Ten Facts You Didn’t Know About Engagement Rings

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History of Engagement Rings

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

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

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

Diamond Rings

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

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

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

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

Alternative Engagement Rings

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Emily of @GemCircus

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We are kicking off July with an incredible jewelry collection story from Emily, also known as @GemCircus. If you’re a part of the jewelry Instagram community, you’ll easily recognize some of the jaw-dropping pieces in Emily’s personal collection. From the way she styles her necklace layers, to ring stacks, arm parties, and everything in between, we love her taste and enthusiasm for antique jewelry. I’m so excited she has agreed to share her story with us, so let’s sit back and enjoy:

My love for vintage and antique collecting started when I was a teenager, after my family moved to Vancouver, Canada, from Hong Kong in the early 1990s. I remember it was July when we arrived and I would walk to the nearby library every other day to borrow books to read (our container didn’t arrive almost a month later so all I have in my room were merely a bed, a built-in closet and my backpack). I started to notice our neighbours’ garage sales in my walks and I was amused at the things people were selling – from snow cone machines to music records, jewelry to stuff toys. That summer of looking through other people’s belongings and engaging in rapports gave me a sense of belonging and connection to the community. Ever since then I have become a frequent visitor to community flea markets, thrift shops and antique shows.

My jewelry obsession started around early twenties with vintage jewelry, in particular charms and silver filigree bracelets. I love to style them on mixed metal chains and I still love styling them now.

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I wasn’t picky and didn’t have a favourite period at that time so I usually picked up quirky little things like brooches, pins, jewel “plaques” (which I found out they were called “clasps” later) etc. Even though my collecting seemed to be random at that time, I was already drawn to jewelry that have motifs, like this brass crescent with hand and arrow and the clasped hand ring that I found in a thrift store. Looking back, I believe my love for antique sentimental jewelry originates from this pair!

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A lot of my Instagram followers already knew that I adore Georgian and Victorian sentimental and mourning jewelry, as well as portrait jewelry. This probably relates to my “innate sensitiveness” (as Carl Jung coined it) and the way I see jewelry as not merely an adornment but also a medium for expression, an art, an identity of who we are.

After I started reading books on lover’s eye, portrait miniature and mourning jewelry, I became obsessed with researching stories behind the jewelry that I collect. I realized that the brass crescent and the hand motif ring are not ‘funky little things’ as I thought in my teenage days, they actually carry specific meanings – love, new relationship and friendship – in the Victorian era. As my jewelry collection matures over time, I began to search for jewelry with motifs or meanings, like the urn, masquerade (masked lady), hand (figa, clasped hand, claddagh), heart (double-heart, flaming heart), star and crescent, buckle, swallow, snake, fern, acoutistic (“REGARD” and “DEAREST”) and Halley’s comet etc.

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I like to think that every piece of antique jewelry carries its own story of those before us, and I’m a custodian carrying on its legacy while creating my story with my collection. I love styling and always try to mix and match, experiment with different stacking and mixed metal, and do simple conversions to make every piece wearable. You can see from my Instagram photos that I’ve worn a big opal crescent brooch with another monkey brooch in the middle, stacked seven Art Deco wedding bands to make a statement ring, wrapped my wrist with antique chains and added a micromosaic brooch on top, stacked an Art Deco paste bracelet with a Hermes red enamel bangle, wore brooches on hats, and layered antique gold chains with watch chains. The fun is endless!

I shop everywhere but recently it’s largely online as there aren’t any antique jewelry shops in Hong Kong. I love the Instagram community as I’ve met so many wonderful souls (many of whom have become friends for life) around the world that share my obsession in antique jewelry. I always visit antique and jewelry shops when I travel too. It has been a tradition to bring back a piece of jewelry from each city that I visit.

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One of my obsession is Georgian masquerade jewelry: masked lady ring with ruby bonnet and rose cut diamonds from @karendeakin.antiques ; locket from @abrandtandson and the most recently acquired oval ring from @bijouxvictim

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Ring stacking is a daily essential for me: Georgian blue enamel rose cut diamond urn ring from @lenoredailey ; the moonstone on the mourning ring was a gift from my jeweler in Vancouver (he has kept it for 40 years!) and it fits perfectly on the bezel of the once empty mourning ring; flat cut garnet band from @antiqueanimaljewelry

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Mourning rings and figas: these enamel mourning rings are too big to wear so I usually wear them on gold chains as pendants. The twin coral figas were acquired from different continents yet they look so much alike. The one with emerald and diamonds was found in a UK auction and the one with seed pearl top was found in an antique show in Vancouver.

xoxoGemGossip

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Weekday Wardrobe: New Favorites

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Since coming back from Vegas and NYC, my days have been long and filled with writing and running all kinds of errands. From Sunday morning brunches, to post office runs, to family dinners, my style has been changing daily and almost always depends on what I have planned. Some days I’m lucky if I get a chance to breathe fresh air outside, while other days I’ve spent more time on the road in my car than normal…but that is what I like about being self-employed and I’m excited for the summer.

