Q & A with Heather B. Moore Jewelry

Heather B. Moore

Heather B. Moore’s story starts with love, laughter and family…and fittingly, just as her jewelry often depicts those words both literally and figuratively, she has brought personalization of jewelry to the highest level. After viewing the video displayed below, you see just how hands-on and multi-faceted her business has become. This interview also touches upon how it all came to be, in the most innocent of ideas and forms. Sometimes we are destined for a certain path and it seems as though Heather was meant to bring memories, quotes and cherished words to life through her jewelry designs. Each piece is heavily sentimental and often instant tear-jerkers. As jewelry enthusiasts, we know how special a personalized piece can be–but how about one that is in the exact handwriting of a loved one? Or an exact doodle from your once 5-year-old son or daughter? I know if and when I start a family, Heather B. Moore‘s designs will be first on my list for a little keepsake!

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We are currently developing an exciting new series based on personal empowerment called the Sculptural Series. Its foundation stems from personalized themes people were requesting for their designs, which usually fell into four common categories: strength, growth, wisdom, and healing. With that as our guide, we started the Sculptural Series to capture moments that feel personal while complementing our other designs.

While we are only launching with a limited selection, this is just the beginning. The world is full of wonderful symbols that have meaningful messages, and Heather B. Moore jewelry is excited to add more sculptural jewelry to the collection in the future.

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip

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I only took one jewelry class in college. At the time my focus was cast glass, Venetian glass blowing, and steel work. My sister Wendy was an anthropology major and had moved to Kathmandu, Nepal where she lived with a jeweler’s family. That’s where I started getting interested in what she was doing! After college, I was working for an artist welding large-scale art installations across the country for Judy Pfaff. On the weekends, my sister Wendy used to ask me to make jewelry for fashion shows and low-budget movies in Los Angeles.

I started off doing chain work and handmade chain, which we still do today. I also integrated glass beads and stones within the chain, and while we still integrate stones into our chain, we moved away from glass beads to focus on precious stones.

In 2004, I started offering personalization on a number of pieces and everything grew from there. Our personalized collection was created on the foundation that timeless designs start with a blank canvas for our customers, then we collaborate to create the perfect piece. We have the capacity to create the steel stamps of people’s handwriting and children’s drawings as well as a wide variety of fonts and layouts.

I started collecting tools when I was 13. I grew up in the steel industry of Cleveland and loved going to my dad’s factories, so craftsmanship was something that I related to.

The first steel tooling stamps that I purchased were from a garage sale at an old machinist’s house. I carried those stamps around with me for 15 years before knew what to do with them! In 1991, I pulled out those stamps and decided to integrate quotes from my friends and family. I stamped them out onto the silver plaques and then framed it with a handmade cast glass frame.

In 1997, my sister Wendy was in a skiing accident and passed away. Before she passed I stamped a quote she gave me into a piece of metal: “I said to my sister and she said to me, come let’s play laughter together.” I remember loving the quote so much that I took the plaque with her quote off the wall, and I put it in my wallet. To this day I look at it and it makes me smile.

After moving back to Cleveland and receiving the Rising Star Award from the JCK trade show, I had an interview with Real Simple Magazine about why a designer from NYC would move to Cleveland.

During the interview the writer asked a series of silly questions like, “what kind of hair care products do I use?” and, “what is in your purse?” At first I was a little confused, but I pulled out my wallet and got the plaque of my sister’s quote, and they loved it. They photographed it and used it as the focal point of the article.

At the time, I was designing for bigger companies like Banana Republic and I was getting tired of doing trendy jewelry that was “in” one season and “out” the next. I thought it was interesting that they loved the little plaque so much, and that made me think about the unique stamps that I had in the basement, and I knew I wanted to make something for myself. So, I stamped my kids names on some silver discs, framed them in gold, and I created my first personalized necklace.

I fell in love with it because my kids would sit on my lap and flip through the charms and look for their names. That is when it hit me: personalization has more value than the material that it’s on, because personalization is forever. Telling your story is not a trend; it’s a keepsake, an heirloom, and one-of-a-kind… just like the person wearing it.

That is when I knew I was on the right track. I was putting something into the marketplace that I had actually created in 1992… it’s like it all became a full circle.

It’s amazing to think I was so young, but I’m also very proud to say that now we create our own stamps in our steel shop. It’s fun to have the opportunity to create special tooling for each individual customer.

