Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rub-Over Settings: History + Characteristics

This stunning sapphire engagement ring, fashioned entirely of solid 18k white gold, features diamond-encrusted shoulders set channel style. The wedding band is notched to fit snugly against the engagement ring. Central to the engagement ring is a high-quality 1.15-carat natural blue sapphire set within a diamond-studded halo. The sapphire is housed in a beautiful 18k white gold rub-over setting.

Rub-over settings are another name for bezel settings, and they are the premiere setting for security of a stone. With so much metal holding a stone in place, it is unlikely that daily wear will loosen the stone. Rub-over settings are fashioned out of fairly soft metals, including yellow gold or silver.

While the rub-over setting is suitable for any kind of gemstones, including faceted stones, it has most often been used for cabochons. These lend themselves most easily to rub-over settings since they are typically flattened on the back side and rounded in shape.

While a stone set bezel-style may lose some access to the light, there are many advantages to rub-over settings. The first is the security of the stone. As mentioned before, once a stone is set in a bezel it would take a pry bar to pull it out. Second, they are easier to wear and keep clean. Without any prongs or distinct edges to snag your clothes, they make for smooth and easy wearing. Also, they are easy to polish with a soft cloth, keeping them shiny and brilliant even without routine care by a jeweler.

In addition, the framing of a rub-over setting creates an illusion that the stone is actually larger than it is. This is especially true when a white diamond is set bezel style in platinum or white gold. The radiance of the metal and the diamond combine to provide maximum shimmer.

The rub-over setting is an ancient style. There was a time when almost all jewels were set in bezel settings. That being said, there is nearly nothing more modern than a bezel-set jewel. There is something timeless about the elegant framing provided by a rub-over setting, a special quality that defies the ages. Many modern styles include bezels, including this stunning blue sapphire bridal set.

If you'd like to purchase a timeless engagement ring for your bride-to-be, then we invite you to come in and take a look at our collection of bezel-style engagement rings. We look forward to hearing from you.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dinner Rings: History + Characteristics

This authentic Art Deco north-south dinner ring dates from the 1920s and is absolutely breathtaking. It features two amazing fraternal twin diamonds weighing 2 carats or more. The larger of the two, a 2.16-carat old mine cut diamond, graded I in color and VS2 in clarity, is set bezel style right in the center of the ring. Set just below this stunner is a 2-carat pillow shaped diamond exploding with character. This stone is also bezel set, graded G in color and VS2 in clarity, and will take your breath away.

If these two sparklers are not enough to make you swoon, then consider the 2.39 carats of accent diamonds encrusting the gorgeous filigree openwork that comprises the remainder of this absolutely stunning ring. Care was taken with every last detail of this astonishing dinner ring set in platinum. All told, this delicate platinum setting showcases over 6.5 carats of crystal-clear white diamonds, making it the quintessential dinner ring.

Dinner rings made their debut during the height of Prohibition, along with flappers, speakeasies, and cocktail parties. With the ban of alcohol, drinking went undercover. Underground, dimly lit venues became the place for these illicit soirees, which called for a special kind of style. Short, sexy cocktail dresses adorned with shimmering sequins, dark red lipstick, sexy black Kohl eyeliner, and long red fingernails became the rage. Along with this look came the long cigarettes, cocktail glasses, and of course the ubiquitous cocktail ring.

These cocktail rings were glamorous, over-the-top creations that shimmered and sparkled in the dimly lit speakeasies. The bigger the better, as far as most were concerned. These rings were purchased, not by husbands or lovers, but by the liberated women themselves. They became a status symbol, a sign of independence and power. At first cocktail rings were styled much in the way the above ring was styled, mostly comprised of large diamonds surrounded by smaller but no less brilliant diamonds.

However, as times changed and Prohibition was lifted, these gorgeous cocktail rings gained a different sort of prominence. Beginning in the 1930s and carrying through into the 1950s and 1960s, cocktail parties turned into prominent dinners. Thus, the era of the Dinner Ring began.

Dinner rings continued to be large and glamorous, though diamonds began to play second fiddle to some of the most beautiful and tantalizing colored gemstones imaginable. Massive garnets, aquamarines, and citrines took center stage on the fingers of the wives of powerful leaders in business and politics.

These prominent dinners were high-class affairs, and women attended them on the arms of their husbands, lovers, or business partners. As women took a more prominent role in politics and business, they continued to assert themselves as independent agents of power. Thus, dinner rings continued to be brassy and bold. The bigger the better remained the motto.

