Proportions & Balance

I started writing this blog a year ago.  The reason I haven’t completed the entry until now is because it’s incredibly difficult to put something that comes as instinct into words.  I cannot talk about exclusively proportions while leaving out the rest of the elements that could create conflict even within the correct proportions. So here is my attempt at it!

Typically I will design a piece of jewelry by being inspired by one or more of four things:

  1. A specific gemstone.
  2. A design concept, or inspiration piece.
  3. A shape.
  4. A color combination.

Note that size is not one of them!

I feel as though most designs are made as a frame for the center stone, which is why we see so many plain diamond halos for a variety of colored stones and diamonds.  They are popular, but not particularly interesting or unusual, and designed to basically be background noise for the center stone.

Proportion is the word for the relationship between sizes of one element to another element.

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A vintage ring that had wonderful proportions, with the size and shape of the side stones impeccably enhancing the center stone.

So I think about the piece of jewelry as a piece of art. That means choosing a focal point, and building everything else around that.  The background shouldn’t overpower the focal point, and the entire piece needs to have balance and cohesion. This is most obvious with 3, 5, and 7 stone jewelry, but can be applied to haloed items as well.

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Now, the key with the proportion is to ensure as to not overpower the main stone or the main focal point with the details. With a multi stone ring (3,5,7 stones traditionally) the idea is to make the stones uniform, or to create a flow or pattern to enhance the center stone or to create it’s own unit. The ideal is to create harmony between elements, and stick to having one main focal point. I have attempted pieces before that failed at this for one reason or another, and luckily I was able to learn from them. The Art Deco period of jewelry was particularly adept at creating jewelry with many small background elements enhancing a strong central element.

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The Resistance ring with diamond side stones becoming the background and a vivid emerald center stone taking center stage.

A problem that I see pretty often is that an item of jewelry will have multiple focal points, or multiple elements that prevent a cohesive unit, either with sizes, shape or color.

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As far as size goes, I always look towards math. Typically if you pair side stones with a center stone, they should follow a mathematical pattern. For instance, I have a drawing of a 5 stone with three rounds and two pears as my current Facebook default picture (seen above). The center stone is 8mm, the side rounds are 4mm, and the pears are 2mm wide.  Often, working from a center stone down to sides, is best to figure out what kind of proportion you want. Half is a typically safe size, with a third being pretty standard as well.

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This version of the Ingénue holds a 3.5mm rose cut and a 7mm spinel. 

A deft hand must be used to have a sense of how color, proportion and size work together and create unity with all elements, or balanced design. Creating a ring that has multiple colors is always going to be a bit tricky, which is often why using a lot of restraint is key. Sometimes things that seem like an obvious pairing look horrible together if any element doesn’t harmonize with the rest of the elements.

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So, I would advise that when you are considering putting jewelry together, ask yourself a series of questions:

  1. What is my focal point?
  2. Does this enhance or detract from my focal point?
  3. Are these the right proportions? Should they be larger or smaller?
  4. What does the negative space look like?
  5. Is this balanced?

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2016 Holiday Deadlines

I posted the holiday deadlines to my Facebook page but I figured they should be posted here as well to make sure that no one misses them!

Custom jewelry: November 1st
Stock design: November 23rd
In store item: December 19th
In store item with expedited shipping: December 21th

I live in a small town, and unfortunately USPS cannot guarantee overnight delivery from where I’m located! I do have access to a UPS office, but no FedEx.

There may be some slight flexibility in these, but that would be on a case by case basis! Please contact us directly for details!

Also, this is the last week for our fall sale (15% off!) in the etsy shop! Don’t miss out! The coupon code can be found on the Facebook page!

And because I can’t stop posting photos of this everywhere, here is the newest version of the Intrepide! My client’s 4.42ct Mahenge Spinel that she has been holding into for 5 years (!) looks fantastic in it’s new home!

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Evaluating a Neon Pink Red Mahenge Spinel

