Why is it so Hard to Find Peridot Jewelry I Like?

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All photos above provided by Market Square Jewelers

Peridot is the birthstone of August, and many of us have come to find that August babies either love it or they hate it. Perhaps the ones that hate peridot haven’t had the same exposure to the gem as myself.

The peridot I know and love is a vibrant yellowish green that pops against yellow gold in such a magnificent and esoteric way. In Ancient Egypt, peridot was known as the Gem of the Sun and rightfully so. A well-cut peridot rivals the beauty of emerald and demantoid garnet, for a fraction of the cost.

In theory, peridot is plentiful and affordable. But while peridot is prized for its lavish and distinct coloring, it can be a struggle finding peridot jewelry that’s worth obsessing over. Unfortunately, so many factors work against peridot becoming an inexpensive jewelry staple like amethyst.

Here are some reasons why it’s so hard to find peridot jewelry I like:

1. Commercial Grade Peridot is Undesirable At Times

As far as amethyst goes, even commercial gems have the ability to be beautiful depending on the cut and hue. In contrast, most commercial peridot on the market looks the same – like small bits of washed out baby food. Too harsh? Based on how many uninformed people hate peridot, maybe not. When the cut is shallow, most of that lovable, vibrant green shade fades to almost clear, and there’s not much left to get excited about.

2. The Lime Green Color Can be Limiting in Design

I can’t recall ever seeing peridot in a white gold design that I liked. Let’s face it, peridot looks best in yellow gold. Most stones have a metal that complements it best, but with peridot, setting the stone in white or rose gold can be absolutely detrimental to the design. If you happen to love peridot in white gold, don’t let me turn you away. But this is why we see less peridot designs on the market than we do more versatile green stones like emerald that happen to look amazing in platinum and rose gold.

3. Large Peridot Stones are Significantly More Expensive

Larger peridot stones tend to maintain their deep coloring better than smaller stones. However, the larger the peridot stone, the more expensive it becomes. I can find affordable amethyst stones that weigh more than 4 carats very easily. Trying to find that same size peridot stone will set me back significantly more money, which is very limiting when jewelry shopping. It’s easy to find smaller peridot stones in places like Arizona and China, but the larger sizes are much more scarce globally, thus impacting the market overall.

4. More Awareness = More Demand

As more people become acquainted with that peridot sweet spot – the stones that are vibrant and well-cut – the demand naturally increases. Supply for quality peridot designs doesn’t fully match this new-found demand, which causes an increase in price and scarcity. This means I’ll have to be hunting for peridot jewelry instead of simply browsing for it. Instead of 10 great options, I may only find 5, and even then, I’ll be competing with other buyers looking for the same item.

With all the reasons why I have so few peridot pieces in my collection, I figured it best to reiterate that it’s not impossible to find worthwhile peridot jewelry. In fact, one of our favorite shops Market Square Jewelers, we feel, has the best selection of peridot jewelry! The photos above are provided by Market Square Jewelers and all the pieces are available for purchase! You can check out their website for more peridot jewelry here.

This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

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The Top Jewelry Trends Seen at Couture 2017

Yael Sonia | Gem Gossip

After acclimating to normal life, and when I say normal I mean not having to take 700+ photos per day while meeting one jewelry designer after the other all while trying to look like I haven’t just slept for 4 hours and only eaten a diet that could sustain a person for a brief moment, I am happily enjoying my quiet reflection time from the Couture show. Happy to be tucked away in laid back Nashville, far from the dry air, noisy crowds and thick cigarette smoke of Vegas. But don’t get me wrong, there is a large part of me that absolutely loves everything about Vegas Jewelry Week--including all that is complained about.

One of my most favorite things to do when Couture is over is go through all my photos, take in all that I just saw and narrow down all the goodness into a small list of top jewelry trends. It is no simple task and I like to keep my trend categories somewhat pinpointed, so they are not so broad. Tracking trends and observing how these trends evolve is some science mixed with a heavy dose of anthropology, and no I don’t mean the lifestyle/clothing store.

So here are the five jewelry trend categories I’ve come up with that were the most dominate in the best way possible from Couture 2017. They are in no particular order and are illustrated using just ONE example of designers I had appointments with–there are several other pieces and designers that also captured these top jewelry trends too!

Jane Taylor Jewelry

1. Rainbow Waves:

I was seeing SO MUCH rainbow around Couture; color everywhere! I was totally loving it. This trend was best exhibited by Jane Taylor Jewelry whose designs get more and more colorful every year. Every ROYGBIV fan out there can spot the gemstone that represents each spectral color. Designers are embracing color and incorporating all colors into their designs. Buyer and jewelry lovers are searching for pieces that are vibrant, colorful and play off one another while still displaying a rainbow of hues.

Lydia Courteille | Gem Gossip Lydia Courteille | Gem Gossip Lydia Courteille | Gem Gossip

2. Shoulder-Duster Statement Earrings:

We’ve seen earrings trend all across the board in the past few years–from simple studs, to ear jackets, to ear climbers/crawlers…even ear cuffs. This year was all about the bold, shoulder-dusting statement earrings. Long in length, sleek in style, and statement-making in their own right. Above, I clearly saw some great examples of this trend at Lydia Courteille. These pieces were quite breath-taking and feature her signature black rhodium and rainbow of gems (which ties in with the first trend). I love Lydia’s gem choices and color combinations. We recommend this trend with pulled back hair and no necklaces.

Yael Sonia | Gem Gossip

3. Modern Geometric:

Perhaps one of my favorite trends, the modern, sculptural pieces that have a hint of geometry to them. This trend is easily showcased best by Brazilian designer Yael Sonia. Her designs exude a futuristic feel, very 3017. She uses Brazilian gemstones and each item is handcrafted in Brazil. I love the 3D cubes, spheres and the use of movement that is also incorporated into her pieces.

Zoe Chicco | Gem Gossip

4. Gold Wire Necklaces:

Chains took a backseat this time around at Couture–it was all about the solid gold wire. Whether it was plain or decorated in gemstones, the wire collar can exquisitely flatter any neckline, all while making a statement. I think the gold wire has gained popularity lately because it almost resembles a choker, has the same capabilities as a regular chain, yet it is heavy, rigid and substantial. Above, one of my favorite gold wire collar necklaces found at Couture 2017–this one is by Zoe Chicco and features bezel set diamonds of various cuts set throughout the piece. It is elegant and edgy at the same time! So good!!

Sydney Evan | Gem Gossip

5. Charms:

I was not expecting charms to be such a highlight and hit at Couture 2017, but they totally were and as a charm collector, I was loving all the interpretations I was seeing! Each designer had their own take on charms–their own motifs and ideas came to life in colorful and gem-set renditions. The most well-known being the Gemfields x MUSE collaboration charm necklace, as people are STILL talking about it! I loved Sydney Evan‘s charms (shown above) as they were quirky, fun and very colorful. Her signature motifs, like the evil eye, the word “Love,” wishbone, lips, etc. were brought to life as charms. The trend is great for many reasons–low price points, easy to collect, and the wearer can choose to wear them any way they want!


Couture 2017

Want more? See my top picks from last year’s show!

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Why Are Crystals & Healing Crystals So Popular Right Now?

