The Jeweler's Eye
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I am a jewelry designer and gemologist. I love creating beautiful heirloom jewelry for clients all over the world. In this blog, I feature many of my designs and current projects as well as articles about colored gemstones, diamonds and antique jewelry. As a historian and lover of antique and estate jewelry, I am often inspired by jewels from the past.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Cufflinks

Festive Scroll cufflinks in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

The holidays are a time of celebration, tradition and, of course, festive ornaments. Some of the prettiest ornaments in the gallery are not hanging on our tree. They are sparkling in the antique cufflink showcase.

Recently several clients asked me to create custom cufflinks as gifts for their significant other. In researching design ideas I took a look at our collection of antique and estate cuff jewels. The great variety and beauty of cufflinks made in the last century always amazes me. Here is a holiday sampling of what I found ...

Sapphire and Gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

Carter, Howe Moss Agate cufflinks, circa 1910.

Art Deco white gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

Art Deco Onyx and Pearl cufflinks, circa 1930.

Carrington Sapphire and blue enamel cufflinks, circa 1925.

To view these and other elegant cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

In the next several months I will post pictures and descriptions of the custom cufflinks we are creating. Happy holidays to all!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Radiant-cut Sapphire

1.84 carat Radiant-cut Sapphire

The color of this square radiant cut Sapphire is amazing - a rich, royal blue color that reminds us of the azure waters throughout the Caribbean where history and lore abound, as do buried treasures and beautiful sea creatures.

Deep royal blue can evoke a sense of richness as well as superiority which perhaps is one reason why so many people love the color blue. In fact, of all the colors of sapphire (and there are many varied hues throughout the color spectrum), Blue is by far the most popular.

The cut of this exceptional sapphire is also quite special. Sapphires are typically cut in cushion shapes and sometimes round and oval shapes, especially when the crystal is cut in a major cutting center like Thailand. Radiant cuts are not a common style of cut for sapphire due to the extra weight loss of crystal and the more exacting skill required for this shape. When you see a nice radiant cut, such as this 1.838 carats gem sapphire, you know it is very special indeed. This gem was recut from a larger cushion shape to allow for better proportions, brilliance and color.

You could find another sapphire for less money, but then again, why would you want something of lesser quality. If you want only the finest.....this rich sapphire is the one for you.

Sapphire is the hardest of all the colored gemstones, sitting at a whopping 9 on the Moh's scale of hardness, which makes this gemstone perfect for daily wear. It is no wonder that sapphires are the most preferred colored gemstone for clients asking us to custom design an engagement ring featuring something other than a traditional diamond.

Custom Ring with 1.51 carat Radiant-cut Sapphire

Radiant cut sapphires are special. Pictured above is a crystalline pastel blue sapphire we set for a client in a custom engagement ring. To view this ring and other sapphire rings we have created, please visit our Sapphire Ring Gallery.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sapphires and Diamonds

Sapphires and Diamonds are classic gemstones that always go well together. Like the classic couples of the 1930s and 40s - remember Astaire and Rogers ... Bogart and Bacall - they are striking and always make a statement. Here are a few of my favorite Sapphire and Diamond rings.

The bold look and elegant lines of this beautiful emerald-cut Sapphire begged for an Art Deco design. To complement the Sapphire I selected two elongated obelisk-shape diamonds (bullet cuts) and bezel set them in platinum. The unusual cut of the diamonds is echoed in the tapered prongs securing the Sapphire and the raised center-line of the platinum band. The ring is an homage to Egyptian Revival and Art Deco eras, two of my favorite sources of design inspiration.

While Art Deco design emphasizes the beauty of geometric lines and dramatic angles, the above cushion-cut Sapphire suggests other possibilities. Accented with trilliant cut diamonds, the gently curved edges and softened corners of the rich blue Sapphire invite the viewer to get lost in a deep pool of cool crystalline water. The beautiful Sapphire is set in an example of our Sapphire Delight design.

This ring is named Sapphire Luminosity. It incorporates a clear, steely blue Sapphire that luminesces with a shimmering cool blue light. Accenting the oval Sapphire are six baguette diamonds dramatically set into the shoulders of the ring. In the gallery we call this staggered arrangement of the diamonds a "Rockefeller". The name is inspired by the soaring skyscrapers of Rockefeller Center, the Art Deco icon in New York City.

Hand engraving is a classic technique that beautifully complements Sapphires and diamonds. This hand-crafted platinum ring has a wonderful late Edwardian/early Art Deco feel that captures the elegance of a bygone era. Note the gentle millgraining that highlights the edges of the setting and band. When creating a ring there are many varieties of hand engraving from which to choose.

