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Finding Your Sparkle: How to Choose a Custom Jewelry Designer

Choosing a designer for your custom jewelry is like finding the right dance partner for a waltz on Dancing With the Stars! It’s a crucial step in translating your dream into a tangible, sparkling reality. Just as those pesky trolls love to tie knots in your chains (see previous blog:), the right custom jewelry designer will love to untangle your ideas into something truly magical. Mothers jewelry and remounts are great places to start. Here’s why teaming up with a skilled professional is the path to achieving your unique jewelry dreams.

blue troll with jewelry

  1. Your Dream Realized: The magic of custom jewelry starts with your vision. Whether your imagination holds a distinct design or needs a gentle nudge from an expert, your designer is your partner in shaping this vision into an exquisite piece of wearable art. A skilled designer will gently lure your jewelry desires to the forefront by knowing what questions to ask.
  2. A Celebration of Uniqueness: Custom jewelry is the equivalent of your one-of-a-kind personality. Many traditional jewelry stores have sales people and occasionally a craftsman or bench jeweler. Very few have a trained designer! With a designer (aka, an artist) dedicated to bringing your personal piece to fruition, you gain a work of art as unique as your own fingerprint. Imagine wearing your personality, literally on your sleeve, or perhaps around your neck or on your finger! It’s like having a piece of yourself that can be an extension of your creative identity.
  3. Assured Expert Craftsmanship: As a fine jeweler, I am passionate about creating quality pieces, ensuring that you entrust your dream to a professional committed to building jewelry for generations to enjoy. Custom jewelry marries premium materials with meticulous craftsmanship. And we make sure the final product doesn’t just meet but exceeds your expectations.
  4. Inherent Flexibility: Designing custom jewelry isn’t like choosing a one-size-fits-all hat; it’s a flexible journey where your style preferences guide the way. Your designer acts not just as a creator but as a trusted ally, ensuring that every piece reflects your individuality, whether you’re drawn to the elegance of classic designs or the innovation of modern styles. 
Custom versa designs by Jbriggs.Co

Custom versa designs by Jbriggs.Co

This process is more than just about making jewelry; it’s about crafting a symbol of special occasions, personal expression, or the luxury of owning something truly one-of-a-kind. In this collaborative venture, you’ll find that a custom jewelry designer could become as cherished as a lifelong friend, celebrating your unique story with a piece crafted with love and finesse.

PS: If only we could figure out how to create a custom jewelry piece that stops trolls from knotting chains and  stealing socks! But until then, we’ll keep making beautiful things that help you shine.

Thanks for reading,

Jennifer

A Guide to Understanding Colored Gemstones in Fine Jewelry

When it comes to fine jewelry, gemstones are the alluring stars that often steal the show. Although diamonds typically take center stage, an array of other gemstones offer a wide spectrum of colors and symbolism. Colored Gemstones originate from all over the word; This guide will delve into some of the most common gemstones you’ll see in fine jewelry, offering a new appreciation to the variety and beauty of these precious and semi-precious stones.

Emeralds

Recognized for their deep, rich green color, emeralds are members of the Beryl family of minerals. Highly prized in fine jewelry, the value of an emerald can often surpass that of a diamond due to its rarity and color. They symbolize rebirth and love, and their vibrant hue brings elegance and sophistication to any piece.

The majority of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia and Zambia. Colombia’s emeralds are highly sought after for their pure green hue, while Zambian emeralds are known for their deep, bluish-green color.

Rubies

Rubies are revered for their fiery red color, representing passion and protection. They belong to the Corundum mineral family, and their durability is second only to diamonds, making them excellent choices for everyday wear. Fine rubies with little to no imperfections are incredibly rare and highly valued.

Historically, the Mogok region of Burma, now Myanmar, has produced exquisite rubies with a pure, saturated red color known as ‘pigeon’s blood’. However, Thailand’s Chanthaburi and Trat districts are also significant ruby sources, producing stones with a darker, more garnet-like color.

