Category Archives: birthstones

💚Birthstone for May-Emerald-Go green! 💚

The birthstone for May is the mighty Emerald, a stone considered to be a symbol for re-birth and love. Being born in this month will mean you are dependable and quick-witted, not a bad start in life.

Emerald is a stone whose colour reminds us of fictional cities and namesake to a whole isle. The deep green colour in this Beryl mineral is caused by inclusions of chromium, rather than the presence of a diminutive wizard or magical elves.

The brilliant colour of an Emerald is where its value lies, as it is not equal in strength to its hardened friends, diamond or corundum.

Yet the shade of these stones is enough to inspire the most dramatic of jewels. It lends itself well to storytelling since it masquerades as kryptonite in this ‘Superman’ ring by Ming Lampson. Clearly not a ring for Superman himself, but ideal for a wearer trying to bring Superman to his knees.

This vintage inspired pyramid ring by Erica Weiner highlights how just a touch of Emerald could be enough to bring out the green-eyed monster in your mates.

Whereas Robert Trisko makes a statement with this set of jewellery sculptures.

Mikala Djorup’s ring with simple chunky setting shows off a gorgeous stone.

Ornella Iannuzzi’s ring follows the form of the stone in its setting of gold.

Gold lends itself well to complement the tone of this stone, but emerald sits equally with other metals. As we see in this 9ct wax-carved white gold engagement with diamond and aquamarine ring by London Jewellery School tutor Helen Walls.

Green egg no ham. A bespoke ring designed for a couple who met in a cookery class. Just a hint of the frying pan was requested for this design.

Don’t be green with envy at these glittering creations this May. Get started on your own lucky charms on one of our courses.

 

 

 

 

April Birthstone-Diamond-Rough or smooth it’s clearly for you

Lucky babies born in April get a diamond as their birthstone. Characteristics of determination are comparable to the origins the name Diamond, from the Greek ‘adamas’ meaning ‘unbreakable’. They really are the hardest of them all, measuring a mighty 10 on the Mohs scale.

Many wear diamonds every day in engagement rings which is great for showing off that someone wants to marry you, but these beauties were also believed to cure all kinds of illnesses, protect homes from lightning and have wondrous anti-poison powers. So worthwhile trying to tie someone down for the long haul I guess!

The first diamond engagement ring was commissioned by Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477 for Mary of Burgundy. De Beers secured the tradition and commercial success of the diamond for engagement rings in 1947 with its slogan ‘A Diamond is Forever’. De Beers, or companies under that umbrella organisation, control up to 80% of the world’s production and supply of diamonds at any given time.

The shape of the brilliant cut is synonymous with the diamond, this cut is what gave rise to its popularity, showing off its potential for clarity and sparkle. It only takes a piece of jewellery to be shaped this way to conjure the impression of a dazzling diamond, like this ring with a diamond silhouette by Carrie Weston.

Often considered the most precious of gemstones, a diamond sometimes gains celebrity status, not just because of who the wearer might be. These famous stones are notable because of their beauty, size or their exciting lives. The Star of Africa, the largest cut diamond of fine quality, is a ‘celebrity’ diamond that lives locally to the School at the Tower of London.

Initially only found in India, this stone gained popularity after the faceted cut was developed to reveal its true beauty, after which diamonds were mined in Brazil and later South Africa. A diamond would be a pretty good card to have when playing Gemstone Top Trumps (just checked and this doesn’t exist – gap in the market alert!) as a diamond is the only gemstone that can cut a diamond. Lasers are used to cut diamonds nowadays, but powdered diamonds are used in grinding and polishing.

Diamonds are assessed by a system called the ‘Four Cs’: colour, clarity, cut and carat weight. Diamonds with either a very strong colour or completely colourless are the most valuable, yet these rough grey diamonds in this ring by Ruth Tomlinson (above) have a beauty all of their own.

 

Anvil & Ivy rough diamond and silver wax carved ring

London Jewellery School tutor Sophie Arnott (of Anvil & Ivy) uses wax carving to achieve this organic finish with a grey diamond.

