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Night at the Oscars

Last week’s Oscars marked yet another success for fashion on the red carpet. Among some of the creative and flashy pieces worn Sunday is Margot Robbie’s 18 karat yellow gold necklace with a chain made out of a functioning zipper, lined with small round gemstones that alternated between diamonds and sapphires. The zipper ended at the bottom with a cluster of strings of beaded sapphires.  The antique design was actually inspired by the 1930’s Duchess of Windsor.  See more here: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-style/news/margot-robbie-stuns-in-plunging-oscars-2015-gown-shows-off-haircut-2015222

Scarlett Johansson wowed everyone with a piece that was actually part of the collar of her emerald dress but had the semblance of a stunning high­-necked bib necklace.  The collar was made with Swarovski crystal.  To compliment it, she wore a pair of asymmetrical emerald earrings set in 18 karat pink gold.  The right had a single, on ­the ­lobe pear ­shaped emerald and two accompanying diamonds while the left was adorned with significantly more: in addition to a dangling, multi-­stoned piece on the lobe, it had also another emerald on the helix (where the upper ear connects with the head) as well as two thin gold hoops ­­midway down the ear and on the tragus.  See more here: http://www.laineygossip.com/Scarlett-Johansson-Oscars-2015-Best-Dressed-Lainey/37719

But, perhaps the most unique piece of jewelry is the one that can’t really be qualified as jewelry at all.  Lupita Nyong’o wore a gown encrusted from top to bottom entirely with white pearls –­­ over 6,000 of them!  With it she wore a large diamond ring as well as a pair of dangling earrings, each one with three round diamonds followed by a much larger, teardrop­ shaped diamond on the bottom. If Nyong’o’s attire counts as jewelry, her gown might just make a new record for heaviest jewelry worn on the red carpet.  See more here: http://www.eonline.com/news/628222/lupita-nyong-o-hits-the-2015-oscars-red-carpet-in-pearl-embellished-calvin-klein-collection-gown-take-a-look

 

Gem Cuts

Jewelry is not just about which stones get placed where, but about how each stone is cut or placed.  Last week, we discussed some of the basic terminology used in the jewelry market, you may also want to learn about the different styles available.

There are a few gemstone shapes, the most common of which is the “round brilliant” cut. Each cut is designed for varying degrees of color and light reflection; the intricate cuts are, of course, also beautiful in their own right.  The round brilliant is the shape of the classic engagement ring stone. It contains exactly fifty-eight facets, arranged specifically to reflect the maximum amount of light out of the top of the stone.  If cut inaccurately, the light that is meant to reflect off the top instead leaks out of the bottom, giving the stone a duller appearance.

A similar style is the “oval” cut, which relies on the same design, using only fifty-six rather than fifty-eight facets. Another with fifty-six sides is the “marquise” cut, with a history dating back to King Louis XIV of France.  According to some historians, he had a diamond formed into the exact shape of Madame de Pompadour’s mouth.  This then became the marquise, a narrow almond-shaped stone. The “pear” cut, shaped like a teardrop, is most common in earrings and pendant necklaces.

Some other shapes include the “heart brilliant” cut and the “princess brilliant,”a square stone with facets stretching out like an X from the center of the gem’s top to its four corners. The “emerald” and “baguette” are both rectangular cuts, but beyond their basic shape they have strikingly distinct features.  The “emerald” has broad, flat facets that resemble stairs, as well as beveled – rather than pointed – corners. The baguette, meanwhile, has fewer facets, with a flat top surface and beveled cut along all four of its edges, as opposedto just its corners. These eight are most of what you’ll find when looking for gemstones in the jewel industry.

Be sure to know what you’re looking for before you go shopping for your next diamond ring!

