Rocks big and small, I love them all. Working with them on an ornamental scale brings me joy daily but there’s nothing like adventuring among grander ones to appreciate our earth and reignite creativity. Utah’s landscape around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks was majestic geography like nothing I’ve ever experienced – a hybrid between Land Before Time, Indiana Jones and Lion King imagery with an otherworldly golden Mars glow. Exploring these wide open spaces with my best college friends – Kelsey, Natalie and Taylor with intimate conversation and Dixie Chicks as our soundtrack is a girls getaway I’ll cherish.
One of my father-in-law’s most notorious traits is his sun worshiping – as evidenced by his year round tan. If the sun is peaking through Seattle’s overcast skies, he’s soaking it in. While this might be one of his most initially apparent attributes, his greatest is his sentimental love of family. So there was no better way to spend his 70th birthday than for seventeen of us to enjoy his favorite family vacation spot (where they’ve frequented since my husband was 9 months old). The laid back aloha and gorgeous sunsets haven’t changed over the years, making this our family’s gem full of great memories. Among our large crew, there’s always an anniversary, birthday or reason to celebrate which is a great thing as I’m ready for the next Sunset fete…
My third annual pilgrimage to the Tucson Gem Shows last week was my best one yet. The shows can be daunting, sprawling across Tucson with forty different sites, each ranging in specialty and scope. But they also make for a thrilling buying trip as the world’s “Greatest Treasure Hunt” with vendors from numerous countries conglomerating once a year with their colorful eye candy. With every trip, I’ve become a savvier shopper – knowing what to expect, where to look and building relationships with vendors. I’ve come to know and look forward to seeing specific people to reconnect over our mutual love of all things gems.
I was privileged this year to meet new faces – including the brilliant Perpetuum Jewels who specialize in post-consumer antique diamonds. They commissioned Angie Crabtree to live paint an old mine cut diamond enlarged 10,000x in their booth. I’ve been drooling over Angie’s work via instagram and was lucky to receive a painting for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) so I was giddy to meet her and witness her talent in action.
Meeting a new Australian Boulder Opal vendor who owns a mine and does much of the opal cutting was also a highlight. It was fascinating to see pictures of the exact hole forty feet below the Earth’s surface in Koroit, Queensland where the opals I purchased were extracted. Bonding over the intrinsic beauty of one of a kind stones brings me the most joy – that love at first sight feeling can’t be beat!
Of course I can’t recap my trip without a huge thank you to my best Tucson companion, my mom. Her stamina, enthusiasm and support is unwavering and I couldn’t do the trip without her. I’m invigorated to create with my new inventory and am already looking forward to the next trip!
A rainbow sampling of this year’s one of a kind loot
The lovely Angie Crabtree painting an old mine cut diamondRock and mineral specimens on display at a booth
Selecting a special emerald
Mom and I ready to treasure hunt at AGTA Gem ShowEthiopian Opals
The moment Cammie came into view to walk down the aisle at Crystal Mountain, the sweeping views of the Cascades and dramatic cloud formations engulfing the area paled in comparison to the main attraction. Accompanied by a gorgeous Battenburg lace Rue de Seine gown from The Dress Theory and ivory fur, her earrings – not an ordinary ‘something blue’ – also popped. Intense aqua larimar found only in the Dominican Republic, rainbow moonstone, diamonds and yellow gold were the perfect complement to Cammie’s relaxed and radiant beauty.
Photography by Jaquilyn Shumate
The holidays were particularly joyous this season at home, in snowy Spokane and at a family cabin on the Skykomish River. Surprising our families with our baby’s gender was the highlight… The best is yet to come in 2016 with a precious little boy! While it’s a thrill receiving something sparkly under the tree, I hope your year is filled with intangible gifts of love and family.