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So much can be said about crystals and their role in the millennial mind. The mainstream’s relatively recent fascination with crystals is far-reaching and undeniably polarizing. There are those that think a crystal’s ability to heal is hogwash. Others go so far as to dedicate their lives to healing crystal’s seemingly magical powers.

Then there are people like me who fall somewhere in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely fascinated by crystals, and my collection is vast enough to need its own cabinet or two. I use crystals while meditating, and I even playfully ponder over the unseen “energies” different crystals emit.

But I’m still skeptical. Do I think holding a piece of rose quartz over your heart is going to heal a cardiac arrhythmia? No. Do I think every crystal sends off a different vibration? Not really. What I do know is that each type of crystal has a different composition and absorbs and refracts light (and radiation) in different ways — to put it simply.

Regardless of where you stand, the age of buying druzy crystals in mass numbers is upon us. Crystal healing has been around for centuries, but why all of a sudden are these specimens so in-demand? Skepticism aside, here are some reasons why crystals are so popular:

1. Crystals Are Helpful Meditative Aids:

A crystal doesn’t need to be unearthly magical to help with a simple meditation practice. If the crystal just so happens to emit an energy that helps you channel a goal, great. But that isn’t the point. So much of our own energy is channeled through our thoughts.

If we think a particular stone will enhance our intuition, chances are we’ll be seeing things more clearly. Whether it’s the stone’s work or just our mind, having a token to focus our attention on while meditating can help with the process of destressing.

2. Healing Crystals Lend to Personalized Spiritual Practices:

I’m not a New Age expert, but I do know that the culture developed as a means to explore spirituality for those that don’t fit into the confines of standardized religion. In a New Age practice, no one model that fits all. An individual explores varying belief systems and ideologies, then they practice a mixture based on works for them. One potential area of study is crystal healing, which is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years.

Many millennials that don’t easily fit into another religion are adopting this New Age model to help them through difficult times. Whereas some might find their solace in Catholicism, Hinduism or Islam, New Agers might find that same comfort through astrology or paganism.

A recent cultural shift to more New Age type thinking among millennials explains in part why crystal sales have been seeing a resurgence. Before you’re quick to agree or disagree, remember that with belief systems, you don’t necessarily see what you’re believing. If crystals bring someone closer to their spirituality and the universe and if crystals somehow make them a better person because of it, all the power to them. So long as someone’s beliefs are ethically okay and don’t infringe upon someone else’s beliefs, no judgements here.

3. Crystals are Absolutely Fascinating to Look At and Study:

Alright, so let’s get down to the reason why most of my jewelry friends and I are obsessed with crystals. They’re gorgeous! Most of the time they’re completely untainted. And they can grow under the most extreme yet specific conditions. They’re colorful, optically fierce, and exceptional little snowflakes. Okay, I’m going a little overboard, but you get the idea.

Crystals and gemstones that haven’t been dyed or altered in any way are such a profound testament to the beauty of earth and nature. Something as seemingly simple as rain pushing sediment into a mountain crevice can transform into an unworldly treasure millions of years later. Hello, opal! And that’s just one example.

The science behind crystals is vast, complex, and undeniably intriguing. And even when you fully understand the how, you still can’t help but be mystified when you come across an even more radiant and unusual specimen.

Whatever marketing or New Age trend that pushed the mainstream population onto crystals has only promoted what we gemology and geology fanatics have known all along. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly imperfect crystal.

Five Crystal Items You Can Shop:

Crystal Gifts | Gem Gossip

Crystals – Paperback by Jennie Harding

Agate Bookends

Crystal Cluster Amethyst Art

Wellness Gem-Water Bottle by VitaJuwel

Green and Blue Mineral Art Print

This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry

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This month’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry and it is a good one! Kate is a full-time art teacher and part-time jewelry enthusiast and collector. You may already be following her on Instagram, but if not you must. Her collection is pretty amazing and her story may resonate with many of you. So without further ado, I give you Kate’s collection story:

I’ve always loved jewelry. I have early memories of playing “dress up” and “jewelry store” with my grandmother Louise. She kept her jewelry in the top dresser drawer. Oh how I loved looking inside those little boxes and seeing all the sparkly jewels inside! We would arrange her jewels on top of carefully arranged bits of pretty fabrics and embroidered handkerchiefs and take turns “shopping.” It was so much fun trying on her white dress gloves and high heels and playing with all those pretty things.

When I was around 10 years old, my dad started giving me jewelry every year for Christmas, mostly rings. One year, I received a topaz ring that had the most amazing shade of bright blue. I adored that ring! Another favorite ring given to me by my dad was a gold signet ring that he had monogramed with my initials. I think I was around 15 at the time. It’s a classic look that will never go out of style and one I wear often today.

One of my favorite early jewelry memories was when my family went out to dinner before my high school senior award night. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to win the top artist award in my class, and my parents bought me this beautiful southwestern sterling bracelet and turquoise ring to mark the occasion. For high school graduation, I received a large, modernist sterling and gold ring. At the time, I wasn’t into yellow gold, and these bold sterling pieces were among the most beautiful pieces I owned. Luckily, my parents have continued the tradition of gifting me jewelry for special occasions, and I cherish them all. These pieces help to serve as reminders of special times in my life. My sweet husband has also joined in on the tradition and I have received many beautiful pieces from him now over the years, including my very first (and favorite) Victorian bird bangle bracelet and my beloved antique turquoise and diamond halo ring.

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As a teenager, I was really into second-hand shops–mainly for vintage clothes and small decorative items, but eventually I started picking up inexpensive jewelry and odds-and-ends; like pendants, chokers, chains, etc. At about the same time, I started making beaded jewelry and even gifting and selling pieces to my friends.

Years later, I decided to try my hand at selling handmade jewelry on Etsy. It was a fun, challenging, and creative outlet. Those were the relative early days of Etsy, and I grew as it grew. I did this for a couple of years and slowly started incorporating more and more vintage jewelry components and findings into my pieces. Eventually, the competition increased and my enthusiasm waivered, so I put my shop on hold.

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My love affair with antique jewelry began about eight years ago when my mom and I were antiquing at one of my favorite stores in Richmond, IN. My mom fell head-over-heels for this old gold cameo ring. At first, I was like, “What? Cameos? Ugh, I don’t get it.” Then much to my surprise, my mom professed her life-long love affair with cameos, citing stories from her youth. The shop owner quoted her a low price and my mom quickly bought the ring. She wasn’t one to make fine jewelry purchases on our excursions together, so I was intrigued and wanted to know more. I couldn’t stop staring at this unusual reddish-orange cameo ring on our drive back home; I was fascinated by it. It didn’t look like the girly, pink cameos I was used to seeing. It was more masculine in style and the gold was a rich rose color. The shop owner estimated the ring to be about 120 years old.

To my knowledge, I had never seen a ring that old before and now I wanted one for myself! The more I researched, the more I realized what an amazing deal my mom got on that ring. Sure, it was more than I was used to spending on random antique mall purchases (about $85), but still affordable. This made antique jewelry seem obtainable to me for the first time ever. I started reading jewelry books, researching online, and educating myself on antique jewelry. I liked learning the history behind each piece. It’s a perfect fit for me– combining my love of history, research, sentiment, story, etc.

