Month: August 2015

In praise of watches: Why we should never replace these timeless timepieces

father-day-special

‘Watches are so named as a reminder – if you don’t watch carefully what you do with your time, it will slip away from you.’

So said mysterious philosopher and oft-quoted horologist Drew Sirtors, talking about the timepieces that have adorned our wrists ever since we discovered that a complicated series of interconnected cogs and springs could help us identify the time of day or night.

The ever-advancing march of technology has given us watches that not only tell the time, but the temperature, air pressure, what the weather might do and a whole raft of other functions. They are powered by the sun, kinetic energy or batteries that may last a decade. But even so, is the watch losing its rightful place as the number one way of telling the time?

Not if we have anything to say about it! With Father’s Day fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to seek out a timepiece to adorn the wrists of the dad in your life.

Watching the competition

According to a recent poll by YouGov, an international market research company that carries out wide ranging research across a variety of topics, it was found that more than half of people aged between 16 and 34 do not use their watch as the primary source of telling the time. Of course, they aren’t using the position of the sun like some sort of urban ‘Crocodile’ Dundee – they turn to their smartphones.

Found my Grandfathers pocket #watch. Thought it appropriate bc of the transition tonight #heirloom #gooddesign pic.twitter.com/kA8quKGJ

— Erik (@Erik_Jens) January 1, 2013

That’s right – 60 per cent of people in this age bracket would rather dig out their device, look at the time, get distracted by a load of notifications, and relock the phone before the battery runs out. This is preferred to a simple turn of the wrist for a quick glance at a timepiece that will take mere seconds.

So, are watches destined to be consigned to the annals of history as technology catches up with them?

Almost certainly not. Humans have worn watches, from the classic pocket variety to the ones worn on our wrists today, for over 500 years. This amount of time has, of course, seen them survive just about every major world event and technological revolution possible.

Even today, as innovative companies such as Google and Apple bring forth a new breed of smartwatches, nothing can compare to the classic elegance of a well-crafted wrist watch.

So, are watches destined to be consigned to the annals of history as technology catches up with them? Almost certainly not.

“We’re all extremely attached to our cameras, our phones, our computers, our iPads, and I think there’s something charming about owning something analogue,” said Stephen Puvirent, of watch publication Hodinkee.

“I’m going to replace my iPhone sometime in the next few years. But a really high-quality watch I can wear and enjoy on a daily basis,” he concluded.

Watch where you’re going!

Additionally, watches can become heirlooms, especially ones which are built to last. They aren’t simply used to tell the time – they become a symbol of something lasting, and are often passed down between generations. Could you imagine the same thing occurring with iPhones? This is what makes them a perfect gift for the father in your life – something that will stand the test of time.

We at Showcase Jewellers are huge fans of the wristwatch. Our range of timepieces are designed and crafted by Mizzano, and we have several to choose from, for both ladies and gentlemen. This Father’s Day, don’t plump for the arbitrary socks or bottle of beer – get him something that he will cherish for the rest of his life.

For the hard-working gent, why not take a look at this specialist ‘Tradies’ effort? It’s crafted from durable stainless steel and is water resistant to some 100 metres, so whatever line of work you’re in, you can be sure that this hardy piece will keep perfect time.

This beautiful rose gold effort, replete with leather strap has a timeless appeal that won’t look out of place at any occasion – least of all your father’s wrist.

A watch can be passed down between generations – unlike smartphones!

Discover August’s birthstone: Peridot part 2

If you’ve seen our first guide to peridot, the intriguing gem that is August’s birthstone, you’ll already have an idea of what makes this gem so special. From celestial origins in meteors dating back millennia to masquerading as emeralds, the peridot’s golden green hue has enchanted throughout the ages. 

Like numerous other coloured gems, the peridot is thought to be imbued with various properties. According to the American Gem Society, the olive-hued stone is believed to bring good fortune through power and influence, as well as bringing about a prosperous year. Additionally, peridot is also said to act as a talisman to protect the wearer from nightmares. 

