Blog

Update: A Hiatus That Was Entirely Too Long

I am not really sure where to start, so I will just start writing and we will see what comes out.

I filed for divorce in December 2017. The divorce would not be finalized until January 2021.

My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in January 2019.

I have been involved in a lawsuit since late 2019. I cannot disclose any details until it is concluded, but it is ongoing.

My daughter and I went to visit my father in December 2019; this was the last time I would see my dad alive.

COVID hit March 2020. You all know how that is still going.

I was an essential worker throughout the first two years of COVID, and I was completely isolated in an empty building by myself for over a year. This had a tremendous negative impact on my already tenuous mental health.

In January 2021, I had a cancer scare and a biopsy revealed that it was not cancerous.

In January 2021, my beloved dog Nicky died at 14 years old, completely unexpectedly.

In March 2021, I had to put my other beloved dog Brie down due to organ failure. She was also 14 years old.

In November 2021, I left my job as an essential worker to improve my mental health.

In December 2021, my father’s health began to decline rapidly.

January 12, 2022 my father died from a massive stroke.

January 24, 2022 my uncle died from leukemia, my dad’s only sibling.

My father’s services were delayed until March 2022 due to COVID restrictions and travel problems.

My uncles services are delayed until summer 2022 due to COVID and travel problems.

I have lost 5 other aunts and uncles since 2019.

It hasn’t all been bad.

In September 2019 I met this really incredible man, and we have been together since then.

In May 2021, I adopted an 8 year old Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Daisie. I had two Pembroke Welsh Corgis as a child, and she has been a great addition to our family.

I started a new job in November 2021, that I feel far more comfortable in, and overall seems like a better fit. And I am not alone all day every day.

My daughter turned 10 on November 23, 2021.

I turn 40 on April 22, 2022.

So where do we go from here?

I started a TGP TikTok. Username: thegemstoneproject

I am going to try to start back up with jewelry design with already pending projects in late April/May.

I plan to take on new projects starting in the summer 2022.

I plan to revamp my website, hopefully 2022, but perhaps into 2023.

I plan to reopen my Etsy store in 2022. However, I plan on moving away from Etsy in the long term.

But I’m back. Stronger and more resilient than I ever was before. But please be patient with me, I’m still dealing with a lot. I have been in a variety of litigation for almost 5 years, and there is no end in sight. I am still dealing with my dad’s estate and family stuff. So there are a lot of stressful, time consuming things happening in the background.

I am excited to be back and I can’t wait to design some beautiful projects once again!

2022 Policy Changes

Please note the following policy changes for 2022, moving forward:

All custom projects will require a non-refundable $500 deposit due once the design work is set to commence, and client and designer have decided on design of the ring. If there are any stones to be set, the $500 will need to be paid before project is accepted. Client is responsible for all shipping costs.

The rest of a 50% deposit is due before casting and manufacture is set to begin.

The second 50% is due once the piece is completed before the completed piece will be shipped to the client.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Principles of Design

I doubt that one of the people with the biggest influences on me would even remember my name.

Study the basic concepts of figure, ground, line, contrast, pattern, proportion, color, symmetry, movement, unity, and balance. Students learn the principles of two- and three-dimensional design and develop language to analyze product design, plate presentations, decoration, and packaging on visual, tactile, and conceptual levels.

In 2004, I was quite young, yet already three years into my culinary career, and already terribly jaded. I had an associates degree in culinary arts, and had worked in several restaurants of varying quality, back of the house, front of the house, a little bit of everything. And I was accepted to what is probably still considered “the Harvard of culinary schools” into the baking and pastry program.

I had started out my culinary career as wanting to pursue the savory side, and that the sweet side was all wedding cakes, bread, and bakeries – nothing I was interested in. It was midway through my associates degree that I fell in love with pastry. With pastry, you could make anything you wanted utilizing several fundamental ingredients – namely sugar, butter, eggs, flour. And suddenly it was like my world opened. With savory food, you were tied to ingredients and keeping those ingredients recognizable. Who would want to eat a chicken thigh that looks like a flower? Baking did not have aesthetic limits.

Boom.

Which is how I found my way to The Culinary Institute of America, and specifically to Bruce Ostwald’s Principles of Design class, the first college level art class I ever took. Sure, the curriculum was based around food, creating plates that would have interesting textures and colors, as well as incorporating different complementary flavors and temperatures. But at the heart of this class was design – art. Visuals. Contrast. Texture. Negative space. Color. Movement. So while I was trying my hardest to continue cramming knowledge about food into my brain, my heart was learning something else – creativity. Expressing myself through a variety of mediums.

 

The problem was, sugar and chocolate couldn’t hold my interest. I was too interested in people, and when you make food, you have essentially no contact with the people you’re making it for.

Less than two years later that I returned to school, and this time I was aiming for art history. I had picked up some culinary French, and I had always had an interest in architecture, so art history made sense.

Until it didn’t.