Sapphires

Sapphires, famed for their royal blue color, are part of the corundum family and come in nearly every color except red. They symbolize wisdom and nobility, making them a popular choice for ceremonial jewelry and engagement rings. These gemstones are mined worldwide, including locations such as Madagascar, Australia, the United States, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Kenya, and Tanzania. However, the three most prominent sources, known for their high-quality sapphires, are Kashmir, Burma, and Sri Lanka.

The sapphires mined from Kashmir are the most rare and valuable. The Kashmir mines were active for only about 40 years between 1880 and 1920, which contributes to the rarity and high value of these stones. Sri Lanka, previously known as Ceylon until its independence from Britain in 1948, is a significant source of vibrant sapphires. The blue sapphires from Sri Lanka, referred to as Ceylon Sapphires, are renowned for their lighter, brighter, and more vivid hues compared to the darker blue sapphires from other regions. These Sri Lankan or Ceylon Sapphires have a rich history dating back to the second century A.D., making Sri Lanka home to some of the world’s oldest sapphire mines. Their popularity peaked during the fourth and fifth centuries when they were extensively traded internationally, establishing their lasting appeal and importance in the gemstone market.

Amethysts

These charming purple stones are a variety of quartz, known for their wide range of purple shades. Once as expensive as rubies and emeralds, amethysts became more accessible once large deposits were found in Brazil. They are believed to promote calmness and balance, making them a popular choice for spiritual or meditation jewelry.

Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state is one of the world’s leading amethyst producers, with mines extracting the gem from volcanic rocks. Uruguay’s Artigas region also has large amethyst deposits, with the stones often found inside geodes in the area’s basalt flows. With a hardiness rating of 7 on the Moh’s scale, Amethyst and it’s fellow quartz varieties are ideal for pendants and earrings.

Opals

Opals are truly unique gemstones. They exhibit a range of colors in a single stone through a phenomenon known as “play-of-color.” The presence of tiny silica spheres within the stone diffracts light to create this dazzling effect. Opals symbolize hope, innocence, and purity.

Coober Pedy in South Australia is known as the opal capital of the world, with the town’s opal fields producing an abundance of precious white opal. The Lightning Ridge area, also in Australia, is known for its rare and valuable black opal.

Boulder Opals

The Boulder Opal is another variety of Opal that is quite lovely. These distinctive gemstones are unique in that the opal forms in a thin layer within the fissures and cavities of ironstone boulders. The opal layer is often left attached to the ironstone backing when cut and polished, providing a dark and dramatic backdrop that enhances the opal’s vibrant play-of-color.

The Queensland mining fields in Australia are a primary source for these beautiful boulder opals. Their captivating interplay of color and unique patterns, framed by the raw, rugged ironstone, makes each boulder opal a unique piece of art.

Pearls

While technically not gemstones, pearls have been an integral part of fine jewelry for centuries. Formed within mollusks, pearls are the only gems derived from a living creature. They come in various colors, including white, black, grey, and pink, and symbolize wisdom and integrity. The deep green & rose ‘oil slick color combination known as Peacock is highly desirable among Tahitian Pearls

Natural pearls are most commonly sourced from the Persian Gulf, especially around Bahrain. Japan, however, revolutionized the industry in the early 20th century by developing methods to cultivate pearls, making them more widely available. Natural pearls are now extremely rare.

Aquamarines

Known for their captivating sea-blue color, Aquamarines are the blue to blue-green variety of Beryl, the same mineral family that emeralds belong to. These gemstones have been cherished for their tranquility and soothing characteristics, symbolizing harmony and trust.

Historically, the most famous deposits of aquamarine have been in the country of Brazil. However, other significant sources include the African countries of Madagascar, Kenya, and Nigeria. Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains are also well-known for producing stunning aquamarines, often found in pegmatite deposits. As with Emeralds, Aquamarines are best suited for pendants and earrings or light wear in a ring.

Tourmalines

Tourmalines are among the most versatile of gemstones, owing to their availability in an almost endless variety of colors. From luscious greens to deep reds and even multi-colored specimens, tourmalines are beloved for their unique chromatic range. They are also known for their durability, making them suitable for all types of jewelry.

