it is to Just Say No, it’s also thrilling to be here in the studio with an array of juicy goods splayed across my work bench, pondering ‘what next to make?’

In fact, there’s an abundance of treasures to get started on here, so this month I’m narrowing my focus to rare & unusual diamonds, including natural cube shape diamonds, industrial diamonds, diamond slices, briolettes, and black diamond beads.

A few one-of-a-kind pieces should still be available for Valentine’ Day – (hint, hint, hubs = it’s coming up next Thursday!) I’ll be posting available pieces daily on Instagram and Facebook.

A bit of detail about each:

natural cube shape diamonds: Yes! These true cube shapes are exactly how they come out of the ground in an array of earth tone colors. My personal fave way to wear one carat diamond studs.

industrial diamonds: these tiny beauties are used to attenuate wire before retiring to the high end fine jewelry market. They’re pure understated simplicity with a subtle luminous glow, perfectly capturing an organic-meets-mid-century modern vibe.

Diamond slices: pure wintery-white wafer-thin diamond slices, with sparkling faceted edges, micro-stacked in delicate platinum (of course!)

Diamond briolettes: lovely drop-shaped faceted diamonds, white or in color, (cognac, champagne, golden), suspended on delicate gold or platinum wires.

Black diamond beads: wear-with-everything classic black diamond beads are the gem version of the LBD. Adds polish and sparkle to any outfit and can be worn dressed up or down for your big-night-out vs everyday. Easily layers well with other pieces.

*IMPORTANT: It’s crucial to my core business belief that all suppliers guarantee they meet the highest industry standards regarding commitment to the elimination of conflict diamonds from the global supply chain. I will not purchase or sell diamonds from suppliers who have not been vetted to the full extent currently possible, or do not have professional accreditation and/or certification (e.g. Kimberley Certified, SCS Global Services, etc).

The annual TOP TEN LIST from 2018…

Wishing you a very happy Chinese New Year ~ Gong Hei Fat Choy!

Here to provide you with new & enriching experiences intended to delight the mind and feed the soul. Each Chinese New Year in our home, we observe certain rituals to honor the outgoing / incoming Year: we tidy the home, state our intentions to see friends & family, focus fresh eyes on positive changes for the New Year (personal, communal, global), and reflect on the past year – despite the many challenges – to cull the resources that felt most memorable.

The nitty gritty, what it’s ALL about, in a word: COMMUNITY

This list isn’t ‘pro-consumer’, rather it’s meant to connect you to wonderful high quality mostly local (often female-run) resources, you may enjoy experiencing and sharing with friends & family.  

Please FEEL FREE to fwd to anyone you think would appreciate it ~
Caveat emptor.

With that said, let’s begin…

EAT: TACOS OSCAR – inexpensive & casual fab w unexpected culinary artistry; now in its post-pop-up outdoor alley spot, cute & cozy w heatlamps. Don’t forget to say hi to Oscar, he’s Mr. friendly!

BLUE WILLOW ever-so-lovely and rare gem of a spot in West Berkeley w Japanese Tea Ceremony demos available by reservation. Sublime.  

ROTHA the best handmade butter croissants west of Paris. Only open Th-Sun til noon (arrive close to opening or risk waiting another 45 minutes, they run out every day.

SOBA ICHI new dinner-only hours for the sole East Bay purveyor of handmade soba noodles. Slurp.

SOUVENIR COFFEE the original location is a fave Elmwood coffee spot, now also on lower Solano (across fr the theater). Lucky us!

ZAYTOON Happy Hour, sit in bartender Melissa’s section for Mazza platter, Halloumi cheese & Harissa Honey wings (or schnitzel) tipple a (Naughty) Second Date or sip a (Nice) fresh squeezed mint lemonade – pure joy.

HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE if not Ici, then HS! Sooo excited to see flavor Secret Breakfast (hint: bourbon & cornflakes) crossing the Bay…

BAR SARDINE no better spot to be! Fri evenings 5:30-9PM.

MAKE / BEST QUICK DISH : HALLOUMI CHEESE – a deliciously chewy squeaky cow+goat+sheep milk cheese made in Cyprus.

Pour large dollop of olive oil into pan on med-high. Cut slabs ¼” – ½” thick x 1” long. Place slabs flat in pan & grill aprox 3 minutes each side, until lightly browned. Sprinkle w fresh lemon juice & oregano, dash of salt to taste. Serve on a platter of greens dressed in oil & vinegar, with a mix of nice plump olives for garnish. DEVOUR. 

