Tag Archives: jewelry

Pearls of the Orient

Image credit: www.torbenskov.com

When I was in grade school, I remember very clearly that in our history classes would always begin by explaining why the Philippines was called the “Pearl of the Orient.” Of course there were several other reasons as to why the country was nicknamed as such, but for many today, one of the attractions comes from the pearls — in a very literal sense.

A stall at the Pearl Market in at Greenhills shopping Center in Manila. Image credit Jett Brittnell.

Today in the Philippines you can buy pearls of all shapes, color, sizes and varieties at local markets. With such a tremendous amount of variety to choose from, one can get easily mesmerized and overwhelmed by the types of pearl available on the market today. I thought I’d share some information on pearls for those who might be interested in these gems of the sea.

Freshwater and Saltwater Pearls

Pearls are naturally occurring gems that are a product of mollusks such as oysters and mussels. Typically, pearls found in the saltwater seas are obtained from pearl oysters, and freshwater pearls from pearl mussels.

Pearl being harvested from a pearl oyster. Image from Wikimedia commons.

The main difference between freshwater and sea pearls are the mollusk they come from, and the habitat where it lives. When an irritant to the oyster or clam enters the shells, it forms layers of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl to fight the irritation, and thus a pearl is formed.

Cultured and Natural Pearls

Thanks to modern technology, freshwater pearls can be cultivated to form different shapes, sizes, and colors for jewelry. Pearls made using human intervention are known as cultured pearls, in contrast with natural pearls, which are found completely formed inside the mollusk. Another difference between cultured pearls and natural pearls is their mineral composition. While cultured pearls retain their value as precious gems, they contain less of the mother-of-pearl mineral. Natural pearls are usually composed of 100% of the mineral, making them rarer and more expensive.

Freshwater pearls. Image credit: www.victoriabeadworld.ca

Some of the most valuable pearls available today are known as South Sea Pearls, which are native to and only found in the seas of southeast Asia and the surrounding areas, including some of the islands of the Philippines. These natural pearls are harvested from wild south sea pearl oysters and are known for their size and lustre.

Natural South Sea Pearls inside the oysters. Image credit www.torbenskov.com

Pearl jewelry today is becoming more creative thanks to the technology available today. Freshwater pearls can now be cultivated and injected with color to form interesting shapes and sizes. These square pearls were colored and cut with texture to give an interesting an contemporary twist to a simple bracelet design.

Image by Renee Alfonso

For some however the natural beauty of pure, white pearls will always embody the essence of these precious gems. Simple pearl strands such as these will stand the test of time and can become great heirlooms.

Image by Renee Alfonso

Whatever their shape or form, pearls are unique gemstones that showcase the beauty of both nature and human ingenuity. It’ll be interesting and exciting to see what pearl farmers and jewelers come up with in the future!

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Fit to be Tied

Photo by Rachel Peters via style me pretty

There is something intrinsically appealing about the texture, versatility, strength and simplicity of a length of rope. Rope as a raw material is full of possibilities; it can be woven, knotted, braided and coiled into interesting shapes, and it can also be turned into amazing pieces of furniture, lighting and jewellery. With the nautical and coastal trends still in full swing it is likely we will be seeing even more rope inspired design in the months to come.

Manilla Rope Light via Freshome

This rope light by Toronto etsy seller Atelier 688, is all kinds of wonderful. The heavy duty scale of the rope gives this piece so much substance, and the texture is incredible. I think a lighting fixture this bold would be amazing in a loft space with sky-high ceilings.

Smalltown Macrame Planter via the red thread

Smalltown’s macrame pieces are oversized and updated versions of the planters and wall hangings you may remember hanging in your parents or grandparents house. This two-tier planter is one of my favourites. It  has a hippie seventies vibe, but the synthetic cord and glass is ultra-modern.

