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Crossing cultures with jewelry design

Cassie Pence
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Dhyan Sherri
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VAIL ” Symbols are a necessary part of the human experience. Whether it’s an illustration, shape, letter or a combination of all three, symbols are one of the earliest forms of communication.

Artist Dhyan Sherri is inspired by ancient symbols. She’s particularly drawn to the Egyptian Utchat, or eye, which conveys moon when it’s the left eye and sun when it’s the right. It’s the design of symbols that she’s drawn to, and she incorporates symbols from all across the world in her jewelry.

Egypt, in general, has always been a point of inspiration for the artist. When living in New York, she spent all of her free time roaming the Egyptian corridors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it’s here where she decided to embark on a jewelry making career.

“I have always been drawn to Egypt,” Sherri said. “The way I make my jewelry is very similar to the way ancient Egyptians used to make their jewelry.”

In her quaint seaside studio in Maui, Sherri crafts one-of-a-kind pieces by hand using 22-karat gold and natural gem stones. Sherri studied jewelry making and design at Parsons School of Design and Jewelry Arts Institute in New York City. She’s schooled as a contemporary jeweler, but she prefers the visceral experience of shaping jewelry by hand and using rustic tools like heat and a hammer to create adornments that are reminiscent of the past. She extended her formal training to learn and master ancient jewelry-making.

Karats in Vail hosts a trunk show with Sherri Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Vail Village. The artist will be on hand to discuss her jewelry.

Most of her work is kissed with intricate filigree work, a technique that’s become a signature look for Sherri. Filigree is done by heating 22-karat gold with a torch and then using the torch like a paint brush to fuse together separate shapes. She uses the technique to create ancient symbols on her jewelry, like an OM dangle on her earrings or a Celtic clasp on her wrap necklaces.

“I think it’s important to bridge all different cultures. The reason why I like different symbols from different cultures is I believe that we are all one big tribe,” Sherri said. “It’s a way of sharing. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, you can appreciate something from a different culture.”

Lately, Sherri’s inspiration arrives from the oldest set of symbols ” the starry night sky. She’s created a whole collection of constellation jewelry, using diamonds and sapphires to map out the stars. Rather than fuse together a gold Taurus symbol with filigree, she forms the beast’s constellation using gem stones on a hand hammered bracelet, for example.

Her first constellation piece was designed especially for a client. Sherri wanted the jewelry to have special meaning, so she mapped out Aquarius, the woman’s Astrology sign, on a thick cuff. Sherri also added symbols that were in the Hawaiian sky during the time of the piece’s creation. A big diamond represents the full moon.

“That’s the direction I’m headed. I want to personalize the jewelry. My hope is that more people will come to me with their specific design,” Sherri says.

She’s also been playing around with Jyotish, or Vedic astrology, jewelry settings, where she specifically sets stones so they touch the skin. Vedic astrology followers believe that stones are powerful, so when they touch the skin, it affects your life. Sherri works with Vedic astrologers to help her clients determine what stone would have the desired effect.

“I totally enjoy doing Vedic settings because it feels purposeful,” Sherri said.

During her exhibit, Sherri will take commissions by appointment only. In the past, people have requested her to re-set old stones and draw personally meaningful symbols with the gold. Sherri can also suggest which gem stones would be most powerful to you. For more information, visit http://www.karatsvail.com.

Cassie Pence is a freelance writer based in Vail.

What: Trunk show with Dhyan Sherri

When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where: Karats in Vail Village

Information: Call 476-4760


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