Categorized under: Proposals and Engagements

ERIC + IRENE: Our New Favorite Clients

Well, no one’s playing favorites, but Charlotte North Carolina’s Eric E. and Irene G. were especially delightful to design for – there we said it. It would seem they liked working with us too; after a year-and-a-half, a hundred correspondences, and two trips to Seattle to visit the workshop, Green Lake must have played its own small part in their wedding experience. Just back from a picturesque get away ceremony in British Colombia, Eric and Irene passed us a few photos to share. Here they are, as well as some details on their custom-made jewelry:

Eric & Irene

Eric & Irene

Many are surprised to hear upwards of a 1/3 of our Seattle studio’s custom rings are actually designed entirely online, with clients as far away as Sandusky to Singapore. This is a huge point of pride for us, after all it demands relatively more trust, creativity and patience to craft a ring from afar than it does to just walk into a store and simply pick something out of the case. What’s more is when out-of-state clients actually fly out to visit us, as did Eric and Irene. That’s just downright flattering.

Irene is a graphic designer who throws pottery on the weekends. Like every good potter she stamps her pieces with her own mark, stylized initials ‘I G.’ The mark served as the initial inspiration for the hand fabricated platinum wire filigree that borders her bezel-set diamond center. Working with Green Lake designer Krista, the motif evolved over time to include floral elements that juxtapose each other, lending balanced ornament and enough just flair to suit its creative owner.

Hers: Diamond and platinum bezel-set mounting with filigree, custom made platinum shadow band with milgrain borders  / His: Wide 18k palladium band in matte finish with 14k rose gold inlay, carved grooves and white gold rails.

Hers: Diamond and platinum bezel-set mounting with filigree, custom made platinum shadow band with milgrain borders / His: Wide 18k palladium band in matte finish with 14k rose gold inlay, carved grooves and white gold rails.

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Eric and Irene demonstrate just how fun it can be to get involved with each other’s wedding rings and collaborate on pieces truly reflective of individual personalities. For many of us, wedding jewelry is not just a significant purchase – it represents the most significant decision of our lives. At Green Lake, we understand all too well how lucky we are to make these pieces and be in the business of love. Thanks again to Eric and Irene – and every couple we get to work with – for reminding us of this fact!

COLLAGE

 

Categorized under: Artists, Jewelry

ARTISTS AT WORK: Custom-Cut Sapphire

The Green Lake workshop crafts custom made-to-order engagement rings and wedding bands day in and day out. In order to bring each client’s vision alive, designers and jewelers must often push the limits of noble metals and precious gemstones to the max. We’ll extrude impossibly thin wire for delicate filigree,  blaze and electrify metals to achieve wild colors, engineer tiny moving parts – or in the case of this ring – take a rough chunk of sapphire to the cutting wheel and meticulously facet it into the pattern of a water lily. It’s safe to say there’s little Green Lake won’t do to make the perfect ring!

Platinum wrap-style engagement ring with a custom water lily-cut sapphire center, blue diamond accent and matching diamond shadow band

Platinum wrap-style engagement ring with a custom water lily-cut sapphire center, blue diamond accent and matching diamond shadow band

 

HOW IT’S MADE

 

Custom jewelry clients John H and Jessica A came to Green Lake Jewelry Works this spring with some rather specific ambitions for her engagement ring and wedding band: For one, Jessica works with her hands and claimed to be rough on jewelry, so she wanted a low-set wrap style mounting – OK, that’s easy enough. They also envisioned their center stone to be the perfect shade of ice-blue, so as to be a rarer sight for an engagement ring and keep people guessing about the kind of gem it is – that takes some deeper digging from the Gem Lab, but again, no problem. Lastly they wanted this uniquely colored gem to be custom cut to resemble the petals of a water lily – (record scratch!) Wait, what??

 That’s right – John and Jessica discovered the ‘Nymphia’ cut, an original design by Marco Voltolini on this really useful open source site for any and all gemstone enthusiasts, gemologyproject.com, and unfolded their plans in our studio with the exactitude of a mechanical engineer. Initially surprised at the detailed attention this couple were paying toward their wedding jewelry, Green Lake jewelry designer Sam Laddin fast became enlivened at the prospect of seeing this relatively ambitious project come to life – plus they were a lot of fun to work with. She recruited the help of fellow designer, gemologist and aspiring gem cutter Daniel Canivet who quickly set to cutting the rough sapphire.

IN 1

Unlike typical round-cut sapphires, this custom gem’s upper girdle is left ‘frosted,’ softening the sapphire overall and playing on its icy hue. How the gem is cut can also affect its perceived color to great extent; Daniel Cavinet cut this sapphire with special attention to capture the perfect shade of blue for its owner.

Grinding the sapphire into shape with a diamond-charged copper lap, Dan’s work began to take form. With an aluminum nail, he carefully ensured a precise layout by highlighting each faceted edge. Finally, the gem was polished and the pavilion carefully inspected for any remaining scratches before the finished sapphire was revealed.

Once John and Jessica were pleased with their center stone, Sam looped back to create the perfect ring design. The couple decided to make a wrap mounting in platinum, a style and metal both celebrated for their lifelong durability. Like many custom ring clients, starting a design from scratch also allowed for an engagement ring to form and contour perfectly with the wedding band, or ‘shadow band.’ To play on the icy hue of their center sapphire, a deep blue side diamond counter balances a corresponding single-cut diamond on the wedding band, offering a cool spectrum of color.

