BMJ Blog

7 Lovely DIY Ways to Organize Your Jewelry

Posted on June 11, 2020 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Collecting jewelry is fun. Keeping it organized and tangle-free may be another matter, however. Fortunately, there are several DIY ways to organize—and beautifully display—your jewelry. Since these organizers are “open air,” if you will, they’re not appropriate for your finest and most valuable jewelry, which should be securely stored in appropriate containers. Rather, these DIY jewelry organizers are perfect for the casual pieces you wear often.

1. Driftwood + Old Cabinet Knobs = Gorgeous Necklace Rack

This creative piece is part functional storage part upcycled art! Learn how to make it at Visibly Moved.

2. Stamped Squares of Corkboard

Using large decorative stamps or stencils to create patterns on corkboard tiles makes a lovely jewelry display—especially if you add pretty push pins into the mix. Learn more at Katelyn Brooke.

3. Jewelry Board with Repurposed Drawer Pulls

7 Lovely DIY Ways to Organize Your Jewelry

Liz Marie is the clever gal behind this creation. Cabinet knobs make perfect necklace hangers while upside down drawer pulls offer the perfect nest for smaller pieces.

4. Photo Frame Jewelry Display

Turn your jewelry into art with this clever photo frame jewelry display. See more on Home Decorating and Staging.

5. Simple Twig and Twine Jewelry Display

7 Lovely DIY Ways to Organize Your Jewelry

Perfect for a rustic touch, this understated way to show off your necklaces is quite simple—even for craft newbies! See how at Julie Ann Art .

6. Faux China Plate Jewelry Keeper

7 Lovely DIY Ways to Organize Your Jewelry

Love Chinaware and jewelry? Combine your loves with this beautiful DIY project from Craft A Doodle Do.

7. Pretty Potted Branches

7 Lovely DIY Ways to Organize Your Jewelry

Beautifully display your necklaces using found branches as seen here.

Which DIY jewelry storage method is your favorite?




Photos: Respective blogs

Posted in DIY, jewelry box, jewelry dispaly, jewelry organization

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor

Posted on May 07, 2020 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

We often think of gemstones as something we decorate our bodies with—not our homes and office buildings—but a beautiful trend in interior design says otherwise. Gemstones and other stones, often in the form of geode sculptures and accents and even backlit stone walls, can add a unique, eye-catching touch to any space.

Geode Sculptures

Geode sculpture can range from small pieces that accent a coffee table to larger items that deserve their own shelf in a curio cabinet. Some remain in their natural shape and therefore have an “abstract” appeal while others are carved into recognizable shapes like birds, horses—and even skulls!

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Amethyst Geode Sculpture

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Brass and Geode Sculpture

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Agate Crystal Horse Head 

Not quite sure you want an entire geode sculpture in your home? For a more subtle take on the geode decorating trend, try accenting your space with beautiful geode coasters.

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Silvered Geode Coaster

Backlit Stone Walls

GPI Design, a firm specializing in lighting and surfaces, has produced luxurious accent walls featuring backlit onyx. Backlit walls have varying levels of translucency, which creates an intriguing effect. The slabs of onyx are carefully selected to effect a sense of organic fluidity.

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

GPI Design Backlit Onyx Wall and Ceiling
The Mansions at Aquafina, Sunny Isles, FL

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

GPI Design Backlit Onyx Lobby Wall
150 Elgin Street, Ottawa Canada

Lithos Design is another company specializing in this striking decor and drawing attention to the art of backlit stonework. 

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Interior Design: Gemstones as Decor | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Lithos Design Translucent stone walls at the “Salone del Mobile” in Milan”
From the collection “Le Pietre Luminose”

Are you a fan of gemstone decor?
You may also be interested in: The Origins of Crystal Healing


Photos: 1stDibs, Rikoo, Anthropologie, GPI Design, Lithos Design

Posted in crystals, decor, design, geodes, trend watch, trends

From the Studio: Buddha in a Box

Posted on April 09, 2020 by Barbara Polinsky | 0 Comments

From the Studio: Buddha in a Box

When I received this charming, coral Buddha figurine, I knew I wanted to do something special with it and give it a little home, if you will. The result was this Buddha in a Box, a charm that’s roughly 1½ inches tall, designed to be worn on a necklace or hung on a pretty cord for display.

The box is made from oxidized silver. Behind the Buddha’s head is a gold halo. I made this by thinly rolling a piece of gold and soldering it to the silver behind the Buddha’s head. The Buddha figure is held in place by two small prongs atop each shoulder. The two beads on the top right of the box are made from cut glass. These look like little lanterns.

