BMJ Blog

From the Studio: Mermaid Necklace and Earrings

Posted on July 14, 2017 by Barbara Polinsky | 0 Comments

When I create new jewelry designs, the process often involves a good bit of play and organic discovery. Like cooking without a recipe, I take a little bit of this and a little bit of that until I have a piece that’s complete and pleasing to the eye.

From the Studio: Mermaid Necklace and Earrings

I recently created this necklace and complementing earring set using a variety of stones with various textures. For the necklace, I used tourmaline, opal, green garnet, and iolite—some stones are faceted while others are not. I soldered clusters of stones together and used granules to separate the clusters. I then attached the resulting product to a leather necklace cord. I’m calling this the “mermaid necklace” because the beautiful blues and greens remind me of the ocean—not to mention the luster of the stones recalls the glint of sunshine on sea water.

From the Studio: Mermaid Necklace and Earrings

From the Studio: Mermaid Necklace and Earrings

For the earrings, I also went for a fun yet pretty touch and made them asymmetrical. Stones in the right earring include turquoise, blue zircon, and sapphire. Stones in the left earring include _____, ____, and turquoise.  Each of the stones are bezel set, but you’ll notice that one bezel setting on each earring has a different texture; these bezel settings were hammered to add a touch of organic texture. Although the earrings are asymmetrical, they hang at the same length.

The metal used in the earrings and the necklace is 22 karat gold.

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Posted in asymmetrical, bezel, earrings, necklace

Four Pieces of “Smart” Jewelry You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted on June 01, 2017 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Although it may seem like Apple Watches and FitBits dominate the smart jewelry scene, those two companies certainly aren’t your only options when it comes to the marriage of technology and accessories.

Whether you’d like to track your fitness, stay on top of notifications by the minute, or store special messages and photos from a loved one, there’s a beautiful piece of smart jewelry for you. The following are just four of the chic and innovative pieces that can help you seamlessly integrate fashion and organization. 

1. Ringly

Four Pieces of “Smart” Jewelry You Don’t Want to Miss | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Ringly produces cocktail rings as well as pendants and bangles—and they’re all smart. Ringly can track your activity levels and communicate those with your phone via Bluetooth technology. Using Ringly’s app, you can program your Ringly device to notify you if you get a notification on your phone (and you can choose the kind of notifications you receive). The jewelry will subtly vibrate when you receive one of these notifications. 

2. Altrius

Four Pieces of “Smart” Jewelry You Don’t Want to Miss | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Like Ringly, Altrius smart jewelry can “buzz” you when you receive certain notifications on your phone.  The brand explains that by “reducing smartphone” dependance (i.e. not checking your phone every few minutes for notifications), you’ll reduce your daily stress and feel more in charge of your time. (That sounds like a pretty good deal!)

3. Bellabeat Leaf

Four Pieces of “Smart” Jewelry You Don’t Want to Miss | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Love being in touch with your body? A Bellabeat Leaf attaches to your lapel or a special bracelet and monitors your heart rate, sleep patterns, and menstrual cycles; stores the info on your phone via Bluetooth; and even provides fitness recommendations through its app. Bellabeat has a six-month battery and a 14-day memory. 

Galatea Momento Pearls—Pearl Jewelry that Speaks

Four Pieces of “Smart” Jewelry You Don’t Want to Miss | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Four Pieces of “Smart” Jewelry You Don’t Want to Miss | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

These stunning pearl pieces are unlike most pieces of smart jewelry. Instead of using Bluetooth technology, they use near-field communication (NFC). Each Galatea Momento Pearl piece contains an NFC chip that houses photos and recorded messages. These can be accessed by tapping the jewelry against an NFC-enabled phone. No special app required.

Do you wear smart jewelry?

You may also be interested in: What Are the Different Types of Opals?

 

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Photos: Respective Brands

Posted in fun, jewelry trends, pearls, smart jewelry, technology, Trends

Crystals in Beauty Products

Posted on April 06, 2017 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

 Crystals in Beauty Products | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog 

The belief in crystal healing has been around for ages, but recently, these magic stones have made their way into more mainstream beauty and wellness lines. For some, crystal-infused beauty products may play an important role in daily spiritual rituals. For others, these products may simply be an outlet for dabbling in the now glamorized world of the occult. Either way, it’s hard to deny that crystals in beauty products may make getting ready just a little more fun.

