Month: July 2015

Jewellery education: How to sound like an expert when choosing jewellery – Part 2

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So, you’ve had a look through some of the incredible Showcase Jewellers range and you’ve been absolutely enchanted with what’s on offer, but you aren’t sure quite how to describe the experience to your friends.

Fear not, for we’ve come to your rescue once again with our handy guide to all the jewellery terminology your could possibly want to know, broken down for your reading pleasure. Once you’ve absorbed both this and the “How to sound like an expert” part one, you can always test out your new found knowledge at one of our Showcase Jewellers stores across Australia.

Last time, we covered terms such as channels, baguettes and pave, so dive in and get ready to expand your vocabulary even further.

Baroque

What it is: Baroque is a phrase used to describe a whole myriad of things, related to an opulent, theatrical style seen in styles of architecture, stage performances, art and even music.

What it is in the jewellery world: Simply put, the term ‘baroque’ is used to describe irregularly shaped pearls and sometimes other gems. With regards to baroque pearls, Braybrook and Britten note that “Most are inexpensive, but some have come to be the centrepiece for very expensive pieces of jewellery.”

Cameo

What it’s not: An unexpected guest appearance in a TV shows or film , like directors Alfred Hitchock or Peter Jackson like to make.

What it actually is: A style of engraving a design in relief form, with the surroundings removed from the central image. Common examples of cameos involve silhouettes, used as inspiration for modern jewellery today. The trend became popular in the Victorian era, made popular by the Queen herself.

Lustre

Where the word came from: This word traces its origins all the way back to the Latin word for illuminate, ‘lustrare’.

Where it comes into play: Another pearl-related term, the lustre refers to the aesthetic appearance of a pearl’s surface, in particular its brilliance or shine. High-lustre pearls such as the ones found in our pearl jewellery range are “bright, and have a deep-seated glow”, while low-lustre pearls “may appear too white, or dull or chalky”, according to American Pearl.

Showcase Jewellers ABCs: G is for gold

We hope you’ve been enjoying the Showcase Jewellers ABCs so far! Last time, we delved into the fascinating world of fluoride and facets, and now that we have reached the letter ‘G’ it seemed only appropriate that we looked at one of the most important elements in jewellery crafting – gold. 

Glitzy and glamorous, this gilded material can also be a sign of refined elegance, with its radiant hue having enchanted people since the days of the pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. Fortunately, in the 21st century you don’t need to be a king to acquire some beautiful gold jewellery.

Here’s a look at the celebrated metal, in all of its guises. 

G is for… Gold

A golden history 

For thousands of years, gold has been used to create decorative objects and jewellery, with the first instances of the practice recorded as occurring in Eastern Europe as much as 4000 years BC according to the National Mining Association (NMA). 

However, the Ancient Egyptians were also known to use the precious metal in both jewellery as well as a measure of worth in its own right. Circa 1500BC, gold was used in international trade, and one of the earliest forms of coin was born in the shekel, containing two parts gold and one part silver. 

These days, gold is seen in men’s and women’s jewellery alike, often in the form of a wedding ring. 

A rare find 

One of the reasons that gold is such a valuable metal is because of its comparative rarity. The Australian Mines Atlas notes that for every billion parts in the Earth’s outer layer, you’ll find only three parts gold. It’s incredibly malleable, meaning it can be moulded to create a vast array of shapes and effects – Lenntech notes that 28 grams of gold (an ounce) can be hammed out to cover a mind-boggling 27.8 square metres. 

In addition, as the metal is so soft, it needs to be alloyed, or mixed with other metals for strength. It has been estimated that with all world’s pure gold could fit in a cubic container with 20 metre walls, as reported by the BBC.

Gold is incredibly heavy, with a specific gravity of 19.3 grams per cubic centimetre, according to the NMA. This makes it over 19 times heavier than the equivalent amount of water – imagine filling a glass with solid gold! As another fun fact, its chemical symbol, AU, comes from the Latin word for gold, ‘aurum’. 

50 shades of gold 

These alloys don’t just produce the glowing yellow hue which we usually associate with gold, they also create stunning variations such as white gold, where the 75 per cent of metal is mixed with 25 per cent ‘white metal’ such as silver or palladium. 

And who can forget rose gold? What many may call the metal of the moment is the result of a different combination – namely gold and copper to create a radiant, blush tone.

