VIX Jewellery

We held a Workshop ...

Vicki IoannouComment

... 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yard Work is Hard Work

Vicki IoannouComment

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!  

Did some heavy (hand) lifting moving those parts.

Did some heavy (hand) lifting moving those parts.

 

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.

Dusty surveying.

Dusty surveying.

 

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.  

What a dump!

What a dump!

 

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.

Two rows of trees... looks like a forest to me...

Two rows of trees... looks like a forest to me...

 

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!  

Seeing the light!

Seeing the light!

 

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.  What’s it all about?

Vicki IoannouComment

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. 

Fair trade:  It's not always about you.  Think of others, too!  Artisan glass candle holders, handcrafted metal box from Oxfam. VIX Jewellery pieces made from ethically sourced beads and stones and recycled silver.  Hand cut Indian diamonds sourced from ethical dealers.

Fair trade:  It's not always about you.  Think of others, too!  Artisan glass candle holders, handcrafted metal box from Oxfam. VIX Jewellery pieces made from ethically sourced beads and stones and recycled silver.  Hand cut Indian diamonds sourced from ethical dealers.

 

 

Distressed and Faded, Pretty Things

Vicki IoannouComment

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.

Faded beauty: vintage cloth-bound books shown here with VIX Jewellery distressed signet ring and faded Sandalwood Bead Pave Diamond Bracelet http://tinyurl.com/kg9ukc4

Faded beauty: vintage cloth-bound books shown here with VIX Jewellery distressed signet ring and faded Sandalwood Bead Pave Diamond Bracelet http://tinyurl.com/kg9ukc4

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.  

Distressed Signet Rings by VIX, shown here on faded jeans and t-shirt.  

Distressed Signet Rings by VIX, shown here on faded jeans and t-shirt.  

Feel like shopping now?  Find it here:  http://tinyurl.com/n8ox9mp

When it rains ... it pours

Vicki IoannouComment

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.

Take the hint from Lulu (Ginger Ninja, the Macgyver of cats, never wastes her precious energy).  When in doubt, sleep.  If you can't sleep, get up and do something useful.  

Take the hint from Lulu (Ginger Ninja, the Macgyver of cats, never wastes her precious energy).  When in doubt, sleep.  If you can't sleep, get up and do something useful.  

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 ...

I made these simple necklaces in the wee hours of Thursday morning.  They are now listed in my shop here:  http://tinyurl.com/jjral7g  and here:  http://tinyurl.com/zoa3fpo

I made these simple necklaces in the wee hours of Thursday morning.  They are now listed in my shop here:  http://tinyurl.com/jjral7g  and here:  http://tinyurl.com/zoa3fpo

 

 

 

 

 

Treasures of Israel

Vicki IoannouComment

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.  

My favourite way to eat:  small plates of delicious food!

Among the ruins of Susita in the Golan Heights, Israel.

Among the ruins of Susita in the Golan Heights, Israel.

On golden stones.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:  http://tinyurl.com/zjyebfp

On golden stones.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:  http://tinyurl.com/zjyebfp

Mosaics, palace interior, Masada.

Mosaics, palace interior, Masada.

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. 

Handcrafted necklace inspired by ancient Rome.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  Necklace inquiries:  http://tinyurl.com/hurw4af

Ancient styling in a modern made necklace.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:  http://tinyurl.com/htuxtka

Ancient styling in a modern made necklace.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:  http://tinyurl.com/htuxtka

Sweet, icy, nutty and fruity way to end a meal.

Sweet, icy, nutty and fruity way to end a meal.

 

 

We Call it Pounamu

GemstonesVicki IoannouComment
Pounamu and Gold Toki Pendant that I recently completed for my client.

Pounamu and Gold Toki Pendant that I recently completed for my client.

From the vault: a small pile of rough Greenstone that was given to me several years ago and my recently acquired pieces from the antique shop: a Matau and an oval cabochon.

From the vault: a small pile of rough Greenstone that was given to me several years ago and my recently acquired pieces from the antique shop: a Matau and an oval cabochon.

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).

 

A fried egg sandwich to Bite into

Vicki IoannouComment

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.

Easter... and the weather is perfect!

Vicki IoannouComment

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! 

Gold.... truth and trivia

Vicki IoannouComment

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. 

18k Gold jewellery by VIX.

18k Gold jewellery by VIX.

Inspiration

Vicki Ioannou1 Comment

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.

