Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Diamond and Jewelry lovers - UNHORSED!

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"A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!"

We have all heard this famous Shakespearean quote penned for King Richard III who - upon losing his horse in battle - falls into a rage, killing everything in his path as he seeks a mount. 

That quote has become a battle-cry of sorts for people who have urgent need of something which  may normally seem insignificant, but suddenly looms large.

In the world of jewelry, as we absorb our transformed world of quarantine and social distancing, these trinkets and baubles that were very important mere months ago have logically taken a back-seat to the more significant topics of basic supplies, finances and family health & safety.

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Should we be ashamed to admit that we miss the bling? 

Isn’t one of the attractions of eating dinner in a crowded restaurant seeing the bright flash from a ladies ring, or sparkle from her ear?

Noticing an elegant watch on the man standing at the bar or the stunning pendant adorning the woman crossing the floor. These are seemingly insignificant things that can suddenly loom large when they go absent from your life.

Image credit, Gentlemen's Journal
Sure, we can google images, shop catalogs, go to our favorite online jewelry discussion forums, or even open the cases we have in our homes; these are nice (albeit brief) escapes.

But immersing oneself in the crowd while attending a symphony, or using your opera glasses to surreptitiously snoop on jewelry across the theater, or watching a parade of interesting pieces go by as people board the plane - these little thrills are now missing in our lives.

Yes, it's understood we must prioritize a #slowthecurve reality so these things cannot compare with the truly substantive things that connect us all.  But, given the current state of affairs you couldn’t blame someone for crying out -

“Some Bling, Some Bling! My Kingdom for some Bling!” 

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We can only hope for a return from our current winter of discontent to something made glorious sooner rather than later. 

In the meantime, find your nicest pieces - and send pics.

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Monday, 6 April 2020

You don’t have to quarantine your jewelry!

Image credit, Inman

It has been several weeks since the government asked us to stay inside, avoiding contact with the outside world.

Our dependence on video conferencing using FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts and other platforms seems to have gone up. Our collective human tolerance for a more "casual" version of ourselves has also risen proportionately. 

It can be nice, even refreshing, for men to go a few days without shaving, and women to eschew the full make-up and carefully chosen outfits they might have insisted on wearing a few weeks ago. A video ‘happy hour’ with friends isn't the dress-up affair it tends to be in public. It's more comfortable in house pants, a sweatshirt and sporting hair that's left tamed, but not styled.

Image credit, Marvel
Now that barbers are closed I have seen scores of men taking shavers to their heads.  Put simply, we've have allowed out true selves to shine a bit more, and the trappings of our existence to matter a bit less. I believe this is a good thing in the long run!

For years we've seen a tendency on social media to put forward the ‘best’ of each person. It can make the observer’s life seem mundane and uninspiring, compared to the glamorous insta, face and pinnings of others.

But, I can’t help but think…maybe our jewelry is getting lonely?

Imagine our every-day bling left in dark jewelry boxes for weeks now. Our fancier pieces lying in the dark, with no recourse but to out-last the quarantine. 

NO! I say.

I'm speaking up for those lovely and valued pieces of our lives.  Find a way, ladies and gentlemen, to make your jewelry feel loved during this time!

Schedule a romantic dinner date, in your house, with your spouse, significant other or roomie.  Insist on dressing-up, wearing your beautiful watches, necklaces, earrings and pendants. Take pictures, post them on social media and recapture a flavor of the finer times of life!

Image credit, Pinterest
If you want to go big: Share recipes and schedule a weekly dinner date via Zoom with friends. Create the same appetizers and entree'. Decide on the same wine and dessert. Put your friends on the table with you... Talk, laugh and exchange stories over your silver and crystal - enjoying the same kind of dress-up company you once took for granted.  Afterwards, be sure to post screenshots and selfies tagging one another.

Image credit, Wall Street Journal
Now, read the comments from those who have left their jewelry hidden away and see if you don't spark a movement.

Yes, we must live with social distancing and limit our exposure to the outside world for a while longer. But, as a jewelry advocate, I implore you - don’t quarantine your jewelry!

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Friday, 3 April 2020

The dude abides. And so will we.

Photo credit, Ben Baller

Hey jewelry lovers - put a smile on someone's face by sharing this little tidbit from John Mayer's 40th birthday bash, back when the world was normal.

