Thursday, March 27, 2014

Topaz...especially of the London Blue variety

I know, I know, it's not November (the month that boasts Topaz as its birthstone) or December (the month that has stolen London Blue Topaz as its birthstone) but still -- it's a lovely stone and perfect for spring and summer this year with the blues of the fashion color scape.

But what exactly is London Blue Topaz?  Unfortunately -- it's an enhanced stone, it does not naturally occur.  In it's pure form, Topaz is colorless (a great alternative for April birthstone if I may say so) and impurities are what bring colors.

The most common color is the golden topaz -- often mistaken historically for citrine, and vice versa -- which is why both stones are considered the birthstone of November.  The most prized is Imperial Topaz -- which hosts goldens, yellows, some orange and pink hues, usually together.

Many stones can often be mistaken for Topaz -- it's the crystalline and fluorescence that often sets other stones apart.   In fact most topaz on the market with funky names, like Madeira topaz, occidental topaz, Palmeira topaz, Rio topaz, Scottish topaz, and Spanish topaz are actually a form of Citrine -- which itself is a form of colored quartz.  (This is why you find stones like Ametrine -- Crystal, Citrine and Amethyst grow together often as it is impurities in crystal quartz that creates citrine and amethyst). 

The one difference is Smokey Topaz -- which is never, ever topaz, but smokey quartz in structure.

I know it's a sad state of affairs -- but it's all about the trade names these days in the gemstone business.  I often get angry when at gem shows, because some dealers can't stand that Mom and I can usually see what type of stone we are looking at (or at the very least what is trying to be mimicked through 'enhancement') on sight.

Enter London Blue Topaz -- stunning beauty that it is, it is merely an enhanced stone -- so why the heft price tag?  (Only imperial topaz can top it's price tag).   I don't know really -- but I think it's probably about popularity.  I went to a show in Seattle recently and was ready to drop well over 300 wholesale for a fabulous strand -- yes one strand -- of London Blue.

Blue does happen in nature -- just not vibrant striking London Blue.  It's a softer blue, often called something like "ice blue."

Virtually clear -- with just a slight hint of blue.   In order to get the London color (think the color of the 11th Doctor's TARDIS) the producers usually irradiate it and then heat it to bring out fabulous blue.

Yes those are different necklaces -- and they are both sold from the shop, I am just using them as examples of how blue topaz looks naturally, and how it looks after the irradiation and heating to produce London blue.

Even though I know it's an enhanced stone -- and I don't like using very many enhanced stones in the shop -- I just can't get past how much I love the deep ocean blue of that London Blue Topaz.  Also -- it seems to adjust well to being layered with sapphire, in case you wanted to know.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Colors...

Spring and Summer this year have some fabulous colors in the fashion world -- I get it.  But for some reason there is a lot of pink going around and being liked.   I made this adorable pink treasury yesterday:

Pink by Me!

I think it's just the longing for the soft warmth of spring that draws people to the color pink.  There are lots of statements to be made about pink but frankly, I still secretly adore it.  I think it's the song, Pretty in pink. 

I mean seriously -- who doesn't love a little Molly Ringwald mixed with the Psychedelic Furs?   It's like April showers bringing may flowers.  

So pink, even though it's not a 'popular' color for the season -- it's like a habit impossible to break.  As soon as those little pink and white blossoms appear on the trees, pink is like coming home to spring-time. 
Soon, the world will be "mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful" as e.e. cummings put it so well.

Pink Spring by PearlesPainting

I don't know about you -- but I threw open the windows today in the house and studio.  It's still a little too chilly for it, but the freshness is so necessary today.   I hope you get to do the same too -- although I admit, I totally took sinus medicine BEFORE those windows were opened.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Organizing or why I would rather be baking bread

I have to do some serious organizing today -- and it's almost 10.   I ran out of coffee creamer, making my life less than fabulous today.  But I have also been playing with my new website:

I am playing with it, not to see that I can make it outside of anything -- but to prove to myself it can be done.  It's super fun learning html and css from scratch, without a text book.  Even more fun trying to figure out the whole meta thing and such -- meanwhile working with a laptop that while super cool is not exactly what I am used to.  PC to Mac?  Not fun sometimes.

I am still feeling like I am behind for the spring additions to the sites -- barely have I made new items for any shop.  Did I mention I have Star Sapphires?  Yeah -- exactly, why would I not be making fabulous earrings or a necklace from rich, shiny star sapphires?

Because I have to organize -- and rearrange, and clean, and do all that Suzy Homemaker stuff also.  Which parts of are pretty fun -- like the look on my kids face when freshly baked bread leaves the oven and the butter is just melting into each slice.  Other parts, though -- like vacuuming and putting away laundry?  I can do without those.

