Q & A and Visit with Raquel Alonso Perez of Harvard’s Museum of Natural History

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My very last stop while in Boston, hours before my flight took off, I had planned the best parting gift–a visit to Harvard University’s Museum of Natural History! Sounds dreamy, right?! Well it is and then some. An entire room filled with thousands of minerals and gems is open to the public on Harvard’s campus, and Raquel Alonso Perez was there to give me a full tour, including some majorly fun behind-the-scenes stuff. I honestly think my one-on-one time with Raquel had taught me more in one hour than my entire Freshman year at college! I didn’t want to leave! I got to hold pieces of gold that came out of the ground looking like sculptures, play with rough diamonds, see some incredible gemstones, and the highlight of my day was getting to spend some time with the Hamlin Necklace–rare and notable because of its gigantic tourmalines it showcases, which are all from the same mine in Maine!

Raquel’s hospitality, warmth and passion to share with me what she does at the Mineralogical & Geological Museum was accepted with much gratitude and I had so much fun! Here’s some insight into what Raquel does, illustrated with photos from my visit! Enjoy!

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I serve as the Curator of the Mineralogical and Geological Museum (MGMH). Our collections date back to 1798! After 230 years of collecting, the MGMH is one of the oldest, largest and continuously operated mineralogical and geological museum, built for the nation and world-renowned for its fine quality collections, broad representation of species, unique occurrences and large number of type, described, and illustrated specimens. Our repository has become a true library of the earth with over 400,000 objects divided in 4 main collections: minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks. My role as Curator is to provide access to the world-class Earth Science collections at Harvard University, encouraging its use for teaching, research and public education. The favorite part of my job is research and all teaching and academic related activities, in addition to working with the dedicated team of people at the MGMH, the Earth and Planetary Science Department and the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, HSMC, where our public gallery is located.

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In total, the museum has around 400,000 objects divided in 4 main collections: minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks and ore deposits. Only 3550 individual mineral specimens are on display at the Museum, 145 of these include a gemstone of the same variety. My favorite examples are in the wider variety of crystals and gemstones. For example, the beryls, we have a whole case of them displaying 40 specimens full of light and color. I also love the tourmalines, with all of the different kinds displayed with bi-color and watermelon elbaites from Maine, USA. As you can imagine, we have a strong collection of New England minerals, gems, and rare species. We receive a lot of donations, but we couldn’t display our entire collection, even if we wanted! Space is a major constraint, but not the only one. We also have to make hard choices about what to share in order to fulfill the Museum’s mission. Our museum is not only about highlighting aesthetics. We also need to prioritize the display of specimens that will also serve reference and research purposes.

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I am a geologist by training specialized in mineralogy, gemology, geochemistry and petrology. There are too many “logy’s” in there! These branches of Earth Sciences come together in a fascinating way, giving color and texture to the world we inhabit. In 2006 I completed my PhD at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, where I studied how the earth crust is formed, by comparing it with artificial rocks produced in the lab. After graduation, I took a short break to have my two children, Marco and Amaya, and returned in 2009 to professional life to work as a research assistant at the Earth and Planetary Science Department, Harvard University. A year later I was hired as Assistant Curator to take care of the rock collection at the MGMH and got appointed head Curator of the entire MGMH collections in 2011.

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I’ve always wondered why minerals acquire a color and not other colors. We know so little about the chemistry and the physics involved! My passion, stimulated by my daily encounter with Harvard’s amazing collections, is to uncover the story behind nature’s color choices! My work in the past 2 years has been focused in tourmalines and beryls. The most common color of elbaites from Main, USA is green but they also come in blue, yellow, pink, colorless and with many different hues and tones. With the use of non-destructive analytical techniques, I was able to determine the chemical distribution, trace element patterns and color correlation in a suite of elbaites from Maine, Hamlin Collection. In addition, this non-destructive dual-technique used in this study (Confocal Micro Raman Spectroscopy and LA- ICPMS, laser ablation-induced coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) has great potential to be applied to other gemmological materials to also distinguish provenance, natural versus synthetic materials and treatments. My current project aims to better understand the formation of emeralds, and is focused on the geology of the emerald deposit of Irondro, Madagascar. In fact, I mostly focus on rocks from Madagascar, which is a blessing, since the MGMH is quickly becoming the main repository of minerals, rocks and gemstones from this part of the world. I also benefit from the museum’s vast network. I sometimes end up requesting research material from friends, donors and supporters of the Museum from faraway lands! However, my main priority and where most of my work goes is into ensuring that the MGMH’s collections are curated according to the highest standards of museum best practices for their preservation in perpetuity and use by future generations. Digitization plays an important role to achieve these goals and our ambition to open them up to a wider audience, especially those concerning research, education and public outreach, which will result in an online database of our collections sometime in the fall of 2017.

