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

Natural Tourmaline Rings for Engagement Rings?

If it weren't for tradition and advertising our guess is that many more brides to be would prefer to have some color in their engagement ring. Tourmaline Rings come in nearly every color of the rainbow and tourmaline is also one of the traditional Birthstones of October.

As stated above, tourmaline jewelry comes in nearly every desirable color and is generally available in its natural form, no treatments such as heating are normally necessary. It is sometimes heated or irradiated.

 Tourmaline is relatively durable and has a Mohs scale hardness of 7.0-7.5. In smaller sized stones, being fairly tough, it makes for a fine choice for an engagement ring that can be worn daily.

 The green color of the chrome tourmaline jewelry is captivating and often features deeper color and better clarity and durability than emerald.

 Pink colored tourmalines are also very desirable and beautiful. Tourmalines often have very good clarity even in larger sizes but are still affordable relative to the other precious gemstones that feature similar colors.


 Jewelry designers like working with tourmaline to add color to their classic designs like the above ring from Vera Wang and the Tiffany & Co Legacy Collection tourmaline ring pictured below. Tiffany-Legacy-tourmaline-engagement-ring

 EraGem features a wide range of tourmaline engagement ring options. Our collection are primarily estate vintage pieces and as well as pre-owned modern and designer rings.  Please enjoy a few more pictures of natural tourmaline rings that customers of EraGem are currently enjoying .


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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Opal: Meaning + Significance

This magnificent jelly opal locket pendant was crafted in the Late Victorian Era. A detailed ornate frame, featuring Old World granulation technique with scrolling golden cords, houses a prong-set jelly opal crystal weighing greater than 20 carats. Mounted on the back, in a removable photo frame, is a black onyx tablet engraved with a love note from Joe to Nancy.

Opal has been the stone of choice for chiefs, kings, queens, and other royals throughout the ages. Ancient Romans believed opals brought good fortune. They wore opal as a symbol of hope and purity and believed that the stone protected them from sickness. The ancient Greeks wore opal to enhance their mystical powers of prophecy and foresight.

Aborigines believed that opals were the rainbow footsteps of the Creator. They believed the Creator descended to earth on a rainbow road, bringing a message of peace to mankind. Wherever his foot touched the ground, the rainbow crystallized into a opal stones, allowing man the opportunity to hold divine love and affection in his very hands.

Ancient Arabs believed that lightning had become trapped in the layers of opal, infusing it with a powerful play of colors. They believed that wearing opal would render one invisible. Ancient Indians also believed opals were a form of divine rainbow. In their case, they believed the Goddess of the Rainbow had fallen to the ground after being turned to stone.

These references to rainbows and lightning are no surprise. The play of color in an opal is absolutely mesmerizing. All the colors visible to the naked eye are accounted for, in some stones more than others depending on the variety and size of the opal.

Crystal healers and mystics believe that opal continues to harness divine power. It's play of color inspires lightness of heart, joy in the moment, and pure happiness. It is associated with flashes of intuition and is believed to heighten even the most mundane of experiences. It is believed to promote spontaneity and playfulness and is thought to enhance self-esteem and allow a person to express who they truly are.

Opal is thought to foster love, passion, warmth, enthusiasm, and creativity. It is said that wearing an opal jewel can soothe your mind, aid in transformation, give you happy dreams, release inhibitions, and drive away your fears.

Wearing an opal can also inspire loyalty, faithfulness, and warmth, leading to greater levels of trust and intimacy with those you are closest to.

If you'd like to experience the power of opal in your own life, we invite you to make an appointment to meet with one of our specialists who can show you a wide variety of opal jewelry to meet your needs.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Russian Wedding Customs

A Boyar Wedding Feast, painted by Konstantin Makovsky, 1883
Photo found on Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

When I think of Russia, I think of white snow and red cloaks. When I think of Russian weddings, I think of baroque churches and solemn rituals. Indeed, wintertime in a Russian Orthodox church would make a lovely setting for a Russian-themed wedding.