Stretch Collection- Carnevale Studio

Jessica Carnevale’s collection of chairs use rope, bungee and latex to create geometric designs on a universal chair frame. The white chair with the diamond rope pattern is simply beautiful, but I’m really drawn to the two-toned effect of the bungee cord used on the middle chair.

Know the Ropes Necklace- Kate Spade

This golden rope necklace is the perfect accessory for the glam sailor girl (do you see what I did there? I may have just coined a whole new style.) Seriously though, this Kate Spade necklace is gorgeous, and it’s on sale!

Christian Haas

Here’s another take on a rope light. This time the rope itself is illuminated from within using energy efficient LED lights. Each one of Christian Haas’ pieces is unique; the shape is created by draping and knotting the rope.  Lit up they cast glowing ambient light, and unlit they are soft and sculptural .

Nautical Doorstep- KarensRopeWork

I was in sailing camp when I was a kid. I don’t think I ever made it past the first stage of classes, so I was never allowed on an actual boat, but I did learn to tie a few knots. It’s unlikely I’d remember how to do any of them now, and I’m sure I never came up with anything as impressive as this doorstop.

DIY Rope Pendant Lamp via Design Sponge

Lastly, the DIY savvy people at Design Sponge have come up with another great tutorial to turn a wire planter into a nautical inspired pendant lamp. The project looks pretty easy to accomplish and requires only a few supplies. One of these light fixtures would look fabulous over a dining table or hanging in an entryway.

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Rainy Day Style Finds

image via unebricoleuse

I recently picked up the first pair of rain boots I’ve owned since I was a kid, and I’ve come to the conclusion that rainy days are much more fun when you’re dressed for the weather. Luckily, dressing weather appropriate doesn’t mean you need to forgo being fashionable.  For the rainy days to come here is a collection of rain gear that will keep your style intact, even in a downpour.

This trench by Kate Spade, and a coat of red lipstick, is all you need to look chic when it’s gloomy outside. The black is classic and the contrasting buttons are a nice detail.  The styling of this outfit is adorable, as are those polk-a-dot tights.

Rainy day ballet flats j. crew

If rain boots aren’t really your thing then these waterproof ballet flats might be just what you are looking for. They may not be designed for jumping in puddles but they can serve the dual purpose of keeping your feet dry on the way to work while still looking cute when you get to the office.

Pagoda Umbrella at umbrellas.net

Umbrellas are often regarded as purely functional objects, but the parasol has long been a much loved fashion accessory. This red pagoda shaped umbrella is fabulous and will have you standing out on crowded streets.

Singing-In-The-Showers Slicker by anthropologie

This rain slicker from anthropologie is spring perfection. The black-check has a vintage feel and the anorak silhouette is fashion forward.

Loeffler Randall

Another alternative to the classic rain boot is this bootie by Loeffler Randall.  A mix of stylish bootie and rain boot, these will stand up to puddles and go with everything from skirts to jeans.

Davek umbrella

If you’re looking for an umbrella that is beautifully designed and will stand up to gale force winds Davek umbrella is the way to go. They come in a range of sizes from small enough to fit in your purse to an extra large golf size.


Love this rainy day lariat from jeweller epheriell. Made out of sterling silver with a chalcedony “rain drop” and umbrella charm this necklace is too pretty to save until the rain begins to fall.

Mother’s Day Gifts as Unique as She

valuable mom letterpress bill  by afavorite on Etsy

I know you’re the type of person who lets your mom know how much you appreciate her every day of the year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something a little extra special for her on Mother’s Day. Now, the best gifts always take into account the interests and tastes of the recipient.  If I look at all the mom’s I know I can see how fascinating, stylish,intelligent, talented, fun and ultimately individual they all are. That’s why I’m recommending you ditch the bath salts and the flowers and try to think up a gift that speaks to who the mom in your life is when she’s not on mom duty. Here are a few ideas just to get you started.

My Mom’s a Film Buff…what should I get her?

