Treasures for body and mind

29 April, 2011

Murder and Revenge!

This is the coolest jewelry website EVER! www.bevelnyc.com
It has unusual, symbolic jewelry with explanations, a gripping story, and an artistic video of lithe, lovely people wearing the jewels so you can imagine you'd look half as good if you wore Bevel's bling.  
Bevel Jewelry's collection is based on the Mayan legend of The Hero Twins.  When I heard about jewelry based on Mayan myths, my reaction was "EWWWWW," and, as expected, the myth is pretty gory.  There is plenty of human sacrifice and horror- those who want a necklace that looks like a human rib cage, here you go- but most of the jewelry is wearable.  It is definitely edgy in an unpredictable, nonVoldemort way.  And, most unexpectedly, the myth has a happy ending! 

God bless you Bevel for explaining how each piece fits into the story.  Now, Dear Reader, go to the website and watch the movie, read the story, check out the jewels, and be delighted when the Hero Twins overthrow the Xibalbian demon gods!
Xibalba, skeletal necklace

Razor House bracelets

27 April, 2011

Prasiolite


Element's (www.elementjewelry.com) Prasiolite and rhodolite necklace


Green quartz does not make me angry like blue quartz does- but the use of the improper term “Green Amethyst” makes the vein in my temple pulse.  Retailers use it because “amethyst” has a cache that enables them to squeeze more money from their customers.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), GIA, AGTA, and most other gemological labs and organizations have stated “Green Amethyst” is NOT an acceptable term for Prasiolite, Green Quartz, Greened Quartz, Mint Quartz, or Lime Quartz, because as a term “green amethyst” is deceptive.  Amethyst is by definition purple- if quartz is not purple, it is NOT amethyst.    

Prasiolite results from heating certain amethysts that contain a specific type of iron compound which changes to a green color when heated.   Some Prasiolite occurs naturally but the quantity sold in jewelry is the result of man’s interference. There is nothing wrong with Prasiolite, but jewelers should tell customers that Greened Quartz is artificially green.   

And the sad truth of the gemstone trade is that someone is undoubtedly making synthetic green quartz and selling it as real...and we won’t know which pieces are which.   


Ippolita's Prasiolite with diamonds lollipop necklace

25 April, 2011

"Sport jewelry" is not an oxymoron.

At this year’s George Washington Parkway Classic, an annual ten mile race in Alexandria VA, necklaces were thin chains, usually silver, leather, rubber/Gortex, or hemp.  Earrings were studs or small hoops- no one with titanium earlobes wore something long and dangly this race.  A lot of racers wore bracelets.  Many people wore LIVESTRONG bracelets or something similar (one of the few places I’ve seen them in any number recently).   Friendship bracelets were stacked with colored strings and bangles or chains.  Racers kept it small:




When I’m running I don’t wear jewelry except my wedding ring, but long races require earrings or a bracelet to remind myself that I’m a girl (my wedding ring moves to a string around my neck with a red, plastic cross).  However, earrings are ok for sailing or canoeing.  Good jewelry should not be bashed about or exposed to chlorine, and fingers swell or shrink, making rings potentially painful or lost; genuinely attractive sport-friendly jewelry is not common.  
Terry Kinney, the silversmith/jeweler behind Glacier Lily (www.glacierlilyjewelry.com), makes jewelry that is great for those who would rather be outdoors.  Many of her designs are appropriate for men or women, and a majority of them are suitable for trail running, paddling, climbing, hiking, or her sports of choice, windsurfing and snowboarding.  Her leather pieces will only get better with time and various adventures.  But wear her earrings afterwards when you are celebrating your accomplishments with drinks around the fireplace- unless you have titanium earlobes.



