Category: Trends

Watch Us Take This Ring from Concept to Concrete in Just a Few Quick Steps

If you’ve been dreaming of the perfect piece, but everything you’ve seen just doesn’t quite make your heart race, consider having your jewelry custom designed! Pearls International can take your wildest ideas from dream to reality in just a few short steps. Email or call us at 386.767.3473 to find out more! 

I got married last October. When my husband-to-be, Josh, popped the question, to say he was feeling nervous about the ring was a bit of an understatement. When you’ve got a dad in the jewelry business and you’ve grown up looking at gorgeous jewels your whole life, it really puts a lot of pressure on the lucky guy who steals your heart (Dad, if you’re reading this, you know you’ll always be my first love!).

I really can’t even imagine what might have been going through my poor guy’s head when he started considering the options, but Josh is acutely aware of how discerning (picky), tasteful (picky), and stylish (picky) I like to be when it comes to my jewelry. My friends will tell you about many times they have come to my house to find me lounging around wearing my pajamas, fuzzy socks, uncombed hair…and every piece of jewelry I own.

Josh is a very logical person. He’s the kind of person that researches small decisions for weeks before making the most logical choice. Getting married was one of the biggest decisions of his life, and he didn’t want to blow it. Josh made the logical choice. He decided to use a Stunt Ring.

Temporary Engagement Ring
Simple, and simply beautiful.

If you’ve never heard of it, a Stunt Ring is a time honored tradition for guys who have the good fortune (misfortune?) of falling in love with picky ladies. It’s used as a stand-in for the proposal so that the guy still has the opportunity to give his sweetie the surprise of her life. Usually, it’s a very simple temporary band and setting that can be exchanged later for a piece that is sized to her finger and suited to her needs. It’s the perfect way to surprise her, while still ensuring she gets the setting she loves. Remember, this ring will be on her finger for the rest of her life, so it needs to be just right. Plus, you never want to wonder if she’d rather have something different. After it has served its purpose, the stunt ring can be returned or made into another piece of everyday jewelry.

Little did he know, I’m so crazy about him I probably would have said yes to a ring made of a gum wrapper, but I got the best guy on the planet, and he really spoils me. After I stopped jumping up and down and calling all of my friends to relay the good news, I embarked on a journey of creativity. Like a lot of women, I had a specific idea of the kinds of jewelry that suited my tastes, flattered my style, and looked good with my everyday outfits. I began to collect photos of rings I liked, with the goal of merging all of the styles I liked into one finished piece. My burgeoning Pinterest inspiration board at one point had over 250 photos before I began to focus my ideas into something more coherent.

Ring Design Ideas
A few of the styles I considered before settling on a final design. Does one look familiar?

The custom design process is an amazing blend of traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. After roughing out a design on paper, we transfer the concept to a digital format. Using a program like Photoshop, we take all of the photos, sketches, and ideas, and begin to create a ring that looks a bit like Frankenstein’s monster. At this point in the custom design process, a lot of people want to run screaming for the hills. A little perseverance pays off though!


 

Sophie's Final Ring Plan
My ring in its “Frankenstein” phase. I ended up not having a wedding band, since the engagement ring itself was so ornate. I used elements from lots of rings I had seen and liked, but none of them had everything I wanted.

Once your idea has been fleshed out to this point, the next step is to take the drawings into a computer aided drafting software. We use a software called Matrix. Matrix gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to design. Just take a look at the way this ring came to life in 3D!

Dazzling Rough
The crown of the ring begins to take shape.
Dazzling Rough 2
Adding in the details.
Dazzling Rough 3
Looking like a ring now!
Dazzling Finished
Putting on the final touches.
Dazzling Done through
Front View
Dazzling Done angle
Angle View
Dazzling done side
Side view
Dazzling Done!
Top view

 

 

 

 

What’s great about digital design is that you can see EXACTLY what the final ring will look like, no question. The photos to the left show the final digital models of my ring, and except for the prongs around the crown, which smooth out slightly when the stones are set, the ring on my finger is absolutely identical to these photos.