In my experience (which is primarily limited to movies, I'm afraid), Russians are serious and solemn, just as I would expect a Russian wedding to be. However, my research into the topic of Russian wedding customs tells a completely different story. In truth, a Russian wedding sounds like a treasure trove of fun, beauty, and joy.

A Russian wedding actually begins when the groom pays a visit to his bride-to-be's home. He is met there by a series of obstacles, set up by the bride's family and friends. The groom must pass a series of tests, and he must pay a ransom, often in cash or jewels, to those who stand between him and his bride.

Sometimes, a particularly feisty group will add an element of deception to the mix. After the groom pays for his bride, he will be escorted to a room where he sees a dressed and veiled beauty with her back to him. As he approaches, his "bride" will turn around. To his surprise a male cousin or elderly grandmother will be standing in stead for his bride, and he will have to pay yet again to make claim to his true bride.

After the fun and games are had, the couple pays a visit to ZAGS, the public services department where their marriage license is purchased and a brief civil ceremony takes place. This visit officially registers their relationship with the government, and is essential to the legalization of their marriage. Following their registration, the couple gets into a big black sedan with their closest friends and takes a tour of the most picturesque locations in their city.

This tour can last as long as three hours. Afterwards, if the couple has chosen to follow the civil ceremony with a religious one, the couple will arrive at the church. A Roman Orthodox ceremony is filled with candlelight, ritual, and ceremony. A full service is conducted, during which a service of espousal is added.

From the church, the couple is once again conducted in a big black car to the reception hall. Here a toastmaster (possibly a friend, but often a hired professional) begins the reception with a toast. Glasses are raised, and the wine is sipped. At this point a number of guests will shout "Gor'ko!" (Bitter!).

In order to sweeten the fruit of the vine, the couple must rise and kiss each other for as long as possible. The guests will begin counting, and if the couple has not been able to sustain a long enough kiss, cries of Gor'ko! will echo throughout the hall. The couple is made to kiss like this until the vine has become sweet! Cries of Gor'ko! will ring throughout the night, as the couple kisses their lips off!

Meanwhile, the toastmaster is responsible for keeping the mood light and fun. He/she will tell jokes, read poetry, tell embarrassing stories about the couple, and possibly even break out into song. His/her job is to keep the guests in high spirits and make sure that the mood never falls flat.

After the toasting period, which can last an hour or more, the dancing begins. The bride and groom dance the first dance, and after this the toastmaster is able to take a breath and relax. The entertainment is now at the mercy of the dancers and revelers.

Throughout the night, the groom will want to keep close watch on his bride. He must also keep a fair number of coins in his pockets. For if he does step away, his bride might be stolen. And if she is stolen, he will once again have to pay a ransom to get her back. This could happen all night long, so it might be wise to find a bathroom where the bride and groom can go off together to relieve themselves. This way, the groom will get to keep his coins and his bride for the duration of the night!

A huge feast is served after the dancing. After the feast, the guests go home and get some rest, for the party will resume the following day. On the second day another smaller feast is prepared, typically borsch or ukha. Not only are these delicious and comforting dishes, but they can also help relieve any hangovers from the night before.

The second day is far less formal, though toasts and cries of Gor'ko! can be heard throughout the festivities. After the meal, the bride must clean the floor in the room. Here is an opportunity for the bride and groom to recoup some of their paid ransoms from the night before. The guests are allowed, even expected, to mess the floor up so the bride must continue cleaning. The one rule: The guests must muss the floor with coins or banknotes. She is literally cashing in as she cleans!

Guests may also stage several other fun ways to help the couple financially, including lotteries, auctions, and other money-making schemes that keep the guests entertained and the money flowing freely toward the newlyweds. It remains the job of the witnesses (maids of honor and groomsmen) to ensure a fun and entertaining time for all. Drinking is essential, as the fun is only had when true drunkenness sets in.