This week’s blog is an evaluation of a 3.21ct Mahenge spinel that I did for a client recently.  The stone was brought in from Mayer & Watt, a wholesale dealer where the advertised MSRP is $5,256/carat. The following is a direct copy and paste of my email.
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Color:
It is always interesting to see how different stones look when up against other stones of similar colors. For this pear, I pulled out the large Mahenge reddish-pink cushion I have, the small Burmese pink-red, a red-red oval, my red spinel band, and my pink-pink Mahenge spinel. So this one is interesting because up against the more pink stones, it looks more red, and when it’s up against a red red, it looks pink. Overall it’s strongly saturated, medium in tone, with the slightest hint of orange when compared to pinks that are more blue-toned.
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Inside
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Outside
Inclusions:
My biggest concern going into it was the inclusion. As I think I mentioned in a message I sent you earlier, in some lighting situations, it’s more obvious than in others. Right now it’s about 18 inches from my face, and even though I know where it is, I have difficulty finding it. I think that it would be very close to where a prong would sit to hold it, so once set, it may become even less obvious. I just put it under 14x magnification and it looks as though there is a cluster of 3 bubble inclusions, which are typical for the Mahenge location. They don’t pose any problems for setting, they don’t even come close to reaching the surface. The largest one has a slightly larger cloud around it that’s typically not visible except when backlit, which I have attached a picture of. They are all clear or white inclusions, probably a negative crystal inclusion and two gas bubbles. Even with the three inclusions, I would say that this is a very clean example of Mahenge material.
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Cut/coloration:
You had asked about zoning earlier. There isn’t any zoning, but as is pretty typical with pear and marquise cuts, the color tends to concentrate on the tips, as a result of the cut. This one is actually pretty evenly colored, with just a slightly deeper color on the tip. As far as cut, this is a really well cut pear. There isn’t any windowing, and there isn’t an abnormal amount of tilt windowing. If anything, I’d say that there is less than the typical amount of tilt windowing.  There does not appear to be any bow-tie or large amount of extinction.
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Fluorescence:
It glows a bright red under UV light.
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Overall I’d say it’s a pretty exceptional stone. The only hesitation I would have would be the inclusion, but that’s really a matter of personal preference – I’m ok with inclusions so long as they aren’t detrimental to the overall look of the stone.
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Gem Blast: Vivant Earrings

If you follow me on social media, you’ve seen these earrings before. They have been all over Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

Inspired by the Vivant necklace, I got the idea when I found these incredible step cut cushion Mahenge spinels, and had to put them together. I then paired them with a pair of Mahenge round brilliant spinels that I had purchased years ago, tweaked a few details to make the combination of stones work together and elongate the shape to flatter the wearer, and added a post back.

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Showing off a bit of their red fluorescence in the sun.

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Looking a bit blue, reflecting the sky in the stones.

Some of the finer details:

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Mahenge spinel, diamonds and 18kt white gold.
2.40ctw spinels, .30ctw diamonds, 2.70ctw total stone weight.

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Finding a pair of spinels is exceedingly difficult because the stones in general are so rare, but to find some that are the same color, size, shape and cut magnifies to difficulty level thousandfold. Finding two pairs that go together and match on color isn’t exactly easy either, and often is a matter of waiting until the right stone or stones comes around.

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Now, the next time you see them, they will be a bit different. A client took a liking to them, but wanted them changed just a touch, and asked me to make the alterations.  I can’t wait to see them when they are done!
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The Vivant Ring

One thing I sometimes struggle with is keeping it simple. Sometimes I find myself adding details and thinking, “This is perfect!” and then going back and thinking, “Why did I add so much?!” I always try to remember that Coco Chanel quote:

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

Wise words from an impeccably fashionable woman. So while the Vivant necklace is a modern take with Art Deco appeal, I decided to keep the Vivant ring an echo of some of the details from the necklace, and lend towards classic simplicity.

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The stones chosen for this setting were chosen to add a little bit of drama via color, with a neon pink Mahenge spinel, and two antique Old Mine Cut cushions (because antique cuts in diamonds are my favorites!) as the perfect classic accents.

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Typically one of my favorite views, because it shows off so many details of a ring setting, and how they flow together. 

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The ring ends up at 2.64ctw of diamonds (antiques are .99ctw, melee are .10ctw) and spinel (1.55ct) and was made of 18kt white gold. This setting will be available (and tremendously adaptable!) for your own stone or stones, of any shape and size. I am also able to source stones, because pairs are not exactly easy to find sometimes!

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And ending with the fluidity of the shank, and the slight split shank transition.

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Custom Red Burmese Spinel Halo Ring

I’ve been incredibly busy, to say the least!

I actually took my first day off in three weeks renovating/decorating/etc the other day to exclusively work on jewelry stuff. I had been sorely missing it and really had a stack of things to get back on – gemstone photography, rough jewelry ideas, blog ideas, sketches (which I’m still behind on!), as well as giving my back a rest, as I had pulled it over a week ago.  So I’m feeling as though I’m in a much better place than I was last weekend, with getting some items that were way overdue taken off my list.

I have a few fancy shaped antique diamonds in queue to design custom rings around, and I’m really excited about those. And of course I have some colored stone custom designs in the works as well!

In the meantime, I wanted to share some images of the most recent design to come out of production, something reaching quite a ways outside of my comfort zone, which I often struggle with, but always comes out better than I could imagine.

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Sketch, slightly underdeveloped.

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Jeweler’s photographs. 

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Client’s photographs.

I always love when clients come up with something that’s out of the ordinary, and this certainly fits the bill in that regard! An unconventional diamond and platinum halo surrounds a 1.69 ct Burmese Red Spinel.

I will be sending a parcel of sapphires and an emerald to AGL for certification this week. I had been intending to send them to AGL and kept putting it off for various reasons. But they are going to go now, and typically they are at about a 2.5 week wait, so hopefully I will have them back relatively soon.

I have been working on some stock items, and as per usual, the CADs came out perfectly the first time for both items. Both share elements with the Vivant and as such, I decided to use Mahenge spinels as them as well. I can’t wait to see them completed!

