Month: June 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Pearls of wisdom

Pearl-Earings-SJ0224

To celebrate the wrap up of June, we thought we’d pay homage to one of the most timeless gems of them all, the pearl.

Whether it’s pictured draped around the neck of Coco Chanel or Audrey Hepburn, or giving its name to Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship in Pirates of the Caribbean, references to the pearl’s lustre can be found throughout pop culture.

With such a long history, pearl jewellery lends a touch of class and delicate beauty to any array of fashion looks, and the gem’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down.

Here are a few of our favourite pearls of wisdom:

June birthstone 

While the month of June has a few alternative birthstones – namely alexandrite and moonstone – the pearl is well recognised as being paired with those born in the sixth month of the calendar year.

According to the International Coloured Gem Association, the origins of the assigned gem stones for each month of the year was thought to come from the ‘Breastplate of Aaron’, a piece of armour bedecked with twelve different gems for the different signs of the zodiac. If you are a June baby, why not celebrate it with a PERL ECO South Sea pendant?

Happy birthday June babies! #pearl #june #showcasejewellers #pearls

A photo posted by Showcase Jewellers (@showcasejewellers) on

May 31, 2015 at 7:41pm PDT

A gem with a story to tell 

The pearl is an accessory that has been worn for hundreds of years. The American Gem Society (AGS) reports that it was one of the gems of choice in the Roman Empire, also becoming a firm favourite in Tudor England.

The AGS continues to explain that what makes pearls so unique, is that they are the only gem to come from a living sea creature – as such, their natural beauty requires no faceting or polishing.

Pearl earring 

The pearl features prominently in many pieces of art throughout the Renaissance period,  but perhaps one of the most memorable appearances of the gem is in Johannes Veneer’s portrait, ‘Girl with a pearl earring’, painted around 1665.

The portrait is cloaked in mystery surrounding the subject of the Dutch painter’s masterpiece; a young girl who looks over her shoulder with her hair wrapped up in a turban and an eye-catching pearl earring nestled against her neck.

The portrait was the inspiration for a novel by Tracy Chevalier, which was later adapted into a motion picture film starring Scarlett Johansson. Add a little mystery to your collection with elegant freshwater pearl drop earrings.

What you need to know about sterling silver

Sterling silver is one of the most beloved of the precious metals, generally less expensive than gold but with a lustrous finish and many versatile applications. It’s a popular material for use on rings, earrings and other jewellery items, thanks to its pliable and supple nature mixed with its aesthetically appealing finish.

While it is harder than gold, it’s still malleable and easily hammered and molded into different shapes. It melts at a lower temperature than gold, with copper or another metal added to pure silver to add strength and rigidity. There’s usually around 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent copper in sterling silver, hence the .925 stamp on all sterling silver products.

Anatolia, now called Turkey, was the home of the first major silver mines in 4000 BC, providing the main source of silver around the world. Around 2500 BC,  the Chinese worked to refine silver to make it more sought after and alluring, plus easier to excavate. Over time, more mines followed suit, and Greece became the main provider of silver to the globe. Spain eventually took over and used its silver for trading purposes.

Mexico and Peru soon discovered silver mines that took over the world, and these countries are still the major players today. As the mining styles travelled throughout the world when new silver mines were discovered, different styles and ways to wear silver were picked up from different cultures. Stones such as diamonds were added, and necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings were created to showcase stunning precious gems. Men and women in historic times have been known to wear jewellery, both gold and silver, as a way of showing their power.

Today’s sterling silver used in jewellery is often highly polished to reflect light, however silver comes in a range of finishes. It can tarnish if there are impurities in the silver that react with air, however silver polish and regular maintenance can prevent this.

Famous queens who wore pearls

Pearls have been a staple jewellery piece for centuries, always synonymous with elegance, radiance and class. As well as being accessories, in the past pearls have been crushed and used in makeup, protected against evil and used as medicine.

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn was rarely seen without her pearls. The second wife of Henry VIII had a brief and stormy time as Queen. She was known for being sharp and frank, intelligent and stylish.

The beautiful necklace was looped twice around her neck, with the shorter strand resting against her throat, with a golden B and hanging teardrop pearls. The other ladies of the court who could afford such luxuries followed suit, opting for strings of pearls to complement their Tudor fashion. 

Cleopatra

The regal, Egyptian Queen is said to have often accessorised with pearls. She accentuated her already legendary beauty with well chosen earrings and necklaces that were incredibly rare and expensive during the era.

Something else Cleopatra was famous for was her love affair with Mark Antony, the Roman politician and general. Apparently, Cleopatra bet Mark she could create the most expensive dinner that had ever been served. Mark took her up on this, and she took off one of her teardrop earrings, crushed it in her hand, and dropped it into her glass of wine vinegar where it dissolved. She then proceeded to drink the pearl, which cost roughly the same as 15 countries. 

