Four Dream Engagement Rings

The Engagement Ring of Your Dreams

You have fallen in love and finally met your perfect match. You start noticing engagement rings all around you; on the hands of friends and family, on Facebook, on Instagram, engagement rings are everywhere! And you start to imagine your perfect ring. Perhaps you have known for years what style you wanted, or maybe you have just started collecting images but haven’t narrowed it down. Either way most people have an idea of what they love and what they don’t really like when it comes to ring designs. But how do you get those ideas into your partner’s head, so that they will know what to look for when the time is right to propose? We are here to offer some suggestions.

Friends and Family

Let your best friends or siblings know what kind of ring you would like. Give them pictures or at least an idea of what you want. It’s very likely that your partner will look to them for advice on the design, and you want them to have the right information.

Window Shop

Next time you and your love go shopping together, tell them you want to take a look at the diamond rings. Go into a couple of jewellery stores and point out or try on ones that you really like. One of my friends did this, and about a year later she received the very ring she had tried on in the store. Bonus points for your partner for remembering the ring you loved.

Pinterest

If you keep a Pinterest board of engagement rings you love (which let’s be serious, A LOT of us do) then you can mention this to your partner. If you think your partner will never go on your Pinterest page, then you can accidentally leave the page open on the computer so they see it the next time they log on. It might be a little bit sneaky but it will definitely help your partner figure out what kind of rings you are into.

Your Opinion Matters

Another idea is to comment (in private) on rings that your friends have. Let your partner know that you absolutely love Ashley’s rose gold ring with the diamond halo while you really don’t like Melanie’s yellow gold ring with the three diamonds. If your partner is paying attention they will make a mental note of these comments, and hopefully purchase something you will like.

Be Obvious

If you have been with your partner for many years and are certain an engagement is coming your way, you may feel comfortable being straightforward about what you want. Send them an exact image of a ring or a couple of rings that you like. Let them know what metal type and diamond shape or other gemstones you would like for your ring.

Shop Together

There are a lot of couples who chose to pick out or design a custom ring together. Sometimes the couple has gotten engaged without a ring and is looking to make the perfect one. Sometimes the couple decides on the engagement ring, and then the one partner buys it and holds onto it for a surprise proposal. There are no rules these days. You can do whatever feels right for you as a couple.

Surprise! Do you like it?

Now, sometimes the proposal is a complete surprise and you didn’t get a chance to let your partner know what you wanted in a ring. Hopefully the ring is stunning and fabulous and you love everything about it. Maybe it’s not the exact design you would have picked, but you love it because of the thought and love that went into it. If you really don’t like it, you always have the option of telling your partner that it’s not quite what you wanted, and they might be ok with changing the setting or diamond. However, I would say be very gentle if you are going to do this, as I’m sure a lot of thought, time and money went into the ring. In the end the most important thing about the ring is that is it a symbol of your commitment and it should reflect the love you and your partner will share for a lifetime.

Edwardian Jewelry

Edwardian Jewelry: Classic Antique Design

Antique styles are extremely popular when it comes to engagement ring designs and there is a vast selection from all the different eras. Whatever your personal style is you will probably be able to find an antique ring that suits your tastes. One of the more popular time periods for antique rings is that of the Edwardian Era. Jewelry from this period is classic and traditional, as well as very feminine. While the name ‘Edwardian Jewelry’ may not be commonly known, I guarantee you the style is. It has a timeless appeal, which is the reason it remains in high demand today.

The High Society of the Edwardian Era

The Edwardian Era began in England in 1901 when Queen Victoria died and her son Edward took the thrown. The period ended in 1914 with the start of WWI. In France, the same period is referred to as ‘The Belle Époque’ or the beautiful age. King Edward and his Queen Alexandra were fashion leaders who helped established an international high society throughout Europe. This era is considered a romantic and elegant age, but it was also a time when the class system was rigid, and a huge gap in wealth existed between the high and low classes. Wearing fine jewelry was a necessity for those in high society, and it was worn to show one’s rank and wealth. While today it can be considered vulgar to flaunt extreme wealth, in Edwardian high society it was a requirement.

Design Characteristics and Inspiration

One of the defining features of Edwardian jewelry is the use of platinum. In 1903 the oxyacetylene torch was invented, which reached the high temperatures needed to melt platinum. Because platinum is one of the hardest and most durable metals, very delicate and intricate designs became possible without worry of breakage. Platinum is also excellent for setting diamonds, and the use of diamonds was widespread throughout this period. Another important feature in Edwardian jewelry is the technique of milgraining. This is when a small border of beads is created to surround the gemstones and follow the edges of the design. Miligrain adds a lighter and softer appearance to the metal.

