Jewelry Collection Stories: Emily of @GemCircus

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

We are kicking off July with an incredible jewelry collection story from Emily, also known as @GemCircus. If you’re a part of the jewelry Instagram community, you’ll easily recognize some of the jaw-dropping pieces in Emily’s personal collection. From the way she styles her necklace layers, to ring stacks, arm parties, and everything in between, we love her taste and enthusiasm for antique jewelry. I’m so excited she has agreed to share her story with us, so let’s sit back and enjoy:

My love for vintage and antique collecting started when I was a teenager, after my family moved to Vancouver, Canada, from Hong Kong in the early 1990s. I remember it was July when we arrived and I would walk to the nearby library every other day to borrow books to read (our container didn’t arrive almost a month later so all I have in my room were merely a bed, a built-in closet and my backpack). I started to notice our neighbours’ garage sales in my walks and I was amused at the things people were selling – from snow cone machines to music records, jewelry to stuff toys. That summer of looking through other people’s belongings and engaging in rapports gave me a sense of belonging and connection to the community. Ever since then I have become a frequent visitor to community flea markets, thrift shops and antique shows.

My jewelry obsession started around early twenties with vintage jewelry, in particular charms and silver filigree bracelets. I love to style them on mixed metal chains and I still love styling them now.

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

I wasn’t picky and didn’t have a favourite period at that time so I usually picked up quirky little things like brooches, pins, jewel “plaques” (which I found out they were called “clasps” later) etc. Even though my collecting seemed to be random at that time, I was already drawn to jewelry that have motifs, like this brass crescent with hand and arrow and the clasped hand ring that I found in a thrift store. Looking back, I believe my love for antique sentimental jewelry originates from this pair!

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

A lot of my Instagram followers already knew that I adore Georgian and Victorian sentimental and mourning jewelry, as well as portrait jewelry. This probably relates to my “innate sensitiveness” (as Carl Jung coined it) and the way I see jewelry as not merely an adornment but also a medium for expression, an art, an identity of who we are.

After I started reading books on lover’s eye, portrait miniature and mourning jewelry, I became obsessed with researching stories behind the jewelry that I collect. I realized that the brass crescent and the hand motif ring are not ‘funky little things’ as I thought in my teenage days, they actually carry specific meanings – love, new relationship and friendship – in the Victorian era. As my jewelry collection matures over time, I began to search for jewelry with motifs or meanings, like the urn, masquerade (masked lady), hand (figa, clasped hand, claddagh), heart (double-heart, flaming heart), star and crescent, buckle, swallow, snake, fern, acoutistic (“REGARD” and “DEAREST”) and Halley’s comet etc.

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

I like to think that every piece of antique jewelry carries its own story of those before us, and I’m a custodian carrying on its legacy while creating my story with my collection. I love styling and always try to mix and match, experiment with different stacking and mixed metal, and do simple conversions to make every piece wearable. You can see from my Instagram photos that I’ve worn a big opal crescent brooch with another monkey brooch in the middle, stacked seven Art Deco wedding bands to make a statement ring, wrapped my wrist with antique chains and added a micromosaic brooch on top, stacked an Art Deco paste bracelet with a Hermes red enamel bangle, wore brooches on hats, and layered antique gold chains with watch chains. The fun is endless!

I shop everywhere but recently it’s largely online as there aren’t any antique jewelry shops in Hong Kong. I love the Instagram community as I’ve met so many wonderful souls (many of whom have become friends for life) around the world that share my obsession in antique jewelry. I always visit antique and jewelry shops when I travel too. It has been a tradition to bring back a piece of jewelry from each city that I visit.

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

One of my obsession is Georgian masquerade jewelry: masked lady ring with ruby bonnet and rose cut diamonds from @karendeakin.antiques ; locket from @abrandtandson and the most recently acquired oval ring from @bijouxvictim

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

Ring stacking is a daily essential for me: Georgian blue enamel rose cut diamond urn ring from @lenoredailey ; the moonstone on the mourning ring was a gift from my jeweler in Vancouver (he has kept it for 40 years!) and it fits perfectly on the bezel of the once empty mourning ring; flat cut garnet band from @antiqueanimaljewelry

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

Mourning rings and figas: these enamel mourning rings are too big to wear so I usually wear them on gold chains as pendants. The twin coral figas were acquired from different continents yet they look so much alike. The one with emerald and diamonds was found in a UK auction and the one with seed pearl top was found in an antique show in Vancouver.