READ: LESS the beginning had me questioning the hype but patience left me in tears by the end.

MISS SUBWAY Sly clever Fox Mulder, er, David Duchovney beguiles us again w this Manhattan/Long Island mythological mashup. Humorous and enchanting.

THE GIFT  deeply thoughtful meditation on the anthropological history and meaning of gift giving cultures. A fascinating read and welcome tonic for hyper-consumer rampant-capitalist society.  

JOIN: do you have lots of clothes you don’t need / don’t wear / don’t want / don’t fit? HELLO STITCH and MARIE KONDO can help! I’m about 22 giant trashbags lighter, plus have 12 newly edited outfits thanks to this dynamic duo. After you finally chuck your old clothes learn to sew/fix/edit your remaining wardrobe on a buffet of awesome machines. Day passes or monthly memberships available.  

FREQUENT: Black Odyssey @ CALSHAKES  not-to-be-missed show if this comes back to town.

SHOH GALLERY beautifully curated art gallery (hiding in plain site on Gilman).

MORNINGTIDE wonderful clean & compact shop bursting w unique and creative gifts.

MOMO’s charming new cut florals, small accessories spot w flair.

WATCH: Along with the well-advertised and excellent Star is Born, The Green Book, Barry Jenkins take on James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, a couple films that might not have made your radar but should:

GIFT Lewis Hyde’s book inspires a film interpretation by Robin McKenna. A must see. I blogged about it last month HERE  

BOMBSHELL  the Hedy Lamarr story, ‘the world’s most beautiful woman’ turns out to also be a brilliant inventor. Shockingly tragic but a revelation.  

LIYANA a near perfect documentary fairytale as told thru the eyes and imaginations of Swaziland’s orphans.   

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? Sensitive, thoughtful, humane, thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly political documentary of the man you thought you knew.    

THE HATE U GIVE in a year of so many strong expressions of black experiences told through films, this one rates.

BLINDSPOTTING beautiful, poetic, heartbreaking, frenetic, hilarious, suspenseful GENIUS.  

SALT, FAT, ACID HEAT and COOKED both truly unique in their approach, as enlightening as they are informative.

THE WORLDS MOST EXTRAORDINATRY HOMES jawdropping designs from around the world (altho you may want to tune out the hosts chatty banter).

LISTEN: Soundtrack of WANDERLUST; Sharon Van Etten’s Omoeba Records: What’s in my bag Youtube: Dave Hartley / Nightlands ; Bill Callahan / Apocalypse; Tindersticks / Tindersticks II; John Fahey Table of the Elements; Micheal Hurley The Unholy Modal Rounders, Jeffrey Fredericks & The Clamtones – Have Moicy!; Catherine Howe / What a Beautiful Place; Damien Jurado Maraqupa; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band / Will the Circle Be Unbroken

VISIT (NEAR & FAR): POINT LOBOS  gorgeous seaside trekking along coastal paths just south of Carmel. Purportedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

I took a leap of faith on my bday last year and signed up for a standup paddle board/chakra yoga retreat (having never done either) and ended up having the time of my life. It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Go ahead and try, you can do it…

510WATERLINEXINALANI remote oceanside resort peeping out of the jungle aprox 10 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, accessible only by boat. Spare and yet luxurious, no room has more than 1 or 2 walls. Walk barefoot all week if you like & truly live in your body, enjoying three healthy totally delicious gourmet meals a day. Lift no finger other than to carry your board, paddle, and sunscreen on your way to the pool or the ocean.

Reciproc​ity welcome​​. Let’s spread some good news, people!

~ wishing you a JOYOUS 2019

(if you’re receiving this but wish not to – just drop me a note to be taken off the list)

You can also find me: debdurant@instagram.com

WALKING & TALKING (TO MYSELF): GIFTS, part I

walking and talking

As 2018 winds down, I’m contemplating changes I made back in January which have had a profound impact on me this year.

First, I began walking the 2.5 mile R/T length of the commercial street in my neighborhood. I walk solo, and keep stops or talking to a minimum. I’ve done this daily since January, and hold this time sacred as my time to just THINK – not about work, chores, To-Do lists, or concerns – just conscious, intentional time for pondering.

I call it BRAINCATION.

