• Womens Shelter Jewelry Project Sponsored by Seattle Metals Guild


    Donate Your Extra Jewelry to Womens Shelter Project Do you have some extra jewels taking up space in your jewelry box? Consider donating your extra jewelry to the Womens Shelter Project.


    On November 11th, Micki Lippe of the Seattle Metals Guild will host a sorting party in her home for the Women’s Shelter Project. Guests at this special party will spend several hours sorting through donated jewelry from around Puget Sound. These jewels will be sorted by type, by value, and by state of repair.

    Those jewels of high value will be set aside for the Women's Shelter Project public sale scheduled for next year. Those in need of repair will go home with jewelers who will donate their time to fix them. Most of the jewels, however, will be sent to local domestic violence shelters, as well as to the Dress for Success program.

    Womens Shelter Project

    The Womens Shelter Project sprang from Micki’s desire to use her time and talents to provide support to women in her community. “I’ve had friends who have been abused. This is something I’ve always had empathy for,” Micki told the Seattle Times.

    After more than 20 years doing this, Micki Lippe continues to find joy in giving back to her community through the Womens Shelter Project. At the shelters, a woman might receive a jewel on their birthday. Shelter staff may also help her children wrap a jewel to give her for Mother’s Day. Additionally, a woman may need a brooch or necklace to dress up her interview outfit.

    Certainly, many occasions arise in which jewelry makes the perfect gift, an unexpected luxury in a life otherwise marked by pain and difficulty. “This is the best recycling you could ever do,” Micki says. {source}

    In addition, the proceeds from the annual sale of antique, vintage, and other high-value jewels provide unrestricted grants for a few select programs. This year, the Women's Shelter Project sale raised $15,000 for several local shelters.

    Undoubtedly, the sorting days are busy and many hands make light work. However, Micki told me that what project really needs is more donations and more donation drop-off points.


    How to Donate Your Jewelry

    Every woman's jewelry box holds untouched jewels in its dark recesses. Perhaps her heirloom jewels hide there in the dark. Those should stay put.

    However, what about those earrings her former mother-in-law gave her? You know, the ones she forgot about and never thinks to wear any. Maybe they never fit her style. Or maybe they bring up painful memories.

    If you own jewels lingering in the back of your jewelry box, consider donating them to the project. Embarking upon its third decade, the Womens Shelter Project now provides donation sites around King and Kitsap Counties. The Project continually seeks donations and more places to set up donation drop off boxes.

    For more information about donating your jewels or providing a permanent drop off point in the Puget Sound area, reach out to Micki. Find her contact information on the Seattle Metals Guild website.

  • Cheryl Burke Engagement Ring Details

    Match Cheryl Burke with this gorgeous diamond halo filigree engagement ring. Match Cheryl Burke with this gorgeous diamond halo filigree engagement ring. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    After a little on-again, off-again romance, Cheryl Burke and Matthew Lawrence have finally made a commitment. The day before Cheryl’s birthday, Matthew invited her family and friends for a visit. Throughout the day, Cheryl had a hunch he might pop the question.


    Isn’t He Going to Ask?

    The day turned into night, and still no bended knee, no diamond ring. Finally, midnight rolled around, and she thought for sure he would surprise her in the first minute of her birthday.


    The next day, the couple headed to Laguna Beach. Every other minute, Cheryl received birthday flowers. Yet, nothing from Matthew. In fact, the only thing Matthew gave her was a hard time about taking so long in the shower.

    “You need to come out right now,” he pressed. {source}

    Perplexed at this out of character behavior, she complied. She heard a special song on the radio and saw a letter. He encouraged her to read it, but she felt a sudden terror that maybe this was the end of their relationship again.

    In print so tiny that she had to bring the paper right up to her nose to read it, Matthew had written, “Love you always and forever.”

    She turned to respond, only to find him kneeling before her. In a flood of emotion, she said yes. So he slipped a magnificent ring on her finger.


    Cheryl Burke Engagement Ring Details

    The ring Matthew Lawrence slipped on Cheryl Burke’s finger holds special significance for the celebrity dancing coach. Sadly, Cheryl’s father passed away this past spring.

