It’s Good to be in Knots

Through the pandemic, much cleaning was done.  Many boxes discovered, and their treasures revealed.  Treasures like old rings (too small), brooches (too outdated), and necklaces (too broken).  You may, like me, have wondered why treasure chests in the old movies always seemed to have loose gems in them.  I think many people these days have similar stashes because they simply do not know what to do with broken jewellery.  

Over the last few decades, there have been literally tons of silverware and ornate jewellery deemed gaudy by heirs, and melted down for money.  Diamonds get reset into new engagement rings.  But what about pearls?  How do you know if they are real, if they are worth anything? Do they need to be treated in a special way, and what can you do with them?

1. Real pearls have a subtle, grainy texture.  Experts will look for clues like seams to give away mold lines in plastic beads, or chipped paint, or impossible likeness and symmetry, but they will admit there is one simple test that is almost fail-safe.  Your teeth.  If you gently rub a pearl against your natural front tooth (my dad has dentures so this doesn’t work), you will feel, sort of a sandy, or grainy texture that you will not feel with glass or plastic.

2.  The value of pearls can be obtained by an appraiser.  They may fetch a shockingly low price, or a shockingly high price.  There are many, many factors.  These days, climate change has meant that many sizes or locations of pearls cannot be found the way they were long ago, so large natural pearls are very precious.  Technology has given us higher quality pearls from locations unheard of long ago, so cultured pearls do not demand the same respect they once did.  My best measure of worth is sentimental value minus monetary value.  Some pieces that everything to you, might mean nothing to someone else. Or the opposite.

3.  I’ve written about how to care for pearls in another post.  When it comes to how pearls should be used in jewellery, it’s about knots, and glue.  The knots you see in your old necklaces are used to protect the pearls from rubbing against each other, and to stop the pearls from running free if the strand breaks.  There are a few ways to attach a clasp, but higher quality pieces are usually threaded in a special way that can only be changed by restringing the entire strand.

4.  A professional jewellery/goldsmith can come up with 100 ways to repair and reuse your pearl jewellery.  My favourite way is to replace a plain clasp with something more interesting/modern, and restring a piece you will actually enjoy.

At Jewel Envy, we can walk you through all of your options, including answering your “what if’s” and “what about’s”. We specialize in mixing old with new, and creating new pieces out of your chest of treasures.


I’ve had a couple of serendipitous encounters recently, so I thought I’d share the story of one of them with you this week. A lady came in a while ago, wanting a special 80th birthday present for a relative, including the brithstones of all the grandchildren. Now, this can sometimes be a tricky proposition, given the range of colours birthstones have, but luckily, the colours here worked nicely together!

Right, so that wasn’t the serendipity. The serendipity was that the woman happened to mention that the recipient was a quilter. How amazing-so am I! So, I immediately thought of some very classic quilt block patterns, particularly the star block, which I thought might lend itself well to including a number of stones (nice to be exact!).

There are alot of different styles, but here are a few variations. We settled on a basic sawtooth block style. Here’s the finished pendant:

It was a bit challenging to do such small cutouts (the stones are all about 1.5mm in diameter), but well worth it in the end! I love the fact that it has meaning for the recipient on more than one level, and our customer was really pleased with it! I also loved the fact that my unique knowlege allowed me to be able to suggest the design.

Anyway, that’s my story for this week! Happy Hallowe-en (or whatever other day you celebrate at this time of year :).


House of Cassady


In between custom, redesigns and repairs I have been experimenting with creating micromosaic pieces of jewellery. I started using glass that was gifted to me after my uncle passed and I initially had more than enough colours to create some patterns and shapes after completing the metal work on them. The experimenting made me realize that larger pieces of glass work nicer, but I remain excited about the outcome of my first batch of pieces because my bomb metal work makes up for my short fallings in laying out the micromosaics. Enjoy a few pics taken during a shoot with my sister!

– Alexis

Micromosaic earrings and necklace by Alexis Kostuk of glaciale goldsmith
Micromosaic ring by Alexis Kostuk of glaciale goldsmith
Micromosaic earrings and necklace by Alexis Kostuk of glaciale goldsmith


It’s never too early to start thinking about holiday shopping, in my opinion! In fact, I’ve managed to start collecting little stocking stuffer things, and putting some thought into gifts I want to give this year. In fact, this is a bit late for me, I often start in June or July. I don’t buy that many gifts, but I’ll admit that I find the bite to the pocket book easier to manage over time!!

I mention it, because it’s also never too early to think about gifts if you want to order a custom piece, or even a tailored piece from the collections offered by our goldsmiths. You can find something to suit most budgets, and it’s a great time to think about it at the moment, with the SHOP West Toronto 2 Win promotion that is happening at the moment.

