• Guo Pei Exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery

     

    Guo Pei, One Thousand and Two Nights, 2010 Guo Pei, One Thousand and Two Nights, 2010, silk cloak embroidered with metal thread and silk- and 24-karat-gold-spun thread and adorned with silk bows and fox fur. Photo: Courtesy of SCAD.

     

    As you can see from this exquisite photo, Guo Pei: Couture Beyond promises a spectacular viewing experience for visitors to the Vancouver Art Gallery. With over 40 looks, this impressive show aims to transport museumgoers to the fashion runway.

     

    Evolution of Design

    "Exquisite, theatrical, inimitable." These are just some of the words used by the curators to describe the breathtaking works of one of China's most preeminent fashion designers.

    Spanning more than ten years of Guo Pei's career, Couture Beyond explores the evolution of her design sensibilities. Each year, Guo Pei creates a new line for the fashion runway. Each line draws upon a theme. Furthermore, each theme seamlessly fuses contemporary design with pre-Republic Chinese decadence.

    It is this rare combination, in which she combines the aesthetic of Chinese dynasties with the modern design sense of the 21st century, that distinguishes Guo Pei from her contemporaries.

    As such, she became the first Chinese woman couturiere invited to join the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris. Her inimitable style and technical expertise affords her the greatest distinction among fashion designers.

     

    Guo Pei: Couture Beyond

    This fabulous exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery represents Canada's premiere showing of Guo Pei fashions. Set in runway style, each section highlights a different stage of her career. To begin with, curators chose a selection of outfits from her collection which launched her partnership with MAC Cosmetics. These statement pieces take center stage beneath the rotunda. The designer released this collection in 2015.

    Continuing further into the museum, the next stop is the Legend of the Dragon, Guo Pei's 2012 collection. Selections from this collection draw strongly, of course, from the mythological Chinese dragon. The dragon is undeniably one of the most noble of the Zodiac beasts.

    To cap off the entire exhibition, the museum offers a shimmering metallic gown from Guo Pei's 2016 Encounter collection, as well as ornately adorned garments from her 2017 Legend collection. Guo Pei drew her inspiration for the Legend collection from the Cathedral of Saint Gallen in Switzerland.

     

    The Canary Cape

    Also on display, the gorgeous canary cape worn by Rihanna at the Met Gala in 2015. She fashioned the cape from 55 pounds of silk and ornamented with layers of embroidery. This exquisite cape has come to exemplify the craftsmanship of the esteemed couturier and her team.

    Without doubt, the Guo Pei exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is a must see for anyone visiting British Columbia this year. The show remains open until January 20, 2019. For more details, please visit the museum's website.

  • Hailey Baldwin Engagement Ring Details

    Transitional Cut Diamond Ring GIA Match Hailey Baldwin Engagement Ring Style with this GORGEOUS transitional cut diamond ring. Click here for details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry

     

    Hailey Baldwin received a gorgeous engagement ring from singer Justin Bieber. In pursuit of the perfect ring, he consulted with his manager, Scooter Braun.

     

    Solow & Co., Inc.

    Braun directed Bieber to Jack Solow of Solow & Co., Inc. Justin's team relayed specifics to Solow, including metal choice and overall style.

    They leaned on Jack for suggestions about stone type and shape. Justin told Jack that Hailey wanted a gorgeous band sparkling with diamonds.

    Solow showed Bieber many cuts, sizes, and shapes of diamonds. Justin determined to choose a stone that would accentuate the model's beautiful hands.

    After completing the design and production of the ring, Jack Solow delivered the ring to Justin himself. In fact, Justin received the ring the night before he and Hailey left for a trip to the Bahamas.

     

    A Bahamas Dream

    Pristine beaches and peaceful aqua waters, with forests of mangroves and stands of palm trees. Welcome to paradise, Bahamas style, at Baker's Bay on Great Guana Cay.

    The day after receiving Hailey's engagement ring, Justin Bieber flew Hailey to this luxury resort island. While vacationing, they took in a night of salsa dancing.

    Partway through the night, the crowd grew restless as Justin's security detail began instructing dancers to put their phones away. "Something special is about to happen," was their only clue.

    Suddenly, Justin knelt on one knee in front of Hailey. Of course, she said YES. So, he slipped that gorgeous ring on her finger.

     

    Hailey Baldwin Engagement Ring Details

    Hailey Baldwin expressed joy and pleasure when Justin Bieber slipped that ring on here finger. Made of 18k gold, her ring features a stunning elongated oval cut diamond weighing between 6 and 10 carats.