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Every day, in the environment I am, could end up being a highlight and making you proud of the work you do, especially when it can impact other people life’s. I would like to share with you a portion of an e-mail I received from one of the female students attending my class at the Harvard Summer school as a beautiful example. “..Here again I want to say thank you for bringing me my best summer ever. I really enjoyed the lecture. Every time when listening to the lecture, I really feel I’m being educated and have more knowledge on mineralogy and gemology. The happiness of gaining knowledge is hard to express; it’s like seeing the moon coming out of the clouds and lighting up a street in the dark midnight. Also, I love the labs. I feel so good identifying minerals by myself, putting everything I learnt into use. I’m also fascinated by the gemstone experiments. I can’t wait to get a full set of tools and practice in the gem markets back in China. What I really want to appreciate is that for all your support for me to do more microscope experiments. I know that doing the experiment before class means you have to skip lunch, I’m really sorry. The experiment is so incredible, I never see those features before, and I couldn’t fully understand everything without doing the actual experiment. The image is fantastic. I gasp that people ever create those ways for examine stones. What I like most is the field trip. The behind the scene of the museum is awesome. I never thought that museum work would be so interesting. There are so many stories behind every collection! I also really really like the field trip to mine. You became my idol when you drove the van packed with all of us and fed us snacks. Working in the field is so different and I think I need more field work to really become a geology people. I sometimes feel so shame that I learned so much knowledge but still like a baby when put in the field. However, going to the field makes a lot of knowledge easier to understand. In the mine, when I saw you standing on the shiny mica mountain, I feel like you are one of the best women in the world—- a woman who could stand in the field with knowledge, and explore the earth, go right after the unknown, a kind of woman I really want to be. It is this summer that I, for the first time in forever, really willing to go to university; not because it is what everybody do, but because all the knowledge and skills I could get, all the resource I could access, and all the fantastic professors in the future I will meet to motivate my life..”

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My best piece of advice for anyone in general is to follow their passion, work hard, overcome challenges, focus and don’t give up! The combination of passion and perseverance will bring you where you want to be.

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

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Valentine’s Day Picks from KAVADOR

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Launched in 2015, Kavador was created with a main goal in mind: to dig into the vaults of jewelry stores around the country and give these hidden jewels their time to shine online! Jennie Pastor, CEO and Founder of Kavador, and myself have a few things in common. One of them being that we both realize there are so many amazing pieces of jewelry out there belonging to smaller, independent jewelers that don’t have the means to promote their inventory online. Websites are expensive and having one that is fully functional with e-commerce capability is often way over a jewelry store owner’s head. Just as I like to travel the US, visiting jewelry stores to showcase all that is out there, Kavador does as well! Only they have a whole team dedicated to curating items they find and listing them online, available for purchase. Kavador has quickly become a growing marketplace for stores to sell their pieces and for jewelry lovers to frequent often to find new treasures. And if you glance at their inventory, you’ll recognize right away how this website needs to be on your radar and checked regularly! Their SOLD gallery is fun to look at as well, although it is slightly sad because they’ve already found their forever home.

I’m so excited to partner with Kavador–not only have I gotten the chance to learn more about this amazing company and speak with Jennie (interview below) but I also got to curate my own favorites just in time for Valentine’s Day. I’ve also got a special treat for everyone–have $150 credit on me! Have fun exploring the vaults of Kavador and use code GEMGOSSIP150 from now until the end of February for your $150 credit.

As a kid, I have always been attracted to glitter and sparkle – I made my own accessories, tinkered with colorful nails and clothes and hair… No surprise then that I married into a family of jewelers and gemologists!

My family has been in the fine jewelry business for over 40 years, owning and operating independent retail jewelry stores and developing relationships with jewelry lovers and buyers as they select and maintain jewelry for generations. I’ve personally watched how dramatically the industry has changed in the last decade, specifically the challenges faced by independent local retailers in the face of changing consumer buying patterns and reduced in-store foot traffic.

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Jewelry Marketing 101: What’s NOT Working

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So you’re the creative type…or the type that has a unique eye. You’re a jewelry designer, an antique jewelry seller, or someone that has jewelry ready to sell. Jewelry marketing is a whole different realm of what most would consider typical jewelry business tasks. It is something I never thought I would be able to give my opinion on, but I can because I’ve lived it and found myself in this sector of the business more than I realized. I’m trying to break down my tips into simple steps anyone can take, whether you’re a veteran in this business and want to try something new or if you just graduated from a trade school with a jewelry collection on the horizon. So here is my list of ways you can market your brand or your jewelry line, with an emphasis on things that also DON’T work!

1. Photography is everything! Invest in a good camera or better yet, someone that is a photographer with jewelry or product photography as their specialty. If you ask anyone, they will tell you–jewelry is so hard to photograph! And they’re right.

Good photos may be a key aspect to showing off jewelry and that isn’t groundbreaking news. But what I’m about to say next might be: don’t use photos that are highly photoshopped or unrealistic. As a consumer, we want to see the actual piece of jewelry in a real setting–make it relatable, attainable. I don’t want to see an overphotoshopped model wearing jewelry in a posed setting with a fake smile. I want to see real women wearing jewelry in their everyday lives. Editorial shoots are cool, but just don’t overphotoshop.

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2. Social media platforms are SO important. Set yours up to look professional, concise and engaging. You want someone to look at your page and become interested. Grab their attention. Something that is quite popular right now is having a condensed, clean look that all flows together. Basically, a uniform and on-brand look. Every picture fits with your brand and is professionally executed.

