Birth stone for March : Aquamarine

Aquamarine is Latin for ‘water of the sea’ and what a perfect description of the colour of the stone.  

Naturally, the stone should be a seawater colour, with dark blue being the most admired. Less fine quality stones are often heated to turn them to a stronger blue and fashion has influenced this by making the stronger blue more desirable than the natural blue/green of the stone. 

The stone is quite hard, (moh’s scale 71/2 -8) however it is brittle and can be known to chip.  If worn in a ring it is best for special occasions or delicate wear…not gardening and washing up! 

As part of the beryl family, Aquamarine has the same chemical construction (aluminium beryllium silicate) as Emeralds, Morganite (soft pink), golden beryl and Heliodor….so how come they all are different colours I hear you ask?  Well, Emerald’s colouring agent is chrome, Aquamarine’s colouring agent is iron….(there can be green beryl’s that are not green because of chrome but because of vanadium and therefore they can never be called an Emerald). It’s all back to the mix of ingredients when these rocks are formed.

Queen Elizabeth II Aquamarine, Diamond and Platinum necklace

All this may be a bit confusing…but in the silicate slush in the centre of the earth these are the chemicals that naturally may or may not be present….it is like the earth’s natural larder…and what is available that day will dictate the colour and type of stone that is the result.

scissor_cut_aquamarine_and_diamond_ringSassalina-Pendant-1aquamarine_stud_earringsIf you are born in march you are lucky enough to claim Aquamarine as your birth stone…however as there are no rules.  If this is your favourite colour you can still treat yourself to one of these beauties!! Just remember – even though white diamonds complement the Aqua very well…you can be more adventurous as you can see with the gorgeous orange of these hessonite garnets…

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Sarah x

 

 

 

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Red Carpet glamour

As we are now in the thick of awards season, we thought we’d report on the glamour and razzmatazz, in particular the beautiful jewellery we see gracing the red carpet.

The Brits, Golden Globes, Grammy’s, Oscars…it’s all about making an entrance! These statement jewels from some of the worlds top jewellery houses are designed to make a big impact and grab headlines around the world.

Strong colour is clearly of huge importance this year – luscious red rubies…deep violet blue sapphires…forest green emeralds and warm golden yellow diamonds and citrines. As a Gemologist my eye often passes over the reams of white diamonds (even though the sheer size and quantity is breath taking) for the coloured stones which are truly individual hues of colour, size and shape….

There are a couple of US designers who always impress me…Lorraine Schwatrz being one and the incredible columbian Emeralds on Jaimie Alexander really are special, so rare to find a collection with such strong colour ….I also love the work from a jeweller called Martin Katz who is so brave with colour combinations…..in the real world these stones are hard to find and phenomenally out of budget for the majority of us and therefore during the awards season we get to sit back and enjoy the display!!

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Jaimie Alexander

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Léa Seydoux

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Taylor Swift

Pearls are big for 2016 and bang on trend with these gobstopper pearl and diamond earrings is the legend that is Jane Fonda…

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Jane Fonda

There is no point in going small when you’re on the red carpet…!

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Taraji Henson

And of course there are always ice cool diamonds in their pure and natural gorgeousness..

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Lady Gaga / Jennifer Lawrence / Jennifer Lopez

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Helen Mirren

Sarah x

 

Wedding Anniversary : Gifts of Jewellery

Dating back to the Roman Empire, when husbands gave their wives gifts of silver wreaths for their 25th wedding anniversary and gold wreaths for their 50th, generations of couples have adhered to traditional gifts when buying for wedding anniversaries.

There are Paper, Copper, Wood, Cotton, Ivory, Crystal, Lace and a host of others but I have listed below the ones related to jewellery to be your guide with some examples of our pieces to inspire you:

Year 1 – Gold

Star Ruby and Gold cufflinks

Star Ruby and Gold cufflinks

Year 5 – Sapphire

Untreated Yellow Sapphire ring

Untreated Yellow Sapphire ring

Year 10 – Diamond

Diamond and Platinum tennis necklace

Diamond and Platinum tennis necklace

Year 15 – Ruby

Ruby and Diamond ring

Ruby and Diamond ring

Year 20 – Emerald  

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Emerald and Diamond cluster style ring