    The band features a single row of sparkling diamonds with a smattering of diamonds in the gallery. The overall effect is brilliance!

    Like transitional cut diamonds, oval cut diamonds accentuate long fingers and elongate shorter fingers. Both are an excellent choice for women who want to draw extra attention to their hands.

  • Robin Williams Watches Fetch $440K for Charities

     


    Robin Williams watch by Franck Muller Watch by Franck Muller. Previously in the collection of Robin Williams. Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

     

    Earlier this month, Sotheby's offered The Collection of Marsha and Robin Williams for sale. The actor's family wanted to raise funds for some of his favorite charities.

     

    Robin Williams Sale Exceeds Expectations

    Not surprisingly, the sale exceeded expectations. In total, more than 300 items sold for a grand total of over $6 million. Part of the collection sold included 44 wristwatches which Robin Williams collected and wore.

    The Franck Muller watch pictured above was the top selling watch in the auction. Estimated to fetch between $25 and $35K, the exquisite designer watch sold for $52,500. Another astonishing return was the Dead Poet's Society watch, worn in the movie by the beloved actor.

    Estimated to bring in between $1,000 and $2,000 dollar, the watch sold for $32,500, bringing in the second-highest bid for the collection of watches. In total, the 44 watches, all of which sold for far above their estimated prices, sold for just over $440,000.

    Marsha Williams earmarked a portion of the proceeds from the entire sale to benefit several charities dear to Robin Williams. These include Human Rights Watch, Wounded Warrior Project, and the Robin Williams Scholarship at Juilliard.

     

    Human Rights Watch

    Human Rights Watch looks for violations of human dignity around the globe. Shining light into dark places, they expose brutality at all levels, including torture, violence against women, child exploitation, and more.

    In the late 1990s, the organization shared in the acceptance of a Nobel Peace Prize for their part in establishing the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The Mine Ban Treaty internationally bans the use, manufacture, and storing of antipersonnel mines. It also charges individual countries with the responsibility to destroy stockpiles of mines, clear affected areas, and assist victims of mines.

     

    Wounded Warriors

    Wounded Warriors Project works with wounded veterans of the U.S. Military. They provide support for rehabilitation, retraining, and emotional recovery. Their aim is to return our wounded soldiers to their communities as whole, healed, and contributing members.

    In recent years, Wounded Warriors has focused much of their efforts on preventing suicide among veterans. Because our soldiers who have served face unique mental health issues, Mike Richardson advocates for an innovative approach to wellness for our veterans.

    As the Independence Services and Mental Health Vice President for Wounded Warriors Project, Richardson is uniquely qualified to promote a new approach. His desire is to see suicide prevention strategies abandon the crisis management model in favor of a comprehensive and integrated approach that focuses on building resilience and preventing suicidal ideation in the first place.

     

    Robin Williams Scholarship

    Juilliard School teaches drama to blossoming young actors. Robin Williams attended the school in 1973, as part of what the school calls Group 6. Though he dropped out of the program before graduation, the actor maintained his ties with the school throughout his lifetime.

    Upon his tragic death, Juilliard's president, Joseph W. Polisi, wrote, "The Juilliard community is deeply saddened by the death of our distinguished alumnus Robin Williams."

    Polisi went on to describe how the actor's contribution on stage and screen was matched, in particular, by his commitment to support emerging actors in their craft.

    Years prior to his death, Williams founded the Robin Williams Scholarship. More than 13 drama students at Juilliard have finished their degree with tuition paid by the fund.

    In fact, Jessica Chastain, received the scholarship for graduation in 2003. Her gratitude for her benefactor has inspired her to pay it forward. "His generous spirit will forever inspire me to support others as he supported me," the actress wrote on Facebook.

    The sale of Robin's watches and other collected works of art will benefit these and many other charities. Of course, credit belongs to the foresight of his former wife and her relationship with the auction house Sotheby's.

  • Chinese Courtship and Engagement Customs

    A red cord draws a couple together toward Chinese Courtship This rubellite & diamond brooch symbolizes the red cord that draws a couple together toward a Chinese Engagement and Wedding. Click here for more details about this stunning brooch. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Chinese courtship begins with a gift from the gods. Soul mates for life, a Chinese man and woman will one day find themselves face to face. However, it takes a lot more than fate, including matchmakers, astrologers, and auspicious dates. Indeed, a traditional Chinese courtship is perhaps one of the most elaborate and ritualized rite of passage in the world.

