Archive for Auricula Jewellery

Jade – travels in Myanmar

In January I headed to Myanmar (Burma) on an exciting buying trip. At the Jade market in Mandalay, it is fascinating to see all the different aspects of the Jade industry: stones being cut and polished, cabochons and bangles traded; beads, discs and carvings displayed for sale. An exciting hustle and bustle of life all revolving around this precious stone.

 

The photos above give a glimpse of the Jade Market. Clockwise from top: the cabochon trading area; a young lapidary polishing cabochons; here I am selecting stones for setting; choosing beads for my new collection; more lapidary work.

A brief history of Jade. In prehistoric times, jade was used to make tools due to its exceptional toughness. Jade has been revered by the Chinese for over 2000 years. Believed to be the ‘Stone of Heaven’, it has been used profusely for mystic and symbolic carvings. In pre-Columbian central America, jade was more highly valued than gold. With the Spanish conquest, the high art of jade carving in America came to an end. However in China the craft continues to this day. For centuries jade was thought to be a single gemstone, but in 1863 two types were recognized: jadeite and nephrite. In 1784, Burmese jade (jadeite) started to be imported into China. Burmese jade was brighter and shinier than the Chinese jade (nephrite) due to its interlocked crystalline structure. This new discovery led the Chinese to extend the use of jade beyond that of rituals and religion and wear it as jewellery. Today Burmese jadeite is the most desirable gemstone in Asia.

Occurence. Jadeite is found in metamorphic rocks and as alluvial pebbles and boulders. Some boulders develop a brown skin, due to weathering. The photograph below shows jade boulders at the market in Yangon.

Jade occurs in a wide variety of colours but the most highly prized is ‘imperial jade’ which is emerald-green due to the presence of chromium. I am more drawn to the subtle shades and was thrilled to find some beads in a fabulous deep-teal green in the market at Yangon. I have loved combining the various shades of green with other stones from my travels such as yellow calcite, pale amazonite, chrysoprase, apatite and freshwater pearls. I hope you like the new collection.

 

 

 

 

Garnets for Autumn

garnets-for-autumn-2016_2

This Autumn, a particular shade of plummy-red seems to be appearing in shops about town. It is the colour of cherries, velvet theatre-curtains, pinot noir, chesterfields in stately homes and all things nice. In gem-form, it is garnet and in particular the varieties pyrope and almandine.

The name ‘garnet’ derives from the Latin for ‘grain’ because of the rounded crystals and similarity of the red kernals to the pomegranate.

pomegranate

 

Pyrope is so-called after the Greek ‘pyropos’ meaning fiery. It was the stone of choice for discerning ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially the variety ‘Bohemian garnet’. It is primarily found in Burma, South Africa, Arizona (USA), Madagascar, Sri Lanka, China and Tanzania. Closer to home, deposits have been found in Scotland.

victorian-bohemian-garnet-necklaceThe picture above shows a Victorian Bohemian garnet necklace. I am enjoying watching the new ITV drama, Victoria, especially as the costumes and jewellery are so opulent. How nice to be able to drape oneself with fabulous jewels for dinner every evening!

I have made a selection of pieces for Autumn using garnets in various shades and cuts and I hope they will add a touch of regal glamour to your outfits this season!

garnet-tassel-earrings-2

 

 

Celebrating 10 years!

April 2006 - April 2016. We hope you can join us in celebrating on Saturday 30th April.

We are excited to be celebrating a decade of trade. To mark this milestone, we will be having a party at the Ditchling showroom on Saturday 30th April 10am – 5pm. We do hope you can join us – fizz, 10% off all jewellery on the day and goody-bags for every customer!

The website has been updated with 50 new pieces – do take a look at our 0n-line shop! These include jewellery from our Spring collections:
Larissa: vibrant green chrysoprase combined with lapis lazuli, dumortierite, freshwater pearls and silver.
Tangier: rich orange jasper and carnelian are offset with deep-blue dumortierite and sea-green turquoise.
Also featuring many of the new pearl pieces.

Saturday 30th April also marks the start of Art in Ditchling, the annual and ever-popular Open Houses art-trail around the village. An inspirational art trail will lead visitors around the village with exhibitions in 14 venues including artists’ homes, studios, workshops and galleries. On show will be a diverse range of high quality art & craft skills including paintings, ceramics, sculpture, photography, jewellery, woodwork, glasswork and hand-made guitars. Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft have two events taking place in the festival: ‘Interrobang at The Jointure’ is a letterpress exhibition marking 100 years since ertstwhile Ditchling resident Edward Johnston created a typeface for London Underground. The second museum event is a typographer in residence at ‘The Blue Shed’. Many venues will also be opening on the Bank Holiday Mondays.  See http://www.artinditchling.co.uk/ for more information and opening times.

