I’m doing a photo heavy and commentary light post because I have too much on my to do list, but I still wanted to share the beauty of this ring with you, and I haven’t been able to put a blog out about it yet.
The center stone is a Amora Moissanite cut into the OEC pattern, and all of the other stones are diamonds. The Amora Moissanite has been discontinued, which, after seeing it in person, is a real shame. They have replaced it with the Forever One Moissanite, and the OEC cutting is also nowhere to be found.
Sometimes, through great times of turmoil, comes great beauty.
The first time I ever went to New York City was when I was 18 years old with my parents for a business trip for my dad. I remember walking the streets wearing furry Steve Madden shoes and having a doorman compliment them. I fell in love with the city in that trip, between the Empire State Building, the flagship stores, the food, the energy and life of the city. I didn’t know it at the time, but only a few short years later, I would be going to school slightly upstate from the city.
It wouldn’t be until I went to NYC via train from upstate that I would first experience Grand Central Terminal in all of it’s glory, between the Oyster Bar, the marble floors, the tile ceilings, and the glorious teal ceiling bedecked with celestial gold in the main hall. For me, with the Grand Central ceiling, it was love at first sight. Every time I would take a trip to the city via MTA, I would be delighted to experience it’s beauty once again, and I would look forward to seeing that ceiling every time.
So, since I don’t get to do that regularly anymore, I had to base a piece of jewelry around it.
My starting point, as is often the case, was color. I had a copper bearing precision cut teal tourmaline from Barry Bridgestock that was absolutely the color of the ceiling. I knew from very early on that I had to have yellow gold, as the zodiac symbols all over are painted in a golden color. It was only later that I would decide that the piece would need to have white gold as well, which was a difficult conclusion for me as I’m typically not a fan of mixed metals.
In planning the rest of the elements of the design, I took into account an incredible number of details from around GCT, from the arches of the hallways, to the color of the walls and the floors, to the incredible iconic pendant chandeliers. I evaluated every single one of the zodiac symbols, the detail of the arches, the Tiffany glass of the clock, the golden clock in the middle of the terminal, the detail of the windows. Essentially, the entire building is one very large piece of functional art, each detail has had painstaking work put into it by artisans of years past. There is some sad irony in the fact that most people who witness it never take the opportunity to enjoy those details.
I started out thinking that it would be a ring. I soon found out that between the stone size, the ring size and the sheer scope of my vision for it, a ring that size would be essentially unwearable on a regular basis. So I ended up changing it to a necklace. And of course I took the opportunity to use a stone that I have an infatuation with – a rose cut diamond. This time around, I decided that it should be prong set with a hexagonal surround, to echo the geometry of the iconic graphic feel of the Art Deco era.
For a while I considered something that had to do with my zodiac sign, my husband’s zodiac sign and my daughter’s zodiac sign, but that became too complicated and didn’t end up making any sense design wise. So I simplified,
I considered adding a detail from the arches (also seen on SNL’s GCT set) to the eventual outer halo, but nixed that idea as it became too busy. I also considered having no negative space, with just the contrast of diamonds and metal color to guide the design, but again, cited the busy-ness of the design for utilizing negative space rather than adding more to an already complex concept.
I ended up with just a thin outer diamond halo to provide some structure for the centerpiece of the piece, and I chose a octagonal shape for it inspired by the octagonal frames around the medallion detail on the large arches on either end of the building. (Bottom left corner in the below image.)
I originally designed the star’s diagonal points to stretch all of the way to the halo, but after thinking, and evaluating the actual stars of the GCT ceiling, as well as looking at the Art Deco stars, I realized that while it may be less stable, shortening the diagonal points would be better for the over all aesthetic, and echoed the compass like shape of the actual GCT stars.
Elevating the star and the stone just a touch was the finishing detail. I used fancy yellow diamonds on the yellow gold and single cut white diamonds on the outside halo, in keeping with the Art Deco era.
It is not very often that I create jewelry for myself anymore. This isn’t a piece that I will probably wear often, but it is a small, sparkly tribute to a city that I love, and the Art Deco masterpiece that lies within it.
