Engagement Ring Maintenance

The Do’s and Don’ts of Engagement Ring Maintenance

You’re recently engaged and it was the most romantic moment of your entire life. You are thrilled to make a lifetime commitment to the one you love and are filled with joy. And let’s not forget your new engagement ring! It’s so beautiful and sparkly that you just can’t take your eyes off it. You can’t believe you are lucky enough to get to wear a diamond ring like this every day of your life. But then you begin to wonder, how am I supposed to take care of this ring? Am I allowed to wear it swimming? Can I work out with it on? All these questions are running through your mind. At Kimberfire we are engagement ring specialists and we want to help answer all your questions about keeping your ring in tip top shape!

DO get your engagement ring insured.

Your engagement ring was most likely a large purchase and one in which you would be very upset if it became damaged or lost. Insurance will give you peace of mind that if something happens to your ring you will be able to replace it with something just as beautiful. Some people can add their engagement ring on to their homeowner’s insurance, and if you go this route please make sure the insurance covers the ring even when it is outside of the house, as it is not always covered otherwise. Another option is to use an insurance agency such as Jewelers Mutual, which offers specialized insurance for jewelry.

DON’T take off your ring when you are out in public.

Taking off your ring and leaving it somewhere by accident is one of the easiest ways to lose your jewelry. Always keep it on your finger until you are back home, and then try to keep it in the same place every time you take it off.

DO clean your ring at home.

One of the most common questions we get from our clients is how to keep their ring clean in between professional cleanings. Well the answer is simple! Buy yourself a brand new, soft-bristle, baby’s toothbrush, and brush the ring in warm water with a little drop of dish detergent and then rinse it clean. This will remove the built up dirt and grime and keep your diamond sparkling.

DON’T wear your ring when cleaning the house.

While household cleaners work wonders on the house, the harsh chemicals in bleach, chlorine and acetone can erode the metals in your ring, while powder cleaners contain abrasives which will scratch the metal.

DO get your ring checked if you notice a diamond has become loose.

You may notice your diamond makes a small clicking sound when you tap the ring near your ear, or you may be able to spin the diamond with your finger. In either case it’s best to stop wearing the ring and take it to your jeweler to get it tightened. Stones can become loose due to prolonged wear over the years, or they can become loose by the metal accidentally being hit or dinged. Your jeweler should be able to get the stone tight and secure for continued wear.

DON’T wear your ring to the gym.

While some physical activities like aerobics will probably not hurt your ring, there are some exercises that most definitely will. A common cause of ring damage is weight lifting. The steel of the weights is harder than both platinum and gold and can make hammer like dents in the metal. Heavy weight lifting can also distort the shape of the ring so that it is more of an oval instead of round. When the metal becomes distorted it may cause the prongs on the diamonds to become loose and a stone may fall out. Golf and tennis are two other sports which can cause a great deal of damage to your ring.

DO have your ring professionally serviced once a year.

Your jeweler should clean and examine your ring once a year to make sure the diamonds are secure. Every few years you may want to get your ring re-polished if it is quite scratched up. Those who have white gold rings may want their ring re-plated with rhodium to get it back to its bright white colour.

DON’T wear your ring swimming.

An easy way to lose your ring is in the water when it is more slippery on your finger, and you may not notice while you are playing in the waves. Pools and hot tubs are no better as prolonged exposure to chlorine can cause damage and discolouration to white gold.

DO show off your ring proudly.

Your engagement ring is a symbol of love and commitment and you should share that with the world!

Hopefully these tips will help you keep your ring looking as beautiful as the day it was received, as we know it is something very precious and special to you. If you have any other questions about ring or diamond care please contact us at Kimberfire and we will be glad to help.

