The Bouyant Ship of Marital Fortune

Platinum and Aquamarine engagement ring

Earlier this spring a lovely couple, recently engaged, commissioned me to design and set their beautiful aquamarine gemstone – which the fiance had proposed with – into a new platinum engagement ring.  Both the future bride and groom took an active role in the design process; coming into the studio as partners, outlining and discussing their desires and hopes for what the ring symbolized in their lives, and making the decisions together as they embarked on their journey forward.

As I began my research of aquamarines for the project, I discovered the renowned Swiss gemologist Eduard Gübelin, who wrote lyrically in his book ‘Gemstones’ about the lore surrounding the beautiful blue gem:

“The aquamarine or sea-blue remains permanently associated with water in myths: it accompanies seafarers and ensures them a safe return home; and round the ship of marital fortune, it weaves ribbons of faithfulness. The aquamarine is the gemstone of all young people, and all those who have remained young at heart.”

I took great pleasure sharing these sentiments with them.

As the happy couple are about to join together in marriage this month, here’s wishing you all good fortune and blessings; may you remain eternally young in each other’s heart.

Hearty CONGRATS, Christine and Mark! 

While I’m on the subject of happiness… the bride-to-be happens to be an expert on the subject – take a peek! On her website www.christinecarter.com she’s an eternal fount of useful info and inspiration…

 

 

N.B: Information on E. Gübelin excerpted from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

A tale of two sisters…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, while “It was the best of times,” well describes two weddings that recently took place, “it was the worst of times,” refers only to a momentarily-near-disastrous setback in the fabrication process (which, after much wailing and teeth gnashing, eventually got resolved. Whew!)

Having been commissioned by long time clients – celebrating their good luck at having both daughters get married this fall – I set about creating two pairs of sterling silver champagne toasting glasses, one pair for each of the happy couples. Our process began with hand-drawn renderings created specifically to suit each of the daughters’ own personal styles; the first design, made for an accomplished marathon runner, was tall and slender in shape, with thousands of hand-hammered marks symbolizing her daily thousands of footfalls while long distance training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second design, created from an inspiration image, was more modern – stylish, elegant simplicity – with flowing lines. By round two, I’d gained the wherewithal to document the progress of the pieces. What a fantastically fun process this was…



This project has proven to be one of my greatest professional challenges to date. It was, at times, equal parts thrilling / terrifying – working at such a large scale (with such an enormous blow torch) – it ended up providing an incredible learning experience. (Yes, I realize I say this often.) I would like to acknowledge and praise master silversmith, Ruth Rhoten, for her Herculean efforts in overseeing this project.

It has been such a pleasure to be a small part of the process of these two couples coming together to share their lives.

A wedding blessing ~ may you all have everything before you!

(wedding couple photo and sisters photo credit: Steven Bin, aka new son-in-law; toasting cups and all process images credit: Deb Durant)

 

Silver, Golden, Diamond anniversaries

Last month, after having watched the pomp and pageantry of the Queen’s diamond jubilee in London, we headed off on a long and lovely vacation in Florida where my parents - on a cruise celebrating their own golden 50th anniversary – let us stay in their stead to soak up the fabulous summer heat. Ahhh… Berkeley who?

Just prior to leaving town, a group of siblings – about to celebrate their parents’ silver 25th wedding anniversary – decided they wanted to create something special but unconventional to mark the momentous occasion. They contacted me with an innovative idea: recreate the family’s home in detailed silhouette, using sterling silver wire on a black velvet frame. Technical challenges aside, I agreed instantly. It was a wonderful idea, plus a great example of gift-giving at its best; thoughtful, handcrafted, completely unique and personalized to its receivers. It also turned out to be a joy to make. (Despite taking quite a bit longer than anticipated – and really, isn’t that the way with most fabulous endeavors?) The project presented me with a whole new set of challenges which taught me a lot in the process.

Whether 1, 25, 50 or 60 years together, it’s an inspiration to see people finding meaningful ways to celebrate milestones together. Even more satisfying, to be able to be a small part of it.

Congratulations… Auguri!

Recently, we were blessed to be celebrating the marriage of my brother-in-law (yes, finally!) to a lovely woman, whom he is now happily traipsing through the Italian countryside with on their honeymoon. As they say in Italy, a heartfelt “Auguri!” to the both of you, W & R!

