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