• Aquamarine Properties & Characteristics

    A Gorgeous Aquamarine Gemtone Ring. A Gorgeous Aquamarine Gemtone Ring. Click here to learn more. Photo ©2019 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Aquamarine is a gorgeous gemstone. It ranges in color from the pale blue you see above, to deep sea blue, to blue-green and green-blue. Found in many locations around the world, it is a fairly abundant semi-precious stone. As such, aquamarine jewelry can come with very large, eye-clean stones that shimmer brilliantly with a durability that withstands everyday wear.

    Aquamarine Chemical Properties

    Aquamarine, like its cousin emerald, belongs to the beryl family. Beryl in its pure state grows as a colorless crystal. Beryl begins with a solution of beryllium, aluminum, and silica. Sometimes traces of other minerals mix into the solution, as well.

    In the case of emeralds, vanadium and/or chromium mix in, resulting in the rich green color. Aquamarines, on the other hand, form when trace amounts of iron leach into the solution. The more iron, the richer the color.

    Unlike its cousin emerald, aquamarine generally grows with very few inclusions. Therefore, large specimens often result in excellent clarity and transparency.

    When you purchase an aquamarine, your first concern in terms of value and quality is color. The deeper the color, the higher the value. Second to color is transparency. The fewer inclusions, the higher the value.

     

    History of Aquamarine

    The use of aquamarine in human society dates back as far as 480 BCE. The ancient Greeks carved amulets out of this mesmerizing gemstone. The beautiful blue stone soon became associated with the sea. In fact, its name is derived from the Latin words for sea (mare) and water (aqua).

    A revival of the gemstone came in the early 1700s, with the discovery of aquamarine in Siberia, in the Adun-Chalon mountains. Quite possibly aquamarines surfaced earlier in Minas Gerais, a state in Brazil.

    In addition to featuring some of the largest rivers and highest mountain peaks in Brazil, Minas Gerais (which translates to "General Mines") also contains several large gemstone mines. Large deposits of emeralds, topazes, and aquamarines supplied the world in these gemstones for many decades.

    Aquamarines continue to come out of Brazil, though other sources emerged in the last several decades. Perhaps the most important to date, the mines in Karur, India stand out as a top supplier in aquamarines. Aquamarines are also found in China, Madagascar, Russia, Mozambique, and the USA.

    Arguably the most desirable of all aquamarine hues is the Santa Maria. Santa Maria aquamarines come in a bright blue color. These gorgeous stones take their name from the Santa Maria region in Brazil, the only place to find them. Other popular types of aquamarine include Martha Rocha and Espirito Santo, both of which also come from Brazil.

     

    At EraGem we treasure March's birthstone, aquamarine. Give us a call today to make an appointment to see our extensive collection of beautiful aquamarine jewelry.

  • 3 Actresses Who Got Engaged in February

    Get engaged celebrity style Get engaged celebrity style with this gorgeous Tiffany Legacy Diamond Halo Solitaire Engagement Ring. Click here to learn more. Photo ©2019 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    February proved a great month to get engaged. Several celebrities said, "Yes," including three actresses. First of all, Melissa Benoist said yes to Chris Wood. Next, Brittany Snow said yes to Tyler Sandaland. Finally, Jessica Rothe said yes to Eric Clem.

     

    Melissa Benoist Engaged to Chris Wood

    Melissa Benoist is best known for her role as Kara Danvers (aka Supergirl) in the CW hit show Supergirl. Benoist met her new fiance, Chris, on set when he took the role of Mon-El. Even on the show, Kara and Mon-El explore love together as a couple, at least for a time.

    In real life, the couple started dating in spring of 2017, shortly after Wood joined the Supergirl cast. Thankfully, their TV breakup failed to impact their real-life relationship.

    The couple announced their engagement on social media on February 10, 2019. Wood turned to jewelry designer Jen Meyer to create the perfect engagement ring for Benoist.

    Crafted by hand in LA, Benoist's engagement ring features a demure pave band mounted with a cushion- or oval-cut diamond surrounded by a square halo of even more diamonds. The ring exudes the innate philosophy of Jen Meyer's designs - be authentic, be unique, and always sparkle.

     

    Brittany Snow Engaged to Tyler Sandaland

    At some point in late January or early February, Tyler Sandaland proposed to Brittany Snow. The actress is best known for her role as "this ginger," Chloe in the movie Pitch Perfect. The couple have been dating since last August.

