Thursday, December 5, 2013

Turquoise, Zircon or Tanzanite? Why Just Choose One? December IS the Season for Giving

It’s almost like when the end of the year rolled around; whoever was figuring out the birthstone calendar ran out of months before they ran out of stones! And so, if you were born during the month of December you get to choose from not one, not two but three exciting and colorful stones!
Turquoise cabochons from SouthSouthWest
Turquoise was the original stone chosen back in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers while in 1952 zircon was added and then in 2002 tanzanite was also included. But no matter when or why, if you are a Sagittarius or Capricorn, there is an awesome array of stones to mix and match into gorgeous custom jewelry designs just as special and unique as the wearer.

With all the holiday hustle and bustle, you might want to stock up on traditional turquoise. Said to bring a sense of calming serenity to the wearer, lore has it that turquoise can also bring happiness, good fortune and prosperity, properties we can all use more of and wish for this time of year.

While zircon is naturally found in a wide variety of colors, the one associated with December is the starlight blue stone. Regular naturally shaded zircon is heated in an oxygen free environment, turning the drab yellow, green or brown stones into a gorgeous sky blue. Zircons are also good jewels for the holidays since they are said to protect travelers and guarantee a deep sound sleep.

Another gem that is often heat treated to achieve its rich violet blue color is tanzanite. In the past, tanzanite was frequently substituted for sapphire. But since being named a December birthstone alternative, they are now standing on their own as a popular gemstone valued for their beauty and brilliance.
Tanzanite and diamond ring by Danielle Miller Jewelry
Whether a gift for someone else or that special holiday treat for yourself, any one of these three stones make the perfect birthday present. Or maybe consider mixing the stones for a very unique and interesting visual.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November’s Birthstone is Topaz or Citrine - Stones of Fire, Ice and Success

Topaz stones are as colorful as the people born during the month of November who wear them. From Sanskit meaning fire, the brilliant topaz is said to also possess supernatural powers to calm and cool everything from boiling water to white hot anger. And if you know many people who can claim topaz as their birthstone, you probably know firsthand about that anger!
14k gold Chiseled ring with Imperial Topaz by Danielle Miller Jewelry
While topaz is the hardest of all silicate minerals and fairly easy to mine, they can be costly depending on their size and coloring, with red being the rarest. The largest topaz weighing in at almost 600 pounds was mined in Brazil and is now on display at the New York American Museum of Natural History. While Brazil is the largest supplier of topaz, the gem can also be found in Pakistan, Japan and Scotland and here in America in Colorado and California.

Blue and light golden are the two most recognized colors, but topaz is also available in red, pink, orange and even black which is really interesting since pure topaz is a colorless stone. Coloring occurs when the stones experience element substitutions, chemical bonding and heat through tiny cracks and defects.

For those wanting the beauty of imperial topaz without the cost consider citrine instead. A yellow variety of quartz, citrine can be a pale lemon to deep orange-gold and is likely named from the French word for lemon "citron" or the Latin word "citrus."

Citrine Charm necklace by Danielle Miller Jewelry
Citrine has many positive attributes such as its healing properties on the digestive system, degenerative diseases and depression. It is also said to bring success, prosperity and generosity, which  is why its nicknamed the "Success Stone" and the "Merchant's Stone."

Citrine gained popularity during the Art Deco period and became quite popular with many of the Hollywood stars of the day like Greta Garbo. In the late 1980’s the world’s largest citrine was mined in Brazil. Coming in at over 20,000 carats it has exceptional color and clarity and is presently part of the Programa Royal Collections of Spain.

Topaz and citrine both bring so many unique properties to the table with their clarity, fire, durability and plethora of shades. Consider having a brooch, bracelet, ring or necklace designed for yourself or that someone special since the holidays are right around the corner.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October’s Birthstones: All the Colors of the Rainbow!

Opals are the primary birthstones for the month of October and they are absolutely gorgeous! So full of rich brilliance…in fact the word opal comes from the Greek word Opallos meaning “to see a flash of color.” Opals are a kaleidoscope of hues because of the way light plays on the stones’ tiny structural imperfections. Milky white opals are created by gas bubbles trapped within the stone, while greens, blues and reds are most often seen in black opals due to the presence of magnesium oxides. One of the coolest and rarest stones is the harlequin opal, a jewel featuring large patches of color reminiscent of a clown’s costume.
Photo courtesy of Opal Auctions ("How to Buy Opals on the Internet")
Opals reflect a sense of innocence and purity. Lore has it that the wearer of an opal is blessed with happiness, loyalty and confidence. This fabulous stone is also said to inspire both dreams and the imagination.