I’m really sad that I haven’t been able to get more jewelry into production so far this year, but things have been distracting me, and I am hoping that as soon as I get moved into the new studio, things will take a turn for the better. I have a bunch of custom projects in the works, including a step cut halo, some cluster type rings, another halo, and some others including a fancy colored diamond ring.
Speaking of the studio, I have a new drafting table, and I’m so excited to be able to draw without getting instant neck strain! I also have a big south facing window with incredible natural light (except during those pesky storms that make it over the Cascades from Seattle) that has been working quite well for photographing stones and jewelry. I didn’t realize when I started planning this new space just how many functions I need it for – drawing, photography, computer, writing, storage, shipping, etc. And all of those tasks need different lighting (say, for instance, color shifting stones!) and suddenly office planning is incredibly complicated.
Now, as for decorating the studio, I already have one print up from Angie Crabtree – the Elle modern asscher, and my wonderful husband surprised me with a new print for my birthday – the Dominique antique pear! This complicates things though – I had just figured out my wall configuration with the decor, so I will have to redo it once it is framed.
I hope that you have taken the opportunity to take a minute to check out my Repertoire page – I have many of the items I have designed up there, both stock items as well as custom items. I am going to be writing another Inside The Industry blog coming up soon – I just need to be able to spend some time writing, instead of spending it on random non-jewelry related items. And I will be sharing a couple new items to go with the Vivant necklace as well – they should be coming out of production very shortly!
So, I’ve mentioned before how many photos I take in any given photography session. These were taken in the last photography session I had before the sun went away for a week. I think I ended up taking about 400 photos in this particular session and I wanted to share them because I rarely use so many of the photos that I take.
Most of these have two of the spinels I recently listed for sale in the boutique, because they are so easy to compare color wise, and because it’s so rare to have two incredibly well cut nicely colored specimens, especially in this color family.
Sometimes I will take photos of the stones with the goal of just capturing something special, rather than trying to make the stones look their best, or trying to create a good composition.
One of the best things spinel does well is play in the light.
Then we get to the hardest and sometimes most tedious part, capturing the body color and cut of the gem. The first one shows a bit more darkness than I prefer, but with the macro lens and how the gems reflect what they “see”, it makes capturing an accurate view of the gem difficult. When they are worn, they typically aren’t 1-2 inches away from something that’s blocking the light.
Unfortunately precision cut gems tend to reflect more darkness, it’s the nature of the well-cut beast.
The lighting and camera’s white sensor did some funky stuff here, turning the background pinkish, and as a result, the tsavorite looks abysmal – it’s very rare that the camera captures it accurately, and this is NOT one of those times, but I felt it was important to show it anyway. You can see how much more pink the spinel looks in this photo compared to the ones with the blue-lavender spinel. Very different!
One of the more staged photos, trying to capture a good variety of colors for a shot for the site. The resolution is horrible, and very blurry, but I love the colors of the gems.
The oval spinel is one that I refuse to part with – too much history and such a rare color, and cut perfectly by Barry Bridgestock. The color play with the lavender is so interesting and the fact that they are both so well cut makes them a rarity, and fun to compare in photos.
Hopefully the sun will come out again in the next week or so and I can stop looking at a sea of gray. I am new to this “low-hanging cloud” phenomenon and not exactly sure if I’m a fan yet or not. It’s not even officially winter yet!
Sometimes you lose your drive and your inspiration. I’ve been so stressed out with everything, moving and selling our house that I’ve just been blah in every aspect of my life, except for sleeping. Yesterday my husband and daughter went to work and gave me some peace and quiet. I told myself that I wouldn’t do any chores and forced myself to try to relax and get with the program. Let me deviate for a bit.
About a week ago, I won a print of a beautiful asscher cut diamond painting done by Angie Crabtree. Part of winning that particular contest was that she would name it after me. You can check out “Elle” here: Angie Crabtree
Now, I’d been following Angie around instagram for a bit, admiring her diamond painting work. She has recently gotten several inquiries asking if she would do a gemstone photograph, and she replied that she would. But she wanted a straight on high resolution photo to paint from. So I decided today was the day to challenge myself to try to get a straight on photo of a gem that was high resolution and good enough to paint from. Short story, I did not achieve my goal, but did get some nice photos anyway.