Year 25 – Silver

Cabochon Amethyst Silver cufflinks

Cabochon Amethyst Silver cufflinks

Year 30 – Pearl

Mabe Pearl and Peridot earrings

Mabe Pearl and Peridot earrings

Year 40 – Ruby

Star Cabochon Ruby ring

Star Cabochon Ruby ring

Year 45 – Sapphire

Yellow Sapphire and Spessatite earrings

Yellow Sapphire and Spessatite earrings

Year 50 – Gold

Gold and Diamond Star pendant

Gold and Diamond Star pendant

Year 55 – Emerald

Emerald ring with Diamond band

Emerald ring with Diamond band

Year 60 – Diamond

Diamond hoop earrings

Diamond hoop earrings

Year 65 – Blue Sapphire

Gypsy band with Sapphire and Diamonds

Gypsy band with Sapphire and Diamonds

Year 70 – Platinum

Diamond and Platinum Polo pendant

Diamond and Platinum Polo pendant

Of the three precious metals – gold, silver and platinum – platinum is the rarest and the most valuable.

Bejewelled Treasures at the V&A

Bejewelled turban

Spinel, Diamond and Kundan Turban jewel (c 19th century)

This is a stunning exhibition, featuring treasures from the early 17th Century Mughal empire, Indian sub-continent, and Europe – influenced by India and the Ballet Russes – right up to the present day with modern interpretations of Indian jewellery style, design and techniques.

Almost all items in the exhibition have been loaned by the Al Thani ruling family of Qatar. As well as the earliest known example of Mughal jade, the gobstopping Timur ruby (which is neither from Timur nor a ruby!) on loan from her majesty the Queen, and several examples of modern indian-influenced jewellery on display, there are 400 years of indian jewellery represented here.

From the V&A website:

From ancient times, the royal treasuries of India contained vast quantities of precious stones.

“You’re able to see the very important position of jewellery in Indian society at all times and at many levels,” she said. “Indian courts have always had huge treasuries … if you lose the treasury you lose power, so jewellery has a fundamental importance in Indian history.”

Diamonds were found within the subcontinent, most famously in the southern region of Golconda. The best rubies came from Burma. Sri Lanka supplied sapphires, and from the 16th century emeralds were brought from South America to Goa, the great Eastern market for gemstones. These were of a size, colour and clarity that had never been seen before.

Bejewelled b&w

At the Mughal court, Iranian traditions shaped the culture of the Persian-speaking elite. Here, the classification of gemstones was completely different. From the late 16th century, the most valuable stones were deep red spinels, found in Badakhshan in Central Asia. Spinels are similar to rubies, but are gemmologically distinct. The finest were appreciated for their colour, size and translucency, and were engraved with the emperors’ titles. Their spinels were not usually faceted, but the royal gem-cutters gouged out any unsightly inclusions and simply polished the irregular surface.

Bejewelled spinel necklace

Imperial Spinel and Pearl necklace (N.India c 18th century)

 

Bejewelled art

A crescent shaped emerald

Another piece, a brooch with a large crescent-shaped emerald at it’s centre, dates from 1910.  It was given to the beautiful Spanish flamenco dancer Anita Delgado by the Maharaja of Kapurthala. The story goes; seeing her dance in Madrid, he fell in madly in love with her, married her and brought his new 16-year-old bride back to India.  When, aged 19, she saw the emerald on an elephant, the Maharaja handed her the precious stone and remarked: “Now you can have the moon, my capricious little one.”

Bejewelled crescent moon

Crescent Emerald with Diamonds, (Paris c 1910)

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Anita Delgado wearing her crescent Emerald

Another of the Maharani’s jewels is Parisian jeweller Meller’s peacock corsage or aigrette (hair ornament). The Maharajah had bought the piece and gave it to her at their civil wedding ceremony in Paris. The peacock ornament is made of gold, diamonds and enamel which, as the exhibition’s curator Susan Stronge says in her accompanying book, “produced a shimmer closer to that of real feathers” and decorates the body of the bird and the blue/ green tips of the sweeping gold and diamond feathered tail.

