Call it what you will

We’re all used to the majority of gems being called by their name:
Diamond is diamond;

Opal is opal;

Turquoise is turquoise;

Even in it’s many different colours Topaz is still Topaz.

Emerald is emerald…well actually it’s Beryl…as is Morganite, Aquamarine, Heliodore and Goshenite!  What distinguishes each of these is the colour that the gem comes in (green, pink, pale blue, yellow and colourless respectively).

Ruby, well that’s actually a form of Corundum, called Ruby only when it is red, when it is pinky orange it is called Padparadscha.  All other colours of Corundum are called sapphires so you can find all kinds of sapphires, such as the green one below.

 

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Green sapphire

 

Tourmaline comes in a variety of colours and several of these have particular names too.  When it is red/pink it is Rubellite, green is Verdelite, blue is the fabulous Indicolite and colourless is Achroite.

Tanzanite is a form of zoisite, Morganite is a Beryl and they were both named by Tiffany and Co.

Amazonite is a type of Feldspar, as is Labradorite.  Incidentally Feldspar is the most prolific mineral in the Earth’s continental crust and can be found on Mars!  This is a good example of two types of mineral which are chemically related but clearly very different.

Quartz (the second most abundant mineral behind Feldspar) has another wide variation in colour, and many names or nicknames to go with it.  From the yellow citrine, to stunning purple amethyst (and of course the incredible ametrine is therefore part of this family).

Another variation is green quartz, sometimes referred to as green amethyst although if we were going to be strict about it that’s not it’s real name!  So we are going to go with the official Prasiolite, and here’s an example:

 

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However the quartz pseudonyms don’t stop there, even more strangely Chalcedony (see ring below), Agate, Onyx, Jasper, Tigers Eye, Aventurine and Carnelian are all types of quartz that you might not guess from the name!

 

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Blue Chalcedony

 

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Smokey Quartz

 

Of course the feminine pink of rose quartz to the stunning brown hues of smokey quartz (ring above) and the fascinating Rutilated Quartz are also, more obviously part of the family.

Another slight confusion may arise when considering the names of gems in that often the gem quality variation of a type of mineral has a different name to the non-gem form, Csarite/Diaspore, Peridot/Olivine and Iolite/Cordierite by way of example.

 

Call them what you will, they’re all beautiful to us!

Art Nouveau

Contemporaneous with the “Belle Époque,” or “beautiful era” in France at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the Art Nouveau movement was one of the first departures from classical art and design, towards a new modernism. Influenced by the work of English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and the architectural work of Antoni Gaudí among others, Art Nouveau designers believed that all the arts should work in harmony to create a “total work of art,” or Gesamtkunstwerk: buildings, furniture, textiles, clothes, and jewellery all went together to make up the Art Nouveau style.

 

Gaudi

Antoni Gaudí’s architecture was at an influence in the Art Nouveau movement

 

 

Exotic floral motifs with animals, birds, butterflies, peacock feathers, insects, and plants were incorporated with feminine imagery or fairies, mermaids and nymphs, complete with long flowing sinuous hair. Some of the floral motifs that were used in the Art Nouveau style were influenced by the English artist William Morris’ ‘Arts and Crafts Movement’ of the late Victorian era.

  art nu 

 

 

 

Typical Art Nouveau themes including peacocks, and feminine forms could be found in architecture and decorative design of the era.

Typical Art Nouveau themes including peacocks, and feminine forms could be found in architecture and decorative design of the era.

 

Jewellery of the Art Nouveau period with nature and feminine fluidity as their principal source of inspiration, revitalised the ‘art’ of jewellery, they were complemented by new levels of technical accomplishment in techniques such as enamelling, and the introduction of new materials, such as opals and semi-precious stones, wonderfully demonstrated in the work of René Lalique who was synonymous with the Art Nouveau aesthetic.

 

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Peacock Lady brooch, Lalique, circa 1898

 

 

Although a short period of no more than 20 years, Art Nouveau is considered by many to be one of the most important styles. For the previous two centuries the emphasis in fine jewellery had been on gemstones, particularly diamonds, and the jeweller or goldsmith’s main aim was to provide settings to best show them off. In the jewellery of the Art Nouveau period, imagination, design, art and beauty were at the forefront, resulting in original distinctive work which invokes the era, even now.

Employing what was to become known as the “garland” style, jewellers who chose not to embrace Art Nouveau borrowed the fluidity of their lines and incorporated them into more traditional motifs thereby creating Edwardian jewellery.

WW1 hearelded the end of the Art Nouveau movement – the world was a different place. The elegance and sensuality of the Art Nouveau style was replaced by more rational minimalist styles such as Art Deco.

