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The Tree of Knowledge

November 12, 2014
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“Equatorial Jungle” by Henri Rousseau, 1909

This Saturday, prepare to be refreshed and sated by Eve’s celebration of “the Garden of Eden,” her latest collection of art jewelry, as the gallery dedicates an entire day to the remembrance of a time and place in which perfect peace, plenty, and oneness between all created things reigned.

Featured below is a pair of matching wedding bands which are to be released, each entitled “The Tree of Knowledge,” which offer both “his” and “hers” sizes (or “Adam” and “Eve,” as it were) to complement one other as well as any two soul mates do today. Natural shapes weave their way throughout 18 karat gold bodies, with designs which branch out into stunningly organic formations that seem to bridge the divide between the unplanned orchestra of nature, and the careful planning and cultivation of a garden.

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“Tree of Knowledge” rings by Eve Alfillé. Photo Credit: Matt Arden

Alongside these two intricate golden wreaths is the soon-to-be-unveiled final addition by Eve, creating a perfect marital trifecta: her newest diamond engagement ring. To see all three together, be sure not to miss the opening party taking place on Saturday, November 15, from 1 to 7pm. Even if she wasn’t made from your rib, this may be the perfect opportunity to view and admire Eve’s latest spellbindingly-wrought series of rings, and perhaps they will become the perfect symbol of your love to the apple of your eye.

Digging Up Some Old Favorites: Cooking with Eve

October 22, 2014

For any foodies out there with a taste both for looking fine in Eve’s jewels and for fine cuisine, now is the time to indulge your hunger for both! 

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Eve’s photo featured in the original article

On February 18, 1988, less than a year after the Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio had moved out of the home of the Alfillé’s and into their very own storefront in Evanston, an article was published in the Chicago Sun-Times by Food Editor Bev Bennett. According to this article, titled “A Good Recipe Just Requires Digging,” Bennet interviewed the ever-innovative Eve on exactly how her intuitive and studious approaches to her work might be mirrored in her culinary life at home.

According to Eve, her home cooking has spanned quite a broad range over the years. Having grown up in France, she initially drew from the tradition of using very simple recipes and fresh arrangements of ingredients. An early misunderstanding with her husband Maurice, however, led her to become immersed in the study and preparation of Middle-Eastern and Egyptian dishes, as Maurice had lived in Egypt. Little did Eve know then that he was as unaccustomed to these dishes as Eve herself, as he had also been raised in the French tradition of cooking being French himself!

Despite the eventual resolution of this mix-up, Eve has not ceased to add an occasional element of Eastern flair to her cooking, which often lends itself to her love of experimenting with dishes that are a little outside-the-box. A flair for entertaining has equally helped to garner her broad repertoire of extraordinary dishes, and as Eve said, “I like to try new things, and parties give me the impetus.”

“I like to cook something no one has had, so I won’t fail…I never make anything people know.” 

Eve’s dishes often strike a good balance between sharp flavors and other sweet, salty, and bitter elements. She also has a passion for meals that feature earthy foods like the eggplant; an ingredient which so fascinated her that she wrote a paper on it in college.

…While the first few years at the Gallery featured Alfillé menus (including a memorable buffet of no less than 50 dishes from Ancient Rome served by Eve in 1987) at the present, Eve is happy to leave the food offerings in professional hands in order to reserve her creativity for the jewelry!

EVE’S EGGPLANT MOUSSE

  • 2 large or 3 small eggplants
  • Olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed, dried basil
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Prick eggplants with fork. Brush with oil and place on foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven until the eggplant is very soft, about 1 to 11/2 hours. (Alfillé overbakes eggplant so it becomes pulpy and moist.) Set aside. Eggplant can be baked in advance and refrigerated.
 
Peel one lemon; leave second one unpeeled. Quarter both. Add to food processor with onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Process to a pulp. Cut eggplant into halves or quarters. While food processor is running, add eggplant with any accumulated juices. Process thoroughly until skin is thoroughly blended. Then with machine still running gradually trickle in about 1/3 cup olive oil. The mixture should be thick. If oil is poured too fast, it will separate. If this happens, moisten a slice of rye bread and add. Taste, and add more lemon juice if desired.

