Gem Blast: Holiday Edition

It has been a crazy week, with a family birthday plus Thanksgiving and then ten completed projects when I was expecting 5, plus a bunch of gems.  I have more on the way, and with the holidays gearing up, things are just bound to get crazier!

So this week, I’m just going to post a handful of my favorite pictures that I’ve been taking in the past couple of weeks! Some of this will be a preview for new items to come – some will probably hit etsy before they get to the website, due to holiday shopping demands

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Be on the lookout for new things to come! For additional pictures of some of these pieces, check out my Repertoire page.  And don’t forget to check out Facebook for all of my etsy promo codes.(Hint: there is one for today! After all, it’s Cyber Monday!)

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Ombré du Soleil

They just wanted to be made. – Elle

I had posted these on instagram the other day, just a small macro shot, and immediately got requests to see more. Well, the thing about that is that these are ridiculously difficult to photograph for one simple fact – they are huge.

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A couple years ago, when we were still in California, I had an overseas collector send me a great number of stones to sell on consignment. That’s the reason my etsy shop was initially opened. There were a handful of stones that I knew immediately that I didn’t want to sell – I wanted to create something with them.

My starting point in this particular project was the largest pair of spessartites. They just glowed, in an almost unearthly way, with this ridiculous neon orange that photos don’t really do justice, as orange is one of the hardest colors to photograph accurately.

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Now, this collector had sent along literally about 40 carats of spessartites, including a handful of smaller round oranges with fantastic color, and a pair of bezeled round spessartite earrings.

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Spessartite, as with most gemstones and colors, goes through bursts here and there of popularity and trendiness. Unfortunately, just as I got this package, spessartite was hitting a slow spot, so most of the loose gems that I had never even hit the market. Instead I started to have big dreams for them, all brought upon by the incredible color of that large pair. I created a sketch of the initial idea, which included using the bezeled studs as is and then later amended it to add a few details, involving a change to the stud.

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About six months ago I went to visit my favorite gem shop and one of the first things on my mind to pick up were gems that would fit the ombré  color scheme I had dreamed up.  I needed to find exactly the right graduation of color and size to match cohesively with the overall concept. Luckily I was able to find that in some sapphires from Madagascar.

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As soon as I had all of the stones collected, I sent the picture to a friend.
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And a couple months later, she asked me when I was going to make the earrings? Why hadn’t I made them already? I had all of these beautiful stones, why not make use of them already? So I turned around that week, and sent them off to the jeweler, along with a picture of the sketch.
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As I mentioned before, the sketch went through a couple of revisions. The final version ended up being so large that the entire thing wouldn’t fit on one page of my sketch book, so I had to improvise a little bit, and drew the stud separately from the rest of the earring. A quick note: I draw everything at 5x scale.
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 So, lets talk specifics of the finished product.
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The bottom 5 stones are spessartites, the top three in the bottom section are sapphires. The top stone (the stud) is a spessartite and then the rest (second stone in the stud and then the little connecting section) are all fancy yellow diamonds.
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These are definitely more hefty than I usually make, but the one thing I wanted out of these is that I wanted to have that heft, and I didn’t want them to feel cheap. I feel like they easily could have gone the costume jewelry route, but the setter managed to avoid it, keeping the walls between the stones quite thin, and the edges from stone to outside rim thin in most areas . The largest stones are 7mm and very deep so we really had to have a lot of metal to hold them all in place.
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The settings are open in the back to let in a ton of light, even though they are bezeled. The emphasis for this project was really on the stones, the ombré effect and the concept of light. Seeing as how it took about two years to find the right stones in the right sizes, tones and saturation to I really wanted to not detract from the concept as a whole and keep the ombré effect in the metal that’s holding the stones together. As you will see in the images below, the color of the stones change from one image to another – the most accurate devices for color viewing are Apple products, iphone, ipad, Mac computers, and images with the brightest colors and least amount of brown are the closest to real life.
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14 grams of 18kt yellow gold

.16 carats of yellow diamonds
.41 carats of yellow sapphires
14.13 carats of orange garnets

14.7 total carats

They measure just over 2.5 inches long.

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Everyone keeps asking me, “why did you make these? Are they for yourself, or to sell?” and my answer has been, “They just wanted to be made.”