 

 

Adventures through the Jewellery box…with Jo from Slummy Single Mummy

We’re delighted to bring you the first in our new series of posts “Adventures through the jewellery box” where we look at someone’s favourite item of jewellery.  What makes this even more exciting is that our first contributor is the fabulous Jo of the Slummy Single Mummy blog.  I am really grateful to Jo for agreeing to take part, hers was the first blog I ever read and after reading a LOT of blogs it remains one of my favourites.  No surprise really given Jo’s extensive experience as a pro blogger!  Well enough from me, let’s hear from Jo about her favouite piece of jewellery:

My favourite piece of jewellery is something I’ve had for 12 years now and I wear it every single day. It’s made of 22 carat gold and is actually the only thing I specifically name in my will; not because it is of any particular monetary value, but because it has huge sentimental value and I want to be sure that it passes to my eldest daughter when I die.

Here it is:

  SSM Wedding ring

 

It’s my Gran’s wedding ring. My mum gave it to me at my Gran’s funeral in 2003, in a small velvet bag as it had come from the funeral director. It fitted perfectly on my wedding finger but not being married, (and not wanting to put off potential suitors), I had it made slightly bigger to fit on the ring finger of my right hand.

 

The ring is important to me because my Gran was always such an important part of our family. We have always been a very matriarchal family and my Gran was always the head. She loved her family, and when my first daughter, Bee, was born, nearly twenty years ago now, she was smitten.

 

This photo shows Bee as a baby, sat on my Gran’s lap. My mum is on the left, I am on the right, and my sister is sat on the floor. (She will hate me for sharing this picture!)

 

SSM family 

We moved around a fair bit when I was little, my parents divorced when I was about 12, and so, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I look back now and realise how important both sets of grandparents were to me – they were both married for decades and provided a really solid presence in our lives – a constant that we always knew we could rely on. Although the feistiest of the four, my Gran surprised us by being the first to die. I still miss her now and wearing her ring makes me feel like she is looking out for me.

Thank you again to Jo for taking us through her Jewellery box – it’s so nice to see a piece of genuine heirloom jewellery.  Don’t forget to check out the Slummy Single Mummy blog – it’s not just for parents, and you can find Jo on Twitter, Facebook and a whole host of other social media sites.  She is also a super expert on all things blog, social media and offers training on these so do

It’s oh so quiet….

Hello everyone, just to let you know that although we have been quiet on the blogging front over the last few weeks we are still here and planning lots more to come!  Unfortunately real life and “proper” jobs mean that we’ve been busier than usual recently but we’ll be back with a vengeance soon!

 

You can always keep in touch with us in other ways remember:

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/adventuresthroughtheloupe

Twitter:  @throughtheloupe

Instagram:  @adventuresthroughtheloupe

Pinterest:  adventuresthroughtheloupe

Google+ :  Adventures through the Loupe

Email:  adventuresthroughtheloupe@outlook.com

We’re always interested in connecting with you so if you’d like to take part in a blog post with us, want to show us your jewels or just say hi do get in touch.

Through the Loupe with…Karen Elizabeth Donovan

For March’s edition of “through the Loupe”  we’re joined by Karen Donovan, award-winning jeweller we discovered through New Designers and are so delighted to be able to showcase Karen’s beautiful and unusual jewellery.  With stunning detail Karen has recently created some jewellery with fantastic volume and a great use of colour, we’re really excited to see what else the future holds for this talented lady and hope you will follow her journey with us!

 

 

Tell us a bit about the jewellery you design:

 

I try to design jewellery that speaks to my experiences in life.  I moved to Scotland to do my postgraduate degree because I fell in love with Britain when I was younger.  My experiences here, including the people, the landscape and my interactions with the history formed a conversation that I could answer with my jewellery.  I have found the plants of Scotland to be completely different to those at home, and incredibly potent to the people here.  Once I had focused on these plants, namely Heather, the jewellery became easier to design.  I love stories, so when trying to find forms for my jewellery to take I looked into the social history of plants and the history of Britain’s jewels.  I think that stories are universally connecting – everyone loves a story.

  
[That’s really interesting because one of the reasons I love this necklace, above, is that it reminds me of the story of sleeping beauty and the forest that sprang up around her whilst she slept, I can just imagine the Prince cutting through the tangle of interwoven foliage when I look at it! Lovely]
 
How did you get into jewellery designing?
I took a class. I had been collecting earrings for ages, so when I saw a class on offer over the summer at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, I decided to try making jewellery, and it stuck.
 
Have you found it difficult to start your own business?  Was there anywhere you went for help?
I have thankfully found excellent guidance through the University of Edinburgh’s Launch.ed programme.  I work with a business advisor who finds excellent opportunities for me and I can ask anything pertaining to my business. I have also found some great opportunities and workshops with Creative Scotland and the Cultural Enterprise Office.
 
