, , , , ,


November's Birthstones - When yellow steals the show ... !

Happy birthday to you, November child. Your birthday flower, the Chrysanthemum or gold flower, belongs to the aster family and meant 'you are a wonderful friend' in Victorian times. A lovely message to remember and to use instead of the European idea that associates the flower with funerals.

Yellow Topaz and Citrine are your Birthstones and are sunny gemstones. Topaz ranges from colorless to dazzling orange, from golden yellow to pink & purple and comes in the most gorgeous popular blues. Citrine quartz is not less fascinating, but be aware of the fact that through heat treatment amethyst is sometimes turned into Citrine. It goes from the palest of yellows to dark brownish orange.

While Citrine is said to bring hope, warmth and energy to replenish health, Topaz will restore the balance of emotions. As health and emotions are intermingled, I hope you receive both.

A very happy birthday to you ... with http://dunebeads.com/en/15x22-mm-medium-to-large-cut-nuggets-gemstone-beads-citrine-natural-rough !

Who first comes to this world below
With drear November's fog and snow,
Should prize the topaz's amber hue,
Emblem of friends and lovers true.

October's Birthstones - About hope, opal and tourmaline

Happy birthday to you, October child. Your birthday flower, the Calendula or Marigold, comes in gorgeous golden yellows and meant 'my thoughts are with you' in Victorian times. A lovely message for a sunny flower with medicinal properties and promises of vitality.

Your birthstones are tourmaline and opal and said to soothe sorrow and restore hope.

Tourmaline is a highly colorful stone available in lots of colors appealing to a wide variety of gem collectors. But the opal is not less mesmerizing. This form of hydrated silica ranges from milky white to black with flashes of all the colors of the rainbow and comes mainly from Australia.

Have a colorful birthday !

October's child is born for woe,
And life's vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal
on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.  

September's Birthstones - in Blue: from rest to creativity

A September child celebrates life with precious blue sapphires, lapis Lazuli and asters or morning glories. The aster symbolizes love, faith and wisdom, while the morning glory signifies love and affection.

The sapphire belongs to the corundum (aluminum oxide) minerals and exists in all the colors of the rainbow. Ruby is the name of the red variety. Medium blue to violet blue are the most appreciated sapphire hues. This very hard gemstone is often heated to improve the color.

It is said to protect from harm and envy, and to bring down heaven's blessings to the wearer. It is used in meditation to create inner peace and stimulates personal expression. It is typically the 45th wedding anniversary gemstone.


Lapis-lazuli was considered the sapphire of the ancient world. It is an opaque semi-precious stone of a deep night blue color flecked with fool's gold. It used to be ground down to make the paint pigment ultramarine. It contains primarily lazurite, white calcite and specks of pyrite. The less it contains calcite, the more it is valuable.

This relatively soft gemstone is said to enhance one's insight, intellect and awareness. Lapis is the stone of creativity and truth. It is also supposed to help against insomnia and bring well-deserved rest.

Have a blessed birthday ! 

Artistic technique: Gold and Gold-plating

Gold colors, standard gold and fine gold

When referring to gold in general, one is used to add the term karat. The karat is the unit expressing the purity of gold alloy. Pure gold, also called fine gold, has a total of 24 units of gold or 24 karat. It strictly means that 24 karat gold is made of 99,9 % gold.  It is a soft metal to which often a hardening metal will be added to make jewelry.

As a consequence whenever you see anything between 10 to 22 karat you refer to a gold alloy. The higher the number indicated, the more gold it contains.

The color of the alloy will alter the yellow gold color. The most common combination is a mixture with copper, giving the yellow gold a reddish glow. When 25 % copper is added to 75 % gold the metal is called rose gold (18 KT) or pink gold. Sometimes silver is added to the copper and gold mixture to soften the red and obtain the right pink shade. The redder the gold alloy, the more copper has been added. Pink gold is always an alloy, there is not such a thing as pure rose gold.

Other popular alloys are those with white metals, which when added to a high karat, give white gold.

Standard gold has an alloy addition of silver and copper in a ratio of 50/50. Concretely it means that 18 KT standard gold contains 75 % gold, 12,5 % silver and 12,5 % copper or 18 units gold, 3 units silver and 3 units copper.

