Feature: Jewels by Grace

I promised you a feature with Grace Lavarro of Jewels by Grace, and today is the day! So if you’ve ever wanted to know what her real engagement ring looks like, or what her favorite item of jewelry is, read on!

So, to start off easy, what is your favorite cocktail?
​My current poison of choice is Ginger Gimlets.

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When did you first fall in love with jewelry?
​I’ve always been very curious about jewelry but my “real” interest started when I started the hunt for the my 1st (hah!) engagement ring. We were young, with limited funds, so we scrimped and saved for this ring – a 1ct princess cut diamond ring 🙂 I loved everything about it then, and I designed the setting as well.​

What do you think every woman should have in her jewelry box? I’m going to limit it to 5 things, because I know you!
​I always advocate that women should have a versatile jewelry suite – several pieces that would easily take them from day to night, from casual to glam. I will pretend that I did not read the “limit to 5” restriction 🙂 But in all seriousness, if we had to limit this to 5, then the last 2 items listed may be left off.

Beautiful earrings. Not many people know this about me, but earrings are MY favorite piece of jewelry. With my earrings on, I feel complete. These can be studs, or dangles. I am partial to dangles because I do like seeing the sparkle and glimmer of gems when one’s head moves. Earrings frame a beautiful face beautifully – everyone SHOULD have a killer pair of earrings!

A nice solitaire – and by nice, I don’t necessarily mean huge! I am talking about a ring that is classically styled and elegant. A half carat diamond in a beautiful setting is more beautiful in my eyes than a poorly-cut diamond in an unattractive, “look-at-me” setting.

​A blingy right hand ring,​ ​preferably vintage, for that certain je ne sais quoi​​. Because right hand rings REALLY need to be bold, and big, and be present on the finger!

A long chain necklace is a must as well. It can be a diamonds-by-the-yard style, or a chain with some intricate design details. I like them long enough to wear doubled and I am very partial to French chains – they have the prettiest patterns and styles and work very well for layering. Even if only in a t-shirt, an elegant long necklace finishes any ensemble very, very nicely.

Wrist bling! Wrists are the last frontier for me (no, I don’t think I will ever advocate for belly button jewelry)! I like seeing pieces on wrists with some depth – different colored metal perhaps, or a mix of the old and the new. I like wearing all my bracelets and cuffs on the right wrist, stacked with my watch. I call it “organized chaos.”

And, if budget allows, these two other pieces:
A band that can be worn stacked, yet be bold enough to be worn on its own. This could be a 5 or 7 stone band, or an eternity band.

A nice watch. Again, it does not need to a designer watch, but a watch that is styled nicely (diamonds optional) and could work with one’s jewelry (and lifestyle). A fave of mine is a yellow gold boyfriend watch by Coach (all of $265!).

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What do you look for in jewelry when you’re buying for your shop?
​I like pieces which are different, interesting, and unique. I like pieces with beautiful craftsmanship and those which clearly evoke the different eras – Deco, Victorian, Edwardian.

I love Art Deco, but there are just so many great antique looks that came out at different time periods that I know I can’t ever pick just one! Do you have a favorite era?
​See above! Art Deco has always been a big fave but Victorian pieces are creeping up to be a close second as I am wearing almost only yellow gold jewels lately.​

I have noticed a ton of rose cuts coming out of Jewels by Grace lately, and I know that they are pretty rare, as most people have never seen them in real life. Are they becoming more plentiful or are you just buying all of them?
​They have always been around but the recent surge in popularity, I would say, is due to jewelry designers using more and more of them in their designs. I have always loved rose cuts and buy them for my shop every chance I get!​

What was your original engagement ring?
A 1ct princess cut diamond in a half-bezel ring (hey, this was the early 90’s, ok?)​

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You are a female small business owner in a male-dominated industry, has that been difficult?
​Yes, in so many ways, this is still very much a male-dominated field! It has not always been easy to navigate the industry.

How did you get into the business? And what did you do before you opened JbG?
​I was in the professional services industry, a pencil pusher 🙂

The decision to get into the industry was not a conscious one. Many years ago, I decided to pare down my collection and started selling off pieces here and there. I met my previous business partner Erica when she bought her first diamond from me. We became fast friends via email, and after seeing an episode of Oprah one afternoon where she declared that we must all follow our bliss, I felt it was time! My friendship with Erica started at the perfect time, and after pooling our resources, Jewels by Erica Grace was born.

Was there a pivotal moment of transitioning into the industry full time?
​After we hit a certain sales milestone, we knew the business needed our full time attention. I would say that this really depends on the business owner – that sales target could vary wildly from one person to the next.​

How have your tastes have changed over the course of your job?
​I do not think that my tastes have changed much over the years, to be honest. More than anything, I rely on my aesthetics and instinct in picking and selecting jewels. A very prominent antique jeweler once told me that I had the eye for this job and I have never let myself forget that. In moments where I need clarity, I let my eyes guide me! It sounds pretty simple and that’s because it really, really is.

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What is your favorite piece that you currently have in your shop?
​I am very partial to twin stone rings so its only natural that I am totally in love with the 4.10tcw Victorian bypass ring! I love it so!​

Do you have any pieces that you wouldn’t ever sell?
I get very attached to personal pieces so once I declare them mine, its highly unlikely that I would ever want to part with them. Most of the pieces that you see on the Jewels by Grace home page (the slider pics) are personal pieces of mine – those would remain in my jewelry box, thank you very much!