Most recently, I was playing in my jewelry box and for some reason or another a lightbulb went off–I took my collection of figas and strung them on my hardwire gold collar necklace. As soon as I put the necklace on I knew that this was one of my greatest moves I’ve ever made. I’m obsessed with the look and it totally caters to my collecting mantra by displaying my pieces perfectly. I actually have 6 more figas that don’t have jumprings, so I’m off now to get them put on by my jeweler.

I’ve also been experimenting with different kinds of earrings to create a “full” look, meaning ALL the way up my ear. To achieve this look without the pain of multiple piercings, I suggest some comfortable ear cuffs. Some are more comfortable than others and it depends on the craftsmanship, so try them out–see if you’re able to wear for a full day before committing to buy.

In the first photo shown, I’m wearing a pair of ombré amethyst ear studs with jackets by Jewelmak. These are so cool and give me a pop of color, which is perfect for summertime. I kept it simple up top with 14k gold balls studs in various sizes, a Paige Novick diamond ear cuff and a vintage swirl motif ear cuff I found on Ruby Lane.

The photo below shows off my figa necklace and a carved opal necklace I recently sold. My earring look is simple to recreate; two pearl stud earrings of various sizes and a gold huggie earring from Stacy Nolan.

Weekday Wardrobe | Gem Gossip

Day One: (spent doing emails all day and typing blog posts, hence the Beavis & Butthead t-shirt)

Elongated lapis and enamel ring, from Sarah’s Vintage & Estate Jewelry in Buffalo, NY

Antique diamond & sapphire ring from Excalibur Jewelry found in Tucson this year

Pear-shaped vintage lapis ring that I can’t stop wearing because it is so comfortable and bold

Weekday Wardrobe | Gem Gossip

Day Two:

Diamond crossover pinky ring by Halleh Jewelry

“Ring One” from my Gem Gossip Jewelry line, since retired

Fringe ring in 14k yellow gold by Ashley Childs

A stack of “Ring One with diamond” from my Gem Gossip Jewelry line, since retired

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Day Three:

Oval vintage Mexican ring done in 14k yellow gold

Crescent moon ring in 14k yellow gold by Amanda Hunt Jewelry

Dendritic agate ring from Joden Jewelry in Grove City, PA

Weekday Wardrobe | Gem Gossip

Day Four:

Glass + 10k yellow gold ring, heirloom from my Gram

elongated diamond ring turn-of-the-century from my friend Priscilla

Diamond shaped ring set with old cut brown diamonds, from STORE 5a

Weekday Wardrobe | Gem Gossip

Day 5:

turquoise baby rings, worn as pinky ring and midi ring

Victorian turquoise ring from eBay

Victorian turquoise ring with engraving on entire closed-back, from Gold Hatpin

Turquoise and diamond cluster ring found at the Nashville Flea Market

xoxoGemGossip

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Why Some Gemstones Make Terrible Engagement Rings

Some Gems Make Terrible Engagement Rings | Gem Gossip

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

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

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

Why Won’t Some Gemstones Work?

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

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

How Does the Mohs Scale Figure Out Hardness?

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

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

Why Diamonds are Forever

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

What Stones are the Absolute Worst for Engagement Rings?

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

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

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

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

Best Engagement Ring Stones Other Than Diamonds:

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

Here are some of my favorite alternative engagement ring stones:

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

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

This post was contributed by:

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

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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

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Charm Your Mom for Mother’s Day with Arik Kastan

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Simple, sweet and very symbolic…our Sweetheart Padlock is such an ideal Mother’s Day gift. It is done in our signature 14k rose gold and set with a garnet.

Sweetheart Padlock Necklace, Price: $990

Arik Kastan

Let your mom know she has the key to your heart with our Victorian Key pendant. One of our favorites to layer and makes the perfect gift!

Victorian Key pendant, Price: $920

Arik Kastan

Showing off our new Deco Rhombus pendant just in time for Mother’s Day! Does she love rubies and sapphires? Who doesn’t?! Show your mom how precious she is to you with this Deco-inspired piece.

Deco Rhombus pendant, Price: $1,210

Arik Kastan

For the mom who likes to make more of a statement we’ve got you covered! Our Stained Glass Windows Padlockis the perfect piece. You can’t go wrong with our bright and shimmery moonstones accented by pops of opals.

Stained Glass Windows Padlock, Price: $2,310

Arik Kastan

Our Hexagon Flower Padlock will surely charm mom on her special day. We have a few different gemstone combinations and one of our favorites is the amethyst and ruby, as seen here. We’ve got three words for you: Add to cart.

