About six months ago, Judy Geib’s friend Gabriella Kiss gave her an extra copy of a book on Berlin Ironwork that she had lying around. “I have always loved this blackened-steel jewelry from the early 1800s and have long fantasized about making my own Berlin-New York Ironwork out of scrap metal picked up from New York City streets!” says Geib. “Alas, I have not done that yet—it is hard to process those odd metals and make them work together, though of course others have used lots of found things in their jewelry.”
But the book—plus a large parcel of Colombian emeralds that Geib was looking to set in an understated way—sparked the idea for a different body of work, taking cues from medieval jewelry which “has this kind of crude silver and gold combination that I have always loved,” notes Geib. “These ideas mulled around together to sort of begin the idea. I began by adapting some shapes and frills from the Berlin Ironwork, and got started, and then, as usual, it took on a life of its own.” The result: Geib’s new Medieval Folklorish Collection—a name the designer felt aptly described the amalgam of gothic blackened silver, and randomly shaped bezels.
“I wanted to make things that were labor-intensive, but maybe not using such high-value materials, except silver,” explains Geib. But that goal quickly fell to the wayside, “because I have a very extravagant love of beautiful stones that I cannot shake,” she adds. Gems including pink and blue sapphires, emeralds in various hues, and a pale blue Persian turquoise all make an appearance in the collection, offering a striking contrast to their roughly hewn precious metal settings.
Pieces span a necklace surrounded with blackened silver-set emeralds and a fire opal clasp, to chandelier earrings in silver and gold, with a cascade of garnets. “Sometimes the Medieval Folklorish earrings end up looking very luxe, all made in 22K gold,” says Geib. “Sometimes they are very Medieval looking, mostly in silver with rough edges.”
Each piece in the collection is one-of-a-kind, and pieces that start out being Medieval Folklorish sometimes end up going in a different direction. “I don't censor myself when making something, and I never really know how it will develop,” explains Geib. “I feel as though I found another path of working that I love, and work always leads to work. I find that I am embracing more and more the crudeness and randomness and playfulness of making. I just go for it!”