earrings

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dom pedroThe Dom Pedro is a stunning example of March’s official birthstone, and is also the largest faceted aquamarine specimen in the world.

At 1,363 carats and nearly 36cm tall, the fantasy-cut Dom Pedro aquamarine can certainly hold its own – even when on display at the Smithsonian’s Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, which houses other highly valuable gems like the Hope Diamond and the De Young Red Diamond.

The Dom Pedro was cut from part of a meter-long, 45kg aquamarine crystal that was discovered in the 1980’s in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. While in transportation, the crystal actually fractured into three separate pieces. The two smaller pieces were eventually cut into many smaller gemstones, but the largest was kept intact as it embodied an exquisite greenish-blue hue and amazing clarity. This largest piece was sold to none other than legendary gem-cutter Bernd Munsteiner, known as the “Father of the Fantasy Cut” and “the Picasso of Gems”.

According to the Smithsonian, the first time that he laid eyes on the gem he proclaimed that it was love at first sight!

Munsteiner spent over four months studying the rough and making hundreds of sketches before he settled on the aquamarine’s dom pedro munsteinerfinal pattern. It was to be his most famous “fantasy cut” gem, a cutting technique where negative cuts are faceted into the back of a gemstone to reflect the light within.

During the six months it took to hand cut the gem, he was never concerned about the final carat weight; he opted instead to cut for beauty and brilliance, rather than price. “When you focus on the carat weight, it’s only about the money,” said Munsteiner. “I cannot create when I’m worried about the money.”

The finished masterpiece was unveiled at the 1993 Baselworld Gem Fair, and later bought by private collector Jane Mitchell and her husband Jeffrey Bland. They gifted the stone to the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection in 2011, and by the end of 2012 Dom Pedro was added to the permanent exhibition and continues to be a top attraction.

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small diamond pendantSmall necklaces, earrings and bracelets have been appearing more in the jewelry market today. They are great small pieces for gifts and self-purchase, a great entry piece for fine jewellery. Many jewelry brand names have developed a line of tiny pendants, for instance, diamond brand hearts on fire have a collection of small diamond necklaces.

Hearts on fire my 1xt “x” pendant. These small pieces great for layering, a trend that’s very popuar with necklaces, rings and bracelets. The right necklace is an essential for putting the final touch on your outfit, with a small diamond necklace, you can totally overdo it with earrings, bracelets or rings.

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Diamond BoxWe finished off with Part 1: Can Diamonds be Chipped?

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In taking care of your diamond jewelry, this is especially important. For something that can last you forever, it does require some amount of maintenance to keep it in its best shape.

Routine checkups at your jeweler (recommended is about every 6 months) is key. They have the tools and expertise to evaluate your jewelry for any compromise in the structure or integrity. Checking settings for loose stones, worn prongs or metal can prevent diamonds being exposed or even falling out.

After that, it’s all up to you. Be slightly more cautious when wearing rings, diamonds can chip when coming in contact with any hard surface such as doorknobs, kitchen countertops, or car windows. Ideally you would want to take your rings off when doing any manual work with your hands: lifting heavy objects, doing chores, cooking, gardening, and more. The more your diamond jewelry comes into contact with other objects, the more likely it is to damage. That’s why rings are the most susceptible and show signs of wear more easily; bracelets are a close second followed by necklaces and earrings, which are relatively safe.

As diamonds are most easily damaged by other diamonds, take care in storing your diamond jewelry separately when not wearing them. Every piece should have its own compartment and not be touching another diamond piece. For necklaces, lay them out carefully and store them in a spacious box, not a pouch where it can move against itself.

Another factor that contributes to the risk of damaging diamonds is present in the diamond’s structure: inclusions. Inclusions are the naturally occurring “imperfections” in the molecular crystal of the diamond, and come in many forms. Not all inclusions increase the risk of damage; it all depends on the size, location, and type of inclusion present. Inclusions to pay particular attention to are feathers, twinning wisps, or cavities that reach the surface close to the girdle, where impact is the likeliest to happen. It’s best to consult with your jeweler or someone with formal diamond training such as a GIA Gemologist to discuss the role inclusions play in your diamond’s integrity.

Read on to Part 3: What to Do With a Chipped Diamond

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Earrings

Jewellery is a very personal accessory which can make it hard to choose the right piece when shopping for someone else. The very fact that earrings are worn so close to the face make them even more personal.

Some women wear the same jewellery daily regardless of the occasion, others don’t wear jewellery at all – for these women, it might be best to pick a different gift. Anyone else, though, you can have a good shot at it if you know what to look for.