 

Mountain Valleys in Norway

Mountain Valleys in Norway

Mountains in the Antarctic

Mountains in the Antarctic

Egypt - a view from the Space Station

Egypt - a view from the Space Station

Weather - a rare Fallstreak Hole, somewhere outside Philadelphia, USA

Weather - a rare Fallstreak Hole, somewhere outside Philadelphia, USA

Who doesn't love a sunset?   This one in Norway

Who doesn't love a sunset?   This one in Norway

Plane flying into London

Plane flying into London

A forest pool somewhere in Brazil

A forest pool somewhere in Brazil

A beach in Zakynthos, Greece

A beach in Zakynthos, Greece

Knowledge and learning in a beautiful Florentine library

Knowledge and learning in a beautiful Florentine library

A walk in Central Park, New York

A walk in Central Park, New York

Lake Baikal 

Lake Baikal 

Inside Nasir el Molk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Inside Nasir el Molk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran

An old church in the forest, Nottingham, England

An old church in the forest, Nottingham, England

Serengeti Sunrise with Elephants

Serengeti Sunrise with Elephants

Beached Jellyfish, somewhere in Japan

Beached Jellyfish, somewhere in Japan

White sand in New Mexico

White sand in New Mexico

Marble Caves in Chile

Marble Caves in Chile

An ancient tree in California

An ancient tree in California

Spider lightning over Nevada, USA

Spider lightning over Nevada, USA

Abrolhos Waters, 60km west of Geraldton WA

Abrolhos Waters, 60km west of Geraldton WA

Storm rolling across the sea in Albany, WA

Storm rolling across the sea in Albany, WA

Weather is sparkling ... just like a Diamond

Vicki IoannouComment

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 Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found.  In its rough state, it weighed 3106.75 carat (621.35 g, 1.37 lb) and measured about 10.5 cm (4.1 inches) long in its largest dimension.  It was found on 26 January 1905, in the Premier No. 2 mine, near Pretoria in South Africa.

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found.  In its rough state, it weighed 3106.75 carat (621.35 g, 1.37 lb) and measured about 10.5 cm (4.1 inches) long in its largest dimension.  It was found on 26 January 1905, in the Premier No. 2 mine, near Pretoria in South Africa.

Captain Frederick Wells, superintendent of Premier Mine, one of South Africa's most productive mines, near Pretoria, found the diamond, during his daily inspection of the mines, on the 26th of January, 1905. During his rounds he saw a flash of light, reflected by the sun on the wall of the shaft. As he got closer, he could see a partially exposed crystal, embedded in the rock, however he initially believed it to be a shard of glass, placed by one of the miners as a practical joke. Using just his pocket knife he managed to release the diamond. At 1 1/3 lbs, 3 7/8 inches long, 2 1/4 inches wide and 2 5/8 inches high the diamond was twice the size of any diamond previously discovered. Wells immediately took it for examination. Sir William Crookes performed an analysis of the stone, ascertaining a weight of 3,106 carats. The stone was immediately named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine.  Crookes mentioned its remarkable clarity, but also a black spot in the middle. The colours around the black spot were very vivid and changed as the analyser was turned. According to Crookes, this pointed to internal strain.  Such strain is not uncommon in diamonds. Because one side of the diamond was perfectly smooth, it was concluded that the stone had originally been part of a much larger diamond, that had been broken up by natural forces. Crookes commented that "a fragment, probably less than half, of a distorted octahedral crystal; the other portions still await discovery by some fortunate miner."  Naturally the discovery became a global sensation, with the developments being followed avidly by the press. Wells was awarded ₤3,500 for his find and the diamond was purchased by the Transvaal government for ₤150,000 and insured for ten times the amount. The Prime Minister Botha suggested that the diamond be presented to King Edward VII as 'a token of the loyalty and attachment of the people of Transvaal to his throne and person'. A vote was staged in order for the government to find out what should be done with the diamond. Oddly enough, in the aftermath of the Boer War the Boers voted in favour of presenting the king with the diamond and the English settlers voting against such a move. The final vote was 42 against and 19 in favour. In the wake the vote, the British Prime Minister of the time Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman decided to leave the decision of whether to accept the gift up to the king himself. However, later prime minister, Winston Churchill eventually managed to persuade the king to accept, to which Edward VII finally agreed. Churchill was presented with a replica of the diamond, which he allegedly delighted in showing off to friends and displaying it on a silver plate. 