Second, I turned off my radio. All day, every day, cold turkey, OFF. No more NPR, no more Terry Gross (sob), no more music. The only thing I allow is Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations, on repeat (the ’55 version with his commentary and humming). A quick calculation reveals I’ve probably listened to it over a thousand times this year. And with good reason: the effect it has on me is like listening to stunningly beautiful math explained; my work is more focused and precise when it’s on. A musical meditation.

I’ve found that – slowly – over the course of the year, these practices allow me to better connect with my waking body, the day’s weather, the community around me. The increased attentiveness and clarity makes me feel more able to discern when to say yes vs when to say no and which people/events feed and inspire me vs which drain me, also to hear what resonates vs what rings hollow.

The new-found quiet feels like listening to life on a different frequency. When you aren’t distracting yourself with information 24/7 (yes, even very smart, interesting information – (lookin’ at you, T Gross) you’re forced to think about the things you usually allocate to a back burner.  It pushes you down a more direct path through your own STUFF. For me, new cues form a better understanding of what it means to be a working artist in today’s money-centric world. The 24/7 media mantra siren call ‘MORE! FASTER!’ is best; ‘LESS… SLOWER’ is, well, less. And slower. The race to Keep up!, Speed up!, Buy!, Sell!! eventually just dulls the mind & stirs mental fog. For the time being I choose to TUNE IT ALL OUT.

WHEW. Srsly, I feel better already just writing this.

The good news is this new path has led me towards incredible art/artists, all of whom speak a common truth and a unified message:  love for craft, respect for the gift, power in collaboration, importance of community /service.  Here, just a few to share.

MISS TANGQ This mystical & wise multi-media artist, aNiMa collaborator, and writer of spiritual, soulful monthly readings eloquently outlines the importance of Emptiness.

‘Westerners tend to think of emptiness as absence and lack. In the eastern context, emptiness is the essential source of being. In Daoism the metaphor of bowls, baskets and barrels are essential. These objects represent strength on the outside with great receptivity at the core. Emptiness is an openness to life, universal energy and the source’.

Absence as open space becoming a cauldron for creativity = clear mind, clear potential.

RYAN COOGLER Local treasure CFI (the California Film Institute) recently hosted a screening w the Black Panther director who, in the Q&A following the film talked about creativity, collaboration, and timing. He said he was 100% excited/invested in Fruitvale Station (w its comparatively-miniscule budget) and would never have considered doing Black Panther instead – had it been offered him then – despite its astronomical budget. He prioritizes based on what’s most important to him as an artist, and then surrounds himself with friends who bring ‘A game’ to the table (paraphrasing) to help him successfully accomplish the task.

GIFT Director Robin McKenna has created a loving film tribute to gift-based economies via a trilogy of artists working in different locations around the world. Translating inspiration from Lewis Hyde’s profoundly brilliant 1983 book The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Art of Property, a meditation extolling the virtue and value of creativity as gift (vs commodity) in which he explores humanity’s historical & societal relationship to the act of giving and its importance. This book changed my life when I read it a few years back, it in itself is a perfect gift to any artist’s mind.

Listening to them, the common thread running through my own work is revealed: the intent to manifest expressions of LOVE. Celebrations of love for new life, love for oneself / for others, love for merging lives, love for lives no longer with us – this task: putting my full attention on the process of designing and creating precious objects imbued w intention & emotion – it is my great honor, and my life’s work.

SOFA, Chicago, IL

mosaic sofa I was both honored and thrilled to be included in the recent Sculptural Objects and Functional Art & Design (SOFA) show in Chicago, IL, in association with the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) group entry submission “100 Moments in Mosaic”. It was a wonderful opportunity to show work in collaboration with 99 other mosaic artists from the organization, showcasing a broad range of skill sets, topics, materials and methods from the collective group.

This was my entry, titled  Andamento / Adamantine

Andamento  Visual flow & direction produced by the placement of rows of tesserae (pieces) within a mosaic.

Adamantine  From the Greek word adamas meaning ‘invincible’, diamond-like (the hardest known mineral), or unbreakable.

Diamond, historically, has been the ceremonial symbol of enduring and eternal love. The use of this beautiful natural resource to celebrate life’s most important connections also carries a sad and tragic irony: diamond mining has also been the cause of much pain and suffering in the world, brought about by greed, avarice and poor environmental stewardship in unfair diamond distribution systems.

Like the merging and diverging tesserae that surround this mosaic diamond, the paths of the many lives touched by diamonds – from the initial South African miner, his community, mine owners, syndicates, cutters & polishers, jewelers, royalty, wealthy socialites, to the average citizen… – are all connected. 