Brought into the birthstone family in 1952 as an October alternative was pink tourmaline; but over the years all the tourmaline colors have become acceptable. Some of the most popular tourmaline gemstones are bi-colored or tri-colored, with clear color distinctions. For example, watermelon tourmaline, when cut, features a pink center, a white ring and a green outside edge. Some of the even more unusual ones include tiny black specks that resemble watermelon seeds.
14k gold Chiseled Ring with Pink Tourmaline by Danielle Miller Jewelry
Tourmaline is mined around the world with some of most stunning blue stones found right here in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Brazil has given us gemstones in a plethora of colors while Zambia, Nigeria and Namibia are all also big suppliers.
The richness and variety of both stones give those born in October a huge variety of options and look fantastic set in a wide range of metals and designs.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Get Ready to “Fall” into Color

Pantone has introduced their fall 2013 colors and they are spectacular! Now that there is a chill in the air and leaves are started to change, it's time to incorporate these rich hues into your wardrobe and jewelry!

Color of the year, Emerald continues to blend perfectly with their entire fall lineup. Each of these new individual colors complements the other; giving the wearer a license to experiment with texture, form and shading.

Staying in the same earthy neighborhood is Linden Green, a lush pale green with soft gold undertones and Deep Lichen Green, a very brilliant rich green/gray. Dark gray Turbulence and espresso shaded Carafe are exactly the shades that come to mind when you start shopping for those winter wardrobe basics.

Acai, a color that matches its name is going to be huge! So versatile, Acai can easily be your primary color or worn as an elegant accessory.

Every season calls for a new shade of blue and this year Pantone has voted Mykonos Blue as their fall favorite. A color whose description is a jumble of contradictions, Mykonos Blue is bold but soothing, rich but restorative.

Now let’s move into the fun shades that define autumn. Koi is a dazzling orange that has a burnt shimmering hue. Wearing it reminds you of bonfires, hayrides and the changing of fall leaves. Samba is as sassy and spicy as its name. Your dark neutrals will welcome being paired with this intense dramatic red. And a color named Vivacious has to be awesome! Pantone calls it an “unruly and wild deep fuchsia” and once you see it, you’ll definitely agree. It’s the epitome of sophisticated style!

Need a little help getting into the mood for cooler weather? Click here to see these fabulous shades and be prepared to be dazzled!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September’s Birthstone Makes Me Blue/Green with Envy

Oh to have been born during the month of September for no other reason than to be able to claim the brilliant sapphire as a birthstone! These rich stones come in a wide variety of blue/green/violet shadings and look fabulous when surrounded by white gold, platinum, palladium or sterling silver. The most valued stones are those which are a medium to dark indigo or have a slight violet tint. One interesting fact about sapphires is they have the same chemical and structural makeup as the ruby which is July’s birthstone.
Blue Sapphire and White Gold Vine Engagement Ring by Danielle Miller Jewelery
Sapphires have a wide and rich history. These gemstones were discovered on the Greek island of Sappherine and also in what is now present day Iran. During the Middle Ages sapphires were believed to help keep the wearer pure and priests wore them as protection against impure thoughts and worldly temptations. Crusaders made their wives wear them while they were away in battle so they would remain faithful. Lore had it that if the stone was worn by an adulteress, the color would darken.

The British Crown Jewels housed in the Tower of London has one of the world’s most famous stones, the St. Edward’s Sapphire. Given to Edward the Confessor back in 1042, he worn it as a ring during his coronation and then in the early 1800’s the stone was set on the Imperial State Crown worn by Queen Victoria during her reign.

Sapphires are mined all across the world, from Sri Lanka, India, China, Brazil and even here in the United States. Montana sapphires, first discovered in the late 1800's by a gold miners, are the most well known US mined sapphires. However, a huge 9,700 carat stone was discovered in the North Carolina mountains in 1989.

Extremely durable, gorgeous in color and sensational in every setting, a sapphire is the perfect stone no matter when you celebrate your birthday!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The many colors of August---the birthstone choice is yours

People born in the month of August are so lucky! They get the choice of either peridot or sardonyx for their birthstone.
Vine Ring with pear-shaped peridot by Danielle Miller Jewelry
Peridot is a gorgeous green shaded stone sometimes mistaken for an emerald. In fact many times it’s referred to as an “evening emerald” since the finer quality peridots become brighter when viewed under artificial light. The color spectrum for peridot range from light green to hazel brown, with the colors usually seen in contemporary jewelry being lime greens and olives.

One of the oldest gemstones of record, it is thought that the “topaz” mentioned in the Old Testament was actually peridot. And the ancient Egyptians and Greeks both used peridot in jewelry, weapons and talismans. It has always been regarded as a symbol of the sun and was believed that wearing peridot brought royal dignity and kept away evil spirits.

Peridot is formed deep in the earth and has been brought to the surface by volcanoes that erupted thousands of years ago. Today’s gemstones are mined primarily in China, Pakistan and here in the United States they are found in Arizona and New Mexico.