A Mystery Writer’s Mystery

October 3, 2014

Miss-Marple-The-Complete-Short-Stories-Miss-Marple-Christie-Agatha-9780062073716In a bizarrely fortuitous turn of fate, a small mystery was solved earlier this year through the literal cracking of a case. Jennifer Grant, United Kingdom resident and devoted fan of the mystery genre, unknowingly acquired an item of great significance in 2006 when she purchased a used, battered old traveling trunk…little did she then suspect that the trunk would turn out to contain a precious gemstone treasure once belonging to one of the most famed mystery writers of all time: the illustrious Agatha Christie!

Christie is the famed creator of such brilliant sleuths as the mustachioed Hercule Poirot, a P_Investigates_BJ_HB_UKBelgian former police officer, and Miss Marple, an elderly spinster of unparalleled insight and instinct, who have each starred in such such popular titles as “The Mirror Crack’d” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” The writer has sold roughly 2 billion copies of her novels, and has even been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time.

In 2006, Grant attended a sale of Christie’s belongings from Greenway, her historical house in Devon, England. There Grant purchased an old traveling trunk for £100, one of Christie’s more affordable pieces at the sale, which Grant believed did not hold much more than a merely sentimental value. Upon arrival and inspection of the trunk at her own home, however, Grant was surprised to discover that it contained (unbeknownst to the sellers) a small and keyless lockbox within.

For four years, the lockbox proved an insoluble enigma and remained shut tight and impregnable. Finally, when Grant was having some construction work done on her house in 2010, she asked one of the builders if he could pry it open for her with a crowbar. The lockbox gave way, and revealed a treasure beyond anything that Grant had imagined.

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…A literal treasure, the lockbox turned out to contain a crocheted bag holding 35 gold sovereigns and 17 half-sovereigns, which were nothing compared to the glittering diamond items Grant found inside a small cardboard box alongside the gold. A highly personal treasure of Christie’s, both a diamond buckle brooch and impressive triple-diamond engagement ring were believed to have been inherited by Christie from her mother. In her memoirs, Christie referred to these pieces as:

“My mother’s valuable jewellery [which] consisted of ‘my diamond buckle’, ‘my diamond crescent’ and ‘my diamond engagement ring’…Madge was to have the diamond crescent, and I was to have the diamond buckle.”
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The Dame Agatha Christie

The lockbox was also inscribed with the initials of Christie’s mother, Clara Margaret Miller, on its exterior. Though Grant wore these items occasionally over the past four years, she has decided to put them up for sale to go to someone who will love them even more. They have been estimated by Bonhams, where they will be going up for auction on October 8, to sell for £3,000-5,000 for the ring and £6,000-8,000 for the brooch.

For a treasure that was originally fetched in a deceptively humble £100 package, through a series of happenstances and twists of fate, this may have become Agatha Christie’s last laugh.

The Sapphire Empire

September 24, 2014

Do your chakras need cleansing? Have you had to defend yourself against serpents lately? Having difficulty with your telepathy and precognition? 

…Well, maybe you need a sapphire. 

Sapphires, being the highly MVC-010S_1coveted and sumptuous gems that they are, have over time accrued a substantial history of lore almost as long and impressive as that of the stone itself. Sapphires come from just about every continent on Earth; with mines in India, Brazil, Madagascar and beyond…we even have some sapphires here at the gallery that were collected from the rivers of Montana by our very own Eve and Maurice! (Feel free to read more about their adventure here.) As such, it is no surprise that in nearly every country and culture, there have come to exist many different legends and tales about the ancient uses, powers, and virtues of this stone.

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Sapphire Talisman of Charlemagne

A short list of sapphiric uses from history, to give you an idea, are as follows: as an antidote for poisons, as a symbol of St. Paul, the ability to kill snakes, a gem for Autumn, Jupiter, Saturn, Taurus, and Venus, as an antidepressant, and a good way to stimulate both astral travel and precognition. 

Perhaps most commonly throughout cultures, sapphires have been found useful as a talisman. Frequently worn by royalty and the nobility, they were believed to grant powerful protection to the wearer. Towards the end of the 11th century, somewhat ironically, it was even believed that they could protect the wearer from envy.

