An Engagement Ring for B & S

I heard first seen and fallen in love with the creations by The Gemstone Project in 2016, while looking for unique pieces for my personal jewellery collection.
I really enjoyed that even my casual questioning and interest was met with positivity and genuine responses. As an Etsy favourite, when one of the listings jumped out at me, I sent the link to my partner, just stating that I found the ring I wanted.
He immediately inquired as to the possibility of having a ring resized and sent to us in Australia. Elle made it a very simple and comfortable process for him to get my correct ring size, and the ring arrived much faster than anyone expected.
The fit of the ring is perfect, it’s almost weightless and extremely comfortable. Well my newly minted fiance kept frantically checking that it was still on my hand, but I was 100% certain that it wouldn’t fall off accidentally.
The quality of the piece is unmatched, I have had endless compliments on the colour and cut of the stone as well as remarks on the ingenuity of the secret diamonds on the sides. All of my close friends and family members have remarked that it is very much suited to me, as well as the fact that it is very unique.
I have no hesitations in asking Elle to craft matching wedding and eternity rings. – B & S
Congratulations to you on your engagement and I’d be positively delighted to be involved in the wedding ring process!
Elle

Updates and an Announcement

I feel like it’s been a while since I blogged. And there are a lot of good reasons for that. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

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I recently nabbed a trio of gray spinel asschers. I’m thinking about making a three stone with them, if they match well enough and look good together. I will see once they arrive! If I don’t love them together, they will probably go into the etsy shop.

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I did several earring design sketches for a client, and I’m considering turning some of the unused ones into designs to go into the etsy shop. Especially since I have a ton of green garnets that really should be used for something fabulous.

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Upcoming projects: a necklace for a friend, a Rubellite ring, a smattering of three stone rings, a five stone ring, a couple of fancy halos, and a handful of solitaire rings. Plus who knows what else will pop up in the next few weeks.  I have several ideas for necklaces that I’d like to make, but those may take a while to bring into fruition.

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The biggest announcement is that I have taken an outside opportunity, and as a result, I won’t be able to devote as much time as I have been to my own jewelry design.  There won’t be a ton of changes that stem from this change, my website will stay the same, my stock designs will remain available, the Etsy shop will remain open, and I will still be available to do custom design.

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The big changes are going to be: I won’t be able to devote as much time to hunting down gemstones and I’m going to have to be stricter about custom projects that I take on. I will still have accounts with Gem2000, Mayer & Watt and Pala International/Gems, and their stones will be available for purchase through me. Shipping will only happen once a week, probably Mondays or Tuesdays. Unfortunately, blogging will have to take more of a backseat, and will likely turn into a once a month occurrence. I will still try to respond to emails within 24 hours, but I may not be as swift as I was before.
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Holiday Gift Guide

I figured I’d do something a little bit different this year since I have several jewelry items in the etsy shop, and they all need good homes!

First, a note about items in my etsy shop. I actually started my etsy shop when a friend who lives overseas asked me if I would sell some of his collection. I didn’t have any other details besides that, and I was shocked when over 200 individual items showed up. I would have a very difficult time selling that much stuff via word of mouth, so I decided that the best way to do it would be to open an etsy shop and sell it there. So almost everything you see in my etsy shop is actually being sold on consignment from private collections (with a few items sprinkled in from me) and have been collected over many years by gem and jewelry collectors.

So, with that said, I’m going to list my top five jewelry items that I think would make fantastic gifts!

  1. Diamond studs 14kt white gold
    Classic diamond studs totaling .58ctw in one of our newest designs, a simple 4 prong stud.img_0275
  2. Diamond circle pendant, 14kt white gold with box chain
    This diamond necklace would be excellent for a lady who loves larger but still classic pieces that bring a lot of sparkle to the decolletage.
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  3. Bezeled Ruby earrings in 14kt yellow gold
    These would make a great gift for July babies, lovers of red or those who just love rubies!ruby-earrings
  4. Pink sapphire and Diamond Mirror Pendant
    This pendant is perfect for September or April babies, lovers of pink, and those who love statement jewelry with a modern feel. And the inside of the mirrored cup could even be plated with rhodium for a pure pink look!
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  5. Yellow diamond bezel ring in 18kt yellow gold
    Who said that diamonds had to be white?! This yellow sparkler is bezeled in yellow gold, making it appear even more yellow than it’s grade from EGL, and it gives the face up appearance close to that of a 1.5ct princess diamond. It would make a fantastic buttery engagement ring for the bride who loves yellow or who wants something unique.
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Here is the best part! If you contact me about buying any of these items, email or message me on etsy first, mention this blog post and receive 15% off! This offer is only good until December 21st so grab them while you can!

