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Hallmarking June 13 2016, 0 Comments

Have you ever wondered what those little marks inside rings mean? 

A hallmark is legally required if you are selling over a gram of gold, half a gram of platinum or just over seven grams of silver.

The mark is made up of 5 elements.

1: A makers mark

Each registered maker has a different mark made up of some initials inside a shape. Mine is NAS inside an oval shape. Each combination of initials and shape must be unique to the specific maker.

2: A traditional fineness mark.

This tells you what precious metal the piece is made of.

3: A millesimal fineness mark.

This gives you the percentage of the precious metal, so 925 means 92.5% which is the proportion of pure silver in sterling silver. A mark guarantees that the piece includes at least that quantity of the metal. The assay office test each piece they receive before applying the marks.

4: An assay office mark.

This identifies the office which marks the piece.

5: A date letter.

This tells you the year the piece was marked in.


Hello June June 06 2016, 0 Comments

Things are a little frantic at NSJ HQ this month, it's wedding season and I have lots of lovely commissions on the way.

One of my current obsessions is peonies, they are just so beautiful and I love the way they collapse so gracefully. These started off as a wonderful coral colour and faded to a soft gold.

I'm also in the midst of a stationery buying frenzy. I think it's partly to do with being so busy and wanting to feel organised. There is nothing like a new notebook to make you feel in control.

This beautiful hand made notebook in turquoise is from Novella Bookbinding in London. The pink book is from Abigail Warner, available at John Lewis.

I had a request to look at a custom knot ring for a customer a couple of weeks ago, and had some fun trying to work out how to achieve something a little more out of the ordinary. These are possibly a little more celtic than simply knots, but they are quite interesting.

I would love to know what you think of these new rings.


White Metals May 23 2016, 2 Comments

I have recently quoted on a lot of white gold wedding rings, and very often the answer to my question 'Is your ring rhodium plated?' is 'what is that?' so I decided it was time to share some information on white metals.                                                                           
Platinum and 9ct white gold rings
      
White Gold: 
Gold, for the sake of clarity, is yellow, very very yellow. 9ct and 18ct white gold are a mix of yellow gold and other metals, with the aim of creating something white.                                                                                                                                                    

Neither alloy is particularly bright white so the white gold seen in most shops is plated in rhodium, this is a very bright shiny white (more like silver). As it is plate (a thin layer placed over the solid metal.) this will wear through and need to be replaced on a regular basis. Underneath the plate 9ct and 18ct white gold are very different.

9ct white is a soft, warm white. it's a very flattering colour and a warmer alternative to silver. 9ct gold can tarnish over time if not worn, but this isn't an issue if pieces are for everyday wear. 

18ct white gold often contains palladium, and without the rhodium is a similar colour to platinum or palladium but with a browner tinge.

As standard I do not plate my white gold, in particular I have found 9ct white is a very popular option for wedding jewellery as it's such a flattering colour for a white metal, much gentler than the other options.

Personally I think if you are considering 18ct white gold you should look at palladium, which is slightly less expensive and doesn't require the plating. However as palladium is quite new it isn't as widely available as white gold. 

Platinum:

Although platinum is now popular for jewellery and easily the most expensive option it's properties were not well understood until quite recently.

Platinum is a very dense and inert metal, very scientific sounding but it means that the metal is tougher and wears less than gold, and also that it doesn't tarnish in air as silver does. It is a good, although expensive option for wedding bands as it lasts very well.

Platinum is very rare and only a small amount is mined every year, so depending on industrial needs the price can be quite volatile. 

Platinum is so tough it can wear through other metal if placed next to it, so it isn't generally advised to wear a gold band next to a platinum ring. 

Palladium wedding rings

Palladium:

Palladium is a similar metal to platinum, although less dense and easier for jewellers to work with it has similar properties. 

Discovered in 1802, palladium is relatively new to the jewellery market, although it has been used for some time to make white gold. The UK Assay Office (See my gold, carats and colours page for a bit more info on hallmarking.) have introduced hallmarking for palladium in the last few years.