If green isn’t your color then check out the richness and brilliance of sardonyx. These stones are a member of the silica family and most are white, gray or cream banded with brown/red/rust layers. In fact, the word “sardonyx” comes from two Greek words, “sard” meaning reddish brown and “onyx” meaning veined gem.
In addition to being used in August birthstone jewelry, sardonyx is most often seen in both cameos and intaglios. Sardonyx is mined throughout the world, with the highest quality stones found in India.

Both peridot and sardonyx are relatively inexpensive stones that offer a classy and timeless look in everything from rings to pendants. Or why not consider combining both stones in something like a stunning custom designed bracelet?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Weather is Hot and so is the Ruby Birthstone!

Those fortunate to be born during one of the hottest months of the year, have the honor of wearing one of the most sizzling birthstones around. Rubies range in shading from fire red to a scarlet so deep and rich it’s almost violet and look fabulous surrounded by white or yellow gold, sterling silver or platinum. Rubies are also one of those stones that sparkle by themselves or are just as stunning mounted singularly.

Lore has it wearing rubies brings good health, increased wealth and success in love and relationships. Also people who wear the July birthstone are thought have integrity, courage and are full of confidence, vitality and both physical and emotional strength. Rubies are considered a positive stone; one that increases positive thought patterns and lessens the severity of infection and certain blood disorders. In fact, during medieval times rubies were ground to a fine powder and ingested to treat digestive disorders and stop internal bleeding.

Second only to diamonds in hardness, rubies belong to the corundum or aluminum oxide family and are primarily mined in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and India. Rubies are so plentiful in Thailand and Burma that both of these countries consider the ruby their national stone. Here in the United States rubies are rarely found but some of the finest one’s on record have been discovered in both North Carolina and Montana.

True rubies are very expensive and because of that, many of the stones available today are lab-grown. These synthetic stones are also used as tiny bearings in self winding wristwatches, turntable styluses and in the scientific community as an important component to the ruby laser used in military rangefinding.
"Tulip Ring" with lab-grown ruby by Danielle Miller Jewelry
Whether real or synthetic, if you were born during the heat of the summer, why not consider a piece of jewelry that packs the same amount of fire and passion?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pearls, Moonstone or Alexandrite? June Birthstone the Choice is Yours!

Leaf Earrings with Pearl by Danielle Miller Jewelry
The first and most popular birthstone for the month of June is the pearl. This organic gem is so versatile! From pearl earrings to a pendant, necklace, bracelet or a gorgeous ring featuring one or more stones, pearls were once harvested mainly from saltwater oysters. Now most of the pearls used in jewelry today are categorized as “cultured” and are mass produced in thriving oyster farms, both fresh and saltwater.

White or cream are the most popular shadings for pearls, but these days it’s not unusual to see them also available in wide color palette including pinks, black, blue, lavender and green.

While pearls have been used for medicinal purposes since as early as 2000 BC, in many parts of Asia, even to this day, lower grade pearls are ground and used in different potions and salves.

If you think pearls are too traditional then why not check out a moonstone? From the family of feldspar minerals, moonstones got their name from the opalescent and luminous quality caused by light diffraction within the stone. The highest quality moonstones are mined in Sri Lanka but can also be found in India, Madagascar and the Alps. Folklore has it that moonstones bring good fortune to the wearer because of spirits that are believed to inhabit the stones.
Chiseled Rainbow Moonstone Ring by Danielle Miller Jewelry
Perhaps you want a stone that reflects your changing personality, then alexandrite is the one for you. A brilliant green, many times with either a blue or brown tint when viewed in natural light, alexandrite change and appears violet with reddish highlights under artificial light.

Alexandrites are very sturdy stones, only diamonds, sapphires and rubies are harder. They are difficult to mine and considered a fairly rare and uncommon stone. Like its partner moonstone, Sri Lanka is home to the best and largest alexandrites. Synthetic alexandrite has been produced but only with limited success because the color change was unable to be reproduced.
Alexandrite Gemstones
People with June birthdays are so lucky! From traditional to rare, people born during the month of June can choose a birthstone as unique as their personality!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stylish, Tasteful and Masculine...Jewelry for the Guys

Why should women have all the baubles? Jewelry has been worn and enjoyed by men since the beginning of time. In fact, archeologists have uncovered the remains of several Cro-Magnon men wearing strands of small bones, teeth, berries and stones strung on strips of animal sinew around their necks, wrists and ankles. Then as mankind developed, jewelry followed along, becoming more sophisticated in both materials and design.