Inspiration for the Edwardian style came from traditional motifs of the past. Neo-classical and Rococo artists of the 18th century, as well as the French courts of Versailles were all influences. The famous jeweler Cartier had his designers wander the streets of Paris looking at 17th and 18th century architecture for inspiration. Pattern books featuring ornamental designs from the past began to circulate widely during this time, and this was also reflected in the jewelry. Popular motifs were garlands, ribbons, wreaths, bows, knots and lace, which were all created with an airy lightness that platinum provided.

The Styles of the Time

Ladies in the early 1900’s wore silk and lace dresses in pastel colours, which matched the elegant platinum and diamond jewelry. Diamond ‘dog collars’ became hugely popular, as did black velvet chokers with a diamond motif in the center. Queen Alexandra would pile many jeweled chokers upon her neck, said to be hiding a scar from her childhood. Soon enough all the royal ladies and those in high society were copying her style. Brooches were typically worn on the dress until about 1910 when changing necklines led to the wearing of necklaces with one or two hanging pendants. Earrings were long with open work design that reflected the flowing gowns. Tiaras were an essential part of the elite lady’s outfit, and platinum allowed for elaborate design without being too heavy on the head. Rings had large center stones surrounded by smaller stones. Multiple stacked rings on the finger were also very trendy. Rings had elongated outlines, pierced work and filigree design. Some rings were so large they covered the finger from knuckle to knuckle. Women often wore their engagement rings on a different hand than their wedding band, as the engagement ring’s size and shape didn’t fit with a band.

End of an Era

This age of elegance abruptly ended in 1914 with the start of WWI in Europe. Platinum was needed for the war effort and jewelry production in Europe came to a halt. No longer could royalty and high society flaunt their wealth so freely when the entire country and continent was under fire. The jewelry industry did recover after the war and by the mid 1920’s the Art Deco style became all the rage. While the Edwardian era lasted for less than 15 years, its light and elegant designs remain in style today. For today’s engagement rings, the white metal and white diamond style is definitely the most popular look. Many elements from antique Edwardian rings are still very common, such as milgraining and small diamonds surrounding a larger one. It just goes to show you that, like most fashions, when it comes to jewelry – what goes around, comes back around.

Image Credit: Berganza

Art Deco Rings

Art Deco Jewelry: Timeless Elegance

Anyone who has any interest in jewelry has probably come across the term Art Deco many times. Whether you are looking at rings on Pinterest, trying on earrings in a store, or shopping online for the perfect necklace, Art Deco keeps popping up. That’s because even though Art Deco is an antique style, it is soaring in popularity these days. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this period in jewelry.

Origins in Paris of 1925

Art Deco style got its name from the 1925 ‘Exposition International des Arts Decoratifs et Industrial Modernes’. This was a World’s Fair in Paris which showcased modern designs in decorative art. This new design style came to be known as Art Deco and was applied to architecture, jewelry, fashion, art and interior design. This new style celebrated modernity and technology and was a direct response to the austerity caused by WWI.

Design Characteristics and Influences

Art Deco design has simple clean lines, uses symmetry and repetition and has a strong focus on geometric shapes. It is also known for its rich colours and unusual materials. The jewelry was often set with calibre cut gemstones, which means the gems were cut precisely to fit into a specific design, usually to enhance the geometric pattern. A big influence on the Deco aesthetic was the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, which was opened in 1922 and revealed the ancient jewelry and art of Egypt. Designers were also influenced by Indian, African, Oriental and Persian design.

Prominent Jewelers

Jewelry sales were booming in the 1920’s, reflecting the growing consumerism and affluence of people in both Europe and North America. The big name jewelry houses designed in the Deco style, and many of their most famous pieces are from this era. Tiffany, Cartier, Mauboussin, Lalique, Fouquet, Boucheron, Harry Winston and Van Cleef and Arpels are just a few of the houses with stunning Art Deco jewelry in their archives. These jewelers usually signed their work and these signed pieces sell for very high prices at auctions today. It was also during this period that Van Cleef and Arpels invented their famous invisible gem setting technique, in which gem stones are mounted through a system of grooves and rails so that no metal is visible.

Fashion Inspired

The Art Deco jewelry styles directly related to the fashions of the time. WWI had brought major changes to woman’s clothing, as many stopped wearing corsets and the dropped waist look became the trend. Short sleeves, shorter hemlines and short hair all rounded out the look of a fashionable lady. Fashion designers Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel helped bring forward modern fashion, with Poiret disposing of the corset and dressing women in trousers, and Chanel’s sportswear inspired clothing and little black dresses.

