New York, New York

A touch over two years ago I posted a blog entry about a planning a specific project:

https://thegemstoneproject.com/2014/11/28/new-york-city-inspired-ring/

Well, it evolved. I will get to that in a second.

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal

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.

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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.

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So, since I don’t get to do that regularly anymore, I had to base a piece of jewelry around it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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.)

Grand Central Terminal Ceiling
Grand Central Terminal Ceiling

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.

Grand Central Terminal Taurus Detail
Grand Central Terminal Taurus Detail

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.

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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.

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Elle signature

A Month of Diamonds

I am an April baby. And…I don’t like diamonds.

But, because it’s my birthstone and because of the social importance imparted on us and the significance of diamonds, they have still managed to play a influential part in my life.

When I was thirteen, my mom gifted me with the tiniest diamond ring imaginable. If you’ve been following me on instagram, you might have seen it. I know nothing about the diamond besides the fact that it’s so small I have to check with magnification to see it and make sure it hasn’t popped out, and from what I can tell, it’s likely a single cut melee. I think it’s about 1mm in diameter, so when I say it’s small, I mean it! I wore that ring all of the time, in fact, I don’t remember when I stopped wearing it, but it was probably sometime when I was in high school when boys started giving me rings.

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Diamond birthstone ring from my mother for my 13th birthday.birthstone bling2

My second diamond ring was a gift from an old boyfriend. That ring also had tiny diamonds in it and was terribly 1980s-1990s and yellow gold. My third taste of diamonds came from another ex, another tiny diamond that had a huge carbon chunk in it from a mall jewelry store. They are both long gone now, but it’s probably a good thing – what do you even do with jewelry from exes?

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An antique diamond band from the 1930s. 

My mother had always had a couple diamond rings that belonged in her family, and I expected to inherit them someday. It wasn’t long after she was rediagnosed with breast cancer that she came to me and explained that she was sending them to who she felt was the rightful heir, since they couldn’t be evenly split among her many siblings (youngest of ten). So I found out that I wouldn’t be receiving those heirlooms a bit abruptly.

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Carre and single cut band inspired by Tiffany & Co.

And then, for my parent’s 27th wedding anniversary, I finally talked my dad into buying my mom a diamond, her first real diamond that would be hers, as my parents didn’t have the traditional engagement with a ring involved and my dad is not the jewelry buying type. We spent a series of a few days at a few different jewelers, looking at diamonds and really getting an idea of what she would like and what my dad wanted to get her. Marketing terminology won him over with a “princess”. He said as soon as he heard that it was called a “princess”, he had to have one for her. Unfortunately I totally failed when it came to the setting department, and put it in a boring stock solitaire.

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My mother’s princess cut diamond.

Now, if there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I like to sleep. I’m a night owl, and the later I can sleep in, the better. I pestered my dad to tell me how he was going to give the ring to my mom, and he, while brilliant, is not terribly creative. He got up before her, and put the store bag next to her coffee pot. My parents got up at incredibly, stupidly early hours, so the sun wasn’t even close to coming up. I, a person who loves sleep, set my alarm to wake up BEFORE my parents so I could witness my mom receiving this gift we had put so much time into. And around 5am, I was greatly rewarded, skulking in the dark living room while my mom stumbled into the kitchen to start her coffee without even putting her glasses on. I remember the conversation as clear as if it were yesterday:

“David, what is this?”
“Why don’t you open it up and find out?”
…opens the bag, finds the box, opens it and…
“Holy shit…is that real?!”

Yes, it was. And I can probably count on one hand the times I heard my mom use a curse word.

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My mother’s anniversary present, reset into platinum. 

These few instances signify some of the more emotional ties I have had to diamonds specifically, even though I’ve never really had the love affair that most women seem to have with diamonds. I’ve always admired diamonds because they are sparkly, and goodness knows I love sparkly things, but diamonds never really felt like something I had to have.

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Antique Old Mine Cut diamond with a badly chipped girdle.

Until I found antique diamonds. And then I found fancy colored diamonds. Suddenly I found myself overwhelmed with the fact that I did like diamonds – I just had to find the right flavor! I’m planning on spending most of April talking about diamonds, but as per usual with me, just not your every day Modern Round Brilliants!

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Old European Cut diamonds set in my platinum Prive band.