    Sandaland, a former professional surfer, proposed with a four-prong diamond solitaire on a classy pave band. Great choice!

    His announcement of their engagement on Instagram is one of the sweetest I've read in a while. "I don’t know how I got so lucky and I don’t know that I really understood what love is until you. Everything changed when we met. You are the most beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, caring, incredible humans and I couldn’t be more excited to do life with you. Here’s to forever and making our wildest dreams come true. Love you to the moon and back.”

     

    Jessica Rothe Engaged to Eric Clem

    It took a little digging to learn anything about Eric Clem. For one thing, one of the celebrity sites spelled his last name Flem. Um...so glad I didn't make that same mistake.

    After a slightly deeper Google dive, I discovered that Eric Clem is not only an actor, but a seriously talented woodworker and bowyer. In case you don't know what a bowyer is (I certainly didn't!), it is a person who makes bows, as in bows and arrows.

    Clem also makes furniture, arrows, and more out of wood. I really encourage you to check out his website. His work is absolutely gorgeous.

    Of course, Jessica Rothe played the role of Alexis, Mia's roommate friend, in La La Land. She also starred in several comedy-dramas, as well as in the movie Forever My Girl.

    Rothe and Clem announced their engagement on Valentine's Day. Rothe's engagement ring features a gorgeous wide yellow gold band with a serious round diamond solitaire. I'm guessing the diamond weighs 3 to 4 carats. A stunning and truly unique choice!

    We wish all of these couples the best! If you are in the mood to shop celebrity style for your engagement ring, please give us a call today.

  • Anna Mlasowsky Wins Award at the BAM Biennial Exhibition

    'Chorus of One' by Anna Mlasowsky Winner of the BAM Glasstastic! Show 2019 Chorus of One by Anna Mlasowsky. Photo courtesy of the artist with permission from Bellevue Arts Museum.

     

    This stunning work of glass art by Anna Mlasowsky is the one of many PNW works on display at Bellevue Arts Museum. As winner of the John & Joyce Price Award of Excellence, Chorus of One represents the spirit of exploration in which the Glasstastic exhibition was conceived.

    As a malleable material, glass offers so many options to the artist. On view through April 14, Glasstastic explores the medium of glass in all its many forms.

     

    The Year of Glass

    Glasstastic showcases 49 Pacific Northwest glass artists, each with a unique approach to the medium. This exhibition tops off the museum's biennial exploration of media-based exhibits. From here forward, the BAM biennial will explore art on the basis of central themes.

    Given Seattle's prominence in the artistry of glass, the focus on glass during this culminating show makes perfect sense. Of course, glass expands beyond art, serving vital functional purposes in life. The works on view in Glasstastic explore some of this functionality and also highlight the malleability of glass as art.

    Though simple in its composition, glass provides many forms to work with in creating art - stained glass, blown glass, cast glass. Within each approach, an infinite number of outcomes. Glass can be stretched into razor-thin delicacies, or cast into dense blocks of color.

    It can be cast or blown with smooth, even surfaces. It can also be texturized, imprinted with any pattern under the sun. Glass art stands at a distance, inspiring us with its colorful delights. It also beckons us closer, inviting us to run our hands along its smooth surfaces, or feel the divots and lines of texture it holds for us to enjoy.

    The medium of glass truly stands above so many other media, being so malleable, so easily colored and manipulated, so interactive with light, so ethereal and yet so grounded in everyday reality.

    One piece of glass art shown at the Biennial stands apart from the rest, as a Chorus of One.

     

    Chorus of One

    Anna Mlasowsky works with many materials to produce her art, including glass. For Glasstastic, she exhibited Chorus of One, a cloak made of plates of a special glass created by Corning Inc., which she mounted on fabric.

    When worn, Chorus of One produces a multitude of tones activated by the movement of the wearer. For its creation, Anna Mlasowsky deeply explored the protective and inhibitory nature of armor. How it both protects and inhibits movement and communication.

    Each plate of this unusual cloak is fashioned from a specialty glass created by Corning Inc. Rhino glass was created for the production of military-grade body armor. It proves shatter-resistant, protecting the wearer from impact.

    Inspired by a rock, each scale of the cloak resembles one face of said rock. The elements of rock and glass armor infuse Chorus of One with their inhibitory properties, constraining movement. Yet, when worn by a dancer, whose sole intention is to fluidly move, this protective shield becomes part of the dance.