Necklaces were worn long to compliment the drop waist dresses. Long ropes of pearls were extremely stylish and have come to be known as the ‘flapper’ style. Another necklace style was the Sautoir, which was a long necklace that suspended a tassel or ornament and was often convertible and could be taken apart to wear as a bracelet, choker or pendant.

Bracelets were a big focal point as the arms were now bare and often multiple ones were stacked up the arm. They were large and often had many rectangular shaped links which would be covered in diamonds, usually the square ‘French cut’ style which complimented the geometric designs.

Earrings were long and dangly to show off the short haircuts and were often set with many diamonds. Most women didn’t have pierced ears and these earrings were usually screw backs.

Dress clips were another popular option, which looked similar to a brooch but instead of a pin it had a clip on the back. Women would wear these on their belts, shoes, purses, hats and lapels.

No stylish lady would go out for the evening without a minaudière, a small case for holding a woman’s belongings, usually bejeweled and covered in lacquer which mimicked the look of enamel. It was always held in the hand, like a modern clutch, and was a great canvas for Deco designs.

The style for engagement rings was usually a diamond surrounded by many smaller diamonds that were often calibre cut. Diamonds in the emerald cut and baguette cut looked great in the simple geometric styles. Rings with large coloured stones cut in cabochon style were a popular style for cocktail rings. For bands it was stylish to have either rubies, diamonds, sapphires or emeralds eternity set around the ring, and these were often stacked on one finger.

A Lasting Influence

If the jewelry described sounds like much of the jewelry which is worn today, that’s because it is. Although the Art Deco style fell out of fashion around the time of WWII, it is now beloved for its clean modern look and the amazing techniques of the jewelers of the time. Original Art Deco pieces are now collectibles and can be very pricey. However, many people choose to have a custom jewelry piece made in the style of Art Deco. This can be a much more reasonably priced option, as well as will ensure you get exactly what you want. If you are looking for a ring, or any other jewelry item in the Art Deco style, please contact us at Kimberfire and we’ll create your perfect piece!

Image Credit: Berganza

Remembrance Day Love Story

In Remembrance: A Soldier’s Love

The bright red poppy on the lapel of a coat is a common sight across Canada every November. The poppy is worn to honour the men and women who have bravely fought to defend our country. November 11th is the day we take a moment to remember the sacrifices made by those who fought in war, as well as those who lost their lives.

During WWI and WWII the Canadian soldiers were usually very young when they were sent over to Europe, and it is hard to imagine how fearful they must have felt leaving their families and friends. One surprising aspect of these wars was the number of romances that blossomed during the time of such horrors, and there are many books and websites dedicated to wartime romances. My very close friend’s grandfather shared with her his story of love in WWII, and she has passed on his tale to share.

Escape From a War Zone

He was born Haroutoon Hatchadorian and he was born in Armenia in 1911. Tragically the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire began in 1915 in which 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. Young Haroutoon’s father was killed and he, his older brother and his mother escaped Armenia into Greece. His mother was very ill and his older brother unable to care for him, so he was sent to live in an orphanage. The Canadian government and churches worked together to help the children of the war, and in 1923 the first 50 Armenian orphan boys were brought over to Canada. Haroutoon was chosen to go at the very last minute, when one of the other boys didn’t pass the medical exam. When he arrived in Canada his name was changed to the English name Harry Hatch. These boys were brought to Georgetown, Ontario and raised on farms to be farm hands.

The Beginning of WWII

In 1939 World War II broke out, and Harry enlisted like many young men in Canada. He was stationed at a barracks in Hamilton and began going to the local Armenian center to hang out. It was here that Harry first met Roxie Eloian. After hanging out with Roxie a few times he said he “really went for her in a big way. But I never mentioned any marriage or anything before I left overseas”. Harry was sent to England where he became a driver for the Army Generals. Not too many people knew how to drive or had a chauffeur’s license, but he had learned how to drive on the farm.

Love Letters Across the Sea

During this time he wrote love letters to Roxie back in Canada. Not just a couple of letters, but hundreds of them… enough to fill an entire suitcase. In these letters Harry told Roxie how he had fallen in love with her back in Canada and thought of her all the time. Unfortunately while Harry was driving around the generals he was also training for the raid at Dieppe France. The day came to depart to France and Harry was getting on the truck to go, when one of the generals pulled him off saying, “Hatch is too valuable a driver to us, he can’t go”. This act could have very likely saved his life, as the Dieppe raid was one of the most deadly operations for the Canadian soldiers, with a 68% casualty rate.