SAMANTHA LADDIN QUOTE 2

ORDERING A CUSTOM CUT GEMSTONE

Artists and gemologists at Green Lake are happy to consult on cutting – or re-cutting – a precious gemstone. In fact, Green Lake will soon be offering a signature diamond with 88 facets (The Green Lake 88) as well as cutting local and responsibly sourced sapphire right here in the workshop. To inquire about starting a custom jewelry project of your own, contact us at info@greenlakejewelry.com

Special thanks to John H and Jessica A for bringing to us their creative passion and challenging us to learn and achieve more in crafting an heirloom piece. 

Categorized under: Education

EMERALDS: A Family of Precious Beryl Revealed

Emeralds originated in ancient Egypt

We humans have considered emeralds particularly valuable for a very long time. Ancient Egyptians are credited with being the first to mine these jewels, out from the shadows of what Romans would later call Mons Smaragdus or ‘Emerald Mountain.’  Just a short thousand years later the Spanish returned from new world conquest, flaunting richly green emeralds from present day Colombia (a region which now accounts for an overwhelming majority of the world’s supply). By the early 20th century, Art Nouveau and Art Deco era designers made the gem their centerpiece, solidifying in our minds emerald as a thing of opulence and fortune.

An emerald’s distinct coloring is owed to trace ammounts of chromium, vanadium, and iron. The emerald cut – with its precise facets and steps used on a variety of other gems - is best suited for emerald’s long six-sided prisms (hence the cut’s name.)

An emerald’s distinct coloring is owed to trace amounts of chromium, vanadium, and iron. The emerald cut – with its precise facets and steps  is used for a variety of precious gems – but is best suited for emerald’s long six-sided prisms (hence the cut’s name).

Emeralds are Green (Right?)

Emerald’s lush hue speaks to the renewed promise of spring, when the world comes alive once more with vibrant, green life – the gem’s deep, almost blue-green coloring is why we designate it as the birthstone for May. Lately, however, a whole host of colored gems are being dubbed emerald too: Pink, yellow, and even red ‘emeralds’ have begun popping up in jewelry stores. Like emeralds, these gems are indeed of the same mineral (beryl), but are every beryl qualified to be emerald?

From left to right: Heliodore, green beryl, morganite, aquamarine, bixbite, goshenite, and emerald

From left to right: Heliodor, green beryl, morganite, aquamarine, bixbite, goshenite, and emerald

From late night TV to big box  gift guides, it’s as though ‘emerald’ is masked on to otherwise obscure gems just levitate their value (as was the case with toothfish before we knew it as Chilean Sea Bass, or when one young Carlos Estevez became Charlie Sheen). The thing is, emerald is defined almost exclusively by one very inescapable characteristic and it’s not simply being beryl: Emeralds are green. While it’s true that emerald has a big family of beryl cousins, they’re not emerald. And they don’t need to be, either. Each have their own story, their own character, and there’s even one beryl variety  far rarer than emerald – So here’s the line-up, emerald’s extended family:

Pictured above are a pair of 2ct, oval-cut heliore. The largest cut heliodore, on display at the American Museum of Natural History, is internally flawless and weighs 2054ct.

Pictured above are a pair of 2ct, oval-cut helior. The largest cut heliodor, on display at the American Museum of Natural History, is internally flawless and weighs 2054ct.

HELIODOR

Heliodor (which means“gift from the sun)” or golden beryl may sometimes be marketed as ‘yellow emerald,’ but as you can see it’s not green – and therefore not actually emerald. It’s heliodor, a popular export of Brazil which has also been mined here and there thought the United States. This gem bears subtle hues of pale yellow, but after it’s exposed to a little radiation (which it often is), the color becomes rich and golden. In addition to irradiation treatments, heliodor is generally free of internal inclusions, offering relatively more clarity and sparkle than emerald. Though these jewels may not be widely known to the public, heliodor is by no means a ‘new’ gem to the industry: In 1913, the New York Times reported that while heliodor was increasing in popularity, it was unlikely to oust other gems – and as you can tell, it didn’t.

Green beryl

Sometimes sold as emerald, green beryl lacks the cool hues and deep saturation of the real thing.

GREEN BERYL

Are you prepared to have your rockhound, gemstone enthusiast’s mind blown? Then check this out: Emerald is beryl that is green, but green beryl is not emerald…because green beryl, despite its namesake, just isn’t green enough. Though rich in iron, this gem lacks a deep saturation and is more yellow because it’s missing emerald’s secret ingredient: Chromium.

Remember, it’s traces of chromium, vanadium, and iron – all three- that are supposed to make beryl an emerald. Yet, in 1963 GIA widened its own classification (after a mine in Brazil began pulling up heaps of green beryl) and asserted that just the inclusion of vanadium and iron may be enough to warrant the emerald name. Disagreed with by many, some experts conversely maintain that even small amounts of chromium shouldn’t’ necessarily earn the emerald distinction.

Confused? Don’t be – if it’s beryl that’s deeply saturated with the cool, greenish-blue hue of an emerald, it’s likely an emerald. If a gem is being sold as emerald but is barely green, just creeping slightly into green under the right lighting, or is merely a fleeting whisper of a hint of green, it’s likely just a green beryl. 

Sometimes referred to as ‘pink emerald,’ morganite’s rosy hues are the result of trace manganese impurities. Like heliodore it’s generally free of significant inclusions, making it appear as a cleaner gem to the eye.

