New October Opals from Arik Kastan Jewelry

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Let us enchant you with some of Arik Kastan’s newest designs featuring October’s magical and often obsess-worthy birthstone: OPAL. The brand has been working with opals since the very beginning of launching Arik Kastan and they continue to be a favorite of collectors, and we obviously can’t get enough of them ourselves!

Opals can easily transform any design that is created, any outfit we style, or bad moods we’re feeling. We love opals set in the signature rose gold just as much as the yellow gold, so we think you can’t go wrong picking between the two metals. And as far as gemstones that pair well with opals, we’ve been obsessing over some cool tones like sapphires, emeralds and moonstones–even pearls! Yes, you must check out the newest pearl + opal ring fresh off the jeweler’s bench. You’ll flip!

Enjoy checking out the new styles; all are available with a click of a mouse (or touch of a finger on your phone)!

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Arik Kastan drew from Victorian jewelry to create this stunning pearl and opal cluster ring, which is both bold and has feminine touches. We love it paired with jeans or a dress for fall.

Lyla Ring with opals and pearls, Price: $1,500

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These aren’t just any ordinary garnets, they are rose cuts which give these earrings a vintage-inspired look. They’re nice and large, while still being crazy comfortable.

Pebble Stone Drop earrings with garnet & opal, Price: $1,650


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A hint of blue sapphire sets off this sentimental padlock that can be the layer-ready basis for our collection. Start your stack with this one!

Sapphire + Opal Cluster Padlock, Price: $1,260


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A continued favorite, the signature three-stone ring looks glorious in opal and ready for any October baby to make this her special piece.

Signature Three Stone ring in Opal, Price: $1,320

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Quite possibly our newest favorite gemstone combination emeralds and opals! The green really POPS in these earrings; they’re quite breath-taking.

Nouveau Oval drop earrings, Price: $2,250

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This pinwheel pendant has won our hearts–it’s dainty and precious! Again, slaying in our favorite gemstone combo.

Pinwheel pendant with emerald + opals, Price: $1,320


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An instant favorite, combining floral inspiration with geometric vibes, the Mandala ring has us ready for fall.

Framed Mandala ring in sapphires + opals, Price: $2,750


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Some major boldness with this padlock, which we can’t get enough of. If you want a hefty, gorgeous piece…this is it!

Stained Glass Window padlock with emeralds + opals, Price: $2,470


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Feeling some boho vibes? Say no more, these are for you! Open metalwork, opals and a wonderful lever back.

Arabesque Drop earrings set with opals, Price: $2,030


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If you’re one who loves to stack your heart out, we’ve got you covered too! Our thin stacking band is easy to wear and pairs with almost anything else.

Thin Stacking ring done in opal, Price: $1,150


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It’s hip to be a square and this little padlock thinks so too. Outfitted in opals every square inch and a single moonstone in the center to shake things up a bit!

Square Padlock with opals + moonstone, Price: $1,590

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The Isabel ring makes us feel elegant and refined. We love the hint of blue from the sapphire and know you will too!

Isabel ring set with sapphire + opals, Price; $1,760

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Just a tip: Arik Kastan padlocks make the most beautiful gifts and yes, there are lots of holidays approaching but I won’t name any for the sake of getting virtually slapped!

Horizon Cluster Padlock set with moonstone + opals, Price: $1,370

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Top Five Jewelry Moments in Movies

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Who else finds warming satisfaction when a strong female protagonist hits the big screen donning some breathtaking jewels? One of most inspiring qualities in a female role is a strong sense of self, unabashedly confident in expressing her feminine side. A trinket may not make the woman, but it can help the woman embrace and reflect qualities like beauty, grace and sophistication — all of which should be celebrated.

Sure, it’s easy to think of lavish jewelry as unnecessary, ostentatious or vain, but those who only think in such boxed-in terms are missing some integral points. Jewelry may at times reflect things like status, but at its heart, it is art and it is precious. It is sentimental and it is transcendent. Perhaps that’s why I like jewelry in movies. It can be more easily admired in relation to the women that wear it, however complex those women are.

Whether you love jewelry with a story or you just like jewelry, perhaps you’ll enjoy this list of my top five favorite jewelry moments from the movies. They all just so happen to include antique jewelry in one form or another.

