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November is for Topaz

Topaz! It’s such a versatile, colorful birthstone. It comes in blue, orange, white, gold, pink, brown, green – Almost the entire rainbow! November folks are lucky, because topaz is believed to garner success in all endeavors. Different colors were believed to have different effects, such as yellow for wealth and blue for insight.

Today, you often see white topaz as an alternative to diamonds in jewelry. Thanks to modern science, there are an abundance of treatments that can be applied to topazes to induce brilliant plays of color that you can’t find anywhere else. They’re usually marketed as “Mystic Topaz” and they’re made with chemical coatings, heating, radiation, or a mix of all three! In fact, my engagement ring has a green/purple Mystic Topaz in it. The mix of color was made by coating the stone with a thin layer of titanium before irradiating it.

Which kind of topaz is YOUR favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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It’s Earth Science Week

Did you know that today is not only Indigenious Peoples Day, but the start of Earth Science Week? It is! And if that’s not cool enough, the 14th is also National Fossil Day. Given how our Little One has been in her “Dinosaurs are Awesome” phase since she learned they existed, she’s super stoked for Wednesday. She’s already planning her outfit.

To celebrate, I’m going to be sharing awesome mineral specimens (along with the usual stuff) on my Instagram feed this week. Expect sparkly gems and cool minerals! Here’s some links for you:

My Instagram: @sinclairjewelry
Brian’s Instagram: @brian_hagan

This geode was so big it could be used as a very fancy and impractical bathtub.

An Amethyst Geode from our trip to the Tucson Gem Show in 2014. Brian for scale.

If you want to learn more about Earth Science Week, you can check out their website, Earth Science Week, and the same goes for National Fossil Day. If you’ve got Little Ones of your own, you can show them the interview with Dr. Scott – yes, that Dr. Scott – where he talks about how he was obsessed with dinosaurs as a child and how he got into paleontology.

Is there anything you’d like to see me post in particular? Specific gems? Cool fossils? Let me know in the comments!

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Venus Earrings History and Craftsmanship

Because pearls come from the sea, they gained a permanent connection to Venus, goddess of love, who was born from the waves’ foam and carried to shore on a clamshell. Venus was also the goddess in charge of everyday drinking wine, while Jupiter was in charge of sacred wine used for religious ceremonies. Venus’s wine festivals were celebrated throughout the Empire and were very well attended. As a result, wine-purple amethyst also became a stone associated with love while green stones were connected to spring and fertility. These gems were often placed together in various combinations.

A jewelry staple for centuries, pearl studs can be as fancy or as simple as you’d like. We added our own twist with a granulated border and riveting. I chose to rivet the pearls in place, rather than glue them, not only for added security but also to showcase an ancient technique not typically used today.

These earrings were directly inspired by Greek and Roman earrings discovered in the late 1800s. Flat discs covered in granulation and set with gems or dangling pearls seemed to be a popular earring style throughout the ancient world.

Before I begin cutting the back plate from sheet silver, I had to match the cultured, freshwater button pearls. The pearls are then placed on a silver wire that I soldered to the back plate of the earring. Then, I carefully hammered the end of the wire until it flattened out like the head of a nail. This delicate work requires patience, but results in a secure, timelessly elegant earring.

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Labradorite Crown Ring History and Craftsmanship

Handmade Labradorite Sterling Silver Crown Ring

Brian and I work hard to ensure our labradorite’s intense colors dance with fire. We think there is nothing sadder than a beautiful piece of jewelry with a dead labradorite in it. Brian selectively sources each rough stone through various dealers and then cuts them to size for my rings in his lapidary workshop.

The stone offers a wide range of color–mixed greens and blues are most common, but you can also find red, orange, and yellow. Purple labradorite is quite rare, but sometimes you’ll see threads of the royal shade mixed with the other colors. Because of the variety in shades and patterns, each ring will be unique as its wearer. Rest assured: all of them will be beautiful.

In medieval times, jewelry was as symbolic as it was decorative. Accessories could signify both your rank within an organization, such as the military or church, and the types of stone or metal were often tightly controlled by sumptuary laws. These laws were designed to reinforce strict social classes–everything from food to clothing could be regulated, depending where you lived. Only the upper classes were permitted to wear fine jewelry and clothes, which meant many jewelers could not legally wear their own creations!

Symbols connected with royalty, such as the crown-inspired setting in these rings, were restricted to those of royal blood and people with a high rank in Court. One theory surrounding medieval portraits suggests that people held (rather than wore) certain pieces of fine jewelry because they weren’t allowed to wear the pieces, unless they were gifted to them by royalty.

This sterling silver ring is a special piece–labradorite is my favorite stone and I craft each ring by hand, carefully tracing the outline of each stone to make the crown-inspired setting just right. This fairly modern addition to jewelry was first discovered in Labrador, Canada, in the late 1700s, but wasn’t used as a gem until spectrolite, a labradorite variety, was found in Finland after World War II.

The stone has been well known to the Inuit, who believe the flashes of color and fire are the Northern Lights shining within the stone. Legend tells us a passing warrior saw the lights trapped within the stone and freed them with a mighty strike from his spear, releasing the wonder into the night sky. Some of the lights remained within, and that’s how we came to have this magical piece of nature.

Handmade Labradorite Rings In-progress

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Our Fluorite Jewelry History and Craftsmanship

Handmade Fluorite Fine Silver Roman Necklace

Rainbow fluorite was highly prized by the Romans, not only for its rarity (their only source was Parthia), but also for its beautiful bands of color.

Historically, fluorite was worked into cups and dishes to best display the patterns of this relatively-soft stone. The Romans believed that wine drunk from a fluorite cup tasted sweeter. This was partially true, as the vessels were typically covered in a clear, protective resin to prevent cracks or chips–the resins reacted to the acid in the wine and actually did make the drink a bit sweeter!

The bracelet and necklace on this page are made from fine silver, with rainbow fluorite beads spaced evenly between the lengths of chain. As I always do with my chains, I cut, fused, and formed each link by hand before weaving them together while Brian drilled the soft stones one by one. This let me thread the beads directly onto the chains as I made them.

The natural banding in the stone means each set is unique. The most common shades are greens, purples, and clear with thin bands and wisps of color.

I handmade the clasps from sterling silver as well, using a toggle clasp on the bracelet and a hook/eye clasp on the necklace.

Handmade Fluorite Fine Silver Roman Bracelet Sinclair Jewelry Torch Jewelry Making Sinclair Jewelry Making Fine Silver Links

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Garnet, January’s Birthstone

Brian, our resident gemologist and gemcutter, is here to tell you about garnets, which also happens to be his birthstone as well. Learn some interesting facts, and see some examples of different types of garnets, including some very pretty tasvorites. (his favorite)

And because this is the internet you’ll also see a brief cameo from Pasha, one of our cats.