But how can you tell a good quality peridot specimen? For those who have read our handy series on how to sound like an expert when choosing jewellery, you’ll already have a good few pro phrases under your belt, but this is something a little more specialised. 

Here’s what to look out for when you’re seeking out the perfect peridot at one of our Showcase Jewellers stores

peridot-facts

Making the cut 

As we mentioned before, the peridot gets an average score of 6.5-7 the Mohs hardness scale, meaning that it doesn’t have the hardest composition. While this isn’t too much of a concern for the discerning consumer, for jewellers, it can make cutting this gem into the perfect shape more of a challenge. 

According to the International Coloured Gemstone Association (ICA), raw peridot is prone to cracking, meaning it takes a skilled hand to reveal its true inner beauty. However, once a gem cutter has worked to remove any coarse outer imperfections, the ICA notes that you don’t need to take any special precautions with it, as a peridot wears fairly well. 

What to look for when choosing a peridot 

With peridots coming in a broad range of verdant hues, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) notes that the finer examples tend to be more vibrantly coloured, with poorer-quality stones tending to be more brown in colour. Today, the best examples of peridots with good colour come from Pakistan and Myanmar, according to the GIA. 

As with diamonds, clarity is important. Finer peridots won’t have any imperfections or inclusions – often in the form of black spots – that are visible to the naked eye. However, with a slightly included peridot, you may see flat, reflective disk-like shapes known in the industry as ‘lily pads’. 

As for cut, peridots can be moulded into a variety of shapes, so go for one which catches your eye, or that complements its setting.

Creative proposal ideas

tips-to-create-the-perfect-proposal

Asking someone to marry you is one of the biggest decisions – and questions – you’ll ever make, so taking the time to ensure that your proposal goes down with aplomb and is memorable is hopefully a life long investment.

While asking over a cosy dinner for two or on an exotic getaway is becoming commonplace, get creative with these proposal ideas to really ensure this once-in-a-lifetime event is truly remarkable.

Rent a billboard

If you’re going to ask someone to marry you, why not let the whole town know too? Renting a billboard is an excellent alternative to standard proposal formats, and is surely likely to be remembered by your loved one as well as everyone else who sees it.

Contact your local council or other relevant authority to investigate how to make this proposal dream become a reality, and consult a graphic designer to create a unique font to emblazon the all-important question in a stylish way.

Go viral

For a thoroughly modern proposal, use the internet as both the source of inspiration and platform for your proposal.

If you and your partner are always in fits of giggles, consider making a meme to propose in a sweet but humorous way.

Another option could be organising a flash mob to totally take your fiance to-be by surprise. Add to the excitement and drama by adopting a theme relevant to both of you, and pop the question when they least expect it – with the help of hired actors who are all in on the plan to make your proposal go as smoothly as possible.

Spell it out

Those important words don’t just have to be spoken. Consider writing them in the sky with an aeroplane, decorating balloons with each letter or even carving onto a pumpkin for a spooky proposal if you so wish, there are many ways to communicate ‘will you marry me?’

However you decide to propose to your partner, be sure to dazzle them with jewellery – a sparkling diamond ring is the perfect way to complete your proposal plans!

Showcase Jewellers ABCs: C is for cut, clarity, colour and carat

When it comes to choosing an engagement ring, it’s likely you’ll find yourself being bombarded with a whole new vocabulary of words you’ve never encountered before. Not only do you have to work your way around carats, but also a diamond’s cut and clarity.

But what does it all mean? Well you’re in luck, for it’s time for another handy jewellery guide with the Showcase Jewellers ABCs. 

C is for… carat

Apart from sounding uncannily close to the vegetable, carat is the term used to identify a diamond’s mass. The word carat is thought to be derived from the carob, which was a small hard seed once used as a counter balance on the scales when weighing gems. 

Although you’ll hear the same terminology being used to describe gold, in the case of the precious metal, a carat refers to the fineness or purity of the material, rather than the weight. 

