Teardrops of the Moon: Pearls in Legends…and Trends

Ancient Japanese legends told stories of mermaids and nymphs crying tears of pearls. When the Greek gods wept, they shed pearls. Even the moon allegedly shed tears of well…you know.

There are many myths pearls, and not all tales involve crying.

Early Chinese civilization believed that dragons carried pearls between their teeth. If you were brave enough to slay a dragon and claim a pearl, it was a symbol of wisdom. In Hindu folklore, dewdrops fell from the moon into the sea, turned into pearls, and Krishna picked one out of the water as a gift for his daughter on her wedding day.

Being the subject of many legends, pearls, as you can imagine, were highly coveted. They were also extremely rare in nature. During the Byzantine Empire, only the emperor was allowed to wear pearls. The ancient Egyptians loved them so much, they were buried with them. And Tudor England was nicknamed the Pearl Age because of the gem’s popularity with the sixteenth-century upper class. The next time you are in a museum looking at Renaissance art, notice the many portraits of the royals wearing pearls.

In more modern times, they became the Art Deco centerpiece for flappers and fashionistas. Ladies who lunch wore them with their white gloves. Pearls during the day, diamonds at night, and never the two shall meet.

And now? Today’s pearls are more often than not cultured. Honora, one of the premier pearl designers, refers to them as “affordable luxury.”

If pearls are the gem of legends, then this watch from Honora is legendary. We love the contrast of the leather wristband and the halo of pearls around the watch dial.

Pearl watch

One more from Honora: this classic strand of white pearls is timeless and versatile. Wear it with a blouse and jeans or a dress to work. It’s perfect for either and will make you feel like royalty.

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Thankfully, these drop earrings from Breuning ignored the memo that diamonds and pearls don’t go together. Try telling that to these rebellious diamond, pearl, and pink sapphire jewels.

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Last, but certainly not least, are these pairs of thoroughly modern fringe earrings from Mastoloni Pearls, featuring both black and white pearls.

Diamond Pearl Fringe Earrings

If you are looking to mix up your jewelry arsenal, give pearls a whirl. Seriously, find some pearls you will love and enjoy them for years to come. Click here to find a jeweler who can help you find the perfect piece.

Could You Propose Without an Engagement Ring?

Man Making Proposal With Wedding Ring And Gift Box, Wedding ConcThe answer is, YES! It’s okay to think outside of the proverbial engagement ring box when it comes to popping the question. Picking the right engagement ring is a big decision and investment, putting a lot of pressure on the one proposing. They’re already feeling the stress of whether or not their heartfelt proposal will be jubilantly accepted.

But for those who don’t want to propose empty handed, AGS member, The Inspired Collection, has designed a creative and contemporary alternative: Wilshi – The Proposal Ring®. They have nine quality ring designs crafted from sterling silver and each comes in a hand-crafted wooden box.

“The idea came from chatting to lots of men and women who were wanting to plan a romantic surprise proposal but ended up proposing without a ring because they wanted their love to be a part of the selection process,” says Chris Benham, CEO of Inspired Jewellery Limited. “If he involved her in the selection process before the proposal then it would ruin the surprise. So we thought, let’s create a fun collection of rings that allowed him to make a surprise proposal and still drop down on one knee and surprise her.”

For your inspiration, here are a few of their beautifully designed rings:

Straight from the heart.
Wilshi® Heart Ring

Oceans of love.
Wilshi® Shell Ring

Shhh—it’s our little secret.
Wilshi® Secret Ring

Check out their website to see more designs, be inspired by the Wilshi® Epiphany story, and get some terrific proposal ideas!

Once the two of you are ready to shop for an engagement ring together, be sure to shop with a knowledgeable jeweler you can trust: an AGS credentialed jeweler. They will take the time to listen to your needs and help you pick out that perfect ring. Click here to find an AGS jeweler near you.

We wish you all the best this Valentine’s Day and may you and yours find the greatest happiness!

6 Jewelry Trends for 2017

By Jennifer Heebner

Directional colors and styles of jewelry shape up annually based on a trio of familiar factors—what’s trending in Hollywood, what the fashion designers are sending down the runways, and the gem material that Mother Nature provides. The following six jewelry trends were born from the intersection of these occasions, so keep them top of mind this year for gifts and self-rewards.

Oversize earrings. Calderesque versions in costume materials were evident on models at several spring couture shows though karat-gold numbers are an heirloom-quality choice. AGS members have plenty of options!

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Chandelier earrings in 18k gold with rose-cut diamonds and rubies from Vivaan.

 

Hearts. Love takes a literal interpretation next season. Just look at the word itself on sweaters by Michael Kors! While hearts can elicit mixed reactions—are they kitsch or cool?—know the fashion gods have committed to them this year. Would you wear a heart? Diamond options (here and below) are hard to resist!

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Ring in platinum with a heart-shaped yellow diamond, a heart-shaped emerald, and colorless diamonds from Setaré.

 

Choker necklaces. These continue to enjoy the spotlight. Both Céline and Versace sent choker-wearing models down the spring runways to create chic style messages. Chokers can feature traditional (think cameos) or contemporary elements ideal for wear dressed up for evening or down with denim during the day.