Do you make your own jewellery?
I make all of my designs by hand. I am currently an Artist in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art, which is a great opportunity to get some teaching experience under my belt and it comes with access to the extensive facilities in the department. Like many creatives though, my bench is an absolute mess no matter where it is.
[That’s fantastic news, as someone who is completely daunted by the thought of having to teach anyone anything it’s really inspiring that you’re taking the opportunity to pass on to a new collection of future creatives, but it must make you extremely busy!]
  
 
Who are your influences?
 
William Morris has always influenced me in some way. Whether through his writings or his designs, his life forms a large part of my philosophy toward designing and creating. My advisor at Skidmore College, David Peterson, has influenced me greatly and I often ask myself what would David say about this?
But my most important influence is my parents.  Through my upbringing I have been taught to appreciate art but also to be well-rounded and rational, and I could never have gotten to where I am without their support.
[That’s a really nice thing to say – I am sure your parents are very proud of what you have achieved.]
 
What inspires you?
 
Stories. Books. Like Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, I read too much. But I think that experience lends a kind of significance to everyday scenes. Classical music is essential for that as well. There is nothing like a bit of Beethoven to make a situation seem more important. But hopefully what really comes out in my jewellery is that Scotland is incredibly inspirational. Take a good book and a few great classical recordings out to the Scottish islands and I am a very happy, inspired lady.
[I’m a massive reader too – I don’t think it’s possible to read too much!  Not a massive classical music fan though…maybe that’s why I’m not very creative!]
 
What sort of jewellery do you like to wear?
 
Rings. I find them strangely empowering.
 
What’s your favourite gemstone?
 
Citrine.
 
What are your aspirations for the future?
To continue to love what I do.
[Very wise words.]
 
Where did you train and how did you find the training process?
 
I did my Bachelor’s at Skidmore College in New York and my Master’s at Edinburgh College of Art. I enjoyed the diversity in the teaching between the two programmes. They provided different aspects to my training. I have tried as
much as possible during my education to get as much experience from as many teachers as possible in as many studios as I could, abroad and at home. I think that the most important part to any training process is that you put
your all in and take away as much as you can. Students should be as responsible or more than their teachers for their own learning.
 
Tell us about your connection with New Designers
 
New Designers was simply what everyone did after their degree at ECA. I never really thought about not going. Now that I have experienced it I value the platform it has created in my field, there is nothing I know of quite like it in the United States. It was a great chance to meet my peers across the UK as well as galleries and companies and people who could represent me and push me forward. I was presented with the New Designers’ Goldsmiths’ Company Jewellery award in 2014 which has helped my confidence and has pushed me into the business more thoroughly than I could have achieved without it. The main prize was a week’s work experience with Paul York at the Goldsmiths’ Centre which I did back in September. I was lucky to get to work with Paul, he is incredibly knowledgeable at what he
does and I learned so much from him.
 
What do you like to do when you’re not doing this?
 
Read, drink tea, go for walks in the rain, sing, play and listen to music, and most of all I love to solve puzzles of all kinds.
 
White gold or yellow gold…or something else?
 
Titanium. It is wonderful to work with in every way. Its combination of properties creates a very challenging and unique material. I am not one to turn down a challenge, particularly when beautiful things come out of it. Although as far as gold goes: yellow gold. It has an unparalleled warmth, and is absolutely amazing to work with, there is nothing quite like gold.
 
[I’m so glad you said Titanium!  It really does add something extra special to see jewellery in this unusual metal, I think it adds something different in particular because of its weight, what you get when you pick it up is different from what you perhaps expected.]

 

K Donavan chain 1

 

 

STOP PRESS:  We’ve just found out that Karen is adding even more to her collection of awards!  We’re delighted to hear that Karen has recently been awarded the Goldsmiths Craft & Design Council Gold Award Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers Award 2015!  Also a Commendation in the Precious Metals, Gold, Platinum and Palladium category – what great news and many many congratulations to Karen on very well deserved recognition.

 

Thank you to Karen for coming through the loupe with us – you can find Karen on lots of social media outlets including Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter (and don’t forget to join us on all of those too!)

 

Upcycling – waste not want not

Upcycling has been something of a fashion in some circles for a while, but what is it?  On the face of it upcycling is simply making one new item out of one or more old items, and when it comes to jewellery this opens some really exciting prospects.

Upcycled jewellery ranges from that made by salvaging older unwanted or broken items of jewellery, such as these examples from one of my current favourites The Upcycle Jewellery Company:

Upcycle Bee

tinkerbell upcycle

But it often goes further – some of the most interesting pieces of upcycling we have seen are when jewellery is created from items that didn’t start out as jewellery:

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school...I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school…I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

…and if you’ve ever wondered what to do with those old keys you have loitering you definitely need to look at the Upcycle Jewellery Co website for inspiration!