(it might be of interest to note that just last week my husband and I celebrated the 11th anniversary of our own elopement and honeymoon in Italy, which said brother-in-law rather hilariously also accompanied us on…)

Earlier this year, in anticipation of their upcoming nuptials, the happy couple paid a visit to my studio to talk about creating the perfect engagement ring. After discussing the range of available diamond shapes and cuts, they settled on a gorgeous Asscher cut diamond.

The Asscher cut diamond – developed in 1902 by Joseph Asscher in Holland - is a stepped square cut diamond, often called the ‘square emerald cut’. Like an emerald cut it also has cropped corners. With its series of squared steps, the Asscher cut is like a tiny ‘hall of mirrors’ designed to draw the eye inward into the diamond. It is a rare and lovely choice for an engagement ring, well balanced and sophisticated.

Once the diamond was selected, the next step was to design the custom setting for her new diamond. We went with a classic 4-prong with clean modern detailing  - an ideal complement to the Asscher - creating a beautiful piece that symbolizes their new found life together.

In Praise of Rosecut Diamonds

Rose cut diamonds have been in use in various forms of jewelry design since the mid 16th century. The shape of a rose cut diamond resembles the petals of an opening rose bud, rising upward on the top side into a domed shape with the underside flattened, effectively making it appear to be cut ‘upside down’. This unusual cut allows for a much larger shape with less weight – so settings can sit lower on the hand. The overall effect this cut has on the diamond is akin to comparing a brightly lit room with high powered bulbs to the sparkling glimmer of evening candlelight.

Recently, I have had an unusual number of requests to create engagement rings using this older style of diamond. Their soft, gentle sparkle resonates with many of my clients who long for a more romantic diamond that better speaks of the individual character of the wearer. Unlike the modern round brilliant cut – with its absolute precision and calibration – the rosecut better illustrates the hand of the artist who created it, featuring a more organic yet balanced form. The rarity and value of the rosecut lies in its unique shaping and ‘glittering pebble’ effect.

I have a client who proposed to his beloved girlfriend last night – congrats J & T!  – who had me create a rendering of the future ring he would like to create alongside his fiancee. I sifted through hundreds of rosecut diamonds for him, hand selecting a small parcel which best met his chosen specifications. When I showed him the choices – he knew right away which one was hers. This is the beauty of the rosecut – it’s uniqueness and individuality. Each one distinctively different and with its own character – the perfect symbol of the love it is meant to reflect.

IN GRATITUDE

As we celebrated Mother’s Day (marker for the original source of gratitude) this past weekend, I received several reminders about the importance of gratitude, especially for the basic things in our lives; our good health, a happy child, a warm sunny day, a well-cooked meal to nourish ourselves and those we love. (Personally, my daughter and I enjoy thanking green lights as we scurry to school each morning…)

Last week a client of mine emailed from a business trip overseas to ask if we might be able to create something special for his wife for Mother’s Day. Previously, he had asked me to keep an eye out for something for his lovely light-up-the-room wife, while I was in Tucson on my annual buying trip. I had indeed found what I thought would be just the perfect thing for her – beautifully hand-carved, droplet shaped lemon citrines – in soft but vibrant honeydew melon green. These were my ‘special find’ at the show this year – that one elusive thing that, after 10 years of attending the largest gem show in the world, I had never seen before. Each year I make it a goal to find a new ‘special find’ – it always turns out to be a highlight of the trip! This beautiful sparkling gem speaks for itself, so we decided to simply suspend it from a delicate silk strand, add a handmade 18Ky gold ‘S’ clasp and just a few granulated gold bead accents. I think it looks simply lovely.

I hope you were able to find opportunities to celebrate all of the wonderful things in your life this weekend, and in all of your weeks going forward. Enjoy! 

Coming up…

Next month, I plan to feature a few more of my finds from this year’s buying trip. I’ll present them in their loose, unset original forms - so they can be made into a custom design of one’s choosing. Special requests are always welcome! It would truly be my pleasure to hunt for & find that amazingly wonderful ‘special something’ just for you.