Inspired by my new passion and focus, I reopened my Etsy shop–selling only vintage and antique jewelry. I absolutely loved hunting for old jewelry, even cameos! Thinking back to that special trip to Richmond with my mom, I believe this was the critical moment that later turned this new interest into a full-blown hobby and part-time job for me.

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Today I have such a deep and sincere appreciation for antique jewelry; I tend to collect a little bit of everything. All in all, I tend to go more for Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco pieces. Rings are probably my favorite type of jewelry to wear and collect. I love everything from dainty to bold, statement rings. I also love antique bangles and Deco necklaces in all sorts of finishes, metals, and styles.

One of my favorite things to collect are watches. My favorite makers are Longines and Bucherer. I have everything from watch pins, watch rings, wristwatches, and pocket watches. And I really love long enamel watch necklaces. My love of watch necklaces probably began when I scored an amazing Bucherer red guilloche enamel watch ball necklace for $60 in a small, local antique shop. I later learned this was a remarkable deal for one with its original enamel chain in perfect condition. I’ve since added about 10 more to my collection over the years. I just can’t stop myself when I see a beautiful one for a good price. I have such a weakness for fine guilloche enamel-work.

In addition, I love bird-themed jewelry and have many bird bangles, lockets, etc. I tend to favor cool-color pieces in general (it must be the Pisces in me!). I am very fond of blue–sapphires, lapis, zircon, and turquoise to name a few. Pale lavender chalcedony, dreamy moonstones, and that particular shade of green commonly used in Art Deco pieces–are all personal favorites. I have a growing collection of snake rings, too.

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I enjoy shopping at small, local places best. The Midwest is a gold mine for antiques of all kinds. The big jewelry enthusiasts seem to live on either coast and being stuck in the middle has its advantages… lower prices and less pickers. But this seems to get harder every year. My favorite display cases and shops seem to be shutting down. The old dealers retire; some pass away. I think part of me has also wanted to open a brick and mortar shop, but the risks are scary.

Currently, I seem to have the most luck shopping at antique shows and online auctions. I’m always on the hunt for new pieces. I would love to own more niello jewelry, antique enamel bracelets, and gutta percha bangles inlaid with gold. I have a thing for portrait paintings but oddly, own no portrait jewelry. I interned at the National Portrait Gallery right after college and it’s a subject I’m really interested in. I would love to find the perfect emerald ring and more “name” or “initial” jewelry to represent the important people in my life.

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Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday (hello, 40!) and had been hunting for the perfect aquamarine birthstone piece of jewelry for months. Then it finally happened…a huge, honking, 14-carat, Victorian, pear-shaped aqua ring in 15K gold popped up on my Instagram feed. Its large size, unfussy setting, and perfect pale-blue color, stopped me dead in my tracks. A direct quote from the seller was, “a mesmerizing, dreamy, huge piece of magic.” Indeed it was. I sold three personal collection rings to make room for this special ring, the latest addition to my jewelry box.

Back when I started wearing, selling, and collecting antique jewelry, I was the only one I knew who did. I just bought what I liked and what I could afford at the time. It wasn’t until I joined IG a couple of years ago that I found other like-minded people who loved and appreciated old jewelry as much as I do. Like most sellers/collectors, I am searching for more high quality and unusual pieces nowadays. Lately, there seems to be more competition, more reproductions, and higher prices on the online auction sites, making it harder to “score” a deal. While I may not be selling forever, I know I will be wearing and enjoying my jewelry for the rest of my life. It brings me so much joy. Marking special occasions and making new memories with jewelry are so important to me. Jewelry has a way of keeping our memories alive…providing a tangible reminder… connecting us to the people, places, and significant moments we cherish in life. Happy hunting!

xoxoGemGossip

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You can follow Kate –> @LuxCharmJewelry

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Q & A and Visit with Emily Stoehrer of MFA Boston

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After a long and exciting week in Boston, I had a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts set up to feed my jewelry history cravings. One of my favorite things about my love and passion for jewelry is learning! Museum exhibits are such a great way to see and learn, often producing a lifelong impact or memory–especially for me. Whenever there is a headlining jewelry exhibit, I like to try to schedule trips in hopes of catching it before it ends. Lucky for Boston, the MFA has quite an extensive jewelry department that is constantly researching, collaborating, and creating new exhibits. I got to have a private tour with Emily Stoehrer who is not only a wealth of knowledge, but highly dedicated and involved in what she does for the museum. I was fascinated in so many ways, as she brought me through the MFA’s current exhibit Past is Present: Revival Jewelry.

Learn more about Emily as she answers my questions below and make sure you stop by the exhibit before it ends in August of 2018. Can’t wait to visit again!

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I am the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry. It’s a unique role in an American fine art museum, which was established in 2006. I was appointed in 2014, and over the last three years have worked to develop the exhibition program; add extraordinary jewels to the collection; connect with jewelers, designers, and collectors; and collaborate with colleagues across the museum to plan programming and events

Spanning thousands of years of jewelry history, there are more than 20,000 objects in the jewelry collection. Highlights include our ancient collections and contemporary jewelry, but over the last decade have added to our holding of fine jewelry. A great example of this is a gift given by the Rothschild family a few years ago, which included an outstanding pearl and diamond necklace that dates to the late nineteenth century. With large, perfectly matched natural pearls, it’s an extraordinary treasure! Yvonne Markowitz (who is the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry Emerita) and I have worked to establish a jewelry resource center for anyone interested in the study of jewelry, and as part of that we have also worked with the Curator of Design to acquire jewelry with related design drawings. Studying drawings from firms like Trabert & Hoeffer Mauboussin, the manufacturer-jeweler Louis Ferón, and the artist-craftsman Frank Gardner Hale, alongside the jewelry they made, has greatly informed our understanding of jewelry and how the industry operated historically.

We have also worked to add strength to strength by filling in gaps in our historical collection. For example, until recently we did not have anything by Carlo Giuliano. But, this year we added two amazingly naturalistic gold and enamel butterflies to the collection—a Duke of Burgundy and Bath White butterfly, to be specific. They are impossibly thin, and enameled on both sides to show every detail of the butterfly’s body and wings. They are a stunning example of the goldsmith’s art. Another historically important and spectacular ornament that I recently acquired is the Apparitions brooch which was designed by Eugene Grasset and made by Henri Vever for the 1900 Paris Exposition. It’s hauntingly beautiful art nouveau aesthetic won them the Grand Prix.

My favorite part of the job is the research and planning that goes into creating an exhibition—doing research in libraries and archives and taking a deep dive into historical documents, publications, and material culture. Unfortunately, as I run from meeting to meeting, I don’t get to spend as much time doing this as I would like. So, I rely on some a team of volunteers and interns to help with some of it. Once the research has been done, and the objects have been selected, the real fun begins. I have learned so much about the storytelling capabilities of jewelry from working with the MFA’s remarkable exhibition designers, mountmakers, and conservators as we discuss and mock-up how each object will be displayed in the gallery.

