Sculpting Gems

Most of us think of Michelangelo, Picasso, or Rodin when someone mentions sculptors.  But here are three more names of skilled artists who sculpt and polish gem stones.  Tom Munsteiner, Steve Walters, and John Dyer have all won multiple awards for their work.  Here are some examples:

John Dyer

Tom Munsteiner

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Walters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Munsteiner is a fourth generation gem stone carver from Germany.  His father, Bernd Munsteiner, is famous for the development of the fantasy cut, and he even has some of his work in the Smithsonian!  Tom knew early on that he wanted to carve gems.  At age 16 he began training with his dad.  One thing I found very interesting is that his dad first taught him how to classically cut gems before attempting any fantasy cuts.  By the time he was 22, he had been trained as a Gemologist and was beginning to win awards for his gemstone creations.  His work is distinguished from his father’s for its softer, less angular designs.  

Steve Walters grew up in California.  He taught himself how to carve gemstones by reading books and practicing.  For a short period, he produced gemstone sculptures for his parents’ company.   In the mid-1980s he started to carve gems for jewelry.  His work is very recognizable as many of the pieces are composites.  He might put gems like onyx, citrine, and hematite together, backed with mother of pearl.  He’s won several A.G.T.A. (American Gem Trade Association) Cutting Edge Awards, and his booth at the Tucson Gem Show is always one of the most popular.  

John Dyer grew up in Brazil, the son of missionaries from the United States.  When his parents saw his interest in gems, they bought him books and helped him obtain his first rough gem stone material.  John tells the story of taking his rough to a cutter who overcharged him and did a terrible job.  That’s when he decided to cut his own gems.  With lots of practice and a few “disasters”, he’s become one of the most recognized gem stone cutters and has won over 50 cutting awards.  

At Dearborn Jewelers of Plymouth, we’ve been fortunate to set gem stones cut by all three of these artists.  It’s so gratifying to see these gems being worn and appreciated.  Here are some of our designs.  If you’re inspired to have your own creation by one of these well-known artists, come and talk to us.  We’d love to help.

Blue Topaz by John Dyer

Composite with Watermelon Tourmaline by Steve Walters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peridot by Tom Munsteiner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Synthetic Gemstones–What are the Advantages? Disadvantages?

The history of lab-created or synthetic gemstones is much longer than you might think.  Scientists began making synthetic ruby back  in the late 1800’s.  Initially, rubies were made for industrial rather than decorative purposes.  Ruby is harder than steel, so it can hold up to moving metal parts.  It actually helps reduce friction in devices like watches or compasses, allowing the metal pieces to move with a consistent pattern.  

In the early 1900’s, a young boy named Carroll Chatham tried to grow diamonds in his garage.  He was fascinated with the work of Henri Moissan, a French chemist who also tried to grow diamonds but ended up with Moissanite.  Making diamonds requires more heat and pressure than Chatham could produce at the time, so he re-directed his focus to emeralds. Even then, the work wasn’t easy.  In fact, his first emerald crystals were accidentally formed.  By this time Chatham was in college, and it took him three years to figure out how to replicate the “accident.” 

          Lab-created Emerald Rough Crystals

Lab-created Cut and Polished Emerald

 

 

 

 

By 1938, Chatham had perfected the process of growing emeralds for jewelry, and he moved on to creating other valued gems like sapphire, ruby, opal, spinel, and alexandrite.  Chatham began selling his lab-created gems under the Chatham label.  The company is now 80 years old and is one of the leaders in the making of lab-created colored gem stones.  Carroll never gave up on his dream of growing diamonds and, in the late 1980’s, the company was successful.  Unfortunately, Carroll didn’t live to see this dream come true.  

In 2018 there are many, many companies that produce diamonds–companies like Brilliant Earth, Clean Origin, and EcoStar.  Years of refining the High Pressure, High Temperature technique has led to better quality diamonds.  While diamonds have many industrial uses, today’s lab-created diamonds are beautiful and can also be used in jewelry.  Anyone purchasing an engagement ring today has a decision to make that his/her parents and grandparents didn’t have to make–Should the center stone be natural or lab-grown?  

