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…



Sarah x





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… 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!!

golden globes emerald

Jaimie Alexander

golden globes 2016

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Léa Seydoux


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…


Jane Fonda

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

golden globes.jpg

Taraji Henson

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


Lady Gaga / Jennifer Lawrence / Jennifer Lopez

mirren globes

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  


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)


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.


Photographs: Al Thani Collection


The allure of coloured Diamonds

Diamonds have been fascinating mankind since these precious stones were first discovered, as early as 3000 B.C. in India.  Collected, treasured and sought-after, they became symbols of power and wealth – desired more than any other gemstone.  Over the centuries, mining has yielded mostly colourless diamonds with a dizzying array of size, shape and clarity…and for these stones the less hint of colour – the more desirable and valuable the stone.

As well as colourless diamonds, nature has given us coloured diamonds, with the same qualities of hardness and refraction as their colourless cousins but in addition they are enhanced by an amazing spectrum of colour….every coloured diamond has it’s own individual hue…which is what makes them so unique and so captivating.

Recently in the news we learnt of two showstopping coloured diamonds going up for auction, both bought by the same Hong Kong based buyer!

The 12.03 carat, internally flawless Blue diamond known as ‘Blue Moon’ was bought for an eye-watering £32 million…and renamed ‘Josephine’ in honour of his 7 year-old daughter.

Blue Moon diamond

Blue Moon diamond

David Bennett, the head of Sotheby’s international jewellery division, said the “Blue Moon” sale broke several records and made the gemstone the most expensive diamond, regardless of colour, and the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction. It also fetched the highest-ever price per carat, he said.

So why the amazingly high price tag??  Coloured diamonds account for a very small percentage of natural diamonds, and those with strong colour saturation are an extremely rare occurrence.  Blue diamonds are formed when Boron is mixed with Carbon when the gem is created and only a tiny fraction of diamonds mined are found with traces of blue, let alone one with such a vivid hue.

The same buyer also bought 16.08 carat vivid-pink diamond for £19 million just the night before!  It is the largest cushion-shaped fancy vivid-pink diamond ever to come to auction…this one is now called ‘Sweet Josephine’

Sweet Josephine rare pink diamond

‘Sweet Josephine’ rare pink diamond

Josephine is one lucky 7 year-old girl!!

Further reading:  Forever Brilliant: The Aurora Collection of Colored Diamonds by Alan Bronstein

forever brilliant image




Introducing Dolly…

I started my business in reverse…..

Most jewellers slave over a collection to reap the rewards of a bespoke commission…somehow with no understanding of this I went straight to building Sassalina by focussing on making ‘one offs’ which were exactly what my client desired and often could not find off the peg.

My passion for gem stones lends itself to this beautifully as each stone is a unique shape and colour and each client has a unique style or attitude to jewellery…..however recently I have found clients trying on the jewellery I have made for myself and wanting one the same….hence the birth of the Dolly Hoop….named after my really colourful Auntie Dolly…

Photo 01-10-2015, 11 49 29

Orange Sapphire and hot pink Tourmalines

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Diamond and Paraiba Tourmalines

Not ground breaking but a practical sized hoop earring which can be made in nearly any colour stone (comfortable to sleep in as one client specified) and most importantly is versatile for event wear with a vast range of drops …..As part of this collection I have designed a very reasonably priced diamond drop attachment, as I know many of my clients would love to wear a great pair of swinging diamond earrings out in the evening, without having to stump up Bond St prices.

Photo 05-10-2015, 10 22 13 (1)

White Diamonds

Where my philosophy has not changed is that these hoops and drops can be ordered with a mix of stones such as hot pink sapphires and diamonds or all in one colour like blue topaz if that is what suits your skin, eyes, hair, wardrobe…whatever is best for you!

Photo 01-10-2015, 11 49 01

Emerald and Iolites

Therefore we are still all about the bespoke commission….. Only now there is a template to work from and the best bit is you can add drops of all colours, gems and sizes and then as your collection grows you can mix and match…..

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Orange Sapphire and cognac Tourmalines

We have included loads of shots of drop options (snaps taken from my iPhone – so much more gorgeous in real life!), maybe in stones you have never heard of which are great for earrings but which I would never suggest are robust enough for a ring……Caroline and I found playing with different drop options endless fun and worryingly addictive…. we hope you do too!

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Emerald and Aquamarines

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Emerald and Watermelon Tourmalines

Remembering Lauren Bacall : Bonhams Auction


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….


Read more about the auction here.

The main contender: don’t be fooled, the gem stone chooses you

Contender 1: paraiba tourmaline

I had such a compliment paid to me when I went stone buying yesterday….In my view the best coloured-stone dealer in London said I was different to every other jeweller….and he deals with some pretty impressive brands/names…..He said I always work from the point of view of the stone.  I have thought about this and he is right….I choose a selection of stones for every client and instinctively I often can guess which one they will choose….I almost feel when I am finding the right jewel for them that I can easily choose the obvious options and then there is a slightly off-spec stone which leaps out at me and I just have to bring home….and often that is the one they LOVE…..

