the Heavenly Jerusalem
In the Book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22 describe the coming of the New Jerusalem and the renewal of all things as this age is drawn to a close at the second coming of Christ. In this description of heaven coming to earth, twelve stones are listed as foundations of the walls of the New Jerusalem, each representing one of the twelve apostles. Embedded into each of these foundational stones is “every kind of precious stone.” Using these chapters as our inspiration, Walls of Heaven Jewelry ® is designed to give a foretaste and glimpse of what is to come.
One word that comes up every time Alaina Burnett, our founder and craftsman, designs a new piece of jewelry is “REMEMBER.” If you ask her about it, she will tell you that at the very core of what she does is her desire for all of the children of God to remember the truth. “I’ve heard it said that beauty pierces the soul without permission. I really believe that is true. Beauty, both in the natural world and in what we make through the arts, captivates and lifts us up. It takes us out of whatever is going on in our lives and reminds us that there is something bigger, something grander, something far more majestic and wonderful happening in and around us. I don’t want the beauty and wonder of life to go unnoticed. In order to remain true to God, we must remain awake in this world. We must remember who God is, who we are in Him, and the promises that He has given us about our future. We must see what He has made—really see it. And see what He is up to in the world so that we can then step up and play our role in this epic story of redemption that God has been weaving since before the dawn of time. The world can be so noisy and distracting. It’s easy for even the most ardent of believers to become swept up into daily schedules, tasks to be done, and just the general pull of all the world has to offer. Seeing the beauty and wonder of the world God created shocks us awake in a way that nothing else can.” It is the glorious beauty and wonder of the world that is captured in every piece of our jewelry.
Creation reverberates with the beauty and truth of God. “For years Proverbs 25:2, ‘It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings,’ has made me think of beautiful stones of the earth. God didn’t have to make the earth in such a way that stones of such incredible color, pattern, and vibrancy were hidden in its depths. If we did not dig them up most of them would never be seen! And then when we partner with God by putting our hand to them by shaping, carving, faceting, and polishing them, we bring out an even deeper beauty and radiance. This is such a wonderful picture of life with God to me. His fingerprints are everywhere around us—and within us. There is nothing more life changing than an actual experience with the Presence of God. He is real, He is alive, and He wants to be known. No amount of knowledge—although growing in our knowledge of God is essential—can replace actually being with Him. It is my passion and purpose to create jewelry that reveals His nature—that reveals His heart. If I can play a small role in revealing His beauty, His truth, His power, and His nearness to us in any way…I want to do it.” It is from this place that Alaina designs and creates each piece of jewelry. This is the heartbeat of Walls of Heaven Jewelry ®.
“While I see this is a much broader and more expansive landscape to play in, I never move past the coming of the New Jerusalem as described in Revelation 21 and 22. While it seems each translation has a different list of specific stones that make up the foundational walls of the New Jerusalem, I am dedicated to incorporating those stones and then adding to them ‘every kind of precious stone’ as stated in Revelation 21:19. To see the way God has woven His promised coming and the promised renewal of all things throughout Scripture inspires me beyond words. We are living in an epic tale of redemption and renewal that has been being told since before the dawn of time. It is time for us to step into this story all the more and become who God made us to be. It is my hope that my jewelry will serve as physical reminders of God’s truth, promises, and presence within and around us.”
Here is part of the story as the apostle John told it in Revelation 21:1-23 NIV (emphasis added): “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.’ And the One seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are faithful and true.’ And He told me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give freely from the spring of the water of life. The one who is victorious will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. But to the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and sexually immoral and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.’ Then one of the seven angels with the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, shining with the glory of God. Its radiance was like a most precious jewel, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. The city had a great and high wall with twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve angels at the gates. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south, and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations bearing the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The angel who spoke with me had a golden measuring rod to measure the city and its gates and its walls. The city lies foursquare, with its width the same as its length. And he measured the city with the rod, and all its dimensions were equal—12,000 stadia in length and width and height. And he measured its wall to be 144 cubits, by the human measure the angel was using.
The wall was made of jasper, and the city itself of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were adorned with every kind of precious stone: The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, with each gate consisting of a single pearl. The main street of the city was pure gold, as pure as transparent glass. But I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its lamp.”
