Linda Kindler-Priest at Facèré Jewelry

"Baby Pelican" by Linda Kindler-Priest. Two-part brooch in 14k yellow gold, green sapphires, pearl, and aquamarine rough. Photo used with permission.
“Baby Pelican” by Linda Kindler-Priest. Two-part brooch in 14k yellow gold, green sapphires, pearl, and aquamarine rough. Photo used with permission.


Linda Kindler-Priest tells a story with every jewel. Sometimes her stories are complex and profound, at other times simple and straightforward. The story she tells with Baby Pelican is a simple story of life.

As the baby pelican toddles along, learning the ropes of life in search of food, he takes in the view of the misty ocean, sparkling in its crystalline beauty. Somehow, he knows that this is where he belongs. Its aquamarine depths will provide safety and sustenance. He will swim, dive, and catch fish. In short, he will live.

Ms. Kindler-Priest tells the bird’s story in two parts. The first act manifests as a masterpiece in repoussé . With only a hammer and a handmade stamp held between her hands and a chunk of 14k gold, she sculpts the pliable metal on her workbench. Pushing, shaping, and coaxing, she calls forth the pelican from both sides of the precious material. By the time Baby has emerged “every millimeter of the metal is worked,” infusing it with “subtle textures” and a “rich softness to the overall feeling.”

Ms. Kindler-Priest then begins the more evocative layer of the baby pelican’s story. First, she adds just a touch of sapphire flourish, giving the impression that the pelican treads upon the pristine shores of a distant shore. Far below, the misty nuance of the sea is represented by a lovely slice of aquamarine rough. The same flourish of sapphires is echoed in the frame surrounding the cut stone, linking them together in perfect harmony. A single ovoid pearl bridges the gap between the two parts, calling to mind the first stage of life for this sweet baby pelican.

This gorgeous brooch is one of several on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their “So Fine” exhibition. The exhibit explores fresh interpretations of fine jewelry and fine art in precious metals and gemstones. Ms. Kindler-Priest uses fine materials, but in an informal, asymmetrical fashion.

In Baby Pelican, the essences of fine and precious blend together in seamless harmony. A precious baby pelican discovers the bounty of the seashore for the first time. A shimmering pearl and the glittering yellow gold remind us that nature’s greatest gifts are both precious and fine. Faceted blue sapphires lend to the piece an element of fine jewelry, and the whimsical pelican and raw aquamarine evoke art at its finest.

Ms. Kindler-Priest finds her inspiration in nature, often drawing from the wildlife sanctuary near her home in Massachusetts. She studies her subjects carefully, ensuring that her work will capture both their essence and their form. Her passion for gemstones led her to learn the art of stone cutting.

She chooses gemstones like a painter chooses a color from her palette, cutting and shaping them to highlight the patterns and textures required to tell her vignettes. She designs her sculptural pieces with an eye to detail, combining all the shapes, textures, and forms found in nature in a symphony of harmony.

We invite you to visit Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery this week. The show closes on May 12, 2015. You will find more information on Facèré’s website.

The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond

The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond is one of the largest Fancy Brown Diamonds in the world. This Fancy Brown Diamond Brooch demonstrates the rich beauty of brown diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond is one of the largest Fancy Brown Diamonds in the world. This Fancy Brown Diamond Brooch demonstrates the rich beauty of brown diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.


The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond is a stunning 104.16-carat Fancy Brown diamond cut in a pear shape. In its rough form, discovered in 1963 in South Africa, it weighed an astonishing 198.28 carats. It was purchased that same year by prominent New York jewelry designer, Julius Cohen.

Julius Cohen began working in the diamond business as a teen in 1929 {HAG}. For thirteen years he apprenticed with his uncles at Oscar Heyman Brothers {3}. After learning techniques in the manufacture and sale of diamonds and gemstones, he left Oscar Heyman to work for Harry Winston. He oversaw the “Court of Jewels,” exhibition for Harry Winston, touring around the world with the illustrious stones in Mr. Winston’s treasury {11}.

In 1956, Julius Cohen launched his own in New York City. His was a singular approach to client services. Though he opened a salon and workshop on East 53rd, and later on Madison Avenue, Mr. Cohen primarily serviced his clients in the privacy of their own homes. In 1963, Mr. Cohen purchased the rough diamond, which was a rich honey color in its most natural state.

He brought it to S. & M. Kaufman, who cut it into a pear shape with 189 facets. The cutting process revealed the rich browns now associated with the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond.

