Viva Las Vegas! JCK 2015 Part 3!

So. It’s the final day. I would have loved to stay in Vegas longer, but my daughter was already having a hard time with me being gone. I’d had a packed schedule for three days and wasn’t able to talk to her as much as I (or she) would have liked.

Saturday

I actually woke up at a decent time, and got ready as soon as possible and made my way over to the convention center. I was alone because my companion from Friday had some other engagements, and I had put this day aside to spend at the show. I was determined to go up to the diamond levels, but had to go spend some quality time back downstairs with my beloved colored stones.

JCK Luxury Salon

So, one thing I wanted to point out is that security is TIGHT, of course. These security cameras were on the escalators up to the Luxury Salons. Security guards are everywhere, police are everywhere, it was kind of amazing. But I will tell you, I’ve never felt so safe.

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Now, one other reason I am showing the video cameras is that I wasn’t able to take a ton of photos. Luxury and the main floor of the show is nothing like AGTA – cameras and photographs are not welcome. Designers and jewelers are determined that their ideas will not be stolen. I may or may not have gotten yelled at at least once by a guy wearing a bow tie that was peddling 20+ carat antique cut stones. How can you copy something like that?!

So, I’m going to lay this out there and be flat out honest. I am a colored stone girl. I am so tired of diamond halos. And that’s what the vast majority of what was in the Luxury Salons. I don’t know that I should be apologetic about that, because it’s obviously what people want, but for the love of Pete, you can only do a diamond halo in so many ways! Having said that, I sometimes like diamond halos, but at least get creative with them!

NOW, one company that did something besides your every day diamond halo was Cicada Jewelry. Don’t get me wrong, they had some diamond halos, but that wasn’t all they had. So I wildly sketched some ideas and noted some color combinations. I wasn’t even tempted to take pictures, because I respected their work enough to not want to copy it, but to use some of the lessons learned while standing in that aisle admiring their work. They have a minimal presence online and on social media because they are so protective over their work and designs. They actually do not even photograph and publish most of their work so that they don’t get copied. And for good reason, their items were exquisite, definitely the best I saw at the show. I got a shot of their business card though! Their booth was what the entire section of Luxury Salons should have been.

Other companies need to step up their game.

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AGTA, Random Cabochon Vendors

I would have to go back through my business card collection to tell you who the vendor was, but they had some of the coolest stuff – adding some mother of pearl to the back of some translucent cabochons of different colors. I was fascinated by the resulting light play and will have to delve further into the idea of making jewelry with it when I have more resources to do so.

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This concave cut belonged to a HUGE vendor who had so many items out on their tables that they must have had a terrible time keeping track of everything. I was a horrible convention goer and didn’t grab one of their business cards.

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AGTA, Bruce Bridges

One of my most entertaining visits from this day was when I went by the tsavorite.com booth and happened to meet Bruce Bridges. So I asked him to pull out the biggest example of tsavorite he had in the cases, and he polished it up with a clean cloth while I pulled out my OlloClip and readied my camera. They asked to see the photos I took and were enthralled with the quality of the photograph I had just taken using just my phone and a relatively inexpensive macro lens. Bruce complimented my photography skills, and I taught him all about the OlloClip. I’m pretty sure he’s now a convert and will be purchasing one, if he hasn’t already. This stone is 12.5cts and I was afraid to touch it, knowing how rare (and expensive!) tsavorites are of this size. The photo does not do it justice, as the stone has less yellow in it than appears on my laptop, or on my phone, for that matter. Silly greens, being difficult to capture correctly.

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Blurrier pic, but I was trying to capture some sparkle.

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A horrible picture of some of what was in their display case. I only asked to see the biggest, but there were some heart wrenchingly beautiful spinels and tanzanites along with all of the greens.

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I hope that Bruce picks up an OlloClip and is introduced to Instagram, as I’d love to see more of those incredible gems all over the interwebs!