The simple clarity of a diamond can lend itself to a multitude of different design styles. As we can see here in these flashy compressed carbon rings. Erica Weiner specialises in vintage-inspired jewellery, this deco lovely and its friends are handmade in New York.

While DMD Metal does delicate deco below.

If bigger is better go for the Queen Nico ring with stunning grey diamond by Digby & Iona.

London jeweller Disa Allsopp may be inspired by the jewellery of ancient civilisations, yet her tiny rows of diamonds look modern and alternative in these unique rings.

So we’re all set for a great April. Are you? Maybe one of our courses could help you get your diamond ducks in a row.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

 

 

 

 

March Birthstone-Aquamarine-Sea life through blue tinted stones

The bluey-green Aquamarine gets its name from the Latin for ‘water of the sea’. Lucky March born children have this brittle, sensitive gem as their birthstone and personalities that reportedly range from friendly and boisterous to vibrant and colourful (like this beautiful stone). Its a gemstone symbolic of health and hope -so perfectly matched to springy feelings.

Aquamarine is part of the Beryl family which includes Emerald and gets its colour from its iron content, with the dark blue shade has always been the most desirable. So what would you do if these stones were given to you (apart from saying thank you kindly)? These jewellers are here to show you some wildly different ways of handling Aquamarine’s watery depths.

Massimo Izzo heads to the rock pool for an epic splash of decadence with this Aquamarine, Diamond, Yellow Gold ring, representing sea life-starfish, seahorse and shells.

Here Rosanne Pugliese heads to the other extreme with a lovely minimal setting, using a delicate Gold frame to clasp a sheet of Aquamarine in place.

Art Nouveau master Rene Lalique does delicacy and abundance in one piece with this dragonfly and grasshopper necklace.

On a smaller scale in this very wearable ring, set with Aquamarine, blue topaz and diamonds by Melanie Casey.

Finally Regine Schwarzer shows us how to pick a boldly-coloured stone (like the bottom of the ocean this Aquamarine potentially has its own thoughts and feelings it’s so deep) and make a piece all about beautiful shade and texture by avoiding traditional faceting.

 

Spring hasn’t totally sprung but it’s never too early to jump into one of our lovely classes.

 

 

Jewel Day-All that glitters

Often in life it’s the genuine article, the purest and most natural, which we value most. All gemstones have a special month to shine, see ‘Birthstones’. So it’s worth exploring the joys of the unreal, underappreciated or synthetic of the jewellery world on Jewel day.

 

Let’s first take a look at the useful, synthetic, Cubic Zirconia (aka CZ). CZ may not be the product of the forces of nature but it’s no fake and has much to recommend it for use in jewellery making. Low cost, durable and flawless, these faceted beauts can be made in many colours. And Cubic Zirconia is up there with diamond in strength, measuring 8 ½ to a diamond’s 10 on the Mohs* scale.

Next, let’s turn our starry-eyed attention to the Druzy. Druzy is a crystal coating on top of a colourful mineral. These crystals can vary in size and are commonly found on quartz, but also garnet, calcite, malachite and dolomite. Usually found where rocks have contact with water that can evaporate, the crystal finish is the last layer of growth. These are naturally occurring gems, but they have the tendency to look manufactured due to the overly glittery appearance of the crystals and that the stones can be coloured. London Jewellery School tutor Amy Keeper often utilises Druzy stones in her work.

Jeweller Nikki Couppee experiments with different combinations of synthetic materials and resins in the making of her flamboyant hologem pieces. She uses everyday materials like silver foil to replicate the appearance and lustre of gemstones with an astonishing variety of results.

Couppee’s work may be shiny and pretty on the surface but its meanings run deep and reflect on themes of jewellery’s role in society and the psychology behind adornment. Her early jewellery making experiments were products of a hurricane that destroyed the area of Florida where she lived in. Leaving a plethora of materials broken from the houses that were swept away, young Couppee would create jewellery from these pieces built up like mosaics. It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. Also (unrelated), some of her pieces glow in the dark!

