One of a Kind

I spent the last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico – the place where I was born and raised. Taking almost an entire week completely off from jewelry and getting back to my roots, spending time with family and friends was one of the most refreshing things I could have done at this point and it gave me some new perspective on things that I’d been dwelling on and feeling stagnant on for too long. I guess that standing in the middle of a thunderstorm in the mountains will help do that to you.

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One of the things that I enjoy the most about gemstones is that they are all unique and one of a kind. Sure, you can get some that look similar to others, but they will always have unique characteristics, whether it’s in the form of color, inclusions, cut, whatever. No two are identical.

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Working with various colored stone vendors has shown me that I’m not alone in loving gems for this very reason – colored stones are always so different, and sometimes they can totally surprise you with what you fall in love with.

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So this, my most recent blog, and the first blog in a long time is an ode of sorts to the one of a kind, and an indication on where I am heading creatively. I’m going to take a step back from feeling like I’m treading water coming up with stock designs, and taking a flying leap into the water and swim like my life depends on it – making pieces as unique as the stones they hold.

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More to come.

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Color

When I was young, I really wanted to be an interior decorator. Every wall in my house was painted white, except for my room, which was a soft buttery yellow. When I was about 7 my mom decided to hire an interior decorator for this one room in our house, and I still don’t know why that room was picked, as it was the least formal communal room, containing our tv and my father’s desk. The decorator ended up wall papering one wall, and took about 6 months to coax my mom into painting the rest of the walls a light peach color. I never understood the color scheme in there, and still don’t, but I loved the idea of giving a room some personality through color, shape, texture and furniture arrangement.

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I have mentioned on social media that I’ve been in the midst of home renovations. My family and I recently purchased a home that was built in the 1970s, and as a result, requires a bit of work to update the place. I’ve been getting a lot of grief about the colors I’ve chosen for the house. I really decided to go all out for this house and I’m not holding back in the color department, with deep emerald, pale periwinkles, vibrant teal, violet and a vivid green, to name some of the more exciting colors.

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But I’ve come to realize that color is one of those things that’s highly subjective, and everyone’s opinion is going to vary based on a lot of factors. The most controversial color is surprising to me – a pale green. The reasons I chose it aren’t important, but the strong reactions to it have been startling – it’s a pale minty bluish green, reminiscent of Baskin Robbins’ Mint Chocolate Chip, but lighter (kind of like the above garnet). In my opinion, a pretty innocuous color.

But that’s the thing, color can have unexpected visceral reactions and people are going to love and hate the same colors, and sometimes won’t even be able to explain why they are having the reactions to the color that they are.

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So here is a little bit about color terminology for gemstones. I’ve gone over some of these terms before, but it’s always good to have a refresher.

Hue: the color of the stone. “Purple” “blue” “red” “teal” are all hues.

Tone: lightness to darkness of the stone. “Deep in tone” connotes that a stone may have a darker color. “Light in tone” connotes a pale or pastel shade.

Saturation: how much color/pigmentation a stone has, the intensity or vividness of a color. “light” “medium” “intense” “vivid” are all terms that can be associated with saturation.

Modifier: if the stone has a strong primary color, the secondary (or even tertiary colors) are called modifiers.

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I would describe the above spinel’s color like this: Blue in hue, with medium-dark tone, medium to strong saturation, with a slight green-gray secondary modifier. This stone also shifts to a purple under fluorescent lighting, the rest of the information stays the same in both colorways.

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The most highly sought after stones in the colored stone universe are going to be pure of hue, medium in tone and with vivid saturation. A little gray goes a long way to making stones be within a more reasonable price range with typically a barely perceptible difference.

So, I’ve been posting less to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc because I’ve been busy painting and painting and painting. Good thing it’s a labor of love but I will be so happy when it’s over! I have some exciting things planned for the coming weeks, including a Q&A feature with someone in the gemstone world, and a couple fantastic custom projects I’ve been working on over the last few months. I have fun stuff coming up for 2016 too, and I can’t wait to share those things with you as the year progresses!

Personal Shopping: Lavender Sapphire

Well this week has been crazy. We have had some insane weather here in the Pacific Northwest, including snow, rain (enough for Seattle schools to close, if you can imagine that amount of rain), 70+mph winds, freezing fog, and then record high temperatures.  Yes, it was in the 50s this week, which is downright balmy for this far north at this time of year.

Now, why would I talk about the weather, you might ask? Well, on November 17th, we had the above mentioned nasty wind storm, which knocked power out all over Spokane…and damaged part of the roof at the USPS sorting warehouse. Which, when the second wind storm hit, weakened the roof further to the point that it had to be evacuated. This happened just as a 3.62ct Mahenge spinel arrived in the ill-fated sorting facility in Spokane from Mayer & Watt. (If you don’t know Mayer & Watt, you should.) The gemstone that I was planning on evaluating and writing today’s post about. So that post will have to wait for next week. But a neon “original find” hot pink/red Mahenge should make for a good Christmas week post, so I’ll just have to let it go until next week.

Now, I’ve been working on some custom designs for some of my favorite clients, as well as looking at new stones for new clients, and really trying to get all of the stock collection up and running. One thing I’ve recently started doing is really going out and searching for stones, personal gemstone shopping, if you will. And I’ve been lucky enough to get in contact with the right people, at the right time, and find some extraordinary stones that I really thought we would not be able to find.

