On February 1, 2019, Robinson Gardens member Daria de Koning presented a wonderful lecture on gems and an exhibition of her jewelry creations to a packed group of attendees at the Virginia Robinson Gardens.
Daria grew up in New York. Her father is Dutch, and her mother, a fifth generation American. Influenced by her very elegant grandmother, Daria said that her grandmother “did her utmost to instill in me how to be a lady.” The colorful and spirited jewelry that De Koning creates reflects this sophisticated polish as well as a youthful exuberance.
At a very young age, Daria started making jewelry with shells and plastic beads. After her freshman year in college, she took a metalsmithing course, and was so fascinated that she knew that this is what she wanted to do with her life. A graduate degree in gemology followed, and a job with an Italian designer allowed her to be immersed fully in the New York jewelry world.
Daria started to design custom engagement rings and then became interested in more unique stones. When she came across some rare rubelite tourmalines, she used these to create a design based on jellyfish. She placed ruby and sapphire cabochons under the tourmalines. She then sculpted rose gold tentacles that move and are set with little diamonds. Pear-shaped tanzanites attached to the bottom complete this stunning design that elicited admiring oohs and aahs from the audience.
Daria added, “I love to take materials that are considered off the beaten path and make them into something elevated and evocative.” For instance, from something that is not inherently beautiful such as a petrified palm wood fossil, a skilled lapidary (stonecutter) can work his magic. He can transform the stone and bring out its hidden beauty. The stone’s soul is what speaks to Daria and she combines these unique gems with other contrasting jewels into one-of-a-kind pieces. Cabochon gems are her preferred cut, as “they allow me to paint with the jewels.” Daria added, “I believe that all women need color. Color is flattering, uplifting and makes you memorable.”
Daria showed the group a slide of a 135,000 year-old eagle talon necklace found in Croatia. She emphasized that across all continents, man always made time to create beauty from what was around him. “Value in beauty is primal and part of our evolution,” she said.
Daria concluded her lecture in an homage to her grandmother who placed a high value on beauty and the creator. Her grandmother was her first client when she bought a necklace that de Koning made of plastic gold and pearl beads at the age of 13. Her grandmother taught her poise and to appreciate the finer things of life from fine china to well-made clothing to jewelry that “simultaneously boosts confidence and elegance.” The group thoroughly enjoyed the lecture and asked many questions afterwards.
After the lecture, the attendees dined on beautifully decorated tables. Crystals in varying hues were strewn across sapphire blue tablecloths, and flowers in deep jewel tone colors echoed the theme of the lecture. Caterer Joe Monteferante served a tantalizing lunch of roasted tomato soup, spinach quiche, and chicken with apricot salsa, followed by the most sublime chocolate orange mousse tart.
The guests also had the opportunity to try on Daria’s exquisite creations (including her “jellyfish earrings”). To see her jewelry online, you may visit her website at www.dariadekoning.com.
Thank you to our wonderful Education co-chairs Adrienne Horwitch, Patty Elias Rosenfeld and Cindy Fields for organizing such an inspiring and beautiful event!
Post and photos by Linda Meadows
Robinson Gardens Board Member