I am on the hunt for information about S. & M. Kaufman. I have found several references to an S. M. Kaufman, who was a registered buyer in the Jeweler’s Review in 1899 and in the Crockery and Glass Journal in 1922.

There is also a company called S & M Kaufman registered in New York as jewelers; however, merchant directory listings claim the company was founded in 1980. New York also hosts Allison-Kaufman, which was established in 1920. I am waiting for return calls from the owners to help establish which, if any, of these firms fashioned the beautiful Chrysanthemum Diamond. When I hear back, I will update this article.

After the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond was cut, it was mounted as the central pendant for a stunning diamond necklace designed by Julius Cohen. This necklace features 410 oval and marquise-shaped white diamonds {2}. This rich golden brown diamond pendant dazzles the eye with overtones of sienna and burnt orange, colors so reminiscent of the gorgeous blooms of chrysanthemum that they inspired its name {2}.

In 1965, the Great Chrysanthemum was exhibited in the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society Show {1}. It was included in a lavish diamond display sponsored by Newton Pfeffer. The entirety of this display, valued at upwards of $2 million, was said to have been taken by armored car to a nearby vault every night during the show  {1}.

On a date not specified, Julius Cohen sold the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond to a private collector {10}. The diamond was also exhibited in 1971 at the Kimberley Centenary Exhibition and in 1977 at the Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg {2}. At some point after this show, the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond became part of the collection of the esteemed British Court jewelers Garrard’s of London {Khuri}.

In 2007, Garrard’s opened their United States flagship store in Beverly Hills, California. Visitors to Rodeo Drive had the supreme privilege of viewing the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond on display that summer {9}.

Garrard’s describes themselves as the oldest jewelry house in the world, having serviced the royal family of Great Britain since 1735. According to a singular website dedicated to the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond, Garrard’s no longer owns the diamond.

I have been able to verify that Garrard’s no longer owns any stores in the US, though I have not received a reply from them as to whether they currently own the diamond. Their Rodeo Drive location is now occupied by esteemed jewelry designer Stephen Webster. The writers of the diamond’s website claim that the original private collector reacquired the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond and maintains ownership to date {6}.


  1. Anonymous. “Mineralogical Record, suppl. 50-Year History of the Tucson Show,” Tucson Gem & Mineral Society, 2004, pp. 32-34.
  2. Balfour, Ian. Famous Diamonds. London: Christie’s, 2000.
  3. Burgum, Jill and Becky Dirtling and Andrea Rubenkoenig, eds. Exquisite Jewelry & Timepices. Texas: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2006.
  4. Garrard Brochure, 2013-2014.
  5. Great Chrysanthemum, The. “A Mysterious Enigma.” Accessed March 2015.
  6. Great Chrysanthemum, The. “An Amazing and Significant Piece of History.” Accessed March 2015.
  7. Great Chrysanthemum, The. “Mystery of the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond.” Accessed March 2015.
  8. Julius Cohen. “About Our Founder.” Accessed March 2015.
  9. Khuri, Elizabeth. “Shopping; The List; Blanche DuBois Fantasy,” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2007, p. 11.
  10. Leibish. “The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond,” Leibish Blog, November 13, 2011.
  11. Saxon, Wolfgang. “Julius Cohen, 81; Jewelry Designer Who Won Awards,” The New York Times Obituaries, July 19, 1995.
  12. Thomspon, Ryan. “The Great Chrysanthemum,” Famous Diamonds website. Accessed March 2015.

*I offer my gratitude to Peggy Tsiamis from the GIA library for her help in confirming many of the details about the early history of the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond.

Nanz Aalund at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery

'Swivel Locket' by Nanz Aalund. This locket will be on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their "So Fine" exhibition until May 12, 2015. Photo used with permission.
‘Swivel Locket’ by Nanz Aalund. This locket will be on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their “So Fine” exhibition until May 12, 2015. Photo used with permission.


Nanz Aalund has created several gorgeous jewels in sterling silver and yellow gold which are featured in Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery’s “So Fine” exhibition. This exhibit, on display until May 12, 2015, in downtown Seattle, seeks to explore the concept of traditional jewelry in relation to the concepts of fashion and finery.

Jewelry artists were asked to present works made from precious metals and gemstones which express their unique visions of finery and fashion.

When asked what the title of Facèré’s show means to her, Nanz Aalund said that after the lyrics of a bee-bop song  faded from her mind, what remained was the juxtaposition between jewelry as Fine Art and Fine Jewelry.