Captain Frederick Wells, superintendent of Premier Mine, one of South Africa's most productive mines, near Pretoria, found the diamond, during his daily inspection of the mines, on the 26th of January, 1905. During his rounds he saw a flash of light, reflected by the sun on the wall of the shaft. As he got closer, he could see a partially exposed crystal, embedded in the rock, however he initially believed it to be a shard of glass, placed by one of the miners as a practical joke. Using just his pocket knife he managed to release the diamond. At 1 1/3 lbs, 3 7/8 inches long, 2 1/4 inches wide and 2 5/8 inches high the diamond was twice the size of any diamond previously discovered. Wells immediately took it for examination.

Sir William Crookes performed an analysis of the stone, ascertaining a weight of 3,106 carats. The stone was immediately named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine.  Crookes mentioned its remarkable clarity, but also a black spot in the middle. The colours around the black spot were very vivid and changed as the analyser was turned. According to Crookes, this pointed to internal strain.  Such strain is not uncommon in diamonds. Because one side of the diamond was perfectly smooth, it was concluded that the stone had originally been part of a much larger diamond, that had been broken up by natural forces. Crookes commented that "a fragment, probably less than half, of a distorted octahedral crystal; the other portions still await discovery by some fortunate miner."  Naturally the discovery became a global sensation, with the developments being followed avidly by the press.

Wells was awarded ₤3,500 for his find and the diamond was purchased by the Transvaal government for ₤150,000 and insured for ten times the amount. The Prime Minister Botha suggested that the diamond be presented to King Edward VII as 'a token of the loyalty and attachment of the people of Transvaal to his throne and person'. A vote was staged in order for the government to find out what should be done with the diamond. Oddly enough, in the aftermath of the Boer War the Boers voted in favour of presenting the king with the diamond and the English settlers voting against such a move. The final vote was 42 against and 19 in favour. In the wake the vote, the British Prime Minister of the time Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman decided to leave the decision of whether to accept the gift up to the king himself. However, later prime minister, Winston Churchill eventually managed to persuade the king to accept, to which Edward VII finally agreed. Churchill was presented with a replica of the diamond, which he allegedly delighted in showing off to friends and displaying it on a silver plate. 

In 1905 due to the immense value of the Cullinan, the authorities in charge of the transportation were posed with a huge potential security problem. Detectives from London were placed on a boat that was rumoured to carry the stone, where a parcel was ceremoniously placed in the Captain's safe and guarded throughout the entire journey. However this was a diversionary tactic. The stone on that ship was a fake, meant to attract those who would be interested in stealing it. The actual diamond was sent to England in a plain box via registered parcel post.  Upon receiving the stone safely in England, Sir Francis Hopwood and Mr Richard Solomon (the Agent-General of the Transvaal government in London) travelled from London to Sandringham, Norfolk by train, accompanied by just two experienced Scotland Yard policemen. They reached their destination safely, despite reports of a potential robbery looming. King Edward would later that day present Solomon with the KCVO. The diamond was presented to the King on his birthday, in the presence of a large party of guests, including the Queens of Norway and Spain, Bendor Westminster and Lord Revelstoke.  The King had the secretary of state, Lord Elgin, announce that he accepted the precious gift "for myself and my successors" and that he would ensure that "this great and unique diamond be kept and preserved among the historic jewels which form the heirlooms of the crown". It was cut into three large parts by the Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. At the time, technology had not yet evolved to guarantee quality of the modern standard, and cutting the diamond was considered difficult and risky. To enable Asscher to cleave the diamond in one blow, an incision was made, half an inch deep. Then, a specifically designed knife was placed in the incision and the diamond was split in one heavy blow. The diamond split through a defective spot, which was shared in both halves of the diamond.

In 1905 due to the immense value of the Cullinan, the authorities in charge of the transportation were posed with a huge potential security problem. Detectives from London were placed on a boat that was rumoured to carry the stone, where a parcel was ceremoniously placed in the Captain's safe and guarded throughout the entire journey. However this was a diversionary tactic. The stone on that ship was a fake, meant to attract those who would be interested in stealing it. The actual diamond was sent to England in a plain box via registered parcel post.  Upon receiving the stone safely in England, Sir Francis Hopwood and Mr Richard Solomon (the Agent-General of the Transvaal government in London) travelled from London to Sandringham, Norfolk by train, accompanied by just two experienced Scotland Yard policemen. They reached their destination safely, despite reports of a potential robbery looming. King Edward would later that day present Solomon with the KCVO.

