Holiday Gift Guide

I figured I’d do something a little bit different this year since I have several jewelry items in the etsy shop, and they all need good homes!

First, a note about items in my etsy shop. I actually started my etsy shop when a friend who lives overseas asked me if I would sell some of his collection. I didn’t have any other details besides that, and I was shocked when over 200 individual items showed up. I would have a very difficult time selling that much stuff via word of mouth, so I decided that the best way to do it would be to open an etsy shop and sell it there. So almost everything you see in my etsy shop is actually being sold on consignment from private collections (with a few items sprinkled in from me) and have been collected over many years by gem and jewelry collectors.

So, with that said, I’m going to list my top five jewelry items that I think would make fantastic gifts!

  1. Diamond studs 14kt white gold
    Classic diamond studs totaling .58ctw in one of our newest designs, a simple 4 prong stud.img_0275
  2. Diamond circle pendant, 14kt white gold with box chain
    This diamond necklace would be excellent for a lady who loves larger but still classic pieces that bring a lot of sparkle to the decolletage.
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  3. Bezeled Ruby earrings in 14kt yellow gold
    These would make a great gift for July babies, lovers of red or those who just love rubies!ruby-earrings
  4. Pink sapphire and Diamond Mirror Pendant
    This pendant is perfect for September or April babies, lovers of pink, and those who love statement jewelry with a modern feel. And the inside of the mirrored cup could even be plated with rhodium for a pure pink look!
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  5. Yellow diamond bezel ring in 18kt yellow gold
    Who said that diamonds had to be white?! This yellow sparkler is bezeled in yellow gold, making it appear even more yellow than it’s grade from EGL, and it gives the face up appearance close to that of a 1.5ct princess diamond. It would make a fantastic buttery engagement ring for the bride who loves yellow or who wants something unique.
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Here is the best part! If you contact me about buying any of these items, email or message me on etsy first, mention this blog post and receive 15% off! This offer is only good until December 21st so grab them while you can!

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Original Find Mahenge Spinel

I mentioned in last week’s blog post that I had wanted to post an evaluation of this stone in it’s place, and had to scramble to post something else instead. Which ended up being great because it kind of leads into this post, because it also has to do with the gemstone personal shopping that being in this business entails.

Again, a huge thank you to Mayer & Watt for their ever gracious nature and massive amount of patience. Which was very much appreciated, since the package got delayed for three extra days and we were all a bit freaked out. To say the least.

I don’t want to talk much in this blog, because the pictures really are the ones that need to do the talking, and I can’t say anything more than they can.

Brief background: This is an “original find” Mahenge spinel. That means that it was mined in about 2007, before the appeal of such a stone was really widespread and it’s broadly thought that the best stones were mined at the very beginning of the find.  This particular stone had been on a long term memo, roughly two years. Which means that it sat for sale for 2 years without anyone buying it. Well, as soon as it came back to Mayer & Watt, Geoffrey messaged me excitedly with a “Would any of your clients be interested in this?”

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Uh, YEAH they would! It’s a 3.62ct spinel that measures 10.2×7.8. It has eye visible inclusions, but what really pops out at you is the color, and retail pricing for a clean stone that is this color and size would get up to the lower-mid 5 figures.

Let me stop right here and say that if you’re not already, you should be looking at these images on an Apple device, iPad or iPhone because the colors are accurate for those pieces of technology, not really on the average laptop (trust me on this! I’m writing this blog on a laptop with factory settings and the color is not accurate at all!).

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Now, as you look at these pictures, please note that I am located in the Pacific Northwest and I have not seen the sun for over a week (fog, snow, and rain however…) so none of these pictures are taken in the sun, and I’m rather disappointed I won’t be able to see it in the sun!

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Now that I got that out of my system, here it is with an another “original find” Mahenge (and a small Burmese) that you may recognize:

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Finally, an another “original find” Mahenge spinel, from my personal collection, which has a very nice pink color, and is very well saturated:

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Looking decidedly desaturated next to this big oval.

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Realistically, this is the best color Mahenge spinel I have had the pleasure of playing with, and that includes hundreds of carats of them from when I was at JCK Las Vegas this past spring. It’s just that good!

I hope that this post finds you having a wonderful holiday season, and a very merry Christmas week!

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!

Choosing a Jewelry Designer

Well I’ve talked a lot about my own design philosophy as well as my style and over here on my Atelier page, I talk a bit about my design process.

But what I haven’t really talked about is how important it is to really make sure that the designer you’ve chosen, or are considering working with can really accomplish your wants and desires. The first question you ask yourself should be, “Do I like what this designer does with the pieces I’ve seen?” And the second question is, “How much control do I want over the process?”

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I will be the first person to tell you that if you want something ornate, covered in engraving and milgrain, diamond crusted, or antique style, I am not the person you want as your designer, and there are many other designers out there that will be better suited to your desired style. I’m not going to be the best to give clean lines and modern edge either!