Queen Elizabeth II

Throughout the decades of her reign, Queen Elizabeth has stepped out in pearls many a time. She wore them on her wedding day to Prince Phillip on November 20 1947 and she has many regal and extravagant necklaces in her collection that showcase pearls. 

The Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia Necklace is one of her most valuable pieces. The choker necklace has four rows of pearls, 20 bars that are covered in diamonds, and a huge sapphire in the centre.

Dreamtime Diamonds: Capturing the essence of Australia

Of the treasures we collect throughout our lives, from our first CD to the concert ticket stubs from your favourite band, there are a rare few which will accompany us through the decades, holding a place close to our hearts.

It’s these treasures which carry a story, or a special meaning, reminding us whenever we set eyes upon them. We may keep such pieces for years, but their significance will remain as fresh as ever.

Jewellery, one of the most personal gifts you can receive, becomes a part of your life when you wear it. Diamond jewellery is especially iconic, representing purity and strength of spirit which will never fade.

Dreaming of Dreamtime 

When it comes to choosing a jewellery gift that will accompany the wearer through the many years to come, Dreamtime Diamonds come with a story all of their own. A distinctly Australian treasure, Dreamtime Diamonds are sourced from a remote area in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, from the Argyle Diamond Mine.

Diamonds were first discovered in Australia in 1851, with the majority of Australia’s stunning gems now sourced from the Argyle mine – operating in the heart of the Outback for over 30 years.

Each Dreamtime piece is designed to enhance the natural beauty and brilliance of these special Australian jewels. Give your loved one a twinkling of star like diamonds in the form of Dreamtime’s elegant, yet modern rose gold earrings, with their delicate central cluster setting.

Filled with ancient symbolism, the boab tree, also known of as the ‘tree of life’ represents solidarity and eternity due to their incredibly long life span. The Dreamtime diamond boab tree pendant is a beautiful illustration of this poignant symbolism, with the fine branches of the tree set with six beautiful diamonds.

The source for Dreamtime’s precious diamonds, the Argyle mine is also known for producing stunning examples of coloured diamonds, which can be found in the Dreamtime 9ct gold diamond ring.

Its shining, interwoven golden bands are encrusted with champagne coloured and white diamonds to create a luminous, perfectly balanced effect, sure to have a special place in the heart of the receiver.

Dreamtime Australian Diamonds exclusive to #showcasejewellers originate from the Argyle Diamond Mine in the remote East Kimberly region of Western Australia. http://buzz.mw/bqx30_l #Dreamtimediamonds #Australiandiamonds #Argyle

A photo posted by Showcase Jewellers (@showcasejewellers) on

Apr 26, 2015 at 10:26pm PDT

Men’s engagement rings: Yea or nay?

Traditionally, it’s the lucky ladies who get to wear a gorgeous engagement ring after the proposal, to symbolise their engagement and commitment made, while the man gets nothing. Why should it just be the ladies who get to have all the fun with a new piece of jewellery. These days, some couples are choosing to have a men’s engagement ring too. 

So what are they wearing? 

Men’s wedding rings are typically fairly simple bands, perhaps with a small diamond or an inlay in the design. On the other hand (but still on the left, in most cases), the beauty of a mangagement ring is that it can be anything you want it to be. 

It could be a simple and affordable band that the soon-to-be hubby simply likes, and could perhaps keep and wear on another finger after the wedding. Others will prefer a more ‘engagement ring’ style, complete with a row of diamonds. 

Johnny Depp took this trend a step further when he donned fiancee Amber Heard’s engagement ring because “it was too big for her”, he said. 

Why are other guys wearing them?

It might be 2014, but there are still plenty of Romeos out there who are not afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve and show off their love to the world. It’s quite often the case that men who want a physical reminder of their engagement and impending nuptials will wear a placeholder ring of some sort during this time. 

In some cases, a couple may not know when the wedding will take place. Engagements can stretch out for years and years, so in the meantime, both parties can wear a ring on the wedding finger to feel that connection until the actual ceremony takes place.

Would you consider either wearing an engagement ring as a male, or talk to your partner about the possibility of wearing one?

Men’s jewellery trends for 2015

Increasingly, more and more men are coming around to the idea that accessorising is not only confined to the world of women.

Watches have long been considered an essential part of a man’s wardrobe, but it’s only in recent years that we’ve started seeing our favourite male celebrities throwing on some jewellery to complement their style. Jewellery’s not just for women and it’s not just for the superstars – here are some easy ways you can introduce jewellery to your look this year.

Rings

You’ve worn your wedding band for a few years, therefore you know all about rings, right? Wrong. Sure, your band is nice, but we’re talking about rings that do more than declare your marital status. 

