Gem-inspired art on display in Vail | VailDaily.com

Gem-inspired art on display in Vail

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Carolyn Tyler works on her unique gem-inspired jewelry
Special to the Weekly |

If you go...

What: Carolyn Tyler’s jewelry show.

Where: Karats, Vail Village.

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Jan. 4.

More information: 970-476-4760.

VAIL ­— Bali-based jeweler Carolyn Tyler returns to Karats in Vail with a new twist to her gemstone-inspired works of art.

Some people have a meaningful rapport with animals, which brings them joy. Others are moved by the whispering of nature in the trees or mountains. For Tyler, her songs of inspiration come from the colorful gems that she hand-selects for her beautiful designs. For 21 years, the California native has split her time between Santa Barbara and Bali, Indonesia, where she has a multi-level home and studio she calls “a big piece of jewelry that I get to live in.” Her atelier resembles her jewels in its exotic furnishings and masterful use of vibrant colors.

Tyler’s team of Balinese expert craftsmen, whose forefathers worked for Hindu high priests and royalty, bring her visions to fruition with exacting detail. Some of the more elaborate pieces take weeks or months to make. The fine wirework and tiny granulation embellishments characterizing her designs are a dying art — one that Tyler is determined to keep alive. But her greatest thrill is scouring global trade shows for rare and unusual gems with character, and from the moment she sees a gem with “taksu” (the Balinese word for “spirit”), her imagination is ignited, and she is compelled to buy it.

“While at a recent gem show, I was shocked to learn that the burgeoning wealthy class in China has increased demand on certain gemstones — tourmaline, peridot, turquoise, coral — to the point that they were unavailable in larger sizes. I turned to stones that I don’t normally use such as moonstone, lapis lazuli, labradorite and chrysoprase, which I decided to have carved,” Tyler said. “I saw them like a blank canvas on which to render spiritually-inspired figures for pendants. This new direction has proved very popular, and they have special meaning for the wearer. They become like talismans.”

The pendants can be worn on casual necklaces, comprised of holy rudraksha seeds (like the ones Indian gurus wear), gems and 22-karat gold beads, or on her delicately hand-woven gold chains.

Ornate and regal as many of Tyler’s pieces are, she also has versatile “everyday designs.” Small hoops with collectible charms, and fun stacker rings are best-sellers. Though they are 22-karat gold, they are durable, and many of the designs are lightweight, with a price point to fit every budget.

Each piece is painstakingly handmade and her unique matte gold finish gives them an Old World feel, reminiscent of the archaeological treasures of ancient cultures. The real standout features of Tyler’s designs and the stones that speak to her, however, are their rich colors, which can spark particular emotions and connections with the natural world.

“The colors I am drawn to lately are deep blues, aqua, turquoise and gray-blue … all the hues of the ocean,” Tyler said. “Royal blue Lapis, blue-green chalcedony and opal evoke that peaceful feeling like the sea does.”

Tyler has the distinction of being the first artist that owner Dan Telleen chose to display work alongside his own in his charming museum-like store.

“As I got to know her and her work, I found that it fit really well into what we do,” Telleen said. “Her background is archaeology. You’ll see Egyptian influence, Indian influence … her gemstones come from all over the world. Anyone who didn’t get exactly what they wanted for Christmas … well, the gifts don’t get much more special than this.”

Jeweler Carolyn Tyler will be displaying her work at Karats of Vail from Friday through Jan. 4.