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Entries in figa charm (4)

Late Summer Update from Gem Gossip

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I've been getting ready for a big trunk show that I'm doing up in Boston on September 7th at M. Flynn, so all the new acquisitions are killing me. So many great pieces I want to keep for myself! These three are my current favorites and I think they go SO WELL together.

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I love acquiring pieces that I'm completely obsessed with and love more and more each day--this medallion is certainly one of them! I got it from Oakgem at the show in Las Vegas this year. It is 18k yellow gold and the blue gemstone is sodalite. To my surprise, the zodiac featured is Virgo (I didn't know it when I first got it) which is my zodiac, so it makes it even more special. Thanks to my Instagram followers who helped me figure out which zodiac it was.

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I guess I've been unaware how drawn I am to spheres lately. My latest purchase was this moon lamp that I can't get enough of--I bought it from The Apollo Box, which has some really unique gift items on their site. The moon is apparently made using 3D print technology with eco-friendly materials. The photo on the right is from Instagram account @theearthsgems and I love everything about it! Look at all the variety of minerals and gems each are made of!

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I had the pleasure of viewing a brand new jewelry line called Oli and Tess, a new venture for Polly Wheatley who started designing jewelry after 15 years in the fashion industry. She received a Victorian opal ring from her husband as a gift, which sparked her love for opals. After having a daughter, she wanted to design an opal ring to celebrate her birth, which is how her line indirectly began. Her work has an heirloom quality and feel, using all hand-selected opals.

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We know how much I'm obsessed with Egyptian Revival jewelry, so this turquoise scarab collection was an awesome find! TBH it was a large pendant and one bracelet--I had my jeweler turn the bracelet into ten different pendants and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out! They will be offered for sale over on @shopGEMGOSSIP very soon!

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Some treasures I brought back from my trip to Boston in the left photo--I added a carved Jade Buddha to my charm necklace from Long's Jewelers and these 14k yellow gold Tuck studs from e scott originals. The photo on the right is from last week at the county fair. I ate way too much fried foods (got super sick actually) and played some games. The games and the baby goats are my favorite part of the fair. Worst part of the fair: ruining your favorite sneakers and getting in the way so you end up being the reason why a sheep escapes. lol

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Some of my newest acquisitions--this Victorian black enamel ring (I think the top piece is Victorian and it was made into a ring) was a really unique find. I'm still adjusting to it and might sell it but I don't know yet! Sometimes pieces speak to you right away, other times you have to grow to love them. I also got this '03 date ring from Rusted Anchor Antiques and I think it pair awesome with my big diamond band and gold Saxon chain ring from Walters Faith.

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More favorites from my personal collection -- two pieces I want to talk about here: the 9k yellow gold Pacman hoop earrings by Ellie Air Jewellery and the letter D Vadabet charm set with a diamond from Vada Jewelry. Loving these two pieces so much right now.

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I was working hard one day and that sometimes forces me to "disrobe" my jewelry, which is what I did. The pile of rings sitting in my windowsill against the sunlight were perfect in that moment, I had to capture it in a photo. The 1917 date ring was a cool find from Louison Rare & Fine when Angela had a 50% off sale. Yes, that's why it is important to follow everyone closely on Instagram because you never know when someone is going to have an insane sale.

The photo on the right was snapped in the car on the way back from Kentucky after a day full of antiquing. I somehow created a new collection (not that I need to collect anymore things) which consists of little porcelain dogs. I can't explain how the collection is not just any porcelain dog--they have to look somewhat cute/creepy in the strangest way possible. It's a very personal collection lol. The date ring I'm wearing here is from Eddie & Rose and it may be one of my favorite date rings in my collection.

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Latest and greatest ear stack I've got going on, here's what it consists of: Paige Novick ear cuff, tiny huggie hoop from Stacy Nolan Jewelry, Paige Novick's newest creation from her Powerful Pretty Things collection the Prism Suspender earring worn upwards, Pacman hoops from Ellie Air Jewellery. My perfect summer ear stack!!