Whether your gems be real or fake, we have a number of courses that can inspire you to shine with them.

*Moh’s scale is named after Frederick Moh who invented a scale for hardness based on the ability for minerals to scratch each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January Birthstones-Garnet-Give me strength

Weary or rested from celebrating or resting over the December break, January may feel like a rough month to have a birthday. But these January folks are not down-hearted. They are ambitious leaders, who love to learn new things and take living seriously. They also have a cracking birthstone in garnet to back them up, thought to bring strength, good health and prosperity.

This beautiful rock can be found in many colours but most commonly in the red of almandine and pyrope garnets. Iron and magnesium cause the colour differences in these stones.

Garnet has been used in digit decoration from Romans times, with these simple styles still holding their own in contemporary adornment as we see here in this mercury ring by Astley Clarke.

It is thought that the name garnet derives from the Latin for pomegranate ‘granatum’, due to the similarities of colour of the fruity innards. This is a possibility explored in detail by ‘Winged Lion‘ jeweller Sergey Zhiboedov with their garnet pomegranate pieces.

 

Another fruity offering comes from Alison Maclead with this ring that suggests a cluster of berries or grapes.

 

London Jewellery School tutor Helen Walls often illustrates the point that a single gem against silver is a winning combination and proves this again with a simple blood-red garnet droplet from a textured hoop.

So if it’s a little or a lot of your birthstone you wish to pin down to your crown. Have no fear to start the year, take the lead and get some inspiration in one of our classes.

Birthstones for December-Tanzanite, Zircon and Turquoise-Wild blue yonder

As the year draws to an end sometimes we start to question things. Reflect. What will we do next year? What is the meaning of life? Why is the sky blue (or probably grey)? Well sorry, haven’t got the answer to those, ask google maybe. But we can round off the year by discussing why Turquoise is blue and sometimes greener and why Tanzanite is called Tanzanite.

So, you fun December kids have a deep pool of blue shades to choose from as birthstones in these three.

Turquoise gets its name from the Turkish stone-trade route that brought it to Europe. Sky blue is the rarest colour and is caused by the presence of copper in its composition, or, alternatively when there is more of a tinge of green, this is due to iron. Veins of the ‘host rock’ can be seen in many stones. Turquoise was one of the first stones to be mined and was mined and traded in many countries around the world. Turquoise has been used in ornamentation in ancient cultures including Egypt and is a respected gemstone in Native American culture, used by tribal healers and worn by warriors wishing to succeed in battle.

Pilar_Earring_Sterling_Silver_Turquoise_2000x

Pamela Love

Zircon can come in many colours, its blue variety is created through heat treatment. The naturally brown zircons are the most common and the red variety is the most rare and expensive. Zircon was used for centuries in Indian and Sri Lankan jewellery. It is said to give a restful night’s sleep, absorb negative vibrations and have strong healing properties. Not bad for a stone that can be confused with the completely man-made, however useful, cubic zirconia.

MarkNuellZircondropearrings

Mark Nuell

Tanzanite was discovered in Tanzania, as late as 1967, hence the name. The blue of tanzanite is a unique colour, different to other blue gems and was introduced to the world of mainstream jewellery by Tiffany and Co. This stone is thought to cleanse the chakras and help the wearer pursue their dreams and seek their purpose in life. Who said jewellery wasn’t the answer?

tiffany-blue-book_tanzanite-ring

Tiffany & Co

So, whether you chose Turquoise, Zircon or Tanzanite to guide you. Wishing you a restful end of the year, the renewed energy to pursue your dreams in the new year and success in any battles you may encounter. Maybe you could start by pursuing one of our courses.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

Birthstones for October-Opal and Tourmaline-Fruity favourites

If you are born in October you are peace loving characters who wish to be surrounded by beauty. So it’s fitting that your birthstones are the ones with magical rainbow shades, Opal and Tourmaline.