                                    Photo courtesy of Rogers & Holland

There are pros and cons to purchasing a synthetic diamond or colored gemstone.  Some of the advantages are 1) synthetics are less expensive than their natural counterparts; 2) growing synthetics is kinder to the environment than mining for natural stones; and 3) gem cutters can sacrifice more synthetic material to create the perfectly cut gem because, well, you can always grow more!  Partly because of these advantages, we’ve seen more customers move towards this option.  

One big disadvantage of a synthetic stone is that it’s, well, synthetic.  Fine jewelry symbolizes pure and natural feelings of love, gratitude, or friendship.  How will it feel to wear or give jewelry that has a lab-created stone?  Another disadvantage is that synthetic stones will only go down in value.  They are a manufactured item and, as the technology improves in the making of them, the cost to produce will decrease.  Fine natural gems are rare, and that rarity will keep values high.  

It’s a decision every consumer has to make for him/herself.  What’s imperative is that consumers are presented with clear options, and that they know what they are buying.  Gemstones are not obviously natural or synthetic, so customers must rely on reputable jewelers to distinguish between the two.  For an important jewelry purchase, go to an A.G.S. (American Gem Society) member store.  There you will find associates dedicated to the highest integrity in the jewelry industry.  Ask questions and do comparison shopping.  And feel lucky to live in a time when there are so many gem stone options.

Elizabeth Taylor Revisited–When One Post Just Isn’t Enough

A few months back I wrote about Elizabeth Taylor’s Jewelry, based on her book, My Love Affair With Jewelry.  Little did I know that the blog would spark so much interest, both in me and in others.  After more research and a presentation at our store, I feel empowered to add to the topic. 

Elizabeth Taylor was always a lady, always “put together.” These were the words of a friend of hers who I was fortunate to speak with.  She wore jewelry appropriate to the occasion.  She owned big, dripping, diamond, emerald, and ruby jewelry which she wore on the ‘red carpets.’  But she also owned more modest pieces like strings of beads and charm bracelets.  According to her friend, she never left her room without jewelry adorning her outfit, but she made sure the jewelry fit the occasion.  

She obviously loved receiving gifts of jewelry, but she was always willing to share her pieces with the world.  She didn’t lock them away.  As she said in her book, “When I wear it anyone can look at it, and I’ll let anyone try it on.”  For all that she owned, I’m not convinced she was materialistic.  I think she cared most about people.  She related to people and had many friends.  The people who knew and loved her most understood that the receiving of gifts was her top ‘Love Language.’  Malcolm Forbes once gave her a suite of paper jewelry that she treasured. A gift was an expression of love, and that was most important to her.

Paper Jewelry from Malcolm Forbes

 

Elizabeth always knew that, when she died, most of her jewelry would be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Her collection would not remain intact.  She hoped that the new owners would love the pieces as much as she did, and that they’d see themselves as caretakers.  “Nobody owns anything this beautiful.  We are only the guardians,” she said.  

In December, 2011, nine months after Elizabeth died, her jewelry did indeed get auctioned by Christie’s, both in a live auction at New York’s Rockefeller Center and also through an on-line auction.  The live auction was the most valuable jewelry auction in history, raising almost $116 million.  I spoke with someone who went to the auction.  She and her husband had hoped to purchase some of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry for their store, just for promotional purposes.  But the pieces were fetching two, three, and up to ten times the auction estimate.  They ended up buying the paper jewelry, and even that sold for $6,875!  