    To include him in this special moment of their lives, Matthew Lawrence met with Cheryl’s mother. She agreed to give him the diamond Cheryl’s father had given her. Matthew took the diamond to XIV Karats in Beverly Hills.

    Together with her mother and his, Matthew instructed the jewelers to craft a unique and precious ring for his beloved. The diamond from her father centers the ring within two intertwined circles. A halo of diamonds surrounds design, and the platinum or white gold band also shimmers with diamonds.

    Choosing an antique setting to set an heirloom diamond is a beautiful way to commemorate a lost loved one into your engagement ring. Give us a call today to discuss our custom designs.

  • Sotheby's Presents Jewels from the Royal Bourbon Parma Family

    Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl - Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl. An important offering in the Sotheby's auction of Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family. Photo courtesy Sotheby's.


    On November 12th, Sotheby’s Geneva proudly presents one of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to come to auction, the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family.


    The Bourbon Parma Family

    Descendants of King Louis XIV of France, the Holy Roman Emperors, as well as Pope Paul III, the Bourbon Parma family extends back to nearly every important ruling family in Europe.

    The illustrious lineage includes Kings and Queens of France and Spain, Emperors of Austria, and of course the Dukes of Parma (Italy). In particular, this collection hails from notables such as Queen Marie Antoinette and King Charles X of France.

    Queen Marie Antoinette’s Pendant

    Pictured above is Lot 100 from the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family. The exquisite royal pendant features a slightly baroque natural pearl which measures an astonishing 15.90 x 18.35 x 25.85mm. To put this into perspective, the pearl is nearly the size of the tip of an adult’s thumb.

    The pearl hangs suspended from a single oval diamond by a diamond-studded bow motif. At one time, Marie Antoinette wore this pendant suspended from her three-string pearl necklace. At that time, the pearl and bow formed the pendant, while the single oval diamond served as the clasp for that same necklace.


    A Royal Provenance

    According to Sotheby’s, an account written by Marie Antoinette’s lady-in-waiting describes a night at Tuileries Castle in March 1791. Preparing to flee the country, Marie Antoinette packed her collection of jewels, including all her pearls, in cotton and tucked them safely in a wooden chest.

    She arranged for the chest to depart for Brussels. A trusted advisor, Count Mercy Argentou, received the chest and sent it on to Vienna to Marie Antoinette’s nephew, the Austrian emperor.

    As we already know, Marie Antoinette did not make it safely out of France. She, her husband, and her children were taken prisoner instead.

    The following year, in 1793, Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI, were executed by guillotine. Their son died while imprisoned. Their daughter, Marie-Therese remained in captivity in the Temple Tower.

    The Tower, once a medieval fortress built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century, held Marie-Therese captive for three years.

    During her captivity, the princess knew about her father's execution, but remained unaware of the fate of the rest of her family. She lived alone in the tower, asking over and over to see her mother. On the wall of her room, she supposedly wrote:

    “Marie-Thérèse Charlotte is the most unhappy person in the world. She can obtain no news of her mother; nor be reunited to her, though she has asked it a thousand times. Live, my good mother! whom I love well, but of whom I can hear no tidings. O my father! watch over me from Heaven above. O my God! forgive those who have made my parents suffer.”


    Marie-Therese's Liberation

    On the eve of her 17th birthday, Marie-Therese was finally liberated, exchanged for six French prisoners. She traveled t to the home of her cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, in Vienna. After many years of moving from country to country, and after marrying her cousin Louis-Antoine, and after becoming a widow, she finally settled in Vienna.

    At some point, she was given the chest of jewels her mother secreted out of France. Upon her death, Marie-Therese bequeathed the jewels to her daughter, Marie Louise.

    Marie Louise, second wife to Napoleon Bonaparte, kept the jewels safely in her family’s treasury throughout the tumultuous reign of her husband. Finally, after 200 years, the jewels reach the public eye once again, by way of her direct ancestors, the Bourbon Parma family of Italy.

    The auction begins on November 12, 2018. For more information, visit Sotheby's website.