After a wedding like this, their pockets lined with coins and cash, the newlywed couple will proceed on their honeymoon, or even just to their new home, alone and exhausted. But filled with joy and love and the goodwill of all those who know and love them.

Doesn't it sound far more fun and exciting than the solemn picture I had painted in my mind?

Perhaps a Russian wedding is in your future. If so, would you let us know which of these traditions you are most looking forward to experiencing as a bride or groom?

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tanzanite: Meaning + History

This glorious designer cocktail ring by LeVian is fashioned from solid 18k rose gold. Over 200 round brilliant diamonds pave the gallery, shoulders, and halo surrounding one of the most remarkable oval cut tanzanite gemstones we've ever seen. Weighing over 14 carats, this deep bluish-violet tanzanite stone performs with phenomenal light return. This is a rare and beautiful find, a tanzanite of such stunning clarity and size.

Tanzanite is a member of the zoisite family. Zoisite is a fairly obscure gemstone family consisting of several species of stones formed from silicates of calcium and aluminum. This yellow-brown stone acquired its name in 1805, when geologist Baron Sigmund Zois von Edelstein found it in Austria. It would be several centuries before anyone took any marketing notice of the zoisite family.

That notice came with the discovery in 1967, in Tanzania near the eastern shores of Africa. A prospector named Manuel d'Souza was hunting for sapphires in the northeastern portion of the country. Careful to make connections with the local tribesman, he finally hit the jackpot when a group of Masai natives guided him to the Merelani Hills, a stone's throw from Mount Kilimanjaro.

The purple-blue stones he found there had been circulating among the tribes for centuries. The Masai herders found the crystals scattered across the ground after lightning set a grassy field on fire, transforming the local brown zoisite into this mesmerizing new blue stone. Since then, the women of the tribe wore beads made from the beautiful stones, particularly after giving birth.

At first, d'Souza thought these stones were a variation of the blue sapphires he'd been hunting. But later testing proved them to be a rare and unusual form of zoisite. Three years later, in 1970, Tiffany & Co. acquired the lion's share of marketable blue zoisite.

Jeweler Henry Platt, working for Tiffany at the time, coined a new name for the beautiful stone: Tanzanite. For a number of years, Tanzanite enjoyed high fame. Tiffany's jewelers had a grand time fashioning gorgeous contemporary pieces from the lovely blue stone.

Crystal healers and mystics attached much in the way of significance to the newly discovered gemstone. Their beauty is thought to stir the mind toward communion with the heart, increasing compassion, spiritual insight, and connection to divine love.

Tanzanite is thought to be a self-actualizing stone. As such, it is purported to aid a person in discovering their true calling. It is believed to illuminate one's motives and purposes, aiding the soul-searcher to discover the reasons behind the choices they've made.

Tanzanite is believed to vibrate at an accelerated rate, infusing its wearer with joy, happiness, and relief from anxiety. It is said to allow access to the heart's wisdom, allowing one to evaluate the ideas of an activated mind with the wisdom of the ancients.

It is advisable to wear a tanzanite ring, pendant, or bracelet when you're facing significant life changes, such as a change in career. It is also recommended when facing communication difficulties, whether business or personal, and also when facing what seem to be insurmountable problems or obstacles.

Since Tanzanite is the birthstone of December, it is believed that these positive attributes of the gemstone will be enhanced for those whose birthdays fall in that final month of the year.

If you would like to feel the essence and power of Tanzanite for yourself, we invite you to make an appointment to meet with us in our Bellevue area showroom.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

KK: In Search of the Mystery Designer

We recently acquired a trio of stunning jewels all made by the same designer: KK. These jewels are of baroque design, featuring stunning semi-precious tourmalines in a range of colors, from ruby wine red, to murky yellow-green, to verdant shamrock green. These statement rings are astonishing in both design and execution.