Jewelry Sculptors

One dynamic duo you will want to watch out for is Chen Chen and Kai Williams. Their background in sculpting and architecture adds a fascinating energy to the jewelry they create. These two Pratt graduates opened a joint studio in 2011, where they constantly add to their repertoire of furniture, sculptures, and of course jewelry.  Part of what makes their work so unique is their particular ideology: no material is inert. For designers like Chen and Williams this means that they allow the vitality of the material itself to find its own form. Their process leaves the end result open to an element of chance, which ultimately expresses individuality even among similar products. In fact, no two bracelets are the same, only variations of the same idea. Their go-to medium is stone, which — while common in furniture and sculpting — is refreshingly innovative in the jewelry market.  The outcomes are pieces like the Stone Age Bangle, a gray-white Carrara marble bracelet with a swirling, pristine look often found on kitchen counter-tops.  Others, like the Blue Pearl Bangle made out of granite, utilize the same minimalist style.  They also work with more common jewelry materials, like resin and aluminum, found in the black and white Moon Ring.  One of their most spectacular, not to mention unique, pieces is the Layer Cake Necklace, which utilizes such unexpected materials even for a duo known for its unusual creations. The necklaces are made from various vibrant scraps found in their studio, then soaked in urethane and wrapped around a round slice of logwood. The entire piece hangs from neon pink rope.  Every product seems to be more eclectic than its predecessors. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

See more at: http://shop.chen-williams.com/collections/jewelry

Rosetta Stones

To the casual jewelry wearer, the way experts talk about jewelry can sometimes seem like an entirely different language.  Most of us understand what they mean when they label gold as “18 karat” but beyond that the lingo may start to get a bit technical.  Here are a few terms — and their explanations — that may help when you are shopping for your next bit of bling.

  • If a piece of jewelry is gold plated that means only its surface is made of gold. This very thin layer gets electrically charged onto a less expensive metal like copper, nickel, or silver. This gives the appearance of solid gold but lowers the cost and maintenance dramatically.
  • A facet is any flat, polished surface of a stone.  Of those facets, the ones comprising the uppermost surface are called the crown. The opposite end, which usually (but not always) comes to a point rather than a facet, is called the culet.
  • The terms dispersion and fire are used to describe the same phenomenon, which is the prismatic appearance of colors reflected from a diamond.  The more fire a stone has, the greater the spectrum of colors it reflects.
  • The girdle is the widest part of a cut stone, usually a thin band. It functions as a divider between the crown, situated above the girdle, and the pavilion, which is the portion of diamond below it.
  • A rough stone — as in, “diamond in the rough” — is a gem in its natural form, uncut.
  • When point is used as a technical term (as opposed its unscientific definition as “a sharp tapered end,” which we used earlier), it actually refers to a specific measurement: one-hundredth of a karat.  In case you wanted a less scientific reference, that’s just about half the size of a single grain of sand.

These are just a few of the many terms you may hear around the precious stone market.  Now that you’re ready, go ahead and whip out your newly acquired expert lingo and find yourself the perfect jewelry!

 

Bring Out the Mesh

As our frequent readers know, we love to take a look at some of the more creative designers in the contemporary jewelry industries.  Peppercotton, named for its two creators — Patrick Culpepper and Aurelia Cotton — uses a common thread in all of its jewelry.  It encloses an assortment of stones inside mesh tubing that then gets shaped into bracelets and necklaces. But just because the jewelry-making method is the same doesn’t mean you will find a limited spread of options.  Quite the opposite!  If you take a look at some of their products, you will immediately notice the variety of colors and designs they offer. The pieces range from monochromatic — like the aptly titled Capri, silver, and ruby bracelets — to confetti bracelets, a blend of colors so diverse that it is impossible to list them all in the name.  Even the mesh exterior can add to the vibes it conveys. The confetti bracelet, for example, totes a nude mesh tubing that brightens the look with its muted tones.  Meanwhile, the red velvet bracelet, which contains exclusively black crystals, is enclosed in a maroon mesh tubing; without that detail, the seductive darkness of “red velvet” would be impossible to convey.