At 22, I had just spent five years working towards a career that I really enjoyed, but that felt somewhat lacking in the practicality department – the restaurant world is very difficult to have a family in, and making a living wage seemed downright impossible – I had the best culinary school in the country on my resume and was only able to command $9/hour with no benefits. What sort of career could a bachelor’s degree in art history give me? On top of that, I felt like an anomaly – my peers were just graduating with their four year degrees, and I was already well on my way to being career changer.

So while the practical side of me chose something that was somewhat more useful – a bachelor’s in psychology is applicable in a variety in positions, though not exactly a career jump starter – I used everything in the rest of my background’s arsenal, including my interest in my father’s long time career, to gain enough momentum to create another career for myself. Which, over the years, I have turned into my day job.

And then there is the creative side, which you see here, where the spark that was discovered through Mr. Ostwald’s design class has been a glowing ember and has turned into a bonfire. Only, it’s in jewelry, rather than food. Because I can work one on one with my clients, and hopefully create something that they hold dear for years, or even generations, to come.

My most memorable piece in my principles of design class was mixed media on blue background, with diamonds cut from magazine ads exploding outwards. I should have known.

 

2019 Updates to Policies

I realize that I’ve been terrible about updating the page for the past year, and I’m hoping that things will start to turn around shortly.

I wanted to post an update that there will be changes made to the following policies that will take place at 12:01am January 1, 2019. Here is a summarization of the changes that will be taking place:

Custom Work

Custom work will require a non-refundable 50% deposit due before the piece goes into physical production. The remaining 50% deposit will be due at the time that the project is completed.

Layaways

Lay away payment plans will be executed at my discretion. They will require a $100 deposit due immediately to hold the item. The item must be paid in full within 90 days. Any and all payments made will be non-refundable, but will be transferable within TGP.

Pricing

The pricing structure of TGP will be changing in 2019. Any and all projects that are started in 2018 will be grandfathered in to the current pricing structure.

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Watch This Space

I haven’t blogged in what feels like a year, and I miss it, but things have been so chaotic that I just don’t have the time that I used to be able to devote to it.

As you may have noticed, my postings, on here, Facebook, etsy, and instagram have essentially stopped. The production of new jewelry has essentially stopped. New gemstones have essentially stopped appearing anywhere. My communication has completely dropped off. My inspiration hit rock bottom. I have spent the last six months emotionally, mentally and physically spent.

Roughly a year ago, my life completely fell apart without warning and I’ve been attempting to pick up the pieces since then. There is a whole bunch of drama that I don’t want to go into, but suffice it to say that I am more in control of my life than I have ever been before, and I’m planning on making some big changes as a result. Unfortunately, these things take time, and I’m still at the mercy of circumstance, but I am done with waiting for things to happen, and it’s time to take the bull by the horns and make shit happen.

I would like to give a huge thank you to all of the people who have shown me by example, a compliment, lectures, a kind word, encouragement, downright cheerleading in my corner, allowing me to cry on their shoulder or spit out expletives, and even the people who have kicked me while I was down, giving me the opportunity to see just how strong I am.

Because it turns out that I’m a fucking beast.

The North Way Studio

I just want to give a huge shout out to my friend and colleague, Maria Bray of The North Way Studio! Her work was featured in a Buzzfeed article and I’m incredibly proud of her and always stunned by her amazing work!

The North Way Studio on Buzzfeed

Congratulations my dear! I’m so delighted that you are getting the recognition you deserve!

Maria from The North Way Studio

An Engagement Ring for B & S

I heard first seen and fallen in love with the creations by The Gemstone Project in 2016, while looking for unique pieces for my personal jewellery collection.
I really enjoyed that even my casual questioning and interest was met with positivity and genuine responses. As an Etsy favourite, when one of the listings jumped out at me, I sent the link to my partner, just stating that I found the ring I wanted.
He immediately inquired as to the possibility of having a ring resized and sent to us in Australia. Elle made it a very simple and comfortable process for him to get my correct ring size, and the ring arrived much faster than anyone expected.
The fit of the ring is perfect, it’s almost weightless and extremely comfortable. Well my newly minted fiance kept frantically checking that it was still on my hand, but I was 100% certain that it wouldn’t fall off accidentally.
The quality of the piece is unmatched, I have had endless compliments on the colour and cut of the stone as well as remarks on the ingenuity of the secret diamonds on the sides. All of my close friends and family members have remarked that it is very much suited to me, as well as the fact that it is very unique.
I have no hesitations in asking Elle to craft matching wedding and eternity rings. – B & S
Congratulations to you on your engagement and I’d be positively delighted to be involved in the wedding ring process!
Elle

Lemons into Lemonade

Sometimes life throws you lemons, and you have to make lemonade.

Consider me a lemonade factory at the moment.

 

Feel free to reach out via the contact page with inquiries, and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner. Please keep in mind that I’m a full time employee with an super impressive sounding job title, a full time mom to a wonderful, vivacious child and that I do jewelry for fun and because it’s my passion. So patience would be greatly appreciated at this time!

