The Knot: 3 Awesome Alternative Engagement Ring Styles to Consider

The Knot | Gem Gossip

We are incredibly pumped to reveal some exciting news–I am going to be contributing monthly features over at The Knot! The online destination and magazine are both leaders in all things bridal, reaching 8 out of 10 brides in America with more than 11 million monthly unique visitors! I’m looking forward to applying my gemological knowledge and style expertise, along with my taste and creative energy, to The Knot and reach a larger audience.

Look out for my posts–I will be sharing them on my social media platforms and I will try to post them here as well!

Here’s my first one–I’ve rounded up some alternative engagement ring styles. Here’s the link:

https://www.theknot.com/content/alternative-engagement-rings

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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.

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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.

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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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!

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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

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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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Ten Facts You Didn’t Know About Engagement Rings

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History of Engagement Rings

1. The first diamond engagement ring in recorded history was presented by the Emperor Maximilian I of Austria to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, in 1477. The ring was set with diamonds in the shape of the letter ‘M’.

2. A new trend for ‘acrostic’ engagement rings emerged during the Victorian period in Britain. These featured words spelled out by the first letters of the gemstones set in the ring. The word ‘regards’ was a favorite, spelled out using a ruby, followed by an emerald, then a garnet and so on.

3. The phrase “Diamonds are forever” has entered the vernacular and lent its name to Sean Connery’s final film as James Bond but did you know that it was originally an advertising slogan? It was coined by De Beers in 1947 to kickstart diamond sales after a lull caused by the Great Depression and World War II.

Diamond Rings

4. Natural diamonds are extremely old and take around a billion years to form in the Earth’s molten interior. Stones used in engagement rings can be anywhere from 900 million years old to an astounding 3.2 billion years old.

5. The ‘carat’ is the main measurement used to judge diamonds and refers to the weight and size of the stone. It is so called because originally carob seeds were used as counterweights for the scales used to weigh diamonds. A modern carat is a metric unit equivalent to 200 milligrams, or 7 thousandths of an ounce!

6. The color of a diamond is another of the major factors that determines how much it costs. Color is graded on a scale that judges how colorless the diamond is, with white stones being the most desirable and thus expensive.

7. Which isn’t to say that other colors of diamonds aren’t much sought after. ‘Fancy diamond’ is the term used to describe a stone when its color falls outside the normal color range. Fancy diamonds can be blue, green, red, yellow, pink and even purple or black.

Alternative Engagement Rings

8. Every precious gem is rated for hardness using the Mohs scale. This is a measure of how resistant the stone is to being scratched. Diamonds top out at 10 on the Mohs scale and are one of the hardest naturally occurring materials in the world.

9. Gemstones with a Mohs rating of 8 or above are generally recommended for engagement rings, because they can stand up to the rigors of daily wear. Sapphires and rubies both score 9 on the Mohs scale while emeralds are only a 7.5 and opals ae just a 6.

10. In some countries, engagement rings don’t feature gemstones at all. The Claddagh ring, a traditional Irish ring, has a motif depicting a pair of hands clasped around a heart and a crown, symbolizing love, friendship and loyalty. While some more modern variants incorporate a ruby or other precious stone, the original version does not have a gemstone set in it.

For dozens more fascinating engagement ring facts, a hundred in all, check out ROX’s guide to All Things Engagement Rings.

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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David Webb Makes Their Debut at Couture

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Don’t ever say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. At nearly 70 years old, David Webb still reigns supreme as an iconic, American jewelry house full of the most exquisite designs. One look at a David Webb piece and you KNOW it is a David Webb piece. From the finest craftsmanship, to the bold enamels and well-known motifs, the jewelry has been delighting since 1948. They have a strong following, a large amount of die-hard collectors and a presence known worldwide; not to mention a showroom/workshop located on Madison Avenue in NYC and a boutique in Beverly Hills. You’d think debuting for the first time at a tradeshow would not be on their agenda. Could such a legendary American brand make a move like that? And if so, how could they “do it their way”?

