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How to pick Mother’s Day gifts

mother's day gifts selection

Mother’s Day is on May 14th this year, a little less than a month away, but you are still on time to find that perfect gift for your mom, mother in law or the mother figure you want to honor.

I have curated below the best Mother’s Day gifts according to your special mom’s style, for each budget, for new moms and also personalized jewelry ideas.

Gifts for Every Mom’s style

First you have to consider what kind of jewelry she usually wears: is she more into necklaces, earrings or rings? What color metal does she typically go for: silver, yellow gold or pink gold? Is she more into statement pieces or is her style more on the dainty side? Once you answer these questions you can further refine your selection by interests. I have compiled a non exhaustive list of ideas per mom’s style:

The Green-thumbed mom

The sweet-toothed mom

The animal loving mom

The active mom

Gifts for new Moms

When you are a new mom, it is very common to feel overwhelmed and tired because there are so many new habits and responsibilities to undertake. It is a very vulnerable time in a woman’s life and I would focus on things that would make her life easier and give her a smoother transition into motherhood: some me-time with a massage, comforting nursing pillows, cozy outfits or gift cards to meal delivery services. As for jewelry, I would stay away from rings and necklaces that could get in the way when caring for baby and opt for nap friendly hypoallergenic earrings.

Mother’s Day gifts for every budget

Under $50

Under $100

Under $200

Under $500

Sending Love to Mom

Personalized Mother’s Day gifts

Customize with her favorite color

Virginie hand enameling jewelry

As you probably know, I mix the pigments and hand apply the enamel on all colored jewelry pieces myself so I can create custom colors too. If you don’t see your mom’s favorite color in the options, please get in touch and I would be happy to create that special enamel tint that makes her heart swell.

Personalize with birthstones

Birthstones are a great way to symbolize each kid’s birth month in mother’s jewelry. Depending on the number of kids and if the partner’s birthstone is added to the mix as well, you can pick jewelry with either:

Number of gemstones

Personalize with engraving

You can surprise your mom with a secret personal short message and have it engraved inside a ring or more prominently on a bar necklace. My “no crying’ necklace is a cheeky mom’s favorite for obvious reasons but you can always contact me if you have another saying in mind for her.

Bespoke jewelry for mom

If you want to wow your mom with a completely bespoke piece of jewelry please get in touch ASAP and fill in my bespoke form inquiry here. Examples of bespoke work I have done are:

I hope this Mother’s Day jewelry gift guide inspired you and remember that the most important thing is not the gift itself but the intention, so if jewelry is not in your budget this year, a card, a flower and a hug will win her heart for sure.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!

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The Year of the Rabbit

Year of the Rabbit

I recently added a new member to the 3D puzzle menagerie: enter leaping… the Rabbit!

lucky rabbit magic

The initial request came from bunny pet owners who wanted to wear a unique piece of jewelry representing their bond with their beloved animal.

It just so happened that shortly after, the official Year of the Rabbit began on January 22nd 2023. Some prototype tweakings later, I am ready to release the beast into the wild just on time for Easter!

I did some research about the cute-faced furry critter and gathered some information about its symbolism regarding these two celebrations.

The Easter Bunny

The symbolism

Rabbits are well-known for their prolific breeding so they traditionally symbolize fertility. Eggs are also representative of new life. It thus seems natural that they both embody Easter and the new beginnings of Spring.

When did it start?

The first official mention of rabbits in association with Easter was made in 1722, in a folklore book written by Georg Franck von Franckenau, a German writer. One of his stories mentions an Easter hare that hides colored eggs for children to find, the very first written mention of an Easter egg hunt!

German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s, brought their tradition of the Easter Bunny in the US. Their children made nests for the hare to lay its colored eggs and they often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping business.

The Year of the Rabbit

On January 22nd 2023, the official Year of the Rabbit began. Let’s explore a bit further this festive tradition of the Chinese new year. I created the Lucky Rabbit necklace for the occasion!

