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jade hookSAVE 20% WITH SAVE20 COUPON for this and anything else in the shop. This is a lovely hand-carved pendant of natural Nephrite Jade from New Zealand. The hei matu, or fish hook, has endured since pre-colonial times (prior to the 18th century) and symbolizes abundance, and a respect for sea. The design represents the special relationship Maori people have with fishing (historically they lived from fisheries and depended on the sea for food gathering) and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Designs range from the ultra-realistic through to more conceptual styles, and wearing one is said to bring good fortune when traveling across oceans.

This beautiful piece measures approx. 45 mm long (approx.. 1 3/4") x approx. 23 mm. (just shy of 1") at its widest point. Thickness is approx. 3 mm. Hole at top for hanging is approx. 3 mm. wide.

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citrine cabMore than 450 years ago, a German metallurgist by the name of Georg Bauer realized the value of a name in marketing and renamed yellow quartz “citrine”. Known to some as "the father of mdern mineralogy” Bauer used the name citrine in his 1556 publication about gemstones and jewelry. The most likely root of the word citrine is from the old French word for yellow--citron--or the Latin word citrus for the color of citrus fruit. Madeira citrine is a darker, reddish-brown variety of quartz. Some say it gets its name from the Brazilian word for wood or wood-colored, while others say Madeira citrine is named after the fortified wine made in the Madeira Islands just off the coast of Portugal.

[Light Yellow Oval Cut Citrine shown to the right is from GemstonesLooseInc of Etsy.]

Citrine has been used as an embellishment on tools and in the jewelry making industry for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, it gained popularity as a decorative gem during the Hellenistic Age, roughly between 300 and 150 B.C.  The gem was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. Also known as a "merchants' stone”, it was placed with cash profits to not only acquire wealth but to maintain it as well. Another practice was to place the stone on the forehead of an elder, believing it would increase their psychic power. Ancient Romans also used it for beautiful jewelry and intaglio (engraved gem) work. In the 17th century, Scottish weapon makers placed citrine on dagger handles, sometimes using a single large citrine crystal as the handle itself.

strandLargely due to Queen Victoria’s fascination with the gem, citrine became a popular gemstone for traditional Scottish kilt pins and shoulder brooches. In 1852, the British Empire’s Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, began construction on a new summer residence within a hundred yards of the 15th century fortress in the Scottish Highlands known as Balmoral Castle. (The Castle still stands today in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and is a favorite private country retreat for the current royal family). Queen Victoria was so fond of Scotland and her new Balmoral home that she commanded guests to wear full Highland plaid attire. This gave her the perfect opportunity to share her love of gemstones found within her kingdom, of which the beautiful citrine was a favorite.

Citrine again rose to prominence during the Art Deco period that began iin the 20's, when opulence was in and high living was a matter of fact. The international appeal of Art Deco design was seen in everything from jewelry, clothing, furniture and interior design to appliances and architecture. Large faceted citrines were set into fine jewelry items, some highlighting the geometric crispness of the period. Fans of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood productions may see some great examples from the short-lived era. Pieces worn by Hollywood starlets such as Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford made women flock to jewelers for the precious stones. Even more, Greta Garbo started her own Art Deco line, with many pieces featuring citrine. Such pieces continue to sell for countless dollar amounts, as many consider them to be priceless. Her collection ranged from elegant cocktail bracelets to opulent headpieces. Joan Crawford often wore an emerald-cut citrine ring that was more than 100 carats. She had a matching cuff bracelet and necklace, also set with huge citrines.

Today this beautiful gemstone is considered to be the Planetary stone for the Sun Sign of Virgo and the accepted gem for the 13th and 17th wedding anniversary.

On Opal, by Pliny the Elder, First Century A.D. --

"Made up of the glories of the most precious gems, to describe them is a matter of inexpressible difficulty. For there is amongst them the gentler fire of the ruby, there is the rich purple of the amethyst, there is the sea-green of the emerald, and all shining together in an indescribable union. Others, by an excessive heightening of their hues equal all the colours of the painter, others the flame of burning brimstone, or of a fire quickened by oil."

Ethiopia is considered to be one of the finest sources for opal, and when you look it, you can see why. The stone has a high transparency, which means you can facet, carve, make into cabochons, or of course, beads. The color is unreal – they seem to float in the gem and project from the surface. And the number of colors in a single piece is only rarely seen in Australian opals. Color patterns are varied and unique. Just look at what some of our Etsy artisan colleagues have done with this sort of thing! To the right is the exquisite creation of Mindy Greenville of MindyG – a necklace of Ethiopian opal and purple amethyst, with a Mother of Pearl pendant. Unique and beautiful!

fan 3opals manyColor patterns of this opal are varied. Below is an exquisite sample from Gemsafari on Etsy – multicolor rondelle beads. Opals with ‘play of color’ have always been considered one of the most desired gems in the marketplace, earning it the oft-used title of “Queen of Gemstones”.