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Seriously might be my favorite piece in my entire collection--I find it so rewarding to collect something for several years before you can finally piece it all together and make something of it. That's exactly what my figa collection is; years of collecting and one day randomly putting it together with my gold collar from Arrow & Anchor Antiques. These things were meant for each other. And I highly recommend getting a solid gold, stiff collar necklace for your charm collection. It will change the way you wear charms!

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Here's a fun project I did over the summer: I took these three near and dear pieces that I hardly ever wear and mashed them together to form a giant long stick pendant. I actually am obsessed with it beyond words. Each is special to me, but the tanzanite pendant is most special of all. It was the first piece of jewelry I ever bought for myself...and I was in 7th grade! I learned about Tanzanite from the home shopping channels and fell in love with the stone. I went to the one and only jewelry store in my hometown mall and found this special pendant--it was $150. That was SO much money to me back when I was 13 years old. I put it on layaway and would do chores around the house and babysit. Eventually I earned enough to buy it and I wore it all the time.

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This is just another styled look from over the summer--a jewelry look that I really liked paired with an off-the-shoulder top that I really love also. I think I've already gone over almost every piece that is pictured here, but if you're wondering about something in particular, let me know!


WANT MORE? Check out some of my other OBSESSIONS

Necklace Stories: Four Figas, Four Different Ways

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Remember that time I decided to make a New Year's Resolution where I can only buy one ring per month for the entire year?!  Yeah, I do too...I, like, just made that resolution and I already want to break it. But I must not falter, I must resist temptation. Oddly enough, other parts of my jewelry collection are growing! Hmmm...strange how that works! ;) For example, I bought a brooch.  I bought a curb-link necklace (photo is of it twisted into a makeshift ring, because I can't help it, ring obsessed). I've even strung a ring onto a gold chain and created one of my most favorite necklaces ever (that way it doesn't count as being a ring if it is worn as a necklace)! Yes, truly loving my new Charlton & Lola Japa ring--a 14k gold ring that features nine sacred gold balls elevated off the main band. When the Japa ring is worn on the finger, it can easily be turned with just the flick of the thumb, becoming an aid in meditation, a soulful piece of gold. This is one of those pieces that you just fall in love with, both the design and comfort of the piece, and end up wearing daily. The Japa ring made me start looking into my necklace and charm collection. I began to pull favorite charms and started to create mini-vignettes of charms that complemented one another. Hope you enjoy!

Necklace One: one malachite figa (from James McHone Jewelry), one St. Anthony medallion (passed down to me by my dad), one green enamel dangling fish (passed down to me from my mom who was gifted it by my grandma after a trip to Italy)

Necklace Two: one figa with gold nails and gold bracelet (!!) (from James McHone Jewelry), one Italian horn pendant (passed down to me by my dad), one Victorian heart padlock (from eBay), one Fox & Bond Mini (from Fox & Bond, engraved with my wedding date)

Necklace Three: the necklace is actually a Y-necklace which I experimented with adding charms to and I love how it looks with charms (from Bea Millen), one Japa ring (from Charlton & Lola), one amethyst figa charm (from James McHone Jewelry), and one Amoré heart charm (from Pasquale Bruni)

Necklace Four: one rose quartz figa charm (from James McHone Jewelry), one Edwardian carved mother of pearl religious medallion (from where I used to work), one gold heart key (gift from my grandma after she got back from Italy)



An Important Figa Collection & Its Rich History by Ariana of Marteau

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The Figa--rich in history and quite elusive to some. What does it mean? And where did the talisman originate? I was mesmerized by a collection which has been in the making for years--that of Ariana Boussard-Reifel, owner of Marteau (formerly Mode Marteau) who has a penchant for vintage and antique anything, but especially jewelry.  I had to know more about her collection and asked for her expertise on the topic of the Figa, so she has put together a wonderful blog post for us. Be sure to check out her newly launched website, Marteau.

"I am a collector first and I choose my conquest second. The act of collecting, more than the act of possessing is what enchants me. It’s all about the thrill of the hunt, the seeking and the vanquishing. Unlike some whose collections are focused, I devour jewelry that spans time and space. In this way all of history is exposed by the process of searching. Right now, I’m steadily pillaging the world’s supply of antique Mano Figas.

The first one I saw immediately captivated me. It reminded me of Rodin sculptures and Gabriella Kiss earrings. In appearance, it was both beautiful and macabre, clearly showing the labor of its maker in the finely articulated fingers. But it is the story and symbolism that made me a devout collector.

The gesture of the thumb protruded between the pointer finger and middle finger has a variety of different meanings dating back nearly 8,000 years. In Central Asia where the term for it is rosehip, it is an obscene gesture not unlike the middle finger. It means sex in Japan, the number 5 to the Maasai, the letter ‘T’ in American Sign Language, and ‘got your nose’ to every 4-year-old I’ve ever encountered.

But the specific symbolism that gave rise to the charm that we refer to as a Mano Figa originates in Etruscan Italy. Mano means hand and Figa means fig, a slang term for female genitalia. The gesture is undeniably a reference to heterosexual sex. In ancient times it was worn as an incantation to The Goddess, a call for fertility, virility and good times (the fig also has close ties to Bacchus). They were traditionally made of silver or blood coral, sacred elements for Luna, the goddess of the moon and Venus, the goddess of the sea, respectively.

Through time and colonization, the symbol crossed the oceans with Christianity, and beginning in the early 17th century figas began to be produced in South America. Now they are commonly worn throughout Brazil and Peru as a symbol of protection against the evil eye. The obscenity of the gesture is said to distract Satan from his conquest for your soul. Because of the close ties to femininity and motherhood it is traditional in Brazil to tie a tiny black figa to a child’s wrist to ward off bad luck.

For all the richness and history of the mano figa, I can’t help but love them large and small, fine and primitive. Because the gesture carries such breadth of meaning it’s easy to imbue it with the significance you choose. I wear figas daily to feel a connection to my femininity, to represent my love of antiquity, and simply because they are always a good conversation starter."


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Jewelry Collection Stories: @LuckandLockets

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Today we take a look into the jewelry box of @LuckandLockets to see her favorite treasures and the stories behind them!  I love her attitude on her collection and if you think you can't collect antique jewelry because you live either a busy life or live nowhere near an antique jewelry shop, think again!  She has done most all her shopping through Instagram alone and has created quite the collection!  I'm sure you'll notice all our jewelry friends represented in her collection!  Enjoy!

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Collecting antique jewelry takes patience, a roving eye and a lot of time!  I work full time in crazy hectic NYC and have a family, too, so there isn't a whole lot of down time to treasure hunt (trust me -- try dragging a 10 year old boy and a husband to the antiques stores while on vacation!)  So, what a godsend that so many amazing antique jewelry vendors sell online, open 24/7.  It wasn't so long ago that it was a novelty to buy fine antique jewelry online -- all without seeing or feeling it in person, from a seller thousands of miles away.   An article I read in Vogue a few years ago opened a whole new world of antiquing possibilities to me -- it was precisely about the growing numbers of women who were investing in jewelry for themselves – buying over the internet!  I was sold and have not looked back.

I search for pieces that are "niche" -- rare and unusual in some way, yet wearable in the real world (I love a tiara as much as Lady Mary, but no-can-do on NYC subways!)  Georgian pieces are wonderful and romantic, because they pre-date mass production and I love the handcrafted and "imperfect."  I also adore figural pieces, and anything with a message or story.  The web has been a great way to source unusual pieces from home --after the work emails are done, dinner dishes washed and child is in bed!  And when I found Instagram, I was hooked!  In fact, I have found some of my favorite pieces through my IG feed -- from an amazing community of antique jewelry enthusiasts, who share a similar aesthetic and passion (and who happen to ferret out unique pieces from their sources).  

Here are some of the rings I found through my IG feeds – representative of some of my favorite motifs and materials -- and I think many of them are definitely one of a kind!  