From the Studio: Buddha in a Box

I enjoy the way the asymmetry of the box and the organic texture of the oxidized silver and rolled gold add a touch of whimsy to this fun piece. The tiny smile on this miniature Buddha may be small, but it certainly brightens the room!

From the Studio: Buddha in a Box

You may also be interested in:

Goldsmith Fables in Buddhism

Bugs in Amber Fossils

A Brief History of Miniature Portrait Jewelry

Posted in buddha, from the studio, necklace, pendant

Where to Go Online to Learn about Gems

Posted on March 12, 2020 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Where to Go Online to Learn about Gems | Barbara Michelle Jacobs

The jewelry market grows ever more complex, which is why it’s important to be an informed customer—whether you’re shopping online or working directly with a jeweler. The following free online resources can improve your knowledge of gemstones, so you’re ready to make a smart investment when the time comes. Many of these may also be useful if you're a gem collector or professional appraiser.

Where to Go Online to Learn about Gems

Awaken Crystals – Youtube Channel

This channel features tutorials on gemstone and precious metal testing and demonstrates  the practical application of these methods.

Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry Blog

Forgive the self-plug here, but we’ve got a wide variety of reader-friendly articles about gems and the jewelry industry with a focus on conflict-free stones and eco-friendly methods of production. Explore posts like Gem Hardness and Diamonds vs. White Sapphires to brush-up on some gemstone basics.

Barbara Smigel’s Gemology Course

An Emeritus Professor at the College of Southern Nevada, Smigel has made her teaching materials on gemology available to the public.

Canadian Institute of Gemology (CIGEM) – Gemology School

A learning institute for professional gemologist training, the CIGEM is a fantastic resource for individuals interested in pursuing a career in gemology. You may be interested in subscribing to their quarterly newsletter.

Emporia State University – GO340 Gemstones & Gemology

Emporia State University offers 44 lectures and accompanying course notes on topics like gemstone identification and gemstone testing methods.

Farlang Education Center

This database of public domain books on gems is an invaluable resource. The site even offers its own online reader.

Field Gemology - A Travel Blog to the Mysterious Origins of Gemstones

Written by gemstone scholar Vincent Pardieu, this blog is for the reader interested in travel, local mining operations, and the origins of gemstones.

Gem Lab – Gemological Research and Education

Looking for a spectroscopy resource? Check out John Harris’ lessons, reference charts, and illustrations on Gem Lab.

Gem Logic – Youtube Channel

Created by FGAA Gemologist Edward Mendelson, this extensive channel features a compilation of gemology tutorials. Thoughtfully organized playlists make the browsing experience a breeze.

Gemological Institute of America - News & Articles

One of the world’s most trusted resources on gemstones, the GIA site features articles on the latest developments in the industry and a free gem encyclopedia.

Gemology Project Wiki

This non-profit database for gem enthusiasts offers both basic and advanced tutorials on gemstones. – Gemstone Information Center

With hundreds of details articles, Gem Select is an expansive resource for information on gems.

Gemstone Magnetism

For all things relating to gemstone magnetism, explore Kirk Feral’s research and reference charts on Gemstone Magnetism.

Gem Val - Reference Values of Gems

Gem Val helps users estimate the value of many kinds of gems using regularly updated pricing data. (Pricing data for certain gems requires a paid subscription, however.) The site also features information on historical prices.

Lotus Gemology

With beautifully illustrated articles, Lotus Gemology provides detailed explanations of various principles in gemology.

Real Gems

This non-profit project features information on collector gemstones.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - Geo Gallery

This branch of the Smithsonian Institution provides a stunning photo gallery of gemstones and minerals. Handy search filters allow you to view results by country origins and more.

Starla Turner – Youtube Channel

Starla Turner is an experienced gemology instructor. Her engaging and informative videos may benefit the professional and hobbyist alike.

Stone Group Labs

This site is especially suited for the professional gemologist or gem appraiser. Stone Group Labs offers advanced gemological testing services and global consulting. The site’s “Published Works” section features journal articles relevant to the trade. 

Swedish Gem LAB

Like the Farlang Education Center (see above), the Swedish Gem LAB is full of digitalized, non-copyrighted gemological books, a collection that offers both historical and scientific perspectives on gems.

University of California Berkely - Gems and Gems Materials

Check out this site to access lecture notes and course materials from the department of Earth & Planetary Sciences of UC Berkeley.

The University of Texas at Austin – GEO 347K: Gems & Minerals

This site offers gemology course notes on gemstone types, mining sources, and pricing and valuations—plus you can browse through over 6,000 photos of gemological specimens.