An increase in world exploration during the Renaissance Period introduced new sources of gemstones to European jewelers. That, coupled with improved personal wealth for the upper class along with stable rulers including King of England Henry VIII and French King Francis I who both worn lavish jewelry from some of the era’s finest craftsmen, increased the demand for men’s pieces with pendants being one of the most popular.
Portrait of Henry VIII of England by Hans Holbein
During WWII men’s jewelry choices consisted mainly of a watch, wedding ring, tie clip, cufflinks and perhaps a money clip. Several years after the end of the war, college rings gained in popularity since more adult males returned to and graduated from college after serving in the military.

The 1960’s and early 1970’s ushered in a time of great social change and men began sporting everything from multiple strands of colorful beads to gold medallions, pendants and bracelets. Earrings for men have ebbed and flowed over the years and now it’s not unusual to see a man with both ears pierced and filled with either matching studs or small hoops.

Today most major fashion houses include several tasteful jewelry collections for men including bracelets, earrings, rings and necklaces. Popular London jeweler, Stephen Webster said in a Wall Street Journal article, “Picking the right ring, bracelet or necklace finishes your look…a well-chosen piece can lend a little bit of edge to an outfit.”

All metals work well with the more masculine pieces while stones generally should be darker in nature. White diamonds and colorful stones tend to be a bit too flashy for most gentlemen. Etched designs, religious icons and pieces with sentimental value such as signet rings or a medallion with the family crest are always good choices.

Father’s Day is less than a month away and while I always have several men’s pieces in stock, I’d love to discuss designing that custom piece for your special man.
Various custom made men's items by Danielle Miller Jewelry

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Magical Properties of May’s Birthstone - Emerald

During the Middle Ages it was believed that emeralds held the ability to predict the future. Many also thought wearing emeralds would grant patience, insure youth and good fortune and were a symbol of rebirth. While the soothing color of the stone was believed to rejuvenate the eyes, stop bleeding and prevent epilepsy.
Taken from the Greek word, “smaragdos” which loosely translates as green stones, emeralds originally were worn by royalty including Queen Cleopatra and Atahualpa, the final Inca King of Peru whose headdress was the Crown of the Andes, a magnificent piece set with over 1,523 carats of high quality emeralds. The ancient Romans associated emeralds with the goddess Venus because they believed the stones represented the earth’s seasonal rebirth while early Christians saw them as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. All this makes sense since the natural shadings found in emeralds makes one think of Mother Nature awakening after a long cold winter.

While the most famous emerald mines, producing the world’s largest and highest quality stones are located in Colombia, South America, Zambia is the second largest producer. Emeralds are also mined in Russia, Pakistan, Australia, Norway and here in the United States the stones can be found in North Carolina.

Usually discovered inside shale which is a fine-grained sedimentary rock, an emerald’s color is caused by trace amounts of chromium and iron. Unlike many other gemstones, the inclusions and additional flaws found in emeralds are considered part of the stone’s character. Many natural emeralds are soaked in a green-colored oil to help define their shading and luster. Over the years as the stone begins to dull a quick soak in mineral oil can help return the emerald to its original shine.

Because of their coloring, emeralds work well set in all types of metals. But don’t surround them with too many other stones, emeralds are so rich and elegant, they need to shine on their own! So get your green on and have Danielle custom design an emerald piece just for you!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mother’s Day History

"Breakfast in Bed" by Mary Cassatt 1897
In just a few short days it will be Mother’s Day; that one special day of the year when we publicly recognize and honor the woman (or these day’s possible the man) who gives us guidance, direction and most importantly, love. And if you’re like me, you’ve always celebrated the day without ever knowing the history behind it.

Ancient Egyptians celebrated the goddess Isis, their Mother deity, with an annual festival, while in Turkey the Phrygian goddess Cybele was honored and in Greece, Rhea was considered the Mother of the Gods. These earlier festivals became so bawdy they eventually died out and were replaced with more conservative and sedate affairs.

Then in 17th century England, a celebration of the Virgin Mary grew to include all Mothers and became known as Mothering Day. But after English settlers came to America, the celebration was discontinued until Julia Ward Howe introduced her Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Howe who wrote the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was so upset over the Civil War, she wanted a way for all Mothers to come together and protest the killings.

Inspired by Howe, a few years later Anna Reeves Jarvis led a group of West Virginia Mothers in reuniting families divided by the Civil War. This event was named Mother’s Friendship Day. After her death, her daughter, Anna M. Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration held simultaneously in Grafton, West Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10th, 1908. Finally in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared and signed into the law that the second Sunday in May would forever be known as Mother’s Day.

White carnations have long been associated with Mother’s Day. And while every woman, whether a Mother or not, loves getting flowers, nothing quite lets your Mom know how special she is like a piece of custom jewelry. It’s so easy to commemorate a milestone in her life with her favorite stone set in a necklace, ring or brooch. Let’s get started today so she’ll know how much she is loved and appreciated!
Custom made 12 stone mother'g ring

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Diamonds are an (April Birthday) Girl’s Best Friend

Four diamond Chiseled Ring
April! What a wonderful month! The weather is getting warmer, flowers are blooming and if you are lucky enough to have been born during this glorious month then you have the king of the gemstones, the diamond, as your birthstone.

