Say "I Do" with Arik Kastan Alternative Bridal

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Make your wedding day memorable by being different!  It is boring to have a wedding full of cliché things--like your typical diamond solitaire ring, a big poofy princess dress, a typical venue, all while celebrating with an over-budget, over-the-top wedding.  Instead, break the mold and plan things that are meaningful and make you happy!  Arik Kastan creates pieces that are just as unique as yourself, so why not use them as an alternative bridal solution.  Whether you opt for a cluster of rose cut diamonds as your engagement ring, or a wedding band set with your birthstone or your new husband's birthstone--Arik Kastan has some great options.

My solution?  Here are four destinations for you to grab your love and runaway to elope and make some joyous memories.  

Grab your passport and head over to the beautiful scenery of Lake Como, Italy.  Your honeymoon is already built in to your special occasion and the ambiance has never been more romantic!  A lightweight sheer wedding dress paired with stackable Arik Kastan rose cut diamond bands are perfect for this getaway.  The wider rose cut diamond band would be your engagement ring and the thinner, matching rose cut diamond band would be the wedding band.  A dynamic duo.

The mountains and mid-west have been calling your name since you've been talking about being engaged!  Why not run off and get married under the sunset, while wearing a lace halter dress with flowing bottom.  The sunlight will compliment your citrine engagement ring from Arik Kastan, which is surrounded by a ring of rose cut diamonds.  The rustic look with the rose gold is picture perfect.

A beach wedding is on everyone's dream wedding destination lists.  The Gulf of Mexico provides a sandy and warm climate with an ocean as pretty as a painting.  If that deep blue hue of the water is important to you, Arik Kastan's sapphire rings are reminiscent of this scenery.  A sapphire cluster ring would make a great alternative engagement ring.  Pair it with a two-piece wedding dress and show some skin!

Are the red rocks of the desert mid-west your ultimate backdrop? Then Sedona, Arizona may be just the place to jet to for your epic elopement.  A strappy wedding gown with see-thru cutouts will be your go-to wedding day attire.  Inspired by the red rocks, Arik Kastan bands with rubies make for an ideal wedding ring, with an engagement ring consisting of one knockout rose cut diamond set in an engraved rose gold design.  Ravishing red is a great theme!

>> For more alternative bridal options from Arik Kastan, visit

Vintage Motifs: Gold Padlocks & Keys #LoveGold

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I received a beautiful gift in the mail from Chinchar Maloney, a husband and wife duo who love design and being creative.  Their jewelry line features dainty, stackable rings with a motif on each end, and space in between--with my favorite being--the lock & key ring.  I was naturally drawn to that design and upon further examination into my jewelry box, and also showing my mom, I realized that gold padlocks and keys have a deeper meaning to me than I realized!  

My first key motif piece of jewelry came to me from my grandparents, brought home from a trip to Italy visiting family. My sisters and mom each received a piece of gold jewelry from them upon arriving home from their trips to Italy, and out of all the items, I got the 18k yellow gold key charm.  I wore that pendant almost everyday in 9th grade--until one day I almost lost it in a gym locker and never wore it again.  I felt better that it was tucked away in my jewelry box, away from danger.

My second padlock themed piece of jewelry was purchased shortly after I got my first job and had some money of my own to spend.  I bought it on a family trip to Florida, where going to flea markets was our favorite Saturday afternoon pasttime.  While my younger sisters bought clothes and fake designer belts, I was rummaging through a jewelry dealer's "junk" section where he had a pile of broken parts and unwanted trinkets--all real gold.  I found the padlock and talked him down on the price and ran off happily with my new purchase. I've had it affixed to an old Victorian gold bracelet ever since.

Receiving this gold lock and key ring from Chinchar Maloney served as a symbol for a new beginning for me. With new hopes of spending more time with family and focusing more on my blog by only working four days a week now, this ring couldn't have arrived at a better time.  It will remind me of my goals and keep me focused.  

When I showed my mom the ring, her face lit up.  She immediately showed me her gold key pendant set with a ruby that my dad gave her when they first started dating.  It fit in perfectly with my pieces and completed the symbolism for me full circle.  From now on, I will be more aware of this motif and make sure to search it out!