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B. Moore | Gem Gossip

Left: the plaque Heather made, with her sister’s special quote Right: a necklace Heather wears almost everyday–it features her new Buddha charm


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I think my proudest moment was winning the Town & Country International Gold Award at the Couture Jewelry Show in Las Vegas.

This is a show where all designers get together and showcase their pieces to stores across the country. Town & Country magazine had sponsored the event, so it was super fancy that year. Most people were in black tie… but I didn’t know that! I showed up late to the party in flip-flops, jeans, a t-shirt and messy hair!

When I thought about designing something for the Gold category, I wanted something no one had yet documented. One topic that came up was that we had never documented someone’s letter, and I had the perfect one. It was a whimsical thank you note from my sister Wendy. She had sent it just days after Christmas and she spoke of the importance of family and new traditions. This was the first year I didn’t spend Christmas with my family because I was with my husband’s family in Canada, so it really hit home for me. It was the last letter I ever got from her. She passed away shortly after Christmas.

We stamped this whole letter on a big yellow gold cuff, with a rose gold frame on the outside and a green gold frame on the inside, then we covered the frame in diamonds.

We arrived late to the awards show party and had already begun to announce the winners, so we quickly grabbed a glass of wine and snuck into some seats just as the announcer said, “And the Gold Award goes to a designer from the city of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame…”

…I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, there’s another designer here from Cleveland,” but then they called my name!

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip

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In a broad sense, my hopes, dreams, and goals are to make sure I can continue to create beautiful pieces for people and documenting their stories. I love that we have the opportunity to work with customers hand-in-hand.

And with the sculptural collection, there are so many amazing symbols that empower people. I just love the direction we are going with that!

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip

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I have so many pieces I love and adore! We have a wide variety of designs within the collection, and I truly love all of them. I have many iterations with my children’s names (Henry, Leo, Oliver and Coral). They are my proudest creation!

I have a yellow gold bangle with their names on it, a leather bracelet with with their names on it, and a necklace where they each have their own charm! I actually named the frames after them. The Henry frame is a braid like the Nantucket braided bracelets. The Leo frame has a granulation frame for him because he really loves the arts. Then there’s the Oliver frame. He’s really an organized child so I did a spiral frame for him. Coral’s got a bubbly personality, so her frame kind of looks like bubbles!

I like to wear my cuff bracelet that has my sister’s letter with jeans and a t-shirt, but I also wore it to the Beastie Boys black tie Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction.

My sister Halley and I both have a charm with Wendy’s phone number on it. She never had business cards, which we always thought was hilarious! We made it in green gold because her birthday was on Saint Patrick’s Day.

My new favorite necklace has a bunch of charms on it, and it’s a story about my boyfriend Jason and me. We went to high school together so I have one charm that says “You were worth the wait,” and another charm that says “Home is when I’m with you.” And I have a little single initial J charm for his name… and a diamond, of course!

I have a 4mm square cuff bracelet that grounds me–it says “When you look at life through the right lens, everything comes into focus.” Life certainly does throw you some curveballs sometimes… so that helps me through those challenges. The fact that I’m a photographer kind of makes it perfect! My dad gave me my first camera when I was 14 and then shipped me off to Africa with 13 rolls of film. I have been an avid photographer ever since.

I will end with this one:

I have this fantastic ring that has been dubbed “the hockey ring.” It’s my good luck ring for my boys’ games. If it’s not on my finger it’s in my wallet waiting for the next game. I did not put any personalization on it with words… and it’s really quite thick. We call it The Pope Ring at the studio! So when I’m photographing the hockey games (because all three boys are in hockey) if something happens like a goal or a good defensive play, I can bang on the glass with my ring, and I wont hurt my hand! Because of all the banging, overtime it has collected quite a few, great dents! It is essentially personalized from all the dents!

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This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Heather B. Moore.

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

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

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

See the Anthony Lent website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Jacquie Aiche website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Suzanne Kalan website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Tara Hirshberg website here.

Couture | Gem Gossip

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

See the Arik Kastan website here.


Couture 2017

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

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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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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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Want more?! To check out the store tour of Doyle & Doyle, click here.

