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.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Elegant Stickpins

The last several weeks we have been taking a Holiday tour of the Estate Jewelry and Antique Cufflink Galleries. This week we are taking a look at one of the less celebrated, sometimes forgotten, estate jewels ... the stickpin.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries no sartorially resplendent gentleman would be seen without a stickpin to secure his cravat or tie. In the 21st century these elegant jewels are often seen gracing jacket lapels or the front of a hat. Below is a sampling of these wonderful diminutive jewels from the early decades of the last century.

The maker of this stickpin, Carter, Howe & Company, created a menagerie teeming with serpents, dragons, griffins and other exotic creatures. This example features entwined serpents with jealous green eyes guarding a regal purple amethyst. A small fresh water pearl is set above the serpents like a distant, full moon. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

Another example from the Carter, Howe menagerie of exotic and mythical beasts. Here a fierce dragon is either protecting or impaled on a golden sceptre set with a pearl. The dragon watches with a wary dark green eye, a hallmark of the golden chimeras Carter, Howe created. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

A vigilant border collie watches from within a dome of rock crystal. The pooch is beautifully sculpted with a finely detailed coat, whiskers and soulful eyes. The miniature masterpiece was created by an artist meticulously carving the image into the reverse of a polished dome of rock crystal.  Then, using brushes as small as a single hair, the collie was carefully painted with fine, lifelike details.   Crafted in 18kt gold,  circa 1880.

A stylized palmette soars above a luminous pearl framed with flowing geometric scrolls. A dramatic example of the beautiful Egyptian Revival jewels created in the early 1900s. Victorian and later jewelry makers often found inspiration in the jewels and designs of ancient civilizations. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1910.

A striking heliotrope, or bloodstone, set in a distinctive Arts & Crafts stickpin. The early Arts & Crafts movement drew significant inspiration from the craftsmanship and designs of the Middle Ages. The cruciform-shape of the stickpin and bloodstone reflect the Victorian interest in the symbols and spirituality of the earlier period. Created by The Brassler Company in 14kt gold, circa 1910.

Continuing the theme of Gothic or Medieval inspired jewels, this menacing stickpin features a winged serpent warily clutching a small pearl. The charming little fellow is the perfect miniature gargoyle to keep demons and goblins from a lapel or tie. The rich detail of the stickpin is a nice example of the fully modeled, sculpture-like miniature jewels of the period. Beautifully crafted by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

During the mid Victorian period (circa 1860) through the 1920s, equestrian and hunt-related jewelry were all the rage.  This beautifully designed stickpin features an energetic, alert horse with a small red stone (likely a garnet) set as the eye. The dramatic, richly detailed design of the horse suggests the stickpin was created during the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1925.

This stickpin exudes classical elegance with a luminous moonstone surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves. The laurel wreath is exquisitely crafted and finely detailed. The moonstone is complemented by a small white pearl set below. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

An oak leaf and two acorns grow from a small branch. The oak leaf is beautifully enameled with shimmering shades of green, yellow and pink. The acorns are set with two small pearls. Possibly created by Krementz & Company in 18kt and 14kt gold, circa 1900.

Stickpins have been described as miniature sculptures set atop shafts of gold. They were created in an almost limitless variety of designs and styles. Above is only a small sampling.

These and other fine stickpins can be found in the
Antique and Estate Jewelry Gallery.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Antique Cufflinks

Last week I featured several brooches from our Antique and Estate Jewelry showcase. When custom creating a jewel I often draw inspiration from the designs and craftsmanship of jewels created in the past. While the jewels we create are modern and adapted to the client's taste, they are rooted in a timeless tradition of elegant design and fine craftsmanship.

I am always amazed by the great diversity of designs that can be found among antique jewels. This is especially true of the cufflinks created during the early decades of the last century. Below is a holiday sampling of late Victorian and Jazz Age cufflinks from our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Carrington engraved mother-of-pearl dress set. (J8818)
Carrington & Company created some of the finest dress sets during the Art Deco era.  This pearl and mother-of-pearl set is among them.  The mother-of-pearl centers are beautifully engraved with a pattern reminiscent of exploding fireworks while the swirling scrolls of the white gold borders bring to mind a starry night.  At the center a small pearl rests in a white gold collar with a mille grain edge.  Created in 14kt gold,  circa 1925.

