I think I can now state that my love for the golden years of Hollywood movies can be known as one of my defining factors. Rainy weekend afternoons and staying up late into the night, when everyone else had gone to bed, were spent watching black and white films of the early years of Hollywood’s first century. It was, and still is, a wonderful and magical way to spend hours. I recall so many of those stunning beauties of the era, decked out in the most splendid and spectacular finery that the art and costume departments of MGM, Paramount, Universal and RKO Pictures could turn out. I voraciously read everything I could get my hands on about the real movie stars: Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Merle Oberon and so many more. These were some of the strong, modern women of their time. They had careers, fame, the love of their fans, the respect of their peers and …. they bought their own jewels. Yes, these women bought their own jewels and wore them. Sure, they could always borrow, but it just isn't the same. A woman who buys her own jewels makes a proud statement about herself to the world. She knows her own worth and isn't waiting around or hoping that a man will deliver! Though some stars were famed for their massive jewellery collections, am focussing here on the ladies who commissioned and purchased their own. These ladies were collectors of the great creative jewellers of the era: Verdura and Flato, to name just two. These men had the dream job, creating unique and fabulous pieces of wearable art that were owned and worn by the most luminous women on the planet. These men inspired me so many years ago, albeit circuitously, to be creative and find my own place in the world of jewellery.
Friendship bracelets are very personal gift especially made for a friend. Friendship bracelet are not your ordinary accessory. These bracelets, look simple but can symbolize a lot. A few years back, friendship bracelets were just made of colourful strings worn by schoolgirls. These days, the friendship bracelet is more than just a few cords knotted together. It has grown into a versatile accessory that more than stands on its own and can be stylishly worn next to expensive jewels.
Friendship bracelets are accessories made with love. The time, thought, and effort to make the bracelet for someone close to your heart is incomparable. Many times the time and effort involved in making a friendship bracelet exceeds some people’s job skills!
Bottom line: these bracelets represent your unique friendship.
There is no better time to give a friendship bracelet than right now. Give the gift of a friendship bracelet to any family member, work colleague or best friend when they least expect it. It is a sure way to show your appreciation of the friendship. Giving a friendship bracelet is so perfect for any time of the year.
Living in a small town has its downsides; like, you always have the feeling you’re living in a witness protection program. Surprisingly, it also has upsides: FINALLY getting the much-promised NBN and enjoying the riches that has to offer. As a person who runs a small business from home, I get to choose my rest periods. So, living in the country, basically on a disused farm, I need my quality rest periods, and frequently.
My relaxation of choice these days is watching movies on Netflix. Primarily "rom-coms" and "chick-flix". Yeah, ok, say what you will, but these do actually reflect real-life situations happening out there. Some, annoyingly closer than you’d like. They are good for a laugh and are calorie-free as an indulgence, right? They also serve as no-brainers and welcomed escapism.
I recently saw a movie featuring characters whose ruthlessness led one character to pack up and leave town. Drastic and expensive, in real life, right? While I certainly was on the receiving end of Mean Girl antics in high school, I had pretty much abandoned the idea that after adolescence, women (and men) would behave better, in the real world. Errrrr ... wrong! With the day to day issues of running a small bespoke, luxury goods business, managing what amounts to a shelter for rescue cats, life is way too off the rails to be courted by real-life Mean Girls.
One good thing about going through a lot of the bad stuff, is that you figure out what matters. Seriously, when you think of global political instability, homelessness of people, massive numbers of domestic animals that need homes, when so many people in the world are struggling just to keep a roof over their heads, the antics of a few self-righteous, judgmental and basically spoiled desperate housewives, is something that needs to be ignored and purged from one’s reality. And while one would like the resources to travel much more, one has cultivated great friendships with a small number of like-minded, strong people, who call a spade a shovel and take no shit.
