Jewelry Collection Stories: Lindsey of @ParkAvenueAntiques

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I’ve followed Lindsey of Park Avenue Antiques for a very long time! My first interaction with her was sort of humorous–I remember being on my way out the door to go antiquing for the day with my mom and sister. I was waiting on a ring to go up on the auction block so I unpleasantly made them wait until it did, not realizing it wouldn’t be until another 45 minutes. I can’t remeber exactly why I lost out on the ring, but while in the car finally on our way, I took a screenshot of the ring and posted it on Instagram with the caption, “Who outbid me on this portrait ring?! Confess!!” Lindsey was sweet enough to message me to tell me she had been the final bidder on it and graciously offered it for sale. A story too good to be made up, I’ve treasured that ring ever since! Over the years, we’ve continued to follow each other–even one point I tried meeting up at an antique show, but kept missing her! Hopefully meeting will be in the cards for us in the future, but until then…let’s check out her amazing jewelry collection!

Like many of you, I have been attracted to sparkly things for as far back as I can remember. As a little girl, I collected rocks and minerals, little buttons and sea glass. My father was an antiques dealer and the two of us were always on an “antiquing adventure”. One of our favorite places to visit was Roycroft Antiques in East Aurora, NY. They had a wooden whisky barrel filled with buttons and beads and I would dig through that barrel until my hands were black! Who knows what I thought I’d find in there! It was all about the hunt….

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I share this silver filigree necklace with my daughter Cameron. The three Edwardian silver bears represent her and her two brothers.

Around the age of 5, we moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was a difficult transition. My parents both worked two jobs and I was home alone a lot. My mother always found ways to show me how much I was loved and that she was thinking of me. She came up with a hide and seek game we called “Rubber Legs” which involved hiding a yellow plastic figure. Before she left for work in the morning, she would hide Rubber Legs somewhere for me to find. Then I would hide him somewhere for her. I almost always hid him in her antique spool cabinet/jewelry box. It was a magical place where I wasn’t supposed to “dig around” but I couldn’t help myself! There were sparkly rings, beautiful strings of trade beads, flapper necklaces and cameos. She had all kinds of treasures but my favorite piece was a little gold acorn charm that rattled when shaken.

Once we moved to Hershey, adventures in antiquing with dad still continued. He opened an antique lighting shop in Adamstown, PA in the Black Angus Antiques Mall. Most Sundays I would tag along to help him but really spent most of my days with other dealers. I was fascinated with their knowledge in various fields and eager to hear their stories. This is where my love for jewelry and antiques really started.

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LEFT: Georgian sapphire and rose cut diamond bow brooch in silver topped gold, purchased at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show

When collecting jewelry became a serious passion, I invested in books. Jewelry books on private collections, construction, symbolism, intaglios, various periods and markings. My jewelry library has helped me to educate myself and develop a true respect for the craftsmanship and symbolism that these pieces hold. I try to add one book to my collection every month. I would encourage any aspiring jewelry collector to do this as well.

RIGHT: Eight years ago, I was newly divorced and the only jewelry I had was my and my grandmothers wedding ring. I put some money aside and decided I’d like to create a piece of jewelry that would represent my family. I hoped to create a ring that could be passed on to one of my children. The first jeweler I went to was a rather unpleasant experience. I nearly gave up on my idea but decided to give it one more try. This is when I met Skip Colflesh, the owner of The Jeweler’s Bench in Hershey, PA. He helped me create the perfect ring. We used the diamonds in my grandmothers wedding ring, my engagement ring and each of the children’s birthstones. The first time I saw the ring it was an emotional experience. It was a perfect representation of my life’s journey. The diamonds no longer felt like the loss of a loved one or a failed marriage – they were now something beautiful and very personal. But more than that, I was so grateful for the friendship that had come out of designing the ring together. Skip has become one of my dearest friends and also my mentor. Friends make all the difference.

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I really don’t have a specific type of jewelry or period that I collect. I am mostly drawn to gemstones and figural pieces but my collection is quite varied. My most heavily worn pieces of jewelry are my watch chains. I love connecting them together for different looks and wearing them with various pendants.

Here are a few of my favorite necklaces:

LEFT: Painted enamel mourning locket depicting a young girl and her dog. It reads “Mary Rutherfurd Prime April 16, 1810 – Died September 9, 1835”

SECOND FROM LEFT: Opal pendant from Arts & Crafts Movement. This pendant reminds me of my favorite spring flower, lilac, and the opals are absolutely electric. I bought this in an antique store in England.

THIRD FROM LEFT: Not easy to pick a favorite, but if I had to, this would be it! Raj Era moonstone pendant from @saintespritofchelsea Beautifully crafted in silver and gold with huge shimmering moonstone cabochons.

CENTER: 19th c Kerosang with faceted white zircon.

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Here are a few of my favorite rings:

Victorian era amethyst and pearl serpent ring was purchased from David Ashville of Ashville Fine Arts.

The kunzite and diamond ring I bought from @blackamooruk. I believe this ring was originally an early 20th century brooch that was carefully converted. I love the size of the kunzite and it fits my finger perfectly.

The Victorian topaz ring was purchased from @ishyantiques.

The art deco moonstone ring is one of my favorites. It was purchased from Brad Wilson of Wilson’s Estate Jewelry in Philadelphia, PA.

The massive cameo ring I created using a 19th century cameo from @antiquestoreinwayne and a custom gold setting created by Skip Colflesh @thejewelersbenchofhershey.

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LEFT: Agate tree ring – This is one of my creations. I used an agate sourced from an old cufflink mounted in a setting made by @thejewelersbenchofherehey Victorian chrysoberyl and gold band @westandsonjewellery

RIGHT: This is my most recent purchase. My dear friend Will @martindaleasianarts recently took me on a day trip to a quaint town about an hour outside of London where I found it in an antiques shop.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I am honored to be a part of the Instagram jewelry community. Your posts have greatly enhanced my knowledge and appreciation for all types of jewelry and the friendships that have developed because of our shared passion for jewelry are priceless to me.

xoxoGemGossip

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Read This Before Buying Antique Jewelry Online or Through Instagram!

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Both Lauren and I have noticed a slightly frightening upsurge in the amount of overnight “antique jewelry dealers” these past few months. I’ve nominated Lauren to give her insight and take on this, along with some important tips we should all be aware of before buying any antique piece online or via Instagram. I’ll let Lauren take it away:

Selling fine second-hand jewelry is no simple task that just anyone can pick up by attending a few estate sales. Dealers must continually strive to expand their education and invest in their business so they can offer the best and most honest experience to their customers.

For me, selling antique jewelry was something I fell into by chance in late 2005. I learned my most basic knowledge by apprenticing under a few dealers that had been in the business for decades. This oral history only took me so far. I then conquered many books, took classes, and met with as many other dealers and jewelers as I could.

This happenstance quickly turned into a full on passion; perhaps it’s even my calling if there is such a thing. Over the next nine years, I evolved my business, Ageless Heirlooms until it took form as a brick and mortar shop on the busiest street in town. The lessons are countless and the experience over these years was immeasurably valuable.

Sometimes life takes you unexpected places, and the moment that I could no longer devote 100% of my time to selling antique jewelry was when I decided to take a huge step backward and regroup in late 2014. I closed my brick and mortar shop and continued writing about jewelry, in the hopes that one day I would get back into retail and help reconnect heirlooms with their next generation keepers.

During my almost three year departure from retail, the antique jewelry business changed a lot. The antique jewelry market, like most any business, has always been prone to scammers and dishonesty. But as this niche market keeps expanding, I’ve noticed that more and more dealers pop in and out of the scene — some legitimate and others that are trying to take advantage of the trend. It saddens me to think that there are dealers out there that are either intentionally or unknowingly misguiding their consumers. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and perpetuates the idea that buying fine second-hand jewelry is a shady practice. I assure you, it’s not.

Shopping for estate jewelry takes a certain degree of trust in the people you’re buying from, especially if you’re just learning all the ins and outs. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you’re buying from someone who is worth supporting.

1. Are they GIA certified or have any other accreditations?

To have your GIA certification is arguably the most important feat in the fine jewelry world. This certification shows that the dealer has put a tremendous investment in their education and are much more competent at grading gemstones than someone that doesn’t have it. If you’re buying very high-end antique jewelry, this question should be high on your priority list. What schooling has this person gone through? If they haven’t, have they had someone else that is GIA certified look over the item in question?

2. How many years have they been in business?

Ask me in my first few years of selling antique jewelry if this question was important, and I would still agree that yes, it is. I was so fortunate that so many customers took a chance on me in my early years, but I had a full backing from other partners that had many years experience under their belts. It wasn’t until I had over five years experience that I considered going out on my own. Sometimes it’s worth it to take a chance on someone, but make sure you get to know them a little bit first.

3. Are their prices consistent with other dealers?

Antique jewelry isn’t always an apples to apples comparison. But, in the broad scope, prices for similar pieces should fall within a similar range. Anything that is way off the mark, whether priced too high or too low is a red flag for me.

However, sometimes antique jewelry businesses with lots of employees will have higher prices — they need this markup to survive. This higher price is worth it at times because many of these businesses have access to rare antique jewelry that smaller dealers don’t. Pay a higher price only if that item is rare and other reputable dealers don’t have anything similar for less.

Too cheap a price could indicate that the item is a reproduction, is in poor shape, the dealer is a fly by night, or maybe you just found a bargain. Either way, it’s worth looking into more thoroughly.

4. Do they have a brick & mortar shop or a website?

Any signs that this person has invested time, money and energy into their business is a good thing. Do they have a website, an Etsy shop or a brick and mortar that they keep updated? Are they active on social media? That is a good indicator that this business is their primary source of income, and they take pride in it. People who take pride in their online businesses are less likely to jeopardize it by acting shady.

5. How is their feedback/online reviews?

If the person is selling on Etsy or eBay, it is an absolute no brainer to read as much of their feedback as possible before you purchase. This won’t necessarily be a foolproof method, but it certainly helps when you’re buying on the internet.

6. Do you see any reproductions being passed off as old?

It might be hard to know what reproductions look like from a picture, but they are out there in full force! If you have browsed some sites that openly sell reproduction jewelry like Jan’s Jewells, you’ll have some idea which items are being remade. If you catch a reproduction being passed off as old, or the description is vague using terms like “antique-style Art Deco ring”, this is a red flag. Let me know if you’re interested in more ways you can spot reproductions online because there’s a lot that can be said here!

7. Do you notice that some items aren’t dated?

I’ve seen it where some antique jewelry dealers want to sell reproductions (they are easier to find and are cheaper), but they don’t want to be upfront about it for whatever reason. If you spot jewelry on a dealer’s site that has no mention of the item’s age at all, this is a red flag. Ask them openly if the item is new or old, and hopefully, if they passed a lot of these other questions, they’ll be honest and tell you.

Do you have any other ways you vet out antique jewelry sellers? Let me know in the comments and as always, happy hunting!


This post was contributed by:

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

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry

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This month’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry and it is a good one! Kate is a full-time art teacher and part-time jewelry enthusiast and collector. You may already be following her on Instagram, but if not you must. Her collection is pretty amazing and her story may resonate with many of you. So without further ado, I give you Kate’s collection story:

I’ve always loved jewelry. I have early memories of playing “dress up” and “jewelry store” with my grandmother Louise. She kept her jewelry in the top dresser drawer. Oh how I loved looking inside those little boxes and seeing all the sparkly jewels inside! We would arrange her jewels on top of carefully arranged bits of pretty fabrics and embroidered handkerchiefs and take turns “shopping.” It was so much fun trying on her white dress gloves and high heels and playing with all those pretty things.

When I was around 10 years old, my dad started giving me jewelry every year for Christmas, mostly rings. One year, I received a topaz ring that had the most amazing shade of bright blue. I adored that ring! Another favorite ring given to me by my dad was a gold signet ring that he had monogramed with my initials. I think I was around 15 at the time. It’s a classic look that will never go out of style and one I wear often today.

One of my favorite early jewelry memories was when my family went out to dinner before my high school senior award night. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to win the top artist award in my class, and my parents bought me this beautiful southwestern sterling bracelet and turquoise ring to mark the occasion. For high school graduation, I received a large, modernist sterling and gold ring. At the time, I wasn’t into yellow gold, and these bold sterling pieces were among the most beautiful pieces I owned. Luckily, my parents have continued the tradition of gifting me jewelry for special occasions, and I cherish them all. These pieces help to serve as reminders of special times in my life. My sweet husband has also joined in on the tradition and I have received many beautiful pieces from him now over the years, including my very first (and favorite) Victorian bird bangle bracelet and my beloved antique turquoise and diamond halo ring.