Link & Angell Art Nouveau swirl cufflinks. (J8600)
A tangle of voluptuous scrolls enlivens these striking cufflinks from the turn of the last century.  They feature the tight, twisting swirls favored in American Art Nouveau jewelry design.  Created by Link & Angell in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

Art Deco sapphire cufflinks. (J9093)
Elegant Art Deco cufflinks with dramatic compass rose centers set with small blue sapphires.  Jagged Greek key borders with stylized thistles inside mille grain outer edges complete the design.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1930.

Art Deco diamond cufflinks. (J9087)
Art Deco cufflinks with intricately engraved centers and dramatic geometric borders.  Small diamonds sparkle in box settings with millegrain edges.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1925.

Antique 14kt yellow gold and blue enamel Larter cufflinks. (J8980)
Elegant blue and gold cufflinks featuring an endless golden tangle of squiggles.  Surrounding the squiggles are alternating bands of blue enamel and brightly polished gold.  A nice example of the dramatic, imaginative designs of the 1930s and '40s.  Crafted in 14kt gold by Larter & Sons,  circa 1930.

Dramatic Art Deco black enamel cufflinks. (J9054)
Dramatic Art Deco cufflinks with striking black enamel borders and linearly engraved white gold centers.  A nice example of the elegant black-and-white cufflinks of the late 1920s and 1930s.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1930.

Keller blue sodalite and gold cufflinks. (J9016)
Elegant cufflinks set with beautiful rich blue gemstones that bring to mind dark night skies with a few wispy clouds illuminated in the moonlight.  Known as "sodalite,"  this gemstone, along with Lapis lazuli, was favored during Art Deco period because of its rich, regal blue color.  Created in 14kt gold,  circa 1925.

Elegant antique cufflinks crafted in yellow and white gold. (J8985)
Exuberant two-tone cufflinks from the 1920s.  The yellow gold centers feature classic garlands and swags and are surrounded by white gold borders with a bold geometric design.   Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1925.

These and other fine antique cufflinks can be found
in the Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Antique Brooches and Pins

The holidays are fast approaching and we have been busy decorating the gallery for the coming festivities. As so often happens, some of the prettiest ornaments are not on our tree or hanging in the windows. They are sparkling in the antique jewelry showcase.

When custom creating jewels for clients I often look to jewels from the past for inspiration. Jewelry from earlier times was often beautifully crafted and can be found in an incredible variety of styles. Here are a few of my favorite brooches and pins from the late Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras. These and other fine antique jewels can be found in the Antique and Estate Jewelry Gallery.

The Victorians' fascination with exotic mythological creatures was only limited by their imagination. A fierce lion-headed serpent with a tail of flame-like acanthus leaves warily guards this brooch with a jealous green eye. A glowing pearl is set in the center. Created by Carter, Howe in 14kt gold, circa 1890.

An exquisite, petite brooch of a woman serenely dreaming amid lucky clovers. The woman's profile and the four-leaf clovers are beautifully enameled in soft pastel shades. The clovers are set with sparkling dew drop-like diamonds. Created by Krementz & Company in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

A beautiful Art Nouveau brooch of intertwined ginkgo leaves surrounding a soft pastel Amethyst. The intricate, flowing design is accented with two small pearls. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

A striking Krementz Art Nouveau brooch with pastel enamel leaves and pearl clusters surrounding a regal amethyst. A small diamond sparkles at the top of the brooch. Created by Krementz & Company in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

A dramatic Art Deco brooch set with a beautiful honey-colored Citrine. The gold sides of the brooch rise up pyramid-like to support the gemstone. They are decorated with a boldly geometric Greek key design. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1930.