Another good thing about going through bad stuff is that, as any bad-stuff survivor will tell you, you learn who your real friends are. You learn that they are very few and far between. They’re the ones who have your back. They will know your sense of humour and run with it. They will know when you are joking and when you are serious. They are not desperately seeking attention and praise all the time. They don't demand gratitude because they showed a (shallow) momentary interest in your issues. Real friends don't force you to endure endless repeats of their health problems: the frequency of which engenders sympathy amongst their weak-minded cohorts and which is designed to do all the heavy lifting to cloak their incredibly dull personalities. They don't ghost you online, on the street, or anywhere else, for that matter. They are not furiously paddling the wheels of passive-aggressiveness. They won't suddenly surprise you by summoning your company ... usually, because none of their usual buddies were available at the time. They will not decide to take a general comment and make it all about themselves. They will actually stand up for you when you are being bullied, whether you are present or not. They will know that you have nothing to offer besides your friendship.
Another thing is that one should not need to be lulled, bribed or cajoled into a friendship. While getting gifts is always lovely, it’s the regular invitations to coffee dates, lunch dates and just hanging-out evenings that make life richer. So much more than elbowing one’s way up the small town pseudo-intelligentsia, poisonous geriatric bitch collective or middle-aged yummy-mummy food chain, ever could.
... and everyone came!
Well … not quite… we had a small group of four people who were actually very interested and focussed on the job at hand. That job was to make a fabulous piece of micro-macrame jewellery in the allocated period of four hours. Everyone chose bracelets.
I hadn’t run a workshop for over a year and, I must admit, was a little concerned as to how it would all pan out. It was OK, I need not have worried. Everyone found their zone within the first twenty-five minutes and dived right into it. Relief!
Colours, cords, beads and designs were discussed and mulled over and before long, the industrious sounds of the little group could be heard. When that happens, all I have to do is ensure that every piece that walks out with its maker is a winner! No small feat, that.
As workshop facilitator, I spend all my time standing over participants’ shoulders looking at where they can improve their knotting and tightening, and basically keeping an eye out for anything that would lessen the experience for each person. I answer questions, give advice, fetch drinks and snacks and generally try to keep the pace moving along nicely. After all, they pay good money for the experience and it is my job to deliver the goods.
You may wonder why don’t people just buy a book and try to teach themselves? Well, the workshop experience offers a new scene (sometimes an exotic one), new faces of like-minded people, the opportunity to make new friends, professional tutoring in learning something new in a warm and friendly environment. Great snacks. Quality materials. It is not about making a career choice, it is about having fun. Like a party. Only mostly seated and with minimal alcohol consumption. We save that for the celebration after everyone surfaces with gorgeous new jewellery!
Apparently, happy people review their positive experience with an average of eleven fellow humans. That is pretty good, in my book. Then those people tell others and so on. This has been proven scientifically, so please don’t email me about it - consult Google!
All the attendees went home with some great new pieces of handcrafted jewellery. They were so happy and so was I - Mission Accomplished!
No, I haven’t forgotten I’m actually a jewellery designer, because it always must look like I write about everything else, except jewellery… but, I have to say when it comes to yard work, I want that stuff done YESTERDAY!
Hired help will always be available sometime next month at premium a price. Household male won’t sully his hands, something about too much work to be done in the office and the best I can get from household cats is them acting as a surveying team. So, I guess it is up to yours truly to step into the boots and gloves and hop to it.
The colder Autumn and Winter months here are the best for this outdoor work. Plodding through high glass and picking up and moving large-ish rocks requires a fluidity of motion at a certain clip, so run-ins with spiders, snakes and swarms of blowflies, can be happily avoided.
The previous owners of this house had allowed the back yard to become a virtual rubbish dump, especially near the water tanks. Over time, their neglect and laziness had resulted in a pile up of rocks, large and small, poles, assorted pieces of plastic and metal junk, high grass, self-seeded trees and a small collection of very heavy iron machine parts.
Wishful thinking (that it all disappears by itself… yeah, right…) while happily manoeuvring the push mower over these areas has resulted in many bits of broken branches and small, sharp stones to hit me (at considerable speed) when I least expected it. Not cool and potentially dangerous.