Toronto Wedding Cakes

Toronto Wedding Cakes: Truffle Cake & Pastry

At Kimberfire our specialty is diamonds and diamond jewelry, which means many of our clients are getting engaged and/or married when we first meet them. Our ongoing blog series, in which we feature Toronto-based wedding insiders, was created with the intention of spreading the word on other amazing companies who can help you realize your dream wedding.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Christina Wong of Truffle Cake & Pastry, a very popular Toronto cake and dessert company. Truffle Cake & Pastry’s stunning desserts have been featured in magazines such as WedLuxe, Elegant Wedding, Today’s Bride, Lavish Dulhan and Wedding Belles. They have also been showcased on “Breakfast Television”, “The Social”, and the blog “Style me Pretty”. On top of all that Truffle Cake & Pastry’s Instagram account is followed by over 13K followers who cannot get enough of her edible works of art. I wanted to learn more about Christina and her company.

Christina, please tell us a bit about yourself and your company Truffle Cake & Pastry.

I am a self-taught cake designer who followed a hobby-turned-passion into a small business. Truffle Cake & Pastry is where you come for customized cakes and sweets for anything from a dinner party with friends and family, to dessert tables for a gorgeous wedding!

How did you get started in this business, and how long has Truffle Cake & Pastry been open?

Truffle Cake & Pastry was a bit of a fluke; I went to University for Microbiology and Immunology! I started the business on the side of a full-time job not long after finishing school, about 11 years ago (wow, now I feel old). I have been running Truffle Cake & Pastry fulltime for almost 10 years. It all just started with weekend baking for fun. I would bring extras into work and people started asking me to bake for their family get-togethers, and my department would ask me to bake for departmental celebrations. Up until last year, I worked alone, with the occasional help from my wonderful family and friends. I was finally able to hire someone to help me last year… and it has definitely been a game changer.

How did your education and/or previous job experience prepare you for running a dessert business?

I was in a very demanding program at The University of Western Ontario so you had to be on your game and you had to make the most efficient use of your time as possible. That, along with clean lab techniques are the most important and relevant skills I learned that have been instrumental to running a business. A little further back, I went to an arts high school, which helped me with the fundamentals of colour and design!

What types of desserts do you provide? Do you offer any packages?

We make everything from classic chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes, to macarons and eclairs. We also create custom cakes for any and all occasions! Each order, each cake, and each dessert table is fully customized to the client’s needs and preferences so we don’t have any standard packages. I would say our flavours are based on classics, the flavours everyone is familiar with!

On average how many cakes do you create a year and how many of those are for weddings?

Each year is a little different, but if I had to guess I would estimate that we created about 200-250 cakes last year (some large, some small) with approximately 60 of those being for weddings. Some weddings even have multiple cakes!

Your cakes are so beautiful and creative. Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

Thank you so much! Inspiration comes from everywhere, nature, architecture, interior design. So much of what I have seen has probably been spun into a design element in some way, shape or form, and sometimes without me even realizing it, I’m sure. Other artists in the industry such as stationers, dress designers and florists are also always inspiring me with their creations.

What tips would you give to a couple who is looking for a wedding cake designer?

One of the main things I would say to keep in mind is to work with someone you feel comfortable and confident with. You want to click with the person you work with because you need to trust that they are going to create a gorgeous cake for your big day. And choose what you like! At almost every appointment I am asked what my most popular flavours are, and the truth is that you wont find one flavour that absolutely every guest will love, so pick flavours that you like most.

What is the most unique cake you have created?
Some of the most unique cakes we’ve done are sculpted cakes, which we don’t do too often. We’ve made a toilet and a unicorn… and both of those were pretty interesting! For weddings, the uniqueness comes from the personal touches – one cake we created had gold-foiled versions of continents tied into the design with little markers that highlighted the places the couple have travelled together.

Have you ever had something go wrong with a cake you were making, and how did you handle it?

Yes, absolutely! I think all cake designers have their war stories. If it’s still in the phase where I’m working on it in the kitchen, I can always find a way to fix it, even if it means literally staying up all night to make it right. Once we deliver the cake, the condition of the cake is out of our hands unfortunately, so due to environmental factors there has been a mishap or two. Last summer we had one such mishap where reverberation in the venue caused the cake to shift off the cake stand after hours of vibration and fall! It broke my heart to hear that and I actually left a social function to process what happened and figure out why. I worked with the couple, who were absolutely wonderful and understood that it was unfortunately due to the venue versus the cake structure, and we have created mini cakes of each of the flavours they had originally ordered for small celebrations they’ve had since then.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

There are a few, haha. I would say the most acutely stressful part is delivering the cake! While I can control my own driving, I can’t control other drivers who cut me off, and it’s not out of the ordinary to get honked at when turning a corner very slowly. The other challenging part, which I think is true for most entrepreneurs, is trying to create a work/life balance.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Although I absolutely love to hear that a client loved what we created for them, what I love even more than that is working with a client or family multiple times over the years as they celebrate life’s special occasions. To work with a couple from their engagement party through to the birthdays of their children is so amazing to me!

