Friday, February 27, 2009

Lapis Lazuli and Diamond Pendant.

This Lapis pendant is Dino's latest creation, and with such intensely saturated blues, this one will certainly be memorable.

As luscious as mother nature could make it, these lapis sister stones have all of the depth of the sea with the billowing detail of every cloud in the sky.

The earth and its geology never cease to amaze us at the shop, with future projects in the works featuring crystal agate, rutilated quartz, and ... a fossil. (Right: 'what-now-stage'.)

Many of these pieces will be on display during our 'Landscapes' exhibition featuring the work of Darlene Martin of BijouxBead. Her work will also feature many of the earths not-so-popular gems, from turquoise to labradorite.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

18Karat Presents: B I J O U X B E A D

18Karat is thrilled to announce that during the month of March we will be hosting Landscapes, featuring the work of Darlene Martin of BijouxBead.

Inspired by every facet of Canadian life and experience, Darlene fastens a personal story to every stone or bead as she creates each exceptional piece. With pieces such as 'Cottaging in Canmore' and 'Jet Fuel' you get a sense of the personal connection this designer has made with each individual item.

Whether a subtle collection of hues or outstanding shades, Martin has created a piece to suit each mood and wardrobe.

Get Con
On March 26, 2009 at 7pm 18Karat will be hosting a reception at our shop at 275 Dundas Street West. We invite everyone to come meet the artist and view some of these wonderful pieces.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Congratulations to Our Valentines Day Winner!

As we survived the hearts and red velvet, we hope everyone had a memorable and happy Valentines day. Now for the exciting part.. announcing the winner of our Valentines Day Gift Give-Away. We would like to congratulate David Wong of Toronto for winning a stunning pair of studs set in 18 karat gold. We are sure he will make someones day a lot brighter with this exquisite gift.

(Vanessa & David Wong: Choosing a Prize!)

(Massimo and Dino and David Wong: Congratulations!)

We were thrilled with how many people took part in this event and would like to mention that we are hoping to host similar events in the near future.. so stay tuned!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day at the Museum

Yesterday on my day off from the shop, I went on my long anticipated trip to the Royal Ontario Museum to finally see the Diamond Exhibit presented by De Beers.
While I had heard that lines ran for miles as patrons waited to catch a glimpse of the monster diamond – a late Wednesday afternoon left us relatively alone with the stones.

With gorgeous examples of gems throughout the ages, the most fascinating story of the exhibit - at least in my opinion - was the story of the gem cutter. Perhaps this thread runs rather subtlety through the show, but it is really quite amazing to watch as rough, hazy, diamond chunks evolve over hundreds of years into brilliantly faceted gems - the epitome of precision and the search for perfection.

Maybe I do not frequent the museum as much as some - having not been there for years - but I think the most impressive and spectacular part of the trip was the mineral and gem collection. Not only could you amaze at the utter genius and complexity of natures formations (from the perfectly symmetrical and proportioned geometric shapes to the fluid and organic) but also peruse exquisite examples of your not-so-usual faceted gems: tourmaline, tanzanite, as well as some exquisite examples of mandarin garnets, (and with a tiny little side-note I must add, that while to some these gems to seem rather exotic, after working at 18Karat for these last 7months I must say I have seen the lot as they glitter it up on in our display cases.)

Lovers of jewellery and beautiful things cannot help by be moved by these radiant gems.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love Days: Victorian Romance.

As Queen Victoria ascended the throne of the expanding British Empire, the scarcity of diamonds and the high prices they demanded meant they remained the preserve of the upper and noble classes.

The 1870's however, changed everything. In South Africa, diamond mines began opening throughout the country thus increasing the diamond supply as well as decreasing their price. This saw jewellery design flourish as the burgeoning middle and working classes could now afford such luxuries.

To My Dearest...

Romanticism marked the Victorian era, highlighted through the works of Jane Austen - novels such as Pride and Prejudice. So it is no surprise that this sentiment should filter into jewellery design.

'Dearest' and 'Regard' rings seemed to epitomize the sentimental, with rings spelling out these words using the first letter of the stones name, (D=Diamond, E=Emerald, A=Amethyst, etc.)(A replica of a Victorian 'Dearest' Ring)

To My Betroved...

By the Victorian era, brides could expect two rings as part of the standard matrimonial tradition - a bejeweled engagement ring and a gold wedding band. The most popular engagement rings were the single stone rings flanked by diamonds. However, carved-detail half-hoop rings were also very popular (pictured left).

To My Eternal...

A revival of the serpent by the Victorians harked back to the Roman use of the snake as a symbol for eternity. With eyes of diamonds or rubies, these rings seem a somewhat sinister way to say 'I Love You'.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Love Days: Ancient Engagements

With Valentines Day looming, I had to ask the obvious question: why is jewellery so romantic and how has one item in particular come to symbolize love and the matrimonial bond?

While marriage may be as old as the cavemen, it was the ancient Egyptians - worshipers of the sun disk - who are accredited with the engagement ring. The uninterrupted curves of the circle was the ultimate symbol of the eternal, supporting the Egyptian belief that life, love, and happiness had no beginning or end. While it served to embody the never ending, the ring was certainly not a symbol of monogamy - the ancient Egyptians were famous for their concubines.

Continuing the tradition of the ring - although for very different reasons - the ancient Romans used the ring as a symbol of legally binding ownership of the bride. Engagement rings symbolized the transfer of possession of women (along with dowry and social status) by their fathers to their husbands without input from the brides themselves. (This practice remained steadfast for centuries, even into modern times.)

Perhaps one of the most intriguing engagement traditions is the puzzle ring, often referred to as the 'Turkish' ring, despite no clear link to this country as a site of origin. Believed to have been born in the Middle East over 2000 years ago, legend attributes the puzzle ring to a sheik or sultan who was madly in love with his wife ( or possessed incredible streaks of jealousy and mistrust) and in assuring her faithfulness commissioned a goldsmith to create a ring comprised of multiple and complex pieces that would collapse if removed. If ever his wife removed the ring in order to engage in an adulterous affair, the broken ring would be evidence of her infidelity.

The first recorded diamond engagement ring was presented to Mary of Burgundy (pictured to the right) by Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477. The archduke commissioned the ring to serves as a symbol of their two powerful families uniting. Such a gesture proved successful as Mary and Maximilian became the ancestors of Spanish, French, and English kings.

During the Middle Ages, diamonds took off as the symbol of the the matrimonial bond, due to their unbreakable and eternal characteristics. However, it was not until relatively recent times that diamonds became available to anyone who was not a member of the aristocracy or nobility.