AGTA, Random Gemstone Vendors

I stopped by the Paraiba booth again to grab a couple pictures of a few of the tourmalines, the 3ct one in particular, as it is that famed “Windex blue” everyone always goes on and on about. The others weren’t too shabby either, but they really just aren’t my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn down designing around one, but I don’t know that I’d ever really want to own one.

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Chinastone is the place with the melee. I actually was planning to pick up some and then realized that I didn’t have the cash on me at the time. So much fun to imagine what to do with all of those tiny stones!

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Then a last stop back by Prima Gems to pick up this little neon red guy and a stone for my day 2 companion. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this thing, but I will do something with it at some point!

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I actually went upstairs and wandered through the tech/tools area for a bit and chatted with some friends/colleagues about tools, the trade and jewelry design, but didn’t take any pictures, so that’s a bit boring.

Pricescope Get Together

2015 marked the fifth year of the Pricescope get together, but only my second time attending. I went straight from JCK and arrived before anyone else did, so I managed to get a couple images of the suite before anyone else arrived. A giant thank to goes out to Andrey Pilipchak, his beautiful wife Linh, and Erika Winters, for putting so much effort into hosting such a great party every year. It’s your playground, we just get to play in it!

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I believe that there is an annual pool game that takes place, but I’ve always stayed away from it while it’s happening!

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Luckily, being one of the first people there has it’s perks, like I didn’t feel guilty about grabbing people’s bling as soon as they walked in the door, since no one else was there to look at it yet. For instance this amazing pear rose cut came through the door, and I didn’t want to give it back. I mean, look at it! I think that Jewels By Grace still has it, but it may have sold already. Unfortunately, not to me.

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This piece is wonderful, first of all because it belongs in a friend’s personal collection, but also because of the history. It’s a 1920s Art Deco brooch that was converted in the 1950s into a bracelet. I didn’t capture the bracelet details, but the brooch part is absolutely immaculate with perfect milgrain.

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Another Jewels by Grace item, this is a precision cut light pink garnet that was set into one of JbyG’s signature bangle bracelets, in brushed rose gold. Sometimes the simplest things are the best ones.

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Now, once I got this on my finger, I absolutely did NOT want to give it back. Another Jewels by Grace item, a to-die-for antique emerald cut diamond. Positively epic. I am such a sucker for the step cuts.

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This may have been the point where I started sending pictures of it to my husband. Who then laughed at me. 3.6cts doesn’t come cheap!

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Another wowza item that is a bit shy and not fond of the bling paparazzi is a stunning antique green chrysophase ring. This thing has presence in any room, and glows like it has a light on inside. From another personal collection.

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Also happening at the party was playing with loose stones. One thing I love about the camaraderie that belongs to Pricescope is that no one judges you for playing with little sparkly items when normal people might think you’re crazy for being so bling obsessed. For us, it’s just the best kind of party! A friend was asking advice for a potential three stone. By the end of the night she had completely changed her tune and was going towards something totally different.

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Now, towards the end of the evening, I happened to check my Instagram, and noticed that I had hit the 1000 followers mark. I had been intending to do a giveaway at 1000 followers, but considering that I was in Vegas, and would be traveling home all day the next day, I decided to postpone the giveaway until 1,500. So, if you’re an instagram follower, start looking for me to do a giveaway on there relatively soon!

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Not long afterwards, my roommates gathered me up, and insisted that we go back to our room, ending my mini-bling vacation. I had seen, experienced and learned so much that I couldn’t even begin to try to remember absolutely everything I had absorbed. I gathered a ton of business cards and made a bunch of new contacts, some very cool mentors and shared a bit of myself. I feel like I created some new opportunities and I hope that some wonderful things come out of it.

I want to send out a HUGE special thanks to Amy Phillips and David Klass of David Klass Jewelry. Without the kindness and generosity of these two phenomenal people, most of this trip would not have been possible. You guys are the best!

I hope you enjoyed a small piece of what JCK and AGTA were like through my eyes!