This post was brought to you in collaboration with LoveGold



Broken English Opens New Store in New York City

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New York City just got cooler.  With Broken English opening up a store in New York City's own Soho neighborhood, owner Laura Freedman adds a bit of west coast chill with a dash of gemstone sparkle to this area, and everyone is excited.  Known for her impeccable taste and her LA store, which opened back in 2006, the timing was right to finally make the commitment of being bi-coastal.  

“I knew I wanted to be in Soho,” she recalls, “with the cobblestones and the neighborhood feel and the brands that are already there. I wanted a luxury environment that was still welcoming.” 

The shop is located at 56 Crosby Street, behind AllSaints' current location, occupying 500 square-feet of lush jewelry heaven!  With an ambiance made up of gemstone specimens, brass and marble vintage jewelry displays and antique Chesterfield chairs, the space doesn't hold back from perfection.  

“There isn’t another stand-alone jewelry store that represents this level of designers. It’s really something fresh for New York. I see this as an opportunity to bring these creative people into the lives of those who appreciate this work.”  

An eclectic mix of over 50 contemporary designers each can call Broken English "home" which is what Laura wants each of her customers to feel like upon entering.  

“I think that’s what’s so disarming about Broken English,” she notes. “You feel like you’re coming into someone’s living room and they’re showing you all their special things.” 

Not only does Broken English carry some of my favorite jewelry designers, like Anita Ko, Deborah Pagani, Michelle Fantaci, but also lots of vintage and estate pieces.  Anything from a 1940s curb link bracelet that is totally retro, to a Victorian engraved locket ready to be treasured for many more years to come!  Whether I'm in NYC or LA, I must stop by Broken English--two coasts, one amazing store!


Above four pieces, available at Broken English:


Vine Hoop Earrings in 18k gold and diamonds, by Jamie Wolf, Price: $5500


Three Stack ring in 18k gold and black diamonds, by THIRTEEN31, Price: $6000


Button earrings set with spinel, labradorite, white sapphire & aquamarine, by Nak Armstrong, Price: $1530


Endless Knot ring set in 18k gold and diamonds, by C Greene, Price: $9000


Rago Arts Jewelry Auction Set for September 12, 2014

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With the auction catalog yet to debut (should be up on August 22nd) I am so excited to give everyone the first look of Rago Arts' September auction!  I have been following Rago Arts' jewelry auctions since 2008, where every December hundreds of incredible lots hit the block in Lambertville, New Jersey, with eager bidders logging on from their computers worldwide. Rago Arts typically has a jewelry sale every December, and since introducing an extra sale in April back in 2011, the success has led to this scheduled sale in September for the first time!  This unprecedented sale should be your opportunity to sign up and bid live if you've never attempted before!  It is so easy and so much fun!

How do you sign up?  It's simple--follow the steps as outlined by Eliane Talec, Chief Administrative Officer at Rago Arts in the video, shown here.  

Some of my favorite lots in the upcoming Unreserved Jewelry, Silver & Coins auction set for September 12th, 2014:

Lot 1: Straight off, the opening lot featuring this late Victorian suite of earrings and matching brooch is to-die-for. The bloomed finish of the 18k yellow gold is exquisite--one of my favorite features of Victorian jewelry. Estimate: $400-600

Lot 4: Start your own ring collection by winning this entire lot! Each antique ring is unique, from tourmaline, garnet, banded agate!  Lots of options--keep all, or trade a few...up to you!  Estimate: $350-450

Lot 8: Love this Victorian archeological rivival pendant featuring seed pearls and turquoise, circa 1870s. Estimate: $400-600

Lot 9: If you love antique heart jewelry, this lot is for you!  A crowned heart ring circa 1840 a size 7, set with foiled backed stones and black & white enameling throughout.  The seed pearl heart pendant is precious too! Estimate: $700-900

Lot 17: A charm bracelet, perfect for anyone who has always wanted a charm bracelet and needs a head-start on collecting!  Some of the charms include an Eiffel tower, Viking ship and a horse drawn carriage. Estimate: $450-550

Lot 73: A lot of five retro gold and diamond rings--one which resembles my grandmother's engagement ring!  I think that is why I love this lot so much.  Such a great selection with rings ranging from 14k to 18k, one with a French hallmark. Estimate: $800-1200