Lucky Rabbit necklace side view 14k gold micron plated bronze
Lucky Rabbit necklace side view 14k gold micron plated bronze

The Chinese Zodiac animals

The 12 zodiac animals are, in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each year has an animal sign according to the 12-year-cycle. Each animal year is further associated with one of five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal, or water. 

2023 is a year of the Water Rabbit, starting from January 22nd, 2023 (Chinese New Year), and ending on February 9th, 2024 (Chinese New Year’s Eve). 

Chinese Zodiac

The Rabbit zodiac sign

Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope.

Rabbit is your Chinese zodiac sign if your year of birth is 2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939 or 1927. People born in a year of the Rabbit are called “Rabbits” and are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded, and ingenious.

Lucky rabbits

lucky rabbits

In Chinese culture, the rabbit has the unique characteristic of waiting for an opportune moment and then leaping into action. More than any other zodiac animal, they symbolize luck. In the zodiac origin story about the Great Race, all of the animals who would go on to become zodiac animals needed to race across a wide river.

The bunny crossed the river by jumping from one stone to another in a nimble fashion. Halfway across, it appeared to be losing the race, but was lucky enough to grab hold of a floating log that later washed him to shore.

The Rabbit and the Moon

In several East Asian cultures, the rabbit is said to be seen in the moon with a mortar and pestle, constantly pounding the elixir of life for the Moon goddess.

When people from a number of different ancient cultures gazed at the full moon, they saw in the shadows of moon’s craters a shape that looked like a bunny:

If you enjoyed this article don’t miss any new release by signing up for my bi-monthly email updates here and if you fell for the lucky rabbit it is hopping over there!

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3 steps to your Engagement ring upgrade

Engagement ring upgrade: the 3 steps process

Our style and lifestyle change over the years and it’s quite natural that our taste for an engagement ring does too. 

Maybe like me, you went from wearing mostly silver to predominantly yellow gold and your engagement ring doesn’t match your current metal preference. Perhaps you feel more confident than you did when you first got engaged and you wish your ring was a bit bolder or your center stone bigger or in a different shape. Maybe you have reached a milestone in your family life or career and you would like to celebrate that with an upgraded ring on your finger. 

Whatever the reason might be, the process can be daunting and emotionally charged. Since I recently personally went through it, I wanted to share some tips and suggestions to help you successfully achieve the upgrade you desire while preserving the sentimental value of such an important piece of jewelry.

1- Identify what to modify in your engagement ring

The style of the band

You like your center stone as it is but your style has evolved. You would rather wear a different color metal and/or another style of setting. This is the most budget friendly option: you will only pay for the metal of the new ring and labor for resetting the gemstones. You can even get credit towards your new ring by refining your old ring’s metal.

The center stone size

You were in a different financial situation at the time of your engagement and now you feel more comfortable. You would like your engagement ring to reflect that.

Several options here, you can:

  • upgrade for a larger center stone
  • surround your current one with a halo

  • add rings that will surround and enhance your current one.

Adding color gemstones

Maybe you would like to incorporate some colored gemstones to reflect your partner or your children’s birthstones. Perhaps you inherited some family heirlooms you wish to add as a complement to your center stone.

2- Identify what to keep in your engagement ring

The metal

Your engagement ring may have been passed down from a beloved family member. The idea to scrap it breaks your heart. While it will not save you money, because of the extra labor involved, you can melt your current ring and reuse the same metal in your new band.

The center stone

Your center stone carries a sentimental value and while you would like to enhance it, you don’t feel comfortable trading it for another one.

The side stones

You love your side and/or accent stones on your current ring, you simply want to upgrade the center stone this way there is a continuity between the old and the new.

3- The process of upgrading your engagement ring

Now that you have identified what is here to stay and what to change in your original engagement ring, the fun part begins.

