At first glance, Mary Esses’ gold cuff ($28,000) appears like soft, embroidered lace encircling the wrist, but a closer look and touch reveals a cuff meticulously carved from solid 18-karat gold. It takes the Brazilian-born jeweler more than a month to hand-carve the fine lace details into wax, then cast the piece in gold and finish it by hand. The result is an intricate sculpture. This effect stems from the designer’s background as a former sculptor and ceramist; she imbues the hard metal with a seemingly impossible soft image.
“When people see the lace pieces they are always surprised how heavy they feel,” says Esses, who is based in New York City. “People think it is fabric or filigree, and always ask how I made it.” But the designer won’t reveal her entire artistic process, because it took many months of experimentation to create this unique concept. “I’ve been exploring fabrics and lace, and always wanted to replicate the textures in gold,” she says. Esses also creates a range of colorful gemstone designs ($2,000 to $8,000). Her jewelry is sold at Reinhold Jewelers in Puerto Rico and at Neiman Marcus in Austin, Texas. (917.941.0826, www.maryesses.com)