    Indeed, it plays the music for the dance. Not surprisingly, Chorus of One won the juried prize for Glasstastic. Not only will Anna Mlasowsky receive a $5,000 cash prize, she also earned a solo exhibition at BAM.

     

    Anna Mlasowsky

    Anna Mlasowsky moved from Germany to Denmark to study at the Royal Danish Academy. After graduating with a BA in Glass, she moved to Seattle, where she earned her MFA in sculpture from the University of Washington.

    Anna calls glass an analog - a signal, or visual symbol, demonstrating the complex and ever-shifting nature of reality. As a foreigner, in her physical body, her sexuality, and her cultural tradition, she feels the transitory nature of reality more deeply than most.

    In her studio, Anna Mlasowsky immerses herself in a context which highlights the suffering and injustice of the outside world. Within this context, she provides her answers. Using processes and materials which transmute and transform, she creates works of art which express her desires for justice.

    Anna Mlasowsky envisions a social culture with fluid norms, one that embraces a multitude of truths. She longs for a place to call home, where culture, gender, sexuality, and mental state inscribe themselves upon a person like badges of honor.

    Where reality is both what it is and what we make it. A process that involves the cyclical nature of existence - immaturity, pain, violence, suffering, growth, birth, and death.  Not just in the human experience, but also in the experience of flora and fauna, animals and geography.

    If you get a chance to visit Bellevue soon, not only do we hope you'll stop by our Bellevue showroom for a look at our fantastic jewelry. We also hope that you'll spend an hour walking through the Glasstastic exhibition at BAM. To plan your trip, we invite you to visit their website.

  • Russian Engagement Traditions

    Russian Engagement Flowers

     

    Traditionally, Russian engagement customs involve only a few of the western customs. Depending on the status of the couple, engagement might include a formal ball and feast. Or it might involve only a small handful of family members. Either way, betrothal remains a sacred bond.

     

    Russian Engagement Customs

    When the daughter of a Russian nobleman accepts her beloved's proposal of marriage, her father hosted an elaborate party. This party included feasting and dancing. After her father announced their engagements, each guest came forward to wish them well.

    At this time, the woman's fiancé offered her a ring set with a precious stone. A religious betrothal ceremony commonly followed, during which the couple received the blessing of the family priest.

    This religious ceremony took place for all betrothed couples, no matter their station in life. However, couples of lesser means followed slightly different engagement customs.

    Those living in the city might take the opportunity to throw a small family party. This presented an opportunity for the two families to meet. Together, the family members attended the blessing of the couple by the priest.

    In a village setting, the engagement took place in the home of the bride with both sets of parents in attendance. After their parents presented the couple with an icon, the couple partook of salt and bread. After that, their fathers took turns bowing to each other. Each bowed seven times, then shook hands and agreed to uphold the agreement made on that day.

    Immediately following the handshake, the bride walked out onto her front porch and bowed seven times in all directions. Neighbors and friends took this as a sign to gather for her announcement of her engagement. The religious betrothal ceremony followed.

     

    Russian Engagement Rings

    I confess to being uncertain whether Russian men customarily proposed with a ring. Some sources say they always have, that the ring was given during the betrothal ceremony in front of the priest. The woman accepted the ring as a token of her promise to marry the man.

    However, other sources claim that exposure to western culture influenced the adoption of the engagement ring. Some report that in lieu of a ring, the man traditionally presented his sweetheart with a bouquet of flowers during the proposal. Perhaps, in different regions, all of these prove true.

    Given the differences in culture between Russia and the west, I suspect that when a Russian man proposes with a ring, he offers a demure one, possibly with a colored stone rather than a diamond.

     

    Proposal Planning

    Those planning to propose to a Russian woman need not concern themselves with lofty public displays of affection. A Russian woman prefers an intimate, private setting. She longs for a sincere display of affection, with direct eye contact and sincerity in words and actions.

    If you present her with a ring, choose a ring that represents her uniqueness and your love for her in some special way. Also, regardless of whether you bring a ring or not, I suggest you begin your Russian engagement with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

    ~by Angela Magnotti Andrews

  • Wedding Planning in the United States

    Wedding Planning

     

    Wedding planning in the United States follows certain traditions, just like it does in other countries. However, in the United States couples have a wide range of personal choices to make as they prepare for their wedding.

