By Rachel Garrahan in New York
Pamela Huizenga's latest collection, Florestra de Pedra, is a beautifully balanced mix of unconventional organic materials, including hunks of raw diamond, ammonite and fossilized wood, with the luxury of polished gold and cut diamonds.
The one-of-a-kind collection began with the designer discovering petrified Sequoia wood at the Tucson Gem Show. "I was struck by its distinctive linear patterns and the thought that this is how nature recycles itself," she says of the material formed by the giant Sequoia trees native to California.
From that starting point, Pamela added other rare, fossilized materials including an extraordinary ammonite, its sparkling spiral naturally formed by being fossilized in pyrite. The only addition she made to heighten the fossil's innate beauty was a swirl of diamonds. The result is a unique piece of Pamela Huizenga jewelry that can just as easily be worn with jeans as an evening gown.
The designer fell in love with gemstones and fossils at an early age. "I have always loved rocks. Growing up in Florida as a kid, I'd always be coming home with stones and fossilized shells in my pocket," the so-called "Rockhound" explains. She later trained with Jerry Call in North Carolina and today has amassed an enormous collection of precious and semi-precious gemstones as well as more unusual materials just waiting to inspire her: "Why shouldn't a woman who loves fine jewelry not be able to have something unconventional?" she says.
The collection's name, Florestra de Pedra - Stone Forest - was inspired by her husband's Portuguese ancestry and captures the spirit of the collection nicely.
An oversized, seemingly bottomless dome of Montana agate sits proudly on a gold band surrounded by diamonds. "It's like a sunset when you look at it from different sides," Pamela says of the captivating stone.
A pendant featuring a 153.00 carat chunk of raw diamond is another statement-maker. Designed to be worn on either side, it is set in a refined frame of double pavé white diamonds that flow like silk around the stone: "The delicate pavé contrasts with the roughness of the raw diamond and highlights its natural shape," she explains.
Having recently sold the ammonite piece, she is torn about letting this particular favorite piece go. "I'm kind of hording that one," she laughs.