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(Can I just take a minute to gawk over the beauty in the above photograph?! The ring and the photography are stellar!)

So, when are we going to go sing karaoke?
​Girl. These pipes were born ready. 🙂

I suggest you click on the following links, enjoy the amazing photos, and see if anything in particular catches your interest! And keep a watch on this woman – she is a force to be reckoned with, and has an eye for spectacular detail!

Jewels by Grace
Jewels by Grace SmugMug
Jewels by Grace Instagram
Jewels by Grace Facebook

Oh yeah, and go look at her brand spanking new Holiday Look Book!

Grace is in the middle of holding some giveaways over the holiday season. If you are her follower on Instagram, like her on Facebook or subscribe to her newsletters, you are entered to win one of her fantastic bracelets! They are similar to the ones below, but have colorless rose cut sapphires in them. If you haven’t already, please take a minute and go find her on social media for a chance to win a gorgeous piece of jewelry!

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Please note: All of the pictures used in this post have been used with permission of their owner, Grace Lavarro of Jewels by Grace, and are her property.

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Feature: Lang Antique & Estate Jewelry, Bonus!

So I took a ton of photos while I was at Lang Antique & Estate Jewelry , but some didn’t come out as well as I hoped. Here are a few pieces that I was able to take more than a couple seconds to get a quick snapshot.

I don’t typically love trillions for myself, but I thought this ring was really interesting and wonderful because of the flow of the design and the way it all melds together into one giant piece of stepcut and brilliant cut awesomeness. I love the graduation of the step cuts and how they mimic the lines of the trillion, giving the whole piece an Art Deco vibe.

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I don’t think this one really needs any commentary.

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I loved this little band, it really had some great details to it.

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I absolutely fell in love with this necklace. The larger of the two stones was a low colored diamond with the smallest table I have ever seen on an antique stone, and as a result was super fiery and all around fabulous. I thought it was the perfect size to be able to wear it on a daily basis and not have it be too overwhelming of a piece, easy to dress up and dress down. I believe the total weight on it between the two diamonds is around 1.1cts.

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And for the Grand Finale!

This is in the store window. It is almost 7cts of magnificent French Cut brilliance and it is one of the most fabulous items I have ever seen in real life (having been NYC and seen the Tiffany Diamond in all it’s glory, I think that’s probably a pretty big compliment!). This stone is interesting because a hole was drilled directly into the stone and a ring through it, to hang it on a chain. You don’t see this done a lot with diamonds, especially not of this size and cut. I am guessing it was done because of an inclusion, but obviously I was not the person to do it to the stone, so I can’t really say why it was done. I would like to see it on a different chain though, rather than this round diamond chain. I feel like such an amazing and expensive diamond should have a custom piece built around it.

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Next time, I’m going to have to set aside another hour, and I plan to try on everything that I saw in the front window. Ok, maybe I might need two hours…

Ok, that’s really it for my visit to Lang! Hope you enjoyed the pics, next time I’ll get video of the big french cut in action!

Feature: Lang Antique & Estate Jewelry Inside

The Lang interior consists of about 3 larger cases of diamond rings. When we finally got inside, they were full of customers, so we waited our turn while chatting with the salesperson assigned to us. She told us that they will be moving just down the street to a new larger location, but that they don’t know when construction will be finished. She also told us that lately they haven’t been able to keep any blue zircons in the cases. We hypothesized that it may be due to the popularity of Paraiba tourmaline and teal colors in general being very popular right now. I wonder if buyers are educating themselves more and discovering that zircon is not the same thing as cubic zirconia.

Anyway, we tried on some diamonds, and my friend particularly fell in love with this cushion. I think her boyfriend might be getting a link or two in his email…

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We were on the side with the larger diamonds, but nothing quite like the honkers in the store windows.

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This was only part of one case.

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Beautiful profile view of a ring. The dark stones are actually bright blue sapphires. My white balance got screwed up when I was snapping the picture, but the other pictures were blurry.

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A beautifully patterned OEC ring.

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A massive ball of step cuts. even though I love step cuts, this one didn’t really do anything for me. I think the proportions of the sidestones bothered me. I like to have more of an extreme taper. I think the trapezoids compete with the center stone.

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A large marquise cut stone, the profile was gorgeous, and looked a bit like a boat.

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Both my friend and the salesperson really liked this ring on me, but I always see an eyeball when I see rings like this.  I can’t help it!

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I don’t particularly like fishtail prongs, but between the beautiful center stone and the french cut sides, this ring really wanted to come home with me.

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I have to say though, I was disappointed to hear that they will not sell any stones loose. Nor do they sell settings separately. Also, the prices are astronomical, compared to other retailers of fine antique jewelry.

That about sums it up for the visit to Lang. I’m so glad I got to go! I saw so many beautiful jewels, and had a fantastic time with a very good friend! I wish we had been able to spend more time looking around and trying things on, but their little store was completely packed and neither of us was going to be buying that day. It was really fun to see what different size diamonds look like, and to judge the cut quality on so many different stones at once. I would highly recommend it if you’re going to be visiting San Francisco and want to get a good antique jewelry fix!