Rebecca Zemans Jewelry Blog

Go Blue! January 17 2017, 0 Comments

So excited to be featured in the Winter 2016 Michigan Alumnus magazine's article, The Michigan Closet. I'm honored to be part of this amazing group of U of M grads who are designing clothes and accessories for everyone!

 


Top Five Wedding Jewelry Shops in Chicago by Brides.com May 09 2016, 0 Comments


Top five wedding jewelry shops in ChicagoBig news as I head back to the studio after having my baby in March! Rebecca Zemans Jewelry was named one of the top five bridal jewelry boutiques in Chicago by BRIDES.com

It's a huge honor and has fired me up to get back at it!


Garnet - Stone of the Month January 05 2016, 0 Comments

 

garnet earrings, 14k white gold, january birthstone jewelry

Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.  The name Garnet is derived from the Latin granum, meaning grain or seed.  This is possibly a reference to pomum granatum, or pomegranate, whose seeds share the same vivid deep red color and scale of garnet crystals.  This gemstone is available in yellow, orange (spessartite and hessonite), green (tsavorite and demantoid), red-violet (rhodolite), but is most often found in its traditional deep red color, seen here set in the 14k White Gold Satellite Studs.  Because this gemstone comes in a variety of colors it is often compared to the corundum family which includes the sapphire and ruby, however the garnet is only 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness while corundum is a more durable material at 9 on the scale.

nesting with stones wedding ring, garnet and gold, alternative bridal

Garnet was often used in Migration Period art, 300-900 CE where the deep red color of the gemstone was a symbol of Jesus for early Christians of the Roman Empire.  The contrast of the deep red garnet with the bright yellow of gold was very pleasing way back then as it is now, such as in our Nesting with Stones Wedding Ring.  This combination of materials is thought of as originating from diplomatic gifts likely created in the eastern capital of the Roman Empire, Constantinople, and copied by goldsmiths throughout the Empire.  

If you are interested in incorporating garnet - or any other birthstone - in a custom jewelry design project with Rebecca, please do not hesitate to reach out and tell us more about your ideas!  The Family Jewelry Collection is a great place to start with designs created to showcase birthstones which commemorate significant times in our lives.

 


Tanzanite - Stone of the Month December 09 2015, 0 Comments

Tanzanite is a beautiful blue-violet crystal and is one of the birthstones for the month of December.  The blue color appears stronger under fluorescent light and the violet hues are more apparent when under incandescent lighting.  The mineral was first discovered in the Mererani Hills of northern Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro in 1967 and is extremely rare to find outside this region.  The mineral was named by Tiffany & Co in a campaign advertising that tanzanite could now be found in two places: "Tanzania and at Tiffany's".

The tanzanite is predominantly blue gemstone, and is an affordable alternative to sapphire for a blue colored stone.  However, tanzanite is a 6.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, compared to sapphire which is a 9 on this scale.  This is a bit delicate for everyday wear on your hand, however the undeniable beauty of this colored stone makes it great for earrings, pendants, cocktail rings or brooches. 

Rebecca collaborated with a customer on a bespoke design using heirloom stones from other pieces of their jewelry.  She used the customer's tanzanite with diamonds and iolite set in a fluid design of recycled sterling silver, representing a cluster of celestial bodies in the M31 Brooch (pictured above).

If you are interested in working with tanzanite or any other stone in a custom design with Rebecca, please do not hesitate to reach out and tell us more about your ideas!


Eight Years at One Of A Kind and My Gift To You! November 24 2015, 0 Comments

It has been such an exciting year! As this holiday season approaches, I'm overwhelmed by gratitude for your continuous support. This December 3rd - 6th will mark my eighth and final One of a Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart. Thanks to you, my company has evolved and grown to focus on collaborations to create wonderful custom fine jewelry designs and selling favorites from my jewelry collections all over the country.

one of a kind show, chicago, rebecca zemans jewelry

 

To show my appreciation, we're doing a huge holiday sale online and at the show, with items up to 65% off! 

Click here for two complimentary tickets to the show! Stop by booth #7087 to say hello and take advantage of special show pricing on unique, one of a kind jewelry.


If you can't attend, no worries, we've been updating the website to include the newest designs. Please visit rebeccazemans.com and use checkout code GR8FUL for a 10% discount. (Offer valid through December 15. Exclusions may apply.)

I hope this holiday season finds you in health and peace.


Thanks so much,
Rebecca


Season of Gratitude November 18 2015, 0 Comments

Now that I'm finally adjusting to the Daylight Savings Time change and the stunning autumn weather in Chicago is beginning to wane, it is starting to feel like winter is on its way - which is not always a bad thing :)  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays - as we enter into the end of the year it gives me an opportunity to reflect on all which I am grateful for in this past year.

Lightyear Engagement Ring

My company has grown in ways I never could have dreamed of eight year ago.  I am so fortunate to be able to do what I love, to share my talents and work with so many incredible people to give a meaningful and lasting gift of jewelry to those they hold dear. 

 

Instead of concentrating on new jewelry collections for wholesale, most of the jewelry design work I have done recently are custom design collaborations with customers.  Many projects involve people who wish to repurpose their heirloom jewelry by resetting old stones into a fresh new design as well as creating brand new jewelry pieces for engagements and anniversaries.  It is such an honor for me to be involved in the creation of these gifts which commemorate these wonderful milestones!

And I never in a million years could have imagined being recognized by the one and only Martha Stewart!!  Being nominated and becoming a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards this year was such a tremendous honor and great experience to have my work be recognized on such an incredible national-wide platform!

We have put a lot of upgrades into the website this year!  This summer we introduced the Create Your Band Collection for a simple way to customize wedding bands. We love helping to spread our knowledge on the custom jewelry experience, the design process, selecting a diamond, how to find the right wedding band, as well as sharing our green business practices and so much more!

referral rewards program

As we enter this season of gratitude and giving, I want to give a gift to everyone who has helped my company grow throughout the years. I am so excited to introduce a special treat for everyone - an easy rewards program through the online store!

When you sign up for referral rewards and share the love of Rebecca Zemans Jewelry, you'll receive a 20% discount when your friends and family purchase jewelry from the website and they'll get 20% off too! 

If you would like to work with me to collaborate on a meaningful and one of a kind piece of wearable art this holiday season, please do not hesitate to reach out so we can begin working together

Thanks so much!

Rebecca


Share the Love of Rebecca Zemans Jewelry! November 11 2015, 0 Comments

refer a friend, sale, discount, rewards

As we enter this season of gratitude and giving, I want to give a gift to everyone who has helped my company grow throughout the years. 

I would not be where I am today without the support and encouragement of customers who have shared their love of my work with friends, family members, coworkers and more.  Because you started with wonderful referrals, I am so excited to introduce a special treat for everyone - an easy rewards program through the online store!

When you sign up for referral rewards and share the love of Rebecca Zemans Jewelry, you'll receive a 20% discount when your friends and family purchase jewelry from the website and they'll get 20% off too! 

Unlike big retail stores, the prices of the my jewelry collections are not artificially inflated so as to constantly run sales and discounts all the time.  Pricing on the website reflects the craftsmanship, care, creative time and materials used in every piece of the one of a kind jewelry I create.  Discounts and sales are a special occasion for my studio and I cannot think of a better way to thank all of you than with sharing my gift of making meaningful, handcrafted jewelry.

If you would like to work with me to collaborate on a unique piece of wearable art this holiday season, please do not hesitate to reach out so we can begin working together!  Thanks so much!


Citrine - Stone of the Month November 04 2015, 0 Comments

Citrine birthstone for November, Lightyear Pendant

Citrine is the birthstone for the month of November.  The name derives from the Latin citrina meaning "yellow" and is also the origin of the word "citron".  The stone can range in color from a pale yellow to brown.  A member of the Quartz family, citrine is closely related to amethyst, sometimes the two are even found together in the same crystal, called ametrine.

Citrine, as well as other stones within the Quartz family, has a 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.  Citrine jewelry can be brittle for everyday wear, however these stones bring beautiful color and are safe to wear in earrings and necklace designs.

This sunny stone is a great mirror to the golden leaves this time of year!  This Lightyear Pendant is one of many Rebecca's designs offering a citrine.  If you would like to incorporate the citrine, or any other birthstone, into a meaningful and one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry piece, check out our new Family Jewelry Collection for many design ideas.  Contact us to start your collaboration with Rebecca Zemans!


Elyssa's Mission Extraordinary You Event October 28 2015, 0 Comments

 

I am proud to announce our partnership with Elyssa's Mission, a community-based organization founded to provide resources and education in teen suicide prevention.  The organization provides hands-on support to area public and private schools as well as community groups in order to educate students, staff and parents on how to recognize and assist those teens most at-risk.

 

Elyssa's Mission is hosting its annual event Extraordinary You on November 4th from 5-9pm at The Kennilworth Club.  I will be at this fundraising event with my handcrafted jewelry, proceeds from all sales benefit Elyssa's Mission in saving young lives..  Tickets to the event are available here.  Your ticket includes an evening of fun, shopping, wine, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts.

 

Hope to see you there!

 


Introducing the Family Jewelry Collection October 22 2015, 0 Comments

grandmother's ring, nebula birthstones

Special occasions call for personalized design.  Jewelry is often a gift given to commemorate significant times in our lives - engagements, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, push presents, and other milestones.  

 

Without needing to go fully bespoke in design, the Family Jewelry Collection is a selection of our most popular jewelry designs showcasing birthstones.  Featuring elegant pendants and modern stacking rings, this collection has something to represent all the meaningful people of your life.

All of these designs are able to be tailored to the amount and variety of stones to suit you needs, and forged in the recycled metal of your choice.  Click here to learn more about the different types of birthstones!

If you would like to work with Rebecca on a tailoring a design to represent the meaningful people and moments of your life, please don't hesitate to reach out and begin the process!


Before & After - Four Generations of Opal October 07 2015, 0 Comments

Welcome to October, it's really feeling like autumn now!  Opal is the October birthstone and it is wonderful how birthstone jewelry can connect families through the generations.  We were lucky enough to work with a customer recently on a very special heirloom redesign. 

heirloom vintage opal cocktail ring, redesigned into delicate opal necklace

Using a vintage opal cocktail ring gifted from her grandmother, our customer wanted to create a delicate necklace for her mother utilizing her baby daughter's birthstone.  Rebecca removed one of the opals from the original ring and reset the stone in a bezel setting on a recycled gold-filled chain, creating a delicate and asymmetrical necklace inspired by the Star String Necklace.

The first necklace became a beautiful gift for our customer's mother.  We will use another stone from the original ring to create an identical necklace for our customer in the future to treat herself to a beautiful piece of handmade jewelry.  When her young daughter is old enough, we can use another stone from the ring to create her necklace too!  Heirloom jewelry is truly a gift that keeps up giving!

If you are interested in collaborating with Rebecca on a meaningful custom design using heirloom materials, tell us more about your ideas!


Martha Stewart 2015 American Made Awards Finalist! September 30 2015, 0 Comments

Martha Stewart 2015 American Made Awards Style Finalist Rebecca Zemans

It is such a tremendous honor to be recognized by someone as awesome as Martha Stewart!  I am over the moon to be named as a finalist in the American Made Awards with over one thousand votes for the Audience Choice Award!  Voting is open and I am so grateful for the support from near and far.

This recognition is especially meaningful because I like to think of myself as a local goldsmith with global reach. America is built on small businesses that connect with their customers on a personal level. 

Big jewelry stores can be intimidating, and I prefer to maintain a level of approachability while providing the highest level of customer service, working with neighbors as well as people who find my work from across the country and around the world. We strive to reduce our carbon footprint by working with and supporting other local business partners as well as using recycled and heirloom materials whenever possible.

I am proud to continue the American tradition that is dedicated to high-quality craftsmanship and timeless designs, appealing to those who like to know the people who make the goods they buy.


Alternative Engagement Rings September 23 2015, 0 Comments

Today is the first day of Autumn and even though we'll miss the sunny fun of summertime, we are looking forward to the striking palette that is bestowed upon us in the coming months.  Over the years we've worked with couples who have used colored stones in their engagement rings, embracing this colorful time all year long!  Inspired by these couples, we've created this roundup of some of our favorite alternative engagement rings!

Colored gemstones are selected for their birthstone attributes, their historic and cultural meanings and their unique beauty.  Any stone can be set in an engagement ring, or any other type of jewelry for that matter.  To find the right stone for you, learn more on our Choosing A Stone page.

The Baguette Spark Engagement Ring was the ideal choice for the baker it was made for!  This delicate ring features a baguette ruby flush set in recycled 14k rose gold.

Pretty in pink!  Rebecca created the Lotus Engagement Ring in recycled 14k rose gold to highlight the stunning peach-pink oval morganite center stone, and completed the look with diamond shoulders and down the shank of the band.

The Lightyear Engagement Ring is a truly one of a kind design!  Showcasing a show-stopper cabochon oval moonstone, the faceted side stones of blue topaz and emerald represent the couple's birthstones, bezel-set in recycled 14k white gold.

 

The Lady Drop Commitment Rings is a great set of dual engagement rings.  This set features a matched pair of pear shape London blue topaz bezel-set in recycled sterling silver.

The Infinity Engagement Ring is a wonderful custom design featuring a rare kite-shape tsavorite garnet prong-set in recycled 14k white gold.

The Sapphire Halo Rose Gold Engagement Ring is a classic with a twist.  This sapphire engagement ring becomes a lovely "something blue" for always, bezel-set in a halo of white diamonds on a hammered ring of recycled rose gold.

 

Each of these rings was a custom design, working in collaboration with Rebecca.  If you are interested in tailoring any of these designs or if you would like to work with Rebecca on a new design, please don't hesitate to contact us and set up a time to discuss your ideas in person or by phone.

 


Ravenswood Art Walk September 16 2015, 0 Comments

Ravenswood Art Walk, Chicago

I am so excited to participate in another year of the Ravenswood Art Walk!  As both a small business owner and a resident of Ravenswood, this is a great weekend to get to know the community and learn more about all the artists in our neighborhood.

Visit my studio in the Lillstreet Art Center this weekend - Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th from noon to 4pm - to see where the magic happens!  You will find my studio space on the third floor of Lillstreet, all the way at the end of the hall and to the left, studio #304. 

Come on up and say hi, I am excited to show off new work for the new year!


Before & After - Ex Uno Plures September 09 2015, 1 Comment

 

pearl necklace, cultured pearls, before and after

In an inverse of the motto of the United States "E Pluribus Unum" meaning "from many - one", our most recent Before & After project is an example of "Ex Uno Plures" meaning "from one - many."

 

Our customer came to us with her heirloom cultured pearl necklace, a gift she received for her Sweet Sixteen.  Nearly forty years later, she was ready for an updated necklace yet wanted to create something meaningful to pass down to her young nieces as well.

The original pearl necklace was tapered meaning that the largest pearl is in the front with the pearls gradually becoming smaller as they make their way back to the clasp of the necklace.  With these pearls of different sizes, we were able to make several pieces for her different jewelry needs.

galaxy studs with pearl, gold-filled, before and aftergold filled nesting earrings with pearls

Starting with the design for our Galaxy Studs and In Orbit Studs, Rebecca created two pairs of earrings for our customer's young nieces with gold-filled wire incorporating the smaller sized pearls from the original necklace.

 

 

nesting cluster necklace, pearl and sterling silver

We were all so thrilled with with the result of the In Orbit-influenced earrings using the smaller pearls!  Rebecca was inspired by this new element to create a beautiful cluster necklace using some of the larger pearls from the original necklace.  The way the tendrils of polished sterling silver wrap around and hold each pearl bore a striking resemblance to a bird's nest, reminding us of the Nesting Engagement Ring as well.

If you are interested in collaborating with Rebecca on a meaningful custom design using heirloom materials, tell us more about your ideas!