WANT MORE? Check out the other Jewelry Collection Stories

You can follow Emily –> @GemCircus


Continue Reading

The Best Diamonds in Seattle, WA

My trip to Seattle had me traveling all over this beautiful city located in the US’s Northwest in search of the best jewelry to be seen! I quickly discovered that Seattle may be nicknamed the “Emerald City,” but it sure had a lot of amazing DIAMONDS. Thanks to 1001 Diamonds, I put together a list of the TOP FIVE best shops in Seattle to find diamonds. Whether you’re looking for your perfect engagement ring, a right hand ring with diamonds, a diamond necklace or bracelet, or even a pair of diamond earrings, these places have it all. Let’s start with number five:

Isadora’s Antique & Estate Jewelry —

A store certainly not short on diamonds, Isadora’s had the most amazing selection of vintage and antique pieces. If an antique diamond is what you’re seeking, this is the place to go! Anything from antique rose cuts to Old European cuts, their cases were full. The store also had an impressive selection of antique earrings, which is a niche not normally covered well by other antique jewelry shops. The photo above depicts a brilliant selection of what they have to offer. That antique diamond necklace is insane! The rings range from late 1800s to early 1930s, and each truly is so unique. To read more about this shop click here.

Diamonds in Seattle | Gem Gossip

Alexandria Rossoff Rare Jewels & Finds —

Antique and modern engagement ring selection here is two thumbs up! The price range lets you find something no matter your budget, and Alexandria’s experience in the business will allow you to customize what you want if necessary. From bold solitaire diamond styles, to antique clusters and everything in between, this shop is a must see. The diamonds’ cut, clarity and color also is shown in a wide variety, which is what I like as well. A diamond with a low color? Yes, you can find that here, but you can also find high ranking colors too. No discrimination here–as long as it sparkles. That’s important!

Diamonds in Seattle | Gem Gossip

Alana Jewelry —

One of the most shopped at Seattle jewelry stores for many reasons, Alana Jewelry always carries LOTS of diamonds because they are in demand! Many of their customers walk into the store because it is located in a busy mall and end up leaving with diamonds, never planning on it beforehand. The heavy foot traffic allows for their diamond inventory to be constantly changing and consistently well-versed. In order to appeal to many different tastes, they have all sorts of styles, eras, shapes, sizes and price ranges. Alana Jewelry sells both antique and modern jewelry, with appraisals on all their diamonds.

Diamonds in Seattle | Gem Gossip


Wanting something more unique but brand new? TWIST has you covered! Their wide variety of fine jewelry, with designers specializing in diamonds in particular will leave you breathless. So many new innovations are coming to the forefront and TWIST is always the first to release them. Inverted diamonds? They have them! Black, grey, brown and other “rustic” diamonds? Yes, they have them! A quick glance at their bridal selection will have you wanting something unlike anyone else, thanks to their fine curation of stunning jewels. Shop diamond specialists like TAP by Todd Pownell, Mandrel Studio, Rebecca Overmann, Mallary Marks, Cathy Waterman, and SO MANY more!

Continue Reading

Antique & Vintage Diamonds with 1001 Diamonds

1001 Diamonds | Gem Gossip

I’ve been on a quest for the best in antique and vintage diamonds from all across the United States! Thanks to 1001 Diamonds, I’ve honed in on a few keen shops. Every corner, every direction, every side street…and I think I’ve narrowed my continental search. From Lang Antiques over on the West Coast, to Bell & Bird in the heart of Texas, up to the Boston area at Fancy Flea Antiques, and down south to Miami where Dover Jewelry takes the cake…and I can’t forget the greatest city in all the land–NYC, where A La Vieille Russie shines. These are the top five locales which boast some pretty amazing antique diamonds! See for yourself!