  • Traditional Chinese Brides Wear Red

    Chinese brides wear a red dress and a phoenix crown upon their heads. Chinese brides wear a red dress and a phoenix crown upon their heads. Photo courtesy Flickr.


    Chinese brides and grooms wear rich red silks and sensuous black silks. Bridal jewelry trends in green and white jade, as well as glittering gold, and natural pearls.


    A Brief Word About Wedding Rings

    Engagement rings and wedding rings are not traditional jewelry exchanged before and during a Chinese wedding. However, modern Chinese brides sometimes opt for diamond engagement rings. Also, couples may wear wedding bands, particularly if they live in the United States.


    Chinese Brides Wear Red

    Chinese brides who follow traditional customs will wear a red silk dress. Depending on which region she hails from, she will wear either a sleek high-collar dress (cheung sam) or a two-piece jacket and skirt set (hung kwa).

    On the bride’s dress or suit, the phoenix, along with peonies and chrysanthemums, is intricately embroidered on the fabric. The phoenix is the noble feminine beast, representing the bride. Peonies and chrysanthemums represent good fortune and prosperity.

    Upon her head she wears the Phoenix Crown. Fashioned from gilded silver and adorned with pearls and kingfisher feathers, this filigree headband again symbolizes the strong feminine power the bride brings to her marriage.

    As a Chinese bride leaves her home, she carries a hand fan. Somewhere en route between her house and her groom’s house, the bride drops the fan.

    On her way to the groom’s house, the bride also wears veils of red silk. These heavy layers of silk protect her from seeing evil or bad omens as she travels in the open between her family home and her marital home.


    Chinese Groom’s Attire

    A traditional Chinese groom wears a robe of deep blue silk embroidered with a dragon. The dragon is the most noble masculine beast and represents the masculine power the groom embodies.

    Over this, he wears a black silk jacket. Upon his head, he wears a black silk hat with red tassels. He might also adorn his hat with a red sash. He can also choose to wear the sash tied around his waist or draped over one shoulder.

    The color red is the predominant color for Chinese brides because red is the color of happiness, good luck, and prosperity. Some modern Chinese brides choose to wear a white wedding dress for the ceremony. Later, they might change into a white or red ball gown. Still later, they might don a going away dress for sending off their guests.

  • History + Characteristics of Paraiba Tourmaline

    GIA Certified 6 Carat Paraiba Tourmaline Ring

    GIA Certified 6 Carat Paraiba Tourmaline Ring. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    This exquisite ring is set cathedral style in platinum and features a gorgeous paraiba tourmaline. A halo of diamonds surrounds the electric blue stone. The cathedral and shoulders feature accent diamonds, as well.

    The stone features a cut cornered rectangular mixed cut gemstone. The GIA certified stone is a Paraiba tourmaline weighing 6 carats.


    History of Paraiba Tourmaline

    First discovered in the 1980s, paraiba tourmaline is primarily associated with the State of Paraiba in Brazil. For many years Hector Dimas Barbosa followed a hunch. Digging hole after hole in the hills of Paraiba, he knew he would eventually find something different.

    Eight years later, friends of his unearthed a handful of exquisite tourmalines in shades never before seen. Unfortunately, Barbosa missed the discovery.

    He stayed home that day, recovering from an illness. Though he certainly lamented missing the first glimpses, he no doubt swelled with pride at the news. He never gave up, and he found what he was looking for even though no one else had ever seen it before.


    Paraiaba Tourmaline Sources

    For a time, paraiba tourmaline was found only in the State of Paraiba. That vein lasted about five years before the stampede of excavators depleted the hills of the gorgeous gemstone.

    At some time, shortly after Barbosa’s discovery, miners discovered a cache of similar tourmaline in Rio Grande do Norte, a Brazilian state adjacent to Paraiba. Eventually, these unique tourmalines showed up in a few other places, including Mozambique and Nigeria.

    Geologists propose that these discoveries in these seemingly distant places is not surprising. Much evidence exists that at one time South America and Africa belonged to the same continent.


    The Unique Properties of Paraiba Tourmaline

    That being said, certain but subtle differences exist between the tourmaline found in Brazil and the tourmaline found in Africa. Nonetheless, the industry calls all of it paraiba tourmaline.