Lot 100: An Art Deco-style ring with diamonds and sapphires, truly a stand-out piece!  It's 18k with a platinum-top, typical of the style but with round brilliant cut diamonds, dating it to just 30 years ago.  Estimate: $800-1200

Lot 150: The Arts & Crafts Era is one that is so peculiar to me and I love the rarity and style of it.  This turquoise and pearl necklace from that time period is extra special because it is engraved, "Grace from Pearl, August 6th, 1907" how amazing! Estimate: $600-800



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{from top to bottom:

by_couture posting this amazing shot of Nikolaos Koulis Jewelry

candylane showing off some rings from her personal collection 

gemaporterblog wearing covetable Diane Kordas Jewellery rings

jessicaseaton wearing diamonds, turquoise and a signet in the mist

lorimcleanjewelry with a fresh batch of favorites for the shop

metiersf knows how to bring you the best when it comes to turquoise and diamonds

sarahswelljewelry on her beautiful wedding day wearing the sweetest jewels, some are her designs of course

stoneandstrand double trouble--Elena Votsi and Ray Griffiths rings

susancampbelljewelry showing how pink and red are a match made in heaven!}


eBay Seller: Nalfietoo, Antique Jewelry to the Trade

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After experiencing a fun-filled week over in England treasure hunting and finding some amazing pieces of jewelry on Portobello Road, I’ve come to realize that it is definitely a once in a lifetime experience!  It takes a lot of money to book a trip like that and at times, it does make you feel as though you’re missing out on so many cool finds with each passing weekend the market goes on.  

Need an alternative?!  

That’s where sellers like Nalfietoo come into play--let the experts do all the legwork and each week, sit at home in your pajamas and happily bid from your computer on all his finds from across the pond (all without having to book an expensive trip!)  

Alex is the man behind Nalfietoo, a cult favorite amongst antique jewelry collectors on eBay.  His father, also known as Nalfie on eBay, got him started into the jewelry business which he has been involved in for about 40 years now (he was one of the first antique jewelry sellers on eBay!)  Alex hails from Manchester and graduated a few years ago from Warwick University, deciding he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps, but not work for him, rather be his own boss! He was given a sack of 9k gold rings to sell, and after doubling his profit, he was hooked!  Alex prides himself on being an active dealer, listing 20 fresh items, 5 days a week, which equates to 100 fresh items every week!  He scours Portobello Road every weekend for pieces of antique jewelry that catch his eye, along with other fairs like Kempton and Newark, and a few others in the UK.  The best part are the prices!  Alex’s philosophy is to buy cheap and sell cheap, selling larger quantities in order to make a profit.  Lots of dealers buy from him and are able to also make a profit when they sell in their own stores.  If you are a collector and not looking to sell the piece of jewelry, you can score really good deals!  

And what’s an antique jewelry dealer without his best mate?!  His two year old Pug named Sid makes a few appearances on his Instagram @nalfietoo and is super cute!  He even had a pirate-themed birthday party!  Chiefy & Frankie are jealous!

Make sure to check out Nalfietoo on eBay and check back often for new listings!  The right sidebar hosts his banner, which will give you quick access to his eBay page!

Custom Gold Chihuahua Ring by Daphna Simon #LoveGold

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Daphna Simon’s love for animals has a heavy influence on her jewelry line. With an exotic name like Untamed Jewels, Daphna’s most popular designs showcase animals like regal elephants, superior leopards, and bold grizzly bears. What you may not know is that she has been designing different dog breeds as rings and pendants for those who love their dog and want a sentimental piece to represent him or her. I had to have a chihuahua ring to commemorate the new addition to the family--Frankie! So, Daphna custom created a 14k yellow gold Chihuahua ring, with “Chiefy & Frankie” engraved on the inside of the ring--representing my two babies!

