You’d have to go back to the Art Nouveau period, to the wild, wonderful jewelry they were making for Sarah Bernhardt, to see something so outrageous,” says Patricia Faber, co-owner of New York’s Aaron Faber Gallery, about Abboud’s boldly biomorphic work.

Born in Lebanon, educated in Europe, and now based in Paris and Lebanon, the fourth-generation jewelry artist takes the tradition of French salon jewelry–very fine gem setting, pavé, and luxurious stones–into a realm all his own. “He paints with gemstones,” says Faber, and plays with color to create one-of-a-kind pieces based on unexpected gems like watermelon tourmalines, pale blue sapphires, and the boulder opals in the earrings shown here. And he’s a master of three-dimensionality.

Whereas most pavé work is relatively flat, Abboud’s twists like a serpent around a centerpiece stone, with the pavé set on two sides–a highly unusual and difficult feat that’s a testament to the skill of the artisans in his Lebanon workshop. But for all his technical virtuosity, he remains intimately engaged with the body. His work is characterized by its intuitive, expressive, sensual nature, especially in unmatched earrings that complement the face’s asymmetry and dramatic necklaces that caress the clavicles.

“I study the bust of a woman as an artwork,” says Abboud, referring to the female form in general, “and the earrings and necklace complete it. They mold the body perfectly.”

Forbes 2009–ANN ABEL