Just one look at Irene Neuwirth’s jewelry makes it clear she is inspired by color. Her palette of gems extends far beyond the classic—ruby, emerald, sapphire and diamond—into a kaleidoscopic range of semiprecious stones. Fire opals, pink tourmalines, tanzanite and opals are but a few of the many hot rocks that can be found in her jewels. The talented designer infuses texture into her creations by using any number of different gem shapes including pear, round, rectangular, marquise and oval. Gemstones carved into playful bunnies and sweet flowers add a sculptural quality to special pieces.
The essence of Irene’s work can be found in her wildly popular Single Drop Earrings. Her one-of-a-kind necklaces show off the best of what she does. There is a mix of gems that, honestly, don’t look like they would work together. “It’s very personal,” explains Irene. “I look at the gems and see the colors—a Mexican fire opal might have a little more yellow or red and that guides me where I will use it. It looks whimsical but it’s thought out.”
Irene’s masterful arrangement of stones elevates the combinations to a sophisticated artistry that really begs the question of inspiration. Where did this deep sensitivity to color come from?
“My mother is incredibly creative and an artist—I know that rubbed off on me from the time I was a child,” remembers Irene. “For as long as I can remember, when I traveled with my parents, everywhere we went, I had my paints and magic markers. When I started designing jewelry just for fun, my mother always told me to think outside of the box and mix colors together. She would remind me the unusual rich color combinations are the ones that look the most gorgeous. I think about those words to this day.”
Geraldine Neuwirth’s art reveals just how passionately she believes in that advice. Her remarkable collage paintings have dazzling colors and textures. The overall shapes are anything but square. Geraldine’s approach to her work was captured beautifully by director Chris Johnson in this 2-minute video that was filmed over a period of four days.
“It’s not very often where you get to see the creative process of an artist,” explains Johnson. “It was amazing to watch how she moved around her studio at Mana, working on a lot of things at the same time.” The title for the piece Balancing Chaos came from the way she pulls all the different parts of her multi-media art together. “I don’t know why, but it just works,” says the filmmaker. “She goes for it in what she does.”
Remarking on the parallels in their work, Irene says “She has an eye for balance. I think that is one of my good qualities as well. I think about the construction of the jewels and how the parts between gems will look, how the whole piece moves together. My mom does that too with the layers of her paintings and collage. In the best way, I think my mother feels a sense of responsibility for the jewelry—how whimsical and structured it is.” Side by side it is truly remarkable to see how the creative works in art and jewelry aesthetically align.