Gold-plated versus gold-filled

In gold-plating one uses exactly the same procedure as in silver-plating and silver-filling - see http://dunebeads.com/en/artistic-technique-silver-and-silver-plating -. 14 KT gold is electroplated on the core, usually brass or copper, so that the yellow color is preserved. To speak of gold-plated the gold layer may not have less than 10 KT and must be at least one micrometer thick, but the thickness of the end layer depends entirely on the manufacturer.

When the core of the gold-plated object is not made up of a base metal, but of sterling silver, it is called gold Vermeil. As a general rule the gold layer has at least 10 KT and is minimum 2,5 micrometers thick. Usually gold Vermeil jewelry has a 18 KT or 22 KT white or white & yellow gold layer.

Although silver-filled is not regulated in the United States, it is not the case with gold-filled (GF) items. The Federal Trade Commission prescribes the rules for GF stamped products.

As a consequence, gold-filled

  • 10 KT or more having a single layer of 1/20 of its weight in gold is stamped 1/20 10 KT, 1/20 12 KT or 1/20 14 KT.

Another name for gold-filled is R.G.P. or Rolled Gold Plate. This term means that the weight in gold is below the standard for gold-filled and therefore of a lower quality, an example would be 1/10 10KT.

An additional expression referring to gold-filled is double clad. It means that the gold-filling is made out of two layers. The indication 1/20 14 KT double clad means that two layers of 1/40 14 KT have been used. Layering may give the same weight, but its quality is inferior to the single layer.


August's Birthstone - about Hope and Growth for the Leo

Oh, beautiful month of Leo, it is time to celebrate with summer red poppies, gladioli and of course peridot.


Depending the color variation and the quality, the mineral olivine is called peridot. Olivine varies from yellow green (chrysolite) to brownish-green and that hue depends of the quantity of iron in the crystal.

The bright lime green peridot is associated with truth and loyalty. It seems to enhance growth and prosperity.


To me that seems truly the meaning of Spring and the color green in general: renewal of nature, hope and growth.

Happy birthday, mighty Leo!

Artistic technique: Silver and Silver-plating

Sterling Silver versus fine silver

In general when speaking about sterling silver it means that pure silver is mixed with copper in a ratio of 92,5 % to 7,5 %. It is the other metal that hardens silver and makes it easier to work with. Over time and in contact with air and/or skin, sterling silver will tarnish but can be easily polished. Some very sensitive people may have allergic reactions to it and it is not advised to wear silver objects when taking antibiotics.

Fine silver on the other hand is 99,9 % silver and is purer than sterling. As a consequence it is softer and does not oxidize or tarnish. It is a favorite of the Hill tribe and many a jewelry designer loves it.

Silver-plated versus silver-filled

Silver-plating happens through electroplating. This is a procedure that fuses a thin layer or film of precious metal on a base metal core. The silver layer is somewhere between 0,5 and 8 microns and will tarnish over time. As a consequence when polishing one needs to be careful not to wear off the silver. In general a micron allows a year of regular use.

Metalizing is similar to metal plating, but in that case metal is applied to a non metal core.

For what is up to silver-filled items, a thick layer is bonded to a base metal core in the same way as with silver-plating. As a consequence nothing is filled. There are no jewelry standards concerning the thickness of the layer, but in general the silver-filled item is made of 1/10th sterling and may be handled in the same way as a sterling silver object.

Be aware of terms.

When speaking of German silver, alpaca or nickel silver, there is no silver involved. It is a combination of nickel, zinc and copper - usally predominantly copper.

July's birthstones - No negative thought will cross your life path

A July child celebrates life with larkspur, the symbol of strong bonds of love.

larkspur chorus violet

The modern birthstones for July are the ruby and the onyx. While the ruby is linked to the Cancer sign, the onyx is connected to Leo. Both ruby and onyx are supposed to eliminate negative thoughts, but where the onyx enhances steadfastness and determination, the ruby stands for strength and loyalty.

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 -

Enjoy a delightful birthday!

