When I was (much) younger and asked my Mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day, she always replied “a hug and nice children”. Easy to give and I was happy to do so, but of course she deserved more than that. Even at a young age, I realized that being a Mom is not an easy job, and I was always looking for something special that would surprise and delight her. Sadly, my Mom is not with us anymore, but I still send her a (mental) hug on Mother’s Day.
For those who are lucky enough to still have their Mothers around, here are some recent finds that I think any Mom would love to receive:
Who doesn’t love kids’ drawings and paintings? They are so creative and honest. I have one on the fridge that my best friend’s daughter did of me and my dog 4 years ago and it still makes me smile every time I see it. Cleveland-based company Art-Charms, founded by goldsmith Chad Verhoff, make adorable charms, pendants and cuff links from your child’s drawings (using only recycled precious metals). They come in circle, oval, heart or square shapes with the drawing engraved into the charm. I love the idea, and the final results really do look like the original drawing.
Swedish-born goldsmith Mia van Beek started her company Formia Design in Stockholm in 2001, but fate and love brought her to the US, and since 2004, she operates her business out of Virginia. Mia also creates jewelry from children’s’ art, but with a different look. Her charms, earrings, brooches, pendants, bookmarks and key chains come in gold and silver, and instead of being engraved into the pieces, they are cut out of the metal. The idea for the art jewelry came to her when she was trying to think of a personalized gift for her 3-year old daughter’s pre-school teacher. Her daughter drew a scribble, called it earrings, and that’s exactly what Mia turned her daughter’s drawing into.
Zoe, founder and owner of Three Sisters Jewelry Design, used to be an attorney, but a series of life-changing events made her change course. She opened a photography studio in one of my favorite places on earth – Solana Beach, CA – and also started taking metal smith classes. Eventually, Three Sisters Jewelry (named after her three daughters) was born, and today, she creates a large variety of hand-stamped silver and gold charm bracelets and necklaces. My sister-in-law has a charm necklace from Three Sisters, the “gigi’s jewelry box”, which has a locket with the silhouette of her daughter and two hand-stamped charms with initials. It is absolutely adorable, and my niece loves opening the locket to look at her own profile.
Retired TV and movie costumer Suz of Polkadot Magpie turns metal scraps from her custom knife maker husband’s workshop into these adorable personalized hand stamped charms and pendants. They come in several different shapes: hearts, cats, stars, birds, bunnies, etc. The bunny charms have a very special story: Suz worked on the set of Crash with the late Dennis Hopper (whom she called “The Bunny”) and when he told her that his illness had taken a turn for the worse, she created these charms to help raise funds for ACS (and still donates the profits from the bunny charms to them).
Therese and Sandra, the two artists (and Moms) behind London-based company Joulberry create these darling silver fingerprint charms and pendants. When you place an order, you first receive a print kit so that you can take an impression. The charm is then created from the print, and can also be engraved on the front and/or back with your child’s name, birth date, or any other message you would like.
It’s a new year and the craziness of the holidays are behind us. Everyone is back at work and school, and frankly, things feel a bit drab after all the glitz and glamour of holiday parties and all that time off. And this really is the dreariest part of winter – cold and dark, and summer is so far away. How about some jewelry to cheer you up! Even though the shopping frenzy of December is behind us, there are still some great deals to be had, and the new spring collections are out. And Valentine’s is just around the corner!
Few things are as symbolic of Christmas in American culture as Santa traveling across the dark winter sky in his sleigh pulled by reindeers. He supposedly travels from the North Pole and delivers packages all over the world, although his home base varies depending on where you live: in Denmark, everybody knows he lives on Greenland, in Finland, he calls the mountain Korvatunturi home, and a few years ago, a Swedish company determined that Kyrgyzstan would be the ideal location for him, based on the rotation of the earth and where the majority of people are located.
Although in Sweden, he doesn’t arrive by sleigh at all; he walks, knocks on the door and comes in and hands out gifts in person. And in Holland, Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain. Regardless of what you believe, the image of Santa and his sleigh is a compelling one, and for today’s post, I have selected some of my favorite sleigh charms:
Pretty, powder pink rose quartz is THE gemstone when it comes to love, so I thought this would be a good time to feature it, with Valentine’s Day around the corner.