Well, this is actually Phase II of my yard work project. Phase I had been clearing the double row of pine trees of excess growth and removing a ton of dead branches and rocks from between the two rows. It was a thicket of sharp, stubby branches, long since dead. I just borrowed a chainsaw and went nuts!
Well, that was last season, before I headed to the Northern Summer. Happily, the grass, that lay dormant all those years just waiting to break out from beneath the layers of rock and branch, has sprouted and finally seen the light of day.
Fair trade jewellery is here to stay. I take it seriously in my business. So what does this mean? Simply put, it means I buy from vendors that I know are ethical traders. They pay a good price for their articles from sellers who, in turn, pay their workers (the rock-hounds and stonecutters) a living wage. These are generally the small guys, the one or two man shows who source the material and have a handful of employees who cut and polish. They love the material. There are so many choices these days in the market place. Let’s face it, not many are concerned with the minutiae of fair trade and fair dealing. A great many people are only interested in making lots of money. Making lots of money is great, but I believe there has to be a healthy way of doing business where everyone in the line walks away happy. Fair trade, to me is one of those ways.
Well, I have always loved old stuff. You know, the unique silk scarf that was last worn about fifty years ago. Or the faded t-shirt, the vintage patchwork quilt or the well-worn, but still intact, silk kimono. Don’t even get me started on the cloth-bound, vintage books with their distinctive organic perfume - described by an international team of chemists as a “combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness…” Poetic.
Remember the time you were hunting for the perfect pair of faded jeans? You searched everywhere, high and low for what seemed the longest time? Having done this myself, I discovered that this takes time but it is time spent well, as it is this well-worn and still beautiful article of clothing (or accessory) that will spruce up your mood and your look in seconds flat.
I had been working on a line of jewellery which satisfied my desire for faded, vintage beauty. The difference is that this jewellery is available in a time frame far quicker than the requisite decades of wear for me. It is available right now in my shop, for you. Depending on where you live, you can buy it now, wear it soon.
My one true favourite of this line has to be the distressed signet ring. Others seem to share this same love, as this ring has proved to be a best seller in my shop. This ring looks amazing on both men and women, and with pretty much anything you care to throw on.
Feel like shopping now? Find it here: http://tinyurl.com/n8ox9mp
Wednesday: So, I found it hard to sleep the other night and I decided that lying in bed, staring into the darkness wasn't going to work for me. I got up, pondered what to do next (eat, watch a movie?) and decided to go make some new jewellery. I traipsed into the workshop and set about making something (uncomplicated) for the shop. My clarity of mind at that hour surprised me, to say the least...
Ok, this was not a planned blog post at all, but I thought it would be an interesting read for someone out there, who might be experiencing sleepless nights, for one reason or another. If this humble blog entry helps just one soul out there achieve clarity in their life, then good for them! The monumental solution, though, is not to lie there and stew. Just get up and achieve something.
In my case, I made a few necklaces to list in my shop. In your case, it could be anything that will brighten your life a little more - be it sorting your underwear drawers, collating your tax receipts, cleaning out the pantry, whatever!
Friday: I am now experiencing what the sleeplessness could have been about... I have come down with a virus of some sort that has manifested itself as a sore throat, stuffy head and an unmistakable, all-over fatigue that wasn't there a week ago. Seriously, I didn't hear anyone sniffle, sneeze or cough in my general vicinity at all the past week - how could this happen? Add to this unpleasantness the fact that I have been waging a battle the past several days with an army of crickets that have invaded my house (cricket choirs all night long being the least offensive symptom of this ...); scanning social media and noticing local neanderthals selling undesexed kittens on the swap/sell; the rainstorm causing the waterfall on the front verandah, due to a blocked gutter that went unnoticed; did I mention my sore head (?); aching right shoulder, two sore knees and the news this morning heavily hinting at a recession coming our way.