     

    Two Options for Wedding Planning

    Couples have two options for planning their weddings. First of all, they can do it all themselves. Of course, this means they must recruit a crew of friends and family to help make it happen. Today, experts refer to this approach as DIY (do-it-yourself).

    Another option is to hire a professional wedding planner. Professional planners provide a complete structure for the process, taking care of choosing vendors, scheduling the details, and preparing all the behind the scenes tasks. At the same time, they work closely with the couple and their families to ensure that the wedding reflects the bride's and groom's personalities. They arrange for the bride and groom to decide as much or as little as they care to in the details of the wedding.

     

    Important Wedding Decisions

    Regardless of which option a couple chooses, the decisions that must be made include making a guest list, choosing stationery and layout for the invitations, venue for the ceremony and the reception, color palette and theme for the wedding, decorations and flowers, music, ceremony style, wedding attire, as well as cake and food. While all of these decisions rest primarily with whoever plans the wedding, there are a few decisions only the bride and/or groom can make.

    For one thing, the bride chooses her dress. In the US, brides continue to favor a white dress. She and her mom or closest friends visit bridal shops. She tries on several beautiful gowns, feeling like a princess throughout the process. Typically, the bride experiences the moment, looking in the mirror and seeing herself wearing the dress of her dreams. Tears might fall, and the women who attend her share a hushed moment before the sales staff wrap up the gown for her to take home.

    Another choice the bride and groom make on their own involves their attendants. A US bride typically has a maid or matron of honor, plus between one and five bridesmaids. The maid of honor serves as the one person the bride knows she can lean on in the months leading up to the wedding, as well as on the wedding day itself. A groom also chooses his best man and his groomsmen. Typically, the number of groomsmen and bridesmaids is equal.

    The maid of honor typically plans the bridal shower, as well as the bachelorette party. Meanwhile, the best man typically goes with the groom to pick out his tuxedo or suit. He also plans the bachelor party.

     

    Gift Registry

    A wedding offers many opportunities for friends and family members to bestow gifts upon the bride and groom. The couple often receives gifts at their engagement party, at the bridal shower, and on the day of the wedding, as well.

    Traditionally, gifts include cash and household items. Typically, an American couple chooses together the colors and decorative themes for their new home.

    Once they have the basics figured out, the couple then goes together to their local department store to create what is called a gift registry. Each store has a slightly different process, but usually the couple carries a scanner while they "shop" throughout the store for the items they would like for their home.

    They scan these items into the computer, which generates a comprehensive list of gifts. When someone wishes to purchase them a gift, that person can go to the store they specify and prints out the registry at a special kiosk. From the list, they can choose whichever gift or gifts they wish to give the couple. Once a gift is purchased off the registry, it is shaded out so no one else purchases the same gift.

     

    Pre-Wedding Parties

    In the United States, wedding planning includes at least three parties which precede the day of the ceremony. The bride enjoys a bridal shower, typically hosted by the maid of honor and/or the bride's mother. Fun games, delicious food, and a formal cake remain standard fare.

    The bridal shower provides an opportunity for friends and family members to celebrate ahead of time with the bride. Gifts typically include more intimate items for the couple's honeymoon, though sometimes items from the couple's gift registry are given.

    The maid of honor also plans the bachelorette party. This party takes place one or two nights before the wedding and often involves going out on the town. The bride typically wears some sort of costume to identify her as the bride. Customarily, she receives complimentary drinks and snacks from bartenders or bar patrons. It is her one last wild night before she settles into marriage.

    Likewise, the best man plans the groom's bachelor party. Again, this party takes place one or two nights before the wedding. Similarly, the groom, his groomsmen, and other close friends go out on the town. Sometimes the party takes place at a bar, or a night club. Other times, the groom dresses in a costume and must parade around town performing special heroics or silly deeds.

    Wedding planning in the US is a fun and festive time. It presents an opportunity to plan lavishly and realize a romantic fantasy often carried by the bride since her childhood.

  • Bellarri Jewelry - Focus on Designer Series

    Bellarri Custom Cut Gemstone Enhancer Pendant 18K Bellarri Custom Cut Gemstone Pendant 18K White Gold. Photo ©2019 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Bellarri Adelman began her career selling loose stones. Eventually, her business partners asked her to fashion finished jewelry pieces. Subsequently, her passion for design ignited. Today, Bellarri is synonymous with bold designs, exquisite colors, exquisite luxury, and unique gemstone cuts.