PEARLS and facts - Part 2 - Pearl knotting, getting started

Traditional pearl knotting

This technique can also be used with other beads, and even to create a floating effect. Because of the sharp edge crystal beads are not recommended though. Use a much heavier cord such as a # 6. The Griffin knotting cord for a floating effect should be passed through a curling iron in order to iron out the fold creases ;-)


Calculating the length of the knotting cord

Make the following addition:

  • 2 times the length of the necklace
  • 30 cm to attach the clasp
  • 1 cm per pearl for the knot

Example: 40 cm necklace with 0,6-0,7 mm pearls: (2x40) + 30 cm + (40:0,7) = 167 cm

May I suggest that you do not shorten the 2 m knotting cord in such a case. The calculation is especially important so you know you have enough cord. You want to avoid having to start over.

Instructions – how to attach a clasp and knot pearls ... see part 3

PEARLS and facts - Part 3 - Pearl knotting, instructions

Instructions – how to attach a clasp

  • Measure the knotting cord – stretch it gently cm by cm

  • Thread the needle, double the cord and make a double knot at the end

  • Increase slightly the opening of three pearls so a doubled cord can pass twice through

  • String the three pearls on the doubled cord and slide them till the double knot

  • Attach the clasp:

  • Push the needle through a piece of French wire till about 6 cm from the pearls, string the clasp – push the needle back through the last threaded pearl – pull the cord gently while pushing the pearl against the French wire – the clasp will slide over the French wire and sit in the middle of a loop – behind the first pearl, make an overhand knot with the two pieces of cord – push the needle through the second pearl and push it against the knot – again make an overhand knot with the two pieces of cord – push the needle through the last pearl and put a drop of glue on the cord before making the last knot – cut off the short end

  • Advise: put also a drop of glue in the first knot

Instructions – how to knot pearls

  • Now you are ready to knot a strand of pearls – make sure there are no gaps between the pearls and the knots

  • String a pearl and slide it against the previous knot – make a loose overhand knot – slide the knot with your thumb and index finger towards the pearl – get your finger out of the loop – put a thick needle into the loop – maintain the knot against the pearl and pull the cord – take apart the doubled cord – pull gently on both cord ends – start over

  • Advise: instead of a thick needle you could use a pair of fine tweezers

  • If when finished you notice that the knots are slightly too tight and the necklace does not drape well, pull gently on the necklace to stretch the silk and wear it for a couple of hours. 

The overhand knot

This is a knot you use often.

Place the cord while rotating over the hand – pull the end of the cord through the loop towards you - pull – make your knots always in the same direction

Have fun and enjoy your pearls!


PEARLS and facts - Part 1 - Real or fake, choker or rope ?

How to recognize real pearls?

Remember your childhood, when you started to explore the world by putting things in your mouth. Well, the mouth test is still valid. Rub the pearls lightly on the biting surface of the upper teeth, the pearls feel rough and grainy. This is the real deal.

But visually, there is also a clear indication. On a row of real pearls, each pearl is different both in form and size as well as in color. You can also examine them under a magnifying glass and you will see that real thing has a scaly surface.

Rather a chemical test? Soak a pearl in an acetone solution for one minute. The luster should remain unchanged, whereas with imitation pearls its luster will disappear.

Necklaces: the different lengths.

From short to extra extra long, a strand of pearls is indeed perfect for any occasion. Through the ages each length received a proper name.

The traditional choker is the norm and this pearl strand measures between 36 and 40 cm. The shorter version is generally composed of three or more rows that hug the neck and it is called the collier de chien or dog collar.


Add to this the long lush rope or sautoir which measures more than a meter and goes all the way to the navel. This favorite of Coco Chanel is often doubled and decorates a bare back artfully. The somewhat shorter version, the opera measures between 80 and 90 cm. This latter version can be created by combining two chokers and fits very well with a turtleneck.


Between those two extremes, there are two other festive versions: the princess which is between 45 and 50 cm and the matinée with its 60 cm. After the choker, the princess is the most popular length. You can also use it to wear a pendant. As you can see, you are spoiled for choice.


Wearing pearls is maintaining pearls

Pearls and sensual pleasure are synonyms. So,

  • spray your perfume on before putting on jewelry
  • wear your pearls as often as possible – the contact with your skin and the air moisturizes them
  • and foremost, touch them as your hands are their natural polishing stone

So do not deny yourself the pleasure of knotting your own pearl necklace ... see part 2