The diamond was presented to the King on his birthday, in the presence of a large party of guests, including the Queens of Norway and Spain, Bendor Westminster and Lord Revelstoke.  The King had the secretary of state, Lord Elgin, announce that he accepted the precious gift "for myself and my successors" and that he would ensure that "this great and unique diamond be kept and preserved among the historic jewels which form the heirlooms of the crown".

It was cut into three large parts by the Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. At the time, technology had not yet evolved to guarantee quality of the modern standard, and cutting the diamond was considered difficult and risky. To enable Asscher to cleave the diamond in one blow, an incision was made, half an inch deep. Then, a specifically designed knife was placed in the incision and the diamond was split in one heavy blow. The diamond split through a defective spot, which was shared in both halves of the diamond.

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The story goes that when the diamond was split, the knife broke during the first attempt. "The tale is told of Joseph Asscher, the greatest cleaver of the day," wrote Matthew Hart in his book Diamond: A Journey to the Heart of an Obsession, "that when he prepared to cleave the largest diamond ever known, the 3,106 carats (621 g) Cullinan, he had a doctor and nurse standing by and when he finally struck the diamond and it broke perfectly in two, he fainted dead away." Lord Ian Balfour, in his book "Famous Diamonds" (2000), dispels the fainting story, stating it was more likely Joseph Asscher would have celebrated, opening a bottle of champagne.

The story goes that when the diamond was split, the knife broke during the first attempt. "The tale is told of Joseph Asscher, the greatest cleaver of the day," wrote Matthew Hart in his book Diamond: A Journey to the Heart of an Obsession, "that when he prepared to cleave the largest diamond ever known, the 3,106 carats (621 g) Cullinan, he had a doctor and nurse standing by and when he finally struck the diamond and it broke perfectly in two, he fainted dead away." Lord Ian Balfour, in his book "Famous Diamonds" (2000), dispels the fainting story, stating it was more likely Joseph Asscher would have celebrated, opening a bottle of champagne.

The Cullinan was split and cut into 7 major stones and 96 smaller stones. Edward VII had the Cullinan I and Cullinan II set respectively into the Sceptre with the Cross and the Imperial State Crown while the remainder of the seven larger stones and the 96 smaller brilliants remained in the possession of the Dutch diamond cutting firm of Messers I. J. Asscher of Amsterdam who had split and cut the Cullinan, until the South African Government bought these stones and the High Commissioner of the Union of South Africa presented them to Queen Mary on 28 June 1910. Cullinan I is a 530.2 carat, pear cut diamond and the largest of the Cullinan diamonds. It is also known as the Great Star of Africa, and was set in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross which was reworked for this purpose. It may also be hung as the pendant, on its own or from Cullinan II in a brooch. For this purpose the diamonds have both been fitted with two tiny platinum loops on the edges. Cullinan II, the Second Star of Africa, weighing 317.4 carats and having a rectangular cushion cut, was set in the front of the circlet of the Imperial State Crown.  It may also be used together with Cullinan I as a brooch. Cullinan III is a pear cut, 94.4 carat diamond known as one of the Lesser Stars of Africa (along with Cullinan IV).  Queen Mary, the queen consort of George V,  had Cullinan III set in the surmounting cross of her new crown for her coronation in 1911. In 1914, however they were replaced by crystal models. After that, Queen Mary mainly wore the crown as a circlet, meaning Cullinan III was not needed. Since Queen Mary's death on March 24, 1953 her consort crown has remained unworn and it is thus unknown if Cullinan III will ever be used again to surmount the Crown of Queen Mary. Presently Cullinan III is most frequently worn as a brooch, in combination with Cullinan IV. Cullinan IV is square cushion cut and weighs 63.6 carats. It was also set in the crown originally, as part of the circlet, However it too was removed in 1914. Since then it was been worn as a brooch along with Cullinan III. Collectively the two diamonds are affectionately known as 'Granny's Chips', by Queen Elizabeth II. This was revealed by Queen Elizabeth II on the 25th of March 1958, while she and Prince Philip were on a state visit to the Netherlands. As part of their tour of the country, the couple visited the Asscher diamond works, where the diamond had been cut fifty years earlier. The occasion marked the first time the Queen had publicly worn the brooch. During the event, the Queen unpinned the brooch and offered it for examination by Louis Asscher, the brother of Joseph Asscher, who had originally cut the diamond. Elderly and almost blind, Asscher was deeply moved by the fact the Queen had brought the diamonds along with her, knowing how much the gesture would mean to him, seeing the diamonds after so many years. The Queen has worn the brooch no more than six or seven times in public during her reign. Cullinan V is heart cut and weighs 18.8 carats. It is set in the center of a brooch forming a part of the stomacher of the diamond and emerald Delhi Durbar Parure. The brooch was designed to show off Cullinan V and has a large number of smaller stones set around it. The brooch can also be attached to Cullinans VI and VII to become a large stomacher, often worn by Queen Mary. Queen Elizabeth II has worn this brooch many times, perhaps making it her most worn piece of jewellery. Cullinan VI is also marquise cut and weighs 8.8 carats. It hangs from the brooch containing Cullinan VIII and forming part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar Parure. Cullinan VI along with Cullinan VIII can also be fitted together to make yet another brooch, surrounded by some 96 smaller diamonds. The design was created around the same time that the Cullinan V heart shaped brooch was designed, with them both having a similar shape. Cullinan VII is marquise cut and weighs 11.5 carats. Originally given by Edward VII to Queen Alexandra. After his death she gave this stone to Queen Mary, who had it set as a pendant hanging from the diamond and emerald Delhi Durbar Necklace, of the Delhi Durbar Parure. The Cullinan VIII is set in the center of a brooch forming part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar Parure. It is cushion cut and weighs 6.8 carats. Together with the Cullinan VI it forms a brooch. Queen Elizabeth II inherited this brooch in 1953, however in contrast to the Cullinan V heart brooch, she has never been seen wearing it in public, claiming that 'it gets in the soup'. The Cullinan IX is the final large diamond to be obtained for the Cullinan. It is pear cut and weighs 4.4 carats. It is set in a platinum ring, known as the Cullinan IX Ring.