     

    Unique Gemstone Cuts

    Undoubtedly the most iconic Bellarri cut, the Mystique cut features a flat table with a scalloped crown. From the center, the Mystique cut gemstone appears to burst in an eruption of color and light.

    The designer uses the Mystique cut in the majority of her collections. In particular, I draw your attention to its use in the Romantic Reflections Collection. The pendant featured in the above photo belongs to what I believe is the third iteration of this collection.

    The Mystique cut is only one of many patented cuts which belong to the brand. Another exciting cut, the cylindrical cut, includes two variations. Both variations appear in the above gemstone pendant.

    First of all, four customized cylinder cut stones, two iolite and two peridot, frame the central topaz. Second of all, two barrel cut gemstones grace the crown of the pendant.

    Held in place by white gold and diamonds, a barrel-cut peridot and a barrel-cut topaz add a truly unique element to this gorgeous pendant. The barrel cut features a fully faceted cylinder, an exacting and truly exciting cut.

    In other collections, such as Tango, Bellarri includes bullet-cut gemstones which feature serrated tops, as well as cabochons. She also routinely employs the channel setting, which gives her jewels the appearance of having been found in the rough, melded together with the metals, one organic whole.

     

    Bellarri Style

    Bellarri describes her ideal client as a woman who knows her own mind. Refusing to wait on a lover's timing, she purchaes jewelry for herself. She incorporates bold and colorful designs seamlessly into her lifestyle, wearing them with both casual and formal attire.

    Not surprisingly, Bellarri Adelman is a woman of definitive independence. Her designs are solo endeavors, not the result of a team effort. The teamwork comes behind the scenes, with her husband and daughter providing administrative and marketing support for the brand.

    Leaving nothing to chance, the luxury brand employs in-house laser cutters to render their patented gemstone cuts. She fashions the majority of her designs in 18k white gold, with the exception of her silver collection. Though she uses diamond accents freely, the designer prefers to work with uncommon stones, such as peridot, citrine, garnet, amethyst, and iolite.

    Never one to prioritize fitting in, she hopes to attract women who will also favor these unusual stones. Eternally pushing beyond every possible limit, Bellarri continually conceives of jewels that belong to a fantastical realm.

    To be sure, every Bellarri jewel captures the imagination, ignites a passion for beauty and luxury, and transcends the here and now.

    For a peek at this, and other Bellarri masterpieces, we invite you to visit our showroom. Call us today to make your appointment.

  • 'Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams' Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum

    Inspired by the 2017 Paris Dior Exhibition (featured in this photo), the V&A Museum presents Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Inspired by the 2017 Paris Dior Exhibition (featured in this photo), the V&A Museum presents Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Photo from Flickr.

     

    Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams transports visitors into a beautiful fantasy. One thematic room after another in the historic Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), filled with gown after gown after gown. The exhibit showcases over 300 brand-specific objects and 200 couture gowns designed by the House of Dior over the past 72 years.

     

    Why Christian Dior?

    As mentioned in the photo above, the core pieces from this exhibition first went on display in Paris in 2017. Building upon the success of that show, curator Oriole Cullen imagined an expansion to include the impact Dior had on the UK, and the impact the UK had on Dior.

    Christian Dior, the man, loved to travel. Of course, his travels took him to London, where he fell in love with the tailors of Savile Row. No less than 21 private British clients flocked to purchase Dior's suits and gowns in his first years designing.

    After a year of servicing private UK clients, in 1947, Dior staged his first fashion show at the Savoy Hotel. Many shows followed, including a very important one in 1950.

    One entire room in this exhibition centers on Dior in Britain, beginning with the cream-colored birthday gown worn by Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday. The gown is situated near the Cecil Beaton portrait of the Princess wearing the gown for her birthday portrait.

    The story goes that Christian Dior held a private fashion show for the Queen, Princess Margaret, and the Duchess of Kent in 1950. Held at the French Embassy, the show included the delicious gown. The Princess fell in love immediately, and no wonder. Cream chiffon, off-the shoulder gauzy sleeves, layer upon layer of airy lace, accented with straw embroidered butterflies and crystals.

    Loaned to the V&A Museum by the Museum of London, the handmade couture gown truly showcases not only Dior's influence in Britain, but also his singular approach to design. This singular approach shines in all of the 200 gowns on display in Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.

     

    Depth & Breadth

    In addition to showcasing the breadth of Dior's impact, the V&A exhibition highlights the incredible details that go into making such beautiful clothes by hand. A section devoted solely to Le Petit Mains, the little hands which literally piece the gowns together stitch by stitch, includes cotton prototypes (toiles). In addition, it features film and photographs depicting the couturiers at work.