Sometimes referred to as ‘pink emerald,’ morganite’s rosy hues are the result of trace manganese impurities. Like heliodor it’s generally free of significant inclusions, making it appear as a cleaner gem to the eye.

MORGANITE

Morganite get’s it name from the American corporate finance tycoon/ gemstone buff of the early 20th century, John Pierpont “J. P.” Morgan – of whom we now know for his legacy, J.P. Morgan Chase. Morgan funded the New York Academy of Sciences, which named the gem in 1909 as homage to its primary benefactor. For a brief stint there was chatter of nicknaming the gem ‘pink emerald’ just to perk its appeal, but today morganite is largely known by its own name and has become a popular gem for fine fashion jewelry.

Designer Tip: It’s almost as though morganite and rose gold jewelry were made for each other! The warm hues are complementary and both materials are especially nontraditional for engagement rings and wedding bands, making for a truly unique piece. 

When beryl crosses from less green to more blue, it becomes aquamarine - and typically the more blue, the more valuable.

When beryl crosses from less green to more blue, it becomes aquamarine – and typically the more blue, the more valuable.

AQUAMARINE

A cousin to emerald, these gems are found in many similar regions of the world. While the difference in color is obvious, it’s actually hardness that really sets aquamarine and emerald apart. Whereas emerald is regarded as a relatively soft and easily chipped stone (on account hairline fractures or ‘inclusions’ that occur naturally in the growing crystal), aquamarine is more like it’s morganite and heliodor cousins and is generally free of significant inclusions. This makes aquamarine a beryl gem that appears cleaner to the eye and more durable for daily wear.

Maxixie Beryl

In a scant few areas of the world there exists a very unique variety of beryl that’s a far deeper shade blue than any aquamarine, making it appear at fist glance like sapphire. It’s called maxixie (mah-she-she) and it has a highly unstable color table that naturally irradiates when exposed to sunlight. Like a wildly colored tropical fish reeled in from the deep, a maxixie beryl can lose its color in only 8 hours of UV exposure, requiring synthetic gamma ray treatments and annealing to reclaim its original luster.

Aquamarine crystals are generally larger among it's beryl cousins, providing for large carat weights and big clarity.

Aquamarine crystals are generally larger among it’s beryl cousins, providing for large carat weights and big clarity.

Designer Tip: Though pricier and rarer than topaz, aquamarine can be found in a variety of larger cuts, making it a gem ideal for cocktail rings and statement pieces.  

Named for the forested lakeside town of Goshen, Massachusetts where its discovery is credited, Goshenite is a colorless alkaline rich variety of beryl that’s uniquely concentrated throughout North America and Russia.

Named for the forested lakeside town of Goshen, Massachusetts where its discovery is credited, Goshenite is a colorless alkaline rich variety of beryl that’s uniquely concentrated throughout North America and Russia.

GOSHENITE

Colored beryl achieves its vibrant hues from elemental impurities, so the absolutely clear and colorless goshenite is essentially the purest form of beryl. There’s something so mysterious about pure beryl, mined deep beneath chilly alpine foothills. It’s almost fitting the gem is clear as ice. Alas, there’s relatively little demand for goshenite jewelry; it seems a soft, easily craked ‘albino emerald’ is a tough sell. Diamonds rule the colorless gemstone world, with white sapphire in a distant second place. Perhaps in an effort to jazz up its appearance, some companies have begun blasting the crystal with enough heat and radiation to impart a tawdry array of tinted hues, appearing in the end more like a color-change paint job than a natural wonder – but as they say, that’s business.

Bixbite is very, very rare. How rare? It’s purported that just one red beryl crystal is found for every 150,000 diamonds

Bixbite is very, very rare. How rare? It’s purported that just one red beryl crystal is found for every 150,000 diamonds

BIXBITE

In 1904, 51-year-old rockhound and mineralogist Maynard Bixby unearthed the first recorded specimen of red beryl in the dusty Thomas Range of Juab County, Utah. He named this new gem ‘bixbite,’ though the nomenclature of late has been revised to just ‘red beryl,’ so as not to be confused with Bixby’s earlier discovery of a metallic black mineral he designated as ‘bixybite.’ Gifted from primordial rhyolite lava flows and rich with manganese, red beryl – or what’s now a buzz as ‘red emerald’ – is found  along this remote area of the American southwest, and it’s extremely rare. Though generally priced at six-figures per carat, most finished bixbite are quite small. Finding a cut red beryl for sale at 1ct or larger is possibly rarer an occurrence than the gem itself!

Sean Ryan

Designer Tip: Red beryl is so soft it seems almost foolish to set into a ring; setting a gem like this into a more protected pendent may be more fitting. Finding cut bixbite for a custom piece, however, may prove to be a real challenge. If you have a burning desire to make something with red beryl, contact the Green Lake gemstone laboratory at gemstones@greenlakejewelry.com

 

A Note on Emerald Jewelry

Senior Green Lake designer and graduate gemologist Sophia Shen asserts that while an emerald center stone is far less hard and durable than diamond, she understands the appeal for the gem as a center piece in engagement rings and wedding jewelry. There are a lot of creative options available to setting emeralds, as well as sourcing the right size and cut – done right, an emerald ring can be a stand-alone heirloom. If you’re interested in making an emerald engagement ring or wedding band contact us at info@greenlakejewelry.com

SUNGWOO QUOTE

Written and illustrated by Eric Robertson / Photography by Daniel Zetterstrom 

Categorized under: Artists, CAD Modeling, Events

BEST IN SHOW: Shinya Takahashi Wins Again

 

Shinya

As Green Lake’s Technical Director, Shinya Takahashi keeps our considerable online gallery of work neatly indexed and organized, a purpose-built collaborative design platform serving our friends out-of-state, and an internal production tracking system – as well as a proprietary client resource management strategy – all buzzing with reliable efficiency and regular updates. Shinya is a very busy guy. That’s why he’s the envy of the shop, because in addition to all these plates in the air, he carves out time to be one of the nation’s most proficient CAD modelers – even though he’s not a regular modeler jewelry for Green Lake!