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As a teenager, I was really into second-hand shops–mainly for vintage clothes and small decorative items, but eventually I started picking up inexpensive jewelry and odds-and-ends; like pendants, chokers, chains, etc. At about the same time, I started making beaded jewelry and even gifting and selling pieces to my friends.

Years later, I decided to try my hand at selling handmade jewelry on Etsy. It was a fun, challenging, and creative outlet. Those were the relative early days of Etsy, and I grew as it grew. I did this for a couple of years and slowly started incorporating more and more vintage jewelry components and findings into my pieces. Eventually, the competition increased and my enthusiasm waivered, so I put my shop on hold.

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My love affair with antique jewelry began about eight years ago when my mom and I were antiquing at one of my favorite stores in Richmond, IN. My mom fell head-over-heels for this old gold cameo ring. At first, I was like, “What? Cameos? Ugh, I don’t get it.” Then much to my surprise, my mom professed her life-long love affair with cameos, citing stories from her youth. The shop owner quoted her a low price and my mom quickly bought the ring. She wasn’t one to make fine jewelry purchases on our excursions together, so I was intrigued and wanted to know more. I couldn’t stop staring at this unusual reddish-orange cameo ring on our drive back home; I was fascinated by it. It didn’t look like the girly, pink cameos I was used to seeing. It was more masculine in style and the gold was a rich rose color. The shop owner estimated the ring to be about 120 years old.

To my knowledge, I had never seen a ring that old before and now I wanted one for myself! The more I researched, the more I realized what an amazing deal my mom got on that ring. Sure, it was more than I was used to spending on random antique mall purchases (about $85), but still affordable. This made antique jewelry seem obtainable to me for the first time ever. I started reading jewelry books, researching online, and educating myself on antique jewelry. I liked learning the history behind each piece. It’s a perfect fit for me– combining my love of history, research, sentiment, story, etc.

Inspired by my new passion and focus, I reopened my Etsy shop–selling only vintage and antique jewelry. I absolutely loved hunting for old jewelry, even cameos! Thinking back to that special trip to Richmond with my mom, I believe this was the critical moment that later turned this new interest into a full-blown hobby and part-time job for me.

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Today I have such a deep and sincere appreciation for antique jewelry; I tend to collect a little bit of everything. All in all, I tend to go more for Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco pieces. Rings are probably my favorite type of jewelry to wear and collect. I love everything from dainty to bold, statement rings. I also love antique bangles and Deco necklaces in all sorts of finishes, metals, and styles.

One of my favorite things to collect are watches. My favorite makers are Longines and Bucherer. I have everything from watch pins, watch rings, wristwatches, and pocket watches. And I really love long enamel watch necklaces. My love of watch necklaces probably began when I scored an amazing Bucherer red guilloche enamel watch ball necklace for $60 in a small, local antique shop. I later learned this was a remarkable deal for one with its original enamel chain in perfect condition. I’ve since added about 10 more to my collection over the years. I just can’t stop myself when I see a beautiful one for a good price. I have such a weakness for fine guilloche enamel-work.

In addition, I love bird-themed jewelry and have many bird bangles, lockets, etc. I tend to favor cool-color pieces in general (it must be the Pisces in me!). I am very fond of blue–sapphires, lapis, zircon, and turquoise to name a few. Pale lavender chalcedony, dreamy moonstones, and that particular shade of green commonly used in Art Deco pieces–are all personal favorites. I have a growing collection of snake rings, too.

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I enjoy shopping at small, local places best. The Midwest is a gold mine for antiques of all kinds. The big jewelry enthusiasts seem to live on either coast and being stuck in the middle has its advantages… lower prices and less pickers. But this seems to get harder every year. My favorite display cases and shops seem to be shutting down. The old dealers retire; some pass away. I think part of me has also wanted to open a brick and mortar shop, but the risks are scary.

Currently, I seem to have the most luck shopping at antique shows and online auctions. I’m always on the hunt for new pieces. I would love to own more niello jewelry, antique enamel bracelets, and gutta percha bangles inlaid with gold. I have a thing for portrait paintings but oddly, own no portrait jewelry. I interned at the National Portrait Gallery right after college and it’s a subject I’m really interested in. I would love to find the perfect emerald ring and more “name” or “initial” jewelry to represent the important people in my life.

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Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday (hello, 40!) and had been hunting for the perfect aquamarine birthstone piece of jewelry for months. Then it finally happened…a huge, honking, 14-carat, Victorian, pear-shaped aqua ring in 15K gold popped up on my Instagram feed. Its large size, unfussy setting, and perfect pale-blue color, stopped me dead in my tracks. A direct quote from the seller was, “a mesmerizing, dreamy, huge piece of magic.” Indeed it was. I sold three personal collection rings to make room for this special ring, the latest addition to my jewelry box.

Back when I started wearing, selling, and collecting antique jewelry, I was the only one I knew who did. I just bought what I liked and what I could afford at the time. It wasn’t until I joined IG a couple of years ago that I found other like-minded people who loved and appreciated old jewelry as much as I do. Like most sellers/collectors, I am searching for more high quality and unusual pieces nowadays. Lately, there seems to be more competition, more reproductions, and higher prices on the online auction sites, making it harder to “score” a deal. While I may not be selling forever, I know I will be wearing and enjoying my jewelry for the rest of my life. It brings me so much joy. Marking special occasions and making new memories with jewelry are so important to me. Jewelry has a way of keeping our memories alive…providing a tangible reminder… connecting us to the people, places, and significant moments we cherish in life. Happy hunting!

xoxoGemGossip

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You can follow Kate –> @LuxCharmJewelry

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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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Q & A and Visit with Emily Stoehrer of MFA Boston

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After a long and exciting week in Boston, I had a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts set up to feed my jewelry history cravings. One of my favorite things about my love and passion for jewelry is learning! Museum exhibits are such a great way to see and learn, often producing a lifelong impact or memory–especially for me. Whenever there is a headlining jewelry exhibit, I like to try to schedule trips in hopes of catching it before it ends. Lucky for Boston, the MFA has quite an extensive jewelry department that is constantly researching, collaborating, and creating new exhibits. I got to have a private tour with Emily Stoehrer who is not only a wealth of knowledge, but highly dedicated and involved in what she does for the museum. I was fascinated in so many ways, as she brought me through the MFA’s current exhibit Past is Present: Revival Jewelry.

