Taking care of your jewellery……

Jewellery is like a luxury car…it requires care and servicing from time to time… gems and especially metals can wear with use…white gold rings are typically rhodium plated when bought and this coating can wear off over time giving a brown tone to the metal, claws on rings can receive the odd knock and become loose, the stones themselves can get chipped or even eventually fall out!

One of the most common problems is white gold becoming browner with age and a simple Rhodium plating treatment can completely rejuvenate and regenerate your piece of jewellery.  Rhodium plating transforms metal as it is very bright and mirror-like and reflects light.  It is particularly good for diamond jewellery as it bounces light around much like diamonds do. Platinum is a naturally whiter metal and therefore does not discolour but loses its’ shine and becomes more matt, this can be buffed to return to its’ original glory.

The following image shows:

1. 18K yellow gold

2. 18K white gold, rhodium plated

3. 18K palladium white gold, not plated

three rings gold

If you just want to change your jewellery from yellow gold to white gold then in many cases rhodium plating is the best option.


You do have to be careful when rhodium plating jewellery that is set with porous stones as the plating process would adversely affect such stones such as peridot or certain treatments of rubies.

What is Rhodium?

Rhodium is in the platinum family of metals.  It is rare and quite precious.

What is Rhodium plating?

Rhodium plating, also known as rhodium flashing, is a process that coats a fine layer of rhodium over white gold rings to make them appear whiter and improve the shine. I have seen some jewellery from the Far East which completely changes colour when the Rhodium wears off and this is because they have used a poor quality of gold mix to make the original ring.

How long does plating last?

Rhodium plating is not permanent. The time the plating lasts depends on how much the piece of jewellery is used and how thick the original plating was….a wedding ring which is worn everyday will require re-plating sooner than a pair of earrings which may retain their plating for many years.

Can I change yellow gold into white gold?

Yes….but we would need to chat about the stones in the piece and the fact it is not a permanent change!

How much will it cost?

Surprisingly affordable, from as little as £40…I have clients who were overjoyed by the result and even one lady who said it looked better than when the ring was new!

images via Joseph Schubach and ultrasoniccleaning.com


Fathers Day : Time to treat him

Buying gifts for our men at important times, like Fathers Day, is often a tricky business – men are not typically easy to buy for and we are constantly thinking of what they would possibly want or use!


Normally we think of jewellery gifting as mainly for women but in reality loads of men would love to have a special pair of cufflinks given to them…my husband has his cufflinks noticed in the office regularly.  Guys who aren’t wearing a suit often want a cool pair of cufflinks to stand out and make a statement when they want to look smart.


Black Star Diopside stones ready to be set into double stone-ended cufflinks

I can make cufflinks to suit a range of budgets…in sterling silver, gold, platinum..whatever suits him.  You can add stones or engrave or stamp plain metal studs…we can even engrave the cufflink bar so for Fathers Day this might be the birth dates of your children (see the gold cufflinks with a wedding date printed on them below).

Star Ruby and Gold cufflinks

Star Ruby and Gold engraved cufflinks

I think men are sentimental, particularly when it comes to their children, and they would love a piece of jewellery they can wear every day, or for smart occasions, that is unique and personal to them.  I once designed a pair of cufflinks for a friend for her 80 year old father and I got special permission to put the London hallmark of the Lion on as the design because he had lived in London all his life!

Cabochon Amethyst Silver cufflinks

Cabochon Amethyst Silver Love cufflinks in Sterling Silver


Peach Moonstone Love cufflinks in Sterling Silver

If you’re fortunate enough to have a partner who loves wearing jewellery then it won’t just be cufflinks that will be on your shopping list but perhaps some bracelets or a ring (recently, my 17 year old son really enjoyed the process of designing a ring for his birthday).

mens bracelets

Whether the men in our life are 18 or 80 they can really appreciate the effort and design that has gone into their unique gift and for fathers, what better way to treat them on Fathers Day than to choose bespoke!

S x

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


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


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….



images via sassalina.com and Mrs Box

Gemstones : It’s not easy being green….