This sounds all good, but I’m actually going to tell you the opposite. I like when jewelry brands mix things up, keep me on my toes and post photos that are off-the-cusp. Keep me INTERESTED. Uniform branding is often BORING. For example, here’s what not to do: first post is a high res image of a ring, next photo is a quote, next photo is the jewelry worn on a model, next image is a bunch of flowers, and then it repeats without missing a step. Nothing random ever thrown in the mix. Don’t do that!

I’ve asked Brooke of Arrow & Anchor Antiques, which boasts nearly 18k followers on Instagram with only 550 posts ever, what her opinion on the matter is…she says,“I am hesitant to have a uniform branding for my company. My aesthetic is my brand and it’s all over the place. I dig that. It may not appeal to the masses, but is that really my target audience? I’m selling one-of-a-kind vintage and antique pieces that might be better sold in an intimate setting like a trunk show or private sale.”

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Decorate Your Ears this Holiday with Arik Kastan

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Arik Kastan

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Add a little twinkle to your ears this holiday season! The Starlight Drop earrings add effortless elegance to any outfit, whether its your holiday dress or your casual jean and t-shirt look. Set with labradorite in the center, surrounded by garnets.

Starlight drop earrings, Price: $858

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We love these drop earrings done in 14k rose gold and rose cut diamonds. The ornate design of the round floral cluster is a great for a double-take reaction. You’ll have heads turning when wearing these, whether it’s at a holiday party or New Year’s bash!

Nouveau Flower drop earrings, Price: $1,826

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Chic and dramatic, these Pinwheel drop earrings will make her mouth drop if she unwrapped these sparklers. A holiday morning surprise is our favorite kind of treat and these earrings will do just the trick.

Pinwheel drop earrings, Price: $1,540

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Your ears will be feeling fabulous with these cluster earrings from Arik Kastan. We’ve combined a labradorite in the center along with some dark blue sapphires to create this edgy and romantic pair of beauties. They are 100% holiday appropriate.

Stargazer drop earrings, Price: $1,220

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Just as dahlias can represent grace and inner strength, these drop earrings were designed based on these beautiful flowers. We’ve set them with blue sapphires in the center and rose cut diamonds for the petals. Of course, our signature and exclusive 14k rose gold just makes them pop!

Dahlia drop earrings, Price: $1,540

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The New Jean Jean Vintage Cachet Collection

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Something very odd is happening in my jewelry box. Yes, rings and cocktail rings have always and will always rule–but another category has taken a dramatic increase as of late, charms! I’ve been enjoying their collectible nature, as many of you know I’m such a collector at heart, so naturally these are a great fit. Whether it is a charm that reminds me of something in my life or just something that appeals to me, I’ve been gathering quite a few these past few months.

And then I saw these from Jean Jean Vintage and couldn’t have fallen more in love! Introducing the Cachet Collection–Cachet being French for a “seal affixed to a document or letter.” Each tiny charm is a double sided wax seal stamped nugget of gold, flattened to perfection. They are sentimental, romantic and most importantly adorable. And the subtleness of the charm allows you to wear one or ten! Add is to your favorite necklace or chain…or maybe even a charm bracelet?!

There are 14 different Cachet charms from Jean Jean Vintage–each featuring two original Victorian wax seal stamps, depicting different messages, some even hidden or not as obvious. You can currently purchase all 14 on the Jean Jean Vintage Etsy page in 10k yellow gold, however if you’d like 14k yellow, white or rose gold, even 18k or platinum, custom orders can be done! There are even ways to add diamonds and other gemstones, which creates a whole new dimension to them! With the holidays quickly approaching, the price points on these are great for friends and family gift giving. Each of the 14 designs are special, so be sure to read about each and decipher which one is right for you!

I picked no.6–the two sides are as follows: side 1 ∙ a dog seated, at attention, in front of a tombstone with an hourglass on top. In French, the phrase reads “le temps passe, l’amitié reste / time passes, friendship remains.” side 2 ∙ day of the week, “Samedi / Saturday.” Of course I had to pick the one with a dog. I’ve been wearing mine on a vintage 1950s child’s “add a pearl” necklace chain, that is super short, so it is almost a choker on me. I like this charm sitting higher up, but I’m sure I will be changing it up a lot and wearing it often! Thanks Duff of Jean Jean Vintage for creating these amazing charms and gifting me one!

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One day in New York City

If you are here for the We’re all ears Challenge reveal , then skip to the end of the post to see the earrings.

If you are here for the We‘re all ears Challenge reveal , then skip to the end of the post to see the earrings. But if you have five minutes, you could read about my recent travels and my “New York State of Mind”.

In a New York State of Mind

My USA journey began with a flight to JFK where I was picked by my Aunt and Uncle, and driven to their home in the picturesque Albertson. It was everything I had read about American suburbs – calm and quiet, yet not very far from the main road, surprisingly dotted with Indian and Pakistani stores. It might as well been a villa colony along the ECR if not for the American flag fluttering in the porch of many a house.

