Being part of a special occasion

It’s a sunny summer day, we’re allowed to have (very limited) numbers of clients in the studio again, and graduation is hovering around the corner for a lot of people! I was reminded of a special commission that I took on awhile ago, and thought I’d share that with you this month.

Doing a PhD is a big thing. I’m not sure about other disciplines, but in biology, it’s 4-7 years of your life, hundreds of hours of lab experiments, successes, duds and, at times, frantic nail biting. Not to mention all the writing, reading, trying to network , coming up with new research ideas, wondering what you’re going to do with your future career…..well, you get the idea. So, when you successfully finish and defend your thesis, it’s definitely a milestone to be celebrated. I felt pretty honoured to be commissioned to make a special PhD completion/leaving gift.

Sterling silver, blue needled felt, and a fluorescence microscopy image that served as some inspiration.

You can read a little bit about it here. Basically, the brief was to make a stem cell pendant, as understanding some of the mechanisms and regulation of stem cells (self-replenishing cells that have the ability to differentiate into other cells types-see more here if you are interested!) was part of the research in question.

I wanted it to have some depth, I wanted to incorporate coloured felt, and I wanted it to have some texture. I specifically wanted to incorporate blue, you see, because when you image cells, you frequently use a fluorescent dye called DAPI which stains the nucleus (the repository of your DNA, among other things! :), and looks blue when you look at the cells down the fluorescent microscope.

I started with some small discs that I punched out to make space for the felt “nuclei”, textured with a subtle line texture to vaguely represent microstructure in the “cells”, and then domed them.

Next was the fun of trying to fit them all together and attach them. An actual ball was a bit too much, but I still wanted the impression of a ball of cells. This was what I ended up with!

Next, I attached a simple jump ring bail so it would go on a chain, and inserted the felt, to get the final piece!

Like I said, it was so nice to be involved in helping celebrate a woman’s achievement in STEM research! Looking for a special gift for that graduand in your life? Or for yourself? Visit or contact the studio, and see what we can do for you!

In the meantime, enjoy your sunny Saturday, and stay safe!

-Robin

House of Cassady

The Deal with Real

“Is this real or fake?” is a big question in jewellery.  There are a number of answers, and without a little knowledge about how gemstones are made and sold, you can feel like you are being taken for a ride.   Jewellers use terms like Genuine, Mined, Imitation, Simulated, Synthetic, and Lab-grown, Enhanced.  Once you have a general understanding of the choices available for gems in the market, you will be able to make the best choice for yourself.

I have been thinking about this a lot, and have decided to break down the terminology using popstars. 

Imagine one of the biggest stars of all time is called “Sapphire”.   They’ve also had success as “Ruby”, but their real name, given at birth, is “Corundum”.  So, it’s Corundum on their driver’s license, but Sapphire on some albums, and Ruby on other albums.  Same popstar.  People cannot get enough, so Sapphire/Ruby is EVERYWHERE.  Concerts sell out, streams are prolific, and even impersonators make a good living at tribute shows.  In fact, this star is SO popular and versatile, that scientists find a way to use Corundum’s dna to make clones, so all of Corundum’s original talents can come through in Sapphire and Ruby shows all over the world at the same time.  Billions of people are happy, and anyone wanting to go to a show has some decisions to make.

Genuine or Mined – The real thing, made in nature.  This would be the original artist, rocking out for fans who paid top price for the thrill of saying they were there.  They bought a ticket for genuine, they get genuine.

Imitation or Simulated – Not the real thing, but looks close to it.  These are the impersonators, the tributes, who might be a spitting image, but do not share dna with the original artist, so cannot claim to be the original artist.  The shows are billed as imitation, so there is no trickery here.  This is a great option for people who want to enjoy the talent, but do not have the cash or desire for a big-budget show.   

Synthetic or Lab-grown – The real thing, made in a lab.  Basically the clones, with all of the same genetic make-up as the original artist.  The obvious choice for Corundum clones is to perform as Sapphire or Ruby, doing a fantastic, maybe even better show, but at lower ticket prices than a show with the genuine artist.  Are they real? Yes.  Are they genuine? No.  As long concert-goers know they are watching genetic clones, and the quality is same or better, they are thrilled.  In fact, the clones are so talented and versatile and available, that they also work as imitators in completely different tribute shows.  You might find a synthetic Corundum working as an Alexandrite impersonator, or a synthetic Spinel working as a Ruby impersonator.  This is where the answer to “is it real or fake” can get complicated, but as long as the person buying the ticket understands what they are getting, everyone has a great time.

Enhanced – A treatment that has been applied to improve quality.  This is like autotune, and can be used on any of the above, in a subtle way to add value, or in an over-the-top way for a specific effect.

In the jewellery world, designers think about all of these options when making a piece.  We use aesthetic, budget, and availability to choose the best gem for the job, so the piece you see is the piece we meant it to be, in all its beauty.  If you would like to know more about any of our pieces, just ask!

“Hey Poppy!” pendant with synthetic sapphire as
Alexandrite, the birthstone for June.
Handmade by Frekkel Designs
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