Rose quartz is (obviously) part of the quartz family (which also includes, among others, amethyst, opal, and citrine) and comes in colors ranging from very pale, translucent pink to dark rose. Some have rutile needles which gives the stone an asterism effect, and you can find transparent stones as well, but they are much more rare, and so pale in color that you can hardly tell they’re pink. (more…)
With Halloween around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time for a post featuring black cat jewelry. I have to confess that I’m not a huge fan of Halloween myself; I actually think it’s kind of creepy (I know that’s the point, but I still don’t like it). But I do love cats!
Cats as symbols have a long history, as long as civilization itself. Through the ages, there have been many powers attributed to them – they have been considered good and evil, gods and witches, healers and bringers of disease, and some of the things that were done to them are too horrible to even think about (Google “France cat burning” and you’ll see). Black cats in particular were and are viewed with suspicion – we all know that a black cat crossing the street in front of you is supposed to be bad luck, and even to this day, rescued black cats are only half as likely to find new homes as their white, calico, gray, etc. siblings.
But, fortunately, they have also been considered good luck. In ancient Egypt, the cat Bastet was a goddess of love and protection; killing a cat was a crime that brought a death sentence, and many cats were mummified and buried in coffins, just like humans (archeologists found a cemetery in the city of Bubastis with over 300,000 cats in it!).
In England they were thought to bring fisherman back safely from the sea, and sailors believed that a black cat on the ship kept storms at bay. Receiving a black cat as a wedding gift is good luck, and there is an English proverb that goes “Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack”.
And in Japan, Maneki Nekos, very popular cat figurines that come in all kinds of materials, shapes, sizes and colors (including black), are believed to bring good luck and protection to their owner.
As I mentioned above, I personally love cats, and certainly think they are good luck, whether black or any other color. And their grace, beauty and air of mystique have always made them perfect models for artists of all disciplines, including jewelry. Here are some of my favorite recent cat charm and pendant finds:
This time of year, I always start longing for a house in the country, or at least a house of my own with a garden where I could grow vegetables and herbs and spend sunny afternoons weeding and pruning and picking homegrown lettuce for a dinner salad. Maybe one day… for now, I’m in an apartment in a large city, and the only green around me are the trees in neighboring yards.
To add a bit more living nature to my life, I have house plants and plans for a windowsill herb garden. But I recently found another awesome way to add more greenery to my everyday life: plant jewelry. Crafty (and green-thumbed) jewelry designers have come up with a variety of styles that admittedly do need a little bit of maintenance (some are to be watered on a regular basis; others should get just the right amount of sun to stay healthy), but that’s a small price to pay to be closer to nature!
Here are some fabulous finds:
1. Self-sustaining terrarium curve necklace from With Roots
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: What is it about Denmark and style? There is so much beautiful design in general, and jewelry in particular, coming out of that country (Pandora, Trollbeads, Lovelinks, Ole Lyngaard, Skagen, etc.). One of the newest brands to emerge, and one that I like a lot, is Blossom Copenhagen.
Launched in May of 2011, Blossom Copenhagen features six collections of interchangeable charms and pendants (as well as leather wrist wraps, necklaces and earrings) designed by Christina Lihn, who previously was at Georg Jensen. As I noted in my article about Ole Lyngaard, flexible jewelry seems to be a huge, enduring trend in Danish design, and here we see it again.
The charms and pendants are all created from Christina’s hand drawn sketches, using traditional goldsmith techniques. The designs have an organic, but soft, feel to them, and the marketing materials (and overall look of the brand) has that delicately feminine and nostalgic “French country / shabby chic” look that is so popular in home decor both in Scandinavia.
Falling in love you & I
A recurring theme is hearts – all the collections include at least one heart charm, and Christina herself says “I am a true romantic and I design jewellery for women who love a feminine touch. My favourite symbol is the heart, and that is the focal point of the entire collection”.
I especially like the “Falling in love you & I” – a different and unique take on the heart charm necklace (and the little charms can hold tiny items), and the hot air balloon-inspired pendants in the Romantic Discovery collection.
So far, they are available in Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and Australia, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they arrive in the US (or at least with an online retailer. I hope I’m right – they’re so pretty, and affordable too. The most expensive piece retails for the equivalent of $130.
In the modern tradition, the birthstone for March is the gorgeous Aquamarine (in the mystical tradition it’s Jade and in all others Bloodstone – more on those in separate posts).