We would like to thank all our customers for your continued support over the past 10 years. It has been – and continues to be – a pleasure to help you sparkle and shine with fabulous gems!

 

March News – freshwater pearls and bright gems for Spring!

 

New Collections for Spring!

Following a buying trip to Beijing back in February, I have been designing and making my new pearl collections. These range from pretty and delicate pearl and rock crystal necklaces to chunky baroque pearl statement pieces and long ropes of baroque pearls combined with vivid bluey-greens.

Chrysoprase is my gemstone of choice at the moment – it is such a fabulous shade of green and I think it looks great combined with blues, silver – and of course, pearls! All the new pieces are in the shop and will be appearing on the website soon.

Happy Easter to you!

Jewellery-making classes in Lewes starting January 2016!

Would you like to learn how to make jewellery- (2)

Starting in January 2016, I will be offering jewellery-making classes from my home in central Lewes. They will be held on Tuesdays from 10am – 1pm and each course will run for three consecutive weeks. Topics covered will include bead stringing, pearl stringing and working with silver wire and chain. There will be no fixed syllabus so I will be happy to help you with whatever project you have in mind.

Stringing materials will be included in the price but fittings and precious-metal wire will be charged as extras. Bring your own beads or purchase them from my extensive collection.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided. Cost: £75 per person for the course of three sessions payable in advance. Please contact me by e-mail natasha@auricula.co.uk for more information or to book your place. Places are limited to a maximum of 6 students per class.

Art in Ditchling starts this Saturday!

Art in Ditchling starts this Saturday

I’ve been busy making new pieces ready for Art in Ditchling which runs for the first four weekends in May. It is always a fun time of year as the village buzzes with art lovers, all keen to explore the myriad of studios, workshops and galleries with their diverse range of art and craft skills on show. I have been developing a range of silver jewellery to sit alongside the gemstone and pearl collections and will have the first few pieces on display. This time of year always inspires me to be creative with shades of green gemstones. From vibrant amazonite and turquoise through to grassy shades of prasiolite, variscite and peridot, the colours are perfect for a touch of Spring zing!

Introducing the Azure Collection

Introducing the Azure Collection

The sun is shining, it feels like Spring is finally here and fabulous new clothing collections are popping up in shop windows. There seems to be a strong denim/ chambray trend this season and I’ve been inspired to create a collection of jewellery to compliment the indigo and cornflower shades. On a recent buying trip to London, I re-discovered dumortierite – a type of blue quartz from Africa. Although the name is a bit of a mouthful, the colour is wonderful and I think it looks great when offset with pale blue chalcedony.

Opening times: Please note that I have slightly altered my opening hours. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays remain at 10am – 5pm but I now close at 2pm on Wednesdays and at 4pm on Saturdays. I hope this does not cause any inconvenience.

Freshwater Pearls for the Party Season

Christmas parties are the perfect timeto

I love working with freshwater pearls – they come in such a myriad of shapes and sizes. When choosing pearls the most important thing to me is that they should have a superb lustre. Without this they look chalky and dull. The lustre of the pearl is what makes them so flattering to wear – they light up a neckline and look fabulous as earrings. They exude a timeless glamour whether the wearer is 20 or 90. Alongside the classic styles of pearl necklace, I have developed some more colourful combinations by adding coral, citrine and carnelian for a bit of extra zing!

Bonfire Night is Approaching

Autumn Jewellery Blog

I have been busy making jewellery in spicy shades of orange and brown – perfect for bonfire-night parties!

Autumn – Garnet, amethyst and tourmaline

Autumn 2014 - Canva ad

Welcome to Auricula’s Autumn newsletter. After a busy Summer moving house and settling my younger daughter into school, I am now back in my studio 4-5 days a week. Over the past few weeks, I have been busy making my new jewellery collections. I do love this time of year and the rich plummy colours associated with Autumn. Berry tones have inspired a number of my recent pieces: deep purple amethyst, garnet and plum pearls feature along with fabulous tourmalines. Tourmalines have always been one of my favourite gemstones as they come in such an array of beautiful colours.

 

Anise

At the beginning of September I went on a buying trip to London and got rather carried away (as usual!) I returned with, amongst other goodies, some Russian jade, purple fluorite, lemon citrine and coral beads – I already have some designs in mind and will be making these new collections over the coming weeks. I also bought some more luxurious stitched leather cord to add to my range of charm bangles – rose gold, pewter, chocolate brown and black.