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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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SHOW ME YOUR RINGS! XCIII

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from top to bottom:

Colette Jewelry has us green with envy over this lucious emerald stack

Levy’s Fine Jewelry piles on some current favorites from their inventory in Alabama

medeasmix is dreaming of this turquoise horseshoe becoming a ring, we say GO FOR IT

Andrea Hansen, shares some Reign Sapphires that have us swooning since it’s September 1st

Eva Fehren makes us rethink every princess cut diamond we ever doubted

Marie Helene De Taillac always knows how to wear a rainbow

SixthCityStyle stacks up a mystical grouping of gorgeous rings

Tessa Metcalfe known for her claw prongs adds some snakes into the mix, we love!

grandmatigerlilys stacks up some old cut diamonds and garnets, what a great combo

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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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xoxoGemGossip

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

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Summer Getaway: Adventures in New Mexico with Vale Jewelry

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Summertime gives us all the wanderlust vibes you can ever imagine. Our Instagram is typically filled with jewels, gems and all things relating to jewelry design, so it always grabs our attention when our favorite jewelry designers and store owners post an envious getaway pic. We’ve seen glimpses of Paris, tropical islands, Canadian mountains, and everything in between. I’m personally obsessed with the US desert southwest–remember I honeymooned in Sedona, Arizona?–so when I saw a New Mexico landscape scroll onto my screen I had to know more. Luckily the sister duo of Vale Jewelry, Eva & Ava, were more than happy to share about their two-week trip to New Mexico–let’s find out more:

We planned this trip around a visit to Walter de Maria’s groundbreaking land art, The Lightening Field, but it quickly ballooned into a 2-week major road trip around New Mexico. The fifth largest state, but one of the least populated, the vast deserts and scrubland inspired Georgia O’Keeffe body of work as well as numerous other artists. You only have to spend one day there to understand why it’s muse to many creatives, between the sunsets, endless sky, and the ingrained history of crafts. No wonder it picked up the nickname of The Land of Enchantment. Home to most of the US’s oldest Native American and indigenous tribes and pueblos, including the Zuni, Navajo and Hopi, this magical and awe-inspiring land should be on anyone’s travel list.

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Left photo: One of the oldest continuously-inhabited communities in the United States, Taos Pueblo was built in the early 13th century and located right in the Rio Grande Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it holds a very active Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe residing in multi-storied adobe houses built as two complexes made from mud, wood, grass and water. This historic village is located just 1 mile outside Taos. About 4,500 members still live in this area, but only about 150 still reside inside these structures year-round without the modern convenience of running water and electricity. While it is a private community, they do offer visitors to come see parts of the village where locals sell crafts like pottery and local eats like fried bread.

Right photo: San Geronimo has a storied past as one of the first post-Columbian Spanish Catholic churches in the US. Built by Native Americans of the Taos Pueblo people under the suppression of the Spanish missionaries and colonial powers, this one featured above is actually the third reincarnation. It was one of the many churches destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt when tensions between the native tribes and Spanish colonial presence boiled over. The current church shown above was built in the 18th century.

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Left photo: The ladder above resembles some of the staircases used in many pueblos as well as native and local adobe houses. Typically, the staircases are made of local timber such as pine, spruce and ponderosa. These ladders were precious items since the wood had to be cut down from forests located quite a distance from local desert pueblos. They were passed down from generation to generation. In traditional Pueblo culture, the people of the original land came to this land by the underworld. Hence, many pueblos build ceremonial underground chambers within these adobe houses called kivas that the chieftains use for religious song, prayer and ceremonies. The one above is one from the Acoma pueblo featuring a double ladder for going up and down with a lightening rod shape holding the two together.

Right photo: On our way back from staying overnight at The Lightening Field in Quemado, we stopped by Pie Town. Yes, you read that right, it’s a town named after one of the best desserts having taken its name from an early settler of the town in the 1920s that made the town famous with a highway pie shop. The pies above are at a local pie shop called Pie-O-Neer. The Macaroon Apple Pie and Cherry Cherry Pies are worth the stop. And yes, we ate all 4…and then took a few for the road.

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Left photo: One of our favorite stops for local barbeque, Rudy’s had the most incredible brisket and baby back ribs, this is the place to stop for New Mexican bar-b-q in Albuquerque, friendliest staff and the tastiest homemade cherry and apricot cobblers this side of the Rio Grande! If in Santa Fe and craving local barbeque, stop by a food truck called Santa Fe BBQ.

Right photo: A must when you’re in Santa Fe. The New Mexican picnic above is breakfast at a local favorite called Tia Sophia’s. They make some of the best sopapillas, the pillowy fried quick breads in the image. Order everything ‘Christmas’ which means doused in both the red and green chiles. Also, a stop at Gabriel’s just outside Santa Fe is a must too. Known for their tableside guacamole and carne adovada, neither will disappoint! The local enchiladas and tamales are things to order when in town.