“With this show, as she has done with many others, I feel, Karen is playing with the premise regarding ‘fine’ materials within our craft, celebrating the fine art of finely made adornments from fine materials. Thus, ‘So Fine’,” Ms. Aalund remarked.

Nanz Aalund’s pieces are a beautiful marriage of the terms fine and art. She works primarily in sterling silver, with its almost-white delicacy, and in high-carat yellow gold, with its unparalleled luster and shine. Her techniques are those of a true master, defined by this writer as one who insatiably learns new techniques while continually practicing, teaching,  and incorporating old ones.

Ms. Aalund has several pieces on display in Facèré’s exhibition, including several bracelets in sterling silver; earrings made with 24k keum boo gold foil over sterling silver; a number of bold and sculptural two-finger rings in silver, 18k gold, and 22k gold; as well as a necklace called Always Crashing in the Same Car.

In a post written on her blog, Nanz credits the seven car crashes she survived as a child as her inspiration for Always Crashing in the Same Car. The necklace is comprised of a series of triangle pendants made from mashed up auto glass cast in resin and set in sterling silver frames. These beautiful aqua blue elements are linked together by intricate chains of sterling silver. This piece is beautiful and represents to Ms. Nanz both fragility and strength.

It is, however, her Swivel Locket, featured in the above photograph, which has so captivated me. Ms. Aalund graciously shared with me the basics of how she fashioned Swivel Locket. Incidentally, she crafted this piece as an inspirational model piece for a lesson she taught to a classroom of high school students.

Here’s what she writes about the process: “[T]he silver is roll-printed, which is an embossing process where paper with a pattern cut out of it is run through a rolling mill with a sheet of silver. The pressure from the mill cause the paper stencil to emboss the metal. Then the locket cases are Hydraulically pressed, which is an adaptation of an industrial production process. Finally the cabochon cut, pink tourmaline is set “volcano” style with rivets holding it in place.”

This piece beautifully captures the essence of Facèré’s “So Fine” exhibition. Not only is it fashioned from fine precious metals, but Ms. Nanz relates that the jacquard pattern imprinted on the silver and the 24k gold trefoil embellishment are a direct reference to the textiles of 15th century France, and the faceted tourmaline serves as a reminder of the history of gemstone cutting.

As she wrote to me, “by referencing the art historical elements of design,” Swivel Locket serves as an “allegory to the personal history the locket will hold when the owner places pictures of their loved ones within it.” In this way the piece makes a “very subtle artistic statement,” which she is certain will enhance the experience of the one who purchases the piece.

We invite you to visit Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery over the weekend to view in person the beautiful finery crafted by Nanz Aalund. Click here for more information.

The Koi Diamond

The Koi Diamond
The Koi Diamond is a unique multi-colored orange and white diamond weighing 32 carats. It has been cut in a pear shape to resemble the Japanese Koi fish and carries with it the symbolism of prosperity and perseverance associated with the beautiful water creatures.


The Koi Diamond offers a perfect impression of the illustrious oriental Koi fish. According to Phil Butler, this glorious 32-carat, pear-shaped diamond holds within its unique structure the legend of the Koi fish.

Originally, Koi fish are believed to have descended from one Chinese black carp given to Confucius by King Shoko of Ro {4}. Legend has it that the Chinese people raised them for food and passed this knowledge on to the Japanese {4}. The Japanese began breeding them and discovered that subsequent generations exhibited a gene mutation that resulted in a wide array of glorious colors {4}.

As these beautiful fish were also particularly friendly, the Japanese soon began breeding them as pets. Legends have since arisen surrounding the Koi, and the fish became a popular motif in Japanese art. One legend in particular seems to embody the Koi best.

It is written that a large school of Koi fish, glittering like jewels just beneath the surface of the Yellow River, once captured the imagination of surrounding villagers. According to legend, these Koi fish fought hard against the current, making it all the way to a large waterfall.

Most of the fish, exhausted from their travels, turned away in defeat against the relentless roar of the falls. However, a fair number (360 by several accounts) persisted in their efforts. They made a valiant attempt to scale the length of the waterfall, though they failed to make much progress.

A group of demons is said to have taken notice of the valiant struggle of these Koi fish. Celebrating an opportunity to wreak havoc, they are said to have added height to the waterfall, ensuring failure for these determined but exhausted fish. Over time, the fish grew weary, and many of them gave up. In the end, only one fish continued to persist and finally began making steady progress.