My tropical weather packing essentials include turquoise, moonstone and orange chalcedony because they’re the best compliment to a freshly sun-kissed glow. These happy hues blended right into the scenic, sun drenched views of our Cabo vacation. Everything about Mexico’s culture is vibrant – the friendly people, plentiful food and traditional craftsmanship and folk art. I scored the orange fiesta-worthy dress below from a vintage boutique in Paris and it was fitting of Cabo’s colorful character. There are certain places, colors, articles of clothing and definitely pieces of jewelry that simply make you happy. These are the best things.
Head, shoulders, knees and toes – okay, maybe not knees – my tassel obsession applies to every accessory category. The love affair began with my creation of tassel stud earrings and long tassel necklace. Available in an array of gemstones, the slinky 14k gold chain flutters with every movement proclaiming ‘I’m here for a good time’ – which is why the collection is the ideal, glamorous detail heading into holiday festivities. Below are other lust list favorites that would add pizzazz to the season’s party circuit.
1) KATHRYN ELYSE 14ky Rutilated Quartz Tassel Stud Earrings 2) KATHRYN ELYSE 14ky Rutilated Quartz Long Tassel Necklace 3) BARBAJADA Fringed Leather and Cashmere Wrap in Burgundy 4) IL BORGO Cashmere Mixed-Knit Tassel Scarf in Cream 5) LANVIN Tasseled Cord Belt in Green/Blue 6) CHLOE Small Hudson Bag in Lace White 7) SAINT LAURENT Monogram Tassel Crossbody in Black 8) TOM FORD Suede Double Tassel Medium Bucket Bag in Dark Gray 9) AQUAZZURA Forever Marilyn Calf Hair Heels 10) AQUAZZURA Wild Thing Suede Heels in Lipstick 11) PAUL ANDREW Arta Gold Tassel Sandals in Gold 12) PIERRE HARDY Majorelle Suede Kid Heels in Coral/Pink
I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers
– L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables
October is one of my favorite months. Leaves are fiery, the air is crisp and yet sun is still present in Seattle. To make it even more special, the birthstone is one of my favorites – OPAL (along with another good one – tourmaline). More specifically, boulder opal. Only found in Queensland Australia, it is formed by water trickling down the earth carrying silicone rich ironstone into rock crevices. Over time, the water evaporates leaving silica which layers as veins of opal within the ironstone. The opal is cut leaving the natural ironstone backing for strength – which can often be seen as the brown hue mixed within the vibrant opal matrix. Because of this formation, Australian boulder opals are each unique, irregularly shaped and can display color flashes called opalescence. I think of the natural distribution of the intense cobalt, aquamarine and lavender as fantasy aquatic worlds. Each stone its own little cosmic legacy, the mystique of opal is fitting for such an enchanting month.
Gemstones with inclusions (minerals or foreign material locked into a stone while it’s forming) are my absolute favorite because they add character and tell a geological story that spans across billions of years. While inclusions can detract value when the objective is a clear stone (most notably in the case of diamonds), there are far more gem varieties that benefit from Mother Nature’s unique playfulness. Rutilated Quartz is one of nature’s best examples. Rutile is the mineral appearing like needle deposits piercing the otherwise clear rock crystal quartz. Rutile can range from hair thin strands to dense fibers and even converge to form a starburst structure. The mineral brings warmth to the otherwise lucid gem and its often golden hue perfectly complements 14k yellow gold. The stones pictured below are unique with fiery rutile embodying the glow of autumn. Above all, their pattern and color will never be replicated just like each individual fall leaf.
Two gorgeous brides, Amanda and Mia, both selected rainbow moonstone with variegated diamond earrings for their mountain fêtes this summer (Amanda also added the pear + oval diamond with beaded halo necklace). These delicate dazzlers in rose gold suited Amanda’s romantic and soft palatte and Mia’s chic white. Rainbow moonstone is a classic bridal gemstone being translucent white with pretty iridescence. This flash is what makes the gem (in the feldspar family along with labradorite) so captivating – which is exactly how I’d describe Amanda and Mia. Cheers to the happy couples!
Amanda’s wedding photos by Anastasia Photography
Mia’s wedding photography by Carla Boecklin