MIDWEST (above photo): Let’s start in the center of the US, with Texas-based Bell & Bird. They don’t lie when they say everything is bigger in Texas! The Edwardian heart-shaped diamond ring is breath-taking. An antique heart-shape is rare to find, especially one that dates back to the 1900s. The stone is GIA certified ranking in at a VS-1 clarity, E color and weighing 2.42 carats! It truly outshines them all! The antique twin diamond ring puts a spin on the Moi et toi style, having the diamonds set vertically like that. That particular ring has since sold.

1001 Diamonds | Gem Gossip

WEST COAST: All the way on the West Coast, Lang Antiques holds it down in San Francisco having the most diverse and jaw-dropping antique diamond collection around! Here you can see what I mean. Anything from champagne colored diamonds, to Old European cuts, to Old Mine cuts, even the square step cut in the center of that onyx ring above, the diamonds come in all shapes and sizes at Lang. This photo also proves that diamonds pair with black in the best way possible.

1001 Diamonds | Gem Gossip 1001 Diamonds | Gem Gossip

EAST COAST: Lots of great cities in the Northeast–New York City and Boston are home to so many great attractions and one of them being amazing diamonds. I am dying to visit A La Vieille Russie located on the corner of 5th Avenue and E. 59th Street. As you can see, their antique diamond selection is museum-worthy! The diamond ring on the pointer finger is an Old Mine cut, weighing approximately 1.90 carats from the Georgian Era. The champagne fancy diamond on the middle finger is also noteworthy–what a great alternative engagement ring that would make!

At Fancy Flea Antiques just outside of Boston in a town called Lexington, there’s a little antique jewelry shop I got to visit briefly while in the area. I was intrigued by this hidden gem, as they have lots of antique and vintage diamonds, most importantly at a great price! I tried on a bunch of Art Deco filigree diamond rings, a time period which is greatly represented at the store. There’s something about an Old European cut diamond from the 1920s paired with the open-metalwork of white gold or platinum. These are all available at Fancy Flea Antiques.

1001 Diamonds | Gem Gossip

SOUTH-SIDE: It’s a party of diamonds down south–in Miami, that is–at Dover Jewelry. Their selection of diamonds ranges vastly to include small clusters to large carat sizes like the gigantic 8.63 carat solitaire pictured, VS-2 clarity, KL color. Whatever size, price or color diamond you are looking for, Dover Jewelry has it! This photo also features a more and more popular diamond cut that not too many jewelry stores have–the antique cushion cut.

For more DIAMONDS and your daily helping of sparkle, check out 1001 Diamonds!

This post was brought to you in collaboration with 1001 Diamonds.

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Pinterest

Follow on Twitter

Follow on Instagram

Thanks to Gossip Gem

Continue Reading

Jewelry Road Trip: Washington, DC & Alexandria, VA

Hallowed Estate | Gem Gossip Hillwood Estate, DC Untitled Untitled Hillwood Estate, DC Untitled Hillwood Estate, DC Hillwood Estate, DC Untitled

Recently I took a trip to the Washington, DC area. I had two speaking engagements that I was a part of–the first one being DC’s GIA Alumni chapter meeting and the second one AGS Conclave. Excitement was what this trip was all about after I realized both were in the same area, however one week apart. I could have flown in and out for both occasions, but since I had never been to DC before, I decided to make an entire trip out of it! So this blog post compiles all that I did in between those two events (which I already wrote about here and here). It was also a very special trip because I brought my mom along with me (who also had never been to DC before) and we took a few days to drive up to Pennsylvania and visit my Gram too.

Day One in DC started with having the entire morning and most of the afternoon to ourselves before my 7pm presentation. It was a rainy day unfortunately, but we made the most of it by checking out two museums. All the photos above are from our visit to Hillwood Estate–a gorgeous mansion once owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post back in the 1950s. Marjorie is an incredibly interesting person, as her wealth was acquired by her father who founded Postum Cereal Company (General Foods) which she took over at the young age of 27 when her father passed away. She was a collector and lover of jewelry, arts and gardens. When she decorated her large estate, she deliberately knew she wanted it to become a museum one day, as she was driven to open up the doors to the public. Most importantly, she wanted to share the lifetime of joy she got out of collecting with everyone else. To learn more about Marjorie Merriweather Post, check out this video.

