Today we receive a very special guest in our columns, today, we are graced with Nature’s most famous alchemist: the talented Paula Crevoshay!
Paula has been dedicated the greatest part of the last three decades mesmerising the jewellery world with her unique creations and her seemingly endless energy.
Inspired by nature, often copied but never equalled, Paula is without a doubt one of the most iconic high jewellery designer in the United States if not in the world.
It is always a pleasure to meet her or to review her various public appearance in conferences. Be it at Harvard, at Gem - A or more recently at the ICA Congress in Bangkok 2019, Paula’s a systematic hit and the audience loves her for that.
Without any further delay we give you Nature’s Alchemist: Paula Crevoshay!
Paula, the floor is yours,
Meet Paula Crevoshay with AsiaLounges - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: First of all Paula, thank you very much for agreeing to being here with us today. Let us start with our traditional starting question in order to help our readers know a bit more about you. Who are you Paula Crevoshay?
Paula Crevoshay: I am a fully trained fine artist. I have worked in a myriad of media including painting, printmaking sculpture and video art, and for 35 years or so I have shifted to precious stones and noble metals. I am a painter who works with the light of the earth and I sculpt with the noble metals. I have applied fine art principles to the most ancient art form: jewellery. It has always been my intention to treat jewellery the way it was before the industrial revolution: as being among the finest of the fine arts, produced with the most precious and most durable of materials!
Paula in India - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: I know you have answered to that question numerous times already but, how do you come up with so many unique designs? What is your source of inspiration?
Paula Crevoshay: I am often asked this question. My answer is always the same: Mother Nature is my deepest source. I am a synthesiser. I combine nature, art and science in every jewel that I create. I pay attention to refractive indexes and the dispersion of light, and secondary and tertiary colours when I combine gems for complimentary or contrasting effect. I have been blessed with a condition called tetrachromecy which means that I have four cones in my eyes instead of the more common two. As a result I see many more subtle variations in colours than most people.
Midnight Seduction piece by Paula Crevoshay which can be seen at GIA NYC - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: One thing that has been puzzling me while preparing this interview is that I never really managed to figure out how and why you started to work in the jewellery field. Could you tell us more about your beginnings in the trade?
Paula Crevoshay: When I married the late, great George Crevoshay he whisked me off to India for four consecutive years, which I call the magical mystery tour. I was twenty two years old and my mind exploded with inspiration from the antiquity, spiritual brilliance and the infinite colours of the wonder that is India. I produced a great deal of paintings and prints which I displayed in one woman shows in galleries and museums. During this time we lived near Lakshmi Road. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth so all the gold and silversmith’s shops were located there.
Jewellery making is considered part of a well-rounded art curriculum and I had taken some classes in undergraduate school, so I enjoyed watching and learning the ancient techniques that were still employed there. It wasn’t until much later when George began trading in gemstones that I switched mediums from painting with oil and canvas and watercolour on paper to painting with gems and sculpting in noble metals.
AsiaLounges: Your pieces are almost all unique ones, exception be made of some you made for the Smithsonian Institute if memory serves, what drove you in that direction? Would it not be easier to have a certain degree of repetition in your work?
Paula Crevoshay: Easier yes, more lucrative, certainly. But I would be so bored! I have never been driven by money. I am driven by my unending desire to create art! I want to show that it is possible to create only original fine art pieces and still make a decent living. I want to widen the path for the next generation and inspire them to always strive for excellence and embrace the ancient metal techniques and traditions before they are lost.
Paula's Conchita piece displayed at Smithsonian National Gem Collection - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: Your art relies heavily on your take over Nature’s creations for the shapes of your items, but how do you decide on the gems you’ll use for any specific piece?
Paula Crevoshay: That is easy for me. When I begin to research an animal, flower or sea creature I know instantly what stones I will need to create their portrait in gemstones and gold. It happens the other way too. I listen to the stones. When I first saw a water opal I knew it wanted to be a Portuguese Man o’ War. When I saw a natural abalone pearl I knew it was to become the cup of a Lady Slipper.
"When I first saw a water opal I knew it wanted to be a Portuguese Man o’ War" said Paula Crevoshay about her creation - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: A question I quite like to ask is, should you be completely free of any commercial pressure, what would be the one gem or material you’d like to use most?
Paula Crevoshay: If I were totally free to select any gem material of my choice I would buy only the finest, rarest stones in every color, shape and form. I would also collect very fine crystal shapes to utilise in my dreams of making sculptural objets d’art. I must say though that I have been particularly blessed in many of the amazing gems that have come to me over the years.
I would also like to remind young artists just starting out that there are many very beautiful stones that are not rare or that are more reasonably priced in smaller more common sizes. When I was just starting out I used very fine but very small multi-color sapphires. I never hesitated using any mineral that I thought to be beautiful.
AsiaLounges: It is quite obvious that you like to interpret Nature’s finest arts through your jewellery yet, as far as I know, I have never seen you use wood or non-metallic materials as base of your designs. Is there a specific reason for that?
Paula Crevoshay: Yes, I want my art to be enduring. I want to use material that won’t just last for a lifetime, but for many lifetimes. There were ancient cultures from millennia ago that we only know of because their jewelry is still with us. Jewellery can be the longest lasting art form, more durable even that architecture.
One of Paula's numerous magic trick, turning her mental image of a fish into an immortal one made of gold - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: As an ICA speaker this time around, I mean in Bangkok 2019, what is your take on the hot topic of the year: Ethics and traceability in the gem and jewellery trade?