The next morning, after depositing my luggage at a charming place in Woodside, near Queens Blvd I left to board a train that would take me to Hudson yards station, wherein began my sightseeing Trip. They say that New Yorkers walk a lot – and by the time I reached Pier 83, near the Intrepid Air and Space Museum from Hudson yard, I realised the truth behind that remark. It was a long brutal walk, considered peanuts by NYC standards. Thankfully, the warehouses along the way provided much needed shade during that terribly hot day. I soon boarded a cruise boat and after securing a seat at the upper half covered deck, waited in anticipation to see Lady Liberty.

The Landmark cruise, a 90 minute ride on the Hudson river was a great and comfortable way to see the famed Manhattan skyline even on a very hot day. Within minutes of the cruise I could see the Skyscrapers – all concrete and glass. World Trade Center, 9/11 memorial, Empire State building, Battery park were on one side while the other side offered a peak into New Jersey. Contrary to the note on the Cruise website, the cruise neither goes around the Statue of Liberty nor do we get to see it twice. After a brief glimpse from a good distance we took a U Turn to see the famous Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg bridge. I felt sorry for the folks who did not rush to the deck to take their pictures but waited patiently for the boat to turn around; they never got a chance to take pictures of the SOL after that. Sometimes, patience doesn’t pay.

The commentary was very informative to begin with, but it got boring towards the end with the guide going on and on about the 9/11 memorial, the great “New York rush hour” and Captain Sully’s landing on the Hudson. Maybe with the movie coming up (it has been released now) the guide thought it would be interesting to people, but people got bored and started talking really loudly during the return journey. Instead, we could have spent more time at the statue of liberty as 5 minutes is hardly enough to soak up her splendor. It was however, very interesting, to see people take ferry rides, helicopter rides, go yatching and yes go jet skiing on the river.

After a quick lunch consisting of a muffin and an apple, I ubered to the Met. The Metropolitan museum of art is heaven on earth for artists, designers and connoisseurs of beauty. I really missed my mom and wished that she got an opportunity to see it as well, so I called her (woke her up in the middle of the night) and described the exhibits as I was walking through the Greek section. People say that those who are not artistically inclined can see 4 sections in a day and those who love art can only see 2. I, on the other hand saw 8 exhibits. I rushed through them as FOMO (fear of missing out) gripped me until they basically threw me out at 5:30 PM. “When am I ever going to get an opportunity like this again”, I told myself, forcing my brain into absorbing everything I saw and wishing that I had skipped the cruise and been at the Met at the opening time instead. I will write soon about extraordinary jewelry exhibits and Manus Machina very soon.

I chose to see only three places in NYC and the last on my list was the “Sunset view from the Top pf Rock”. I had gotten a glimpse of Central Park earlier on my way over to the MET but as I travelled towards TOR, I was able to appreciate Central park once again, this time only for $5 as I was driven along the 5th avenue. Thank God for share -Uber that nobody wants to share 😀 My Driver turned out to be a freelance Graphic designer and so he was happy to point out signages and thematic displays of Fashion stores along the famous street.

fifth avenue new york

Even though I was late for my TOR appointment I took my time in seeing portions of the Rockefeller center and browsed at Anthropologie to my heart’s content. But I missed seeing the inside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and going through more high end stores on that street. If given an another chance, I would do it differently.
My image of New York city, like most other Indians is created based on stories of cousins or relatives who live abroad or is crafted through American Television shows. In my case it was the TV shows like “Sex and the City”, “White Collar” and “Castle” that made me visit TOR at sunset. I fell in love with how the Empire state building looked in the “so called evening light” in the shows but only when I actually reached TOR, I realised that the light in those scenes come from the opposite side, meaning that they could been shot during sunrise. I reached the 67th floor around 7 PM awaiting the 7:55 PM sunset but the sun tested all of us by setting at 8:20 PM. By then, both the 69th and 70th floors had become extremely crowded, filled with frustrated people who were disappointed with their dull, unsharp pictures on a very humid and cloudy day. I guess ‘just seeing’ the Empire state building in all its splendor doesn’t hold the magic that it once did in the minds of people.

empire state building

Ten minutes after the sunset, I gave the Empire state building one last look and left with a heavy heart for I was leaving New York without seeing my favourite Chrysler building properly. My return journey was full of drama for I got lost in the subway maze. New Yorkers, I realised much Chennaites are perfectly capable of giving contradicting directions. GPS was also useless considering the number of roads that had closed due to ongoing construction. One side of most roads were dug up and it took all of my Chennai street smartness to avoid falling into any of them. I was thankful that I had been a city mouse for a while now. After wandering around lost for nearly an hour I reached the Times square. Maybe I was extremely tired and hungry, but to me it looked like someone had setup huge TV screens in Ranganathan Street. I was once again transported to Chennai and quickly reversed my steps to the station. But in a way I was blessed for I got see another glimpse of the Chrysler building as though it was poking its head to say hello to me.

empire state building at night

After shopping for band aids for my bruised feet and inexpensive drugstore makeup (which is very good btw) I finally reached the alarmingly quiet Woodside by 10:40 PM and heated up some soup that was to be my dinner. My day however was far from being over. My Airbnb host turned out to be a FIT graduate of Indian Origin and we ended up talking about uptil midnight about design, fashion and our ethnicity despite my blasting headache. She was quite surprised at how much I had packed into one day in Manahattan.
The next morning I packed my bags, bid my host and New York adieu as I travelled to New Jersey and that my dear readers was my day in New York. We have come to the end of a long post, which was supposed to be the first in my US series. At some point during typing this post, I started imagining myself to be Carrie writing her column and got carried away, sorry!