Household Male brought me a hot lemon drink in bed ... I was up at 9:30am today, but who's keeping tabs, right? He then braved the elements and came back with a jumbo soy flat white, fresh croissant and chocolate eclair (well, the bakery was open at that hour!)
I mean, what reason do I have to complain, right? I have shelter from the elements and my hair is looking good, despite all this chaos happening all around me.
Feeling somewhat fortified, I flushed out some more crickets from behind the fridge and dishwasher (in addition to seven glass marbles, one 3D fridge magnet and a single freshwater pearl). I shared my unwavering disdain of the neanderthals with the animal rescue community; the waterfall reminds me of my Costa Rica trip not long ago (nice thoughts); the bodily soreness can be dealt with by my leftover supply of Contact (from the previous affliction of said flu in NYC, last year - I don't chuck anything away...). I will have to think harder on how to deal with the oncoming recession... if anyone out there has any ideas, please make them known via the comments on this page!
If all this fails me at any point today, then there is always the quiet, dark room in the house... the home theatre ... Eat, Pray, Love beckons ...
There is no perfect time for travel. I know this now. As long as I possess the energy, a valid passport and have the appropriate transport, then travelling will always be something I will have to do. My most recent trip abroad consisted of alternating cold and hot climates which resulted in my carrying two suitcases - albeit small ones - but that there is a lesson and quite possibly, another blog post.
I am a big fan or archaeology, and decided to add Israel on my itinerary this trip. Having not been there before, I wasn't sure what to expect. However, I have to admit, a couple of days in, I fell in love with it. My stay in Israel was essentially two weeks of sun-soaked, peaceful days wandering and exploring flea markets, Old Cities, driving around the countryside and seeing stunning landscapes, ancient city ruins, eating delicious food and meeting lovely people.
Stunning landscapes and historical sites have always held a fascination for me. Since way back in the day, as a student of history and art to now, as an adult and a jewellery designer, they still have the same allure. I made the trip out to the Dead Sea and Masada one day, on one of my driving jaunts. Wheeling past banana farms, long stretches of desert roads, date plantations and even a pack of gazelles, I arrived at my destination around lunchtime. Once there, I had to forego the pleasure of hiking up to the top (no appropriate attire, you see) so hopped aboard the waiting cablecar instead. I was not disappointed. Wandering around the ruins of the fortress reminded me just how fortunate I am to be able to do this. For me, this place is mysterious and stark. Seriously, if I was asked to pitch a tent there and stay a while, I would have done so, no question (well, ok, maybe I would ask for a generator, a well stocked bar fridge plus some gorgeous cushions and pashminas!) I observed the raptors that circled overhead and plummeted to some unsuspecting prey in the valley below. More closely, small dark starlings flitted amongst the stony ruins at the Byzantine Gate and took off once I got too close. I also took the opportunity to photograph some of my jewellery there. The light was fantastic at that hour in the afternoon - gold on gold but with definition. The Greco-Roman-inspired styles of my handcrafts lend themselves perfectly with the backdrop of the fortress ruins and ancient mosaics. It wasn't at all difficult to imagine that these necklaces could have been worn in that era by ladies bedecked in flowing stola, elegant palas and ringleted up-dos.
I recently had the pleasure of creating a pendant for a client, using New Zealand Greenstone and a gold Christening bracelet. The resulting piece is intended as a gift for his grand-daughter. A relatively simple task took me almost a month to complete, considering the obstacles that came my way. My usual slow start combined with the unforeseen: pet illness and some minor eye surgery. I got the job completed, though, and the result was very well received by both my client and his grand-daughter.
Via this experience, my appreciation for this material has grown. I managed to pick up a few pieces of vintage greenstone at a local antique dealer. These little finds have already started the creativity wheels turning in my mind. I also started to research greenstone and found that it is a cornerstone in Maori culture. They call this treasure, Pounamu, which is a term that encompasses a group of hard, durable and attractive jade, bowenite and serpentine stones that are found on the Southern Island of New Zealand. Greenstone is the generic term for all these.