Bejewelled peacock

Gold, Diamond and Enamel aigrette (Meller, Paris c 1910)

If you haven’t been yet this spectacular collection is only on view until the 28th March 2016.

xx

Photographs: Al Thani Collection

 

The mighty Corundum and its Sapphire and Ruby offspring

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Colour spectrum: corundum

Colour spectrum: corundum

Corundum

A word which I’m sure many people glance over and read as conundrum…unless explained you could end up none the wiser!!

Corundum is a species of gemstone which includes both sapphires and rubies as they are essentially the same chemical construction… AL2O3 for nerds like me!  It is a 9 on Mohs scale and therefore the second hardest material after diamonds ….very useful for making great rings that can be worn everyday. Also useful to know is that when red the stones are known as Rubies, with the remainder being called Sapphires. A very high proportion of coloured stones being sold in jewellery shops all over the UK have been heated to improve the colour…..jewellers should declare if this has happened but sadly many retailers are not gemmologists and do not know how to tell the difference…high quality untreated stone are more valuable and I often sell these stones with a certificate to state this.

Rubies

If you are lucky enough to be born in July then rubies are your birthstone and are considered the king of gems and represent love, health and wisdom. It was believed wearing a fine red ruby bestowed good fortune on its owner. Ruby and Diamond cocktail ring

Ruby and Diamond cocktail ring which was a birthday gift made all the more special as their daughter is called Ruby… the pendant was created from a lonely earring when its’ pair was lost.

Ruby and Diamond Pendant

Ruby and Diamond Pendant

Rubies vary from pinkish to purplish or brownish or bluish red, depending on the chromium or iron content of the stone. What is interesting is that aluminium oxide, with very small amounts of chromium, creates pure pink sapphires…as the chromium level increases you move towards rubies….it is strength and depth of colour, as well as the clarity, that determines the price of the stone, however, with just the right level of chromium and a tiny bit of iron the really beautiful and very rare padparadscha pink/orange stone is formed. Ruby drop pair

Unheated Ruby drop pair…currently available for sale…would make stunning earrings!

Sapphires

Many of my clients are so surprised that sapphires come in such a variety of colours…other colouring agents are iron and titanium for blue, vanadium for violet and orange and a small iron content results in yellow and green tones….

I enjoy stones almost every day of my life and some really special ones haunt me forever….There are so many colours to choose from, which makes it difficult to pick out my favourite, however, this amazing 14ct lilac sapphire was one that I did manage to keep…On my website you can also see a lovely ring made of two tone green sapphires set in rose gold which I made for an engagement ring …untreated_lilac_sapphire_and_trapezoid_diamond_ring

Untreated Lilac Sapphire and Trapezoid Diamond ring

Sadly the retail high street has such a limited colour range of sapphires on show…..I find my clients adore the individual beauty and enormous colour range on offer when making a bespoke piece of jewellery with me, exactly the perfect colour for you. After almost 10 years of making bespoke jewellery I am almost convinced that the stone chooses the wearer.

Sarah x

images via sassalina.com and gemhub.com

Bejewelled Treasures : V&A

In my spare time….

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My favourite place to be is in the jewellery vault at the V&A. I have subjected my children to endless visits, when they were small they loved the jewellery designing computers, my mother and mother in law have been dragged around…this does not even touch the understanding of my long suffering husband….he is so patient with my love of jewels that he even accompanied me to New York to see the JAR show.

But back to the V&A…the collection offers an amazing cover of jewellery design through the ages and a few seriously major tiara’s which I dream of owning…

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there are quirky pieces…

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and the odd bit of modern jewellery which I am less a fan of….the wheel of stones all set in rings does set my heart aflutter as some are seriously impressive in size and quality…..

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however they are having a show in November which is a whole new level of gorgeousness…..

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Paul Iribe (French, Angoulême 1883–1935 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin) Aigrette, 1910 Platinum, set with emerald, sapphires, diamonds, and pearls; H. 3 5/8 in. (9 cm) W. 2 1/4 in. (5.6 cm) D. 5/8 in. (1.5 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Al Thani Collection (MJ.133) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/458931

snippet from V&A site…

Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection
21 November 2015 – 28 March 2016

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Sarah x

My week at the jeweller’s bench.

Never say Never… I was never going to send my daughter to Boarding School and then it happened….I needed to occupy myself for the first week after she left….what better place to hang out than on a Central St Martin’s short course…
Jewellery and Wax Carving.