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Choker necklace in 18k Strawberry Gold with Chocolate and Vanilla diamonds and a Neon Paraiba Tourmaline from Le Vian.

 

Mismatched earrings. These range from subtly mismatched styles—one stud and one drop—at Dior to completely different designs on each ear. And related to this trend of uneven mates are the large single earrings being worn solo. No matter how you wear the mismatched look, its novelty will attract attention and admirers.

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Mismatched earrings in 18k gold with diamonds from Erica Courtney.

 

Statement necklaces. Recent red carpet jewelry placements have fueled a growing appetite for attention-grabbing necklaces. Expect to keep seeing bibs, big pendants on long chains (think Givenchy’s über-cool agates), and multi-layer options that build a look by using many slimmer styles.

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Collar necklace in 18k gold with blue chalcedony from Goshwara.

 

Pearls. From natural-color Chinese freshwaters to Japanese Akoya and South Sea varieties, pearls are making a comeback among jewelry designers for their iconic beauty. Even fashion brands like Gucci worked pearl accents into 2017 lines, further cementing the lustrous orb’s must-have status.

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Earrings in 24k gold with baroque-shape freshwater pearls and diamonds from Lika Behar Collection.

If you’re loving these trends, search for an AGS jeweler near you. They’ll help you find any of the above designs, match you with similar looks, or help you design your very own trend-setting style!

Out of the Vault: Clarity Rarities Continued

The gemologists at AGS Laboratories came across some more clarity rarities to share. If you missed the first two installments of this series, be sure to read Out of the Vault: Clarity Rarities and Out of the Vault: More Clarity Rarities.

This first fun finding was taken at 50x magnification of a crystal shaped like a turtle, and the “turtle’s” reflection. Can you see it? (Look closely, you’ll see the body, head, and arm).

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This next image was taken at 20x magnification and exhibits iridescence in a feather. Some of our gemologists see the head of a rainbow trout, with the opaque crystal representing the eye. What do you see?

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When it comes to diamond grading, there are five factors that affect how clarity is determined in a diamond, and how inclusions are considered: size, nature, number, location, and relief.

  • Size: Generally, the larger the inclusion, the greater the impact on the clarity grade. If the inclusions are large enough, the can also impact the durability of the stone.
  • Nature: Refers to the type of inclusion it is and its relative superficiality or depth.
  • Number: For the most part, the greater the number of clarity characteristics, the lower the clarity grade. However, inclusions are not always judged on the number, but on how readily they are visible.
  • Location: The position of the inclusion/blemish in the diamond.
  • Relief: The distinctness of the inclusion in contrast to the host diamond. The greater the relief, the greater the effect on the overall clarity grade.

To learn more about diamond grading, clarity, and AGS Laboratories, click here. To find a jeweler who carries AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Reports, click here. AGS Laboratories is the only nonprofit diamond grading lab created with a mission of consumer protection.

Ask your jeweler for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. Accept no substitutes, and buy your diamond with confidence!

Best in Bridal and Beyond: ASHI Diamonds

By Randi Molofsky

Happen to be in the market for the perfect ring to exchange over “I do’s?” Look no further than American Gem Society member, ASHI Diamonds. With innovative collections like Lovebright—where smaller diamonds are seamlessly set together to create the look of a larger diamond—and complete bridal sets in white, yellow and pink gold in styles for contemporary, vintage and traditional women. ASHI’s designs will last a lifetime and beyond. We went behind the scenes with Paras Pandya, a director at ASHI Diamonds, to find out what makes them a leader in diamond jewelry.

 

Lovebright bridal

Lovebright Bridal Engagement Rings

 

What makes ASHI stand out from other diamond companies?

From the very beginning, ASHI’s focus has always been on providing the very best quality in any venture we pursue. Our passion for fine jewelry reveals itself in our craftsmanship, and no detail is too minor. This mindset has allowed us to create strong relationships throughout the industry, and it’s that same quality that has now become synonymous with ASHI.

We spend months during the development process, from concept to final creation, and often, pieces can be sent back to our manufacturing facilities up to 10 times before final approval. All the hard work we put in culminates in one perfect, unforgettable moment—when she sees the perfect ring inside the box. It’s a true privilege to be an integral player in one of life’s most precious moments, and creating memories like this are what inspires us to expect more from ourselves.

What are the most-wanted ASHI pieces? 

As for what’s moving and generating the most buzz, we’ve seen particular strength in the latest Bridal and Lovebright collections. I think they both provide a really great combination of design and quality. We truly love what we do, so our core focus has and will continue to be to provide amazing designing as well as the best finishing and craftsmanship available today. Whether she’s got modern flair, has an elegant charm, or that timeless vintage look, ASHI has the ring of her dreams, the perfectly unique one for her.

Lovebright studs

Lovebright Round Cut Diamond Earrings in 14K Rose and White Gold

 

What are some of today’s biggest bridal jewelry trends? 

