Monday, May 25, 2015

05.25.15 One is silver and the other is gold

You know the song, you sang it at Girl Scout camp, "make new friends, but keep the old"...despite passing the half century mark a couple of years ago, I refuse to refer to any of my friends as "old"; I prefer "long standing".  One of those long standing friends is a woman I met in high school, who runs an amazing business showcasing independent artisans.  Four times a year Hillary hosts "Chick's Picks" - a pop up boutique - in her GORGEOUS HOME! (shout out to her wonderful family who help make it possible)

I have been in the DC area and able to attend her spring show the past two years. I had hoped to go again this spring, but, alas, the stars did not align and I'm not going to make either show. Never one to let something as minor as geography slow her down, Hillary - in true friend fashion - and the Chicks sent the show (and a birthday wonderful gift) to me through Facebook (click through to see the video) and the US mail.

I got to choose two wooden bracelets from Amy Schilling's shop - Girls Day Out.  I've written about Amy's jewelry before (a previous purchase at Chick's Picks) but this time I had some decisions to make.

Amy's wooden beads, which are ideal for summer, come in a variety of fabulous colors.  I have two of her necklaces, and asked the Chicks for advice on choosing just two bracelets. Hillary recommended silver and gold (that's her lovely wrist in the photo to the left, and me below - with the bracelets, and my CP monogrammed phone case) - and I agreed that they are perfect together. 

As I said, I can't make it to the June CP show but if you are within driving distance of the DC area, I urge you to gas up and go.  And tell the Chicks I sent you.

Until next time.

Monday, May 18, 2015

05.18.15 May flowers (and delayed showers)

We got a few showers in April, but man,'re soaking us.  In the last two weeks we've had a record 9" of rain.  No complaints, mind you - we're still behind - and the rain has made the grass green and the flowers bloom.

My mother in law sent me these beauties for my birthday recently - and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them open up and release their glorious fragrance.

I have lots of floral themed jewelry as well - and thought I'd share some of it for a May post. As with all my jewelry - my flowers run the gamut from whimsical and inexpensive to fine pieces in precious metals with gemstones.

In the "file under fun" category are these great pink flowers made by my friend (another local Austin artist), Christine Terrell of adaptive reUse.  Christine makes her earrings by cutting shapes from old decorative tins.  I love them - and really - how can you have a bad day when you are sporting hot pink daisies?
Photo credit: Lois Hill

Most of my jewelry, and especially my earrings, are in the "in between" price range.  For some folks the pick me up is a new shade of lipstick, for me it's a new pair of earrings.

These Lois Hill granulated flowers are long time favorites - I don't remember when it was, but I do remember buying them.  Years ago, wandering through Nordstrom (which I do far too often). I love the texture, and that the pattern almost looks like a paisley print.
Photo credit: Polyvore

Although I've written about them before, I'd be remiss if I didn't include my Jamie Joseph "Dahlia" earrings from Eliza Page.  A gift from my husband on my birthday a couple of years ago - the mix of gold, oxidized silver and diamonds make them one of the most beautiful, and special, pairs of earrings in my collection.
Photo credit: James Avery

...and it's not just earrings...

I have a wonderful James Avery bluebonnet pin, a 40th birthday gift from a friend, and my most recent floral acquisition - a pendant from Yvonne Raley's "sunflower" collection.

Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs
I hope wherever you are, spring is in full bloom for you as well.

Until next time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

05.11.15 Organic Chemistry

Yesterday was Mother's Day - and as a mother, it is my prerogative to brag on my children.  Okay, fine, you say - after that last post that started with coffee - just about anything goes on this jewelry blog.
My youngest child and only daughter has just completed her freshman year of college.  She plans to major in biochemistry, and her favorite class this past year was organic (chemistry). Yep, you read that correctly - the dreaded o-chem - the course that ends the hopes of many a possible pre-med.  She loved it, she aced it and she has applied to be a TA next year.  She's spending her summer working in a biochem lab on a project that deals with proteins (that exhausts my ability to explain what she does).

Last fall, at the very beginning of the school year, she sent me a text with a picture of her very first molecule model, made with a (very expensive) kit that looked to me like tinker toys for chemists. She was so excited - and I was reminded that when carbon bonds with other molecules, it forms hexagons...and herein lies the link to jewelry.

Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs
One of my favorite Etsy jewelers, Yvonne Raley, has a lovely hexagonal setting with delicate millgrain - and I thought "Eureka!"- a gift for my budding genius.  So I clicked over to her store and started poking around.  To my happy surprise, she had a 4 mm black diamond that she was selling at a clearance price, so I snapped it right up.

Uncut black diamonds
Photo credit: Wikipedia
So, just what is a black diamond - is it really a diamond, or just a dark stone with a fancy name?

It really IS a diamond - its technical name is "Carbanado" and it is the toughest form of natural diamond.  Just as other fancy diamonds get their colors from impurities, black diamonds are made up of  carbon (in a diamond structure), graphite, and amorphous carbon.  Found in Central Africa and Brazil, black diamonds are more porous than white diamonds, and come in colors ranging from grey to deep black.

Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs
After purchasing the stone, I contacted Yvonne, and she created exactly what I wanted.  She set the diamond in an argentium silver version her hexagonal mount, and added a lovely textured silver chain.  The result - a station necklace, featuring a lovely piece of compressed carbon.  The perfect gift to celebrate the end of an exciting and successful academic year.

Until next time.

Monday, May 4, 2015

05.04.15 How you bean?

Last month I titled a post "April Showers", well what rained down on me in April was life, all aspects of it, all at once.  Family crises, which caused me to fall behind on an ever expanding pile of paper demanding my attention, which lead to spending the last two weekends working.  All fueled by coffee.

Weekend work and coffee
and my "college MOM" mug
I refer to coffee as "the elixir of life" - because that's what my mother (who drank hers black - I do not) called it.  Coincidentally, one of my favorite places to grab a cuppa is a great little coffee truck (a modified Studebaker) called...Elixer Coffee.  Two dollars will get you the espresso drink of your choice, as long as you have your own cup.

[I know, you're thinking - this is a JEWELRY blog - why is she prattling on about coffee - well, bear with me].

It's no secret that I run on caffeine, and this year my friends and family gave me some very clever coffee gifts.

First, there were the socks from a friend - who  said to me "you'll probably never wear them, but you had to have them".  She found them on a trip to visit her son at Ole Miss, at the famous independent bookstore Square Books, in Oxford. Actually - I think they're great, and I probably will wear them in the winter when I need to keep my feet warm.

Then, there was the jewelry - you knew I'd get to it - a necklace with a silver coffee bean from my sister in law, which I will wear, a lot.  On a dainty chain with a pearl and my initial stamped on a charm - this is a really fun addition to my collection.

As it happens, my wonderful sister-in-law, has a May birthday...which gives me a reason write about May's birthstone - the emerald.

Emeralds are a gemstone variety of the mineral beryl, known for their deep green color, which is generally a result of chromium impurities.  The "emerald cut", my personal favorite, is used for many stones.  The cut is so called because it maximizes the shape and weight of the beryl's natural crystal structure.

Emeralds have been prized since antiquity; the crown jewel in Cleopatra's crown was an emerald. The name of the stone comes from the Medieval Latin word for green "esmaraldus".

Although I couldn't find any references, I can't help but if wonder part of the reason emerald is May's birthstone is that this is the time of year where everything is so green. The grass, the leaves on the trees, all shimmer like gems when the sun shines on them.

Perhaps I'll grab one more cup of joe, and go take in some of that beautiful spring color before it gets too hot.

Until next time.