At the moment, I don’t know what the future holds for them. But absolutely something bright.

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Incoming Gemstones

Whoa! Gemstones ahoy!

I got a couple of packages from a couple of collectors looking to consign items, and there are some really awesome gems, and a couple of finished jewelry pieces.

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Some of the stand outs include:

40+ carats of green garnets: tsavorite, demantoid, mint, including melee!
2+ carat blue spinel pear
1.89 carat neon pink spinel
Green zircon
6+ carat blue zircon
Light teal-blue tourmaline
Pink Vietnamese spinel
Ruby studs
Handful of diamonds, rounds and cushions
Precision cut Mahenge garnets
Lavender tourmaline

Plus more!

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Also expected this week, a precision cut gray spinel antique cushion with a certification from AGL.

And I still have more incoming in the next couple weeks!

All of these will be listed to my etsy shop in the coming weeks, while I’m hoping to have everything up by Thanksgiving, but that just depends on how things go, and how much sun I get for photographs! If you are looking for anything in particular or if any of the above sound interesting, please reach out to be added to the interest list!

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If you haven’t found my coupon code on my Facebook page yet, you should go check it out because it expires October 31!

Also I have accounts with some wholesale dealers, so if you’re looking for anything in particular, let me know!

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We are getting very close to the holiday season. I will be releasing deadlines for holiday ordering within the next week – where has this year gone?! I cannot believe the holiday season is upon us!

So many custom projects going into production right now, I am so excited to see them come to fruition!

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Custom Three Stone

One of the many reasons I love spinels so much is that they have so much personality. One minute they may look one color, the next minute, they could look another color. So of course when I had a client reach out and ask if I would set her violet-blue cushion spinel, I jumped at the chance.

Now the ring is currently in transit to the client, but she has already seen most of these pictures.

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She wanted a three stone with diamond half moons, and we had a lot of discussion about the design elements of it, and where to go with inspiration.

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She suggested that she wanted it to be very traditional from top down, and something unexpected from the side. Her thought was “A professional woman in a business suit, but with blue fingernails.”

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The working title for the ring became the “mullet ring”, with business from the top, and party from the side. We went through a variety of diamonds for the surprise stones, and ended up using irradiated yellow diamonds.

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I really wanted it to have a minimalist feel from the top down, but wanted a bit of detail on the shank, adding a ridge – inspired by pinstripes so popular in business suits!

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The profile was inspired in part by Maleficent. Yes, Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. The small detail on the center stone’s basket emulates her staff, while the shape of the center stone’s basket echos the curve of her jawline, and the lines of the metal holding the half moons mirror Maleficent’s robes.

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The cool colors are so perfect for winter, and I cannot wait for her to see it in person!

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Lots of things in the works over here.

I’m planning on adding a page with a portfolio for work that may not make it to the website via the blog or some other means. Some of my items are on Pinterest, but not in a consolidated area.

I am considering adding some jewelry items to my etsy shop. I have gradually been letting the listings expire, but will soon be addressing those.

Custom projects are always in the works and I currently have a few exciting ones in the pipeline.

I’m also reconsidering the setting I had planned as a solitaire, the Dignité. I may take it into a different direction than I had been previously, I will have to put some thought into it.

Lastly, everyone keeps asking me if I’m going to be in Tucson this year – I will not be in attendance, but will have a representative there acting as my eyes and ears. Perhaps 2017 will be my year!

Engagement Season

It’s getting to be that time of year where everyone spends a lot of time with family and friends, going from party to party and opening lots of wonderful presents. It’s also that fateful time of year when people want to get engaged. I’m not sure what it is, but something about the holidays brings out the bling.

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Not that I’m complaining, of course! My very best friends got engaged on Thanksgiving, and my husband proposed to me a week before Christmas.

So lets talk about colored stone engagement rings, shall we?

