Within moments of entering Amy Kahn Russell’s studio, we are once again swept into the dazzling world of the Ridgefield-based jewelry designer.
“These are all the new goodies that are going to our trade show,” she says, indeed surrounded by a dizzying selection of earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
She points out a tray of pins nearby, noting, “These are some of our big guys.”
And she’s not kidding. The palm-sized designs, a stunning jade in particular, are ideal for those who like their jewelry bold and beautiful.
“I want you to see these cameos we did that are amazing,” Russell continues, unwrapping pieces already set for travel to Atlanta. “I think they’re one of our prettiest collections ever.”
One thing we immediately note, Russell is as enthusiastic as ever.
We first met her for a story that ran in our December 2017 issue, exploring how art, nature and extensive travel influenced this lifelong artist whose jewelry designs are carried by museum shops, art galleries, boutiques, catalogs and specialty stores, in addition to her own website.
As we see on this return visit, her work has continued to evolve into intriguing new designs yet the core qualities remain — a devotion to vintage and nature-inspired elements and a commitment to creating work that reflects her passions.
Over the years, Russell has developed a network of sources and collaborators who provide her signature elements such as the commissioned cameos created by Italian master craftsmen and painted miniatures by Russian artists.
Garnering much attention today are the Zen-inspired designs, though they are not created, Russell says, as religious works.
“It’s more mindfulness, I guess you would call it. It’s more spiritual.”
When it comes to trends, though, it’s a “yes and no” as to whether she follows them. “We always stay mindful of trends,” she says, though quickly adding, “I always have my own creative juices that flow.”
That finds her mixing elements, choosing from opals and labradorite, turquoise (“always a hot ticket”) and malachite, and incorporating them into designs that include a new collection of hoop earrings. Russell is also expanding her methods, integrating repoussé, a metalwork technique that creates a hammered effect, into some pieces and continuing to design with layering in mind as many choose to wear multiple Russell pendants and necklaces to create their own look.
“It’s all about versatility,” she says. “I want people to enjoy their stuff, not put them away in the box.”
Russell says she especially enjoys working with museums and galleries that purchase her work to complement exhibitions.
“It’s fun for me to take on a theme and run with it.”
She is, it seems, never short of inspiration. The Louisiana-raised artist who would eventually land in Texas one day found herself living, for three years, in Hong Kong thanks to her husband’s work. During that time, she traveled extensively and collected rare gems, minerals and antiques that continue to appear in her designs. When her husband’s work brought the family to the metro area, Wilton became a longtime home until they moved to Ridgefield more than a decade ago.
Still, Russell is often on the road, traveling to Australia four times a year for home-shopping appearances to satisfy her avid collectors Down Under.
She also recently exhibited at a fine-jewelry show in Las Vegas.
“We had our diamonds and our high-end collection,” she says.
At the NY NOW trade show in Manhattan earlier this year, the lavish Amy Kahn Russell booth included some unexpected elements — a selection of her mosaic and stained-glass work, including wall hangings and mirrors. Those pieces, reflections of Russell’s ongoing artistry and a multimedia approach that yields one-of-a-kind creations, are being integrated into the AKR offerings.
“I’ve been doing art and combining antiques in my work for decades,” she says, showing off an array of works in progress. “There’s minerals and little artifacts and some have antiques.”
We’re not surprised at the integration of so many elements, as Russell has previously told us she embraces the “more is more” approach.
Clearly, it’s still working for her.
For more, visit amykahnrussell.com.