 

 


Metals - Palladium September 02 2015, 0 Comments

Welcome to our ongoing series exploring the different types of metals we work with!  Palladium is a metal we are seeing more requests for in additional to traditional metals, so we wanted to educate our customers about some of the great characteristics of palladium. 

Palladium is a silvery-white metal with similar properties to platinum, however it is the least dense of the platinum group metals, making it a more affordable metal option than platinum.  It is named after the Pallas asteroid which was discovered around the same time as the metal, at the turn of the 19th century.  Over half of palladium produced is used for automotive purposes, mainly found in catalytic converters which convert up to 90% of the harmful gases from auto exhaust into less harmful substances.  The metal also plays a key role in the technology used for fuel cells in hybrid vehicles.

palladium half round wedding band with gold inlay

In jewelry, palladium has been used as a precious metals since 1939 and is a durable material, great for wedding and engagement rings.  The metal has a cool grey color like platinum and does not tarnish they way that sterling silver can.  For a customer with an allergy to gold, who didn't want the maintenance of having to polish silver nor the high cost inherent with platinum, we used palladium with a matte finish to create the special half round wedding band on the left.

Many designs can be created and cast in palladium.  If you like the cool grey look of the metal, and especially if you have an allergy to gold, palladium is a great alternative metal for you!  Contact us if you would like to collaborate on a jewelry design project using this metal.

 

 

 


Metals - 22k Gold August 26 2015, 0 Comments

Our next blog post in this metal series is about 22K gold, a softer metal containing at least 92% pure gold. 22K gold is often used for more intricate designs because it can be shaped and bent into all kinds of forms fairly easily.

While 22K gold is very common in some countries, it is much less common in the United States where 14K gold is the most common gold used in jewelry. 22K gold contains a very high amount of pure gold (92%), which gives it a very rich and beautiful yellow color. As mentioned above, 22K gold is also quite soft compared to 14K gold. We recently created a custom Infinity Cuff out of 22K gold for one of our customers, and it was amazing how easily the piece would bend into shape.

22k yellow gold custom design recycled metal cuff bracelet

Since 22K gold is almost pure gold, it will never tarnish. However it can still get dirty from regular wear. To clean your 22K gold piece all you need is a mild soap and water solution and a toothbrush to get rid of tougher spots and a polishing cloth to shine the gold up. After you cleaned your jewelry dry it and store it in a dark and dry place. Make sure your 22K gold jewelry does not mix with other jewelry, especially jewelry with gemstones such as diamonds can easily scratch your 22K gold jewelry as it is so soft.


Before & After - Bits and Pieces August 19 2015, 0 Comments

We hope everyone has been having an excellent summer!  The studio has been busy working with couples to create special wedding bands all season long, as well as custom tailored anniversary and birthday presents.  Our favorite projects always seem to involve heriloom materials and the transformation which takes place in using something old to create something new.

before and after, heirloom redesign, recycled jewelry

Our most recent heirloom redesign was for a client's wedding band using elements of a ring from her Oma.  Our client works with her hands and needed a durable wedding band that suits her lifestyle, yet wanted to incorporate materials from family heirloom jewelry.  Rebecca was able to collaborate with the client and tailor our Nesting Ring With Stones for a design that was perfect for our client.  She used one of the side stone diamonds from the heirloom ring and made it the centerpiece of the new Nesting Ring design.  Additionally, she took a small portion of the 14k yellow gold from the band of the ring, melted the material down to little balls and scattered the yellow gold balls throughout the 14k white gold nest of the wedding band.

Now, not only does our client have a beautiful wedding ring using meaningful elements from family heirloom jewelry, but since we only utilized a small portion of the original ring, she is able to recycle the remaining garnet, gold and diamond for any future design as well.  Jewelry is definitely a gift that keeps on giving through the generations!

If you are interested in using your heirloom jewelry to create something meaningful and new, please do not hesitate to reach out and tell us more about your ideas!

 


Metals - 18k Gold August 12 2015, 0 Comments

18k yellow gold nesting ring wedding band

Today we will be continuing our metals series with 18K Gold! We recently worked on a couple of really cool 18K gold pieces, so we are excited to give you some more information on this beautiful metal!

First of, as you might have already guessed, 18K gold is more valuable than 14K gold because of it high gold content. In order for gold to be considered 18K it needs to contain at least 75% pure gold. Because it has such a high amount of pure gold in it, 18K has a very beautiful and rich color. It is also quite a bit softer than 14K gold, making it very easy for us to forge and spin it into the right design. At the same time, because of its softness it is important to be more careful with certain gemstone settings, because the softer the gold the easier it bends and loses stones.

18k yellow gold round ring wedding band

Whether you want to use 14K or 18K gold mainly depends on your personal preference. In the U.S. 14K gold is the most common metal, while in other countries such as Italy, 18K gold is the standard. As mentioned above, 18K gold tends to be richer in color, so if you are looking for a really rich, bright yellow, then 18K gold might be the way to go!  Even though 18K gold has a fairly high amount of pure gold in it, it still gets mixed with other alloys. This means that even 18K gold comes in different color variations. The difference between the colors might not be as pronounced as with 10K or 14K gold, but it is still noticeable. Last but not least, 18K gold tends to be a lot more expensive than 14K gold, which is why most people go for the less expensive 14k gold.

 

 

 

18K gold contains a very high amount of gold, which means it will never tarnish. However daily use will still result in your jewelry getting dirty and dull looking. To clean your jewelry, simply use a mild soap and water solution and a toothbrush. After you dried off your jewelry, store it in a dark and dry place. Make sure your 18K gold jewelry does not mix with other jewelry. Especially jewelry with gemstones such as diamonds can easily scratch your 18K gold jewelry as it is quite soft.


Metals - 10k Gold July 22 2015, 0 Comments

Our last blog post in this metals series was about 14K gold, one of the most used metals in jewelry and an all time favorite of ours. So this time we decided to introduce you to 10K gold, a metal with which some of you might be less familiar with.

 

 

 

10k gold men's cutout ring wedding band

10K gold is less valuable than 14K gold because it contains less pure gold. As you might know from our previous post, 14K gold needs to have a minimum of 58% pure gold. On the other hand, 10K gold only needs to have a minimum of 41% pure gold. To the untrained eye this small difference in gold might not be visible, however there are some major differences such as hardness and color, which will tell you whether a piece is made out of 14K gold or 10K gold. Since 10K gold only needs to have 41% pure gold it can be mixed with a lot more alloys than 14K gold. This will lead to a less bright color and a harder metal.

Often times people will not consider 10K gold for their commitment jewelry, however we have been getting more and more requests for 10K gold commitment rings, especially from men who are drawn to the less pronounced color and the grittier look of the gold. 10K gold is much more affordable than 14K gold but still offers all the great advantages of gold. It is a strong metal that wears well over time and doesn't tarnish. So if you are thinking about getting a new piece of jewelry, don't immediately dismiss the idea of a 10K gold piece, because it might just be the right metal for you.

To clean 10K gold jewelry you only need a mild soap and water solution and a toothbrush, which will help you get rid of any dirt or oil films stuck to your jewelry. After you cleaned your jewelry let it dry and store it in a dark and dry place. It is important to store your gold jewelry separately from your diamonds, as they can easily scratch the gold.


WGN Radio Interview July 15 2015, 0 Comments

Chicago Radio WGN 720am visits the studio to record sounds of jewelry makingMike Stephen, host of Outside the Loop, a WGN 720am radio show that airs on Saturdays at 6am came to visit the studio a few weeks ago to talk about what I do. It was so much fun to have him record the sounds of the studio and chat about my process and inspiration. Click here to have a listen. You'll find me at the 8-minute mark. Enjoy!

 

 


Store Stories - Illinois Artisans Gallery Chicago July 08 2015, 0 Comments

Illinois Artisans Fine Craft and Jewerly Gallery Chicago

Established in 1985, the Illinois Artisans Shop was the first gallery of its kind in the state. It showcases one of the most diverse collections of handcrafted work in the Midwest.  The Illinois Artisans Program focuses national attention on the rich heritage of the fine crafting that exists in Illinois. Juried artists participate in art sprees, craft festivals, exhibitions and other events held at three locations throughout Illinois.

