Scarlett Willow Designs

Jewellery is like a biography ~ a story that tells the many chapters of our life

Sapphire ~ September's Birthstone (and mine!)

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What colour do you think of when I say “Sapphire”?  Blue? You wouldn’t be wrong…..but there are so many more!  

Rubies, for example, are a red sapphire.  The mineral Corundum makes a sapphire a sapphire but trace elements of different minerals give them their colour.  Blue is created by by having trace elements of titanium, chromium gives us the pinks and reds (rubies) depending on the amount, iron will produce yellow sapphires…..having more than one trace element will give us beautiful greens and purples too!

My personal favourite is the stunning Padparadscha sapphire, it’s a pale pinkish orange colour and it’s name is derived from the Sanskrit word for lotus flower.  They are also the rarest so can be very expensive.

 Padparadscha Sapphire

Padparadscha Sapphire

Sapphires have traditionally symbolised sincerity, truth, faithfulness and nobility, and was also said to have healing powers.  In Medieval Europe, sapphires were thought to cure plague boils and diseases of the eye!

Deep blue sapphires have long been associated with royalty which is perhaps where the colour “royal blue” comes from.  Kings throughout history believed that the gemstone would protect them from their enemies.

 

Although Sapphires are found in many countries including Australia, USA and Thailand, historically Kashmir, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are important sources of this gemstone.  In 1881, Sapphires were discovered in Kashmir when a landslide in the Himalayas revealed a large pocket of cornflower blue crystals. As these gemstones started appearing further south, the Maharaja of Kashmir took control.  In the next six years, thousands of blue sapphires were found and it’s this that gives Kashmir it’s reputation for beautiful, covetable gemstones.

Jungle covered hills in the Magok region of Myanmar produce a rich, intense blue sapphire that is still known as “Burmese” sapphire.  It’s often found next to Ruby deposits but in lower quantities than it’s red neighbour.

Now, this is the one that most people would be familiar with when talking about Sapphires.  Sri Lanka has been a source of beautiful blue sapphires for more than 2000 years and display amazing saturation and brilliance.  It is also one of the few places where Padparadscha sapphire can be found.

Sapphires are rated 9 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, diamond being the only natural substance that can scratch it.  This makes it perfect for wearing in jewellery as it’s so durable.

So, with all these colours available, which would you choose?

Memorial Jewellery

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While I was in Saltaire at the beginning of May for a show, one of my newer designs prompted a comment from a lady that got me thinking.

This particular piece isn't even in the shop yet (I know, I know, I'll get it done!) but here's a picture that I've just snapped....

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These are my "Vine" lockets, the top slides up the chain allowing you to pop a little note or love letter into it.  So what was the comment that got my thinking, I hear you ask......this lovely lady asked me if it was possible to place a loved ones ashes into it and have it soldered shut and I replied "Of course!"

Memorial jewellery isn't a new thing.  The Victorians would wear lockets containing photos and locks of hair.   More recently, memorial jewellery has moved on again to feature cremation ashes, whether of our human loved ones or our furry family members, sometimes in lockets and sometimes set in resin. I've set some of the ashes of my own Burmese cat into resin and turned them into a wearable piece of jewellery.

So, I'm thinking of offering this service, placing ashes into "Vine" lockets or creating pieces in my own style that would incorporate your loved ones ashes.   What are your thoughts on this?  Is this something you would like?

The Forest....

Not my usual blog!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment
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Today’s blog is a little different from my usual topics, but I wanted to write about this as I find it fascinating.  From my work, you will already know how much I love the forest ~ it inspires almost all of my pieces. My social media accounts are overflowing with images of the forest at different times of the year, from the first new leaves of Spring, to the dappled sunlight pouring through the trees on an early Summer’s morning, to the stunning colours of Autumn, to the stark contrast in Winter.  And I’ve also found walking to be a great way to clear the mind, just putting one foot in front of the other can become quite meditative. I’ve done this since I was a teenager, it helped with exam stress although then I didn’t know why. I would just announce after a few hours of studying that I was “going for a walk”. I thought I just needed to get away from the books, get some fresh air and maybe that was part of it.  I never had a route planned in my head, I just walked til I felt it was time to go home. I’m lucky that I live in an area of the country that is filled with green open spaces, lots of trees and fields.

How many of you feel refreshed...energised...clear-headed….relaxed….happier….after going for a walk? I don’t mean marching the kids to school or racing to work! I’m talking about those times when you’re away from those pressures, whether on holiday, or after that huge Sunday lunch….

It turns out that in Japan they have a name for this ~ Shrinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”.  The phrase was coined in the 1980’s after researchers in Japan and South Korea conducted studies on the benefits of spending time amongst the trees.  Every study so far has shown a reduction in stress levels, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. Blood pressure drops and concentration and mental clarity improve from just 15 minutes.  This has now become a cornerstone of preventative medicine and healing in Japanese medicine, with 44 accredited Shrinrin-yoku forests in Japan.

Some of the these studies show a boosted immune system, improved mood and a quicker recovery from illness.  My mental health has definitely improved over the last few years since having the dogs….I walk every day in the forest and on those days when my husband decides it’s his turn, there is a difference in how I feel.

I love being in the forest, I find it relaxing and energising all at the same time….and inspires me to do the work I love!

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. John MuirRead more at_ https_%2F%2Fwww.brainyquote.com%2Fauthors%2Fjohn_muir.jpg

Hallmarking Explained!

Hallmarking ExplainedScarlett Willow DesignsComment

What is hallmarking?

A hallmark is a minimum of three marks that are struck into a piece made of precious metal, whether that be silver, gold, platinum and palladium.  These marks tell us who made the piece (the “Makers” mark), the purity of the precious metal and the place where it was tested (the Assay Office)

 

Where does hallmarking take place?

Hallmarking takes place in an Assay Office, of which there are four in the UK, each has their own mark that is stamped onto the piece ~ London (leopard’s head), Birmingham (an anchor), Sheffield (a rose) and Edinburgh (a castle)

 

When did this start?

This has been going on for over 700 years!! Back in 1300, a Statute of Edward I instituted the testing (assaying) and testing of precious metals.  

 

Why is hallmarking important?

In the natural state, precious metals are too soft to be used in the creation of jewellery and silverware so have to be “mixed” with other metals to form an alloy, giving them the strength they need.  Because silver, gold, platinum and palladium are so expensive, larger profits could be made by reducing the amount of precious metal in the alloy or plating base metal with a thin coat of precious metal.  You can’t tell by touch or feel what the content of precious metal is, even an expert wouldn’t be able to.  Hallmarking guarantees that the piece conforms to the legal standard of purity

 

Do other countries use hallmarks?

In 1972, the UK has been a signatory to the International Convention of Hallmarks.  This means that the Assay offices here in the UK can apply the Common Control Mark that is recognised by the other members of the Convention and vice versa.  Some of the other member countries are Austria, Finland, The Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway.

Other countries may have their own version of hallmarking and some rely on the maker to apply the correct purity stamp.  This may mean that the alloy may not conform to the UK purity standards.

 

So this is a little bit about hallmarking, why it’s important and why you should always check that your precious metal pieces are hallmarked.

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