Ten Facts You Didn’t Know About Engagement Rings

DiamondEngagementRings

History of Engagement Rings

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

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

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

Diamond Rings

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

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

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

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

Alternative Engagement Rings

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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Why Some Gemstones Make Terrible Engagement Rings

Some Gems Make Terrible Engagement Rings | Gem Gossip

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

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

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

Why Won’t Some Gemstones Work?

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

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

How Does the Mohs Scale Figure Out Hardness?

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

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

Why Diamonds are Forever

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

What Stones are the Absolute Worst for Engagement Rings?

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

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

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

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

Best Engagement Ring Stones Other Than Diamonds:

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

Here are some of my favorite alternative engagement ring stones:

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

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

This post was contributed by:

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

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

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

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

See the Anthony Lent website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Jacquie Aiche website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Suzanne Kalan website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Tara Hirshberg website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Arik Kastan website here.


Couture 2017

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

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How to Clean Antique Jewelry: The Important Do’s & Don’ts

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For anyone that’s unfamiliar, antique jewelry is any piece of jewelry that is more than 100 years old. That’s a lot of years for dirt to collect under gemstones, metal to patina, and for grime to take away from the inherent beauty of the heirloom. It’s tempting to pick up a polishing cloth and buff away years of unwanted residue. But wait! Before you do that…

There is a right way and a wrong way to clean antique jewelry. We’ve compiled some basic do’s and don’ts you must know before you potentially ruin your investment.

*Remember, this is a general guide for fine antique jewelry. Some antique jewelry like cameos or hair jewelry require special care beyond what is listed here.

D O N ‘ T


1. Polish away patina on old rose or yellow gold jewelry

Patina is something that takes years to form. Some reproduction jewelry will actually try to fake this patina in order to make an item appear older than it is. For Georgian and Victorian jewelry, it’s important not to go overboard with polishing. You don’t want the yellow gold to be so light and shine like the day it was made.

Be careful if you’re having your rings resized by someone not familiar with antique jewelry. The tendency is to take rings to a high polish once the sizing is done. Advise them only to lightly polish the portion where the gold has been added or taken away on the bottom of the ring shank.

2. Use ultrasonic machines

There are times when it is okay to put antique jewelry into an ultrasonic machine for a very quick clean, and I mean quick. But to err on the side of caution, avoid using them altogether. If you have a platinum and diamond engagement ring from the 1920’s, an ultrasonic machine might be okay if the stones are tight and the prongs are in good shape. Most of the time though, the subtle but intense vibrations from these machines can do more harm than good.

3. Submerge jewelry for a long period

Liquid can be detrimental to some antique jewelry, especially jewelry with cameos, opals, seed pearls, or any other soft stone. For fragile jewelry, it’s best not to completely saturate the piece with liquid at all. Instead, lightly clean with a damp brush or cloth.

4. Clean with harsh chemicals like ammonia

The internet will often tell you how wonderful ammonia is for making your diamonds shine. This might work (in moderation) for new jewelry, but antique jewelry deserves a much gentler approach. Avoid harsh detergents, ammonia, and please never use household cleaners containing bleach!

D O


1. Make a gentle cleaning solution

Sometimes the best way to clean your antique jewelry is by making your own DIY cleaning solution. Most jewelry cleaners you find in the store will cost you a lot more money and may not even be as effective. They may even contain harsh chemicals.

To make your own solution, mix lukewarm water with a small amount of mild soap like Dove until it is sudsy. The key here is in the cleaning technique, not necessarily in the solution.

2. Use a soft toothbrush and lint free cloth

Once you make your solution, it’s time to clean your antique jewelry. You’ll either submerge the item for a few minutes to loosen grime, or if your item contains soft stones, you lightly dampen your toothbrush. Before you begin, make sure no stones are loose.

Then, gently brush your jewelry, paying attention to areas like underneath the stone and underneath the prongs. Use slow circular motions using only light pressure. If the piece is extremely dirty, don’t be tempted to use more pressure; instead, implement more patience. Submerge your jewelry into the solution again (if your jewelry can handle it) then gently repeat, repeat, repeat.