  • Spend some time researching online and in physical retail stores what styles appeal to you the most that fit in the criteria defined above. Gather images of your favorite rings on an easy to share cloud based storage.
  • Contact a jeweler you trust to get estimates both on your current engagement ring if it is repurposed or on the making of a brand new one from scratch in the favorite styles you gathered.
  • Once you approve the budget, the jeweler will request a first deposit and start working on your well deserved ring upgrade!

Are you curious to see how I upgraded mine? Read this post

Are you ready to start your ring upgrade project with me: contact me here.

Stay in the loop of new releases and get valuable jewelry information by signing up to my bi-monthly email updates there.

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My wedding ring upgrade

wedding ring upgrade

The original wedding ring

I got married in 2010 and at the time I wore a majority of silver jewelry. I did not want to wear both an engagement ring and a wedding band so I opted for a two in one ring. Something very classic like a traditional round center diamond set high on a simple band wasn’t for me. I always loved pear shaped diamonds and since my ring had a double function I went for a multiple intertwined bands look. My goal was to make something modern but not so trendy that I would get tired of after a few years. Here is what I originally designed with my CAD designer of the time:

I picked a diamond in my husband’s budget of the time, a beautiful pear shaped diamond of 0.46ct in G color VS2 clarity and with the dimensions 6.6mm x 4.1mm. My final wedding band looked like this:

Why I wanted to upgrade my wedding ring

The years went by and I never took off my ring, even when I was working at my bench forging metal. The repetitive vibrations of hammering metal eventually caused a big crack at the tip of my pear shaped diamond. The crack started from the tip and went all the way down to the culet, the bottom part of the diamond. Just like my diamond, I was crushed. I brought it to a lapidarist who tried to salvage my diamond by recutting it in a smaller size, keeping the most weight possible. I ended up losing about 25% of the original weight. 

Over the past years I started making more and more fine jewelry and advertising my bespoke services to my customers. At some point I got self conscious for wearing a ring that was so worn out and with such a small diamond. 

Finding my new center stone

One day I was purchasing gemstones from one of my diamond dealers in Diamond District NYC and I saw a very clean VVS and E color pear shaped diamond. I inquired about the price but it seemed much bigger than my current one and likely out of my budget.

It turns out that this diamond was 0.6ct, slightly more than my original 0.46ct diamond. It seemed very large because its height was very shallow: imagine squeezing a ball of clay between your fingers. The weight of the ball doesn’t change but the top surface becomes bigger. A regular 0.6ct pear shape is usually 7.6mm x 4.6mm from a top view, this shallow 0.6ct diamond is 8.8mm x 5.3mm. This is the typical measurements for a roughly 0.85ct pear diamond!

To maximize the reflections of the light in a gemstone there are some optimal proportions to observe. Stones that are optimally cut to reflect the light command a higher price point. Since this diamond was actually very shallow it was also cheaper so all the better for me. I didn’t want a high sitting diamond because I have an active lifestyle and was afraid it would easily get caught on things.

The making of my new wedding ring

Once I bought the diamond, my CAD designer scanned it and we designed my new ring. I still liked my intertwined bands so I wanted to keep that but have it in yellow gold instead of my original white gold one. For the setting I wanted it to let the diamond shine so I opted for an open bezel and 3 prongs look. Here are the creation files showing the initial ring versus the new design:

It is very common for yellow gold rings to have a white metal head to hold the diamond so that the setting color doesn’t distract from its shine. I chose to have a platinum head on a 18k yellow gold band for that reason.

After we finalized the CAD files, we 3D printed the two parts of the design in wax. My caster then turned the wax of the band into 18k yellow gold and the one of the diamond setting into platinum.

I cleaned the rough metal castings that still displayed all the lines from the wax printing step. Here is how the 18k yellow gold looked before I cleaned it:

After cleaning the metal, it is time to weld the gold and platinum parts together and set the pear diamond. The last step consists of polishing the finished ring to a mirror finish.

To give you an idea of the before and after I wore the two rings side by side:

Needless to say, I am beyond happy with my new wedding ring and I keep my old one as a backup for when I travel!

