Barbara Bixby: Jeweled Art
Barbara Bixby’s jewelry is avidly sought by collectors around the world. Her intricate, intriguing pieces are deeply spiritual, combining gemstones and motifs that have meanings both personal and global. The combination of exquisite, feminine design with edgy, free-spirited themes results in creations that are satisfying on both aesthetic and emotional levels.
Her creations share a sensibility that reaches for deep meaning even as it retains a sense of light-hearted whimsy. Each gemstone, each design element is chosen with precision, to combine in ways that allow the wearer to express what is truly personal. The designs pay homage to ancient, spiritual traditions and to the wonders of nature. The result is jewelry that is both art and talisman.
When Barbara Bixby was in art school, her focus was on more traditional art media. As she tells the story, her direction changed unexpectedly as a result of a metal sculpture course. One day, one of her professors came upon her as she sat in her studio, dejectedly trying to deal with the physical demands of working with large-scale metal structures. Eying the diminutive brunette and the large metal sculpture, he suggested that she might want to explore jewelry making which is, after all, metal sculpture in miniature. She tried it and discovered both her vocation and her avocation.
Barbara Bixby draws her inspiration from many sources. Her extensive travels have given her deep understanding of many different cultures and Asian and European influences are apparent in her designs. These designs, executed in 18K gold or in a combination of sterling silver and 18K gold, are intricately carved with motifs such as the lotus leaf, zigzag, scrolls, and beading. One of her most popular themes is the vine and leaf, which is executed in a variety of materials. In fact, her own wedding band employs this theme, with golden vines interspersed with diamond pave leaves.
In addition to her Keys of Life, which are widely sought after, Bixby has a number of collections based around specific themes. The concept of storytelling is central to her collections, and she makes pieces that can be interchanged and recombined. This allows customers to gather pieces that have specific meanings and to wear them in a way that tells personal stories. Elements like skulls, daggers, garden locks, flowers, and crosses carry special meanings individually. When combined, they become very personal expressions. For example, daggers signify strength; keys, wisdom; hearts, love; skulls, eternity and the unknown. (This is somewhat of a simplification; her symbols have multi-layered meanings that are affected also by the gems with which they are set and which have their own significance.)
Her signature symbol is a 4-petalled lotus flower, and this element is found in a majority of her pieces. In fact, one of her special touches is placement of a 3-dimensional lotus flower on the underside of most of her ring bands. This is like a little bond between Barbara and her collectors: only the wearer is really aware of its presence. It’s a little secret “extra” that adds the finishing touch to designs that already are marvels of detail. Gardening is one of Barbara’s passions, so it is not surprising that images of nature are major design elements and influences.
Barbara Bixby has a deeply spiritual nature, and spiritual symbols like oms, Buddhas, Italian horns, and incense burners (which she collects) can all be found in her jewelry. For her collectors, Barbara’s designs are more than exquisite jewelry. They are personal expressions, deeply symbolic, and deeply meaningful to wearers. Perhaps this explains why her customers are so passionately devoted to her work.
Visit more Bixby pages:
- Barbara Bixby Jeweled Art
- Barbara Bixby Rarities
- Barbara Bixby Paisley Designs
- Barbara Bixby Vessels
- Bixby Locks
- Visual Guide
- Bixby Prototypes & Anomalies