Crafted from sterling silver and solid 18k yellow gold, these rings are masterpieces in design. The first is a north-south dinner ring featuring a cabochon rubellite tourmaline set bezel style in a halo of white diamonds. These are all set in a patina finish. Scrolling flourishes lead the eye to the stately panthers that lie atop and below the gorgeous central stone. On the bright yellow gold shoulders rest an almost-leaf-like flourish studded with diamonds set in channels of silver patina.

The second ring features a central bezel-set, shamrock green tourmaline surrounded by a halo of diamonds in an oxidized sterling silver channel. In brilliant 18k yellow gold, a pair of diamond-studded fleur-de-lis radiate in an east-west direction.

A bowl of yellow gold underlies the entire central design. This bowl is encircled by a double halo of diamond-studded silver. The outer rim is punctuated by evenly spaced dimensional bezels featuring smaller green tourmalines. The shank of the ring is completely etched in sterling silver, gilded by a rim of twisted yellow gold. The entire ring, underside and all, is a masterpiece in design.

The final ring in the KK mystery designer trio is a study in oxidized silver. The only gold can be seen on the inside of the band, in the twisted braid of gold around the gallery, and the gold bezel around the mossy green tourmaline cabochon placed at the center of this exquisite statement ring. Surrounding the bezel-set tourmaline is a rim of silver embedded with a halo of white diamonds.

Four points emerge from the halo, also studded in diamonds. A second halo forms the outer rim of the design and features square individual bezels in silver set with a single round diamond. The edge is trimmed in braided gold with four cabochon tourmalines set horizontally to the design. The band is coated in beautifully etched sterling silver. This ring is an understated wonder.

All of these rings are engraved with two letters, the only letters giving credit to the masterful mystery designer: KK. The letters are engraved within a horizontal etched diamond.

After doing extensive research online, I have been unable to track down this mystery designer. I've found a number of KK designers out there, but none of them equal the artistry of these beautiful rings. That is why we need your help.

If you have any information regarding the mystery woman or man behind these gorgeous Gothic rings, please get in touch with us. Simply fill out this contact form and let us know what you know.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Honeymoon Destination: Oak Island, Nova Scotia

Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia. Photo taken by Dennis Jarvis, 2012.
Sandy Cove is situated north across the bay from Oak Island.

Do you love moderate temperatures, crisp sea air, and pristine island views?

Are you inspired by a good old-fashioned mystery, one that has yet to be solved?

Are you in search of a romantic honeymoon with a touch of intrigue?

If you said yes to any of these questions, then may we recommend a honeymoon trip to Nova Scotia, with a tour of Oak Island thrown in for good measure?

Nova Scotia is a northern paradise, offering a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities. On a beautiful day, tour the zoo, visit a wildlife park, go to a fun park, or spend the day on the water. Nova Scotia offers year-round surfing, tidal bore rafting, kayaking, whale watching, hiking, and golfing.

If the weather is sour, then spend the day indoors. Visit the Science Centre, one of the provincial museums, or go see a play at one of the local theatres. Or visit an art gallery or boutique artisan shop.

Whether you enjoy shopping, sightseeing, water sports, or boating, Nova Scotia has it all. And if that is not enough to intrigue you, then Nova Scotia also has a 200-year-old mystery that has yet to be solved.

The seat of this mystery lies on a lush, 140-acre island off the southwestern coast of Nova Scotia. In 1795, Daniel McGinnis discovered an indentation in the ground on the island. He and his friends began digging in the area, only to discover a deep and mysterious man-made shaft.

After boring through layer after layer of oak-log platforms, charcoal, putty, and even coconut fibers, the boys hit a stone slab that was engraved with a message of symbols and shapes. They stopped digging for the night, thinking to return and continue their investigation the next day. However, when they returned to the site the following morning they found the deep shaft completely filled with seawater. No matter how hard they tried, they could not continue digging.

