Archive for the ‘Lovelinks’ Category

Christmas And Winter Holiday Charms And Beads – Christmas Trees

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Trees have held a special meaning for people since ancient times, and bringing evergreens indoors during winter is something that has long been practiced in many cultures. In some countries, they were thought to keep evil spirits, illness and ghosts at bay; in some they were symbols of deities, and in others, they were simply a reminder that summer – and another growing season – would return.

The Christmas tree as we know it is thought to have begun in the southern parts of 15th century Germany, where people brought fir trees indoors and decorated them with apples. The trees were an important part of the Winter Solstice celebration, and they were believed to keep evil spirits away (who were supposed to be particularly active on Christmas eve). Apples later turned into ornaments, and Martin Luther (the Protestant reformer) is credited with contributing the tradition of adding lights. The custom spread through Europe, but did not reach the US until the early 1800s, and even then, many here regarded them as pagan symbols. It wasn’t until the early 1850s, when a slightly doctored print of of Queen Victoria and her family (in order to “Americanize” them, Prince Albert’s mustache and the Queen’s tiara were removed) with their decorated Christmas tree was published in the US that the Christmas tree became popular.

There is also an interesting variation on the story on how the Christmas tree came to be: the story of St. Boniface. St Boniface was Christian missionary in Germany in the 600-700s, everyone agrees to that, but the thoughts on his impact on the Christmas tree tradition varies. Some say he cut down fir trees in the woods of Thüringen and used their triangular shape to demonstrate the trinity, and the people in the area started bringing the trees indoors, although they hung them upside down from the ceiling. Some claim that when St. Boniface returned to Germany after an absence, he found that the locals had revered to their pagan winter celebrations, which included the sacrifice of a young man under Odin’s oak tree. Enraged, he cut down the oak with a single blow of an axe, which impressed and scared the people. As the oak fell, it had narrowly missed a small fir tree, and when the frightened people asked St. Boniface how they should celebrate, he pointed to the fir and told them to bring such a tree, which symbolized immortality and peace, into their homes.

Today, a Christmas tree is an essential part of the holiday in many countries across the world, even some that are not mainly Christian. They certainly add an unmatched coziness to the celebrations, and every time I walk into a home with a decorated and lit Christmas tree, I feel like a child again – that happy excitement and expectation you always had for weeks (or even months) leading up to the big event.

Now that we’re properly educated on the subject :-), here are some recent favorite Christmas tree charm finds:

Collage by Charms Guide

1. Sterling silver charm by Rembrandt

2. Sterling silver charm by Amanda Jo

3. Sterling silver charm with a gold star by Brighton

4. Sterling silver charm with marcasites and cubic-zirconias by Judith Jack

5. Enameled pewter charm by Jewelry by Aimee

6. Pandora charm bead in sterling silver with a 14k gold star

7. Sterling silver charm bead for the Lovelinks Petit collection. By Lovelinks

8. 18k gold charm with emerald and blue and pink sapphires by Tiffany & Co

9. Rhodium plated charm with metallic green epoxy and crystals by Swarovski

10. Sterling silver charm bead by Zable

For more Christmas-related charms, also see my Santa’s Sleigh charms post.

All content © Charms Guide


December Birthstone Charms – Blue Topaz, Tanzanite, Turquoise, Zircon And Ruby

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Birthstones in general are thought to have begun with the biblical breastplate of Aaron (around 1300 B.C.) – a garment set with 12 precious stones – and it is believed that each stone was associated with a zodiac sign (like in Vedic astrology and Ayurvedic medicine). The tradition of associating specific gemstones with particular months is rumored to have begun in Poland in the 1700s, and the list as we know it today here in the US was adopted as a standard by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912.

The Birthstones For December

While most agree on which stone(s) go with which month, there are some variations. For December, the standardized stones in the modern tradition are Tanzanite, Turquoise and Zircon. Some also include Blue Topaz, but in several ancient traditions (as well as Ayurveda), Ruby is the stone for this month. So the December birthstone color is mainly variations of blue, with the blood red ruby as an exception.

