Engaged: 3 Stone Spinel

Sometimes the best projects are the most terrifying. Warning – this post is picture heavy!

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A while back I had a new client come to me and she said, “I don’t know what I want, but really like the Accolade band, and a few other settings. Can you design my engagement ring?” To which I said yes.

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Looking back on it, I think it’s kind of funny because being given full creative control is so so scary, but her engagement ring turned out wonderfully and I couldn’t be happier.

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We had a lot of debate over stones, but once the actual setting idea came into fruition, it all seemed to fall into place.

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It was made using three precision cut spinels – the center is a lavender spinel, and the two side stones are gray spinels.

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Platinum ended up being the metal of choice due to it’s lack of maintenance.  The random polish to smooth out scratches, and it looks as good as new again!

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The angled shoulder view is often my favorite on any ring, but on this ring, it’s extra special – I love how the prongs and the curves just flow together!

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Last rays of summer sun…

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Once you see the profile, you can clearly see how it was inspired by the Accolade band!

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E, I am absolutely delighted for you and D, and I hope that this ring follows you through many great adventures on your life together!

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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name?

I get a lot of questions about why I name jewelry what I do, so I thought I should explain a bit more as to how I came to the defining theme in the names of my collection.

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Vivant – Vivacious

I feel like so many designers out there have chosen names that are ladies given names, and I really wanted to express concepts that would mean something to me, that represented something that I felt, or something that inspired me while I was working on a piece, whether that be something descriptive of the actual piece itself (there could not be another name for Feuilles Dorées) or a name that had some quality that I felt the piece represented. I also try to keep each item upbeat, often thinking of qualities I would like my daughter to possess, or traits that inspirational women in my life embody. Every once in a while I even let a client name a piece themselves.

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Résistance – Strength

I actually put a lot of time into picking a name for each piece, taking into account every element of the item and every thought, word and feeling that ended up becoming that item. Unless inspiration hits and I fully flesh out an item within a few minutes, many hours of brainstorming, writing down words, drawing, thinking and sometimes staring at a blank piece of paper goes into each item. Often the name for a piece shows up somewhere from the beginning, as one of the defining concepts or an errant thought I have while trying to put a vision into words.

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Aurore – Dawn

Now, I chose French because of my background in pastry and culinary arts. French is basically the unofficial language of fine dining restaurants (though it could be debated that it should be Spanish) and as a result, I have a decent repertoire of French vocabulary terms floating around in my brain, though they are mostly related to cooking and food! No, I am not French (as far as I know), but I have two close friends that speak it fluently, and when I have questions about correct and accurate language usage, I have people to ask. Besides, French is the language of love, and while it may sound somewhat cliche, I love what I do.

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Papillon – Butterfly

French is not a super popular language within the United States, I realize that people may struggle with pronunciation, which is why I added what the English translation alongside the French on each piece’s page.  Please don’t feel bad about not being able to pronounce the names – I have struggled with languages my entire life (lets not talk about how I have had years and years of formal Spanish education and can barely speak any of it) and still mangle words at times!

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Voeu – Wish

So if you have ever wondered, that’s why I have a bunch of French words as the names of my jewelry!

As is par for the course, renovations are not done yet, though there is light at the end of the tunnel! Painting is getting closer and closer to being done, and I should have a new studio by March 1!

In the meantime, I’m working on some custom projects, including some more pear shapes, one of the most challenging but interesting shapes, in my humble opinion. Also included in that is a large project, or parcel of projects that has so many stones, I have been having a hard time figuring out where to start!

I’ve received requests for a new page to be added to my website, one page that has all of my custom work and designs together. Hopefully soon I can put some time into adding that. I will also put another jewelry item to the site in the next couple weeks – the Espoir ring.

New items were added to the etsy shop this past week – a yellow diamond ring and a red spinel and diamond ring among them!

Miscellaneous Updates

Just a quick update this week, New Years is coming up soon (where did this year go?), and getting my new office/studio together is taking up way more time than I planned on.