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mosaic by Huguette Quintana

I was especially moved by all the submissions from Puerto Rico’s Atelier Del Mosaico contingency, headed up by studio owner Luis Alberto Rivera, who moved mountains to help each of his studio members finish their mosaics, get them shipped out, and then fly to the show in time, just weeks after braving the devastation of Hurricane Maria. His Herculean show of strength, compassion, creativity, and get-it-done-ness was one of the most inspiring examples of leadership I saw during 2017, setting a beautiful example of how much art can be a healing force during difficult times.

New beginnings…

In anticipation of the New Year coming, I’m launching a newly revamped website for 2018. It includes new graphics, a new line of jewelry, my 24K gold micro-mosaic line, and other design-related ventures afoot both professionally and personally.

The newly designed jewelry line includes studies in gold, sterling silver, and brass of cherished objects from nature – star anise pendants or Illicium Verum  – which comes from the Latin illicio meaning “entice” – made from actual seed pods.  It’s harvested in northeast Vietnam & southwest China, and the Chinese word for star anise translates to ‘8 horns’; our specimen, however, has lucky #7..  I spent several careful hours hand carving away the outer layers, reducing extra material, to reveal its most minimal shape. All the delicate detailing of each of the shapely seeds remains intact. Almost the entire collection of pieces went during OPEN STUDIOS this past week, and I’m excited to get started making an even lighter version that I’d like to cast in gold.. LUXE.

star anise detail sterling 14KY clove studs ox sterling clove studs

I’ve also included an updated version of the everyday stud – solid sterling silver clove bud studs – made from a selection of subtly different specimens so that no pair is exactly alike. This is an extension of a project I did for ‘The Mom Show’, a 2012 Turman Larison Gallery exhibition in Helena, Montana, of multi-media art by working artists who are also mothers, expressing the unique and particular challenges the two simultaneous tasks present, as curated by ceramicist, Jess Parker.

makers mark stamp

Last, I’d like to introduce my new maker’s mark. A jeweler’s maker’s mark is the stamp unique to that jeweler that identifies their work. Traditionally it’s a combination of initials or a symbol emblematic of the jeweler. I’ve dreamed of creating my own maker’s mark for 25+ yrs… at long last! The design is a stylized bee w wings of mirror image D’s, a drop of honey + appendages that form ‘XP’ representing my actual business name Xeno Praxis, ‘xeno’ (from Greek) meaning foreign, or different + ‘praxis’ (Greek + Medieval Latin) meaning method or way of doing things.

I’ve had a lifelong fascination with bees, the origins of the name Deborah go back to the Old Testament where she was a prophetess & a judge and had numerous associations w the bee. Some reference Deborah the nurse , some reference Deborah the Judge/Prophetess, some reference Deborah and the general associations with bees.

Creation of order, industriousness, service to others, manufacturing sweetness, I’ll take it.

 

 

 

OPEN STUDIOS 2017

you’re invited to our OPEN STUDIO gathering.. 
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Sunday, Dec 10th – 2-6pm
& Tuesday, Dec 12th – 6-9pm
@ Deb’s studio
Deb’s new line of jewelry + Jess’s amazing new ceramic creations + their hot-off-the-silkscreen-presses 2018  calendar tea towels (sneak peek soon!) 
Pls stop in to enjoy delicious nibbles + glass of cheer, we’re looking forward to seeing you!
 
wishing you & yours a warm & wonderful holiday season ~
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co-creatives / Deb + Jess 
Deb’s cell 415.235.1551
Jess’s cell 510.333.0365

TOP 10 LIST favorite things from 2016*

top 10 list fr 2016

Happy New Year & Happy Epiphany! 

Once again I offer my list of 10 or so favorite things from 2016* which I hope bring you as much pleasure as they brought me.

May these suggestions lead you & your loved ones to more wonderful opportunities to live ever better ~

A word about this list: COMMUNITY

This is not meant to be ‘pro-consumerism’, rather it is meant to introduce wonderful high quality – predominantly local – resources you may have yet to come across. So.. have at it, folks!

*Caveat emptor As always, advance apologies for any incompatibility or disagreement you may experience in accepting one/any/all of the following suggestions.