Palladium at the moment is less expensive than platinum, with a very similar look so is a good option for heavier bands which could be prohibitively expensive in platinum. 

Palladium is sold in the UK in 2 different purities, 950 and 500. 950 is simply 95% palladium and 500 is 50%. Not everywhere advertises which version they are selling so if you are comparing prices it's important to be clear which version you are being offered, There will be a difference in the durability of the 2 different versions.


May's Birthstone - Emerald May 16 2016, 0 Comments

If you were born in the month of May, like me, then the Emerald is your birthstone.

Gem quality emeralds are incredibly rare, and therefore very expensive. The vast majority of emeralds found contain a lot of natural inclusions, and therefore buying them can be a complicated process as a huge variety of quality levels varying in colour and clarity are available.

However they do have the most wonderful green colour, and even with imperfections are incredibly beautiful.

Emeralds were first mined in Egypt, and have been a symbol of wealth and prosperity since the time of Cleopatra. Emeralds have also been thought to strengthen the heart, liver and kidneys, as well as quieten the mind. 

I recently made this skinny baguette ring with a wonderful high quality emerald for a special order. The colour really is extraordinary the pictures don't really show the vibrancy when the light hits it.

I can produce most of my standard designs with an emerald via special order, and would love to hear from you if you would like to discuss a specific piece.

nikki@nikkistarkjewellery.co.uk

 


Hello May May 09 2016, 0 Comments

This wonderful weather is really just so exciting. This weekend I have been to my first BBQ and had my first Pimms of the year, both key milestones in the move towards summer.

I came across a wonderful recipe for a white wine sangria made with vinho verde, a lovely Portuguese wine I have been a fan of for several years. Vinho verde is slightly fizzy, refreshing and relatively low alcohol making it perfect for sipping in the sun alone or made into a sangria. Find the recipe here on the very elegant Bojon Gourmet blog.

 

A couple of weeks ago I accidentally stumbled into a pop up shop at craft central for Iris Sandals. Made in Crete by local craftsmen and hand embellished by the lovely Anastasia in London, these sandals are just so much fun and perfect for summer.

 gladiator tassel sandals leather sandals IRIS

Jewellery wise at this time of year I always reach for my turquoise and coral rings. This teeny little turquoise ring was a special order with a 1.2mm ring shank a couple of months ago. 

Fingers crossed this weather continues! 


Bespoke wishbone rings May 03 2016, 0 Comments

A growing part of my design work at the moment is creating bespoke wishbone rings to fit around different shaped engagement rings, so I thought I would share a few of these.

My Holly wishbone is generally the starting point for most of these. I made this ring for my friend Holly to go with an engagement ring I made, this version has a soft, slightly curved shape and quite a small dip to go with a small, round diamond.

This wider more geometric version I recently made for Nikki to go with a square topped vintage ring, with an amazing emerald and teeny diamonds.

These silver prototypes were to go with an oval stoned ring. (The bottom right is the prototype for Nikki's ring above, read about her bespoke ring experience on her blog.)

 The final version is in 9ct rose gold.

And finally an 18ct yellow gold version with a smallish curve to go with an emerald cluster ring.

My process generally involves making up a couple of silver prototypes to be tried with the engagement ring to confirm the shape, weight and finish of the final ring.

If you're looking for a simple, elegant ring to sit with an unusually shaped engagement ring send me an email I would love to hear from you.

nikki@nikkistarkjewellery.co.uk


Palladium - the new shiny thing April 18 2016, 0 Comments

Palladium is a relatively new metal in the jewellery market. It has been used to make white gold since the 1930's but only recently started to be used on it's own. Hallmarking for palladium was introduced by the UK Assay Office in 2010. (Find out more about hallmarks here.)

A very similar metal to platinum, palladium has a dark silvery colour and doesn't oxidise with time. It is less dense than platinum but still a very tough jewellery metal good for long term wear.

