Lauren contacted me shortly after the arrival of Cody, her first child and the first grandchild in her family. She wanted to create a special piece for her mother to celebrate her new role as a grandmother. Her vision was a delicate bracelet featuring Cody’s birthstone and an engraved nameplate reading “Lolli,” which is the name her mother prefers over “grandma.” We designed her bracelet with the ability to add more stones over time as the family continues to grow with more children.
In the process of designing her mom’s bracelet, Lauren ended up falling in love with the Alexandrite stone so much that we decided to add a matching necklace to the order for her to wear. The result was an elegant set of custom jewelry that I fell in love with, too.
My favorite part of this custom project was learning about the gemstone at its focal point. I learned that Alexandrite is a rare gem that appears to change colors in different lighting. To the naked eye, the stones pictured here are a prismatic combination of purple, green, and blue – this is how they looked the entire time I had them in my studio. However, when photographed or placed under incandescent light, they become the reddish-purple that you’ll see here! Alexandrite is a great alternative to the traditional pearl birthstone in June if you’re looking for something a little different.
Congratulations to Lauren, Michael, “Lolli,” and the rest of your family on your new addition! Thank you for choosing J’Adorn Designs to create these very special pieces in celebration of Cody’s arrival.
Are you in on the druzy trend? These sparkly gemstones, in all their shapes and sizes, have been taking the jewelry world by storm for the past two wedding seasons (at least!), and the design possibilities seem to be endless. Whether you’re a total newcomer to druzies or have already started a collection of your own, you’re bound to learn something new in this latest edition of the “Know Your Bling” series. (And if not, you’ll still get to feast your eyes on some really sweet eye candy!)
What is a druzy?
The word “druzy” (or “drusy” as our friends across the pond would say) comes from the geological term “druse,” which refers to the phenomenon that occurs when a fine layer of crystals grows on a gemstone, usually in a vein or other fractured surface. It’s the same effect you’d see in the geodes you may have purchased from the science store at the mall when you were younger.
Druzy in Jewelry
In the jewelry world, druzies are a favorite for their ability to add a lot of sparkle to a design. If you look closely at a druzy, you will see countless little facets that catch the light from every direction. Because they come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes, they also offer a lot of versatility for jewelry designs. Even the crystal facets come in different sizes, so you could choose a more rough looking stone for an edgier style, or one with finer facets to create a more delicate effect.
How I use druzies
Because I aim for a happy mixture of wearability and glamour in my designs as a jeweler, I tend to let these stones be the stand-alone stars of the pieces I use them in. I’ve experimented with various methods to mount the stones, from a full wire wrap to a more minimal floating design. I’ve even added a chain tassel for a pair of custom bridesmaid’s earrings; but generally I don’t overcomplicate things when I use these lustrous stones.
Here’s a look at a few of my favorite druzy designs from the J’Adorn Designs collection. Tell me which one is your personal favorite in the comments, then click on over to the shop to claim it as your own!
Today’s “Know Your Bling” post focuses on one of our most beloved materials to work with for our bridal jewelry – Pearls! There are so many varieties and quality levels, and we’ve tried nearly all of them. In this blog post we’ll take a close look at three types of pearls you should know about. Read on to learn what kinds are available, how they’re made, and which ones we love the best!
Natural and Cultured Pearls
We all know the symbolic story of how pearls are created, used to inspire perseverance through life’s hardships: Pearls are made when an irritant gets inside the shell of a mollusk, which produces layers of luminous nacre around it. In natural pearls, this occurs spontaneously without human intervention. Historically, they were found in the Persian Gulf but today they have been almost entirely harvested, making them very rare.
Cultured pearls occur when an irritant (usually a mother-of-pearl bead or piece of tissue) is surgically inserted in a controlled environment for the purpose of producing a pearl. Both natural and cultured pearls may be created in saltwater or freshwater. The quality grade of these pearls is determined by the evenness and luster of the nacre layers comprising the pearl.
Another variety of cultured pearl, freshwater pearls are created in the environment indicated by their name, often in lakes and rivers in China. The process by which they are grown is similar to those of their saltwater counterparts, but they differ in that they rarely have a bead nucleus – instead, only a piece of tissue. The resulting pearl has a thicker nacre, creating more variety in texture and shape. This is the type of cultured pearls that we typically use in our designs, often in combination with Swarovski pearls and crystals.
Swarovski & Other Synthetic Pearls
In the crafting community, synthetic pearls (often made of glass) have become popular due to their affordability, widespread availability in stores such as Michael’s and JoAnn’s, and great variety of colors. Glass pearls are created by applying a pearlescent coating over top of a glass bead.
We have worked with glass pearls in past bridal and custom jewelry orders, but found them to be lower in quality than what we strive to offer our customers. The outer coating, often rather thin, can chip and scratch easily, and the weight of these pearls is much lighter than that of their natural counterparts, giving jewelry pieces a lighter, more costume-like feel.
Fortunately, we’ve been able to find a great alternative in Swarovski pearls! These pearls have a Swarovski crystal core, giving them a feel that warms to the skin and is a bit heavier, mimicking authentic pearls more closely. The outer coating is much more similar to that of a natural pearl with a thicker and more consistent quality that looks luxurious and holds up better to wear and tear. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them an ideal option for our custom clients trying to match their wedding colors.
