Browsing Tag

Jewelry

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Sandra Bonazoli and Jim Dowd

June 15, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the person behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Sandra Bonazoli and Jim Dowd, designers of the Make a Wish Measuring Spoon Set.

Sandra Bonazoli | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

Even when I was very young, I had a love of drawing and making small things. I didn’t know it then, but I also loved beautiful old objects – I used to walk around my town and admire the architectural details on old homes. But I never really thought about being an artist or a craftsperson until I started to teach jewelry after college, and saw other people making a living with their artwork. Granted, their living may have been patched together, but they made a life for themselves being creative and doing what they loved. That had never occurred to me before that point, but that’s when I knew I wanted to be an artist/craftsperson.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

To be honest, I wouldn’t really consider myself an artist. I don’t make work for exhibitions, galleries, or museums, or any other context other than people’s homes. It’s just not my intention. My intention (and my husband’s – we work together) is to make meaningful objects with an emphasis on function, that are professionally crafted, and as affordable as possible. Those things are usually not the criteria of an artist. I would say I’m very happy to be a designer and a craftsperson, particularly a metal-smith. The most exciting thing about what I do is seeing the physical manifestation of an idea. Every time something new comes out of the mold for the first time, I remember why I love doing this.

26723_zoom1

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Being self-employed means wearing many hats, so a typical day involves answering email, dealing with inventory, quality control, working on new designs, making inventory, and being frustrated with computers. If there is ever a dull moment, it doesn’t last long!

What are your most essential tools?

Unfortunately, the computer. Also my jeweler’s saw with 4/0 blades (they’re pretty teeny), No.4 cut half round and barrette shaped files, rubber cement, and medium silver solder.

Sandra Bonazoli and Jim Dowd | UncommonGoods

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

We make a silver pendant in the shape of an anchor. I wear mine almost every day. We made this pendant after spending a couple of weeks in the South of France, where anchor motifs are everywhere – for example, the brackets for hanging streetlights are in the shape of an anchor. They are a part of the architecture and landscape. We live in Rhode Island, and there are a lot of anchor motifs around here too. It connects me to where I live, as well as special places I’ve been. But most of all, I love the symbolism. Anchors have traditionally been a symbol of hope. I love the idea that raising anchor literally means that one of is off to a new port, a new journey, and a new adventure and symbolizes all the hope one has when going somewhere new.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?

We do make some kids products, so I happen to know they like things that they feel are made especially for them. Like spoons made for little hands. Otherwise, I still think they might say our other products are special too.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

Again, being self-employed means having to do a lot of things you don’t want to do, in order to keep doing what you love to do. Therefore it’s good to keep in mind: If you can’t get out of it – Get into it! Helps every time.

 

blogcta-seethecollection4

Maker Stories

Lisa Wilson’s Winning Butterfly Cloud Necklace Lands in our Line-up

April 30, 2015

Lisa Wilson | UncommonGoods

I’ve always loved butterflies, so when I saw Lisa Wilson’s entry in our Jewelry Design Challenge, I’ll admit my heart was just a bit aflutter. Her Butterfly Cloud Necklace depicts a fleet of lovely Lepidoptera positioned in such a way that they almost seem to be moving their delicate wings. 

While none of the butterflies in Lisa’s piece actually flew away, the design did manage to fly through the voting process, flit about our judging round while our team admired its quality and craftsmanship, and then landed in our assortment. In fact, our buyers loved the design so much that we also decided to carry matching Butterfly Cloud Earrings.

Butterfly Cloud Necklace | UncommonGoods

I’m not sure when or where my personal fascination with butterflies started, but luckily, Lisa has a better memory than I do. She knows exactly why she chose the colorful winged creatures as the subject for her winning design. As Lisa watched the butterflies that fluttered by her Colorado garden studio, she thought of “a wanderer’s heart” and the idea of fluttering around the country until finding a place to call home. 

Read on to learn more about Lisa’s love for Colorado, her inspiration for new designs, and her advice for aspiring artists. 

 

Lisa at work | UncommonGoods

How did you celebrate when you found out that you won our design challenge?
I love getting good news first thing to start off the week, and hearing I won the design challenge definitely made my list of favorite Monday mornings ever! I literally did a little happy dance right then and there while I was on the phone with UG. Of course, my husband was just as thrilled as I was and later we went out for a lovely dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist?
On some level I think I always knew. Not that I’ve always wanted to be an artist professionally, but I think we all start off with at least some sense of adventurous creativity. For me, a love of tinkering, making, and just putting different things together for the sake of seeing what happens has always been a fundamental truth of the way I understand and interact with the world.