The Cullinan was split and cut into 7 major stones and 96 smaller stones. Edward VII had the Cullinan I and Cullinan II set respectively into the Sceptre with the Cross and the Imperial State Crown while the remainder of the seven larger stones and the 96 smaller brilliants remained in the possession of the Dutch diamond cutting firm of Messers I. J. Asscher of Amsterdam who had split and cut the Cullinan, until the South African Government bought these stones and the High Commissioner of the Union of South Africa presented them to Queen Mary on 28 June 1910.

Cullinan I is a 530.2 carat, pear cut diamond and the largest of the Cullinan diamonds. It is also known as the Great Star of Africa, and was set in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross which was reworked for this purpose. It may also be hung as the pendant, on its own or from Cullinan II in a brooch. For this purpose the diamonds have both been fitted with two tiny platinum loops on the edges.

Cullinan II, the Second Star of Africa, weighing 317.4 carats and having a rectangular cushion cut, was set in the front of the circlet of the Imperial State Crown.  It may also be used together with Cullinan I as a brooch.

Cullinan III is a pear cut, 94.4 carat diamond known as one of the Lesser Stars of Africa (along with Cullinan IV).  Queen Mary, the queen consort of George V,  had Cullinan III set in the surmounting cross of her new crown for her coronation in 1911. In 1914, however they were replaced by crystal models. After that, Queen Mary mainly wore the crown as a circlet, meaning Cullinan III was not needed. Since Queen Mary's death on March 24, 1953 her consort crown has remained unworn and it is thus unknown if Cullinan III will ever be used again to surmount the Crown of Queen Mary. Presently Cullinan III is most frequently worn as a brooch, in combination with Cullinan IV.

Cullinan IV is square cushion cut and weighs 63.6 carats. It was also set in the crown originally, as part of the circlet, However it too was removed in 1914. Since then it was been worn as a brooch along with Cullinan III. Collectively the two diamonds are affectionately known as 'Granny's Chips', by Queen Elizabeth II. This was revealed by Queen Elizabeth II on the 25th of March 1958, while she and Prince Philip were on a state visit to the Netherlands. As part of their tour of the country, the couple visited the Asscher diamond works, where the diamond had been cut fifty years earlier. The occasion marked the first time the Queen had publicly worn the brooch. During the event, the Queen unpinned the brooch and offered it for examination by Louis Asscher, the brother of Joseph Asscher, who had originally cut the diamond. Elderly and almost blind, Asscher was deeply moved by the fact the Queen had brought the diamonds along with her, knowing how much the gesture would mean to him, seeing the diamonds after so many years. The Queen has worn the brooch no more than six or seven times in public during her reign.