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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As any lover of jewelry knows, the past has consistently inspired jewelers and designers. While interest in historicism was particularly strong during the nineteenth century, there were great revival jewels made before 1800 and after 1900. In the same way the Victorians struggled with the tension between mass-production and hand-craftsmanship, we grapple with digital design and the pace of modern life. So, I see this as a topic that is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago, and if you think about it that way you’ll notice many examples of twentieth and twenty-first century jewelry that engage with a historical narrative. I hope that visitors enjoy seeing traditional “revivalist” ornaments by outstanding jewelers like Castellani and Giuliano, Bapst and Falize and Boucheron, but also some unexpected surprises like a 9-foot titanium python necklace by Munich-based contemporary jeweler David Bielander, and that the juxtaposition makes them question their notion of revival jewelry.

The exhibition highlights four revival styles: Archeological, Classical, Renaissance, and Egyptian. Each case in the intimate space includes a choice group of jewelry aimed to tell a story – travel, nationalism, graduation, cameo, scarabs, and snakes are just a few of the themes explored. If you pay very close attention to the labels, visitors might also be delighted to learn how early some of these objects were added to the MFA collection. Like the Met, the MFA was founded in 1870, and some of these jewels were acquired in the subsequent decades, making them contemporary jewelry when they were donated. A neoclassical necklace and five brooches with mythological scenes in carved shell cameo, and a Castellani necklace, earrings, and brooch commissioned by the amber collector William Buffum are just two examples of the objects that have resided at the MFA for more than one hundred years. Newer acquisitions on view include: a tour-de-force bracelet by the Roman jeweler Ernesto Pierret that features a central bovine head, granulation, and two menacing faces that come together to form the clap; a spectacular early twentieth-century neck ornament by G. Paulding Farham for Tiffany & Co.; and a slithering silver snake belt/necklace, with sapphire eyes, that Elsa Peretti designed for the American fashion designer Halston in the 1970s.

While 80% of the works on view are from the MFA collection, there are also some noteworthy loans. From the collection of Susan B. Kaplan, a startlingly lifelike lion speaks to the genius of Castellani’s designers and craftsmen. Unlike other micromosaic workshops, Castellani left the surface of their work uneven to create a glittering effected. Wartski Ltd., of London, loaned a demi-parure (belt buckle, brooch, and bracelet) by Falize Frères. Enameled on both sides, the glorious ornaments use translucent enamel and foil to create a fantastical scene with birds, like those seen in illuminated manuscripts. Generously sponsored by Cartier, the exhibition includes four magnificent twentieth-century ornaments from the Cartier Collection. Made between 1906 and 1928, the garland style medusa necklace, winged scarab belt buckle, Eye of Horus bracelet (that once belonged to Linda Porter), and the diamond chimera bracelet are outstanding examples of French revival jewelry, and the depth of the MFAs ancient collection allows for these dazzling jewels to be exhibited alongside the ancient artifacts that inspired their design.

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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My path to jewelry was a crooked one. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and had plans to attend law school. But a few years working in the District Attorney’s office, I changed my mind and I began researching graduate programs in fashion. In 2005 I moved to New York City and enrolled in the two-year Fashion & Textile Studies program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Thanks to FIT’s remarkable alumni network I ended up back in my hometown with an internship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. As an intern I worked with conservators in the Textile Conservation department to relocate the fashion collection.

My first full-time position at the MFA was as a Collections Care Specialist and my responsibilities included preparing more than 10,000 objects from the Asian costume and textile collection for photography – everything from kimono to dragon robes and textile fragments to temple hangings. When that project ended, I became the Curatorial Research Associate reporting to Yvonne Markowitz (then curator of jewelry). For two years I worked with her on the inaugural exhibition in the jewelry gallery, and the book Artful Adornment. Both the exhibition and the book focused on highlights from the MFA’s jewelry collection. Yvonne quickly became a very important part of my life, and has been an extraordinary mentor. She encouraged me to think about a future as a jewelry curator, bringing my knowledge of fashion history to the understanding of jewelry. She enthusiastically introduced me to her contacts and colleagues, took me to conferences, and supported my own research in the field. She also told me to consider a PhD.

During my time at the MFA, I had been teaching courses in textiles and fashion history, and in 2010 I left the Museum and took a position at a small college in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. As Program Director and Assistant Professor, I managed three robust fashion programs with more than 100 students. At the same time I took PhD courses and exams, and began work on my dissertation. My doctoral work focused on the intersection of fashion, jewelry, and media. I examined the vintage jewelry on the red carpet from 1995-2010 using Neil Lane’s collection as a case study.

After nearly 30 years at the MFA, Yvonne retired in 2014 and I was appointed to replace her. Over the last three years, I curated the exhibitions Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen, Past is Present: Revival Jewelry, and smaller installations; planned jewelry related events and trips for the MFA’s Fashion Council; traveled extensively to lecture, visit art fairs and exhibitions, participated in educational opportunities organized by Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) and Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) trips, attend conferences, visited collectors, galleries, designers, and jewelers. It’s been a whirlwind. Recently I have taken on two leadership roles, joining the board of directors for the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and the Boston chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA).

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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I am immersed in research for two forthcoming exhibitions, and a book related to my doctoral work.

Opening in September 2018, an exhibition of Boston arts and crafts jewelry and metalwork will replace Past is Present in the Stanley H. and Rita J. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery. From the establishment of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts to the disastrous 1929 stock market crash that crippled many artist craftsmen, this exhibition will be the first to focus solely on Boston jewelers, and will include design drawings, jewelry, and hollowware by artists like Frank Gardner Hale, Josephine Hartwell Shaw, Margaret Rogers, and Edward Everett Oakes.

That exhibition will be followed by one on Elsa Peretti, who will be celebrating 50 years as a designer in 2020. Beginning her design career making jewelry and accessories for Giorgio Sant’ Angelo and Halston before joining Tiffany & Co., Peretti has created timeless designs that continue to resonate with modern consumers. Her refined taste has focused, primarily, on silver but the exhibition will feature a diverse sample of her work, as well as her inspirations, and—of course—include a fashion element. An esteemed arbiter of style, fashion icon, and friend of many twentieth century notables, this exhibition will celebrate Peretti’s life and career.

My work at the MFA keeps me very busy, but I am also in the midst of writing a book titled Jewelry in Celebrity Culture: Glamour and the Hollywood Spectacle. It will be published as part of I.B. Taurus’s Dress Culture series (edited by Reina Lewis and Elizabeth Wilson). From the tour-de-force necklace that the American firm Trabert & Hoeffer loaned Colette Colbert to wear in the 1935 film The Gilded Lily to the impact of The Representation Project’s #askhermore campaign, the book will examine how jewelry aids in Hollywood’s production of glamour.

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To be honest, the last three years have been a series of highlights. The people I have had the opportunity to meet have been the most memorable. The many conversations and meetings I had with Neil Lane as I conducted research on Hollywood jewelry and his private collection, having lunch with Elsa Peretti in Sant Marti Vell, Spain and discussing her incredible life and work, and spending two days in Wallace Chan’s Hong Kong atelier are at the top of the list!

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I look forward to seeing the field grow in new and exciting ways. There are so many M.A. programs that embrace the study of jewelry history, and there remain extensive subjects awaiting scholarly work. Coupled with a G.G. I think there is extraordinary potential for research and writing. I was lucky to have a great mentor, who guided my career path, and if you can find an experienced curator or historian to play that role for you, it’s priceless. This field is so welcoming. I encourage anyone interested in jewelry to find others that share their passion, social media is a great place for this.