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Now, one key thing here, is that the designer you have approached with your project could potentially say something like “I just don’t think that I can accomplish what you’re seeking” or something similar to that, which isn’t an insult, I promise. We really want you to be happy with the end product, and feel as though someone else can better create it! Typically a designer can tell within an email or two that it’s a project and a client that they can work with, and feel as though their aesthetic meshes well with what you want.

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There are some designers who like to have free rein, and don’t like to have people hovering over them to tell them precisely which angle they want for this or that part of the item. There are also designers who like to have a broad inspiration idea when walking into a project, and they can help finesse and fill in the blanks. There are other designers that are given one element and told to build the rest of the ring around that element. Some designers can do all of those things, they just prefer to have one type of project over another.

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I do not recommend going to a designer and asking them to work outside their element. They might agree to it, and they might consider it a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the best result for your money.  If you find a designer whose work you love, and you work well together with both personality and aesthetics, stick with them, by all means! Everyone appreciates a return client!

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I have some deadlines I want to get out there and publish before it gets too late!
November 15: If I don’t have a custom design already in the works by this date, it will not be ready in time for the holidays.
December 1: Last day to place an order for stock Elle Collection items
December 18th: Last day to order ready made items for guaranteed by Christmas delivery. I am not going to take any chances here! I’ve had so many items that were “guaranteed by Christmas” and have them arrive the day after, and I do not want to participate in any of that kind of disappointment!

I should have some new items cropping up very shortly, a couple ring settings and a band. I’m incredibly excited about them and cannot wait to share them!

Musings, Mise En Place, Pastry

Back when I used to be a pastry chef, I struggled with cake decorating quite a bit. I felt like there was often too much empty space to fill up. I think that it’s one of the reasons I loved creating composed dessert plates so much, I could create the dessert items and they turned into the decoration for the plate, rather than covering the dessert in decorations. I have always struggled with creating something completely from scratch – having a huge blank canvas to fill, rather than having at least a starting point to grow from. You can’t grow a plant without a seed.

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I remember with finding inspiration for a composed dessert, considering flavor profiles, and utilizing the colors that naturally came with those flavors as my starting points, and building from there. The dish that comes to mind is one made with cherry mousse and white peach mousse with a pistachio cake – using a barely there peach, a bright pink-red and the muted pistachio green to bring interest and brightness to the dessert, while also standing out among all of the chocolate/vanilla colors. The dessert in it’s entirety was beautiful, with wonderful colors that are organic to the item itself. Those flavors came from items that had interesting colors to begin with. Perhaps this is why I have such a hard time with filling space just to fill space – if the design element doesn’t make sense, if it doesn’t come from an organic place, why add it? And that is likely why I had (and have) such a hard time with decorating cakes. My own wedding cake had no decorations but chocolate covered strawberries and fresh berries on it.

Much like the beaten to death line from every traditionally trained chef I’ve ever met, “If it’s not edible, it doesn’t belong on the plate.” Period.

And in bringing up my pastry background, I think I’ve finally come to the realization that this is the place where I get my overthinking from. Mise en place is the French phrase that means “everything in it’s place” and it’s the very first thing that every cook is taught – before service, every item you will need for service must be ready. Preparation is absolutely everything in cooking, without preparation, you’d immediately be thrown in the weeds when service starts and you need something you don’t have at the ready.

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So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m much happier starting out with a smaller canvas to fill, the item of jewelry, typically with a built in starting point, rather than with the huge blank canvas of something such as a wedding cake, or even a birthday cake. It’s much easier to fill the space, to add just a little, and have that small element mean a lot more.

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So along those lines, I have two more ring designs coming up that will be added to The Elle Collection, a true solitaire (no accent stones) named for one of my mentors, as well as a ring that will have some small diamond accented elements, but will be mostly a solitaire as well. I think that these will be added before the end of the year and I’m so excited about them!

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I’ve been a bit all over the place this week, with some family stuff going on, and preparing for Halloween with a little kid and her activities to contend with, so I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with things outside, but also I will be debuting two new bands in November (rather than the end of October, as I had originally planned) because I’d been getting so much interest in one, and I’m just in love with the lines of the other.

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There are less than 8 weeks left until Christmas, and while I will still be selling ready-made items until the week before, custom items are already going to be difficult to complete and have delivered by Christmas, if they aren’t already in the planning stages. I would recommend requesting any stock items from the Elle Collection to be ordered before Thanksgiving to arrive by Christmas, to allow for production time with the holiday rush.

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I also wanted to mention that I do have a coupon on etsy running right now for 20% off orders over $100 running through November 7th (this coming Saturday!) so take advantage of it before it’s gone! The coupon code for that is “BURMESERUBY” (no quotes) and you can visit my Facebook page for the story behind the coupon.