He is said to have stayed with his task for 100 years, and at the end of his trial he made one last gigantic leap and crested the top of the waterfall. In celebration of his triumph, the gods granted the Koi transformation. He became a golden dragon who now spends his days “chasing pearls of wisdom across the skies” {6}.

Today Koi fish represent the strength to overcome. They are a reminder to persevere in the face of great trials, and they have become an auspicious sign of good fortune and wealth.

Like the Koi fish of legends, the Koi Diamond defied all the odds and has become in itself a representation of the possibilities that await all of us. In the early 2000s, this diamond was discovered in the Republic of Congo {3}. Because of its many inclusions and its odd coloration, it was slated for industrial use.

However, at the last minute an artist, a diamond cutter who has chosen to remain anonymous, saw within the diamond a “glimmer of something special,” as Phil Butler so eloquently wrote in 2013 {3}. He was given an opportunity to coax his vision out of the stone.

His vision: a Japanese Koi fish. The coloring was perfect, and he shaped it brilliantly so that now it evokes the very essence the Koi are endowed with. What that diamond cutter did for this spectacular diamond has earned it a hallowed place in the diamond vaults of Antwerp.

In its finished state, the Koi Diamond weighs an astonishing 32 carats. It is a pear shape with colored splotches of white, orange, light yellow, dark blue, and black {3}. These variations in color render this stone as exotic and beautiful as the Koi fish for which it has been named.

It was graded for the GIA by colored diamond specialist, Eddy Elzas, who described his opportunity to classify this unique and special diamond as one of the most momentous in his life {3}. Phil Butler, who spoke to Mr. Elzas directly, wrote that the diamond specialist “marveled at just how this famous cutter…even visualized the Koi at the time” in what once was 60 carats of highly included rough {3}.

As of 2013, the spectacular Koi Diamond belonged to Rawstone Business Holding, a precious commodities trading company with connections in Antwerp, Luxembourg, Shanghai, and Tel Aviv. When it is not on display, it resides in a secured vault in Antwerp.
~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. Anonymous. “Inspired By Legend, Born of Passion, The Koi Becomes A Diamond,” Luxurious Magazine, May 15, 203.
  2. Butler, Phil. “Born of Fairytale, 32-Carat Koi Diamond Becomes Legend,” Argophilia Travel, May 10, 2013.
  3. Butler, Phil. “Sparkling Koi Diamond, the ultimate embodiment of Japanese legend and tradition,” Japan Today, May 19, 2013.
  4. Carty, Sue Lynn. “What Do Koi Fish Symbolize?” LoveToKnow.comAccessed April 2015.
  5. Koi, Kenneth. “Koi Fish Meaning and Myth,” Koi History, November 18, 2013.
  6. Koiponder. “How Koi Become Dragons,” Experience Project, July 29, 2009.
  7. Rawstone Business. “About.” Accessed April 2015.

Maggie Grace’s Engagement Ring

A rare Georgian Era diamond engagement ring similar. This ring is similar in style to the antique engagement ring Maggie Grace received from Matthew Cooke in February 2015. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
A rare Georgian Era diamond engagement ring. This ring is similar in style to the antique engagement ring Maggie Grace received from Matthew Cooke in February 2015. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.


Maggie Grace received a gorgeous antique engagement ring from writer/director Matthew Cooke this past February. The actress told USA Today that her stunning halo ring is from 1810.


Photographs of her ring confirm that Matthew Cooke located a rare Georgian Era finger ring for Maggie Grace. All the diamonds appear to be white in color. If they are original to the mounting, then they would most likely be rose cut, as they are in the ring featured in this article. Also, they would likely be backed by silver foil, which granted Georgian Era diamonds significant fire under the glow of candlelight.

Maggie Grace’s central diamond is surrounded by a halo of moderately sized round cut diamonds set in tarnished silver flutes. Its thin band is fashioned from yellow gold. Every one of these characteristics marks it as a Georgian Era jewel.

While modern halo rings feature tiny pave diamonds, Georgian Era halos featured much larger accent stones to surround the stone. This gives them a royal feel, and adds far more fire to the overall appearance of the stones. The tarnished silver behind the diamonds also marks this ring as clearly Georgian. In all likelihood, the underside of the mounting is made of yellow gold (to protect the skin from traces of tarnished silver).

According to Lang Antiques, the gold band on Maggie Smith’s engagement ring would have been fashioned by first melting an 18k gold alloy and pouring it into a mold shaped as a bar. An apprentice goldsmith would then employ a rolling mill, invented in the mid 1750s, to roll out the gold to the desired thickness.

