When jeweler Liv Ballard started showing drawings of her designs to Italian goldsmiths, most of them scoffed outright, considering them too extravagant to be commercially viable. But Ballard was aiming higher than mere commercial success and persevered, eventually happening upon a craftsman from one of Rome’s most prominent goldsmith families to craft her pieces.
It’s easy to understand the skepticism. The gold-heavy pieces, which range from $3,000 to $55,000, require a high level of craftsmanship. The Cisterna collection involves pleating gold to create wave designs that allude to the Romans’ mastery over water (the cuff weighs in at more than a half pound). Much of the Caput Mundi collection, inspired by innate wanderlust, incorporates moving parts (a sapphire globe that spins, for instance). The fit of the rock-crystal dome that protects the gold-and-pavé-diamond star featured in the Cosmos ring and bracelet (the collection draws from cartography and navigation) must be impossibly precise. And the minute, classical, diamond-studded columns featured in the Motivi Romani collection, which plays with symbols found on Roman walls, are meticulously detailed. Ballard’s pieces, which can be customized, are available at Maxfield Los Angeles in West Hollywood, on 1stdibs.com, or through Ballard’s Web site. (www.livballard.com)