Shinya Takahashi wins best in show at the 2014 Matrix Design Contest in Davenport, IO

Shinya Takahashi wins best in show at the 2014 Matrix Design Contest in Davenport, IO

This April, Shinya was awarded the best virtual design at Gemvision’s annual Matrix Design Contest at the company’s HQ in Davenport, Iowa, and it wasn’t the first time (he also won it in 2012). Gemvision is the world’s leading provider of technology products to the jewelry industry, pioneering the adoption of 3D CAD software and fueling a CAD/CAM revolution that defines modern jewelry production today. In its ever-growing design contest, there are over 300 entries from top designers worldwide that display the immense creativity, talent and innovation burgeoning throughout the jewelry industry. Shinya, uniquely, now holds the distinction of being the only designer to be awarded the top prize twice since the completion first started. It’s the acknowledgement of his clever ingenuity from his peers that must be the real prize, but it’s his new Waccom Cintique interactive display he also won as a consolation that’s caught the eye of fellow creatives within the shop.

Design 1 of 2: Photorealistic rendering of a champagne diamond ring design

Design 1 of 2: Photorealistic rendering of a champagne diamond ring design

ABOUT THE DESIGNS

To ensure a place at the top, this year Shinya submitted 2 designs for consideration in hopes at least one would get him amongst the final few. He actually considered this first design the ‘better,’ more technically challenging entry, costing  a painstaking 18 hours to render upon its final save. It’s an elaborately formed ring, full of over-and-under twists and turns, featuring a champagne diamond center and is positioned with an imaginary champagne bottle for greater thematic effect (don’t forget, nothing in the image physically exists as pictured; it’s all completely virtual).

st01

The second ring design features delicate yet easily cast filigree and a unique Padparadscha sapphire center

Shinya’s second entry at its face may appear simpler, with less detail than his other design, and yet this is the ring that took best in show. Upon a closer look, however, there is an ornate motif of filigree inside the ring and this is arguably the most inventive part of the piece. For most, this would appear to be an element almost entirely fashioned by hand and added later (delicate work like this is seldom achieved with models grown or milled from CAD files alone). But with Shinya modeling a rather deep albeit narrow strip of patterned gold, it would resemble filigree to the eye and run deep into the ring and out of sight, making it equally producible as to separate parts.

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Shinya Takahashi’s designs are truly stunning, yet for some may lack a romance or inspirational story you’d expect to discover. There are no genres that inform his pieces, and no artist’s statement to further define them. His approach is pragmatism at work: If it looks good then its good, if looks bad then its bad, and it should feel good on the hand. That’s it. To learn more about Shinya, visit his bio page – and if you’d like one of his designs made just for you, drop us a line at info@greenlakejewelry.com

 

 

 

 

Categorized under: Artists, Events, Press

ARTISTS AT WORK: Green Lake in Chicago

At Green Lake, you’ll see our little ‘artists at work’ slogan just about everywhere; it’s on our signage, on our letterhead, and on the little copper boxes in which each ring we craft is delivered. This slogan (by the way) is absolutely true, and this month there are two artists in particular you really need to meet: Kelsey Kudriavtseff and Colin Skelly.

You might not readily see them in the store, as a majority of their time is spent in the workshop tucked back from the glitz of the display cases, but they’re very much at the heart of we do. Both recently returned from Chicago, where they mixed with the bigwigs of jewelry and competed against the best in the industry at one of the largest annual exhibitions in the country – The Smart Show – and both cleaned up, killed it, smashed it, call it what you will…they prevailed outstandingly.

smart show

THE SMART SHOW

 

Each spring America’s jewelry leaders rally for The Smart Jewelry Show, a pow-wow for the who’s who in retail that’s hosted annually by Instore and Indesign magazines. As much a trade conference as it is an exhibition of skill, the Smart Show pits the best bench jewelers and 3D CAD modelers against each other in its ‘Bench Pressure Challenge.’ Year after year, Green Lake artists not only qualify to compete, but shine in a myriad of categories: From virtual environments where rings are developed on CAD in front of a live audience to more tried and true old world skills, like setting and engraving a piece at the bench.

This year we are happy to report that our own 3D modeling phenom Kelsey Kudriavtseff brought home the gold as the 2014 CAD champion and pro bench artist Colin Skelly received the distinguished honor of being the best hand engraver in show!

Green Lake Designer Kelsey Kudriavtseff sketching live with a lucky bride-to-be in a contest sponsored by The Knot.

Green Lake Designer Kelsey Kudriavtseff sketching live with a lucky bride-to-be in a contest sponsored by The Knot.

 

HOW KELSEY KUDRIAVTSEFF DESIGNS A RING

 

Kelsey Kudriavtseff

Kelsey Kudriavtseff

At Green Lake, Kelsey Kudriavtseff manages the CAD operation, checking virtual 3D designs for production viability and keeping the CNC milling machines and state-of-the-art 3D resin printers humming throughout the shop. Basically, in the process of making custom engaging rings and wedding bands, it’s in her area of modeling – and model-making – where pieces really start to come alive. But Kelsey is also perhaps one of Green Lake’s most influential designers, contributing a good share of original rings to Green Lake’s Signature Designs.