24 April, 2011

Blue Quartz

Judith Ripka's blue quartz, diamond, and gold earrings
Blue quartz makes me mad. 
There are three kinds of natural blue quartz.  All three appear blue due to mineral inclusions within the quartz.  The three kinds are: crystals that appear blue due to tiny inclusions causing the Rayleigh scattering effect (the same process that makes the sky blue); crystals that are blue due to more or less evenly distributed inclusions of blue minerals, like tourmaline; and a coarse grained, massive, macrocrystalline form of blue quartz that is also colored by embedded blue minerals.  Amethyst, citrine, and smoky quartz are colored at the molecular level by trace elements, a means of coloring that makes them transparent, unlike natural blue quartz which is translucent.   I have not seen real blue quartz used in jewelry yet- probably because while it is a lovely specimen, there are prettier stones available for similar prices.
See the tourmaline inclusions throughout the stone?  Gorgeous crystal!
More inclusions reflecting color in the crystal- so very cool.
One form of transparent blue quartz used in jewelry is specifically treated amethyst called "safirita” quartz or “blueberry quartz.”  Gem quality amethyst from a specific mine is greened by heating and then changed to blue by gamma irradiation and a second heating.  These names apply specifically to this mined and altered stone.  While understood in the industry, these treatments are not often disclosed to prospective buyers.  While QVC says on its site that the stone is treated, larger letters on the site say, "Blueberry quartz is a real gemstone, not simulated, and it is truly beautiful."    
The most prevalent forms of blue quartz are synthetic or dyed.  Synthetic quartz is manmade quartz with the same chemical composition as natural quartz but with the addition of other chemicals as coloring agents not naturally occurring in quartz.  Synthetic quartz is cheap to make, can be made in any color, and is difficult to distinguish from natural quartz unless it is an unnatural color- like blue.  Jewelers who sell synthetic quartz without disclosing that it is synthetic perpetuate fraud.  Of course, quartz can be dyed, too.  Again, jewelers who sell dyed quartz without disclosing it is dyed perpetuate fraud.  A substantial amount of what is sold as "blueberry quartz" is synthetic or dyed.  BTW- Aqua aura quartz is quartz artificially coated with a microfilm of gold vapor.  Any quartz sold with that name has been artificially processed, and anyone selling aqua aura quartz should tell his or her customers that the stone has been treated. 
Synthetic blue quartz "crystal" with its colorless quartz seed plate visible- look at the size of it vs the chair by the table!
There is another reason why blue quartz makes me mad.  Once upon a time, members of the new age movement maintained that crystals had to be natural (uncarved, undyed, untreated) to manifest their energies.  Now, many new age sites sell dyed quartz aggregates as blue quartz and ascribe powers and mystic energies to aqua aura quartz.  Either new age doctrine has changed to accommodate capitalism OR new age participants are being fleeced.  



Blue and green quartz with white gold ring
"Green amethyst" Wednesday…

20 April, 2011

Making Jewelry

Ms. Tina Tang, a jewelry designer and purveyor, often shows how she makes her jewels on her blog.  If you are interested in the process of making jewelry, check it out at http://www.tinatang.blogspot.com/.  She has a trunk show in Washington DC at Dupont Circle where you can see (purchase) the necklace made below and more on 30 April 2011.   More info and the address to RSVP is on her site.

She recently launched Gotham Girl, a line of jewelry dedicated to the experience of being a woman in NYC.   These photos show how she made her best friends necklace.

She traced her template in blue wax.  See the other sketches in her idea book?
She cut the form out of the wax.
She smoothed and finished the wax.  She said this was the hardest step.
It resulted in a finished wax shape, ready for use in a mold.
The wax shape created the mold, used to create a rough casting that is ready for finishing. 

The finishing process is by hand as well.
Best friend necklaces, for friends who are alike but different. 

Thank you, Ms. Tang, for the use of your blog's photos and for the fun look at life in the City and the jewelry making process.    

18 April, 2011

Lenten Pearls of Wisdom-- NOT!!!