3. Make sure to rinse and dry thoroughly

You don’t want to give fragile jewelry a bath, but you want to be sure you remove any soap residue that might build up and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning your jewelry. Run the jewelry under lukewarm water and pat dry. For rings, take a polishing cloth and very lightly buff the shank, avoiding any area near stones or engravings. Let jewelry completely dry before putting it away.

4. Have the right expectations

Antique jewelry is never meant to look new. If this is your intention when cleaning jewelry, think again. Sure, you want to remove dirt, grime, bacteria, and all that other gross stuff. But you don’t want to take away years of character and patina. Is there a scratch in the gold? Leave it, don’t have it buffed away. Is the gold too dark for your liking? Consider a more modern replica like those from Arik Kastan instead.

How do you clean your antique jewelry? Any tips I missed? Let us know in the comments.

This post was contributed by:

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

Source: GossipGem.com

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Gem Gossip Visits Gem Jewelry Boutique in Chicago, IL

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Bracelets: Pascale Monvoisin 9k wire bracelet, Black wrap bracelet

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

the storefront of Gem Jewelry Boutique with its beautiful gold leaf

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Necklaces: Gem Token black diamond peace sign necklace, Emilie Shapiro watermelon tourmaline + pink sapphire necklace, Emilie Shapiro moonstone + sapphire necklace

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

I love the vignettes that tell a story; displays that speak louder than words

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Some Ruth Tomlinson, Megan Thorne, Gem Token, Satomi Kawakita rings stacked on stacked — shop rings

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Gold elements, mirrors and a window of sunlight; some of my favorite parts of Gem

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Earrings: Ten Thousand Things 18k gold bead dangles, moonstone & diamond stud earrings by Gem Token

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

I love how every piece is displayed! Love the pieces of recycled leather to display the earrings

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Ear piercing parties are one of Gem’s newest additions–because all these studs need to be worn!

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Earrings: Gabriela Artigas Asymmetrical Orbital earring, Lip studs, wwake small chain earrings

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Lips velvet pouch zipper bag on the left, Variance Objects stud earrings + ring on the right!

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

“Get Lucky” Figa by Pascale Monvoisin

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

“Dope” “Mama” “Boss” bracelets by Zoe Chicco (these also come in necklaces)

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Not only does Gem sell jewelry, but other lifestyle products like candles, bags, scarves, & home goods

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Necklaces: Gem Token black diamond peace sign necklace, Emilie Shapiro watermelon tourmaline + pink sapphire necklace, Emilie Shapiro moonstone + sapphire necklace

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

owner of Gem, Laura Kitsos and myself

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Rings: rough ruby by Emilie Shapiro, twin tourmaline ring by Margaret Solow, watermelon tourmaline + pink sapphire ring by Emilie Shapiro —- moonstone + sapphire ring by Emilie Shapiro, tourmalated quartz ring by Margaret Solow, opal + pink sapphire ring by Emilie Shapiro

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

The interior of the store was done by Laura’s husband who is a general contractor

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

I love how everything stacks and coordinates perfectly together–lots of different designers shown here!

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

Our last stop before heading home from our quick but amazing #JewelryRoadTrip to Chicago was Gem Jewelry Boutique, located a few minutes outside of Chicago in Oak Park. I had to see for myself Laura’s talked about and infamous curating skills–both jewelry-wise and display-wise. She is undeniably talented when it comes to putting things together, whether it is an entire store, a single display, an outfit, or a jewelry look. Gem has been open for nearly 13 years, with four different locations over the years. Most recently they moved to a new location which opened in June of 2015 and is what you’re seeing in the photos above. It is Laura’s most favorite location out of the four she has had, and as you can see, rightfully so! Laura says, “I wanted this location to invoke a sophisticated, calming environment yet with the slight edginess that depicts Gem’s image.”