Morganite, Aquamarine and Heliodor
Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family, which also includes Emeralds (green), Morganite (pink – purple), Heliodor (yellow), Goshenite (Clear) and Bixbite (red, very rare). Pure beryl has no color – these stones get their different hues from impurities, and in the case of Aquamarine it comes from iron. The stones are also almost always heat treated which enhances the blue color by removing some of the green and/or yellow that may be present.
The word Aquamarine comes from the Latin aqua (water) and mare (sea) and it certainly is an apt description of the colors of these stones, which range from a pale light blue to deep greenish hues. They are fairly abundant and are mainly mined in Brazil, but also in Madagascar, India, Nigeria, Russia, China and the US.
The stones can come in huge sizes and it is not unusual to see large cut aquamarines of 40 – 50ct. Aquamarines can be quite affordable, but the price of course depends on size and quality. Greenish-blue ones with lots of inclusions are at the lowest end of the price scale, while clear (no inclusions), intensely sky and dark blue stones usually fetch the highest prices. Having said that, beryl sometimes have inclusions that produce rare asterism (star) and cat’s eye effects, and aquamarines with either of those can be quite costly.
Aquamarine Healing Properties
Aquamarines are said to protect seafarers, enhance communication, help you stick to your goals in life, become less self-centered, alleviate depression and anxiety, calm fears, promote tranquility and a light heart and boost creativity and intuition. Holding an aquamarine while meditating helps you focus and go deeper into the meditation. It is also believed to help with the immune system (allergies), the thymus gland, spleen, heart, throat, lymph nodes, eye inflammation, arthritis, and varicose veins.
In addition to being the birthstone of March, it is the planetary stone for Pisces, the state gem for Colorado, the birthstone for October in the Roman, Hebrew and Arabic tradition, and the 19th wedding anniversary stone.
I love aquamarine and always carry a small rondelle with me when I’m not wearing aquamarine jewelry – I find it calms and centers me, especially when I hold it in my hand. Give it try yourself and see what you experience.
As usual, I have selected a few favorite aquamarine charms and pendants:
Collage by Charms Guide
1. Handmade sterling silver and aquamarine necklace pendant by Colorado-based artist Nancy Green
2. Sterling silver Donatella flower charm with an aquamarine dangle. From Macy’s
3. Handmade sterling silver and aquamarine Tree of Life pendant by Florida-based artist Miss M. Turner of Phoenix Fire Designs
4. Vintage 14k gold bracelet with amethysts and aquamarines from Ross-Simons
5. Handmade silver and aquamarine owl charm by British silversmith and artist Caroline of Little Bird Studio 22
6. 14k white gold necklace with an aquamarine and diamond flower pendant from Angara
7. Copper, tin and brass Hamsa hand talisman with aquamarine, glass and Swarovski Crystals. From AmuletGifts.com
8. 14k gold and aquamarine bead charm from Pandora
Amethyst is a member of the Quartz family. Quartz is a mineral, the most abundant on earth, and not only does it make up around 12% of the earth’s crust, it is everywhere. Even those of us who are not living under a rock have quartz all around, perhaps without realizing it. Your TV, computer, watch, cell phone and granite kitchen counter top all contain quartz.
Quartz is commonly divided in two groups – Macrocrystalline (which has visible individual crystals) and Cryptocrystalline (which has crystals you need a microscope to see, sometimes also called Microcrystalline). Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, and it is part of the Macrocrystalline group.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February (except for in the Mystical tradition, where it is Bloodstone. We will cover Bloodstone in the March birthstone post, because it is the birthstone for March in several other traditions), the astrological birthstone for Aquarius, Pisces, and Sagittarius and the 4th, 6th and 17th wedding anniversary gemstone. It has been known and used “forever”, and it was one of the stones in the breastplate of Aaron. It is mainly found in Brazil; other locations include the US (Arizona), Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Namibia, Zambia and Russia.
Amethysts range in color from pale pinkish purple to deep violet and they are the most popular of the quartzes. In spite of that, they are very affordable (the darker the stone, the more expensive it is, generally), and if you’re shopping for the high end variety, you want to look for nice, clear transparent stones without inclusions (i.e. things like bubbles, crystals, graininess, cracks etc. inside the stone). In jewelry, you most often find them faceted or cabochon cut.
Amethysts are sometimes heat treated to alter the color slightly, and when lighter varieties are exposed to heat, they “turn into” citrine (so most citrine on the market is amethyst that has been heat treated).