From that day to this, men from all walks of life throughout progressive centuries, including President Franklin Roosevelt and actor John Wayne, have tried in vain to find a way to stop the shaft from flooding. Over the years, it has been assumed that this elaborate man-made structure must be hiding something extremely valuable.

Could it be lost pirate treasure?

Or the lost Crown Jewels of France? 

Or perhaps the riches of the Knights Templar?

The most popular rumor is that Captain William Kidd hid his pirate treasure on the island before his execution.

However, to date it is all rumors and speculation. Whatever lies beneath the sea on Oak Island remains a mystery to this day. There's even a History Channel TV show about it: The Curse of Oak Island.

While it sounds like the mystery is very close to being solved by the island's current owner, Dan Blankenship, one thing stands in the way of what would become the find of a lifetime: a treasure trove license. Until Mr. Blankenship and his team of mystery hunters can find a way to convince the government to give him a treasure hunting license, the mystery will remain unsolved.

There is only one way now for visitors to see the site of this long-time mystery. Private tours are held just a few times annually by the Friends of Oak Island group. Their website has recently undergone an overhaul, currently they're offering $10 memberships that will enable members to purchase tour tickets before they open the tours up to the public at some point in the near future. Check out their website and consider making Oak Island and Nova Scotia your honeymoon destination!

If you do decide to make Nova Scotia your honeymoon destination, and you do make it on one of the Oak Island tours, please let us know what you learn about the mystery. We are waiting with bated breath to hear the latest news as it breaks over the next year.

Perhaps this will be the year that the mystery is solved once and for all!!

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Monday, January 4, 2016

History + Significance of Red Coral

Red, the color of power and passion, vitality and vigor, courage and boldness. It is a color for both men and women. For men, red represents victory, status, and personal power. For women, it represents independence, seduction, and personal power. The powerful effects of red reverberate throughout history.

Ancient Romans gave red coral to their children as protection from danger, evil curses, and disease. To other ancient people groups, red coral symbolized life and blood force, offering hope to those plagued by violent madness or deep depression. Red coral was used as a fertility charm, believed to regulate a woman's menstrual cycle and restore reproductive health.

In China, coral represents longevity, and in India it is believed to prevent hemorrhages. In many Old World cultures, red coral is believed to strengthen the blood. Ancient Egyptians believed that red coral contained traces of divine blood, energizing and granting wisdom to all who wore it. Ancient Greeks relied on red coral to bring them happiness and immortality, driving away illness and adversity.

Many ancients believed that the more conspicuously red coral was worn, the more effective its powers. Tibetan Buddhists and Native Americans associate red coral with creativity, passion, wisdom, enthusiasm, and romantic love.

Tibetan Buddhists also believe that all coral is an important gift of the sea, and that red coral represents the highest level of compassionate energy. Rooted in the earth but swaying freely in the ocean currents, it reminds us of our eternal foundations. Though we are rooted to our mortality upon the earth, our spirits live and breathe freely in the air of heaven. Coral also reminds us of our durability and strength. Though coral appears fragile, its skeletal composition makes it quite hard and durable.

Modern crystal healers lean on coral to provide strength to one's emotional core. Coral is said to promote inner peace, diplomacy, and stability. It is said to enhance wisdom and reduce stress and fear. It represents the transformation of that which is ugly into that which is beautiful. Immeasurable joy is thought to be the end result of the full manifestation of red coral's work.

Are you looking for a change in your life? Are you seeking transformation in some aspect of your life? Do you need personal power to overcome a deep wound from your past?

If so, may we recommend experimenting with red coral for yourself?

This gorgeous red coral ring may be just the choice for a man or a woman in need of the powerful divine life force of red coral. It features a substantial 18k yellow gold setting carved in intricate openwork style. The 5-carat red coral cabochon appears raw and ancient in its form, evoking red coral's ancient roots and powers of impartation.

We invite you to make an appointment today to sample the power of red coral. See what it can do for you.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer