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Education & Advice

Jewelry Time Periods: Art Nouveau Period

The Art Nouveau Period (1895-1915) was an uncontrived time, as it came about as an artistic revolt against all that was popular and commonplace of the 19th Century.  This time period did not last too long, but created many sought after collectibles, art, architecture and jewelry.  Focus was given to craftsmanship and creativity, since people felt things were becoming too industrial and imitative.   Ironically, the reason for its coming to be, became the time period's demise, after it became commercialized and cheaply copied. Some motifs and distinctive elements of this time period: natural subjects: flowers, insects, birds curving, asymmetrical lines and designs female visage or silhouette with long, flowing hair enameling & plique à jour (stained glass effect) butterflies, dragonflies, swans, reptiles, snakes/serpents, orchids, irises, creepy/nightmarish things- bats, owls, vultures opals, amber, horn, ivory were often used; even glass...diamonds were used sparingly Important People of the Time: René Lalique- French designer, worked for Cartier, Boucheron, created pieces for Samuel Bing's Paris shop Maison de I'Art Nouveau Georges Fouquet Read More

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Education & Advice

Jewelry Time Periods: Victorian Era

The Victorian Era of jewelry, a time of romanticism, begins around 1835 and ends around 1890. Queen Victoria was of whom this entire era was named after--she was not only the ruler of all England at the time, but a highly looked upon trendsetter, admired by everyone. Her marriage and wedding to Albert portrays many attributes of the time--Victoria was presented with an engagement ring that featured a snake with an emerald-set head (birthstones rather than diamonds were used in engagment rings, and snakes were a symbol of eternal love). Her wedding dress featured a large sapphire and diamond brooch, which was given to her from Albert the day before their wedding. With the death of Albert some 20 years later, this tragic event influenced the world of jewelry. Having Queen Victoria constantly wearing black, black enameling became very popular as well as jet beads. Some motifs and distinctive elements of this time period: Hearts--jewelry was very sentimental anchors, snakes, crosses, birds, clasping hands, flowers Greek, Etruscan, Egyptian revival filigree work of gold--since gold was still limited lockets--which held photos or hair jet, black enameling--after Albert's death dragons, crescent moons, stars, butterflies, salamanders--late Victorian Era Important People of the Time: Carlo Giuliano Castellani Read More

Education & Advice

Jewelry Time Periods: Georgian Period

The Georgian Period extends roughly from 1714-1830, which includes the reigns of four English Kings named George. Jewelry during this time was all handmade by skilled artisans and pieces from this era are very rare today. It was a time of upheaval, with the French Revolution, American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars taking place.  Gold and diamonds were scarce during this time period, so alternatives like glass "paste" copies of diamonds were created as well as other white colored stones.  Garnets, pearls, and coral were used very often, while carving gemstoneswas very popular.  Women often worn bracelets in pairs and earrings were worn long with hair kept upswept.  Jeweled arm bands worn high on the arm were popular near the beginning of the time period, with a change to more delicate jewelry happening towards the end.    Some motifs and distinctive elements of this time period: Navette style rings Memento Mori jewelry--made from locks of hair of loved ones Ribbons/Bows--often having a pear-shaped gemstones Starburst and Flower brooches Cameos--carving shell, onyx, carnelian was very popular; Napoleon founded a carving school because he was so fond. Roman mosaics "Mille-Fiore"  taking semi-preicous stones and inlaying them in black onyx Ferronieres--were head ornaments worn with a jewel that sat on the forehead. It was a fad of short duration during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Once the style was over many pieces were remade into necklaces or bracelets. Crowned Heart design--symbolized the importance of love's rule over one's life. flowers, greek key, laurel leaves, scroll work, eagles, Egyptian symbols, urns and acorns Important People of the Time: Benedetto Pistrucci--talented carver of gemstones and cameos Robert Adam--his architecture work and designs influenced neo-classicism in jewelry arts Life during this time period was often short, due to poor sanitation, poor medicines with diseases spread easily/quickly.  The contrast of the small number of people who were rich and the many poor was very distinct--most people were never able to afford jewelry, but those few who did were extravagant and lived a life of luxury.  So, if you are lucky enough to own or purchase a piece of jewelry from the Georgian Era, it probably once belonged to someone very privileged. Read More