University of Washington ESS 103 Minerals And Gems

Courtesy of the University of Washington, full-length lecture notes and accompanying illustrations on minerals and gems are available to the public.

US Geological Survey

Visit the US Gemological Survey to learn more about the production of gemstones in the United States. You may also want to view their page on Minerals Information, which details the global supply and demand for minerals.

Your Gemologist

This free online gemology school and reference resource offers several engaging tutorials on gemology basics, including lessons on minerals, created and treated gemstones, and jewelry appraisals.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below if there's a resource that should be added to this list!

Photo: Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash

Posted in gemological institute of america, gemology, gems, gia, online resources

Trend Watch: High-End Replicas Take The Pressure Off Fine Jewelry

Posted on February 07, 2020 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Trend Watch: High-End Replicas Take The Pressure Off Fine Jewelry

For many jewelry lovers, the whole point of owning fine jewelry is enjoying it. A special thrill comes from wearing that sparkling tennis bracelet when it calls our name and taking pleasure in the way the sun sets the diamonds on fire.

Taking our most prized pieces out of safe storage comes with risks, however. Wearing jewelry exposes it to damage, loss, and theft, which may mean greater expense—especially if we’re traveling with our fine jewelry and need to adjust our insurance plan accordingly.

Increasingly, as a way to mitigate these risks and potential expenses, those who can afford it are opting to wear high-end replicas of their most cherished jewels while keeping the real thing in a secure vault. Some celebrities prefer to wear replicas during the day and reserve their truly fine pieces for evening wear and special events. Accordingly, faux gems are becoming more socially acceptable and are often seen as a practical way to flaunt your style without the anxiety that comes with wearing thousands of dollars on your finger!

Advances in diamond simulation technology have made it possible for diamond simulants (cubic zirconia) to look just like the real thing to an untrained, unexamining eye.* The key is to make sure the setting is high-quality. A low-quality setting is more likely than anything else to give away the secret.

Trend Watch: High-End Replicas Take The Pressure Off Fine Jewelry

A simulated diamond ring by Diamond Nexus

Diamond Nexus is just one company aiming to produce high-end simulated diamonds. Speak with your jeweler about high-quality custom replicas for additional recommendations and advice. 

Of course, the drawback of high-end replicas looking as real as they do is that they can still attract unwanted attention, robbery, and even bodily harm. Therefore, it’s always wise to avoid flaunting your bling (real or not), especially while traveling in wealthy tourist areas where visitors are more commonly the target of theft.

*Note: A faux/synthetic/simulated diamond is different from a lab-grown diamond, which has the same tetrahedral structure as a naturally grown diamond. See more about lab-grown diamonds here.



Photo: Pexels, Diamond Nexus

Posted in diamond rings, Diamonds, trend watch, Trends

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco

Posted on January 09, 2020 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Barbara Michelle Jacobs Deco-Inspired Band with Sapphire and Platinum Branch Inlay

Among the major periods of art, fashion, and jewelry, Art Deco remains one of the most fascinating and beloved. After all, its arrival marked a new era of Western history during which industrial production flourished and many older social mores were cast aside, arguably paving the way for many of the modern luxuries and social freedoms to come.

The Art Deco era began during the early 1920s and received its name from the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which was held in Paris in 1925. The exposition celebrated the association of art and industry and was largely dedicated to jewelry arts.

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Art Deco earrings featuring diamond and onyx

Indeed, as the aesthetic themes of Art Deco jewelry illustrate, art and fashion of the time were indelibly informed by developments in the thriving industrial sector. In addition to a booming economy, the vivacious social scene of the Roaring Twenties that sparkled with jazz, speakeasies, and flappers further encouraged individual expression and creativity.

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Barbara Michelle Jacobs Golden Beryl Emerald Cut Gemstone Ring inspired by Art Deco


The artistic period preceding Art Deco was Art Nouveau, a period defined by soft pastels, organic curves, and nature-inspired motifs. If Art Nouveau is a beautiful, flowing country landscape spotted with delicate irises and cranes, then Art Deco is the luxe, glittering city lined with brightly lit skyscrapers. The latter era favored more masculine, geometric lines, distinct angles, and futuristic motifs. Art Deco’s clean lines perfectly suited the budding machine age, and the style exuded confidence.

