Driftwood and Ferns Take the Spotlight as Jewellery

Mundane earthly materials become extraordinary works of art at the hands of Mish.

Fossils and driftwood, meet yellow gold and whiskey quartz. Designer Mish Tworkowski’s talents for pairing unexpected materials with gorgeous gems is on full display with these new earrings. One duo mixes smoky quartz with vibrantly dappled peanut wood (aka petrified driftwood) from the shores of Western Australia, while the other frames slices of fossilised Indonesian coral with 18-karat yellow gold.

Mish’s one-of-a-kind jewellery is famous for the way it captures exquisitely unusual bits of nature. In the past, the designer—who studied fine art and served as a jewellery specialist at Sotheby’s before launching his brand, Mish New York, more than two decades ago—has experimented with Tahitian keshi pearls, luminous white cacholong opal, petrified tree ferns, and 200-year-old tulip poplar wood from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate in Virginia.

As with so many of Tworkowski’s pieces, the materials are unexpectedly earthy but appear just as polished and precious as more traditional gems. Creating congruous designs like these earrings from nuanced materials typically takes several years. But a good match is always worth the wait.

“I often buy a beautifully patterned piece of peanut wood or fossilised coral, then hunt for its mate for the next few years at gem shows across the country,” says Tworkowski, who, when he isn’t hunting for haute stones and fossils, is a gardening devotee and sits on the board of the New York Botanical Garden and chairs the Garden Patrons program. “I love petrified wood and all fossil gems and find it fascinating that they began life as a natural substance—like wood or coral—and then over millions of years became a very special gem. It’s a form of beautiful reincarnation for the natural world!”

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