If this story has inspired you to upgrade your own engagement ring or wedding ring, let’s make your new ring come true together! Start by getting in touch here:

Stay in the loop of new releases and get valuable jewelry information by signing up to my bi-monthly email updates there.

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Aquamarine, March birthstone

aquamarine march birthstone

Aquamarine is March birthstone and also used to celebrate 19th wedding anniversaries

The origin of the name

“Named after seawater, aquamarine’s fresh watery hue is a cool plunge into a refreshing pool.”

The term aquamarine comes from a combination of two Latin words. The first one, aqua, means water and the second, marina means sea. Together, the word translates to the color of the sea.

Taking its name from its color, we will explore further in a moment its characteristic blue hue.

Aquamarine crystal


Aquamarine belongs to the Beryl family alongside the well known Emerald but also Morganite, Heliodor, Bixbite and Goshenite. Unlike the emerald, it is not a precious stone because of its relative abundance in nature. Aquamarine is therefore a semi-precious stone.

Aquamarine often comes in large size hexagonal crystals. The biggest one found to date, the Dom Pedro specimen, comes from Brazil and is 10,363cts big! It weighs about 100lbs aka 45kg and you can see it at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Pure beryl is colorless. Traces of iron are responsible for the greenish blue to blue color of aquamarine. Under heat, it becomes even bluer.

A range of blue color

Aquamarines can range from a very light, almost imperceptible color to crystals with a rich vibrant color. A small aquamarine with a rich blue color will cost a lot more than identical-size stones with a faint blue color.

The AIGS, Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences, has identified a certain category of blues labeled as “Santa Maria”. This color range was characteristic of the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The mine produced aquamarine considered to be among the best in terms of color—a saturated blue—but is now almost depleted.

Aquamarine classification by blue color variations implemented by AIGS

Where does aquamarine come from

Brazil is the world’s major source of fine aquamarine gems. Localities include Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, and others.

Africa is becoming a strong rival, with mining activities in countries such as Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania. Madagascar has more than 50 specific localities that produce fine, blue gem material.

Other countries of origin include Pakistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Russia and the United States.

The powers of aquamarine

Aquamarine evokes the purity of crystal blue waters, and the relaxation and feeling of calm that the sea brings. Spiritually, it is associated with trusting and letting go.

In ancient times, aquamarine was believed to be the treasure of mermaids. Sailors used the stone as a talisman to bring good luck on the open waters. The gem was used as a symbol of protection and fearlessness too.

The blue semi-precious stones have numerous benefits other than simply helping to boost one’s confidence. The stone’s color lends itself to a sense of harmony and joy. It can bring its wearer energy and a sense of playfulness.


Aquamarine jewelry

Here are some examples of fine jewelry pieces using the beautiful sea blue semi-precious stone:

diamond aquamarine and bicolor tourmaline studs set in 14k yellow gold
diamond aquamarine and bicolor tourmaline studs set in 14k yellow gold
aquamarine and bicolor tourmaline solid gold earrings
aquamarine and bicolor tourmaline solid gold earrings
Cassiopeia constellation necklace in 14k gold
Cassiopeia constellation necklace in 14k gold

I was recently commissioned by Rachel to customize the bicolor heart necklace using the birthstones of her two children: aquamarine for her first born in March and emerald for her second born in May. It looks like this:

bicolor heart necklace emerald and aquamarine
bicolor heart necklace emerald and aquamarine

If aquamarine appeals to you because it is your birthstone or simply because you like its color, I would be happy to create a custom piece of jewelry for you including this beautiful semi-precious stone. Just fill out the form here:

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Bespoke vs Custom jewelry

bespoke jewelry vs custom made jewelry blog header

Bespoke and custom-made are terms often used interchangeably to talk about a personalized creation. Bespoke is a very old and somewhat obscure word that sounds cool but few people actually know its true meaning. While they sound like synonyms, bespoke and custom-made actually entail very distinct processes.