5mm slim court band, and 1.5mm halo band in palladium, with hammered finish

The price of palladium, as with platinum can fluctuate as it has many industrial uses. Half of all the palladium mined goes into catalytic converters. At the moment it is a much more affordable alternative to platinum, and less expensive than 18ct gold.

I haven't ever been hugely interested in platinum so this isn't a metal I have used much, but last month I made the wedding rings in the image above for Emma and Brendan and just loved how the dark shiny metal looked with a hammered surface.

If you have been considering platinum or white gold for your wedding jewellery palladium is certainly something you should look at whilst it remains more affordable.

 


April's Birthstone - Diamond April 11 2016, 0 Comments

April's birthstone is the diamond, probably the most famous gemstone. Diamonds are the hardest substance in existence and have a variety of uses across different industries making them hugely valuable.

Diamonds were first found in India somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 years ago, and were used in religious icons. The name comes from a Greek word meaning unalterable or unbreakable.

Although wedding and engagement rings can be reliably dated back to Roman times and were probably used before that, the idea of a diamond being essential to an engagement ring comes from the 1940s. The slogan 'a diamond is forever' was first used by De Beers in 1947.

Orbit ring with diamond

A diamond's optical properties are one of it's most unique qualities, and the faceted cuts which are very popular make the most of these to increase the sparkle. Along with clear diamonds also come in a variety of natural colours including blue, green, brown, pink and red, and opaque varieties.

Grey opaque diamond rings in 9ct gold

These opaque grey diamonds are a very different look to a traditional faceted clear stone, but still have wonderful optic properties alongside a more rustic feel. 

Buying a diamond can be a complicated business, each stone is graded according to it's clarity and many different levels of quality might be available.

There are also complex ethical concerns regarding exploitation, (Have you seen Blood Diamond?? Such a good film.) All the diamonds I buy are certified conflict free according to the Kimberley process. I think it's unlikely you will find much on the UK market now which isn't.

I'm generally a fan of natural materials, but this is often because their imperfection makes them more interesting than mass produced identical items, so if what you are looking for is perfect clarity and sparkle then it is worth considering an alternative like a moissanite. These really don't look any different to the naked eye, and the price is a little less eye watering.

I would love to know what you think. Does it have to be a natural diamond? Do coloured or opaque versions have the same magic? 

 


Hello April April 04 2016, 0 Comments

March seems to have disappeared in the blink of an eye, I think possibly someone stole part of it.

It finally feels like time to stop hibernating, and this weekend my boyfriend and I decided to be particularly brave and use a voucher for Peruvian restaurant Ceviche. The voucher was a gift which has been burning a hole in my pocket for too long to admit. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food but although we were quite nervous about what it would be like we both absolutely loved it.

The staff were incredibly friendly and helped us with the menu, the food was wonderful. We even plucked up the courage to try the Dom Ceviche which has raw sea bass, despite the fact that I won't normally eat raw fish.

I would really recommend it to anyone, which I probably don't need to as the place was packed, so we are clearly quite late to the Peruvian Party.

On the jewellery front I have continued to experiment with more stone set rings, adding sterling silver options to the mix.

I also made a silver ring with one of the aquamarine cabochons I mentioned in the post on March's birthstone. I was really pleased with this the very subtle colour of the stone was lovely with the silver.

This month I have a few custom wedding ring commissions in progress and I'll be sharing some images through the month, keep an eye on my instagram.

 


Jewellery care: tips for caring for your sparkly things March 21 2016, 0 Comments

This week I have a couple of simple tips for taking care of jewellery. 

Dealing with oxidation:

Some metals such as silver and copper change colour slowly when exposed to air. They darken and can even go completely black with time. Gold, palladium and platinum don't tarnish in this way, but alloys which mix silver and gold, like 9ct gold can.

The best way to stop sterling silver and 9ct gold from tarnishing is to wear your jewellery. The natural oils in your skin will keep the metal from tarnishing in the air.

Putting items away in a box will help to slow the process, but if you leave something for a longer time it will slowly darken.