I was inspired by St Patrick’s Day this year to instagram a photo of this gorgeous emerald antique tiara:


An Emerald is actually a colour variety of a Beryl gemstone, other colour types of Beryl are Aquamarine, Morganite, Heliodor, Golden Beryl and the hardly ever spoken about Bixbite which is raspberry red!

Emeralds originate from Brazil, Austria, India, Columbia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Russia and Zambia and what is most interesting to a gemologist is that the inclusions, which are often perceived to be flaws, can be individually unique to each of the countries of origin and therefore help us to identify where a stone is from.

Post mining, Emeralds can be subjected to all types of treatment.  Historically, Emeralds were taken out of the soil and put into a pot of green coloured oil to keep them moist and to enrich the colour.

A huge proportion of Emeralds sold in the UK have been heated to improve the colour and clarity.  In addition, Emeralds can be made synthetically by two different methods and we use the tell-tale inclusions to identify that they are not natural.

Finally there is also an unusual Emerald called Trapiche which has six black spokes showing the hexagonal symmetry which is consistent to all Emerald gem crystals but not clearly visible.

trapiche emerald ring

trapiche emerald ring

images from pinterest

I can imagine a pair of drop earrings set with Trapiche Emeralds and sparkly black diamonds so that the light shines through the stones.  Trapiche Emeralds offer great value as they are more affordable than Emerald stones most people recognise.

If you’re lucky enough to have a birthday in May then this is your birth stone so consider adding one to your wishlist!

Sarah x

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.

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……


“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“.

elizabeth taylor oscars

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.

taylor and burton

 “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.


Valentines Day

It’s that time of year again.  The one where we are hoping for a little bit of romance and, for the lucky ones, that will mean a gorgeous gift of jewellery.

Here are some of our favourite Sassalina pieces to inspire the romantic in you!

Valentines Day is also traditionally a popular time to get engaged and I am always delighted to be asked to make engagement rings – and how wonderful when we get to see the newly engaged couple showing how happy they are with their sparkler!

And if those gifts don’t arrive on Valentines Day?  It maybe time for a little gift of love to yourself this year!

Sarah x

The result of a day in the Garden, Hatton Garden that is…

Well a funny tweet started today’s blog….I have spent the morning in the Garden….and it has nothing to do with horticulture…. Working as a bespoke jeweller is never dull…every request is so incredibly different and personal.  I learn from every project and enjoy educating my clients  about the piece of jewellery that they are making….

Focal point: the pink diamond

This week has involved selecting natural pink diamonds for a ring that I have been designing.  Natural pink diamonds can vary in intensity and it is important to colour match as closely as possible so that there is not a patchwork effect created for the finished piece. I can not imagine what it would be like to be colour blind…I almost feel like I have an over developed sense of colour…as I can be obsessed by matching and hate to see an uneven finish.

Striking the balance: gem stone colour grader

A client brought me her engagement ring which had been purchased many years earlier and was not the whitest of solitaires.  Her husband really wants her to wear the stone, however she would like a wider more impressive ring to be worn on her ring finger without a second band….so starting with a 6mm diamond….I start to draw and think…..I like the idea of arms hugging the diamond as it is such a sentimental stone and using soft pink diamonds makes her diamond look more white….these pictures are taken with my phone as I start to work and originally were not intended for the blog….The circle is the 6mm which is the size of the diamond and the 1.8mm diamonds are all laid out upside down….hence not that sparkly….As you can see it is not  perfect as there are gaps….so the next stage is to select 1.9mm stones and 2 x 2mm to make sure there are no gaps…I will use 1.8mm down the band….possibly tapering down to 1.7mm.  This client wants the ring to be generous with stones.

If you wear rings with a large stones you will know that they drop from one side of your finger to the other….we will set stones about ¾ of the way around the shank so that you will always see diamonds when the ring moves.

The ring must have balance and as the widest point will be about 10mm the double band will then be about 6mm with a gap of 2mm between it….We have chosen a micro pave setting style which will minimise the metal.  With pink stones I would usually recommend rose gold to enhance their colour…however my client is adamant that she wants white gold….so it is up to me

Trial and error: gem stones rearranged

to make sure the stones are not dominated by white gold and lose their colour…the micro pave style should ensure this….now it is up to the maker….and I will post the finished picture in a few weeks!

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!