Thursday, March 13, 2014

Birthstone of the Month - Aquamarine

This pale blue gemstone is March’s birthstone. Its name comes from Latin, aqua marina, water of the sea. Aquamarine was worn in many ancient cultures a form of protection for sailors. Aquamarine is a type of beryl, putting it in the same mineralogical family as the more precious Emerald.
The largest cut aquamarine in the world, the 10,395-ct. Dom Pedro aquamarine obelisk by gem sculptor Bernd Munsteiner, can be found in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Much of the sky blue aquamarine sold has been heated or irradiated to remove any naturally occurring green tones in the stone and enhance the blue color. Aquamarine is a fairly durable stone suitable for all jewelry, including rings but stones with inclusions may not be safe to clean in ultrasonic cleaners.

Aquamarine deposits can be found in multiple locations in Africa and Brazil.
Heliotrope Jasper, a green stone with red spots, also known as bloodstone, is an alternative birthstone for March.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jewelry Design Adventures

I've been feeling like I'm stuck in a creative rut lately... making simple, (boring), non-creative projects. I have no actual formal art training to fall back on for inspiration and my design sketches are hit and miss because I get upset that I can't draw very well and just quit. So I stumbled across a great jewelry design tutorial series called Think & Design Jewelry by Eni Oken.

credit: Think & Design Jewelry

Each issue walks you through practical hands-on drawing exercises to create new jewelry designs.  Since I'm not currently bursting with spontaneous creativity, I was thinking that working through each of these tutorials and making a project for each will kick start the process. After skimming through most of the tutorials, it seems like the majority will be really useful. Some don't really interest me quite as much (I'm over heart shaped jewelry and butterflies are just too twee) but I will work through all of them anyway. And since I have this perfectly good blog here, I thought I would share what I'm doing.

I will be starting with Lesson #1: the Flower.

credit: Think & Design Jewelry

Flowers are right in my wheelhouse. I love making flower inspired jewelry and I think this tutorial will help me get past the idea of making just realistic looking flower replicas and move into more abstract designs.

I have already sketched some preliminary designs. Over the next week or so, I will share my designs and hopefully at least one finished project from them.

Creativity here I come! (Hopefully...)

Periodic Update

I can't really call it a weekly update anymore... It's edging into more like a monthly update...

Anyway, I finished my casting class. It was super fun and now I'm sad that I don't have the room (or funds) for a whole casting setup in my garage. Someday...

Here were my final projects straight from the casting machine.

The medieval-inspired ring is ridiculously heavy - like I'd be afraid it would crack a floor tile if I dropped it heavy. I'll be keeping it for myself once I figure out how to finish it. I got all of the investment out of it and cleaned it up a bit with burrs and files, but I'm not sure what to do with it now. I originally wanted to put a stone on the top of the little table, but it's already a big ring and that would make it absurdly tall. I'm thinking of cutting/drilling out the top of the table and setting a stone inside, but that would make me a little sad because I worked too hard at shaping that silly thing out of wax just to get rid of it.

I did clean up and finish the silver flower ring. I would love to make a whole series of these. I just love how easy it is to carve a bark/wood texture into the band.

Other than that, jewelry-wise things have been a little sluggish around here. Just a few online orders trickling in here and there and my creativity/muse/whatever has completely deserted me. I have a plan to try to fix that, which I'll share in a different post a little later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In Which I Covet Jewelry From the Oscars Red Carpet

Anybody else watch the Oscars this past weekend? I usually have it on in the background while I do something else, just so I can look over whenever there's a pretty dress or something interesting going on. I also like to jewelry watch, because there's certain to be a large amount of very expensive, sparkly jewelry.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of variety of jewelry worn at this year's show, though. It seemed to be that all the actresses stuck with the safe choice of clear diamonds. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a nice big sparkly diamond as much as the next girl, but after a while they seem a little boring. No color, and in all the pictures the white diamonds and white platinum just blend into a silvery blur. I guess I can understand that actresses want their designer dresses to be the focus, but it would have been nice to see some color in the jewelry.

The lone splash of jewelry color that I noticed on any of the big name stars came from Amy Adams. Her rhodochrosite, lapis, turquoise and diamond earrings were very pretty.

While still colorless with all white diamonds and platinum, Jennifer Lawrence's necklace was another favorite of mine. I love the rectangular crystal links and the close-up shows how intricate each platinum and diamond link is. She also managed to work the backwards necklace look without looking awkward. (But I really want to tighten the backs on her diamond studs so they aren't so droopy!)

I love the shape of these earrings that Lupita Nyong'o wore.

And I know that the headband has diamonds that are probably worth more than my house, but what I really wish I could find a better picture of is her bracelet - I read that it is an antique gold snake and it looks really cool! (That right hand ring could show up in my mailbox and I wouldn't complain either...)

Cate Blanchett's opal earrings were very pretty too - I love that they give just a little bit of pastel color depending on the angle.

Emma Watson was rocking the stacking ring look... I especially like the multiple band ring on her right hand ring finger.

And not at the actual Oscars, but at an after-party, Taylor Swift's ring is beautiful. It looks like possibly a garnet with diamonds. And it matches her manicure!

Got any favorites? How about the dresses? Or Pharrell's shorts? (or not...)