The hardest natural occurring mineral, diamonds are four times harder than the next rated gemstone. They have high refraction, unusual brilliance, intense fire and while traditionally known as a classic colorless stone, colored diamonds have reached a new popularity. Available in hues of pink, red, yellow, blue and green all ranging in different levels of intensity, the more saturated the color, the higher the value. Because intensely colored diamonds are very rare many of the stones sold today have been chemically treated and technically should be marketed as “color-treated diamonds.” When considering the purchase of a shaded diamond it’s important to ask if any color enhancements have been added. Although, round Brilliant cut diamonds are the most popular, antique cut diamonds are also gaining popularity again, such as Rose cut, Old Mine cut and European cut.
Rose Cut diamond, natural burgundy color - Nugget Pendant
Diamonds start life deep inside the Earth using a combination of heat, pressure and carbon molecules. Volcanic activity brings them to the surface and while diamonds were first mined mainly in India, most of the diamonds discovered today are from Australia, Africa and Russia.

The word diamond comes from the Greek and means “invincible.” The stones were believed to hold magical powers against poisoning, devils and phantoms and were worn during battle as a symbol of strength and courage. The ancient Greeks also believed the fire of a diamond signified everlasting love. This idea spread and then in 1477 Archduke Maximilian of Austria started the tradition of giving a diamond as a promise of marriage when he presented a diamond ring to his intended, Mary of Burgundy.
Vine Engagement Ring
Today the beauty of this gemstone looks fabulous no matter the piece or the price range. From a small simple bracelet or brooch to a cocktail ring with a stone the size of a marble, diamonds truly are a girl’s best friend!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

15 Stories Project: How I became famous in 1997.

Everyone wants to know what happened next (in regards to the Mr. Grey the Goldsmith story)...

Well, the drama with Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was over. I never saw him again after that fatal day and have recently found out, through the grapevine, that he is no longer making jewelry due to a medical condition. Despite our tumultuous end, this saddens me because he really was a master at his craft.

To continue...
A month after the firing/resignation at Mr. Grey the Goldsmith's, I became famous...

HAHAHAHA! Well, I didn't exactly became famous, but I had an incredible press opportunity fall into my lap. I had a full feature article written about me in the jewelry trade magazine Lapidary Journal (now known as Lapidary Journal-Jewelry Artist)
January 1997 - Lapidary Journal
January 1997 - Lapidary Journal 
I was still working for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith when I received a call from Lapidary Journal (sometime in 1996). They said wanted to write a feature article about my work and was told a journalist would soon contact me for an interview and a meeting. I was speechless but inside my head I was thinking, "What?! Me? A whole article about ME?" I had been in business part time for less than two years...HOW and WHY did they want to write about ME?!!? I can't rightly recall but I'm sure I hung up the phone on that that day and jumped up and down with excitement!

The writer, Cathleen McCarthy called me and we arranged to meet at a local craft show. I was excited and nervous while she "played" with my kinetic jewelry. Later, she called me for the phone interview. I was really nervous for this and so afraid I was going to sound like a total idiot.

The article was published in January 1997---a few weeks after I lost my job with Mr. Grey the Goldsmith and a few weeks before I started my next (and last) full time job working for another jeweler. (That story may be next!)

Today, Cathleen McCarthy publishes her own blog/on-line magazine for jewelry lovers, The Jewelry Loupe. She also continues to write for Lapidary Journal-Jewelry Artist, as well many other publications.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Girl Power in the Bronze Age!

Example of Bronze Age Jewelry found in Moesgaard Museum
Photo by Dorte Sandorff
Recently outside Vienna Austria the skeletal remains of a woman believe to be a metal worker from the Bronze Age have been unearthed. This tremendous discovery challenges the long held belief that prehistoric women only preformed the less physical and strenuous tasks associated with day to day life. This exciting find now questions long held concepts concerning the division of labor during these primordial ages.

While the pelvic bones were not included in the grave, researchers are confident the remains are of a 45 to 60 year old woman based on the shape of the skull and the size of the lower jawbone.

Contained in the grave was an anvil, hammers, flint chisels and several pieces of dress jewelry. Lower Austrian state archaeologist Dr. Ernst Lauermann said, “It was normal in those days for a person to be buried with the items that were part of their daily working lives.” These tools have led researchers to believe her occupation was a fine metal worker, an uncommon practice for a woman during this time period. Until this discovery, metalworking had always been considered a male profession because of the physicality involved since metals, then like now, were used for more than just making jewelry.