Have you read "The Pearl"?  It's a poem by, some argue, the same poet who wrote "Sir Gawain and The Green Knight," and it's metaphysical meanings open like flowers as you read.  Usually I'm an "Illiad" and "Beowulf" girl, but it's good too.
What I have learned not buying or wearing jewelry during Lent has not been nearly the illuminating experience that it was last year, but it is sacrilegious to assume every experience will be a mountaintop.   I remembered to pray and express my gratitude for the Lord’s sacrifice for me when I crave something to add to an outfit or instinctively reach for my credit card, but that has sometimes been mechanical due to its frequency.   On the whole, though, giving up jewelry has been good in a number of different ways even if I am embarrassed regarding my shallowness and selfishness.   
I think a LOT about jewelry.  I want just about everything that I see.  I live in a state of almost permanent dissatisfaction with my collection, which is oddly related to my second point, feeling that I must have MORE and being aware that nothing I add ever completely scratches that itch.  It has been restful to be off of that wheel for 40 days and to have fun prioritizing and planning jewelry purchases instead of simply jumping for more.   
On a more prosaic level, what I wear desperately depends on my jewelry for life and zest; without it, my clothes are neutral to the point of boring so I’ve dug out more colorful clothes and rediscovered my scarves.  So now I’m thinking about clothes differently too. 
And that’s my woefully unspiritual but blessed Lenten update.   I pray that yours, dear reader, has been a happy sacrifice as well. 

15 April, 2011

Lilies for Friday

Too many legends and symbols surround the lily to cover them all in one post about jewels.  Of interest during Lent is the lily as a symbol of purity, rebirth, and eternal life.  It is  associated with the Resurrection because its bulb is buried in the ground like a human corpse, and yet from this apparent death a beautiful flower arises.
Asian lilies, one of which is the white Easter lily, are my favorites, but jewelers favor calla lilies for their sculptural attributes.   Art nouveau featured lilies of the valley, water lilies, Asian lilies, and calla lilies- a garden of lilies for every taste, too many to cover all of them in one post about jewels.
So bless you this day, and enjoy your favorite lilies, whether they are Easter lilies, calla lilies, diamond or gold or silver lilies.  

Rebecca Kovin lily ring, 1st Dibs
     

Danish art nouveau, silver brooch
 
Tom Herman, gold, opal, and pearl brooch

Asprey calla lily double diamond ring


12 April, 2011

Win some, lose some...

I almost called this post, "Why I am not a fashion blogger." 

Within a day of last Friday's snarky comment about long feather earrings, three different jewelry fashion blogs showed that long feather earrings are a "thing" now.  Supposedly it's because Steven Tyler has been wearing them on American Idol (I have got to watch more television), but it could be because Queen Michelle has been wearing them for a while and makes them look good.  Oh well, that's one I did not anticipate. My offer for a free pair of peacock earrings if you send in a photo of a peacock, sparrow, and amethyst necklace still stands.


Steven Tyler, still sexier than a man wearing a lot of makeup and a feather earring has a right to be
BUT!  More crazy critters are popping up in jewels high and low, so now is your chance to wear your totem and be fashionable simultaneously.  Animal jewelry is back in, which is good because I just got a huge alligator ring that runs down my finger and across my hand.  I was getting a jump start on my crazed old lady look; I had no idea I was on the edge of a trend!

These great rings come from http://www.myflashtrash.com/, a great store with something for every taste and budget.  


Vermeil with topaz- almost as large as mine

Phillipe Cramer bulldog ring: agate, onyx, diamonds, and gold


11 April, 2011

Emily Armenta

Check out these evocative pieces from Emily Armenta.
            Emily Armenta is an historian, a romantic, and a skilled jeweler. Her biggest inspiration comes from Lorca, the Spanish poet, and early Spanish and Moorish architecture. Armenta jewelry pays homage to the Spanish belief in the Duende, combining symbolism, fresh feminine styles and old world techniques.  In the simplest terms, the spiritual realm of the Duende is a creative process in which one must survive a struggle or darkness to achieve greatness.

Clear as mud, right?  What the heck is duende or the Duende? 
            According to Wikipedia, “Lorca writes: ‘The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought… everything that has black sounds in it, has duende. [i.e. emotional “darkness”] [...] This “mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains” is, in sum, the spirit of the earth, the same duende that scorched the heart of Nietzsche, who searched in vain for its external forms on the Rialto Bridge and in the music of Bizet, without knowing that the duende he was pursuing had leaped straight from the Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz or the beheaded, Dionysian scream of Silverio's siguiriya.’ [...] ‘The duende's arrival… brings to old planes unknown feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly created, like a miracle, and it produces an almost religious enthusiasm.’”   (TeorĂ­a y juego del duende" ("Theory and Play of the Duende"); Maurer (1998) pp. 48-62)


This ring especially brings unknown feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly created, like a miracle, and produces an almost religious enthusiasm.  Gorgeous, isn't it? 