Paula Crevoshay: We are blessed to work in a worldwide community that has had a reputation for unusual levels of trust and honour for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It is one where people quietly and continually raise money and contribute to charitable causes. Now I am proud to see that the bar is being raised from alleviating misery to creating better lives now and into the future. There is also a great deal of focus on reclaiming mining sites to return them to healthy natural states. We all know that we will learn a great deal as we go along and we will get better through time. Our industry is rising to the occasion. Ethics and sustainability is paramount to our future.
AsiaLounges: Many of our fellow gem lovers would argue that synthetic gems are gems in their own rights. What is your opinion on synthetics?
Paula Crevoshay: I see them as what they are: synthetic. There is a place for synthetic gems in commercial, repeatable jewellery. I prefer to use natural minerals. I remain steadfast in my goal of leaving a legendary collection of one-of-a-kind fine art jewels to inspire and set the bar for future generations of artists.
AsiaLounges: I believe it was in your Harvard talk that you mentioned your passion for gems and how the study of gemmology has had an impact on your creativity and on the way you look at jewellery. Could you tell us more about this and do you believe that it is a necessity today to be a gemmologist to be in the trade?
Paula Crevoshay: No, I do not. I do however think they should be knowledgeable. There are many highly respected, accomplished people in the trade who are not gemologists. I am fascinated that jewellery and gems touch on every aspect of human culture and science. We have the physics of light. We have the geology and geography of where and how gems are formed. We have the cultures of the people who mine, cut and trade them. We have the cultural reasons people make and use the jewellery. I could go on and on.
I love what comes out of the earth. Early on I included gemological clues in my jewellery. More recently I have made flowers found at the mine sites where the gems come from. There is no limit to what we can discover about the connections found in nature.
"I love what comes out of the earth. [...] More recently I have made flowers found at the mine sites where the gems come from." - Paula's take on some flowers found near the Montana sapphire mines - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: A number of fellow jewellers consider you to be the America JAR for your creativity and your singular use of gems. What do you think of the comparison?
Paula Crevoshay: It is natural for people to notice the similarities between Crevoshay and JAR, whom I greatly admire, as there are many parallels in our lives. I believe that every artist's viewpoint and sensibility is inextricably rooted in the culture and time they grew up in.
AsiaLounges: Back to the gems for a moment if you don’t mind, what space do treated gems have in your creations? Are treatments acceptable if disclosed and do you use treated materials or are there a thing of the past?
Paula Crevoshay: I use both natural and treated stones. I find treatments to be acceptable as long as they are permanent and disclosed.
AsiaLounges: You once mentioned in a video that all your pieces are unique and hand made, could you tell us more why you prefer hand made pieces versus pieces of jewellery that are made from casted material?
Paula Crevoshay: I believe that handmade pieces have a soul and feel that is different than machine made pieces. I also think that it is important that we don’t lose the knowledge of the ancient metal techniques. Fifty years ago hand engraving was considered to be a basic skill of every bench jeweller. Now it is a specialty, practiced by a few.
We do cast when it is appropriate to the piece. Lost wax casting has been used for thousands of years. We hand carve waxes for items like animals and flowers with layers of petals. We first cast the pieces in silver and make adjustments in the silver to be sure every piece fits properly. Next we map the stones and drill the holes. We make new moulds and cast the different parts in 18 karat gold. Then we set the stones, finish the jewel, and destroy the moulds.
Most everything else is fabricated. We start with an ingot of fine gold. We make our own alloys and solders, sheet and wire and build the jewel by hand using ancient metal techniques.
We are in danger of losing these skills. You don’t teach anyone to do something you can’t make a living at. Someone has to make a market to keep these skills alive.
In one presentation at the ICA Congress we learned of a business where a person could go online and design their own custom jewel, choose a stone and pay for it and have it delivered the next day. The time lapse from clicking pay to the item being ready to ship is three hours. The only time a human is involved is to set the stone. This is not just the future, this is right now.
Orchid by Paula Crevoshay displaying her unique grasp of Nature's Creations - Photo Credit: Paula Crevoshay
AsiaLounges: We are slowly reaching the end of this interview and, as per usual, I would like to finish with our traditional advices to Loungers that would wish to follow in your footsteps. Could you please give us three advices and or books you have liked to have received /read when you started in the trade?
Paula Crevoshay: Discover your voice. Learn from others. Learn about gemstones and metal techniques. Learn about the masters from the ancient past to present time. Visit museums. Seek out ethical mentors. Stay true to your dream.
I recommend the books by Oppi Untracht to get started . There are so many others. My library is overflowing. You will never stop learning!
AsiaLounges: Last but not least, should Loungers wish to follow your work, contact you or see your amazing creation, how should they do it?
Paula Crevoshay: I can easily be reached out through any of these venues:
My website is: www.CREVOSHAY.com
My Instagram is: CREVOSHAY
I exhibit at the AGTA Gem fair in February and Couture Las Vegas in June.
AsiaLounges: Thank you very much Paula for being with us today, I am convinced that our readers, the Loungers, have enjoyed this interview as much as we did enjoy writing these lines with you.
As for us, we will meet you again soon in the Lounges with more exciting content! If you have enjoyed this content please let us know by liking, commenting and sharing our work with your family and friends on your favourite social media platform. Don't forget that you can also support A Gem Dealer's Journal through our Patreon's Page, it will help us a lot continue with our work!
Should you have any questions, or topic that you’d like us to research or look into for a future interview, feel free to let us know by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org, it is always a pleasure to dig further into the world of gems and gemmology!
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See you again in the Lounges,