Hopefully soon everyone’s patience will be rewarded with some evolution in my jewelry designs and photography.

Engagement: Alli & Doug

I’m still not really sure how Alli and Doug found me, but they did and I’m absolutely delighted that they did. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had a part in this gorgeous ring, which would have been terrible.

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Back in the Fall of 2016, Alli and Doug reached out and asked if I would be interested in making their engagement ring. They had bought a gray spinel, and had several items of family jewelry that they wanted to use the stones from. If you’ve followed me at all, you already know how into an idea I am if it has a gray spinel attached to it. But I was intrigued both by the couple and their design ideas, as well as the center stone!

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They expressed later to me how difficult it had been to find a jeweler to execute their vision for their ring, and I can sort of understand why because it’s not conventional, and there really aren’t that many jewelers who are willing or want to take on an unusual request. Especially for a gemstone. I am honored to be asked to create this beauty for such a special sentimental ring!

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So they sent along some guides as to what they wanted their ring to look like, with some examples of each one, and we went back and forth on lots of the details for a long time, trying to iron out each element.

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They wanted the gray spinel to take main stage from top down, and not have any of the accent stones visible from the top down. They wanted double prongs (which is always a stability concern for me with cushion cut gems! Double prongs are always best for cushions!) and an antique feel.

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They wanted engraving, pretty much all over. They wanted Alexandrite accent stones in various places on the profile. They wanted diamond accents in other places. They wanted to use diamonds from an antique family ring. They wanted it to have the feel of an antique.

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Luckily their requests came with a stone that was large enough that we could add a lot of detail and still manage to hide everything under the stone.

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I had to play with proportions of everything, but at one point, everything just flowed together with all of the inspiration photos they had given me, every element that they had asked for, and my own little flourishes.

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They had me add their birthstones, an amethyst and a garnet plus an alexandrite into the shank, against her skin.

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A view of the tucked under family diamond, detailed with accents inspired by a 1950s birthstone ring that belonged to my mother. This shows it alongside a gray gold Accolade band.

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A bit of an idea of what it looks like on the hand with a quick handshot from yours truly!

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One of my flourishes, and Alli and Doug still don’t know this, is that when I was thinking about the project, I was strongly inspired by Alli and felt that she had a certain kinship with Wonder Woman. As a result, I mimicked Wonder Woman’s tiara shape in the profile of Alli’s ring, which you can see best when it’s upside down.  Alli is an athlete and a dentist (technically a prosthedontist) and those are just the tips of the iceberg when it comes to describing how gifted this woman is!

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I love how this ring looks slightly different from every angle.

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A closer look at the family diamond we bezel set on the shoulders of the ring.

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You know I cannot resist a gray spinel, especially a giant one like this! Once Alli saw that I had started to offer gray gold as an alternative to the traditional white, she jumped on the bandwagon immediately, and I think it came out incredibly well, and suits the stone perfectly.

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And to finish off, a couple macro photos on an antique beaded purse. When Doug surprised Alli with the ring, he turned off all of the lights because I had sent it in a ring box with a light in it, and she was really confused why he was turning the lights off, until he opened the box!

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When the ring was completed, I emailed Doug, and I told him that if he trusted me, he should just let me send the ring, and forgo seeing pictures of it beforehand. He did, and this blog entry would be the first time he would see the photos I had taken!

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Doug & Alli, it was my utmost pleasure to work with you and I hope that we can work together again in the future! Enjoy that stunner of a ring and congratulations again on sharing your life with each other!
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The Hermit from the Pacific Northwest

When we moved from California, we really had no idea what we were getting into. The first months after moving to Washington included massive wildfires, a broken limb, hitting two deer in quick succession, and plenty of other trials and tribulations.

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Don’t worry, I was stopped. 

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Roses at the Post Office. 

But it also included incredible sunsets the colors of padparascha sapphires and Vietnamese spinels, fields of yellow gold wheat as far as the eye could see in the fall, fields of brilliant green springtime wheat, and then the sparkly white of a frozen snow-covered tundra.

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I don’t miss the call of California. I don’t miss the palm trees (they are so much work!), the swimming pools.  I don’t miss the heat. I don’t miss the traffic. I don’t miss the helicopters hovering overhead nightly. And shockingly I don’t miss the high heels or the fashion or the shopping.

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I love digging my hands in the dirt and growing my own produce. I love that when I drive five minutes in one direction and I’m surrounded by empty space. I love going to the Post Office where everyone knows my name. I love the stillness of the air right after it snows. I love the wide blue skies. I love the rolling hills. I love the pine trees. And again, I love those sunsets.

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I realize that the major jewelry centers are in New York and Los Angeles. Maybe some day I will move back to a big city, and be happy to be among the bustle and the glamour, but for now I’m delighted to spend my time alone with my dogs and my family, breathing in the clean air and enjoying all four seasons, and living more simply than I did before.

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Besides, living here means more opportunity to travel to big cities!

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