If you have a piece of jewellery which goes dark then a clean with a polishing cloth like the one below should restore the shine.

Gemstones:

Gems vary hugely as to how fragile they are, and some require much more careful treatment than others. 

There is an official scale called Mohs, which rates gems in terms of hardness. Diamonds of course are at the top of the scale with a score of 10. Sapphires and Moissanite aren't far behind with a score of 9, labradorite and opal come in at about a 6. Softer stones are more likely to scratch or break, so it's best to take a bit more care. 

I would generally advise keeping all gemstones away from harsh chemicals and cleaning agents. Wipe with a damp cloth if required. 

Milky opal and moissanite rings

I would also advise taking any stone set ring off when you do the washing up, or any kind of messy, manual work, but in particular don't wear a soft stone like an opal or labradorite.

The type of setting used for the stone will also determine how protected it is, and it's worth taking a bit more care with more fragile settings like claws which leave the stone more exposed.

Claws and pave settings in particular, as well as other styles will slowly wear away, so it's worth having this checked occasionally to see if any of the claws need to be replaced.

Old cuts of stones such as diamonds can be difficult to replace, so if you inherit or buy an old piece of jewellery it's worth having your ring checked by an expert before you lose a stone.


March's Birthstone - Aquamarine March 14 2016, 0 Comments


Continuing with my birthstone series, if you are born in March then your stone of choice should be an aquamarine. This stone is a member of the same mineral family as emerald and morganite.

The name comes from the Latin aqua marina, water of the sea. The most valuable colour is darkish blue, similar to a very pale sapphire, although there are various different shades. Aquamarine has been highly valued in jewellery for a long time, aqua coloured glass pieces intended to imitate this stone have been found which were at least 2,000 years old. 

Aquamarine is said to calm thoughts and help emotional and physical balance.

I don't offer aquamarine as a standard option for any of my rings as it’s a slightly more expensive stone and more complex to purchase, but would be very happy to quote any item you are interested in.

Last year when I published a post on aquamarine I had just purchased an irregular parcel of stones, one of which is in this gold teardrop ring above.

I also have a silver ring on my bench waiting for one of these stones, keep an eye on my instagram for an image later in the week.

 

 


Jewellery making basics - 4 terms to understand March 07 2016, 0 Comments

Until the day we all plug 3D printers directly into our brains and the things we dream of appear by magic, this is how those gorgeous sparkly things become reality.

Forging - 

Forged is a gorgeous word. It makes me think of blacksmiths with roaring fires, covered in soot, hammering away at huge lumps of steel. There is something medieval about it.

When working with a very tough metal like steel a blacksmith will heat it to the point that it becomes soft, then work it whilst it is hot before it hardens again. With a soft metal like silver or gold it can be 'cold forged' which means you can heat the metal to a temperature where it becomes soft, let it cool, and it will still be subtle enough to be shaped. As the metal is worked or polished it will harden. 

Hand 'cold forged' wedding rings in 18ct gold

It's not a word I would often associate with fine jewellery, but I've seen a few listings recently on Etsy describing the rings as forged. What this means is that the ring has been formed from metal wire or sheet, rather than cast from a mould. 

This can be a good thing in that machined metal in sheet or wire form is less likely to have imperfections or air bubbles as cast metal can have (see below), and can therefore be stronger. It is unlikely to make a huge difference in a simple ring as both methods create perfectly wearable pieces. 

Soldering - 

Soldering is the companion to the technique above, once you have cut and shaped your pieces you need to join them together. Most of my work is made by cold forging and soldering. Solder is precious metal with the addition of zinc, which has a lower melting point. To join 2 pieces together solder is placed on the join and the whole thing is heated, the zinc evaporates before the pieces melt, and the solder flows into the join, holding it together with the same precious metal the piece is made of, most of the zinc having disappeared.

Sounds simple right? The tricky bit with soldering is getting the right temperature, the items you are trying to join must be warm enough to attach to the solder, but not actually melt, when the solder does melt. It's a careful balancing act, too little heat will result in a join that doesn't hold, too much will melt all your work.