Learn more about Emily as she answers my questions below and make sure you stop by the exhibit before it ends in August of 2018. Can’t wait to visit again!

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I am the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry. It’s a unique role in an American fine art museum, which was established in 2006. I was appointed in 2014, and over the last three years have worked to develop the exhibition program; add extraordinary jewels to the collection; connect with jewelers, designers, and collectors; and collaborate with colleagues across the museum to plan programming and events

Spanning thousands of years of jewelry history, there are more than 20,000 objects in the jewelry collection. Highlights include our ancient collections and contemporary jewelry, but over the last decade have added to our holding of fine jewelry. A great example of this is a gift given by the Rothschild family a few years ago, which included an outstanding pearl and diamond necklace that dates to the late nineteenth century. With large, perfectly matched natural pearls, it’s an extraordinary treasure! Yvonne Markowitz (who is the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry Emerita) and I have worked to establish a jewelry resource center for anyone interested in the study of jewelry, and as part of that we have also worked with the Curator of Design to acquire jewelry with related design drawings. Studying drawings from firms like Trabert & Hoeffer Mauboussin, the manufacturer-jeweler Louis Ferón, and the artist-craftsman Frank Gardner Hale, alongside the jewelry they made, has greatly informed our understanding of jewelry and how the industry operated historically.

We have also worked to add strength to strength by filling in gaps in our historical collection. For example, until recently we did not have anything by Carlo Giuliano. But, this year we added two amazingly naturalistic gold and enamel butterflies to the collection—a Duke of Burgundy and Bath White butterfly, to be specific. They are impossibly thin, and enameled on both sides to show every detail of the butterfly’s body and wings. They are a stunning example of the goldsmith’s art. Another historically important and spectacular ornament that I recently acquired is the Apparitions brooch which was designed by Eugene Grasset and made by Henri Vever for the 1900 Paris Exposition. It’s hauntingly beautiful art nouveau aesthetic won them the Grand Prix.

My favorite part of the job is the research and planning that goes into creating an exhibition—doing research in libraries and archives and taking a deep dive into historical documents, publications, and material culture. Unfortunately, as I run from meeting to meeting, I don’t get to spend as much time doing this as I would like. So, I rely on some a team of volunteers and interns to help with some of it. Once the research has been done, and the objects have been selected, the real fun begins. I have learned so much about the storytelling capabilities of jewelry from working with the MFA’s remarkable exhibition designers, mountmakers, and conservators as we discuss and mock-up how each object will be displayed in the gallery.

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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As any lover of jewelry knows, the past has consistently inspired jewelers and designers. While interest in historicism was particularly strong during the nineteenth century, there were great revival jewels made before 1800 and after 1900. In the same way the Victorians struggled with the tension between mass-production and hand-craftsmanship, we grapple with digital design and the pace of modern life. So, I see this as a topic that is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago, and if you think about it that way you’ll notice many examples of twentieth and twenty-first century jewelry that engage with a historical narrative. I hope that visitors enjoy seeing traditional “revivalist” ornaments by outstanding jewelers like Castellani and Giuliano, Bapst and Falize and Boucheron, but also some unexpected surprises like a 9-foot titanium python necklace by Munich-based contemporary jeweler David Bielander, and that the juxtaposition makes them question their notion of revival jewelry.

The exhibition highlights four revival styles: Archeological, Classical, Renaissance, and Egyptian. Each case in the intimate space includes a choice group of jewelry aimed to tell a story – travel, nationalism, graduation, cameo, scarabs, and snakes are just a few of the themes explored. If you pay very close attention to the labels, visitors might also be delighted to learn how early some of these objects were added to the MFA collection. Like the Met, the MFA was founded in 1870, and some of these jewels were acquired in the subsequent decades, making them contemporary jewelry when they were donated. A neoclassical necklace and five brooches with mythological scenes in carved shell cameo, and a Castellani necklace, earrings, and brooch commissioned by the amber collector William Buffum are just two examples of the objects that have resided at the MFA for more than one hundred years. Newer acquisitions on view include: a tour-de-force bracelet by the Roman jeweler Ernesto Pierret that features a central bovine head, granulation, and two menacing faces that come together to form the clap; a spectacular early twentieth-century neck ornament by G. Paulding Farham for Tiffany & Co.; and a slithering silver snake belt/necklace, with sapphire eyes, that Elsa Peretti designed for the American fashion designer Halston in the 1970s.

While 80% of the works on view are from the MFA collection, there are also some noteworthy loans. From the collection of Susan B. Kaplan, a startlingly lifelike lion speaks to the genius of Castellani’s designers and craftsmen. Unlike other micromosaic workshops, Castellani left the surface of their work uneven to create a glittering effected. Wartski Ltd., of London, loaned a demi-parure (belt buckle, brooch, and bracelet) by Falize Frères. Enameled on both sides, the glorious ornaments use translucent enamel and foil to create a fantastical scene with birds, like those seen in illuminated manuscripts. Generously sponsored by Cartier, the exhibition includes four magnificent twentieth-century ornaments from the Cartier Collection. Made between 1906 and 1928, the garland style medusa necklace, winged scarab belt buckle, Eye of Horus bracelet (that once belonged to Linda Porter), and the diamond chimera bracelet are outstanding examples of French revival jewelry, and the depth of the MFAs ancient collection allows for these dazzling jewels to be exhibited alongside the ancient artifacts that inspired their design.

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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My path to jewelry was a crooked one. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and had plans to attend law school. But a few years working in the District Attorney’s office, I changed my mind and I began researching graduate programs in fashion. In 2005 I moved to New York City and enrolled in the two-year Fashion & Textile Studies program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Thanks to FIT’s remarkable alumni network I ended up back in my hometown with an internship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. As an intern I worked with conservators in the Textile Conservation department to relocate the fashion collection.

My first full-time position at the MFA was as a Collections Care Specialist and my responsibilities included preparing more than 10,000 objects from the Asian costume and textile collection for photography – everything from kimono to dragon robes and textile fragments to temple hangings. When that project ended, I became the Curatorial Research Associate reporting to Yvonne Markowitz (then curator of jewelry). For two years I worked with her on the inaugural exhibition in the jewelry gallery, and the book Artful Adornment. Both the exhibition and the book focused on highlights from the MFA’s jewelry collection. Yvonne quickly became a very important part of my life, and has been an extraordinary mentor. She encouraged me to think about a future as a jewelry curator, bringing my knowledge of fashion history to the understanding of jewelry. She enthusiastically introduced me to her contacts and colleagues, took me to conferences, and supported my own research in the field. She also told me to consider a PhD.

