Getting Inspiration from Insects

Hello Jewel Envy readers,

Today I wanted to share some of the projects I have been working on while Covid-19 has been keeping me out of the studio and talk a little bit about one of my greatest sources of inspiration, insects. I think one of the reasons I am so drawn to insects is because of how small and detailed they are, in that way they have a lot in common with jewellery. With the weather getting warmer I’ve been seeing more and more insects out and about which is giving me lots of inspiration, but since I haven’t been able to get into the studio I can’t translate my inspiration into my usual medium of jewellery. So below are a couple of projects that have been keeping me busy.

Rock Painting: I got into this trend because I’ve been seeing painted rocks around the neighbourhood when I walk my dogs. I’ve been really enjoying sitting outside when the weather is nice and painting little creatures on rocks. It’s a really meditative process and it provides more immediate gratification than making jewellery. Above is the inspiration for this rock, a Calligrapha Leaf Beetle and my quick painted version. I love the gold colour and intricate pattern of this beetle to me he already looks almost like a piece of jewellery.

Planning a Future Project: I’ve been working on this piece off and on for a couple of months and with all this newfound down time I keep taking out the pieces and laying them out and making adjustments to my plan for when I can get back to the studio and finish it. This picture is from the last time I laid all the pieces out and tried a few antenna shapes before settling on what I already had. I found the Blister Beetle (fun fact they’re called this because the excrete a liquid that burns and blisters flesh) in the picture above last spring and have been wanting to make one ever since because of the iridescent blue colour and segmented antennae that reminded me of ancient granulated jewellery.

Mosaicing: This has been my long term project since the pandemic first started. Its a mosaic of the well known and beautiful luna moth. I do a fair bit of mosaicing in my free time (its a shared family hobby) and last summer I did my first moth. I still had some of these wooden butterfly cutouts from the dollar store laying around and decided to do another moth and I had the perfect colours for a luna moth. I combined the existing cutout with some popsicle sticks to create the tails. This guy is still a work in progress and I plan to use my jewellery skills to fabricate a pair of antennae out of wire as the final touch once he’s finished.

I hope my sharing these projects has given you a little insight into how I use my inspiration. In times like these art is a great outlet and source of distraction. Take care everyone

-Skye

Barcelona

Gaudi Architecture in Barcelona (and me, Jerell Reichert).

My passion is metalsmithing.  

Last summer I had the opportunity to travel for the first time in a long time.

I had planned to go to Italy. Florence in particular. I love their craftsmanship. Handmade Jewellery, Flame working, and Glassblowing in Italy is incredible. On investigating my trip, I found out that Florence, with its charming old streets, and ancient ruins, is not a good place for someone with mobility issues. Rome and Milan were also more accessible.

On researching the most accessible destinations, Barcelona was at the top of the list.

While it had the historic areas and neighbourhoods, there was enough modern structures and streets to make the trip less intimidating.

I loved the sound of Barcelona. A jewellery teacher of mine from George Brown, studied goldsmithing there, my nephew did a semester at business school there, and my neighbour exports wines from Barcelona to restaurants in Canada.  

I has heard that Barcelona had interesting art and good food.

It was more than a perfect city to visit. I spent 8 days in the city and I feel like it is an adopted city. Instead of moving to many different places, I signed up for tours and events.

I did everything I wanted to nurture my soul. I realized that traveling is a way for one to express who they are, or have it revealed to them.

What do you like, what brings you joy? I went to markets and galleries. Saw Old Masters, Mid Century Hero’s like Picasso and Dali paintings and his Jewellery. I went to cooking classes and churches.

And of course, shopping.

I bought the greatest clothing and shoes. leathers, high fashion and handbags

Is this what being authentic is?  Finding out what is at the core of you’re being and going after what you are interested in?

What do you what to spend your days doing?  What you want to be? What do you want to achieve in life?

Leaf Brooches by Urban Metal handmade by Jerell Reichert. Each piece is one of a kind.

I think about the times when I followed my passions and I was so happy and successful in my job.  Other times, when I followed the path that other people followed; if it was good for them it was good for me. The biggest mistakes of my life were because I was following someone else’s dream. Even if it was their dream for me, it was not the right dream.