Being a museum curator is much more multi-faceted than I realized after leaving graduate school. Even after years working at the Museum, it wasn’t until I was a curator that I realized the diverse requirements of the job—a natural curiosity, a mastery of your subject area and how it connects to other types of art, a vision and strong ideas that you can translate into exhibitions, excellence in building and maintaining relationships with artists and collectors, as well as strong research, writing, and public speaking skills.

I am very lucky that the MFA has such a vibrant jewelry program. My position, the gallery, and the prominence of jewelry at the MFA is all thanks to tremendous generosity Susan B. Kaplan. It is our hope that other American fine art museums will expand their collection, exhibition, and publication related to jewelry. And, that similar positions will emerge at other American museums.

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xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? You can follow Emily on Instagram —> @jewelcurator

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Arik Kastan Debuts New Styles at Couture 2017

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Arik Kastan and their team have been busy debuting some new designs and collections while out in Vegas for Couture. Buyers, press, journalists all hovered over their booth to get a glimpse of the new styles and fun gemstone combinations that still have people talking. As usual, Arik Kastan’s booth was one that couldn’t be missed when attending this year’s tradeshow.

If you missed out attending Vegas, we’ve got you covered in this installment–which is shown here on Gem Gossip, as well as all of Arik Kastan’s Newsletter subscribers. Be sure to sign up if you haven’t below!

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A padlock on a thin chain is all you need for a night out in Vegas! This one has us telling our friends it is perfect in every way. Classic and cool for a modern woman who still likes a nod from the past.

Oval cluster padlock in emerald + diamonds, Price: $2,360


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We weren’t ready for how much of an impact we would bring to Couture with our green agate pieces! Comments like, “what stone is this, it is amazing?!” and “this green color is glowing!!” have really made us proud. This ring is one of our favorites.

Five-Stone Art Deco ring in green agate + sapphire, Price: $1,280


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Since we are on a green/blue kick, we’ve changed things up by using emeralds and turquoise. This earring style and gemstone combo are totally chic, and we could picture these on a summer getaway on a plane near you!

Deco Rhombus Drop Earrings in turquoise + emerald, Price: $1,830

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

To go along with the above earrings, we’ve created this ring which is sweet as can be! It is stack-ready and as we’ve said before, awaiting summer. Try wearing this one on your pinky if you’re wanting to do something more unique. Your friends will catch on.

Deco Lilac ring in turquoise + emerald, Price: $1,170

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Feeling the summer heat over here in Vegas, which is why we’re opting to keep our necklace situation simple. We have been wearing the Aster necklace most of the week and it has brought the right amount of sparkle and femininity to our lives. Definitely our kind of Vegas vibes.

Aster Pendant in diamonds, Price: $1,830


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Before we head back to LA from scorching Vegas, we want to point out our Delilah ring because SHE’S CUTE. One of our most-requested rings during our trade show and we can’t wait to see these on your fingers!

Delilah ring in emerald + diamonds, Price: $2,200

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We couldn’t wait to show off our newest vintage-inspired bow rings which debuted at Couture. And the newest gemstone color combo that had store and editors swooning–green agate and sapphires. Look out for them to hit the website soon! Can’t wait? Email [email protected]

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Lindsey of @ParkAvenueAntiques

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I’ve followed Lindsey of Park Avenue Antiques for a very long time! My first interaction with her was sort of humorous–I remember being on my way out the door to go antiquing for the day with my mom and sister. I was waiting on a ring to go up on the auction block so I unpleasantly made them wait until it did, not realizing it wouldn’t be until another 45 minutes. I can’t remeber exactly why I lost out on the ring, but while in the car finally on our way, I took a screenshot of the ring and posted it on Instagram with the caption, “Who outbid me on this portrait ring?! Confess!!” Lindsey was sweet enough to message me to tell me she had been the final bidder on it and graciously offered it for sale. A story too good to be made up, I’ve treasured that ring ever since! Over the years, we’ve continued to follow each other–even one point I tried meeting up at an antique show, but kept missing her! Hopefully meeting will be in the cards for us in the future, but until then…let’s check out her amazing jewelry collection!

Like many of you, I have been attracted to sparkly things for as far back as I can remember. As a little girl, I collected rocks and minerals, little buttons and sea glass. My father was an antiques dealer and the two of us were always on an “antiquing adventure”. One of our favorite places to visit was Roycroft Antiques in East Aurora, NY. They had a wooden whisky barrel filled with buttons and beads and I would dig through that barrel until my hands were black! Who knows what I thought I’d find in there! It was all about the hunt….

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I share this silver filigree necklace with my daughter Cameron. The three Edwardian silver bears represent her and her two brothers.

Around the age of 5, we moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was a difficult transition. My parents both worked two jobs and I was home alone a lot. My mother always found ways to show me how much I was loved and that she was thinking of me. She came up with a hide and seek game we called “Rubber Legs” which involved hiding a yellow plastic figure. Before she left for work in the morning, she would hide Rubber Legs somewhere for me to find. Then I would hide him somewhere for her. I almost always hid him in her antique spool cabinet/jewelry box. It was a magical place where I wasn’t supposed to “dig around” but I couldn’t help myself! There were sparkly rings, beautiful strings of trade beads, flapper necklaces and cameos. She had all kinds of treasures but my favorite piece was a little gold acorn charm that rattled when shaken.

Once we moved to Hershey, adventures in antiquing with dad still continued. He opened an antique lighting shop in Adamstown, PA in the Black Angus Antiques Mall. Most Sundays I would tag along to help him but really spent most of my days with other dealers. I was fascinated with their knowledge in various fields and eager to hear their stories. This is where my love for jewelry and antiques really started.

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LEFT: Georgian sapphire and rose cut diamond bow brooch in silver topped gold, purchased at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show

When collecting jewelry became a serious passion, I invested in books. Jewelry books on private collections, construction, symbolism, intaglios, various periods and markings. My jewelry library has helped me to educate myself and develop a true respect for the craftsmanship and symbolism that these pieces hold. I try to add one book to my collection every month. I would encourage any aspiring jewelry collector to do this as well.

RIGHT: Eight years ago, I was newly divorced and the only jewelry I had was my and my grandmothers wedding ring. I put some money aside and decided I’d like to create a piece of jewelry that would represent my family. I hoped to create a ring that could be passed on to one of my children. The first jeweler I went to was a rather unpleasant experience. I nearly gave up on my idea but decided to give it one more try. This is when I met Skip Colflesh, the owner of The Jeweler’s Bench in Hershey, PA. He helped me create the perfect ring. We used the diamonds in my grandmothers wedding ring, my engagement ring and each of the children’s birthstones. The first time I saw the ring it was an emotional experience. It was a perfect representation of my life’s journey. The diamonds no longer felt like the loss of a loved one or a failed marriage – they were now something beautiful and very personal. But more than that, I was so grateful for the friendship that had come out of designing the ring together. Skip has become one of my dearest friends and also my mentor. Friends make all the difference.

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I really don’t have a specific type of jewelry or period that I collect. I am mostly drawn to gemstones and figural pieces but my collection is quite varied. My most heavily worn pieces of jewelry are my watch chains. I love connecting them together for different looks and wearing them with various pendants.

