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Gemvara Blog
2 April

Diamond: Let There Be Light

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Some people are just born lucky. They can eat cheesecake and stay slender. Or effortlessly carry a tune. April babies have the good fortune to have dazzling diamond as their birthstone.

It’s easy to see why diamond is the world’s most popular gem: it combines dazzling brilliance with prismatic fire. Earth’s hardest substance, diamond embodies “forever.” Most couples around the world choose a diamond engagement ring.

The ancient Greeks called diamond “adamas,” meaning invincible, theorizing that something so beautiful must be the crystallized teardrops of the gods. The Romans thought diamonds must be fallen stars. Wearing diamond is said to attract good fortune too.

Those who are fortunate enough to wear diamonds know how versatile they are: so perfect an accent with every outfit that many never take them off.

As anyone who’s shopped for diamonds knows, their value varies dramatically with quality. White gems with the least amount of color and the fewest imperfections are the most rare and valuable. The bigger the diamond, the higher its carat weight and the more it costs per carat. Cut is arguably the most important value factor because the quality of a diamond’s cut gives it its life and sparkle. Higher quality diamonds tend to hold value better than inexpensive gems, so most experts advise buying a better, smaller stone rather than a larger lower quality version.

In addition to being the birthstone for April and the gem of the 10th and 60th anniversary, diamonds today are a wardrobe essential.  Diamond stud earrings are a wear-everywhere basic that can take you from the grocery store to Oscar’s red carpet.  Diamond drop earrings make every day an occasion. And most women today, married or single, wear a fashionable diamond ring on their right hand, as essential to being well-dressed as the right handbag or shoes.

With the great selection of fashionable diamond jewelry today, you don’t have to be born in April to make a little luck of your own.

18 March

Princess Diaries

One of the cool things about being a retailer that offers thousands of different gem options is that you get really interesting data on jewelry trends. It’s like having a 24/7 focus group with thousands of women all over the country advising you on what jewelry designs they like best. The biggest gem trend that we’ve seen on the Gemvara site during our first month is princess cut gemstones.

This isn’t totally unexpected. Princess cuts are the second most popular choice for engagement rings. According to a survey by The Knot of recently and soon-to-be married couples in March 2009, 29 percent of all engagement rings today are princess cuts. It makes sense that women who love princess cut diamonds in their engagement ring also love princess cut colored gemstones too. And some of the princess cut colored gemstones that our customers have ordered have been engagement rings. Couples are much more creative today when it comes to engagement rings, both in shape and color.

Here are five of our most popular princess cut gemstone designs. Since everything we make can be customized, they are available in any gem. The most popular gem choices in princess cuts so far have been amethyst and sapphire. I think peridot, citrine and red garnet also look great. What do you think?

Amethyst princess cut ring by Ji Hwang

Peridot princess cut ring from Gemvara Essentials

Princess cut sapphire engagement ring by Ji Hwang

Princess cut red garnet ring by Stephanie Satow

Princess cut citrine ring by Gemvara Essentials

9 March

Oscar Jewelry Winners & Losers

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It wasn’t the best year for jewelry at the 2010 Academy Awards. Most stars played it way too safe.  Here are four who didn’t: two who pushed the boundaries and elevated their style to a new level and two who just simply took things a bit too far.

1. Best Jewelry: Carey Mulligan, runner up: Miley Cyrus
Her dress received mixed reviews but everyone agreed that Carey Mulligan’s spectactular diamond earrings by Fred Leighton were the jewelry look of the night. They single-handedly upgraded her style from tomboy to gamine.

Miley Cyrus accented her neutral-toned gown with surprisingly intricate jewelry by Lorraine Schwartz that added grown up glamour that almost made up for her schoolgirl hunch. Her earrings were drop flowers in bronzed diamonds with rubies and her corset-style cuff bracelet was as interesting as the diamond encrusted stacks worn by other stars, but more elegant.