The bridal jewelry business is one that vows to be there for the jewelry industry through thick and thin. And with the not-so-recent advent of the internet, future brides have access to literally thousands of designs at their fingertips. They have more options, and at the same time, want something truly unique. As a result, we’re seeing a huge influx of customization, anything from changing the gold color of a certain component to a near overhaul of the original design. We’re more than happy to fulfill their requests because often studying these customization requests gives us an insight into the tastes of today’s bride. The desire for something truly unique pushes our design development process to its limits, leading our team to search far and wide for design inspiration.

Pink gold engagement set

From the I Do Collection, a 14K White and Pink Gold Wedding Set

This year’s brides have a particular penchant for two and three-tone designs as well as fancy shaped center stones—all of which are ways of personalizing and differentiating one of her most treasured possessions. Bands are another way of adding a unique element, and today’s brides are stacking up to three different bands with their engagement rings and often in non-traditional designs or materials.

yellow gold stack band

From the I Do Collection, a 14K Yellow Gold Stack Band

Use our online Find a Jeweler search to locate an AGS credentialed jeweler near you and tell them you would like to see one of these great creations by Ashi!

Design Details: Ilaria Lanzoni of Hearts On Fire

By Randi Molofsky

MeetTheDesigner-HeroImageLeft_488x488If your ultimate diamond wishlist includes the most sparkly rock on the block, look no further than Hearts On Fire (HOF), a company that boasts the tagline, The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond®.

Director of Design, Ilaria Lanzoni, has been with Hearts On Fire for four years, creating exceptional collections of jewelry around these dazzling diamonds. With 20 years of experience as a jewelry designer with top brands including Asprey and Garrard, she brought a new level of sophistication and European sensibility with her to HOF. We spoke to Ilaria and asked her five questions about her inspiration, her designs and what’s to come!

What about the perfection of an HOF diamond inspires your design?

When I joined Hearts On Fire, I was truly mesmerized by the beauty of the diamonds. And I am still blown away by their beauty every day. The perfection and quality allow me to do more creative designs than I would have ever imagined. Wait until you see our new collection this year! I am continuously working with my team to create new ideas of designs that can both be worn every day and proudly display the unique Hearts On Fire sparkle. It’s a challenge that any designer loves!

We’ve heard you use inspiration boards to help with your creative process. Why does this work for you and what’s currently on your inspiration board?

I do love inspiration boards – you should see my work space! I’m an incredibly visual person, and as I go about my daily life, I am constantly inspired by the world around me. It always comes from places you don’t expect it, so I like to memorize images and colors and shapes and add it to my working space so I can remember it in the future. As I mention below, all of my collections follow unique themes and are inspired by a particular place or experience…and these boards help capture the energy I am feeling.

Ilaria_InStudio

I am constantly adding to my boards, and pin all sort of images on boards…architecture, house interiors, fashion accessories, pieces of fabrics, close-up pictures of details of all sorts, like doors, iron gates, windows…the list can go on and on. Every day is completely different and every day we see the world a little differently, too. That is what I am always building on.

Can you pick three of your favorite HOF designs and tell us why they are so successful?

It’s always hard to pick my favorites, but if I had to choose just a few that are loved by both myself and consumers, they would be the ILLA Cluster star pendant for being so timelessly fashionable, the Triplicity Lariat for being so elegantly sexy, and the Lorelei Diamond Floral pendant for its chic, feminine style. All of these designs seamlessly blend modern trends with the classic beauty of diamond jewelry, something that we always strive to create at Hearts On Fire.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what’s next for HOF jewelry?

We are incredibly excited to be launching our next designer jewelry collection in June at the 2016 Couture Show [an invitation-only event for the fine jewelry trade]! All of my collections are inspired by my personal experiences in life and mix timeless beauty with modern trends. The only hint I can give is that a year ago I moved to New York City, and that has impacted this next collection. So watch out for something blending a vibrant, edgy style with classic diamond beauty. It’s amazing!

Illa-Cluster-Pendant-1

Illa Cluster Pendant comprised of perfectly cut Hearts On Fire diamonds. Wear it alone or paired with other necklaces.

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Copley Circle Earrings with eleven perfectly cut Hearts On Fire diamonds in each loop.

Lorelei-Interlocking-Diamond-Heart-Bracelet-1

Lorelei Interlocking Diamond Heart Bracelet is the perfect addition to any look, day or night.

Lorelei-Bow-Necklace-1

The dainty Lorelei Bow Necklace is perfect for every day, adding simple sparkle to any look.

Aerial-Cluster-Engagement-Ring-1

The Aerial Cluster Engagement Ring was designed to resemble a snowflake.

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: Popular Engagement Rings to Make Your Holiday Proposal Perfect

Are you planning to make one of your holiday gifts an engagement ring? With all the excitement and holiday hubbub, where do you begin?

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has compiled a wonderful list of what to look for, based on latest trends, hottest colors and alternative alloys. But keep in mind, it’s most important to be conscious of what your beloved most desires.

Learn more by reading their blog, Popular Engagement Rings to Make Your Holiday Proposal Perfect.