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Janis Provisor chooses gemstones the same way she picks paint colors. As I watch the artist and jewelry designer string a large white jade drop onto fishing wire at her downtown Manhattan studio, the process becomes clear. Provisor eyes the lavaliere before her hands go searching across a table smeared with stones: gobs of green Burmese jade, cocoa moonstone, lemon citrine, and something called a chicken-blood stone, which she found in China. A chunk of faceted clear quartz is selected, then dismissed. "Need one that’s milkier," Provisor explains. A creamy agate makes it onto the wire. "I want lines," she says, "and gold." Her free hand dabbles in a small box and takes out two hand-carved half-inch-long Balinese gold bars, which she adds. Some particularly deep-red Brazilian garnets go on next, and slowly a Provisor original takes shape.
Before she began making one-of-a-kind beaded necklaces, Provisor exhibited her large nature-inspired paintings at New York’s Holly Solomon Gallery. She still paints and designs custom rugs through her company Fort Street Studio, but the demand for her jewelry (sold primarily at trunk shows across the country) has her working more with ametrine and tourmaline than oils and canvas. And if Provisor’s art is marked, as one reviewer put it, by "a romantic but not dewy-eyed vision," her necklaces are known for their bold color pairings—large lemon citrines with labradorite beads, a lavaliere of green quartz and deep amethyst—and their significant size. An enormous 34-millimeter agate sits on the table next to a sphere of jumbo lavender jade.
For Provisor and her very well-connected circle of fans, the jewelry is a natural extension of the art. Client Susan Sherman first saw the work at the Art Basel Miami Beach fair through Provisor’s business partner, Debi Wisch. "I had a trunk show for Janis at my home in St. Louis last year," says Sherman. "Almost every woman who bought was also a collector of contemporary art. They all just got it." And so do we.
For information and a trunk show schedule, call 212-369-2225 or go to janisprovisorjewelry.com.