2. Worst Jewelry: Mariah Carey, runner up Kristen Stewart
Mimi is no stranger to excess but her Oscar accessorizing was over-the top even for her: huge looped Chopard diamond drop earrings, huge floral diamond brooch, and several diamond bracelets and rings on each hand.  Add the asymmetrical hemline of her dress and the whole look collapsed under its own weight.

Kristen Stewart took the whole “get completely dressed and then take off one item” rule a bit too far: no earrings, no necklace, no rings, just one thin H. Stern bracelet with her strapless gown. She needed to add one more element to look dressed.

8 March

Oscar Jewelry Trends

Posted by in Gem Trends | 4 Comments

Jennifer Lopez in Button EarringsThe dresses billowed, frothed, and cascaded so it’s not surprising that jewelry at the 2010 Academy Awards was relegated to supporting status. Still, it wouldn’t be the red carpet without spectactular jewels.  Here are the top jewelry trends of this year’s Oscar red carpet.

1. Button Earrings
The surprise trend of this year’s red carpet were diamond button earrings. This retro old Hollywood look spanned generations, from Elizabeth Banks and Amanda Seyfried to Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Meryl Streep.  Several of the best buttons were vintage styles from the thirties and forties.

Sarah Jessica Parker 2010 Oscars2. Stacks of Bracelets
Sarah Jessica Parker, Faith Hill, Julianne Moore and many many other stars piled on stacks of diamond bracelets. Many were set in blackened platinum, a surprise trend on the red carpet this year. The best bracelets were the boldly patterned brown and mint fancy diamond and platinum bracelets by Lorraine Schwartz worn by Amanda Seyfried.

3. Hair Jewels
Diamonds in the hair created a chic, yet unexpected look for red carpet regulars and freshman starlets alike. Vera Farmiga had a leaf brooch in her hair. Presenter Elizabeth Banks accented her gown with a delicate diamond head band by Fred Leighton, Diane Kruger added a Chanel Fine Jewelry black and white diamond flower hair pin, and Demi Moore also accented her hair with a diamond pin. Zoe Kravitz piled on the diamonds, including a 19th Century diamond wing brooch worn in her hair by Fred Leighton.

4. Fancy Colored Diamonds
Kate Winslet 2010 OscarsIf you love serious jewelry, there was only one jaw-dropping ensemble worth mentioning at this year’s Oscars: Kate Winslet’s suite of fancy colored diamond jewelry by Tiffany & Co. The necklace, valued at $2.5 million, featured three large spectacular fancy yellow diamonds set in elegant platinum. The matching earrings added 10 more carats of fancy yellows and then yellow diamond bracelets piled on even more carats.  This was armed-guard level bling but somehow it looked tasteful, even subtle, with Winslet’s silver gown. Several actresses wore fabulous fancy colored diamond pieces by Lorraine Schwartz: Rachel McAdams drop earrings, Nicole Richie’s 100-carat ring, and Amanda Seyfried’s bracelets.

6 March

Oscar Jewelry Predictions

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Hollywood’s big night is coming up on Sunday and it’s not just about movies: it’s the superbowl of jewelry. What beautiful jewels can we expect to see on the red carpet? Here’s my predictions, based on the jewelry at the Emmys, Golden Globes, BAFTA, and Sag Awards.

1) Bold Gem Drops
This was the knock out look at last year’s Academy Awards. Angelina Jolie wore dramatic pear-shaped emerald earrings.Gemvara Ruby Earrings The trend continued at the Golden Globes, with Julianne Moore wearing similarly enormous emeralds.  This month’s fashion magazines feature a spectacular Bulgari jewelry ad with Moore wearing the same emerald earrings (and not much else.) Emerald has been done to perfection so no one else is likely to try that green gem again but this look has legs. Expect a new twist with another gem color.
Prediction: Bold gem drops that aren’t emerald.

2) Statement Necklace
This is the Oscars, people!  It’s time to take it up a notch. After many seasons of long earrings and a stack of bracelets, it’s time for the dramatic necklace. With the strapless styles we’re expecting, someone will break out a big necklace. To keep the overall effect young and sexy, not dowager, expect the necklace to be colorful or textured, not traditional.
Prediction: One statement & strapless combo.