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Barbara Michelle Jacobs Bordeaux Garnet and Pearl Ring inspired by a style of Art Deco settings


Artistic inspiration for Art Deco was sourced from all over the world. Oriental, Indian, African, and South American art all play a role in the special touches that defined Art Deco jewelry. Perhaps most interesting is the influence of ancient Egypt on this modern artistic style. The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of Kings spurred a fascination with all things Pharaoh-esque, including lotus blossoms, pyramids, the eye of hours symbol, and even scarabs. These motifs inspired new combinations of materials, including lapis lazuli with gold and cornelian with turquoise.

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Egyptian Revival Scarab Pin, circa 1925

Schools of Design

The Bijoutiers-Artistes comprised a school of Art Deco jewelry design. They prioritized eye-catching design over the intrinsic value of the materials. Often, their designs included carved, sculptural gems, and diamonds were usually used as accents or punctuation rather than as the main feature. Jewelry created by the Bijoutiers-Artistes was usually created within an artistic community by artists with various trades—rather than by jewelers alone. This school of design favored a mix of precious and semi-precious stones.

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Art Deco Sapphire, Moonstone, Enamel, and Diamond Ear Pendants by Georges Fouquet, circa 1925.

The Bijourtiers-Joulliers hailed from the well-established jewelry scene in Paris. Although their designs may have appeared more conventional than those of the Bijoutiers-Artistes, this group of jewelers is credited with introducing unusual diamond cuts, including triangle, trapeze, and half-moon, among others. They mostly favored precious stones but occasionally incorporated coral, agate, and turquoise into their pieces.

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Cartier Art Deco Necklace

Major Art Deco designers included Tiffany, Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Harry Winston, Lalique, and Mauboussin.

Materials & Innovations

Aesthetic Periods of Jewelry: Art Deco | BMJ Blog

Art Deco diamond and sapphire ring

Thanks to the economic prosperity of the 20s, more people were able to afford fine jewelry, including diamonds and engagement rings. New casting techniques allowed for more efficient production of intricate setting, further increasing the accessibility of fine jewelry. Advancements in cutting techniques prompted the advent of the modern round brilliant cut, a diamond cut that really allows the stone to dazzle as only diamonds can. Finally, platinum was the most popular metal at the time, but white gold served as a more affordable substitute.


You may also like: Trend Watch: Mixed Metals


Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs, Lang Antiques

Posted in art, art deco, art nouveau, diamond cutting, jewelry history

Mined in the US: Turquoise

Posted on December 12, 2019 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Mined in the US: Turquoise

One of the most popular semi-precious stones worn in the U.S. is the blue-green beauty we call turquoise. Turquoise is a mineral created when water containing copper and aluminum, among other elements, leaks through rock, forming hardened veins or nuggets. Sometimes referred to as the “oldest stone in man’s history,” turquoise has played a role in many ancient cultures, the earliest of which (that archeologists are able to tell) is Egypt’s first dynasty with the first known use of turquoise appearing the mummified arm of Queen Zar, circa 5,500 BCE. It’s also believed that turquoise appeared on The Breast Plate of Aaron, as detailed in Exodus.

In the Americas, turquoise was valued as a sacred stone by native tribes who lived in areas rich with turquoise.  The Zuni, for example, carved colorful shapes from turquoise and created stunning mosaics of turquoise in their jewelry. Before the introduction of modern tools to these regions, turquoise was mined with stone tools. By the late nineteenth century, North American native tribes in the Southwestern United States began setting turquoise in sterling silver, using inspiration from European styles to create a distinct style of jewelry that’s still recognizable today. The Navajo, in particular, are credited with this beloved style.

Present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and California have produced the most turquoise in the United States with Arizona boasting the richest supplies. Sadly, due to the high cost of production, depleted mines, and the decline of the copper mining, an industry that often went hand-in-hand with turquoise mining, turquoise is increasingly difficult and expensive to source. One of Arizona’s most prominent mines, Sleeping Beauty, ceased production in 2012, and as a result, the price of untreated high-quality Sleeping Beauty turquoise has risen dramatically. Given the challenges facing the U.S. turquoise industry and the increased incentive to value natural resources and treasures, it’s likely that the value of turquoise will continue to increase.

Mined in the US: Turquoise

Indeed, the spiritual value placed on the stone seems unwavering over the millennia. Once revered as a holy stone capable of bringing good fortune and warding off evil, the contemporary crystal healing tradition regards turquoise as a stone aiding self-forgiveness and strength. As a healing stone, it is sometimes used to treat depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and panic attacks. It is believed that turquoise helps us honor ourselves.

Mined in the US: Turquoise

Whatever mystical associations turquoise may conjure for the wearer, it's undeniably one of the most beautiful and unique national treasures. 

Are you a fan of this fascinating stone?


Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Pexels

Posted in gem facts, made in America, mining, navajo, turquoise

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