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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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

The Three Graces | Gem Gossip The Three Graces | Gem Gossip

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! ūüėČ Price: $4,450

The Three Graces | Gem Gossip The Three Graces | Gem Gossip

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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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.

VALE_SandiaPeakABQ VALE_TentsNationalPark

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.

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Why Are Crystals & Healing Crystals So Popular Right Now?

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

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

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

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

1. Crystals Are Helpful Meditative Aids:

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

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

2. Healing Crystals Lend to Personalized Spiritual Practices:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Crystal Items You Can Shop:

Crystal Gifts | Gem Gossip

Crystals – Paperback by Jennie Harding

Agate Bookends

Crystal Cluster Amethyst Art

Wellness Gem-Water Bottle by VitaJuwel

Green and Blue Mineral Art Print

This post was contributed by:

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

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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