  • My wonderful Angie Crabtree “Elle” print was finally framed, and it’s waiting for it’s new spot to be hung in my new office. I went simple on this one, and hopefully, since she is working on some antique diamond cuts, I can give “Elle” a companion sooner rather than later!
  • I haven’t been able to sketch and design as much as I normally do, snow shoveling has taken way too much of my time, as well as driving in the snow. It turns out that driving slow is key for avoiding wrecks! Right now I have three (plus) projects going on – two ring projects that I have very clear ideas on, and another more fluid project that I got a whole parcel of stones for, and have too many ideas on, so that will need to be worked on, hopefully in the coming week or so.
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  • Not much going on with stock settings, I decided against rolling out the Dignité for now, and will probably reconsider in the future. I am working on a three stone idea that has been formulating in my head that lends itself well to pairing with the Vivant necklace.
  • Instead of the Dignité being released, I posted the Intrepide – a wonderful interesting halo that’s just a slight tweak on a simple halo, that really comes with big impact!  This setting is available for any size and shape of stone, please contact us for details.
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  • I have a Voeu ring that just came out of production, and is available to view in person at David Klass Jewelry in Los Angeles. This one was made with a peachy-brown imperial garnet with both yellow gold and rose gold. This setting really lends itself well to smaller stones, giving them a good dose of presence, even for a smaller stone.
  • I got a few new jewelry tools for the holidays, so I’m excited to use those, both for pictures and just in general.
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  • I am considering sending several sapphires to AGL for certification, but the negative side of doing that (for the customer) is that the prices will inevitably go up.
  • Speaking of pricing, I think I might do a sale on my items on etsy for January. I will decide in the next week or so.
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A bit short today, I have been completely overloaded, but will hopefully get back into the groove again soon!

Personal Shopping: Lavender Sapphire

Well this week has been crazy. We have had some insane weather here in the Pacific Northwest, including snow, rain (enough for Seattle schools to close, if you can imagine that amount of rain), 70+mph winds, freezing fog, and then record high temperatures.  Yes, it was in the 50s this week, which is downright balmy for this far north at this time of year.

Now, why would I talk about the weather, you might ask? Well, on November 17th, we had the above mentioned nasty wind storm, which knocked power out all over Spokane…and damaged part of the roof at the USPS sorting warehouse. Which, when the second wind storm hit, weakened the roof further to the point that it had to be evacuated. This happened just as a 3.62ct Mahenge spinel arrived in the ill-fated sorting facility in Spokane from Mayer & Watt. (If you don’t know Mayer & Watt, you should.) The gemstone that I was planning on evaluating and writing today’s post about. So that post will have to wait for next week. But a neon “original find” hot pink/red Mahenge should make for a good Christmas week post, so I’ll just have to let it go until next week.

Now, I’ve been working on some custom designs for some of my favorite clients, as well as looking at new stones for new clients, and really trying to get all of the stock collection up and running. One thing I’ve recently started doing is really going out and searching for stones, personal gemstone shopping, if you will. And I’ve been lucky enough to get in contact with the right people, at the right time, and find some extraordinary stones that I really thought we would not be able to find.

For instance, and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen this stone, but I had a client come to me looking for her engagement ring stone. She wanted a lavender, leaning blue, oval sapphire that was at least 9mm wide on the width, precision cut. Which, if you’ve thought about it,  translates to about 5-8 carats, depending on cut. So, as soon as I saw her wish list, I said, “Hey, this is going to be incredibly hard to find. I would start thinking about alternatives or concessions you feel comfortable making.” So she did, and said that she thought a lighter pink or even a white sapphire might be acceptable, adding round to her list of acceptable shapes. And I started keeping an eye out for those. Which is when I found Mayer & Watt.

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Image is property of Mayer & Watt.

Geoffrey Watt participates in a gemstone appreciation group on Facebook, One World Gemstone, and when he posted an image, I went and looked at his company’s FB page. There was a white sapphire that was round, which fit my client’s new criteria list. So I reached out and asked about the round white sapphire, and while Geoffrey and I were talking about it, I mentioned originally looking for a lavender. To which Geoffrey said, “You mean like this one?”

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Image is property of Mayer & Watt.

Insert my heart popping out of my chest.

At 5.97cts, 10.7×9.2×7.5 it was exactly what we had been looking for. I was so excited that not only was this stone in existence (I truly thought that it wouldn’t exist, or at least, that we wouldn’t find it) that it was within reach, and it took me about two hours to compose the email to the client with the details because I was so excited and in shock.

After jumping through a whole bunch of hoops, and Geoffrey making every attempt to accommodate our needs, it was hers.