The on-line auction had over 950 items–jewelry, clothing, accessories, and decorative arts–that sold over the extended period of December 3rd – 17th.  Altogether the auctions raised over 150 million dollars for the Elizabeth Taylor Trust and its beneficiaries. The Trust completely funds the operating costs of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

 One controversy regarding the auction casts a shadow over its success.  In May, 2017, the Elizabeth Taylor Trust filed suit against Christie’s for misrepresenting one of Ms. Taylor’s most iconic diamonds, the Taj Mahal.  In 2012, the buyer of the diamond claimed that he was led to believe the diamond was once owned by Shah Jahan, the emperor who built the Taj Mahal.  He wanted his $8 million back when he learned there was no proof the Shah had ever owned it.  Christie’s refunded his money, but the Trustees felt that Christie’s action was inappropriate.  The trustees never portrayed the diamond as something that had belonged to the Shah, and they were upset that the best opportunity to sell the diamond was gone because of miscommunication.  As it stands right now, Christie’s possesses the diamond and the Trustees have the cash.  After years of trying to resolve the controversy through mediation, the decision was made to go through the courts.  It sound like a terrible mess which will probably take years to untangle. 

Elizabeth Taylor lived a complicated life.  She was often misunderstood.  It makes sense that, even after she’s gone, there’s some untangling to be done.  But I hope you agree with me that learning more about this fascinating celebrity is worth the effort.

 

Being a Bench Jeweler–the Pros and Cons

We have two full-time bench jewelers at our store.  They are always busy, repairing and creating jewelry.  We know them well but, for the general public, they seem a mysterious breed–tucked out of sight in the dark recesses of the shop.  They work with tools and heat and chemicals that can be dangerous. From the shop come loud noises that sound like wheels whirring, metal clinking, or compressed air escaping. “What’s happening back there?  What motivates them to do this kind of work?”

I asked them the pros and cons of being a bench jeweler. From the comments and letters of other bench jewelers there is a broad consensus on the following:

PROS

A bench jeweler is fulfilled by making pieces of art that people will treasure.  Clients are usually full of admiration and gratitude for the jeweler who can repair a sentimental favorite or create a masterpiece.  

A bench jeweler gets to be creative.  Whether he/she is making a custom piece for a client or for the store, there are a lot of decisions to be made on gemstone colors, metal design, and the engineering of the piece.  Even if the job is a repair, there’s creativity involved in solving the problem.

 Bench jewelers have lots of variety. Each repair, each creation poses different challenges.  If you don’t like a steep learning curve, don’t be a bench jeweler. 

No college degree is needed, however it helps to study at a trade school or design studio.  Much of what a bench jeweler needs to know is learned on the job from a mentor.

The environment back in the shop is one of collaboration. Our bench jewelers have shared memories of repairs they’ve done and jewelry they’ve made. Camaraderie is the natural state for a bench jeweler.  

CONS

As with all careers, there are downfalls.  The work of a bench jeweler can be dangerous.  It’s not uncommon to get cut or burned.  One of our bench jewelers described hot metal flying out of a centrifugal casting machine and being burned in several places.  

Even without injuries on the job, years of sitting and bending over tiny jewelry is hard on the eyes and the back. It’s a sedentary job, complete with the multitude of health issues that can come with not moving much.  

Bench jewelers often feel pressure to complete jobs.  Clients don’t want to be without their jewelry.  There’s additional pressure around holiday times, so overtime during the Christmas season is common.

It takes a long time and a lot of practice to be good at this work.  In the meantime, you are someone’s apprentice and probably not making much money.  

A bench jeweler has to be very patient.  He/she has to be able to concentrate for long periods.  Just imagine having to work daily with tiny parts, gems, and tools!

IN THE END

Bench jewelers are a special breed– good-humored, courageous, sympathetic, and humble. They must be willing to put up with interruptions from their colleagues and impossible requests from their clients. They must be prepared to take on difficult jobs with potentially expensive consequences because, as one bench jeweler put it, “Somebody has to do it!”  They must understand that, regardless of the quality of the jewelry, it has special value to the owner.  And they must accept that, stuck in the back of the shop, they won’t always receive credit for their efforts. 

