Manya Tessler and Roumen Vragov created their precious jewelry collection as a labor of love—literally. When Manya, an artist/illustrator, and Roumen, a Bulgarian expatriate and infoeconomics professor, married in 2006, they wanted wedding rings that reflected their passion for art and nature.
What better way to pay tribute to their relationship than if Manya designed their wedding rings. After studying wax carving with Alan Brodsky, a leading jewelry instructor in New York City, Manya carved Roumen’s wedding ring, depicting two intertwined buffalos. Roumen contributed the buffalo concept based upon one of the most popular videos on YouTube.com.
“The video showed a baby buffalo rescued from the jaws of both a lion and a crocodile by its herd. It’s an inspirational story, one that symbolizes love, loyalty and devotion to family,” says Roumen. The successful completion of the wedding band propelled the newly weds into their jewelry making journey. Manya seized upon her talents as a sculptural illustrator and fine artist to transform her nature-inspired illustrations into intricately carved wax models. After casting them in either 18k gold or sterling silver, the wearable sculptures have diamonds and gemstones added. Each piece is then hand polished and given a subtle textured finish.
Their designs capture not just the movement, details and traits of a bird, fish or lion, but a personality, too. Although some of their animal and plant subjects are familiar from fables and fairy tales, or even astrological characters, they are open to interpretation and meaning. “Each piece tells a story, but each wearer interprets the story differently,” says Manya.
Manya, a native of Philadelphia, studied fine art with an emphasis on printmaking and illustration. She earned her MFA in illustration at School of Visual Arts, New York City. Her interest in studying and researching a wide range of fine art, such as Bernini’s baroque sculptures and traditional Japanese arts, serves as a source for her inspiration. Her artistic studies have lead Manya to visit Japan, Mexico, Rome and Montreal. Manya’s illustrations can be seen in her first children’s book, “Yuki’s Ride Home” (Bloomsbury: 2008).
Roumen, who was born in Bulgaria, studied economics and information systems and earned a PhD in economics from the University of Arizona. In addition to his day-to-day duties running the business side of Manya & Roumen, Roumen contributes ideas and concepts to the pair’s nature-inspired collaborations.
Manya & Roumen regulary contribute to animal charities.
©2013 Manya & Roumen LLC