In October 2017, before we were all abiding this crisis, Mayer approached Jewelry maker Ben Baller to create a piece inspired by Jeff Bridges' iconic character in the Cohen Brothers' comedy classic, The Big Lebowski.

This jewelry tribute is composed of 18k white gold and studded with 41 carats of D/E color VVS clarity diamonds. The chain weighs 300 grams by itself and the pendant weighs 260 grams. A special etching on the backside of the pendant reads -

“Yah, well, that’s just like, your opinion, man” 

Photo credit, Ben Baller
Baller described the design process to GQ magazine.

"I had to make sure his hair looked three-dimensional, that it looked wavy, because it’s The Dude. I wanted to make sure he had his robe. All the diamonds are white, super high-quality, the best of the best. John will not accept anything less. Last minute, he said, 'I want a little purple to represent the V-neck T-shirt he wore throughout the movie.' So we went back to the drawing board. We had 90 percent completed the piece, and at the end I had to figure something out for the shirt. It was tough. We changed one thing and, to be honest, I was stumped. And John was like, 'How about if we change the sunglasses?' He was like, 'Ben, these are Vuarnets.' And I was like, 'Dude, you don’t have to tell me about Vuarnets."

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The dude abides. 

And so will we.

I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that.
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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

99 cts of diamonds from Arkansas! No fooling.

Image credit, Arkansas State Parks

Over 33,000 diamonds have been discovered by visitors to the Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas since it became a state park in 1972, and last year was a doozie!

491 diamonds were found there in 2019 including 336 in the the white range, 82 yellow and 73 brown. The total weight found and registered was 99.14 carats. That's nearly a 30% increase from 2018.

The average weight of diamond found was 20 points (0.04 grams, or 1/5 of a carat), but 18 diamonds were recovered which weighed over 1 carat, including the whopper below, a 3.29 carat brown.

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Visitors from 37 states went home with treasures discovered by sorting, wet-sifting, and sometimes just spotted at ground level.

Notable diamonds found at the Crater include the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, the largest diamond ever unearthed in the U.S., which was featured in our post: A diamond named LUCY in the sky & other cool stuff

Image credit, GIA

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Monday, 30 March 2020

Quick tips: Hand washing & Jewelry care

Here are four quick tips to keep your jewelry safe and healthy as you frequently wash and sanitize your hands.

1. Remove your jewelry

There are two reasons to remove your finger-blingers before scrubbing: On the one hand (so to speak) you don't want soapy suds to dull their sparkle. On the other hand (you saw that coming) you should be cleaning every part of your hands, including the skin normally covered by rings or bracelets. Develop a habit of placing your jewelry in sight, so you don't forget it, but not where it's in danger of dropping into a sink or waste-bin.

Photo credit, Clay Banks

2. Use alcohol-based hand-sanitizers

When selecting hand-sanitizer, choose one that's alcohol-based. The brands which use chlorine-based germicides can cause jewelry to tarnish, corrode and even crack, particularly sterling silver and nickel white golds. Experts say that an alcohol concentration between 60–95% is most effective at killing germs, and is completely safe for most (but not all) jewelry. Read on...

Photo credit, Anna Earl

3. Protect pearls and corals

Most jewelry can be exposed to alcohol-based hand-sanitizer, but remove all pearls and corals. Alcohol can cause color-change and loss of luster. Pearl and coral lovers already follow this rule with perfumes and hairspray - it should be extended to hand sanitizers as well. In fact, you should wait for your hands to dray completely before putting those items back on.

Photo credit, Alex Maloney

4. Rock a regular routine

Clean all of your daily-wear rings and bracelets with regularity (we suggest once per week). This can be done by soaking them in warm-water and dish-washing soap, scrubbing with a soft-brush to remove any detritus that has collected underneath or in hard-to-get-to areas, rinsing with cold water and letting them towel-dry.

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Follow instructions and store safely

Never expose colored gemstones to chemicals, solvents or ultrasonics without knowing their specific cleaning requirements.

And when you remove jewelry to store, whether short or long-term, be sure to place each piece in a soft bag so it doesn't rub or knock against other pieces.

Follow these tips to protect your jewelry while also protecting your health.
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Friday, 27 March 2020

What jewelry styles are trending in 2020?