Titanic

Kate Winslet’s character, Rose wears some stunning jewelry in Titanic. But none are more regarded than the Heart of the Ocean, which is a fictional blue diamond necklace not to be confused with the Hope Diamond. The necklace used in the movie was made with CZs by Asprey & Garrard.

Gone with the Wind

In the 1938 film, Gone with the Wind, Vivien Leigh’s character, Scarlett has more jewelry moments than I can count. If you’re up for a Google search, find the mourning scene where she wears a large cameo brooch on her collar. The heirloom was borrowed from the costume designer’s mother and depicts a figural riding atop a bird. Amazing.

Moulin Rouge

Set in 19th century Paris, Moulin Rouge is perhaps the most decadent on this list. I mean, look at that necklace! Nicole Kidman’s character, Satine is wearing a gorgeous Belle Epoque festoon necklace with just over 1,300 diamonds. The fictional necklace was made by Stefano Canturi.

Marie Antoinette

Historical and poignant, Kirsten Dunst does a fine job humanizing Marie Antoinette in this film, as directed by Sofia Coppola. It’s worth noting that many argued the film didn’t fairly portray how overly and unnecessarily decadent the royal family was. All the antique jewelry you see is by Fred Leighton.

The Great Gatsby

Art Deco fans rejoice! Whoever was in charge of costume design for the recent adaptation of The Great Gatsby did a marvelous job capturing the era. Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy, is seen wearing vintage jewelry from Tiffany & Co.

What are your favorite jewelry moments from movies? Let us know in the comments!

This post was contributed by:

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

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Latest Obsessions for Fall 2017

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My love for the color blue continues, even through fall when oranges & browns are en vogue. I’ve become obsessed with the blue carved lapis ring that I have had listed for sale so much that I’ve decided to move it into my personal collection. I might still let it go but I’m not sure–I think seeing a very similar one in Erie Basin’s sold archives made me want to keep it. Side note: does anyone else just blow through 2-3 hours browsing through Erie Basin’s sold archives?? lol

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I want to say I’ve probably sold about 100+ pieces of my personal collection since I decided to get more organized and curated with my collection. I’m quite happy with where my collection is at right now, although I’m still hunting for an epic man-on-the-moon moonstone ring and a kunzite piece. I’ll probably sell more from my collection but in the meantime, these are my faves.

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Speaking of being obsessed with blue…my 33rd birthday happened earlier this month and this aquamarine and black enamel beauty from Laurel Stearns became mine! Obviously it was purchased by myself, for myself. Haven’t I made it any more clear, year after year, that everyone should buy themselves a birthday gift?! Anyway, I’ve seriously worn it SO much since I got it and I’m incredibly lucky to have scored this ring late on a Saturday night, within minutes of her posting it.

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I’ve been changing up my ear stack since acquiring these David Webb nail earrings and I gotta say I’m fully obsessed with my newest addition, the Vada Jewelry ear hanger. It slides behind your ear and gives the illusion of having some of the more unique piercings done. I’ve got three holes in both ears and I think that’s all I can handle. Ear cuffs & ear hangers for life!

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I brought along some of Arrow & Anchor Antiques‘ inventory with me when I went to Boston and continued playing with it when I got back. I don’t think most people appreciate the amazingness that is moss agate, pictured in the center. I have a thing for dendritic agate and this combo of rings is just UGHHHHH SO GOOD.

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Photo on the left features pieces from my personal collection and the photo on the right features rings that are for sale! For details on those: instagram.com/shopgemgossip

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BCE Jewelry spent a few days in Nashville and I showed her around town! She also came over to play in my jewelry box and I played with her jewels (seen above). Every year she takes a country-wide road trip and clients secure a spot to view her one-of-a-kind pieces. She usually starts with a full plate of jewels and heads back to California on empty, leaving her to work on some new pieces!

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These “animals on wire” rings are just the cutest and I suggested that they could also be worn on chains as pendants, but this was the first time I actually tried my own suggestion. And omg I am in love!! All three are available and are $55 each. The wire is 14k solid gold.

xoxoGemGossip

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Late Summer Update from Gem Gossip

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I’ve been getting ready for a big trunk show that I’m doing up in Boston on September 7th at M. Flynn, so all the new acquisitions are killing me. So many great pieces I want to keep for myself! These three are my current favorites and I think they go SO WELL together.