Rose gold jewellery and accessories have now become some of the world’s most hotly demanded items, as evidenced by the influx of rose gold products. Who hasn’t heard of the new Apple iPhone 6s ‘rose gold’ edition? 

Rose gold jewellery and accessories have now become some of the world’s most hotly demanded items, as evidenced by the influx of rose gold products. Who hasn’t heard of the new Apple iPhone 6s ‘rose gold’ edition? 

Who is your musical diamond muse?

Diamonds-are-girls-best-friend-after-all

There is a whole world of inspiration to draw from when it comes to finding your own unique style. From the latest trends hitting the catwalk today, or the immaculately groomed cast of your favourite TV show, it’s easy to mix and match from different fashion movements as well as looking to the allure of the past. 

Music has a special place in the creative world, transporting us to another place, another time. Songs can also be strongly linked to memory, striking a chord in our minds of that glorious summer or a mellow evening under the stars. 

Choosing a diamond is a serious investment, whether you’re buying your own or looking to pop the question to the love of your life. To help guide you to the perfect fit, here is some musical inspiration for the modern girl. 

For the classic girl – “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” by Marilyn Monroe

“A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

This enchanting tune came to us courtesy of the 1953 film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, starring the one and only Marilyn Monroe. For the girl who has everything, as well as a flair for timeless style, there is the classic white diamond and yellow 18 carat gold ring, with a bezel centre diamond nestled by brilliant round cut diamonds on either side. 

Together the Canadian Fire diamonds add up to one carat that catch the light as you move, so all heads will be on you, like Marilyn Monroe. 

For the modern muse – “Diamonds” by Rihanna

“So shine bright tonight, you and I we’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky.”

If you’re after an edgier approach to this timeless piece of jewellery, walk in the vanguard footsteps of pop music idol Rihanna. Never content with following the crowd, the Barbados beauty makes her own statements in both her fashion and artistic choices. 

For something a little out of the blue, there is the stunning 18 carat white gold aquamarine and diamond ring. The incredible clarity of the pale aquamarine highlights the brilliant diamonds surrounding it, for a truly unique, eye catching piece. 

For the diva – “Diamonds are Forever” by Shirley Bassey

“Diamonds are forever, they are all I need to please me”

A woman who knows her own mind like the great Dame Shirley Bassey will certainly know which diamond is right for her. She commands the attention of everyone in the room with her mere presence, any other adornment is simply to add to her natural magnetism. 

To emulate the elegance of this charismatic diva, look no further than the 18 carat white gold diamond ring by Je T’aime. A statement piece, this ring is made up of 78 diamonds in total, amounting in just over a carat weight – for when only the best will do. 

Celebrating ruby the birthstone of July: A style icon

If you’ve read our recent blog posts about this incredible gemstone, you’ll know what an illustrious past the ruby possesses. Prized for its incredible beauty and imbued with various properties, the birthstone of July is certainly an eye-catcher. 

And it’s not a fact that has gone unnoticed by some of the influencers of style and culture throughout the ages. Here, we look at two of the most celebrated ruby treasures throughout history.

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The ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 

Who can forget this iconic piece of movie history? The glittering shoes make their first appearance after Dorothy’s house falls on top of the Wicked Witch of the East. After their feature appearance in the film in 1939, the slippers eventually went into the Judy Garland museum.

However, the allure of the famous ruby slippers was so strong that someone stole them from the museum back in 2005.

“It’s had a huge emotional impact on just about everybody that’s seen it the past 76 years, and the shoes are magic,” Oz historian John Fricke told the Guardian.

All these years later, one ardent fan has even offered a US$1 million as a reward for their return. Rob Feeney from the museum summed it up like this when he spoke to the Guardian this July, almost a decade since the theft:

“At first we sort of wrote it off: ‘Oh great one, a million dollars,” Mr Feeney said. “But they were serious about it. It was just hard to believe.”

Richard Burton Ruby 

One of the most enchanting pieces of jewellery around, this stunning 8.42 carat Burmese ruby ring was part of actress Elizabeth Taylor’s collection. Gifted to Taylor by her husband at the time, Richard Burton in the Christmas of 1968, the ruby ring was a piece by Van Cleef and Arples. 

When the ruby ring was sold as part of Taylor’s collection by esteemed auction house, Christie’s, in 2011, it fetched an eye-watering price of over US$4.2 million. 