3) Lorraine Reigns
Expect several of the actresses on the red carpet to be wearing Lorraine Schwartz, the hottest jewelry designer.  She loves blackened metal and draped sihouettes so even her bold styles are sexy and wearable.  Fancy diamonds are likely in unusual shades like gray and brown. At this point an awards show without a stunning piece by Schwartz is unthinkable.
Prediction: The best jewel of the night will be by Lorraine Schwartz.

4) Coco’s Rules
The age of bling and excess is over: the rule now for the red carpet is to follow Coco Chanel’s famous advice: get completely dressed and then take one thing off.  Expect stars to be accessorized with one standout piece, either jewel or dress, with everything else dialed back to a supporting role.  Think Angelina last year: bold emeralds with a subdued black dress.
Prediction: Stylish looks with a singular focus

5 March

Katy Perry: Engaged in Yellow

Katy Perry and Russell Brand aren’t what you would call a conventional couple. So it’s not surprising that the singer and comedian didn’t pick a conventional engagement ring when they got engaged on New Year’s Eve. OK, we’re not entering Carmen Electra black diamond territory here: the ring features a traditional three-carat round diamond the Diamond Information Center estimates cost $120,000.

But Katy’s new engagement ring is not the white gold pave encrusted style that is most in vogue in Hollywood today, it’s a wide yellow gold band with some side detailing. And Scarlett Johansson’s engagement ring is yellow gold too: are yellow gold engagement rings ready for a comeback?

3 March

Aquamarine: Cool Blue

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Pale, elegant aquamarine captures the beauty of the sea: its pastel blue tinged with a hint of green. The icy color is as fresh with earth tones as with other pastel shades and the perfect accompaniment to grey and navy.

Legends say that aquamarine is the treasure of mermaids, with the power to keep sailors safe at sea. In addition to calming the waves, aquamarine is also said to have a soothing influence on relationships, making it a good anniversary gift. A dream of aquamarine means that you will meet new friends.

This sophisticated gem is the birthstone for March and the gem for the 19th anniversary.  But, hey, if you’ve already made it to your 19th anniversary you may not need it!

22 February

Telling Jewelry Stories

I love hearing and telling stories about jewelry.  But I’ve noticed that when a man compliments my jewelry, I will give him a pleasant “thank you” and may add something like “I got it for my 10th anniversary.” No more.  He can barely listen to that before changing the subject.

When a woman compliments a piece of jewelry, I am inclined to tell the entire story of the piece.  I’ll say, “I got it in St Croix at this adorable little shop called Sonya’s.  It’s the Cruzan hook and if you’re “taken” you wear the hook toward your heart and if you’re available, you wear it facing out.  We were there on vacation with my college roommate, etc, etc”   It will be the ice breaker to an entire conversation as she tells me about her jewelry, or her vacation, or her college roommate.

Part of my vision for Gemvara is that people will share stories about their jewelry.  Being part of the creation process is the start of a great story.  I want people (men and women) to share the story of why they created the piece the way they did. And I will share my stories too: I am a jewelry lover and I especially love the pieces that are a part of my story.  As Gemvara grows, I look forward to adding more chapters.

19 February

Carried Away?

Have you been sighing over Carrie Underwood’s spectacular new engagement ring from her hockey star fiancé Mike Fisher?  It’s pretty hard to miss! The Diamond Information Center estimates that this beautiful bauble is set with a five-plus carat flawless fancy yellow diamond.

If you love this look, how can you reproduce it for less than the $150,000 that the Diamond Information Center estimates is the price tag on Carrie’s ring?

From the angle in photos, it’s hard to say whether the diamond in Carrie’s ring is round or oval. The Diamond Information Center says round but to me it looks oval (and fancy-colored diamonds are much more likely to be an oval, since the round brilliant cut tends to lighten color.)

Whether round or oval, it’s clear that the center diamond of her ring is surrounded by a diamond pave halo that makes it look even more dramatic. This is worth considering even if your diamond will be slightly smaller than five carats.