Here are a few of my favorite necklaces:

LEFT: Painted enamel mourning locket depicting a young girl and her dog. It reads “Mary Rutherfurd Prime April 16, 1810 – Died September 9, 1835”

SECOND FROM LEFT: Opal pendant from Arts & Crafts Movement. This pendant reminds me of my favorite spring flower, lilac, and the opals are absolutely electric. I bought this in an antique store in England.

THIRD FROM LEFT: Not easy to pick a favorite, but if I had to, this would be it! Raj Era moonstone pendant from @saintespritofchelsea Beautifully crafted in silver and gold with huge shimmering moonstone cabochons.

CENTER: 19th c Kerosang with faceted white zircon.

Park Avenue Antiques

Here are a few of my favorite rings:

Victorian era amethyst and pearl serpent ring was purchased from David Ashville of Ashville Fine Arts.

The kunzite and diamond ring I bought from @blackamooruk. I believe this ring was originally an early 20th century brooch that was carefully converted. I love the size of the kunzite and it fits my finger perfectly.

The Victorian topaz ring was purchased from @ishyantiques.

The art deco moonstone ring is one of my favorites. It was purchased from Brad Wilson of Wilson’s Estate Jewelry in Philadelphia, PA.

The massive cameo ring I created using a 19th century cameo from @antiquestoreinwayne and a custom gold setting created by Skip Colflesh @thejewelersbenchofhershey.

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LEFT: Agate tree ring – This is one of my creations. I used an agate sourced from an old cufflink mounted in a setting made by @thejewelersbenchofherehey Victorian chrysoberyl and gold band @westandsonjewellery

RIGHT: This is my most recent purchase. My dear friend Will @martindaleasianarts recently took me on a day trip to a quaint town about an hour outside of London where I found it in an antiques shop.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I am honored to be a part of the Instagram jewelry community. Your posts have greatly enhanced my knowledge and appreciation for all types of jewelry and the friendships that have developed because of our shared passion for jewelry are priceless to me.

xoxoGemGossip

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You can follow Lindsey –> @ParkAvenueAntiques

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Why Some Gemstones Make Terrible Engagement Rings

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The above gemstones are all beautiful, but which would make a great engagement ring and which two are bad choices for an everyday wear piece?

Alternative engagement rings have been popular long before Princess Diana (and subsequently Kate Middleton) donned a blue sapphire. In fact, diamonds weren’t commonly used in engagement rings until the early 20th century. Stones were picked based on birthdays, symbolism, and what color was in-vogue at the time.

While it can be exciting to imagine an engagement ring with mystical and trendy stones like opal and moonstone, these gemstones actually make terrible engagement rings. So terrible that you might find yourself sulking over a ruined ring with a stone that has been chipped and gouged beyond repair. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why Won’t Some Gemstones Work?

Even though I don’t recommend wearing your rings ALL the time, most engagement rings are worn nearly every day. Even if you are the gentlest person on the planet, your engagement ring will always be subject to potential damage. Some stones simply shouldn’t take that risk because the gemstone may not be hard enough to handle even the slightest impact.

Every gemstone has a hardness factor, which basically tells us how much bumping and scraping a gem can take before it becomes scratched or damaged. This hardness is ranked between 1-10 on what is known as the Mohs Scale of Hardness. In theory, the higher the number on the Mohs Scale, the harder and more durable the gemstone is. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally, the lower the number, the more you shouldn’t use this stone as an engagement ring.

How Does the Mohs Scale Figure Out Hardness?

The best way I can think to explain this is exactly how I learned it in my Geology 101 class my Freshman year of college. Let’s see if you can follow, and for those of you that already know this, bear with me. The Mohs Scale ranks a gemstone’s hardness by whether or not it can be scratched by other gemstones or materials. If the gemstone being scratched shows a mark or abrasion, it is softer than (or equal to) the material that scratched it. If the hardness is equal, the gemstone that was scratched should also be able to effectively scratch the material that scratched it.

Since diamonds are ranked highest on the Mohs Scale at a 10, they should essentially be able to scratch every other gemstone’s surface.

Why Diamonds are Forever

One reason diamonds are so prized for engagement rings is because of their rank on the Mohs Scale. At a 10, diamonds are the hardest substance known to man. In fact, no other gemstone comes close to this hardness factor. This doesn’t mean diamonds are indestructible (more on this in a future post), but it does mean that it is much more difficult to damage a diamond than say a garnet that ranks between 6.5 – 7.5.

What Stones are the Absolute Worst for Engagement Rings?

Not to dissuade you, but if a gemstone makes this list, you’ll really want to rethink your strategy before using it in an engagement ring. That’s not to say you couldn’t. Some of these stones are significantly less expensive than diamonds, so if they become damaged, they could easily be replaced.

A word of warning though — take extra care not to get sentimentally attached to the stone itself, since you might be forced to replace it someday. You could also opt to not wear the ring every day. Save it for special occasions and wear your wedding band instead. There are no engagement ring rules stating you have to wear your ring seven days a week, and who says you should only have one!

But, regardless, these gemstones will make the worst non-diamond engagement rings:

  1. Opal: Ranks 5.5 – 6.5 and is very susceptible to crazing and chipping.
  2. Moonstone: Ranks 6 – 6.5 with a polished cab surface that is easy to scratch.
  3. Pearl: Ranks 2.5 – 4.5 and has a nacre coating that can peel away.
  4. Emerald: Ranks 7.5 – 8 which is hard but this stone is very prone to cracking.
  5. Garnet: Ranks 6.5 – 7 and will easily show age around facet edges in time.

Best Engagement Ring Stones Other Than Diamonds:

All hope is not lost if you’re set on using a gemstone other than a diamond for your engagement ring. Even though most of these gemstones aren’t as durable as diamonds, they will stay in great shape for a lifetime as long as you take proper care of your jewelry.

Here are some of my favorite alternative engagement ring stones:

  1. Aquamarine: Ranks 7.5 – 8 and has a gorgeous pale blue color.
  2. Blue Sapphire: Ranks 9 with a classic, timeless appeal.
  3. Ruby: Ranks 9 and is perfect for a more feminine style.
  4. Morganite: Ranks 7.5 – 8, is pale with peach undertones.

There are so many other gemstones not listed here and other factors that affect durability, too. But this guide should at least get you started. Remember to always look up a gemstone’s hardness on the Mohs Scale. If it ranks below a 6, do a little more research and weigh your options. Good luck and happy hunting!

This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

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Q & A and Visit with Raquel Alonso Perez of Harvard’s Museum of Natural History

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My very last stop while in Boston, hours before my flight took off, I had planned the best parting gift–a visit to Harvard University’s Museum of Natural History! Sounds dreamy, right?! Well it is and then some. An entire room filled with thousands of minerals and gems is open to the public on Harvard’s campus, and Raquel Alonso Perez was there to give me a full tour, including some majorly fun behind-the-scenes stuff. I honestly think my one-on-one time with Raquel had taught me more in one hour than my entire Freshman year at college! I didn’t want to leave! I got to hold pieces of gold that came out of the ground looking like sculptures, play with rough diamonds, see some incredible gemstones, and the highlight of my day was getting to spend some time with the Hamlin Necklace–rare and notable because of its gigantic tourmalines it showcases, which are all from the same mine in Maine!