Personal objects in greenstone are passed from one generation down to the next. They hold their own mana (prestige) and were historically given as gifts to seal important deals. The Victorians fashioned delightful jewellery and personal objects greenstone teamed with gold.
Though many wonderful, creative forms are produced, Maori artisans also favour particular traditional shapes, these being, Koru (a symbol of Creation); Tiki (the primeval man figure); Manaia (a mythical sea creature); Toki (a blade or adze form); Matau (the ubiquitous fishing hook) and Kumara (an intertwined form, representational of loyalty).
Been staying in New York for several months, living like a local and taking in all the good stuff it has to offer. I love the manic tone of the city and one has to adapt to the beat there. If one must eat and run, then my own humble favourite for that mood is the fried egg sandwich I got at Bite. Bite is a tucked away, little nook on 14th Street. Nothing much to see on the outside, or the inside for that matter, but the calibre of their fried egg sandwich (and their coffee) is second to none. If you are vegetarian - and I lean heavily in that direction - it is a must.
Super start to the day: Cappuccino and fried egg sandwich at Bite Cafe.
The gloom and rain of the past few weeks has abated and the Easter weekend has been sunny and gorgeous. We have all been busy with preparation for Easter... all the seasonal delights that I grew up with like brightly dyed eggs, buttery and golden plaited biscuits (koulourakia) and the traditional Greek Tzoureki, which is a brioche formed in a plaited wreath and sprinkled with toasted almonds. One year I got a good deal on blue vegetable dye, hence my famous blue eggs for the last several seasons... but, this year I tried my hand at silk dyed eggs ... a fiddly little affair, but worth the time they take. Actually, I think they turned out OK for a first time effort. Naturally, the Easter table is not complete without a chocolate bunny or two!
The story of gold is as rich and complex as the metal itself. Wars have been fought for it and love has been declared with it. It has long been revered: from the Ancient Egyptians, whose hieroglyphs portray gold as the brilliance of the sun to the modern astronomers who use mirrors coated with gold to capture images of the heavens.
By 325 BC the Greeks had mined for gold from Gibraltar to Asia Minor. In 1848, James Marshall found flakes of gold while building a saw-mill near Sacramento and so triggered the gold rush in California. Many people even left Australia for California to look for gold there. The New South Wales government re-thought its position and sought approval from the Colonial Office in England to allow the exploitation of the mineral resources in the state and and also offered rewards for the finding of gold.
Gold is rare. Today, it is estimated that there are 165,000 metric tonnes of stocks in existence above ground. If every single ounce of this gold were placed next to each other, the resulting cube of pure gold would only measure 20 metres in any direction.
24K gold is pure gold in its refined state. It is soft, flexible and quite delicate.
22K and 21K gold is made of 91% and 87% pure gold respectively. It is mostly used in India and the Middle East.
18K gold has become the international standard for jewellery, containing 75% pure gold. Combining purity with performance, 18K gold has been adopted for use by the world’s leading watch brands. In addition, 18K gold can magically begin to change colour as other metals are added to the alloy (such as the increasingly popular rose gold hues).
One of the great qualities of gold is its malleability. This, combined with its physical beauty and resistance to corrosion, makes gold the ultimate creative medium.
Every expression that appeals to our highest ideals is a source of inspiration. It is the fast track that bridges our emotions to our thoughts and reveals our innermost soul through our responses. In other words, it is fuel for our soul.
I am paraphrasing great writers with that, but I think you get the message.
On occasion, I am asked what inspires me. Usually, I am not at a loss for words, but sometimes I get stumped with that question... I just hope that it is not early onset dementia, just the result of having a lot of ideas rattling about up there, all grappling for first place!
Most often, pictures tell the story better than words, for me. Below are some pictures of what inspires me. This is by no means a definitive list, just some of the gorgeous things being alive in the world has to offer. You will get the message. Enjoy.