Empty Vessel by Lisa Wilson
You mentioned that this necklace reflects on your time “fluttering” around the country before landing in Colorado. How did you know you’d found your home?
I knew I’d found home because I couldn’t stay away. After finishing my MFA, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in an Artist-in-Residence program at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and teach metalsmithing and jewelry design classes at various colleges and universities around the country. Necessarily, this meant a lot of far and frequent moving around. At the time it was all one big adventure and moving on from one part to the next was always a happy experience with exciting new things ahead and good memories in the wake. When it came time to move on from Colorado though, the thrill of heading out into the world again seemed to pale in comparison to the life I had happened into. I had just spent a lovely summer enjoying the beautiful mountain landscape with my (now) husband Michael, dancing my feet off nearly every night, and working away in my studio each day. I did actually end up moving away to Indiana for a semester of teaching, and for the first time, knew what it felt like to feel homesick. So, at the end of the appointment, I packed my bags, headed home, and haven’t looked back since.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
This is a question that has always been a bit tricky for me, because really anything is fair game! Ideas for my designs come from the many people and things in my surroundings that inspire me to celebrate life. Inspiration can come from an object, a sound, or a material process. It can come from something simple and pretty to see, something complex, bittersweet or even painful. Spring is budding here in Colorado right now, so new designs are taking shape in the simple and universal delight of the landscape coming to life.

Garden - Grape Hyacinths 05
What’s your creative process? In other words, what happens from right before you’re inspired to make something new to when you have a finished product in front of you?
Usually at the beginning, one of two things happens. Either something I see/hear/etc. strikes me, and I immediately want to start designing, or I start to feel antsy; I want to be designing and making–but I need a starting point, so I start looking for one. Usually, once that ‘restless’ feeling sinks in, it isn’t too long before something is in the works.

The two most important parts of my process are by far daydreaming and playing. I will spend hours just thinking in my head about what I might make before I even start sketching. Sometimes I’ll spend so much time just conceptualizing that by the time I get to the making part, the rest of the process flows from sketch to fabrication to finished piece in just a few hours. I also like to play though, by which I mean I like to just get my hands on some materials and see where the day takes me. This more ‘hands on’ version of my process often yields several prototypes, what I describe as ‘3d’ sketches, or even a whole mini-series of separate designs over the course of weeks.

 

Silhouette Workshop
Describe your work space. Is there anything there that’s particularly inspiring to you?
One thing is certain, and that is that there is no such thing as too much work surface! Like so many other artists and craftspeople, I tend to ‘grow to the size of my container,’ so somewhere along the line, I decided not to have one. I keep a sort of core studio space, that may not be pretty, but houses larger tools, materials storage, and more permanent fixtures, but I also will set up to work wherever the mood strikes. When the weather is nice (it is gorgeous in Colorado throughout the spring, summer, and fall!) I will pick up whatever I need to work with and set myself up outside in the garden, or for lighter work throw open all the doors and windows in the house and work right in the living room.

Studio Assistant Hazel
What’s your best advice for aspiring artists and designers?
In a sentence…Be generous with yourself. If you are passionate about what you do, afford yourself the time to do it. Make it a priority right alongside everything else that it takes to pay the bills, maintain relationships, and whatever else is a basic necessity in your life. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and enter that competition, apply for that job, and attend that professional conference, because you are your own best champion and to get that first ‘yes’ is worth however many ‘no’s it takes to find it.

See Lisa's Collection | UncommonGoods

Gift Guides

Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

April 26, 2015

Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother's Day Gifts | UncommonGoods

There’s one day a year that’s dedicated to all moms; this year, May 10 is that day. Mother’s Day may be a nation-wide holiday to honor the women who raised us, but that certainly doesn’t mean that there’s one gift that’s perfect for every mom. (OK, so maybe most moms are into the whole traditional Mother’s Day brunch thing, but who doesn’t love celebratory food? Treating her to pancakes is just a start.)

We rounded up all kinds of creative gift ideas to help you give mom a gift as unique as she is this year.