    Dior perfumes, as well as other Dior accessories, also take pride of place among the lavishly decorated display rooms. In particular, Dior's premiere fragrance, Miss Dior, stands in its original 1947 Baccarat blue crystal bottle. Also, lipsticks, hats, jewelry, handbags, and shoes round out the brand's accessories displays.

    Another important room showcases the works of Dior's designers from 1947 to today. Each of Dior's designers followed the Dior Codes, including but not limited to the signature use of the color red, the Bar Suit, flower motifs, and the ideals of femininity, beauty, and fantasy. Yet, each also brought their own flair, their own individuality and style to further the overall success of the brand.

    Today, Maria Grazia Chiuri holds the distinguished title of head designer. Before her came Raf Simons, John Galliano, Gianfranco Ferré, Marc Bohan, and Yves Saint Laurent. Each has a handful of gowns specifically chosen for the 'Designers for Dior' room.

    Gardens & Ballrooms

    I want to mention to more rooms, The Garden Room and The Ballroom. The Garden Room offers a whimsical stroll through a summer garden lush with wisteria blossoms. A nice bench welcomes a leisurely look at the beautiful garden-inspired Dior gowns.

    The Ballroom features 70 years of stunning formal gowns, many of them worn on the red carpet. In particular, the gorgeous gown worn by Charlize Theron in the J'Adore campaign of 2008. Also, the flowing petal-strewn dress worn by Elle Fanning at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Finally, one last beautiful gown to mention, the architectural gown with a feathered skirt worn by Lupita Nyong'o at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

    All eleven of the rooms in the Christian Dior exhibit at the V&A are truly enchanting, inspiring, and breathtaking. I encourage you to visit their website to plan your visit.

    This link offers a stunning sneak peek to whet your appetite. Don't be alarmed when you see "sold out" under the marquee.

    In small print in the sidebar, I read the following: "Extra tickets will be released monthly around the 15th. Very limited tickets are available to purchase daily at 10am from the Grand Entrance on a first-come, first-served basis; these tickets are for times throughout the day on that day only."

  • 'Jeweled Isle' Exhibition at LA County Museum of Art (LACMA)

    Photo of Kandyan Chief of the Jeweled Isle Scowen & Co., Kandyan Chief, c. 1870, albumen silver print. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, digital image © Museum Associates/LACMA

     

    On view through June 23rd, The Jeweled Isle exhibition features over 240 works of Sri Lankan art. Serving as a visual encyclopedic presentation, The Jeweled Isle highlights art works from Sri Lanka (Ceylon). The time frame spans over the past two millennia.

     

    Sri Lanka - The Jeweled Isle

    Greek Mariners, traveling by ship in the 4th century BCE, nearly put Sri Lanka on the map. To the East Indians, Sri Lanka became Ratnadvipa ("Island of Gems"). Sailing through the waters of the Indian Ocean, the Greeks followed these legends of jewels.

    Eventually, the land of many names became Ceylon, adopted by the British from their Dutch cousins, who called the land Zeilan. In 1972, the country adopted its current name, Sri Lanka.

    A teardrop of an island nestled in the Indian Ocean, the promise of jeweled treasures continued its siren's call. Many heeded the call. Those who came not only found beautiful gemstones, but also fell head over heels in love with the island. Its turquoise waters, stunning coral reefs, coconut and mangrove trees, and the lush abundance of other fruit-bearing trees and shrubs.

    Though heavily influenced by those coming to trade with (and take) from them, Sri Lankans continued to hold fast and true to their Buddhist tradition. Over the course of 2,000 years, Sri Lankans came into their own.

    They established their unique approach to gem commerce and art. Today, visitors to LACMA have the opportunity to observe the continuity of Sri Lankan traditions. A story told through hundreds of works of art in their Jeweled Isle exhibition.

     

    The Opening Gallery

    At the foundation of this exhibit are 42 works from LACMA's South and Southeast Asian department. Added to this are another 200+ borrowed pieces, including photographs, textiles, furnishings, sculptures. They also borrowed 21 unmounted gemstones from the Natural History Museum.

    The Jeweled Isle exhibit opens with these 21 gemstones displayed in a glass case. They represent the types of gemstones mined in Sri Lanka from ages past until now. These include, but are not limited to, sapphire, ruby, chrysoberyl, alexandrite, topaz, citrine, moonstone, and amethyst. The most important of these gemstones remains blue sapphire.