The storefront is a beautiful jewel in its own right (I love the gold-leaf on the windows) and when you walk through the front door, you are immediately met with the open and airiness of the space. It proves to be an ideal jewelry showroom. The gems and jewelry sparkle in the sunlight, and the dark gray walls with mirrored and gold accents make you feel like you’re actually inside a jewelry box. The custom sliding cases and the large cabinet against the wall were all created specially for the space, thanks to Laura’s husband Michael. Another very sentimental addition to the store--the giant antique gold mirror–which was restored and outfitted with back-lighting, was essentially a wedding present from Michael, but ended up being the perfect focal point for the store. And I can agree! I love the mirror…and I can attest to the fact that jewelry stores NEED mirrors. I think they are essential!

Laura hadn’t always been on a clear path to opening a jewelry boutique from the beginning. She was actually the one designing and creating jewelry, teaching herself along the way, taking a couple metalsmithing classes and being inspired. This was back in 1995 when she lived in Portland, Oregon. Before that, it was her grandmother Lucile, who lived to be 101 years old, who infused a passion for jewelry in Laura from a very young age. Laura reminisces, “Each time I’d see her, she’d take me into her bedroom and on the bed we’d lay out all her boxes and jewelry while she told me the story behind each piece. It was heaven to me! And at the end, she’d always give me a piece. I learned how jewelry tells a story.”

One fateful day, Laura strolled into Twist in Portland and had an epiphany. In 2004 her first store opened, mainly selling her own designs and some vintage pieces. It goes without saying that the store has evolved very much over the years, especially beginning with what is featured. About two years into having the store, Laura attended a market show in NYC and a whole new world opened up before her eyes. She became passionate about supporting and learning about other designers, especially women artisans. Laura says, “Over the years, the store has evolved in that we now carry more designers than ever and I am focusing on a finer brand. The price point has risen over the years because I am carrying designers that are reputable, unique and are not mass producing their work. I appreciate “hand made” jewelry and especially jewelry made by women. I try to curate with that point of view.”

Designers like Vale Jewelry, Brooke Gregson, Emilie Shapiro, Blanca Monros Gomez, Arik Kastan, Megan Thorne, wwake, and Ruth Tomlinson are favorites and staples amongst Gem’s lineup. One of their newest additions, Pascale Monvoisin was an Instagram discovery for the store–which proves to designers that you can be discovered on social media! Although the mix of designers is eclectic and spans different countries and different continents, they all flow together and are able to be styled easily for a cohesive look because of Laura’s eye. You may see Gem Token as one of the designers featured several times in the photos above–that is the store’s own line of jewelry! Gem is also really excited about adding a few more brands to their roster, including Rusty Thought which is coming soon!

I loved visiting Gem and if you’re in the Chicago area, you are lucky to have such a great local jewelry store! Whatever your jewelry needs are or if you need a special gift, you will leave happy. I loved seeing a few customers come into the store while I was there and each person had a better day because they chose to come inside Gem. I know I sure did!

GemJewelryBoutique

135 North Oak Park Avenue

Oak Park, IL 60301

Phone: 708-386-8400

www.shopgemjewelry.com

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Just in Time for Easter: Fabergé Eggs from A La Vieille Russie

ALVR | Faberge

Miniature white enamel egg set with a red enamel coin of Elizabeth I and four cushion-cut sapphires. By Fabergé, ca. 1895.

ALVR | Faberge

Miniature egg with white enamel stripes and set with a turquoise. By Fabergé , workmaster A. Hollming, ca. 1900.

ALVR | Faberge

A jouré yellow and green gold egg, punctuated with rose diamonds around the center. By Fabergé , workmaster A. Hollming, ca. 1900.

ALVR | Faberge

A two-color gold-mounted egg-form aventurine quartz hand seal on brilliant translucent green enamel base. By Faberge, St. Petersburg, ca. 1900.