Although it has been reported that Northern African opal was used to make tools as early as 4000 BC, the first published report of gem opal from Ethiopia occurred in 1994, with the discovery of precious opal in the Menz Gishe District, North Shewa Province. The opal, found mostly in the form of nodules, was of volcanic origin and was found predominantly within weathered layers of rhyolite. This Shewa Province opal was mostly dark brown in color and had a tendency to crack. These qualities made it unpopular in the gem trade. In 2008, a new opal deposit was found near the town of Wegel Tena, in Ethiopia's Wollo Province. The Wollo Province opal was different from the previous Ethiopian opal finds in that it more closely resembled the sedimentary opals of Australia and Brazil, with a light background and often vivid play-of-color. Wollo Province opal, more commonly referred to as "Welo" or "Wello" opal, has become the dominant Ethiopian opal in the gem trade. With the discovery of this precious and stable opal, this gem is now one of the most in-demand gemstones in the 21st century.

Below is another example of some inspiring work with with this opal. Check out artisan Anjali Singh of Studio1980. The beautiful bracelet below at right is called an "Om Spiritual' bracelet -- handmade with natural Ethiopian opal and sterling silver. Love it!

purple glass

One of my all-time favorite beads was a gift from my daughter after her return from Tokyo, Japan. It is in the style of ‘Tonbodama’, a Japanese lampwork bead. The name roughly translates to ‘dragonfly eyes’ in English. These gorgeous beads are made of Japanese Satake glass, which is very soft and has a low melting point – resulting in soft, subtle colors.

japanese green glassThe best of these beads are individually handmade, so no two are exactly alike. They can be used as focal beads in bracelets, necklaces and earrings. See examples shown here, especially this lovely one (at right) from Shirley Zhu of ShirleyLampworkBeads on Etsy.

Shirley’s creation is luminous, with purple roses frozen under crystal encasement. The flowers themselves are made with murrini which are slices of glass cane. Such wonderful color and highly-detailed precision!

There was a renaissance of glass-making in the Nara period of Japan (710-94). Many temples had their own glass construction bureaus. Large stores of beads and glass fragments have been found from this time. Glasswork was common--and an indication of the quantity of glass is shown by a monument to the emporer Somu (d. 756) which contained thousands of glass beads and glass pieces.

Other beautiful examples we found while perusing the web can be found at AyakoGlassGarden –- work from Ayako Hattori of Nagoya City, Japan (see this informative article on Ayako’s work in the Beading Times and view her work at Akihiro’s Japaneseglass’s Gallery.

 Byzantine

Here’s a new style to consider if you haven’t checked it out before. The mysterious and richly historical Byzantine and Chainmail (or Chainmaille) from ancient times. Authentic Byzantine jewelry was created during the Byzantine Empire, which was from the fourth century AD to approximately the mid-1400s. The jewelry was influenced by the art of this civilization, and made heavy use of the Christian cross and other early religious symbols. The Byzantine time period was full of wealth and riches, so there was an abundance of gold metal used during this time.

coinAuthentic Byzantine jewelry is usually made from weighty gold with generous amounts of gemstones. Common gemstones used include garnets, pearls, corundum, and beryls, which were traded from the Eastern countries such as India and areas of Persia.Typical types of jewelry that were made during the Byzantine time period include necklaces, neck pieces, head pieces along with bracelets, rings, earrings, and other ornamental jewelry. Bangles were very popular during this period, and people often wore more than one at a time on each arm.

Chainmail is a part of this tradition; the original art was the earliest form of metal armor and was probably invented before the 5th century by the ancient Celts. The name mail comes from the French word “maille” which is derived from the Latin “macula” meaning “mesh of a net”. The armor itself involved the linking of iron or steel rings, the ends of which were either pressed together, welded or riveted. Sometimes the rings were stamped out of a sheet of iron; these were then used in alternate rows with riveted links. There are many styles and methods within this category of art. One fairly simple tutorial is offered here by CreatingUnkamen on Etsy, (for only $1.00!) for creating a beaded chainmail bracelet -- . And I love this beautiful Byzantine coin necklace (to the right) desgined by AnewAgain

Chainmail can look extremely feminine when made in precious metals and delicate designs. It is also very durable and the only limitation an artist has is imagination. Today artists have utilized traditional ancient patterns but have modified them to create unique patterns of their own. New metals have been introduced, old metals resurrected. Glass, metal, pearls and precious stones can be used to embellish any piece. 

 

 

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