During my time at the MFA, I had been teaching courses in textiles and fashion history, and in 2010 I left the Museum and took a position at a small college in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. As Program Director and Assistant Professor, I managed three robust fashion programs with more than 100 students. At the same time I took PhD courses and exams, and began work on my dissertation. My doctoral work focused on the intersection of fashion, jewelry, and media. I examined the vintage jewelry on the red carpet from 1995-2010 using Neil Lane’s collection as a case study.

After nearly 30 years at the MFA, Yvonne retired in 2014 and I was appointed to replace her. Over the last three years, I curated the exhibitions Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen, Past is Present: Revival Jewelry, and smaller installations; planned jewelry related events and trips for the MFA’s Fashion Council; traveled extensively to lecture, visit art fairs and exhibitions, participated in educational opportunities organized by Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) and Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) trips, attend conferences, visited collectors, galleries, designers, and jewelers. It’s been a whirlwind. Recently I have taken on two leadership roles, joining the board of directors for the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and the Boston chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA).

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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I am immersed in research for two forthcoming exhibitions, and a book related to my doctoral work.

Opening in September 2018, an exhibition of Boston arts and crafts jewelry and metalwork will replace Past is Present in the Stanley H. and Rita J. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery. From the establishment of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts to the disastrous 1929 stock market crash that crippled many artist craftsmen, this exhibition will be the first to focus solely on Boston jewelers, and will include design drawings, jewelry, and hollowware by artists like Frank Gardner Hale, Josephine Hartwell Shaw, Margaret Rogers, and Edward Everett Oakes.

That exhibition will be followed by one on Elsa Peretti, who will be celebrating 50 years as a designer in 2020. Beginning her design career making jewelry and accessories for Giorgio Sant’ Angelo and Halston before joining Tiffany & Co., Peretti has created timeless designs that continue to resonate with modern consumers. Her refined taste has focused, primarily, on silver but the exhibition will feature a diverse sample of her work, as well as her inspirations, and—of course—include a fashion element. An esteemed arbiter of style, fashion icon, and friend of many twentieth century notables, this exhibition will celebrate Peretti’s life and career.

My work at the MFA keeps me very busy, but I am also in the midst of writing a book titled Jewelry in Celebrity Culture: Glamour and the Hollywood Spectacle. It will be published as part of I.B. Taurus’s Dress Culture series (edited by Reina Lewis and Elizabeth Wilson). From the tour-de-force necklace that the American firm Trabert & Hoeffer loaned Colette Colbert to wear in the 1935 film The Gilded Lily to the impact of The Representation Project’s #askhermore campaign, the book will examine how jewelry aids in Hollywood’s production of glamour.

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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To be honest, the last three years have been a series of highlights. The people I have had the opportunity to meet have been the most memorable. The many conversations and meetings I had with Neil Lane as I conducted research on Hollywood jewelry and his private collection, having lunch with Elsa Peretti in Sant Marti Vell, Spain and discussing her incredible life and work, and spending two days in Wallace Chan’s Hong Kong atelier are at the top of the list!

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

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I look forward to seeing the field grow in new and exciting ways. There are so many M.A. programs that embrace the study of jewelry history, and there remain extensive subjects awaiting scholarly work. Coupled with a G.G. I think there is extraordinary potential for research and writing. I was lucky to have a great mentor, who guided my career path, and if you can find an experienced curator or historian to play that role for you, it’s priceless. This field is so welcoming. I encourage anyone interested in jewelry to find others that share their passion, social media is a great place for this.

Being a museum curator is much more multi-faceted than I realized after leaving graduate school. Even after years working at the Museum, it wasn’t until I was a curator that I realized the diverse requirements of the job—a natural curiosity, a mastery of your subject area and how it connects to other types of art, a vision and strong ideas that you can translate into exhibitions, excellence in building and maintaining relationships with artists and collectors, as well as strong research, writing, and public speaking skills.

I am very lucky that the MFA has such a vibrant jewelry program. My position, the gallery, and the prominence of jewelry at the MFA is all thanks to tremendous generosity Susan B. Kaplan. It is our hope that other American fine art museums will expand their collection, exhibition, and publication related to jewelry. And, that similar positions will emerge at other American museums.

MFA Boston | Gem Gossip MFA Boston | Gem Gossip

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? You can follow Emily on Instagram —> @jewelcurator

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Gem Gossip Visits M. Flynn Jewelry in Boston, MA

Come along with me as I take you inside M. Flynn in Boston!

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Such a gorgeous selection of engagement & wedding — these are a mix of Anna Sheffield & M. Flynn’s own bridal designs, shop bridal

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Getting the store tour from co-founder Megan

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

some of Page Sargisson zodiac medallions, a best-seller

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

I’m wearing some pieces from M. Flynn’s estate selection, the necklace was created out of a collection of vintage hat charms!

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

I love the crystal chandeliers and white fixtures–it is its own jewel box!

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Some more vintage pieces from their estate section: antique buttons turned into pendants, a scottie dog, and a stick pin converted into a pendant

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

The entire back wall is covered in crystals floating from invisible wire–it is quite magical!

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M. Flynn has all the right studs to create an epic ear stack, shop earrings — and loving the turquoise selection, Mociun + vintage

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Turquoise has taken over a section of this case and we’re not mad at that.

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

A fun line of jewelry called Loquet allows you to customize gems and gold trinkets inside a rock crystal dome

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Wearing rings by Misa Jewelry and necklaces by Page Sargisson

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

M. Flynn loves working one-on-one with clients to help them find the perfect piece!

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

I can’t get enough of these estate pieces!

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

The shop has been open since 2009 and is located amongst some amazing restaurants and walking areas.