I was very curious myself…however feeling more excited than any other emotion. I made sure that David Webb was first on my Couture agenda–Villa 112 was the place and I was ready to gawk, gander and swoon. Walking into the Villa, I thought I was in their NYC boutique for a minute. Luxury was brought to the desert and the animal kingdom followed along too. I got to see many of the pieces that hit the red carpet over the past year–like totem necklaces, which one was worn by Nicole Richie back in November and I still can’t think of a better look. I love seeing David Webb worn on the red carpet and it is always magical when it happens. Speaking of red carpet, nothing would look more incredible than the turquoise and emerald necklace I got to try on while at Couture–could you imagine that on the red carpet?! Hopefully it will happen in the future. I also got to revisit some animal favorites–like panthers and cats (rings) and dolphins, fish and snakes (bracelets).

One new aspect of David Webb which debuted during Vegas Jewelry Week, is a scaled down collection with a lower price point than typical pieces. This new collection, called Motif, features black and white enamel and appeals to all ages. There are also new entry-level pieces from the Tool Chest collection, which I actually am a proud-owner of from the off-chance I entered my name into the drawing to win a pair of Nail Stud Earrings. I couldn’t believe I won! I’ve obviously been wearing them ever since. (The next day I wore them to the Antique Show, and almost every dealer commented on them!) I’ve included a photo of the earrings above (last photo) and they are done in 18k hammered gold and are only $680.

Be sure to stop by David Webb if you’re ever in the NYC area or Beverly Hills to check the new collection out. If you thought you’d never be able to afford a piece of David Webb, think again–this new collection may be your chance!

Special thanks to Levi Higgs of David Webb for taking the photos!


Couture 2017

Want more? See my visit to their NYC boutique

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Top Five Pieces I Wanted to Take Home With Me at Couture 2017

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This year the Couture show opened its doors to hundreds of buyers and press from all over the world, while I walked in a day late of opening day, I was quick and eager to dive into all that it had to offer. Each designer stood beaming behind their booths, creativity on full power and all their blood, sweat and tears front and center under the grappling lights. More on the show in general in a few days, but I wanted to focus in on five pieces, from five different designers that I felt stood out to me. These pieces may not be the flashiest or have the biggest gemstones; they are pieces I would want for my personal collection–items I could see myself wearing and enjoying on a daily basis. There are lots of jewels at Couture that were bold, striking and great for editorial shoots–but translating them into every day wear for an average American didn’t quite fit in my eyes. Yes these jewels might be fun to drool over, to take a photo of, or to just simply stare at, but as I stood there thinking to myself, “what if I owned a store in Nashville, what would I buy that would fit my audience?” I realized that sort of changed my entire thinking while browsing. Most of the time when I’m in “Gem Gossip mode” I’m one-sided in my thinking, focusing on what pieces would photograph well, what would my followers want to see, what would get the most “likes.” So here are my top five pieces that I surely wanted to take home with me at Couture 2017!

1. Anthony Lent Crescent Moonface bangles: being celestial obsessed must be commemorated somehow and these bangles fit the bill in many ways. First off, they are wearable and go with just about anything, for any occasion. Secondly, they are timeless and can be passed down through generations. Best part is they are each hand-made by Anthony Lent himself in his Philadelphia-based studio.

See the Anthony Lent website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

2. Anything in opal from Jacquie Aiche: If you’ve visited Jacquie Aiche’s booth at Couture, you know–every year she outfits her spot in gems and mineral specimens that have you feeling like you’ve been transported to her world. And once inside, there’s no shortage of jewelry–each corner and nook is filled with displays, dripping in jewelry. And that’s exactly their mantra–cover yourself in their pieces and style yourself to the max. Every necklace, bracelet, earring, ring and body chain complements one another, and now we know why she has so many devote “tribe” members!

See the Jacquie Aiche website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

3. Stackable, easy on-and-off chokers from Suzanne Kalan: ok, we all have realized chokers are still going strong in popularity and if you’re really wanting to invest in something that is well-constructed, easy to wear, and gorgeous all-around, I suggest these! Suzanne Kalan is known for her baguette diamond wizardry and she follows through again in the choker design department. At the show, the chokers were displayed in large bunches, stacked together and they looked just as good, if not better when worn! There’s no clasp or ties, it is flexible, so you can take it on and off SO easily!

See the Suzanne Kalan website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

4. Enamel surf boards from Tara Hirshberg: I loved all the charms I was seeing at Couture this year and these enameled surf boards were a definite highlight from the debuting designer. I have never surfed before in my life and honestly am frightened beyond belief of the ocean, but even with those pitted against me, I have never wanted a gold surf board more in my life! haha! I love the colors used, the size of them and the wearability. Creating surf-related jewels came naturally for LA-based designer Tara and her ocean living and ocean loving life.