The weather has been so fine after the gloominess of the past week. So, as I am still in the mood for diamonds, I give you the Cullinan family of little sparklers. Without further ado, here is a pictorial history of this magnificent chunk of pure Carbon!
The Royal Asscher Cut
Long story short: in 1999, Edward and Joop Asscher became intrigued by the possibility of improving their great-grandfather, Joseph Asscher’s 1902 design for the original Asscher Cut. Modern technology now offered fresh insight into the age old art of diamond cutting and polishing. After two years of intensive research, consultation with their master polishers and a multitude of refinements, Edward and Joop presented the Royal Asscher Cut.
Asscher Cut Facts:
- perfectly symmetrical, with proportions that fall within strict parameters; every facet is measured for absolute accuracy.
- has a high crown and 74 facets (modern square-emerald cut, and the original Asscher both have 58 facets).
- patent protected.
Just spent the weekend in the beautiful city of Melbourne, checking out vintage cars, vintage clothes, walking around looking at iconic buildings and eating really good food. I have come back totally focussed on getting together my Spring and Summer look - Vintage! I just love the easy elegance of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. For that we have to thank Mademoiselle Chanel, among others. She totally revolutionised how women dressed from the 1920s an onwards. Just to let you know what we saw down there: first day was a visit to Rippon Lea; a lovely old house in Elsternwick. They were showing an exhibit of costumes from the Australian TV series, Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed to be taken within the house, so you'll get to see the costumes when you click on the following link:
The next day we popped into the Melbourne Exhibition Hall to see amazingly preserved and restored classic cars. Totally loving the old Rolls Royces, but I can easily live with Bugattis, Duesenburgs and Jaguars!
Following that was a trip to the National Gallery of Victoria to check out the Edward Steichen photography for Vogue. Plus the amazing and gorgeous couture fashions that were on display... again no photos allowed... but I found some online to show you anyway!
For an amazing breakfast, you cannot go past the Delicatessen in Brunswick Street.
Dinner requirements are cheerfully and tastefully catered for at Hell of the North in Greeves Street, behind the yellow door ... interesting name, excellent food and service.
You have probably seen cut gemstones (or synthetics) in jewellery shop windows that have a fantastical, colourful aura about them? Well, unless it is actually a naturally occurring, zillion dollar gem, anything less will probably be described as "mystic", as in mystic topaz or mystic quartz, etc.
What you probably didn't know is that these stones have been coated with a ultra-thin layer of metallic titanium.
This coating generates interference patterns in light much like oil spread on water does, leading to a rainbow of colours in the stone.
What gems do you need?
Alexandrite aligns and balances the mental, physical and emotional
Amber is harmonious and soothing, calming and cheering.
Ametrine combines the properties of amethyst and citrine
Apatite enhances creativity and stimulates the intellect
Aventurine balances the yin-yang energies
Clear Quartz (as shown above) is the energy stone and excellent for meditation
Diamond enhances the energy of the mind
Dioptase a greenish-gold stone that promotes emotional balance
Emerald promotes love and harmony, wards off negativity
Fluorite increases concentration and balances the mind
Hematite reduces stress and enhances mental capabilities
Howlite encourages patience and reduces stress
Kunzite soothes and calms; a heart-stone
Lepidolite is uplifting and balancing
Malachite balances and revitalises; clears subconscious blocks
Morganite is a heart-stone, allowing love into your life.
Sodalite Rationalises and aids clear thinking, brings clarity, truth and creative expression.
Snowflake Obsidian Enhances purity and balance, promotes re-alignment of thought patterns.
Sugilite calms and balances the emotions, instilling a sense of freedom and spiritual awareness.
Tourmalinated Quartz Aids in balancing extremes and eliminates destructive influences.
Unakite balances the emotions and gives an awareness and understanding of subconscious blocks. Can facilitate the re-birthing process.
Wulfenite is a yellow-orange stone of rejuvenation. Enhances understanding.