There's always those kind of people that you feel like you've known your entire life and for me, Natalie is exactly that kind of person! I got to meet her for the first time on my trip to LA just last month and her passion for jewelry is electric. She has been lighting up Instagram and other social media platforms for Jewels by Grace as their Instagram manager and photographer (as of February 2016, she no longer works for Jewels by Grace). So happy to have her share her new, yet growing collection with us today--take it away, Natalie:
"I have been attracted to sparkly things for as long as I can remember, an attraction that quickly became an enthusiastic hobby, which has since manifested itself into a full-blown love of gems and jewels. It has also helped persuade me to attend GIA in the pursuit of becoming a Graduate Gemologist, which I am really excited about! I’ve been a collector for a long time, but have only recently begun collecting fine jewelry. My first piece of memorable jewelry is a yellow gold necklace with six pearls, it was given to me by my beloved uncle when I turned 6. My next most significant piece was a mother of pearl and white gold ring with a freeform, organic vibe that my mother designed and had made for me when I graduated high school. My third most memorable piece was also my first antique jewel, an early Art Deco-era diamond and sapphire dome ring. This was a college graduation present from my late grandmother, a particularly special gift because it was one of the few remaining pieces of jewelry from my great-grandmother’s estate. These pieces will forever remain some of my most cherished treasures, and they have definitely aided in sparking my interest in jewelry.
Fast forward a few years to when I was newly engaged and searching for thee perfect wedding band to pair with my antique ring. Enter Grace Lavarro of Jewels by Grace, and the platinum french cut and single cut diamond eternity band that started it all. What quickly followed was a custom pair of pear-shaped rose cut diamond earrings that my mother designed for me, as well as a diamond wedding band that I designed for my husband. I was hooked, not only were the jewels beautiful, but so was the amazing, generous woman behind them.
Since that fateful time two years ago, I have had the pleasure of working with Grace as a jewelry photographer and managing the Instagram account for Jewels by Grace. I have been taking much joy in familiarizing myself with this wonderful industry, as well as getting to play with the numerous jaw-dropping pieces that come our way. Given my extreme lack of self-control, especially when it comes to antique jewels, I ended up “adopting” many of the pieces in my personal collection from Grace. I also love to collect pieces from other friends in the jewelry industry, two of my latest acquisitions have been a Georgian diamond pendant necklace conversion piece from Angela of GemstoneGypsy, as well as an antique table cut and rose cut diamond ring from Laurel of LaurelStearns.
Lenore Dailey once told me that I was an “old soul” when it came to the jewels I gravitated towards, and I couldn't agree more. I love antique jewels - the rarity, the unique designs and cuts used, and the undeniable sense of time passed and enduring beauty simply delight me. I will forever be in awe of the level of craftsmanship that exists in pieces that have been on this earth for hundreds of years--don’t even get me started on Byzantine and Medieval jewelry! I hope to add a few ancient jewels to my collection in the near future, but for now I am quite happy with my antique and vintage pieces. My favorite design eras would have to be Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian, though there are some contemporary designers that are also creating amazing designs.
What you see below is much of my humble fine jewelry collection (Please keep in mind I’ve only been collecting for about a year or so!), with the addition of a few pieces from my bling partner-in-crime’s (aka my mother’s) collection for some added sparkle. Enjoy!"
My own gemmy version of an ISpy page, a photo that is representative of the collector in me. to name a few: antique gold pendants, an antique figa (from LenoreDailey), a rose cut diamond and gold claw pendant (from MarketSquareJewelers), a big ol’ pearl, raw almandine garnets, turquoise from the No. 8 Mine, boulder opal specimens from Australia, gold nuggets from a trip to Alaska, vintage and antique gold stick pins, a 17ct bi-color quartz, and a lapiz lazuli standing point (from The Opaque) to name a few!
Current favorites, including the Georgian citrine ring my husband surprised me with and the early Art Deco-era gold signet ring that was found with all three of my initials! Also a Victorian rose cut garnet 5-stone ring, vintage hexagonal opal ring (from Jenn of BellflowerBay), and a new addition: Victorian old mine cut diamond and crystal opal earring-to-ring conversion (from Jewels by Grace).
You can never have too many navettes, including two of my favorites: a perfectly grungy antique foil-backed rose cut diamond navette ring (my score from this year’s Antique Show in Las Vegas) and my mini Victorian old mine and old European cut diamond navette ring, in buttery 18t yellow gold (Jewels by Grace). #nevertoomanynavettes
Ring stacking, one of my favorite pastimes. Clockwise from top left:
- Admiring the attention to detail shown to the shanks of these antique rings.
- Colored gemstones in action in the fading sunlight.
- Some bands from my collection.
- Rings designed by my mother, including the giant onyx and silver ring she manufactured for me! Also shown is a 6-stone August Vintage Round diamond band she & I designed with JbG.
Ring stacking, part two. Clockwise from top left:
- The fleet of navettes in action.
- A sampling of my yellow gold jewelry, including my late uncle’s massively chunky ring, and a sentimental double-row diamond ring from my mother (from my father, who never buys jewelry~).
- Antique rings doing their thing.
- A few more antique rings.
A spectrum of colored gemstones: Victorian rose cut garnet 5-stone ring, antique ruby and diamond navette ring (from Jewels by Grace), vintage pink sapphire and diamond ring (a family heirloom from my husband’s family that was given to me on our wedding day), Georgian citrine shield ring, vintage hexagonal opal ring (from Jenn of BellflowerBay), Victorian old mine cut diamond and crystal opal earring-to-ring conversion (JbG), antique emerald and diamond navette ring (JbG), Victorian bloodstone ring, antique Persian turquoise ring, sleeping beauty turquoise ring (from SkyDogJewelry), aquamarine ring, vintage Native American moonstone ring.
Rings, my favorite type of jewelry, especially when they are vintage or antique: antique faint pink rose cut diamond tablet ring (JbG), Art Deco-era geometric diamond ring, vintage old European cut diamond dinner ring (JbG)
The crème de la crème of my wedding ring stack, an antique cushion cut diamond halo ring (inscribed 1809!) in platinum, on a peachy rose gold shank. This diamond had me at hello; for all the beautiful jewels I’ve seen while working with Grace, this ring truly called out to me. I loved the fact that it was so old, and yet the elongated octagonal design was beautifully simple and timeless.
Earrings; from left: beautiful paste and rose gold earrings (a Christmas gift from the wonderful Grace herself), my great grandmother’s antique amethyst and pearl earrings, the earrings my mother surprised me with on my wedding day, a pair of old European cut diamond earrings my mother had made for herself.
Jewels that belonged to my grandmother who passed recently; I wear the solid gold nugget almost daily as a reminder of her love. The gold cartouche was acquired in Egypt by her many decades ago.
A close-up of my wedding day bracelet, a surprise gift from my mother, with each charm being hand selected to bring us luck. The locket opens up to pictures of my husband and I as kids!
>> You can follow Natalie on Instagram @fortheloveofgems