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I love acquiring pieces that I’m completely obsessed with and love more and more each day–this medallion is certainly one of them! I got it from Oakgem at the show in Las Vegas this year. It is 18k yellow gold and the blue gemstone is sodalite. To my surprise, the zodiac featured is Virgo (I didn’t know it when I first got it) which is my zodiac, so it makes it even more special. Thanks to my Instagram followers who helped me figure out which zodiac it was.

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I guess I’ve been unaware how drawn I am to spheres lately. My latest purchase was this moon lamp that I can’t get enough of–I bought it from The Apollo Box, which has some really unique gift items on their site. The moon is apparently made using 3D print technology with eco-friendly materials. The photo on the right is from Instagram account @theearthsgems and I love everything about it! Look at all the variety of minerals and gems each are made of!

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I had the pleasure of viewing a brand new jewelry line called Oli and Tess, a new venture for Polly Wheatley who started designing jewelry after 15 years in the fashion industry. She received a Victorian opal ring from her husband as a gift, which sparked her love for opals. After having a daughter, she wanted to design an opal ring to celebrate her birth, which is how her line indirectly began. Her work has an heirloom quality and feel, using all hand-selected opals.

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We know how much I’m obsessed with Egyptian Revival jewelry, so this turquoise scarab collection was an awesome find! TBH it was a large pendant and one bracelet–I had my jeweler turn the bracelet into ten different pendants and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out! They will be offered for sale over on @shopGEMGOSSIP very soon!

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Some treasures I brought back from my trip to Boston in the left photo–I added a carved Jade Buddha to my charm necklace from Long’s Jewelers and these 14k yellow gold Tuck studs from e scott originals. The photo on the right is from last week at the county fair. I ate way too much fried foods (got super sick actually) and played some games. The games and the baby goats are my favorite part of the fair. Worst part of the fair: ruining your favorite sneakers and getting in the way so you end up being the reason why a sheep escapes. lol

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Some of my newest acquisitions–this Victorian black enamel ring (I think the top piece is Victorian and it was made into a ring) was a really unique find. I’m still adjusting to it and might sell it but I don’t know yet! Sometimes pieces speak to you right away, other times you have to grow to love them. I also got this ’03 date ring from Rusted Anchor Antiques and I think it pair awesome with my big diamond band and gold Saxon chain ring from Walters Faith.

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More favorites from my personal collection — two pieces I want to talk about here: the 9k yellow gold Pacman hoop earrings by Ellie Air Jewellery and the letter D Vadabet charm set with a diamond from Vada Jewelry. Loving these two pieces so much right now.

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I was working hard one day and that sometimes forces me to “disrobe” my jewelry, which is what I did. The pile of rings sitting in my windowsill against the sunlight were perfect in that moment, I had to capture it in a photo. The 1917 date ring was a cool find from Louison Rare & Fine when Angela had a 50% off sale. Yes, that’s why it is important to follow everyone closely on Instagram because you never know when someone is going to have an insane sale.

The photo on the right was snapped in the car on the way back from Kentucky after a day full of antiquing. I somehow created a new collection (not that I need to collect anymore things) which consists of little porcelain dogs. I can’t explain how the collection is not just any porcelain dog–they have to look somewhat cute/creepy in the strangest way possible. It’s a very personal collection lol. The date ring I’m wearing here is from Eddie & Rose and it may be one of my favorite date rings in my collection.

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Latest and greatest ear stack I’ve got going on, here’s what it consists of: Paige Novick ear cuff, tiny huggie hoop from Stacy Nolan Jewelry, Paige Novick‘s newest creation from her Powerful Pretty Things collection the Prism Suspender earring worn upwards, Pacman hoops from Ellie Air Jewellery. My perfect summer ear stack!!

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Seriously might be my favorite piece in my entire collection–I find it so rewarding to collect something for several years before you can finally piece it all together and make something of it. That’s exactly what my figa collection is; years of collecting and one day randomly putting it together with my gold collar from Arrow & Anchor Antiques. These things were meant for each other. And I highly recommend getting a solid gold, stiff collar necklace for your charm collection. It will change the way you wear charms!