And that final quality attributable to bench jewelers–playfulness. They jokingly say that they love playing with fire and banging away with their hammers. They may be kidding, but I think they really mean it! 

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor’s Stories of Jewelry

Elizabeth Taylor

 

One of our favorite clients recently lent us his copy of Elizabeth Taylor, My Love Affair With Jewelry. Published by Simon and Schuster in 2002, the book contains 280 illustrations of her jewelry.  Even better, the text contains many of her personal stories about the jewelry.  She was a knowledgeable collector, and both her passion for and knowledge of jewelry shine through in these stories.  She saw herself as the custodian of her pieces–“here to enjoy them, to give them the best treatment in the world, to watch after their safety, and to love them.”  She understood that, in the future, other people would have them, and she hoped that they would cherish the jewelry and respect it.  As she said, “. . .this kind of beauty is so rare and should be treated with such care and admiration.”  

The first story she told was one of the best!  She always loved pretty things and, because her dad owned an art gallery in the Beverly Hills Hotel, she was a frequent visitor.  There was also a boutique in the hotel, and it was there that she saw the perfect pin for her mother.  It was pretty expensive–about $25.  That’s a lot of money for a twelve-year-old who earns 50 cents a week!  But she saved for it and eventually was able to give it to her mom for Mother’s Day.  It was one of her mom’s most valued possessions.  

La Peregrina, before and after re-mount

Another favorite story for me was her mishap with a most famous pearl, La Peregrina.  Mary Tudor of England wore this natural, teardrop pearl way back in the 1500s and, over the centuries, many other queens wore it, but in 1969 Richard Burton bought it for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor.  Soon after it was purchased, she was wearing the pearl on a delicate chain around her neck, when she reached down to find it missing!  Fortunately, she was in her suite at Caesar’s Palace, so she knew it had to be in one of the rooms.  Carefully, she started looking for it, trying not to arouse suspicion in her husband. She walked back and forth across the thick carpet in her bare feet, praying to feel the pearl below.  All of a sudden, she saw one of her dogs chewing on, what appeared to be, a bone.  In a flash, she opened the puppy’s mouth and found La Peregrina!  Amazingly, it was not scratched.  “I did finally tell Richard,” she said.  “But I had to wait at least a week!” 

The Welsh Pin, once owned by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson 

Elizabeth Taylor became friends with many famous people during her life.  Two of them were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  The Duchess wore this Welsh Pin whenever she saw Elizabeth, because Elizabeth liked it so much.  It was actually a royal pin that the Duke had received when he was Prince of Wales.  When the Duchess’s estate went to auction in 1987, the pin was the item Elizabeth just had to bid on. She felt that the Duchess wanted her to have it. And she knew that the proceeds were going to a cause she believed deeply in–AIDS research.  She was one of two big bidders, but she made the last bid, for $623,000.  

If you ever have the chance to read this book, I would highly recommend it.  It was filled with stories that helped me understand the personality of Elizabeth Taylor.  And the pictures of the jewelry were amazing!   I’ll close with a quote of Elizabeth’s that, I think, shows something of her true character. “If you’re a collector, I think you’ve got to be willing to share.  Some people lock their passions up in vaults, behind dark doors, so it’s only theirs.  I don’t understand that mentality at all.  Each piece is different, each piece is unique.  And they each call out, ‘Look at me, look at me.’ I do, however, have a safe!”

 

 

Happy Birthday to Plymouth!

I’m not sure it’s ever been explained in this blog, but Dearborn Jewelers isn’t actually in Dearborn anymore.  After 53 years, the store moved to Plymouth, Michigan, and that’s where it’s been for the last 14 years.  Those of us who work at the store are very proud of our town.  We support the other businesses as much as we can, we donate to many worthy local causes, and, most recently, we’re contributing to the celebration of Plymouth’s 150th birthday!  