A careful choice of rings can add a creative bite to your look, especially if you’re looking for a way to offset your dreary corporate attire. Plain metals are okay, but for an edgier option look for rings of brushed metals that feature ornamental engravings and details.

Those of you who are more daring may want to try wearing gemstone rings – you’ll probably want to shy away from brighter stones in favour of darker tones such as onyx and dark red garnets. Big, raw and asymmetrical gemstone rings are a great way to achieve that rock ‘n’ roll look.

Watches

Around 86 per cent of people own a watch, according to a study by research company Mintel, suggesting that a watch is an accessory that even the least fashion-conscious man will wear. When it comes to choosing a watch, you’ll need to consider the environment in which you’ll be wearing it. 

Outdoorsy types might opt for an easy to read digital face inside a hardy case (such as stainless steel) and a tough, easy-to-clean strap (such as rubber). If you’ll be wearing your watch mostly around the office, analogue dress watches might be the way to go, which often feature high quality metals and a fashionable leather strap.

Bracelets

The word ‘bracelet’ might evoke images of dainty little chains wrapped around dainty little wrists, but this year you’re going to see an explosion of manly men wearing these versatile pieces. To get on top of this trend, start looking for rugged leather bracelets, which can add texture and a bohemian air to your look.

Big, chunky bracelets, made of silver or stainless steel, are another great choice, especially when paired with a plain black shirt.

What style of ring is right for your hand type?

The accessories you choose to wear can be a way of expressing your style and personality. Whether you prefer timeless selections such as a matching set for an elegant look, or you’re more the person who throws caution to the wind and creates their own mix and match style, the jewellery you wear should be a complement to the main attraction – you. 

Finding the perfect match for you 

While you may have heard people discuss how to choose the right metals for your skin tone, or perhaps how to balance out your body with different jewellery, one area you may not have considered in great depth until now, is your hands. 

Our hands and fingers are unique, they are the way we interact with the world, and, like the rest of our body, can be accentuated with the right choice of rings.

To help you decide how to best adorn your digits, here’s a look at the four famous elemental hand types. 

Earth Hand 

Earth hands are characterised by a broad, expansive palm, with squared off fingers. Often, earth hands will have palms that are longer than the fingers themselves. In palmistry, those with earth hands were ostensibly considered to be thoughtful, down-to-earth and hard workers. 

When choosing rings for an earth hand, you can elongate shorter fingers with small to medium sized rings, such as the range of quirky, yet simple Karen Walker rings, worn just between the base of the finger and the middle joint. In addition, earth fingers can be lengthened through a oval-shaped manicure, to create a more tapered effect. 

Water hand  

These graceful hands have both long fingers and elongated, narrow palms. Those with water type hands are thought to be sensitive, caring and imaginative individuals. Famously, Princess Diana was thought to share this particular hand type. 

In terms of jewellery, water hands can offset their long fingers with stacked rings, such as the rose gold and silver dress ring, or even larger feature rings such as the stunning Northern Lights Swarovski rings.

Fire hand 

With shorter fingers and a more rectangular palm, fire hands are similar to the earth hand, usually paired with outgoing, extroverted individuals, with a passion for life.

Similar to earth hands, fire hands can look to create the illusion of longer fingers with more delicate rings. Fire hands can channel their element through warm gold touches, such as the Dreamtime Argyle Diamond ring, or the elegant diamond infinity ring. 

Air hand

Last but not least, the air hand is endowed with the square palm shape akin to the earth hand, but with longer fingers like a water hand. These graceful hands denote a intellectual nature, self motivated and independent, with air hand bearers often known to be sociable and communicative.   

Air hands can accentuate their elegant proportions through fine, delicate rings, but they can also flaunt wider or larger pieces such as the range of Expressions dress rings with their larger feature crystals.

Anniversary planning – Part 2: Unique date ideas

In part one of our anniversary planning series, we looked at planning in advance for a special day to treat your loved one. So, if you’re reading this in preparation for an anniversary in a few weeks, or even a few months’ time, first of all, bravo! Second of all, now is the time to start getting the ideas flowing.

Is your partner one of those people who says “please don’t go to too much trouble”, but in their heart know know they’d secretly love for you to surprise them with something special?

Show your true romantic colours with a thoughtful piece of jewellery on the unique anniversary date you’ve dreamed up – we’ve got three ideas to start you out.

Idea # 1 – Go thrill seeking

This is a great idea if you or your other half usually spends most of their days working away in an office, and you want to do something really out of the ordinary. Get the adrenaline pumping with an action packed day of activities such as river rafting, go-karting and mountain biking.

For the ultimate leap of love, you could even throw yourselves out of a plane (attached to a skydiving instructor, of course) for an experience neither of you will ever forget.