Not all Sapphire rings wear their diamonds on the side. This striking ring features a round Sapphire set in a variation of our Hidden Treasures design. The Sapphire is set with a prong style known as "French Double prongs". The up sweeping shoulders of the platinum ring are creased with a gentle valley and the edges accented with milgraining. As can be seen in the picture below, two diamonds are nestled between the upper and lower gallery of the setting, hence the name "Hidden Treasures".

On either side of the hidden diamonds, small circlets of yellow gold are set in the split shoulders of the upswept band. The golden accents offer a striking contrast to the cool white and blue of the diamonds, Sapphire and platinum. It is these little touches that really make a ring pop.

Our Breathless Rings are a contemporary take on a classic design ... our interpretation of a traditional three-stone ring set with beautiful gemstones and diamonds. This example showcases a soft cushion-shape royal blue Sapphire and round colorless diamonds. The platinum band is gently tapered as it approaches the gemstones. The style is a timeless classic that will surely be enjoyed for many generations. Often when creating a new ring, we like to start with the classics and add a little pizzazz !

These are just a few of my favorite Sapphire and diamond rings. Please visit our Sapphire Ring Gallery to see more of my designs.

If you have any questions about the above Sapphire rings or our other custom designs, please send me an email or give me a call (603 624-8672).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Scintillating 360

Last month I wrote about the Scintillating Diamonds engagement ring we created for a couple. The ring was crafted in anticipation of a complementing future wedding band. Well the wedding band is done!

Scintillating 360 custom-designed wedding band.

The custom-designed band features 25 round brilliant-cut diamonds set around its entire circumference. The bead-set diamonds are neatly nestled between two crisp, milligrained edges. So no matter how the ring rolls and moves on the finger, you will always see a scintillating display of brilliant white diamonds. We have nicknamed the design Scintillating 360.

Custom engagement ring and wedding band.

We matched the shapes and profiles of the two rings so they would fit snugly against each other. On the engagement ring, the prongs were masterfully tapered in shape and thickness then tucked in beneath the diamond for a narrower profile. This allowed the diamond to be set at a traditional height, slightly above the height of the band, and still have the base of the setting narrower than the width of the band.

A scintillating collection of diamonds.

One of the important steps in creating the wedding band was matching the 25 brilliant diamonds for color, cut and clarity. The goal was ensure the diamonds presented a uniform appearance and perfectly complemented the diamonds in the engagement ring. The result was a success - a scintillating array of sparkling white diamonds.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Scintillating Diamonds

Scintillate - To throw off sparks. To sparkle or shine. To twinkle as the stars.

Ideal cut round diamonds have a mesmerizing balance of brilliant white light, scintillation and fire (spectral hues). You can actually see light dancing across a well cut diamond as it is moved and turned.

I work with many diamond shapes and styles of cuts and when creating a more traditional look, I prefer the Ideal Round Brilliant cut.

Recently a client hired me to locate a high quality ideal cut round diamond for an engagement ring. After helping him select the best stone, I then worked on creating a ring to best capture the beauty and brilliance of this dazzling diamond.

The shoulders of the ring have seven graduated size, sparkling diamonds bead set within a tapered channel. The edges of the channel are millegrained for added sparkle. When designing with diamonds and platinum the goal is to balance the mirror-like finish of the platinum with the brilliance of the diamonds. When done right the effect is scintillating ..... just like this ring!

The tops of the prongs are polished to a narrow point for dramatic effect. I call these "spear-tip points" and often use them in my ring designs.

The ideal-cut diamond is cradled within four tapered prongs that gracefully rise up from the band of the ring. The prongs are crafted from half round wire that was tapered in gauge from top to base.

The challenge was to create a secure setting for the diamond that would also allow a straight or non-contoured wedding band to fit flush against the ring. Therefore, I made the base of the setting narrow to accomplish a smaller profile. The graceful curve of the prongs is complemented by the gentle upsweep of the shoulders of the ring. Because this ring was custom designed and hand crafted, each of the design elements was created to best match and complement the beauty of the diamonds and meet the client's wishes.

My goal is always to create the perfect balance between beauty, functionality and durablity. These are the neccessary ingredients for a jewel that will past the test of time and become an heirloom for future generations.

I am currently making a matching wedding band for this scintillating diamond engagement ring. I anticipate that the set will be drop dead gorgeous and will garner much attention at the wedding reception ! Stay tuned for an addendum once the wedding band is completed.

To learn more about our Scintillating Diamond Ring, please visit our Diamond Ring Gallery. Other unique designs are featured in our Custom Engagement Ring Gallery.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tantalizing Tanzanite!