I first heard of crystal-infused beauty products when I was given a sample of Modern Minerals Lotus Wei Infused Lip Gloss. Instantly in love with the product, I looked up the ingredients and was surprised to learn that there was tourmaline in the tube—right along with the coconut oil and shea butter! The gem is in the gloss to “uplift and awaken positivity.” A spiritual lipgloss was certainly a first for me.

In my work as a beauty editor, I embrace healthy skepticism about any product, and I try to learn more about popular ingredients by delving into peer-reviewed studies. On the other hand, what’s the point of beautification rituals if they don’t impart joy? I also acknowledge that many things, such as one’s spiritual practice, elude the reach of science. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s kind of nice.

Modern Minerals is not alone in its inclusion of stones in makeup or skincare goodies, of course. The following stones appear in multiple products with the purpose of beautifying the wearer while also imparting spiritual benefit. I encourage you to give them a try, have fun, and see for yourself.

Quartz

Celebrated as the most powerful crystal for healing the soul and amplifying positive energy, quartz is believed to absorb, store, release, and unblock energy. According to crystal philosophy, this “master healer” boosts immunity and serves just about any condition.

Crystals in Beauty Products | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Try Aquarian Soul Cactus Flower & Quartz Essence Spray. This spray is designed to enhance meditation and calm anxieties. Infused with the full moon-ripened flower essence of desert cacti, this magical mist promotes spiritual vision and opening of the heart chakra. A quartz is included in the bottle. 

Garnet

Associated with passion, wisdom, sensuality, and beauty, garnet is prized for its ability to revitalize the body and spirit and inspire hope. In skincare, crushed garnet is used as a gentle exfoliant.

Crystals in Beauty Products | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Try Lotus Wei Joy Juice Mist. Formulated to inspire joy, laugher, and euphoria while dissolving the feeling of the weight of the world in on your shoulders, this fragrant toner is infused with garnet and a host of flower essences, including those of african daisy, lotus, chocolate flower, and pink spirea.

Amethyst

A stone known for it’s power to boost intuition and aid in meditation and lucid dreaming, the amethyst is a calming stone. It’s believed to inspire patience and peace while clearing negative energy.

Crystals in Beauty Products | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Try Aquarian Soul Headache Oil . Created with pure almond oil and essential oils, this roll-on headache oil has a refreshing, minty and lightly floral fragrance. The oil is designed to soothe pounding headaches. The blend is infused with both quartz and amethyst to help dispel anger, fear, and anxiety while encouraging tranquil energy.

Rose Quartz

The stone of love, rose quartz is believed to inspire self-love as well as compassion for family, friends, and lovers. Rose quarts warms and soothes the spirit of those around it. It is also used to raise self-esteem and attract potential romantic partners.

Crystals in Beauty Products | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog 

Try KORA Organics Vitamin Enhanced Lip Balm. Crafted with jojoba, avocado, and rosehip oils and infused with rose quartz, this lip balm nourishes lips while potentially enhancing the wearer’s love energy. 

Tourmaline

Tourmaline is believed to be particularly suited for those coping with hardship, loss, and emotional pain and is credited with the ability to dispel the fear or sense that one is being victimized. Crystal healing proponents also believe that tourmaline is anti-aging.

Crystals in Beauty Products | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Try Aveda Tourmaline Charged Hydrating Cream. Finely-powdered tourmaline and marine extracts deliver radiance and anti-aging benefits to thirsty skin.

**You can also DIY your own crystal healing beauty product by adding a crystal to a bottle of pure body oil—like argan, macula, or almond oil.**

Have you tried crystal-infused beauty products?
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Photos: @PeaceDumpling, Aquarian Soul, Lotus Wei, KORA Organics, Aveda

Posted in beauty, beauty products, crystal healing, crystals, DIY

Trend Watch: Tassel Jewelry, Plus DIY Beaded Tassels

Posted on December 15, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

2016 has played host to several fun and innovative trends. From glass nail art to Renaissance-inspired evening wear, there’s no shortage of ways to express yourself. The jewelry department is no different. Tassel jewelry, in particular, has made a splash this year.

The cool thing about this trend is that there are so many ways to wear it—from big tassels to tiny tassels, from a single tassel to several tassels, tassels are appearing on earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Some tassels are beaded, others are made of metal, and some are made with good-old-fashioned upholstery thread. Indeed, no two pieces of tassel jewelry look alike.