While any ancient burial site from the Bronze Age is considered a great find and a window into how past civilizations lived and ultimately formed our future; this one indicates that earlier cultures were perhaps not as patriarchal as once thought; though some scholars still believe that the significance of these artifacts is unknown. The editor of British Archaeology magazine Mike Pitts stated, “Sometimes the objects could relate to the individual’s profession but they could equally be there because they looked good or were put into the grave by relatives and didn’t belong to the individual.”

So while we will never know the truth, it’s awesome to think that women were challenging societal mores even more than 5,000 years ago!

To read more on this subject and see a photo of the burial site and skeletal remains, follow this link to the MailOnline News.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Born in March? Take Your Pick!

Folks with a birth date in the month of March have the option of choosing one of two very different stones to honor their birth month. While Aquamarine is the modern stone for the month of March, a perfectly acceptable alternative is Bloodstone.

Aquamarines are often called the “poor man’s diamond” and fluctuate in shades from deep blue to (obviously) aqua. Prices for Aquamarines can vary drastically due to the fact that naturally occurring deep blue stones are very rare; while yellow beryl stones can easily be transformed into blue aquamarines; lowering the cost. And just like our February birthstone, Amethyst; Aquamarines are found here in the states of Maine and North Carolina, while Russia, Brazil and India are the largest providers of international Aquamarines.

This gorgeous stone was coined by the Romans who believed they washed ashore from the jewel chests owned by the daughters of the river god Achelous. Sailors have great faith in Aquamarines and to this day still use them as protection against the perils and dangers often encountered at sea. While on land Roman citizens thought the stones possessed medicinal and healing powers to cure ailments of the stomach, liver, jaws and throat. During the Middle Ages they were used as an antidote against poison and then many years later in Germany, Aquamarines were fashioned into eyeglasses to correct nearsightedness.
Aqua Crown Ring
Ice Princess Ring

For those born in the latter part of March, Bloodstone is often the birthstone of choice. This dark-green stone speckled with flecks of vivid red of is usually mined from rocks or riverbeds in India, Brazil and Australia.

Often Bloodstone is called the “martyr’s stone” due to the myth that it was created when as Christ was on the cross drops of His blood stained the surrounding jasper stones. Bloodstones, like Aquamarines are thought to have healing properties especially for blood disorders.
Bloodstone cabochon by Creative Cabs
Either stone choice makes a stunning and rich statement and work perfectly surrounded by everything from platinum to brass. These are birthstones definitely worn with pride! ---And I should know because it is my birthstone!  :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring Is In The Air…In Gorgeous Color!

Even though it’s still cold and gray, ole Mr. Groundhog announced just a few weeks ago that spring is right around the corner. With that in mind, it certainly isn’t too early to start planning what great new spring colors you are going to incorporate into your cosmetics, nail polish, home decor, and most importantly; your spring wardrobe and accessories including your jewelry.
The 2013 Pantone spring color report is full of gorgeous soft shades primarily on the blue/gray/green end of the spectrum with a few delicate hues of yellow, blush and red rounding out the palette.
Even some of the names of this year’s featured colors, Tender Shoots, Poppy Red, Lemon Zest and African Violet, reflect what spring is all about; blooming flowers, budding foliage and sprouting seedlings.

Tender Shoots is a pale green that reminds me of the tender sweet buds on an awakening tree, while Poppy Red is as warm and welcoming as a bed of blooming azaleas. Nectarine made me want a Dreamsicle and when I saw Lemon Zest all I could think of was a big vase of freshly picked daffodils! Monaco Blue is a classic and plays nicely against the calm and serene Dusk Blue; while Grayed Jade along with Linen are probably my two favorites; very soft and subtle, and either could easily become the new spring “neutral.” African Violet and Emerald both are sophisticated rich shades that can be incorporated into many surprising color schemes.

I’ve included a link to the Pantone Fashion Color Report so you can see these unique shades for yourself. And who knows? Maybe you’ll end up with some wonderful color inspired ideas!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

15 Stories project: Mr Grey the Goldsmith, part II

If you missed the first part of this story, please read it here: Mr. Grey the Goldsmith, Part I

To continue...the year is now 1996...

The last six months of my employment with 
Mr. Grey the Goldsmith were rather uncomfortable. He wasn't dealing well with the pressures of his personal life or his business and his behavior became more manic and erratic.

At the same time,
I was growing restless. I was making about $2 over minimum wage while friends working on jewelers row in Philadelphia were making twice as much.  I still needed to work full time for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith plus part-time as a waitress so I could support myself (and my budding business). He had given me a few small raises over the almost two years of my employment, but it still wasn't enough. I had gently danced around asking for another raise with no luck---He didn't seem to have a desire or the resources to compensate me for what (I thought) I was worth.