Hexagon Flower Padlock, Price: $1,740

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Keep your mom protected with the Evil Eye pendant necklace. It can be her lucky charm! Set with colorful opals and a bright green emerald.

Evil Eye pendant necklace, Price: $1,840

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It’s our Hexagon Flower Padlock in another one of our favorite gemstone combinations–sapphire in the center and emeralds surrounding it! With a little more edge, the padlock is sure to turn heads and make your mom fee like the special person that she is!

Hexagon Flower Padlock, Price: $1,740

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Danielle of @jasmyntea

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This month’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from a favorite Instagram collector of mine and it’s not because we share the same name, although that helps 😉 It is because Danielle’s style and curation of such a fine collection is unlike any other! She has a fierce eye for what she loves and I’ve been wanting to know her story for quite awhile now. We finally got her story (she is a busy San Francisco dweller, with a full-time job that doesn’t involve jewelry) and she has provided some amazing photos of her personal collection. Let’s dive into her story!

“I have always been a collector. Whether it was collecting vintage jewelry, or vintage clothing, or books on costume and fashion. I’m always looking for unique items that speak to me in some way. I first fell in love with jewelry when I was about 12 and would ride my bike to the thrift store to look for treasures. I always liked vintage clothing, shoes, jewelry and scarves. Old pieces have stories within them. And I always liked to imagine the travels the pieces went through before I became their custodian.

My mother does not really wear much jewelry. Most of the jewelry she wears, except her wedding band, was probably given to her by her sisters or her daughters. She has very few pieces, so I didn’t really grow up surrounded by jewelry. I didn’t know one of my grandmothers as they both passed away before I was born. But I do wear her gold framed glasses from the 1940s every day as my own eyeglasses. I love this connection with my past. My other grandmother didn’t really have much affinity for jewelry either. So I’m not really sure where my love of jewelry and antiques comes from–but I can tell you that I’m obsessed 🙂

When I first started collecting jewelry in high school I liked vintage brooches and small enamel pins. This was what I could afford to purchase. From vintage pins, I branched out to vintage sterling. I always loved going to antique stores and hunting for unusual, inexpensive pieces. My early collection included David Anderson Norwegian pins and bracelets, sterling charm bracelets, bakelite bangles, and funky long beads to layer. I always liked layering, mixing and creating a story with my jewelry. As my style evolved I also liked to support local jewelry artists, so I would go to fairs and stores that sold the work of local jewelry artists and try to pick pieces I liked. My modern collection is made of up certain designers – Marla Aaron, Judy Geib, Gabriela Kiss, Louison Rare and Fine (GemstoneGypsy), Jean Jean Vintage, Gillian Conroy, Variance Objects, Dahlia Khanner, Alberian and Aulde, Amali Jewelry and local San Francisco artists Betsy Barron and Alix Bluh. I tend to gravitate towards jewelry artists versus major designer jewelry. Although one of the first pieces I completely coveted when I was 16 was Tiffany’s Elsa Perreti sterling bean necklace.

In the recent years I have gravitated towards building my antique collection. I love to go to antique fairs and shows, stop in small antique shops when I travel and I follow many antique jewelry sellers on IG. If you are curious, my first IG discovery was Erie Basin and my early purchases were a Toi et Moi Victorian diamond ring and a French link bracelet that many people have asked if they could purchase from me. Finding the antique jewelry community on IG has been very meaningful to me. I feel like I’ve found a crew of fellow jewelry enthusiasts that I can geek out about Georgian jewels, or old cut diamonds, or how to style antique and modern jewelry together. Before IG I never really participated in social media. Finding the IG community of jewelry lovers has been a nice addition in my life, so I don’t drive my husband and sons nuts with my jewelry interests. I’ve also enjoyed meeting fellow IG collectors on my travels.

I can’t really categorize what I collect, because I look for unusual pieces or pieces that resonate for me in some way. I feel like I am the custodian of the pieces I collect. I can’t always articulate why I fall in love with pieces. Sometimes the piece feels sentimental, sometimes the piece will fill an aspect of my collection that I need for a look I’m striving for. On a broad level, I like Georgian and Victorian jewelry. And then I like modern pieces that provide contrast for the more sweet/sentimental antique pieces. I love to mix antique and modern pieces together. Probably my favorite thing to mix are Marla Aaron locks with my antique necklaces, charms and brooches. Mixing and styling jewelry is a creative outlet for me. It’s self-expression—what I’m trying to put out there on a given day. I mix everything: yellow, rose, green gold, platinum and silver. On most days I have on five types of metal. I actually tend to prefer wearing mixed metals versus monochromatic styling. Although sometimes I like to do all gold or all silver or all one kind of gemstone.