The differences between some are subtle, yet each contains its own distinct flavor. The gold sea strand contrasts nicely with the silver sea strand, both a soft gradient of blue to green hues with an additional splash of gold (sea strand) or silver (silver sea strand) at either end of the necklace, and brightened by pale blue mesh exterior. Even the basic shapes get creative.  The Capri bow is a necklace with both a chain and design made of mesh and crystal.  The chain, made of thin dark tubing, is filled with black crystals, while the ornament hanging at the bottom — a thicker tubing twisted into the shape of a bow — contains Capri blue inside navy blue mesh.  All of this dazzles the eye with opulence, but it also comes with a playful touch; among the crystals you can often find beads shaped like various objects — watermelon, shoes, perfume bottles, etc. This designing duo clearly knows how to balance lavish and lively, which likely speaks to many jewelry-wearers out there.

If you’re one of those people, take a look at the Peppercotton website: http://shop.peppercotton.com

 

Echoes of the Past

With the growing popularity of contemporary design — minimalist, quirky, avant-garde — you might assume the more traditional styles are falling to the wayside.  But we wouldn’t dismiss them so easily.  At Fred Leighton, a company that deals exclusively with vintage and estate jewelry, they believe great design is timeless, with a relevance that will endure through changing fads and fashion trends across the world. That’s a lot truer than you might expect, and you can see this reality reflected pretty clearly in Fred Leighton’s collection of 18th and 19th century jewelry, which includes styles from both the Georgian and Victorian eras (1715-1836 and 1837-1901, respectively).

On the surface the techniques utilized back then may seem antiquated, but you probably don’t realize just how much of it we rely on for the jewelry of today.  If you have ever worn a necklace with a heart, serpent, star, butterfly, or bow — which, to be honest, is probably everyone — then you have drawn from a motif pioneered during the Victorian period.  Take a look at some other designs we take for granted: a pair of earrings shaped like flowers.  This simple mold — embellished by a cluster of eight diamonds, a center of pearl, and a yellow gold setting — is the basis for countless jewelry designs in contemporary trends.  Another piece is a round locket, gold setting and a red enamel backing akin to stained glass windows.  In flight above that, among gold-set diamond stars, are the outstretched wings of two diamond-studded swallows, each bird sporting a magenta gem for an eye.  This avian duo, with their tails and wings bursting outside the margin of their circular border, is extremely reminiscent of The Hunger Games’s mockingjay pin, an iconic piece of contemporary jewelry.  It appears the vintage will continue to share its creative wellsprings for as long as the modern remains a willing recipient.

Grammy Night Glamour

The beginning of every year is chock full of national holidays and a whirlwind of events, one of which is the esteemed Grammy Awards night.  Of course, we don’t just tune in for the accolades.  As with the Oscars, Emmys, and every other entertainment award event, we let out our inner “fashionistas” to find out (and usually fawn over) what these singers and songwriters will be wearing on the red carpet.  This year we weren’t disappointed, especially in the jewelry department.

One woman certainly drew up gossip with her ensemble: Beyoncé.  This superstar chose to downplay her hair and makeup — muted, natural tones and an untouched, bohemian-esque do — in order to accentuate the jewelry that featured quite heavily (think upwards of 150 karats and $10 million) in her look.  A ring on almost every finger may have been a bit over the top, but we can’t deny the stones were stylish.  Made by illustrious designer Lorraine Schwartz, the rings ranged from large teardrop diamonds to equally sizable emerald squares, all set against thin silver bands. The two stones came together seamlessly in a combined entity that dangled to just above her shoulder, earrings that alternated between medium-sized emerald ovals and much tinier diamond and emerald speckles.

But Beyoncé wasn’t the only one with some noteworthy jewelry at the Grammys.  In fact, green and silver seemed to be the colors of the hour. Lady Gaga wore a large teardrop emerald on a long chain of studded diamonds and earrings with two emeralds each, one on the lobe and one hanging just below it. The look was complimented by her soft green and silver eye shadow and a low-cut silver gown. Where there wasn’t green, we found pinks and purples instead (although most of that was, in all honesty, hair dye), so there was no shortage of color at the Grammys this year.  These performers certainly knew how to dress to impress… or at least to catch your eye!