The metric carat has been used as a form of measurement for gems since the early 1900s, where one carat is the equivalent of 200 milligrams. A the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) explains, from here, each carat is then divided into 100 points, allowing for more precise measurement of the diamond. Therefore, 0.5 carats could also be classified as being 50 points. 

“All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable,” explains the GIA, going on to note that carat weight isn’t the only deciding factor on the value of the diamond. 

C is for… cut 

This one is fairly easy to wrap your mind around, simply describing the way the diamond has been cut. Like many gems, diamonds require skilled craftsmanship to mould them into a shape that will showcase its inner brilliance. 

Different cuts allow the light to bend and reflect in the diamond in a way that gives it its special sparkle. In terms of shape, you have anything from a square princess cut, to a classic round cut as demonstrated in the stunning Canadian Fire engagement ring

However, as the GIA explains, the shape of a diamond doesn’t dictate the quality of the cut, which is determined by the way the light interacts with the gem. 

C is for… clarity 

In order to understand clarity, you first have to know the terms “inclusion,” and “blemishes”. Inclusions refer to any internal irregularities or markings in a diamond, whilst blemishes refer to external marks. 

Flawless, rather than being a Beyonce song, is also used to define a diamond with no inclusions visible at 10 times magnification. Diamonds rank from ‘flawless’ to ‘slightly included’, or simply ‘included’ at the opposite end of the scale. 

While there will never be a perfectly pure gem, the American Gem Society notes that the further up the clarity scale a diamond is, the more rare and valuable it becomes. 

C is for… colour 

Last but not least, and the final of the four ‘Cs’, is colour. This is used again, as a determiner of the value of the diamond, with the clearer the diamond, the more valuable. The scale ranges from colourless, to ‘light’, where the colour of the diamond becomes more off-white, says GIA. 

While you’re most likely to see engagement rings with a classic white, or diamond, you can also get diamonds in other hues, also called ‘fancy diamonds’. For example, you can add a unique touch to an engagement ring with a yellow or pink diamonds, such as those found on the rose and white gold diamond ring

Discover August’s birthstone : Peridot

With the winter season beginning to wrap up for yet another year, it brings with it the month of August. As many born in the eighth month will know, their special birthstone is the luminous, enchanting peridot. 

With its leaf-green hue, the peridot is at once unassuming yet glamorous, able to add a touch of colour to any silver jewellery, as well as offset any gold pieces

Here’s an insight into this wonderful gemstone and its background as a birthstone. 

Taking a peek at the history of peridot

The name comes from the French word, “peridot”, first used in the early 1700s as a replacement for the more antiquated “peritot”, according to Merriam Webster. Often yellow-green in colour, the peridot was first believed to be mined by none other than the Ancient Egyptians, who found deposits of the eye-catching stone in the Red Sea. 

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun”, believing it had properties that could protect the wearer from nightmares and ward off evil spirits. 

The peridot raked in the acclaim in Shakespeare’s time, with the gem considered to be “of exceptional rarity”, according to famed mineralogist George Frederick Kunz. In addition, the 200 carats worth of ’emeralds’ once believed to decorate the shrine to the Three Kings in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, are in fact, simply beautiful peridots, recounts the GIA. 

Green with envy 

The majority of peridot formed deep underground, with volcanic activity bringing it to the surface, according to the GIA, but there is also evidence of peridot forming in meteorites over 4 billion years old.

Another quality of the stone is how its colour can vary, from paler golden green, to a more intense, almost emerald colour. The gem is coloured by iron, with higher iron content resulting in greener stones, notes the International Coloured Gemstone Association (ICGA). 

While the peridot gets a score of 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale for its moderate hardness, the ICGA reports that it is actually fairly solid and easy to look after. If you’re looking for inspiration for an August birthday, take a look through our range of jewellery online, or pop into your local Showcase Jeweller store

Showcase Jewellers ABCs: B is for bezel

We’re back with another instalment of the Showcase Jewellers special series, the jewellery ABCs. Last time around, we took at look at the story behind the beautiful gemstone, amethyst. As we move onto ‘B’, we’re exploring own of the building blocks of jewellery making, the bezel setting. 

