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.

img_0012

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!

img_0014

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!

img_0016

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.

img_0018

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.

img_0028

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.

img_0031

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.

img_0046

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.

img_0062

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

img_0065

img_0068

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.

img_0095

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

img_0116

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!

img_0121

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

img_9956

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

img_9966

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.

img_9984

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!

img_9988

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!

img_9991

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!
Elle signature

Advertisements

Remembering Stephen

This week, the gemstone world lost someone important, who touched me profoundly, though he may not have known it. A year or so ago, I took custody of an amazing amethyst that has been posted here before. Of course it’s huge size (just under 28cts) was the first thing I noticed, but it was the polish and the cut that stood out among the rest of the parcel it had journeyed with.

Stephen Kotlowski will be sincerely missed by so many and I am honored to be a guardian of a piece of his work, the finest cut amethyst I have ever seen.

The following are his images, that he posted to my Facebook page months ago.

10426562_10207006553068261_6083865491214286894_n

11391210_10207006561188464_31809176321461730_n

11391768_10207006558868406_4941465114314003340_n

And my pictures:

10

11

7

1

6

9

2

I will take a long time to decide how to frame his already beautiful work of art. I just hope that I do it justice.

A Year in Review

Happy first birthday to The Gemstone Project!

Lets see, the past year has been chock full of wonderful craziness.

August 2014
The first month started out with a lot of posts about various gemstones, including a colorless garnet, and gray spinel. It included an unheated Umba color shifting sapphire in a Harry Winston inspired halo that I helped put together for a friend. I posted a bit about myself and some about my photography. And I topped off the month with my first Gem Blast.

September 2014
September started out with a visit to Lang Antiques in San Francisco that took up three posts. September included three Gem Blasts, including one about considering gemstone recuts. I concluded September with my handy guide “Scale of Gray” for seeking out gray spinels.

October 2014
October gave way to talk about birthstones, including two antique birthstone rings, tourmaline & opal. I touched on gemstone cutting flaws and what to keep an eye out for. I posted a design I used for my first jewelry design contest with David Klass. I included posts about tsavorites, Mahenge spinels, and an evaluation I did for a friend on a red spinel. Two designs were posted, including a breast cancer awareness ring and a red spinel inspired by the Art Deco period. October only had one Gem Blast – sapphires and moonstones.

November 2014
I created a Facebook page in November! I posted my drawing process for my solitaire setting entry for another of David Klass’ contests, this time winning. I also featured willajunejewelry. A Gem Blast about diamonds, some rough ideas for a NYC ring, plus some random thoughts flowed through November.

December 2014
A feature on Jewels by Grace brought December in with bang! Though the rest of the month I stayed a bit quieter due to the holidays, I still had a range of topics to cover. I wrote about design ideas and inspiration for my pad sapphire ring. A Gem Blast on Merelani Mint Garnets, my thoughts on what the New Year would bring, and a post about lapidaries fleshed out the end of the year.

January 2015
I brought in January with my own type of confetti: red spinel melee. A reader had suggested posting about a guide of what to look for in a gem. I announced that I was starting to design my own line of jewelry, posted a Gem Blast on the many gems at my beloved gem store and another Gem Blast celebrating January’s birthstone, several varieties of garnets. Then January closed with my declaration of opening an etsy store.

February 2015
February started with me changing to trade status on Pricescope and picking up a new username, and a post about fantasy cut gemstones. Pantone had announced their color of the year to be Marsala, and I have a few things to say about that. Sticking with the birthstone idea, I posted a Gem Blast about amethysts. I added a simple diamond pendant design, and a post about my most memorable Oscar jewelry.

March 2015
I brought in March with a post about a green beryl/aquamarine, another birthstone post. Some discussion about current jewelry trends took place, as well as a post about red spinel. I finally posted the finished product from winning David Klass’ contest. A more detailed post about my design aesthetic wrapped up March. But that wasn’t all! I also started a TGP Twitter account, and my 3rd ring prototype was completed, and the 4th one put into production.

April 2015
Since diamond is the birthstone for April, and also my birthstone, I decided to dedicate almost the entire month of posts to diamonds. Until recently I wasn’t a diamond lover, so I blogged about diamonds that really captured my imagination, including rose cut diamonds, a yellow diamond trillion, and a pinkish brown diamond. But I didn’t post entirely about diamonds – I added in a post with the end product of my David Klass contest band. My 4th prototype was completed too, and the 5th prototype was put into production! I also got a gem back from AGL as certified unheated. The event that took place that I was most excited about was a sapphire purchased from my shop being used as an engagement ring!

May 2015
Of course I would have to do an emerald Gem Blast for May, since it is the birthstone for the month and that seems to be the trend I picked up on! May was an incredibly busy month for me with JCK at the end, and preceding where to find me on social media, and a post about how I would be posting to instagram and twitter from JCK. I also finally posted a post I had made on sexism and gender issues within jewelry marketing and the jewelry trade. I also included a Gem Blast of the AGL certified violet sapphire. 5th ring prototype was completed!

June 2015
June did not get a birthstone post! Instead, I did a post about my jewelry line updates, a post on blue-green tourmalines, THREE posts on my experiences at JCK, including meeting lots of colored stone celebrities. I also did a post on metal color and how I prefer color flow to contrast, and how I like colors to work together. I also did a post about imitation and inspiration that had been writing itself on my phone for months prior. I finished the month with a Gem Blast on a stunning tanzanite from Precision Gems.

July 2015
July kicked off with a post about sending a sapphire to AGL and getting it tested. I then had a bit of an artistic funk and found myself writing about art of other mediums – Angie Crabtree and some chefs made some brief appearances and helped lift my spirits and inspired me further. I also got to the final stages of a big custom project, and took a fantastic mini vacation down to San Diego at the Vineyard Hacienda, which also helped get the creative juices flowing. I published a “living document” I had been writing about gemstone terms and vocabulary, and hopefully that will still be added to continuously. I finished off July with a couple of Gem Blasts – moving across state lines does not make for a lot of blogging time!

August 2015
August has only just begun again, but already this one holds a special meaning to me – I have never been good at continuing things – I have started so many blogs and stopped writing after a couple months, or lost interest, or whatever, so to reach and celebrate a year of posts, and all of the incredible things and wonderful people I have met – it truly is a remarkable milestone for me. So far into August, I have posted only one blog, but it has been one of the most important and edited (18 times! Two different highly educated editors!) items I have ever written – Gender Inequality and the Jewelry Trade. Oh, and I also moved across the country, a thousand miles to the north counts, right?

Here is to the future and everything it may bring!

1

Gem Blast: Amethyst

Apparently I have decided to do birthstone posts every month. Why not, right?

Anyway, February gets amethyst. Purple is traditionally a color of royalty, and generally a sought after gemstone for jewelry stores, because it is popular, and it’s relatively inexpensive since it’s pretty common to find in nice colors with good clarity. So I’m used to seeing lots of amethyst in jewelry stores, and it’s typically pretty “meh”. There are lots of windowed stones out there, I typically stay away from those. Why buy a stone that doesn’t sparkle, when you can spend a little bit more and get a super sparkly stone?

Here are some of the amethysts I have in my possession right now.

1

An asscher.

4

The glorious and enormous Kotlowski cut cushion.

1

6

7

It might be a good size to serve two purposes: piece of jewelry and a paper weight.

A couple hand shots for size reference.

9

10

An interesting marquise-oval shaped stone. The little pieces of fuzz on each stone is making me crazy. They are so tiny you can’t see them on the stones except under magnification.

2

A pretty lighter purple emerald.

5

I’ve never been a huge amethyst lover, even though I like purple quite a bit, so I’ve never really gotten into learning much about it. I know that there are pale Rose de France amethysts that are usually a pale pink-purple, and amethysts in deeper purples, that depending on locale may have red flashes or blue flashes, or even a combination.

I think that it’s simultaneously overrated and underrated as a gemstone. The general public sees it as being abundant, and inexpensive for a bright purple, so overrated. But the really nice colors aren’t widely known by the public, unless you really start digging around and educating yourself as to the differences between materials and location of origin. Amethyst is kind of underrated by the trade, precisely because the public doesn’t know the difference between really fine material and the stuff that is so widely available. So you can get high quality amethyst for comparatively lower prices than high quality in other gemstones.

There is not a more vibrant and saturated purple than an amethyst, although some stones may try! Looking at all of these amethysts makes me want to set some of it!

Fantasy Cut Lapidaries

So,  we’ve talked about gemstone cutting flaws, some stellar gemstone lapidaries and other random topics. Since I’m typically preoccupied with aesthetics I really wanted to hit on more unusual types of cuts that are visually stunning, but are typically less popular, because the stones usually need custom settings built around them, rather than being able to put the stones into cheaper stock settings that hold traditional shaped stones.

Now, these lapidaries are more than capable of cutting rounds, ovals, etc, but the stones that they really cut exceptionally tend to be the fancy fantasy shapes. These gemstones are not something you will see anyone else wearing, every single stone is a one of a kind. Hexagon facets, free form beehives, free form, concave cutting,

Note: I have not bought stones from any of these lapidaries, but in my experience, I would not hesitate buying from them myself if presented with the opportunity!

Without further ado, in no particular order:

Jeffrey Hunt
Jeffrey is an exceptional gemstone photographer, but his gems aren’t anything to sniff at either! So many of his stones make me want to design one of a kind pieces around them, and the deeper shapes are especially challenging to base a design around!
Jeffrey Hunt

Jean-Noel Soni
Let me talk about Jean-Noel for a minute. I’ve been following him on Instagram for over a year now, and I am continually amazed at how he works. He does not use any faceting diagrams, and always cuts based on the shape of the rough.
Top Notch Faceting

Roger Dery
From what I understand, Roger has a lot more in his inventory than what you see on his website. I’ve also been told that the photography is less than perfect, but that just means the stones will knock your socks off in person! He does some fabulous opposed bar cuts
Spectral Gems

John Dyer
I have loved admiring his gemstones for years. He has won stacks of awards, and has done things (not traditional faceting, that’s for sure!) that I’m pretty sure must be magical. I have had the pleasure of having one of his stones in my possession temporarily, and it was absolutely fantastic.
John Dyer

Richard Homer
Richard is the one lapidary on this list that has cut a stone for me. It was not concave cut, it had traditional faceting, and it was intended as an engagement ring stone. I loved the stone, but my boyfriend at the time wasn’t convinced on it. But, from what I know, if you want a concave cut stone, Richard is the first person you talk to.
Concave Gems

Doug Menadue
Doug is probably the most traditional of the cutters listed here, but he does some amazing things with super tall crowned round brilliants, his amazing ying yang cuts, and the towering acorn cut. Be warned, if you are looking at purchasing from him, he is in Australia, so prices are in Australian dollars, and shipping will take a while longer!
Bespoke Gems

Uli Zeisberg
Uli has a couple cuts that are outstanding and always catch my eye, including the Liquid Flower, and the Trinity Hexagone, both are trillion style cuts that are incredibly eye catching and unusual. I am also a big fan of the Neo cut he does, but so many of his gems are eyecatching and would make incredible pieces of jewelry.
Osiris Gems

You can seriously lose hours looking at all of the gems and work that these lapidaries do! Not to mention the directions your imagination can go!

I really wish I had some photos of some of the above cutter’s work, but I don’t (I need to remedy that!), but I still promised that I’d always post at least one picture! So, in honor of reaching a little bit outside the box with these cutters, I’ll post pictures of something that’s NOT sparkly (I know, gasp!), a black opal triplet cabochon.

1

2

3

The blue rhinestone material it’s resting on is actually the gaudiest cell phone cover ever invented by mankind. My little one picked it out. Hah!

Exciting News!

I am adding an extra post this week to announce that I have opened up an etsy store! Now, I’m still working towards getting my own site with my own designs, but in the meantime, I really wanted to get some of the loose gemstones that have been collected over the years out of my possession and into someone else’s.

8

I don’t plan on replenishing the supply of gemstones because I can’t set or keep everything and I need to make space for new stuff! So if I don’t already have it in my possession, odds are good that I won’t be getting it, but I can always point you in a direction that might be fruitful.

1

There are also some items of jewelry and settings on the etsy store as well, mostly because I don’t have room in my jewelry box for them anymore. Hah!

1

This post is to announce the grand opening of my etsy shop!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGemstoneProject

Because I wanted to thank my readers for checking it out, if you see something you like, I’m offering a 10% off coupon code (no quotes) on any purchase over $100 for the month of February: “GRANDOPENING”

My inventory consists of mostly precision cut stones, with a heavy emphasis on oranges, reds, purples and blues, plus a healthy dose of green, and some random earthy shades as well. There is always the risk that I’ll randomly get inspired by a gem in the shop, and it may be pulled to make into a piece of jewelry, so if you see something you like, please grab it while you can!

So please, check out the store, and if you’re looking for something in particular, I might have it, and it just hasn’t been listed yet. So please feel free to reach out and ask if I have an item and you don’t see it in the shop. Should you end up picking up something, I’m always available to help design a setting!