Legendary Fabergé eggs–eggs so popular, that almost everyone knows what you’re talking about when you mention their name. For me, these were my first obsession above all other types of jewelry. I remember going to my local public library and wanting to check out a book on making crafts out of egg cartons–I saw the recommendation on Reading Rainbow! Instead, I found my way to a book on Fabergé eggs and was infatuated. In fact, for the first time in my life, I loved the book so much I never returned it. I didn’t care it was wrong because this book lit up my life! My second run in with Fabergé eggs happened when I was in high school. I became obsessed with watching Joan Rivers on QVC and admired her love of Fabergé eggs. Back then, she had created her own jewelry line with bundles of three eggs per chain of her own miniature versions of “Fabergé eggs.” I ordered my first trio of eggs and was hooked. I can’t remember how many I collected over the next few years, but after graduating college, I was able to pay for my trip to study abroad from selling my Joan Rivers Egg Collection. It was quite a few. I honestly wish I still had those eggs, but I wouldn’t trade my overseas experience for anything!

It is no myth that Fabergé eggs are enchanting, often mysterious, and full of intrigue. If you were married to a Russian tsar, the ideal Easter gift would be a Fabergé egg designed by none other than Carl Fabergé himself. The first ever Fabergé egg was made in 1885 and presented to Alexander III. Since then, it varies as to how many are apparently out there, but some sources say 65 Imperial eggs were made, some say 50, some say 52, but it is known that only 43 have survived–there is a really comprehensive table that describes each, citing where the egg is now. A few are cited as “Lost” and it is with lots of hope that they will be recovered someday.

ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge

Circular aquamarine and diamond Imperial Presentation brooch with an Imperial crown decoration. By Fabergé, workmaster A. Hollming, St. Petersburg, ca. 1913.

Natural pearl and diamond floral brooch with blue enamel border. By Fabergé, Moscow, 1896-1908.

ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge

Diamond and green garnet necklace mounted in platinum. By Fabergé, ca. 1900.

Natural pearl ruby and diamond necklace set in platinum and gold. By Fabergé, ca.1900.

ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge

Fabergé gold-mounted lozenge-form brooch, set with diamonds and red enamel wreath over white guilloché enamel ground. By Fabergé, St. Petersburg, ca 1890.

Lozenge brooch with a central cabochon moonstone, set with rose diamonds, and white enamel. By Fabergé, workmaster A. Hollming, St. Petersburg, ca. 1900.

Fabergé eggs created for the general public, not just zsars, continued being the company’s most popular pieces. In the year 1900, the House of Fabergé was completed which literally was a large building which centralized all the operations–bringing together workshops, artisans, a design department, even Carl Fabergé’s own place of residence, in one large building. Throughout the turn-of-the-century, Fabergé turned out elaborate pieces of jewelry, decorative drinking cups and bowls, items for writing, miniature hardstone animals, a wide variety of photo frames (as Kodak launched its first camera), and much, much more. He employed hundreds of craftsmen under conditions that were very superior, with great pay. As success continued, expansion happened, until the first World War broke out in 1914. The House of Fabergé lost a lot of workers to the draft, precious metals were haulted to use, so the items that were produced during this time were created from materials like copper, nephrite, brass, and silver. Carl Fabergé ultimately fled Russia and died in 1920.

Many of the pieces of jewlery and decorative arts which Fabergé created during its height of success are highly collectible. A La Vieille Russie, a shop in NYC, has specialized in Fabergé since opening in 1961. You’ll be amazed by these authentic, one-of-a-kind Fabergé items, including some eggs that ALVR currently has in their inventory. If you haven’t read the blog post featuring my visit to ALVR, you must! Here is the link.

ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge

White enamel and two-color gold hanging bellpush. Contained in original fitted hollywood box. By Fabergé, St. Petersburg, workmaster H. Wigström, ca. 1915.

Carved two-color jasper miniature egg in the form of a Kingfisher with diamond eyes. By Fabergé, Moscow, ca. 1900.

Gold-mounted brilliant pink guilloché enamel egg-form pendant locket, the opening set with rose diamonds. By Fabergé, workmaster M. Perchin. St. Petersburg, ca. 1895.

Anyway, I thought the quick history on Fabergé paired with some pieces that are available would make my readers very happy on Easter! Hope you enjoyed!

Works Cited:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabergé_egg

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts app called Fabergé at VMFA

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with A La Vieille Russie.