As always with gemstones, each birthstone is said to have certain properties, meanings and powers. Here is a little bit of information on each stone (scroll down to the end of the post to see my selection of a few favorite charms incorporating these stones):

Tanzanite

A mineral discovered in Tanzania as late as 1967, Tanzanite (scientifically known as blue Zoisite) didn’t become an official birthstone of December until 2002 (and is the only addition to the original list from 1912). Its natural color is a brownish red, and it takes a good bit of heat to bring out that purple/deep blue color. It was discovered after a wildfire on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro by geologist Manuel D’Souza who brought it to Tiffany & Co’s attention. They re-named the Zoisite “Tanzanite” and brought it to the market with great success. It is a popular, rare and consequently expensive stone – it is only found in Tanzania and once the supply is gone, it’s gone. Tanzanite is also the anniversary gemstone for the 24th year of marriage.

Tanzanite is said to help open the heart and third eye chakras and aid in communication with the spiritual world.

Zircon

The word Zircon derives from the Arabic and means gold and color, and Zircon (not to be confused with cubic zirconia) does come in a variety of colors. Its natural hues are in the brown, orange and red family, but it also comes in green and yellow and, with the help of heat treatment, clear and blue. The clear variety has long been used as a diamond imitation, but today, the most popular hue is blue (a very pretty light pastel aqua color). Zircon can be found in many places around the world (although most are mined in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam), and it is a relatively inexpensive, and very popular, gemstone.

Zircon is an important stone in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is thought to bring wisdom, a noble heart, good luck, joy and wealth. It also relieves pain, helps with sleep problems, and protects the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. I think we can all use one of these! 🙂

Blue Topaz

Pure Topaz is clear as glass, but thanks to a variety of impurities, it also comes in many colors, including red, pink, brown, yellow (November’s birthstone), orange, purple, green and blue. The blue variety is the most popular one, and while it does sometimes occur naturally, the blue color is most often achieved with the help of irradiation (radiation) and heat treatment. The resulting colors range from a pale baby blue (known as Sky Blue) to the crisp Swiss blue to a nice, rich deep, almost teal, blue (called London or Super Blue). Blue Topaz, which is also the anniversary gemstone for the 4th year of marriage, is available in abundance, and as with all gemstones, the price depends on the purity and size of the stone, but in general, it is quite affordable.

Blue Topaz is said to balance one’s emotions, bring mental clarity, truth, abundance, joy and love, and help the third eye’s ability to see at a higher level. Other topaz healing uses include wounds and eating disorders.

Turquoise

Turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones, used and appreciated for thousands of years, not only for its beauty, but also because it was believed to be a good luck talisman. Turquoise is of course turquoise, and it gets its blue-green color from copper. There are other, less common, variations on the color such as a deeper blue-green and bright green, and the color depends on the chemical composition of the earth where it is formed. The best quality Turquoise is a solid robin’s egg blue with no discolorations or veins, and most of these can be found in Iran and the southwestern part of the US. Turquoise, which is also the 11th wedding anniversary gemstone, is plentiful and affordable.

An important stone in crystal healing, turquoise is thought to protect the (physical) body, help the chi flow and combat depression. It helps with communication and creativity and strengthens the immune system. It is also believed to bring friendship, courage, a long life, happiness and good luck.

Ruby

The popular Ruby is the birthstone for December in the Ayurvedic and Traditional system. In the modern, standardized list of birthstones, it is the stone for July, and it is also the 40th wedding anniversary gemstone as well as the zodiac birthstone for Capricorn. It is the red variety of the mineral corundum (a crystalline form of aluminum oxide) – all other corundum colors are called sapphires. The red color is the result of the (natural) addition of chromium, and colors range from light pink to deep red. Most rubies are heat treated to bring out richer color and more clarity, and the darker the color, the more valuable the stone. It is an expensive gemstone (several thousand dollars per carat for top-notch stones) – a ruby bracelet owned by Marlene Dietrich sold at Sotheby’s in 1992 for $990,000 (it was admittedly jawdroppingly stunning, but still!).

