Westwood is a master modelmaker who began her career more than 30 years
ago when, in the designers own words, " The idea of a woman becoming
a designer, let alone a successful one, was unheard of." Still, the
designer, who is inspired by the beauty that surrounds her Monument, Colorado
office, showed the naysayers that she, and the women who have followed her
footsteps over the years, had what it takes. " I can still hear the
laughter from some of my early employers when I said this was my goal,"
Westwood recalls. Looking back, Westwood is thankful for the inspiration
she received from those who said her goal of becoming a successful designer
was unreachable. "After all, they said the jewelry business was a man's
world, " she reflects, and indeed it was; at that time one of the largest
industry organizations, The 24 Karat Club, excluded women from its membership.
Of course that is no longer the case and it is no longer unheard of to have
a woman succeed in the jewelry business.
I applaud the industry visionaries who first saw the potential of designer jewelry without the separation of gender. I thank all of those women and men who contributed, nurtured and shared their knowledge and experience over the years. This business has been the vehicle that I have used to realize my dream of an intimate and creative business where I could inspire and be inspired," Westwood says. Westwood not only had the chance over the years to bring her passion to life in the form of organic, free flowing jewelry enhanced by the beauty of vibrant gemstones, she was also a founding member of what she believes to be one of the most influential organizations in the industry, the Women's Jewelry Association.
I have lifelong friends from my association with this wonderful group of industry leaders, and virtually every woman of leadership in this business has been inspired by their experience in the WJA," Barbara says.
Like her jewelry, Barbara westwood is strong and clear about her work and her purpose. The expression "Don't be small" guides her life and her jewelry. Not afraid to follow the very distinctive beat of her own dream, she confesses to loving big, bold beautiful shapes and admits that in truth she designs for herself alone. When a piece is right, she says, it flows out of her without effort. Her followers call her jewelry "Everywhere Artwear". And it fits. Rich colors make up her palette, as one would expect, and this season Ms. Westwood is drawn to citrine, peridot, rhodolite and pink tourmaline. The gemstones are set in dramatic shapes. Arrows are a consistent motif, expressing the clarity of direction of the artist.
Barbara Westwood has been designing jewelry for more than 30 years. She learned the trade while attending the University of California at Long Beach where she earned degrees in jewelry design and metalsmithing. Her designs are noticeable for their fashion forward metalwork and the use of bold gemstones. Long active in the jewelry community, Ms. Westwood was the vice president of the Women's Jewelry Association for eight ears and served on the board of directors of the California Jeweler's Association. She currently resides in Colorado.
|"It's truly an incendiary look: Cutting often-included stones, some rarely seen, some exploited, and creating a raw but refined look. Despite appearances, many of the gemstones used in this organic-inspired trend are actually intricately faceted. The briolette has given way to a faceted, asymmetrical "rough" cut. The hot colors are cool ones: pales and pastels, although opaques remain important as temperatures continue to rise. It's as if these jagged-edges beauties appear to melt into their gold settings."|
Designer Barbara Westwood acts as a medium in connecting people with the earth in the jewelry she creates. She transforms her passion for wondrous rare and unique colored gemstones into fine are expressions that exult nature's gifts in wearable designs with universal appeal. Just as a picture speaks a thousand words, a Westwood design reveals to it's wearer centuries-old tales about the world around her.
Barbara Westwood recognizes the rich meaning found in each gemstone she chooses. "Formed underground in a fluid state of pressure and heat, these atoms wanted each other so much so that they joined to form a beautiful crystal," she delights.
Best know for nearly two decades as an innovator in her use of raw crystals and interesting gemstones, Barbara is partial to drusy material, banded agate, and rutilated quartz, which are among her best sellers. "Drusy on agate or onyx is so special, like light shimmering on the water," she describes. "For me, jewelry is all about light, and druse gives such a beautiful format to work with. Also radiant is rutilated quartz, with its gold rutiles extending inside the crystal like beams of light, shifting as the stone moves. Conversely, banded agate, like taffeta, is more defined yet lustrous and undulating in hue. Often scalloped in design, banded agate can be subtle or powerful in color, with orange to red my favorite."
Barbara Westwood is a leading designer in working with the world's top lapidaries who cut gemstones especially for her jewelry, including Bernd and Tom Munsteiner, Dieter Lorenz, Gustav Casear and Thorsten Petry, all of the Idar-Oberstein region of Germany, as well as Steve Walters of Utah. " I might present an idea like water, clouds or rain, or request an outer shape," she says of her relationship with these award-winning gem artists.
For faceted gemstones not specifically crafted for Barbara, she personally chooses material that is exceptional in both cut and color. Recently, Barbara says, she is exploring the use of rare exotic woods in her designs. She also loves working with diamond pave as accents, which she likens to painting with light, and is just beginning to use sapphire pave.
Although most everything she creates is one of a kind, all of her pieces magically work together, making it simple for collectors to mix and match. The key to her success is in her adaptable design forms. All of her pendants, pins,and earrings, which she calls "Jeweldrops," are interchangeable. She also is doing more reversible drops with the front of a pendant, for example, in green jade and the back in rhodochrosite, providing two looks in one piece. And, she makes one of a kind diamond slides and a collection of diamond bridal jewelry.
Luster Magazine July/August 2006