With its bows, tiny shells, and glass flowers and hearts, Yona Kohen’s beaded jewelry requires a shift of aesthetic gears for those more accustomed to discreet chain pendants and barely there huggies.
“My idea was to create these incredibly intricate and narrative pieces,” Ms. Kohen, 26, said during a recent phone interview from her home studio in the Gokturk district of Istanbul.
And she does that to joyous excess by stringing together beads and improbable combinations of materials. For example, Respiro, a necklace inspired by the 2002 Emanuele Crialese-directed film of the same name, combined miniature conch shells, blue glass hearts, tiny glass beads strung into bows, mother-of-pearl crosses, freshwater pearls, Dalmatian jasper, citrine, ametrine and black onyx. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
Unlike metal jewelry, which requires planning to cast or mold it, beads can be threaded freehand, so creation becomes “meditative and unconscious,” she said. “I add and subtract a lot until I feel like it’s reached its ultimate form.”
Ms. Kohen’s jewelry exemplifies a renewed enthusiasm for beadwork in contemporary jewelry design — from simple strings of cowrie shells to seemingly impossible tangles of seed pearls. While many such pieces are a rejection of the no-frills minimalism and stealth luxury trends that have dominated in recent years, they also showcase human endeavor: This is jewelry that is unmistakably created by hand.