At this point in the design process, we have a really good idea of the dimensions of the final ring, so we can begin planning out what kind of stones we will need (of course using a digital process also allows us to create a piece especially for a stone of a certain size).

The accent stones on this ring are diamond, while the stones at the crown are topaz, a stone that I have always loved because of its vintage, watery look. My dad is a fourth generation stonecutter, so he began by selecting just the right rough stones from his extensive collection. Each stone was carefully checked for color and clarity. He then hand cut and polished each stone so that they would perfectly complement the setting. While it isn’t visible in the photos, he even made the top facet, or table, of the center stone the same shape as the crown of the ring. It’s amazing how much thought goes in to such a small thing, but around here, we really focus on the details so that everything comes out just right.

Topaz ready to be cut
Topaz ready to be cut.

Meanwhile, the digital version of the ring was being converted into a wax model. The process for this is truly a marvel of modern technology, as the wax models are actually made by a state-of-the-art high definition 3D printer. This is the best way to ensure that all of the small details appear in the final setting. The delicate model is carefully checked against the digital version for any discrepancies that could cause problems in the final copy.

Once they are cleared for production, the wax models are encased in plaster, which is vacuumed to remove any air bubbles, and then allowed to harden to create a plaster mold. The plaster is subjected to high heat in order to melt and burn the wax out of the mold. Once the wax is gone, it leaves a perfect impression where the wax ring once was. We then inject molten silver into this void to create a ‘dummy setting’ that can be tried on and checked for sizing.

When we are sure that the size of the ring is correct and we are completely happy with the shapes, forms, stones, and everything else, we will print an identical wax model and go through the same process, this time with the final metal (in this case 14k yellow gold). Here’s a photo of the wax model, the Sterling silver ‘dummy’, and the final ring, side by side:

Custom 14k Yellow Gold Ring with Topaz and Diamond
Custom Design at Pearls International

Once the final setting has been created, we can carefully set the finished stones by hand and polish the ring to a high shine. This blend of traditional skill with modern techniques results in some of the most spectacular designs I’ve ever seen.

This was the moment I had been waiting for, and it was absolutely worth the wait! Josh gave me my new ring on Valentine’s Day (they didn’t let me see it ahead of time, so it was a big surprise!) and we are both absolutely thrilled with it! I love that it has such a wonderful heritage of being so lovingly made by my dad, and Josh loves that I’m so happy with it. He’s also really pleased to have a piece of jewelry that we can one day pass down to our future children, along with the story of how it was made by their grandfather. What a great thing!

Dazzler1

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This process may look pretty complicated, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Do you have an idea you’d love to bring to life? Come talk to us about it! We can reimagine your old jewelry, take a loose stone and make it into a useful piece of jewelry, or even make something unique from scratch! Your imagination is the limit, and there’s no end to the possibilities. Talk to a Pearl Girl about your custom creation today! 

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Technology at Your Fingertips

This is the second blog in our jewelry and technology series. To read more about the way technology is affecting the jewelry industry, check out this cool blog on Galatea’s Momento Pearls.

Smart device aficionados everywhere: meet The Ring.

The Ring promotional image

The Ring is the next generation in functional wearables. With this device, you can control apps on your smartphone or tablet, turn appliances in your house (such as your lights and television) on and off, send text messages, and even make monetary deposits and payments online or at your favorite restaurants. This is all controlled with customizable gestures – for example, you could program your ring to turn your lights on when you draw a light bulb in the air, or to send a payment when you draw out a dollar sign. As you can see in the picture, the Ring is only about the size of an average class ring, which is impressive for all that it can do. Logbar, the creators of The Ring, also promise new developments and advances in ring technology this year. The Ring itself has only been available for purchase since December, which is when the first backers of The Ring when it started as a kickstarter project began to get their pre-orders. On schedule to be available starting in May of this year is the Ring Hub – a portable device which will allow you to connect your Ring to your home appliances via WiFi.