Some translations include stones like turquoise and there is some debate over what is meant by “chrysolite.” Some say it is peridot, others say topaz, and others say yellow sapphire. Scholars also believe that jacinth is either red zircon or lapis lazuli (just a little different than each other!). Sapphire is also sometimes believed to be lapis lazuli instead. Not surprisingly, there are several other controversies. As Alaina explains, “It is not my intention to get caught up in this debate, but rather to celebrate them all. The stones listed are meant to harken back to the breastplate worn by the high priest talked about in the Book of Exodus. Likewise, while in the world the word ‘precious’ tends to be relegated only to diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sometimes pearls, I don’t think God sees it that way. Preciousness in the world tends to be designated based on demand (popularity) and rarity (scarcity). God does not care about popularity and there is no such thing as scarcity in heaven. I, like the apostle Peter, see us as ‘living stones’ and as the actual Temple of the Holy Spirit. It is my honor and privilege to play a role in adorning the Temple (God’s people), regardless of background or societal position. We are all precious in God’s eyes. From the agate to the diamond, the flint to the tourmaline, the granite to the sapphire—God loves us all. We look forward to celebrating the richness of God’s creation in each piece of jewelry that we make.”
a look at the future
“I have eagerly awaited the opportunity to bring the dreams and ideas that I have been holding in my heart for years into reality. And, by God’s grace, the time has come. Over the next several months (and truly for the rest of my life), I will be exploring the techniques that I need to master in order to create the jewelry I have longed to create. I have enjoyed learning about the basics of jewelry making and about the beautiful stones that I love to work with over the years, but I have secretly been sketching and dreaming of more for more years than I can express. Now I have finally acquired the tools, equipment, etc. that I need to begin to cut and polish my own stones, build and forge settings for the stones, and do intricate work like chasing and repousse, filigree, granulation, and more. With everything in place, it’s time to explore! Yes!
First and foremost the Word of God found in Scripture and biblical history is not only my source of inspiration, it is the wellspring from which I live. All of my work will be anchored in and infused with God’s Word and the history of our ancestors in order to inspire us to live fully alive in Him today. Ever since I was a child I have loved two things: rocks and ancient history. I suppose the two really do go hand-in-hand. Speaking of hands…they are my favorite tool. I love hand work. While I love my power tools and the way I am able to either do things that are impossible without them or accomplish tasks with a quickness and ease that is not possible with hand tools, there is just something about taking the time to work on the stones and metal with simple tools that allures me. I love the process of filing and sanding the metal with various hand files, sandpapers, and finishing papers. I love to use an agate burnisher rather than polishing wheels to get a high shine. I even love to sketch by hand rather than depending on computerized drafting programs (developing the skill of hand drawn orthographic projections—those amazing drawings done in perspective that make the image look like it is jumping off the page—is something I am diving into with joy and delight). As much as I enjoy the benefits of technology, life is just not meant to be mechanized. There is just a stronger pull to nature and to simplicity that I cannot deny is within me.
I am drawn to the ancient techniques of chasing and repousse (where you move the metal with small hand tools in order to create three-dimensional sculptures and motifs), filigree, and granulation. I always have been drawn to these techniques but didn’t really know how it would be incorporated into my vision for the direction I am taking my jewelry. And then it happened. A dear friend of mine gave me a copy of “Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry” by Judith Price and I began to learn about ancient seals that were often made of metal or stone. People often used them to seal envelopes or sign their names in wax on important documents. They would wear them around their necks like some people wear I.D. necklaces. They would often depict images of nature and tell stories of their people, myths, and legends. The first of these seals have been found near the cities of Ereck (sometimes called Uruk) and Ur, where our beloved father of faith, Abraham, came from. I saw that as a wide open door that I have very happily stepped right through. As soon as I began reading about these seals, a Scripture that I have loved for years came echoing up from my heart: “Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore. This living, consuming flame will seal you as my prisoner of love. My passion is stronger than the chains of death and the grave, all consuming as the very flashes of fire from the burning heart of God. Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being.” (Song of Songs 8:6 TPT) There is a beautiful song by Jesus Culture entitled “You Won’t Relent” that is based on this verse—I highly recommend listening to it.
Then (as if that weren’t enough), I continued to read and came to the section on Byzantine jewelry. Christian jewelry first appeared in the world during the Byzantine period. And of course they used the very techniques that I have been drawn to. Seeing their work has inspired me beyond words and I dedicate my life to picking up where they left off. I will be incorporating some of the motifs and phrases they engraved and shaped into the metal. They often included imagery from biblical stories, the Lamb, the Tree of Life, and even peacocks! One piece that stood out to me in particular had these words inscribed into it: “Because you alone, my God, have inhabited me with Hope.” Wow. My eyes filled with tears when I read this. I am taking up the cause to bring this back. I truly believe we stand on the shoulders of giants and we are meant to press forward, building upon what our ancestors left behind for us.
I will be incorporating these motifs into the metalwork in my jewelry all the while still concentrating on and highlighting the stones. I have been and always will be a stone girl. I love them all. From a simple piece of flint or agate to a flawless paraiba tourmaline or diamond. I will be working with them all. As you see in the little teaser image above this really long portion of text, I will be setting stones inside of stones and using a variety of textures and finishes in my work. I have always loved mixing a rough/raw surfaced stone alongside a honed or satin finish stone alongside a highly polished or faceted stone. The variety of textures adds a beautiful dimension to the work and that is definitely something I will be carrying on with me.
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