See the Tara Hirshberg website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

5. New diamond bow rings from Arik Kastan: I always look forward to seeing the new designs from vintage-inspired Arik Kastan. This year’s new bow rings had my head spinning and jaw-dropping. They are perfect to stack and fit right in with other antique pieces, as seen here stacked with some other fun Arik Kastan rings. Loving all the green agate too! Tough decision though choosing which bow–the top or bottom??

See the Arik Kastan website here.


Couture 2017

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

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James D. Julia Auction Features 60 Jewelry Items in Upcoming Sale

Hey Gem Gossip readers! As many of you know, writing about upcoming auctions is one of my favorite topics–I’ve written nearly 100 blog posts on this topic throughout the past almost nine years of having this blog! I live it, breathe it, and am constantly talking about jewelry auctions. I love discovering new auction houses and I’m excited to be writing about James D. Julia Auction house today since I never have featured them before. They have an upcoming sale on June 16th, 2017 that is called “June Rare Lamps, Glass & Fine Jewelry Auction” which is of interest, particularly the 60 lots of fine jewelry items which is at the very beginning of the sale.

James D. Julia Inc. is located in Fairfield, Maine and has been in business for over fifty years. The company began in 1965 by Arthur Julia as a small country auction house which quickly grew over the years. Current owner James D. Julia purchased the company from his father in 1974 after graduating college. Always staying current with the times has been a key to the success of this auction house–state-of-the-art catalogs, photos and descriptions as well as an easy interactive website where bidding can take place from anywhere in the world have allowed an auction house located in Maine compete with world-known names. They are currently ranked as one of the top ten antique auction houses in North America.

The June 16th auction features 60 lots of jewelry items–pieces from the low 100s on up to six-figure digits–so a pretty large assortment. Diamond rings, lots of emeralds, a high-end Breitling watch, jewelry suites, pearls, gorgeous every day jewelry, and everything in between. One of my favorite lots is the last one in the jewelry section–a group of 40 jewelry books! I am such a jewelry book nerd and this lot features a bunch of rare, out-of-print titles. It is definitely worth checking out and the people of James D. Julia were kind enough to create an interactive catalog (embedded above) which features all 60 of the jewelry lots! It is also worthy to note, many of the pieces, starting with lot #1019 as noted in the catalog, are from a private Texas Estate collection which is completely unreserved and thus could result in some excellent buying opportunities.

Here are some of my favorites highlighted:

Lot 1005: A stunning all-diamond bypass style ring, set in 14k white gold and an estimated 1.78 carats total. I love the bypass style, with this piece having three diamonds set at a diagonal. If you’re thinking of a unique alternative engagement ring, this would be a great choice! Estimate: $2,000-3,000

Lot 1007: The most expensive/highest estimate piece in the sale–this 10.02 carat natural fancy intense yellow diamond ring! This rare and unique stone is VS-1 in clarity and comes with a diamond certificate from GIA. To accompany the center stone, it is beautifully flanked on each side by bullet shaped diamonds, VVS/VS clarity and FG in color. The ring is done in platinum and 18k white gold. Estimate: $130,000-160,000

Lot 1016: Elegant and charming, this diamond pendant necklace features gorgeous bright white diamonds set into a Art Nouveau treasure. It features a dangling bezel set diamond at the bottom and hangs from a 16″ chain. Nothing like a piece of history. Estimate: $1,500-2,500

Lot 1020: A vintage Cartier ring of finest quality–composed of one center emerald cut diamond and two emerald cut emeralds on each side. The ring is done in platinum with 18k yellow gold settings. Center diamond weighs 1.98 carats and the emeralds are Columbian. Can’t get much better than that! Estimate: $20,000-30,000

Lot 1023: I like this ring because it has a bypass style but it also has sort of a serpent look to it! The ring is set with a modified-fan cut emerald and lots of diamond accents, 1.75 carats to be exact! This ring is trendy and classic at the same time. I could easily pair with other pieces for a fun look. Estimate: $1,200-1,800

Lot 1035: If you love a good multi-gemstone piece of jewelry, this one is my pick for you! This cuff is done in 18k yellow gold and bezel set with multiple gemstones of all colors! We’ve got rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and an unidentified yellow stone…all of various shapes and sizes. A truly well-made and exquisite piece! Estimate: $500-800