Today, dinner rings have resumed their original appellation, cocktail rings. They are still worn to cocktail parties and fancy dinner parties. However, now they can also be seen on red carpets, at Hollywood after and premiere parties, and at weddings and other formal affairs. While it is true that women continue to purchase cocktail/dinner rings for themselves, they have lost a little of their distinction as a sign of female independence. It is now en vogue for a man to buy a cocktail ring for his lover.

In fact, a dinner ring of this distinction, with its pristine white diamonds and its antique design, would be the perfect anniversary gift for that woman you love. Why not come on in and view it in person? If this is not the one for your beautiful bride, then perhaps we can find another dinner ring to suit her?

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Designer Spotlight: Krementz

Richard Krementz 7 Carat Imperial Topaz Ring

Central to the design of this ring is a 7-carat, untreated Imperial topaz. This cushion-cut topaz is brilliantly colored an eye-clean, reddish-orange. The cut grade is high, with no windowing. It is prong set with double corner prongs in solid 18k yellow gold. Surrounding the stone is a deep halo lined with exquisitely -cut round brilliant accent diamonds of considerable size. Smaller diamonds pave the split-shank shoulders. Everything about this ring - the stunning color, the classic lines, the exquisite pairing of perfect diamonds - screams Richard Krementz.

The feminine beauty of this Krementz ring belies the manly origins of this brand. While today Krementz is associated with flashing colors in every hue on the spectrum, dramatic feminine designs, and precious and semi-precious gemstones from around the world, there was a time when gemstones didn't even factor into the Krementz lineup.

In 1866, a group of German cousins formed a jewelry manufacturing firm. Though the partnership soon dissolved, George Krementz, one of the cousins, went on to establish his own niche at a time when the market was flooded with demand for men's collar buttons. An innovative mind like George's saw the potential in the machines used to make cartridge shells. After six or seven years of experimentation, George finally perfected a method for making a collar button out of a single sheet of solid gold. These were in high demand in the late 1800s.

As time passed, the middle class began to rise, and Mr. Krementz saw a new market emerge. He developed a method for designing collar buttons that were made with a gold overlay, making them far less expensive than his original designs. As time went on, Krementz developed a full line of men's jewelry, including cuff links and dress studs.

As often happens, fashions changed, and collar buttons eventually became obsolete. Not to be dismayed, George Krementz turned his hand to electroplated jewelry. So successful was he in this endeavor that he soon had enough capital to buy out many of Newark's struggling jewelry firms. In 1938, with the purchase of Jones & Woodland, Krementz expanded to include high-end jewelry. Wedding and engagement rings came in 1940 with the purchase of Abelson and Braun.

During the 1960s, George's grandson, Richard, took the helm, leading the way into colored gemstones. These stones were sourced from Idar-Oberstein in Germany, and were swiftly incorporated into the high-end jewelry designs acquired from Jones & Woodland. Richard Krementz had hoped that his son, Richard, Jr., would continue in the family business.

After several years of starting and stopping and starting again, it was decided that Richard Krementz, Sr. would be the last reigning founder of Krementz Jewelry. During the 1990s, many of the firm's holdings were sold off, leaving only the colored gemstones to Richard, Sr.

At the helm of his newly organized company, now called Richard Krementz Gemstones, Richard, Sr. continued to scout the world over for the most fabulous colored gemstones he could find. These stones went into collections designed by premier designers in the industry. Richard's passion for stones remained high until the day he died, which sadly happened on November 21, 2012. As written by Richard Krementz, Jr. shortly after his father's passing, "After 147 years, the Krementz family no longer is in the jewelry business."

The last of their holdings were sold to the Colibri Group in 2009. While it is always a little sad to see the end come, it is a privilege to be able to offer our customers such a beautiful piece fashioned by a company with such integrity in the industry. If you would like to see this beautiful testament to the powerful Krementz legacy, we invite you to make an appointment to visit our showroom.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Designer Spotlight: Kwiat

Crafted of solid 18k white gold, featuring high-quality round brilliant diamonds totaling over 1 full carat and designed in huggie earring style, these gorgeous Kwiat jewels hail from the reputable design firm's Jasmine Collection.

Kwiat is revered for its exquisite haute couture designs. Catering to black tie and red carpet affairs, every Kwiat jewel is sophisticated in style and exquisite in design. Their jewelry has a timeless elegance, which ensures that even as time passes their artistry will remain chic and stylish. Their collections are airy and feminine, inspired by architecture, textiles, and nature's most beautiful flowers.

The Kwiat name is backed by four generations of skilled jewelers. Sam Kwiat began his career in 1907, as a diamond trader on Canal Street in Manhattan. He specialized in refinishing older stones to enhance their brilliance. His passion for diamonds was contagious, sparking an interest in his son David who joined the firm in 1933 at the age of 17.