For instance, and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen this stone, but I had a client come to me looking for her engagement ring stone. She wanted a lavender, leaning blue, oval sapphire that was at least 9mm wide on the width, precision cut. Which, if you’ve thought about it,  translates to about 5-8 carats, depending on cut. So, as soon as I saw her wish list, I said, “Hey, this is going to be incredibly hard to find. I would start thinking about alternatives or concessions you feel comfortable making.” So she did, and said that she thought a lighter pink or even a white sapphire might be acceptable, adding round to her list of acceptable shapes. And I started keeping an eye out for those. Which is when I found Mayer & Watt.

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Image is property of Mayer & Watt.

Geoffrey Watt participates in a gemstone appreciation group on Facebook, One World Gemstone, and when he posted an image, I went and looked at his company’s FB page. There was a white sapphire that was round, which fit my client’s new criteria list. So I reached out and asked about the round white sapphire, and while Geoffrey and I were talking about it, I mentioned originally looking for a lavender. To which Geoffrey said, “You mean like this one?”

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Image is property of Mayer & Watt.

Insert my heart popping out of my chest.

At 5.97cts, 10.7×9.2×7.5 it was exactly what we had been looking for. I was so excited that not only was this stone in existence (I truly thought that it wouldn’t exist, or at least, that we wouldn’t find it) that it was within reach, and it took me about two hours to compose the email to the client with the details because I was so excited and in shock.

After jumping through a whole bunch of hoops, and Geoffrey making every attempt to accommodate our needs, it was hers.

Since then, she actually sent it to Jerry Newman for a recut, to clean up the symmetry a bit since it would be her engagement ring stone. Jerry did an amazing job, managing to only lose 8.3% loss, from 5.99 ct to 5.49 ct. The depth was originally 7.43 mm and is now 6.9, keeping the original face up dimensions at 10.7 x 9.2mm.

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Images are property of Jerry Newman. 

Not to be overly gushing, but when I originally got this client request, I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to come through for her. And it’s been through a couple of incredible colleagues in the gem trade that I was able to make a client’s engagement ring dreams come true.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

In the event that you see something in Mayer & Watt’s inventory that sparks your interest, feel free to request information through our contact page. Please keep in mind that Mayer & Watt are exclusively wholesalers, so they will not respond to your requests directly.

Inclusions

Gas bubbles, feathers, crystals, veils, carbon spots, lily pads, silk, jardin, etc. There are maybe more types of inclusions than there are gemstone varieties!

I seem to have spent the last week talking about inclusions with various people. I figured that since I’ve been talking about it so much, I might as well turn all of that discussion into a blog entry. This post is pretty generalized. It is more of a take on my view of inclusions, how they affect the beauty/appearance, and a little bit about their effect on value.

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Inclusions don’t bother me in colored stones, but they do (most of the time) in diamonds. But that’s because I’m all about color. When I design, typically diamonds are accents, unless, of course, they are colored diamonds.

If the color is right, and the price is right, inclusions are great. They show the stone is natural and they usually lower the price. Some inclusions are prized, like silk in rubies and sapphires, horsetails in demantoids, jardin in emeralds, and they make the stones more valuable.

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Now, why would they make the stone more valuable? Well, they can show provenance, they show evidence of treatment and can make for some stunning effects on the gem. Without silk, there would be no gorgeous velvet vivid blue sapphires and no huge markup for a Kashmir blue sapphire.

All of these gems are more rare than diamonds, so inclusions in colored gems are acceptable, so long as they don’t interfere too much with the overall appearance of the gem. Diamonds really aren’t that rare, despite what the diamond industry might want you to believe, so insisting on a stone being at least eyeclean doesn’t really narrow the diamond field that much. But if you’re looking for an internally flawless sapphire, ruby or spinel for instance, you might be waiting for quite a while.

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So, clarity between diamonds and most colored gemstones just a completely different ballgame. It is inclusions and differences in chemical composition that can give gems their coloration. There wouldn’t be the electric neon glow of Paraiba tourmaline without copper.

In my opinion, the inclusions don’t necessarily detract from the beauty of the stone, and I think they are super cool to look at under magnification, not to mention, as I said before, they can create awesome visual effects within the stone. For instance, I love the gas bubbles seen in this Mahenge – they remind me of carbonation bubbles in soft drinks.

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Lets get a little bit more specific, with spessartite. Typically I actually prefer sugar inclusions in Loliondo, because they give it a glow that they don’t have otherwise, but I like clean stones too – though they tend to look brown in certain lighting because there aren’t any inclusions to break up the light reaching the facets. So then the facets reflect everything and typically it looks brown because of the orange color. Spess is very complicated.

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If colored gemstones weren’t rare, and there was a plethora of these gems out there, the way they are with diamonds, then yeah, I’d insist on eyeclean, the same way I do for diamonds. But they aren’t. All of these beautiful little colored stones are actually pretty rare, even more so in the stone’s ideal colors, which explains the mark up!

So. I give a big thumbs up to inclusions. Inclusions and I are friends.