Since then, she actually sent it to Jerry Newman for a recut, to clean up the symmetry a bit since it would be her engagement ring stone. Jerry did an amazing job, managing to only lose 8.3% loss, from 5.99 ct to 5.49 ct. The depth was originally 7.43 mm and is now 6.9, keeping the original face up dimensions at 10.7 x 9.2mm.

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Images are property of Jerry Newman. 

Not to be overly gushing, but when I originally got this client request, I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to come through for her. And it’s been through a couple of incredible colleagues in the gem trade that I was able to make a client’s engagement ring dreams come true.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

In the event that you see something in Mayer & Watt’s inventory that sparks your interest, feel free to request information through our contact page. Please keep in mind that Mayer & Watt are exclusively wholesalers, so they will not respond to your requests directly.

Engagement Season

It’s getting to be that time of year where everyone spends a lot of time with family and friends, going from party to party and opening lots of wonderful presents. It’s also that fateful time of year when people want to get engaged. I’m not sure what it is, but something about the holidays brings out the bling.

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Not that I’m complaining, of course! My very best friends got engaged on Thanksgiving, and my husband proposed to me a week before Christmas.

So lets talk about colored stone engagement rings, shall we?

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  1. Pick something hardy to try to withstand a lifetime. I usually recommend only spinel and sapphire if you’re going to deviate from hardness of a diamond. Spinel is about an 8 on the Mohs Scale, and sapphires are about a 9. Chrysoberyl (and Alexandrite) is also pretty hard at 8.5, but tends to be a less popular choice.
  2. Stick with something classic or something that you know you will love in twenty years as much as you love it now.
  3. Think about what kind of wedding band you want! So many people walk into stores and think about the engagement ring, but never think about what the pair it with. Easier to plan a whole set sometimes, especially if you’re going with something besides a relatively simple solitaire.
  4. Take good care of your engagement ring. Truly, no engagement ring should be worn 24/7, even diamonds. Hardness does not equal being indestructible.  Don’t wear it while doing anything that could cause any harm to the stone – gardening, washing dishes, lifting heavy items. I like to buy a fancy box and put it in there, safe from potential harm while I’m doing those kinds of things.
  5. Color. What color do you want? What is her/your favorite color? What colors do you wear a lot? What stone does the color the best? Is that type of stone at least a 7 on the Mohs Scale? Does that type of stone have other qualities you like (dispersion) or dislike (facet abrasion)? 1
  6. Does the stone need a protective setting to try to prevent nicks and chips? Typically people will bezel or halo a stone that’s on the softer side that may need help in the protection department, but this still leaves the table and crown facets open to getting hit. No setting is going to completely protect your center stone, which is why you have to be careful with it!
  7. Is it in the budget? Rubies, sapphires and emeralds are all going to be very classic choices and typically have the best colors, but spinel does red very well (and has a much cleaner crystal!), spinel also does blue very well, and tsavorites can have eye popping green color as well (plus they often have cleaner crystal as well. Spinels and garnets have the bonus to rarely being treated, as well as often being less expensive than their classic counterparts. Fine rubies, emeralds and sapphires can cost more than diamonds. Colored stones are not always going to be less expensive than diamonds!
  8. Treatment levels. Often, when someone is looking for an engagement ring colored stone, they would like the stone to have as little treatment as possible. As with most colored stone purchases, so long as all treatments are disclosed, and you’re paying a fair price for what you’re getting, you’re good to go.
  9. Size. Is the size practical for her lifestyle? Is she very active and play lots of sports? Does she like big jewelry? Or does she like small? Has she ever admired a relative’s jewelry item? What does the rest of her jewelry look like?
  10. Style. This is probably the topic that I’m most invested in (obviously!) but there are so many different styles out there that the choices are absolutely limitless. Classic, trendy, Art Deco, Mid Century, modern, quirky, just to name a few.

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Hoping that everyone has a wonderful holiday/engagement season!