In Chicago this past month, Kelsey competed against America’s top modelers in a head-to-head design-off sponsored by The Knot, where one lucky bride–to-be got to put them to test. Working briefly with each designer in front of a live audience to communicate the ring of her dreams, each competitor set off to create a model ready for production and win her approval. Though the betrothed selected a more traditional ring in the end, it was Kelsey’s design that took the final award. Its organic taper, delicate crisscross and above all its ability to be produced as it was shown all contributed to her win. Congratulations again, Kelsey!

The winning ring voted by judges, a ribbon-inspired custom engagement ring in platinum:

(To learn more about Kelsey’s work or to make an appointment for a custom engagement ring or wedding band, see her Green Lake bio.) 

HOW COLIN SKELLY MAKES A RING

 

Colin Skelly

Colin Skelly

In Chicago Colin Skelly was named as the best engraver this year, winning with a pattern he only began sketching on the airplane ride out. He sketched his pattern (one almost reminiscent of a wild, blossoming garden in the spring) over and over until every leaf, curl and petal was known to him as distinctly as his own signature.

By the time he was seated at the bench, encircled by badge-clad judges and craning cameras, Colin already knew exactly what he was doing. With only a mere two hour window to engrave just one-half of their sample 14ky gold bands, he completed the entire ring – top to bottom – with time to spare. That’s fast!

Colin’s engraving sample is pictured at the top of this stunning collection of pieces fashioned in only 2-hours

Colin’s engraving sample is pictured at the top of this stunning collection of pieces fashioned in only 2-hours

Colin is a modest yet calculating jeweler. By incorporating multiple techniques – from carved elements to relief and bright-cut* engraving – the ring pops with crisp detail and catches the light of the room not unlike a faceted gemstone.

*Bright-cut engraving: By carving out a pattern in platinum, inlaying it with gold, then adding precise bright-cuts throughout, an otherwise simple wedding band is imparted with more movement and flash than you could ever see in anything mass produced. See this web short for this type of ring in action:

ENGRAVING SLIDE from Green Lake Jewelry Works on Vimeo.

To learn more about Colin Skelly and see his body of work here at Green Lake, visit his bio page

Categorized under: Process Videos

MELTING GOLD: Watch Pouring Ingot to Make a Ring

From the crucible to the ingot mold, watch where a ring truly begins to take shape. Fire in the Green Lake workshop is as daily an occurrence as is hammering and filing, and truth be told it ignites some magic and excitement in us every time:

MELTING GOLD from Green Lake Jewelry Works on Vimeo.

Green Lake Jewelry Works Artist, Lamoureux

Green Lake Jewelry Works Artist, Gary Lamoureux

BEHIND THE SCENES:

At Green Lake, Gary is our repair and restoration specialist. He says the best part of his job is seeing the smile on a customer’s face when he’s restored an old piece of family jewelry to its original look, especially when the customer tells him they took their jewelry to another jeweler and were told it couldn’t be fixed.

USING OLD GOLD FOR A NEW RING? 

We can help you to make something new with sentimental gold, by first melting it down much like it’s shown in the video above. It’s important to note, however, that not every piece is a good candidate for re-casting; there are a slew of variables that would cause the new, re-cast piece to be pitted or brittle. In most cases it also requires more gold to make new new piece than the old one is able to yield.  Nonetheless Green Lake is happy to do it – the torch and crucible are here waiting, just contact us directly at info@greenlakejewelry.com or check out our Restoration Page for more info.

Categorized under: Education, Jewelry

Buying a Diamond Online? Here’s what Diamond Certificates Don’t Always Show

     It’s never been easier to search the world’s diamond vaults for the absolute best quality and value. From your armchair, all of a diamond’s cuts, carat weights, clarity, and color (The 4 C’s) are virtually at your fingertips to compare. Be careful, though, because with all that convenience it’s easy to get caught up with technical descriptions of diamonds – instead of the diamond itself.

After all, it’s how the diamond actually looks that you’re really after. Does it radiate with brilliant, mesmerizing sparkle on the finger? Does it catch the light of the room and remind you why it’s there in first place? While 4 C’s are all key factors in selecting the perfect diamond, they simply can’t answer these questions on their own; you really have to see a diamond for yourself to know. It seems crazy to buy a diamond you’ve never seen, from someone you’ve never met, and yet it’s becoming the norm for online purchases.

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All too often, folks get caught up in finding the biggest and most clear, colorless diamond for the least amount of money. To find it, they’ll scroll through hundreds of certifications, poring over each granular credential with all the romance of  a Dewey Decimal search in the library. We think you should actually see your perfect diamond, and compare it amongst others to ensure your final selection is the right one.

Take for instance this tale of two diamonds pictured below: Both are round brilliant cuts of comparable carat weight. Both were graded by the same reputable institution, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Both are of the same color and clarity grading, and both are considered excellent. In fact, save for a few nuances in pavilion angle and girdle depth, theses two diamonds are ostensibly the same gem (at least on the laboratory report). But these two are not the same gem. Just have a look…

Diamond Specs

Promise, no doctoring to this photo has been done to dramatize the effect. These two diamonds pictured above look the same on the certificate, yet appear very different in person. One is clearly ‘crisper’ than the other, like a freshly cleaned mirror. So, what gives? If the 4 C’s on the certification are the same, what is missing?

