I first saw this quote at Dyslexia Action and I couldn't agree more!
As it's Friday the 13th, a day that is notorious for being unlucky or cursed, I thought I would tell you about some gemstones that are supposed to be cursed. Tales of death, destruction and ill-fortune have followed these gemstones for hundreds of years...
The Hope Diamond
This is the Hope Diamond, a rare blue 45.52 carat beauty. In 1668, French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier bought a brilliant blue diamond in India. He sold the gem to King Louis XIV and it stayed with the French Royals in various settings. In 1792, the French crown jewels were looted and the "French Blue", as it was known, disappeared into history. In 1812, a diamond with very similar characteristics was in the hands of a London diamond merchant called Daniel Eliason. According to the Smithsonian, "Strong evidence indicated that the stone was the recut French Blue and the same stone known today as the Hope Diamond" It would appear that the gem was then owned by King George IV but sold after his death to pay his HUGE debts. The next known owner of this beautiful gem is London gem collector and banker Henry Philip Hope. From the Hope family, the diamond then passed through a number of other families before being bought by Pierre Cartier in 1909. He sold it to the socialite Evalyn Walsh McClean who claimed she could reverse the curse. She threw lavish "Find the Hope" parties, the diamond was hidden on her estate and guests searched for it. But things started going wrong for Evalyn ~ her son died in a car accident; her husband left her for another woman; the family newspaper, The Washington Post, went bankrupt; her daughter died and the following year, so did Evalyn. Her entire jewellery collection was sold off to pay off her debts. Harry Winston bought the entire collection and donated it the the Smithsonian where the curse appears to be dormant!
This stunning diamond can be found in our Queen's crown and reputedly discovered in the Golcondas mine in India. From there it is said it served as an eye for a Hindu Goddess statue before coming in to the possession of Shah Jahar (the emperor who built the TAj Mahal) who incorporated it into the Peacock Throne. But his one staged a coup and had his father imprisoned. Not long after, the Koh-I-Noor was reduced down to 186 carats from what apparently was nearly 800 carats! Various local rulers were in possession of the stone, many met a bloody end. In 1849, the stone was then sent to Queen Victoria but the trip wasn't plain sailing! It is said that there was an outbreak of Cholera on the ship and went it docked at a Mauritius port, the locals threatened to set fire to it if they didn't leave; a storm raged for 12 hours; it was almost lost when it left in a waistcoat pocket for six months! Today, it is on display in the Tower of London and supposedly carries a Hindu curse that says only a woman can wear it. Any man that wears it will know its misfortunes and so no male heir to the throne has ever worn it.
Delhi Purple Sapphire
Last but not least is the Delhi Sapphire which is not actually a sapphire but an amethyst. Colonel W. Ferris was a Bengal cavalryman who bought the gem to the UK in 1857 from India where it had been looted from the Temple of Indra. Ferris and his son lost all of their money and their health after owning the gem. In 1890, a scientist named Edward Heron-Allen became the next owner and was struck by so much misfortune and bad luck that he gave the Delhi sapphire away twice to friends. Both friends were then beset with disaster and gave the gemstone back to Heron-Allen, who then apparently threw it in the Regent's canal, only for it to be picked up by a dredger and returned via a jeweller who recognised it as belonging to Heron-Allen! In 1904, the gem was placed in seven boxes, surrounded by charms and deposited in a bank safe with a letter of warning. Instructions were left that the box would not be opened until 33 years after his death in 1943 but his daughter sent the box to the Natural History Museum where it sat for 30 years. The letter of warning advised "Whoever shall then open it, shall first read out this warning, and then do as he pleases with the jewel. My advice to him or her is to cast it into the sea." The Delhi Sapphire is on display in the Museum, it is said that it still makes it's presence known.....John Whittaker, the former head of micropaleontology , took the Delhi Sapphire to the first symposium of the Heron-Allen Society. He encountered the most horrific thunderstorm he had ever experienced on the way home. The night before the second annual symposium he became violently ill with stomach flu and he didn’t make the third symposium due to a sudden kidney stone!
After taking the plunge and doing my first wedding fair on Sunday at the beautiful Avoncroft Museum, it seems that there isn't a traditional "wedding season" any longer, with brides choosing a range of dates throughout the year.