What’s that, you say? It’s a chance to win $500 each week until the beginning of November, when you spend a minimum of $25 at participating outlets (including Jewel Envy!), and if you enter at least 3 weeks, there’s a grand prize of $2000 up for grabs too! Check it out in store, and browse the collections.

I’ll leave you with this pretty picture for your viewing delight!

Amorph brooch by Edna Milevsky, sterling silver, 14kt yellow gold and pearls

Have a great weekend!


What do fall and gemstones have in common?

Fall colours are beautiful for their differences.  I once flew east over Canada at this time if the year.  The steady red sea of fiery maples was breathtaking, but for the most part, I enjoy how the yellows, greens, reds and oranges vibrate together along autumn country roads.  

The stones of October have similar traits – modest hues, variety, and gorgeous, breathtaking beauty.

Traditionally, Opal has been the October stone.  Its silica and 10 percentage of water brings out lovely colours the way a good rain before a sunny day brings out a rainbow over a fall feast of foliage.  We know White Opal, but there are also the deep greens and blues of Black Opal, and NOTHING does red or orange like Fire Opal.

In modern times, we also consider Tourmaline an October stone.  Most birthstone displays will show a pale pink sparkler, but Tourmaline can show an array of pinks, browns, greens, yellows, blues, and even combinations within a stone.  

Here at Jewel Envy, we can show you absolutely beautiful October stones, or find something specific to meet your wishes.  And don’t forget, we are offering $25 surprise gifts with a genuine gem in each one.  You may even score a diamond!

It’s definitely autumn!

As someone pointed out to me this morning, it’s a lovely day, but it’s definitely that characteristic fall weather where you have to layer, and you’re cold in the morning and evening, and roasting at midday!

Autumn always makes me think of the changing colours of the trees-the beautiful reds, oranges, yellows and yes, even the browns. I think that’s one of the things I missed most when I was in the UK-the fall colours there are just not as spectacular, and the change in weather is not as dramatic.

So, in honour of leaves, here’s a wee curated collection of leaf-inspired pieces!

Inspired by leaves? Come in and have a look at what we have, or commission your very own vision of a leaf and fall!

Don’t forget that the Shop West Toronto 2 Win promotion is on now, any purchase over $25 allows you to enter, and Gillian has created a cute package of mystery gemstones (including a salt and pepper diamond), along with a small polishing cloth and loop, just for this occasion!

Also, we just love visitors! Come browse and say hi at the Blue House (after all, the holidays will be here before you know it–never too early to start your shopping!).

Happy Saturday!


House of Cassady

Work In Progress – Diese Ist (Mein) Opa

By Alex Kinsley Vey

Oscar Vey, London Ontario

Recently I’ve been invited to participate in an exhibition with the theme and title Memento Mori. The usual tropes are skulls, hair, references to time, but I decided to respond to this theme in a less direct way.

My Opa (Grandpa in German) was unfortunately a man I never got to know well while he was alive. He passed away in 2012, and suffered a stroke shortly after I was born which made it incredibly difficult for us to communicate. As I’ve gotten older I’ve regretted that we were never able to talk much.

Well after his passing I began to learn more and more about the man he was, the things he liked and disliked, and trials and tribulations both during and after the Second World War.

Memento Mori made me think of my Opa, all the black and white pictures of him in his youth, frozen in time, and how eventually that will be me, only surviving through memory and photography.

Oscar Vey, early 1990’s
And yours truly rocking the bowl-cut

I decided to memorialize him and create work that acts as a reminder that when we pass all that is left are pictures and memories. By taking these images of him, translating them into a solid wearable form, I hope to remember his life, and process my own eventual death.

I’ve begun by creating paper mockups glued to left over steel sheet. This allows me to play with size, see how they interact with the body when worn, and play around in Photoshop with different colours or oxides.
Cut out to size!
On the body!

This series of work is still very much in progress, but I thought it would be fun to share! The next step will be to create the final etchings on steel. Decide on a framing system for the brooch findings. And to finalize how I will treat the steel once it’s been etched.

Hoard Jewels, Lucifleurr and Tess – One and the same!

Hello! I am Tess, and I can’t wait to make your acquaintance!

I am the creator of Hoard Jewels, a jewellery line that focuses on the macabre beauty of myths and legends, with an emphasis on balancing the light with the dark.
Check out the instagram for some sneak peeks on the new line!

On top of that, three days I week I log into and livestream my goldsmithing experience. What happens on these streams?  Viewers have the chance to experience the entire jewellery making process from the design stage, through wax carving, casting and ending with a finished product.  Viewers have the opportunity to ask questions about the process, and learn about the different materials used.  Viewers range from at-home goldsmiths to crafting moms with a hint of curiosity about the wonderful world of goldsmithing. 
Check out the page for more information!

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