10 Facts About Me

Here is a collection of 10 fast facts you probably don’t know, and couldn’t guess about me:

  1. I typically do not wear any jewelry. Yeah, I know.
  2. My engagement ring is a Stuller setting. I have never posted it to Instagram, and I don’t know that I ever will.
  3. I’m originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico but have lived in Hyde Park, NY, Bakersfield, CA and Eastern Washington.
  4. I have a pretty extensive background in law, but minimal formal education in it.
  5. I got married in Las Vegas because it’d be easier and smaller than a wedding in Albuquerque. It was not what the kind of wedding you think of when you hear “a Vegas wedding”.IMG_8794
  6. I love cold and wet weather, but I have horrible blood circulation, so my body does not. One of my very favorite memories is having a snowball fight with my husband, very early in our relationship. I anticipate making some snowflake jewelry in the future.
  7. I am a bit of an introvert and do not like talking on the phone. I prefer email and text message 100%, and if I spend a lot of time talking, my voice pays for it later.
  8. If you saw my house, you’d think my favorite color was teal. It’s not. I tend to stay away from decorating with my favorite colors because I don’t want to get sick of them.
  9. I have pieces from D’Vatche and Mark Morrell in my personal collection. Many of the items in my personal jewelry collection are antique or used. I tend to like unique one of a kind items, and antiques accomplish that perfectly.
  10. I have very eclectic tastes when it comes to home furnishings. I have some modern items with clean lines, and some very traditional antique items – some of which have been passed on through generations of my family.

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Bonus: I am a total city girl, but since moving to Eastern Washington, I have adapted incredibly easily to small town life. Thank goodness for the internet! While I love the convenience of city life, nothing is more beautiful than an incredible sunset, followed closely behind by a clear night sky. Color and sparkle. That’s where it’s at.

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Gender Inequality and the Jewelry Trade

I’ve been writing this post and it’s companion piece over a period of time. If you’ve read through my about me post you know that I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but what I haven’t mentioned is that my minor was sociology, and in both my major and minor, I concentrated in classes related to relationships, which included several classes on gender. In my studies I also took elective classes on both Social Control and Consumer Psychology, both of which have served me well and opened my eyes to thinking critically about the world around me, and specifically the world of jewelry.

This blog post is a continuation of the blog post I wrote that was an adaptation of a research paper written about diamonds and jewelry marketing for my Social Control class back in college. This one will feature more anecdotal personal experience. Rightfully so, this is a topic of which I am very invested in and very passionate about.

As a woman, every time I walk into a jewelry store, I watch the salespeople’s body language and how they react to me. Men see me as dollar signs, and don’t consider that I may have technical knowledge about jewelry. I talk to a man in a jewelry store and I feel like I am expected to say, “Oooo pretty sparklies! How much? Let me get my husband!” It is not unlike walking into a car dealership where I am treated as though I have no idea how a car works, or like I care what is under the hood.

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This dude looks so creepy.

Not long ago my family and I went shopping for a car, and almost every salesman (car salespeople are almost always men, interestingly) talking to me about the amenities, the leather seats, the colors, etc, and directed technical specifications at my husband. This was endlessly irritating because I’m the car “guy” in my house. So to shove them in their place, when my husband would ask a question of the sales person, if I knew an answer, I’d cut them off and answer the question. Now, I’m off on a little bit of a tangent, but I’m also the “jewelry guy” in a jewelry store. I don’t care about “Pretty sparklies!”, I want to know the technical specifications, origins, cut angles, treatment levels, lab reports, manufacturing types, etc. So, when I walk into a jewelry store with my husband, it’s like we won the lottery with how much attention we get. And they direct their attention to showing me the happy pretty sparklies, but direct the pricing information and technical specs at him. Which makes sense based on the traditional gender roles the industry has built it’s foundation on. But does it make sense for the reality of the equality in today’s market, and for the targeted marketing audience?

Antique jewelry ad
Oh, how romantic!

Let me say a couple of things here. I have worked in sales. I have worked waiting tables. If you work in an industry that deals directly with the public, you learn eventually that you absolutely cannot judge a book by it’s cover. You will inevitably get screwed when a wealthy person looking to drop big bucks comes into your establishment looking like a homeless person, and you treat them like a homeless person. “But this is our most expensive model!” “Yes, and I want your most expensive model. Only now I want it from your biggest competitor.” But that’s just generalized basic customer service. I would like to target the jewelry industry a little bit more specifically.

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Are they trying to be facetious?

I recently spent some time in downtown Los Angeles, specifically in the diamond district there. A couple years ago I also spent some time in the diamond district in New York City. There were a few major similarities and a few major differences. The most obvious, and innocuous difference was the style of dress with LA being far more casual with most men wearing casual pants and short sleeved shirts, and NYC being definitely more formal, most men walking around in suits, despite the summer heat. The biggest similarity was the quantity of men. I visited stone setters, colored gem dealers, diamond dealers, and had numerous other men in the business coming by to chat or broker deals in DTLA. Out of everyone that I talked to and visited in DTLA, probably about 25 people, there were only three women behind the counters, and that included my tour guide. In the DD in NYC, I remember seeing four women behind the counter, and all of them deferred to the men they were working under at least once.