Historically, the most significant tourmaline deposits are found in Brazil and Africa, specifically Nigeria and Mozambique. However, they are also found in several locations in the United States, predominantly California and Maine. The unique watermelon tourmaline, with its green exterior and pink core, is one of the most sought-after varieties. Symbolically, tourmalines are believed to promote inspiration and happiness, lending an emotional depth to their physical beauty.

Peridots

Peridot is one of the few gemstones that come in a single color: a vibrant, olive green. These gems are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle and are brought to the surface by volcanic activity. Their green hue represents nature and is believed to bring healing and protection.

Peridot is one of the few gemstones found in meteorites, though these extraterrestrial specimens are extremely rare. The world’s largest peridot deposit is located on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, USA.

Garnets

Garnets are a group of minerals that come in a rainbow of colors, but they are most commonly known for their deep red hue. They are believed to represent commitment, honesty, and hope. Their durability and versatility make them suitable for various types of jewelry.

Garnets are found worldwide, with major deposits in Africa, India, and Sri Lanka. Russia’s Ural Mountains were historically the leading source of garnets, known for their distinctive emerald-green variety called demantoid. Tsavorite is also a beautiful green variety, and Spessartite is a vibrant orange!

There is a world of gemstones beyond diamonds, each with its unique characteristics, color, and symbolism. Next time you’re shopping for fine jewelry or working with a designer to create a custom piece, consider these captivating gemstones. Consulting a Certified Gemologist is also always helpful. They not only add color and individuality to your collection but also carry stories and meanings that can make your jewelry truly special.

Thanks for reading,

J. Briggs and Co Team

What are The Benefits of Buying Custom Jewelry?

Benefits of Buying Custom Jewelry 

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone special, custom jewelry might be an excellent option. Customized jewelry can be tailored to the wearer’s style, personality and taste for a truly unique piece. From necklaces and rings to earrings and bracelets, custom jewelry offers many benefits that store-bought jewelry cannot. 

Creative and Unique Design

One of the main benefits of custom jewelry is that it can be designed specifically for the wearer. You can choose the metals, stones and other materials to match the recipient’s style and personality. A custom jewelry piece is truly a one-of-a-kind item that will be cherished for years to come.

Quality Materials

Custom jewelry is typically made with higher quality materials than store-bought jewelry, so you can be sure you’re getting an item that will last. The stones used in custom jewelry are often of better quality, giving them more sparkle and shine. 

Personalization

With custom jewelry, you can personalize the piece with an engraving or message. This adds a special touch to the gift, making it even more meaningful. 

Support Local Businesses

When you purchase custom jewelry, you are supporting local businesses and artisans. This is a great way to give back to your community and help support those who are making a living through their craft.

Repurposing Heirloom Jewelry

People often have jewelry they no longer wear or inherit something of value that is not the desired style.  Custom design is the ultimate way to create something new that accommodates heirloom gemstones.

At J. Briggs, Jennifer is an artist and jewelry is her medium. Jewelry stores most often have a sales person and sometimes a craftsman, but rarely a trained jewelry designer at your service! When you buy custom jewelry, you’re investing in a piece of art that can be passed down for generations. Many custom jewelry pieces also retain their value over time, making them a smart investment.

Buying custom jewelry is a great way to get a unique piece that is tailored to your exact specifications. From quality materials to perfect fit and personalization, custom jewelry offers a variety of advantages. Consider custom jewelry for your next jewelry purchase for a piece that is truly special.

All That Shines ~ More on Alloys

What do you think of when you hear the word GOLD? A vault of ingots at Fort Knox? Lost treasures from forgotten empires? Or maybe you have the same thing on your mind that I do … fabulous jewelry! I thought we could expand on our last blog about White Gold vs Platinum, and explore metal alloys a little deeper. Did you know that when it comes to gold jewelry, there are more options than the traditional yellow and white  gold familiar to most people?

Gold alloys come in a variety of stunning colors that can really make a piece of jewelry stand out from the crowd. In addition to yellow gold, most people have heard of white gold, but the options don’t stop there. Gold can also be rose, red, or pink, green, blue, purple, and even black.