We welcomed Chiefy into our family in July of 2012. He came from a local breeder about 30 minutes from where we live and was the last left amongst two different litters. His baby brother didn’t make it, he was too tiny. His mother was a gorgeous long hair and his dad was a chubby bug-eyed chihuahua that looked crazy! We had named him Chiefy before we even met him--the name came from an episode of Hoarders, a show Matt & I watched all the time when we first started dating. Of course the episode involved a man who hoarded cats and his favorite was named Chiefy--we promised each other that our first pet would have this name, it was hilarious and so cute. Chiefy quickly became the love of our lives and the center of attention! It was only a few months ago that we started to realize that Chiefy followed us around a little too much, whined for us to pick him up and hold him, and would cry when we would leave the room. Seemed like the perfect time to get him a playmate!

I found Frankie on from a breeder in Missouri. We wanted basically the opposite of Chiefy, so long-haired and any color besides white. When Frankie’s picture came up, I immediately fell in love. When we saw his birthdate, we knew it was a sign--Frankie’s birthday is April 3rd (same as my father’s) and Chiefy’s birthday is April 15th (same as Matt’s father’s). I highly believe in weird coincidences and numbers, so I was all about it. When Frankie flew in from Missouri, I was anxiously tracking both his flights and it was surreal to finally get to hold him. We named him after my great uncle Frank who had very recently passed away--someone who was at every birthday party I ever had. Although Chiefy & Frankie didn’t get along very well at first, it took about a week for them to become best of friends. Now they sleep cuddled up together, have early morning play-fights, and love chasing each other around. I know they will be forever friends/brothers.

If you are wanting a gold version of your furry friend, Daphna Simon makes ALL dog breeds, including a chihuahua, Chinese crested, French bulldog, pit bull and also cats! They can be custom made to fit your finger and in your choice of 14k or 18k yellow gold. You can also get your ring engraved, like I did--which I highly recommend. The ring was special in its own right, but with the added engraving, I had tears in my eyes when I opened it up!

This post was brought to you in collaboration with LoveGold



Ask Gem Gossip, Volume Two!

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@avagoldworks writes: Would you rather have a bland piece of jewelry from a famous jewelry store, or a fabulous handcrafted piece by a jeweler who isn’t well-known?

GemGossip answers:  I think some of the most incredible pieces of jewelry come from jewelers and/or designers that are mostly unknown.  One of my most favorite things to do is discover this talent and make them known!  And yes, a lot of bland jewelry comes from very famous jewelry stores.  I think that should answer your question!


 @heypretty08 writes: Where in the world would you want to visit next to look for antique jewels?

GemGossip answers:  Good question!  I have a wedding I have to attend at the end of this month in upstate NY, so I am excited to venture up there.  I might even plan a road trip while up North...we’ll see! ;)


@stifeltower writes: My grandmother passed on some uncut opals to me because we were both October birthdays.  How should they be stored? I would like to have them put into some wearable jewellery someday and don’t want to ruin them!

GemGossip answers: All opals should be stored somewhere where it can receive adequate moisture.  If you’ve ever been to a museum exhibit where opals are on display, there will be a small glass of water tucked somewhere nearby--this is for that exact reason!  So storing them in a dry place is not good!

@aris120783 writes: I second the opal question and raise it a about storage for those as well?? I have some vintage ones left to me by my mom...

GemGossip writes: The biggest thing you have to worry about with moonstones is it getting scratched by other stones it comes in contact with--so don’t store moonstone in a bag with other gemstones, which can rub against one another.  


@elliebeth writes: When wearing jewelry can you ever wear too much? I know it’s the wearers preference but I would like to know your thoughts.

GemGossip answers: I think it mostly depends on the combination of the jewelry worn--like a whole bunch of jewelry that clashes--unflattering color combos, too many different eras, etc.  But if all the jewelry flows well together, with neat gemstone combinations, a common theme, or something like that--I think the more the merrier.  The above photo is a great way to illustrate my answer--this woman is wearing LOTS of bracelets and necklaces, but it looks super cool.  It looks like years of stories and collecting, and I think that is amazing.  (photo from @thejewelryboxlf )

Favorite Instagram Pictures: August 2014

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suzannekalan known for having some amazing stack rings, she proves necklaces are no feat as well

mociun now carries Makers Circle rings although I'm dying to have one in solid gold (these are gold plated)

hannahmlondon and her incredible engagement ring, looks so modern and stylish

carrerasjewelers if I could pick another engagement ring for myself, this would be it!