Plymouth was incorporated as a village in 1867 and upgraded to a city in 1932. The “Old Village” was actually the center of town when the Starkweather brothers first settled here.  Over the years, Plymouth has become well known for its special “features”:

  • the only place in Michigan where railroad tracks are laid in all four directions
  • the “Air Rifle Capital of the World” because it’s the home of the Daisy Air Rifle Company
  • its annual events, like the Ice Festival and the Art Festival, earning it the phrase, “There’s always something going on in Downtown Plymouth.”
  • Kellogg Park, once owned by John Kellogg and now the site of about 150 events per year.  To celebrate Plymouth’s 150th birthday, the park’s famous fountain will be re-done, thanks to a generous grant from the Wilcox Foundation.

the Fountain in Kellogg Park during the Breast Cancer Walk

 

In honor of this great city, and to help support the Plymouth Historical Museum, Dearborn Jewelers created a one-of-a-kind diamond pendant.  One hundred fifty diamonds, totaling almost 150 points (that’s 1.50 carats), decorate a white gold pendant.  The letters of PLYMOUTH are subtly woven into the piece.  Design elements of the 1860s were incorporated into the pendant. Many of us here at Dearborn Jewelers worked on the design, and we are so proud of our team effort! Someone is going to win this pendant–someone who’s bought a ticket to the Historical Museum event on July 26, 2017.  

Plymouth’s 150 Years Commemorative Pendant, created by Dearborn Jewelers of Plymouth

If you’re interested in supporting the Plymouth Historical Museum and, perhaps, winning a beautiful diamond pendant, buy a $25 ticket from either the museum or from Dearborn Jewelers.  The event begins at 6:00pm and appetizers and beverages will be served.  While the event is sure to be fun, you do not need to be present to win. The winner will also receive a booklet which explains how the pendant was designed and made.  

Good luck to you if you purchase a ticket!  And don’t forget to wish a great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Downtown Plymouth!!

 

Back in Business with Burma

I’ll never forget vacationing in Thailand, trying to decide whether to buy a pair of jadeite earrings.  The beaming salesman chanted to me, “Burmeeeese jade,” with a knowing nod. His smile implied that nothing could be better.

Imperial-quality jade. Courtesy of Mason-Kay.

Imperial-quality jade. Courtesy of Mason-Kay.

That was about eight years ago, when jade and rubies from Burma (Myanmar) were banned from the United States.  Retailers in the U.S. could not sell them.  Wholesalers could not import them.  Well, that recently changed, and the announcement got me interested in the story of how these gems came to be sanctioned.

It was back in 2003 when George W. Bush signed the trade embargo, prohibiting the import of Burmese goods.  The military ruling group, the “junta”, of the country had imprisoned the people’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.  Citizens of the country were having their human rights violated.  The embargo was a response to what was considered an unacceptable way to govern.

But there were loopholes in the 2003 document, and Burmese jade and rubies still found their way into the U.S.  If a “middleman” country got involved, either in the cutting or polishing step, it was still legal to import these gems to the U.S.  That is, until July 2008.

President Bush signed a new document, the Tom Lantos Block Burmese J.A.D.E.(Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act, which closed the loopholes and effectively banned the import of ALL precious Burmese gemstones.  Wholesalers and retailers selling ruby and jade needed documentation to certify that the gems had not originated in Burma.

The jewelry industry was negatively impacted by the embargo.  Burma was considered the best source in the world for fine ruby and jade.  Different sources of the gems had to be found, and, over the years, they were.  Today many rubies come from Mozambique. Jadeite sources include Guatemala, Japan, and Kazakhstan.

The trade sanctions had the desired effect.  Myanmar began to make reforms in 2010. Over the next couple of years, democratic elections were held and many political prisoners were released.  In 2011, the U.S.  appointed an ambassador, and, in 2012, President Obama visited the country.  Using a cautious approach, President Obama lifted some of the sanctions in November 2012.  But the ban on rubies and jade remained in place.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now the nation’s State Counsellor (sort of like a Prime Minister), expressed patience, saying that “We believe that if we are going along the right path, all sanctions should be lifted in good time.”  And she was right!  On October 7th, 2016, President Obama signed an executive order to lift the remaining trade sanctions against Myanmar.