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  1. Pick something hardy to try to withstand a lifetime. I usually recommend only spinel and sapphire if you’re going to deviate from hardness of a diamond. Spinel is about an 8 on the Mohs Scale, and sapphires are about a 9. Chrysoberyl (and Alexandrite) is also pretty hard at 8.5, but tends to be a less popular choice.
  2. Stick with something classic or something that you know you will love in twenty years as much as you love it now.
  3. Think about what kind of wedding band you want! So many people walk into stores and think about the engagement ring, but never think about what the pair it with. Easier to plan a whole set sometimes, especially if you’re going with something besides a relatively simple solitaire.
  4. Take good care of your engagement ring. Truly, no engagement ring should be worn 24/7, even diamonds. Hardness does not equal being indestructible.  Don’t wear it while doing anything that could cause any harm to the stone – gardening, washing dishes, lifting heavy items. I like to buy a fancy box and put it in there, safe from potential harm while I’m doing those kinds of things.
  5. Color. What color do you want? What is her/your favorite color? What colors do you wear a lot? What stone does the color the best? Is that type of stone at least a 7 on the Mohs Scale? Does that type of stone have other qualities you like (dispersion) or dislike (facet abrasion)? 1
  6. Does the stone need a protective setting to try to prevent nicks and chips? Typically people will bezel or halo a stone that’s on the softer side that may need help in the protection department, but this still leaves the table and crown facets open to getting hit. No setting is going to completely protect your center stone, which is why you have to be careful with it!
  7. Is it in the budget? Rubies, sapphires and emeralds are all going to be very classic choices and typically have the best colors, but spinel does red very well (and has a much cleaner crystal!), spinel also does blue very well, and tsavorites can have eye popping green color as well (plus they often have cleaner crystal as well. Spinels and garnets have the bonus to rarely being treated, as well as often being less expensive than their classic counterparts. Fine rubies, emeralds and sapphires can cost more than diamonds. Colored stones are not always going to be less expensive than diamonds!
  8. Treatment levels. Often, when someone is looking for an engagement ring colored stone, they would like the stone to have as little treatment as possible. As with most colored stone purchases, so long as all treatments are disclosed, and you’re paying a fair price for what you’re getting, you’re good to go.
  9. Size. Is the size practical for her lifestyle? Is she very active and play lots of sports? Does she like big jewelry? Or does she like small? Has she ever admired a relative’s jewelry item? What does the rest of her jewelry look like?
  10. Style. This is probably the topic that I’m most invested in (obviously!) but there are so many different styles out there that the choices are absolutely limitless. Classic, trendy, Art Deco, Mid Century, modern, quirky, just to name a few.

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Hoping that everyone has a wonderful holiday/engagement season!

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.

Exciting News!

I am adding an extra post this week to announce that I have opened up an etsy store! Now, I’m still working towards getting my own site with my own designs, but in the meantime, I really wanted to get some of the loose gemstones that have been collected over the years out of my possession and into someone else’s.

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I don’t plan on replenishing the supply of gemstones because I can’t set or keep everything and I need to make space for new stuff! So if I don’t already have it in my possession, odds are good that I won’t be getting it, but I can always point you in a direction that might be fruitful.

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There are also some items of jewelry and settings on the etsy store as well, mostly because I don’t have room in my jewelry box for them anymore. Hah!

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This post is to announce the grand opening of my etsy shop!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGemstoneProject

Because I wanted to thank my readers for checking it out, if you see something you like, I’m offering a 10% off coupon code (no quotes) on any purchase over $100 for the month of February: “GRANDOPENING”

My inventory consists of mostly precision cut stones, with a heavy emphasis on oranges, reds, purples and blues, plus a healthy dose of green, and some random earthy shades as well. There is always the risk that I’ll randomly get inspired by a gem in the shop, and it may be pulled to make into a piece of jewelry, so if you see something you like, please grab it while you can!

So please, check out the store, and if you’re looking for something in particular, I might have it, and it just hasn’t been listed yet. So please feel free to reach out and ask if I have an item and you don’t see it in the shop. Should you end up picking up something, I’m always available to help design a setting!

Feature: Jewels by Grace

I promised you a feature with Grace Lavarro of Jewels by Grace, and today is the day! So if you’ve ever wanted to know what her real engagement ring looks like, or what her favorite item of jewelry is, read on!

So, to start off easy, what is your favorite cocktail?
​My current poison of choice is Ginger Gimlets.