David brought art into the business of diamonds, and Kwiat began designing and manufacturing intricate settings for their diamonds. In the 1960s and 1970s, David's sons Sheldon and Lowell joined the family firm, starting as apprentices to master craftsmen at the bench. Their diamonds and designs became the notable collections of such diamantaires as Harry Winston.

Then in 2001, Sheldon and Lowell encouraged their forebears to launch their own brand. This led to exclusive Kwiat collections, designed primarily by Janice DeBell, formerly of Tiffany & Co. Their latest designs have strolled the red carpet with such Hollywood mavens as Sharon Stone and Halle Berry.

Kwiat has rightfully earned its prestigious position with their impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail, with their high standards of excellence, and with their reputation for integrity, loyalty, and commitment to their customers. Kwiat's business and design philosophy are one in the same: Answer only to the customer.

The Kwiat family believes that every uncut diamond needs a craftsman to release its brilliance, and every brilliant diamond needs an event to share its significance. To ensure that they meet their own demanding standards, as well as the expectations of their customers, Kwiat focuses all of its attention on craftsmanship; always learning, always refining, always redefining.

Then, they pass that knowledge on to their clients, sharing everything they've learned so that those who wear their jewels understand the exquisite value they add to their wearers. Both the Kwiat diamond and the woman who wears it are celebrated, ensuring that every diamond is properly balanced in cut and design.

In addition, Kwiat guarantees that its diamonds are ethically sourced and conflict-free, drawing from mining operations in Russia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Canada. With the Kwiat name comes a guarantee of beauty and quality.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Friday, March 11, 2016

Honeymoon Destination: Crater of Diamonds State Park (Arkansas)

This photo of a butterfly lighting upon the mud in the digging fields of Crater
of Diamonds State Park (Arkansas) was taken in 2011 by Kathy, a member
of Flickr.

Do you find your solace amid lush stands of tall deciduous trees lining lazy rolling rivers and big sky clouds?

Do you long for an adventure in diamond country?

If so, then might we recommend a honeymoon trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas?

Arkansas may not be the first place you'd think of when you think of romance, but diamonds most certainly should be!

Did we mention that in Arkansas you can hunt for your own diamonds in the only publicly accessible diamond mine in the world? Well, you can! And several people have found genuine diamonds at Crater of Diamonds, a few of them fairly sizable.

The 900-acre park stretches along the Little Missouri River and features interpretive programs, diamond hunting education, a water park, and miles of hiking trails. The park is the result of a marketing strategy that worked brilliantly for miner Howard A. Millar. In 1952, Millar aggressively promoted his diamond mine, inviting people from all over to come and find treasure in his diamond field. 

A geologist by trade, Millar gave lectures and classified the diamonds found by his mine's visitors. Eventually, a museum, gift shop, and restaurant were opened on site, and the Crater of Diamonds was born. Throughout the '50s and '60s, visitors to the mine found thousands of diamonds that they took home as souvenirs.

In 1972, the mine was purchased by the State of Arkansas. It continues to run as a State Park to this day. The park is beautiful and inspiring in so many ways, although the least inspiring place, called the Pig Pen, is the only place on the grounds where diamonds can be found.

The Pig Pen is a wide open, 37-acre mud field rich in volcanic kimberlite soil. Here, beneath the broad open sky, visitors to the park hunt dig their hands, with shovels, or with picks and screens to find the yellow, brown, and white diamonds that are harvested from the old volcanic pipe.

In addition to diamonds, rockhounds can find treasure in the form of garnet, amethyst, jasper, and other quartz and agate stones. All of these can be brought to the Diamond Discovery Center for identification and registration (for diamonds only). You get to keep what you find, and the cost is nothing more than park admission.

If you decide to honeymoon in Arkansas, then may we also recommend a stay at the nearby Diamonds Cabins?

Diamonds Cabins offers an inclusive Old West experience that begins with a stay in Crazy Diamonds Saloon. The Saloon is an upstairs suite which features a one-of-a-kind western king-size bed outfitted with memory foam and Egyptian cotton sheets. The upstairs windows overlook a panoramic view of the mountains. A two-person jacuzzi/hot tub is surrounded by mirrors, and a private deck offers outdoor romance at any time, day or night. The room also includes the use of a fire pit, a grill, and picnic tables for enjoying the great outdoors.

If you get tired of lounging in your suite, you can take a stroll into the Old West. Begin with a visit to the General Store. At the General Store you can purchase old-fashioned penny candies, locally made goat's milk beauty products, locally sourced geodes, and any cookout supplies you might need.