There is something a bit zen about soldering, on a good day it's easy as pie, on a bad day beyond frustrating. 

Anastasia necklaces, castings just out of moulds before cleaning

Casting - 

Metal has been cast into objects for at least 6,000 years, with the oldest surviving cast metal object in the world being from 3,200 bc.

Most cast jewellery is made using the lost wax method, a wax mould is made to the shape and size of the final piece, this is surrounded by rubber to make a mould, molten metal is poured in and this melts the wax away, replacing it with a finished metal shape. As mentioned above there can be problems in cast metal with air bubbles and imperfections, but sometimes these also add to the uniqueness of a piece. 

Carving and casting is a great way to get more organic and complex shapes which wouldn't be possible by cutting and attaching pieces of wire and sheet together.

Casting is an industrial process, and most very small jewellery workshops such as mine wouldn't have the machinery to cast items. If I melt anything in my workshop I'm having a bad soldering day, my zen has abandoned me. I love to carve in wax, and then I use a external company to cast for me into metal.

Cast ring in sterling silver

Stone Setting - 

There are lots of different methods of setting, depending on the shape and size of stone, and the look you want. What they all do is hold the stone in place, attached to the rest of the jewellery piece.

Setting in a stone is the last thing a maker will do when finishing a piece, most stones don't respond well to heat so all the soldering and shaping needs to be done before any stones are placed in. In most styles of setting metal is gently tightened in around or over the stone to hold it in place. Glue is not a feature of a properly set stone.

As many stones are quite fragile this can be a frankly terrifying experience, all the work of putting the piece together rests on gently getting the stone in place without damaging it in any way. When I was learning to make jewellery I regularly swore never to set a stone again, but they are just so pretty......

Coral and Labradorite Orbit rings, with bevel settings

Keep an eye on my blog for further insights into stone setting types and techniques in the next few weeks. 

 


Hello March February 29 2016, 0 Comments

After a few days of really gorgeous sunshine it finally feels like spring is on the way. The magnolia trees are starting to come out which makes me far far too excited. I just love the huge delicate flowers. Someone told me once they pre-date bees, and are designed to be pollinated by beetles.

This month I will be experimenting with some new recipes from my Anna Jones book, channelling my inner 90s sloane through my alice band obsession (it's not just me), and waiting as patiently as possible for the weather to warm up a bit.

Recently I have made a couple of wedding rings to go with large oval stoned engagement rings, and this has inspired me to experiment with some larger stoned rings.

 

Rose quartz and 9ct yellow gold ring

This rose quartz cabochon has a lovely faceted top. Slightly misty with a very subtle pink hue, this is really lovely against the soft yellow gold. I've been stacking this together with my tiny moissanite ring, I love the sparkle of the moissanite next to the matt quartz.

 

Keep an eye on my instagram feed and website for more gemstone options for this ring over the next few weeks. 


Gemstones for beginners February 22 2016, 0 Comments

There are a huge variety of natural gemstones regularly used in jewellery.

Most are minerals of some kind, the definition of a mineral being that it is solid and stable at room temperature, and that is has an ordered atomic structure (very scientific!)

There are a few exceptions to this, lapis lazuli is a rock, and there are other materials such as amber and pearls which are often used as gems.

Garnets from Mozambique, cut into baguettes

We tend to associate the names of gemstones with their colour, but in many cases the different colours of the same mineral have different names. 

As an example, rubies and sapphires are technically the same, all colours of corundum except for red are referred to as sapphires. Sapphires are most known for being blue, but come in all kinds of beautiful colours.

This is mostly historical, as it wasn't possible until more recently to see the difference in the mineral structure of gems. Many of the red stones in the crown jewels which were thought to be rubies are technically spinels, a different type of gemstone. 

Diamonds are generally expected to be clear, but also appear naturally in lots of different colours from pink and yellow to blues, browns and greens. Sapphires and topaz also have totally clear forms which before synthetic gems were developed were used as diamond substitutes.

The cost of stones is affected by their rarity and popularity. Traditionally stones were divided into precious and semi-precious, with diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald being precious stones. 

The most known stones and colours are the most expensive, but there are different grades. The deeper and richer the colour of an emerald, the more it will cost. A paler stone, possibly with inclusions will be less expensive. Buying a precious stone can be a complicated business, as there will be a variety of options depending on colour and clarity. 

More recently this division is less important, although these stones are probably still some of the most popular and well known. 

There are lots of lesser known beautiful stones, and more unusual colours of well known stones can be really lovely. If you were thinking of an emerald but your budget won't stretch to one, tourmaline, peridot and sapphire all come in gorgeous shades of green.  

Gemstones also vary in terms of how tough they are, this is measured on the 'Mohs' scale, with diamond at the top. Generally harder stones are more valuable as they are more suitable for everyday wear but there are exceptions such as opals which are very fragile but can be hugely valuable depending on the colour. 

Gemstones can have natural inclusions, other materials or flaws within the stone which are a different colour. In something like a perfectly clear diamond these make the stone less valuable, but with other types of stones they can create very interesting effects.

Cutting:

Stones are cut into shapes before being set into jewellery.

 

 Keep an eye on my gemstone series for more on the different cuts and settings. 


Choosing a wedding band - 5 key decisions February 15 2016, 0 Comments

When discussing wedding rings I very often hear the phrase 'I just want something simple'. No stones? No unusual shapes? No radical materials?

No problem, there are just 5 key decisions you still need to make:

Profile - 

If you were to cut through your ring and stretch it out into a straight line, what shape would you see at the end?

'D' and Court shaped rings are what most people would recognise as a traditional wedding ring look. Court bands have a curve on the inside to make them more comfortable. 

Flat bands can look more contemporary, and the Easy fit version with a curve on the inside is an option for more comfort.

Weight - 

Not all profiles will also offer weight options, but the more popular bands such as courts sometimes offer light, medium or heavyweight versions. The actual weight of the metal won't change, so heavier weight versions are thicker. This really is about whether you like the feel of a weighty ring on your finger.

If budget is a key concern going for a lighter weight version will generally be cheaper, as will choosing a 'D' shape over a court band. 

9ct white gold court band, 5mm

Width - 

Again all of these designs of ring will come in various widths, and the decision is about the look you want. If your fingers are larger, a wider ring will generally look more balanced, the same if your fingers are smaller. 4mm is about average in my experience for a court band. 5mm or 6mm will give a chunkier look. 

Metal - 

There is a lot of information on the different options for metal in the dedicated pages on my website.

Gold Carats and Colours

White Metals

If you are generally a silver wearer, or don't like the idea of bright yellow gold consider 9ct white as a softer, flattering alternative.

If you like the look of platinum, but are struggling with budget, consider looking into palladium as an alternative. 

Be aware if you are placing the ring next to an engagement ring that very hard metals like platinum can wear softer metals like gold.

Finish - 

Most jewellery is sold with a very highly polished finish. If very shiny isn't your thing then a matt finish is also an option, this can give a very different feeling to a metal.

I also offer hammered finishes on most of my pieces. This can be very pretty on a slim ring, and can be slightly more rustic on a larger surface. 

Shiny hammered, and matt wedding rings in 18ct yellow gold


February's Birthstone - Amethyst February 08 2016, 0 Comments


February's birthstone amethyst is a variety of quartz, as are an awful lot of things. It comes in various shades of purple and violet from very pale to dark. I have occasionally seen a very pale almost pink form called Rose de France, which is similar to rose quartz but slightly more blue. 

The name comes from ancient Greek, the stone is associated with the god Bacchus, and the name is a reference to the fact that apparently wearing the stone can help protect from drunkenness.It has been used in jewellery since ancient Egyptian times, and was often carved into elaborate intaglio gems. 

Medieval knights wore amethyst amulets in the belief they would protect the bearer from injury and keep the wearer cool headed. If worn whilst sleeping the stone is thought to reduce anger and impatience.

Orbit ring with amethyst in 9ct yellow gold

Amethyst used to be very precious but recently large deposits have been found and it can now be quite affordable. I offer amethyst as an option in most of my stone set rings, it is gorgeous with both gold and silver.

 

 


Hello February February 01 2016, 0 Comments

February can be a little uninspiring, it's still dark and cold outside and spring feels like it's a way off.

Cosying up on the sofa still feels like the best option. I'll be hiding under my Future Kept blanket in front of a succession of films arguing with my other half about what precisely constitutes a 'chick flick'. I'm not at all convinced my favourite 80's and 90's vampire movies fit into this category. Twilight has a lot to answer for.

British Made 100% Wool Blanket Grey - The Future Kept - 1

If I can bring myself to leave the house I will be heading to the V&A for the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition.

This month I am working on a new wedding range, based on pieces I have been making to order for the last couple of years. These are mostly familiar designs in slightly heavier weights and a wider range of metals. 

 

Rocking wishbone, 1.2mm, 18ct red gold, smooth

These rocking wishbone rings are a unique option on their own, or work well with large stoned engagement rings. I make a larger circle of metal and hand shape these into a wishbone, so the curve can be subtle or more dramatic to suit. 

I am also adding a new section to my website with lots of information on choosing a ring. 

That should keep me busy until spring rolls around.

 


Reasons to be cheerful January 18 2016, 0 Comments

Today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday! 

I am determinedly not giving into the winter blues so I thought I would share some of the things currently keeping me cheerful.

Pinterest

Hello my name is Nikki, and I am addicted to Pinterest. It's pretty much a constant source of happiness for me, but at the moment I have a new board with lots of images of flowers to keep me sane until spring arrives.

Flower Photograph - Nature Photography - Poem - Fine Art Photograph - Spring Magnolia Tree - Blossom - Bloom - Magnolia Blossom - Alicia

Image courtesy of Alicia Bock

Yoga

I have practiced yoga on and off for about 10 years, and it always makes me feel marvellous. Particularly if you spend a lot of time at a computer screen and in front of the TV just a few minutes can make a huge difference.

My new favourite source of inspiration for this is Adriene who has a great selection of videos on youtube, and a lovely relaxed attitude. 

Orbit rings with labradorite in 9ct yellow gold, the bottom ring is a cabochon, the top on faceted.

Labradorites

I have recently developed a bit of an obsession with tiny labradorites. This unusual gemstone is popular with more modern designers but doesn't have that much of a history in comparison to the more famous precious gems. 

These stones have a gorgeous multi coloured shimmer technically called 'Labradorescense' which is a really wonderful word. Basically they are clearish, greyish, often with darker dots, and when they catch the light shimmer purple, blue and green. 

At this time of year we all need a little labradorescence in our lives. 

 

 


Moissanite, a diamond substitute January 11 2016, 0 Comments

Moissanite is a synthetic diamond substitute which has recently started to become more popular in the jewellery market.

Discovered in 1893, moissanite occurs naturally in very very small quantities, mostly in meteorites. The quantities in nature are far too small for use, but it has now been synthesised in a lab and the artificial version is becoming more widely available.

Moissanites have a wonderful fire similar to a diamond, this is what sets them apart from cubic zirconia and other stones such as sapphire and topaz which come in clear forms. They can be even more dramatic than a natural diamond, and at considerably less cost.

In general I tend to prefer natural stones if possible, but although I always buy conflict free diamonds from a reputable source there are still complex ethical concerns around diamond production.

Possibly in this occasion an artificial substitute is worth considering, I would love to know what you think. Does it need to be a diamond, or if you are looking for sparkly perfection is the visible effect the most important thing? If it was impossible to tell the difference, would you tell?


January's birthstone - Garnet January 04 2016, 0 Comments

Garnet, the birthstone for January, can sometimes be seen just as a cheap substitute for Ruby, but it's a really beautiful stone in it's own right.