It is truly remarkable that Matthew Cooke was able to find such a rare and precious ring for Maggie Grace. These Georgian Era rings are truly hard to find. Beginning in 1804, wealthy Europeans were encouraged to donate their gold and silver jewels to the cause of war. In exchange, jewelers would fashion exact copies in iron, resetting these imitations with the original stones.

Furthermore, the Georgian Era spans between 1714 and 1830 (approximately), a time when jewels were refashioned from season to season. Diamonds and gemstones were removed from unfashionable pieces and reset in “new” settings which were fitting for wear on the streets and at court. Indeed, it is rare to find an original piece without some kind of alteration.

It appears that Matthew Cooke has done just that. We applaud him on his choice of a rare gift for his rare and beautiful sweetheart.

Mary Lee Hu Featured in “So Fine” at Facèré Jewelry

Choker #91 by Mary Lee Hu
Choker #91 by Mary Lee Hu will remain on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery until May 12, 2015. Photo used with permission.


Mary Lee Hu approaches her craft like a Zen master, dedicating herself to a relatively narrow group of tools, materials, and techniques.

Every one of her techniques is drawn from the field of textile work. Even ancient designers wove with metal from time to time, but very few appear to have dedicated themselves to the application of techniques in basketry, hand weaving, crochet, and knitting to metalsmithing in quite the way that Ms. Hu has done.

Beginning with silver and copper in the mid-1960s, Mary Lee Hu has created unique adornments that exude many of the characteristics of cloth, though with a fine, glimmering edge that can be achieved only with elemental minerals. Today, Ms. Hu primarily crafts her pieces in 14k, 18k, 22k, and 24k gold, often weaving several gauges together to achieve the subtle nuances that set her work apart from that of her peers {Blauer}.

Ms. Hu uses only a small handful of tools, depending primarily upon her fingers. From time to time she employs a crochet hook, and perhaps one or two other special implements, though she prefers to keep her tool bag light and her options limited. Within these self-imposed limitations, she has found an endless supply of variations on a theme.

To follow the arc of Mary Lee Hu’s life work is to behold the power of commitment, faithfulness, and perseverance. She began her work as all great masters begin, in the classroom. At the bench, she learned the elements of Scandinavian design which were so popular during her early years at the bench {Mad Museum}.

In graduate school, she ventured outside the world of metals to take a class in fibre arts. As the semester progressed, she became increasingly inspired to apply what she was learning in textiles to her favored medium, metal wire .

Throughout the 1970s she drew inspiration from nature, crafting lifelike lizards, birds nests, and insects, using the simplest of techniques, wrapping, plaiting, and twisting wires. As school gave way to a career in metals, she found herself on distant shores, studying ancient and modern cultures.

Her passion for anthropology and jewelry history opened a window to the past, inspiring Ms. Hu’s multicultural torques and chokers which carry overtones of the Orient. For many years her work was bold and cultural, though in more recent years the lines of her pieces have become more organic, favoring the styles of European antiquity.

The necklace featured here, called simply Choker #91, is an exquisite example of Ms. Hu’s more delicate, European style work. The evoke a ballroom scene during the Belle Epoque, though Ms. Hu would be cautious about assigning any one source for inspiration.

Ms. Hu, quoted by author Nanz Aalund in the book Masters: Gold, claims many inspirations. “I look at a lot of historical jewelry and metalwork, as well as traditional non-Western body adornment, and they do influence my work, but not to the point where I wish to name a piece in reference to something in particular” {p. 25}.

Instead, she maintains a minimalist approach to naming her pieces. Each piece is numbered within its most elemental category, be it a Choker, a BraceletEarrings, or a Brooch. She hopes this simplistic naming system allows those who experience her jewels to interpret their impact through their intuition, through their gut, rather than using their minds to puzzle over the name and what it means to them.

For those interested in experiencing this gut level reaction, we are pleased to announce the ‘So Fine’ jewelry exhibition at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery in downtown Seattle. Visitors can savor several precious pieces fashioned by Mary Lee Hu, as well as a number of pieces by other local jewelry artists, including Nanz Aalund, Megan Corwin, Maggie Davidson, Linda Kindler-Priest, Todd Pownell, and more.