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Here’s a fun project I did over the summer: I took these three near and dear pieces that I hardly ever wear and mashed them together to form a giant long stick pendant. I actually am obsessed with it beyond words. Each is special to me, but the tanzanite pendant is most special of all. It was the first piece of jewelry I ever bought for myself…and I was in 7th grade! I learned about Tanzanite from the home shopping channels and fell in love with the stone. I went to the one and only jewelry store in my hometown mall and found this special pendant–it was $150. That was SO much money to me back when I was 13 years old. I put it on layaway and would do chores around the house and babysit. Eventually I earned enough to buy it and I wore it all the time.

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This is just another styled look from over the summer–a jewelry look that I really liked paired with an off-the-shoulder top that I really love also. I think I’ve already gone over almost every piece that is pictured here, but if you’re wondering about something in particular, let me know!

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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!

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Doyle & Doyle Debuts Rare Collection of Antique Jewels

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Doyle & Doyle is thrilled to debut pieces from a spectacular cache of rare antique jewels, all acquired from a single collector. Including jewelry from ancient Rome, 17th century Spain, and 19th century France, these are the best examples of their type and many are hallmarked by well known jewelers. Keep reading for a sneak peek of the historic collection before it goes on exhibition at Doyle & Doyle in September.

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These exquisite micromosaic pieces date to the mid-19th century and are hallmarked for the Vatican Workshop of the Papal State.The Vatican’s mosaic studio was founded in the 16th century, its skilled artisans create artworks commissioned by wealthy patrons and pieces for the Pope to give as gifts. The Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo, Saint Peter’s Square designed by Bernini, and Raphael’s “The School of Athens” are among the many masterpieces you can discover at the Vatican. Originally founded in the 16th century, the skilled artisans working in the Vatican’s mosaic studio create pieces for the Pope to give as gifts and artworks commissioned by wealthy patrons. They also oversee and maintain the ten thousand square meters of colorful mosaics that adorn Saint Peter’s Basilica. This bangle and brooch are beautifully made, featuring glass tesserae so tiny that the designs look like paintings in shades of red, blue, green, and white. Perhaps a wealthy young man purchased them during his Grand Tour through Europe, or they were gifts to an important Church official. No matter their origin, they are little works of art that display the incredible skill of the Vatican’s workshop.

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The collection includes other ecclesiastical jewels in addition to the Vatican micromosaics, including a variety of gem-set and enameled crosses from many different periods. This striking dimensional crucifix cross is Spanish from the 17th century, detailed with enamel and engraving that resembles wood grain. Although probably not original, we love it worn on the black ribbon choker, especially when layered with antique gold guard chains. Although these are museum quality jewels, they’re definitely wearable!

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There are also charming examples of sentimental and devotional jewelry. The rose cut diamond encrusted heart hangs from a sweet rose gold dove. The diamonds are foil backed and you can see hints of pink, gold, and even green reflecting through the stones. The rare late 17th century Spanish reliquary pendant is a small compartment that holds a tiny bit of a saint’s blood. It’s backed by a hand painted figure of a female saint and framed by emeralds and garnets. This type of jewel was probably a private devotional artwork. Spain being an intensely Catholic country, people believed in the power of saints to affect their daily life. In additional to more traditional liturgy, 17th century Spaniards prayed to their personal saint to intervene and make their lives better.

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The other half of this incredible collection is comprised of museum quality Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau jewelry. The Arts & Crafts Movement was a direct response to the mechanization and poor working conditions engendered by the Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century. Adherents looked to the Middle Ages, nature, and popular folk art for inspiration, seeking to return to an idyllic time before mass production. Shying away from precious materials, Arts & Crafts jewelers favored readily available gemstones, such as garnet, amethyst, citrine, opal, and moonstone. The delicate gold pendant is British, comprised of hand wrought wirework set with bright blue turquoise and glowing moonstone.

