Paula Crevoshay (b. 1952?) In February, 2007, when a representative of the Smithsonian Institution asked Paula Crevoshay, a jewelry designer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to create a piece of finished jewelry from an extraordinary collection of Montana sapphires generously bestowed to the Museum by Robert Kane of Fine Gems International, she immediately said, “Yes.” The finished jewel would become a part of the US Institution’s Gem and Mineral collection so the small stones could be preserved and beautifully displayed.
Crevoshay felt that a butterfly motif would best represent America’s natural beauty, also honor her mother’s love of butterflies, as well as display the wide range of colors found in Montana sapphires.
Crevoshay named the brooch “Conchita” in honor of her mother but it is also called, the “Sapphire Butterfly Brooch”, the “Conchita Sapphire Butterfly,” and the “Montana Butterfly Brooch.” Two of the sapphires are cabochon cut; the rest brilliant cut. The majority of the stones are from the Rock Creek deposit. The largest one, however, is a blue Yogo used for the butterfly’s head. Other sapphires used include yellow, purple, pink, and orange gems.
Crevoshay completed the jewel in 2007. She and Kane presented the finished brooch to Smithsonian curator Jeffrey Post May 7, 2007 in Washington, DC.
Born in Louisiana where her father served for a time as a senior research scientist, Crevoshay’s family has deep Southern roots having lived in the Atlanta area for generations. Crevoshay attended Virginia Commonwealth University, graduating with honors and a full fellowship before entering graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. In addition to fine art, Crevoshay studied Anthropology, especially symbolism and her pieces are modern expressions of artistic archetypes and echoes of past cultures that make her work accessible to people worldwide.
At Wisconsin, she met and married her late husband George Crevoshay, who was completing his PhD in Buddhist studies and linguistics. He was fluent in several East Asian languages and was awarded a Fulbright fellowship for study abroad. When she married at 22, the couple embarked on a four-year self-described “Magical Mystery Tour” where she immersed herself in Asian culture, sold some of her first paintings to the British Council for the Arts, and transitioned from painting to jewelry design that launched her jewelry designing career.
Since she founded her company in 1981, Crevoshay has become a celebrity in her field. Her unique and imaginative creations are showcased in the permanent collections of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the museum of the Gemological Institute of America, as well as the Smithsonian. Her pieces have also found homes in loyal collectors including celebrities Carly Simon, Naomi Campbell, Joan Lunden, and Paula Zahn. Crevoshay calls them her “angels” and says she wouldn’t be where she is today without them.
While her work has been compared to Fabergé and Lalique, she is most well-known as the “queen of color.” Crevoshay uses rare stones (admitting to a passion for tourmaline, opals, moonstones, and copper silicates such as smithsonite and chrysocolla) handset in 18K gold and demonstrating labor-intensive techniques.
For example, a large green beryl is the centerpiece of a pendant topped by a tourmaline sun surrounded with garnet petals and surmounted by a diamond.
Sensuous 18K-gold earrings harken to the days of the Asian Indian Rajahs as a result of Crevoshay’s signature fleur-de-lis motif executed in rubellite and diamonds and adorned with delicate dangling leaves.
Her 2013 exhibition entitled ‘Garden of Light’ at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh was followed by a ‘Beyond Color’ collection created to celebrate the opening of the jewelry wing at Kentucky’s Headley Whitney Museum.
Crevoshay’s collections include the Museum collection featuring rare stones and retailing for $30,000 to $250,000 and higher for custom pieces. The Gallery collection, offers entry-level pieces from $800 to $7,000; and the Couture collection, comprised of fashion-forward jewels, range from $5,000 to $30,000. These are sold at select retailers nationwide as well as online.
Each unique piece is entirely handcrafted at one of Crevoshay’s workshops in the U.S. or Thailand. “I have to do originals,” she says, “or it’s not a Crevoshay.” Currently, major auction houses are said to be studying her work to ready it for its second market.
Crevoshay incorporates fabulous jewels in her Garden of Light collection that depicts members of the three kingdoms of the garden, Floral, Animal, and Mineral, and how they come together to create and sustain life. The breadth and depth of the Garden of Light collection shows where the artist has been and gives a tantalizing glimpse of where Crevoshay may go in the future.
Crevoshay made history when she designed a ring containing the largest known faceted red (Red Beryl) emerald. That ring is part of the permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Great Hall of Gems in Washington, D.C.
For decades, gem collectors and those in the know have admired Crevoshay’s work not only for its exquisitely sensitive artistry but its ability to invoke wonder. Gold and minerals capture the improbable lightness of a damselfly, the majesty of a mythical writhing octopus or the sculptural genius of a thistle. Her jewels forge a link between earth and life with the lightest of touches.
Pink tourmalines and purple enamel form an anatomically correct wavy thistle in Paula Crevoshay’s writhing brooch.
One of Crevoshay’s most famous pieces uses rainbow cat’s eye and blue flash moonstones set in brushed 18 karat gold to depict the mythical “Kraken” sea monster, an octopus-like creature of gigantic proportions. Another famous piece depicts a dew-drenched saffron crocus glowing in the moonlight just before dawn. The Crevoshay’s purple sapphire, Le Fleur de Rêves crocus brooch is a work of art.
Crevoshay’s most recent exhibition just opened at Los Angeles’ Natural History Museum where it will run until May 12, 2019. Called, “The Art of the Jewel: The Crevoshay Collection,” it is an exhibition that explores the art and science behind the jewelry designer’s sparkling creations, from mineral to gem to jewel.
Accompanied by loose gems and minerals from the Museum’s collections, the Art of the Jewel features over 50 dazzling pieces of jewelry, including earrings, bracelets, and brooches made of California tourmaline, Montana sapphire, moonstone, pearl, and black diamond, among others.
The exhibited pieces display Crevoshay designs that take the shape of plants and animals like orchids, butterflies, and spiders.
Writer and stylist editor, Deborah Yonick writes, “Paula Crevoshay imbues in her work a painter’s eye, creating thrilling color combinations in rich, rare gemstone designs that soulfully capture nature in time. Wearing a Crevoshay is adorning in art, in nature, in color, in celebration of life! Her jewelry is playful, poignant, passionate, and full of personality—just like she is!”