Here are just a few examples of this festive trend:

Trend Alert: Tassel Jewelry, Plus DIY Beaded Tassels | BMJ Blog

Lanvin Striped Tassel Earrings

 

Trend Alert: Tassel Jewelry, Plus DIY Beaded Tassels | BMJ Blog

Farfetch Aurelie Bidermann Tassel Bracelet

Trend Alert: Tassel Jewelry, Plus DIY Beaded Tassels | BMJ Blog

Eddie Borgo Silver Tone Tassel Necklace 

Trend Alert: Tassel Jewelry, Plus DIY Beaded Tassels | BMJ Blog

Oscar de la Renta Acqua Polka Dot Beaded Tassel Earrings

 Trend Alert: Tassel Jewelry, Plus DIY Beaded Tassels | BMJ Blog

Isabel Marant Mild Bead and Tassel Necklace

 Trend Alert: Tassel Jewelry, Plus DIY Beaded Tassels | BMJ Blog

Bib Tassel Statement Necklace

Want to try your hand at a beaded tassel? They’re actually easier than they look!

DIY beaded tassel instructions:

1. Cut roughly seven inches of ribbon (ribbon may be around ½-inch thick). You will be sewing your beaded tassel trailers onto this ribbon. The ribbon will also provide the base of the tassel.

2. Cut a length of fireline thread or upholstery thread. Choose a length that you’re comfortable working with (you’ll probably use more than one piece of thread.) Thread your needle.

3. Starting in the middle of the ribbon, thread the thread through the ribbon, leaving yourself a few inches of a tail (will be glued later).

4. Using a ruler for reference for trailer length, thread your needle through the beads you’ve chosen until you reach the desired length for your tassel trailer.

5. Loop the thread over the last bead, and run your needle and thread back through the entire row of beads (excluding the last). Gently tighten until the trailer is flush against the ribbon (but not so tight that it buckles).

6. Loop the thread back into the ribbon about a bead’s width away from the first strand, and repeat the process in step 5 until you have desired number of tassel trailers. (You may need to grab another thread if you run out of length along the way.

7. Fold the remaining un-beaded ribbon over the row of beads. Trim the other side ¼ inch past the end. Fold the ¼-inch bit over the raw edge, and roll the ribbon tightly until you have a round shape.

8. Create a few stitches along the top edge of the ribbon to secure the roll in place. Then create a stitch at the bottom of the ribbon, and stitch your way back to the top.

9. Trim any remaining thread tails, and glue them down.

10. Take a length of thread through your needle, and knot a single bead at the bottom of the thread. Add more beads to this thread—you’ll want your beaded thread long enough to be able to wrap around the rolled ribbon.

11. When you’re ready to wrap this around the top, use a little bit of glue as you go to prevent making a sticky mess. Let dry for at least an hour.

12. To create a beaded loop from which to hang the tassel, take your threaded needle, and run your needle through a few of the beads at the top of the tassel, coming out one side of the top of the tassel. Add five beads to your needle, and go through a bead on the other side of the top of the tassel. Weave your thread through a few more of the beads and tie off your thread. And you’re done!

If you’re a visual learner, check out this video tutorial for making a beaded tassel.

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Photos: Lanvin, Farfetch, The Outlet, Halsbrook, Matches Fashion, Meijer Style

Posted in DIY, tassels, trend watch

The Art and Jewelry of René Lalique

Posted on December 01, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

The Art and Jewelry or René Lalique | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

René Lalique (1860 - 1945) is one of the most celebrated artists from the Art Nouveau period. Lalique was a French glass art designer and is best known for his perfume bottles, vases, jewelry, chandeliers, clocks, automobile hood ornaments, and artistic additions to architecture.

The Art and Jewelry or René Lalique | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

St. Matthew's Church in Jersey. Glass interior work by René Lalique.

His sumptuous style often features nature-inspired elements, including foliage, flowers, and flowing lines. Lalique took inspiration not only from the French countryside but also from nature motifs in Japanese art. In addition to creating period-defining work, Lalique left behind a style that continues to inspire designers and collectors alike.

The Art and Jewelry or René Lalique | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Broche Libellule (1900)

Lalique grew up in the suburbs of Paris and summered in Ay, whose scenic country views inspired his signature naturalistic style. While apprenticing for goldsmith and jeweler Louis Aucoc in Paris, Lalique took drawing and sketching classes at Collège Turgot. He also studied at Ecole des Arts Décoratifs where he learned to design jewelry and later at the Crystal Palace School of Art Sydenham in London where he studied graphic design and further developed his naturalistic approach. During his time in Britain, Lalique was exposed to and inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement.

After returning from London in 1882, Lalique worked as a freelance artist and designed jewelry for French jewelry firms Cartier and Boucheron, among others. In 1885, Lalique opened his own business where he designed and made jewelry and other glass pieces.

The Art and Jewelry or René Lalique | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Plaque mounted on gold with baroque pearl (circa 1904-1905)

Lalique’s work was met with mixed reviews. His unique pairings, which included horns and diamonds and carved ivory with enamel and pearls, certainly challenged ideas of what was acceptable in art. Fortunately, Lalique’s glasswork and jewelry were favored by emerging popular voices of the period. In particular, French actress Sara Bernhardt was among his admirers. She wore many of his finest pieces while on stage.

The Art and Jewelry or René Lalique | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Opal, glass, diamond, and enamel "Rose" plaque (circa 1901)

By 1890, the glass artist was regarded as on of France’s foremost art nouveau jewelry designers. Around this time, Lalique opened a new jewelry store in the fashionable Opera district at 20 Rue Therese in Paris. As his business grew, his experimentation with craft continued. By the mid-nineties, Lalique began producing pieces using the “lost wax method” and pâte-de-verre. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1897.

Lalique’s iconic perfume bottles really took off around the turn of the century, and his evolving glass work with bottles further informed his jewelry design. Lalique introduced a new type of glass called demi-crystal. Containing 12% lead, demi-crystal isn’t as bright as regular crystal; it’s softer effect made it ideal for Lalique’s Art Nouveau designs. Around 1909, Lalique developed a method by with the interior glass walls of a bottle could feature a design that could be seen through the smooth exterior of the bottle. 

The Art and Jewelry or René Lalique | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

One of Lalique's many beautiful perfume bottles inspired by nature and feminine beauty.

Perfumer Roja Dove suggests that Lalique’s glasswork be viewed by candle light to get the original effect. His work simply can't be fully appreciated in the harsh light of modern electricity. 

  

What inspires you about Lalique's enduring style?

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You may also be interested in: What Is Art Deco Jewelry?

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Photos: Danrok (Wikimedia Commons), Alain Truong, lartnouveauenfrance via Flickr

Posted in art nouveau, jewelry history, lalique, nature inspired jewelry

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Antique, vintage, and heirloom jewelry is undeniably special. Some antique pieces inspire joy simply because they have a rich history or belonged to a loved one. Other pieces may still be fashionable and are a staple in your wardrobe. Either way, it’s important to store and a care for your antique jewelry properly, so each special piece will last for generations to come. Although most jewelry care is common sense (don’t store your valuables right by the bathroom sink!), it never hurts to review proper care and cleaning tips.

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry

Storing

At the very least, antique jewelry should be stored in a cotton-lined box in a moderate temperature (an un-air-conditioned storage unit probably isn’t your best bet.) To avoid scratches, no jewelry piece should be in contact with another.

The following are a few tools you can take to protect your jewelry and extend time between cleanings.

Anti-tarnish paper tabs. These tabs are designed to protect sterling silver, nickel, copper, bronze, base metals, brass, tin, and gold. They will last up to six months in a regular container and up to one year in a sealed, air-tight environment.

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Anti-corrosion, anti-tarnish zip-lock bags. An affordable long-term jewelry storage solution, these zip-lock bags are designed to protect sterling silver, gold, copper, bronze, tin, brass, magnesium, and ferrous metals (iron and steel) from tarnish and corrosion. These bags are non-toxic and will not leave deposits on stored items. 

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Wearing

Avoid spraying hairspray or perfume over jewelry. Apply these and any other body products prior to putting on your jewelry. Also, remove your jewelry before bathing, swimming, exercising, gardening, and doing housework—or any activity where you may exert yourself or be exposed to water or chemicals.

Cleaning

Antique jewelry should never be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner (jewelry bath). Although these cleaners are quite effective, the pulsation action may damage antique enamel or worsen a loose setting. Vibrations may also ruin delicate filigree work. Additionally, steer clear of store-bought dip solutions. These often contain harsh chemicals that can weaken enamel and otherwise damage an antique piece. Various metals and gemstones may require different methods and solutions for safe cleaning. For a breakdown of how to clean a particular kind of metal or stone, please consult the antique jewelry cleaning guidelines outlined by Past Era. 