Idea # 2 – Make the most of your day 

For a sweet memento of your anniversary, why not roll up your sleeves making something you can both enjoy. Pottery classes, cooking classes or even a cocktail-making course are a fun way to relax and not take things too seriously.

You can also capture the moment with a photograph tour, exploring the area with a guide who will help you to snap the best panoramas and selfies of your lives.

Idea # 3 – Proposing on your anniversary 

While springing an engagement ring may not be the most original idea, it is none the less still an idea with merit – according to a survey by UK company Chillisauce, about 20 per cent of women say that they’d like to get engaged on the day of their anniversary.

If you’re wanting to pop the question as a surprise, it’s definitely worth taking the time to plan in advance. However, your partner may be suspicious if this is the first time you’ve made a big deal out of your anniversary – keep those poker faces at the ready.

Photographed my first proposal yesterday. #ihavethebestjob #proposal #shesaidyes #photographer #engaged @jasonreddecopp @kaylafriesen

A photo posted by Gina Brandt (@ginabrandtphoto) on

Oct 12, 2014 at 2:14pm PDT

Planning your anniversary – Part 1

When you’ve found someone who means so much to you, it’s a nice gesture to celebrate your time together by marking the calendar each year for your anniversary. For couples who have already tied the knot, this could be the anniversary of your nuptials. Star-crossed lovers can also remember the day that you officially started going out, or even the day you met. 

Whatever the occasion, an anniversary is a time to be grateful for one another and express you much you appreciate having each other in your lives. It’s a day to be selfish and have the whole day to yourselves, whether you spend it on a whirlwind adventure or having a quiet day to relax at home.

In addition, a thoughtful gift to remind your other half of your journey together so far can be the icing on top of the cake – not only will they have a beautiful piece of jewellery, they’ll also be able to treasure it as a memento of your anniversary. 

Planning in advance 

The number one rule is to make your anniversary plans well in advance. While we all have busy lives, leaving things to the last minute can mean you may not be able to book the activities, or find the gift you want. 

Plus, while a generic supermarket card and a box of chocolates are better than nothing at all, they absolutely scream “I forgot!”. This is even more mortifying if your partner has gone to extra special efforts to mark the occasion. 

anniversary-celebration-and-gift-ideas

Make a few new memories while you celebrate your anniversary. 

Set an alarm or make a note in your diary at least a few weeks before. If you’re going out to lunch or dinner, do things the old fashioned way and make a reservation – there’s nothing worse than turning up on a busy day and having nowhere to sit.

In terms of a gift, there are plenty of options. How about a charm or bead for their bracelet? KAGI do some charming silver charms for women, whilst for mean there is the SPARTAN stainless steel range. 

If you’re coming up to an anniversary of special significance, you can find a way to express you love with a stunning diamond ring, either in reminiscence of your wedding day, or as a promise for many years of commitment to come. 

Channelling Coco Chanel

When you think back on some of the defining style icons of our time, the legendary Coco Chanel will undoubtedly feature strongly. While these days she’s perhaps remembered best by the eponymous fashion house she left behind, Chanel, at her core, was a firebrand for freedom of expression when it came to women’s dressing and style. 

Modern women owe a lot more to Coco than the quilted lambkin bag with its signature chain strap. Here’s a brief overview of some of the magic behind Chanel:

In a league of her own 

Born in 1893 in turn of the century France, Chanel started off as a hat maker for the prim and proper, fashionable women of the time.

pearl-strands-at-showcase-jewellers

She is mostly hailed as helping women to liberate themselves from corseted, restrictive clothes, bringing in a new era of more comfortable, wearable fashion such as drop waisted dresses and loose fitting, elegant shirts. 

The quintessentially French boat-necked striped shirt, known as a mariniere, was the realm of fisherman before Chanel reinterpreted them in her own way – a style which has persevered through the decades and is still worn today.

In addition, Coco’s signature monochrome look of black and white was unheard of before she kick-started the trend, when women were expected to wear pretty, lighter colours.

“I imposed black,” Chanel is quoted as famously saying, “it is still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around.”

Her perfume, Chanel No. 5 is the best selling perfume in the world, with its woody, incense based scent also bucking the norm of sickeningly sweet floral perfumes. 

A name to remember

Chanel’s style influence didn’t stop there, her trademark pearl jewellery transformed pearls from being old fashioned into something chic, lusted after by all her devotees. 

Coco Chanel could even possibly be hailed as one of the catalysts for the androgynous trend of feminised menswear while at the same time being bold enough to mix it up with glamorous diamonds.

She was also pioneer for smart slacks and trousers, and famously chopped off her hair into a gamine bob which is still imitated today. 

In addition, Coco’s renowned passionate spirit often meant her witty words have become famous quotes over time which can still provide inspiration all these years later:

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

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