First Dibs….Fresh Vintage & Antique Jewelry…Every Week

Here’s an inside look at some of the exciting new baubles at Hunter Ridge Jewelry. Just click on any picture to go right to the store.

June 13, 2014

 

Sterling Silver Taxco Cuff Bracelet

 

This heavy sterling silver cuff was crafted in the studio of world renowned Taxco Artisan – Margot Van Voorhies. Her studio, “Margot de Taxco”, produced some of the most important Taxco silver jewelry of the last century. We are pleased to offer this masterpiece to our loyal customers. It hails from a collection that included pieces by Spratling, Aguilar, Pineda and other Taxco master silversmiths. In the coming weeks, we will be posting the remainder of the collection in our store. This particular bracelet features a classic Mexican swirl pattern that is interrupted by a plain flat bar of silver. The “modern meets classic” juxtaposition makes for a real show stopper.

 

Sapphire Ring

 

There is no blue like “sapphire blue” and this classicaly designed cluster ring takes full advantage of that fact. Over a dozen full cut natural blue sapphires are web-set in a solid sterling silver 14K-gold-finished ring. The use of silver as the base metal helps keep this stunning natural gemstone ring in the most affordable of price ranges. Its bold styling and size dress up the hand in a way that say’s “I’m all that”.

 

 

Gemstone Lavaliere Necklace in Solid Sterling Silver
Gemstone Lavaliere Necklace in Solid Sterling Silver

This stunning lavaliere necklace is crafted from solid sterling silver and features a mix of amethyst, citrine, garnet and iolite. Fit for a princess, it has enough color to go with pretty much outfit. Perfect for a low cut summer get up.

 

Vargas Sterling Silver and Gold Accent Vintage Panel Necklace
Vargas Sterling Silver and Gold Accent Vintage Panel Necklace

Ummm….gorgeous! That about describes this classic choker length necklace. It was expertly manufactured in the late 1940’s by the world-renowned Vargas jewelry company of Providence, Rhode Island. This sure-to-please solid sterling silver beauty features an elaborate rose pattern with light gold accents.

Vintage Navajo Sterling Silver & Coral Dainty Cuff Bracelet
Vintage Navajo Sterling Silver & Coral Dainty Cuff Bracelet

Want to express your tribal flare without wearing a massive cuff? Well here’s the answer – this dainty vintage cuff bracelet is set with a piece of red coral and is flexible enough to be molded around even the daintiest of wrists. It has all the charm of its bigger cousins without any of the carpal tunnel inducing weight. A great addition to your spring ensemble.

Vintage Sterling Silver Asian "Lantern" Earrings
Vintage Sterling Silver Asian “Lantern” Earrings

 

We’re not entirely sure what to make of these….but they’re super cool. They resemble tiny lanterns and have an Asian continent (or sub-continent) look to them that’s irresistible. Dress up your look with these ethno-chic beauties and be the “light” of the party.

 

 

How to tell Real Amber vs Fake Amber Jewelry and Everything In Between

This is a home guide for distinguishing real amber from fake amber. We welcome your comments!

The warm glow and smooth feel of natural amber has captivated humanity for thousands of years. This unique gem falls within the class of jewelry materials known as “organics” because it originates from the living world. Like Coral, Pearls, Jet, Ebony and Ivory, it is the byproduct of a living thing and served a unique purpose in the ecosystem long before it was recognized for its aesthetic value by human beings.

Amber Earrings Top
Vintage Sterling Silver & Amber Earrings from our ebay store

Amber is a prized material for jewelry and other accessories. Unfortunately, there are dozens of tricky substitutes for amber that are often mistaken for the real thing. The purpose of this article is to help the casual observer distinguish between fakes and real amber.

Before delving into the specifics, it is important to have an understanding of the nature and origin of natural amber. All amber began as resin oozing from the exterior of an ancient (at least 2 Million years ago) tree (unlike sugar bearing sap, resin originates from the exterior of tree and serves a variety of protective purposes). You can see modern tree resin on most pine trees at points wear a lost limb or other injury caused the tree to exude resin.

The resin from these ancient trees was transported by nature into lakes, swamps and marine environments where it underwent a polymerization process known as “amberization”. The chemical make-up of the resin was actually changed during this process and gives amber the unique qualities that make it suitable for use in jewelry. Amberization, under most conditions, requires at least 2 Million years. If the Amberization process is interrupted before sufficient time has passed, the result is a not fully polymerized material known as Copal.

With that introduction to amber in mind, we can proceed to field observations and analysis that will help distinguish between amber and its substitutes.

There are 4 general things that can be mistaken for Amber: 1) modern plastics / resins; 2) vintage plastics and pre-plastics; 3) glass and silicon based minerals (e.g. Carnelian); and 4) other tree resins. Through basic observation and some limited home-testing, you can confidently distinguish amber from these substitutes. With time and practice, testing becomes less necessary.