The ‘So Fine’ exhibition aims to offer a fresh interpretation and expression of the notion of traditional jewelry. The gallery has chosen select pieces in which the presenting artists have explored visions of finery and fashion interpreted in precious metals and gemstones. For more information, click here.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Sophie Hunter’s Tiffany Engagement Ring

For Sophie Hunter's engagement ring, Benedict Cumberbatch chose timeless Tiffany. While Ms. Hunter's halo ring is a dainty pairing of diamonds and blue sapphires, this modern Tiffany Lucida Diamond Engagement Ring is no less timeless in its interpretation of white diamonds and platinum. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
For Sophie Hunter’s engagement ring, Benedict Cumberbatch chose timeless Tiffany. While Ms. Hunter’s halo ring is a dainty pairing of diamonds and blue sapphires, this modern Tiffany Lucida Diamond Engagement Ring is no less timeless in its interpretation of white diamonds and platinum. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.


Sophie Hunter’s engagement ring is a timeless Tiffany halo setting with what looks to be a white cushion-cut diamond surrounded by a square halo of small blue sapphires. According to Vogue, Benedict Cumberbatch picked it out himself. The delicate band, made of either platinum or white gold, is encrusted with tiny pavé white diamonds.


Mr. Cumberbatch, who presented Ms. Hunter’s engagement ring to her in November 2014, appears to be one of those gallant British men who has remained largely unaffected by his fame. His decision to publicly announce his engagement in black-and-white in The Times, adds considerable weight to this assessment.

“It’s what I would have done if I wasn’t famous….It’s a normal thing to do in my country. It was a way of telling our friends who we hadn’t been able to tell before (they saw) some grainy shot of a ring on her finger,” he is said to have told USA Today.

The two have kept their relationship largely beneath the radar, and though the couple is so popularly supposed to have met in 2009 on the set of Burlesque Fairytales, the actress, singer, and director told Vogue that she and Mr. Cumberbatch have known each other for 17 years. Theirs appears to be a love that will go the distance.

“To have Sophie in my life is something I am incredibly grateful for and very excited about. It’s a bit of a golden moment for me right now and I am loving it,” Mr. Cumberbatch told reporters {cited}.

In Vogue, Ms. Hunter speaks to Annie Leibovitz, who photographed her exclusive wedding dress fitting, about the centering she has experienced since investing in her relationship with Mr. Cumberbatch. “When two people meet and it’s the right combination, it does ground you suddenly,” she says.

Grounding is the right word for strong relationships. And what better way to express this grounding than with a timeless Tiffany halo engagement ring?

Which do you prefer: colored stones surrounding a white diamond like Ms. Hunter’s engagement ring? Or white diamonds surrounding a colored stone?

Grainger Hall of Gems

Photo of the Grainger Hall of Gems after its 2009 remodel. Dark display boxes against a white background highlight the evolution from raw gemstones (just out of view in a box of sand), to loose faceted gems, to beautiful jewels. Photo ©2012 Kimberly Vardeman.
Photo of the Grainger Hall of Gems after its 2009 remodel. Dark display boxes against a white background highlight the evolution from raw gemstones (just out of view in a box of sand), to loose faceted gems, to beautiful jewels. Photo ©2012 Kimberly Vardeman.


The Grainger Hall of Gems offers one of my favorite presentations of gemstones and jewels. It remains at the top of my list for gem halls to visit in the future.

In 2009, under the direction of the the Chicago Field Museum’s senior vice president and curator of the gem hall, Dr. Lance Grande, the display of the Field Museum’s permanent collection of jewels and gemstones became one of the world’s most innovative and unique interpretations of the natural history of gemstones.

Typically, a museum’s gem hall features a backdrop reminiscent of Elizabethan stage plays, with heavy dark curtains, black walls, and display cases lined in dark blue or black velvet. In these dramatic settings, the jewels and gemstones seem to gleam from out of the darkness, illuminated by stark backlighting.

While the effect of such a display can leave a lasting impression in its dramatic and haunting effect, it is not a setting truly conducive to learning and creative exploration. In keeping with his mission to “bridge the gap between scientists, gemologists and jewelers” {cited} and to “tie the natural beauty…together with human artistry” {cited}, Dr. Grande has reimagined the display of gems and gemstones.

The new hall is decorated in a rich honey color with oak wood floors and walnut-colored trim. Stretching the length of an entire wall is an inset display case set flush within the wall. Several satellite display cases stand throughout the exhibit floor.

The room is well-lit with natural lighting which appears to emanate from skylights placed within the domed arc of the ceiling. Each display case features a block wood platform painted white with a series of square or rectangular display platforms painted in white, dark grey, or black. Jewels are mounted for optimal viewing, while raw gemstones are nestled artfully in trays filled with light brown sand.