An oval or round diamond of a more modest size will definitely look much larger with diamonds around it. These styles are called “halo” designs.  If you are restyling a family diamond or planning to choose a traditional one-carat round diamond, this setting style will give you a modern look that’s still classic.

If you can’t live without a large lemony gem for your ring, consider yellow sapphire which is a great choice for an engagement gem: precious and durable. It will have the color you crave at a fraction of the price of a similar shade of diamond.  You might even be able to up your carat count!

12 February

Cheryl's Favorite Things

Posted by in Gem Trends | 5 Comments

Have you ever visited a friend’s house and had to restrain yourself from telling her that the sofa would look much better by the window? When reviewing new jewelry collections, I’ve often thought a designer piece would look much better in yellow gold or with tourmaline instead of sapphire. Thanks to Gemvara, I can have everything exactly the way I want it. And you can too! To get you started, I’ve picked ten fun, elegant, and distinctive designer styles from our new collections. Think I’ve overlooked the fact that diamonds look better in rose gold? Inexplicably omitted your fabulous find? Drop me a line at with suggestions for next month’s favorites.

To see a piece displayed below, just click the image!

Lovely Lilies

I love classic stud earrings but they don’t exactly make a fashion statement. C’mon, live a little! In contrast, these stud earrings by designer Ji Hwang, our featured designer this month, are so intricate, like little sculptures, that I can’t imagine ever being bored by them, even with just a white t-shirt and jeans.

Olive Branch

Organically inspired designs are in, true. But even if they weren’t, how could anyone resist these delicate hoops by Ji Hwang? Hoops are such a versatile earring silhouette and these are really different. I especially love them in yellow gold and peridot. And sterling and rhodolite. Maybe two pairs are required?

Drop-Dead Drops

These earrings from Studio 228 would be just the thing to wear to the Oscars. Or the grocery store. The red carpet at the Grammy Awards was full of gorgeous diamond drops like these. Diamonds are definitely an investment in this size but I think the earrings look even better in blue topaz and diamond and you won’t have to check your credit line.

Syncopated Style

This ring designed by Randy Dixon is really modern but not at all heavy. I love the way the gems interrupt each arc, like musical notes on a staff. Because of the bold composition, I think graphic color is the way to go. I picked red garnet in sterling silver but I also love the black and white diamond versions.

Embraceable You

The sleek lines of this ring designed by Tony Rodrigues remind me of the Chinese proverb “women hold up half the sky,” so I chose a sunny citrine center. The design also has the feeling of an enfolding embrace. You could also set this style with birthstones to create a very stylish mother-child ring.

Curves Ahead

To really appreciate this set of two rings by Ji Hwang, you have to try them on: they dip in back to fit your finger so comfortably they feel part of you immediately. In one metal, the set looks like an interlocking snake. In sterling with blue topaz and diamond, the set is just $202, so I plan to get a second single ring in a second color!
See the single ring here

Coral Wreath

This band by Ji Hwang reminds me of the structure of coral. It’s pleasingly regular and irregular at the same time. Like the natural world, it’s more interesting the more closely you look at it. I think I could look at this ring for a long time. I chose yellow gold and peridot to match Ji’s hoops but sterling with rhodolite would also be perfect.

Floral Arrangement

This ring by Ji Hwang is dramatic and delicate at the same time. I love the way the flowers form a lacy trellis over the finger, keeping the design from looking heavy. I think this looks wonderful with diamond, emerald, and yellow gold flowers in a sterling silver ring but I recommend playing around with the gems and metals: so many great options for this style!

Lotus in Bloom

This ring by designer Jeet Palavwala, which won our international design competition, is simply spectacular. Inspired by the delicate hue of the lotus blossom, Jeet imagined this design with a pink sapphire but, really, you can’t go wrong. It would make a wonderfully romantic engagement ring, don’t you think?

Rock Star

A ring with one bold gem in a beautiful color is a wardrobe essential. This dramatic but simple ring by designer Stephanie Satow has a large marquise-cut gem and a twist to the band, which together magically make your fingers look long and slender. The perfect purple of the amethyst will go with almost everything you wear.

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