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Kings Cross campus is a fantastic venue, especially in the sunshine…the new space is perfect to work in and the teaching is first class.

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Gems and fine jewellery rarely reflect the industrial workshop that they are created in…..making jewellery is very physical…sawing, carving, filing, hammering, soldering…however the joy of St Martin’s is that they have a tool (or several) for every part of the process.

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Wax carving appears child’s play however the technique took a couple of days to master and by then you have made several mistakes which take time to fix. I absolutely love working at a jeweller’s bench and having a week dedicated to thinking and creating was such a luxury.  My first project was a commission from my 17 year old son.  He had a very specific ring he wanted and this was the perfect opportunity to realise that dream. He was thrilled with the result and has been proudly showing all his friends. Helping him to identify his style and then spending the time to make it perfect has been a very rewarding experience.

Other pieces I designed and created were made using fine sheets of wax and layering them up to make different shapes. I had an idea which morphed into a floral pendant and then a more delicate ring….I cast these in silver, however I can see the ring being made in rose gold with a little diamond set in the centre of the flower. I am interested to hear your feedback as this might become the beginning of my first range…

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Sarah x

Are you a man who needs help with buying an engagement ring?

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Mrs Box

Getting engaged is the most exciting time of your life…however it can also be wrought with stress…for the one proposing!!  Often this is the man who has typically had very little exposure to jewellery buying and especially in this price bracket. Some women have handed over a million tear sheets with confusing hints…some ladies just don’t wear jewellery and others have taste which is of a less conservative style….What do you do? This is a ring to last a lifetime?!??

Diamond Pave ring

Diamond Pave ring

Another issue may be men often view the purchase as an investment opportunity …I find the process of making jewellery with a man requires a much more technical explanation; they tend to want to know the science side of the gems (lucky I am a gemmologist and love that bit!) or alternatively how much the stones will appreciate in value (lucky I have been in business for 9 years and have had to revalue lots of my pieces for insurances purposes so I understand how much they do appreciate in value!). Crucially, without retail overheads, our prices are often substantially lower to start with…

Alternatively, many blokes just do not know where to start…

Princess cut Diamond with Diamond set band

Princess cut Diamond with Diamond set band

Having made numerous engagement rings over the years….I have made rings for a surprise, with partners, with the women on their own and no fiancé involvement…however I thought I would include two testimonials from men who got engaged at the same time and (luckily for me) came to make their rings through me…

Sapphire and Diamond ring

“I sought the expertise guidance of Sarah after my Aunty and her friends all recommended one person to help me with the job of designing and creating the perfect engagement ring to propose to Fran. I knew time was on my side as had over 3 months until I was flying out to NYC to pop the question so got in touch with Sarah to start on my journey to creating the perfect engagement ring. I’ll be honest…I knew only a few things that were needed in the ring…I knew Fran loved Sapphires and Diamonds, that the band should be Platinum or White Gold as Fran would be less likely to wear yellow gold and that Fran wanted something with a traditional look but something different. I’d based this knowledge on the variety of rings that had been pointed out to me on various wanderings past jewellery shops (research trips). Sarah was just brilliant…she met me on a couple of occasions as well as lots of email chat on choosing the main stone and then design of the actual ring and supporting stones. I decided on the untreated Sapphire as the centre stone as Fran has bright blue eyes that this as pointed out by Sarah went perfectly with. From there the ring then took shape and the design was shown by Sarah and agreed on. Sarah was so flexible from then on with the speed that the ring got created and for me to pick up (not too soon as didn’t want to have to hide it for any length of time). Sarah even arranged for a smaller than normal ring box for me as would be less bulky when taking to NYC. When the big proposal day came Fran thankfully said yes and I actually in all the excitement put the ring on the wrong hand for the first 24 hours until Fran realised and switched back to the correct hand and finger…which is the left hand ring finger (the one next to your little finger for any chaps reading). I recommended Sarah to two friends I work with who both also used Sarah to create their engagement rings and I’m sure they will say equally lovely things about the service and end result Sarah did for them. I would whole hearted recommend Sarah and will be revisiting for Wedding Rings in the near future!” M.Brown

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Princess cut Solitaire Diamond ring