Jewelry and fashion are constantly changing. People may not be gathering en masse right now due to the world situation, but we've kept our eye on the evolution of style, regionally and globally.

From last year's final runway expositions to televised entertainment and celebrity fashion, here are trends that have enjoyed a groundswell of popularity through the first quarter of 2020.

1. Layered jewelry

Traditional layering sees chains, bracelets and bangles of similar style combined together. In 2020 we have seen a breakaway from homogeneous layering to combinations of diverse lengths, thicknesses and styles. That can look great as long as the combination make design-sense and use the same flow as the outfit being worn. For example, we wouldn't recommend layering warm and cool themed jewelry together, unless that's a reflection of the clothing choices.

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2. Chokers

As you're considering how to layer that neck-wear, it may be helpful to know chokers are definitely in style now. They come in many different iterations, from petite to bold. Chokers have always  captured attention by highlighting the neck. From delicate chains to leather bands to complex fashion, chokers have experienced a surge in popularity this year.

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3. Pearls

Pearls are back in style, and not just for jewelry. Many accessories are also pearl-studded. Their great versatility means they're just as happy on a purse or belt right now, as they were on Queen Elizabeth's neck over 400 years ago. Around 15% of couples choose something other than a diamond for engagement and pearls are a popular choice. The most publicized recent example was Emma Stone's engagement to actor Dave McCary a few months ago in December, 2019.

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4. Natural materials

Organic designs are in style, and a number of jewelry designers have responded by putting natural stones, shells and minerals in their pieces, frequently unworked. Crystal healers have done this for many years in their own homemade applications. Now the long-presumed "energy" of different natural stones which have calming properties has become fashionable. It seems right to mention this now, since aquamarine, the birthstone of March, is seen as a powerful meditation tool, employed by crystal healers to guide an individual toward finding her or his core spirituality.

Image credit, Katarina Perez

5. Wildlife-inspired pieces

Finally, in keeping with natural, organic themes, the popularity of wildlife themed jewelry is on the rise. Whether it's a dolphin pendant, butterfly necklace or something more exotic, there's abundant creativity in the world of sealife, insect and animal-inspired jewelry.

Image credit, Pinterest
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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Six movies from 2019 with BLING to stream

Image credit, Paramount

Hey jewelry lovers.

Bookmark this Oscar-worthy collection of 2019 movies that include epic bling. There are more than a DOZEN hours of fun and distraction described below, with duration and trailers included (you’re welcome).

With so many people sheltered in place, this list is intended as a stay-at-home streaming menu.

Originally compiled by Amy Elliott of JCK as an Oscars prelude, the vivid verbal descriptions come from Laurie Brookins of Screen Chic, a career fashion journalist and stylist who has authored for The Hollywood Reporter, Town & Country, Ocean Drive, and a number of regional luxury lifestyle publications.

Ready? Set… Go!

Pop the popcorn. Grab a blanket and prepare for dazzling diamonds, jewelry, gemstones - even rhinestones (Hello Elton) - as you enjoy some of Hollywood’s best movies of 2019.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood | 2h 41m

"Costume designer Arianne Phillips was nominated for her work in this 1969-set Quentin Tarantino film, and she indeed excels in capturing the mood of Los Angeles in this moment. Leonardo DiCaprio wears pinky rings and necklaces that a stylish star of that era would wear. Phillips worked with L.A.-based jewelry designer Stuart England on some pieces—while for Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, the jewelry was both of-the-moment and understated, much like Tate’s own style. The most poignant fact of the pieces Robbie wore is that some had once been owned by Tate: The late actress’s sister, Debra Tate, had given her blessing to Robbie playing the role and loaned the pieces to the production as a sign of her approval."

Downton Abbey | 2h 02m

“Audiences eager for Downton Abbey’s return with a big-screen sequel weren’t disappointed, especially fans of the series’ costumes. The central plot point, a visit to the titular manor by King George V and Queen Mary, meant that costume designer Anna Robbins could pull out all the stops with the formal looks needed. That extended to the jewels seen in the film: not only a reproduction of Queen Mary’s famed Vladimir tiara from 1874, complete with the 15 emerald drops the queen had added to the tiara after she acquired it in 1921, but also the vintage diamond tiaras worn by Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, and Dame Maggie Smith, all dated between 1880 and 1910 and loaned by London-based jeweler Bentley & Skinner.”