The word Bespoke

Bespoke is often used as an adjective but it is originally the past tense for the verb bespeak which means to speak for / reserve in advance. It was first used in England in the 18th century among the dress and shoe makers to refer to a tailor-made piece of apparel exclusively designed for the customer. The design discussed in advance would take into account the taste, needs, requirements and specific measurements of the customer.

Bespoke jewelry

Applied to the jewelry world, the bespoke adjective carries out the same exclusivity flavor it had in the 18th century English tailors industry. Just like commissioning a tailored dress, a bespoke creation is highly personal and fitted to every preference and size indicated by the client. 

Every aspect of the design is entirely up to the customer’s choices: the selection of gemstones, the way they are set, the metal used, the size of the piece and any engraving or final touches applied to the final piece of jewelry. It is a one-of-a-kind approach leading to the creation of a unique piece that will not be reproduced, making the customer the only person in the world owning such creation.

Just like its original literal signification, a bespoke jewelry should speak for you about your personal history, lifestyle and preferences. The jeweler is only a facilitator helping to create a tangible piece of jewelry that will tell your story in your unique voice. Bespoke jewelry is the utmost self expression and definition of one’s identity in a world of mass produced.

Bespoke jewelry is also a wonderful gift for a life partner, a family member or a dear friend because it tells how much you know and care for the person by infusing their personal details into a piece they will cherish forever. 

An example of bespoke jewelry is the firefly necklace I made commissioned by Jason for his wife Chelsea to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first date and infusing details about their life with their son.

What is Custom-made

Custom-made simply means selecting options for an existing design. Think of the color of a car, the size of a dress or the type of protein in a salad bar. All the options are pre-existing and limited in number. You can personalize but you do not create from scratch.

While being obviously less unique than a bespoke approach, there is nothing wrong with custom-made designs. To give examples from my own business, I can custom-made an existing ring from my collection to fit the needs of a customer. The design remains the same but the ring can be of a different size, with another gemstone or enamel color, in a different metal or with a special engraving added to it. 

Designing jewelry is my passion so I love to come up with new ideas and handcraft them into tangible jewelry pieces. Carrying all the variations in color and sizes in stock for all my different designs would be a very costly inventory to carry in my little one-woman-shop so when I get an online order on my eshop I actually make the piece from scratch following the customer’s choices for size and color. Custom-made is really the baseline of my work.

Examples of custom made jewelry I did for brides include these custom enamel colors butterfly earrings I did for Jacque’s bridesmaids and the custom enamel colors chrysalis necklace I did for Annette that you can see below:

custom butterfly earrings and chrysalis necklaces

To have a piece of the eshop customized for you get in touch here.

Which one is right for you?

If you feel creative, if you are excited about being involved in a step by step collaboration with a jeweler then bespoke jewelry is the way to go. The process spans over 4-6 weeks from initial concept to final realization, you can check the details here.

If you found an existing piece in a catalog that you already love and just need a few tweaks to make it a better fit for you then custom-made is sufficient. Customizing an existing piece is usually much faster than creating a new one from scratch so if you are in a time constraint it is probably your best option. Contact me here to customize an existing piece.

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Viva Magenta, 2023 Pantone color

viva magenta pantone color of the year 2023 blog post header

I couldn’t be happier with Pantone 2023 official color of the year, Viva Magenta, this raspberry pink is by far my favorite color. It embodies passion, excitement, positivity and warmth in my book! In Pantone’s own words:

Viva Magenta is brave and fearless, a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute

Let’s dive into exactly what is a Pantone color, how Viva Magenta can be applied to your jewelry selection and how to pair it harmoniously with other colors.

A brief history of Pantone

Pantone’s current mission and direction was given in 1963 by Lawrence Herbert. He basically developed the Pantone Color Matching System, a standardized method that revolutionized print colors. It allowed the reproduction of consistent, accurate color anywhere in the world.