Colour:

Does she wear only silver and white gold? Only yellow gold? Or both? What colour clothes does she tend to go for? Many women like to wear neutral colours and may be seen with a coloured stone ring, but would not wear the colour more prominently in earrings, for example. If she’s not often seen in colour, stick to neutral coloured stones and detailing for example black onyx, smokey quartz, diamond, pearl. When looking at colours, consider her hair, skin and eyes – different pigmentation suits different colour groups so even if you are attracted to the yellow citrine, your pale skinned brunette girlfriend may not agree.

Size/Shape:

This is especially important for earrings. Consider hair length and style. If she often wears her hair tucked behind her ears or up in a hair piece then studs may look stunning, but if she has a cut that frames her face more then those beautiful diamonds will never be seen! Long faces can benefit from a wider shaped earring whereas wider faces prefer more slender earrings. Long necks look exotic with longer earrings while these are just not going to work on a shorter neck.

Metal and findings (the bit that goes in the ear):

Apart from colour, metal is also important to consider for allergies. Many women have sensitivities to metals used in jewellery findings. It is most common to be allergic to nickel. Therefore look for higher quality findings or when shopping for costume jewellery ask the retailer if any are hypoallergenic. Consider the style of finding too – older women often have stiffness and less dexterity in their fingers so when buying Grandma some new pearl drop earrings, check that there are no complex mechanisms that she might struggle with. A simple sheppard hook would be best for her. If your girlfriend wears scarfs often, however, look for something with a locking mechanism like a closed hoop or screw stud.

Once you have these things figured out, and you have taken note of what she wears most often, then you are ready to go to your local jeweler and check out what they have that fits your criteria. One more thing to consider is matching sets. Many earring designs will have a matching pendant or necklace. Many women like to wear matching sets, and the beauty of these is that they don`t have to be worn together but look amazing when they are. So if you have nailed the style and present her with the full set then its like a 3 in 1! Necklace, earrings and set – how could you go wrong?

Look for a jeweler that you can talk to easily and will help you know what you are looking at. They sell jewellery every day and have a good idea of what different people look for, and if you have already done your homework then together you should find something she will love – maybe even show them a picture of her on your phone? – and always ask for the return policy to cover your back if you are unsure.

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Margaret ThatcherMargaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the UK (1979-1990) and first and only female PM is one of the 20th Century’s most famous and influential women. She came from modest roots with a dedication to justice and problem solving that took her well beyond the barriers of gender and class to not only be heard but respected in a male dominated world.

The Prime Minister’s stoic nature was reflected in her fashion sense as much as in her political diplomacy. A style that was understated yet defined, consistent while sentimental.

She is most well known for her skirt suits and handbags – standing out from the sea of black and grey men’s suits and briefcases of her contemporaries. She even coined the used of the term ‘handbagging’ which eventually made it into the Oxford English Dictionary to describe Mrs Thatcher’s abrasive style when dealing with those who displeased her. Her handbag for almost 30 years was an Asprey box style in black leather, it was auctioned for charity at Christie’s in 2011 and reached £25,000.

Pearls were another staple. As Meryl Streep who plays her in the 2012 movie, “The Iron Lady” says “I may be persuaded to surrender the hat… The pearls, however, are absolutely non-negotiable”. Ultimately feminine just as the skirt and handbag, the tough player was almost never seen without her pearl earrings and usually the double strand necklace she was given by her husband after the birth of her twins, or a single strand.

In an interview for the Times newspaper in 1975, she is described as wearing “all the jewelry she has—every piece her husband’s gift—two modest rows of pearls (“a present when the twins were born”); a sapphire and diamond engagement ring and a small diamond half-hoop ring; a slim gold watch; a marble-sized amethyst ring on her right hand and a jangle of cairngorms on the wrist; a nice pearl and diamond display brooch on her right lapel, pearl and gold filigree earrings and an aquamarine brooch on the dress under the jacket. Her foulard scarf matched it.”

Her sapphire and diamond engagement rings is re-emerging as a popular style now, especially since the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Thatcher’s was smaller than Middleton’s (originally Princess Diana’s), while her amethyst worn on her right hand was oval and much more substantial.

‘Cairngorms’ is the name given to citrine quartz mined in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. It is an amber-brown or richly orange variety used extensively in Scottish jewelry in the Victorian period. The larger sized cairngorms were particularly prized and often handed down through families. Thatcher’s amethyst could also have been from this period and location.

Just as it was a secret what she kept in her handbag, it seems there were private and sentimental stories attached to her daily jewellery also. Iron Lady on the outside, but always maintaining that feminine mystique – what does your jewellery say about you?

What special memory does your bracelet hold for you?

Who do you feel you hold close to your heart when wearing that pendant?

How many generations have worn those pearls?

Which piece of jewellery would most express how much your partner means to you?

Old jewellery heirlooms can be remodelled to suit today’s fashion while still using the stones and metal for sentimentality. Custom jewellery can be made specifically to your design to create a unique statement piece. Look for independent jewelers (they are often more accommodating) in your area and talk to them about your options.

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