    The classification results from the significant unique properties that separate paraiba tourmaline from other tourmaline species. The most significant difference is the color.

    Most species of tourmaline come in a variety of colors, including red, pink, violet, blue, yellowish green, green, and more. Paraiba tourmaline also comes in hues of green, blue, and violet. However, the saturation of color in paraiba is second to none. In fact, most paraiba tourmaline appears to glow from within, radiating in almost neon green, blue, and violet.

    The chemical component responsible for this almost unworldly color saturation is copper, sometimes paired with manganese. Paraiba tourmaline is the only tourmaline with copper intrusion in the crystal structure.

    Copper is responsible for the startling blues and greens, while copper with manganese causes violet and reddish tones. The higher the concentration of copper intrusion, the more vivid the colors paraiba radiates.


    A Classification Debate

    With the influx of paraiba from Africa, experts continue debating over the classification of copper tourmalines. Some feel that the name paraiba should remain exclusive to those from the eponymous state in Brazil.

    Others, however, argue that all copper tourmalines should be called paraiba. These experts base their position primarily on the fact the chemistry of the stones from all locations is essentially identical.

    Furthermore, although the tectonic plates shifted away from each other millions of years ago, the veins in Africa and Brazil are likely one and the same.

    In February of 2006, at the International Gemstone Industry Laboratory Conference, industry leaders declared paraiba tourmaline as a label for copper tourmaline varieties, regardless of origin. A couple months later, the International Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee agreed to accept this new definition of terms.

    Hence, most international gemological laboratories label all copper-bearing tourmaline as paraiba, regardless of whether it came from Brazil or Africa. While some frown upon this adoption, for the most part the industry celebrates the influx of more of this scintillating tourmaline variety.

  • Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle

    Exhibition at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle. Exhibition at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle. Photo courtesy Flickr.

    The Klondike Gold Rush brought gold to the forefront in Seattle between the years 1897 and 1899. It singlehandedly increased the population and stimulated the economy for years following.

    The Klondike Gold Rush

    It began when Skookum Jim, his sister Kate Carmack, and her husband George Washington Carmack found gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

    The next year, the Portland docked at the pier in Seattle, unloading hundreds of eager gold prospectors ready to make the trek north into the Yukon. Over the next few months, Seattle hosted thousands of visitors, becoming the gateway city to the Klondike.

    Rather than joining the ranks of gold diggers, most of Seattle’s merchants took advantage of the influx of prospectors. They began stocking the necessary supplies the men and women would need to make the long and treacherous 600 mile trek across the snowy Canadian terrain.

    By the end of the rush, Seattle outfitted over 30,000 of Canada's 70,000 goldseekers. It’s possible that the Klondike Gold Rush put Seattle on the map. From then on, the city prospered and was able to completely rebuild after the tragic fire of 1889.


    The Klondike Gold Rush Museum

    Given the importance of the Gold Rush to the city, the National Park Service opened a branch of their Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle.

    The museum is housed in the former Cadillac Hotel, a building built during the Gold Rush years. Inside, visitors can view several different collections.

    One such collection is the Hielscher Collection. John Hielscher lived in Seattle during the rush. In 1897, fully outfitted for the journey, Hielscher headed to the Klondike to search for gold himself.

    One of many who stayed in the Klondike for the duration of the rush, Hielscher remained in Canada for 15 years. Though he did not return with much gold, he did make a solid living providing support for the many stampeders who passed through the territory.

    His wife and son remained in Seattle, so in between running hoists along the trail and selling merchandise at the outposts, Hielscher made short trips home to Seattle to visit and bring money back to his family.

    In 2008, Hielscher’s descendants delivered a steamer trunk full of memorabilia from his time in the Yukon. These items are now on display at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle. These items include all of his tools, his correspondence, and other historical documents.


    History & Ethnology Collections

    The other two collections on exhibit include items related to the gold rush. The History Collection includes boats, chairs, buttons, cups, and even a streetcar. Most of these items were unearthed during archaeological digs undertaken in Skagway, one of the towns that sprang up during the rush. Most of them relate to daily life, as opposed to being specific to the prospecting efforts.