These fabulous earrings by Urban Raven, who has some really creative uses for what some might think of as junk, are made from old Israeli telephone tokens:

upcycle urban raven

We also love her use of stamps, what a great way to make a unique and personalised piece of jewellery!

 stamp ring urban raven 

As a bit of a button fiend myself I was delighted to find Button Jewellery with their delicate yet eyecatching approach to jewellery

Bright rainbow button necklace

Including a fab way to #bringbackthebrooch:

Terracotta, Orange and Mustard Button Brooch

From the maker of the above also comes Unexpected Boutique with some serious statement necklaces!

beachcomber-necklace-2a   safety-pin-necklace-bust-new

 

 

Whilst these pieces look great they also are almost always pretty unique; even if you’re buying something from a maker who regularly makes the same or similar items they are ALWAYS going to be just a little bit different from the next piece, as is the joy of upcycling.  It’s also such a great way to remember that your junk can become something beautiful too, so maybe think on before you chuck it away!

 

We always love to hear from makers of unusual and upcycled pieces, do get in touch if you would like to feature on the blog!

 

 

The origins of the engagement ring….history or mystery?

We’ve all heard the rumour about engagement rings being worn on the third picture of the left hand because this was thought to be a direct connection to the heart; but where does the tradition really come from?  We thought with the number of engagements which traditionally take place today, Valentines day would be a great opportunity to have another look at my wedding photos a look at the history of the engagement ring:  

Wedding rings 

It is widely accepted that the concept of the engagement ring dates back to the Egyptians, around 2800BC.  As part of their burial customs they were often buried wearing rings, of a single strand of gold or silver wire on the third finger on their left hands, which was believed to be symbolic and a direction connection to the heart of the wearer. The history of the engagement ring can only be traced back reliably to ancient Rome; according to Pliny the Elder, in the 1st century AD, the groom gave the bride first a gold ring to wear during the ceremony and at special events, then an iron ring to wear at home.  The first documented use of an engagement ring goes back to Pope Nicolas I in 866 AD.  Pope Nicolas had an entirely conservative opinion on the intuition of marriage and he wrote that when a man becomes engaged to a woman, he gives her a “ring of faith”.  In these early days ‘rings’ of rushes and grasses were used as they were readily available, however over the centuries rings were made of a variety of materials. Some research shows that during the 19th century, during the Protestant Reformation a bride-to-be sometimes received a sewing thimble.  After the wedding, the man would cut off the cup of the thimble thus symbolizing that the young woman’s sewing was over and any dowry was complete.  The rim was then worn as a ring. Most researchers and historians agree that the first engagement ring, in the form we would be familiar with today, was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. The ring was a simple yellow gold band set with thin flat slices of diamond in the shape of an “M”.  Since then, the designs and the value of the materials used have changed to reflect the times, but other aspects, such as how they are worn, have remained constant. Our tradition vision of a diamond engagement ring dates back primarily to the Victorian era, when diamond mines began producing vast quantities of stones, however, they were still perceived to be the domain of the noble and aristocratic, many still preferring to use simpler bands.   

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In 1938, the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign that would have a major impact on engagement rings even to the present day. The price of diamonds had collapsed during the Great Depression in the 1930s, and research showed that engagement rings were going out of fashion.  As part of their campaign, De Beers began to ‘educate’ the public about the 4 Cs (cut, carats, colour, and clarity).  And in 1947 the slogan “a diamond is forever” was introduced.  They wanted to persuade consumers that only a diamond set ring should be used for something as important as an engagement ring and that it would last a lifetime.  Their campaign was hugely successful, when they began only a small percent of engagement rings had diamonds – today, well, only a very small percentage do not!   We’ve ‘ahem’ suggested some of our favourites below, tell us about your engagement ring!  Please also do have a look at the Pretty Thrifty Budget Wedding blog which has some great suggestions for alternatives to the traditional diamond.

We say when it comes to engagement rings never be afraid to go for something unusual like this stunning cluster from Jewellerywebsite.co.uk, as well as bridal sets they have a great selection of unusual rings

We say when it comes to engagement rings never be afraid to go for something unusual like this stunning cluster from Jewellerywebsite.co.uk, as well as bridal sets they have a great selection of unusual rings

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Speaking of non-diamond engagement rings we’re so delighted to find this stunning collection from Pamela Dickinson with matching sculpted wedding band. If you like the look of this do check out her work as there’s a fantastic variety, and you can also find it featured in the Ringleaders collection at http://www.pyramidgallery.com/ the Pyramid Gallery in York

If anyone has a spare $56,500 I wouldn’t mind this landing under my Christmas tree either!  Tiffany is a classic for engagement rings.