Rocketman | 2h 01m

“How do you reproduce the high-profile looks of a man known for his love of adornment? You secure the services of a jeweler that excels in craft, color, and a sense of whimsy, and that’s what costume designer Julian Day did when he reached out to Chopard to provide the jewels for Rocketman, the Elton John biopic. As the legendary singer/songwriter, Taron Egerton conveys how Elton embraced both his newfound wealth and the onstage character he had created, and the pricey Chopard jewels he wears—brooches, oversize diamond pendants, earrings from the jeweler’s Happy Hearts collection—also reflect that.”

Judy | 1h 58m

“It’s a shame that costume designer Jany Temime wasn’t nominated for her work in Judy; she does such a great job at capturing the late-’60s look of Judy Garland, both onstage and off. That extends to the jewelry, especially the vintage button earrings you see Renée Zellweger wearing throughout the film. In interviews, Temime has talked about how this independent film ran on an incredibly tight budget, so she looked to a close resource for accessories, using the vintage jewelry, as well as silk scarves by Hermès and Dior she had inherited from her late mother.”

Hustlers | 1h 50m

“A central role of a film’s costumes is to capture not just a story’s era but also the flavor of its theme, and that’s certainly true of Hustlers, a story that delves into the highs and lows of excess. With costumes designed by Mitchell Travers, the women in Hustlers define the success of their nefarious plans through the things they buy and how they adorn themselves, and in addition to name-checking brands like Gucci and Christian Louboutin, jewelry plays a central role in that idea. Here, the yellow gold is either piled on or just really prominent, from Jennifer Lopez’s nameplate hoop earrings to the “sexy” choker or multiple bangles worn by Constance Wu, the resulting look effectively communicates that everything is just a bit much.”

Bonus ~

Uncut Gems | 2h 15m

While it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar (so we don't have Laurie Brookins' expert overview) this fast-paced, frenetic film will be a breathless ride for jewelry fans. Adam Sandler plays a fast-talking New York City jeweler and compulsive gambler. As his debts mount, with angry collectors closing in, he must risk everything in hope of staying afloat and alive. When you watch this film The New Yorker described as “mesmerizing chaos," you'll have a two-hour escape back to the busy New York City streets we're all accustomed to. Just one warning - there’s an awful lot of “F!” going on in this movie. And I’m not referring to colorless diamonds. Know what I mean?

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Monday, 23 March 2020

What good is jewelry in a crisis??

Image credit, ABC

It's like a disaster movie.

People are sequestered for days, weeks, some for months on end. There are rumors of military troops on the ready, shortages in stores, and a medical industry that cannot adequately prepare for the upcoming months due to lack of equipment. Downtown streets, normally hustling with thousands of people are empty, the stock exchange is in turmoil, retail businesses are shuttered for an indefinite time period, and school yards are empty. People are scared.

Image credit, Mercury News
I spoke to some relatives in Poland earlier today. They have been quarantined in their 450 sq. foot apartment for over a month. My 91-year-old relative hasn’t been able to leave the apartment and relies on her son to bring her essentials every day. The medical infrastructure in their town of half a million people has been overwhelmed for weeks, with no sign of improvement in the near future. She is the ideal host for the virus, she is older, physically vulnerable, and lives on the 11th floor of a densely populated, close-quartered apartment high-rise. As I was preparing to offer what comfort I could, she surprised me with her trademark optimism saying -

"But you know what? The flowers on my balcony are beginning to bloom and I am anticipating their beauty and smell. Nature just continues on. Where my flowers are, I find joy."

I paused and thought on this incredible woman.

I am practicing social distancing with the same veracity of anyone in America. I am able to FaceTime with my friends and family and Zoom with my co-workers. I pray for my family, my community, my country and the world daily. I worry for the retail workers who cannot earn, I worry for the truck drivers who are sometimes unable to find a meal, and especially for anyone who has been affected directly by the Coronavirus. Amidst all of that, I had already forgotten, I think, what Henia from Gdansk made perfectly clear:

Focus on the beauty around you. 

Don’t forget the little things that make you smile. Never let an external force steal the joy from your life.