     

    An Invisible Cord of Red

    On the day she is born, the gods link a baby girl to her intended with a long red cord. This cord, invisible to the human eye, gradually shrinks. As time marches on, the soul mates on either end of this cord find themselves drawn inexorably together until they come face to face.

    This journey of the soul is unavoidable, unbreakable, and undeniable. The gift of the gods ensures that the man meant for her will find her. Of course, human nature compels families to actively participate in helping two lovers find each other. So, when a daughter comes of age, her parents hire a matchmaker.

     

    Matchmaker, Matchmaker

    A matchmaker makes her living acting on behalf of the gods to ensure that Chinese sons and daughter find their soul mates. In a small village, the matchmaker might host a tea.

    She invites all the eligible Chinese youth, young men and young ladies. Like a European debutante ball, the matchmaker’s tea gives the young men and their families the opportunity to meet prospective brides.

    During the event, a young man carries with him a red embroidered bag. To show his interest in a young lady, he leaves his red bag on a saucer to indicate his choice. If the lady feels the tug of that invisible red cord, she takes the bag demonstrating that she accepts his offer.

    In larger villages and towns, matchmakers take a more individualized approach. A young man’s family hires a matchmaker to take a gift to the family of a young lady they choose for their son. The matchmaker acts as liaison, presenting the gifts and returning to the young man’s family with news of acceptance or rejection.

    If the family accepts his proposal, the matchmaker returns to his parents with the young woman’s birth hour, day, month, and year written on a slip of paper. The young man places this slip of paper on the family altar. It remains upon the altar for three days, during which time the family watches for inauspicious omens.

    Such bad omens might include quarrels erupting between the man’s parents, or loss of property. If the ancestors give their blessing, then the family hires an astrologer.

     

    Astrology & Auspicious Dates

    An astrological match, determined using the Eight Characters, is essential for a happy marriage. The Eight Characters include the year, month, date, and hour of the young man's and young woman’s births. These characters place the two on the zodiac calendar, demonstrating their astrological compatibility.

    The young man’s family takes the four characters belonging to the young lady to their astrologer. If the astrologer deems the two a good match, then they deliver his four characters to her family. Her family seeks their own astrologer to determine if he is a good match for their daughter.

    Once compatibility is determined, one astrologer consults both their charts to determine the appropriate date for the official engagement and the dates for the delivery and exchange of various gifts.

     

    Betrothal Gifts Initiate Chinese Courtship

    Following the guidance of the astrologer, the young man offers his betrothal gift to the young lady’s family on the first of the auspicious dates chosen. These gifts, often called Tea Presents, included tea (of course), bridal cakes, pairs of male and female chickens, wine, tobacco, sweetmeats, and sugar. The young lady’s family reciprocates with gifts of clothing and food.

    Several days following the exchange of the Tea Presents, the bride’s family sends the dowry to the groom’s family. While in the past the dowry included functional gifts like a chamber pot filled with fruit, today dowries includes a tea set, bedding, bathroom accessories, the bride’s clothing and jewelry, and possibly even small appliances and furniture.

    Upon completion of these gift exchanges, and armed with the readings from their astrologers, the families consult a Chinese almanac to choose a favorable date for the wedding. At this point, the couple is officially engaged.

    The next step involves sending out invitations to the ceremony and wedding feast. Traditionally, the couple delivered invitations and accompanying “double happiness cakes” in person. Modern couples typically dispense with this tradition, choosing instead to send invitations by mail.

  • Beautiful Cats Eye Chrysoberyl


    Vintage Mens Cats Eye Chrysoberyl Ring 18K Gold Vintage Mens Cats Eye Chrysoberyl Ring 18K Gold. Click here for details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry

     

    This handsome vintage mens ring features a stunning 7.6 carat cats eye chrysoberyl. In 1789, geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner discovered the semi-precious gemstone chrysoberyl. An aluminate of beryllium, chrysoberyl comes in several popular varieties, including alexandrite and cats eye chrysoberyl.

     

    Cats Eye Chrysoberyl

    While the primary chemical formulation of cats eye chrysoberyl remains aluminate of beryllium, inside the crystal lattice rests an uncommon inclusion. The included material, called rutile, is titanium dioxide. Under a microscope it looks like needle-like crystals of a reddish-brown color.

    When bands of these needle-like crystals, sometimes referred to as "silk," form parallel to the C-axis, gemcutters can maximize this inclusion to create a very special effect called chatoyancy.

