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Something old, something new

Alternative history by Roia O'Brien

The terms "alternate history" and "alternative history" describe works of fiction that combine elements of modern fantasy with real historical events. Think Roth's The Plot Against America or 11/22/63 by Stephen King; the genre mixes the past with the present and the old with the new in an attempt to create a new reality. The concept often extends to films, graphic novels and even video games. 

But can alternate history be extended to jewelry? Of course it can, and pieces by Roia O'Brien Jewelry Design are the embodiment of that alternative history. 



Much like the writers of alternative history, Roia O'Brien fuses modern conventions with elements of the past. She uses a variety of materials, from vintage postcard sketches and engraved portraits to illustrations from classical storybooks. The images are sealed into the metalwork frames with a special shrink plastic and then secured with silver rivets. A high quality, glass-like resin coats the pictures, as well as the back of the frame, to keep the metal from staining skin. 

The combination of past and present creates a look that's too modern to be called vintage and too cool to be simply dubbed contemporary. The work is simply unique. 


Pieces that have a more modern look still have one hand in past. The necklaces pictured below are a far cry from antique portraits, but the historical elements are there: each piece was hand-carved from an antique silver tray. 

Impressed? We are, too.


There are, of course, more than bits of history re-purposed for your bejeweled enjoyment. Roia O'Brien also makes great use of gemstones and beads for bright bursts of color. There's a lot of diversity and creativity going on here, which makes Roia O'Brien an exciting designer to watch. 

To check out more pieces of alternative history by Roia O'Brien, you're going to have to visit multiple sites. Like many of the smaller designers profiled here, her work is spread out over the web. Her Etsy shop has most of the items you've seen here, as does her page on Copious. Our favorite is her Facebook page, which has some amazing pictures of her work.