B is for… bezel

If you own a ring with a mounted stone, such as a dress or engagement ring, there’s a strong chance you’ll likely have already encountered a bezel setting. It involves a metal rim to secure a gem in place, rather than a classic prong setting which clasps the gem in place. 

A bezel setting is often considered to be the most secure of all gem settings, as it protects the edge from being knocked or damaged, as well as lessening the chances of the precious cargo coming loose. In addition, unlike a prong setting, bezel-set rings as less likely to catch on your clothing and cause a ladder. 

An elegant solution for beautiful gems 

Despite the technique dating back thousands of years, a bezel setting can be a beautiful, modern approach to stone setting. It is also used in designs involving smaller gems to create a halo effect around the central stone, such as in this stunning yellow gold diamond engagement ring

According to Gem Select, bezels are often employed to protect more vulnerable gemstones which have a rating under 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, such as opal, turquoise and fluorite. 

As their lower hardness rating makes these gems more easily scratched, a bezel setting can add an extra level of protection. 

A bezel is also employed in making men’s and women’s watches, with the metal rim framing and securing the crystal casing over the watch face. As part of the watch case, it provides the structure to the time piece, protecting it from wear and tear.

Pick platinum or go for gold?

SJ0030-3-stone-diamond-ring

Humanity has been using gold decoratively for more than six millennia. Way back in 4000 B.C, an ancient civilisation in the area known today as Eastern Europe used the yellow metal to beautify its people and the objects in their society.

Fast forward to the modern word, and the gleam of gold is as alluring as ever. Society’s craving for the metal is so strong it’s almost instinctual.

Captivated by the metal’s timeless sparkle, lovers have traditionally used gold as the material of choice for their engagement rings. In recent times, however, some people have begun to abandon gold in favour of ultra-rare platinum. They’re both beautiful, quality materials, and are equally capable of being crafted into phenomenal pieces of jewellery.

When it comes to buying your engagement rings, what should you do? Pick platinum or go for gold?

Appearance

The most obvious difference between the two metals is their colour. Gold is naturally, well, gold, while platinum is a dazzling white. Gold is somewhat more versatile, in that it can be alloyed with copper to create rose gold and with some white metals to create white gold. 

The pink hue of rose gold is undeniably romantic, and the presence of copper makes the metal more durable than pure gold and white gold. White gold attracts the eye, but over time will gradually lose its colour and revert back to its natural yellow. To treat this fading, white gold needs to have its rhodium plating reapplied every few years.

Platinum is naturally white and tarnish-resistant, so will never need to undergo this treatment.

Durability

Most people are going to be wearing their engagement band on daily basis – some may never remove theirs. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, it’s inevitable that your ring gets knocked about a bit over the course of your daily life. With this in mind, it’s important that the construction of your ring is hardy enough to withstand whatever you throw at it.

Gold and platinum are both strong, durable metals, but they do have their differences. Platinum is ultimately the strong of the two, but is more susceptible to scratches. 

Comfort

Platinum’s durability comes from its high density. This density means that platinum rings will ultimately weigh more than their yellow counterparts. Some people will prefer the solidity of the extra weight, while others will find it cumbersome.

Although unlikely, the nickel alloy used in many gold rings can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Platinum is considered hypoallergenic and should be safe for anyone to wear.

Cost

Cost can often be a deciding factor when choosing your rings. Platinum is extremely rare, and it has a very low annual supply, making it about 19 times more rare than gold according to analyses by Johnson Matthey and the World Gold Council. Platinum and gold happen to share a similar price per gram, but because platinum has a greater density, more of it is required to create a ring. Consequently, platinum bands are more expensive than gold bands.

Conclusion

There’s no clear winner here: both metals have their advantages and disadvantages.