Cullinan V is heart cut and weighs 18.8 carats. It is set in the center of a brooch forming a part of the stomacher of the diamond and emerald Delhi Durbar Parure. The brooch was designed to show off Cullinan V and has a large number of smaller stones set around it. The brooch can also be attached to Cullinans VI and VII to become a large stomacher, often worn by Queen Mary. Queen Elizabeth II has worn this brooch many times, perhaps making it her most worn piece of jewellery.

Cullinan VI is also marquise cut and weighs 8.8 carats. It hangs from the brooch containing Cullinan VIII and forming part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar Parure. Cullinan VI along with Cullinan VIII can also be fitted together to make yet another brooch, surrounded by some 96 smaller diamonds. The design was created around the same time that the Cullinan V heart shaped brooch was designed, with them both having a similar shape.

Cullinan VII is marquise cut and weighs 11.5 carats. Originally given by Edward VII to Queen Alexandra. After his death she gave this stone to Queen Mary, who had it set as a pendant hanging from the diamond and emerald Delhi Durbar Necklace, of the Delhi Durbar Parure.

The Cullinan VIII is set in the center of a brooch forming part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar Parure. It is cushion cut and weighs 6.8 carats. Together with the Cullinan VI it forms a brooch. Queen Elizabeth II inherited this brooch in 1953, however in contrast to the Cullinan V heart brooch, she has never been seen wearing it in public, claiming that 'it gets in the soup'.

The Cullinan IX is the final large diamond to be obtained for the Cullinan. It is pear cut and weighs 4.4 carats. It is set in a platinum ring, known as the Cullinan IX Ring.

Imperial State Crown

Imperial State Crown

Queen Elizabeth II wearing Cullinan V (part of her inheritance)

Queen Elizabeth II wearing Cullinan V (part of her inheritance)

Cullinan IX - a nice ring!

Cullinan IX - a nice ring!

Asscher Cut Diamonds

Vicki IoannouComment

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.

 

The Royal Asscher Cut 

The Royal Asscher Cut 

Gorgeous architecture, fashion and food

Vicki IoannouComment

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:

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/miss-fishers-murder-mysteries/

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.

Enjoying the comfort of the driver's seat in a 1926 Rolls Royce Skiff.

Enjoying the comfort of the driver's seat in a 1926 Rolls Royce Skiff.

Rippon Lea Estate

Rippon Lea Estate

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Above, by the Pool Below, the Boathouse

Above, by the Pool

Below, the Boathouse

Variety of fashion exhibits from the NGV 

Variety of fashion exhibits from the NGV 

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Row of Townhouses in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy

Row of Townhouses in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy

Gorgeous details

Gorgeous details

A Cat just makes it a Home!

A Cat just makes it a Home!

Owen at Breakfast

Owen at Breakfast

Mystic Gemstone

Vicki IoannouComment

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.

 