    Additionally, this section of the exhibit includes sacred works. Though primarily a Buddhist nation, Sri Lanka maintains a long tradition of incorporating the religious narratives of their neighbors and fellow tradesmen. The 14 shrine panels on display epitomize this practice, with their depiction of many Hindu gods and demons.

     

    Three Important Time Periods

    Throughout the exhibition, the notion of jewels ranges from decorative objects made from ivory, gold, and silver, to the photographic record of Sri Lanka's monuments, geography, feasts and festivals, royalty, and more. Passing beyond the masks and vessels used in religious rituals and festivals, the remainder of the exhibition centers on three distinct time periods.

    First of all, the 3rd century BC to the 10th century AD, when Buddhism came to Sri Lanka. Second, the 11th through the 13th centuries, demonstrated by works that demonstrate the inclusion of Hinduism into Sri Lankan Buddhism. Finally, the 15th through 19th centuries. During this time, the Dutch, Portuguese, and British influenced Sri Lankan art through trade and imperialism.

    In the final gallery, a contemporary Buddhist work sits across from a similar work from the 18th century, which features a 3-foot long reclining Buddha. Conceptualized and made by Lewis DeSoto, the modern piece, "Paranirvana (Self-Portrait)" stretches across 26 feet of floor space. Fashioned from painted black cloth, the statue remains inflated during museum hours thanks to an industrial fan.

    Serving as a visual statement to the impact of the Buddha's influence, the piece was inspired by a 12th century stone carving. This inspirational reclining Buddha resides at Gal Vihara in Polonnaruwa. On the walls of this gallery also hang photographs of mid-century life in Sri Lanka. These were taken after they gained their independence in 1948.

    Taken by Reg van Cuylenberg, a Sri Lankan photographer, these images catalog his tours across the island in 1949 and 1958. His love for his country and his images of festivals, local life, and landmarks important to him and his people provide the perfect conclusion to this exciting exhibition.

    To plan your visit, I invite you to visit LACMA'S website.

    ~by Angela Magnotti Andrews

  • 'Boston Made' Exhibition at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Boston Made - Arts & Crafts necklace by Frank Gardner Hale A gold, green garnet, sapphire and opal necklace by Frank Gardner Hale, displayed in "Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork" at the Museum of Fine Arts. Photo courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

     

    Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork remains on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) through March 29, 2020. The MFA proudly honors the artists who reignited artisanry in Boston during the early decades of the 20th century.

    While The Arts & Crafts movement began in England, the philosophies and practices spread across the Atlantic. Boston, with the support of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, became a hub for both men and women to grow into skilled artists in the style.

     

    Boston Made

    As the museum's first ever exhibition solely dedicated to the Arts & Crafts movement, Boston Made showcases over 70 objects. These objects, which include jewelry, design drawings, decorative accessories, and tableware, tell the story of Boston's contribution to the Arts & Crafts movement.

    As a strong proponent for the arts since its inception in 1907, the MFA continues to highlight prominent Boston artists. The idea for this exhibition began with the recent acquisition of Frank Gardner Hale's design drawings.

    Acquired in 2014, the Boston artist's drawings complement nicely his jewelry already owned by the museum. In addition, it renewed attention to multiple other Arts & Crafts artists whose pieces the museum had collected over the years.

    Specifically, in 1913, the MFA obtained a gold and pearl brooch, as well as a gold, emerald, and pearl ring. Made by Josephine Hartwell Shaw, these jewels established her as the first contemporary female maker represented in the museum.

    Along with Shaw and Hale, the exhibit highlights the works of 11 other jewelers and metalsmiths in the Arts & Crafts period. The exhibition invites visitors to understand more deeply the philosophical and design principles of the movement.

     

    The Arts & Crafts Movement

    The movement began in England in the late 1880s, simultaneous to the Art Nouveau movement. Influenced by the writings and social criticism of John Ruskin, William Morris inspired a moral aesthetic. He founded it on the moral principles of appreciation of beauty, the importance of artistic endeavor, and the dignity of physical labor.

    Promoted primarily through the operation of schools of design and guilds for craftsmen, the Arts & Crafts movement promoted equal-access for men and women. Followers of this movement rejected mechanized assembly and design. Instead, they drew inspiration from the quieter guild lifestyles of the preindustrial ages.