The ancient Greeks thought amethyst could prevent intoxication and instill a sober mind. The name comes from the Greek “amethustos”, which means “not drunk”. In traditional dramatic Greek fashion, there is the story of Bacchus (a.k.a. Dionysus) and the young maiden Amethyst. A mortal had insulted Bacchus, who as revenge decided to let tigers go after the next human who happened to come along. It turned out the be Amethyst on her way to worship the Goddess Diana. Diana knew of Bacchus’ plan and to spare Amethyst turned her into a quartz pillar, which made Bacchus so remorseful that he wept tears of wine, which turned the now quartz pillar Amethyst purple.
Amethyst Healing Properties
Amethyst is one of the most important stones in crystal healing, believed to get rid of negativity and promote a more positive view on life, protect its wearer, aid in meditation, help when going through major life changes, heal a broken heart and make the wearer able to trust others and fall in love again.
It also helps with addictions, stress, nightmares, insomnia, anger, grief, and feelings of being victimized. On a physical level, it alleviates arthritis and balances the thyroid, helps with headaches and strengthens the skeleton.
And it might be worth it to invest in some amethyst jewelry even if it’s not your birthstone. Crystal Energy Therapist Karen Ryan says “If you could choose only one crystal to wear for healing, Amethyst is the one – it heals all things at all levels”.
Luckily, there are tons of gorgeous pieces to choose from. Here are some of my recent favorite amethyst charm and pendant finds:
I don’t know what it is about the Danes, but for such a small country, they have an extraordinary number of talented, groundbreaking designers in every possible discipline – art, architecture, furniture, clothing, jewelry, you name it. Even their (super cool) Queen Margrethe II is an artist – a painter, illustrator and set designer.
Some of my favorite mid-century modern furniture designers were Danish (Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Bruno Mathsson), some of my current favorite clothing brands are Danish (Noa Noa, Bon’a Parte, Cream), and then there is of course the jewelry: Trollbeads, Pandora, Lovelinks, Georg Jensen, Skagen and Pilgrim are all Danish brands.
But today, the topic is Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen, a jewelry company that was started by its namesake in 1963. After studying and working all over the globe, Ole, a goldsmith, returned to his native Denmark, bought a small workshop and started building the brand. His jewelry was very well received and slowly but surely, the company grew.
1979 was a big year for Ole Lynggaard: he revealed a completely new type of clasp for his jewelry. It was a truly groundbreaking design – not only was it functional, and so pretty that it became an important part of the jewelry rather than just a utilitarian item, but more important was the fact that the clasp could be moved from one piece of jewelry to another, which made it possible for the wearer to create their own look. It was an instant hit, and today, all their jewelry carries (a variation of) this lock.
Interesting how the easy customization concept keeps surfacing again and again in Danish jewelry – just think of Trollbeads, Pandora, Lovelinks, and Georg Jensen’s Fusion collection. Makes sense I suppose, since according to Professor Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Denmark is an individualistic society (he gives them a score of 74, which places them in the top 10 among individualist countries along with the rest of Scandinavia, the US, UK and the Netherlands). Anyway, I digress.
Ole’s daughter Charlotte inherited her Father’s design talent and at an early age decided to become a fashion designer and worked in PR and fashion in Paris for a few years. Trained as a goldsmith, she eventually discovered however, that her true passion was designing jewelry, and, like her Dad, went on to work with jewelry around the world for several years. In 1992, she returned to Denmark to join her Father’s company. Today, Charlotte (who is regarded as a trend setting style icon in Denmark) is the head designer, and Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen is still a family business – her husband, Michel Norman, is the head of sales, her brother Søren is the managing director, her sister-in-law Hanna also works for the company, and Ole himself is still very much actively designing and crafting jewelry. Their headquarters are located in a cozy old house just north of Copenhagen, where the entire staff of 75 (30 are goldsmiths) is housed.
Princess Mary wearing a Lynggaard charm bracelet
In 2008, Ole Lynggaard was appointed a purveyor to the Danish court, and the company was invited to participate in a tiara exhibit at Amalienborg museum. Their contribution was a design by Charlotte: a breathtaking tiara in rose and white gold and oxidized silver set with diamonds and moonstones (it has since been worn by Princess Mary, who has been spotted wearing many other Lynggaard jewelry pieces as well).