    The Ethnology Collection features a number of items from the Tlingit people. The Tlingit are Native Americans that lived in the Klondike region during the gold rush. Items in this collection include hand woven baskets, beaded regalia, and handmade garments.

    The Klondike Gold Rush Museum in downtown Seattle is open daily from 10AM to 5PM in the winter. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the museum opens at 9AM. For more information, visit the NPS website.

  • Taraji P Henson Engagement Ring Details

    Match engagement ring style with Taraji P Henson

    Choose this Tiffany diamond solitaire to match engagement ring style with Taraji P Henson. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    We know that Kelvin Hayden made a big purchase at Cartier this past May for Taraji P Henson. On Mother’s Day he presented the Empire actress with Cartier Love bracelet that matched the one he bought for himself.

    She Said Yes!
    A little later in the day, he added to her delight when he dropped to his knee and presented her with a stunning diamond solitaire. She wrote on Instagram that she almost passed out. Thankfully, she managed to stay awake, at least long enough to say YES.

    On Instagram, the usually private actress shared how happy Kelvin has made her in the past two years. “...I think that it’s important for people to know that I’m very happy. I just am,” she told Yes Girl!

    Taraji P Henson started dating former NFL cornerback Kelvin Hayden in 2015. The actress expressed to People that though Hayden supports her 100%, he pays more attention to who she is than to what she does. “He loves me for me,” she said.

    Taraji P Henson Engagement Ring Details
    Hayden expressed his love in jewels, which of course we think is such a great idea! First in Cartier Love, followed by a gorgeous rose gold and diamond solitaire band.

    We estimate the round brilliant diamond weighs between 4 and 6 carats. Certainly, he might have purchased the ring from Cartier at the same time as he purchased the bracelet.

    However, Hayden might have chosen the esteemed Tiffany & Co. Her ring could certainly be a classic Tiffany Setting, the original 6-prong platinum setting for solitaire diamonds.

    Whether you like Tiffany or Cartier, we can help you match your engagement ring style with Taraji P Henson. Give us a call today to learn more about our diamond solitaire engagement rings.

  • Sotheby's Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels Results


    Magnificent Jewels EraGem Jewelry Magnificent Jewels at EraGem Jewelry. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    Earlier this month, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction reached record heights, realizing an astonishing $40 million and change. With jewels ranging from antique, to vintage, to contemporary, nearly all the big names in luxury jewels were represented.


    Magnificent Jewels

    Chiefly, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, and Buccallati. Harry Winston, Graff, Carvin, and Sterle. Rene Boivin, Boucheron, and Mauboussin. Not to mention, Wallace Chan, David Morris, and David Webb.

    Late 1800s, Art Deco, and Victorian jewels. Vintage and contemporary sculpted art jewelry. Fine jewelry, high jewelry, and luxurious jewels.

    Without a doubt, emeralds, blue sapphires, red rubies, and cultured pearls. Fancy diamonds in yellows, blues, and pinks. Tanzanite, alexandrite, malachite, black onyx, turquoise, and coral. Of course, imperial jade, two-tone jade, lavender jade, and tri-colored jade.

    Jeweled parrots, Cartier panthere, and even a baby chick. Gem-set flowers, gem-set insects, penguins and garnet strawberries. A brilliant peacock, jade monkeys, gemstone butterflies, and enameled serpenti.

    Pendants, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and rings. Jeweled earrings, ear posts, and ear clip. Parures and gem-encrusted evening bags.

    So many magnificent jewels found new home and new lives to grace with their presence. Perhaps the most elegant and beautiful was Lot 1755, An Important Diamond Necklace.

    An Important Diamond Necklace

    Made by David Morris, this exquisite necklace features an exquisite pattern of lacework paved in brilliant- and marquise-cut diamonds. Furthermore, suspended from the necklace are six pear-shaped diamonds, which together weigh a total of 13.99 carats.

    Accompanying the necklace is a report from the GIA, stating that each of the diamonds weigh between 1.49 and 3.05 carats. Each one ranges between D and F color, with clarity ranging between Flawless and VS2. Not surprisingly, the necklace realized over $700,000 in the Hong Kong auction.