2015 Mother's Day Gift Ideas | UncommonGoods

Give Mom a Moment

Remember when you were a kid and you watched your mom balance what seemed like a million tasks at once? Whether she was picking you up from soccer practice on her way home from a long day at work or changing your little brother’s diapers while hoping the pot on the stove didn’t boil over in the 30 seconds she wasn’t looking, it’s likely that mom had very few moments to herself. Now that you’re all grown up, it’s not guaranteed that her life has slowed down any, but at least you can give her a gift that encourages her to remember to take a moment for herself every now and then.

 

Spa Experience Tin | Uncommongoods

 

Mom deserves to be pampered, and the Spa Experience Tin has just what it takes. Complete with Lavender Goat’s Milk Bath Tea, Bath Truffle, Wedding Cake Whispered Shea Crème, and Hint of Mint Lip Balm, this pretty package will transform her next soak into a relaxing retreat.

Meditation Box | UncommonGoods

There was a time when mom probably told you not to track sand into the house. While your dirty shoes used to stress mom out, this sand will do just the opposite. | Meditation Box

Tea Bag Pocket Mug | UncommonGoods

A hot cup of tea can be a nice start to a laid back afternoon or the perfect ending to a busy day. Either way, it’s even better when it’s drip-covered saucer free. | Tea Bag Pocket Mug

Green Tea Kit | UncommonGoods

Take tea time tranquility even further with the Green Herbal Tea Kit.  (Nine herbs and three types of tea further, to be more specific.)

New Mom

Whether you’re shopping for a brand new mother, or a mother who is just getting to know her second or third newborn, these mementos will help her celebrate the journey ahead!

Birthstone Wishing Balls | UncommonGoods

 

Mom can’t control everything that happens in her baby’s future, but she will always be wishing for the absolute best. Each shimmering ball of hand-blown glass comes with 52 tiny slips of paper for her to pause once a week throughout the year and record a message of hope or gratitude. | Birthstone Wishing Balls

 

Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace | UncommonGoods

We all know that newborns are excited to touch everything, both with their mouths and hands! So why not get jewelry that mom and baby can cherish? The cold sterling silver ring soothes baby’s teething gums, while a gentle rattling sound keeps babies entertained. | Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace 

Birthstone Definition Necklace | UncommonGoods

Did you know that the gemstones we associate with our birthmonths were also believed by the mystics to carry special meanings and even supernatural powers? Any new Mom needs all the super powers she can get! (Find out what her little one’s birthstone means here.) | Birthstone Definition Necklace 

I Heart You, Mom

There are so many ways to say I love you, but how many ways can you show her? 

A Mother's Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set | UncommonGoods

Because a mother’s love is like a spoonful of sugar, the best kind of medicine! | A Mother’s Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set 

What I Love About Mom By Me Book | UncommonGoods

It might be impossible to count all the ways, but this book will give you a great start. (Don’t forget to share the love with Grandma!) | What I Love About Mom By Me Book

Heart Book Box | UncommonGoods

This surprise will be sure to make this a Mother’s Day for the books! | Heart Book Box

 

What The Future Holds Love Locket | UncommonGoods

Whatever the future holds, this pendant will always keep your love close to her heart. | What The Future Holds Love Locket

The Art of Motherhood

We probably don’t have to tell you that parenting is a pretty tough job. It’s certainly not an exact science, but it might be a bit of an art form. Show your mama that you admire her colorful personality, creative problem solving, and technical expertise with a bit of art appreciation.

Bouquet by Wendy Gold | UncommonGoods

Flowers on Mother’s Day will make mom smile. Wendy Gold’s Bouquet will ensure that that smile is from ear to ear.

The Last Slice | UncommonGoodsIt may be true that no one knows how to bake a pie quite like mom, but artist Kendyll Hillegas is a pro when it comes to painting them. (Learn more about the artist here.) | The Last Slice

You Are Beautiful | UncommonGoods

Your mom is beautiful. Don’t let her forget it! | You Are Beautiful by Matthew Hoffman

Earth Mother

For the mothers who nurture Mother Earth, these picks will be sure to make their hearts bloom even brighter.