What is your favorite flavour of cake?

My personal favourite is chocolate raspberry.

How important is social media to your business?

While social media is important to be able show people the work we create, I also try not to take it too seriously as it’s so easy to get caught up in. It has been great for reaching new people though, and I do appreciate the followers we have! It’s a really nice feeling to think that people out there like our work.

What are some new and continuing trends for wedding cakes and desserts?

As many times as we’ve seen it before, blush and gold is still going strong. I can’t blame brides though, it’s so pretty! The floral arrangements on cakes are becoming a little looser, more organic feeling, and I love it.

What sets Truffle Cake & Pastry apart from the competition?

I have a bit of a hard time with this question, partially because I really like to look at our ‘competition’ more as colleagues. We all offer a slightly different personal experience to our clients, different flavours and design style; but there is a right fit for anyone out there looking for cake. Truffle Cakes & Pastry’s style is romantic but clean, and our dessert tables focus on the details.

Having been a part of so many weddings, what advice can you give to couples on how to get the most out of their big day?

Plan all the details you’d like (and don’t lose sight of your own preferences in the process) but once the day starts try to let go of the little things, let things happen as they will and soak up every minute! I hear it goes by in a blur. You don’t want to miss out on it by stressing about that one small detail that is out of place.

Thank you so much for sharing with us! I look forward to seeing more beautiful designs of yours on Instagram.

Thank you so much!

Truffle Cake and Pastry’s Instagram is @trufflecakeandpastry and you can contact Christina at TruffleToronto.com.

Push Presents

Push Presents: The Divisive Trend of Post-Birth Gifts

The arrival of a newborn is one of the happiest moments in a couple’s life, a miraculous event that brings the gift of life into the world. And while the gift of life is certainly the most important gift of all, another type of gift has been steadily gaining popularity – the push present. What is a push present you may ask? A push present is a gift that is given to a new mother from her partner, to celebrate her “pushing” of a new life into the world. While the sentiment behind the push present is one of love, the subject brings up a lot of controversy. Like breastfeeding, co-sleeping and crying it out, the push present is a hotly debated topic among moms.

The Case Against Push Presents

The biggest complaint against the push present is that it is commodifying the natural act of birth. Critics ask, “Shouldn’t the baby be reward enough?”. We live in a capitalistic and materialistic society and some people prefer that the act of giving birth be unaffected by all that. Another negative aspect is that it can put undue pressure upon the partner’s shoulders, in having to spend money on a gift at a time when finances might be extra tight.

The Case for Push Presents

The idea of giving a gift to a new mother is to show appreciation for what she has gone through, both mentally and physically. Pregnancy is an emotional time for a woman as they endure months of hormonal changes and physical discomfort, which culminates in labour and birth. While a healthy baby is the best gift in the world, it is thoughtful to give recognition to what the mother has experienced. It is given by the partner to show love and gratitude.

Push Present Ideas

Jewelry is a popular push present, made fashionable by extravagant celebrity gifts. Headlines were made when Jay Z gave Beyoncé a giant blue tanzanite ring to celebrate the birth of their daughter, and when Mark Anthony gifted Jennifer Lopez custom made canary yellow diamond earrings with a matching ring for the birth of their twins. While most people cannot afford such pricey gifts, jewelry is still a great option for a wide range of budgets. Diamond stud earrings or diamond eternity bands are very popular choices, as are pendants of the baby’s first initial, or a charm of their birthstone. There are no rules which say you must give jewelry, and gifts like a spa package or a new piece of technology can be just as meaningful.