 

  • llinois Artisans, Chicago,  James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St. Suite 2-200, Chicago, IL 60601. Open Monday - Friday 9AM-5PM by the Clark/Lake EL stop.
  • The Museum Store, Illinois State Museum, Springfield: Museum Events
  • Dickson Mounds Museum Store, Lewistown, IL

Illinois Artisan GalleryAt the Chicago gallery, visitors can browse work by over 350 artisans from throughout Illinois, and learn more about the process and materials from their knowledgeable staff. On display are jewelry, ceramics, metal, painting, wood, glass wearables and much more! My jewelry been part of the Chicago gallery since 2009 just after I started my business. I'm so grateful for the gallery's support, which has been integral to building my business. Among the opportunities have been trunk shows and art sprees. I was also selected to design and create a brooch for "straight-shooter" Dawn Clark Netsch and an awardee who exemplified her leadership. 

 

Dawn Clark Netsch's brooch made out of sterling silver with oxidization

 This month, I was selected to be part of Celebrating 30 years of Craft: Made in Illinois. An exhibition celebrating the Illinois Artisans Program at the State Street Gallery of Robert Morris College 401 S. State Street in Chicago, IL. The closing reception is Thursday, June 25th from 5-7pm. If you find yourself downtown looking for a unique gift, please make a stop at the shop at Thompson Center, it's really a treasure in the heart of the city!


Metals - 14K Gold July 08 2015, 0 Comments

14k white gold wedding set with diamonds

It is finally time for our 14K gold post! 14K gold is a favorite of many and one of the most used metals when it comes to commitment jewelry. Pure gold is of yellow color, however as many of you probably know, 14K gold doesn't only come in yellow but also in white, rose and green! The reason it can be made in different colors is because it is not pure gold. 14K gold is a mix of pure gold and other alloys such as sterling silver and copper, which determine the color of the gold. In order for gold to be considered 14K it needs to have at least 58% pure gold.

 

 

The reason we mix pure gold with "less valuable" metals is because we want to get the best properties out of the gold. Pure gold is too soft for most jewelry and wouldn't hold precious gemstones such as diamonds in place. Another reason why we mix pure gold with other metals is the color. Pure gold is a very bright yellow, and let's face it not everyone wants their jewelry to be seen from out of space, which is why we mix it with other metals to create new colors.

14k yellow gold nesting ring with garnets

14K gold is very common in the U.S. and is often used for commitment rings. People prefer 14K gold over sterling silver, because it is more valuable, tougher and versatile. 14K gold is much harder than sterling silver, meaning it will show less wear over a longer period of time as well as hold precious gemstones in place. While 14K gold is quite an expensive metal, it is still much more affordable than 18K, 22K or 24K gold.

 

While your 14K gold jewelry will not tarnish it can still get dirty. Often times the oils from your body will leave a film on the jewelry that will make it seem kind of dull. However, this is a problem that can be easily solved. All you need to clean your 14K gold jewelry is a mild soap and water solution and a toothbrush. After you cleaned it you should store the jewelry in a dark and dry place. It is best to store your jewelry separately, because even though gold is a very tough metal, it can still get scratches from gemstones such as diamonds.


Metals - Fine Silver June 30 2015, 0 Comments

Hi Everyone! Today we are continuing our metals blog series with a post about fine silver. In case you missed it, in our previous post we discussed sterling silver, which is an alloy of fine silver. Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver, compared to sterling silver which is only 92.5% pure silver. Fine silver is very soft, making it more prone to scratches and dents. On the bright side, its softness is the reason fine silver pieces tend to mend themselves to your body and can be very comfortable to wear. It also does not tarnish, which is great if you are not too big on cleaning your jewelry.

Meteor Cuff: Hammered Fine Silver

While fine silver can definitely be used for jewelry, most people prefer sterling silver, as it is a little bit more resistant. We do have a few pieces in fine silver, for example our meteor cuff. We chose to make the meteor cuff in fine silver, because it makes the cuff "softer" and more comfortable to wear. It also doesn't tarnish, making this a very low-maintenance piece of jewelry. We suggest to store your fine silver like all your other jewelry in a dark and dry place. While fine silver is not very prone to tarnish, it does get scratches very easily so it should be separated from other jewelry. If you ever do feel the need to clean your fine silver jewelry we suggest a polishing cloth. NEVER use a paper towel or a tissue paper because the fibers in those products can scratch the metal.


Before & After - Star Sapphire Remount June 03 2015, 0 Comments

Since recycling is such an important aspect our lives, we wanted to introduce a series in which we highlight the ways that jewelry can be recycled!  Many people have boxes of inherited jewelry that they realize will just never be worn: earrings with missing partners, broken necklaces, or seriously out-dated styles.  But there can be a lot of great material in that box, and with a little love and creativity, can begin a whole new life as something you'll cherish and love to wear! 

before and after star sapphire heirloom redesign

Rebecca met with a couple at the One Of A Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart this past December who wanted to update their father's mid-century modern star sapphire ring to become a special piece for their daughter.  The couple had come to Rebecca before for pieces from her Collections and wanted to work with together to adapt one of her designs to suit their stone.  Together, it was decided that a Nebula Pendant would be the perfect way to showcase the stunning star sapphire for their daughter.

We should take a moment to discuss how cool star sapphires are!  These stones exhibit a naturally occurring phenomenon known as asterism, exemplified when the stone is cut and polished into the jelly-bean smooth cabuchon shape (instead of faceted).  When light is directed to the stone, it displays a six-legged star which is actually a reflection of impurities within the stone.  Star sapphires with bolder blue color are more rare than grey-blue star sapphires as there is a greater demand for faceted blue sapphires.

Rebecca carefully removed the star sapphire from its mounting in the original ring and bezel set the stone within the hammered sterling silver Nebula pendant.  In addition to remounting the old stone into a new piece of jewelry, Rebecca was able to recycle the 10k white gold ring and the value of the refined metal was credited to the couple.

If you are interested in working with Rebecca to breathe new life into your old jewelry, please do not hesitate to contact us and start the brainstorming and design process!


Metals - Gold-Plated May 20 2015, 0 Comments

We are continuing our metals series with gold-plated, a metal that we are slowly starting to incorporate into some of our designs. As you might know we mainly work with precious metals such as sterling silver, gold-filled and 14K gold. We work with those metals because first of all, we can forge them and move them into the designs we want and secondly, because they are known for its value and longevity. Gold-plated is a metal used mostly for costume jewelry, which is often mass produced and not meant to last forever. That being said, gold-plated can be a very affordable solution for people who are not looking to spend big bucks on 14K gold or the less expensive gold-filled.

We recently gold-plated several of our items for people who were looking for that gold-look yet didn't want to place a heavy investment. The result was beautiful, and while it may rub off after some time, you can always get it redone. So with that in mind, what exactly is gold-plated? As you might already know from our gold-filled blog post, gold-plated is a thin layer of gold around a base metal. The base metal can be sterling silver, but is most commonly a less expensive metal such as copper, rhodium, or brass. To create gold-plated, the base metal has to go through several processes with its final one being dipped into a bath of electroplating solution which contains gold. Then when an electric current is applied, an electrochemical reaction occurs and a thin layer of gold is deposited onto the base metal. As you might have already guessed, this layer is a lot thinner than the layer of gold on gold-filled items, making gold-plated less valuable and more affordable. Take a look at the image below to get a better idea of what gold-plated looks like compared to gold-filled and solid 14K gold.

The differences between gold-filled, gold-plated and solid gold.

The image above says that the layer of gold on the gold-plated piece is 14K gold. However, this is not always the case. While 14K gold and gold-filled are metals regulated by the government, gold-plated is not. That means that there is no necessary standard, which can lead to very poor quality gold, worth a lot less than 14K gold-plated. When it comes to cleaning your gold-plated jewelry, you should treat it like you would your solid gold jewelry. Simply use a mild soap and water solution and a toothbrush to get rid off any dirt or oil films left on the jewelry. Also try not to wear your gold-plated jewelry when you are using household cleaners as those can damage the jewelry very easily.