Birds and Bloom State Pillow | UncommonGoods

Just because you’ve left the nest doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the flora and fauna of mom’s home. | Birds and Blooms Pillows – Individual States

Pocket Wall Vases | UncommonGoods

It turns out that there are many beautiful perks to being a wallflower. | Pocket Wall Vases

Dandelion Paperweight | UncommonGoods

That moment when you make a wish and blow a dried dandelion into a thousand little pieces | Dandelion Paperweight

Pottery Birdhouse | UncommonGoods

Remember when mom used to read you stories about princesses who would get dressed in the morning with the help of beautiful hummingbirds? Well, you might not be able to bring her fairy tales to life, but you can give her favorite birds somewhere to sing. | Pottery Birdhouse

Strawberry Windowsill Growbox | UncommonGoods

A stretch of window sill, abundant sun, and a little patience are all mom needs to celebrate the fruit of her labors. | Strawberry Windowsill Growbox

Do It Herselfer 

For the Pinterest-loving, get-her-hands-dirty, jump-right-in kinda mom who is always up for a DIY challenge.

Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set | UncommonGoods

Because no matter what, mom is always putting her best foot forward. | Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set

26636_main

 

With only a few DIY components, Mom can create an efficient device to monitor when the family’s toilet paper inventory is running low, amongst other applications. Need we say more? | Modular Smart Home Kit 

26274_BirdieYarnBowlKnittingKit

Keep calm and knit on! | Birdie Yarn Bowl Knitting Kit

Nerdy Mom

Maybe she loves sci-fi or is always the first in line for the latest gadget. Maybe she’s ever on the lookout for another piece of great literature to add to her home library or the newest research on her favorite area of study. Whatever her preferred form of geekdom, she’ll be happy to see that she raised you to show nerd pride AND great taste.

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods

 

Mom’s more of a literati than a fashionista (and proud of it!). Let her show off her classic style with a Literary Scarf printed with pages from one of her favorite classic books.

Smartphone Vase | UncommonGoodsIt’s easy to add a little nature to her tech-filled world, even if your thoroughly modern mommy likes to keep her smartphone nearby on her nightstand or end table. | Bedside Smartphone Vase

Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art | UncommonGoods

 

Mom is the brightest star on Mother’s Day, but she’s OK with sharing the sky with the constellations. | Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art

 

Silver Solar System Necklace | UncommonGoods

If your science-loving mom is the first to jump in on any discussion about Pluto’s declassification, she’ll love this Sterling Silver Solar System Necklace. The “ninth planet” is present in this pretty line-up of celestial charms, making it an uncommon way to spark conversations about Pluto’s fate.

Mom Who Has It All

Whether mom is the most stylish person you know, or the most beloved hostess there is, these conversation starters won’t fail to impress!

Porcelain Bird Bud Vases | UncommonGoods

Whether or not she has it all, the last thing any mom wants to have is a water leak to clean up. This beautifully designed vase always ensures a beautiful, leak-free presentation! | Porcelain Bird Bud Vase 

26618_ManhattanBrdgeScarf

Bridging the worlds of fashion accessory and art canvas, this is the piece mom didn’t even know she was missing. | Manhattan Bridge Scarf

Recycled Glass Elephant Night Light | UncommonGoods

Because she’ll always protect you and your herd, no matter what. | Recycled Glass Elephants Night Light 

Bread and Butterfly Serving Board | UncommonGoods

A party accessory that will be sure to make her heart flutter. | Bread & Butter(fly) Serving Board

Because You Treasure Her

Giving mom a bracelet or necklace might seem a little old school at first, but these new pieces put a unique twist on traditional Mother’s jewelry.

Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet | UncommonGoods

The phrase “I’m turning into my mother” gets a bad wrap, but it can be a good thing. Show her that you’re glad to be two of a kind with a Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet featuring two beautiful pieces of found sea glass.

 

 Silver Dreamcatcher Pendant | UncommonGoods

Thank mom for encouraging you to always follow your dreams with a piece to help her catch hers. | Silver Dream Catcher Pendant 

Mother BirdFamily Necklace | UncommonGoodsYour mama bird took care of  you for a long time before you left the nest. Now you’ve spread your wings, but you’ll never fly too far away. | Mother Bird Family Necklace

My Lucky Stars Necklace | UncommonGoods

You thank your lucky stars to have such a fantastic mother. We bet she feels the same way about you. | My Lucky Stars Necklace 

 

See More Gifts Mom Will Love!

 

Maker Stories

High Society: Elegant Roach Clip Jewelry Designs

April 17, 2015

More than any other word, “roaring” is used to describe the 1920s. But despite the word being synonymous with “boisterous” and “rowdy,” mention of the decade usually conjures images of sophisticated parties, Art Deco, and beautiful women in stylish clothing dancing the Charleston. Sure, the parties may have been fueled by bootlegged booze and a crazy new style of music, but tales of the Jazz Age often leave today’s daydreamers feeling nostalgia for the class and culture of a decade gone by.