What is the difference among these various hues? Let’s start with an explanation of “pure,” or 24K gold. Pure gold has no other metals mixed into it. Other gold classes, such as 10K (41.7% gold), 14k (58.5%) or 18K (75%) gold contain a smaller percentage of gold that is combined with other metals such as silver or copper. These types of gold are technically alloys because other metals are mixed into the pure gold. The higher the karat, the richer the gold tone. For people with sensitive skin, sometimes the other metals can cause skin irritation. Higher karat gold (18k & 22k) and Platinum (90-95%) are the most hypoallergenic metal for jewelry- but you already know all about Platinum from our last post!

 

So let’s start with our pure gold and mix in some different types of metal to make things more interesting.

 

White Gold: While some people prefer to have their gemstones set in platinum, white gold is a great alternative for those who prefer a silver hue to their gold jewelry. White gold can be mixed with manganese, nickel, or palladium to achieve its signature color. Standard white gold is a combination of 14K gold and a mix of copper, nickel, and zinc. White gold is often plated in rhodium to increase its shine. It is often necessary to re-plate after a year or two of wear to bring back the bright white color.

Green Gold: Also called electrum, green gold is a naturally-occurring alloy containing both gold and silver. Depending on the ratio of gold to silver, the hue can be subtle or deeper.

Red Golds: For gold to take on a pink, rose, or red hue, it is mixed with copper. The greater the amount of copper present in the alloy, the deeper the shade of red.

 

The following colors are less commonly seen than yellow, white, green, and red, but can still be used in jewelry.

Purple Gold: Purple gold is created by combining gold with aluminum. This alloy is too brittle to us in the traditional sense, but can be cut to look like a gemstone.

 

Blue Gold: A combination of gold and the metal indium or gallium gives gold a subtle, bluish tone. Indium or gallium is present in larger amounts than gold in this alloy.

 

Black Gold: Mixing gold with cobalt allows the surface to be oxidized resulting in black gold.

 

Purple, blue, and black golds can also be created using surface treatments to achieve the desired hue.

It’s important to note that not all gold alloys are appropriate for the same types of jewelry. Some are more malleable, some more brittle. Black, purple, and blue gold pose challenges while white, rose, green and yellow gold can certainly be crafted into traditional jewelry. It’s also worth mentioning that the color variations tend to be subtle.

Filigree Band Wide Band Rose Gold

Filigree Wide Band Green Golsd

 

 

 

 

 

Filligree Wide Band White GoldFiligree Wide Band Yellow Gold

 

 

 

 

 

Filigree Two Tone Wide Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be fun to play around with the different colors of gold when designing a piece of jewelry. Using more than one type of gold within a piece can create a visually arresting alternative to standard yellow or white gold. At J. Briggs, we are happy to explore the different gold varieties with you to achieve exactly the effect you desire.

Gemstone of the Month: Peridot

The French word “Peridot” is originally derived from “faridat” in Arabic, meaning gem. Ancient peridot can be traced back to Egyptian jewelry in the 2nd millennium B.C. The stones came from a deposit on a small volcanic island in the Red Sea, some 45 miles off the Egyptian coast, which was not rediscovered until about 1900 and has since been exhausted.

Peridot is gem-quality “olivine,” a common mineral in mafic and ultramafic rocks. Formed as a result of volcanic activity deep inside the earth’s surface, gem-quality peridot is a rarity in olivine.

The demand for this beautiful stone was reignited a few years ago when peridot deposits were found in the Kashmir region; and the stones were so incredible in color and transparency.

Although it’s one of the only gemstones found in just one color, the intensity and tint of the olive green hue depends on how much iron is within the crystal structure. Varying from yellow to olive to brownish-green, peridot is most valued as a dark, emerald-resembling gem.

If you were born in August, you may be fortunate enough to receive a peridot as a birthday gift. If received as a ring, wearing this birthstone carefully is important, as it isn’t as tough as it looks. Prone to breaking, peridot are better suited for bigger necklaces; a bonus being that larger stones carry a richer color.

Throughout history, peridot has been thought to possess great mystical powers to ward off anxiety and inspire happiness, strength and loyalty. It is also believed to promote success in relationships and marriage.

Once called the “gem of the sun” in ancient Egypt because of its dazzling appearance in the sun, the curiosity and enchantment that surrounds peridot has made this radiant gemstone timeless.