Still feeling rather blah, I sat down on my couch and turned on Netflix. I’ve mentioned before that I was a pastry chef, and I was incredibly serious about it. I went to culinary school with the mindset that I would be a savory chef, and leave that sissy pastry stuff to people who couldn’t hack it in a real kitchen. Then I started baking and pastry classes, and it was all over. I was entranced by the artistry of pastry and the fact that I felt as though I was completely unencumbered by the mediums, after all, I could take flour, sugar and butter and transform it into anything, rather than trying to mold a chicken breast into something else that didn’t make sense. Later, I would learn that that wasn’t exactly the case, but I was already too in love with the art and specific science of pastry. So I flicked through several suggested shows, and I see something called “Chef’s Table”, and figure “Why the hell not?”
I want to thank Massimo Bottura for lifting me out of my funk and reminding me of my passion for the beautiful, for pushing boundaries, and questioning traditions. And making me remember that some of the best creations come from accidents.
I’ve been spending a bit more time on social media with little updates here and there, so if you haven’t already, you should find me, especially with JCK and related events coming up! Here is how my social media presence typically breaks down:
Instagram – multiple daily photo updates 5-7 days a week. I take an obnoxious amount of pictures (of everything!) and upload gemstone, jewelry, inspiration and other images very often.
Facebook – 2-5 times per week, sometimes multiple daily updates depending on what’s going on.
Twitter – 1-5 weekly updates, blog posts, what I’m up to, retweets of interesting articles or interesting tweets of trade related items
LoupeTroop – I have decided to preview items from inventory to LoupeTroop, since it is a designated jewelry bulletin board. I will add items here first before they go into the Etsy shop. I anticipate adding a couple new items once a week or so.
Etsy – I’m hoping that the Etsy shop will be functional for about a year in total. I would like to concentrate my design efforts elsewhere with settings and away from selling loose gemstones in about a year. I would prefer to add items that have not sold on LoupeTroop to the Etsy store about 2-4 times a month.
Pricescope – My current trade username there is ElleW, my former non-trade username is FrekeChild. I try to post at least once a day, but with the trade regulations, it makes it a bit harder to post frequently.
Pinterest – This is still under construction.
I prefer to not post my email address publicly at this time because there are so many options to contact me privately and in public. My Facebook page, etsy, LoupeTroop and instagram are probably the best places to send me private messages!
Here is a cute little tsavorite since this is a photoless post!
Once upon a time I really wanted a trillion shaped engagement ring. That was back when I was a teenager if I remember correctly. I ended up with a round brilliant that I basically picked out for myself, so obviously teenage dreams of a trillion didn’t exactly happen. But since then, I’ve always been cautious about trillions, because they were asymmetrical and I have weird issues with asymmetry. Until I met this Fancy Light Yellow diamond.
Here is a relatively simple fancy light yellow (FLY) diamond with blue fluorescence. Now, believe it or not, this diamond is only .64cts, but almost seems to face up at the size of a 1 carat diamond (6.5mm for a round).
I had it set in a 18kt yellow gold bezel to enhance the color as much as possible. I wanted something simple, and adding a halo of white diamonds (how I think yellow diamonds are usually set) took attention away from the richness of the color. Plus, for items that end up in my personal collection, I prefer to stay away from halos.
It lights up when sunlight hits it just right!
I’ve never been a huge yellow person, but my bedroom growing up was a pale buttery yellow. It wasn’t until I saw this diamond that I really wanted a yellow gemstone to add to the collection. Diffused sunlight.
Looking almost greenish/brownish, though it doesn’t really look this way in real life. Both of these photos are inside.
Back in January I asked if people on Facebook thought I should do yellow gold or white metal for this particular stone. It was pretty overwhelming for yellow gold. For good reason.
And the stone on a white background before being set:
After setting, on an almost identical background:
The less exciting views:
See, even diamonds show tilt windows!
