Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lapis Lazuli: Symbolism + Meaning

Blue on blue - stunning! This gorgeous cocktail ring features a bezel set deep blue lapis lazuli cabochon surrounded by light blue turquoise half beads mounted in twisted yellow gold. This vintage ring features cathedral shoulders with a classically rendered wire work gallery underneath the stone. When it comes to celebrating the symbolism and meaning of December's birthstone, this ring is the perfect choice.

For over 6,000 years, this deep blue gemstone has been mined around the globe, most prominently in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Siberia, Chile, and North America. As seen in the upper portion of this 10-carat cabochon, the lazurite that comprises the main bulk of lapis lazuli is often shot through with shimmering golden pyrite and other compound minerals, including calcite which appears white and sodalite which appears light blue. The mineral compound called lapis is found most often in crystalline marble, where heat has caused the lazurite to intrude upon the marble.

Imagine yourself standing on a desert hillside where bulldozers cut away at the soil, exposing giant slabs of brilliant blue all around you. It must be so magical to be in the presence of raw lapis, particularly for those ancients who discovered the gemstone thousands of years ago.

Because of its bright blue hue and its suitability for carving, lapis is one of the first recorded gemstones to be worn as jewelry. Ancient Egyptians used it to fashion their all-important seals, their version of the modern signature required to transact business. They also carved it into sacred vessels, vases, and sculpted figurines. Its color invoked the essence of divinity, inviting its association with the gods, royalty, power, and spiritual insight.

Ancient Persians and pre-Colombian societies, as well as Europeans during the Middle Ages, revered lapis lazuli for its representation of the starry evening sky, and in the Orient it was relied upon for protection from the evil eye. It has been hailed throughout history as a stone of truth, wisdom, and recompense for sin.

The Ancient Egyptians also ground it down to use for eye makeup, a precursor to its use by Middle Age artists as the foundation for the first Ultramine blue paint used to capture the color of sky and sea. Ancient Romans ground it into powder which they mixed into their drinks as an aphrodisiac. Lapis lazuli can be seen in art the world over, from the mosaics of the Middle East and Africa, to paintings in Europe, to body ornamentation in cosmetics and jewelry across the continents.

Through the ages it has retained its symbolic meaning as a stone of wisdom and truth, believed to promote insight and even psychic ability. It is believed by crystal healers to stimulate the higher mind, elevating the thinking centers of the brain and enhancing the intellect. Thereby, it is a stone of learning, believed to spark a thirst for knowledge, truth, and understanding.

It is also a stone of truth, known to promote honesty and harmony in relationships. It brings about a clarity about oneself and aids a person in acceptance of her strengths and weaknesses. It is a stone of communication, believed to aid both writers and speakers in broadcasting their messages with clarity and authenticity.

Finally, lapis lazuli is believed to be a stone of joy, evoking positive feelings and thoughts. As such, it may bring a level of tranquility and peace to the person who wears it. Optimism and hope are the key to peace, after all. It is the stone of friendship, believed to strengthen the bonds of love and fidelity, inviting a deeper level of intimacy.

This makes lapis lazuli jewelry the perfect choice for the special person in your life born in December, be it a dear friend, a lover, or your brother or sister. We'd love to show this ring to you, as well as our other lapis lazuli jewels, and allow you experience the beauty and tranquility of this ancient stone for yourself. Call today to schedule a visit to our Bellevue showroom.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Designer Spotlight: DeVroomen

This spectacular guilloche and enamel ring makes an imposing statement. Worn by man or woman, this jewel says, "I mean business."

It says, "I know who I am and what I'm about."

Featuring a powerful combination of classic white round diamonds, 18k yellow gold, and striking blue enamel overlaying intricate guilloche engravings, this striking designer ring was fashioned by the renowned UK designer Leo De Vroomen.

De Vroomen is most highly appreciated for his use of enamels in a broad array of bold and beautiful colors. Sometimes subtle, sometimes loud and ostentatious, his color choices always make a clear statement. In many of his pieces, Leo adds more interest with sculpted repousse work. His careful attention to detail and form lends his pieces an artful elegance worthy of attention.

His use of diamonds is typically understated. Even in this piece lined with diamonds, their brilliance is balanced with the deep blue enamel background and the prominence of the yellow gold lines surrounding the stones. Indeed, the longer you stare at this particular ring, the more evident it becomes that De Vroomen is a master at achieving balanced, striking designs.

That this ring was fashioned in 1986, at the height of big and bold, it is clear that although perhaps emboldened by the such demands in the markets of that decade, De Vroomen brought a subtlety to the table with this ring.

This is in keeping with his philosophy that the woman (or man in this case) who wears this ring is the one who truly makes the impression, not the stone or the jewel.

In the realm of creative design, it is Leo's uncompromising commitment to freedom that infuses every De Vroomen piece with subtle elegance that transcends time and defies, and yet defines, the trends of the day.

Leo describes his work as far more than a career. "It's about being true to yourself and enjoying the freedom of doing what you love," he told the Spectator.

While he does not adhere to what he calls "the vagaries of fashion," De Vroomen does adhere to a standard of excellence that some describe as bordering on obsession. "[The] pieces are not just beautiful in terms of proportion, shape and colour combination or quality of finish, they are perfect engineering machines with all kind of cleverly hidden mechanisms that make them truly special to wear," says Alicia Reyes, author of the blog Collecting Fine Jewels.

Leo crafts his wondrous jewels at his atelier in London, focusing his energies on creating one-of-a-kind pieces that could be categorized as haute couture, though he would not do so himself. Mr. De Vroomen grew up in Holland, the youngest of eight on a tulip farm. Surrounded by such beautiful colors, but perhaps weary of the daily grind of farming, Leo longed for a world of artistry away from the soil. He followed his heart to Switzerland, where he was qualified as a Master Goldsmith.

In 1965, he moved to London, where he met his wife Ginnie, who has served him faithfully as design partner and muse for their established atelier De Vroomen Design. Together, they conceptualize and manufacture every single piece in accordance with their unique vision.

In discussing their perfect De Vroomen patron, Leo states on his website, "My jewelry is for's not for the fainthearted. It's for women who have confidence and are as careful about their jewelry as their clothes."

He goes on to say, "I am deeply passionate about my jewelry. To create something innovative, dynamic and beautiful without compromise is always exciting. But the real pleasure comes from seeing it worn by the right woman with confidence and pleasure."

Are you that woman? Does this ring speak to your soul?

If you must have it, then please do not hesitate to call on us. We are more than happy to assist you in making this striking, bold, and alluring De Vroomen ring yours.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer