The best-smelling, cleanest, most beautiful, put-together people you can imagine, usually have the grimiest jewellery repairs.
Without getting too graphic, let me remind you of what the tops of sunblock bottles, hand lotion tubes, and jars of face creams look like, right around the edges, where air dries out the build-up. You got it.
These same products get up under watchstraps, diamond settings, earring backs, and absolutely everywhere. The oil that makes them so great for moisturizing, also makes them great for sticking. To jewellery. And for collecting every speck of dust, dander or dna to form enough layers, that one may wonder if the wearer had taken a pottery class recently. But it’s not recent at all. Much the same as the the product containers I’ve mentioned, the buildup is slow. If people realise at all, it’s usually not until they are getting a piece back from their jeweller, and noticing how much bigger their cleaned diamond looks, or how shiny everything is. Only the goldsmith knows what was in there, and they will never tell.
Other culprits of jewellery harassment are perfume and hairspray. Along with the products mentioned above, these items can be assassins when it comes to your favourite pieces, especially for pearls. Each layer of nacre that gives a pearl lustre, strength, and beauty, is a delicious lunch for the oils and chemicals in beauty products. Without proper care and timing, pearls will become dulled or even distorted, and need replacement.
I say all of this, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There is lots and lots of advice online about cleaning your jewellery, and a lot of it is pretty good. However, if you don’t know how it becomes dirty/damaged, or you don’t know what you have, you risk anything from wasted money/effort, to further damage.
Here are a couple of safe, preventative measures that could save you and your jeweller, some stress, money, and heartache:
1. Last to put on, first to come off. If you wait to put on your jewellery (especially pearls!!!) until at least 10 minutes after your last poof of perfume, slather of sunblock, or hiss of hairspray, your pieces will be OVER the dried product, instead of UNDER it. When it’s time to wash or change, remove the jewellery first, to avoid soaps, make-up removers, creams, etc.
2. Gentle maintenance. Warm water on a soft, damp cloth, or a very soft baby toothbrush, then dried with another soft cloth, can be just enough to keep products from building up and causing trouble.
3. Get friendly with a goldsmith. One of the many things goldsmiths are good at, is troubleshooting. If you show us a ring that seems to be catching on your favourite sweater, we will show you where the prongs have worn down to the point which you are about to lose your diamond. Before that happens though, most of us are happy to give your pieces a quick once-over and let you know what you’ve got and how to take care of it. Just ask!
Bottom line – If you are putting a lot into being beautiful, make sure your jewellery stays beautiful too!
The morning of my first in person Art show happened a week ago and I cannot be more thankful for having participated in an in person gathering that felt safe and got me talking to more people than what felt like more interactions in the last year combined. Check out the my work here.
I am resisting the urge to be negative about my lack of social media build promoting I could have done to bolster activity and instead choosing to celebrate that I pushed through my anxiety about participating in person and being so extremely grateful to all the friends and family that helped me set up and kept me company <3
I’m doing retail this week, but I’ve managed to fit in a bit of work in between visitors, so I spent some time setting stones in this pendant I’ve been working on. I thought I’d share some process pics.
pendant mounted to start the setting-when stone setting, you need to immobilise the piece. I like to use this thermoplastic (which is reusable), it holds nicely, and it is easy to work with.
checking the fit and arrangement of the stones
The final pendant! I used London blue topaz (I love that smoky darker blue!), and green peridot. Now I just have to figure out a chain for it!
Hello from the Big Blue House in Roncy on this very fine Saturday!! We’re still pretty virtual as far as summer shows go, but the annual fixture that is the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair is still happening (as I write – both virtually and a small, rotating exhibition at the Stakt market). Celebrating 60 years this year, the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair has a long tradition of showcasing amazing Canadian art.
Yes, people, it’s happening now! I’ve browsed the artists, and there is, as usual, some really cool work, both on exhibit and for sale! I highly recommend it :).
There are four of us taking part this year, from the studio-myself (Robin, House of Cassady), Alex Kinsley Vey , Alexis Kostuk and Alessandra Pompei. Visit the artist galleries through the links above, to see the exciting work we’ve put up for the virtual exhibition. Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, both Alessandra and Alexis are participating in the in-person exhibition at the Stakt market venue this Sunday (tomorrow) and Monday! If you’re there, stop by and say hi!
There’s lots of interesting virtual programming happening for the show, which you can check out here.
Whatever you’re doing this weekend, hope to see you soon!
The ideas for this collection began with a walk on the beach. Although it was a simple act, it embodied a sense of serenity that, for me, was unparalleled. The objects in this collection have been harvested over beaches all over the globe. Stones, pearls, and silver are sourced in Canada.
Source: All of the found objects were sourced by me, from the seashore of Dubai, UAE.
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!
“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!