I’m sentimental when it comes to jewelry. I always wear a Marla Aaron lock which to me symbolizes to hold fast to what’s important. I once did post on IG about how my modern jewelry spirit animal is my engraved Marla Aaron lock that has all family initials hidden within the engraved design. If I had to pick an antique spirit animal it would probably either be antique chains or signet rings. My thorn necklace (by Gillian Conroy) symbolizes that life has thorns to deal with but I am strong enough to weather the thorns. My hand bloodstone signet ring from Metier with the word “confido,” which means trust, reminds me to trust myself. And then on any given day, my other jewelry represents other items of importance to me or things I’m trying to stay centered about. My Mizpah ring from TheOneILoveNYC is for my husband and me, and my Souvenir bangle from Lucy Verity hasn’t left my wrist since I got it last year – I look down and remember. My Lenore heart rings: to remember love, my signets: to remember the people who are important to me, my memento mori ring from Nvitblanche: to remember to live in the moment, my ruby locket from Circa 1700 has diamonds in it from my mother-in-law in the amount of Pi carats (ok I’m a definite geek). Recently my husband and I gave each other Gabriela Kiss eye rings to symbolize us watching over each other.

You may wonder what pieces I am on the hunt for next. I try to keep an open mind when I am hunting for jewelry, because you never know what you might find. I always ask myself does this resonate for me, will I really wear it and reach for this piece everyday? I like to purchase pieces that I will wear, I don’t like for jewelry to just sit in my jewelry box. I don’t necessarily keep a running wish list. Although at the beginning of 2016 I did an IG jewelry wishlist post and when I look back on it now, I did end up collecting some of the items on my wishlist during 2016, (like my French cut eternity band from Platt Boutique Jewelry). Right now I’m coveting high carat gold items – 22K gold bands (I just got one from Metier) and poesy rings, a Georgian memento mori ring and chains, always more chains. Recently, I’ve been loving layering a lot of gold watch chains.

In closing, almost every piece I wear holds meaning for me of something I want to remember or a story I want to tell that day with my jewelry. Jewelry wearing and styling is my personal storytelling.”

xoxoGemGossip

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Top Ten Best Jewelry Looks of the 2017 Met Gala

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This year’s theme for the evening’s Met Gala was “The Art of the In-Between”. The exhibit offers a retrospective of designer Rei Kawakubo of the famed design house Comme des Garçons. Stars and socialites embraced the juxtaposition of redefining the traditional placement of jewelry by wearing key pieces around the ear, in the hair and in some cases even backwards. The red carpet dazzled with both futuristic, avant-garde statement pieces and traditional vintage diamonds from iconic jewelers.

Below is a selection of the most striking examples we found to be featured on the red carpet. We are counting down our top ten looks, including the above look worn by Chinese fashion model Liu Wen.

1. Liu Wen wearing Chanel fine jewelry, photos via NY Mag.

Met Gala | Gem Gossip

2. Claire Danes wore an antique yellow gold and seed pearl earrings and antique cut steel arrow brooch, circa 1850, worn in the hair by Fred Leighton.

Met Gala | Gem Gossip

3. Karen Elson stuns in Tiffany & Co. earrings and ring.

Met Gala | Gem Gossip

4. Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen wearing a plethora of what looks like vintage baubles.

Met Gala | Gem Gossip

5. Actress Elle Fanning wore an Art Deco aquamarine and diamond bandeau, circa 1920s, in platinum along with 6.0 tcw diamond studs in platinum by Fred Leighton.

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6. Kate Bosworth wore vintage ruby and diamond earrings and a vintage diamond necklace by Cartier.

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7. Katie Holmes wore a fabulous set of antique diamond and paste necklaces from Kentshire.

Met Gala | Gem Gossip

8. Kerry Washington wore a safety- pin choker by Michael Kors Collection.

Met Gala | Gem Gossip

9. Sarah Paulson wore custom Calder-inspired sapphire in oxidized gold chandelier earrings by Irene Neuwirth.

Met Gala | Gem Gossip

10. Cassie wore a custom-made diamond ear cuff by Indonesian designer Rinaldy A. Yunardi.

All above photos via Getty images.

This post was collaboratively written by:

wwwdaily Laura Lee Fulham | T: @WhoWoreWhatDly | W: www.whoworewhatdaily.com

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Gem Gossip Visits Gem Jewelry Boutique in Chicago, IL

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

the storefront of Gem Jewelry Boutique with its beautiful gold leaf

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

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

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

“Get Lucky” Figa by Pascale Monvoisin

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

owner of Gem, Laura Kitsos and myself

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

Gem Jewelry Boutique | Gem Gossip

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

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

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

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

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

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

GemJewelryBoutique

135 North Oak Park Avenue

Oak Park, IL 60301

Phone: 708-386-8400

www.shopgemjewelry.com

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

ALVR | Faberge

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

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

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

ALVR | Faberge

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

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

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

ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge ALVR | Faberge

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

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

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

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

Works Cited:

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

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts app called Fabergé at VMFA

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

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