VIX Jewellery

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 a  bout 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.

_JAsscher2.jpg
  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

PoolRipponLeaVicki.jpg
 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 

Dress2.jpg
Shoes.jpg
 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.


Green Lemonade

VickiComment
This is my recipe for an energizing and healthy drink.  It is a great alternative to coffee for when you feel like a lift.  To make enough for two people, all you need are the following five ingredients and an electric juicer.

A word to the wise:  most fruit and vegetables can be processed washed and unpeeled, except for citrus, the skin of which is very bitter and will be detrimental to the taste of your juice.


1 Lebanese Cucumber
1 Pink Lady Apple
1 Large Meyer Lemon, peeled
1 Celery stalk
Small handful fresh Parsley




Always Against Animal Testing

VickiComment

So, I had to go shopping for skincare products.  I also had to be wary of what I was buying, being concerned about the evils of animal testing.  This information will help you stay on top of what's what. Here is my go-to list for when you have to go shopping for makeup and skincare products.


Brands That Do Not Test On Animals

100% PureEmbryolisseNia24
AcneFreeEminence Organic Skin CareNude Skincare
AhavaEpicuren DiscoveryNYX Cosmetics
Alba BotanicaErno LaszloObagi
AlgenistEve LomOle Henriksen
AlmayExuviance by NeoStrataPalladio Beauty
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Mushrooms

Vicki4 Comments
Decided to transplant some nice looking mushrooms into the yard.  Hoping for some good results.  I suspect these orange ones, shown here, are edible. I found them under pine trees when I was out for a run, earlier. I know that the pretty red ones with white spots are definitely not for eating (found those under the same pine tree!)

Maybe someone out there can let me know.




Magpies are Cool

VickiComment
The weather has taken a turn - for the better.  I love the crispness of the air in Autumn.

The communal birdbath is doing great, as well.

Every day, I usually see at least five different varieties of birds congregate to take a dip or a drink - just caught these guys a moment ago.

Magpies are cool.



While the oven was on ...

VickiComment
Went to CTC last night to see their screening of The Age of Innocence, a great film by Martin Scorcese.  One of the stars of the film, Miriam Margolyes, was there to talk a bit about it and answer questions, afterward.  A good night was had by all.  In addition to the luxurious decor and costumes, the dining scenes with closeups of the lavish table settings and exquisite food, was a particular highlight for me. I have had food on the mind since.  Despite the hot weather outdoors, the oven was on today so I made the most of it.  Not quite fine dining, a la Gilded Age, but certainly passable for this day's efforts - R-L Soy Ginger Chicken Drumsticks, Spelt Bread, Rhubard Apple Crumble (using Samantha's gift of Rhubarb), Chocolate Orange Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting.


Treats

VickiComment
Happy New Year to everyone!

One good way to start the new year is with Thunder and Lightning.  No, not the meteorological kind... the culinary kind.  Shown below, just before devourment.

One word, Yum!


Museum Trip

VickiComment
Yesterday, I had the good experience of attending the Australian Museum's exhibition of Alexander the Great.  This exhibition (of over 400 artifacts) is excellent and I highly recommend that people go and see it.  Loads of good stuff to see, much of it is about 2,000 years old. 

Alexander III of Macedonia (356-323 BC) owes his epithet ‘the Great’ to the enormous territory that he conquered: from Greece in the west to the river Indus in the east, the largest empire in antiquity.  This is all the more remarkable when you read  that he subjugated this vast region within just eleven years, and that he was only twenty years of age when he came to power.  

Last night we were welcomed with cocktails and Greek-themed canapes on arrival, in addition to some sideshow stuff like face painting, temporary tattooing, themed photography, balloon sword making and even one of the Museum's live snakes was brought in (this last one being in honor of Alexander's mother, Olympias, being a devout member of a snake-worshipping cult of Dionysus).  ACU drama students provided a comic relief via their performance of "Alexander - the Great"? - a humorous reflection of Alex's life, narrated by his tutor, Aristotle.  Naturally, no camera's were allowed to be used in the exhibit, but I managed to locate pictures of a few of the artifacts to share here.  

Chariot shaft

Musician

Ancient textile 

The Gonzago Cameo

Really nice example of repousse work in gold

Greek Tetradrachma in silver

Spring Flowers

Vicki1 Comment
I love it when people give me flowers and this has inspired me to create a range of floral earrings.  Set against my lovely peonies and roses, I think they are very cheerful.  The basic flower motif is designed to be worn alone, with colour variation and/or embellished with beads or set stones.  You get to pick.  Which style do you like?

Sterling Silver Earrings by VIX.  Floral arrangement courtesy of Denis.

Melbourne Cup Day Lunch at Craigieburn

VickiComment
Another big day out - this time, heading off to Craigieburn in Bowral for the annual Melbourne Cup Luncheon.  Table Four consisted of chatty, fun people, luckily every one of them displaying a keen interest in jewellery!  The food was fine and we all won a prize or two from the raffle and Tombola.  Alas, the Sweep winnings went to others.

Table Four

Champagne Jelly with Tropical Fruits

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Candied Hibiscus Flower and Clotted Cream

Big Botanical Day Out

Vicki2 Comments
Yesterday, I joined a group of botanists and botanical artists to go and find wild orchids.  Our destinations were the cemeteries at Penrose and Tallong, two villages in the Southern Highlands.  Though not all of them orchids, here is what we found.





Melaleuca sp.


Purple Fringed Iris

Match Heads

Pea Flower


Diuris sulphurea aka Tiger Donkey Orchid

Hybanthus sp.

Thelymitra ixiodes aka Spotted Sun Orchid

Diuris punctata aka Purple Diuris, found at Penrose

Diuris punctata, found at Tallong