BRANT

Clarity Isn’t Always Terribly Clear

A diamond’s clarity grade is based on the visible amount of microscopic crystals that formed in the gem at its birth, eons in the earth’s deep past. These tiny crystals may deflect light away from your eye, which causes a milky or cloudy effect in the gemstone. Can you guess which diamond in the image above has more of these crystals? Of course, it’s obvious.

Nonetheless, these types of inclusions are generally not shown on the plot of a certificate. They’re so small and numerous that it would be far too cumbersome to report, especially if they’re not deemed significant enough to effect the gem’s ultimate grade, and subsequent value. So they don’t show up, because they apparently don’t matter enough, but they will completely change the way the diamond looks. You would never know that the diamond wasn’t as stunning as the other unless you physically saw it to compare.

DIAMOND CERT

What Else May Be Missing on the Diamond Certificate? 

While these little pin point crystal inclusions account for a majority of hidden differences, there are all sorts of subtle attributes that can equate to big disparities. For instance, fluorescencethat is the amount a diamond will glow under an ultraviolet light to reveal otherwise hidden mineral traces – is reported on the certificate, but bears little relevance to how the diamond will look in a ring on your finger. Most of us don’t live under the glare of an ultraviolet lamp, but hopefully we do get out in the sunshine – how does it look out there? That may better satisfy your own fluorescence criteria than a report alone.

Another important contribution to how bright and sparkly a diamond can be is its scintillation, that glittering iridescence that makes the diamond almost appear as though it’s on fire. A grading certificate will report the quality of the polish, and that is indeed a gauge of scintillation, yet it does not detail its facet arrangement. Diamonds cut by hand will conceivably differ slightly, which will affect their overall scintillation. The take away here is that no two diamonds can really ever be exactly the same and it’s best to see them side by side with your own eyes.

Green Lake’s Selection Process

Just as each ring at Green Lake is hand crafted and custom made, our diamond collection is hand selected. We source our gemstones directly, negotiating hard for the best value for our clients and accepting only the most beautiful diamonds while returning the rest. Whereas most online sites don’t personally view the individual diamonds they pick from a list and send out sight unseen, Green Lake meticulously inspects every diamond we present.

JIM

We are artists who put just as much passion into gem selection as we do in our craft of fine jewelry making. Be it in our Seattle studio or through our website, it’s our gemologists, designers, and jewelers – not salespeople – who seek to provide you with the perfect diamond. Because our singular aim is to create the most beautiful rings possible, to out-do ourselves again and again, it’s in our interest to connect clients with the absolute best diamonds available within their respective budgets.

Are you in search of the perfect diamond? Get even smarter about your purchase criteria on our Understanding Diamonds page, and if you want to speak with a buyer or gemologist directly, contact Green Lake’s Gemstone Laboratory today and get some expert help: gemstones@greenlakejewelry.com

Categorized under: Education

What Makes Sapphires So Blue?

3.7ct Asscher Cut Natural Blue Sapphire

Second only to diamond on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, sapphire has always been a popular choice for heirloom jewelry to last the ages.

Second only to diamond on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, sapphire has always been a popular choice for heirloom jewelry to last the ages.

    From Victorian era jewelry to contemporary design, sapphires are a favorite gemstone for bridal pieces to last the ages. Second only to diamond in hardness, sapphires are an especially durable gemstone for jewelry to be worn on a daily basis. Where diamonds are treasured for their lack of color, sapphires are most valuable when they are rich in it – especially when they’re blue. But what makes a sapphire blue? And is one hue of blue considered necessarily better than another?

Why Sapphires Are So Blue

Sapphire is a gemstone from the mineral variety corundum and gets its blue hue from the element titanium as the crystal develops over eons, deep within the earth’s crust. Comprised namely of aluminum oxide, corundum alone is actually a transparent mineral void of color. This is where we get a ‘white sapphire’ from. But when nature adds in trace amounts of titanium oxide into the mix with just the right temperature and pressure, you get the rich blue hue sapphire is renowned for. Subtle differences in this combination, such as varying amounts of iron, can produce sapphires that are dark and inky to others that are lighter, with a cool iridescent sparkle.

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Rubies & Sapphires

Did You Know Sapphires & Rubies are of the Same Mineral?

Sapphire’s color palette doesn’t stop at just blue. Virtually every color of the spectrum, from candied pink to canary yellow, can be found within the various combinations of corundum and its elemental impurities. When corundum has enough chromium in it that it becomes red, however, it ceases to be sapphire entirely. Instead the gemstone is termed ‘ruby.’ The word corundum is actually a derivation from Tamil language’s word for ruby.

Varying Shades of Blue

There are many different shades to choose from when purchasing a sapphire: From pale cornflower to deep indigo or green and violet undertones that offer flashes of color change. Which one is considered best?  Well, as many gemologists will tell you, while a sapphire with subtle hints of violet may demand a higher price in the market, color is very much subjective. The value in color is ultimately determined by the wearer; it entirely depends on what you like.

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How Sapphires Are Graded

In searching for a sapphire, you may discover that grading is far more nuanced and relatively inconsistent a process when compared to diamond grading. Though still important factors, the old familiar 4 C’s (color, clarity, cut, and carats) do not necessarily apply in the same way here. For one, it’s especially rare to find sapphire free of natural inclusions. In fact, tiny inclusions can even lend a velvety appearance to some sapphires and increase their value, as is the case with the treasured the Kashmir variety. So ‘clarity’ seldom plays a primary factor in assessing a sapphire’s value.