It is used in a variety of industries, mostly graphic design, fashion design, product design, printing and manufacturing. His company primarily produces color guides in the form of flip books that contain coded detachable color chips. Each chip is defined by a unique PMS: Pantone Matching System. 

pantone booklets of colored chips using the PMS
pantone booklets of colored chips using the PMS

The Pantone Color Institute

The Pantone Color Institute™ is a consulting service within Pantone that forecasts global color trends and advises companies on color in brand identity and product development, for the application and integration of color as a strategic asset. 

Recognized around the world as a leading source of color information through seasonal trend forecasts, custom color development, and palette recommendations for product and corporate identity, Pantone Color Institute partners with global brands to leverage the power, psychology and emotion of color in their design strategy.

Viva Magenta, 2023 Pantone Color 

The Pantone Color Institute introduces 2023 Pantone color of the year: 18-1750 Viva Magenta. It “vibrates with vim and vigor” and “balances boldness with a feeling of fun

In this age of technology, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director Pantone Color Institute.

Viva Magenta in gemstones

Viva Magenta is found in several gemstones such as pink sapphire, pink spinel, pink tourmaline, rhodolite garnet, rubellite tourmaline and ruby. They present subtle variations in hues but are all very luscious and I would even say delicious colors. Below are examples of these 6 different gems.

Pairing Viva Magenta with other colors

A harmonious color combination can be achieved in several different ways: by marrying complementary colors together, by associating analogous colors or by letting a main color shine and adding only neutral tones by its side. Below I depict some illustrations on the color wheel and with jewelry examples of how these three different combinations can be successfully accomplished.

Complementary colors

By looking at the color wheel, we can see that Viva Magenta sits at the direct opposite of green. This combination is particularly pleasing to the eyes because it creates a complete harmony.

One can often find it in Nature: a pink flower with its green stem and leaves for example. It can also evoke holiday festivities: green Christmas trees and ruby red ribbons. Additionally, architects know how to take advantage of this complementary combination to please the viewers.

The example of Barragan’s Fuente de los Amantes in Mexico pops in my mind. Here is the video I took while visiting in 2022: the pink contrasts with the luscious greenery surrounding it.

From a jeweler’s perspective, a perfect pairing with a fuchsia pink gemstones like the ones mentioned above is found with vibrant green tsavorites, emeralds or tourmalines for example. It just so happens that Nature had already made such a combo in my favorite gemstones: the bicolor tourmalines also called watermelon tourmalines for obvious reasons.

Featured on this example are the bicolor tourmaline studs, the flower ring and the Mad Hatter necklace.

Analogous colors

Another type of harmonious combination consists in pairing a color with its direct neighbors in the color wheel or with tint (more white) or shade (more black) variations of the same hue. If you need some color theory refresher, there is a very clear and instructive post here.

Viva Magenta pairs very nicely with red, its primary color neighbor on the color wheel, and with purple, its secondary color neighbor. Purple happened to be Pantone color of the year 2022, Very Peri, it might not be a coincidence to see matches between these two as a soft transition from a year to the next. While Very Peri has a more relaxed vibe, Viva Magenta evokes excitement so one can see how well they balance each other out.

Matching analogous colored gemstones is probably the most recurring theme in my collections. I have both used the association of pink neighbors: purple amethyst and blue sapphire, but also variations in tints: starting with a red ruby and following with a fuchsia pink sapphire and a light pink sapphire.

Featured on the schema are the gradient rings both in gold and silver, the ombre gold ring, the pink crescent studs, the pink cluster gold necklace and the pink gemstones trio studs in gold.

Neutral Pairing

Sometimes one can agree with the popular saying “less is more” and simply let the color shine for itself by only pairing neutral tones that won’t throw any shade (pun intended) to our main color.

color combination: neutral pairing with viva magenta
color combination: neutral pairing with viva magenta

In jewelry it means either having only one enamel color or one type of gemstone with gold or silver. This is the case of the ruby beaded gold ring or of the fuchsia pink silver flamingo necklace. Another possibility is to pair the pink gemstone with a neutral one such as a white diamond, sapphire, moissanite, topaz etc. This is what I did in the pink tourmaline and white diamonds drop earrings in gold below.