Stone Settings May 06 2015, 0 Comments

We have been doing a lot of custom wedding bands and engagement rings lately, so we decided to do a little blog post about the different stone settings we use for those of you who are interested in a custom design that includes stones. In the end, which setting you choose to use in your design mostly depends on which one you like the most. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to each setting, that should also be taken into account.

flush setting diamond wedding band

 

Flush setting A flush setting is when we cut a hole into the band, just big enough to fit the stone, and then tighten the metal around the stone to secure it. This setting is very secure, and requires little maintenance, because the stone sits directly in the band, which means the setting gets very little wear and therefore lasts longer. We use this setting a lot to add smaller diamonds to a wedding band or to create a scattered diamond design.

Pictured is the Starburst Anniversary Band.

 

 

 

 

 

Prong setting diamond engagement wedding set

Prong setting The prong setting is a very common and tradition setting when it comes to engagement rings. This setting lets light in all sides of the stone (including the bottom) and it really allows the stone to sparkle. The prong is basically a big claw that gets tightened around the stone. Because it sticks out, it is easy to knock it against something, which can bend or loosen the prongs. This setting is less secure and requires a little bit of maintenance (tightening the prongs) every now and then.

Pictured is the Stacking Solstice Wedding and Engagement Ring.

 

 

 

 

 

Bezel setting statement cocktail ring

Bezel setting A bezel setting is when a tube of metal fits to the stone and gets soldered to the band. The stone then gets set in the tube and the metal of the tube gets pressed over the edge of the stone. This setting is one of the oldest and most secure settings there is. It protects the stone against scratches and breaking. The flush setting mentioned above is a variation of the bezel setting.

Pictured is the Cumulus Stacking Ring.

 

 

 

 

 

Pave setting diamond wedding band

Pave setting The pave setting is a setting where generally smaller stones are set very closely next to each other with little metal mini-prongs between the stones. This setting is often used to bring out the larger center stone.

Pictured is the French Pave Contour Wedding Band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Channel setting diamond wedding band

Channel setting As the name suggests, this setting refers to many uniform sized stones being set between two metal bars - a channel. Once the stones have been put in place, the metal bars are pressed together to secure the stones. The idea behind this setting is similar to the prong setting. This setting is often used in wedding bands or to show of a bigger stone in an engagement ring.

Pictured is the Channel Eternity Band.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Metals - Gold-filled April 22 2015, 0 Comments

Today we are continuing our metal series with gold-filled, a cheaper alternative to solid gold. While gold-filled is not as valuable as solid gold, it should not be confused with gold-plated, as the two are very different. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than most gold-plated items, making them much more valuable and resistant to tarnish. Unlike gold-plated items, gold-filled items will not rub off or turn colors either. So what exactly is gold-filled? Gold filled items are made from solid gold (ranging from 10K to 14K) and filled with other alloys such as rhodium, brass, or sterling silver, making gold-filled a more affordable alternative to solid gold. Gold-filled consists of several mechanically bonded layers, which are created when the base metal is put through a process of mechanically bonding and heating the gold to the base metal.

The differences between gold-filled, gold-plated and solid gold.

Even though gold-filled is not as well-known as other metals, it has played an important role in the jewelry industry for over 150 years. It was originally developed to help reduce costs of jewelry and other "gold" items without sacrificing durability. Like most metals, gold-filled items are regulated by the government. (On the other hand, gold-plated items are not regulated and therefore much less valuable). In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product. Since gold-filled has an actual layer of solid gold, it looks and wears just like "real" gold. Gold-filled is strong and durable yet only costs a fraction of solid gold jewelry. Since your gold-filled jewelry does not tarnish, it is also very easy to clean. All you need is a mild soap and water solution and a soft polishing cloth. While we use gold-filled to make many of our necklaces and earrings, we cannot use it to make our engagement rings and wedding bands, since we use the lost wax casting technique to hand make all of our commitment jewelry. The lost wax casting technique requires us to melt down the metal to its liquid state, and since gold-filled is made out of gold and another alloy the two would melt together.


Metals - Sterling Silver March 05 2015, 0 Comments

This is our new blog series about metals. We decided that this would be an interesting topic for all you jewelry fanatics, so if you are interested in learning more about the metals we use for our jewelry, then you should definitely keep reading! Today we will be talking about sterling silver, which is our most used metal, and a favorite of many. Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, mainly copper. The 7.5% can be any metal depending on preference, but time has proven copper to be the best addition to the pure silver. Why do we add "cheaper" metals to the pure silver? Simply because it makes the silver more resistant. Also - and this isn't so great - makes the silver more prone to tarnish.

Sterling silver has been used for centuries for many different things. It is an obvious choice for jewelry, but has also been used for decorations and even tools such as forks, knives and buckets. Especially in the Victorian times, when eating with your fingers was a big no-no, cutlery was very important. Even today people still use silver cutlery for important occasions, however it is much less common and many people rather melt down the silver to create a piece of jewelry from it.

Polished sterling silver electron pendant

Sterling silver is a metal we use very frequently for our jewelry, such as on our Electron Pendant. Silver looks good on every skin tone and goes with all colors of clothing, making it a very versatile metal. When it comes to engagement rings, we tend to stay away from sterling silver as it is much softer than gold. This means it is more prone to scratches and dents and doesn't usually hold stones as well as gold would.

Since sterling silver does contain some copper it will tarnish over time. The best way to prevent this as much as possible is by storing your silver jewelry in a dark and dry place. We always recommend storing your jewelry in a little plastic baggie, because that will prevent it from tarnishing as well as getting scratches or dents from other jewelry. Also in order to preserve your jewelry, don't wear sterling silver in chlorinated water or when working with household chemicals, as these will damage the jewelry. No matter how well you store it, after some time your sterling silver jewelry will tarnish. To clean sterling silver jewelry we recommend using a polishing cloth or a mild soap and water solution. For stubborn spots simply apply a little bit of silver cleaner with a cotton swab, and follow by brushing your jewelry with a baking soda and soap paste. Make sure to NEVER clean your sterling silver jewelry with tissue paper or paper towels because those can cause scratches because of the fibers in these products. Also, be careful with sterling silver dips, as those can damage gemstones by taking off their color and polish.


Happy New, New, New Year! December 15 2014, 1 Comment

Concentric: Gold-filled with oxidized sterling silver DSC_0119 GeodeSliceDangles

It's been quite a busy year being a new mom and making so much custom work. I just wanted to write this quick post to highlight some of my most recent designs for my production line. Despite balancing it all, I am so excited that I've been able to create several new styles and new takes on classic ones. You will be seeing more and more as 2015 progresses. I hope you'll like them!

The druzy and geode collections are limited edition. Because each stone is totally one of a kind in color and shape, the way each stone is set is different completely different. They're going very quickly, contact me to see what's left. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


Zircon - Stone of the Month December 02 2014, 0 Comments

Raindrop pendant with ZirconOne of the birthstones of December is zircon, a stone that comes in many colors but is most well known for its beautiful light blue color. Zircon has been known since the Middle Ages, with the oldest stones being over 4 billion years old. The origin of the name is not a hundred percent certain, however it is speculated to come from the Persian word "zargun", meaning golden-colored.

 

Zircon is a mineral that belongs to the group of nesosilicates. In its purest form zircon is colorless, however it takes on different colors due to impurities or certain gemstone treatments like the blue zircon it our Raindrop Pendant. For example in Southeast Asia most zircons are brown but are made colorless or blue by being heat treated. The colorless zircons resemble diamonds, and are often used as a more affordable option. The stones have a hardness of 6.5 - 7.5, making it a strong yet brittle stone. Most zircons have a brilliant or an emerald cut to bring out their fire and brilliance, however since it is so brittle and Rough uncut zirconsensitive to knocks and pressure, it should be handled with a lot of care. Zircon is a very dense stone, making it look smaller compared to stones with a similar weight. They can be found all over the world, in places such as Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Zircon is a stone of purity and innocence. It has been said to help balance emotions and and bring good luck. Zircon is also believed to have healing powers that can help you sleep and bring property and wisdom as well as help with varicose veins and blisters. 