Lot 1052: This necklace caught my attention the first time I ever looked at this catalog. It consists of a multi-serpent pendant that hangs from a gold toggle necklace–the various gemstones are peridot, garnet, amethyst, and citrine. The layers of serpents graduate in size, as do the gemstones. I’ve never seen a pendant quite like this one before and I’ve always been drawn to serpent jewelry. Estimate: $600-900

Lot 1060: Remember the lot of jewelry books I talked about above–this is the lot! It features 40 different jewelry reference books, including several out-of-print titles. 100 Years of Collectible Jewelry, Cameos Old & New, Jewelry in America 1600-1900, and The Art of Fine Jewelry are definitely intriguing me and I feel like I will be bidding on this lot come auction day!

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with James D. Julia.

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Gem Gossip Visits Sunday & Sunday Antiques, NE Ohio

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A look into one of Sunday & Sunday Antiques’ ring boxes

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Diamonds rings and pocket watch chains are just some of their specialties

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

You can shop these: turquoise, opal & garnet, opal cluster

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

You can shop these: Rhodolite garnet dangle, opal cluster, rhodolite and pearl dangle

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Cameos are one of Carolyn’s most favorite kind of jewelry

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

This Topaz is beckoning you to dive in!

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Lots of diamond rings and two bangles

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

You can shop these: opal & garnet, turquoise, opal cluster

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Shop my necklaces here & here

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Some of my personal favorites, all are available!

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Where shall I begin???

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Shop these from left to right: here, here, here, here

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Just a cool cat cameo, shop him here

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Love these three dainty necklaces, shop these here, here, here

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

One of the most intricate and fancy blackamoors I’ve ever seen!

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Sunday & Sunday has a great selection of signet rings

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

A diamond and sapphire Art Deco brooch/necklace pendant, so stunning!

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

A closer look into the ring box…

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Which elongated diamond ring is your favorite?!

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Love the variety of turquoise rings, shop here, here, here

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Shop the snake ring, synthetic ruby navette, lava cameo

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Shop the onyx & diamond, blue wedgwood

Sunday & Sunday | Gem Gossip

Putting Ohio on the Jewelry Road Trip map was a goal of mine for this year, and I’m so happy that it started out with an adventurous and jewel-filled excursion to the Northeastern portion of this great state. Carolyn & Ed are a husband and wife dream team that are known as Sunday & Sunday Antiques. With nearly 35 years in the antique business, they are ones you’ll want to bookmark and constantly check their inventory, because with their experience, collectors’ eye and connections, they find some amazing pieces. For me, it all started when I first connected with Carolyn a couple Decembers ago. I stumbled upon an onyx ring with tri-colored gold details from the 1920s and had to have it. I usually discover virtual shops and jewelry to buy via Instagram, and this was an Etsy-browse find–so I made sure to encourage Sunday & Sunday Antiques to join Instagram! A few years later, Carolyn has been hooked since the day she joined and boasts over 31k followers.

I knew visiting with Sunday & Sunday Antiques was going to be fun–lots of inventory (with the best part being that most of it is actually listed, ready to purchase), lots of laughs, and lots of stories. Growing up, Carolyn had always been attracted to shiny things and she even worked at a jewelry store briefly before meeting her sparkliest treasure–her husband Ed! He had grown up in the business, having his dad as his apprentice, learning how to fix and restore watches, as well as repairing jewelry since he was a teenager. While most kids were out running around causing chaos, Ed was tinkering at flea markets and finding things that caught his eye. Once Carolyn & Ed were married, they formed Sunday & Sunday Antiques and set up at antique shows all across the US. They would travel all around, buying and selling, making memories and friends along the way.

Carolyn made a really smart move by being an early adopter of the Internet. In the antique jewelry world, 8-10 years ago NO ONE was really on the world wide web–only a few big names that have continued to lead the pack had a website, if anything. Sunday & Sunday is a proud member of Ruby Lane, with a platinum status since joining in 2000. They also are on Etsy, which they joined in early 2009. The husband and wife duo complement each other in terms of putting their strengths to work to run their online antique business. Carolyn has got the photography down to a science, with a position-shoot-next method that will turn heads. She also is in charge of listing, answering emails, shipping and appraising. Ed does a lot of the buying and meticulously restores and checks each piece before listing. He has a knack for perfection and in a business like this, customers appreciate that. Transitioning their business from traveling shows to strictly online-only has been a great leap of faith, but one they are enjoying to the fullest and very thankful for every step of the way. And don’t mention the word retirement to either of them–antiques are a way of life!