ALVR

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Leslie of @PinkPirahnah

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This month’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from someone I’ve actually met in person, which doesn’t happen too often since so many people from our lovely Instagram community are from all parts of the world. Leslie came to the GIA Alumni meeting when I spoke in DC last summer and I recognized her right away because of the opal ring she was wearing! Funny how sometimes that happens. It has been fun getting to know her on Instagram and am so excited she agreed to share her personal collection story with us–take it away Leslie:

“I am a total museum junky by nature and my love for classical art and history runs deep. However, jewelry as art was not on my radar until about 12 years ago when I found my first vintage piece, the pretzel ring. Yes, I had a few token pieces of mall jewelry but I never really thought there was much substance to jewelry until I discovered the vintage and antique world. A golden pretzel with diamond salt appealed to my sense of humor and art. It was also meaningful to me as a Speech Pathologist working with my special needs children on requesting items, one of those items was actually pretzels! I can’t tell you how many kiddos have actually tried to lick it over the years! This one ring started an obsession but also introduced me to my friend Lara from Icon Style in NYC. I learned so much from her over the next few years and with her help I really grew my collection and love for all eras.

My current collection includes Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau. Art Deco, Vintage and a few Georgian pieces. I don’t necessarily have a preferred era but I think the biggest appeal of antique and vintage jewelry is how unique and detailed the pieces can be. Color is a big factor for me but most importantly I like quirk. If it’s funny or unique, I have to have it! I love to mix and match eras and pile it on pretty thick. Certainly, no one would accuse me of neglecting my jewelry.

One thing I wear every day is obviously my Art Deco engagement ring. I had always assumed I would get a Victorian cluster ring but when I tried this piece on I fell hard for its lively black opal.

The one motif that I am magnetically drawn to is snakes. I can spot a serpent in a jewelry case like a shark scenting blood in the water. In fact, I found my tiny snake earrings despite their purposely discreet location in my friend’s display case. In the histories of various civilizations, snakes have come to symbolize many ideas but my favorite is that of eternal love. Symbolism aside, snakes have the unique visual impact that I find hard to resist.

Charms are another obsession I have. I try to limit myself but I just love some of the funny and super detailed pieces you can find. My favorite charm is my vintage gold ghost. He is perfectly crafted and has the most beautiful brown marquise diamond eyes that peek from behind his sheet.

Another style of jewelry I desperately love is Art Deco era “pools of light.” Layering these rock crystal orbs is addictive but also causes some serious neck strain. I have several pieces but the most interesting one is a rock crystal orb the size of a jaw breaker. It is completely encased in an open silver work shell depicting bunnies paddling in canoes.

Rings are my go-to to buy and again I don’t discriminate. I collect a variety of stones, styles, and metals. One thing I don’t like to do is size my rings. I have a few exceptions but in general I try not to alter the finger bling that comes into my collection. If one is too big I simply stack it with gold bands to adjust the fit.

When I was first collecting I would shop at Icon Style in NYC and I would go to all the big NYC shows religiously. Having relocated to the DMV area I have had more opportunities to go to antiquing in rural areas but also go to the bigger shows like the DC flea and the Baltimore Antique Show. I don’t shop online much but I have found several lovely pieces through the Instagram community.”

xoxoGemGossip

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You can follow Leslie –> @pinkpirahnah

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Buying Vintage Engagement Rings

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So you know that she wants a vintage engagement ring, but what now? This handy and comprehensive guide, written by the experts at Estate Diamond Jewelry will hopefully shed some light on a journey fraught with potential pitfalls for the uninformed, and make the whole process much easier than it otherwise might be.

A Quick Rundown on the Vintage Eras

We believe that understanding the vintage jewelry eras is very important. These terms are repeated endlessly throughout the vintage jewelry scene, and recognizing the vintage jewelry eras is the first step to beginning to understand vintage jewelry.