Gold has proven itself over thousands years to be the metal of choice for adorning the body and enhancing the wearer’s beauty. With such a proven history, there’s little chance that gold will go out of fashion any time soon. The timelessness of a gold ring is a nice symbol of the enduring commitment of your relationship.

Platinum, while pricey, is captivating in its rarity and its subtle colour offers an understated elegance. The scarcity of the metal lends a certain exclusivity to its jewellery, and the unique nature of a platinum ring is sure to reflect the unique nature of your marriage.  

e precisely what your best friend will enjoy, what you would be comfortable giving her, and the occasion. Most girls will enjoy all forms of jewellery, no matter whether it’s a necklace, bracelet or watch, but you’ll know better than most what your best friend will admire.

Similarly, if you don’t feel particularly comfortable bestowing certain items upon her, then take your time to choose something that you’ll love to give and that she will adore. Thirdly, consider the occasion. Birthdays and Christmas are the obvious time to present your special friend with a lovely piece of jewellery, but you can choose any time to show your friend how much you love and care about her.

Rings 

It almost goes without saying that most girls love rings, and with such a range on the market, you have a great selection to choose from. Of course, many women already have one or several rings. Some are heirlooms from past family members, others maybe those that she has bought herself, and their perhaps could be an engagement ring on her finger if she is a lucky lady!

Of course, you can’t buy her an engagement ring (unless you REALLY love her!) but you can certainly present her with one that symbolises friendship. Friendship rings’ circular nature reflect the infinite, enduring care that you have for one another, and what’s more, almost any piece can be used to serve this purpose. This selection of lighthearted rings by Karen Walker are perfect for such an occasion, especially if your friend is an animal or nature lover.

Bracelets

Bracelets are synonymous with friendship, especially if you can find one that has a personal relevance to you and your friend. Of course, this can be difficult when buying a new one outright, but with such a range available from Showcase Jewellers, you can find the perfect match. You’ll know what your friend will like better than most, but how about plumping for an informal, bright and bouncy bracelet that doesn’t take itself too seriously? This red hot effort from KAGI stands out from the crowd, and its vibrant colours will act as a constant reminder of the warm friendship you share.

Showcase Jewellers ABCs: A is for Amethyst

At Showcase Jewellers, we’re all about spreading the love for quality jewellery, as well as giving a little insight into what’s behind your favourite pieces. Whether its a simple silver bangle or a gem encrusted cocktail ring, every treasure will have years of history behind it, and we’re here to help you find out more. 

So let’s keep it simple with the ABCs of jewellery.

A is for… Amethyst 

The amethyst is a quartz gem that comes in a range of purple shades, from palest lavender to stronger, almost mauve renditions. The birthstone for February, the amethyst is also renowned for its soothing and calming properties.

In addition, the Ancient Greeks believed that the amethyst had mysterious powers that would protect the wearer against the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, the god of wine.

As reported by the International Colored Gemstone Association, it is a fable that quite possibly acts as the gem’s namesake – with the Greek wordamethystos‘ translating to ‘not intoxicated’. 

According to the American Gem Society (AGS), the amethyst’s alluring, mystical hue has played a role in many cultures and legends. It was also used as embellishment on English regalia, echoing purple as a royal colour. 

“Historically, the finest amethysts were found in Russia and were featured in much royal European jewellery,”  says the AGS. “Today, while Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, fine materials can be found elsewhere, especially in Zambia.”

If you’re fond of the beautiful amethyst gem, you can integrate it into your look with the stunning natural amethyst and diamond pendant.

Famous friends 

A fair few famous names appear to have had an affinity for the gem, such as Leonardo da Vinci, who wrote that it “quickens intelligence and gets rid of evil thoughts”, according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). 

Furthermore, the GIA notes that Saint Valentine, patron of the celebration in February of the same name was also said to have worn an amethyst ring engraved with the image of Cupid. 

While the price of amethysts decreased with the discovery of large Brazilian deposits, the GIA reports that it remains the world’s most valued quartz. All the more reason to treat you or your loved one to a set of amethyst earrings.