MysticQuartz.jpg

Gemstone Lore.... or, I'm dying for a Druzy

VickiComment


Gemstone Attributes

What gems do you need?
Agate cleanses the aura by eliminating negativity; soothes & calms
Alexandrite aligns and balances the mental, physical and emotional
Amazonite assists one in communicating ones true thoughts & feelings
Amber is harmonious and soothing, calming and cheering.
Amethyst aids sobriety & recovery; aids meditation; heals heart & lungs; relieves headaches
Ametrine combines the properties of amethyst and citrine
Apatite enhances creativity and stimulates the intellect
Aquamarine brings tranquility & sharpens the mind for creative self-expression
Aventurine balances the yin-yang energies
Bloodstone protects one from negative environmental influences; provides courage
Calcite increases & intensifies energy; promotes learning & healing
Carnelian gives off high energy & provides motivation & optimism
Cats Eye balances brain hemispheres for stronger insight & self-assurance in decision-making
Chalcedony protects & calms; keeps away nightmares 
Chrysoberyl assists one in striving for excellence; brings peace of mind & increases self-confidence 
Chrysoprase encourages a state of grace & deep meditation
Citrine associated with optimism & sustainability; encourages clear thinking
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
Garnet releases anger to purify body; enhances imagination & increases serenity
Hematite reduces stress and enhances mental capabilities
Howlite encourages patience and reduces stress
Iolite connects one with the inner self & promotes simplicity
Jade soothes nervous system; clarify ones purpose
Jasper brings tranquility & wholeness; provides protection & absorbs negativity
Kunzite soothes and calms; a heart-stone
Kyanite opens communication & aids creative expression; dissolves anger & frustration while calming the mind; aids in reaching dreams & goals
Labradorite wards off negative energies from the past & enhances self-reliance
Lapis Lazuli releases stress & brings harmony; allows self expression
Lepidolite is uplifting and balancing
Malachite balances and revitalises; clears subconscious blocks
Moonstone allows one to focus on nurturing oneself.
Morganite is a heart-stone, allowing love into your life.
Onyx aids in banishing grief & breaking bad habits
Opal helps maintain focus; may intensify emotions
Pearl balances moods, absorbs toxins & may intensify thoughts
Peridot soothes bruised egos; releases guilt & past burdens
Prehnite aids in protection; stimulates energy; calms fears & restlessness
Pyrite provides energy; overcomes inertia; helps to see behind a facade
Quartz directs energy to healing and meditation
Green Quartz nourishes the body; provides openness & compassion
Rutilated Quartz encourages creativity & finding a positive direction
Smoky Quartz promotes endurance & energy during stressful times
Rose Quartz generates self-confidence; promotes inner peace; rejuvenates the skin
Ruby produces passion & energy
Sapphire rids unwanted thoughts & brings fulfillment
Scopolite helps to bring about change & attain your goals
Serpentine guards against disease; helps find inner peace
Sodalite Rationalises and aids clear thinking, brings clarity, truth and creative expression.
Silimanite maintains alignment & focus; aids in one's physical well-being
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.
Sunstone provides a new perspective
Tiger Eye increases wealth & vitality; enhances courage, physical strength & passion
Topaz relieves tension & enhances awareness; releases fears & depression
Tourmalinated Quartz Aids in balancing extremes and eliminates destructive influences. 
Tourmaline calms nerves & quiets the mind; promotes balance & understanding
Turquoise (Stone of Life) calms the mind; protects & balances relationships
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.
Zircon symbol of healing; drives away evil spirits & nightmares

Robertson Bird Baths

VickiComment
Feeling a bit blah, maybe coming down with a cold ... looking out the office window and there's a queue for the bird bath!

Next stop, make some green juice (or a hot lemonade...)



A sight for sore eyes!


June Weddings - A brief (northern hemisphere) history

VickiComment
The Romans celebrated a festival in honor of the deity Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of marriage and childbirth, on June first. June also followed May, the month of the “unhappy dead” for the Romans, so not an auspicious month to marry!

During the 15th and 16th centuries AD, June was considered the time when people came outdoors after a long winter and bathed communally. I guess to marry when one is clean seemed to them to be a good beginning… It is quite possible that the use of flowers at weddings was also, initially, a way of masking body odor…

June weddings also come from the Celtic calendar. Even the term “honeymoon” has an historical origin, referring to the first moon after the summer solstice – June 21 – which was called the “honey moon.”

Getting married in June, in those pre-Pill times, meant that children conceived from these unions would be born the following spring, increasing their chances of survival after the long – and often very lean – winter months. Also, Springtime births would not interfere with the fall harvest, which was the busiest time of the year for most people earning their living off the land.

Let us not forget that, until quite recently, there was nothing romantic about weddings. These were business contracts between the bride’s father and the family of the groom, with bride and groom having very little to say about them! Women were considered the property of their father, and, as such, they would be ‘given away’ by their father to the groom’s family during the wedding ceremony. In most cultures, the father also had to pay a dowry to the groom’s family. In a minority of cultures, it was the groom who had to pay a ‘bridewealth’ (the male counterpart of the dowry) to the bride’s family in order to be able to marry her.

Weddings could also be dangerous events, as a wealthy bride could be kidnapped, in order to get a handsome dowry, on her way to the ceremony, or during the ceremony itself.  Bridesmaids were dressed just like the bride to confuse possible captors, and the groom’s place was on the right of the bride in order to provide him with easy access to his sword, if the situation required it…

All these examples indicate how traditions get established by a mixture of pragmatic reasons and emotional ones. On these, new traditions are superimposed, reflecting specific times and beliefs. So, today, the father often is no longer the only one who walks the bride down the isle. It is more likely that both parents walk with the bride, or the bride walks by herself. The say, “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” attests to the human tendency to value continuity and new beginnings, unity and separation.