You can catch a glimpse of the famous ruby ring in this special video feature by Christie’s just after the 30 second mark. However you wear them, rubies are certainly something to be treasured, so why not add some scarlet to your collection with this beautiful ruby and diamond 18 carat gold ring? 

This brings our rubies series to a close, but if you’ve missed our first two pieces you can discover more about the gem on our blog.  

Jewellery education: How to sound like an expert when choosing jewellery

Jewellery is such a personal choice for so many of us. Unlike clothing, it can stay with us for years if not decades, making it important to choose pieces for your collection that truly speak to you, and that you can realistically see yourself wearing. 

With jewellery being such a highly technical, precision focused field and a creative outlet for designers, it stands to reason that a whole vocabulary has been developed around it.

Whether you’ve come across a perplexing word while perusing the Showcase Jewellers range online, or on a visit to one of our Australian stores, we’re here to help with our brief guide into some lesser known jewellery terminology – so you can sound like an expert.

Baguette

– What it isn’t: A long stick of bread native to France. 

– What it actually is: A gem cut into a rectangular shape, often seen on rings. 

Channel

– What is isn’t: A stretch of water separating England and France. 

– What it actually is: A stone setting technique, in which the gems are laid out between parallel borders. Similar to the bezel, a channel setting is a secure way to hold smaller stones in place, with no metal visible between them so as to give the appearance the gems are floating.

You can find a beautiful example of a channel setting with the W&D white gold diamond ring. 

Fineness

– What it isn’t: This term doesn’t have anything to do with appearance or how slender a piece is. 

– What it is: Fineness actually refers to the proportion of gold or silver in a metal alloy, or a blend of metals. As fineness is commonly expressed in “parts per thousand”, sterling silver jewellery has a fineness of 925, explains Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

Girdle

– What it sounds like: Yesterday’s shapewear. 

– What it really means: The widest perimeter, or the outer edge of a gem. 

Loupe

– How you say it: Just like the regular English word “loop”. 

– How it’s used: A loupe is a jeweller’s magnifying glass, designed to be held or to sit in the eye socket. It allows jewellers to inspect pieces for quality – often at up to x10 magnification. 

Pave

– How it’s pronounced: “Pah-vay”, meaning paved in French. 

– How it’s used: Like a paved road, in a pave setting the stones are fit together in a snug fashion so that no metal can be seen between them. A beautiful example of this type of setting is the Expressions cubic zirconia pave ring.  

Celebrating ruby the birthstone of July: The evolution

In the month of July, the spotlight is certainly on the brilliant scarlet gem we all know and love – the ruby. With its quintessential radiance, ruby has been adding to beauty of jewellery pieces for centuries, the gem prized for its eye-catching hue. 

Here, we take a look at what exactly lie behind the jewel’s allure, with this special feature on the evolution of the ruby. 

Taking a step back in time 

The ruby has a long and illustrious history – even its name is shrouded in reverence, with the Sanskrit word for ruby, ‘rataraj’, meaning ‘the king of gems’. In addition, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) also recounts the Ancient Hindu tradition of offering rubies to the god Krishna, in exchange for being reincarnated as an emperor in their next life. 

The name of the gem stems all the way back to the Latin word for red, ‘ruber‘, with the ruby being mentioned by Roman scholar, Pliny, in his acclaimed Natural History volumes. 

facts-about-ruby

Historic milestones 

With the price of fine quality rubies increasing with their weight, or carat, it’s no surprise that a rare specimen of a 6.02 carat ruby ring fetched an eye-watering US$551,000 per carat in 2012. As reported by the GIA, the sale of the ruby jewellery at auction set a new record for coloured gemstones. 

Not just for ornamentation, without the ruby, we wouldn’t have had the world’s first working laser, created back in 1960 using the gem. 

Exotic origins 

Fine rubies often form in marble at places such as Myanmar and northern Vietnam, as well as the Himalayas, according to the GIA. The Institute explains that with the low level of iron found in marble deposits, it results in the rubies having a vivid red colour.  

Furthermore, rubies can be found throughout South East Asia as well as in parts of Africa. 

The meaning behind the ruby 

There have been many accounts throughout the ages about the various properties the ruby may possess. Bible references to the gem associate it with qualities such as wisdom, while the ruby is also thought to have been a protection charm – Burmese warriors were even thought to have carried the stones into battle with them.  