It will be interesting to see how this executive order influences the jewelry industry in the coming months and years.  It will take some time to establish or re-establish relationships with Burmese stone dealers.  But I believe it won’t be long before we see the deep blood-red Burmese rubies back in our stores.  And my “Burmeeeese” jade earrings (Yes. . . I bought them) may soon be easy to find in the United States.

Burmese, 25.29 carat Ruby, sold in 2015 for $30.3 million

25.59 carat Burmese Ruby, sold in 2015 for $30.3 million

The Michigan Gemstone

A large polished piece of Greenstone

A large polished piece of Greenstone

In late September I was in Swede’s, the famous light blue jewelry and rock store in the middle of Copper Harbor, Michigan. The feisty woman in charge, 83-year-old Mary Billings, asked me as I walked in–“What is the gemstone of Michigan?”

When I answered, “Isle Royale Greenstone,” she looked at me with new respect.

“You’re only the thirteenth customer this season who has answered that question correctly.  And we’ve had a lot of people who’ve  walked through that door.”  She shook her head, a little disgusted that Michiganders weren’t commonly aware of their state gemstone.

Most people, if they have any idea at all, would probably say Petoskey is the state’s gem.  And it IS the state rock.  But Isle Royale Greenstone, or just Greenstone, has been Michigan’s official gem since 1973.  Found mainly on Isle Royale or the Keweenaw Peninsula, Greenstone has the fancy, scientific name of Chlorastrolite, which is a variety of the mineral Pumpellyite.  It’s often found in and around copper mines, which are abundant in the Keweenaw.  The mineral makes its home in amygdaloidal basalt.  If you’re like me, that phrase holds no meaning.  I had to look it up, so I’m happy to share its meaning.  Basically it’s a pit or cavity in the stone.  So amygdaloidal basalt is cooled and hardened lava with lots of cavities in it that have been filled in with minerals.

Once the Greenstone is removed from its host rock, it can be cut and polished.  But it’s a tricky stone to work with because it’s not really hard–only a 5-6 on the Mohs’ Scale– and it can have its own cavities and hollow spots within it.  Cutters want to expose the best “turtle-back” pattern that they can and eliminate any bad spots.  But removing a top layer of the stone is likely to reveal a different, and not necessarily better pattern. The goal is a clear pattern showing some chatoyancy.  The best stones will demonstrate that change in luster as they are tilted back and forth in the light.

Tumbled Greenstone with pink Thomsonite

Tumbled Greenstone with pink Thomsonite

Greenstone is not a particularly expensive gemstone to buy.  Even with the labor involved in finding, mining, and cutting it, there’s just not a huge market for the material.  But it isn’t an easy gem to own.  Since the year 2000, it’s been illegal to take Isle Royale Greenstone off the island. The island is, after all, a national park.  And even Keweenaw Greenstone isn’t easy to get unless you have access to the copper mine areas.  Most jewelry stores, even in Michigan, don’t carry Greenstone.  So plan on spending some time searching for your perfect piece of Michigan’s gemstone.  Whether you spend time looking along the shoreline for a rare small piece of it, or whether you search for jewelry stores that carry the gem, enjoy the journey.

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My piece of Keweenaw Greenstone! I love it!!

The Latest Trend: the Two-Stone Ring

Maybe you’ve seen the ads on TV.  A laughing couple in a car, sharing a private moment as they drive a country road.  They are in love.  But they’re also best friends.  And that’s the story of the two-stone engagement ring.  It represents the dual nature of their relationship.

two-stone ring

The two-stone ring is the latest in a fairly long line of styles promoted by De Beers, the diamond company that, for most of the last century, was the biggest supplier of uncut diamonds.  Their ability to create demand for diamonds started with the famous phrase from the 1940s–A Diamond is Forever.  And it worked so well that Ad Age, a magazine that analyzes and reports on the marketing world, named it the number one slogan of the 20th century.