I have always loved designing with Tanzanite. The gemstone's rich, velvety blue/violet color with flashes of red is reminiscent of lightning in a late evening sky.

Ever since Tanzanite was first discovered in the 1960s, this exotic gemstone has tantalized with its incredibly beautiful colors. To help you decide if Tanzanite is a good choice for your next custom jewel, I answer the following commonly asked questions about this wonderful gemstone.

Tanzanite and diamond custom platinum ring.

Are Tanzanites a "soft" gemstone?

Although not as hard as Sapphires and Diamonds, Tanzanites are fine when properly set in jewelry. Because it is not as hard, Tanzanite is more susceptible to scratches, but common sense precautions will protect and preserve the beauty of this striking gemstone.

For example, you should not wear your Tanzanite ring while working in the garden. Of course, you should also remove your Sapphire and Diamond rings when engaged in activities that might lead to a nick or scratch. When not being worn Tanzanite and other jewelry should be stored in individual cloth pouches, so that the gemstones do not inadvertently abraded each other.

Proper jewelry design can also mitigate the risk to your Tanzanite. Tanzanite is often set in less exposed, less active, pieces of jewelry, like earrings and pendants. When setting Tanzanite in a ring it is best to choose a low setting that will help protect the gemstone while showing off its brilliant color. Bezel settings are a wonderful option for setting Tanzanites.

Are Tanzanites becoming rarer?

For all its beauty fine Tanzanite is found in only one place in the world - an inaccessible mine lying in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Over-mining, flooding and cave-ins at the mine site have limited the supply of higher quality, larger gems. As the popularity of Tanzanite has increased, the scarcity and cost of finer Tanzanites has risen. But, be aware that not all Tanzanites are equally fine or scarce.

There is an abundant supply of lower quality Tanzanites, often with pale or grayish color and small in size. Commonly offered on home shopping channels and at discount jewelers, these lesser Tanzanites lack the beauty and pizzazz of the finer stones. Be careful! I have seen lower quality Tanzanites offered at the same price as finer gemstones.

Are the striking colors of Tanzanite natural?

Tanzanite is a natural gemstone whose color is enhanced during cutting by a process called "heat treating". When found in nature, Tanzanite crystals are usually a reddish-brown color. The gemstone crystals are heated in order to bring out the rich blue, purple and violet colors we love. The color change is permanent.

A similar heat-treating process has been used for thousands of years to enhance the color of Rubies and Sapphires. If a jeweler or salesperson does not inform you about the heat treatment of Tanzanites and other gemstones, you should probably not be working with them.

There are several man-made and natural materials that simulate the appearance of Tanzanite. One, known as synthetic Fosterite, is grown in a lab and is worth significantly less than Tanzanite. Other gemstones may be treated with films or other agents in an effort approximate the beautiful color of fine Tanzanite. Because these materials may be misrepresented as Tanzanite, it is best to only work with a knowledgeable, reputable seller with a background in gemology. You may want to have your Tanzanite evaluated by a qualified independent gemologist.

Please visit our Tanzanite Ring Gallery where we feature
more of the Tanzanite jewels we have created.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Red Spinel - The Finished Jewel

In my last post I wrote about some of the beautiful Red Spinels for which I am currently designing jewelry. In this post I will illustrate some of lovely rings I have custom designed for this fiery red natural gemstone.

The above ring is based on my Platinum Promise design and features a 1.90 carats round brilliant cut pinkish-Red spinel and ideal cut diamonds. The ideal cut round side diamonds are a perfect match to the center red spinel. I chose all platinum for this ring since this particular spinel has a crisp, cool shade of red.

In this next ring, based on my Trellis design, I feature a traditional cushion shaped deep red Spinel, set horizontally in platinum prongs with an 18kt rose gold double band. The pinkish cast of the rose gold nicely complements the rich hue of this fire-engine like Red Spinel.

Some time ago I purchased a wonderful pair of larger trillium cut Red Spinels and decided to split the pair and use the gems in different rings. I set one in my Platinum Regal Elegance design and liked it so much that I created a rose gold version with the sister stone.

So whether you prefer the cool white of Platinum or the warmth of Rose Gold, we have it covered with both versions, featuring red spinel. The Rosy Regal Red Spinel Ring features the other trillium red spinel from the pair, set in rich 18kt rose or pink gold with just a hint of colorless diamonds set within the engraved pattern for a touch of sparkling white brilliance.

If you like simpler designs, my Red Spinel Tingle ring is a nice option, showcasing a small emerald cut Red Spinel bezel set in rose gold and accented with small diamonds. This diminutive design can be used as an engagement ring or as a right hand ring. It is the perfect choice for someone with smaller hands.