The Grainger Hall of Gems demonstrates a logical sense of order befitting a natural history museum. The emphasis of this remarkable presentation rests upon the standardized classification of gemstones and minerals. Dr. Grande and his staff have provided visitors with an in-depth examination of the partnership between man and nature.

Visitors to the Grainger Hall of Gems will enjoy displays of both ancient and contemporary jewels beside raw gemstones in original matrix and loose faceted gemstones. These displays are organized in mineral families, so visitors can closely examine the similarities and differences between all their favorite stones.

The importance of understanding the evolution of gemstones to jewelry cannot be understated for jewelry enthusiasts. While in and of themselves gemstones are among nature’s most beautiful gifts, the powerful addition of human ingenuity to nature’s raw materials has marked history for thousands and thousands of years.

The Grainger Hall of Gems offers an artful and thoughtful presentation of this powerful partnership to any who are captivated by the magic and mystery of gems and jewelry. We invite you to visit the Field Museum website for more details.


  1. Field Museum. “Grainger Hall of Gems: Gallery of Gems.” Accessed April 10, 2015.
  2. Field Museum. “Grainger Hall of Gems: History of the Gem Collection.” Accessed April 10, 2015.
  3. Grande, Lance and Allison Augustyn. Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  4. Helen, “The Field Museum’s ‘The Nature of Diamonds,'” Chicago Windy City Guide, October 22, 2009.
  5. University of Chicago Books, The. “Gems and Gemstones by Lance Grande and Allison Augustyn.” Accessed April 10, 2015.
  6. Valenzuela, Michelle. “Gemstones go au naturel at Grainger Hall of Gems,” Sparkle, September 2012.
  7. Woulfe, Molly. “Rock Show,” NWI Times, October 23, 2009.

Cartier’s Trinity Motif

Marlene Dietrich in May 1933, seven years before Eric Remarque gave her the Cartier Trinity Lapis Bracelet. Her matchless personality and genderless glamour made her the perfect model for the emerging Cartier's Trinity motif.
Marlene Dietrich in May 1933, seven years before Eric Remarque gave her the Cartier Trinity Lapis Bracelet. Her matchless personality and genderless glamour made her the perfect model for the emerging Cartier’s Trinity motif.


Cartier’s Trinity motif dates back to 1924, with its triple-colored rings of white, yellow, and rose gold. White for friendship, yellow for loyalty, and rose for true love {3}.

Designed to represent the evolution of a relationship, Cartier’s Trinity motif began with a series of interlocking finger rings in the 1920s {6}. This spectacular interpretation of the symbology of love endures today and remains one of Cartier’s most popular collection. Not only the colors, but the interlocking nature of the motif send a powerful message about the cycles and stages of romantic love.

A very unique rendering of Cartier’s Trinity motif was realized in 1940 {1}. Erich Maria Remarque, a German writer known most notably for his classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front, commissioned Cartier to make an exquisite, one-of-a-kind bracelet for his friend and lover, actress Marlene Dietrich {1}.

Featuring a single lapis lazuli bead, fashioned in what Sotheby’s calls a “barrel-form,” hangs in suspension on a band of interwoven 14k gold circular links in white, yellow, and rose color {5}. These links are intertwined in a beautiful design most assuredly in reference to Cartier’s Trinity motif.

Lisa Hubbard, co-chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, told InStyle that she believes this particular piece of lapis lazuli was one of the ancient stones purchased by Louis Cartier in the early 1920s, possibly from Egypt {3}.

It is well known, according to Cartier biographer Hans Nadelhoffer, that Louis Cartier demonstrated a passion for Egyptian art, infusing many of his Art Deco designs with the stones of the ancient. Some of his favorite Egyptian stones were cornelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli {4}.

This bracelet, more than any other in Marlene Dietrich’s extensive jewelry collection, seems to epitomize Marlene’s strength, dignity, and genderless glamour.

In December 2014, Sotheby’s enjoyed the supreme privilege of offering Marlene Dietrich’s stunning Cartier Trinity gold and lapis bracelet for sale. In their catalog, they called it a 14 Karat Tri-Colored Gold and Lapis Bracelet, Cartier {5}. The esteemed auction house reported that Eric Remarque chose the stone because Marlene was especially fond of lapis.

Though Mr. Remarque had only known Marlene for a year at the time of the jewel’s commission, it is evident that he knew firsthand the matchless style of his lady love. Not too dainty, not too bold, this Cartier Trinity bracelet proves the perfect statement piece for a woman of Marlene’s distinction.