The passion that both Ed & Carolyn have for antiques and antique jewelry resonates throughout every part of their life. It was awesome to connect with such great people and get an inside look into their world. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing it as well through my eyes and be sure to check out more from Sunday & Sunday Antiques around the web:

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What is the Best Gem Show in Tucson? AGTA GemFair, A Must See!

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Outside of AGTA Gem Fair where you can pull up and valet your car–my parking skills thinks this is a great idea

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Oh my opals! From Exhibitor Only Beads based out of Atlanta

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Freaked for this huge yellow sapphire from Mayer & Watt

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Both photos above were found at Under the Crown Jewelry — the carved scarab moonstone struck a cord with me and I loved learning about their Crown Jubilee faceted diamonds, their trademarked diamond cut which is fashioned from an Old Mine or Old European cut diamond. There are two sets of crown facets and two sets of pavilion facets. It’s the only diamond that has the crown and pavilion in perfect harmony!

AGTA | Gem Gossip

The view above–AGTA is huge, with over 300+ exhibitors, you truly need AT LEAST two days to cover the show–for me I took two days, plus a third day to come back to buy some things that kept haunting me.

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These types of set ups lead to a treasure hunt unlike any other! Whether you have a piece of jewelry in mind you’re designing or just let yourself gravitate toward certain stones…it is a fun experience!

AGTA | Gem Gossip

If I want to see the cream of the crop, I visit Omi Prive where I got to try on incredible sapphires, emerald, zircon and tsavorites. Amazing!

AGTA | Gem Gossip

I loved the concept that Pala International devised with these “Collectors Sets” of gems–each a unique assortment of gemstones, perfect for a collector or connoisseur.

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Gold rush has come over the AGTA Gem Fair! Lots of vintage goodies from Excalibur Jewelry

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Left: a yummy watermelon tourmaline from Kimberly Collins Gems

Right: an insanely perfect specimen of chrysocolla from Rare Earth Mining Co.

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Seriously enchanted by these kite-shaped emeralds from Manak–these need to be rings ASAP!

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Just browsing the many aisles upon aisles of gems, jewels, and treasures at AGTA.

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Left: more watermelon tourmaline and Right: some insane opals from exhibitor Robert Shapiro

AGTA | Gem Gossip

No caption needed–you may be already able to tell these insane gems and rings are Omi Prive.

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Opals of different patterns and translucency all in one display! These are from Joel Price Inc.

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More favorite finds: the two inlay stone pieces are from Rare Earth Mining Co. and I think they are my favorites of the entire Tucson trip! Left shows more opals, which I loved this unique display–really showed off each one individually.

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Some incredible rings from Excalibur Jewelry, spanning all different ages and styles.

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Loved learning about sunstones from Desert Sun Mining & Gems–each one is mined in Oregon (I even have a map and dvd to learn even more)!

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As you may have guessed, I spent some serious time at the Excalibur booth, just because antique jewelry is my main love. All of these rings are special in their own way and I just loved this diamond bow necklace featuring a giant emerald cut emerald!

AGTA | Gem Gossip

One of the “Collectors’ Sets” from Pala International–love the variety of shapes, sizes and varieties of gems.

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Pairing gemstones is quite the task–these gemstone pairs from Kimberly Collins Gems give any jeweler or designer so many options!

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Left: this huge opal lay on an exhibitor’s table with a sign that read “please touch, please take my photo” Right: colorful earrings from Campbellian Collection–can you spot the mismatched pairs?!

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I also loved these rings from Campbellian Collection–from the bright colors to the unique designs, so good!

AGTA | Gem Gossip

Some gemstones cut by the master Clay Zava featured here–including the snowcone cut which is slightly out of focus on the bottom.

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Are you planning your trip for next year yet?? I feel like by now you might be!

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Of course Mayer & Watt would have some insane trapiche emeralds–what amazing earrings would these make?!

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Left: myself with the very talented Clay Zava of Zava Mastercuts, Right: Mayer & Watt was proud to present this incredible 190 ct aquarmarine sculpture with under-the-sea motifs like an octopus and other sea creatures carved into the piece. It is called “Love at First Sight” and was created by Susan Allen & Michael Cristie. Also included in the piece is a 470 c. chrysoprase, a 10.3 mm Tahitian pearl and 0.63 ctw of diamonds in 18k yellow gold.