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By the end of the century, Art Nouveau artists took the theme of nature to the next level. Art Nouveau jewelry often incorporated idealized female forms with swirling, whiplash hair framed by sensuous flora, like this striking silver mirror locket. Dating to 1900, this lovely piece is hallmarked for French jeweler Lucien Coudray. Coudray specialized in engraving medals and won several prizes for his artistry. Another popular form was a winged female with gossamer enamel wings studded with tiny gems or pearls. This statuesque dragonfly woman was created around 1900 and bears the hallmark of noted Art Nouveau jeweler, Gaston Laffitte. The light filters through the translucent green plique-a-jour enamel wings, creating a delicate stained glass effect.

This is just a small preview of the incredible historic collection – want to see it all? Doyle & Doyle is putting on a public exhibition in September. Email [email protected] for more information and to get on the invite list!

This post was contributed by Juliet Rotenberg of Doyle & Doyle, thank you!!

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

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The Ten Best Rings Currently For Sale at The Three Graces

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One of my most frequently asked questions I get is, “where do you find all these amazing vintage and antique jewels?!” And my answer may surprise you, as most would envision me scouring flea markets, old attics and the like to find things like these featured above. It might be easy for me to say ONLINE and it is totally true. Websites like The Three Graces do the hard work for you, scouting out the most unique, wearable and head-turning jewels out there and we should appreciate that! I like knowing that anytime I go on TheThreeGraces.com I can find a whole new batch of sparkly, rare, vintage and antique pieces that expert Lisa Stockhammer Mial has sourced, authenticated, cleaned up and ready for its next lifetime. They also have some pretty special perks like a “no questions asked, free return policy,” offer layaway, and most every ring can be sized to fit! And what is easier than simply logging on to a website and ogling over New Arrivals?!

I got to do just that when choosing my favorite top ten rings that are currently for sale at The Three Graces. A mix of pieces I would love to own, rings that remind me of some favorites from my personal collection, and some that I can’t believe are still available (quick, grab them before someone else does!). Let’s start from the top!

Emerald Art Deco Ring & Diamond Filigree Halo Ring

1. There’s something unique about an Art Deco ring shaped like this emerald and diamond one! Not only does it elongate the finger, but it surely gets people staring. I love how delicate yet statement-making this ring is. Set in platinum with a stunning emerald, currently a size 6.5 and ready for a finger to shine on! Price: $4,950

2. At first I thought this would make such a beautiful engagement ring but then I saw the photos created by The Three Graces with my picks and I am really loving how this ring also looks as a right hand ring! I love when rings are versatile like that and this one definitely doesn’t have a bad angle even if you tried. The center diamond is just over a half carat and has a gorgeous sparkle to it. Price: $3,650

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Deco Rock Crystal Ring & Large Moonstone Sapphire Cluster Ring

3. This ring is one of the best examples of rock crystal jewelry I’ve seen! I love the contrast of the blue sapphires along with the frostiness of the crystal and white diamond. This ring would be a perfect anniversary or birthday gift and I can almost guarantee this will get a lot of wear–it goes with everything! It is currently a size 7 1/4 and done in 14k white gold. Price: $1,350

4. If you know my personal collection as well as you know your own, you will understand why I HAD to choose this grand moonstone and sapphire ring! I have an almost identical one in my collection and the compliments that I get on it are nonstop. If you’ve been wanting to find something similar, this is it! Currently a size 5 1/2 with 2.88 carats of bright blue sapphires. Price: $4.450

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Antique Citrine Ring & Vintage Amethyst Halo Ring

5. A pop of yellow added to any outfit instantly brightens everything! That’s why I love this citrine ring so much–I quickly become happy as soon as I look at it. I think this would be an ideal ring to wear in the summer and it could easily transition to fall wardrobes and colors. This art deco ring is currently a size 4 1/2 and can be resized for its new owner. Price: $1,275

6. Purple was my favorite color for most of my childhood. Anyone lucky enough to have a February birthdate can call amethyst their birthstone and this particular ring would be perfect for you. Or if you’re like me and just love the color purple, then yes you deserve this ring too. Currently a size 8 1/4 and can be sized to your liking. Price: $1,350

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Bohemian Turquoise Ring & Bold Opal Cluster Ring

7. Turquoise is one of my most favorite gemstones–I can’t get enough of it! When most people think of turquoise, they think of Persian turquoise and although that is most desirable and valuable, I actually like when turquoise shows veining, different patterns and depth of color. This particular ring has great natural veining and I love the design–simple yet bold! The ring is done in 8k yellow gold and currently a size 6 3/4. Price: $650