Natural, cultured, or synthetic, pearls offer a classic elegance to jewelry pieces with a versatility that’s hard to match. Look for more pearl bridal jewelry in our upcoming 2016 Bridal Collection, set to launch this October!
Image 1: Pearl stretch bracelets in Romance and Grey
Image 2: Double stranded vintage pearl bracelet
Image 3: Grey crystal/freshwater pearl bracelet; Freshwater pearl and thin crystal bracelet (Both coming soon!)
Image 4: Champagne ribbon tieback necklace
Image 5: Green freshwater & Ivory Swarovski pearl earrings
Image 6: Pearl stretch bracelet in Romance; Ivory & Crystal bracelet (Coming soon!)
Today we’re continuing our educational series “Know Your Bling” with an in-depth look at silver jewelry. When selecting pieces for your personal collection, it’s important to remember that not all “silver jewelry” is created equal. There is variety in levels of actual silver content – or purity – and some metals that look silver are not actually silver at all. Here’s a run down of the different types of “silver jewelry” you may encounter, from highest purity to lowest.
Fine Silver refers to items that are made from 99% pure silver. While it is especially lustrous, fine silver is not appropriate for most jewelry because it is not very durable, bending easily due to its softness. For this reason, it is not commonly used in jewelry that will be worn on at least a semi-regular basis.
Sterling Silver comes next in terms of silver content. It has a composition of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper or other base metal alloy, with these proportions set by law. Sterling silver is often considered the standard among jewelry makers because it offers greater durability than fine silver while maintaining its high level of quality & beauty. It is the best option for those with metal sensitivities, and many of our bridal earrings have sterling silver posts (even the gold ones!) due to this fact. You can often identify sterling silver pieces by looking closely for a tiny “.925” stamped somewhere on the piece.
Sterling Silver Filled items are made by combining a durable outer layer of sterling silver and a copper-alloy core. To qualify as sterling silver-filled, and item must be made of at least 10-20% sterling silver. It receives an anti-tarnish coating at the end of the fabrication process to preserve the beauty of the metal. Sterling silver-filled items are often cited as being a more affordable alternative to sterling silver without sacrificing quality, but I have noticed in my own use that these items tend to patina (or look “antiqued”/lose their pure color) about as quickly as silver plated metals. For this reason, much of the silver jewelry in the J’Adorn Designs shop is either sterling silver or silver plated.
Silver Plated metal is made up of a base metal alloy core with a fine silver outer layer. This is the most cost-effective alternative to fine silver in its more solid forms that still contains actual silver. That being said, the layer of plating does wear off with use, usually within 6 months in my personal experience.
Silver Finished, also called “silver toned” or “silver colored” jewelry does not actually contain silver, but rather is a base metal that’s been plated with a different metal that has a silvery color. This is typically the type of “silver” jewelry components you will see at crafts stores such as Michael’s, JoAnn’s, and A.C. Moore.
Other “silver” metals vary widely in terms of quality and use. For instance, platinum is a favorite among connoisseurs of fine jewelry because it is extremely rare, holds up well, and is more valuable than gold or silver, but looks like silver in color.
Rhodium is another silver-colored metal that is often used in fine jewelry for plating purposes; its most common use is in white gold (which is really just yellow gold with a rhodium plating overtop).
Other metals like aluminum and nickel look similar to silver in color but are less expensive options with different levels of shine, color depth, and brightness. They are often used in alloys to create less durable but inexpensive jewelry, such as much of the mass-produced fashion jewelry found in chain stores.
Although gold and rose gold are gaining popularity at the moment, silver has stood the test of time as a favorite in jewelry making since ancient times. It looks like silver is here to stay! Hopefully you’ve learned something new from this post and you’ll be a bit more confident next time you walk into a jewelry store or reach out to us with a custom design project.
Today I’m introducing a new series on the blog titled “Know Your Bling” with the aim of educating all you lovely readers in some of the terminology, style, and history of jewelry. I’m kicking off the new series by talking about a stone cut that has been making a huge comeback in recent years – the Cushion Cut.
Originally popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the cushion cut fell out of vogue in the early 1900s to make way for more modern cuts. It saw a resurgence in popularity in the years following 2003 when Tiffany featured the antique style in its Legacy Collection, which showcased the company’s five iconic engagement rings. Some of the world’s most famous stones are cushion cuts, including the Hope Diamond and the Tiffany Yellow Diamond.
The original cushion cuts had 58 facets but the newer style features 64 facets, giving today’s stones a more luminous effect than their older counterparts. While the cushion cut is not as brilliant as some of the more modern styles of recent years, its classic look and strong legacy as a favorite style of past generations gives it a strong appeal among vintage-loving brides of today. Unfortunately, cushion cut stones can be difficult to find.
One way that modern jewelers have found to meet the demand for the cushion-cut look despite the rarity of the gem style is to create settings for other gem cuts that mimic the look of cushion stones, such as in the ring pictured above. The stone itself is a round cut but the pave halo in a rounded square shape gives the effect of a vintage cushion cut.
Inspired by the style of this classic gem cut, I’ve created this pair of earrings for J’Adorn Designs featuring a faceted cushion-shaped Swarovski crystal connected to sterling silver earwires inlaid with cubic zirconia. The accent pearl drop is a Swarovski pearl and is available in white, ivory, or champagne.
What do you think about the cushion cut? Is it a classic look you’d love to bring back, or would you prefer a more modern style? Let’s get a discussion rolling in the comments section!