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Left photo: This is the view from Sandia Peak after hopping off the tramway. The crest here reaches over 10,500 feet and the tramway’s the world’s second longest ride. The sunsets and sunrise in New Mexico are unreal, typically fiery red and orange against the bluest backdrop.

Right photo: A quick hike in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park is a must if you’re in central New Mexico. Formed by volcanic ash deposits that have since been weather-worn to form sand-colored cylindrical cone shapes standing side-by-side. A walk in between these canyons is awe-inspiring.

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Left photo: No trip to New Mexico is complete without a stop at White Sands National Park. The world’s largest gypsum dune runs for over 275 square miles. So big, this dune can even be seen from satellite in outer space. Despite temperatures reaching 120F during the afternoon, the gypsum sand never gets hot due to the gypsum crystal’s natural ability to reflect the sun and the fact that it does not convert light into heat. We went barefoot and even did some dune-sledding down the steep cliffs. For a cool experience, plan to camp overnight.

Right photo: Another stop along the way is Carlsbad Caverns and watching the enchanting Bat Flight where over 500,000 local Brazilian Free-Tailed bats make their nightly migration from the cave to feed. It’s a coordinated visual symphony!

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Showing off some vintage Native American silver by Navajo and Zuni tribes made between the 1900s and 1950s. We picked up these older pieces during our travel around New Mexico. Some of our favorite stops include:

Shopping Guide:

  • Rainbow Man (Santa Fe) – amazing selection of fabrics, weavings, jewelry and objects
  • Santa Fe Exchange (Santa Fe) – wide range of both sterling silver, objects and some turn of the century pieces
  • Shalako Indian Store (Santa Fe) – widest vintage sterling silver shop, great for Concho belts, rings, and bangles. Nancy and Marsha are both well-informed on Native American jewelry
  • Palms Trading (Alburquerque) – solid selection of old pawn, blankets, shoes and food stuff
  • Rose’s Pottery (Bernanillo) – housed behind Rose’s is an old theatre that the owner converted to a small private collection of early Pre-Columbian to middle of the century art and pottery. If you’re lucky, she’ll give you a tour of this collection passed down from her father. The front features a beautiful collection of Kachina dolls and pottery from all the major pueblos
  • Old Town Antiques (Alburquerque) – the owner Connie is like an encyclopedia of New Mexican crafts, beautiful selection of both jewelry and objects, she even offers Pre-Columbian artifacts.

Eating Guide:

  • Tia Sophia’s (Santa Fe) – best brunch and breakfast place for New Mexican cuisine
  • Café Pasqual’s (Santa Fe) – modern twist on New Mexican with some delicious homemade cookies
  • Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q (Alburquerque) – fantastic ribs, brisket, daily special cobblers and desserts
  • Gabriel’s (Santa Fe) – delicious guacamole and carne adovada
  • Frontier (Alburquerque) – a mix of everything, an all-day diner styled location popular with locals, young and old
  • Jimmy’s on Jefferson (Alburquerque) – quick local favorite for breakfast, order Steve’s Breakfast Special featuring a plate of hash with green chile.
  • Grove Cafe & Market (Alburquerque) – modern eatery with homemade granola and breakfast and brunch
  • Cocina Azul (Alburquerque) – great lunch spot for some of the best carne adovada and homemade and fresh sopapillas and posole
  • Farm & Table (Alburquerque) – fresh and modern New Mexican classics as well as farm-to-table dinners with a small working farm on the back
  • Golden Crown Panaderia (Alburquerque) – tasty fruit empanadas

Cultural Guide:

  • Georgia O’Keefe Ghost Ranch (plan advance for an overnight stay, it books up early)
  • Georgia O’Keefe Museum
  • Walter de Maria The Lightening Field (apply in February when they open up spaces, openings close within minutes)
  • Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (get there early before it gets too hot)
  • White Sands National Park (come here right before sunset for the most magical view)
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (don’t miss the last elevator down at 5pm)
  • Rio Grande Gorge & Bridge (shop from the local artists selling at the foot of the bridge, view is not for the faint of heart)
  • Roswell, NW (stop at the museum and eat at Big D’s for their famous green chile burger)
  • Sandia Mountains (go there an hour before sunset)
  • Taos Pueblo
  • Acoma Pueblo

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? You can follow Vale Jewelry —> @valejewelry

Source: GossipGem.com

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New October Opals from Arik Kastan Jewelry

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

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

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

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Nouveau Oval drop earrings, Price: $2,250

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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


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

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


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

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

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

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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