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Building a Gemstone Collection

Over the past several years I have built a wonderful collection of jewels with a client of mine. She started out pretty slowly, but about 5 years later, through a lot of time, trial and error and wading through a pool of contacts, she has managed to build one of the most beautiful and thorough collections I’ve ever seen (in a collection that’s not in a museum, at least!).

One of the most important factors we learned in building her collection is that sometimes stones will pop out at you at the most unexpected times. You may have been searching for a fantastic blue sapphire, and stumbled on the perfect ruby instead. I would absolutely jump on the ruby rather than keep pursuing the sapphire. Bump the sapphire down a notch on the priority list, but keep an eye out for it. In other words, when opportunity knocks, answer the door.

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Beyond making opportunistic buys, it’s important to have a plan moving forward as you build your collection.

Strategies for building a stunning gemstone and/or jewelry collection:

  1. Make a list of the gems/jewelry you absolutely want. Try your best to order this list according to your personal priorities (see 2-9).
  2. Keep in mind this list is going to grow and change as your expectations and desires change.
  3. Color. What colors do you want? What colors would you wear? Is there any special significance to colors/types of stones?
  4. Hardness. Are you hard on your rings? Do you need to be limited to the very hardest stones? How does that limit you color-wise? Are you willing to wear something sparingly in order to have that color in your collection?
  5. Some of the best overall collections I’ve seen have a full variety, a rainbow of color. But some collections have a concentrated color group – a friend who is a huge fan of blue green for instance, may build a small army of blue-green stones in a variety of shades, while other colors in their collection may appear sorely neglected.
  6. Know yourself. What makes you get butterflies in your stomach? What makes you gasp in delight? Is it a certain variety of stone? Or a certain color?
  7. Keep budget in mind and know where you want to make concessions. Things like cut and clarity can help stretch the budget.
  8. Keep your setting budget and wants in mind. Sometimes people balk at spending more on a setting than on a stone. Know what your priorities are! For some people (myself included!) the setting costs and the stone cost ratio doesn’t matter, it’s the end piece that has to make your heart sing.
  9. Do you want fewer more expensive items or a larger number of cheaper items?
  10. Try to finish some of your pieces. You can go down a rabbit-hole of buying gems or settings and never complete anything (unless, of course, your goal is to collect gemstones and settings!).

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Just keep in mind that beautiful collections don’t necessarily grow overnight. Gemstones are often very hard to track down, especially as you reach for more high end or rare stones. Building a collection takes time and requires patience, but is well worth it in the end.

In the event that building your collection hits a wall, feel free to reach out to me for help with new rocks to overturn or who knows – one of my contacts may have just what you are looking for!

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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!

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!

Eye Candy, Updates and Gray Spinels

It has been a long, crazy week. I spent a lot of it photographing and posting 3 ring settings (Aurore, Exaltée, and Feuilles Dorées) as well as my first necklace, Vivant. I have one band that is super close to going into production, and a couple other bands that need to be photographed and posted. Since I have spent so much time taking photos of these pieces this week, I figured I’d include some of them in the blog.

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I’ve also been working diligently on some custom projects, one of which is being set now, and is certainly going to be a statement piece. I also have a custom design for a violet spinel that I’ve been struggling with, but I think I have finally got an idea in my head and know the general concept. Then I also have a green cuprian tourmaline ring that will probably need a few tweaks before it goes into production. Plus a bunch more custom projects coming through the pipeline.

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I have also been getting a ton of requests to find stones for special occasion rings – lots of engagement ring stones in the works over here, with some funky cool cabs thrown into the mix. If you are looking for a gemstone, please be aware that it can take a lot of time, depending on what you’re looking for! The earlier I start looking, and the looser the deadlines, the better.

I’ve been working with a friend to find the perfect stone for a prize she won at the Pricescope JCK event back in May, and we found the perfect stone and I cannot wait to see it in the finished piece.

I get tons of requests for gray spinel, because it’s one of those stones I’m super passionate about, and I don’t keep that quiet. It is getting increasingly popular, and I have a growing list of people who are looking for it. Beware, prices for it are going up!

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I’m considering a few additions to my newly revised website, and perhaps changing the structure of the blog a bit, with maybe one monthly post with what I’m up to, perhaps a Gem Blast, an informational/educational post, and then perhaps a wildcard post of some sort (design process perhaps?). I’ve been so terribly swamped that I haven’t been able to keep up and get as ahead as much as I normally do.

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Another reminder of the sale I have going on in my etsy shop! This coupon code is only good until November 1, so use it while you can!  “AUTUMN2015” (no quotes) is good for 15% off purchases of $100 or more. I might run some holiday specials when it gets closer to that time, but I haven’t determined that just yet.

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It looks like I will be getting a new office space relatively soon, (yay for no more gem-color-altering pink walls!) so lots of my time will be dedicated to redecorating as we move into the winter months. I’m really excited about this, because it will be the first space I really get to call my own!

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Also, because I have been getting questions about it, some of the prototype rings seen in their various pages on my site will be going up for sale – please let me know directly if you would like to be added to that item’s interest list!

Many things underway here, and definitely keeping busy!