After our time spent at Hillwood, we dined at the cafe on the premises which was great and then headed to Tudor Place, another much smaller and older estate open to the public through guided tours only. We also weren’t allowed to take any pictures and I was saddened to not experience very many pieces of jewelry on the tour–only a very small curio cabinet with less than ten items. The area in which Tudor Place is located is just the cutest though.

Hillwood Museum

4155 Linnean Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20008

Tudor Place

1644 31st St NW

Washington, DC 20007

Smithsonian | Gem Gossip Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

Continue Reading

How to Buy and Care for Antique Jewelry

Ancient Victorian Bangle Bracelet

Purchasing antique jewelry means buying something truly special. Each necklace, watch, earring, and brooch has a long history behind it that makes the piece unique, even if it was just one among hundreds when it was new. Learning to recognize and appreciate quality antique jewelry comes with time and practice, but we’ll begin with some basic knowledge to get you started.

First off, let’s clear the air about something. The terms “antique” and “vintage” are not one and the same. “Antique” has a legally defined meaning, whereas “vintage” does not. While both terms are often thrown around imprudently, the US Customs Agency defines an antique as something that is at least 100 years old and less than 50 percent restored. The term “vintage” merely describes an item that was popular in another era, though some trade specialists apply a 50- to 100-year age bracket to the term.

Tiffany Necklace Tiffany Necklace Stamp

What to Look For:

Every antique belongs to an era, and you might discover that you prefer one over the other. Learn the styles and distinctions of the Georgian (1790-1831), Victorian (1837-1901), Edwardian (1901-1915), and other eras famous for their distinct styles of jewelry. Many of these eras contain smaller periods when specific themes gained popularity.

Familiarize yourself with the designs, materials, and manufacturing techniques of the desired era and period. Victorian Romantic period jewelry typically features animals, flowers, and other nature-related themes, while the Grand Victorian era was known for large, dark gemstones, silver, and engravings of the Queen, for example.

If you must inspect an antique engagement ring yourself, invest in a loupe. A loupe is a small magnifying glass used by jewelers and watchmakers. Look for workshops in your town or even online to train your eye on what to look for and how to use it. Be sure to check the piece’s condition. Search for rust and discoloration, solder where the piece might have been broken and put back together, and other forms of wear and tear.

Where to Buy:

You can purchase antique jewelry from several types of merchants, but your knowledge and skill in recognizing fakes and appraising genuine pieces will largely govern where you should shop. We’ll list a few types of outlets here from the lowest to highest degree of knowledge required.

Professional jewelers and consignment stores: Brick and mortar stores with professional staff and reputations to lose are the safest bet for buying antique jewelry if you don’t have time to invest in learning the ins and outs of the trade yourself. Experts can make recommendations, and you can see each piece in person.

Online retailers and professional marketplaces: The best deals can often be found online from reputable ecommerce outlets. While you don’t get a hands-on look at each piece, these e-stores usually include multiple photos, detailed descriptions, and sometimes even live support staff to answer any questions you might have. 1stdibs is an excellent option for online antique jewelry shoppers.

Online from reputable merchants: Online consumer-to-consumer marketplaces like eBay can offer great deals on antique jewelry, but make sure to thoroughly check the merchant’s rating, customer reviews, and return policy. Compare prices at multiple vendors, and always remember: if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Estate sales and auctions: At this point, you’re pretty much on your own for verifying and appraising a piece of jewelry. Bring your loupe and be ready to do some research. Don’t count on the merchant to be knowledgeable or honest about what they are selling.

Tiffany Amethyst & Diamond Ring

Cleaning & Care:

Now that you’ve bought your antique bracelet, spend some time keeping it in good condition. Store jewelry in a soft-lined container at a moderate temperature with multiple compartments. Apply beauty products like makeup and hairspray prior to putting on your jewelry, as the chemicals in these products can cause harm. Don’t wear your jewelry when bathing, exercising, or cleaning, as chemicals and sweat can cause corrosion and discoloration.