An Engagement Ring from England

Harry now knew he wanted to spend his life with Roxie and start a family. He wrote asking her to marry him, but didn’t receive a letter back. He wrote again, telling her “I know that it is hard for you to make up your mind, you don’t really know anything about me and I don’t really know anything about you – this is quite true… It is not that hard for you to say no and it is not that hard for you to say yes… but if you say no I am not coming back to Canada, I am going to stay in England”. After that letter he said “Geez I got a letter from her in no time soon and she said yes!” From England he sent her a ring-sizing card to get the correct ring size and then mailed her diamond engagement ring to Canada. She sent him back a photograph of her wearing his ring.

A Loving Marriage

In 1945 Harry was discharged from the army and came home to Canada. Harry and Roxie married 18 days after he arrived. They moved up into the mountain in Hamilton and had three daughters. Eventually they opened up a convenience store and billiards hall and worked side by side every day. They were married for 36 wonderful years before Harry passed away in 1982. Roxie lived for another 20 years and watched their grandchildren grow up.

It was an amazing life, and an amazing love story. How did Harry know Roxie was the one after spending such a short period of time with her? What was it about her that even after years of being away at war he couldn’t get her out of his mind? And was it just luck that Harry was able to escape both the Armenian genocide and the raid at Dieppe? These are mysteries of life and love that we will never know the answer to, and I think that is what makes this story so very special.

Memento Mori and Mourning Jewelry

The Haunting Beauty of Memento Mori and Mourning Jewelry

Every October the air gets cooler, the nights get longer, and witches and skeletons start appearing in our neighbourhood. Our once cheerful flower gardens become graveyards, while jack-o-lanterns and cobwebs cover every door stoop. Of course this is all to celebrate Halloween, the one night a year that the spirits of the dead are said to be able to cross over into the world of the living, and the living dress in disguises to trick the spirits into leaving them alone. In keeping with this spooky holiday we will look at jewelry designed around the subject of death, in the styles of Memento Mori and mourning jewelry.

Memento Mori

Memento Mori is a Latin phrase which means “Remember that you will die” and can refer to art, jewelry, or literature that focuses on mortality. Memento Mori as an artistic genre is thought to have originated in Roman times and gained popularity in Europe in the 14th century, which coincidentally was the time of the Black Death. Memento Mori jewelry was decorated with the iconography of death, such as skulls, skeletons, and coffins. It was worn to remind the wearer of their own mortality and to inspire them to live piously and cherish their earthly life.

Memorial Jewelry

In the 17th century the Memento Mori style began to be used to commemorate the death of a particular person. Rings were the most common memorial jewelry but lockets, pendants and brooches were also produced. This jewelry would have the name and age of the deceased, and their date of death engraved into gold. The images of skulls, skeletons and coffins were still common and the jewelry was usually decorated with black enamel if the deceased was married and white enamel if they were unmarried. Money was often left in the will of the deceased for the creation of mourning rings, which were to be distributed to their close friends or family after they had passed.

Victorian Mourning Jewelry

In 1861 Prince Albert, the beloved husband of Queen Victoria died of typhoid. The queen was swept into deep mourning, which was imposed on all the British court. While the Victorian people still had a high mortality rate, it was Victoria’s response to Albert’s death that was the catalyst for the public to adopt mourning fashions. Death and grieving was a public act, and an entire industry was created to fulfill the massive demand for mourning clothes and jewelry. Skulls and skeletons were still popular motifs, as well as hourglasses, urns, willow trees, forget-me-nots and weeping eyes. In the first stages of mourning a widow was only allowed to wear black clothes and jewelry, which led to the trend of jet jewelry. Jet is black fossilized driftwood, which was mined in Whitby, England and was turned into jewelry by sculpting or faceting into beads. Because of the high cost of jet many imitations were created which led to the first plastic ever to be used in costume jewelry. Another style of mourning jewelry that gained popular was hair jewelry, in which the hair of the deceased was incorporated into the design. Some hair jewelry used strands of hair to make miniature portraits and scenes, while another style was to braid or weave the hair so that it resembled lace. Hair jewelry was a way to keep a part of a loved one with you forever. Hair jewelry went out of fashion with the rise of photography, as people opted to keep lockets with a photograph of the deceased instead.

The Perfect Halloween Accessory?

Although you can still find jewelry designs today incorporating skulls, they are usually for aesthetic purposes only and don’t hold the spiritual meaning they used to. In today’s society we don’t like to dwell on death or the idea that our lives could be over at any time. The societies of the past didn’t have that option as their lack of medical and scientific expertise meant they had very high mortality rates and death was all around them. In spite of such hardships the jewellers of the time were able to use the darkness of death to inspire such beautiful work. And while we may not want to wear jewelry as a reminder of death on an everyday basis, it is the perfect accessory for a scary Halloween.

Images Courtesy of Art of Mourning