Comment to tell us what you think! Would you wear it?

 

sources:

The Ring Input Device Puts Gesture Control And Home Automation On Your Finger

The Ring Is Real

Gemstone Spotlight: Rubies, July’s Passion

“The glowing ruby shall adorn,
Those who in July are born;
Then they’ll be exempt and free
From love’s doubts and anxiety.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Rubies
Faceted Rubies

July’s birthstone is one of history’s most prized gems. Ancient Hindus called it “Rajnapura,” or “King of Gems.” It has a very mystical history and was once thought to have magical powers. A legend says that a ruby would glow darker when the owner was in danger, and return to its original color once the danger had passed. Royalty wore ruby jewelry to ward off evil. Ancient tribes used rubies as bullets, as they represented power and heat. Some also believed that a pot of water would instantly boil if a ruby was thrown into it. It was also ground up and placed on the tongue as a cure for indigestion. Today, they are regarded as symbols of love and passion, as these emotions are enhance by their deep red color. Metaphysically, they are thought to arouse the senses, stimulate your imagination, and guarantee success in love and wealth.

A rough ruby and faceted rubies.
A rough ruby and faceted rubies.

The Latin word “ruber” means red, and the most prized rubies are medium to deep red, although they do come in a variety of colors. If too much of another color is seen, (i.e. purple or orange) it will be called a fancy sapphire. Sapphires and rubies are nearly chemically identical, but rubies are prized for their color and are more rare in gem quality than Sapphires. The highest quality rubies are said to be found in Burma, but they are also mined in many other countries around the world, including India, Sri Lanka, and here in the U.S. The only gem harder than a ruby is a diamond, so they are perfect for everyday wear.

Shopping for someone born in July? Our pearl and ruby jewelry is a perfect way to show your love! Also consider buying a ruby to celebrate a 40th wedding anniversary.

Ruby and Pearl Pendant
This pearl and ruby pendant by Pearls International is simple and stylish, easy to dress up or down!

sources: www.about-birthstones.com/julybirthstone.html, www.birthdaygems.org, www.almanac.com, www.americangemsociety.org

Branding Pearls: Is This the First Truly Designer Gem?

Toward the end of 2013, scientists, pearl farmers, and consumers alike started searching for a way to learn more about their pearls and where each one is sourced. If you saw our last blog on this subject, you already know that scientists have discovered how to extract trace amounts of DNA from pearls, in order to determine the species of mollusk that produced it.

On the same track, another way to trace your pearls has arisen – branding. It is becoming possible for pearl farmers to brand their pearls, either with a small silver logo on the nucleus, which can only be viewed under an x-ray, or with an RFID chip. RFID, or radio-frequency identification, is similar to the process in which you would have your pet microchipped so that he or she could be traced back to you if they were to get lost. Each pearl chipped in this way would have a unique identifier linking it to the farm from which it originated.

Branded Pearls From Kamoka Pearl Farm that show their logo when x-rayed.
Branded pearls From Kamoka Pearl Farm show their logo when x-rayed.

Many designer-brand loving consumers may adore this idea, while many others may be asking “why?” The main goal for farmers like Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls is to be able to reach out to consumers specifically interested in producing eco-friendly jewelry.

Aside from the prestige of being able to say, with proof, that your pearls were sourced from Perlas Del Mar De Cortez, Kamoka Pearls, or any other high-end marine pearl farm, the main upside to this is emerging process is the ability to learn about the region in which your pearl was formed, and the methods around its creation. It is more satisfying to many consumers to say “this is my strand of black Tahitian pearls. The pearls were produced by Kamoka Pearls, which uses methods of sustainability and environmental farming techniques not seen by many other pearl farms” than it is to simply say “These are my black Tahitian pearls”.