If you notice a stone is loose or some other malfunction, take the piece to a jeweler who is experienced in handling antiques. Don’t use ultrasonic cleaners and beware of dip cleaners that can eat away at enamel and other coatings. Jewelry polishing cloths are a good all-around solution. It’s always better to under-clean than to over-clean.

Every type of metal, coating, and stone have different cleaning and storage requirements, so invest some time researching what’s best for your piece. Sterling silver should be stored somewhere airtight, for example, while pieces containing pearls should be stored somewhere breathable.

Continue Reading

Gem Gossip Visits The Three Graces in Austin, TX

thethreegraces IMG_9222 threegraces choosingrings thethreegracesrings jabotfromthethreegraces showmeyourrings threegracesstacks  ringstacks IMG_9278   looktwo   lookthree  meandlisa IMG_9371

Known as one of my all-time favorite antique jewelry websites, The Three Graces is the ultimate destination for online antique jewelry shopping. When I got the opportunity to see their incredible inventory live and in-person rather than on my computer screen, I jumped to it and couldn’t contain my excitement! Imagine all the jewels you once drooled over virtually, now laid out in front of you in the most beautifully displayed way?! I’m excited to bring you along with me as I got to experience this, because I know many of my loyal readers are huge fans of The Three Graces as well!

I began by sitting down with owner and founder Lisa Stockhammer-Mial, which was amazing to do outside of our usual busy run-ins at the antique shows and only having a quick moment to say hi. Her story is incredible and she brought along items from her personal collection which tell her story in jewelry form. She even showed me her first ring she ever owned (which is awesome that she still has it today) and jokingly recollects begging her mother to buy it for her. I think all of us jewelry collectors have a similar story. It is where the passion for jewelry first began and is carried with us today. She also brought along several pairs of earrings that once belonged to her mother who had a love for costume jewelry–big, bold pieces each more unique than the other. All different styles, from large chandeliers to ones you have to thread through your ear were amongst her mother’s collection. These pieces were such a treat to see!

We then switched gears and began to admire the insatiable inventory. I began with the necklaces and slowly worked my way through all the heart-stopping rings. Styling three different looks was a task I was made for–I opted for a bold diamond look, a cool casual look, and a unique and eclectic look. This wasn’t planned exactly so, it is just how it ended up being! Funny how each look made me feel a different way! And if you’re curious, yes I did feel like a million bucks wearing the bold diamond look! I felt very fashion forward when wearing brooches on my vest blazer, and I am becoming obsessed with vest blazers for the summer, so YES to brooches! I also couldn’t keep my eyes off the fire opal ring. It truly makes a statement!

I had such a fun time visiting with The Three Graces–both Lisa and Jorien who is the Director of Marketing! If you’d like to shop my three looks, simply click on the links below!

Look One:


Diamond Swirl stud earrings circa 1900s, Price: $4,550


Victorian Snake turquoise & pearl necklace circa 1870s, Price: $7,865


Victorian Snake turquoise & pearl bangle bracelets, Price: inquire


Pearl and diamond platinum ring circa 1915, Price: $3,650

Art Deco Topaz and diamond square cocktail ring circa 1920s, Price: $8,950

Georgian Table cut diamond cluster ring circa 18th century, Price: $4,250

Art Deco diamond cocktail ring circa 1920s, Price: $9,650

Edwardian flourish diamond webbed ring circa 1900, Price: $4,875

Look Two:


Yellow sapphire and diamond cluster drop earrings circa 1920s, Price: $5,950


Victorian Moonstone Fringe necklace circa 1910, Price: $3,465


Banded carved agate lion ring circa 1900, Price: $1,650

Art Deco opal and diamond halo cluster ring circa 1920s, Price: $3,750

Rose cut garnet ring set with diamonds on the side, Price: $1,875

Look Three:


Art Deco Paste silver long dangle earrings, Price: $1,250


Victorian slide chain with hand clasp circa 1880, Price: $2,950

Cascade of golden circles long modern necklace in 18k yellow gold, Price: $6,750


Diamond and pastel enamel flower brooch circa 1890, Price: $5,450

Moonstone petal flower brooch with diamonds circa 1900, Price: $2,975


Diamond foliate plique a jour enamel ring circa mid 20th century, Price: $1,850

Green plique a jour enamel ring circa 1900, Price: $2,275

Fiery orange Fire Opal and diamond ring, Price: $5,650

Blue moonstone Art Nouveau ring circa 1910, Price: $945

Edwardian diamond solitaire ring circa 1900, Price: $1,950


Thanks to Gossip Gem

Continue Reading

Jewelry Collection Stories: @LuckandLockets

FullSizeRender IMG_5822 FullSizeRender_1

Today we take a look into the jewelry box of @LuckandLockets to see her favorite treasures and the stories behind them! I love her attitude on her collection and if you think you can’t collect antique jewelry because you live either a busy life or live nowhere near an antique jewelry shop, think again! She has done most all her shopping through Instagram alone and has created quite the collection! I’m sure you’ll notice all our jewelry friends represented in her collection! Enjoy!

– – – – – – – – – –

Collecting antique jewelry takes patience, a roving eye and a lot of time! I work full time in crazy hectic NYC and have a family, too, so there isn’t a whole lot of down time to treasure hunt (trust me — try dragging a 10 year old boy and a husband to the antiques stores while on vacation!) So, what a godsend that so many amazing antique jewelry vendors sell online, open 24/7. It wasn’t so long ago that it was a novelty to buy fine antique jewelry online — all without seeing or feeling it in person, from a seller thousands of miles away. An article I read in Vogue a few years ago opened a whole new world of antiquing possibilities to me — it was precisely about the growing numbers of women who were investing in jewelry for themselves – buying over the internet! I was sold and have not looked back.

I search for pieces that are “niche” — rare and unusual in some way, yet wearable in the real world (I love a tiara as much as Lady Mary, but no-can-do on NYC subways!) Georgian pieces are wonderful and romantic, because they pre-date mass production and I love the handcrafted and “imperfect.” I also adore figural pieces, and anything with a message or story. The web has been a great way to source unusual pieces from home –after the work emails are done, dinner dishes washed and child is in bed! And when I found Instagram, I was hooked! In fact, I have found some of my favorite pieces through my IG feed — from an amazing community of antique jewelry enthusiasts, who share a similar aesthetic and passion (and who happen to ferret out unique pieces from their sources).

Continue Reading

Favorite Instagrams: February 2015

gemfever charmcony goodgirljewelry asos gemstonegypsy marissanaples workhorsejewels eriebasin watchanish fd_gallery leolarevives bellandbird ruggedandfancy theantiqueguild

gemfever photographed the most exquisite little Victorian pearl and diamond ring, being surrounded by some Tahitians

charmcony if I haven’t already been tempted at collecting antique Figa charms–this image sealed the deal!

goodgirljewelry holding up a fluorite slab from her gem collection

asos displaying some fun sunglasses that have me wishing for sunny weather

gemstonegypsy posted these incredible late 2nd century byzantine gold rings from Rome, on view at the Museo Nazionale Romano

marissanaples modeling some gorgeous Sylva Cie pendants available at their store

workhorsejewels stacked up some of their swoon-worthy jewels in the rosiest rose gold

eriebasin always has the most delightful jewelry case displays in his shop

watchanish tripping on someone’s insane watch collection–I love collectors and their possessions

fd_gallery features a belle époque emerald and diamond brooch formerly in the collection of Anita Delgado, 5th wife of the Maharaja of Kapurthala

leolarevives is a favorite antique jewelry shop on Etsy of mine–she is based in Hungary

bellandbird photographs this immaculate striped enamel band that is engraved February, 18th 1867

ruggedandfancy capturing some of Bobo Intriguing Objects’ amazing wares and curios

theantiqueguild love this Georgian pendant set with diamonds and enamel

Continue Gossip Gem

Continue Reading

Treasure Hunting at Grays Antique Centre & Portobello Road, London

Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

Continue Reading