AGTA | Gem Gossip

From Lightning Ridge mine in Australia, this incredible opal featured at exhibitor Joel Price at AGTA.

I haven’t made the journey out to the desert for the Tucson Gem Shows in five years! Can you believe it?! I’m usually focused on the Miami Antique Show and for the first time in years, the two shows don’t overlap as much as they usually do–that makes me very happy and also very travel worn, but I’m up for the challenge!

The AGTA Gem Fair has been happening since 1981 and is a tradeshow that is open to wholesale only, where they cater to those stores, designers and clients who are discerning, looking to find the best jewelry, gemstones, and so much more. There are several aspects about AGTA that sets it apart from other gem shows in Tucson during this week, and when attending your first AGTA Gem Fair like myself, you quickly learn and take notice! This year’s show spanned from January 31st-February 5th, at the Tucson Convention Center–a glorious facility with all the necessary features for a large tradeshow. A huge plus for AGTA show-attendees is the fact that you can shop and buy with confidence knowing each exhibitor is a Member of the AGTA. Every exhibitor is a United States or Canada-based professional, who adhere to a rigorous code of ethics. Quality, value and selection–all high standards of AGTA, providing sources you can trust.

Other great features include valet parking–which my rental car would like to personally thank AGTA for this, as I nicked my car a few times trying to parallel park in Tucson. Good times. Also, the variety of food trucks outside the show was really cool! We all have been there before–super hungry during a tradeshow with limited options for dining. This was such a neat way to remedy hunger and also be on trend–because everyone loves a food truck! And other perks including some obvious-yet-vital things like air conditioning! Yes, the desert gets toasty in late January/early February, and with most shows outdoors in the sun, we sometimes forget how nice an indoor, air conditioned show can be!

My first day at the show, I just come off a four hour plane ride + two hour car drive, so I knew exactly where to head on the show floor–the antique jewelry vendors!! I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were actually a few and they each easily gave me life. I enjoyed oogling over Excalibur’s jewels and Under the Crown’s diamonds, of course learning a thing or two, as I always do from my antique friends. I may or may not have bought something amazing from Excalibur on day three–just because I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and although the piece was supposed to be for a client of mine, I’m 89% sure I’m now keeping it for myself. Oh lord, I need help.

Day two of the AGTA show included exploring every aisle and seeing what I could find! Certain gemstones caught my attention–chrysocolla, sunstones, insane opals, fancy kite-shapes, etc. I was mesmerized by everything from Rare Earth Mining Co. and died a little when I saw some of the inlay pieces. Every single booth had something unique and if I had LOTS of money to spend, I would buy one thing from each exhibitor, most definitely. I remember someone saying that the people roaming the aisles is like a Who’s Who among jewelry designers, and you’ll likely get star-struck on many occasions. This was totally true! Running into some of my favorite designers was definitely a perk of attending the show and seeing each one in his or her own element, focusing in on designing and finding the right stones was fun.

My last day in Tucson was supposed to be roaming the highway shows and I actually ended up finding myself back at AGTA! There were several pieces that kept haunting me and I knew I had to come back to make them my own. I also wanted to spend some time at the Mayer & Watt booth because not only are Simon’s gems incredible but he always has a keen sense on the gem industry and what is currently going on. I also am a big fan of his app–called Mayer & Watt–if you download it, you will see an entire database of gems! Both inventory and sold items are pictured, along with a Gemipedia, which gives you LOTS of information about each stone. The app is fun to go through and also done really well, most importantly the photography is gorgeous! So you must download it when you get the chance!!

I know many of you loved seeing my updates from Tucson and are wanting to plan ahead for next year already! Well you’re in luck, AGTA already has announced next year’s dates–so put January 30th-February 4th, 2018 in your calendar! I know I already am counting down the days (and saving my money lol)!

What a fun trip this has been–special shoutout to Abby of @nomadgold for being my sidekick, helping me with photography and convincing one another to YES buy that, definitely! Also thank you to AGTA for providing accommodations while in Tucson.

Follow along with my AGTA GemFair coverage over on Instagram >> @gemgossip AGTA | Gem Gossip

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Gem Gossip Visits J.S. Fearnley in Atlanta, GA

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