These days, the ruby’s enigmatic glow has been attributed other qualities. The American Gem Society sums it up with this;

“Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.”

If your special someone has a birthday in July, don’t forget you can always spoil them with the stunning ruby and diamond ring. 

Celebrating ruby the birthstone of July: The back story

July is the turning point of the calendar year, marking a successful first six months as well as the beginning of a new one. It’s also a time of celebration for those who have their birthday in the seventh month of the year – if you feel like spoiling them, why not surprise them with a gift from our jewellery range?

Every star needs a good back story, so here we are to take look at the ruby, the birthstone of July and what makes it so special.

Rubies – A gem destined to last 

The ruby is part of a group of gems known as ‘corundum’, which also includes the sapphire. This special category is known for ranking highly on the Moh’s hardness scale. The ruby scores a 9/10 – meaning that it is incredibly tough and durable. The rating puts it just under a diamond in terms of hardness, which is an excellent quality to have.

“Hardness in a gemstone will determine the degree to which it will show wear, which is often referred to as wearability, which is why hardness and wearability go hand in hand,” explains the International Gem Society (IGS).

The IGS continues that due its hardness, a ruby will “remain bright and lustrous for years”.

Something a little special 

The purest corundum gems, interestingly, have no colour, with the ruby owing its radiant scarlet hue to trace elements such as chromium that work their way into the crystal structure, according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

In addition, ruby fetches one of the highest prices of all the coloured gems, says the GIA. The Institute goes on to explain that the ‘red glow’ of the stone is due to its red fluorescence – the more chromium that is present in its makeup, the stronger the colour will be.

The cream of the crop

So how can you identify a good quality ruby? According to the American Gem Society, it has a lot to do with the colour of the gem itself. The most precious ruby specimens are known for having a hue that is “medium or medium dark vivid red or slightly purplish red”.

In terms of weight, or carat, the GIA tells us that it is incredibly rare to find a fine quality ruby over one carat, meaning that the price increases significantly with the weight of the gem.

Taking inspiration from some of film’s most famous proposals

Find-the-perfect-match-for-your-movie-inspired-proposal

When you think you’ve found the one and you’re ready to propose, there are so many different ways to go about it. If your friends are in on the plan, it’s likely you’ll have been bombarded with questions and ideas already. Do you play it cool, surprising your partner out of the blue on a casual night in? Or do you go all out, setting up a scene they’ll likely never forget? 

Only you can decide, knowing your other half better than anyone. With a new quirky marriage proposal video being uploaded to YouTube every other day, there’s a lot of pressure to be unique.

However, no one ever went wrong seeking a little pre-proposal inspiration, so we turn to the world of the silver screen to help you conjure up the perfect setting for your partner. 

The restaurant proposal – from “Love Actually” 

A restaurant proposal with a twist, the Colin Firth’s character delivers the ultimate surprise to his on-screen love, Aurelia in heart-breakingly stilted Portuguese in front of a restaurant full of unsuspecting diners. 

If you and your partner are in different cities, surprising them with a visit and a proposal has the potential to be desperately romantic if you plan it right. A beautiful engagement ring will just put things over the top, such as this beautiful 0.4 carat diamond ring by Canadian Fire.

The street proposal – from “The Proposal” 

Well maybe not the most conventional proposal scenes of all time, when Sandra Bullock’s character gets down on her knees in the middle of a busy New York Street it’s certainly an eye-catching moment. 

There’s no denying it takes guts to do things like this in public, but if you’re ready to take the plunge, find a part of the city you both enjoy, such as a park or lookout point. Whisk your loved one away from the office at lunch and go for gold with the city as your stage and slightly confused passers-by as your audience.

Although there was no ring on hand for this moment, if you’re proposing to your man, have a read up on our recent men’s engagement rings article

Pick the ring proposal – “Sweet Home Alabama” 

Feeling the pressure to find the perfect engagement ring? No worries, you can allow your partner to do the choosing for you, like Reece Witherspoon’s character’s on screen fiance, Andrew Hennings. 

Set in the Fifth Avenue Tiffany & Co store in New York, this dreamy proposal would be sure to make many a lucky lady swoon. 

NewLife – Giving your jewellery a fresh, new style

Older pieces of jewellery handed down through the generations before ending up in your possession can throw up a myriad of emotions. That fine dress ring that used to belong to your great grandmother may well have significant personal value to you, but when was the last time you wore it, or even showed it off?