Labradorite - Stone of the Month November 05 2014, 0 Comments

labradorite cuff custom design bracelet sterling silver

The alternative birthstone for the month of November, and one of our favorites, is labradorite, also known as the colorful cousin of moonstone. With its beautiful play of color, specifically known as labradoresenece or schiller effect, this stone has mesmerized people many centuries before us. While Labradorite is an obvious stone to be used for jewelry, it has also been used in the production of glass, as a road building material and to increase the strength and durability of ceramics. Labradorite has a predominant blue shimmer, however it comes in color variations of gray-green, dark gray, black and grayish-white. The stone is composed in aggregate layers that refract light creating beautiful shimmers in many different colors. Stones that show an unusual high degree of labradorescence are called spectrolite.

 

 

These beautiful stones were first discovered around 1770 by missionaries who found and named the stone after the region in Canada known as Labrador. Today they can be found all over the world, mainly in the USA, South America and Norway. On the Mohs scale of hardness it rates a 6 - 6.5, making it a softer gemstone. Considering its beautiful color and its magical shimmer it comes to no surprise that the labradorite has been used by many people for its healing powers. It has been said that the labradorite helps people who are going through changes, giving them strength and stability while raising consciousness and helping to reveal the truth.

Rough cut LabradoriteFun Fact: Taking pictures of jewelry that features labradorite is not easy. It is hard to take a picture that does the shimmer and the uniqueness of these stones justice, especially since the color changes with every angle shown here with our Satellite Cuff. Because we love labradorite, we always keeps some that we pick out carefully in our inventory. If you are interested in creating a piece of custom labradorite jewelry, please don't hesitate to contact us. It is best to see it in person, to be able to truly appreciate the beauty of the stone and let it inspire your design ideas ;)


Agate - Stone of the Month October 09 2014, 0 Comments

Wow! It's been a busy year becoming a new mom and keeping up with customers. I'm excited to pick up the blog where we left off...The alternative birthstone for the month of October is agate, a member of the quartz family. Agate is a variety of the chalcedony quartz, which forms in concentric layers in a wide variety of colors, textures and patterns. Because of that vast variety in colors and patterns, many agates have their own specific trade names such as carnelian or sardonyx, as with in our Large Suspended Lightyear Pendant. Agate forms by filling a cavity in a so called "host" rock, which is why agates often end up as a round nodule, with concentric bands all around them.

XL Lightyear Pendant with Sardonyx Agate  necklace
 

Agate was first discovered around the 3rd or 4th century BC, by a Greek philosopher called Theophrastus. He found the stones by the Achates River in Sicily, Italy and named them after the river. The river still exists today, however it has been renamed the Dirillo River. Nowadays agate can be found in many places all around the world, often close by volcanic rocks. As mentioned above, agate can come in many colors and patterns. In general, the stones with banding are called agate, while the ones with a more uniform color have specific names such as chalcedony, carnelian etc. Because of the banding, most agates will be multicolored, however uniform colored stones do occur. Often times the stones get dyed to create a more uniform color as well. Because Agates are often times found in very large sizes, they tend to be cut en cabochon to showcase their beauty and unique patterns.

Agates have been used for their healing properties for many centuries. People used to wear the stones close to them to protect themselves from nightmares, stress and fevers. Agate has also been said to give you strength and the will power to work through harder times and Persian magicians even believed that agates could help divert storms. We're excited to be introducing more agates and rough cut geodes into our collection this holiday season. Let us know if you want to stop by to see what we've been working on!


Lapis Lazuli - Stone of the Month September 19 2013, 0 Comments

In Orbit Brooch with Lapis Lazuli handmade in ChicagoThe alternative birthstone for the month of September is the beautiful Lapis Lazuli, often referred to as the cousin of the turquoise. Because of its beautiful blue color it has often been ground to powder form and then used to create paint and make up. Lapis Lazuli has been used in jewelry for thousands of years and got its name from the Latin word "lapis" which means stone and the Arabian word "azul" which means blue. Lapis is composed mainly out of lazurite and several other minerals, making it a rock rather than a mineral. It measures a 5 - 5.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a rather soft gemstone, prone to damage under heavy use.

 

Lapis Lazuli is an affordable stone, often cut as a cabochon and used for larger  jewelry pieces such as in our In Orbit Brooch.  Lapis Lazuli has been mined in Afghanistan for many centuries, but can also be found in Canada, Italy and Pakistan. By the end of the middle ages, Lapis Lazuli was being exported to Europe where it was ground into a fine power used to make ultramarine - the finest and most expensive of blue pigments.  This color was used for the most important figures in paintings of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, usually the Virgin Mary and royalty.

LapRough uncut lapis lazuliis Lazuli comes in several shades of blue, ranging from a purple blue to a green blue. The shade of blue depends on the amount of sulfur present in the stone. Generally, less calcite gives the stone a much lighter blue color, which is not as valuable as the darker stones. The most valuable stones have an evenly distributed (dark blue) color, while the less valuable ones tend to have several shades of blue in them. Some people enjoy the very even and pure color of the Lapis Lazuli, while others like the playful spots and freckles (due to the golden pyrite) similar to the turquoise
It is the official gemstone for the seventh and the ninth wedding anniversary and has been said to promote friendship, truth and total awareness. Some also believe that it can help with disorders of the throat, bone marrow and immune system.
 

New Work - Summer 2013 September 11 2013, 0 Comments

Flat comfort fit band with texture and diamondsWe have been busy building up our inventory and working on many custom pieces and so we thought it would be nice to give you a little preview on what we have been working on!

 

These two gorgeous pieces are wedding bands, which have been carved in wax and then cast into 14K gold with diamonds.  These are variations of our classic Starburst Ring in different metals. Recycled 14k gold with diamond pendant

  

And here are some of the custom necklaces we have been working on over the last few weeks/months. As Recycled 14k white gold ring with diamondsyou might be able to see, the necklaces are variations of our classic Solstice Pendant.

If you have heirloom stones lying around at home and you don't know what to do with them, take a look at our website and our hope is that you get inspired and come up with your own design to reuse those special stones!

For more information on what it is like to work with us on custom pieces, please click here. We can't wait to hear from you ;)


Jade - Stone of the Month August 29 2013, 0 Comments

Satellite Studs with Jade in Sterling SilverOne of the birthstones for the month of August is jade, a stone often known for its intense green color. Jade has been known for more than 7000 years, and while one might assume it has mainly been used in ornaments, it started out as a very practical stone used for tools because of its extreme toughness. Jade consists of two separate minerals known as jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is very tough and resistant because of its tight growth of tiny interlocking grains. Nephrite, a variety of the mineral actinolite, is even tougher, due to its composition of fibrous crystals inter-twinned in a tough compact mass. The mix of these two minerals makes jade the toughest gemstone in nature, and even though nephrite and jadeite are relatively easy to scratch and softer than diamond, their resistance to chipping is extremely high. Diamond is the highest gemstone on the hardness scale in nature but can be broken by a hard blow. As a matter of fact, Jade is even tougher than granite and more difficult to carve than steel, making it an ideal weapon.


Uncut Jade



Jade can come in many colors, ranging from a grey-green to the very sought after emerald green also known as "Imperial Jade". The color of jade depends on the country it is from, as it has to do with the amount of chromium, iron and manganese in each stone. Most jades show blemishes and imperfections and only the finest stones show an evenly distributed color. However, in some cases the imperfections are not regarded as flaws rather than as very valuable patterns, sought after by many collectors.  One design we make which features this beautiful stone are the above Satellite Studs with Jade .  