The Victorian Era spanned from 1836 – 1901

Victorian-Rings

The Edwardian Era spanned from 1901 – 1915

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The Art Deco Era spanned from 1920 – 1939

Art-Deco-Rings

The Retro Era spanned from 1935 – 1950

Retro-Rings

The earliest era is the Georgian Era, spanning from 1714 – 1835, unfortunately, there aren’t many genuine Georgian Rings available on the market anymore. Most of the genuine Georgian rings are not in a stable enough condition to wear on a daily basis. The Art Nouveau Era, spanned from 1895 – 1910, and partially overlapped the Victorian and Edwardian Era. The Art Nouveau designs and motifs however, didn’t really lend themselves to be easily adapted to the traditional vintage engagement ring. The rings shown above can be found here.

The Four C’s and Diamond Quality

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The Four ‘C’s of diamond classification are Carat (size), Clarity (flawlessness), Color (how “white” it is) and Cut (the quality of the cut and how the finished stone appears). A reputable dealer will happily go over each of these with you for any stone that catches your eye. Even if you have a modest budget, it is important that you feel comfortable and have a good understanding of the stone that you are interested in.

Also, bear in mind that compromising in one area will get you a strength in another. If size is important to you, you may have to compromise on clarity or color to find a diamond within your budget.

The Classes of Diamonds

Carat – The larger the number the heavier the diamond weighs. One carat weighs 200 mg.

Color – The whiteness of the diamond. The whitest diamonds are ranked as a D. The diamonds get more yellow as the letters move closer to Z.

Clarity – The clarity of a diamond ranges from F (no inclusions), IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2, and I3 (included).

Cut – The cut measures the perfection of the facets of the diamond. There are four standard rankings: excellent, very good, good, and fair. (Please note that antique diamonds tend to rank lower on this scale because they were cut by hand.)

For a comprehensive walk-through on everything that you need to know about diamonds, click here.

Determining Antique Diamonds

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Determining the age of a diamond accurately is very hard, even for experts, but we can give you a few tips to help you at least determine if the diamond is old.

  • The culet. If you look down the center of the diamond and see a culet (a rounded facet at the bottom) there likelyhood of the diamond being old is extremely high.
  • The table. The table is the flat surface at the top of the diamond. Current GIA standards favor a larger table surface. Older diamonds will usually have much smaller tables.
  • The girdle. A frosted girdle is good indicator that the diamond is old.

For more information on dating antique diamonds and why antique diamonds are treasured, click here.

The Style and Design

Most people have heard the term “solitaire ring” without ever really fully understanding what it means. A solitaire ring is simply a ring with a single stone, usually but not exclusively a diamond, and has become an iconic representation of an engagement ring. But solitaires, as popular as they have become in recent years are just one in an almost endless array of designs for engagement rings.

There are several popular periods for antique engagement rings, many of which have gone on to influence modern day designs significantly. One of the most important periods for design generally, and which had a terrific impact on ring design was the Art Deco period of the early 20th Century. Art Deco is demonstrated by symmetrical, even at times quite aggressive designs that lend themselves perfectly to drawing the eye to the diamond of the engagement ring.

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Considered a little more “edgy” that earlier style periods, both in construction and intent, the symmetry of engagement rings from this period manages to stay clear of straying into what might otherwise have been early “bling” by the considered cut and placement of the stones. It isn’t unusual to see a center diamond surrounded by a pavement of small sapphires or rubies, or even other diamonds. This can allow the center diamond to be a little smaller and, therefore, a little less expensive whilst appearing bigger than it really is.

The fact is, though, that style is a very personal thing. Find something you like, and then ask yourself will your future fiancé like it. Actually looking at her current ring collection before you start shopping, or the ones she wears at least, will give you some idea of what to look for. If she has rings she wears all the time, don’t be afraid to look for an engagement ring that might compliment them, whether by color or design.

Platinum is the metal of choice for the band of the ring, due to it being hypoallergenic, but the choices extend to gold in many colors, giving a wide range of choices. Antique rings from the Victorian Era will very likely have silver in them as well.

To understand a little bit more about vintage motifs and styles, click here.

The Budget

Only you can decide how much your budget should be. Of all the questions that you and your fiancée will be asked about the ring, “How much was it” won’t – or at least shouldn’t – be one of them. As long as you stay within your budget, don’t be drawn into overpaying for a ring just so that you can brag about the cost.