Color is key is assessing a sapphire’s value. A sapphire’s color determined by its elemental make up. Sapphires with more titanium oxide and less iron will be a more vivid blue.

Color is key is assessing a sapphire’s value. A sapphire’s color determined by its elemental make up. Sapphires with more titanium oxide and less iron will be a more vivid blue.

Another key aspect in valuing gemstones is their total carat weight (TCW); that’s essentially how big they are. Nevertheless, sapphires can share an identical TCW yet vary widely in value on account of their color. Indeed, it’s almost color alone that determines a sapphires value, superseding even the cut of the gemstone.

Hue, Tone, and Saturation

Color in a sapphire is graded by its hue, tone, and saturation.  Hue refers to the gem’s inherent color. More often than not, a sapphire will exhibit a predominate color (in our case blue), with subtle undertones of another, like green, pink, or violet. Still, we refer to these gems as basically ‘blue,’ unless the other tones are significant enough to warrant a more accurate description like ‘violetish-blue’ or ‘greenish-blue.’

Hue refers to color and differences within gemstones can be very subtle.

Hue refers to color and differences within gemstones can be very subtle.

Tone is used to describe the amount or depth of color present. If two sapphires share the same hue of blue but one is endowed with more of it, that sapphire will appear darker than the other. This difference will be described as one sapphire being ‘blue’ while the other perhaps as ‘deep’ blue.

Color Gemstone Hue

Looking for differences in tone between gemstones.

Saturation refers to the extent to which the basic color is not masked by other brown or grey hues. A sapphire that is largely free of these drab hues will be described as ‘vivid,’ meaning the truest color is visible.

Grey or brown tones can subdue the saturation of color in sapphires.

Grey or brown tones can subdue the saturation of color in sapphires.

The Best Way to Gauge Color

Best way to see just how blue a sapphire is? Just look at it! Observe the gem in natural daylight as well as in various artificial lights to best determine the true color. And just like finding the perfect shade of paint, compare the gem side by side to others with similar hues. Working with a gemologist will also lend a trained eye and some expert advice to your selection.

Jeremy Dunn

Know What You’re Buying

Because there is no one entity that grades colored stones, it can be difficult to know what you’re getting. There is a common framework of assigning colored gems ‘A,’ AA,’ or ‘AAA’ ratings to denote levels of quality, but the application of such ratings is rather subjective as they are often performed by the sellers themselves. Working directly with a reputable buyer or seller will help to ensure you receive the most value in your sapphire purchase.

Dan Cavinet

Where Sapphires Originate

Sapphires come from deep within the earth’s crust in the mantle.  A mix of extreme temperature, crushing pressure, and the proper chemical elements (e.g., iron, titanium, etc.) all work together to create blue sapphire. This is a process that has taken place all over the world as sapphires are found on most every continent, from India and Southeast Asia to the Americas.

Though not yet pictured, Canadian efforts in Greenland show promise for large deposits of corundum deep under the icy earth.

Though not yet pictured, Canadian efforts in Greenland show promise for large deposits of corundum deep under the icy earth.

Additionally, sapphires from certain regions can fetch a much higher price than others. Rarity of new finds, difficulty to mine, and unique shades are all contributing factors toward increased value. Take for instance sapphires from the Kashmir valley; with a signature cornflower blue hue these gems are considered some of the most exquisite sapphires in world.

Sapphire Snowflake – Green Lake Designer and Graduate Gemologist Dan Canivet

Sapphire Snowflake – Green Lake Designer and Graduate Gemologist Dan Canivet

Owning A Natural Sapphire

In a modern world of synthetic gemstones, lab created sapphire makes its way into many products – from semiconductors to mobile phone screens – and is an economic alternative for use in fine jewelry. By selecting a natural sapphire, however, you are ensured something that is one of a kind, unmatched on this earth, and therefore more rare a possession. Similar to snowflakes, no two are the same!

More Unique Sapphires

Yogo Sapphires

Popular especially in the Pacific Northwest, Montana sapphires are a very unique shade of blue - pictured here, a pair of round brilliant cuts.

Popular especially in the Pacific Northwest, Montana sapphires are a very unique shade of blue – pictured here, a pair of round brilliant cuts.

In the mid 19th century, little blue stones served more a distraction than an opportunity to the ambitious gold miners of Montana’s Yogo gulch. For it wasn’t until 1895 that these stones were finally recognized as sapphires. Today, Montana is recognized as the largest producer of gem-quality sapphires in the nation, offering what Green Lake gemologist and jeweler Annie Van Lenten deems “some of the most beautiful sapphires [she’s] come across so far.”

Padparadscha Sapphires

Rare indeed, a Padparadscha sapphire radiates with a distinctive pink tone, akin to that of a lotus blossom.

Rare indeed, a Padparadscha sapphire radiates with a distinctive pink tone, akin to that of a lotus blossom.

Perhaps one of the rarest and most valuable varieties of sapphire isn’t even blue. The Padparadscha (that’s Sanskrit for ‘color of the lotus)’ is a distinctive yet elusive salmon pink color, with flashes of orange iridescence. Though found in parts of Vietnam and East Africa, it’s synonymous with the old world of Ceylon, or present day Sri Lanka.