New York Sunset earrings

Coincidentally, this month‘s We‘re all ears Challenge is all about skyscrapers and the inspiration post features quite a few from New York. So it only fair that I wrote about my New York experience. Both the earrings – New York Sunset and Boxed up sky scrapers were made using the Niobium components that I made in my Rainforest leaves earrings class with Marti Brown at Beadfest. I have used the boxy rectangular shapes of the buildings and the sunset colors for my earrings. The seed beads represent the lit up windows and the scrunched up textures (and folds) represent the repair and construction work happening in the streets and in the buildings.

That was my Day in New York City, I hope you found it interesting

PS: If you are like me and like Billy Joel pop over to listen to his famous In a New York State of Mind Tamil Folks can always listen to New York nagaram orangum neram
Cheers

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Tips & Tricks on Effectively Using Snapchat or Instagram Stories

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One way to “bring to life” your brand is through Snapchat or Instagram Stories. Over the last few years, Instagram has become such an integral part of business and branding, it sort of has become a place where jewelry designers, jewelry stores and influencers have gone to display their aesthetic and grow their following. Sometimes an Instagram account can grow stale–although photos that are pleasing to the eye may continue to grab your audience’s attention, how can you suplement this platform and bring your photos to life?? That’s where Snapchat and Instagram’s newly launched “Instagram Stories” comes into play. You can ignore them all you want, but these additions are fun ways of engaging fans and you may be missing out on a new, up-and-coming niche.

That’s why I’ve elicited the help of jewelry designer Janna Connor to share her tips and tricks to effectively using Snapchat and/or Instagram Stories. Her brand has no doubt grown because of social media and she is always ready to take on the next big thing. Janna’s use of both these platforms as one of the first and few jewelry designers to use them and DO IT WELL has gained a lot of attention. Her quirky snaps, glimpses of everyday life of a jewelry designer and peeks of her personal life are leaving her fans wanting more.

So without further ado, take it away Janna:

“Ok so you’re on Instagram, that’s great. But don’t kid yourself by saying you don’t need to be on Instagram Stories and/or Snapchat as well. According to Forbes, “Over 60% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 38 are Snapchat users.” What is so great about Snapchat and Instagram Stories? While Instagram is the glossy magazine editorial layout, Snapchat is the more personal behind the scenes look to Instagram’s manicured perfection. Instagram’s answer to Snapchat Instagram Stories came out earlier this month and has been a massive hit. Why? Because it’s so easy to use and easy to find people on it, both things that unfortunately Snapchat is not. But Snapchat can become easy if you spend a little time on it everyday.

Here are my 5 tips for killing it in the Insta-stories/Snapchat world:

1. Be consistent. That means you have to post everyday. Not just once a week, not just when you feel like it but everyday. If you are consistent about posting then people will expect and look forward to watching your content. If you’re erratic and all over the place with your posting schedule then people will get bored and move on. Even if you are overwhelmed by the prospect of posting on yet another social media channel, don’t over think it. Start simple. Enjoying a delicious cup of coffee? Snuggling with a favorite pet? Going for a walk in a scenic area? Checking out a new store? Post it. If there are some days when you just aren’t feeling it then give yourself a pass and post only a few times. Increase gradually and work up to posting more. As they say, fake it till you make it. The more you do it the more second hand it will become and the easier it will become.

2. Just like on regular Instagram, don’t dump all your content at one time. That’s a major pet peeve. Think about it: If you see 15 pictures in a row, by the time you get to 15 you are not nearly as excited/focused as you were on 1-3. We’re all busy, with limited time and a lot of people we follow and a lot of content to get through in a day. But if you post 5 times a day, 3 pics each, then chances are people will stick it out and see all of your content. And the whole reason for posting is so that people will see it, right? So make it easy for them. Also, by posting several times a day, you will continually be moved to the top of the feed and the chances that people will see your post will increase dramatically.

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3. So, really what’s so great about Snapchat and Instagram stories anyways? Everything. Until recently when they added the Camera Roll function to SC and currently with Insta Stories is that you have to take the picture/video solely within the app. That means no Facetune no Snapseed, no photo retouching (with the exception of Snapchat’s amazing filters!). Just what you snap is what you get. What’s great about this is that it enables you to be a lot freer with your content. It’s not going to be perfect but it doesn’t have to be…because it only lasts for 24 hours! So who cares if a snap isn’t taken at the most flattering angle or you have a blemish in another… Big deal! It’s only up for 24 hours and you can always delete it later. That’s not to say you should post completely indiscriminately. Of course not. I would advise against posting anything lewd, illegal and no drunk pics. If you are a public profile then keep in mind that anyone can see these, including your coworkers and employees. So have fun but keep it clean guys! Another thing I love about Snapchat is that nobody can see how many followers another account has or how many views their content received. It really evens the playing field so there isn’t this overt competition to posting. It’s just for fun and that’s something that I think people gloss over too quickly. Sometimes it’s good to just do things because they’re fun or silly, it can stimulate you in many unforeseen creative ways and you may not even know it!