Erin Rose Gardner in her studio light | UncommonGoods

Intrigued by the melding of sophistication and excess that made the ‘20s such an interesting time, Erin Rose Gardner created a line of Art Deco jewelry “inspired by the significant changes in lifestyle & culture” of the period. This is a good place to mention that each piece in this collection of elegant designs also serves as a fully functional roach clip.


Mary Jane's Necklace by Erin Rose Gardner | UncommonGoods

One of these significant changes was the ratification of the 18th Amendment, which ushered in prohibition. During the 1920s it was illegal to manufacture, sell, or transport alcohol. Of course, prohibition eventually came to an end when the 21st amendment repealed its predecessor, and now adults across the nation are free to drink gin that didn’t get its kick in a bathtub.

Today the temperance movement against alcoholic beverage seems like the distant past, considering the prevalence of bars and nightclubs across the country, pop culture references to imbibing, and even some evidence that drinking in moderation can actually be good for you.

Erin’s work speaks to a sort of modern prohibition that’s happening now, the war on pot. “The modern prohibition movement is part of the current conversation,” said Erin. “It seems like we may be at the beginning of the end with individual states voting for legalization. I find it interesting to think about how political policies shift social norms.”

Erin working in her studio.
Studying metalsmithing and jewelry at the University of Oregon gave Erin training not only in the technical aspect of her craft, but also foundations in conceptualization and research. “With my work, I am constantly looking for connections and meaning,” she explained. “As a producer of maker-made objects, I want to create things that people find beautiful and well-crafted, but also interesting.”

The layered story of Erin’s Mary Jane’s Necklace and Earrings may seem to start with the style of the ‘20s and a commentary on modern prohibition, but the “connections and meaning” she spoke of go even deeper. In fact, according to Erin, the designs were born from a personal narrative:

It started over ten years ago, I stole my mother’s roach clip. She had not used it in years, but kept it poked into a houseplant as it held sentimental value. As a child I thought this thing was a toy or special pair of medical tweezers. Although I wasn’t sure what it was, I did know this metal thing was special because it was a gift from her sister when they were teenagers. When my parents separated, my mom forgot her roach clip in the plant, so I took it. I lost it within four hours and never told her. (She now knows because my baby sister is a tattletale!)

An online image search lead to a vintage clip that looked like Erin’s mother’s made by a company called Squirkenworks run by furniture artist Garry Knox Bennett. Erin became interested in how the artist questioned the “preciousness” of craft and explored non-traditional materials. Squirkenworks sold electroplated roach clips across the country and still operates today as Gold Seal Plating. “The passive income provided by this business has allowed Bennett the freedom make furniture that pushes boundaries and is not constrained by market expectations,” Erin explained.

Each of Erin’s own clips is completely handmade and features a unique sliding mechanism inspired by the one Garry Knox Bennett invented in the 1960s. (She actually had the opportunity to meet Bennett, discuss her project, and take a look at this collection of clips and other works when she visited him in Oakland, CA last summer.)

Erin's Anvil

Using a hammer and anvil, Erin shapes simple brass rods into elegant contours. “I strive for perfect symmetry and function as I make each individual pendant or earring,” she said. “Each piece features a unique sliding mechanism. Simply pull the slide back and the clip springs open. Then to clip, move the slider forward and the device is tightly secured. The tips are serrated which gives optimal grip.” The brass is transformed again during the final step in the artist’s process, when she polishes each piece and electroplates it with 24k gold.

Erin's Materials
Erin commented that, like “every metalsmith,” she fell in love with the material. It’s easy to see this love, and her dedication to the process, when you look at the detail in each handcrafted piece. The collection appeals not only to those with 1920s fashion sense or fond memories of the roach clips that became popular in the ‘60s. The designs are fully functional for the enjoyment of those in legal territory, statement pieces for marijuana legalization supporters, and—as Erin put it herself—“well crafted, but also interesting” adornments for those looking for high quality, uncommon jewelry.