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Nautical, New England style fully represented in the Turk’s Head collection by AGA Correa

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Fashion jewelry also lines the shelves of the shop, along with jewelry books and other jewel-inspired gifts

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

An up-close shot of the necklaces from Page Sargisson & diamond Misa Jewelry

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Shop M. Flynn’s estate collection

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

myself with the founders & owners of M. Flynn, sister duo Megan & Moria

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Gorgeous crystal chandeliers are the perfect touch to the light and airy decor

M Flynn | Gem Gossip

Vintage charms found at M. Flynn

A dazzling curtain of crystals which doubles as artwork…all the best jewelry books one can fathom…flawless displays…sparkling jewelry of all kinds…and one mascot named Stu. This reads as the ultimate recipe for a beautiful, successful jewelry store, which happens to be a real-life place. It is called M. Flynn Jewelry and the shop is located in Boston, Massachusetts. I was lucky enough to visit the store on my #JewelryRoadTrip, where I learned all about its beginnings, what it has to offer, as well as the two sisters behind the namesake: Megan & Moria Flynn!

Opened in 2009, the store fostered the sisters’ love for all things sparkly. Elizabeth Taylor is a jewelry icon for all of the world, but for Megan & Moria, she is everything! They wanted to create a space where they can serve multiple needs for their clients and the store has evolved over the past several years, growing along the way. Their are a few important features of M. Flynn Jewelry–so let’s break down each one!

Their own line of jewelry: if you need classic, every day wear pieces the M. Flynn line is just what you’re looking for. Gemstone rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings make up the line, including bridal options as well. They also have a collaboration collection called the Gates Collection which they’ve created along with an interior designer/blogger that is highly popular–Erin Gates.

Designer jewelry: M. Flynn has been expanding each year, adding new designers they feel are a good fit for both their store and the Boston area. Some of the best selling and favorites are Adel Chefridi, Page Sargisson, EF Collection, Misa Jewelry, Mociun, Loquet, Kelly Bello, and more.

Bridal jewelry: An ideal destination for all your wedding needs, M. Flynn can create your dream ring! They also have a large assortment of finished pieces from their own designs, as well as top designer engagement rings from Anna Sheffield, Mociun, Misa Jewelry, and Page Sargisson. They also have a selection of men’s wedding bands too!

Estate Jewelry: All periods, all styles–M. Flynn loves it all, so if it is delicate and sentimental or retro and unique, you will find it here. Lots of rings, some earrings and necklaces, and a large assortment of charms. This section is ever-changing and always one-of-a-kind, so check back often!

Fashion Jewelry: I know Gem Gossip does not cover fashion jewelry at all, but it is noteworthy that M. Flynn does carry fashion jewelry–lots of different designers, such as Lizzie Fortunato, Pamela Love, and Alexis Bittar–and great price points for gift-giving season.

Gifts/Accessories: Who knew jewelry-related gifts were so fun?! Gem Water bottles, jewelry travel cases, fragrances, cards, candles, jewelry books…you name it, they have it! I need this store in my life during the holidays!

Custom design: Besides all the above amazingness, M. Flynn also can custom design your dream piece. Whether you bring in family stones or have nothing at all except for a few slight ideas, they are here to help with that. You will be loving the finished result and coming back for more.

Hope you enjoy browsing the above photos from my visit–I know you will have heart-emoji eyes while doing so. Megan & Moria are truly so nice and have such a passion for what they do–I also have major respect for Megan getting her gemology degree at GIA. Not many store owners do so and I think that’s amazing! Next time you’re in Boston, pop in and say hi–make sure to pet Stu for me!

M Flynn

40 Waltham St.

Boston, MA 02118

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Gem Gossip Visits Quadrum Gallery in Boston, MA

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Quadrum Gallery resides inside a mall called The Shops at Chestnut Hill

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

The most mouth-watering stack I’ve ever created, all rings are by Lilly Fitzgerald, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Mesmerized by Paul Morelli’s designs, love the moonstones! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Director of Quadrum Gallery, Sia Maravelias, shows me around as I’m entranced by all the gorgeous jewels

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

California-based designer Julez Bryant is one of Quadrum’s newest additions, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

the work of Lilly Fitzgerald inside one of the cases

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Last year, Quadrum added Spinelli Kilcollin to their repertoire and it has been one of their best sellers, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

I love when designers’ work complements one another–here I’m wearing Moritz Glik & Sorellina

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Quadrum understands that one can never have too much Gabriella Kiss Jewelry, so they keep a heavy stock! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

I fell in love with these whimsical gemstone charms handmade by Maria Beaulieu, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Wearing two gorgeous diamond necklaces by TAP by Todd Pownell, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Anthony Lent Jewelry is another new addition for Quadrum, shop here

Untitled Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Jewelry by Sorellina both left and right photos, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Moonstone magic, all jewelry by Paul Morelli, including the engagement ring

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

the unique earring display for the work of Maria Beaulieu

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Spinelli Kilcollin rings piled on…they go perfect with my star boots

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Lilly Fitzgerald jewelry–the necklace is made of apatite, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Jamie Joseph is always popular and her work is highly collected, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Quadrum is an ideal place to shop for your engagement ring, look at the variety of styles! Shop more here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

These watermelon tourmaline earrings by Lilly Fitzgerald were a favorite, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip Quadrum | Gem Gossip

We’ve got a mix of Sorellina, Moritz Glik, and Paul Morelli

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

You can stop by Quadrum Gallery any day of the week! Love that about the store…if I lived closer, I would be there all the time 🙂

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

More Gabriella Kiss, this time on my hands! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Gabriella Kiss designs lots of unique pieces, all shown here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Wearing Julez Bryant–check out my geometric ear stack! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Up close shot of the two Moritz Glik rings (“shaker” diamonds) and Sorellina band

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

The outside of Quadrum Gallery, where you can easily spend hours gasping and coveting.

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Another shot of the Spinelli Kilcollin rings, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Gabriella Kiss rings lined up all in a row, ready for new homes!

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

For over 39 years Quadrum Gallery has paved its own way, formed its own niche, and outshined ordinary jewelry stores both locally and across the US. There’s something to be said about a store that can march to the beat of its own drum and their success is because of this. Cynthia Kagan – the owner of Quadrum – had the passion and vision of creating this space known for its unique and exciting mix of artisans and jewelry designers. The artists represented can easily wow with a single glance. I was laughing as I was going through the photos taken from my very fun visit to Quadrum early on a Wednesday morning–every photo of myself I have my mouth open in a state of euphoria, most likely verbalizing the words WHOA or WOW, because that’s all I could say. The jewelry is just as special as each designer’s story is–what inspires them to create, where they are based, how they started…Quadrum is full of magic and I’m excited to share my visit with you all!