Charms have been part of their collections for many years now and there are also many small pendants that can be used as charms. And the collections for Spring 2012 will add even more charms to their lineup with the release of the “all charms” collection My Little World. The new Dew Drops collection is all pendants and charms; the Katrine collection includes one “sweet spot”; and the Lotus collection has several of the smaller pendants.
So, what are the different charm collections? Well, the ones that have been around for a while are:
The Sweet Drops collection, designed by Charlotte, consists of thick leather bracelets and 93 interchangeable charms, made from 18k yellow, rose and white gold, silver and gemstones. The many different stones come in both faceted and smooth versions, and some are set with a single diamond. The solid precious metal charms come in “plain”, set with 10 or 66 diamonds (white or black), filigree cut with 6 diamonds, and there is an adorable little birdcage charm in gold with a tiny gold bird inside. The collection also includes a few red coral charms, and in line with the whole “flexible jewelry” concept, all the charms can be added to their silk and chain necklaces and link bracelets as well.
Sweet Spots, designed by Charlotte and made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones, are flat rounds (the collection also includes four hearts) designed to be clipped onto the Sweet Drops leather bracelets.
The Spot On collection is essentially Sweet Spots for men. Also designed by Charlotte, it consists of the same type of “disks” that clip onto chunky leather bracelets. The charms are again made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones, but in simpler designs and darker, more “manly” colors (blue and green), and one design also features a dragon.
The My Friend collection was designed by Charlotte and consists of 18k gold and sterling silver charms and pendants in the shape of a penguin and a fish. The jewelry was designed to support Børnefonden (ChildFund Denmark) and a portion of the sales are donated to them.
This very pretty and feminine collection was inspired by a flea market find (a vintage piece of lace) in Paris and consists of rings, (amazing) clasps, earrings, bracelets, pendants and charms in 18k gold and diamonds.
The Spring 2012 Collections
The new charm collections are:
My Little World
The most traditional of their charm bracelets to date, this new collection (designed by Charlotte to represent certain “moments in time” of the company’s history) consists of a chain bracelet and 36 charms in 18k gold, sterling silver, coral and gemstones. And one thing I really like is that when you buy one of these charms, it comes attached to a black string bracelet, so if you prefer that look, there is no need for the added cost of a chain bracelet.
This collection was also designed by Charlotte and is similar to the Sweet Drops. It consists of pendants and charms in 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones. The design is a little bit different though, and the settings are more ornate and many of the stones are opaque.
The Katrine collection, designed by Ole, consists of earrings, brooches rings, clasps and one sweet spot, all in the shape of butterflies in 18k gold set with lots of tiny diamonds (some have over 150!).
The Lotus is the “flagship” collection in the Spring 2012 release. It was designed by Charlotte, and she has described it as “gypsy style” and “bohemian with a splash of luxury”. The rings, earrings and pendants (large and small) are made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones. It really is a fantastic collection and both the settings and the colors of the gemstones, which almost seem to be glowing, are stunning.
Danish supermodel Helena Christensen is the most recent face of the brand (a position previously held by actress Connie Nielsen and singer Lene Nystrøm), and the new, gorgeous catalog was shot by Marc Høm. Helena’s eyes almost match the gemstones in some of the pictures – amazing.
Ole Lynggaard is a luxury brand, and these designs are not inexpensive – charms range from around $270 (My Friend penguin in sterling silver) to $10,000 (18k gold Sweet Drop with 66 diamonds), Sweet spots are $1,400 to $3,500, and the Lotus drops retail for around $980 to $5,400 (prices are based on current exchange rates and include local taxes). BUT, when you take into account that everything is handmade on site and they only use top notch gemstones, 18k gold, sterling silver and high quality leather, it definitely feels like money well spent. And a good investment – this is jewelry made to last a lifetime (and longer).
Where To Buy
Unfortunately, there are currently no retailers here in the US, and they don’t have an online store. But there are stores all over Europe, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. And they are constantly expanding, so there is hope. Søren Lynggaard has been quoted as saying “We want to develop the company, but when we do it, we do not want to make compromises, so we´re taking it at our own pace. You don´t want to break your neck by moving too fast. We want a healthy company that we can be proud of!”
In the meantime, I’m going to take my chance to visit one of their stores the next time I’m in Europe. In a way, it’s kind of nice that there still are things you can’t get everywhere in the world.