sunnysbondjewelry is obsessing over opals and gold…so are we!

freemansauctions dying over these Cartier rings and this diamond collar from their auction back in May

vikavickyvictoria having fun at BaselWorld checking out Chopard's capsule collection

vintagejewelboy I love this shot, with the cup immaculately engraved with the frames in the background

randimolofsky has an emerald friend, along with her gorgeous rings from Jacquie Aiche, Zaiken Jewelry & Di Modolo

juliewolfdesign has a new lineup of necklaces she has put together for sale, love them!

heartofsolidgold displays her personal collection in an antique ring holder, just beautiful!

martkatthemuseum incredibly captures Ingres' Comtesse d'Haussonville out of his textbook

lfrankjewelry knows how to set a bold, chunky gemstone, these are breath-taking

icecreamcandy designed a modern version of the crowned heart ring with these gorgeous gemstones


Q & A with GIA's Exhibit Developer McKenzie Santimer

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The Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad is my happy place.  If I am ever feeling down or having a rough day, I just think of my time spent there and I am truly happy!  So imagine if you worked there everyday?!  I can't seem to fathom a bad day!  Lucky for McKenzie Santimer, she calls GIA her place of employment where she is the Exhibit Developer and has quite the interesting job!  If you've ever visited, not only is GIA a wonderful school but it has the coolest displays year-round with them changing frequently. Whether you're a gemstone lover or jewelry history enthusiast, McKenzie has you covered!  I need to visit more often just to keep up.  If you'd like more information about the current exhibits on display, check out GIA's website. Meanwhile, let's catch up with McKenzie and learn more about her role as Exhibit Developer:







My love for jewelry began when I was a high school student in Hawaii apprenticing for a local jeweler. This ultimately led me on the path to becoming a gemologist, jewelry designer and exhibit developer. After completing college, I attended GIA where I acquired my GJG, and went on to work with couture jeweler K. Brunini Jewels and the San Diego Natural History Museum. For the last eight years, I have used my hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge to produce GIA’s museum, tradeshow and public exhibits as the Institute’s exhibit development manager. 

Photo of K. Brunini at work



As GIA’s exhibit development manager, I help create exhibits – whether they’re at the Institute’s Carlsbad or New York locations or at the Tucson or JCK Las Vegas shows – from conceptualization to the finishing touches. My work involves sourcing feature items, finding pieces from the archives to showcase, designing the layout of each case, creating color schemes, and mounting the items.  

When I’m not working on an exhibit, I’m cultivating relationships with the Institute’s lenders and donors, and coordinating details with insurance companies, graphic designers, editors, docents and many more who come into contact with our exhibits.



I’m currently working on GIA’s exhibit for the February 2015 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, which will give the mineral world a taste of their gem and jewelry counterpart. I’m also in the planning stages of a very exciting July 2015 exhibit at GIA’s Carlsbad world headquarters entitled “Variations on a Theme: 25 Years of Design at the American Jewelry Design Council.”  



I‘m particularly proud of the “More is More: Tony Duquette Hutton Wilkinson Jewelry” exhibit, which debuted at GIA in Carlsbad in October 2013. Tony Duquette was a critically acclaimed movie and interior designer who created bold and theatrical jewelry alongside business partner and design collaborator Hutton Wilkinson.  Their designs reflected Duquette’s work as an award-winning costume and set designer during the Golden Age of Hollywood.  It was important for me to create an exhibit that captured the aesthetic and storied history of Duquette and Wilkinson. From live spider plants and 20 foot malachite fabric curtains lined with cheetah print to gold gilded lobsters and deer antlers, I was able to transform the space into a wonderland that I feel the design duo would be proud of too.

 photo by: ©GIA Kevin Schumacher

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I own two rings worn in tandem that K. Brunini Jewels designed just for me. They are made of 18K gold, a rose cut diamond, a moonstone cabochon and accent diamonds. The rings are highly symbolic. The twig branch encourages me to stand tall and be strong. The rose cut diamond is a reminder to stop and smell the roses. The antlers signify being grounded to earth, the source of all.  And the moonstone evokes mystery and the unknown. It’s my daily talisman!

Phot by: © GIA Orasa Weldon

Moonstone and rose cut diamond rings