I believe the beginning of my end with 
Mr. Grey the Goldsmith, ironically (or is it coincidentally), started when I got engaged. I don't remember whether Mr. Grey the Goldsmith offered to help us find a diamond or if I asked him for his help. Either way, he contacted his diamond dealer and had him bring over some diamonds for us to look at. After much thought and debate (about whether we even wanted a diamond), Ben and I decided on a beautiful Lazare Kaplan diamond, slightly under a carat. Mr. Grey the Goldsmith told me how much it would cost and I went home to have Ben write a check. (Which was way more money than we should have been spending at that time.)

In the meantime, I discovered that Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was making a profit off my diamond. He had added an additional $500 to the price of the diamond rather than just selling it to me at cost. Now, since...
  • I had been working for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith for over a year and a half and...
  • I wasn't making much money working for him and... 
  • I had to tolerate his strange behaviors...
I found the fact that he was adding on a "finders fee" terribly hurtful! I felt violated and taken advantage of. So on the day that I handed him the check, I told him that my feelings were hurt that he was charging me extra for the stone. Well...he did not have a very good reaction to my confession. His face turned beet red, he stood up from behind his computer screen and ripped the check up into tiny bits of confetti. (Oh, and I never did get a diamond.---There is a little more to the engagement stone story but it's not really relevant here.)

Yep, that was the beginning of the end.
A few weeks later the finale happened.

As I said, 
Mr. Grey the Goldsmith's behavior had became more erratic in those last months. On this day in mid December, he had an argument on the phone with one of his best customers. The customer, a local jewelry store owner, was complaining about the price of a custom piece Mr. Grey the Goldsmith had made for him. Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was screaming into the telephone, told the customer to F**k off and slammed down the phone.

I can not remember why I chose this volatile day to talk to Mr. Grey the Goldsmith about my financial situation---but I did. Did I plan on talking to him on that day anyway? Was I just looking for a fight? Who knows.

  • I remember standing in front of his desk as he stared into the computer screen.
  • I don't remember my exact words but I do remember being very calm and matter of fact.
  • I remember explaining to him that the salary I was receiving wasn't enough for me to pay all my bills. I told him that I feared that I would have to get another job to make ends meet.
That's when all hell broke loose. 
The events that followed are fuzzy but this is what I remember...
  • Once again, his face turned beet red.
  • He started ranting about how everyone was out to get him...his customers, his wife and me...
  • He began to throw things. When the stapler went flying I started to get scared.
I said nothing. I was just thinking,
"He's carrying a gun and he is completely wigging out. Is he going to shoot me in a blind rage?"

I said nothing. I simply packed up my things, left the building and went to my scheduled dentist appointment----since I was about to lose my health insurance and all. A few weeks before Christmas and I was out of a full-time job---but at least I didn't get shot!

Life is always full of surprises, a month later I received some great news...
To be continued...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

15 Stories project: Mr. Grey the Goldsmith, part I

I'm going to begin my 15 story project with a tale about the goldsmith that I once worked for. To protect his identity, I will call him Mr. Grey the Goldsmith. This story actually precedes my 15 year business anniversary, this story took place 18 years ago...

I began working for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith in the spring of 1995.  I had been graduated from college for two years and was working full-time for a beaded jeweler, part-time as a waitress plus was working on building my own business, when I received the phone call from Mr. Grey the Goldsmith asking me to come work for him. I was honest and explained to him that my ultimate desire was to run my own business and I had plans on doing craft shows but I would love to work with him and learn as much as I possibly could. He understood and I was hired!

Now let me tell you that I could tell from that initial conversation on the telephone with Mr. Grey the Goldsmith that he was an...interesting if not quirky individual. There were some good and some bad facets to being Mr. Grey's assistant/apprentice but it all taught me some valuable lessons.

He was full of entertaining stories which he would tell me over and over again...
  • about his amphetamine-fueled Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle riding days.
  • about his studies under the renowned silversmith, Hans Christensen.
  • about his affair with a professor at grad school.
  • about his old co-worker, the cigarette chain smoking master platinumsmith.
  • about his sailing adventures in the Caribbean.
  • about meeting his wife at dance lessons and doing the jitterbug at his wedding.
He was also full of idiosyncratic behavior which at times I found endearing and at times drove me crazy...
  • his habit of throwing trash on the studio floor, despite the fact that there was a trash can directly behind his jeweler's bench---knowing (and expecting) that I would pick up after him.
  • his habit of sharing far too intimate details of his personal life as if I were his marriage councilor.
  • his habit of leaving work several hours early to go to the bar, leaving me to lock up.
  • and more...
Another “little” quirk was his collection of firearms.  Mr. Grey the Goldsmith had a license to carry a concealed weapon and was always "packing heat." His wife and mother made him custom vests which fell lower on his hips---to cover his holster. He also had guns hidden throughout the workshop. There was a big black shotgun in the supply closet along with his ammunition stock pile,  there was a handgun hidden in the bathroom sink cabinet  and another handgun hidden behind the rubber molds in the casting area.  I think it's safe for me to say that Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was a little paranoid. With that said, I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable or unsafe--- He was educated in gun safety and laws and he did practice safe gun habits. In fact, he wanted me to feel comfortable so he took me to the firing range one day and taught me how to shoot a gun. (Now let me take this time to tell you that this is not a pro nor an anti gun post---although I do have my own opinions on the subject, this is not the time for that debate.)