Arrest-Me-Red is an 18kt yellow gold version of my Hidden Treasures design, set with a vibrant Red Spinel that has that fast red sports car type of hue that is unmistakeable. Just don't get caught speeding down the highway with this exciting ring !

Another favorite theme of mine is Egyptian Motifs which I incorporated in my Rosy Palmette Hand Engraved Band design in 18kt rose gold and platinum. The band showcases beautifully shaped princess cut red spinels, channel set amongst a richly engraved field of Egyptian style palmettes and lotus blossoms.

If Red Spinel is one of your favorite gems, you are in good company; it's one of my favorites too !I do have many more fine red spinels in my inventory, including some lovely matched pairs of ovals and trilliums.

The rings above are available as shown, or you can have a jewel custom made to order with the gem of your choice. If you are looking for exceptional quality and value, be sure to visit my gemstone gallery and ring design portfolio for more ideas.

For more information on these gems and rings, please send me an email or call my office (603-624-8672). I am happy to discuss pricing and design options and help you create the Jewel of your dreams.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Red Spinel - Loose Gems

1.91-carat Elongated Cushion Red Spinel

I am passionate about Red Spinel. In fact, it is one of my favorite gemstones. Those of you who have read my earlier posts may have already guessed this.

Most often I enter the gemstone markets to help clients acquire the perfect gemstone for a custom design project. But, I also acquire exceptional gemstones for my own interest and as inspiration when creating new designs. And, of course, a number of trusted gem cutters know to always call me when they are cutting something extraordinary. The little tempters! :-)

Here are some of the gorgeous Red, Pink and Flame Spinels I have recently acquired and the jewelry designs I am considering.

This matching pair of emerald-cut Red Spinels is exceptional. I was originally drawn to their stunning vibrant shade of red and beautiful elongated shape. I imagine them set in elegant Art Deco-style earrings crafted in warm 18kt gold or platinum with drops of colored diamonds.

Or possibly an Art Deco-inspired ring set with a large emerald-cut diamond and the two Red Spinels along the sides. The bold shoulders of the ring could be lightened with piercing and accented with gold or platinum filigree work.

When you work closely with beautiful gemstones they often take on a personality. And, of course, I cannot resist giving each of the gemstones nicknames. This dazzling 1.79-carat round Red Spinel reminds me of a glowing red moon in the summer night sky. I just imagine it rising above the horizon on a sultry July evening. So naturally, this gem has become known as "The Red Moon."

This Spinel's rich red hue, classic round cut and brilliant faceting suggest a striking ring. I imagine a variation of our Secret Garden design with fancy cut diamonds and dramatic hand engraving. Or maybe a classic platinum pendant with a brightly engraved bale and gallery set with small sparkling diamonds. Something along the lines of the Benitoite pendant we created several years ago for a client in California.

One of the fun things about being a jewelry designer is that beautiful gemstones always inspire a multiplicity design possibilities.

When viewing Red Spinels I always first consider the color and the shape. Red Spinels are most often cut as cushion-shapes or rounds. This elongated trillium (triangle shape) and the beautiful matching pair of emerald-cuts shown earlier are more unusual shapes and present exciting design opportunities.

This trillium is a vibrant shade of red electrified with flashes of pink and orange. Fine Spinel has a bright, crystalline appearance that allows for amazing, subtle interplays of color. This 1.30-carat gem is a mesmerizing example. I am currently "playing" with design ideas to showcase the gem's unique shape and color. Perhaps a variation of our Regal Elegance design.

Last but not least is this classic cushion-shape Red Spinel. Like the previous trillium, the color of the Spinel is a rich red hue with strong flashes of pink and orange. Because of the strong flashes of secondary orange and pink hues, this variety is known as "Flame Spinel". Another beautiful gemstone and, of course, the beginning of another beautiful jewel!

If you enjoy the rich reds of Rubies, you should consider Red Spinels. The color of Red Spinels is often more crystaline and clearer than Rubies which can be a hazy, sultry red. Fine examples of both gemstones are beautiful, but in different ways. Red Spinel offers a great design alternative.

In my next post, I will share some of the custom rings we have created featuring Red Spinels. Until then, let mek now what you think. How sould you set these vibrant gemstones?

To view more beautiful gems and the custom rings we have created, please visit our Jewelry Gallery.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Platinum Sapphire and Diamond Deco Style Pendant

I custom design and create many beautiful sapphire engagement rings each year, and when a client is ready to celebrate another special occasion or milestone, I really enjoy the opportunity to create another jewel to mark the event. This striking sapphire pendant is a piece I made for a client that wanted to celebrate just such an occasion.