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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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Gem Blast: Boutique Gems

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.

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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.

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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.

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One of the best things spinel does well is play in the light.

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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.

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Unfortunately precision cut gems tend to reflect more darkness, it’s the nature of the well-cut beast.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

10 Facts About Me

Here is a collection of 10 fast facts you probably don’t know, and couldn’t guess about me:

  1. I typically do not wear any jewelry. Yeah, I know.
  2. My engagement ring is a Stuller setting. I have never posted it to Instagram, and I don’t know that I ever will.
  3. I’m originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico but have lived in Hyde Park, NY, Bakersfield, CA and Eastern Washington.
  4. I have a pretty extensive background in law, but minimal formal education in it.
  5. I got married in Las Vegas because it’d be easier and smaller than a wedding in Albuquerque. It was not what the kind of wedding you think of when you hear “a Vegas wedding”.IMG_8794
  6. I love cold and wet weather, but I have horrible blood circulation, so my body does not. One of my very favorite memories is having a snowball fight with my husband, very early in our relationship. I anticipate making some snowflake jewelry in the future.
  7. I am a bit of an introvert and do not like talking on the phone. I prefer email and text message 100%, and if I spend a lot of time talking, my voice pays for it later.
  8. If you saw my house, you’d think my favorite color was teal. It’s not. I tend to stay away from decorating with my favorite colors because I don’t want to get sick of them.
  9. I have pieces from D’Vatche and Mark Morrell in my personal collection. Many of the items in my personal jewelry collection are antique or used. I tend to like unique one of a kind items, and antiques accomplish that perfectly.
  10. I have very eclectic tastes when it comes to home furnishings. I have some modern items with clean lines, and some very traditional antique items – some of which have been passed on through generations of my family.

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Bonus: I am a total city girl, but since moving to Eastern Washington, I have adapted incredibly easily to small town life. Thank goodness for the internet! While I love the convenience of city life, nothing is more beautiful than an incredible sunset, followed closely behind by a clear night sky. Color and sparkle. That’s where it’s at.

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Gem Blast: Blue and Green Tourmaline

I was asked a while back if I had any indicolite in a specific shape and size. The specification of “indicolite” gave me pause, because what is an indicolite anyway?

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Well, it turns out that indicolite just used as a term for the blue varieties of tourmaline, and is also known by the term “indigolite”. I am not a chemist, gemologist or a physicist, as I have reiterated before, so I had never given it any real meaningful thought.

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Tourmaline is mostly classified by color, and color is usually an indication of mineral presence. Indicolite is usually but it’s complicated by the fact that paraiba and cuprian tourmalines are colored by copper, while other darker blue tourmalines are colored by iron.

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So it seems as though classification of a tourmaline is more of a continuum rather than a linear grouping.

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I typically don’t really delve too far into these things because I look at the stone as a piece of art and a medium I have to work with rather than it’s chemical composition. When I do get questions like this, I ask people who are more knowledgeable than I am (a huge thanks to all of you who do their best to explain these things to me!) so I can answer to the best of my ability, or just point them to somewhere else that might have the answers they are looking for.

Now, ask about color, shape and proportion, and then you’ll get a long monologue!

Gem Blast: Gem Store

I have a favorite gem store, and I have spent dozens of hours perusing it’s aisles and harassing it’s employees. I’m going to take the opportunity to show you some pictures of it, and some of the treasures I’ve come across. It is sort of stuck in the 1970s, so it hasn’t exactly been updated a whole bunch since then!

I typically go back to the gem store twice a year, for buying trips, typically with Erin from willajunejewelry. Sometimes I don’t buy anything and just go to admire the eye candy.

This is the opal case. Each one of the shelves you see rotates around in the case, dangling somewhat precariously, in a rotating case. In the event that one flips over, the whole case has to be disassembled to get the items that fall to the bottom. Which is why children are not allowed to play with the buttons, and you have to be super careful with them. From this angle, you can see about 1/2 of what’s in this case.

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Some super amazing and HUGE pink tourmalines I drool over every time I go in there.

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One of the sapphire cases. this one is for blue sapphires. There is also a “fancy colored sapphire” case that has the purples, pinks, yellows, oranges, greens and Montanas, as well as a ruby case.

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Some Tanzanites I love to admire when I go in.

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Here is what a case looks like from the top. This is the pink-orange-red-brown-gold garnet case. Another case holds greens.