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If your fiancée is really the one for you, you could put an old beer can ring pull on her finger and it wouldn’t matter. (Don’t do that, by the way, the tactic only works in movies.) Leave the cost boasts to the celebrities.

De Beers, the diamond mining and dealing giant first coined the phrase “A month’s salary that lasts a lifetime” to boost sales within a falling diamond market during the lean years of the 1930s. They upgraded it to “Two month’s salary…” by the 1980s, so it seems their campaign paid off.

So is two month’s salary a fair price? It all depends.

Will it be a single solitaire diamond, or one with more stones in the setting? Will it have different stones such as sapphires or rubies as well as the diamonds. How big will the stones be? What will the quality of the stones and the setting be?

Any one of them can make a huge difference to the cost of the ring. The key is NOT to see the vintage ring as an investment, although it will more than likely rise in value, but to see it as part of your life story. A permanent, irrefutable element in a story that now involves two people.

Set your budget and have a cast iron determination to stay within it. Or at least within 20% of the top end if you see something you really like. Whether this is two month’s salary or just enough so you can eat this week makes no difference. The main thing is to find a ring that you’ll both love. An engagement ring isn’t just a piece of jewelry, it is the guardian of a treasured moment that you will share forever.

Quality and Assurances

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This is where finding a reputable dealer with a sound background and credentials becomes crucial.

Most vintage engagement rings will have one primary (and possibly many accenting) diamonds within the setting. As mentioned above, diamonds come in a wide range of qualities and, by extension, values. The best diamonds sell for very high prices and have lots of nuances, but that doesn’t mean lower valued stones should be overlooked.

To all but the practised eye of an expert, many of the internal flaws and color tints that lower some value from the stone will be all but undetectable to an untrained eye, even yours. A trained and honest salesperson should be able to navigate you along the path, educating you along the way, and helping you make this important decision.

Certifications and Insurance

If you have a budget that allows you to consider a diamond in excess of 1 carat, you should get a certification or appraisal into the grading of the stone. These are independently produced and certify the quality of the diamond should you need it at any point for insurance or other purposes.

Speaking of insurance, make sure you get the right level of cover for the ring you buy. There are specialist jewelry insurers as well as cover being usually available from your home and contents insurer. Have the ring re-valued every couple of years and make sure you upgrade the cover if needed. Not that the emotional value of an engagement ring can ever be measured, but loss and damage does happen and a “free” replacement is better than paying twice.

For more information on how to insure your jewelry, click here.

A Final Thought

The value of an engagement ring can’t just be measured in dollars, it’s far too important to simply be a financial thing. What it signifies is a partnership that is taking a significant step forward and which will define you both for decades to come. Above all else, buy an engagement ring that shows the purchase wasn’t just about you. We all like, and need, to feel appreciated so keep that in mind when you make the single biggest “I appreciate you” statement of your life.

This post was written and brought to you by Estate Diamond Jewelry.

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Thanks to Gossip Gem

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The Ten Best Vintage Engagement Rings from Trumpet & Horn

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Instagram Tips & Advice for the Jewelry Industry

Instagram hacks and advice from Gem Gossip

Probably my most asked question is always in regards to Instagram–what are my biggest tips, how does one utilize hashtags efficiently, when is the best time to post, what type of content is most engaging? From large companies to small tech blogs, I’ve given my two cents all over the place, yet the questions still remain. So, rather than regurgitating my advice time and time again, I’ve decided to create this blog post. It now lives on my site so it can act as a reference, a place to turn to, a link you share and advice you take seriously. This will also make my life easier because the next time someone from such-and-such publication emails me to ask for tips on how jewelry stores and designers can use Instagram, all I have to do now is send them this hyperlink! 😉 So here are my top pieces of advice, in no particular order!

1. The point of Instagram is VISUAL–it is rooted in the concept of photo-sharing, so that idea must be the first and foremost important aspect of how YOU should utilize Instagram. Post photos that are visually appealing…be picky about it…and create your own idea of how you want your jewelry store, jewelry line or designs to be portrayed. Vibrant photos, edited photos, YES! Never post a blurry photo! Never add so many filters you can’t seem to remember what the photo originally looked like! (When I mention edited photos, please be aware that there is a healthy balance of editing–overly edited photos are not good either!) You most definitely should crop…you most definitely should remove those jewelry store tags…and you most definitely should ask someone for help if you don’t know how to do any of those things!