Sia Maravelias has been director of Quadrum for over 12 years, with 18 years total of working at the store, and has an enormous passion for jewelry. I also met with Amy Renneisen, assistant director who is equally addicted to jewelry as well. Playing with jewelry all day is just a tiny fraction of what these women do on a daily basis. One of their most favorite things is interacting with their dedicated clients who follow profusely on Instagram, print out their own wish lists from scrolling through the website, and are counting down days until their favorite designers host a trunk show at the store. Sia recalls, “Our Gabriella Kiss trunk shows create some large crowds in our store…it is always so much fun!”

Quadrum is exclusively designer-centered, meaning they don’t create their own in-house line of jewelry or have a repair shop on site. With the focus being on the artists, the store has become a destination. The selection is one of the most unique and distinct out there, having formed some of the longest-running relationships with certain designers. A great example of this is they’ve carried Barbara Heinrich for over 32 years, John Iversen, Reinstein/Ross, and Pat Flynn all over 20 years! Every year the Couture show is a tradeshow the team looks forward to and is often when they scout out a select few new additions to their artist lineup. This year they’ve added Anthony Lent, Sorellina, Moritz Glik and Julez Bryant.

Another aspect that I highly admire about Quadrum is something I just learned of when I visited. They do all their own photography, as well as their website and social media. All photography has been self-taught and it is honestly some of the best I’ve seen. Jewelry photography is no easy feat and those in the business know this quite well. I also love how both Sia and Amy have their own Instagram pages aside from the main Quadrum Gallery page. Both of their Instagrams are dripping with inspiration, whether it is how to stack or style some of the pieces from the store or new arrivals headed to the cases. You can follow Sia at @jewelry_maven and Amy at @thegemdiaries

Thanks so much for having me and I will forever be dreaming of all the incredible jewelry I saw while visiting.

quadrum_logo

The Shops at Chestnut Hills

199 Boylston St.

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

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Ten Facts You Didn’t Know About Gem Gossip

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Above features every “logo” aka Banner I’ve had over the past nine years, from first inception until now. The evolution shows the progression and most recently we dropped our tagline which we’ve had since day one.

With each passing July, I sit and ponder the beginnings of my blog Gem Gossip–all that it has done and accomplished, and all the potential that lies ahead. It was nine years ago that I first started this website with the sole purpose of connecting with others that love jewelry as much as I do. I never imagined that I would be doing this full-time nine years later and creating my own path. And I have YOU to thank for all this–those who read my blog daily, follow my social media accounts, “like” my photos and send encouraging emails. Thank you. You truly don’t know what it means to me and I’m forever grateful.

To celebrate this year, I’m reminiscing like crazy and sharing with you some facts you might not have known about Gem Gossip! I thought this would be a fun and personal blog post, and I’d love to hear some interesting tidbits regarding YOU and Gem Gossip. Does a blog post stick out in your memory? How did you find or stumble upon my blog? Did I help you out in a way that I don’t know about? I’d love to know! You can email me, write it in the comments below, or share on Instagram–I’ll be posting this on there as well.

PS: There will also be a giveaway coming up, but I have to hit 160k followers on Instagram first, so stay tuned!

The Facts:

1. I started my blog as a result of moving to Tennessee–after uprooting from the only house I had ever lived in my whole life in Upstate NY to TN, I had a lot of time on my hands. I had no job, no car (I sold my car because I didn’t want to drive it 11 hours by myself lol), and knew no one in my new town. I finally decided to invest my time and energy into learning about my biggest passion I had been carrying around with me my whole life–JEWELRY!

2. I was in a long distance relationship at the time I started Gem Gossip. It was because of my ex-boyfriend who suggested I should start a blog about jewelry after I had constantly filled his inbox daily with long hyperlinks of jewelry that I thought was “really cool.” He told me he didn’t care about the jewelry and that I needed an outlet to share my passion with others who felt the same way!

3. The name “Gem Gossip” was conceived after a brainstorm session with my sisters on what to name my future jewelry blog. I knew I couldn’t have my URL be daniellemiele.com because NO ONE knows how to pronounce my last name. It had to be catchy, simple, relate to jewelry and easy to say. I was looking at my sister’s fashion magazines and saw one of the actresses from Gossip Girl on the front cover (that show was the most popular around that time). I whispered aloud, “Gossip Gem” … and then “Gem Gossip” and it all clicked!

4. One of my first emails I’ve ever received from a jewelry designer was from Carolyn Tyler, after I had featured some of her work on my brand new blog. Her email was so encouraging and the excitement that I felt from receiving positive feedback was worth more than gold to me in that moment. I will never forget that kind exchange.

5. On the flipside of that, I’ve received several negative emails over the past nine years. One that called me Southern white trash (I’m from NY, so nice try) and a few that poked fun of my features that included photos of me modeling jewelry. This is both alarming on many levels but also quite comical, in my opinion.

6. The first seven years of writing Gem Gossip were all done part-time on weekends or after work. I was a nanny for the very first year and a half when I moved to Tennessee, and then eventually worked full-time at an antique jewelry store for five years. I would sit behind a microscope Tuesday through Saturday, with a pile of jewelry in a room without windows and crank out appraisals…and then come home bursting with creative energy, not wanting to do anything else except work on my blog.

7. One of my first big writing gigs was for LoveGold–I had no idea at the time how much I would learn in such a positive way from the 2 1/2 years of working with them. I produced exactly 100 pieces of exclusive content for LoveGold and traveled thousands of miles. And I still can’t get enough of yellow gold.

8. I once had a meeting with a very prestigious celebrity stylist. After learning I lived in Nashville she asked me about my love of country music. I told her I hated country music and she kept saying, “So you don’t like Taylor Swift? Not even Taylor Swift??” and I was adamant about not liking Taylor Swift. It was then and there that I realized I could have easily changed my answer to better fit our conversation; for her to “like” me. But I didn’t. I am who I am and I’m not changing for anyone. It is a memory that still sticks with me to this day…and it was with me a few weeks ago when I had some big meetings in NYC.