8. So we all know my obsession with opals and if I didn’t have so many opal rings, THIS would be in my virtual shopping cart right now. Everything about it is amazing to me–the design (large oval cluster), the opals (a nice play-of-color that glows in the right light), and the size (big and bold). Don’t miss out on this vintage one-of-a-kind, done in 10k yellow gold. Price: $2,195

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Edwardian Diamond Heart Ring & “Four Corners” Sapphire, Diamond Ring

9. Never thought I’d be such a sucker for hearts, but I absolutely love them, especially the antique versions. This is an exceptional ring, dating back to the Edwardian period and set with rose cut diamonds in a silver topped setting. The band is done in 14k yellow gold and currently a size 5 1/2. If you love heart jewelry as much as I do, you won’t let this one slip away! Price: $3,850

10. Ok, this ring is one that will stop you dead in your tracks and I’m so in love with it! The design is really unique–The Three Graces describes it perfectly by saying, “modernist flavor with strong design elements.” The intensity of the blue sapphires is insane and it is one in a million. This ring deserves a good home that provides lots of love and care! 😉 Price: $4,450

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This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with The Three Graces.

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Antique & Vintage Engagement Rings Perfect for a Summer Proposal

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If you read articles frequently on the Internet about “the perfect time to propose” you’ll find that both jewelry stores and the general public see an up tick in proposals and engagement ring shopping around the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s). If you ask any girl awaiting that fateful question of, “will you marry me” you’ll most definitely find that to her, ANYTIME is an ideal time to propose. I personally think that the summer would be a perfect moment to get down on one knee. You could plan a summer getaway, do something fun outdoors, go to the beach…the ideas are endless–and there’s just something special about the summer that one can’t describe.

I’ve teamed up with Bailey’s Fine Jewelry to bring you some enticing engagement ring choices to create ideas for styles you may want to explore or to even find your ring for you (it could be one of these featured!). With four locations across North Carolina, Bailey’s has an incredible selection of engagement ring choices that can’t be beat. And if perhaps you want something vintage or antique, they also specialize in that category as well, which is what we’re going to be focusing on! These rings have just been acquired and have just gotten their close-ups. Now the last step for them is to get slipped onto a forever finger. Will it be yours?

Alternative Elongated Antique Styles

One of my favorite antique styles is this elongated look, which I think makes such a stunning engagement ring choice. These will make anyone do a double take, especially if you want a bold look. Who says all engagement rings need to be a single stone? There are so many different styles with this design–some more scalloped than others, some more floral in design, others very geometric and pointy. All these below would make great choices. You can shop and get more info on each by clicking directly on each photo.

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Fancy Floral Alternative Choices

Flowers are more than just a pretty plant–they are highly symbolic, especially in vintage and antique jewelry and are timeless choices for an engagement ring. Every wedding includes a gorgeous bouquet, but the sad part is that bouquet will die. I have mine sitting at the top of my closet, collecting dust and I’m unsure if I should throw it out or keep it. With a flower arrangement worn on your finger made of diamonds, you never have to worry about it dying! Below are some wonderful choices if you’re into floral engagement rings–click on the photos to get more info and pricing.

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Bring Back the Band

For a sleek, easy going engagement ring style that is can be worn every day, a simple band style is becoming quite popular. The wider style allows you to not have to wear a wedding band–so a two-in-one kind of ring is a smart choice for many. The vintage styles above showcase diamonds and design styles unlike any solitaire you’ll find and it is the unique patterns that often draw people to this choice. You can shop the below styles by clicking on the photos!

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Add a Splash of Color

Sometimes an all-diamond look is not for everyone. Some women prefer color and live colorful lives – and so should their engagement ring! Lucky for you, gemstones come in all sorts of colors, and with an educated choice, you can find the perfect stone for you. Whether you are a lover of pinks, greens, blues or even orange, vintage and antique jewelry utilize lots of stone examples, and the possibilities are endless. When choosing softer stones, be aware that you shouldn’t wear them everyday! Below are some great examples and if you click on the photos you can shop each one!

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This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Bailey’s Fine Jewelry.

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