The gorgeous jewel was estimated to sell for between $20,000 and $30,000 this past December. Of course, as is always the case, these estimates did not reflect that thermonuclear effect called star power. The bidding for this stunning Cartier bracelet soared well above the estimated temperatures of the low $20,000s, reaching a high of $179,000.

To date, the jewel’s new owner has chosen to remain anonymous. Time will tell whether another level of star power will have been added when this piece returns once again to the limelight at some future date.

Do you have a fondness for Cartier’s Trinity collection? Which is your favorite?

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer20


  1. Becker, Vivienne. “The Jewels They Wore,” Sotheby’s, December 3, 2014.
  2. Doulton, Maria. “Trinity de Cartier: an enduring symbol of love,” The Jewellery EditorAccessed April 17, 2015.
  3. Fasel, Marion. “#RocksMyWorld: The Cartier Jewel of Screen Legend Goes on the Auction Block at Sotheby’s,” InStyle, December 4, 2014.
  4. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. Chronicle Books, 2007.
  5. Sotheby’s. “14 Karat Tri-Color Gold and Lapis Lazuli Bracelet, Cartier.” Accessed April 17, 2015.
  6. Trinity Collection,” Harper’s Bazaar. Accessed April 17, 2015.

Legend of the Diamond Valley

This magnificent ravine evokes the feeling of the Diamond Valley in its immensity and heavy layers of fog. Photo ©2014 by MaxPower0815 on flickr.
This magnificent ravine evokes the feeling of the Diamond Valley in its immensity and heavy layers of fog. Photo ©2014 by MaxPower0815 on flickr.


In Diamond Valley a steep chasm stretches 1,000 feet deep. Filled with fog nearly to the brim, it evokes awe and reverent fear in all who peer over its edge. Villagers from the surrounding towns occasionally dare to approach the ravine, only to be met with the impenetrable mist that swirls from its depths. A rock thrown over the edge makes no sound as it falls without end.

The swooping balance of the eagle’s wings is the only sight visible within the swirling vapors. To the great birds alone belongs this ravine. They make their nests upon the cliff faces far above, in view of the visiting villagers. Their penetrating eyes remain ever watchful, piercing the fog, alert to shifts in air currents and sometimes to the movement of prey far below.

On occasion, one of these magnificent kings of the air plunges into the depths. In moments or hours, depending on their whim, they’ll resurface, clutching the remains of a rabbit or a fox.

Clinging to the ravaged flesh of these small animals, opaque colorless stones sometimes catch the eyes of onlooking villagers. Not daring to spook the grand birds, they wait in hope that the bloody remains will slip from their grasp. When this happens, the villagers run to collect the unusual pebbles.

Word reaches the king to the east that Diamond Valley holds treasure in the form of white crystals harder than any other substance on the earth. This prudent king dispatches ambassadors who arrive at the cliff’s edge, only to travail at the impossibility of their task. Though they are the king’s best climbers, their ropes will never reach the bottom, not even if they tie them end to end.

They make an attempt to scale the cliff face anyway, just to see whether there might be crystals within reach of their ropes. Their attempts only prove the rumors they’ve heard, the crystals lie only at the bottom, attainable only through the implementation of a most gruesome method.

As they coil their ropes at the top of the ravine, they ponder the bloody task that awaits them. First, they must negotiate with the villagers for a trio of sheep. Then, they must pay for the privilege of using the butcher’s tools. Then, they must find a suitable field nearby for preparing the sheep.

A nearby meadow opens itself to receive the blood of the docile animals, as the king’s men strip off their skins and prepare large pieces of meat to toss over the edge of the cliff. Will this bizarre ritual prove effective for delivering the crystal stones to the king?

The villagers promise it will work. Throwing caution to the wind, the men begin heaving hunks of gory sheep flesh over the edge of the ravine. They watch the eagles as the eagles watch them. After a few minutes, the eagle’s catch the scent of blood and swoop down into the misty depths of the ravine.

The men watch in silence, holding their breath. After nearly losing heart, their efforts are rewarded as several soaring eagles drop the gristle at the cliff’s edge. Stuck to the gory mess are crystals of varying sizes. The men swiftly clean the stones and throw the bloody remains back over the edge, raising their hands in gratitude to the eagles before turning to take their bounty to the king, from whom they will receive their second reward in gold bullion.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

*This is my own adaptation of the story of the Diamond Valley as read in Berthold Laufer’s book The Diamond: A Study in Chinese and Hellenistic Folk-Lore, Volume 15 (Field Museum of Natural History, 1915).