This month I’m featuring a little gem of a gallery on the south end of Madison Avenue — Castellano Fine Jewelry. While this gallery doesn’t feature rotating monthly exhibitions, it showcases original work drawn from pure inspiration.
creating a fully original design or finely repurposing a customer’s heirloom piece,
the difference for Connie Castellano is in the inspiration for the design.
the latter, Castellano blends her customer’s story and its personal
significance with her more than 20 years of experience listening and designing to
create models in wax for customers to visualize.
For her own work, she is most often drawn to architectural references, period styles with a contemporary spin, and organic forms.
In all cases the flow of a piece is important. For regular sculpture, that would be enough. However, jewelry has its particular complications, considering precious stones and their placement are interwoven with the design. The ring pictured here demonstrates the reason for my admiration. When this piece is worn, you initially see a Peruvian Chrysocolla, better known as a Peruvian Opal, which gets its look due to the scattered inclusion of sparkling quartz. The stone is set in a “cage” concept design to achieve a regal feeling. What could seem more elegant than drawing inspiration from Fabergé eggs? If you look closely, there are tiny diamonds set on top of the cage structure! The ring’s shape is called a European Shank, which features a wide bottom designed to keep the ring from turning around and down. The flat top-and-bottom surfaces of the shank have additional diamonds, which Castellano calls “conversation diamonds.”
are only really visible if you are close to the wearer, and if she is using her
hands to communicate,” said Castellano.
a splendid, subtle way to use precious stones!
And her stones are wonderful. She trained at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the NW Gemological Institute, from where she has been Diamond Certified since 1994. Descriptions of high quality stones roll off her lips easily and proudly. She uses many other types of stones as well.
Two other examples of her work, a pair of earrings and a pendant, are architecturally inspired. The first set reflects the cornices and edges of period buildings between Seattle’s 3rd and 5th Avenues. They are set with 10pt near colorless GS11 quality diamonds paired with black onyx and red garnet inlays. Another pair, “City Lights,” was sketched as she returned from work in Seattle, inspired again by passing Seattle architecture.
Castellano was recently approved as a member of the Jewelers Board of Trade, a prestigious organization that supports very fine jewelers.
She has shown her work locally over the years at places such as at The Island Gallery and the Bainbridge Island Studio Tour and has won several awards, among them the Concept Design Award in 2001 and the Art of Jewelry Judges Award in 2008.
ABOUT BILL BARAN-MICKLE:Recently, Bill has enjoyed exhibiting in several international art biennial exhibitions. Of the three in which he has participated, he won Third Place for Sculpture from the European Confederation of Art Critics in the Chianciamo Biennale, at the Chianciano Art Museum in Italy in 2011, and First Place in Applied Arts in the London Biennale of 2013. In 2013 alone, he will have participated in eight exhibitions: from London to a two-person exhibition near home. In addition, Bill was asked to be a representative for CCAC’s exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Metals Department, and a mix of group shows in New York City, Miami, Seattle and Las Vegas. Bill is the designer of the 10 foot Equitorial Bowstring Sundial located at the Richie Observatory in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island, WA and completed in 2015.