According to the Pantone Institute, 2023 is all about “boldness and a feeling of fun”. I hope this article has inspired you to be playful and to incorporate some touches of the vibrant and optimistic Viva Magenta in your wardrobe! If you had any question about the pieces featured in this article feel free to get in touch with me here.

If you are feeling empowered and ready to have a custom Viva Magenta piece of jewelry custom made for you, please reach out and describe your dream project here:

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Story of the firefly necklace

firefly necklace blog post header

The initial brief

Last July I received a lovely email from Jason asking me to make a custom firefly necklace:

“Love your work, I bought a necklace for my wife a couple of years ago and intend to make another purchase for the holidays this year. I wonder if you’ve ever thought about making fireflies? I ask because my youngest son is obsessed with them, so we have to say “goodnight” to the fireflies in our backyard every night before bed. It would be pretty special for us, though I know that might be something you’ve not done before.”

I got really excited to work on a new bespoke piece of jewelry because by experience I know that my customers come up with the best ideas. You may not know this, but almost half of the designs you can find on my eshop actually started as a custom request: the kite, the geometric rose, the Bowie inspired lightning bolts, the aerialists are just a few examples among the bespoke requests I got over the years that made it to my permanent collection by popular request.

The idea of making a firefly necklace was very interesting to me because I already had an enameled butterfly jewelry collection but since fireflies have this magic glow in the dark abdomen, I thought it made them even more compelling and creatively inspiring. Two ideas immediately came to mind: I could either use glow in the dark enamel or sparkly yellow gemstones to portray their unique luminous power. By the way if you’re interested in understanding the phenomenon behind the fireflies bioluminescence, check out this great article.

The gemstone selection

I proceeded with some glow in the dark enamel tests but I wasn’t convinced with the color the enamel had under natural light conditions and since the firefly necklace was going to be an anniversary gift I thought a beautiful bright yellow gem would be more appropriate anyway. I went to my trusted gemstone dealers in NYC Diamond district and selected a few good candidates: yellow beryl, citrine, yellow diamond or sapphire were considered. Jason and I agreed that the color of the yellow sapphire was the most striking and closest to the color the glowing fireflies were projecting.

The design phase

I proceeded with submitting some rough idea sketches to Jason with options for the yellow sapphires to be cut either in a pear shape or in a half moon. We decided on the half moon custom cut and I brought the vibrant oval yellow sapphire I had purchased to my lapidarist so he could make a beautiful half moon cut for our firefly abdomen. Now that I had the exact dimensions of the cut gemstone we were going to use I further refined the sketches, leaving Jason options for the shape and placement of the wings and the overall shape of the abdomen. 

Here is the oval yellow sapphire cut into a half moon shape

The CAD design

Once the final iteration of the drawing was approved, I briefed my CAD designer and got the 3D renderings that enabled us to get a good idea of how the actual firefly necklace would look like. In order to give the polishing tools easy access to the abdomen, we designed the wings as a separate item to be soldered after they had both been fully cleaned and polished. Little pins were added under the wings and holes to the abdomen to leave all guessing out when would be time to solder the wings onto the abdomen, just like perfectly fitting puzzle pieces. The renderings of the firefly necklace being approved, the actual manufacturing process began.

The manufacturing

First, the abdomen and the wings parts were printed in castable wax. This is what you see in purple in the pictures here:

The waxes were then cast in 14K yellow gold and here is how they came out: you can see the sprues aka little parts of metal attaching the pieces to the trunk of the casting tree in the lost wax casting process. Now is it me or do you also see a funny duck face on the abdomen?

I then sawed off the sprues from the rough castings, used finishing bits on my hand piece and gave them a good run in the tumblr. Here is the look before proper polishing:

I wanted to bring out some details of the intricate designs on the firefly wings so the recessed areas defining the different cell sections were left rough while the surface was polished to a shiny finish. Then the 3 parts were assembled according to the plan we made at the CAD stage and soldered together. The half moon cut yellow sapphire nested into its custom designed alcove sitting at the bottom of the abdomen as a beautiful finishing touch. Lastly, the 14k yellow gold chain was soldered from underneath the wings to let the firefly elegantly fly off it with no visible attaching anchor.