Summer weddings will always be popular, all brides wish for the sun to shine on their big day and summer holds more chance of that happening, even with our unpredictable British weather!
Juno, a Roman Goddess, was the protector of women throughout all areas of their lives but particularly marriage and childbirth. As the month of June was named after her, this became known as the luckiest month to be married.
Another reason June was so popular was down to the Celtic calendar. On the 1st of May (Beltane in the Celtic calendar) young couples would be matched up and then "dated" for three months until the next celebration of Lammas (1st of August) when they would be married. This this three month period soon got shortened to six weeks due to the young couples being impatient and so this bought us to the middle to end of June and the time of the Summer Solstice.
According to the Office of National Statistics, in 1947 (the earliest data available) August was the most popular month followed by December and April. In this year, one of the most talked about weddings was in November, a fairly unpopular month at that time. This was the wedding of our Queen and Prince Philip.
During the 1950's and 60's there was a spike in March for weddings and one reason for this is thought to be the end of the tax year in April - a married man would receive the full Married Man's Tax Allowance if he was married before the 5th of April!
Summer weddings became popular in the 1980's and this could be down to another Royal wedding, that of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Summer weddings are still the most popular as we moved into the new Millennium so it looks as though this tradition that dates back to the time of the Celts, is here to stay.
Is, or was, your wedding in the Summer? Let me know below :-)
After twelve and a half hours in the air, three different planes, a speedboat and countless times through security, we finally made it home!
Myself and my family had an amazing time in the Maldives where I enjoyed a spa treatment every day (those poor masseuses tried desperately to rid me of the knots in my shoulders but alas, they refused to budge!), dived in crystal clear waters with fish and reef sharks that I'd only ever seen at the Sealife Centre and didn't have to cook for two weeks!!
But even though we were in paradise, I always get that pull to return home. I can't wait to get back in the workshop, I feel refreshed and raring to go! My nails actually look good but, as any other jeweller will tell you, that is not going to last! I will very soon be back to having ridges filed into them from holding tiny pieces and cuts from those pesky burrs!
I LOVE IT!!
Go into any jeweller’s workshop and you will find a treasure trove of tools! Some easily identifiable, such as a piercing saw and files, others look downright strange! I thought I would introduce you to a few of the tools I use pretty much every day to create the jewellery you see on these pages.
The first one isn’t technically a tool but I couldn’t work without it. I bought my workbench about 3 years ago from a jeweller in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, along with some lovely old second-hand tools…..I love second-hand tools! (More about those in another post)
Workbenches are taller than you might think, when sat down the bench should be at roughly chest height so that you can work without bending over and giving yourself a bad back! The front edge has a semi-circle cut out so you can sit close to the work with a bench “peg”. The peg is a slightly sloped piece of wood that jewellers cut a “V” into as well as other notches as grooves that support the piece while I work on it.
Suspended underneath the cut-out is a bench “skin” that catches all those pesky bits that I drop as well as all the silver and gold dust that is filed from pieces and makes it very sparkly!
So this is where my day, as well as some evenings and occasionally a night, looking out of the window at the garden with a naughty kitten curled up in the bench skin and a couple of big dogs acting as draft excluders by the door…...and I love it.
Over the past few weeks, I've been working on a new collection, comprising of a statement neckline piece (there's always has to be one!), a simpler pendant, earrings and a ring. Inspired once again by the forest, these drops remind me of a simple leaf shape......or maybe raindrops.
All in sterling silver and made by hand, these pieces are very tactile. They are now ready for my amazing photographer Alex (www.alexsharp.co.uk) to work her magic so they can appear on the online shop. In the meantime, you'll just have to make do with my efforts using my phone!
I now have a little production line going, ready for their debut at the Autumn Show in Malvern (23-24 September), hope to see you there.
I've still got to come with a name for this collection, if you have any ideas then don't hesitate to get in touch!
It actually feels like summer at the moment doesn't it?!
To celebrate the Summer Solstice tomorrow, here's 20% off to be used off ANYTHING across the shop ~ just use the code "SummerSolstice" on the 21st of June, between 4.43am and 21.21pm (the official daylight hours)!
In addition, one lucky person can win this fabulous statement necklace from the "Onduler Collection!
So you've found the perfect piece of Scarlett Willow Designs jewellery, it's PERFECT! But the problem is, it's a little out of your budget, you tell yourself you'll get it one day....or put it on your Christmas Wish List....