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Education & Advice

Gemstone Shopping 101: Tips for anyone on how to purchase jewelry

Luscious lapis, rich ruby, admirable aquamarine, gorgeous garnet, and pretty pearls.  Diamonds are a girl's best friend.  You see them everyday; dangling from a golden chain, sparkling on a finger, or shining on a wrist.  They are a worldwide symbol for love on an engagement ring.  Everyone has to buy one some point or another.  But what should an average shopper look for in order to buy that perfect gemstone?  A buyer should go by these four major groups: color, cut, price, and meaning. The first characteristic about a gemstone that everyone notices (unless you are colorblind) is what color it is.  Gemstones range from all the colors in the rainbow and everything in between.  This includes: black, brown, gray, white, colorless, and metallic.  Diamonds, believe it or not, come in almost every color--including black.  This is also true for spinel, zircon, sapphire and some chrysoberyl.  If you are looking for a rich red color, rubies and red beryl are the best quality out there.  Gemstones that are blue include: aquamarine, blue beryl, sapphire, topaz and some opals.  The pretty pink gemstones include: kunzite, morganite, sapphire and diamonds.  These four gems also come in purple, along with the ever popular plum garnet.  Tsavorite is a gorgeous green gem and if you pronounced it correctly, you deserve an emerald...which is another green gem.  Now, if you want a gem really hard to pronounce, try a padparadschah.  It is a mix of an orange and yellow hue.  Some gemstones, such as ametrine and watermelon tourmaline are very unique.  On one half is one color and on the other is another. Now that you have decided on a color, let's figure out the cut of the actual gemstone.  The most preferred cut, the brilliant cut, which is a simple round cut with many facets that brings out the "fire" in the stone.  Then there's the sweetheart cut, which is popular around Valentine's Day.  A marquise cut is shaped like a football; skinny on the ends and fat in the middle.  A trillion cut is a triangle and a square cut (often called princess cut) is obviously a square.  An emerald cut is a modification of the square cut, yet it is a rectangle.  As time goes by, technology gets better everyday.  This, in turn, affects gem cutting.  Many new cuts, such as the step, scissors, checkerboard and other fancy cuts have been invented.  Many jewelry designers themselves are designing their own cut and naming it in their honor. Alright, you got the color, you got the cut, now let's add all this up for a total cost.  Prices in jewelry come in a very wide range.  There are those everyday mothers and then there are those museum collectors of gemstones.  Diamonds of course are the most expensive, and the least expensive would be any stone in the topaz family.  Emeralds, rubies and sapphires are up there in price near the diamonds.  The collectible gems, such as alexandrite, morganite, kunzite and tanzanite are very priceless.  The cut also is dependant upon the price.  For example, a simple oval cut would cost less than a trillion cut with checkerboard facets.  Once you have found the perfect color, cut and a price within your budget, you can take in account these little facts and different meanings of gemstones.  Each month has its own gemstone called a birthstone.  January is garnet, which symbolizes love and desire.  February is amethyst which symbolizes sincerity, March is emerald for love and success, June is the pearl which symbolizes health, July is a ruby which stands for contentment, August is peridot for long married happiness, September is the sapphire which symbolizes clear thinking, October is opal for hope, November is citrine for fidelity, and finally, December is zircon which symbolizes prosperity.  Jade is an ancient Chinese stone which is said to bring good fortune. Any gemstone, from alexandrite to zircon, is a beautiful one.  The world of gemstones is somewhat magical.  Everyone should appreciate these precious gifts from deep within the Earth or underneath the ocean waves.  A shopper should now be able to purchase and own their perfect gemstone by knowing these four major groups of division. Read More

Education & Advice

Gem Mining in Pala, California

The west coast was nothing but fun, especially getting a chance to head to the Oceanview Mine in Pala, California. Known for housing an abundance of tourmalines (pink, green, and the combination of both known as 'watermelon'), aquamarines, kunzite, morganite, quartz crystals and many others. The mine was even featured on Travel Channel's Cash & Treasures. Getting there was tricky--many curvy dirt roads and even going outside of the navigation system range. We paid a fee to sift through a gigantic pile of tailings from the active mine. Tailings are all the "leftovers" from blasting inside the mine. We got downright dirty and super sweaty, shoveling all we could into our buckets and then sifting through it all, using the screens. Our day pass got us 4 hours of digging and a tour deep into the mine--450 feet into the Earth! I actually got extremely lucky, and stumbled upon a large chunk of Kunzite--about the size of my palm. And it was only my second bucket full! One of the owners of the mine came around to help everyone out and help identify what had been found. He was amazed by the deep purple/pink color of what I had found and its size. He guessed it to be worth anywhere from $400-600! I couldn't believe it! Check it out below! Kunzite was actually first discovered in Pala, California in 1902. It is interesting to think that my chunk of kunzite had been in the Earth for millions of years until a few days ago when I found it! With that in mind, and having the feeling of how exciting it is to have found something so rare, I knew I wanted to keep it instead of trying to sell it. All that sweating and hard work definitely was worth it! If you want to try your hand at gem mining or just want to do something different for a change, I strongly recommend the Oceanview mine. You just have to call ahead of time to make a reservation and get the directions. Mining reservations can only be made on Sundays or Thursdays, so make sure to check the website. Pala, California is just 50 minutes outside of San Diego. It is exciting because you never know what you're going to find! I ended up walking away with a $600 Kunzite!! Read More