What Moms think

While I am not a mother, being in my thirties I have a lot of close friends who are so I thought I would ask their thoughts on the subject. Out of six of them, two had been given a push present. One received a rose gold necklace to match her wedding band, and one received a new iPad. The ones who didn’t receive presents said they didn’t expect to get anything, and weren’t disappointed. However, everyone said they would have been very happy had they received one and couldn’t see why anyone would be upset by the idea. One friend said perhaps it was just the name “push present” that felt tacky, and not the gesture itself.

To Give or Not to Give

I think it all comes down to whether the partner wants to give a gift, and if they have the finances available to do so. If you want to give your new baby’s mother a gift to celebrate all that she has gone through, then you absolutely should. Just do it because you want to, and not because of outside pressure. The “push present” should not be expected or bragged about, it should be a sentimental symbol of a special moment in life. In the end a push present isn’t going to make the new baby anymore of a blessing, but it might be a bit of icing on the cake!

Have you ever given or received a push present? Would you want to? Let us know where you stand in the comments below!

White Gold Engagement Rings

White Gold Jewelry and Rhodium Plating

One of the most popular ongoing trends for engagement rings is that of white diamonds set into bright white metal. This white jewelry look is very modern and clean and has maintained its popularity for quite some time now. To achieve this all-white effect, diamonds are set into either platinum or white gold. Platinum is naturally a very white metal, but is the heavier and more expensive option. White gold is less costly and a lighter metal, but isn’t naturally a bright white colour. Therefore, white gold jewelry is almost always plated with a rhodium coating as standard practise in the industry.

Gold Alloys

Pure 24K gold is only found in one colour, and that is yellow. However, 24K gold is extremely soft and unsuitable for jewelry purposes, so the pure gold is mixed with other metals to create better working properties. This process is called alloying, and it can also be used to change the colour of the gold. White gold is created when pure gold is mixed with at least one other white metal, such as palladium, manganese, nickel, silver or zinc. 14K white gold is 58.3% pure gold while 18K white gold is 75% pure, with the remainder being a white metal. Although white gold is much whiter than yellow gold, it still has a slight shade of yellow or gray. It gained its popularity for jewelry use in the 1920s as a less costly alternative to platinum.

Rhodium and Electroplating

In the 1930s silversmiths began rhodium plating sterling silverware as they found this reduced the tarnishing and therefore the constant need to polish. This was then applied to white gold as well, as it made the jewelry look much whiter and similar to platinum.

Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is quite rare and expensive. It is hypo-allergenic, highly resistant to wear, tarnish and corrosion and it has high light reflection. Solid rhodium is rarely used in jewelry as it is extremely expensive and is a very brittle metal. It is much more cost effective and practical to use it as a plating. The official name of this process is called electroplating, where the piece of jewelry is submerged in a heated bath of rhodium solution and then an electric current is run through the bath using the jewelry as a cathode. This causes the rhodium in the solution to bond onto the jewelry. The solution is a mix of sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid or a combination of both, mixed with rhodium and water. A relatively small amount of rhodium can be used to plate many jewelry pieces, keeping the cost of the process down.

Care of Rhodium Plated Jewelry

The one drawback of rhodium plating is that it will wear off over time. The length of time depends on a few factors, such as the amount of wear and roughness the ring receives, its exposure to environmental factors and the wearer’s own body chemistry. Some people can wear a rhodium plated ring for three years before needing a re-plating, while others will need it re-plated more frequently. It is not wise to re-plate more than once a year because, while the rhodium plating doesn’t affect the jewelry, the jewelry does needs to be thoroughly cleaned and re-polished to remove all the old plating and re-polishing removes trace amounts of metal. This won’t affect your jewelry, provided it is not done too frequently, although over-polishing will eventually impact durability. The plating does not affect any diamonds or gemstones which are set into the metal, although it could affect some natural materials such as pearls.

At Kimberfire we provide complimentary cleaning and re-plating up to once a year for any of our white gold jewelry pieces, to ensure they maintain their bright white colour. Whenever you are purchasing white gold jewelry you should ask the jeweller about rhodium plating and if they include re-plating in their care policy, as it is important to know all the costs to be incurred in properly maintaining your purchase. White gold jewelry is both beautiful and popular and it is essential to know how to keep it looking its best throughout the years.