Read more How to tell Real Amber vs Fake Amber Jewelry and Everything In Between

Synthetic Diamonds – Real, but not Natural, and a Philosophical Dilemma

Humans, in their never-ending effort to understand what makes the universe tick, and replicate mother-nature’s creations, have discovered multiple processes by which to create synthetic diamonds. These man-made stones, which are practically indistinguishable from natural diamonds, have recently shown up mixed with natural stones in some of the world’s foremost diamond mining and jewelry manufacturing centers. In addition to posing a real and substantial threat to the natural diamond industry, the mixing of synthetic stones raises the philosophical question as to whether we, as diamond consumers, should be concerned at all – and if so – why? The answer requires us to look at the unique relationship we’ve developed with nature in the post-industrial and post-tech revolution era.
Read more Synthetic Diamonds – Real, but not Natural, and a Philosophical Dilemma

Pearls of Fiji -Extreme Beauty

View from Our Hotel
View from Our Hotel

“Bula” (pronounced mboolah) jewelry lovers, aficionados and hobbyists! Bula is Fijian for hello and we’re just back from a South Pacific buying trip that included a brief stop over in the Fijian Islands. Literally traslated, the word “Bula” means LIFE and we haven’t encountered a place more teeming and full of life and natural beauty than Fiji. While in Fiji, we visited the Island of Savusavu. This emerald paradise is home to around 5,000 residents and also the J. Hunter Pearls “Pearl Farm”— established by Fijian Justin Hunter, who returned home to Fiji from the United States in 1999.

Hunter’s Suvasu facility is low water coastal pearl farm located in a pristine Fijian bay. Hunter’s operations is based on the cultivation of “Black Lipped Oysters” (Pinctada margaritifera).

black lipped oyster

These large oysters are easily identified by their size, fringe like growths at the edges and “black lips”.

J. Hunter Pearls is a relatively new player in the “pearl game”. However, the company’s forward thinking, innovations, passion and desire to grow with the community have garnered a great detail of positive attention.

Sign Outside the Farm
Sign Outside the Farm

While visiting the J. Hunter Pearls showroom, we were enchanted by some of the most colorful and spectacular specimens we have ever seen.

We learned that process of producing such pearls requires the perfect oceanic environment and farmers who carefullyPearls in Box monitor and nurture black lip pearl oysters. Further, it involves “grafting” — the delicate process (basically a surgical procedure from our understanding) of inserting a nucleus into the oyster. The “pearl” then forms around the nucleus. When harvested, the pearls can come in an assortment of different colors including: Gold, Copper, Champagne, Pistachio, Cranberry, Chocolate, Blue and Green.

  • Some of the pearls we saw and handled in the showroom even appeared to have hues of turquoise and rose-red. The average size of the pearls at J. Hunter are between 10.5 – 11.0 millimeters. However, some are as large as 18 millimeters. We also learned that being a pearl farmer means being at the mercy of Mother Nature.

In March 2010, Fiji was hit by Cyclone Tomas, and the J. Hunter Pearls farm was devastated. Yet the company continues to rebuild and looks forward to the future. This picture below is the bay where the pearls are actually grown and farmed. J. Hunter works closely with the local community to ensure that their pearl farming operation not only produced gorgeous pearls, but does so in an environmentally sustainable and economically responsible manner. Check in with our  ebay store in coming months where we will be offering some of the pearls we acquired from the J. Hunter. Farm

Moonstones in Jewelry: The Timeless Allure of Diffracted Light

Moonstone Bracelet Sterling Silver
Moonstone, Amethyst and Sapphire Bracelet

Visible light diffraction occurs when a traveling light wave meets an obstacle and bends to find an outlet, a common occurrence in many gemstones,  but the defining characteristic of high grade moonstones.  In fact,  the cut, setting, and ultimate value of a moonstone piece is largely dependent on showcasing this effect.

Moonstones consist of two varieties of the mineral, feldspar, fused together and layered.  When light travels between these layers it diffracts producing “schiller,” a bluish luster that is said to mimic lunar light falling on water, hence “moonstone.”

Moonstone Ring
Exceptional Schiller / Moonstone & Sterling Ring

Moonstone naturally occurs in various regions across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America, and was prized by ancient polytheistic cultures as a manifestation of the power of their lunar gods.  The civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome were particularly fond of the stone, and began to incorporate it into their jewelry, showcasing the beauty of what they believed to be frozen or solidified moonlight.

Today we know better, but the knowledge of this gemstone’s earthly beginnings hasn’t diminished its popularity. In fact, Victorian, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and more recently New Age/Nature and Revival jewelry styles feature moonstones. Regardless of the style, era, or method of manufacture (artisan-made v. machine-made), moonstones are usually cut and set in a fashion that highlights their unique schiller. The most popular of which is the cabochon. This polished rounded cut allows more light to penetrate all those feldspar layers and gives the impression of a flowing blue glow. When moonstones are not the main character in a piece, you’ll often see them in faceted cuts to provide accent to another gemstone, otherwise their hypnotic blue luster might just steal the show!

Moonstone Earrings Sterling Silver
Roman Style Moonstone Earrings

For all their staying power in the hearts and on the fingers of jewelry lovers throughout history, moonstones are rather delicate. They are a relatively soft stone and porous, so care should be taken while wearing, storing, and cleaning. When it comes into contact with a hard surface of even another piece of jewelry, moonstones are quite susceptible to nicks, scratches, and even shatters. Prolonged contact with chemicals and cosmetics can even rob your moonstone of that all important schiller, so be sure to clean it gently with warm water, and keep it apart from other jewelry while not wearing  – lest you incur the wrath of your favorite lunar god!

Visit our ebay store today and find your own piece of captured moonlight.