With this emerging technology, consumers have a deeper connection to their pearls because they are able  to see photos of the exact farm where the pearls were produced, without ever having to travel all the way to Tahiti, the Gulf of California, or Japan. With this new step in tech, a pearl retailer will have the ability to educate the consumer even further on the purchase they are about to make. The retailer’s ability to extend this knowledge to the customer can also help to build trust and better relationships with clients. In addition to this, a gemologist or appraiser can give the customer a more accurate representation of value by providing this information. For example, if you were to buy a set of branded pearls, you would still have electronic information about their provenance via x-ray or microchip after they have been handed from generation to generation and their future owners had long forgotten where they came from.

The downsides, however, are numerous (at least for the time being). Both the logo method and the RFID chip are pricey, raising production costs by 2-3 dollars a pearl, something that many pearl farms will not be able to afford if the idea does not catch on with the majority of consumers. While many customers would be interested in hearing this information, there is no guarantee they will also be willing to pay the increased retail price for a branded pearl. Another thing to consider is that this process is nearly impossible for freshwater pearls, which make up the majority of pearls on the market today. Since most freshwater pearls are nucleated with mantle tissue only, rather than a shell bead as with saltwater pearls, there is hard nucleus to attach a brand or RFID chip to. Freshwater pearls already sell for a more commercially affordable rate to the general public than do saltwater pearls. If the majority of marine pearls were to become branded, this price gap would increase. Would this damage the market by causing more consumers to choose the less expensive freshwater pearls, or would sales of saltwater pearls increase as more pearl farm education is spread through branding?

Only time will tell.

source – http://www.jewellerynetasia.com/en-us/editorial/list/-C42-Editorial-Article/WEBONID/466/TYPE/Blog

Gemstone Spotlight: The Pearl! June’s Treasure

“Who comes with summer to this earth
And owes to June her hour of birth
A pearl should wear against her skin
Who’s innocence many a heart shall win.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Pearls in an oyster.
Pearls of various colors in an oyster shell.

Could you guess which month is our favorite? The birthstone for June is the pearl! Other accepted stones are alexandrite and moonstone, but when you can claim pearls as your gem why would you want another option?! We at Pearls International are always excited for a chance to talk about pearls. June girls are lucky to have such a unique gem to call their own. Pearls are so special because they are the only gem that is produced by a living organism. They are perfect from the moment they leave the shell, requiring no polishing, faceting, or other enhancements, and you will never find two pearls that are perfectly identical. If you are a fan of our site, you’ll know they come in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and sizes! Pearls are found all over the world, with most freshwater pearls coming from China and Japan. Many saltwater pearls are also found in Japan, and are commonly farmed in the Tahitian islands and Australia as well.

The history and mythology of the pearl is another part of what makes them so unique, special, and interesting. Almost all pearls today are cultured, which means an irritant has been placed into a mollusk by a human and the pearl has formed around that irritant. This process was developed around the 1920s. Before cultured pearls, the only pearl jewelry was made from pearls found in an oyster by chance. Only about one in 10,000 oysters will produce a gem quality pearl by itself, so as you can imagine, a strand of natural pearls would have been very, very expensive back then. In fact, did you know a strand of pearls once paid for an entire house? It sounds too crazy to be true, but it is. Pearls really are legendary. Legends around their origins formed from a variety of cultures around the world. The Chinese believed the gem to have formed inside the brains of dragons, while other cultures thought they were formed when oysters swallowed drops of moonlight. The Greeks thought they were drops of water flung from Aphrodite’s body when she was born from the sea.

Illustration of a Chinese dragon with pearlq
The Chinese once believed that pearls were formed inside the brains of dragons and sometimes dropped into the sea when the dragons fought.

Pearls are a symbol of innocence, purity, and love. Giving a bride pearls on her wedding day has been said to prevent tears. Looking for the perfect pearl gift for your June girl? Pearls International has the best pearl rings, necklaces, bracelets, and more! Also consider pearls as a gift for a 30th wedding anniversary.

Black freshwater pearl and crystal hoop earrings
These gorgeous black pearl and crystal hope earrings are sure to make an impression.

18" graduated freshwater pearl necklace in white
Want a more traditional gift? We offer lots of classic white strands.