“I was first introduced to Sarah through a good friend who highly recommended her. Given this was the first time I’d ever considered buying an engagement ring it was important to me that I felt comfortable, looked after and safe in the knowledge I had someone who wouldn’t take me for a ride. The moment I spoke to Sarah all these reservations disappeared and I knew instantly she was the person to design my ring! I knew roughly what I wanted, a simple elegant princess cut diamond with a platinum setting. Sarah educated me on which diamonds to use and gave me the choice of 5 beautiful stones, she then showed me some amazing settings to choose from. I left it with Sarah and the results we better than I ever imagined, the diamond looked fantastic and sat perfectly in a neat & graceful setting. I proposed to Rachel in a very romantic Abu Dhabi, she was blown away with how beautiful her ring was…so much so she contacted Sarah on our return to thank her for doing such a good job! It goes without saying that I highly recommend Sarah, she was a pleasure to deal with throughout and we’ll certainly be using her for the wedding.” R.Trotter

At Sassalina we are proud of the personal service we provide all our customers – we are only happy when the client is happy, nothing short of delighted (tears of joy if possible),  and we are here to help you get this right….One male client who I made an engagment ring for said to me “This is the first time I have got something totally right form start to finish…” and that’s how I feel it should always be with jewellery….

S

x

images via sassalina.com and Mrs Box

Remembering Lauren Bacall : Bonhams Auction

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Lauren Bacall, the acclaimed actress of stage and screen who passed away in August 2014, assembled an astonishing collection of art, including works by some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. The Bacall Collection, estimated at $3 million, will be auctioned at Bonhams New York on 31st March 2015 and will include items from her jewellery collection.  Many of the pieces are by the German jeweller Jean Schlumberger:

 

lauren bacall

What I find inspiring about Lauren’s jewellery is that she did not follow the masses in taste, her choice was sometimes unusual and really matched her personality perfectly.  When I make jewellery for a person I really care about their personality, character, attitude, lifestyle and how they want to wear the piece and sometimes I despair at the really mass produced pieces that are marketed purely as recognition of some type of status……the last thing I believe to be on Lauren’s mind when she went shopping….

Sx

Read more about the auction here.

Elizabeth Taylor

Tomorrow, 27th February, would have been Elizabeth Taylor’s 83rd birthday and I thought I would post a tribute to that most glamorous of Hollywood movie stars. Her love of jewellery is well known and she undoubtedly wore it well!

elizabeth taylor elizabeth taylor quote

Although wealthy enough in her own right to purchase jewellery, much of Taylor’s most famous pieces were given to her by her husbands as gifts of love…..or were they?  After Mike Todd many pieces were beyond her partner’s budgets, as you will find out if you watch the Christies Auction…..however if your first husband spoilt you like this it would be hard not to expect more of the same……

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“When [third husband Mike Todd] gave me this tiara, he said, ‘You’re my queen, and I think you should have a tiara,'” Taylor wrote in A Life in Jewelry. “I wore it for the first time when we went to the Academy Awards. It was the most perfect night, because Mike’s film Around the World in 80 Days won for Best Picture. It wasn’t fashionable to wear tiaras then, but I wore it anyway, because he was my king.”

Elizabeth’s 5th and 6th husband, Richard Burton, met Elizabeth on the set of Cleopatra in 1961 and the rest, of course, is history.  He was to give her the most breathtakingly beautiful stones, including this 69.42 carat diamond, now known as the Taylor-Burton diamond, which she wore to the 42nd Academy Awards in 1970.  Originally a ring, she had it made into a necklace because, as she famously commented at the time, “even for me it was too big“.

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The Taylor diamond, another gift from Burton, was the 33.19 carat, D colour, VS1 Potentially Internally Flawless Asscher cut diamond – formerly known as the Krupp diamond.  Elizabeth said it was her favourite piece of jewellery.

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 “Size does matter but so does the size of the emotion behind it.” Elizabeth Taylor

You can read more about Taylor and her jewellery in her book: My love affair with Jewelry

Ladies, I think one thing of note in this story is that even though publicly these jewels were always gifts from lovers…very often they were funded behind the scenes by Elizabeth herself.  This did not reduce, in any way, her enjoyment of playing with and wearing the pieces and did not diminish the memories of her greatest romances.

Sx