4. Now, you know when to post and how to post but how about what to post? Coming up with new ideas for content can be challenging. I recommend doing a little research and checking out what those you admire are up to. Take notes on what you like and what you don’t like and try it out for yourself. If you have new product coming in, snap it. If you have new packaging in, take a snap. Trying out a new restaurant, take a snap. Traveling somewhere interesting, take a snap. Think about what things you would find interesting and include those. Now, please don’t take a million different snaps of the same restaurant or the same place, just a few will suffice. Less is more! I’m a jewelry designer, and I have access to tons of jewelry, so I often post a pic or a video of what I’m wearing everyday. I figure it might be interesting for others to see how I put my jewelry together and how I accessorize. If I have new interesting stones in, I snap them or if there is an interesting piece in progress, I take a snap. I try to keep it to things that wouldn’t necessarily look great as a finished image on Instagram but are still interesting. Insta stories and SC is a great way for people to see behind the scenes into what makes you, you. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This helps to personalize you and make you more relatable. I like to do seasonal style guides or cross promote blog posts, or just a day in the life at my design studio or out exploring the city. I love going to museums so I’m sure to snap any art that moves me or interesting architecture. There are so many inspiring things in the world, just take a look around! Doodle on your photos, use stickers in Snapchat (hopefully these will come soon to Insta stories) and use captions. Personally, I like when people provide context for their stories so you’re not just looking at random images.

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5. Last but not least, use the video option. Snapchat and Insta-stories can help connect your followers to who is really behind your brand. To get to know the real you. So for that to happen, they want to hear your voice and see you in action. Make sure to add videos at least once a day, it can’t all be photos. I’m personally wary of doing too many of these because it can be annoying when there are blasts of sound from one story to the next. Always keep it short and sweet. Essentially Instagram Stories is your Instagram come to life so make it fun!

>> I hope you enjoyed my tips! If you want to see what I’ve been up to check my out on Instagram @jannaconner and Snapchat at Janna_Conner I also do social media consulting, for both big and small companies. If interested in finding out more please contact me at info@jannaconner.com

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May Is Gold Month, Celebrate with Some Gold Trends!

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The allure of gold is unlike any other metal–it conjures up so many feelings when I look at my favorite yellow gold bracelet brought back from Italy by my grandparents over 20 years ago, or when I wear my gold hoops that I purchased when I graduated from high school. I can sense the power, the value and the weight of the gold, but I can also feel the memories, the sentiment, and the love behind each piece. Celebrating gold is something I do everyday, as it is hands-down my favorite metal used for jewelry, so having an entire month dedicated to GOLD and promoting everything about it makes me happy! Over at May Is Gold Month, they have committed to spreading the knowledge of karat gold, promoting the wearability of gold with weekly trends, even providing some deals and contests for readers as well. For me, it’s a passion I can stand behind too, right there with them!

My love for karat gold jewelry has brought me on so many journeys with my #JewelryRoadTrip and working with LoveGold for two years, I’ve put on some miles all in the name of gold. I love the fact that gold has been found on every continent and it is my lifelong dream to be able to pan for gold and actually find some! I like to relate my quest for finding and featuring gold jewelry stores/designers on my blog as being similar to the gold miners of the big Gold Rush of 1849. In fact, it is one of my most favorite things to research and learn about. The power of gold is depicted best in situations like the California Gold Rush, where hundreds of thousands of gold-seekers put everything on the line in search of one thing. Gold’s impact reached far greater than just the discovery of it alone and it will always remain the number one selling metal for luxury and jewelry items.

How you wear and style karat gold jewelry is a whole different realm of gold. My biggest tip would be to try new ideas and trends–don’t ever wear the same pieces of jewelry every single day for the rest of your life! If you need some suggestions, May Is Gold Month has put together some weekly trends that you can easily focus on and I’m here to help suggest ways of taking each and making them your own. Let’s start from the top!

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Trend #1: GOLD HOOPS

A gold jewelry staple that will never go out of style, gold hoops are a piece of karat gold jewelry you must own! Thick or thin, large or small…the style and size does not matter, it’s how you wear them and what you wear them with that is most important! I like to wear mine stacked on one ear, with each being similar in size and style. I left my other lobe bare to give it a dramatic effect. Karat gold hoops can really add a spice to your style–a small addition with a big impact.

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Trend #2: LIGHTLY LAYERED

This is a great trend because you can combine lots of small, karat gold jewels to create one big, impactful look. I’ve always had a thing for tiny gold bracelets and each one has a unique style. Some are from Italy from my grandparents so they are very sentimental to me, while one I bought from a gold kiosk in the middle of the mall, and another is from Kay Jewelers. Wearing them all together is fun and every time my arm moves, they move around with me. The small karat gold rings are fun to stack and layer as well, so both types of jewelry play off one another.