Ruby stimulates the heart chakra and is said to protect the heart from emotional suffering, aid in making wise decisions, promote happiness, a positive outlook, and ideal relationships. It is also thought to help with detoxification, eye problems, heart conditions, remove infections in the blood, reduce nightmares and depression and ward off evil spirits.

Whew, that was a lot of information! Let’s move on to the visual part of this post – my handpicked selection of some of my favorite December birthstone jewelry:

Collage by Charms Guide

1. Sterling silver charm with Turquoise, Rhodonite, Mother-of-Pearl, Sugilite, and Malachite inlay. By Carolyn Pollack

2. Sterling silver and turquoise charm necklace by Dogeared

3. Sterling silver and ruby heart charm from Blue Nile

4. Sterling silver bead charm with silver and Tanzanite heart dangle by Lovelinks® by Aagaard

5. Sterling silver necklace with silver key and Blue Topaz charm by Fifilabonge

6. 14k gold and blue zircon Mother and child charm from Reeds Jewelers

7. 18k gold, topaz and onyx evil eye charm from Links of London USA

8. Charm necklace with gold dipped flower and faceted Blue Topaz from Simply Brie Designs

9. Sterling silver and blue topaz baby shoe charm from Netaya

10. Rose gold, turquoise and Swarowski crystal charm bracelet by Jaidan Designs

All content © Charms Guide


Lovelinks – Another Brand Of European Charm Bracelets

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Lovelinks is another brand of European charm bracelets, very similar in style both to the Chamilia and Pandora bracelet. Like Pandora, Lovelinks jewellery originated in Denmark and the official name is Lovelinks by Aagaard.

The business was started in the small village of Svendborg in 1946 by Jens Aagaard, and the collection consisted of only a few pieces – so few that they all fit in a cigar box!

But the Aagaard company grew in leaps and bounds, and today, they have 150 employees and their jewelry can be found in many countries. They have several different lines of jewelry in addition to Lovelinks: Lovedesign, where you get to design your own rings, Living2gether (rings), Connections (pendants that also works as locks and connectors), Mary (silver and gold jewelry), Eternity (delicate gold and silver pieces with a flowerlike-design element), Isabella (silver and gold again, this time with little hearts), to name a few. They are also always partnering up with different designers to create new lines and products.

The Lovelinks line includes two “sub-divisions”: Lovelinks Petit, which are pieces designed especially for younger women and girls, and Blog, a charm bracelet collection for men.

The regular Lovelinks line consists of several varieties of bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The Lovelinks beads are made from sterling silver, 14k gold, vermeil, and Murano glass. Some have “dangles”, but most don’t.

Lovelinks Petit are of the same quality, but the beads are a little bit smaller and lighter, and the designs more “girly”. Note that because they are smaller, the petit charms will not fit on a standard Lovelinks bracelet.

The bracelets and necklaces in the Lovelinks Blog line are made from leather, rubber and oxidized silver, and the charms are, with a few exceptions, made from Sterling silver, and definitely more on the “manly” side – weapons, skulls, wood (I really like those), sports-related, etc.


Photos: Aagaard

How do they differ from Pandora and Chamilia beads?
Lovelinks bracelets do not have threads but two “pods” which serve the same function as the threaded parts on a Pandora bracelet. The Lovelinks charms stay in place when you position them around one of these pods, because they have a rubber lining that keeps them there – no locks needed. The lining does not cause a problem on other bracelets – the core is large enough that they fit just fine on the Pandora, Troll beads and Chamilia bracelet (as well as those from Biagi beads, Bacio, and Tedora). They also tend to be a bit less costly than Pandora and Chamilia.

Here is one that I put together, and the final tab was $475 – not bad at all! (To see it larger, click on it – it will open in a new window).

With all the European bead-style bracelets on the market, it is not easy to know where to begin or what works with what. Hopefully, this mini-series on the different brands will help you decide on which direction to go, and which bracelet to start out with.