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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.”

A Sapphire of a Different Color

September 10, 2014

A very happy birthday to you, September babies! It also promises to be a very happy anniversary for those of you reaching your 5th and 45th years in marriage, as sapphires are the traditional gifting stone of choice for these years, as well as being September’s birthstone.

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“True Balance” by Eve J. Alfillé

Of the corundum family, these incredibly hard little gemstones come in every color under the rainbow…EXCEPT for red. Once a sapphire becomes red, it is then officially classified as another famous stone: a ruby! The difference is in the color saturation: anything too pale pink must be classified as a pink sapphire, though some rubies can be a pinkish-red. The spectrum of ruby even plunges so deep as a dark burgundy, yet anything less red than this must be denied the  title of “ruby.” This, however, leaves an entire spectrum of colors yet to span, and thusly, a great variety for sapphires to utilize!

‘Pink sapphires, you say?” Why, yes! Any non-blue sapphires, like the delicate violet and lemon hues found in this beautiful Eve ring, “True Balance,”  are known as a fancy sapphires. Fancy sapphires are just as sapphire as their “true blue” counterparts, only they introduce a whole new spectrum of colors caused by small amounts of rogue trace elements in the corundum, such as iron, titanium, and chromium.

For striking and precious qualities such as their incredible durability and color, sapphires have also earned a place right in the middle of history. These stones have been seen in pop culture as recently as the 12royal-engagement-ring-kate-middleton-princess-diana karat sapphire gracing the finger of the new Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton. The same ring also previously graced the royal finger of Princess Diana.

To learn more about sapphires, stay tuned! We here at the Eve Alfillé Gallery & Studio intend to celebrate this special stone all throughout the month of September in several enlightening installments.

A Nouveau Neckline

August 8, 2014
Fashion runways in India have recently seen the advent of a new trend in jewelry…or rather, a clever spin on some jewelry items that you already own.
 
headaccesory5 An entire line of models showed off multiple versions of this burgeoning trend in New Delhi when they graced the stage with pearls and jewels draped across their hair like diadems. Rather than bedazzled hairbands, these were each cleverly-employed necklaces: a classic beauty standard that is now getting a breath of fresh air as a new and multifunctioning hair accessory.
 
 
 
TJennifer_Lawrence-1024x721his innovative implementation of necklaces is a trend that has also been spotted recently in the western hemisphere on several stars, such as Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, and Jennifer Lawrence (whose taste in jewelry has already sparked our interest.) Rather than draping it across the top of her head like a circlet, however, Lawrence chose to carefully weave a glittering necklace into her low updo for some added texture and panache. 
 
DIY: This look could be easily replicated at home by weaving your necklace into a loose braid from top to bottom, and then coiling and pinning the braid up at the nape of your neck.
 
Another Hollywood actress to sport this look is fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker, who chose to wear her necklace off to one side like a beautifully-draped pin or brooch.
 
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 DIY: To recreate this look, simply bobby-pin your necklace into place in any kind of updo, ensuring that the clasped ends are tucked into your hair. Feel free to place your necklace in front, off to the side like Parker, or even in the back. 
 
Those of you with shorter hair need not despair! For a circlet or hairband-like appearance, simply wrap the necklace around your head once (or twice for longer strands), and bobby pin it into place to create a look just as delicate, bold, casual, or elegant as the pieces of jewelry that you select. Enjoy!
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