Raquel’s hospitality, warmth and passion to share with me what she does at the Mineralogical & Geological Museum was accepted with much gratitude and I had so much fun! Here’s some insight into what Raquel does, illustrated with photos from my visit! Enjoy!

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I serve as the Curator of the Mineralogical and Geological Museum (MGMH). Our collections date back to 1798! After 230 years of collecting, the MGMH is one of the oldest, largest and continuously operated mineralogical and geological museum, built for the nation and world-renowned for its fine quality collections, broad representation of species, unique occurrences and large number of type, described, and illustrated specimens. Our repository has become a true library of the earth with over 400,000 objects divided in 4 main collections: minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks. My role as Curator is to provide access to the world-class Earth Science collections at Harvard University, encouraging its use for teaching, research and public education. The favorite part of my job is research and all teaching and academic related activities, in addition to working with the dedicated team of people at the MGMH, the Earth and Planetary Science Department and the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, HSMC, where our public gallery is located.

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In total, the museum has around 400,000 objects divided in 4 main collections: minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks and ore deposits. Only 3550 individual mineral specimens are on display at the Museum, 145 of these include a gemstone of the same variety. My favorite examples are in the wider variety of crystals and gemstones. For example, the beryls, we have a whole case of them displaying 40 specimens full of light and color. I also love the tourmalines, with all of the different kinds displayed with bi-color and watermelon elbaites from Maine, USA. As you can imagine, we have a strong collection of New England minerals, gems, and rare species. We receive a lot of donations, but we couldn’t display our entire collection, even if we wanted! Space is a major constraint, but not the only one. We also have to make hard choices about what to share in order to fulfill the Museum’s mission. Our museum is not only about highlighting aesthetics. We also need to prioritize the display of specimens that will also serve reference and research purposes.

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I am a geologist by training specialized in mineralogy, gemology, geochemistry and petrology. There are too many “logy’s” in there! These branches of Earth Sciences come together in a fascinating way, giving color and texture to the world we inhabit. In 2006 I completed my PhD at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, where I studied how the earth crust is formed, by comparing it with artificial rocks produced in the lab. After graduation, I took a short break to have my two children, Marco and Amaya, and returned in 2009 to professional life to work as a research assistant at the Earth and Planetary Science Department, Harvard University. A year later I was hired as Assistant Curator to take care of the rock collection at the MGMH and got appointed head Curator of the entire MGMH collections in 2011.

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I’ve always wondered why minerals acquire a color and not other colors. We know so little about the chemistry and the physics involved! My passion, stimulated by my daily encounter with Harvard’s amazing collections, is to uncover the story behind nature’s color choices! My work in the past 2 years has been focused in tourmalines and beryls. The most common color of elbaites from Main, USA is green but they also come in blue, yellow, pink, colorless and with many different hues and tones. With the use of non-destructive analytical techniques, I was able to determine the chemical distribution, trace element patterns and color correlation in a suite of elbaites from Maine, Hamlin Collection. In addition, this non-destructive dual-technique used in this study (Confocal Micro Raman Spectroscopy and LA- ICPMS, laser ablation-induced coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) has great potential to be applied to other gemmological materials to also distinguish provenance, natural versus synthetic materials and treatments. My current project aims to better understand the formation of emeralds, and is focused on the geology of the emerald deposit of Irondro, Madagascar. In fact, I mostly focus on rocks from Madagascar, which is a blessing, since the MGMH is quickly becoming the main repository of minerals, rocks and gemstones from this part of the world. I also benefit from the museum’s vast network. I sometimes end up requesting research material from friends, donors and supporters of the Museum from faraway lands! However, my main priority and where most of my work goes is into ensuring that the MGMH’s collections are curated according to the highest standards of museum best practices for their preservation in perpetuity and use by future generations. Digitization plays an important role to achieve these goals and our ambition to open them up to a wider audience, especially those concerning research, education and public outreach, which will result in an online database of our collections sometime in the fall of 2017.

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Every day, in the environment I am, could end up being a highlight and making you proud of the work you do, especially when it can impact other people life’s. I would like to share with you a portion of an e-mail I received from one of the female students attending my class at the Harvard Summer school as a beautiful example. “..Here again I want to say thank you for bringing me my best summer ever. I really enjoyed the lecture. Every time when listening to the lecture, I really feel I’m being educated and have more knowledge on mineralogy and gemology. The happiness of gaining knowledge is hard to express; it’s like seeing the moon coming out of the clouds and lighting up a street in the dark midnight. Also, I love the labs. I feel so good identifying minerals by myself, putting everything I learnt into use. I’m also fascinated by the gemstone experiments. I can’t wait to get a full set of tools and practice in the gem markets back in China. What I really want to appreciate is that for all your support for me to do more microscope experiments. I know that doing the experiment before class means you have to skip lunch, I’m really sorry. The experiment is so incredible, I never see those features before, and I couldn’t fully understand everything without doing the actual experiment. The image is fantastic. I gasp that people ever create those ways for examine stones. What I like most is the field trip. The behind the scene of the museum is awesome. I never thought that museum work would be so interesting. There are so many stories behind every collection! I also really really like the field trip to mine. You became my idol when you drove the van packed with all of us and fed us snacks. Working in the field is so different and I think I need more field work to really become a geology people. I sometimes feel so shame that I learned so much knowledge but still like a baby when put in the field. However, going to the field makes a lot of knowledge easier to understand. In the mine, when I saw you standing on the shiny mica mountain, I feel like you are one of the best women in the world—- a woman who could stand in the field with knowledge, and explore the earth, go right after the unknown, a kind of woman I really want to be. It is this summer that I, for the first time in forever, really willing to go to university; not because it is what everybody do, but because all the knowledge and skills I could get, all the resource I could access, and all the fantastic professors in the future I will meet to motivate my life..”

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My best piece of advice for anyone in general is to follow their passion, work hard, overcome challenges, focus and don’t give up! The combination of passion and perseverance will bring you where you want to be.

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xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? You can follow Raquel on Instagram —> @raquelalonsoperez

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Summer Getaway: Adventures in New Mexico with Vale Jewelry

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Summertime gives us all the wanderlust vibes you can ever imagine. Our Instagram is typically filled with jewels, gems and all things relating to jewelry design, so it always grabs our attention when our favorite jewelry designers and store owners post an envious getaway pic. We’ve seen glimpses of Paris, tropical islands, Canadian mountains, and everything in between. I’m personally obsessed with the US desert southwest–remember I honeymooned in Sedona, Arizona?–so when I saw a New Mexico landscape scroll onto my screen I had to know more. Luckily the sister duo of Vale Jewelry, Eva & Ava, were more than happy to share about their two-week trip to New Mexico–let’s find out more:

We planned this trip around a visit to Walter de Maria’s groundbreaking land art, The Lightening Field, but it quickly ballooned into a 2-week major road trip around New Mexico. The fifth largest state, but one of the least populated, the vast deserts and scrubland inspired Georgia O’Keeffe body of work as well as numerous other artists. You only have to spend one day there to understand why it’s muse to many creatives, between the sunsets, endless sky, and the ingrained history of crafts. No wonder it picked up the nickname of The Land of Enchantment. Home to most of the US’s oldest Native American and indigenous tribes and pueblos, including the Zuni, Navajo and Hopi, this magical and awe-inspiring land should be on anyone’s travel list.