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Update: My jewelry line

I’ve been working on sketches for quite a while on items for my new line. Of course, this is not the easiest thing since there are so many amazing designs out there, and it’s hard to be innovative when it feels like everything has been done. Some of these are influenced by the custom projects I’m working on with people, and some are just things that I would like to see or wear myself.

Sometimes the stones “speak” to me, and I have to do what they say. Ok, not really, but that’s sort of how it feels sometimes when I’ve had a stone for a long time without any inspiration and suddenly one day I look at the stone and it’s a total Eureka moment. And then I’m scrambling for my sketchbook, which is why I have four located in random areas of my house and one that goes with me in my purse. You never know when inspiration will hit!

Because this is more of a hobby instead of a full time career (for the moment!) I typically wait until the designs find me, rather than trying to wrangle them out of hiding.

Now, having said that, sometimes I will just sit down with a sketchbook and draw whatever comes to mind. Sometimes, that thing ends up being a sketch of my ear. Hah!

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working on a green garnet mini-parure of sorts, and that has been extremely challenging because of the complexities of the project and using several hundred (not joking!) green garnets and turning them into a cohesive necklace, earring and bracelet set. But it has been great for me because I’ll be thinking about that project, and several ideas that won’t work for the garnets will work for something in my line that I haven’t been able to nail down.

Luckily there are several similarities between the green garnet project, the custom rings project (there are many rings and I’m in the process of trying to build a cohesive collection rather than a gathering of multiple different rings) and where I’d like to go on a few of my pieces for the line.

As of right now I’d like to come up with the following items, and I’m already several in:
1. 3 solitaire type rings
2. 1 halo ring
3. 1 dinner/multi-stone type ring
4. 2 necklaces
5. 1 earring
6. 2 bands

Gosh, writing up that list makes me realize just how much work I have to do! Back to the grind!

In the meantime though, here are a couple pictures of a yellow diamond I’m trying to decide what to do with. Right now I’m leaning towards a milgrain bezel in brushed yellow gold and keeping it for myself!

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It reminds me of lemonade!

Gem Blast: Gem Store

I have a favorite gem store, and I have spent dozens of hours perusing it’s aisles and harassing it’s employees. I’m going to take the opportunity to show you some pictures of it, and some of the treasures I’ve come across. It is sort of stuck in the 1970s, so it hasn’t exactly been updated a whole bunch since then!

I typically go back to the gem store twice a year, for buying trips, typically with Erin from willajunejewelry. Sometimes I don’t buy anything and just go to admire the eye candy.

This is the opal case. Each one of the shelves you see rotates around in the case, dangling somewhat precariously, in a rotating case. In the event that one flips over, the whole case has to be disassembled to get the items that fall to the bottom. Which is why children are not allowed to play with the buttons, and you have to be super careful with them. From this angle, you can see about 1/2 of what’s in this case.

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Some super amazing and HUGE pink tourmalines I drool over every time I go in there.

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One of the sapphire cases. this one is for blue sapphires. There is also a “fancy colored sapphire” case that has the purples, pinks, yellows, oranges, greens and Montanas, as well as a ruby case.

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Some Tanzanites I love to admire when I go in.

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Here is what a case looks like from the top. This is the pink-orange-red-brown-gold garnet case. Another case holds greens.

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Some faceted apatite I love, especially that one on the right. I know that apatite is more known for it’s neon blue colors, but I love that deep teal color. The next time I go back, I have got to get some better pictures of it.

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A gorgeous blue sapphire pear. I’d almost call this a cleft-less heart, but not quite there. The colors of these stones are not quite accurate until you pull them out of the case. Looking at them through a layer of glass and a layer of plastic plus the glare of the light on both really affects the colors.

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A view of part of the shop – the case closest to the the camera is full of tourmalines, farther away is a case of topaz, two cases of garnets, a case of emeralds and diamonds, citrine and a few more that I can’t remember. All of these cases are full of faceted gems. The cases you can see in the top right corner are actually mineral specimens. These two rows of cases house most of their faceted gems. So you can see that there are thousands and thousands of gems in this tiny store. To the left is actually the biggest part of the store, which houses more minerals, jewelry findings, jewelry settings, cabochoned material, carvings, gemstone and mineral display boxes, etc.