The name comes from a middle English work for dark red, 'gernet', which itself comes from a latin word for a grain or seed, which is thought to relate to pomegranate seeds.

This gorgeous baguette ring has a rich orangey red garnet from Mozambique.

Although the most well known colour for Garnet is red, fancy versions in colours from purple and pink to bright green and yellow are available, and growing in popularity.

Garnet is thought to stimulate passion and creativity, and even to inspire love. It's a great choice with either gold or silver. 

Garnet is a standard option for most of my stone set rings, send me an email if you would like to check whether it is available with any of my designs.


Turquoise for December Babies December 07 2015, 0 Comments

Turquoise is the birthstone for December.

It is the oldest precious stone having first been set into jewellery 7,000 years ago. The Aztecs and Incas believed it could bring good fortune, and it is often thought to bring long life to the wearer.

The names comes from the fact that turquoise first came to Europe from Turkey along with other valuables from the silk road.

Orbit rings with turquoise in 9ct yellow gold

Turquoise can be a variety of different shades of blue, with the most valuable being the colour of an American robin's egg (a strong sky blue.) A lot of modern turquoise is treated to improve the colour.

 

Turquoise is quite a soft stone in comparison to many gemstones, and can also fade in light over time. Older turquoise is often a softer, greenish colour and can be very lovely although more subtle.

My orbit stacking rings with turquoise are one of my more popular pieces, the teeny pop of blue is really cute and adds a pop of brightness.

I tend to think of turquoise as a summer stone, I'm not exactly sure why, but it is interesting that it is the choice for December.


Topaz and Citrine for November Babies December 01 2015, 0 Comments

November babies have a choice of 2 birthstones, Topaz or Citrine. 

The name topaz comes from the Greek name for St John's Island in the Red Sea where an orange stone was mined. In the middle ages the word topaz was used for any orange or yellow stone. 

Topaz is found naturally in various colours including red, orange, green, blue, grey and brown  as well as totally clear. Imperial Topaz, which is yellow or orange is the most valuable colour. The blue versions which are so popular are generally grey or clear stones naturally which are heat treated to produce different shades of blue.

Baguette ring with London blue topaz

This baguette ring has a London blue topaz which is a wonderful deep blue, and is one of my most popular items.

Blue topaz is considered to help with creativity, and particularly to be good for writers.

Orbit ring with Swiss blue topaz

Citrine is sometimes considered a cheap alternative to precious topaz, but is a very pretty stone in it's own right. As the name suggests it comes in various shades of yellow and orange similar to citrus fruits.

Citrine is thought to increase awareness, control emotions and raise self esteem.

I offer blue topaz for most of my stone set items, and can offer citrine as a special order item. Citrine is a relatively inexpensive stone. Natural imperial topaz will be considerably more expensive.


Black Friday Deals November 23 2015, 0 Comments

Black Friday logo
This year for Black Friday I am offering some pick and mix deals on my skinny rings!
Choose from a set of 3 or 5 rings, and then pick from either sterling silver or 9ct gold.

There are 5 styles of ring available in the deal:
Rocking wishbone
Sally ring
Holly wishbone
Skinny band smooth
Skinny band hammered
You can pick any UK ring size for each of your choices, so you can either order a set of stacking bands, a mix of midi and full sizes to style together,or some gifts for family and friends.
For 9ct gold you can also pick rose, yellow or white for each ring.

The ordering process is simple, buy a pick and mix package from the website, then reply to your confirmation email with your choice of rings. 

3 sterling silver rings - £40
5 sterling silver rings - £55
3 9ct gold rings - £75
5 9ct gold rings - £125

This offer is only available Friday 27th - Monday 30th November. 

 


And the winner is..... November 20 2015, 0 Comments

I have assigned a number to everyone who entered the competition to win the stacking rings, and used a random number generator to pick the lucky winner, who is the brilliantly named 

Nikki England.

Thanks so much everyone for entering.