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When did you first fall in love with jewelry?
​I’ve always been very curious about jewelry but my “real” interest started when I started the hunt for the my 1st (hah!) engagement ring. We were young, with limited funds, so we scrimped and saved for this ring – a 1ct princess cut diamond ring 🙂 I loved everything about it then, and I designed the setting as well.​

What do you think every woman should have in her jewelry box? I’m going to limit it to 5 things, because I know you!
​I always advocate that women should have a versatile jewelry suite – several pieces that would easily take them from day to night, from casual to glam. I will pretend that I did not read the “limit to 5” restriction 🙂 But in all seriousness, if we had to limit this to 5, then the last 2 items listed may be left off.

Beautiful earrings. Not many people know this about me, but earrings are MY favorite piece of jewelry. With my earrings on, I feel complete. These can be studs, or dangles. I am partial to dangles because I do like seeing the sparkle and glimmer of gems when one’s head moves. Earrings frame a beautiful face beautifully – everyone SHOULD have a killer pair of earrings!

A nice solitaire – and by nice, I don’t necessarily mean huge! I am talking about a ring that is classically styled and elegant. A half carat diamond in a beautiful setting is more beautiful in my eyes than a poorly-cut diamond in an unattractive, “look-at-me” setting.

​A blingy right hand ring,​ ​preferably vintage, for that certain je ne sais quoi​​. Because right hand rings REALLY need to be bold, and big, and be present on the finger!

A long chain necklace is a must as well. It can be a diamonds-by-the-yard style, or a chain with some intricate design details. I like them long enough to wear doubled and I am very partial to French chains – they have the prettiest patterns and styles and work very well for layering. Even if only in a t-shirt, an elegant long necklace finishes any ensemble very, very nicely.

Wrist bling! Wrists are the last frontier for me (no, I don’t think I will ever advocate for belly button jewelry)! I like seeing pieces on wrists with some depth – different colored metal perhaps, or a mix of the old and the new. I like wearing all my bracelets and cuffs on the right wrist, stacked with my watch. I call it “organized chaos.”

And, if budget allows, these two other pieces:
A band that can be worn stacked, yet be bold enough to be worn on its own. This could be a 5 or 7 stone band, or an eternity band.

A nice watch. Again, it does not need to a designer watch, but a watch that is styled nicely (diamonds optional) and could work with one’s jewelry (and lifestyle). A fave of mine is a yellow gold boyfriend watch by Coach (all of $265!).

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What do you look for in jewelry when you’re buying for your shop?
​I like pieces which are different, interesting, and unique. I like pieces with beautiful craftsmanship and those which clearly evoke the different eras – Deco, Victorian, Edwardian.

I love Art Deco, but there are just so many great antique looks that came out at different time periods that I know I can’t ever pick just one! Do you have a favorite era?
​See above! Art Deco has always been a big fave but Victorian pieces are creeping up to be a close second as I am wearing almost only yellow gold jewels lately.​

I have noticed a ton of rose cuts coming out of Jewels by Grace lately, and I know that they are pretty rare, as most people have never seen them in real life. Are they becoming more plentiful or are you just buying all of them?
​They have always been around but the recent surge in popularity, I would say, is due to jewelry designers using more and more of them in their designs. I have always loved rose cuts and buy them for my shop every chance I get!​

What was your original engagement ring?
A 1ct princess cut diamond in a half-bezel ring (hey, this was the early 90’s, ok?)​

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You are a female small business owner in a male-dominated industry, has that been difficult?
​Yes, in so many ways, this is still very much a male-dominated field! It has not always been easy to navigate the industry.

How did you get into the business? And what did you do before you opened JbG?
​I was in the professional services industry, a pencil pusher 🙂

The decision to get into the industry was not a conscious one. Many years ago, I decided to pare down my collection and started selling off pieces here and there. I met my previous business partner Erica when she bought her first diamond from me. We became fast friends via email, and after seeing an episode of Oprah one afternoon where she declared that we must all follow our bliss, I felt it was time! My friendship with Erica started at the perfect time, and after pooling our resources, Jewels by Erica Grace was born.

Was there a pivotal moment of transitioning into the industry full time?
​After we hit a certain sales milestone, we knew the business needed our full time attention. I would say that this really depends on the business owner – that sales target could vary wildly from one person to the next.​

How have your tastes have changed over the course of your job?
​I do not think that my tastes have changed much over the years, to be honest. More than anything, I rely on my aesthetics and instinct in picking and selecting jewels. A very prominent antique jeweler once told me that I had the eye for this job and I have never let myself forget that. In moments where I need clarity, I let my eyes guide me! It sounds pretty simple and that’s because it really, really is.