For more information on how to find the very best sapphire for you, contact a Green Lake gemologist directly at: gemstones@greenlakejewelry.com

Categorized under: Process Videos

HEAVY METAL: Hand Engraved

   Here is a men’s wedding band unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s an inlayed, relief engraved mokume gane ring, crafted entirely by hand – and there’s only one. Not surprisingly, it’s available exclusively at Green Lake Jewelry Works.

Relief engraved mokume & rose gold inlay koi band

Relief engraved mokume & rose gold inlay koi band

   Green Lake specializes in making totally custom, handmade, one a kind wedding jewelry. To offer this level of craftsmanship, our Seattle studio is also home to many artists of varying disciplines. Take for instance the artist who conceived of this piece: Joe Worley, a classically trained goldsmith in the European tradition of hand fabrication – and the guitarist for local heavy metal band, Pharaoh Hound.

   Watch Joe fashion this ring to his own tune:

HEAVY METAL: Hand Engraving from Green Lake Jewelry Works on Vimeo.

ABOUT the RING 

   The Koi Pond is hand fabricated from 14 karat palladium white gold and sterling silver Mokume Gane billet with 14 karat rose gold cold forged inlay. The traditional Japanese folk art theme depicts a Koi pond framed by a blossoming Cherry tree. The use of ancient Japanese materials combined with Japanese iconography was an easy choice to explore this new take on Mokume Gane in jewelry design.

Rose gold inlay is used to accent and add an iridescent sparkle to the cherry tree - $6995.00

Rose gold inlay is used to accent and add an iridescent sparkle to the cherry tree – $6995.00

   In general, Mokume Gane is twisted while heated and manipulated with various tools to create a pattern, then fabricated into a ring or other jewelry piece. This process explores the idea of rolling up the ring blank without twisting the compressed billet (thin alternating layers of different metals stacked on top of each other) to use like paint in a pallet. It is deeply hand engraved exposing the different layers to create contrast, definition, and in some cases subtle forms like clouds or shadows on rocks. The finish left by a graver is too shiny to show contrast so it must be sandblasted to reveal any progress, making it a slow and deliberate process.

Shadows on the rocks are actually different layers of noble metal revealed; the darker metal pictured is palladium

Shadows on the rocks are actually different layers of noble metal revealed; the darker metal pictured is 14k palladium

   Once the desired tone or color is reached the material can be sculpted by chasing for desired effect. Notice the white head of the Koi with dark background or the rocks showing a consistent light source with highlights and shadows, all cut to different depths then hammered into shape. Bark on the Cherry tree and scales on the Koi also illustrate the effect of cutting down through alternating metals. The edges of the band were sculpted to both showcase the alternating layers better and provide a stone frame for the scene. 14 karat rose gold inlay was chosen to form the Cherry blossoms and break up the monochromatic scene, adding drama and life. As everything is sandblasted the final engraved cuts were left shiny to use light reflection for definition of some shapes.

“The edges of the band were sculpted to both showcase the alternating layers better and provide a stone frame for the scene.”

“The edges of the band were sculpted to both showcase the alternating layers better and provide a stone frame for the scene.”

To purchase this ring, visit the gallery page.

ABOUT the ARTIST 

Green Lake Gold & Platinumsmith, Joe Worley

Green Lake Gold & Platinumsmith, Joe Worley

 Joe Worley is a classically trained Gold and Platinumsmith in the European tradition of hand fabrication. Under a formal apprenticeship with Master Jeweler Joe Sauer, he repeated basic projects in copper and brass until the strict standards of his mentor were achieved. Hand fabricating fine jewelry under the guidance of a traditional Master Jeweler is a very unique privilege in today’s world – and an increasingly rare skill as more jewelers enlist computer aided design programs to lower production costs. Worely began with Green Lake in the old lakeside studio as a bench jeweler in 2004. In 2007 he strengthened his repertoire in managing the creation of fine jewelry in another local workshop and in 2012 returned the Green Lake family, where he now fashions the most dazzling hand fabricated, custom made rings.

 

Categorized under: Proposals and Engagements

VAL + RACHEL: A Custom Masters of the Universe Ring

he-manBy the power of Grayskull…this ring is awesome! Ok, had to say it – but If you’re a baby of the 80’s then you know what we’re talking about. The power sword, if you recall, was what Prince Adam would raise to turn into He-Man (admit it, you remember).

Green Lake Jewelry Works is really only one of a handful of places in the world where a single, one of a kind ring can be crafted to incorporate just about anything you can dream up – even He-Man’s power sword. It’s the key inspiration for this custom engagement ring:

Custom cast 14k gold mounting with a round brilliant cut center diamond. Both sides of the ring are adorned with small icons symbolizing different stages in the couple’s time together.

Custom cast 14k gold mounting with a round brilliant cut center diamond. Both sides of the ring are adorned with small icons symbolizing different stages in the couple’s time together.

VAL + RACHEL

It will come as no surprise that Val is comic book writer and artist, not to mention a He-Man aficionado. It was actually on he-man.org where he and Rachel first met. Over a decade later, Val proposed at Power Con, an annual Masters of the Universe enthusiast’s event he organizes.

Um, yeah - she loves it!

Um, yeah – she loves it!

But there’s more to this proposal than just being at Power Con – Val quizzes his bride-to-be on all the special moments in their relationship that led them to this point, then reveals they’ve all been included into the ring!  Huge thanks to this couple for sharing with us this special event. You can read his full story on the Power Con site, and see the whole proposal here:

VAL + RACHEL: A Custom Masters of the Universe Ring from Green Lake Jewelry Works on Vimeo.