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Some faceted apatite I love, especially that one on the right. I know that apatite is more known for it’s neon blue colors, but I love that deep teal color. The next time I go back, I have got to get some better pictures of it.

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A gorgeous blue sapphire pear. I’d almost call this a cleft-less heart, but not quite there. The colors of these stones are not quite accurate until you pull them out of the case. Looking at them through a layer of glass and a layer of plastic plus the glare of the light on both really affects the colors.

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A view of part of the shop – the case closest to the the camera is full of tourmalines, farther away is a case of topaz, two cases of garnets, a case of emeralds and diamonds, citrine and a few more that I can’t remember. All of these cases are full of faceted gems. The cases you can see in the top right corner are actually mineral specimens. These two rows of cases house most of their faceted gems. So you can see that there are thousands and thousands of gems in this tiny store. To the left is actually the biggest part of the store, which houses more minerals, jewelry findings, jewelry settings, cabochoned material, carvings, gemstone and mineral display boxes, etc.

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The next time I go, I will have to take more/better pictures of everything!

Gemstone Cutting Flaws

Most gemstones on the market are either cut by machine or cut on rudimentary machines. As a result there are a lot of gemstones out there that have a lot of issues and in my opinion, are less beautiful.

I had mentioned in this post, Considering Gemstone Recuts, about recutting two stones for repair, and one for appearance sake. I would like to go a bit more in depth as to what these cut flaws can look like, and why they are considered flaws.

Please note that I am not a lapidary and do not have as stringent guidelines as they might for what makes a beautiful gem.

Windows

Windowing in gemstones is when the gemstone has what looks like a hole in the middle and the stone is completely see through without sparkle in the middle. What is happening here is that the facets on the pavilion of a stone is cut to such an extreme angle, so that the light goes into the gemstone, and straight back out the bottom. These facet angles on the pavilion can run almost parallel to the table of the gemstone. Here is a good example of a windowed gemstone:

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Windowing can occur two different ways, the first being when the gemstone is cut too shallow, typically to preserve a larger face up size for the stone. This cut flaw cannot typically be corrected without significant loss to the faceup size of the gem. This can also affect the value of the gemstone in a big way, losing valuable carat weight and face-up size.

The second occurs when a stone is cut at the wrong angles for the gem variety. The stone typically has a “fat belly” or “fat pavilion” or looks rounded on the bottom, more like a ball than coming to a sharp point, or culet, the way you would expect a gemstone to be cut. These stones are typically cut for weight retention. Here is the stone from my previous post that has this flaw, a silver spinel:

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A deep belly/pavilion can typically be corrected with some tweaking by a talented gem cutter.

Tilt Windows

Tilt windows can be seen in every single gemstone variety, including diamond, but are most often seen in stones that have a lower refractive index, such as tourmaline, topaz, quartz and beryl. Tilt windows can be seen when a stone is being viewed from an angle that isn’t straight on. Stones with lower refractive index will show windows more easily. Please note that all of the stones seen in the following examples are cut by talented precision lapidaries.

Tourmaline tilt window:

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Slight tilt window seen on the left side of the garnet in this picture:

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Slight tilt window in a asscher spinel:

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Extinction

Gemstones can be cut to incorrect angles to the point where they black out, or when light goes in, but does not get reflected back to the eye. This type of problem is called extinction, and is a serious flaw because if a stone looks black instead of being a nice color, what’s the point? Some gem cutters expressly cut stones so that facets take turns turning off and on, this effect would be considered being cut for contrast, rather than plain extinction.

The dark blue spinel on the bottom is showing a bit of extinction, while the stones above it (sapphire and spinel, respectively) are not.

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Half and Half Shadowing

Half and half is typically another result of less than ideal cutting, and is also a mechanism of physics. It’s a specific type of extinction, so it is a result of light going into a stone and not being reflected back to the viewer’s eye. However, this particular type of extinction is typically seen in an elongated brilliant cut stone such as cushions, radiants and ovals. When these stones are viewed North-South, the phenomenon is very visible, but when the stone is viewed East-West, it can become essentially non-existent.

The dark blue spinel (same from above) on top shows it’s dark side on the upper half.

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A purple sapphire shows some half and half darkening on the top half of this stone.

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This stone is a spinel, and you can clearly see the half and half as well as a bit of a tilt window.

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So, while none of the above are deal breakers when I look at a stone, they are still qualities to take into consideration when purchasing gemstones and looking for beautiful jewelry. Any gemstone variety can have the above cut issues, they are not limited to any one particular gem over another. One way to mostly bypass these issues is by finding a lapidary and checking out their inventory, but that is not a guarantee!