10 April, 2011

Auction Alert!

What a week to watch!  Both Christie's and Sotheby's are throwing down on jewels and gems worldwide this week, and you can check out the historical and gemological treats before they scatter to new homes. 
12 April, New York City, Christie's:  Magnificent Jewels- many colored diamonds like this 10.05 carat fancy purple-pink SI clarity diamond that are expected to hit stratospheric prices.
                                  



13 April, Amsterdam, Christies: Jewels & Watches-  historical pieces from 1700s and earlier as well as more current pieces, like this 1700s gold and rock crystal reliquary, probably Spanish with English engraving on the back and what appears to be hair beneath the crystal.


14 April, New York City, Sothebys: Magnificent Jewels- important pieces from the history of fashion  and jewelry like this plat­inum, 18 Karat white gold and dia­mond ban­gle bracelet/clip brooch by Ray­mond Tem­plier, France circa 1935.

08 April, 2011

Love This!

Antique carved labradorite salamander brooch, mounted in pink gold, the oval-shaped labradorite surrounded by entwined snake motifs set with rose-cut diamonds and sapphires, the snakes with rose-cut ruby eyes.

This gets better the longer I look at it.  Snakes symbolize eternal love, and salamanders are associated with fire and heat; was the intended sentiment, "I'm eternally hot for you?" 

Peacocks for Friday

Peacocks have inspired jewelry for a long time. 

Lalique 1902-1903

Sketch for Chanel jewel commissioned by DeBeers, 1932


Chanel, 2010 

Loree Rodkin peacock feather on Jamie Chung, March 2011

Peacock feathers remain a jewelry staple (check out Alex Monroe's Peacock and Crow collection).   The staying power of the peacock feather in jewelry strangely reflects the fact that the peacock symbolized immortality for the early Christian church. Because the peacock sheds his tail feathers for more beautiful feathers, the peacock in the modern church symbolizes Christ's resurrection.  And the eye in the feather is associated with the all-seeing eye of God.  I love beautiful things that symbolize greater, more beautiful things; these can help us reach Christian truth often more quickly than debate or lecture.  Beautiful peacocks...

DISCLAIMER:  There is one type of peacock feather jewelry that has never been and never will be a jewelry staple- the humongous genuine feather earrings that hang beneath your shoulders are so out of style that if you can carry them off, you should.  The rest of us, knowing our limits, will stand in awed silence.

The feather earrings would go very well with a necklace made of amethyst, peacock feathers, and swallow feathers which supposedly protects the wearer from witches and sorcerers.  Anyone out there have one of these that you would like to share?  I'll post its picture AND send you a peacock shoulder duster earring!  

06 April, 2011

Voldamort called.

He wants his ring back.


Lydia Courteille


Getting a grip...

In these interesting earrings from Annette Ferdinandsen, different stones dramatically change the earrings.


Playfully linking birds and eggs 


Drops of sunshine


Mystical, edgy, slightly creepy
  You could have a pair for every mood!  The Tahitian pearls are the most dramatic, but I could wear the turquoise ones every day.  

04 April, 2011

"Hello, my name is Liz, and I have a problem."

I think it's fair to say that those who read and run jewelry blogs are jewelry addicts.  (Go ahead, it's okay, you are among friends, you can admit it.  No judging here!)  Over the years, I've often said that crack would be a cheaper hobby.  So, today, I bring you....the cracklace- with matching earrings!


Actually, it's rock sugar dipped in resin, another fabulous offering from Stephanie Simek. 

Funny, isn't it, how different it looks when you know it is made of candy instead of a drug.  Does what jewelry is made of matter (other than to the DEA)?

And thank you, Sir John, for the phrase "cracklace."