Erin Rose Gardner | UncommonGoods

The Uncommon Life

12 Months of Meaning: The History and Symbolism of Birthstones

March 27, 2015

When you ask someone what their birthstone is, they almost always know the answer. Today you see birthstones on necklaces and jewelry, on display, and as reminders to celebrate your birth month all year long. Birthstones are a part of modern society, but each gem has had special significance since ancient times.

Raw Quartz Birthstone Necklaces | Emilie Shapiro | UncommonGoods

The history of this practice dates back to ancient Israel and the Breastplate of Aaron that is described in the book of Exodus. The breastplate was decorated with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel. Eventually, Christian scholars in the 5th century made the connection between the twelve gems, twelve months of the year, and twelve signs of the Zodiac. They theorized that each gem was connected to a certain month or astrological alignment and that they would receive therapeutic benefits for wearing one during that time.

In order to receive the full benefit, people took to wearing one stone for each month of the year and attributed a different meaning and value to them. Eventually this practice was modified so that a person would only wear the stone for the month they were born in (hence the term birthstone). There was a great amount of disagreement over which stone should represent a calendar month until 1912 when Sears published an “official” list of all the birthstones and the months they represented. Since then there have been a few modifications here and there but the list remains largely unchanged. We wanted to learn the history and significance behind why these stones were chosen in the first place and are still worn today.

garnet

Month: January
Stone: Garnet
Meaning: Protection
Color: Dark Red

Red garnets were the most popular gemstone in the later years of the Roman Empire. The word ‘garnet’ comes from the Latin word for seedlike, ‘granatus’. This was a reference to their similar appearance to pomegranate seeds. Another characteristic of garnets is their high refractive index which gives onlookers the impression that the gem is emitting light.

This phenomenon led explorers and travelers to carry garnets with them on their journeys to ward off evil and light up the night. This practice persisted through the Crusades. Interestingly, garnets’ association with protection was made in other ancient cultures as diverse as the Aztecs in Central America and some Eastern Asiatic tribes whose warriors would carry them into battle. Some of these tribes would even attempt to turn the tables on their enemies who were using garnets for protection by fashioning arrowheads (and eventually bullets during the late 1800s) out of garnets. While we don’t recommend that use for garnets, we do think the gift of a garnet is a great way to let a loved one know you want them to be safe on all of their future journeys.

amethyst

Month: February
Stone: Amethyst
Meaning: Wisdom
Color: Violet

Amethysts are a member of the Quartz family of gems and are highly valued for their deep violet color and twinned crystal structure. Amethysts have been engraved and set into jewelry since ancient Egypt and continue to be very popular today. The word ‘amethyst’ comes from the Greek word ‘amethystos’ which translates to ‘not drunken’.

According to a Greek legend, Dionysus (the god of wine and drunken revelry) had become enraged with all mortals after one insulted him by refusing Dionysus’ hospitality. He vowed to punish the next mortal he came across. The mortal happened to be a young woman named Amethystos who was on her way to pray to the goddess Artemis. When Amethystos realized she was in trouble, she cried out to Artemis who transformed her into a pure white statue and saved her life (though I would argue that Artemis didn’t dramatically improve Amethystos’ situation). Dionysus was moved by the statue’s innocence and in an act of contrition emptied his wine cup on top of it, dying it a deep purple.

This rare moment of sobriety for Dionysus forged an association with avoiding intoxication. To take advantage of the stone’s power, the Greeks would carry them on their person as well as cover their drinking vessels in amethysts. While we can’t promise that giving your friends an amethyst will result in a mythological alcohol tolerance, we do hope that it will inspire the wisdom not to overindulge.

aquamarine

Month: March
Stone: Aquamarine
Color: Blue or Cyan
Meaning: Serenity

Aquamarine is the blue member of the visually diverse Beryl family. Pure Beryl is usually clear and all of the colors associated with it are caused by impurities. The blue color in aquamarines is a result of iron being present in the deposits where it formed. Aquamarines are primarily found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and South-East Asia. While less famous than other gems, they are highly sought after for their beautiful color and flawless crystal structure. Stones with deeper blue hues are considered more valuable because they occur less frequently in nature. This has led to enterprising jewelers using heat treatments to darken the color of their aquamarines.

Regardless of the shade of blue, these gems have evoked images of sea water and endless skies for generations. Many sailors would bring aquamarines on their voyages for a variety of calming purposes like getting a good night sleep by keeping it under their pillow at night or warding off poisons and bad food by keeping one in their pocket while eating. Aquamarines are also said to inspire harmony in your marriage. These benefits combine to make an aquamarine a great gift for new brides, moms, and especially your “eccentric” friend who is planning to sail around the world.