Gem Gossip

This photo above is a typical “Gem Gossip” photo I would post on Instagram–it is visually appealing, makes someone stop from scrolling to get a better look and features what I’m passionate about.

2. Posting consistently may be the biggest piece of advice I can give. I’ve done this since day one of signing up for Instagram and couldn’t stress enough how important it is. This not only keeps your followers engaged but keeps them wanting and coming back for more! If you are a jewelry designer or store, I would recommend at least once per day. If you choose once per day, a designated time which you continually post may be the key so followers know and expect something from you. I post at least four times per day, maybe a little less on the weekends, or more if something exciting is going on.

3. Use relevant hashtags! Figuring this out is easy–find other accounts that you would consider “successful” in the jewelry industry and take a look at what hashtags they are using. Also take a look at what you are posting and figure out the main keywords that describe it, then use those as hashtags–for example: are you posting a photo of an emerald ring? Then use hashtag emerald or hashtag emerald ring. So– #emerald #emeraldring

But beware! My pet peeve is overuse of hashtags. I would advise no more than ten hashtags per photo. Most people don’t agree with me, but I think too many hashtags looks sloppy.

The hashtag I created #showmeyourrings is very popular and should be used when posting a photo of lots of rings! I’ve noticed some people using it for every picture they post!! That’s so not right! With that said, use hashtags purposefully, not simply copy/paste a list of 20+ popular hashtags. I’ve seen selfies with the hashtag #showmeyourrings lol not cool.

Gem Gossip

Another typical “Gem Gossip” photo I would post on Instagram–in terms of hashtags, I would first and foremost use #showmeyourrings then maybe #antiquerings #ringsofinstagram and throw in #personalcollection so people know they are not for sale.

4. Interact and engage with your followers! Again, another reason and main purpose of this app: to connect with others that have the same passion as you. Before I signed up for Instagram, I had been writing my blog for several years and had a few friends who I connected with through email. We both shared a passion for antique jewelry and were in our 20s at the time…a very small group of people fit this description and I wished/hoped for more people out there to connect with. Once I established myself on Instagram, I found so many others who love antique jewelry just as much as myself. I got really excited. It became a place where we all could “gather” and share our interests openly and connect on many levels–we became our own little community.

With that said, interaction in the sincerest form is amazing and much needed on Instagram. Sure there are those out there who like to comment/like every post possible in order to gain followers, not friends…but those who truly ask questions, comment sincerely–those are the people whom you need to be engaging with!

If you are a jewelry store or designer and someone asks, “what stone is that?” or “is this piece still available?” make sure to answer in a timely manner! Sometimes I see jewelry store accounts where no one has responded and it has been several days, even weeks,with no response and that makes me sad. Such a missed opportunity for displaying customer service in a virtual atmosphere, which may be just as important as greeting someone who walks into your store. Don’t miss those opportunities!

Gem Gossip

A perfect example of how to make a sale through Instagram: I posted these three pendants each individually on my feed and received lots of likes/feedback but no one actually purchased them. A few months later, I posted THIS PHOTO ABOVE with the same items styled, shown worn, and they sold within hours.

5. If you want to include parts of your personal life into your feed it is a great way to connect even further with your followers. I like to include my two dogs into the mix of jewelry posts. I used to post LOTS of personal photos, but overtime realized that that’s not what my followers were following me for–they want to see the jewelry! With that said, sometimes too many personal photos, selfies, or party photos can steer your brand in the wrong direction. Have a good balance of this by making sure what you’re selling or focusing on always comes first.

Well, I hope these five tips help give you a general idea of the most important pieces of advice I could give. The Instagram app is pivotal for the jewelry industry because it is so visual. Find ways to make it your own and work for you!

>> If you have any questions, feel free to email hello@gemgossip.com

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? You may also enjoy all my Inspiration Boards I’ve created over the years.

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