It can often be the case that heirlooms and other pieces of old jewellery, though meaningful, have become somewhat old-fashioned as the years have rolled by. Though this is only to be expected, it doesn’t mean that you have to hide it away in a drawer forever more – have you heard of Showcase Jewellers’ NewLife service?

Something old, something new 

The NewLife service was created to give a fresh lease of life to older pieces of jewellery. By bringing your antique to us, we can run through a great range of ideas with regards to what we can do with that piece – or you may have something in mind yourself.

There is practically no limit as to what we can achieve with any piece of jewellery, from rings to bangles and right through to necklaces. People have lots of differing reasons as to why they have their old pieces remodelled – fashion, sentimentality and a raft of personal issues are all factors.

“I lost my grandmother and wanted to find a way to make her necklace collection be a part of my life,” said Showcase customer Lisa Smith.

“This is my childhood jewellery collection,” said Julia Simmons, another customer. “I didn’t wear any of it anymore as it was not fashionable, but now I can.” 

Have it your way

Your jewellery doesn’t even have to be ancient for us to be able to rework it into something new – our smiths are willing to undertake any project, on any piece. That means that you can start with what can be deemed a ‘blank canvas’ – creating something totally exclusive to you. Our craftspeople will listen intently to your ideas, as well as dispensing invaluable advice along the way – ensuring that the finished piece will be precisely what you want.

It is the custom nature of the service that makes NewLife so special. You will be able to walk from our shop knowing that the piece you take away with you has been meticulously recrafted into something brand new, giving it the new lease of life from which the service takes its name.

Contact Showcase Jewellers today with our dedicated NewLife enquiry form to discover just what we can do for you and your old jewellery. 

A charmed life: Charm bracelets

Collecting trinkets over time can be thought of as a particularly human quality, as we’re holding onto to little treasures that remind us of events, friends and family. While some people hold onto ticket stubs and confetti, another way of remembering precious moments is with a charm bracelet.

While there have been many incarnations of the charm bracelet, from slick, slide on charms, to small figurines which have to be soldered onto the links, the meaning has remained the same, holding a special place in the heart of the wearer.

A reflection of history

Charms, in some shape or form, have been part of various cultures around the world for thousands of years. From Ancient Rome, to China and Japan, charms have been used throughout the centuries to grant the wearer good luck or protection.

Charm bracelets as we think of them now went through a resurgence in popularity around the Second World War, when soldiers would bring home their loved ones small souvenir trinkets from their travels, according to encyclopedia.com.

Even Queen Victoria was a fan – known for wearing a charm bracelet that held sixteen small oval and heart-shaped lockets with various engravings.

Charm bracelets are wonderful because they tell a story. I want to know more about the woman who owned this bracelet. I can guess she knitted, loved fashion, prayed, had a son or a grandson, and was loved. What will your charm bracelet tell people about you some day? #vintage #vintagejewelry #vintageisbetter #vintagecharacter #vintagecharacteronetsy #forsale #forsaleonetsy #forsaleonvintagecharacter #forher #giftsforher #giftsformom #mothersdaygifts #charms #charmbracelets #silvercharms #silvercharmbracelet

A photo posted by Vintage Character (@vintagecharacter) on

Apr 14, 2015 at 12:45pm PDT

Charms are either bought or given as a gift to commemorate a special occasion, allowing the wearer to be reminded of it with a glance at their bracelet. In addition, charm bracelets allow the wearer to express themselves, with no right or wrong way to build up the bracelet.

“Truly, to wear one is to wear your history upon your sleeve,” jewellery designer Tracey Zabar tells National Public Radio.

“And while the adornments women choose have always been an expression of personal style, few ornaments, barring the engagement ring, have held as dear a place in women’s hearts – or create as big a commotion, both literally and figuratively – as the charm bracelet.”

If you’re looking to start your own journey with a charm bracelet, pop into your local Showcase Jewellers and try a sterling silver belcher bracelet, then embellish away with beautiful charms.

#charmbracelet #jewelery #beautiful #fashion #woman #accessories #bracelet #bridaljewelery #instafashion #stylish #wedding

A photo posted by Vitri (@coconutandtheocean) on

Jun 25, 2015 at 8:53pm PDT