Clear

Month: April
Stone: Pure Quartz
Meaning: Strength
Color: Clear

Quartz is the second most common family of gemstones on the planet and are found in a variety of colors due impurities (similar to the Beryl family). Quartz’s natural color is clear. Quartz is found all over the world in every kind of rock formation. Frequently they can be found inside of geodes, hollow masses of mineral formed by quartz filling in gas bubbles in cooling volcanic rock or the dissolution of sedimentary rock that is replaced with quartz particles. Frequently quartz gems have a twin crystal sharing a point of contact on their symmetrical crystal lattice, this phenomenon is known as twinning.

Quartz’s association with strength comes from its resistance to damage and scratches. Quartz is one of the hardest minerals on the Mohs scale which is used to rate how resistant minerals are to scratching. The connection was strengthened by their appearance in geodes, something beautiful hiding inside something ordinary looking. Quartz crystals or a geode that’s been broken open make an excellent gift for a loved one who needs to be reminded that they are strong even if they don’t look like it on the outside.

emerald

Month: May
Stone: Emerald
Meaning: Hope
Color: Dark Green

Emeralds are unique among gemstones because their surfaces are very resistant to scratches but the crystal lattice that makes up the gem is susceptible to fracturing from impacts. For this reason, an emerald with no cracks visible to the naked eye is classified as flawless even if there are flaws that can be identified using magnification.

Emeralds are named after the Vulgar Latin words ‘esmaralda’ and ‘esmaraldus’ which translate roughly to a green gem. While that might be a little on the nose for some people, we think emerald is a great name for this gem because of its beautiful green color that inspires thoughts of springtime and renewal. This association makes emeralds a great gift for someone who needs a reminder that winter doesn’t last forever (even in the North-East!) or is starting a new chapter in their life.

alexandrite

Month: June
Stone: Alexandrite
Meaning: Love
Color: Variable

Alexandrite is a transparent yellow-green under ordinary conditions. However, under polarized light (like from the Sun), specimens explode into a variety of colors ranging from red to dark purple, or orange depending on the direction of the light as well as your viewing angle. This phenomenon is called pleochroism and is very useful for mineral identification.

There are a lot of gems in the world that are transparent yellow-green, but very few exhibit this range of color when exposed to light. We think this is a really beautiful analog for love because it doesn’t come in only one color or form and when you have the real thing, you can always tell. The gift of an alexandrite stone is a wonderful way to express your love with all of your loved ones because just like there is more than just yellow-green alexandrite, there is more to love than just romantic love.

ruby

Month: July
Stone: Ruby
Meaning: Vitality
Color: Red

Rubies are a special form of the mineral corundum that would be considered a sapphire if it weren’t for their characteristic dark red color. This red color comes from the chromium present in the ruby. Rubies with an insufficient amount of chromium are labelled ‘pink sapphires’ and aren’t allowed to play in any of the gemstone games when they’re growing up in volcanic rock formations.

There is something special about rubies that have made them absolutely fascinating to humans for millennia. No small part of the ruby’s appeal is the red luminescence that results from absorbing natural light and re-emitting it later. The most valuable rubies in the world are called pigeon-blood, after the dark-red with blue undertones that makes them look eerily like blood. This similarity to the color of blood has caused an association with vitality and physical strength. Since we toast each other’s health, it made sense to set rubies into drinking vessels since ancient times. Today, a ruby makes a great gift for someone who could use a reminder that they are full of energy and life and have a lot to offer the world around them.

peridot

Month: August
Stone: Peridot
Meaning: Beauty
Color: Olive Green

Peridot is the term used to differentiate gem-quality olivine from lesser specimens. Peridot is always a yellow green and the darker a specimen, the more valuable it is. The darkness of the stone is dictated by the amount of iron present. Ancient records indicate that the Egyptians mined peridot on an island in the Red Sea, but the location was lost until it was relocated in 1900. Since then, new deposits of ultra-high quality stones that are larger, more opaque, and darker colored than previously discovered deposits.