Why is the retail jewelry world dominated by men when the vast majority of the customer base is women? As I discussed in my previous blog post,  jewelry industry is built around and directly targeting women.

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Seriously? Sex sells, but ew.

“It’s a boy’s club.”

I’m here to tell you, dear readers, that it is, in fact, a boy’s club. It was only in April that JCK published their “Power Base List 2015” made up of 50 individuals and there were only 13 women on that list. 26%. That’s not even a third of the list. One of those people was Lupita Nyong’o, who has no direct ties to the jewelry industry as an actress, but affects the jewelry industry as a “tastemaker”.

It really gets to me when I hear stories about the industry, and in particular about women who are small business owners/operators/benches/designers/cutters who go to an industry show/convention/etc and are given little to no respect by the boys of the diamond boy’s club with lines such as, “Come back with your husband.” How extraordinarily insulting. When I heard that that line was directed at a dear friend, I seethed and was spitting mad. My wonderful savvy friend gave that man her thoughts right then and there, and proved to him that she didn’t need her husband to make a large financial decision.

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Ugh. Really?

The really sad thing is, this sexism isn’t limited to certain roles within the trade. In fact, a class action lawsuit was recently brought up against Sterling Jewelers (more commonly known as Jared: The Galleria of Jewels & Kay Jewelers) for women being paid less and passed over for promotion. The problem there, which is more of a read-between-the-lines issue, is that these were in sales and retail management, not in fabrication or executive control, where the lines of gender inequality are even more pronounced.

Google image search: Jeweler
Jeweler

Google image search: woman jeweler
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Data for jewelry workers is very difficult to put together because so many of it’s job descriptions fall within a larger designation, for example, “retail” and “fashion”. Another troublesome error is that some of these big name fashion designers, Vera Wang for example, are creating jewelry lines to capitalize on their name. So you come across a “fashion employee for Vera Wang” but unless you get specific, that person could be a dress maker, fashion model or a jewelry fabricator.

I was given 5 years of monthly Current Population Survey data (random sample data, thought to be representative, compiled by the Census). This is what I learned. Out of a total of 6,835,528 people surveyed only 1,184 were “Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers”, which is an incredibly small number, making the aforementioned laborers rare indeed at .017% of the population*. Now, what I’m really interested in is where the gender divide is. Surprisingly, 54.1% were women, 45.9% are men. Now, this number doesn’t give any information about what type of jewelers we are talking about, and my gut feeling is that the vast majority of these workers are beaders, precious metal clay workers, and artisans that are crafting and selling their own items on a small scale. The problem there is that those people would be considered “crafters” and not “fine jewelry manufacturers” and little credibility is given to these members of the trade.

Aujourd'hui encore, les campagnes publicitaires de la De Beers pour les diamants taillés sont signées du slogan 'A diamond is forever'.
Oh DeBeers…

Have you ever noticed that a majority of jewelry sales people are women? And a vast majority of the jewelry benches are men? Jewelry designers, pawn brokers, diamond brokers, diamond dealers, gemstone dealers, owners, diamond cutters, gemstone cutters, CAD artists, appraisers, CEOs of large companies, etc are almost always men. So my question becomes, if women are the target market for a vast majority of the jewelry that’s out there, why is the majority of the trade made up of men? Why are men directing an entire luxury industry whose target market is almost exclusively women? The marketing strategies mentioned in my first post target men as the actual active buyers of the products, while women end up being the passive consumers.

As society seems to be shifting, with more emphasis on making educated purchases, the jewelry industry is likely going to find itself in a bit of a rut.  Social norms are changing, there is less societal pressure to get married, and a less traditional view on gender norms, which has already started to reflect in jewelry trends. I have noticed that there has been a bit of a quiet uproar in the jewelry world, with numbers of people starting to buy gemstone engagement rings, and educating themselves on jewelry, where it comes from, who is making it. Women make up half of the world, and it’s an industry built for women. I think that women are educating themselves and liberating themselves from the traditional roles that the jewelry industry perpetuates. I know I’m not alone in my perspective, I see so many women who are in the jewelry trade and trying so hard to try to change it from the inside out.