    Chatoyancy occurs when a gemstone with silk parallel to the c-axis is cut in cabochon, with the cuts made perpendicular to the c-axis. This results in a shifting band of light which bisects the stone across the center. This band of light shifts as the stone moves from side to side. Looking straight on, it looks just like the slits a cat's eyes form. Thus, the term chatoyancy, a word combination involving two French words: chat and oeil. Chat means cat, and oeil means eye.

    When used by itself in the industry, the term cats eye always refers to its chrysoberyl form. Other stones must be labeled with what they are, such as aquamarine, topaz, etc.

     

    Other Cats Eye Stones

    As mentioned before, chrysoberyl is not the only gemstone that can be cut en cabochon to reveal a cats eye. Tiger's eye, perhaps the other most famous type of cats eye stone, is a yellowish-brown variety of quartz in which chalcedony replaces the crocidolite in the crystal structure. Tiger's eye and chrysoberyl cats eye are the most popular cats eye gemstones.

    In addition to these, cats eyes emerge in moonstone, apatite, quartz, tourmaline, topaz, and spinel. They also show up in more valuable semiprecious stones, such as garnet, aquamarine, and peridot. Sapphires are another stone in which the rutile bands can be found. Typically, blue sapphires and rubies display another form of light play called asterism. In layman's terms, a star sapphire.

     

    The Rarity of Cats Eye Chrysoberyl

    Chrysoberyl surfaces primarily in Brazil, India, China, and Zimbabwe. Wherever chrysoberyl resides, cats eye chrysoberyl may coexist. However, chatoyant stones comprise only a small percentage of total chrysoberyl extractions.

    Early on in the stone's discovery, Sri Lanka proved a hearty source of many precious and semi-precious gemstones, including cats eye chrysoberyl. Indeed, it proved the source of the largest cats eye, weighing over 700 carats. Miners discovered the stone on the estate belonging to The Grand Lady Iddamalgoda Kumarihamy.

    The Grand Lady gifted the massive uncut stone to her eldest daughter's husband. He, in turn, gave it to his eldest son, whom The Grand Lady adopted as her heir. Upon reaching adulthood, her grandson assumed the position of Dissawa, or Governor, of Sri Lanka.

    In 1930, the Dissawa invited a famous gemcutter from the region of Ratnapura to come to his home. With the Dissawa presiding over the planning and cutting of the stone, this gemcutter shaved off nearly 300 carats to shape it into a spectacular 465-carat cabochon. The Smithsonian calls the gem, called The Eye of the Lion, the world's largest cats eye chrysoberyl.

    Though the Smithsonian hopes one day to house the stone in its collection, today experts believe the Eye of the Lion belongs to a gemstone dealer based in Bangkok. {source}

     

    Key Qualities of Cats Eye Cabochons

    Looking to purchase a cats eye jewel?

    We recommend working exclusively with a reputable dealer who clearly defines their terms and uses the appropriate labels for their different cats eye gemstones.

    In addition, we recommend you choose a cats eye cabochon that, in the very least, demonstrates a clear band (or sometimes a square) of light that moves smoothly across the surface as the stone rotates. In a superior cats eye, this band of light should bisect the cabochon symmetrically and contrast sharply with the rest of the stone's body color.

    Chrysoberyl comes in various shades of green, yellow, brown, and red. Finally, when shopping for cats eye chrysoberyl, we advise you choose stones with superior color saturation.

    In addition to this striking vintage cats eye ring, we carry a lovely selection of mens and womens rings with cats eye chrysoberyl, including cats eye apatite, cats eye tourmaline, and even a cats eye emerald. Call today to shop with us for your cats eye ring.

  • The Patek Philippe Museum and the History of Time

    Vintage Patek Philippe Eighteen Jewel Manual Wind Wrist Watch

    Vintage Patek Philippe Eighteen Jewel Manual Wind Wrist Watch. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry

     

    In 2001, Philippe Stern realized his dream when the Patek Philippe Museum opened to the public. The horological museum showcases over five centuries of watchmaking, including antique timepieces fashioned between the 16th and early 19th centuries. It also showcases a historical view of the company Patek Philippe, from their earliest timepieces made in the mid 1800s, to their technologically profound modern models.

     

    The Patek Philippe Collection

    Occupying several floors in an authentic Art Deco building in Geneva, Switzerland, the Patek Philippe Museum features four distinct sections. The first floor features a small cinema, where a historical video plays on a loop. Here, visitors learn the history of the company, in particular how the founding partners met.