Beautifully detailed grape leaves and a cluster of fresh water pearls cascade across the oval frame of this Victorian brooch. In Victorian times grapes and grape leaves were a symbol of Christ, but also carried overtones of Bacchus and riotous revelry. Created by Ostby & Barton in 10kt gold, circa 1890.

A beautiful Art Nouveau brooch of a four-leaf clover set with a small diamond.  The leaves are richly detailed with fine veins and characteristic crescent moons.  A wonderful example of flowing, almost surreal Art Nouveau design.  Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

These brooches and other fine antique jewels can be found
in the Antique and Estate Jewelry Gallery.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's New at Bijoux

Recent additions to the Bijoux Galleries include several striking engagement rings created for clients, a dramatic pair of earrings and an Opal pendant from two of our favorite crafts people, a custom onyx cameo portrait of a favorite horse, and elegant diamond and platinum cufflinks from the Jazz Age.

Custom Platinum, 18kt Yellow Gold, Tsavorite Garnet and Diamond Ring from Bijoux Extraordinaire, the custom jewelry ring experts.
Tsavoire Faire! A custom platinum engagement ring featuring a vibrant Tsavorite Garnet and sparkling diamonds.

Mesmerizing custom platinum ring with three diamonds.
Mesmerizing! A striking three-diamond ring that beautifully captures the tradition of two becoming one.

Hand-engraved Spessartitie Garnet ring.
Tangerine Sunset! A vibrant orange Spessartite Garnet glows like a tropical sunset at the center of this custom platinum engagement ring. Beautifully hand engraved and accented with brilliant diamonds and a small Demantoid Garnet.

A striking pair of Drusy Quartz and Tanzanite earrings hand crafted in 22kt yellow gold. (J4738)
Cristaux Gris Earrings! Crystalline grains of drusy quartz shimmer and sparkle with every move. These dazzling earrings feature a pair of trillium cut gray drusy quartz bezel set within rich 22 karat yellow gold frames, accented by two small round brilliant cut Tanzanites.

18kt brooch with custom carved onyx cameo of horse. (J3763)
Onyx Cameo Horse Brooch Horse lovers will fancy this handsome 18kt yellow gold brooch/necklace featuring a custom carved onyx cameo of a stately horse. If you own a horse or just love horses, this pin/pendant is a "must have". It is also a wonderful concept to commemorate your favorite friend or loved one !

18kt Yellow Gold Opal and Moonstone Slide Pendant (J3864)
Opal and Moonstone Reverso Slide Pendant Versatile Opal Inlay and Moonstone Reverso Slide Pendant crafted in 18kt yellow gold with nautilus motif. Wear this striking necklace with either the opal or the moonstone facing out, to complement your entire warddrobe. Shown with a platinum round wire omega choker.

Elegant diamond and platinum cufflinks. (J9014)
Diamond Elegance Elegant early Art Deco cufflinks set with sparkling diamonds. The platinum tops are beautifully engraved and surrounded by laurel wreath borders. Crafted in platinum and 14kt gold, circa 1920.

Additional photos of these and other fine jewels,
can be found at Bijoux Extraordinaire.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Hew Year!

Cross Roads pendant featuring a fiery Rubellite, blue-green Tourmalines and crystalized gold.

2010 was an exciting and busy year at Bijoux Extraordinaire. 2011 promises to be even more exciting and creative.

To begin the New Year we have added a gallery of custom designed necklaces and pendants that we have created for clients. Here you find imaginative pieces custom crafted in platinum and gold and set with a spectrum of exotic gemstones. Several of the attractions are featured below.

Star Gazer pendant with Amethyst Torus, Demantoid Garnet and diamonds.

Beautifully cut Benitoite set in platinum.

Mystery of the Sphinx pendant with Drusy, Amethyst and Tourmaline.

Striking Riviere Necklace set with 34 carat-plus diamonds and separated by smaller diamonds.

These and other beautiful pendants and can be found in the Custom Necklace Gallery.

We hope everyone enjoys the best of the New Year!