One of the distinctive characteristics of peridot (and a chief distinction from other similarly colored gems, such as emeralds) is that their color is the same in both natural and artificial light. This ability to give off the same green glow at night led to their association with great beauty, especially in Egyptian culture. Unlike the beauty of those wearing these stones, peridot is susceptible to breaking easily and require a lot of preventive care to continue looking its best. Today, the gift of a peridot can tell the recipient that they light up a room regardless of the circumstances they are in.

lapis lazuli

Month: September
Stone: Lapis Lazuli
Meaning: Truth
Color: Deep Blue

There is evidence that lapis lazuli has been mined since 4,000 BC in Afghanistan and had been a hot trade commodity with other developing civilizations like the Egyptians. Lapis is a soft gemstone which made it easier to work with by hand. Unlike many gems, the color blue that is characteristic of lapis lazuli is pretty uniform across most specimens. The chief difference in appearance is the concentration and arrangement of pyrite crystals that dot the exterior of lapis specimens.

After Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and parts of Persia, he began importing lapis along with many other gems to his home in Macedonia and eventually the rest of Europe. In Europe, lapis was ground up and used as a paint pigment called ultramarine. Ultramarine was unique among the other blue pigments available because it did not lose its color when exposed to direct sunlight. This made it very expensive. This true blue stone has since become associated with encouraging honesty in your relationships and making better decisions, making lapis lazuli the perfect gift for Frank Underwood or the other politicians in your life.

tourmaline

Month: October
Stone: Rubellite or Red Tourmaline
Meaning: Healing
Color: Pinkish Red

Tourmaline is the technicolored dream coat of gems, there isn’t another stone with a greater range of colors found in nature. Because no two tourmalines look alike, they were mistaken for other gems until the 1800s when they were reclassified as a distinct mineral species. Before that tourmalines had been confused for sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and other gems. In fact, the rubies in both the Russian and British crown jewels are now believed to be red tourmalines also known as rubellite.

Rubellite and tourmaline come from the Latin word for ‘reddish’ and Sinhalese word (the native language of Sri Lanka) for ‘mixed gems’. It is very rare for a tourmaline to be only one color, it is more common for a specimen to have a red interior and green exterior (known as a watermelon tourmaline) than for it to be only one color throughout. Therefore, monochromatic tourmalines such as rubellites are very valuable. With a ring shaped crystal lattice and a color that is associated with vitality, rubellites developed a reputation for spiritual healing after coming into fashion as a unique gemstone. That healing energy may explain the longevity of the current Queen of England’s reign, if the rumors are true.

citrine

Month: November
Stone: Citrine
Meaning: Joy
Color: Dark Yellow

Citrine is one of the rarest varieties of quartz found in nature. Natural citrine has only been found in Spain, France, Hungary, and Arran (a small island off of Scotland). Despite this it has become the second most popular variety of quartz in jewelry (after amethysts). Jewelers had even been heat treating some lower quality amethysts and smoky quartz gems to change the color to a shade of yellow or reddish yellow to more closely resemble citrines to keep up with a growing demand.

This popularity was due to the lack of affordable gold gems on the market. Gold gems are attractive because they channel the power of the sun and all of the positivity associated with it. Citrines are believed to improve your mood and appreciate your surroundings, which is quite appropriate for the month that includes Thanksgiving. Giving a citrine as a gift is a great way to tell someone that they radiate joy and make you experience their joy.

turquoise

Month: December
Stone: Turquoise
Meaning: Friendship
Color: …Turquoise

These opaque blue-green gems have been highly valued for thousands of years by many cultures that each had their own names for them. Turquoise comes from an Old French word for Turkish because it was introduced to the French via Venetian traders who had purchased the stones in modern day Iran (then a part of Turkey). Turquoise was widely traded because deposits are so rare. The only major turquoise deposits currently known are found in Iran, Egypt, the Southwestern United States, and China. Turquoise also has the unique distinction of having a color named after it and not vice-versa.

In Turkish tradition, the gift of a turquoise was supposed to give you the ability to make friends very, very easily. The only catch was that in order to acquire this super power, you needed to already have a friend who would give you a turquoise. This sounds a bit like a catch-22, if you ask me. Turquoise’s association with friendship is appropriate because it requires copper and aluminum compounds to work together and form a new mineral, just like a friendship.

Birthstone Definition Necklaces | UncommonGoods

Now that you know a bit more about your birthstone and the benefits you can derive from them, you are ready to make an informed evaluation of whether or not you were born in the correct month. Any issues should be taken up with your mother; maybe you could preface the conversation with the gift of her birthstone.