    Next, visitors step back in time to the early days of the Patek Philippe workshops. Watches, clocks, and timepieces dating as far back as 1839 evolve into contemporary pieces made in this century. Together, they beautifully tell the story of over 175 years of luxury watchmaking.

    This portion of the Patek Philippe Museum demonstrates the important contributions the company has made to horology. In particular, Patek Philippe prides itself in its advances in complications. For example, The Grandmaster Chime.

    The Grandmaster Chime, manufactured in 2014, commemorated the company's 175th anniversary. It features 20 complications, two dials, 214 parts, and 1,366 components. {source} In addition to a minute repeater, an instantaneous perpetual calendar, and a second time zone, The Grandmaster Chime also boasts two firsts for a wristwatch.

    For one thing, it has an acoustic alarm that strikes the alarm time. For another, it possesses a function that chimes the date. This exquisite wristwatch, fashioned from 18k gold and etched to artistic perfection, demonstrates not only the technical skill of Patek Philippe, but also their commitment to exquisite artistry. The intricate etchings and scroll work make this a masterpiece of timekeeping.

     

    The Antiques Collection

    The next section of the museum is the Antiques Collection. Spanning time between the 16th and the early 19th centuries, the Antiques Collection focuses on the history of clocks and clockmaking. Every school and style of European horology are represented in this extensive and beautiful collection.

    Visitors see firsthand how ornate religious motifs gave way to more modern and simplistic designs. As well, museumgoers see the evolution from timekeeping as a man's domain to the introduction of ladies wristwatches. In addition, the museum exhibits a Fantasy Watch Collection and The Art of Automata Gallery. These house the museum's collection of horological art, such as musical automata and watches bearing enamel miniatures, all of which help tell the story of Swiss watchmaking.

     

    The Library of Time

    The final floor of the Patek Philippe Museum hosts the extensive horological library. Here, visitors see letters written by the founders, books on physics and time, as well as documents and books about the mechanics of clocks and the mechanisms of keeping time.

    This portion of the museum houses in total over 8,000 documents and publications related to time and time measurement. Also featured are the wooden table and machine and tools used early on to manually manufacture their clocks.

     

    Altogether, the Patek Philippe Museum portrays over 500 years of watchmaking history. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, with guided tours on Saturdays, available in either English or French. You will find all the details on the museum's website.

  • Serena Williams Rocks it with a Gargantuan Wedding Ring

     

    Serena Williams Style - Go Big! Go Big or Go Home. Nothing compares to Serena Williams' massive wedding ring. But you can go big like the tennis goddess with this spectacular Edwardian Era Natural Pearl and Old Euro Cut diamond ring. Click here for more details. Photo © 2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Serena Williams announced her engagement to Alexis Ohanian with photos of them together in Rome. Instead of seeing her ring, though, fans got to see tacos. Yep, you heard me right. In yet another display of her awesome sense of humor, Serena kept her fans guessing with different incarnations of tacos superimposed over her ring.

    That was almost a year ago. Since then, Serena Williams gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, named Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. She also got married to her baby's daddy, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Sr. And now she's sporting what I believe will come to be known as the wedding ring of the century.

    Serena Williams Rocks Out

    One massive emerald-cut diamond nearly bumps her knuckle. It seems to hover above the rest of the ring. The ring begins as an eternity band made of yellow gold and paved entirely in white diamonds. A concave opening allows her massive engagement ring, also fashioned of brilliant yellow gold, to nest within the wedding band. Three exquisite pear-cut diamonds drip off the edges of the eternity band.

    It is difficult to describe in words the dimensionality and originality this ring possesses. Oh, to see it in person. And in the post that highlighted it, a photo of Serena and Alexis hanging out together, demonstrates how used to the rock Serena has become. "Daddy knows how much I love leopard print," says Olympia!

    Come on! Daddy knows how much Mommy loves STYLE. Stylish is the only descriptive for this bling. It is a style completely unique, indescribable, and absolutely perfect for the Goddess of Tennis.

     

    The Serve

    It started one morning at a Roman hotel. For real!

    Serena Williams sits with her friends poolside, lamenting the fact that they missed the breakfast buffet. Awaiting their order, a techy nerd comes up and plops himself at their table.

    Why on earth didn't he sit at his own table? Who is this guy, anyway?

    "Aye, mate. There's a rat," says Aussie Zane Haupt. He's hoping to scurry the guy along.