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What is your favorite piece that you currently have in your shop?
​I am very partial to twin stone rings so its only natural that I am totally in love with the 4.10tcw Victorian bypass ring! I love it so!​

Do you have any pieces that you wouldn’t ever sell?
I get very attached to personal pieces so once I declare them mine, its highly unlikely that I would ever want to part with them. Most of the pieces that you see on the Jewels by Grace home page (the slider pics) are personal pieces of mine – those would remain in my jewelry box, thank you very much!

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(Can I just take a minute to gawk over the beauty in the above photograph?! The ring and the photography are stellar!)

So, when are we going to go sing karaoke?
​Girl. These pipes were born ready. 🙂

I suggest you click on the following links, enjoy the amazing photos, and see if anything in particular catches your interest! And keep a watch on this woman – she is a force to be reckoned with, and has an eye for spectacular detail!

Jewels by Grace
Jewels by Grace SmugMug
Jewels by Grace Instagram
Jewels by Grace Facebook

Oh yeah, and go look at her brand spanking new Holiday Look Book!

Grace is in the middle of holding some giveaways over the holiday season. If you are her follower on Instagram, like her on Facebook or subscribe to her newsletters, you are entered to win one of her fantastic bracelets! They are similar to the ones below, but have colorless rose cut sapphires in them. If you haven’t already, please take a minute and go find her on social media for a chance to win a gorgeous piece of jewelry!

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Please note: All of the pictures used in this post have been used with permission of their owner, Grace Lavarro of Jewels by Grace, and are her property.

David Klass Contest Band Part 1

A while back I entered a contest for a band design being held by David Klass. There were two different categories, one that the David would pick, and one that was a “People’s Choice”. I didn’t win either category.

However, my design gathered so many votes that David offered to give me free CADs of my design.

The guidelines were:

1. Less than 5mm wide.
2. Stones: diamonds, sapphires (blue, pink or yellow), emeralds, rubies.
3. Up to 1ctw diamonds, 2.5ctw rubies, sapphires or emeralds.
4. Stone shape: rounds, baguettes, princess.
5. Common engraving or milgrain can be used.
6. Baguettes to be under 2x4mm and rounds and princesses were a maximum of 2mm

I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a pastry chef. I always loved piping, although learning how to do it well was tedious to say the least. After a week of agonizing over what design to use, I went back to my roots, and drew my inspiration from my favorite piping pattern, the Reverse Shell. (The mistake on the left column in this example drives me batty every time I look at it! Obviously not my picture OR my piping work!)

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Obviously it’d be near impossible to clearly imitate the look of the frosting with metal and diamonds since you can’t make metal into a consistency able to be piped, so I played with the general concept a bit and came up with this:

DK band design

I waited so long to put the design together that I had to scramble in the last hours of the final day to finish it in time, typically I would try to do a rendering that was a bit more detailed. Luckily, the jeweler, David Klass (who needs to put up a website! You can find him on Facebook) was able to capture what I had in my head exactly, without being inside my head. His CAD rendering:

band design

When I first came up with the idea, I really wanted something that could be versatile for a lot of different people. So I wanted to stay well within the 5mm width range to allow for stacking, but also wanted enough presence that it could be a stand alone ring. My rendering had the final width being 3mm, but David’s CAD allowed for 3.5mm, which ends up being perfect. I figured that this design could be organic feeling, could be reminiscent of ocean waves or could just be used to add some texture and interest to a set. I wanted it to have a bright clean polish, but easily go with brushed instead for a matte look. And I wanted it to be adaptable to any color range. I think this band accomplishes many of those goals – the stones could easily be any color, and the metal could be white, yellow or rose to go with a person’s personal style, their other rings or just their whims.

I get the first band to be made from these CADs, and I’ve been deliberating for months on stone and metal color, as well as finish, the two biggest choices being between white gold and diamonds or yellow gold and yellow sapphires, but with a white/emerald, and a rose/pink sapphire option, it has made it a difficult choice indeed. As soon as it is completed (I need to make a decision!), there will be a follow up post!