When I look back at my life, coming up with interesting ideas in business, marketing, strategic alliances/partners, fundraising and jewellery making have always been my passion.

I guess it is no surprise that I am a marketer, goldsmith and gemologist, and always have a new idea! – Jerell Reichert

Necklace by Urban Metal handmade by Jerell Reichert.

What’s on my bench this month?

I really enjoy taking on custom work, for a variety of reasons.  Not least is, for the most part, it’s fun to interact with clients, helping them bring a vision they have to life, as well as stretching creative brain cells on new designs.  Especially as they’re often pieces that I wouldn’t just decide to come up with on my own, or they include technical challenges that are fun to tinker with.

I don’t often use very large stones, so this one was fun for that, plus I really enjoyed coming up with additional touches to really make this a one of a kind piece!

This pendant carrier was a technical challenge for me, there were two key things it had to do: be completely removeable, and have the capability to carry a pendant, or not.

My current challenge is actually a jewellery redesign.  My client acquired this great multi-diamond ring for a good price from an estate dealer, with the idea that she would reuse the components (stones and gold) to make a new ring, and I have the great pleasure to bring a new piece to life!

Multi-diamond ring on a thin gold band- bit too weddingy, but a good re-use of materials for a new design!

Our interaction started with a world of possibility, but after a bit of discussion, she decided that she really liked this ring shape that she already had in silver.

sterling silver wave ring

So, I set off to do some ideas of how to place the stones, and came up with a few different ideas:

We’ve come to an agreement about which is the preferred design, and now I’m on to carving the wax.  I could fabricate the design directly in metal, but the wax is more forgiving, and also allows for design changes before making the final piece.  The flexibility casting allows makes it a good choice, not only for pieces where the design is a bit more sculptural in nature, but also where there’s some possibility that the design needs to be modified before making the final piece.

Watch this space for an update sometime soon! 

Like I said, I really enjoy taking on custom work, contact me at the studio to start a discussion about that piece you’re harbouring a desire for in your secret heart!

Enjoy the long weekend, and stay healthy!

Robin (House of Cassady).

A Rock worth a Billion.

Dear Torontonians,

Have you ever wondered about that giant rock that sits in the middle of Yorkville? I have, and my curiosity got me googling. Given my natural love of rocks and all things formed in nature – I had the following questions:

  • where is it from?
  • why is it here?
  • how old is it?
  • what is it?
  • how much did we (Toronto) pay for it?

I’ve got answers!

It turns out that the urban park where the Yorkville Rock resides, marks the lot lines where historic Victorian houses used to exist. These houses were demolished in the 1950s to make way for the Bloor subway line. The former residents allowed the city to make way for the future, but were firm that they wanted a park to be built over top of the subway station. It took about 40 years, but eventually, the city kept its promise and the urban park was brought to life.

The City of Toronto hired architect Olesand Worland to create a park to befit the context and history of the Ontario. Although Toronto offered trees and flowers a plenty, there was nothing that could represent Ontario’s most extensive landscape. So he proposed to move a chunk of the Canadian Shield – whose rounded rocks are some of the oldest on earth. The granite outcrop would have to be transported from Gravenhurst to Toronto, in pieces, on 20 flat bed trailers. The rocks are approximately one billion years old, weigh 650 tons, and would cost about $300,000. This entire process would cost the city more than a quarter of a million dollars.

After much expected ridicule and outrage, the project was carried out and completed. It has since received widespread acclaim from architects and users alike, who enjoy the ancient mountain range right in the heart of the city. Thank you Olesand!

Yorkville Rock

There you have it neighbors. Next time you are taking a stroll in Yorkville (post COVID 19, of course), buy yourself an ice cream cone, coffee, or whatever you fancy, and have a seat on a piece of the Canadian Shield. After all, the “Yorkville Rock” is the product of a promise kept to the Torontonians that parted with their Victorian homes, to allow for the city of Toronto to grow. This came with one condition – that this urban park would come to life for the generations of the future to enjoy. So lets enjoy it 🙂

Happy climbing,

Jessica

Art challenger on social media

A couple of weeks ago, The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which is famous for its large collections of European paintings, sculptures and other works of art challenge to recreate a work of art with objects and people at home. The rules were simple: Choose your favorite work of art, use things from your house to recreate it, take a picture and share it on social media.

The public response came in the hundreds, then the thousand, of creative and funny remarks. And, it has not stopped yet.

The creativity of people has been well known for hundred of years.  During the Second World War, the women were called to work in the factories because the men were on the front lines, and the powdered milk to feed babies was invented!

Practically no one who is alive today had lived a confinement like the one we are experiencing now. Only a couple of weeks were enough to admire what humanity is capable of creating with color, objects, light, including animals.

I will show case few great examples of human imaginations at its best!

The Milkmaid. Johannes Vermeer



Lady with Fan by Gustav Klimt (1917-1918)




Girl with The Pearl Earring, is an oil painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer, dated c. 1665.

Nothing like art as an expression of beauty in all its forms, painting, sculpture, literature, jewelry and much more.

Jewel Envy and all its team wish you a Happy Mother’s Day

Take care, be safe!

Helena

Visiting Kobe Pearl Museum

Hi everyone,

Hope you guys all doing well. Today I would like to bring you to Kobe city in Japan. Kobe, the city of Pearls, is renowned for its processing of pearls. Did you know 70% of the world’s pearl circulation takes place here?

I had a chance to trip to Kobe two years ago and I accidentally run into this tiny museum. This museum is very small but covers a century of Akoya pearl farming and story of Kobe’s history with pearls in easily understandable manner.

A Pearl Tree featuring the fantastic 10,000 grain shine Akoya pearl. The trees illuminated from above and below are like huge chandeliers. It took over 3 months handcrafted one by one.

Pearls are formed an irritant, such as a piece of sand becomes lodged in the shell of an oyster. Sensing the object, the oyster deposits layers of a substance called “nacre” around the intruder, where it builds up over time. it takes years to create a pearl of decent size.

This is a model of the cages that cultivating Akoya oyster in the sea

Quality matching is very important for necklaces, earrings, brooches etc. No matter how good the quality of each pearl may be, if matching is poor, the value of merchandise decrease dramatically.

Pearl jewelry are always classic,elegant and sophisticated , have been one of the most popular and meaningful gifts. Don’t forget Pearls are birthstone for those born in June and the gemstone for the 30th wedding anniversary.

Thanks for reading. Stay healthy.

Hyewon

Artists of Influence…

Terhi Tolvanen

Continuing on with my contribution to the blog last month, today we’re looking at another artist who’s work I find very inspiring. Terhi Tolvanen is a well known contemporary jewellery artist from Finland, who has been creating work for over 20 years.

I find her work interesting because of her use of organic materials, and the obvious influence the natural world has on her aesthetic, but also because she sometimes subverts the material, almost turning it on it’s head, to look somewhat mechanical. Evidence of the hand is always present, albeit naturally, without it being heavy handed (excuse the pun).

Within her process, the material directs the outcome of the work, which is something I really identify with in my own experience. Whatever ideas we might have coming in to a process, in terms of concept or design, inevitably the nature of the material dictates what is possible, and where you can take it.

All images from Terhi’s website

Karyn

Resurrecting my blog…

Lately I have been busy behind the scenes trying to reintegrate my old blog onto my website. Luckily there is a blog section… but unlucky for me it means having to transfer each post I made in the past 10 years over one by one, yay! Thankfully I was not a very prolific blogger, however I was extremely active back in 2011 apparently. I included pics grabbed from some of my favourite past post. And if you can’t get enough you can visit to see more!

Here you can see a trio of resin rings I created in 2010. These were just at the beginning of me exploring with resin, so there are quite a few resin posts after this one!
This is one of my past custom pieces that I am most proud and excited to see; it combines a Fleur-de-Lis and Ankh symbol to indicate both her and her partner’s heritage.
I had completely forgotten about creating these! These were one first enamel pieces that I created as giveaways
I actually laughed when I saw this piece. It is hiding in my locker somewhere… I had intended it to be a pin but then wavered and thought about making it into a necklace… which lead to me put it away somewhere and never actually finishing it!
Another giveaway situation! I created several of these pins as a part of a swap for the Metal Arts Guild.
I created several posts about the Jewel Envy group show “Red.” Did I ever post images of all the completed pieces I made? (no!) Although there is this staged pic of one of three shield that I fabricated and something else to add onto my to-do list.

I hoped you enjoyed a bit of a trip down memory lane. If you end up browsing my blog let me know! If you have a favourite post also let me know!

Hope everyone is staying safe and sane out there.

Alexis

Emeralds – The Ultimate Green.

Natural emerald crystal in all its green glory.

May, my favourite month, because it’s my birth month, but also we get to talk about the most revered, green gemstone. Emerald is known to be the traditional birthstone for May and is the rich, vivid green variety of the mineral beryl that symbolizes the rebirth and renewal that comes with spring. Emeralds have a long history, with known records of mining dating back to 1500 BCE in Egypt. This was the primary source of emeralds for many years until the 1600’s when the Spanish invaded South America and discovered the source in Colombia. Today Colombia is still the primary source of emeralds with 50-95% of the world’s emerald production. Zambia is in second place and while emeralds are rare, they can be found worldwide. Even Canada is host to several small deposits of emerald in the Yukon.

Just like aquamarine, Emerald is identified as:

  • 1) Hexagon Crystal System, not to be confused with crystal habit. (Note, habit is how the mineral crystallizes)
  • 2) Silicate Composition, – Cyclosilicate Sub-class
  • 3) Silicate Family
  • 4) Mineral = Beryl – Be3Al2Si6O18
  • 5) Variety = Emerald. 

As stated before, the varieties of beryl aside from emeralds that you may know well are aquamarine (see March’s blog post for more), morganite (light pink/peach), and heliodor (golden yellow). However, there are other kinds as well such as goshenite (colourless), red beryl (deep red/crimson), green beryl (light lime to mint green) and mixixe (deep blue colour but fades to brown in daylight due to UV).

BVLGARI Emerald Suite – The Infamous Elizabeth Taylors Emeralds
The suite of emerald and diamond jewelry from the Italian jewelry house, Bulgari was a gift from Richard Burton, the result of several trips to the Bulgari boutique on the Via Condotti in Rome from 1962 – 1967. Necklace estimate: $1 million to $1.5 million; Pendant estimate: $500,000 – $700,000; Ring estimate: $600,000 – $800,000; Bracelet estimate: $300,000 – $500,000; Earrings estimate: $150,000- $200,000

How is emerald so green? Emerald, (derived from σμάραγδος or smaragdos; ancient greek for “green gem”, big surprise there) gets its colour from traces of chromium, vanadium and iron within the crystal structure. If you want a real head-scratcher, chromium is also responsible for the red colour of rubies. Interestingly this all comes down to how light interacts with chromium ions, chromium(III) to be specific, within the crystal lattice. Without getting too technical, when chromium is in the beryl it will absorb more of the violet and yellow-red wavelengths of visible light, thus we see green. With rubies, the chromium absorbs more of the blue-green and some yellow wavelengths and thus we see red. Vanadium on the other hand just gives you green and if iron is present, it can give the emerald a blue tinge.

Identifying and labelling the many degrees of green for emeralds. All of these above colours are emeralds with greater than 75% colour saturation. If the emerald colour is too light then the stone is classified as a green beryl. Unfortunately, when this happens the price drops significantly as well. However, there really is no difference between green beryl and emerald aside from colour intensity and can be a great substitute for an emerald if you want to keep it natural and in the family.

Ready for some REAL gemmology? With the high price of emeralds, there are many synthetics and imitations to watch out for when hunting for emeralds. First, some terminology needs to be explained, mainly the terms “natural”, “synthetic”, “imitation” and “treatment”. A natural gemstone refers to a stone made from the earth and is what most people desire/expect. A synthetic gemstone is an identical copy of a natural, just made by man. This means it has the same chemical formula and crystal structure as its natural counterpart. Ideally, the term “synthetic” should only be used if the man-made stone has a natural counterpart. If there is no counterpart, then this stone is referred to as an “imitation”. An imitation is a stone or material representing another stone. Imitations can be natural or synthetic and confuse many people. Cubic zirconia is one of the most common samples for imitating precious stones. Treatment or a treated stone is a natural stone that has been tampered by humans to improve colour saturation, clarity, and durability. There are many interesting ways we have discovered to help improve the natural beauty of precious stones.