9. My #JewelryRoadTrip project involves a lot of travel, appointment making and on-the-spot creativity when visiting stores and designers’ work spaces. My husband Matt usually is the photographer behind all my #JewelryRoadTrip features but there was one big trip he couldn’t make–all my Pennsylvania coverage. My mom ended up coming along with me and taking all the photos. She was SO nervous and wanted to do a good job. I think she did great and it is still such a memorable trip for both of us. It was one of the first literal road trips where we drove my Prius up from Nashville and across the entire state of Pennsylvania over the course of four days. My car surpassed the 100k mileage mark on that trip and we celebrated by eating Arby’s (my favorite road trip fast food place…wait, maybe I am white trash?? See #5).

10. One of my most proud moments was being a co-curator at the Doyle & Doyle Vault series, where the NYC-based antique jewelry store put on their version of a month-long museum exhibition. I chose the topic of Sentimental Rings and several of my personal pieces, including my grandparents’ wedding bands and my grandma’s engagement ring were a part of the exhibit. In order for her ring to get to me, my grandma had to mail me her beloved ring. We both were so nervous for this feat–I had been tracking the package every step of the way. On the day of delivery, it was pouring rain. My alerts told me it had been delivered at my doorstep, but it was nowhere to be found. I was having a full-on panic attack over this. I ran outside in the rain in search of the package. To my surprise, it was sitting on the stoop of my neighbor a few doors down from me. It wasn’t just any neighbor…it was our neighbor that we were in a fully committed “poop war” with. What could I possibly mean by this? Well his dog would go to the bathroom in our yard almost daily…so my husband would take the dog poop and put it on their porch. Dumbest thing ever, but we were totally into it at the time lol. I grabbed the package off their porch and ran back home. That day ended the “poop war” and they moved shortly afterward, so all crisis averted. (By the way, my grandma’s Italian handwriting is the reason for the incorrect delivery–insert Italian hand gesture meaning WTF).

xoxoGemGossip

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Nathalie of @NathaliesDesk

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We are back with this month’s Jewelry Collection Story and it comes from Nathalie whom I discovered on Instagram! She has been posting eye-catching and droolworthy images of her personal collection, including her incredible and rare antique ring case collection. It was awesome to see that she found my #JewelryRoadTrip to Ohio alluring enough to buy two of the rings I featured–I love when people are able to connect that way with items that I showcase, it is honestly why I started the #JewelryRoadTrip project in the first place! I had to know more about her and her story, as well as see first-hand her gorgeous collection. Take it away Nathalie:

My journey with jewelry began with a 24K yellow gold bracelet. It was a Sweet Sixteen birthday gift from my mother, my first jewelry piece from her – and I was disappointed. At that age, I was hoping for new clothes, new shoes, or the latest coolest CD player. I thanked my mother and tucked it away because I thought yellow gold was for old ladies. Every year after that, she continued to bestow yellow gold to me on my birthdays. They came in the form of more bracelets, necklaces, and pendants. Each time, I would thank her, put away the pieces, and never wear them.

On my 21st birthday, after receiving another piece of yellow gold jewelry it finally occurred to me to ask my mother why she chose this as my annual gift over other things. To this she replied, “When you were 7 months old, your father and I had to escape our mother country (Vietnam) and when we arrived to our new country (France), I had to sell my jewelry in order to get things like food.” And she kept on talking and sharing. And I felt shame for being ungrateful, heartbreak for the hardships my parents endured. I also started to see and love my mother in a whole new light. She is my Wonder Woman. And this was also the day I truly fell in love with jewelry and became a collector.

A while back, there was a question floating around in the Instagram world asking “Does jewelry make you a better person?” To that I say “Yes, it does!” It can lift your spirits up, it can create a bond between people, it can commemorate the loss of a loved one, or punctuate a special occasion. Sometimes it is just downright magical. If you are reading this blog, then I am sure you have chased or currently chasing some unicorn in the form of a ring, bracelet, necklace, or earrings.

I look for treasures in all kinds of places: at my local shops, fairs, and online (eBay, Etsy, Ruby Lane). Collecting has its ebbs and flows. I have gone years without buying a single piece, and other times when that is all I can think about! What attracts me also seems to have its cycles which is why I rarely part with any of my pieces. I am an equal bling opportunist, but I tend to gravitate towards rings. I do think I am at a point where I need to par down a bit to make room for some new fabulous pieces. Discovering the Instagram community truly enriched my knowledge and appreciation for past and current jewelry, in addition to making some lovely connections with others who understand this passion.

When I became a mom two and half years ago, I started daydreaming about what stories I would share with my daughter. Every time I bring out my jewelry to play she is always by my side asking to play along. It is so fun to see her light up as I let her try on my pieces. Little does she know that she is already the owner of something very special. When she had turned one month old my mother had gifted her the sweetest 24K gold bracelet. And there will be many more treasures waiting for her.


xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? Check out the other Jewelry Collection Stories

You can follow Nathalie –> @NathaliesDesk

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Q & A with Nektar De Stagni Fine Jewelry

Spike Jewelry Set by Nektar De Stagni

Transforming soft, elegant pearls into edgy and cool pieces of jewelry, Nektar De Stagni has created a fine jewelry brand that is both fun and here to stay. I’m loving everything about it, including the smiley (and non-smiley) pearl emoji dudes, whether they’re in pendant form, ring form, or earrings, these provoke positivity! I personally own the spike pearl necklace in yellow gold and every time I wear it, someone always asks about it!

Nektar De Stagni has creativity in her blood and first launched her fashion brand at the young age of 21. Both the response and the passion she felt from her jewelry which also launched had led her to solely focus on NDS her fine jewelry identity and brand. Since its inception in 2008, Nektar De Stagni has become a cult favorite and is currently carried at Nordstrom, The Webster, Opening Ceremony, and several other retailers, including her own e-commerce website. We caught up with the busy entrepreneur and DJ to learn the latest:

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We are currently working on expanding on the Pearl Styles to include other cute symbols like Hearts, Peace signs, and Letters/initials!

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I have been designing since I was a little girl. I have sketches of jewelry as early as age 6! When I was 18 I started a ready to wear company and made jewelry accessories to complement the clothes. The jewelry was really popular and it slowly took over. In 2008 I decided to launch Nektar De Stagni Fine Jewelry as a standalone brand.

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Seeing my jewelry in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bergdorf Goodman, and worn by Rihanna is a major thrill!

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I would love to one day collaborate with Tiffany & Co, and Cartier.

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I love all of my jewelry, but the Smiley Emoji Pearl Ring is a great reminder to stay positive and grateful every day 🙂

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Enter to win your own Nektar De Stagni smile emoji pearl ring — click here!

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