I, like millions of people worldwide, find a profound joy in jewelry. Diamonds, especially. The science geek in me is still enamored by angles, percentages and inverse-proportion light performance. The artist in me is still intrigued with the light spectrum and brilliant white flashes that are created.
Image credit, Iridescent Flame
While transactions may have slowed, while purchases may be paused, and our lives are altered, nature continues. People will celebrate (as best they can) birthdays, anniversaries and engagements. Love will still blossom and excitement will build as relationships grow stronger.

Like Henia’s balcony flowers, I can find my escape periodically into the world of gems and jewelry. My “flowers” are diamonds, classical music and good wine. If all of us pause for a second to discover our own metaphorical flowers, it may make this entire ordeal a bit easier.

Thank you, Henia for reminding me that passions and distractions help us deal with life’s worries – where your flowers are, you’ll find joy.

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- Brian, Director of Consumer Education, B2C Jewels
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Saturday, 21 March 2020

A diamond named LUCY in the sky & other cool stuff

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No Joke.

A 10 billion-trillion-trillion carat diamond named Lucy is floating around in outer space. And a certain priceless diamond arrived to its museum via U.S. Mail.

Here are a few fun facts about diamonds we hope you'll enjoy (and share, hint-hint).

1. Stars and gods

Some of the ancient Romans and Greeks thought diamonds were tears cried by the gods which fell to earth and hardened. Others believed they were splinters that had broken off of falling stars.

2. There's a diamond named LUCY in the sky

In 2004 astronomers discovered a pulsating white dwarf star 50 light-years from Earth. The star was named after the Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” A chuck of crystallized carbon, Lucy is estimated to weigh 10 billion-trillion-trillion carats!

Image credit, documentarytube

3. I can haz carrot?

The word carat comes down from the carob tree. That tree's seeds were used as a standard of measure for weighing precious gemstones. Of course carob seeds can vary in weight. It wasn't until 1913 that carat weight became metric. One carat is now equal to 200 milligrams, or 0.007 ounces. 

4. Diamond Fire

You can actually burn a diamond. It would require enormous effort, at a magnitude of 700-900 degrees Celsius, or 1,290-1,650 degrees Fahrenheit. House fires can sometimes reach those temperatures. So can jeweler's torches (be careful out there, friends).

Image credit, Wikimedia

5. No. No. No... Yes.

Only 30% of the world's diamonds are gem-quality. Ugh. It's hard enough to mine diamonds in the first place, and then over two-thirds of it gets used as industrial or boart. Bonus fact: Although the USA produces nearly no diamonds for commercial sale, America is the largest importer of diamonds, buying over 40 percent of the world's gem quality supply.

6. The Diamond Diet

When a gem-quality diamond goes through production it loses up to 50% of its original rough weight before it's finished. The excess polished away in the process get collected and used as polishing-grit in the fashioning of other diamonds.

Image credit, Cape Town Diamond Museum

7. "Hand me that pencil, Ramesh."

Diamonds were recognized for their amazing hardness when discovered in India, and were used to engrave other gemstones as early as 300 BC.

8. Oh, cursed Hope.

Some people believe the 45.52 carat Hope diamond is cursed. There's a reason for that. One of its owners, Evalyn McLean, considered it to be her good luck charm, but after taking possession of it her son was killed in a car accident, her husband divorced her and her daughter committed suicide.

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9. Oh, crazy Hope.

The Hope diamond arrived to the Smithsonian in 1958, sent to the Institution via the U.S. Postal Service mail! At least it was registered First Class.

10. Born in the USA

Found in the Crater of Diamonds State Park in 1924, the Uncle Sam is the largest diamond ever discovered in the USA. It weighed 40.23 carats in the rough, and was faceted into a 12.42 carat emerald-cut. It has a high clarity of VVS1 and, while it can appear slightly pink to observers, it's officially classified as an M color (for 'Murica!).

Image credit, GIA
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Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Diamond music to "Rock" your world

For the many people on our planet with extra time on their hands these days, here's some fun, musical distraction. We all know diamonds are symbols of love and commitment. Well many of history's best songwriters knew that too.

We just added two-dozen songs involving diamonds to the playlist below. So enjoy some intrigue, romance and fun as you listen to the diamond music and let the diamond beats 'rock' you.

The playlist spans 70 years of diamond songwriting history so it's enjoyably diverse. Whether you're alone, with family, walking with earbuds or simply seeking something to do - Enjoy!

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