Like most gemstones, jade comes with its fair share of mysterious believes and stories. For example Asians highly value jade because they believe its energy is closely related to the human body. It is common for them to give a jade piece that they used to wear a lot as a gift because they believe that the jade has become part of them and by giving it to a close friend or family member they are giving a part of themselves. Jade is also known to be the gemstone for the 35th wedding anniversary and has been said to help with kidney diseases.  

 


Store Stories - Citywoods August 12 2013, 1 Comment

Citywoods is a beautiful little gallery located in downtown Highland Park, IL and specializes in unique handmade pieces from all over the country. This gem of a shop first opened in 1988 and is still run by its original owner, Diana and Robert Schaps. Citywoods showcases a vast variety of art pieces ranging from beautiful wooden furniture and room decorations to fine handmade jewelry and clothing. Nearly five years ago, at my first One of a Kind Show, a buyer from Citywoods came by my booth in the emerging artist section and bought an original Luna Pendant with peridot for herself. A couple of weeks later, they contacted me with a wholesale order. Citywoods was one of the first galleries to sell my jewelry, and it has been a wonderful relationship ever since. They continue to feature the Luna pendant with a variety of gemstones as it's one of their best sellers.

201545024_37ef609e4c

We love Citywoods, because we share a similar mission - making art more accessible to people and enriching lives with one of a kind pieces of art. So if you are ever looking for a unique gift idea, drop by Citywoods, or check out their online shop here, because chances are you will find just what you are looking for!

Photo Credits: Flickr.com - YoNorthShore


Before & After July 25 2013, 0 Comments

As you probably know by now, we do a lot of custom work, especially a lot of custom commitment rings. Often times we create pieces from scratch, but sometimes we also revamp an existing piece. A few months ago a couple came to us with two beautiful wedding bands from their grandparents. They wanted to keep the rings and honor the tradition, however they were looking to customize the rings a little bit and add a personal touch. Here are the before and after pictures. As you can see, the simple 14K yellow gold half round band (on the left) got a more edgy and sculpted look, while the 14K yellow gold sculpted band (on the right) got a hammered, two-tone look.

We couldn't be more excited for our customers on their wedding and are so happy they chose us to rework these extra-special pieces. Should you want to revamp an old piece of jewelry, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Carnelian - Stone of the Month July 19 2013, 0 Comments

Luna Pendant with faceted Carnelian bead, on textured sterling silver with gold-filled chainOften known for it's red-brown color, the alternative birthstone of July is the beautiful carnelian. Carnelian is a zodiac birthstone for the signs of Leo and Virgo and has been said to promote inner vitality and joy. The carnelian is a commonly available microcrystalline quartz. It is considered a chalcedony, made up of silicon dioxide colored by different levels of iron impurities which makes them come in many warm colors ranging from a pale orange to a dark brown. Often, the stones have been heat treated to make their color more intense.

This stone got its name from the Latin word cornum meaning claw or beak. The cornel cherry, found in Central Asia, is a fruit of similar coloring to the carnelian and has the same name root. It has a hardness of 6-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, similar to the chrysoprase. The best quality carnelians can be found in India, Brazil and Uruguay. Below is a close-up of interesting grain found in carnelian.

Carnelian Close - up

Like many other gemstones, carnelian has been known to have healing properties. Ancient Egyptians used to wear it close to their bodies to silence negative feelings such as hatred and jealousy. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead it says to place the stone in tombs as "magic armor" for life after death, a belief that was shared by several cultures. Carnelian has also been said to purify your blood, help with back pain and to increase creativity.

 

 

 


Moonstone - Stone of the Month June 28 2013, 0 Comments

Solstive Pendant with Faceted Moonstone in sterling silver

 

One of the birthstones of June and one of our favorite gemstones to use is Moonstone. With its beautiful shimmer it has fascinated people for centuries continuing to be a very popular and elegant stone. The moonstone got its name from the historian Pliny the Elder, who believed that the stone changed its appearance depending on the phases of the moon. Although a myth, people believed this until the 16th century. Today we know that beautiful shimmer to be adularescence, which happens when the light hits the stone. Moonstone is composed of orthoclase and albite, two minerals from the feldspar family, that during the rock formation process over millions of years separate into two thin layers. When these layers are hit by light, adularescence happens.

Moonstone pendantThese beautiful stones can be found in many places, however the best place to find moonstones is Sri Lanka. The stones can come in many colors ranging from blue to a neutral champagne. However, with a hardness of only 6.5, the moonstone is a softer gemstone, prone to imperfections. Moonstones have been adored for their mystic beauty, but are also known to bring good fortune. In India, the stone is considered sacred. The Romans believed that the stones were formed by the light of the moon and therefore associated them with their lunar gods and goddesses. Moonstones are also said to help enhance the feminine energy and are known for helping to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. If you are as enticed by the moonstone as we are, check out the Solstice Pendant with Moonstone!


Chalcedony - Stone of the Month May 30 2013, 1 Comment

The traditional birthstone for the month of May is the emerald, a beautiful gemstone known for its deep green color. Some of us cannot afford emeralds or might be looking for more variety in color. Chalcedony, the alternative birthstone for May, offers both. Chalcedony is a term that includes several varieties of cryptocrystalline quartz gemstones rather than one specific gemstone itself. The chalcedony is very common and can be found in all 50 United States. It also comes in a variety of colors, shapes and transparencies. The word chalcedony comes from the Latin word chalcedonius, which was first used in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia. The earliest human records show that chalcedony was one of the first raw materials used to make weapons and tools. A little bit later in time, people started to use chalcedony as a form of adornment. The most luxurious looking items were used for special occasions (e.g. a beautiful knife was only carried at a special ceremony).

Antique Cut Chalcedony

As already mentioned above, chalcedony is a group of several gemstones, which includes onyx, sardonyx, jasper, agate, bloodstone, carnelian, plasma, prase, chrysoprase, petrified dinosaur bone and many more. If you are familiar with some of these stones, you will notice that most of them look very different from each other. What links these stones together is their chemical structure, which is a silica composed of inter growths of the minerals quartz and morganite. Chalcedonies are believed to have strong healing powers. The stones have been said to promote good will and harmony between people. They absorb negative energy and transform it into positive energy and joy. It has also been said that the chalcedony helps reduce buildup in veins and increases physical energy.

What should we do with this amazing stone featured here? We often like to use chalcedony for our creations, because of the great color and pattern combinations of the stones. Some of our favorites are dinosaur bone and chrysoprase. However, we haven't been able to figure out what to do with this rose-cut aqua chalcedony for years. Do you have any ideas? If so please share them with us! Maybe we can collaborate on a design..:)


Metalwork - Wax Carving May 14 2013, 0 Comments

We are continuing our how to series with wax carving, which we use for many of our commitment rings. Wax carving is a very interesting and delicate process.
When we carve a ring in wax, we first decide which type of wax is best suited for the design. Blue wax is the softest and therefore best for more organic shapes, the purple wax is the medium and best for intricate designs, and the green wax is the hardest and most brittle which makes it best for for more architectural and machine like designs.
Once you decide on the wax you are going to use, you can start by measuring the width you need. Using a divider on the tube of wax you can mark the width. Then you saw off the smaller piece which will become your ring. Continue to file off the rough edges to refine your ring design.
When you have taken off some excess material on the top, you can take a ring sizer (with a blade on the inside) and adjust the size of your ring by taking off material from the inside. After taking off the rough edges and adjusting it to the size you want, you can start refining the design by filing and carving the wax into the shape you desire. As you can see in the video, Rebecca is creating a simple half round band. In order to create the half round band she starts filing a bevel and then softens the edges by connecting the two bevels to create a smooth round finish.
It is important to make the surface of the ring as smooth as possible. This way you will have less work to do once the ring has been cast in metal. In order to do so, you can use sandpaper as well as Rebecca's nylon stocking tip.

Mohs Scale of Hardness April 17 2013, 0 Comments

This blog post is dedicated to Mohs scale of hardness. We use it frequently with our stone of the month series so we wanted to take this opportunity to dedicate an entire post to explain it. It is important to know the Mohs hardness in order to better care for different gemstones.