    "I'm from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time," says the interloper.

    Serena Williams, realizing they're at an impasse, invites the stranger to remain and join them for breakfast. She bounces her ball and makes her serve, asking her new table mate about the conference he's attending.

     

    The Volley

    Only he's not just an attendee. He's a speaker for the Festival of Media Global. He tells her about Reddit, the social media site he and his buddy founded together. She acts as though she knows about it, but it's clear she doesn't.

    She tells him about tennis. He's figured out that she's Serena Williams. But that's about all he knows about tennis. He doesn't fake it, but he also chooses to keep secret that he finds tennis a cure for insomnia.

    She offers him her number, but only because she might want to ask him some more techie questions. He takes her number and slides it somewhere safe.

     

    Love - Love

    One of Serena's friends invites him to the tennis match that night. He gets to ride in their van. Serena won, of course, but an injury handicapped her performance. She invited Alexis to join them for dinner, but he had other plans. So she texted him, lamenting the fact that he didn't see her play at her best.

    Come to Paris, she wrote. See me play better. Alexis figured she didn't really mean it, that she was just being nice. But he showed up anyway. Serena showed up, too, and they took an Uber into the City of Love. For six hours, they stepped outside of time, outside of the spotlight, and enjoyed the city as tourists. Together. {source}

    For the next year they learn to respect and love each other more and more deeply. She inspires him. He inspires her. They romance each other. And in December, they find themselves once again at that table in the restaurant of that Roman hotel.

     

    Score

    It took some doing for Alexis to convince Serena to join him in Rome that December (2016). With a match in India on the books for Serena, the plan seemed simple. A quick stopover in Rome, done and done.

    However, the exhibition in India was canceled. Serena saw it as an opportunity to throw herself into training for the Australian Open. Suddenly, Alexis had to call in the big guns. Dakota Baynham packed Serena's bags in secret. Tommy Hilfiger invited her for an impromptu fashion meeting at his Palm Beach home. A trip to the airport was required.

    At some point, Serena's friend Jill informed her that Alexis wanted to surprise her with a spontaneous trip to Rome. Serena responded in anger. She grew angrier on the plane, as she realized what was coming. But this is what she wanted.

    And so, when she arrived and found herself sitting there at the table, with a plastic rat staring at her, watching her lover get down on one knee, she said, "Yes."

     

    Match Point

    With an announcement on Reddit, Serena Williams proclaimed to the world that she would soon become Mrs. Reddit. Alexis Ohanian posted on Reddit a Snoo made to look like his bride-to-be, with the title, "The Future Mrs. Kn0thing." "You're also a really cute Snoo," he wrote. Later, he added, "She said yes." {source}

    Months after their engagement, they welcomed baby girl Olympia. And in November 2017, the couple wed at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans.

  • Qilin Brooch by JAR - Juan de Beistegui Sale at Christie's

     

    Citrine Qilin Brooch by JAR. Citrine Qilin Brooch by JAR. Photo courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2018.

     

    This citrine brooch shaped like the legendary Qilin, made by famed jeweler JAR, sold last month at Christie's auction for 150,000 Euros ($173,818 US). JAR made it for his friend, Juan de Beistegui, heir to the multi-million dollar fortune of Carlos de Beistegui.

    Qilin Brooch by JAR

    JAR designed the brooch to resemble the Chinese rendition of the Qilin. It's gaping mouth, paved in rubies, yawns from within a bearded shaggy mane. This mane sweeps upward toward the sky, as its flowing beard trails down the front of its chest.

    Its piercing eye flashes as a yellow diamond. Its body shimmers with flaming citrine, representing fire in the belly. In one cloven hoof and leg it carries a ball of fiery citrine. Scaly metallic circles cover its skin like fish scales.

     

    The Chinese Qilin Legends

    In China, Qilin (also called Chinese unicorns) are gentle, mythical creatures with the sensibilities of a tender maiden. Yet, they also possess the power of a mighty lion or dragon. Though hesitate to tread on grass, fearful they might injure even a single blade, they vanquish the wicked without apology.

    Considered one of the four sacred animals, the chimeric creature enjoys the praise given the dragon, phoenix, and tortoise. According to legend, a dragon gave birth to nine sons. It was one of them. Along with its brothers, the qilin possesses the gift of discernment, recognizing good and evil.

    Similar to the stork, the Chinese unicorn brings extraordinary children from the heavens. Though a solitary creature by nature, the mythical creature appears and lingers just before the birth of a great sage or distinguished ruler and returns upon their death.