Contender 2: natural faceted chrysoberyl

Gems have real personalities and I feel the stone picks its owner….odd I know and I promise I am no out-there hippie when it comes to this…..but it is weird how people respond when presented with a truly amazing array to choose from….One 18 year old girl had 17 different coloured sapphires and had chosen her one within 30 min……I can promise you not every client is that quick…but people just know when it is the right one…..very important for me that we get this right as every piece is an absolute one-off commission and not part of stock to be returned to a shop window.

Contender 3: purple spinel

I really enjoy teaching people about different types of gems and why they may admire different features of the stones and I suppose this is where the blog idea came from….clients suggesting I do webinars….too scary for me…..I can’t even have my photo taken for my website.  I’m building up to that one!

As I’ve handled so many stones throughout the year…I often have a favourite that I am hankering over…..For several years it was a cocktail ring with a large 15ct+ emerald-cut perfectly clear watermelon tourmaline…….pictured in my last blog….but now I am pretty sure I will be purchasing a birthday gift from my husband for myself….cheeky I know…I’m now getting excited every time I go to Hatton Garden as I am secretly shopping for my next special stone….This is something I will add to the blog each week if there is a new contendor in the running but I’ve included the first three above, so let me know what you think in the comment section below….

Showing their true colours: the schozophrenic nature of gem stones

As I have been bleating on about colours in stones and how they change with the light source, I thought it may be a good time to talk about some really special and rare examples of this.

Split personalities: dichroic gem stones

The photo I used in the last blog showed a sapphire which when moved changed from being blue to yellow, depending on the angle that you held it at….but that was all in the same light.  This is called pleochroism and occurs when light entering a stone is split into two separate pathways which are polarised at right angles to each other. As the light is travelling at different speeds through the pathways you can see different colours…..remember we talked in my last blog about how a stone absorbs light to create the colour it displays….well if the light passing through the stone is split into two it is called dichroic, and three is called trichroic.  Really technical all this….I can tell you loads more…but fear boredom creeping in….ask any questions below if interested in more?

It takes two: the bi-colour, watermelon tourmaline

As well as sapphires, tourmalines are famous for having many colour combinations displayed on the same stone, but they also have stones which are segmented across in a really clear line, like it has been coloured in.  They are called bi-colour watermelon tourmalines when they are a pink/green combination, but this can also appear in a blue/green.  On the Sassalina website I have a photo of a pink sapphire with two rough cut slabs of watermelon tourmaline which show concentric colour rings to great effect and also make a really modern and funky piece.

I won’t go into any more facts/figures about tourmalines for now but will share and some of my favourite examples…. 90 % of the time people just buy a stone because they love how it looks, or how the stone makes them feel….one of my clients said to me this week that her sapphire keeps her calm….how great is that? We all probably need a stone that does that for us at one time or other.

In the pink: red rubelite through to pink tourmaline

However, what is interesting is how the behaviour of the colour of a tourmaline can dictate its name.  Rubellite is an intense red tourmaline, however it must stay this colour in artificial light as well as daylight and if it does not, it is called a pink/shocking pink tourmaline. I mentioned before that some gems are so special and they never leave my memory….one amazing vibrant purple/pink tourmaline of about 10carats went off to live in Hong Kong with a Russian client of mine and I really wish I had held onto that one!

Reflecting on the spectrum of colours in gems can be very absorbing

Hi there, hope there is more than one follower now otherwise this will be a very personal education….perhaps you could fire over questions and I’ll answer them through future posts?

Complete spectrum: light absorption for precious stones

Anyway, I promised to talk about how stones have different elements of colour..First of all I need to explain how you can see the different colours of any jewel…..This is super-complex to explain…however, very basically, the colour of a gem depends on how it absorbs light. White light is made up of a spectrum of the colours of the rainbow. When light strikes a gem some spectral colours are absorbed and those that are not absorbed pass through or are reflected back, giving the gem its colour.  The way light performs is due to the individual crystalline structure of each stone.   In reality each gem has its own totally unique colour ‘fingerprint’…this is known as an absorption spectrum….which is visible through a special tool gemologists use called a spectroscope….what is amazing is that it looks like a bar code from the supermarket….obviously each stones’ spectrum has slightly different width black bands, however each type of gem…sapphire, emerald, topaz, garnet….has the same characteristics of absorption spectrum because each type of gem stone is made up of the same chemical compounds…

A thing of beauty: bi-colour sapphire

I hope this has not been too heavy going as it is no longer about the fun sparkly element of stones….but in a very practical way, when I show clients stones, I use different lamps in my house, I make them go outside, have a look at the stone at night and also I use a day light lamp which simulates the white light of the colour at midday….without fail all my clients are shocked at the variation in colour…..another unique quality and beauty to me of the coloured gemstone is that they are never static, they are always changing colour and reflecting light and catching the eye of a passer-by…..some are just sooo gorgeous they demand to be looked at…..