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Left photo: One of the oldest continuously-inhabited communities in the United States, Taos Pueblo was built in the early 13th century and located right in the Rio Grande Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it holds a very active Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe residing in multi-storied adobe houses built as two complexes made from mud, wood, grass and water. This historic village is located just 1 mile outside Taos. About 4,500 members still live in this area, but only about 150 still reside inside these structures year-round without the modern convenience of running water and electricity. While it is a private community, they do offer visitors to come see parts of the village where locals sell crafts like pottery and local eats like fried bread.

Right photo: San Geronimo has a storied past as one of the first post-Columbian Spanish Catholic churches in the US. Built by Native Americans of the Taos Pueblo people under the suppression of the Spanish missionaries and colonial powers, this one featured above is actually the third reincarnation. It was one of the many churches destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt when tensions between the native tribes and Spanish colonial presence boiled over. The current church shown above was built in the 18th century.

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Left photo: The ladder above resembles some of the staircases used in many pueblos as well as native and local adobe houses. Typically, the staircases are made of local timber such as pine, spruce and ponderosa. These ladders were precious items since the wood had to be cut down from forests located quite a distance from local desert pueblos. They were passed down from generation to generation. In traditional Pueblo culture, the people of the original land came to this land by the underworld. Hence, many pueblos build ceremonial underground chambers within these adobe houses called kivas that the chieftains use for religious song, prayer and ceremonies. The one above is one from the Acoma pueblo featuring a double ladder for going up and down with a lightening rod shape holding the two together.

Right photo: On our way back from staying overnight at The Lightening Field in Quemado, we stopped by Pie Town. Yes, you read that right, it’s a town named after one of the best desserts having taken its name from an early settler of the town in the 1920s that made the town famous with a highway pie shop. The pies above are at a local pie shop called Pie-O-Neer. The Macaroon Apple Pie and Cherry Cherry Pies are worth the stop. And yes, we ate all 4…and then took a few for the road.

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Left photo: One of our favorite stops for local barbeque, Rudy’s had the most incredible brisket and baby back ribs, this is the place to stop for New Mexican bar-b-q in Albuquerque, friendliest staff and the tastiest homemade cherry and apricot cobblers this side of the Rio Grande! If in Santa Fe and craving local barbeque, stop by a food truck called Santa Fe BBQ.

Right photo: A must when you’re in Santa Fe. The New Mexican picnic above is breakfast at a local favorite called Tia Sophia’s. They make some of the best sopapillas, the pillowy fried quick breads in the image. Order everything ‘Christmas’ which means doused in both the red and green chiles. Also, a stop at Gabriel’s just outside Santa Fe is a must too. Known for their tableside guacamole and carne adovada, neither will disappoint! The local enchiladas and tamales are things to order when in town.

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Left photo: This is the view from Sandia Peak after hopping off the tramway. The crest here reaches over 10,500 feet and the tramway’s the world’s second longest ride. The sunsets and sunrise in New Mexico are unreal, typically fiery red and orange against the bluest backdrop.

Right photo: A quick hike in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park is a must if you’re in central New Mexico. Formed by volcanic ash deposits that have since been weather-worn to form sand-colored cylindrical cone shapes standing side-by-side. A walk in between these canyons is awe-inspiring.

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Left photo: No trip to New Mexico is complete without a stop at White Sands National Park. The world’s largest gypsum dune runs for over 275 square miles. So big, this dune can even be seen from satellite in outer space. Despite temperatures reaching 120F during the afternoon, the gypsum sand never gets hot due to the gypsum crystal’s natural ability to reflect the sun and the fact that it does not convert light into heat. We went barefoot and even did some dune-sledding down the steep cliffs. For a cool experience, plan to camp overnight.

Right photo: Another stop along the way is Carlsbad Caverns and watching the enchanting Bat Flight where over 500,000 local Brazilian Free-Tailed bats make their nightly migration from the cave to feed. It’s a coordinated visual symphony!

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Showing off some vintage Native American silver by Navajo and Zuni tribes made between the 1900s and 1950s. We picked up these older pieces during our travel around New Mexico. Some of our favorite stops include:

Shopping Guide:

  • Rainbow Man (Santa Fe) – amazing selection of fabrics, weavings, jewelry and objects
  • Santa Fe Exchange (Santa Fe) – wide range of both sterling silver, objects and some turn of the century pieces
  • Shalako Indian Store (Santa Fe) – widest vintage sterling silver shop, great for Concho belts, rings, and bangles. Nancy and Marsha are both well-informed on Native American jewelry
  • Palms Trading (Alburquerque) – solid selection of old pawn, blankets, shoes and food stuff
  • Rose’s Pottery (Bernanillo) – housed behind Rose’s is an old theatre that the owner converted to a small private collection of early Pre-Columbian to middle of the century art and pottery. If you’re lucky, she’ll give you a tour of this collection passed down from her father. The front features a beautiful collection of Kachina dolls and pottery from all the major pueblos
  • Old Town Antiques (Alburquerque) – the owner Connie is like an encyclopedia of New Mexican crafts, beautiful selection of both jewelry and objects, she even offers Pre-Columbian artifacts.

Eating Guide:

  • Tia Sophia’s (Santa Fe) – best brunch and breakfast place for New Mexican cuisine
  • Café Pasqual’s (Santa Fe) – modern twist on New Mexican with some delicious homemade cookies
  • Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q (Alburquerque) – fantastic ribs, brisket, daily special cobblers and desserts
  • Gabriel’s (Santa Fe) – delicious guacamole and carne adovada
  • Frontier (Alburquerque) – a mix of everything, an all-day diner styled location popular with locals, young and old
  • Jimmy’s on Jefferson (Alburquerque) – quick local favorite for breakfast, order Steve’s Breakfast Special featuring a plate of hash with green chile.
  • Grove Cafe & Market (Alburquerque) – modern eatery with homemade granola and breakfast and brunch
  • Cocina Azul (Alburquerque) – great lunch spot for some of the best carne adovada and homemade and fresh sopapillas and posole
  • Farm & Table (Alburquerque) – fresh and modern New Mexican classics as well as farm-to-table dinners with a small working farm on the back
  • Golden Crown Panaderia (Alburquerque) – tasty fruit empanadas

Cultural Guide:

  • Georgia O’Keefe Ghost Ranch (plan advance for an overnight stay, it books up early)
  • Georgia O’Keefe Museum
  • Walter de Maria The Lightening Field (apply in February when they open up spaces, openings close within minutes)
  • Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (get there early before it gets too hot)
  • White Sands National Park (come here right before sunset for the most magical view)
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (don’t miss the last elevator down at 5pm)
  • Rio Grande Gorge & Bridge (shop from the local artists selling at the foot of the bridge, view is not for the faint of heart)
  • Roswell, NW (stop at the museum and eat at Big D’s for their famous green chile burger)
  • Sandia Mountains (go there an hour before sunset)
  • Taos Pueblo
  • Acoma Pueblo

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Source: GossipGem.com

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