The necklace is crafted in 95% pure platinum in an Art Deco style with a vibrant blue emerald cut sapphire and stark white Asscher cut diamond. The combination of these striking geometric shapes and the brightly polished platinum create a classic look that was inspired by Art Deco designs of the 1920's and 1930's.

My first task was to find the perfect sapphire for this piece. I worked with many of the finest sapphire cutters in the industry to ensure a good selection of exception gems for my client. The sapphire we chose has an intoxicating blue hue that captures your attention even from across the room. Next, I located a gorgeous D color Asscher cut diamond that was the perfect mate for the sapphire. My client only wanted the best and I think these gemstones and pendant met his goal quite nicely.

We agreed that a domed omega choker would be the best way to wear the pendant. The omega offered a geometric design that nicely complemented the linear look of the pendant while providing excellent support and security for this special piece. The domed omega choker maintains a nicely rounded shape around the neckline that does not pull down into a "V" when worn with a pendant. Instead, the jeweled pendant slides nicely along a smooth, rounded outline that surrounds the neck.

I must admit that I have always admired jewels from the Art Deco Period (1920-1940) and have drawn inspiration for my own designs from this fabulous era in jewelry history. Bold geometric shapes, cool white metals like platinum, bold contrasting colors of blue and white are certainly popular elements of Art Deco jewelry which have certainly been captured in this handsome necklace.

In case you are wondering what their beautiful ring looks like...... take a peek at Blue Flame II Ring which I made when they were expecting "twins".

If you are interested in seeing more examples of jewelry I have custom designed for clients, please check out my portfolio. And if you would like to discuss a custom project, please send me an email.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blue-Green Tourmaline and Blue Diamond Torus

Another fabulous gemstone from the Jewelry Expert collection that merits a special jewel is this oval torus ring. The main gem is a stunning blue-green Tourmaline from Afghanistan, cut with negative facets in the pavilion so as to create a dazzling array of brilliance and sparkle. The centerpiece is a natural grayish blue-violet diamond that we bezel set in platinum.

The 8.40 cts oval natural Blue-Green Tourmaline Torus measures 16.9 x 11.9 millimeters; the blue-violet diamond measures 2.15 mm and weighs 0.038 carat. I chose this blue-violet diamond for the center because of it's soft periwinkle color that was a wonderful complement to the verdant hue of the tourmaline.

A special gemstone such as this really deserves an equally special design. Since this is a larger stone, I believe it would work best as a pendant or necklace.

Some time ago I designed a striking necklace for a client in Japan, featuring a round amethyst torus ring and demantoid garnet. My Star Gazer design would be a great option for the oval blue-green tourmaline torus, with some modifications such as an attenuated or more elongated frame.

I was also thinking that instead of a concave diamond shape, perhaps a double outer rim that was also oval shaped and followed the classic outline of the tourmaline with a small round diamond channel set within the outer rim at the north, south, east and west positions. I can also see channel setting a complete line of small round brilliant diamonds forming a series of concentric ovals with the metal work, the diamonds and the torus.

Instead of setting the oval torus tourmaline vertically, it could be oriented horizontally with the pendant designed more as a slide necklace rather than a pendant drop. In this concept, the tourmaline could be set within an oval or cushion shaped yellow gold frame with small trapezoid, bullet or triangular shaped platinum tabs at the four corners, set with small colorless diamonds. The side walls of the frame could either be open and embellished with platinum scrolls or the walls could be solid and hand engraved with a radiating pattern of spikes and lines to create a star-burst effect.

And that leads to another design idea...... and another and yet another.

Sometimes I start with a design idea in my head that takes me on a journey to locate the perfect stone for the creation. But other times, I start first with the selection of a beautiful gemstone that captures my interest and dictates the design.

I must admit that I truly have a passion for exceptional gemstones and these wonders of nature inspire me to design and create jewelry that captivates and intrigues.

That's why I really love my job. So many wonderful ways to feature beautiful gems and create extraordinary jewels that will become a favorite heirloom for generations to come.

Torus rings are also available in round, marquise, pear and sometimes cushion or rectangular shapes. However, most are cut in the round and oval shapes. The talented lapidarist that cuts these stunning beauties often works with blue sapphire, montana sapphire, fancy colored sapphire (violet, pink, yellow and bi-color) as well as tourmaline, aquamarine, tanzanite and amethyst.

If you would like to purchase this fabulous blue-green tourmaline oval torus, please send me an email. I am also happy to discuss possible design options with you for this gorgeous gem.