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The next time I go, I will have to take more/better pictures of everything!

New Year

So, we’re in the final days of 2014. While I’m sad to say goodbye to an amazing year, I cannot wait to see what 2015 brings. Which brings me to today’s topic: looking forward into the new year.

First, I am planning on making small change to the blog. I will be blogging on Mondays and Thursdays instead of Tuesdays and Fridays. This is just a matter of practicality for me, as getting blogs done over the weekend is easiest.

I got a new iPhone 6, along with a new Olloclip with multiple lenses for Christmas. I’m looking forward to playing with those and seeing if they will help improve my photography quality. I’ve been without a macro lens for a little while now, so I’m looking forward to playing around with various lenses and seeing what they can do for me.

I also got a new laptop – I have a massive amount of photos and am constantly combing the internet for inspiration and taking too many pictures of whatever stones I currently have. My poor current laptop has over 70k pictures on it, and keeps telling me its out of space. Which, of course, is a problem. So I got a new laptop and will be transferring most things over to the new laptop at some point.

Goals:
-Try to concentrate more on design, color usage.
-Working on putting together my first jewelry line, I am hoping to have 7-8 stock items. I will update as necessary when things start to get finalized.
-I am working on a few custom projects for friends, multiple green garnet pieces with interchangeable parts, and several large gemstone rings.
-I have been considering taking both drawing classes and CAD classes to improve my skills. Hopefully I will figure that out relatively soon.
-Potentially setting up a boutique/shop.
-Somehow add about 5 hours to every day so I can get everything I want to done!

Future blog posts:
-Hoping for more features on more people (lapidaries, jewelry designers, antique jewelry dealers, etc) in the industry.
-Putting together a sort of gemstone/jewelry term dictionary. If you have questions about certain terms you’ve seen on the blog, or elsewhere on the internet, please let me know so I can cover them.
-If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for blog posts, please feel free to contact me.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to 2015 as much as I am!

These babies below just went to a new home! (Tsavorite, spessartite, spinel, aquamarine, rubellite, tourmaline and zircon.)

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AGTA Spectrum 2015 Awards

A huge congratulations to all winners of the AGTA Spectrum Awards, but especially to Mr. John Dyer, of whom I currently have one of his gems in my gembox. Well done sir! And sweeping the entire “Innovative Faceting category at that!

To see the entire list of winners, please check out the full list:

AGTA Spectrum 2015 Winners pdf

Feature: Lang Antique & Estate Jewelry Outside

So, we took a trip to San Francisco, and I specially put aside a Saturday afternoon for going to Lang Antique & Estate Jewelry with a very good friend of mine who is looking for an engagement ring for her friend, and keeping an eye out for her own boyfriend. When we got there, we had to wait outside, because the interior was full and everyone was helping customers. Now, usually I wouldn’t appreciate waiting outside, but the outside display of Lang might be better than the inside.

I probably won’t say much, as the pictures kind of speak for themselves.

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Blue sapphires.

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Emeralds and diamonds.

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Diamonds and gems

 

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Rubies, diamonds and emeralds.

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I was fascinated by the light pink sapphire three stone. The ruby cabochon ring right above it was enchanting as well; it glowed like it had a light inside.

 

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Diamonds and a few rubies. I particularly liked the large emerald ring in front, but it kind of reminded me of Angelina Jolie’s engagement ring to Brad Pitt, and I’m not a big fan of her ring, but the more exaggerated taper on this one was far more appealing.

 

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Multi-colored sapphires.

 

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Rubies, diamonds, huge rose cut diamond ring.

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Closer shot of the ruby cabochon, star sapphire and pale pink sapphire.

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Rubies and diamonds.

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We finally made it inside, but we wanted to wait for the diamond case, so I decided to entertain myself by taking pictures of some of the cases.

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Smaller gemstone jewelry.

 

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Rubies and pink sapphires.

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Amazing brooches.

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To be continued….