Tourmaline is best known for its green and pink shades but it is the gemstone found in the greatest range of colours. The watermelon effect of the stones that present with two-in-one colouration are clearly the most delicious. Here they are celebrated together, although not as one, nestled in these stunning orbs by master jeweller Friedrich Becker.

tourmaline

The internal structure of an opal causes multi-coloured light diffractions to occur and these characteristic rainbow effects can be found in stones of very different tones too. For jewellers it is both an inspirational friend and technical foe with its softness and tendency to expand and contract according to temperature fluctuations. This makes it a very difficult stone to work with.

Kimberlin Brown uses opal to very different effect in her work that references nature and organic forms. As we can see here in these two rings, the delicate ‘anemone’ contrasts with the intergalactic beast ‘galaxy’ without sacrificing her signature style.

opal anemone kimNEW_3_Opal_slim

October child, whatever your flavour, you won’t fail to find a tempting juicy delight in one these fruity pieces using these dynamic stones. But be sure to give one, or five, of our classes a try if you feel the need for more jewellery nutrition.

Birthstone for September-Sapphire-Barnacles of Bling

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and is famous for its deep blue colour, caused by the presence of iron and titanium. But these stones can be found in almost every colour and when non-blueness occurs they are termed ‘fancy’. A nice compliment, although it makes the gemstones less valuable.

It’s tough to write about sapphires without mentioning ‘that ring’ (you know, the one that now belongs to Kate). However, I intend to sidestep it to not seem like a big fawning royalist and just say it’s iconic. (Iconic enough that my American brother-in-law thought it might be mandatory to propose to British ladies with a blue-stoned ring. He didn’t, but I like the story.)

If you are born in September you are graced with the qualities of tolerance and wisdom. You are also inspirational. The thing is with these gemstones, they do lend themselves to be used in significant pieces of jewellery on account of their value. So they may be better for inspiration rather than aspiration for now.

london-jewellery-school-blog-lydia-courteille-sapphire

Even this little skeleton merperson brooch by Lydia Courteille has an indicator of once being a marine monarch in its dinky crown.

london-jewellery-school-blog-sapphire-river-gold-ring-polly-waleslondon-jewellery-school-blog-sapphire-river-gold-skull-ring-polly-wales

Yet jeweller Polly Wales has left no stone un-cast in these two examples of her signature technique of casting stones in place rather than setting. The skull encrusted with sapphires of different sizes could be the remnants of an underwater pirating accident producing a facial of sparkling barnacles of bling.

Maybe Leo wouldn’t have come to such a sticky end if (the other) Kate’s blue diamond necklace had been a sapphire instead. That ‘heart of the ocean’ could have gone for a light dip in a pool with a parrot rather than being brutally chucked into the waves by old lady Kate.

Anyhow, all’s well that ends well. And even if it’s not your birthday, don’t get the blues. Give yourself a present and join us on one of our stone setting courses and learn techniques to bring your own inspiration to the nation.

Stone setting in silver (2 days)

Intermediate stone setting

Channel setting in silver

Collet setting in silver

Grain setting in silver

Stone setting in metal clay

Introduction to gemstones (evening taster class)

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

August Birthstones-Spin Spin Spinel

Well, August child, not much to live up to here, but you are the best person anyone will ever know!

Your birthstones are Peridot, Sardonyx, Spinel, so you are spoilt in this area as well as having a splendid personality. Peridot will protect you from evil with its greeny magic and bring you good fortune. Spinel can masquerade as Ruby (which can only be a good thing). In fact, the Black Prince’s Ruby that dominates the front of the Crown, of the Crown Jewels fame, is a sneaky little (or not so little) Spinel (it weighs 34g). And Saydonyx with its layered formation, which is traditionally crafted into cameos could be used to capture your no doubt delightful profile.

Only the most fabulous of jewels could be appropriate for you August lion kings and queens. Go wild with the possibilities of summer colour as here with Solange Azagury’s marvellously fruity ring brings us an opal sandwich with spinel bread.

london-jewellery-school-blog-solange-azagury-opal-spinel-ring

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.