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Vamana (Vishnu) with Bali

Sapphires have also garnered mention as a stone of great worth and prominence in many major religions, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and more. They have secured a place on the breastplate of the ancient Jewish high priests as one of the twelve stones representing the tribes of Israel, as well as being included in a description of the throne of God from the book of Exodus. They have also gained several mentions throughout the Vedas texts of Hinduism, in which sapphires were initially borne from the body of the demon, Bali, whose body   took the form of thousands of scattered gemstones upon his death. Sapphires, specifically, were his eyes. It is important to note, however, that in ancient texts such as these, it is not uncommon for the term ‘sapphire’ to have actually referred to lapis lazuli or other blue stones, meaning simply ‘blue.’

Today, sapphires continue to play an important role in our culture’s consciousness, cropping up in all kinds of symbolic and prominent ways. Blue sapphires, such as those in Eve’s appropriately named “Medieval Betrothal” ring, are even now frequently preferred for use in engagement rings over other gemstones, being one of the first stones in history to have been cut for the purpose of betrothal as they have continued to symbolize loyalty, stability, and fidelity.
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“Medieval Betrothal” by Eve Alfillé

Sapphires also make fantastic engagement rings due to their incredible hardness (a 9 out of 10 on the MOHs hardness scale), being exceeded in strength by nothing on Earth but diamonds.

…As October imminently approaches and brings with it the advent of the season for anybody with an opal or tourmaline birthstone, we wish those of you who celebrated your births in September the absolute best of wishes! We hope that you have enjoyed the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the stone that you were born for.

Corundum in Blue

September 17, 2014
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“The Best Revenge” by Eve Alfillé

Something not immediately apparent to most people (in case you’re looking to impress your friends with your gem knowledge) is that in its purest form, the sapphire is actually completely colorless! A perfect blend of aluminum and oxygen, it is only once rogue elements like iron, titanium, and chromium infiltrate the pure corundum that colors of all sorts start to form: sapphires that can range from lemon and sun yellow, to vivid pinks and lovely violets, to soulful greens…all the while still remaining true to the “sapphire” name. Pure corundum is so infrequent, in fact, that transparent sapphires are quite rare.

…But for all of the ‘fancy’ options out there, of course, who can imagine sapphires without immediately seeing a vision of blue?

Quite simply, though sapphires exist in just about every shade imaginable (but for ruby red), blue is by and far the “poster child” of sapphires. Indeed, the very namesake of the sapphire is sappheiros,” or “blue” in Greek. Rather than posing a limit, however, this single color has taken on an entire array of hues and intensities; from the palest of dawn-blues to the deep blue of the cornflower. Typically, the more intense the color saturation, the more desirable the stone. A wonderful example of an intense, true blue can be seen in Eve’s lush 1.49 carat sapphire from the boldly-titled ring, “The Best Revenge.”

The most deeply coveted shade of bluekashmir_sapphire_group in the world, however, is incredibly rare. Coming from a tiny little corner of the Himalayan Mountains in Kashmir, India, these sparkling beauties are widely known for their deep, slightly clouded center, which produces an incredibly rich and velvety visual effect. Kashmir sapphires are so hard to come by today due to the exhaustion of the original mines over a century ago…now they are usually available only in older jewelry items. A few Kashmir sapphires of note throughout history include the famous stone which graced the royal fingers of Princess Diana and Duchess Kate Middleton. Other noteworthy dames to don a Kashmir include Princess Alice (the Duchess of Gloucester,) Kristie Alley, Susan Sarandon, Sara Ferguson (the Duchess of York,) and Ivana Trump, among others.

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“Interchange” by Eve Alfillé

Finally, no discussion about the physical attributes of the sapphire would be complete without mentioning star sapphires, such as Eve’s smoky-blue “Interchange” pendant pictured left. In a phenomenon known as “asterism,” strands of rutile running through the stone (what gemologists refer to as “silk”) produce a brilliant, six-pronged star shape appearing within the stone. This visual phenomenon was once believemain_blackstard to bring protection against witchcraft to the ancient Sinhalese, equating the star within the stone with eye agate in its ability to guard against the “Evil Eye.” Though star sapphires are rarely seen in a deep blue, these stones can range a broad color spectrum: in fact, the largest sapphire in the world, the “Black Star of Queensland” is a hefty 733-carat black star sapphire.

If your desire for sapphiric facts remains unsated, please keep coming back to our blog for more as we continue to keep you posted throughout the month of September with a wide array of dazzling facts about this month’s birthstone! Or, you can click on to read our previous installment about fancy sapphires, “A Sapphire of a Different Color.”

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