If you're in the mood for some playful fun, then take yourself on a child's adventure at the Horse Trot Pedal Car Track, the sudsy Foam Party, and the Corn Pit! You know you want to suds each other up and take a roll in the corn!!

And if your hunt in the Pig Pen yielded less than satisfactory results, then try your hand at the Old West Sluice Box. Every gem bag contains crystals, arrowheads, fools gold, pirate coins, shark teeth, agates, fossils, geodes, native jewelry, and more.

If you love the Old West and good, clean (okay, maybe muddy, sudsy, and corny) fun, then we cannot more highly recommend a honeymoon at Crater of Diamonds State Park!

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What is Guilloche?

This gorgeous designer ring by De Vroomen highlights the skill of a guilloche master. Featuring a geometric design reminiscent of Art Deco, this gorgeous 18k gold cocktail ring was actually made in 1986. Though others have been made since then, the truth is that guilloche is actually a dying art. The machines that are essential to the process are not being made any longer. Only a handful of them are still in operation. New jewelers are not being taught the techniques of using the machines, so when the last of the makers pass on the art of guilloche will die with them.

Guilloche as an art form took root in the early 1800s, when Carl Faberge got hold of a rose engine, a machine which turned metal while engraving it, leaving a spirograph-type pattern etched upon the surface of the metal. Faberge was the first to combine this mechanical action with the art of enameling, which is why many mistakenly call it guilloche enamel.

Enameling is a completely separate process from guilloche. Guilloche refers only to the manually wrought patterns elicited from the operation of the turning engines. Enameling is the second process, applied to the engraved metal plates. Faberge realized that the grooves and lines etched into the metal encouraged the pooling of enamel, rendering a beautiful effect in molten colored glass. He began incorporating these two processes into his most famous pieces, including the Faberge Eggs.

From there, guilloche and enameling became the hottest new trend. That's why today it is common to find so many Victorian jewels with guilloche patterns. The art was nearly lost at the start of World War II, as the use of rose engines and manual engine turning died. However, in the 1970s, Pledge & Aldworth Engine Turners sparked a revival of the art, refurbishing the old machines and teaching the skills to new artisans.

Sadly, market demand proved minimal. Therefore, new lathe engines were not created. As the old ones wore down, there were none to replace them. Currently De Vroomen is one of the only modern-day designers with a working machine. While the modern application of guilloche includes jewels, De Vroomen primarily applies the art to their luxury time pieces. One day, even these will cease to include the beauty and artistry of the finely honed skills of a lathe engine turner. Then, guilloche will truly be a collector's privy.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Crown Settings: History + Characteristics

This magnificent 2.77-carat Old European cut diamond engagement ring is absolutely breathtaking. The solid 18k white gold shank is engraved with an elegant leaf motif. Tapering up toward the central diamond, the shoulders give way to a fancy crown head. The crown setting perfectly suits the majestic 2.77-carat diamond, graded L in color and VS1 in clarity, which rightfully takes center stage on this glorious Antique Old Euro Diamond Engagement Ring.

The crown setting is perfect for solitaire engagement rings. One of its primary purposes is to raise the central stone above the shoulders of the ring, allowing access to more light from nearly every angle. For this reason, it is often chosen by designers who wish to showcase a particularly fabulous diamond or gemstone. The crown setting is also preferred for solitaire stud earrings, as well.

Crown settings were used frequently in the nineteenth century, for the reasons already mentioned. The crown setting provided a departure from the previously popular bezel settings. The introduction of more sophisticated faceting techniques, and the accessibility of dramatic diamonds coming out of the Kimberley Mines in South Africa, led jewelers to experiment with ways to keep the diamonds safe without sacrificing access to light. Thus the crown setting was born.

In 1886, Tiffany & Co. inducted the crown setting as THE choice for engagement rings. With their invention of the classic six-prong diamond solitaire mounting, the crown setting took center stage for bridal wear. Even today, the crown-set diamond solitaire remains the most popular engagement ring style.

The setting derives its name from its crown-like profile. Though their appearance is simple and classic, their function is far more involved. Beauty is essential, but even more essential is the security of the central diamond.

A jeweler's saw is used to form the crown shape from the metal. This crown is then incised to firmly hold the girdle of the diamond in place. Finally, the prongs, formed of durable metal such as white gold or platinum, are pushed into place over the crown of the diamond. The diamond is absolutely secure while at the same time exposed from nearly angle to every light source available.

Hands down, this gorgeous antique solitaire diamond ring is one of our most prized selections at this time. If you're in the market for a classic diamond solitaire mounted crown style, then may we entice you to come in and try this beautiful ring on?

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer