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