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Trend #3: GOLD RINGS

This trend comes way too natural for me–I don’t ever leave the house with just ONE gold ring. However, there’s a skilled art to stacking rings and piling on whatever you have just won’t cut it. I like large, elongated rings to go on the biggest finger–the middle finger–and that works as a good starting point. Combine rings that have a special meaning with pieces that are trendy. I love the geometrical trends that are happening right now, so I opted for a lightweight, but still 14k solid gold version of this trend to cut the cost. One thing is for certain though, whenever you buy a piece of karat gold jewelry, it is an investment that you won’t regret.

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Trend #4: SYMBOLISM

Gold jewelry is often highly symbolic, whether it’s a talisman, a good luck charm or a piece of jewelry that means something more than what meets the eye. For me, I have many karat gold charms in my life that hold a symbolic meaning like my Figas, and my lucky locket passed down to me by my Gram. My newest additions are the lapis scarab (if you follow me on Instagram, I’ve sold two large lapis scarab pieces recently and sort of regretted selling–and then I found like mini version of it just recently on my trip to DC, from The Antique Guild) and a gold heart ring box that holds an almost identical miniature version of my engagement ring, recently purchased from A.Brandt + Son. The charm is so neat because it opens and closes, and the craftsmanship is impeccable.

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Trend #5: WRIST BLISS

What a dueling pair of wrists! My bracelet style is quite bipolar–I love a great karat gold Victorian hinged bracelet but then I also can go very modern, chunky with a large, heavy men’s Cuban Link chain. Talk about opposites! I love both for different reasons, but that’s the beauty of having different styles and karat gold jewelry has SO many styles. I’ve collected the Victorian gold bracelets over the years from my job being an appraiser, but the Cuban Link chain is my husband’s! I hope to own a matching one some day…one that actually fits though! His is huge on me!

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Trend #6: NECK CANDY

Necklaces are the type of jewelry I own the least of, but surprisingly that has been changing lately! I think it’s because I like wearing necklaces that are more than just a chain and a pendant or charm. That’s when I got the bright idea of turning my gold cross charm bracelet into a necklace by adding a gold bracelet to each end and extending the length. It easily transforms it into a close-fitting statement necklace that everyone asks about…and even better, each cross has a story. I’ve also added my Fox & Bond Mini necklace to the mix to make the look more interesting. The Mini is a miniature solitaire ring which features a special engraving on the inside.

This post was brought to you in collaboration with May Is Gold Month.

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Q & A with Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry

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With each collection released and each encounter I have with Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry, I am more and more intrigued…spellbound, you could say. From the first concept of the lookbook (which I still have laid out like a coffee table best seller) to her enchanting video launch depicting her vision and a glimpse into her world, Lisa Kim strikes again, this time debuting a new collection called The Seabeast. The concept and inspiration will leave you curious to see what is next and the new pieces are gorgeous. Highly wearable ear climbers, earrings, necklaces and a unique ring make up The Seabeast collection. If you’re like me, you want to know more about the pieces and some insights into the designer, so here you go! Hope you enjoy:

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My boyfriend and I love to cook. We were in the kitchen making dinner one day several months ago when he told me about the cockentrice, which originated from the Middle Ages in Europe. A suckling pig and a capon were sewn together to create a whole new beast that was roasted and served on a platter. This was culinary drama designed to amaze and delight guests while feeding them. The idea of a creature made of different parts stuck in my head and it shaped the story behind The Seabeast. Mythological beasts are mash-ups anyway; the unicorn is a horse with a horn, the manticore is a lion with a human head, rows of shark-like teeth, bat wings, and a scorpion tail.

I offer different iterations of the same animal in The Seabeast. The initial release features pendants and earrings that are fusions of scales, fins, waves, and shark teeth. I always like to leave some interpretation up to the viewer so I tend to steer away from literal design; but with this collection I felt compelled to design The Eye of The Beast, which is a departure for me. There are other pieces in the collection with ferocious teeth and spines like the ones you find on crab shells and conch shells.

Did Leviathan really exist? Was there a Kraken that smashed ships to their doom? Did the Midgard Serpent truly wrap itself around the world? Is it still there? Could it be that these myths and tall tales were about one and the same creature that has ruled the deepest and the most secret parts of the Earth all this time? Science would tell us otherwise, but we can’t really say for certain that this creature is pure fiction. I like to think that this beast once lived and that its parts were scattered. Once re-assembled, it will live again. I aim to suspend your disbelief. I want you to possess a piece of this creature and take on its power and believe that it is real.

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From an early age I would draw and write stories while listening to music. This led me to my first career as a storyboard artist in animation. It was a fun occupation for sure but I never stopped dreaming stories of heroes in my fantasy world.

I was still working in animation when I signed up for a wax carving course at a small jewelry school here in L.A. One month into the course I committed to becoming a jewelry designer and business owner. I quit my job in 2011.