    A qilin eats magical grass, floats or flies, and escorts the dead to heaven. Even its image, carved on tombstones, wards off evil spirits. It represents peace and harmony, though it also possesses the power to vanquish evil.

    A qilin talisman is believed to bring protection, prosperity, longevity, and success to its owner. It also serves to promote fertility. In Feng Shui, qilin attract wealth and repel negativity. They represent celebration, longevity, greatness, joy, and wisdom. They are also a harbinger of wise and noble children.

     

    Qilin in Japan

    In Japan, qilin are called kirin. The legends surrounding them overlap nearly identically with those of China, promising prosperity and peace. However, in Japan, kirin are notoriously shy, avoiding conflict at every turn.

    The Japanese believe kirin possess the power to punish the wicked. Legends abound in which the kirin preside over court hearings and divine the guilt or innocence of the accused.

    Kirin live in solitude, born in the center of the earth. They are considered the first and purest among the land animals. Their ability to navigate flawlessly, always reaching their destination, render them a favorite choice for spiritual life guides.

     

    It doesn't seem too far-fetched to imagine that JAR had all of this symbolism and legend in mind when he fashioned this qilin brooch for his dear friend. Now, its new owner can draw from the power of JAR's intentions, as well as from the talismanic power this jewel holds.

     

  • Cherokee Wedding Ceremony Customs

     

    Traditional Cherokee Wedding Ceremony Vase Traditional Cherokee Wedding Ceremony Vase

     

    The traditional Cherokee wedding ceremony has been nearly lost in time. No records of a Cherokee wedding ceremony appear in any history books. Cherokee couples have attempted to recreate the sacred ceremony as best as possible. Here I have compiled some of the elements of the ceremony.

     

    Sacred Fire

    As is true for many Native American tribes, fire is sacred to the Cherokees. A Sacred Fire ceremony begins with three separate fires made from the wood of seven different types of trees.

    One large wood pile is prepared in the center, the fire of which will represent both the Creator and the wedded union. One to the south and one to the north, the holy elder lays the wood for two smaller fires which represent the individual lives of the bride and groom before their union.

    The holy man and the assembly sing sacred songs and recite ancient prayers, as he and the bride and groom sprinkle sage, tobacco, corn, and sweet grass over their respective wood piles.

    As they say a prayer, the bride and groom light their respective fires. As their fires begin to burn brightly, the two gently push their smaller fires into the larger wood pile, which soon lights.

    The assembly bursts into song in praise to the Creator as the two fires burn as one with the Creator's fire.

     

    The Basket Ceremony

    Next, the mother of the bride brings her daughter a basket with an ear of corn or a loaf of bread. The mother of the groom brings him a leg of cooked venison, also in a basket. The mothers also bring a blue blanket which they drape over their child's shoulders.

    The blue blankets represent the sorrow of their lives before their union. They also represented the old ways of the individual, personal failures, weaknesses, and sorrows.

    Now draped with the blankets of their individuality and carrying their baskets, they begin to walk to the center of the room, toward each other. Upon meeting in the center, for the first time they look into each other's eyes directly. This act of intimacy remains forbidden during courtship.

    Next, the Cherokee bride grasps the corner of her groom's blanket and gently folds it within her own blanket, as she hands him her basket of corn or bread. This act symbolizes her commitment to keep their home and nurture and support her husband.

    The groom then hands his bride the basket of cooked venison. His act symbolizes his promise to provide for all her needs and protect her from all harm.

     

    Cherokee Wedding Blanket

    After the Basket Ceremony, close relatives step forward carrying a large white blanket. They drape it over the shoulders of the couple, covering over their weaknesses, failures, shame, and sorrows. Now their lives are joined in happiness, fulfillment, and peace.

    The tribe's chief steps forward at this time, declaring, "The blankets are joined." This concludes the official Cherokee wedding ceremony. Some couples choose to add a Wedding Vase Ceremony at this point.

     

    The Wedding Vase

    Take a quick look at the vase in the photo above. You'll see that it has two pouring spouts. At the close of their wedding ceremony, a Cherokee bride and groom attempt to drink simultaneously out of the vase. If they manage to do so without spilling even a drop, they can expect mutual understanding throughout their marriage.

    Most Cherokee couples enjoy a recitation of the Cherokee Wedding Prayer, which honors the three forces of nature - fire, wind, and water - as well as the blessings each brings to the marriage. Finally, members of the tribe perform a Stomp Dance to celebrate the union.

