Liza Urla describes herself as “a jewelry nomad on a journey of discovery around the world.”
Much of that wanderlust, she wrote in an email, stems from her role as the woman behind Gemologue, the blog she began in 2009 as a “dialogue about gems for jewelry lovers.” And when Ms. Urla is not creating content for what she estimates is its more than 200,000 followers, she juggles many roles in the jewelry-verse from her home in London: coaching brands on design and marketing decisions, serving as a guest curator at the auction houses Bonhams and Sotheby’s and acting as a judge at jewelry competitions worldwide.
She says she first fell in love with jewelry while living in Vienna in 2008 and 2009, where extravagant balls and galas were part of the high-end jewelry world. (The experience inspired her to move to New York City to attend the Gemology Institute of America.)
Ms. Urla said she introduced Gemologue at a time when jewelry brands avoided the internet for fear their pieces would be copied, preferring the hyper-stylized environment of glossy magazine advertisements. Her goal, she said, was to showcase jewelry in a street-style context. “Every jewel has a story attached to it and I wanted to share this with as many people as possible,” she wrote. That also was behind her 2018 book, “Gemologue: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips,” first published in English and recently in Mandarin.
The most prized piece in her own jewelry box, she said, is a vintage Zarja watch inherited from her Russian grandmother Beatrisa. “At a young age, I admired the jewelry style of hard-working women and noticed how much sparkle and confidence it gave them,” she wrote. “Jewelry has the gift of empowering the wearer.”
To tap into Ms. Urla’s approach to contemporary jewelry, we asked her to describe five of her favorite pieces from recent collections. Her comments have been edited and condensed.
Joy Bonfield-Colombara is an artist and goldsmith with a passion for sculptural jewelry. In this hand-carved ring from her Precious Tears collection, she uses the blue sparkle of a sapphire, set in 18-karat gold, to symbolize a teardrop. It is a juxtaposition of the strength of a sapphire set against the vulnerability of our tears. There’s so much emotion and character in this ring, I feel like I am wearing a miniature work of sculptural art (it takes her three to six months to hand carve each one). Precious Tears evokes feelings of joy, laughter, surprise, but also sadness, mourning and loss. It’s the perfect gift for a loved one in need. Price on application.
Sumptuous amber tones radiate against the icy glitter of diamonds in this magnificent cuff. From The Amber Collection by Fawaz Gruosi, this ring is a fearless expression of creativity. An exploration of modern design and ancient materials. Amber is a fossilized material, a natural phenomenon. It is an unexpected pleasure, a primordial wonder that washes up on the beaches of the Baltic Sea. When I look into the golden depths of this amber cuff, I feel an immediate connection to my Russian roots. The pear-shaped diamond (VVS2, so it is only very, very slightly included) set in 18-karat rose gold gives the cuff a modern touch. Price on application.
The calming pastel of pink quartz and the tranquil tones of amethyst come together with the energy of citrine. These Gleam earrings by the Brazilian jewelry designer Fernando Jorge evoke strength and confidence. A dynamic design from his Flame collection of fine jewelry, these 18-karat gold earrings hug the natural curve of a woman’s ear like the wings of a dove. The contoured lines and wing shape make my spirit soar and instantly lift my mood. It’s a jewelry motif I just love. To create these beautiful winged earrings, a skilled lapidary will work for about a week until each crystal layer fits perfectly and seamlessly with the next. An incredible achievement. $24,000.
Mixing luxury with entertainment, the Antonio Bernardo puzzle ring is both a delight and a masterpiece. This 18-karat tricolor gold ring brings to mind that saying: The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity. An innovative design, the Life Is a Puzzle ring came to life in 2006 and has since become a signature piece of jewelry worldwide. To create each gold alloy puzzle piece takes incredible imagination and skill. To wear the ring is to indulge in a game like no other. Putting it together and taking it apart only highlights the precision and masterful craftsmanship. So smooth and tactile, it’s an incredibly soothing fidget ring. Unisex and unique. 56,700 Brazilian real, or $65.
I love Paraiba tourmaline. I lose myself in the aqua crystal depths of this gemstone, like the warm oceans of the Maldives. Handcrafted in 18-karat white gold, the Constellation ring by Di Candelero sparkles with 247 diamonds. And I love how the starburst at the center of the ring focuses the eye on the enchanting Paraiba tourmaline jewel. A true galaxy of contrasting textures and sophistication. To create a masterpiece like this would take a skilled craftsman at least a week to perfect. A statement ring that evokes the dreams of every man and woman. That’s the power of Paraiba tourmaline. $17,000.