Here is the finished firefly necklace in its jewelry box

The delivery

I carefully packaged the finished bespoke firefly necklace and sent it on its way to Jason, hoping it would be just like he had envisioned it. The firefly was a gift from Jason to his beloved wife Chelsea to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first date. I was so happy when he told me how much he loved how the firefly necklace came out and that he just couldn’t wait for the official date to give it to Chelsea: he did so almost right away!

Chelsea was extremely moved by Jason’s gesture and adopted the firefly immediately. Here is what she shared:

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How to refine scrap gold jewelry

silver scrap jewelry refining

Do you have old pieces of gold jewelry sitting at home that are damaged or not your style to wear and you wonder if you could turn them into new pieces you like or even get cash for them?

Melting an old gold ring into a new one is not a straightforward process and is often very costly because of the amount of labor involved. If you are not sentimentally attached to that very piece of gold, getting the cash value from refining it is actually a much better option.


After having all gemstones removed by a setter, you bring your gold pieces to a refinery but what do they do with it? I brought my silver scraps to a precious metal refiner in NYC and followed the first steps of its purification and recycling.


I spend a lot of time at my bench: sawing and filing precious metal castings of my designs, cutting wire to make rings and polishing pieces to give them a smooth surface. All these processes create a lot of scraps and jewelry sweeps that should be collected and recycled to re-enter the circuit of metal processing. It is a win-win: you get cash from something otherwise wasteful and you contribute to lower the proportion of precious metal mining detrimental to the environment.


After collecting all my silver jewelry manufacturing byproducts, I brought them to a precious metal refinery in Diamond District, NYC. I was lucky enough to witness the transformation of my mixed bag of scraps into a solid fine silver ingot. Hereafter, I describe the different stages involved in the refining process.


First, all the silver scraps are weighed to determine how much bulk material we are starting with. Then they are placed inside a crucible. A crucible is a container that can withstand very high temperatures, it is usually made out of graphite or porcelain. That vessel is then placed inside an induction furnace that heats up to 1500 C (2732 F). For reference, Gold melts at 1064C (1948 F) and Silver at 962C (1763F).


Borax powder is then added to the melting mix for two reasons: first, it lowers the melting temperature of metals, enabling the refiner to use less energy to melt the scraps. Second, it helps to absorb impurities from the mix. It works by dissolving oxides and producing a fluid borate slag that is of lesser density and floats on the surface of the molten metal. Precious metals such as Platinum, Gold, Silver, Palladium and Rhodium are unaffected by this reaction and sink to the bottom of the mixture, intact. 


To verify that all elements of the mixture are molten, a rod made up of carbon-graphite or clay is regularly dipped and stirred inside the crucible. Once every impurity has effectively been dissolved, it is time to pour the mix into a mold. The refiner grabs the red hot crucible with long tongs and then pours the lava-like mix into a mold usually in the shape of a brick or a pyramid. 


The content of the mold is left to cool down for a few minutes, one can observe the shiny red metal becoming darker. Once the silver is entirely set at the bottom of the mold, it is taken out and submerged with cool water to harden it, this is called the quenching process. 


The resulting silver ingot is then hammered to further harden it and it is now ready to be weighed and tested by an X-ray fluorescence machine to determine its purity and thus its cash value. It will be further refined to be pure enough to re-enter the metal manufacturing chain and become a new piece of jewelry!

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The Origin of the Heart

Love fills the air all over again at this time of the year. As ladies we may find ourselves the recipients of colorful bouquets of flowers, assortments of candy, and yes, maybe even some jewelry 😉 During this season of declaration and renewed commitment one shape will always follow our journey: the Heart.

Continue reading The Origin of the Heart