Now you don't have to! I can now offer you a payment plan so you can pay a little at a time and I will post it to you the very day you pay your last instalment!
If this is something you would like to take advantage of, then drop me a line
You may have spotted over the last few weeks that a new collection has arrived in the shop!
Inspired by a fallen tree I found whilst walking in the forest (again!), this collection certainly makes a statement! The bark had started peeling from the tree and it was really quite stunning ~ it was made up of lots of small layers and, as it had been raining, the bark was wet and all these layers appeared to be different colours.
I took this and created my interpretation, instead of colours I used texture......every layer is hand-cut, textured by hand and soldered together. Each piece will be completely unique (another thing you know I love!), what more could you want!
Fabulous texture on this "Bark" Cuff!
I finally got home from the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate last night at nearly midnight after a very long four days!
The trade show has been going for 43 years now and differs from other trade events as it only showcases work from the UK and Irish makers. They have a strict no mass-manufactured products or products made overseas are allowed.
It gives designer/makers a chance to meet buyers from all over the country and introduce them to our existing and new product ranges and collections which is always very exciting.
Keep a look out in the next few months in your local galleries and independent shops for some fabulous new items from very talented artists and, if you're VERY lucky, SWD jewellery may be heading there too!
Phew! It's been a busy couple of months and I've been very bad at keeping the blog up-to-date so I'm very sorry for that.
The British Craft Trade Fair is only a month away now so I'm frantically getting everything ready. Last year was my first foray into the world of trade fairs so I have a much better idea as to where I can improve...the problem is that I have to many improvements that I want to implement!
I have a new collection debuting at BCTF this year and I'm very excited about it! It is once again inspired by the beautiful forest I walk in every day with my dogs and I never fail to get new ideas. It's forever changing yet always the same, do you know what I mean?
This new collection will be on the website after the trade fair is over although I still need to think of a name for it!
(If you are reading this and you are a gallery or shop owner and would like an invite to the British Craft Trade Fair, please get in touch and I will be delighted to send you one!)
This week I'm working on turning some of my pieces into more complete collections. Pieces like my "Wishing Pebble" pendant....I'm going to to be adding earrings and a ring and possibly a set of cufflinks for the gents!
Wishing pebbles are those lovely one's you find on the beach that have a complete ring of quartz running around it. Me and my girls love hunting for these when on holiday and end up coming back with pocketfuls of them, much to my husband's despair! You can never have too many in my opinion!
So, I have lots of silver and pretty rose gold on my bench ready to be turned into my version of these wonderful finds. I'm looking forward to see how these turn out.
On the bench this week is something a little different for me.
It's a gift for a family member who has a very special birthday this month and thought I would create a keepsake that is crafted from sterling silver but isn't a piece of jewellery.
I've decided to make a small silver marquise-shaped trinket box! Quite different to anything I've ever made before and involves a few new skills for me. It is definitely a challenge but I'm really enjoying it...just hope the lid fits!
Pictures to follow once the box has been gifted :-)
Happy New Year Everyone!!!
I can't believe it's 2017 already, where did 2016 go??!!
I'm so excited for this year, I have so many plans and new designs, I can't wait to get started! Do you have any exciting plans this year?
Whatever you do, I hope it's filled with love and laughter, hopes and dreams.
Wow! These last few weeks have flown by! With Worcester's Victorian Christmas Fayre beginning a week today, and the Christmas Craft Markets at the MAC in Birmingham the following two weekends, to say it's been a little manic in the workshop would be an understatement!
It hasn't helped that it's turned chilly and my little log burner needed some work so it's been like sitting in a fridge! I could actually see my breath on many 4.30am starts! It seems madness to be in the workshop at that time in the morning but my theory is I can sleep once the next couple of weeks are over :-)
The Victorian Christmas Fayre is one I haven't done before, although I have visited many times. It really is a fantastic day out....mince pies, mulled wine and shopping, is there a better combination? Trying to work out how many pieces to take to this four day event has proved to be a little trickier than I thought but I can only hope I've got it right. If you are visiting this fabulous event, do pop by and take a look at some of my new designs and let me know what you think.
And I promise Santa won't mind if you want to treat yourself ;-)
Until midnight on the 31st October, use the code "spooky15" to get 15% off any purchase!