Really, when it comes down to choosing metal colors, even though I don’t wear a lot of yellow gold, it’s all about doing the best you can to compliment the stone. On this one I wanted to enhance the yellow as much as possible, and I think my goal was accomplished, since it looks far more vibrant now that it’s set than it did before when it was loose.
I haven’t taken this off since I got it, and for me, that’s saying a lot because I actually rarely wear jewelry in general!
This concludes our month of (mostly) diamond posts! I had to go out with a big yellow bang!
There may be some irony that the post on the week of my birthday is not on diamonds, but sapphires.
Back in October 2014 I posted an entry about a band I had entered into a contest that David Klass was having. You can read that blog post here. I had originally designed it based on the pattern of the “Reverse Shell” piping that drove me crazy during nightly practice as a pastry student. I have a love/hate relationship with that particular pattern, as I find it beautiful, but I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to piping that I would go nuts every night trying to get it just right. This picture probably shows it best (this is not my picture or my work) but whoever did it screwed up on the left.
I had been debating for months (almost 6!) about what color metal, what color stones, and trying to talk myself out of white metal and white diamonds because almost my entire jewelry box is full of white metal (I so badly need to remedy that) because it goes with just about everything. Except not so much yellow gold and peach…and then I realized that not only did I want to diversify, grow outwards and look towards what I want to do instead of what I already have. So, in anticipation of completing the padparadscha sapphire ring, I decided that it needed a band to go with it. Or, two. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So, diversify I did. I ended up telling David to make it for me in 14kt rose gold and pink sapphires to coordinate with the anticipated pad sapphire ring.
I had seen an additional band that David had done a while back that was similarly curvy to my design, but had a softer, more floral feel to it. I asked him to make one of those for me in yellow gold in addition to my original design, again, for a bit more variety, and to add some texture too.
Check it out, when they are stacked just right, you can see a heart. It’s the little details that make my heart pitter patter.
With a Blue Nile pink sapphire and rose gold eternity band. You can find it here.
If you’re interested in this band in any variety of metals or stone colors, feel free to contact me!
Since diamond is the birthstone for April, I’ll stick with writing about them for the most part this month. It really helps that I’ve been playing with them a lot lately in a variety of forms. So today I want to talk about a rarer form that diamonds take on: Rose Cut.
I have to laugh because I asked a local jeweler once, maybe a year ago, if he could make me a rose cut band. He replied, wait for it, that he didn’t know what a rose cut was. I hope that now that they seem to be gaining more mainstream appeal that he figures out what they are. Tiffany is completely littered with rose cuts right now, in fact, they designed a whole collection around them. I haven’t been back to that jeweler since then, but that’s due to a combination of factors, not just rose cut ignorance.
One thing to note about rose cuts in that the higher a crown is, the better looking it’ll be. Rose cuts are basically shaped like a bubble, with a flat facet on the bottom, and facets going up to create a bit of a dome, typically a pretty flat dome.
A key to rose cuts it to be realistic in what to expect from it’s performance. Rose cuts tend to flash light off of it’s surface facets, instead of refracting through the table and from the pavilion, because they don’t have a pavilion. So rose cuts tend to have little sparkle, and more of a mirror like appearance. You’ll often see rose cuts interspersed with brilliant cuts so you have a combination of the sparkle from the brilliant cuts and the light (and color!) moving across the surface of the rose cuts.
Rose cuts are one of those things that you either love or hate. They are typically used as accents, rather than a center piece of a project, so finding large rose cut diamonds that are the main stone in a piece is pretty rare, although it’s becoming more and more common!
Here are a couple of rose cut pears, illustrating that they don’t just come in rounds, but also other fancy shapes such as pears, ovals, cushions, marquises, etc:
One thing I’ve noticed about rose cuts lately is that people are just flipping over badly cut stones (typically very shallow stones) and calling it a rose cut when it’s really not, it’s just a badly cut stone. Classic rose cuts have a particular facet pattern, with a hexagon pattern on the top. There are currently several rose cut style patterns for gemstones being developed, most notably by Jeffrey Hunt and Doug Menadue of Bespoke Gems.
Thanks to Jewels by Grace for letting me play with these beautiful little rose cut diamonds! They are spectacular and I want to keep them all!