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The jewelry industry itself is not stuck in the 1950s. With diamond imaging technology, CAD programs, 3D printers, diamond optics tools, and more, jewelry has made some amazing technological advances that it has become reliant on. So why does the industry as a whole insist on traditional gendered values within the industry, as well as catering to the traditional roles through the target market? This is an industry that is aimed at women, that is fed by women, and it is currently run by men. I want that to change. I want to support women in small business so that they may grow to be women in big business and change the traditional, sexist values in this industry. There shouldn’t be such a strict gender divide, especially in an industry where women, even as passive consumers, control the market.

I’m not complaining that the jewelry industry is aimed at women. I’m a woman, and I love gemstones and jewelry. I think it is a big mistake that there are so few jewelry leaders who are female. I also think that the jewelry industry needs to rethink how gender biased it is. I see more and more women who are taking the bull by the horns and looking to change the industry slowly, by themselves. In general, this industry is finally starting to critically examine the business structure and finding that women can lead companies too, especially companies making products that are marketed directly at women.

What I don’t see, is enough of an uproar to start making a significant difference.

Proposal

* – Special thank you to my husband the social scientist for helping me find and make sense of the data. And another special thank you to a good friend, who happens to be a Sociology of Gender scholar, for giving me some great insight and helping put my thoughts into words.

Disclaimer: None of the photos viewed in this blog entry belong to me. All ownership rights belong to their respective owners. 

Tabloids and Jewelry

Unless you live under a rock, you have heard that The Bachelorette (Kaitlyn Bristowe) was proposed to and accepted her proposal last night (from Shawn Booth). Congratulations to the happy couple – I hope that you beat the odds!
I’m going to go on a mini rant for a minute:
One of the problems with tabloid magazines talking about jewelry is that they never report how many carats the setting is vs. how many carats the center stone is. All of the tabloids are reporting that Kaitlyn’s ring is 3.5cts. Now, knowing what I know, her particular setting probably has about a carat or so of diamonds on the setting itself, not counting the center stone.
So it could be 2.5ct center stone with a carat of little diamonds (often called melee or pave) for a total of 3.5 carats, or it could be a 3.5ct center with a carat of little diamonds for a total of 4.5 carats. I’m guessing, that it’s actually a 3.5 total carat weight, with a 2.5ct or so center.
Any tabloid reporting on jewelry is essentially worthless when no one actually defines where the carat weight is coming from! And it makes me crazy. I guarantee you that someone at Neil Lane knows exactly what the carat weight of the center and the setting is.

My issue is that this is giving the public unrealistic ideas of anything about jewelry! Unfortunately with this kind of misinformation that’s out there, it further confuses the public and no one benefits from unrealistic expectations when it comes to jewelry.

And this is only applicable when the tabloids get the information about the jewelry right. Don’t get me started on that topic. At least People had a Neil Lane press release to rely on, is all I’m going to say on that particular topic.
Sidenote: Why does Neil Lane insist on using those over photoshopped images of his jewelry? They end up looking more like a lifeless drawing than something that is full of sparkle and fire!
Photo courtesy of People magazine, Neil Lane stock photo.
Bachelorette ring Kaitlyn

Gender Inequality and Jewelry Marketing

I’ve been writing this post over a long period of time. If you’ve read through my about me post you know that I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but what I haven’t mentioned is that my minor was sociology. In both my major and minor, I concentrated in classes related to relationships, which included several on gender. In my studies I also took elective classes on both Social Control and Consumer Psychology, both of which have served me well and opened my eyes to thinking critically about the world around me, and specifically the world of jewelry.

This blog post is adapted from part of a research paper I wrote on diamonds for my Social Control class, and includes some anecdotal personal experience. I did not take any of the images in this particular blog entry. 

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Or so the song says. (Sorry Marilyn, I prefer Nicole’s version.)

Jewelry, as we know it today, is primarily marketed at women. “Women of the World, Raise your Right Hand!” became a popular slogan of DeBeers, in 2003, in an attempt to sell more “right hand rings” and broaden their marketing target to include not only the important diamond-clad left hand belonging to married and engaged women, but also single women and other women who would be disinclined to buy a diamond solitaire for their left hand. Tiffany, other large luxury companies, and fashion houses have all created and successfully marketed signature engagement ring lines, but until DeBeers started the “Raise your Right Hand!” campaign, most women’s jewelry boxes contained few if any rings besides the engagement, wedding and perhaps birthstone or heirloom rings.  The right hand ring campaign ended only a couple years after it started, but the idea remained ingrained into society, although certainly not as widespread as it could have been.