A decade ago, it was all about the three-stone engagement ring, or, as it was sometimes called, the trinity ring.  The three stones signify your relationship’s past, present, and future.  Or the trio can be seen as signifying friendship, love, and fidelity.   The most common version of this ring had smaller stones on the left and right with a larger stone in the middle.

three stone ring1

Also around ten years ago, the journey necklace was advertised widely as a sentimental way to think about your journey together with the person you love.  Their were several styles, for example the ladder, circle, heart, or S, but most had five or seven diamonds.

journey necklace1journey necklace2

 

 

 

 

 

Other pieces De Beers promoted were the diamond tennis bracelet (1988), the bezel-set diamond solitaire necklace (1998), and the right-hand ring (2003).  I laughed when I saw the date on the bezel-set necklace.  My husband bought me my necklace in 1999.  It’s funny because I’ve never thought of advertising as being influential on my husband or myself.  We don’t watch much TV and we hardly ever pay attention to commercials, except for the Superbowl ads.  But good advertising does work, and the company that advertises for De Beers is very, very good at it.

And their goal is obvious.  They want you to buy more diamonds and especially smaller diamonds.  Why smaller?  Because there are many, many more small diamonds than large.  That’s also the reason why buying a carat’s worth of small diamonds is much less expensive than buying a single, one carat stone.  As a quick test, I looked at one diamond vendor’s pricing on one carat, one-half carat, and one-third carat stones.  The pricing follows a more exponential pattern.  Keeping the other variables of cut, color, and clarity stable, a 1/3-carat stone was about $1000, a 1/2- carat was $3000, and a 1-carat was around $9000.  A three-stone or two-stone ring, by carat weight, can be quite cost effective.

The point of my blog is this:  Buy a style of ring you love rather than the style that is being promoted at the moment.  Don’t get swayed by the sentimentality of the story.  Your ring should represent what you want it to represent–not some story made up by someone in advertising.

 

 

Symbols of Good Luck and Good Life

I never realized there were so many good luck charms until I started working at a jewelry store.  Sure, I knew of the 4-leaf clover and the rabbit’s foot, but I’d never heard of the “ankh” and the “cornicello.”  One of my more embarrassing moments came recently when a woman came in with her husband’s necklace.  It needed repair so I wrote up a repair slip, describing the piece as a “hot pepper pendant on a gold chain.”  Everyone laughed at me when I took it back to the shop.  “That’s not a hot pepper,” chuckled the bench jeweler.  “That’s a gorno.”

The "corno" pendant

The “corno” pendant

“Huh? What’s a gorno?”  Well, truth is, he wasn’t completely sure.  And the fact is, it’s not a gorno.  It’s a corno or a cornicello.  Turns out this is the Italian word for “horn” or “little horn.”  It apparently protects the wearer from the evil eye.  The evil eye is a look, given to inflict harm or bad luck.  There is widespread belief in the power of the evil eye, but, supposedly, it started in ancient Greece.

Now, the “evil eye” I’d seen before, a few months back when working with a different customer.  It’s kind of confusing, because some people wear an amulet of an eye, as protection from evil.  They call the amulet the evil eye.  So I guess an “evil eye” can be either bad luck OR good luck.

I think every culture has their own version of a good luck charm.  The “ankh”(pronounced awnk) is actually the Egyptian symbol for life.  As the key of life, it represents zest and energy, and some people wear it as a protection from demons.  It resembles a Christian cross, but has a loop at the top.

The "ankh" pendant

The “ankh” pendant

I guess we all can use a little good luck from time to time.   Can it hurt to wear a good luck charm?  It’s just nice to know there are so many options.