As I said, I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable working in the studio with so many hidden weapons---until the end of my days working there.
To be continued...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fifteen + years

What were you doing 15 years ago?
15 years ago...February 1998...

-I was living in a warehouse loft apartment in Philadelphia with my husband-to-be and driving a Ford Escort.

-I was working full-time for a production silver jewelry artist while exhibiting my own work at a handful of retail craft shows.

-And I was just about to participate my first big wholesale trade show, the Buyers Market of American Craft.

After that wholesale show, I quit my job...and went to work for myself full-time!

To commemorate this 15th anniversary, I am doing a few things throughout the year:
  • I am going to share 15 stories with you about this journey---the good and the bad. (I hope I can remember 15!)
  • I am going to have a 15% off sale for the entire month of             ! (To be announced. Stay tuned!)
  • I am having a giveaway on Facebook. If I reach 1500 fans by March 15th, one of those lucky fans will be randomly selected to receive a $150 gift certificate from Danielle Miller Jewelry! SO if you aren't a fan yet, please "like" me on Facebook!

The first of the 15 stories will be posted this week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Amethyst: February’s Birthstone is the Stone of Royalty

Amethyst’s history is as rich as its brilliant purple coloring. It has been said that both Cleopatra and Saint Valentine favored amethyst. Cleopatra wore an amethyst signet ring while St. Valentine’s stone was engraved with the figure of his assistant, Cupid, a coincidence that Valentine’s Day is in February?

Amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “not drunk” and while it was possibly believed that wearing amethyst would keep one from becoming intoxicated, most likely the Greeks were referring to the stone’s almost wine-like color. Will one of the remaining birthstones help ward off hangovers? Also symbolic of spirituality and piety, many people believe the wearing of amethyst allow one to channel positive universal energy.

Effervescence Pendant with amethyst
To be a true amethyst the stone must be purple though varying shades from deep violet to pure, clear lavender are perfectly acceptable. A member of the quartz family, amethysts are unique to different locales and many times gem experts can often identify the particular region, and in some cases even the particular mine a stone originated from. Historically the majority of amethysts were mined in Russia and were featured prominently in many royal jewels. Today while most amethyst are imported from Brazil and Zambia some stones are mined right here in the United States particularly in Maine, North Carolina and Colorado.

You’ll mainly see amethyst stones set as brilliant round cuts due to the often patchiness of their color distribution. Other shapes are permissible when the color is more uniform, but remember, all amethyst is always purple. "Green amethyst" has gained a lot of popularity recently, however, this name is misapplied. Green amethyst is indeed a member of the quartz family, but the true name for this leek green gem is Prasiolite.

With amethyst an affordable stone, it’s easy to invest in a stunning piece and feel like royalty every time you wear it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

5 Jewelry Trends for 2013

Wow, can you believe 2013 is already 1/12th of the way over? It seems like we were just celebrating the New Year and now we are already heading into February!

So what big trends in jewelry you can expect to see this year? I’ve listed five of the most popular ones below.
  • Opals are making a huge comeback! While always fashionable, in the past opals were mainly seen in birthstone pieces. For 2013 opals are being free formed and are now showing up in an assortment of different and distinctive shapes, sizes and colors.

  • Pearls have been building a steady following over the past couple of years and 2013 continues the trend. No longer are pearls locked into stuffy dated settings. They have now come into the 21st century in a wide range of classy, chic and fashionable designs and styles.
  • Square Abacus Earring #5

  • Haven’t you always wanted to be a princess? The past two years has seen a resurgence in tiaras and while that might be a bit over the top for some of us, 2013 is introducing bejeweled headbands! Jazzy and fun, they sparkle but don’t flaunt. 
first look, originally uploaded by novadesigns by tess.
Check out the lovely crown that my friend Tess made for her wedding!
  • With gold reaching sky high prices, a growing trend is to mesh fine and faux together to create a stylish and distinctive piece at a reasonable cost. Brass and bronze, wood and Bakelite are all popular economical choices.
    • A relatively modestly priced gem that has gained a lot of attention already this year is Drusy. Very organic, this stone is a popular choice because of its sparkle, color and the fact that it can be cut into a wide variety of interesting and unusual shapes.
      Drusy Necklaces
    Why not incorporate some of these great trends into a wonderful piece for Valentine’s Day for yourself or that special someone? Browse my items on my website ---or on Etsy ---or contact me to make a custom piece just for you!