Heart Shape Jewelry

Origins of the Heart

Ah love, sweet love. How wonderful it is to be in love with someone. You just want to tell everyone you know, and shout it from the rooftops. And you only need one symbol to express your love, the heart. The heart shape conveys love, romance, passion and care without ever saying a word. The heart is one of the most widely used motifs in jewellery design, from rings and pendants to diamond cuts. The heart is everywhere. But how did the heart shape come to define love? And why does the common heart shape look so very different from the anatomical heart? Let’s look through history and find out how the heart shape came to be.

Ancient Hearts

Like most things from long, long ago, we don’t know the exact origin of the heart as a romantic symbol. The Ancient Egyptians thought that the heart was the seed of life, and that the “heart soul” descended from the mother’s heart into her womb and would then take the shape of a child. The Ancient Greeks thought the heart supplied the whole body with heat and controlled reason and emotion.

In terms of the symbol, it was most likely derived from the botanical world. One line of thinking is that the now extinct Silphium seedpod was the original model for the heart shape. This seed originated in the Ancient North African city of Cyrene and was used as a seasoning, and more commonly, as a contraceptive. The seed was highly valuable and so crucial to Cyrene’s economy that its image was portrayed on their coins. The seed very closely resembles the heart shape and its link to sexuality may have led to its association with love.

The earliest heart shapes found in art were stylized depictions of fig leaves and ivy. These leaves were frequently found on Ancient Greek vase paintings of the god Dionysus, often in erotic scenes. Heart shaped ivy leaves were also a common symbol on Grecian and Roman grave stones, as the plant symbolized eternal love.

Middle Ages Romance

The first known depiction of the heart as a romantic symbol is in a 13th century manuscript entitled “Roman de la Poire” or Romance of the Pear, by Thibaut. In the image a kneeling lover offers his heart to a damsel, although the heart resembles more of a cone shape. The heart was probably depicted this way because human dissection was very rare during the middle ages, and artists were basing their drawings on writings from the ancient world.

In the early 14th century, the heart symbol began to be depicted with a “scalloped” shape, or dent in its base. And then in the latter part of the century it was then flipped so its point was facing downward.

In the 15th century, the modern heart shape became well known across Europe as it was printed on widely distributed French playing cards.

The Heart Shape in Jewellery

As the heart symbol gained popularity it started to be seen in European jewellery. It first appeared in heart shaped brooches used to hold clothing together, and which were inscribed with sayings of love.

A heart shaped diamond was first mentioned in a letter from the Duke of Milan in 1463, and then in 1562 Mary Queen of Scots sent a heart shaped diamond to Queen Elizabeth I.

In 17thth century England, rock crystal hearts were worn to memorialize King Charles I who had been executed. These were pendants or rings made of clear faceted rock crystal which often encased a token, hair or initials under the crystal. Although these type of pieces were initially created as memorial jewellery, they later became known more as love tokens or wedding gifts.

During this same period the heart shaped brooch was extremely popular. It was often referred to as a ‘Luckenbooth’ in Scotland, or witches’ brooch in the rest of Europe. The depicted heart was usually asymmetrical and twisted up at the bottom to one side. They were worn as a talisman against evil spirits, and were often worn by pregnant women or pinned onto babies’ blankets. Overtime these witches’ brooches also changed in meaning, to show you were “be-witched with love”. The brooches were often covered in red garnets and a single heart meant you had a sweetheart, while a double heart meant you were married.

Hearts in jewellery reached their height during the reign of Queen Victoria, and the Queen herself wore a charm bracelet with hearts representing each one of her children.

The Universal Heart

Today the heart is a symbol of love. It usually represents romantic love, but can also be between family or friends. It is universally known and one of the most popular symbols in the world. It is also one of the most popular symbols in jewellery design, as jewellery is often given as a token of love. From its mysterious beginnings in plants and sexuality, to its role in religion and memorials, the heart has had many different meanings along the way. But for me, its current significance as a symbol of love, is definitely my favourite.