I took a bench jeweler course at the school. In the following year I interned for fashion designer Michael Schmidt where I got to work on some amazing metal projects for pop artists. After that I went to work for Tony Swatton, a blacksmith, bladesmith, leatherworker, costumer – a truly remarkable maker of all things. If you’ve watched film and tv in the past thirty years, chances are you’ve seen his work. (Remember the Vikings from the Capital One commercials? Tony made all of their gear.) Michael and Tony are two very different guys but they had one thing in common: They made incredible accessories that punched up a performer’s onstage presence. I came away from these places feeling really empowered by the things we worked on. I really wanted to create that feeling with statement fine jewelry.

I had the fortune of studying chasing and repoussé under European masters Valentin Yotkov and Davide Bigazzi. Chasing and repoussé are ancient metalworking techniques that allowed me to create my signature cuff bracelets that remind everyone of Wonder Woman. My bracelets are made by hand using tools and thousands of hammer blows. It’s a more efficient use of metal compared to casting – this means I can go pretty large with my designs and they remain surprisingly light in weight.

I am a member of AGTA and I serve as Communications Chair at WJA Los Angeles. In 2013 I received the Carelle-WJA Grant in Honor of Brooke Tivol McGrath. This was a cash grant of $5,000 that allowed me to produce a look book with my first collection that helped me establish the look of my brand. I feel incredibly blessed to have received this aid from WJA.

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Selling my first piece – a custom rubelite ring in 18k gold. My passion lies in bespoke pieces for fierce and independent women. You know who they are –they’re the ones who speak up and turn heads whenever they enter a room.

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I aim to grow this collection over the coming months. You can expect to see more parts of the beast. There will be one-of-a-kinds with colored stones, pearls, and diamonds.

I would like to partner with more retailers. Consumer values have been changing a lot these past few years and retailers have had to evolve with this. I strongly believe brick-and-mortar stores are still incredibly important despite the rise of e-commerce. Women know what they want more than ever before. They will always want a place where they can experience jewelry in person and connect with it.

From the very beginning my goal has been to create magic in metal. This is my raison d’être. Running a business involves wearing all kinds of hats which I love, but at the end of the day all I want is bad-ass jewelry for our bad-ass selves.

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My cavansite ring. It’s the one piece I made for myself so far. It looks magical and everyone always asks about it. It has heft like all my other designs. My pieces aren’t just pleasing to look at – they have to feel substantial and luxurious, too. My jewelry has presence just like the women who wear it.

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This post was brought to you in collaboration with Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry.

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Check out Diamonds in the Library, who also is featuring the new collection today as well!

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Gem Gossip Wedding: All the Details

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October 21, 1956–a day my grandparents got married in Italy; before three children, before deciding to make a huge leap of faith by immigrating to the US separately, before they could imagine this day would lead to 55 years of marriage and happiness. This momentous day came after the two met while my grandpa worked in the Italian Army and my grandma worked at a little shop down the street from him, it came after my grandma audaciously lied about her age when they first encountered, and it came after they fell in love. When I asked my grandma what she remembers from the day, as I held her wedding day picture in my hand (the photo was displayed where we got married), she jokingly says, “The girl that did my hair did a terrible job and I ran home and tried to comb it down.” Something I would say, as I smile and realize how everything doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Fifty-nine years later, on the very same day, I married Matt…on a random Wednesday, in a tiny ceremony of eighteen people, in the autumn sunshine…the prettiest day I could have imagined. And although my grandpa isn’t here with us anymore, we can all feel his presence, and my dad walked me down the “aisle” wearing my grandpa’s suit (as well as a tie from the 1980s which I told him not to wear). It was awesome to have my grandma there–after she drove eleven hours from back home to be a part of this special day–along with her sister-in-law (who recently lost her husband, who lived down the street from each other all these years and the two couples did EVERYTHING together). Being my grandma’s anniversary, she made sure to make this day a day of celebration rather than being sad. I’m so glad I chose this special date as my wedding date.

I’m happy to share some wedding details, as this was an easy wedding to plan since it was for less than 20 people–no stress was involved, no Pinterest boards were made, no drama. Just us, our families, a few traditional wedding rituals and an incredible photographer to capture the special moments. Full disclosure, Matt absolutely hates getting his picture taken (hence why we never had engagement photos or really any kind of photos) so these pictures are MORE THAN special to me.

Details:

Photography: Ariel Renae Photography

Venue: Riverwood Mansion, Nashville, TN

Cake, Bouquet, Arch Greenery: Elope in Nashville

Dress: bought from Revolve Clothing online for $100

Veil: Sara Gabriel Veils

Makeup: I did myself, except I splurged and got eyelash extensions–the lipstick I’m wearing is NARS in Jeanne

Jewelry: ALL DETAILS HERE, Matt’s jewelry is mostly from eBay, the pocketwatch we bought together in Atlanta at Scott’s Antique Market, our first trip there together–the gold chain + button was an awesome find, as the button is engraved with the prettiest cursive D

Again, another special thank you to Andreoli Fine Jewelry for letting me borrow the earrings of my dreams for my wedding day.

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