DeBeer’s “Women of the World: Raise Your Right Hand” marketing campaign, print ads.
RHR
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Diamond seller’s marketing campaigns have influenced the American public through their popular culture by glamorizing diamonds and glorifying them as the hallmark for engagement, marriage, milestones, and various types of celebrations. So many specific examples come to mind. “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” come to mind as a piece of pop culture that exemplifies the huge glamorous engagement ring, which clearly resonates with the American public, as the concept is in it’s 13th year. Every season of The Bachelor has shown a segment where The Bachelor meets with celebrity jewelry mogul Neil Lane for a private engagement ring buying session, with zoomed in images of the various styles being picked over. Then, when The Bachelor proposes to his bride, we get another detailed shot of the ring in the box, with Neil Lane’s logo prominently displayed. This, and other targeted marketing has created control over traditional gender roles and it links supply and demand to style and culture. Under this sun shiny image perpetuated by the wedding industry is a darker, more sinister message: marriage with the requisite material possessions is the American Dream. The item that propagates marriage – an innocuous looking diamond engagement ring.

Chris Soules (ABC’s The Bachelor 2015) engagement ring to Whitney Bischoff, at the proposal.
Bachelor 2015 ring

Both effective and non-effective marketing ploys from De Beers include: Failed attempts by diamond industry to create the “male engagement ring” in the early 20th century, “Diamonds are Forever”, the three stone ring-representing your “past, present and future”, “promise rings”, the creation of “journey jewelry”, the aforementioned “diamond right hand ring”. Go back and read that again, and carefully consider which gender each concept is aimed at. The introduction of salary suggestions as a marketing ploy for engagement rings began in the 1930s with DeBeers: two months salary for the United States, three months salary in Asian markets and one month salary in the United Kingdom, where colored gemstones or very small diamonds are typical for traditional engagement rings given to a man by a woman. According to statista.com, in 2013, 50% of jewelry sales was made by married women of non-bridal diamond jewelry, 35% was made of single women in non-bridal jewelry, while only 12% included sales of diamond engagement rings with only 3% was made up of diamond wedding bands.

DeBeer’s USA engagement ring print ad: how to make two months’ salary last forever.
2 months salary

Some movies that glamorize diamonds include: Titanic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sweet Home Alabama, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Moulin Rouge and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, among many others.  It is interesting to note in most diamond focused movies women are always the ones wearing, wanting or being impressed by diamonds. A man is rarely depicted desiring or wearing a diamond and this may be tied to the “diamonds are for women” stigma, which seems to be the popular stance for most men rejecting diamond jewelry as a whole.

One of the most iconic jewelry related movie scenes, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman”
Pretty Woman necklace
The Tiffany & Co engagement scene from “Sweet Home Alabama”.
Sweet Home Alabama
Kate Hudson, glowing with a massive yellow diamond, during the jewelry party scene in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”
How to lose a guy

Madonna, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Elizabeth Taylor, royalty from other countries, Superbowl rings and athletes, socialites, hip-hop, rap, movie, music and television stars have helped maximize the exposure of diamonds to the American public, signifying their desirability. Diamonds are frequently seen on women at the red carpet of movie premieres, award shows and other celebrity studded events. It is rare for a man to wear statement jewelry on their tuxedos, although lapel pins seem to be making a comeback. Do you remember the hoopla when Johnny Depp was “caught” wearing an antique diamond ring? He said it was supposed to be for his betrothed but he liked it and kept it. People were aghast at a male wearing a “female” style ring, and news stories were in abundance at his audacity to go against the norm.

Johnny Depp, rocking a diamond engagement ring.
Johnny Depp
Kim Kardashian, showing off her engagement ring.
Kim Kardashian engagement ring

The concept of gender is prevalent throughout the diamond and jewelry industry, with pictures of delicate engagement rings being concentrated and aimed at the female population. The male engagement ring does not exist in the United States, although there was a failed past attempt by De Beers to create one. “Ladies jewelry” styles are more delicate, with fine filigree work and more intricate detail, as well as small pave stones. “Men’s jewelry” tends to be very substantial, with fewer stones or larger bulkier stones. There are fewer diamond wedding bands for males because of the concept that diamonds are for women, not for men. The potential of the man’s non diamond ring could have correlation with men traditionally having more manual-labor or dangerous jobs, where rings in general may become a safety liability, while the lack of diamonds on said rings may have something to do with the concept of masculinity and the diamonds undermine this masculine ideal.