TUCSON, baby!

a selection of loose natural colored diamonds

a selection of loose natural colored diamonds

Once a year, for about two weeks in early February, tens of thousands of people make their way to Tucson, Arizona for ‘The World’s Largest Treasure Hunt’. The event, which began humbly back in 1955, is The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, and it’s the largest gem show in the world. Over 40 shows will open their doors around the city, attracting somewhere in the neighborhood of 55,000 visitors to the city. Pretty much everyone who’s involved in the jewelry business attends this show each year. It is an incredible opportunity to see the most spectacular selection of gems from a vast array of suppliers from all over the world (and get the best deals!) I relish this once-a-year excursion to see the finest examples of rare, hard-to-find gems, the latest most cutting edge designs in our industry, and perhaps also new recently discovered gem deposits. 

If there is anything special you have been pining for, be sure to let me know!

Holiday greetings!

bejeweled snowflakes 2Who can believe there are only 20 days left to this year? It has been a year of many changes – some challenging, some good – and I think we are all looking forward to ushering in a new year.

Last year around this time I was inspired to create a snowflake collage using a number of colored gem pieces made in the past year – I hope you enjoy!   

We are having a blowout sale until December 31st on some of our favorite holiday pieces. Please feel free to peruse the shop and give us a call if there’s something you see which you’d like. Why not add a little sparkle to you holidays?

 

 

~ Happiest Holidays and a Prosperous New Year to everyone ~

The MOM Show: Mom’s Invitational / November

WISP necklace

WISP necklace

As the leaves turn color and fall from the trees, once again it’s time to draw inward and mull the passage of time. As a working mother, time seems to fly faster than ever before. Creating artwork is something I am able to assign precious few hours to each day, but nonetheless it all seems to get done. To that end, I am happy to be participating in “The MOM Show: Mom’s Invitational” opening this weekend at the Turman Larison Contemporary Gallery in Helena, Montana (Nov 5th – Dec 10th). The show is being curated by friend and fellow artist Jess Parker, and will include a collective of artist/mom friends who, like me, are trying to find a thriving balance between parenting and creating art in their lives. To find out more about the show, follow this link http://www.turmanlarison.com/current.htm

November is also the birth month for two golden gems – yellow citrine from the quartz family and yellow topaz from the silicate family. The name citrine comes from the old French ‘citrin’ meaning lemon. Typically, citrines are found in cabochon shapes (rounded smooth faces) but they also are available faceted. Citrine often has a deeper golden glow to it, whaereas topaz is a brighter crisper yellow. A little known fact about citrine is that chemically it is almost identical to amethyst – most citrines are actually amethysts that have been heated to turn the golden hue of citrine. Yellow topaz is a often a desirable choice for jewelry pieces as it is a harder stone, making it a more durable choice. 

Citrine

Citrine

Yellow Topaz

Yellow Topaz

Midsummer Night’s Eve

honeycomb necklace and earrings in 18KY and black diamonds

I heard a fascinating segment on NPR this morning of The Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor;

Tonight is Midsummer Night’s Eve, also called St. John’s Eve. St. John is the patron saint of beekeepers. It’s a time when the hives are full of honey. The full moon that occurs this month was called the Mead Moon, because honey was fermented to make mead. That’s where the word “honeymoon” comes from, because it’s also a time for lovers. An old Swedish proverb says, “Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.” Midsummer dew was said to have special healing powers. In Mexico, people decorate wells and fountains with flowers, candles, and paper garlands. They go out at midnight and bathe in the lakes and streams. Midsummer Eve is also known as Herb Evening. Legend says that this is the best night for gathering magical herbs. Supposedly, a special plant flowers only on this night, and the person who picks it can understand the language of the trees. Flowers were placed under a pillow with the hope of important dreams about future lovers. Shakespeare set his play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on this night. It tells the story of two young couples who wander into a magical forest outside Athens. In the play, Shakespeare wrote, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

I was particularly struck by this as, historically, the name Deborah means “Queen Bee”. The origin of the name is also Hebrew; and in the Old Testament of the Bible, Deborah was the name of a judge, prophetess and lawmaker. Over the centuries this name has traditionally been appreciated for its association with the hard work, persistence, and importance to society for which bees were known. As such, I pay homage to bees here with a necklace and earrings made from 18KY gold and black diamonds. 

 As for true love, the impulse to create and manifest symbols in celebration of such unions is with me constantly and, hopefully, always will be.