So last post I showed you some pretty gemstones I got (sans Star Sapphires -- those deserve a post all to themselves.    Here are a few items made with them:

Padparadscha Sapphire Earrings and in my New Shop Here

I haven't listed this Opal Necklace Because I haven't figured out how to take the photos properly.

Garnet Boho Wrap Bracelet and in my New Shop Here

Labradorite Post Earrings  in my New Shop Here

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feeling Guilty on the First Days of Spring

This time of year -- March and April, are when there are big Gem and Jewelry shows I go to with my Mom and sometimes the kids (not as often anymore as they are all entering the teen years and want more freedom).  I love the shows most of the time -- but sometimes I am a bit disappointed.  It used to be November (just before the holidays) was my big purchase time, but I have found that the November shows up here in Seattle are just not quite as big and full of diverse venders than March and April.

I know -- kind of a little rant up there, right?

So, this time of year -- right around the first days of spring I am often so far into my shop that I seem to be barely coming up for air.  Also -- as my mother says -- like clockwork, I start looking for a house. Yes, we still live in an apartment up here -- and so my home studio is teeny tiny compared to what I would like.

Enter a house I have been drooling over (well the yard more so than the house -- plenty big for fabulous gardening, tiny little house so I won't be spending the bulk of my days vacuuming rather than creating) dropping in price a few weeks ago.

As a joke, because I know I can't technically count my income from my shop yet (there are not enough years to average my income in my mind) I clicked the little "contact realtor for a showing" button on the Zillow app.

That afternoon -- Hubby and I were touring the house (he had to put those little slippers over hit Army boots to view, making me laugh hysterically) and falling in love. With the house -- not each other, we've got that covered.

In the subsequent weeks we've been doing preliminary work to purchase the house -- which is some stressful stuff I must say.

Because of that stress I have been such a bad business person I want to slap myself silly.  I haven't been updating my facebook page, or engaging as much as I should, my son and I making videos for the shop have kind of ceased for the time being.  It's a lot of paperwork -- and daunting stuff for someone who, in this Army life has never purchased a house before.

I have even barely been creating with all the wonderful things I got at the show recently.  It's some beautiful and inviting stuff in fact.  And kind of a bummer that I have barely been making -- let alone listing the stuff I have made.
Deep Burnt Orange Sunstone Briolettes I still have to make.

Ethiopian Welo Opal Briolettes I have made into a few things -- a pair of earrings (found here) and a necklace I still have to list, sigh.

I made these gorgeous wine Garnet Briolettes into a pair of simple earrings -- and haven't listed them yet.

This is Moss padparadscha sapphire -- I also made these into earrings, dainty and lovely -- but still not listed either. 
I feel like I am just so far behind -- and now the spring cleaning bug has arrived after the long, cold winter.

Here's hoping for brighter days.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Feeling St Patricks Day...and other reasons to cook a "destination meal".

Hubby and I are not well to do in any sense of the word. Like many Americans, we simply "get by." Sometimes by the thin ice we most certainly skate.

But, every year on this very date -- we have the fight on wearing green.  I personally am wearing two green shirts -- though deep down (thanks to my Mother's love of genealogy) I know I am not the slightest bit Irish.

However, I and two of my three kids have red hair that runs deep.  My oldest, in fact, who is in his teen years actually seems to be getting a fully red beard.  But, with the red hair, everyone assumes there is a wee bit of Irish in us.  The wee bit is actually Scots -- which if you know your history were invaded by the Vikings (pirates historically) from much of Norway and present day Denmark (where hubby and I were married).

This southern Denmark -- areas of which were Prussia in the past -- is where it is most likely our Red hair lineage comes from, and quite possibly that wee bit of Scots on my Mom's side.

So, on Saint Patrick's Day, we wear green so that we are not inadvertently pinched.  We also celebrate -- as though we are Irish -- because it's just sort of expected after all these years I suppose.  On days like today -- even though it is Monday and I have a ton of stuff to do for the shop and hubby is out doing his Army training -- I make a destination dinner.

What I do is simple -- I peruse Pinterest fora bit and pull in some ideas on Irish Fair -- knowing full well that hubby drank the last Guiness last night.  I then make a few things that need to be mailed and package items up -- and I come home to start making Irish Soda Bread and something with it.

Hubby then chooses our "destination movie"  something that is set in the area we are "visiting" through our dinner and drink. Thus -- we get to "feel" like we are traveling a bit even though we are barely skating by like much of America.  It sort of takes the sting out of things and allows us the freedom to pretend we travel as much as we would like.

Seriously, try it.  I will be donning my Irish flag socks, wearing a few shamrocks on my ears, drinking an Irish Red and trying a few of these:

While it won't make me Irish -- certainly I will be enjoying the views of Ireland on whatever movie it is hubby chooses.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Showers

I woke up this morning to find this lovely collection in my inbox -- I think what I love best is the title: Spring Rain. It certainly creates a picture in your head before you see it -- right?