General Care

Be mindful of the settings on your jewelry. If you notice that a stone is loose, place the piece in a ziplock back and take it to your jeweler for repair.  If possible, find a jeweler who specializing in antiques.

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

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Photos: DWilson Antique, Deviant Art, Amazon

Posted in antique jewelry, informative, jewelry care, jewelry solutions, jewelry tips, vintage jewelry

The Origins of Crystal Healing

Posted on November 03, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Crystal lore and the belief in crystal healing is likely as old as the human race. Although beliefs about particular stones and the power attributed to them have evolved over time and between cultures, crystal mysticism seems to be here to stay. Indeed, crystals are becoming increasingly mainstream and may even crop up at your favorite spa or natural beauty shop if they haven’t already!

The Origins of Crystal Healing | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog 

Many modern proponents of crystal therapy believe that crystals are conduits of healing, allowing positive energy to reach the user while relieving the user of negative energy that may contribute to anything ranging from a passing malaise to serious illness. Most medical professionals deem crystal therapy a pseudoscience, citing that at best, crystal healing serves as a placebo to make the user feel better and at worst, a distraction from scientifically-verified medical treatment. Nonetheless, crystals continue to grow in popularity despite the skepticism of the medical community—a theme that’s repeated in the history.

From the Dawn of Time…

Although we may never have proof that the lost city of Atlantis operated machines powered by crystals (or so the myth goes), we do know that talismans and amulets have been treasured by various cultures for millennia. Beads of mammoth ivory dating back 60,000 years (circa the Upper Paleolithic Period) were discovered in present-day Russia. Some 30,000 years later, jet beads used in bracelets were left in Paleolithic gravesite.

Much later in the course of human history, the ancient Egyptians used lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, emerald, and clear quartz in jewelry and grave amulets. These stones were believed to bestow protection and health to the wearer. Meanwhile, topaz and peridot were used to purge evil spirits and ward off night terrors, and green stones served to represent the heart of a deceased individual and were included in burial ceremonies. It's rumored that Cleopatra surrounding herself with rose quartz and even bathed with them as an anti-aging measure. 

Crystals were also valued by the ancient Greeks. In fact, “crystal” is the Greek word for “ice.” The ancient Greeks believed that clear quartz was indefinitely frozen. “Amethyst” meant “not drunken” and was used to prevent drunkenness and hangovers.  The Greeks also relied on crystals during war times. Soldiers would rub hematite on their bodies before battle as a way of connecting with Aries, the god of war.

Jade was the stone of choice in ancient China. Jade was believed to heal kidneys. Chinese emperors were sometimes even buried in jade armor. Jade was also valued by the Maoris in 18th-century New Zealand. There, jade pendants were used to represent the spirits of ancestors.

 The Origins of Crystal Healing | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Even though the Christian church had banned amulets in 355 AD, by the time the 11th century rolled around, certain gems played important roles in church services. Sapphires, for example, were featured in ecclesiastical rings while agate was believed to make the wear more agreeable to others and more favorable in the eyes of God.

During the Renaissance, various medical treatises promoted the belief that particular precious and semi-precious stones could cure certain ailments. In medical settings, crystal therapy was often accompanied by herbal remedies.

Despite the popularity of crystal healing, skeptics were concerned that some gems were corrupted by the original sin and could be possessed by demons. In 1609, Anselmus de Boot, court physician to Rudolf II of Germany, asserted that angels (both good and bad) were present in stones. Good angels in stones would grace the possessor with well-being while bad angels in stones would persuade the wearer to believe in the stone rather than God. This spiritual concern coupled with the lack scientific proof in the healing power of stones caused crystal therapy to fall out of favor during the Enlightenment. But crystals would make a come back.

The Origins of Crystal Healing | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog 

The New-Age 1980s and Beyond

In the advent of New Age spiritual practices in the 1980s, crystals emerged as an alternative healing method thanks to books by Katrina Raphaell and Melody and Michael Gienger. Presently, even though crystal healing is continually met with skepticism from the medical community, it continues to have a presence in alternative and increasingly mainstream therapies. Current crystal therapy methods include both ancient practices as well as new ones that have been “divined” or intuited by healers.

What do you think? Do crystals have a place in your life?
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Photos: BijaMalas via Etsy, Wikimedia Commons, Catching Wildflowers via Etsy

Posted in crystal healing, crystal therapy, crystals, gem lore, history

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