A beautiful sample of a natural trapiche emerald, a rare crystal of emerald created by rapid crystallization. You can guarantee these emeralds are natural.

For emeralds, the most common treatment you will see is oiling, due to their clouded and brittle nature. Oiling is as the name suggests, the stone is placed in heated oil in a vacuum chamber and the oil is then drawn into the cracks of the stone. This helps increase the colour in pale stones and seal up fractures to improve the stone’s clarity and durability. Balsam and cedar oil are what is used for emerald treatment as the refractive index of the oils is similar to the refractive index of emerald, thus you can hide the fractures better. This is a common treatment with emeralds and is not always disclosed in the sale. Avoid using strong dish soap and ultrasonic washers if you want to wash your emerald jewellery.

Luckily for you, emeralds are highly desired that we even accept the impurities within them. This will include fractures, pockets, and other mineral inclusions. You will hear many refer to the impurities as the emeralds jardin; the garden within. With these impurities present, it is fairly easy to discern if you have a natural or not, as synthetic and imitation emeralds will appear internally flawless. A flawless gem is the most prized gem. Many of these features of the jardin can be seen with the naked eye or with a loupe. When it comes to synthetic stones, you’ll need a microscope to discern the origin of your emerald as you won’t have a jardin. If there is something in your synthetic stone you’ll know right away something is off. All gemstones leave clues as to how they formed within the crystal structure and carry trace element signatures. While the chemical signature is the best way to identify a stone’s origin you have to destroy a piece of your stone. I don’t think many people would be interested in having a hole in their $25,000 emerald to see if it’s natural or synthetic. Thus by using high powered microscopes and polarized light, gemmologists can see signatures as to how gemstones crystallized and your stone is left untouched. Synthetic emeralds are produced either through the flux method or hydrothermal method. These methods should be disclosed when selling synthetic/lab-created emeralds and if not, ask.

Natural vs Synthetic. On the left side are inclusions seen within synthetic stones. Notice how the bubbles are arranged to perfectly compared to the natural inclusions to the right. This is the result of the flux process for synthetic emeralds and contains water and flux additive. The natural incisions show something called three-phase inclusions. The cube you see is actually salt, the bubble carbon dioxide and the liquid is water, hence “three-phase”.
Evidence of Synthetic Origin: Microscopic examination is the best method for separating synthetic emeralds from natural emeralds. The photo above shows chevron-type growth zoning in a synthetic emerald grown by the hydrothermal method. Form Geology.com

If you’re buying emeralds or you’re not sure if the ones you have are natural emeralds, you’re best to seek professional help with a certified gemmologist to identify them or buy them for you. Otherwise, here are several tips to keep in mind if you happen to find yourself in the market to buy one.

Who’s who?: A collection of green faceted stones of various types. Most of them are not emerald. If you want a green gemstone, which one would you choose based upon colour and appearance?

Beginning in the back row at left – the name of the stone and its locality, carat weight, and the price that we paid:   1) chrome diopside from Russia, 1.16 carats ($11);   2) green quartz (dyed) from North Carolina, 2.6 carats ($8);   3) green tourmaline from Brazil, 0.77 carats ($58);   4) lab-created emerald manufactured by Chatham Created Gems, 0.23 carats ($37);   5) emerald from the Crabtree Mine, North Carolina, 0.50 carats ($80);   6) emerald from Colombia, 0.53 carats ($112);   7) tsavorite garnet from Tanzania, 0.68 carats ($105). From Geology.com.

First, most “emerald” you find will actually be imitations. Look at the name of the product. Always question something if you see anything attached to the name aside from “natural”. Many stone dealers will sell items with “emerald” in the title to make the stone more alluring. Under section § 23.26 of the Federal Trade Commission’s Summary of Basis and Purpose for the Revised Jewelry Guides, it states that “It is unfair or deceptive to mark or describe an industry product with the incorrect varietal name”. Titles like “emerald tourmaline”, “emerald quartz” or “yellow emerald” and “emerald colour” should raise suspicion right away. Another example is if there is a name in front other than a location, “Soude emerald” is one example of emerald coloured glass, a common cheap imitation. After looking at the name, look at the price. Emeralds are not cheap and if you think you’re getting an amazing deal for a clean stone with vivid colour, it’s probably not a real emerald. Even synthetic emeralds are more costly than natural imitations like tourmaline, diopside and dyed quartz. Third, if you are buying emeralds in jewellery, check the metal and surrounding stones if there are some. It’s not worth it to set an emerald in plated metal and with cubic zirconias, you end up greatly devaluing your emerald that way. Finally, if you are buying rough emeralds in bulk or individual specimens check your stones and always buy from a well-reviewed source. Look for a hexagonal prism shape or something to give you an indication of 6-fold symmetry in your crystals.

While these are just some quick pointers for general interest if you are interested in more information I suggest some of the links and books below. 

  • https://www.gia.edu/emerald
  • GIA encyclopedia page for emeralds. Very friendly for just starting to understand gemstones with links to countless articles about emerald mines, unique specimens, emerald history and more
  • Gemmology by Peter read – A gemmologist bible, make sure to look for the latest addition as there is always new information to be added to textbooks. This book covers ALL the gemstones as well as how to use the tools to identify naturals, synthetics and imitations. Warning this book is very technical. 
  • Jewels: a secret history by Victoria Finlay – an excellent read into the history and lore behind some of the more renowned gemstones. The author also has a great book about the history of pigment and colour.

Stay tuned for next month as we discuss pearls… or moonstone or alexandrite. One of those stones or June. 

Peter

Jewellery from Forbidden City

As a Chinese, I am really obsessed with traditional Chinese jewellery. Today, I am going to show some amazing pieces from The Palace Museum.

Beginning with a little background of Forbidden City 故宫. Forbidden City was the former Chinese imperial palace from Ming to Qing dynasty, between 1420 and 1924. Now it becomes a museum, which known as the Palace Museum. All the jewellery below are the collections from the Palace Museum. Most of them were belong to the empresses or imperial consorts. Jewellery from Ming and Qing dynasty, often made with gold or jade, combining with all kinds of precious and semi precious stones. Most of the jewellery has a pattern that related to happiness, auspicious, thriving, prosperous, etc., to represent the good wishes.

Gold Hairpin with Semi-precious Stones
https://en.dpm.org.cn/collections/collections/2011-01-20/596.html

This hairpin is from Qing dynasty (1644-1911). In the centre is the Chinese character for longevity. Gold filigree creates five fungi, together forms a plum blossom. Each fungus inlaid with red tourmaline. Blue kingfisher feathers were applied to add rich colour. This is a very typical Qing dynasty jewellery.

White Jade Hairpin with Openwork Fish Design and Gemstone Inlay
https://en.dpm.org.cn/collections/collections/2019-08-26/5772.html

In this hairpin, it focus on details of the natural world. Lotus and fish are homophonous with the concept of successive years of abundance.

Gold Ring with Pearl and Gemstones
https://www.dpm.org.cn/collection/jade/232576.html

The pearl set in a six prong setting, in the middle of the gold ring. Ruby and jade carved in a bat shape. Bat is homophonous with endless happiness.

Agarwood with gold inlay bangles
https://www.dpm.org.cn/collection/jewelry/231935.html

Two bangles were made with agarwood, with gold inlay. The gold granulation forms in the Chinese character for longevity. The bangles could use to drive out the evil spirts.

Five-Phoenixes Coronet inlaid with Kingfisher Feathers and Jewels
https://www.dpm.org.cn/collection/jewelry/230986.html

This coronet is framed by iron wire and paperboard. Surface desin made by black silk threads with kingfisher feathers. Five gold filigree phoenixes inlaid with pearls. Tassels were made with pearl, coral, turquoise, lazurite, ruby and sapphire. This luxury ornament is for empresses, and only worn on festive occasions and traditional holidays.

Hope you enjoy these incredible pieces. All the informations and pictures are from the Palace Museum website (https://en.dpm.org.cn).

Vera