With that said, let’s begin…

  1. Boonville Hotel & Table 128– Nirvana. Shangri La. HEAVEN. Casual, cozy, luxe. Summer Sundays’ Oyster Bar & Paella fest is the place to be. Minutes fr a bevy of wine tasting options. Don’t miss Navarro and Philo Apple Farm ‘s stay & cook getaways.
  1. Carmel-By-The-Sea’s fantastic new-ish Italian Restaurant Il Tegamino Sigh. Don’t miss the polpette bar. Walk-in only, but well worth the drive.
  1. Bulletproof coffeeMission Heirloom. mold-free coffee beans + grass fed Straus butter + brain octane. Say no more.
  1. Sure, we all Can’t Feel Our Face When I’m With You, but have you ever stopped to wonder exactly what other The Weekend lyrics you or the impressionable young mind sitting in the passenger seat is hummingflubbing along with Clyfford Stumme, The Popstar Professor to the rescue! In this new post-fact era, I appreciate his desire to seek out meaning in the sounds that surround us every day.
  1. KALW The Spot– Sunday @ 2PM Ashleyanne Krigbaum’s fabulous weekly storytelling – not to be missed.
  1. The best most deliciously fabulous therapeutic face serum oil you can possibly findVintner’s Daughter.
  1. The Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF)– what better way to take a weeklong vacation (of the mind) – a mere bridge away, without jet lag? Enjoy this glorious far-ranging exploration of independent films fr around the world before they hit the big screen (some can only be seen here). Meet & interact with actors, directors, writers from the films and get a deeper understanding of the process. Highlights I recommend:

LaLaLand – sweetly melancholy Emma Stone/Ryan Gosling musical in modern day LA.

Girl Flu – tour-de-force storytelling about one girl’s awkward transition into womanhood. (Juno for middle-schoolers.)

Lion – heartbreaking epic journey, one boy’s search to find his way home after being abandoned 25 years earlier. Dev Patel amazes, Nicole Kidman’s quiet performance shines.

Neruda – a slightly hallucinatory dreamlike meandering exploration of Chilean poet and political activist, Pablo Neruda. In person, Gael Garcia Bernal – utterly charismatic.

Loving – how did I not know about this? Everyone should see this drama about the real life couple living in 1967 Virginia whose fight to stay together led to the seminal Supreme Court decision invalidating the prohibition of interracial marriage. With rising STAR Ruth Negga and a surprisingly nuanced Joel Edgerton.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise – Spectacular, exhilarating, inspirational, moving, POWERFUL.

…and in case you missed them, go back and watch The Danish Girl (with the sublime Alicia Vikander); Nerve – surprisingly entertaining guilty-pleasure joy ride, and Dope – a super smart sleeper you shouldn’t miss. Unexpected but completely worthwhile, thought provoking.

  1. Two of my absolute favorite reads this year were connected via the same book reading event in Richmond Point. Frances Dinkelspiel’sTangled Vines– a riveting account of the origins of California’s winemaking history as told through the lens of the notorious arson case that destroyed 4.5M bottles of wine; and Elizabeth Roesner’s Electric City – an upstate New York story of the origins of electricity and the convergence of three different elements within that society, and their effects on subsequent generations.
  1. The Local Butcher Shop‘s – hot and ready-to-slurp up cup of bone broth $7 – TO. DIE. FOR.

(also a shout out for the lovely French boucherie Olivier’s Butchery in Dogpatch, SF)

  1. ART: What a year! The Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) – Larry Rinder’s stellar inaugural year re-opened in the Center St. location. Check out the free weekly Wed @ noon lecture series coming upBig Ideas:with Natasha Boas and be sure to grab a bite at the always stellar Babette.

Also don’t miss FOGFAIR next weekend 1/12-15 – a top tier design + art fair @ Fort Mason, it will blow your socks off.

A final thought, in memorium.

“During the twelve days, between Christmas and Epiphany, God permits the dead to walk. This is well known.” King Henry VIII to Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

As fortune had it, I came to this page just yesterday and took pause to remember all the greats we lost this past year – David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Alan Rickman, Zaha Hadid, Gene Wilder, Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, Bill Cunningham, Muhammed Ali…to name just a few. The list felt heavier than usual this past year. If only we could have had them a little bit longer. Hug your loved ones close.

*Deb (Matt & Sadie)

Reciproc​ity welcome​d​ & encouraged! ~ let’s spread some good news, people!

~ wishing for you in 2017: LOVE in abundance, kindness, vision, happiness, JOY ~

FEEL FREE TO FWD THIS if you know someone who might appreciate it. You can also find me debdurant@instagram.com

(And if you’re receiving this but wish not to – just drop me a note so I can take you off of the list. No judgment, just my apology!)