    As mentioned before, the necklace was created by contemporary jewelry designer, David Morris, also known as The Bond Jeweler.


    The Bond Jeweler

    David Morris made his debut in the 1960s, establishing an artisan jewelry atelier on Bond Street in London. Of course, this is the first reason he's called The Bond Jeweler.

    In just a few short years, he made a name for himself by transforming his fascination with flawless diamonds into flawlessly executed diamond masterpieces, like this necklace. Early in his career, he won back-to-back awards from the De Beers company.

    These accolades, as well as his flawless approach to jewelry, launched him in the world of jewelry and fashion. The committee for the Miss World Pageant approached him to make the Miss World Crown, which remains the same crown used to this day.

    Moreover, his jewels were sought by the minds behind the James Bond movies. From the 1970s to the 1990s, David Morris jewels appeared in 14 Bond movies. For instance, in Diamonds Are ForeverThe Man with the Golden Gun, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World is Not Enough.

    Catching the eye of Hollywood's elite, David Morris jewels have since graced the red carpet on numerous occasions. Among his most devoted followers are Elizabeth Taylor and Lady Diana, the People's Princess.

  • Chinese Engagement + Wedding Festivities



    Chinese Engagement Festivities Include the Bride's Journey Chinese Engagement + Wedding Festivities include the Bride's Journey to the Groom's House. Traditionally, they make the journey in a heavily adorned bridal sedan or bridal carriage. Photo courtesy Flickr.


    A Chinese engagement begins after the betrothal gifts are exchanged. Once the wedding date is set and the invitations are sent, the couple enjoys several pre-wedding engagement festivities.


    Retreating to the Cock Loft

    Traditional Chinese engagement includes the ritual called Retreating to the Cock Loft. During the three days prior to the wedding, the bride lived in seclusion in a special room apart (traditionally the cock loft) from the rest of her family. During this time, her dearest friends attend her.

    The Chinese bride spends this time singing laments with her friends, mourning her departure from her family. She might even curse the groom’s parents, and possibly even her own. This mourning period prepares her for the big transition of leaving her family’s home to live with her new husband.

    She finally emerges on the night before the wedding, prepared to say farewell to her family. At this time, she might honor her parents with gifts and expressions of gratitude for the life they’ve given her to this point.

    She also spends time at her family altar, expressing gratitude and saying goodbye to her ancestors who live at the altar.


    Installing the Bridal Bed

    In the meantime, the groom follows the custom of appointing a ‘good luck woman’ to install the bridal bed. This woman of good fortune is one who has many children and a happy marriage.

    To begin this ritual, servants install a brand new bed in the couple’s new bedroom. Next, the woman of good fortune moves the bed into position and makes the bed using brand new bedding, including pink or red bedsheets.

    She then lays plates of persimmons, dried longans, lotus seeds, red dates, and pomegranate leaves on top of the bed. She also places peanuts, oranges, and other fruits atop the bed. Additionally, she places two red packets upon the bed covers. Next, she lights a pair of bedside lamps to ensure the birth of sons.


    Hair Dressing & Capping Rituals

    The morning of the wedding begins with the hair dressing and capping rituals. The bride begins her morning with a bath at dawn, the water infused with pummelo to ward off evil influences. The citrus oils from the fruit also smooth and soften her skin in preparation for her wedding cosmetics.

    After emerging from the bath, the bride dresses in brand new undergarments and sits before the family’s good fortune woman. Two lit dragon-and-phoenix candles sit on either side of her. Dragons represent male energy, phoenixes female. These candles symbolize the unifying of the male and female energies.

    During this ritual, the good fortune woman combs and styles the bride’s hair. Prior to this day, she has worn her hair in the style of a young maiden. From here on, she will wear her hair in the style of a married woman. As the good fortune woman combs and styles her hair, she speaks words of wisdom and blessing over the bride.

    Meanwhile, at the young man’s home, the groom dresses in a long gown, red shoes, and a red sash with a red ball on his shoulder. He kneels before the family altar, and his father joins him. Standing behind him, his father places a cap adorned with cypress leaves upon his head.