How about a set of famous film director wall-hangings or coasters from Retrowhale? The Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese and all the big guys are represented so you can pick out your mom’s top four favourites. This gift would be a perfect compliment to her Criterion collection of Blu-rays.

My Mom’s a Rock Star… or she just wishes she was

Kim Gordon bassist and front woman of Sonic Youth probably holds the title of “coolest mom in the world.” At almost sixty years old is still  rocking out on stage and releasing albums. If you think you’re mom has the makings of rock royalty why not spring for guitar lessons. Bonus points if you get her a vintage Les Paul as well.

My Mom’s Got Great Taste

Nothing would be more perfect for Mother’s Day than this summery yellow dress from online shop-du-jour Filly. Made from buttercup-coloured cotton viole, this dress is classic while still being modern. If I could have this pretty frock hanging in my closet I would be one happy mommy indeed.

My Mom’s got a Sense of Humour

Welcome to Hicksville Trailer Palace and Artist Retreat in Joshua Tree, California. Part trailer park, part hipster resort, at Hicksville you can rent one of nine theme decorated trailers. If your mom’s idea of a perfect getaway is sipping Pabst Blue Ribbon by the side of a pool or wielding firearms at the BB-gun range, then this may be the perfect mother’s day getaway for her.

My Mom’s a Traditionalist

Love & Victory makes beautiful custom charms that would be stellar gifts for a new mom or a mom with small kids. How it works is you send them a picture of your loved one and they create a one-of-a-kind silhouette that you can hang from a necklace or charm bracelet. Beautiful, classic and personal, this jewellery makes for a wonderful keepsake, and a loving reminder of why she doesn’t get enough sleep anymore.

Rings: Love ‘Em Fun and Chunky

3 of my favorite rings

I tend to be a Bermuda triangle for jewelry. They just disappear on me. I’m not the neatest person on earth, and am terribly absent-minded—a horrible combination, because they add up to me losing or misplacing things.

Earrings are the worst because they come in pairs. One will inevitably fall off my ear and won’t be seen again, and I’ll be stuck with a solo earring, which will join the ranks of the sad, widowed little trinkets in a sad little box—tragic. Anything with dainty little chains will break just when I’m walking in a park or in the dark, and I’ll be oblivious to the loss until days, or even months later.

That’s how I started to like rings. There’s less chance of me losing them. They’re solid and sturdy, and almost always in my line of vision. And since rings fit snugly right on the base of the finger, they have a long and slow way to travel before they slip from my grasp. I then gravitated towards the big, chunky, odd shaped rings because there are a lot of them that don’t cost a fortune, so I feel less scared and more free to wear them, and if ever they do slip off my finger, they’re easier to find and they never roll too far.

But I LOVE big rings because they are fabulous. They are bold, jazzy, and sassy, and they don’t discriminate against thumbs and forefingers. Ho-hum get-ups get some oomph, and spirits get a boost.  Chunky rings make the unconscious hand gesture all that more eloquent—they make statements that simply must be heard. And they bring me such pleasure because they are beautiful to look at–lovely little sculptures that go where I go, so I can look at them whenever I want.

Resin rings rock!

I do still lose rings. And I will feel sad and disappointed when it happens, because I do get attached to them while I have them, though they don’t have carats and karats. I just console myself by thinking that there will be spaces in my heart and in my hand waiting to be filled again, hopefully with one of these…

Metals and Stones

I like the shape and color of this one. Image from femalenetwork.com

There's a real diamond seemingly suspended in this hefty and fabulous cocktail ring. By Chun Chun Designs.

This ring has raw and rustic feel that I just totally dig. From Little Bug Jewelry on Etsy.

A not-quite-subtle set of his-and-hers rings by Yu Yu. Image from MoCo Loco.

From the Ars Metallica Jewelry Collection by Alina Alamorean. Image from Design Milk.

Resin Rings

Very cool rings by Laura Creer. Image from stylehive.con.

I'm a huge fan of resin jewelry, but these acrylic pieces by Masako Ban are insanely awesome!

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