The diamond engagement ring should be, according to popular culture, the most flawless and largest diamond a man can afford because it represents his love for a woman. Diamonds have become representative of marriage because marketing campaigns have entrenched our society in the idea of the symbol of the engagement ring and diamond wedding rings are sometimes the only diamonds a woman will receive in her lifetime. There few advertisements of diamonds in homosexual relationships because the diamond industry is focused on traditional heterosexual couples as their primary market. It is only with Tiffany’s newest campaign that gay couples have been entered into the target market, and it is maddening that it has taken this long for the jewelry industry to embrace gay marriage, as it seems that it had been missing a great target market before. When you consider how entrenched the jewelry industry is in traditional gender roles, and has been for almost a hundred years, suddenly marketing to same sex couples is quite the mountain to overcome.

Tiffany Co Gay engagement

Traditional gender roles and gender inequality have saturated jewelry marketing to the extent that we no longer see it.

David Klass Solitaire Setting Completed

So, back in September, I posted a Gem Blast with a purple sapphire I had picked up at a gem store on a trip back home. It was sold to me as a 2.40ct Untreated Color Shifting Sapphire. It does tend to look more blue in daylight, and more purple under fluorescent.

In November I posted about how I won David Klass’s Solitaire Setting contest, and posted a step by step guide of my drawing process. I mentioned not being able to vocalize my design process in that post, so I’m attempting to do that a little bit here, in this post.

I had a really hard time deciding if I wanted to use a high quality CZ for the setting or if I wanted to use one of my stones. I originally chose this stone to make the sketch and the setting around because there aren’t a lot of oval solitaire settings out there. This could be easily adapted for just about any symmetrical shape – round, cushion, emerald, radiant, asscher. Hearts, pears and trillions would require more intense modifications, of course.

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Colored stones are typically oval cuts, just because of the shape of the rough. But because most diamond solitaires out there are round, there just aren’t a lot of settings made specifically for ovals. The jewelry business has a love affair with diamond solitaires, and because of that, I find setting selection to be really limited for interesting solitaire settings that weren’t necessarily intended to be an engagement ring.

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The shoulder view was actually the original starting point for me. I was inspired by a detail in another setting, but the look and feel is completely different – the original ring had a similar filigree detail, but it was just a detail, not the actual structure of the ring, the way mine turned into. I’ve shown the inspiration and the finished product to people before and they have been like, “Why are you showing me these two rings?!” and not seeing any resemblance at all.

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The top view sort of just turned into what it was from how the shoulder detail worked out. The entire design started out and turned out to be based on that shoulder detail.

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You can see a little bit of uneven metal here – it’s really only noticeable under magnification, and especially here because of the way the lighting hits it.

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Now, typically I don’t like the leave the gallery blank and sort of boring like this – I feel like it’s one of the most neglected parts of a ring, but I didn’t want to overload an already very detailed setting with details that weren’t necessary. Part of the ring needed to be simple and clean, especially since I added the engraving detail on the bottom of the shank.

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I realize now that when I was taking pictures I didn’t really do a good job of capturing the profile view, so the above is probably the best view I got. About 4 hours before the sketch was due, I was still madly sketching and trying to discern a profile view. It couldn’t be too busy and it couldn’t be too simple, otherwise it wouldn’t flow with the rest of the setting.

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This is probably my favorite view of the setting – seeing both the profile and the shoulder view, and how they interact and curve into each other.

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A couple shots of the actual physical ring and the drawings. You can see just how closely David was able to follow my design and how few tweaks were actually made, and they were typically structural things.

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At the very last minute, I changed the setting to add engraving to the bottom of the shank. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t visible from the top down view of the ring, and you can see that it is barely visible at all, just like I planned.

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Overall I’m pretty overwhelmed, yet amazed at how easily it came together, and how well David was able to execute my design into CAD from a simple 2D sketch.

Amazingly, David had the ring back to me exactly 1 week from the day I got the sapphire to him. He made a huge effort to get it to me quickly because I was going on a series of trips and wouldn’t be at home to receive it for a consistent period of more than a couple days.

So, now that you’ve seen the solitaire setting, I have actually made strides towards getting the band from this post made, so I should be able to post an update for that band soon too!