    In the arts, emphasis centered on unified design principles, meticulous craftsmanship, and material choices based on beauty rather than raw value. Most importantly, artisans were encouraged to find deep pleasure and joy in their work.

     

    The Boston Look

    The cultural and design principles of this movement fit perfectly with the progressive intellectual community already established in Boston in the early 20th century. For 30 years, the Boston arts community embraced a return to pre-industrial ideals. Adding to these a commitment to aesthetic design, communal artistry, as well as artistic equality among men and women.

    In particular, Boston emerged as an influential leader for the movement in the U.S. Specifically, Boston impacted the jewelry and metalworking communities. Eventually, a unique aesthetic emerged.

    Called The Boston Look, this aesthetic remained true to the principles of the movement. At the same time, it expressed the unique flair of Boston's artists. The Boston Look features bold color combinations through the use of precious and semi-precious gemstones and enamels. It also features a glitzy glamour which draws upon historical styles and includes an abundance of foliate motifs.

    We invite you to immerse yourself in The Boston Look, the stories of the incredible artistic pioneers of the US's Arts & Crafts Movement, and the exemplary craftsmanship of some of Boston's finest jewelry and metal artists.

    Boston Made remains on view at the MFA through March 29. The museum is open 7 days a week. To plan your trip, please visit the museum's website.

  • Engagement Ring Trends for 2019

    Engagement Rings by Tiffany & Co. Timeless Tiffany & Co. Photo ©2019 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    So many exciting engagement ring trends this year. Not surprisingly, the usual suspects reign supreme - Tiffany & Co., solitaires, diamonds, and pavé bands. Oval- and cushion-cut diamonds, split-shank settings, and all manner of halos also remain popular. Without a doubt, the most exciting new trends include a return to the geometric lines of the Art Deco period, three stone rings, and singular central stones.

     

    Art Deco Engagement Ring Highlights

    Gina Rodriguez wears a gorgeous Art Deco ring. It features a central diamond surrounded by a platinum plate. A key characteristic of Art Deco engagement rings, this metal plate re-reflects the light shimmering off the central diamond to produce more shimmer and shine.

    While not an engagement ring, Joanna Krupa chose a gorgeous Art Deco cuff bracelet as part of her wedding jewelry suite. We offer a wonderful selection of Art Deco engagement rings.

    These historical jewels not only offer dynamic sparkle, but a piece of history to wear every day of the year. Here are a few of my favorites.

    Art Deco Engagement Ring Click here to learn more about this gorgeous Art Deco Ring.

     

    Art Deco Engagement Ring Click here to learn more about this spectacular Art Deco Engagement Ring.

     

    Art Deco Engagement Ring To learn more about this magnificent Art Deco Engagement Ring, click here.

     

    Three-Stone Engagement Rings

    Three-stone engagement rings stand the test of time. A favorite among royals, the diversity and personalization available with this style is delicious. Speaking of royals, Meghan Markle's engagement ring features a larger central diamond flanked by two more demure diamonds. Similar to this one:

    Three Stone Engagement Ring Click here to learn how you can treat your girl like the princess she is.

     

    You can also personalize a three-stone ring with a central colored stone. Tom Kaulitz chose a central alexandrite, flanked by two diamonds, for Heidi Klum. Perhaps this Colombian emerald flanked by diamonds would suit your lady perfectly.

    Three Stone engagement ring Click here to choose this gorgeous three-stone ring for you lady.

     

    Another option: Flip-flop it like Tony McGill did for Catriona Balfe, where colored stones flank a central diamond.

    Three Stone Engagement Ring Click here to learn more about this three stone engagement ring.

     

    Singular Stones

    Another popular engagement ring trend involves choosing a ring with a singular stone. As already mentioned, Heidi Klum's ring has an alexandrite in her favorite shade of green. Katy Perry rocks a gorgeous ruby surrounded by a halo of large white diamonds. Meanwhile, Princess Eugenie wears a padparadscha sapphire.

    Here are three engagement rings with singular stones that you could choose for your fiancé.

    Aquamarine Engagement Ring Click here to learn more about this amazing aquamarine and diamond engagement ring.

     

    Paraiba tourmaline engagement ring Click here to learn more about this gorgeous Paraiba tourmaline engagement ring.

     

    peacock blue green sapphire engagement ring To learn more about this spectacular peacock blue green sapphire engagement ring, click here.

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