    Next, the groom bows before the tablets of Heaven and Earth. Then he bows to his ancestors. Finally, he bows before his parents and other family members. His father then removes the red ball from his sash and places it upon the bridal sedan chair. It is now time to proceed to his bride's home.


    The Procession to the Bride’s Home

    Accompanied by friends and family, and holding the hand of a child, the groom leads the procession to the bride’s home. Fireworks, gongs, and drums accompany the procession, alerting surrounding neighbors and villagers of the happy occasion. This noise also discourages evil spirits from hanging about.

    Traditionally, a group of attendants carrying lanterns and banners, as well as musicians and even a dancing unicorn, preceded the sedan chair in the procession. The sedan chair itself was decorated in red silks and fresh flowers.

    Upon arriving at the bride’s home, her attendants and representative stop him from entering her home. In order to gain passage, they expect him to perform tricks and stunts and haggle with the ladies. Here, he orders his representative to offer ang pau, red packets of cash money. Finally, the parties reach an agreement and the groom enters the bride’s family home.

    Inside, the bride’s family welcomes him to the table. Depending on the region they lived in, the groom might receive a gift of chopsticks and a pair of wine glasses wrapped in red paper. These gifts represent the joy her family feels about the marriage.

    Her family might also serve him soup with a soft-boiled egg, or longan tea along with two hardboiled eggs. In either case, the groom must break the yoke of an egg as a symbol of breaking the ties between the bride and her family.


    The Bride Journeys to the Groom’s House

    After eating soup and receiving his gifts, the groom escorts his veiled bride to the sedan chair. Traditionally, the good fortune woman carried the bride upon her back in the sedan chair. Another attendant shaded her beneath a parasol and a third attendant threw grains and beans in her path, ensuring her fertility. Today, several men might be employed to carry the chair through the streets.

    Her attendants are chosen carefully, ensuring that their horoscope signs complemented the groom’s sign. Heavy curtains shield the bride from seeing anything inauspicious. Such sights might include a widow, a cat, or a well.

    Suspended from the back side of the chair are a sieve and a metallic mirror. These devices strained out evil and reflected light in order to protect the bride from evil spirits. Thus protected, the bride makes the transition from her family home to her husband’s home, where the wedding ceremony will take place.

  • History of the Fantasy Cut

    Fantasy Cut Aquamarine & Diamond Pendant by Anthony Gerard

    Fantasy Cut Aquamarine pendant with diamonds and yellow gold. By Bernd Munsteiner. Click here for details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    Magnificence is the perfect word for Fantasy Cut gemstones. This spectacular 11.30 carat aquamarine was hand cut by the father of the Fantasy Cut, Bernd Munsteiner.


    Bernd Munsteiner

    Raised in the gemcutting capital of the world, Idar-Oberstein, Bernd Munsteiner learned the intricate techniques and time-honored principles of faceting gemstones. However, at a time when tradition came under fire in every other aspect of life, Munsteiner turned the traditions of gemcutting on their head.

    Rather than polishing away the natural rough or cutting along standard lines and forms, Munsteiner looked at stones in a completely different way. Instead of maximizing carat weight and cutting along ideal patterns, he played with the light and made his cuts on the backside of his gems.

    These negative cuts, sometimes deep slices into the gemstone, opened up a whole new world of light play within the stones. His geometric wonders transcended the boundaries of fine jewelry, catapulting his new cuts into the realm of sculpture and art.


    The Fantasy Cut Receives Mixed Reviews

    At first, Munsteiner's Free Cuts met with disdain in the industry. This did not prevent some of his fellow artisans from learning the techniques he devised. Dieter Lorenz, John Dyer, Michael Dyber, and others followed in Munsteiner's footsteps.

    Of course, the establishment rejected this new approach to gemcutting, the first new technique to emerge since the Middle Ages. However, the trade publications chose to include these emerging artists and their jewelry in their pages. Circulating internationally, these trade journals launched the Fantasy Cut into popular demand.  Today, these exquisite works of art have been purchased by collectors, dealers, jewelers, and even museums.

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