  • The Lab-Created Ruby on The Jeweler's Bench

     

    Lab-Created Ruby Cocktail Ring by Tenthio This gorgeous Tenthio cocktail ring features a striking oval-cut lab-created ruby. It also features natural and synthetic diamond accent stones. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    This designer cocktail ring, featuring a gorgeous lab-created ruby, resembles a budding flower. Golden petals trimmed in natural and lab-created diamonds nestle against each other to form a tight bud. Embedded in their midst is a 1.3 carat created ruby.

     

    Synthetic vs. Lab-Created Ruby

    Synthetic rubies are chemically discrete from natural rubies. They are most often made out of glass, but can also be made from resin, plastic, ceramic, or other materials. Rarely will you see an imitation ruby at a fine jewelry store, unless it is incorporated as an original part of an antique. A reputable jeweler labels all imitation rubies as such, using terms like imitation, synthetic, or glass.

    A lab-created ruby, on the other hand, is chemically identical to a natural ruby mined from the earth. It has the same chemical, optical, and physical properties of a natural ruby. As long as they are properly labeled, lab-crated rubies are definitely a purchase worth considering.

    As their name implies, created rubies grow in a laboratory setting. Today, gemstone chemists continue to use the historical flame fusion process discovered in the late 1800s by Auguste-Victor-Louis Verneuil.

     

    History of the Lab-Created Ruby

    Scientists first attempted to create rubies in the early 1800s. Rubies proved rare, and when found they rarely exceeded 3 carats in size. Industry demanded a greater supply, particularly as microabrasives and for jeweled watch bearings.

    The French chemist, Edmond Fremy, reached success first with his huge fireclay crucibles. A mixture of alum, red lead, silica, and potassium dichromate reached temperatures referred to as "red heat" in these crucibles. When held at this high temperature for 20 days, the result yielded small, brittle, but perfectly formed rubies identical to naturally mined rubies.

    Verneuil, who began as Fremy's lab assistant, carried on with the crucible experiments, eventually forming created rubies the size of a nail head. While one jeweler successfully mounted a few of these created rubies into a brooch, and others used them in watches, their small size rendered their use limited in the jewelry industry.

    Eventually, Verneuil discovered Geneva rubies. In 1885, an influx of large jewel-grade rubies hit the market. These rubies appeared to be high-quality stones of rare large carat size. They sold for thousands of dollars per carat.

    However, under microscopic scrutiny, these rubies contained minute opaque spheres, gas bubbles which formed during some sort of melting or fusion process. The French Syndicate for Diamonds and Precious Stones declared them "artificial." They forbid jewelers from selling them as natural and forced those who had already sold them to refund their customers' money. The source of these Geneva rubies remains a mystery to this day.

     

    Flame Fusion

    While the Geneva rubies caused a fuss for many jewelers, Verneuil studied these manufactured gemstones, looking for a new approach to creating rubies. Using a hydrogen-oxygen or gas-oxygen mixture, Verneuil began using blowtorches to apply flame heat directly to a ruby "feed" made from aluminum oxide.

    Over the next 15 years, Verneuil continued to perfect his technique, creating several means for controlling flow of the feed and gas mixtures, as well as timing for removing the heat. Finally, in 1902, he published his perfected flame fusion method for creating rubies. This method remains the favored method for creating rubies, as I mentioned before.

    In two hours, a lab assistant created a 15-carat boule which could be cut into several faceted rubies. A flame fusion-created ruby possessed identical chemical and optical properties as a natural ruby. The only differences were physical, visible only at the microscopic level. Indeed, they were almost too perfect, lacking the usual inclusions of their natural cousins.

     

    Benefits of Lab-Created Rubies

    Lab-created rubies offer the jewelry connoisseur several benefits. For one, they come at a lower price point than natural rubies. Yet, they radiate with gorgeous color and beautiful shine in the same way as natural rubies.

    As such, lab-created rubies are the perfect choice for traveling. Travelers often leave their authentic jewels at home, locked away in their safe, while out of the country. But perhaps you wish to travel in style. In that case, we urge you to travel with your lab-created ruby jewelry. That way, you can shimmer and shine as usual without as much fear of loss.

    Finally, creating rubies in a lab leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Manufacturing rubies in a lab uses far less natural and manmade resources than mining rubies does.

    Here at EraGem, we have a handful of lab-created ruby (and other sapphire) jewels we would love to show you. We welcome your call and look forward to hosting you in our showroom very soon.

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