From left to right:

Thumb:  (Bottom) Georgian enameled memorial ring, inscribed 1806 … from @shopfiligree.  I love the modern, austere vibe of this ring, even though it is over 200 years old.  This is my go-to stacker.  

(Top) Art Nouveau “Night and Day” signet ring . . . from @eriebasin.  The gold on this ring has that wonderful, soft, velvety texture that only comes with age.  The surprise to this ring?  Each shoulder is carved with a distinct Art Nouveau "maiden" --  one has her eyes closed in sleep (Night) and the other is wide-eyed (Day).  I am not engraving this one -- it just seems perfect and pristine the way it is.

First Finger:  (Bottom) Mid-Victorian green-eyed snake ring in rare 16k . . . from @theedencollective.  Every antique ring collection needs at least one snake.  I picked this one for its detail and dimensional quality -- its head is rearing up, and a tiny tongue is just visible in its parted mouth.   A little creepy, in a good way.

(Top)  Late Georgian-era French ring set with fat, juicy foiled garnets . . . from @theoneilovenyc.  The color of these stones is incredible, and the foil has remained intact all these years.  One of my all time favorites.   

Middle Finger:  (Bottom) Art Nouveau-era ring set with the most incredible turquoise scarab . . . from @duvenay.  No other way to put this, but I LOOOVE this ring for its bold scale, handmade setting and of course that soft, dreamy turquoise.  This stone came from the Porterfield Turquoise Mines in New Mexico, owned at the time by the family of @duvenay.  I feel honored to wear this cherished piece.  

(Top) Victorian hard stone cameo of Mary Queen of Scots (a favorite of mine) ornately framed . . . again from @duvenay.  This ring is a little crazytown, right up my alley -- probably an old conversion.  It's chunky, but feminine because, well, it's a cameo!

Ring Finger:  (Bottom) OK, it's not easy to pick a single favorite, but this could be IT.  Victorian elephant carnelian intaglio ring . . . from @Circa1700.  The intaglio is the star -- incredible skilled detailed carving in a perfect minimal setting.  The British hallmarks are all there, but a little bit of a mystery as to the year...long story, but it hardly matters, as I am never giving this one up!

(Top) Victorian-era French pave turquoise initial ring . . . another from @theedencollective.  All I can say is thank goodness I did not change my name when I got married, just so I could get this ring.  Some things are meant to be.

Pinky:  Georgian flat cut garnet eternity band ...from @lisajshuler.  I have searched more antiques booths than I care to count for this ring, and yet I found it on IG.  I eyed this baby long enough to gestate a real live human one (at least it felt like it) and cursed the Georgian ladies for their tiny fingers . . . until I sized my pinky and realized I could make this Georgian mine.


Not to be completely ring-centric, here is a group of some of my favorite pendants recently sourced online.  

Clockwise from the top:

Top:  Massive English Victorian rock crystal orb, with a jeweled snake coiled around it.  Mesmerizing and mystical.  (See detailed photo).

Right:  French Belle Epoque onyx locket, set with a dragon  -- or is it a basilisk?  Either way, I love this guardian mama.     

Bottom:  Art Nouveau Austro-Hungarian Plique-a-Jour locket.  I am loco for enamel and lockets -- and bonus that the lady is wearing jewelry.  

Left:  Victorian coral figa (in fact, an entire coral arm).  This piece is so ridiculously over the top it had my name all over it.  A figa ARM clutching a bunch of lucky coral horns?  AND wearing a turquoise gold bracelet AND an Etruscan style turquoise embellished "cap sleeve"??!!  Crazy in the best way.  My uber lucky charm.

Center:  Victorian Scottish seal, with a carved citrine.  I have a deep fondness for this one.  The top is deeply carved with flora and fauna, depicting a game of "Hare and Hounds", a precursor to Paper Chase.  The seal itself is a wonderful citrine intaglio of a coat of arms, with a one word, yet powerful motto "Essayez” ("Try").  I wear this when I need a reminder to go for it!