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jade newThis is a lovely hand-carved pendant of natural Nephrite Jade from New Zealand. Maori designs carved in jade are steeped in religious and spiritual belief. They tell stories of ancestors long lost, depict spirits from the heavens, earth, and underworld, show historical lineage and paint images of the natural world that surround and surrounded them. They are no doubt beautiful, but they’re more than a form of art. For Maori they create a strong connection with their ancestors and the natural world they live in. It was believed by Maori that as a carving was worn against the skin it absorbed some of that person's essence. As carvings were passed down through the family they absorbed essence from each family member, creating a direct ancestral connection through the necklace itself. This is one reason why Maori design is so special, it is more than just an art form.

This special piece measures approx. 70 mm long (approx.. 2 3/4") x approx. 35 mm. (just shy of 1 1/2") at its widest point. Thickness is approx. 3 mm. Hole at top for hanging is approx. 2 1/2 mm. wide.

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Opal Cab Set 5So today I used the phrase 'top shelf' to describe the beautiful natural gems shown here, a new acquisition of ours that's just waiting for the right metalsmith/jewelry artisan to do something amazing with it. Then I realized that even though I've been exposed to this term in the jewelry business, I didn't know exactly what it meant. Leaving aside the fact that this phrase is also used for some very shady stuff (apparently and unfortunately, it's also a term for unsavory nudie magazines kept on the 'top shelf' and out of immediate view),  this is otherwise a really cool term that means the gemstones are of the finest quality. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), where I trained in the identification and evaluation of colored stones, uses a Colored Stone Grading System to grade gemstones.  GIA also teaches you to distinguish between natural gems and synthetics, and how to detect synthetic treatments of gems.

Analysis factors include color, geographic origin, chemical and crystal structure, clarity, rarity, transparency, shape, cut, dimensions, and weight. (If you want to know more about GIA, check out their web site:   It is an incredible organization!

Anyway, when all or most of the 'characteristic' factors are taken into account (color, clarity, transparency, etc.), and when the highest standards are exhibited in a natural gemstone, it is justifiably referred to as 'top shelf'. I had a little more fun with this topic when looking into what Webster's says is the definition of this phrase. And here I share with you:

A-OK, A1, Awesome, Bang-up, Banner, Beautiful, Blue-chip, Blue-ribbon, Boffo, Bonny, Capital, Choice, Classic, Cool, Crackerjack, Dandy, Divine, Dynamite, Fab, Fabulous, Fantabulous, Fantastic, Fine, First-Class, First-rate, Five-star, Grand, Great, Groovy, Heavenly, High-class, Hot, Immense, Jim-Dandy, Keen, Lovely, Marveous, Neat, Nifty, Noble, Number One (Also No. 1), Numero Uno, Out-Of-Sight, Par Excellence, Peachy, Peachy Keen, Prime, Primo, Prizewinning, Quality, Righteous, Sensational, Slick, Splendid, Stellar, Sterling, Superb, Superior, Superlative, Swell, Terrific,  Tip-Top, Top, Top-Flight, Top-Notch, Top-of-the-line, Unsurpassed, Wonderful.

Now, If you need a little deeper understanding, these are things that Top-Shelf are NOT:

Acceptable, Adequate, All Right, Decent, Good, OK (or Okay), Passable, Satisfactory, Tolerable, Standard.

And Top-Shelf gems are especially NOT (according to Webster's list of antonyms for 'Top Shelf'):

Atrocious, Awful, Lousy, Pathetic, Poor, Rotten, Terrible, Vile, or Wretched.

Now having said that, I hope you agree that The Bead ONLY offers the most A-OK, Peachy, Top-Notch, Righteous and Sensational (Top Shelf) beads and pendants. And yes, we have seen many jewelry supplies both online and in stores that are truly Wretched, Atrocious and Awful, and we vow to never deal in such goods.

I hope you think this post was really Boffo, because I enjoyed writing it. Until next week, when I think of something Holiday-related to talk about, may you have a Jim-Dandy, Fab & Swell week, and keep the cards and letters coming! (We especially appreciate responses to blog posts right on this web site -- hit the 'Ad New Comment' link below the post and follow instructions, and/or 'Reply' to others who comment.)

If you enjoyed this post, you also might enjoy a prevous post on this site: 'A Survey From Shannon'.


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