The Mohs scale is a way of measuring a stone's scratch resistance against a harder material. It was invented in 1812 by the German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs and ever since has been used to test and describe the hardness of minerals. While Mohs was the first one to invent an actual scale, testing the hardness of minerals by scratching them against each other was nothing new to people at that point. As a matter of fact, people had been doing it for hundreds of years prior.

Mohs Scale of Hardness, from gia.edu

 

The scale goes from 1 being the softest to 10 the hardest. If you have been following our birthstone blog series, then you know that diamonds are the hardest of all minerals, measuring a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The turquoise on the other hand only measures a 5-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes this stone soft and prone to scratches. To give you a better idea of how hard a diamond actually is let's compare it to common objects. For example a fingernail is a 2.5 on the scale, while a copper penny is not much higher with a 3 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Glass on the other hand is already about a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it about as hard as quartz. I hope this helped you understand what we are talking about when we get a little bit carried away with all of our jewelry and gemstone talk!


Quartz - Stone of the Month April 03 2013, 0 Comments

Considered the “Universal Crystal” all over the world because of its transparent and colorless nature, Crystal Quartz is the perfect alternative to the diamond, the traditional birthstone of April. The word "crystal" comes from the Greek word "krustallos", meaning ice. Quartz was believed to be ice formed by the Gods. Since the Middle Ages, crystal balls made of clear quartz have been used to predict the future. The English word "quartz" comes from the German word "Quarz". Another theory, by Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, was that quartz is ice that has been permanently frozen after a great length of time. Pliny supported this idea by the fact that quartz is mostly found near glaciers in the Alps, but not on volcanic mountains which were formed more recently in the geological history of the Earth. The ancient Japanese theorized that quartz is formed from the breath of a white dragon, and therefore represents perfection.

Milky Way Hoops with Faceted Amethyst Beads

Pure crystal quartz, which is often referred to as rock crystal, is found abundantly all over the world. Natural quartz can have inclusions and traces of other minerals in it, which is why larger stones are often synthetically enhanced. Because of its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) and its glass-like properties it is often used for hard stone carvings. The crystals of quartz are generally six-sided and can grow either singularly or in groups taking on different shapes according to the temperature at the time of their formation. They can also come in a variety colors that are considered to be gemstones on their own. These include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and many more.  If you like the look of amethyst, we use it a lot in our designs!  Check out the Milky Way Hoops with Faceted Amethyst.

While quartz isn't permanently frozen water, God's ice or an object to predict the future, it has been said to have strong healing powers. Quartz is known to give its wearer power, energy and clarity. Quartz can help rid you of negative energy, clear your head, feel harmonious and give you new strength to carry on. The crystal quartz is simply an all purpose stone when it comes to natural healing properties. 


Metalwork - Sawing March 27 2013, 0 Comments

Today we are continuing our 'How To' series with an edition on sawing. Just like the processes described in our earlier posts, sawing is a very important part of how we make our jewelry. In the video below you will see Rebecca saw a round circle, which she then files and will later use to create a Satellite Brooch

It is surprising how complicated something as "simple" as sawing can be. There are many little things to keep in mind. First, the direction of the blade relative to the saw frame is key. The blade's teeth need to be facing out and pointing down. Since the teeth are so tiny, we like to use our fingers to lightly feel the direction of the teeth to make sure. Second, it's important to make sure to put the right amount of tension on it because if there is too little you won't be able to saw. You achieve the right amount of tension by pushing on the handle against the bench pin while placing the blade in the frame and tightening it into place.

Once you place the blade in the saw frame with the correct tension and direction you can start sawing. At first it's a little difficult, but once you find your flow it gets a lot easier... Until you have to make a turn. When you saw around a corner, you have to be careful to slowly move the blade with the curve, otherwise it will break. As you will see in the video, Rebecca uses a technique she calls the "two finger split" to stabilize both sides of the metal over the bench pin to avoid cutting herself. Stabilizing the metal is very important, because if it isn't stable it can easily slip and cause your blade to break or cut into your metal.

When you are done sawing, you will probably want to file the edges to make them smooth. As Rebecca demonstrates in the video, it is always very important that you stabilize the metal by pressing it against the bench pin so that you can apply maximum pressure to file efficiently. It is also important that you always file from top to bottom of your file in order to keep your file "healthy" and get a nice smooth finish.


New Custom Pieces! March 20 2013, 0 Comments

With Spring upon us, we wanted to share the new custom pieces we've been working on this Winter. We've been so busy that we realized we hadn't shown you many new pieces in a while. So here is a glimpse of some of our most recent work. We couldn't have done it without our amazing clients whose vision make these designs possible!  We always love making our customers dreams come true because it pushes our creativity and skills keeping us fresh and on our toes. For example, we worked with Palladium for the first time, which can be a difficult metal to work with. However, it was all worth it! We are so excited about how it came out because of the contrast it created with the yellow gold inlay.  Our newest pieces also include fingerprints engraved onto the inside of wedding bands, a fun wedding ring stacking set and a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring. For mother's and father of another bridal party we created some custom petoskey jewelry for a destination wedding taking place in Traverse City, Michigan.

Solstive Stacking Wedding and Engagement Ring

And the Nebula ring we created as an engagement ring last year now has a wedding ring which was designed to fill it like a puzzle! Wow, we're even a little impressed with ourselves :) Please visit more of our other our custom wedding bands here.


Metalwork - Forging March 13 2013, 0 Comments

Today we will share with you some insight on one of our most important processes - forging. Forging is the process of shaping the metal using force. Forging can be done either hot or cold, depending on the metal. For our silver and gold jewelry, we use the cold forging process after annealing the metal. Meaning, we hit the metal while it is cold after heating it up to loosen the molecules and then cooling it off so we can hold it while hammering it. Hot forging is when you hit a portion of the metal while it is hot, traditional blacksmithing is done this way with steel. To forge the metal all we need is a hammer and an anvil. It's a very "old-school" process, employed for centuries by metalsmiths from all over the world.  Now, often times, the forging process is done by big machines that can put a lot of weight behind every strike. However, we love the preservation of the ancient techniques, so for our jewelry we use only the force of our arms and the weight of the hammer.

An interesting fact about forging is, that it actually makes the metal stronger. While you might think that hammering metal would make it thinner and therefore more prone to break, it does exactly the opposite. Forging refines the molecular structure, which results in better and stronger physical properties of the metal. When we forge the metal to create our signature hammered texture, it is important to stay consistent. That means we try to put the same amount of weight behind every hit, and we move the metal carefully, so the hammer hits each part evenly, creating a very nice texture and refined flow. Watch Rebecca create her signature texture in our 'How To: Forge' video below.

For more detail, also check out this video we did with Mark Shale Stores last year.

Jasper - Stone of the Month March 06 2013, 0 Comments

Picture Jasper in Nebula necklace set in recycled sterling silverAn alternative birthstone for March is Jasper, a gemstone known for its many colors and its beautiful and unique patterns. Jasper is often thought to be part of the chalcedony class of gemstones. However, it can contain up to 20% foreign material, which results in the beautiful patterns. This makes Jasper considered a group of its own. The Jasper is a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it a fairly hard gemstone.  The Jasper rarely comes in one uniform color. Most of the time these gemstones have streaks or spots of other colors, which results in many names for the varieties of the gemstones, including my favorites "picture jasper", "ocean jasper" and "nebula jasper". Because the jasper is an opaque gemstone it tends to be cut as cabochons with a smooth rounded surface. Some versions of the stone can be very inexpensive while other more rare deposits can be very expensive. 

Large Deschutes Jasper RockThe patterns and colors are what makes these stones so beautiful, many jewelers go for larger cut stones, making sure to showcase the best aspects. Most jaspers do not need to be treated or enhanced, however some are color-dyed. Just like most gemstones, the Jasper is also believed to have healing and protective powers. In ancient times, parents often put a jasper in their children's room in order to protect them from nightmares, snakes and spider bites. Jasper has also been said to instill confidence and courage when touched. This is why some people like to wear a necklace with a small Jasper pendant, so they have the stone close to them at all times.