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People Top 5
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- May 20, 1974
- Vol. 1
- No. 12
Susan Kelner isn't really a jeweler. "It's sculpture to wear," says the 28-year-old artist of creations as often sold in galleries as in New York boutiques. Prices range from a modest $30 for a simple ring to $9,000 for an enormous brooch called "The Great American Indian." Her materials are precious stones and metals, coral and seashells, some of which are fashioned into such Daliesque fantasies as a jewel-encrusted anatomical model of the human heart. She also makes bestudded goblets, chess sets, inkwells and, for one latter-day Brünnhilde, a gold breastplate.
Educated at Ohio University, Susan odd-jobbed as a toy designer and a singles' bar cashier before her original jewelry designs caught the eye of a number of affluent rock stars and brought her financial independence. Older patrons bring her their heirlooms to be refashioned. One elderly woman, who asked the artist to create an ornament from her gold inlays, died before the commission could be executed. Susan still has the teeth. Obsessed with the notion of designing a bridge or ornamenting the top of a skyscraper or some other architectural monument with her fancywork, Susan meanwhile will content herself by designing a lavish crown. But isn't monarchy on the wane? "If only Mick Jagger would buy it," she sighs.
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