Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

10 Extraordinary Emerald Facts

By Katie McMath


If you’ve celebrated your birthday recently, or will soon, you may have settled for something simpler than usual. Maybe you cozied up on the couch with a loved one and watched your favorite movie or ordered some delicious takeout. To make your special day a little more special we’ve compiled a list of exciting facts about May’s birthstone.

1: Emeralds Are Part of the ‘Big Four’ Gemstones

Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds: they’re stones everyone has heard of, even if they aren’t big jewelry fans. These four are the only “precious” gemstones, meaning May’s birthstone is up there with the best.

2: They Are Quite Rare

Emeralds are even less abundant than diamonds. Less than 4 million carats worth of emeralds were mined in 2015, compared to diamonds’ 11 million. Even with these statistics, it’s possible to find a good emerald if you keep your eyes peeled. One of Eve’s gallery staff found a raw, natural emerald on the beach this year!

3: Just Like Your Coffee, Most of them Come from Colombia

Colombia’s lush geography isn’t just good for growing coffee beans. It is also the point of origin for 50% or more of the world’s emeralds. Long ago Inca people used this supply to decorate their jewelry and precious vessels. If you have an emerald, there’s a half and half chance you can guess where it came from. 

4: They’ve Been Used as Writing Tablets

Green is a scared Islamic color, symbolizing paradise. The Mogul Empire, home to a thriving stone carving industry, is responsible for this beautiful dual-sided emerald. Carved in the late 16th century, with sacred text on the front and flora on the back, this emerald weighs around 218 carats. It is one example of how large emeralds can grow! 

5: Emeralds Soothe the Eyes

Emeralds are a beautiful, earthy color. Looking on them is like looking at a rich green landscape. In fact Ireland and Seattle, WA have both been nicknamed after the stone because of their greenery. Many believe the soothing color of an emerald relieves eye stress. Stone cutters once kept the gem handy to relieve their eyes after hours of hard work. 

6: They’ve Been Around a Long Time

The oldest emeralds are nearly 3 billion years old. Considering the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, emeralds have been around for most of our planet’s history! If only they could tell us their stories. 

7: Emeralds Were Cleopatra’s Favorite

Egypt is the oldest known site of emerald mining. Cleopatra took ownership of this ancient mine from the Greeks, and collected a bounty of emeralds for her palace and jewelry. Her cache included a massive emerald named after her. It is a whopping 97 carats, and rumored to be cursed. 

8: Aquamarine is Cut From the Same Cloth

Both greenish gems are made of the mineral beryl, though this was not known until the 19th century. Beryl comes in a variety of colors. It is called heliodor when bright yellow and morganite when soft pink. 

9: More Bang for Your Buck

One carat emeralds are larger than one carat diamonds. How is this possible? Carats measure weight, not size. A stone’s density, material, and cut all affect its carat total. Since emeralds are less dense and lighter than diamonds their beauty comes in bigger packages. 

 10: It Tastes Sweet, but Please Don’t Lick Your Emeralds

A few hundred years ago chemists would use all their senses to collect data, even taste. They found that beryl had a sweet taste, and nearly named it ‘glyceynum’ after glucose (or sugar.) We now know that beryllium is toxic when ingested. Don’t follow these scientists’ lead. 

Bonus Fact: Eve Has Designed Many Emerald Pieces

A lover of green, Eve has crafted many gorgeous articles honoring the emerald. Her “Mistress of the House” earrings come with removable emerald drops, and give the feeling of Italian royalty. Their rich 18 karat gold plays off the emerald’s warmth. 

The “Emerald Amulet” makes a beautiful, delicate gift for someone with a May birthday. Also set in 18  karat gold, featuring graceful leaf designs, this pendant may be worn on different chains to customize the look. Perhaps it could make up for the unusual circumstances eclipsing this year’s spring celebrations.

Now is a great time to get in touch with Eve’s Gallery and order a custom piece, or browse tantalizing creations on our website and Instagram. Eve hasn’t stopped creating, and continues to gain joy from passing on her one-of-a-kind treasures. Why not treat yourself?

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

A Rainbow of Diamonds

By Katie McMath

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Did you know that diamonds occur naturally in a rainbow of colors? White diamonds are the best known, as they are more common than their colorful siblings. The Gemological Institute of America estimates that only 1 in 10,000 diamonds has enough tint to be considered colored. These special stones are gaining more attention in recent years as collectors and shoppers learn more about them.

Mines like Argyle in Australia harvest and sell incredible gems in all shades. This mine in particular is known for red and pink diamonds, the rarest of all colored diamonds. Most red diamonds are small, but that doesn’t make them less valuable or beautiful. Other factors like vividness, cut, and clarity come into play. So how do red diamonds form? Their color comes not from additional minerals, but their unusual atomic structure which reflects back red light rather than white.

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The Argyle mine is also responsible for the popularity of brown diamonds in the 1990s, likening them to champagne and cognac. Before this, they were little known. Today their rich, powerful tones are highly coveted. Jewelry brand LeVian has trademarked the term “chocolate diamond,” advertising them with luscious confectionary metaphors.

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In general, brown diamonds with green hues are prized above those with orange. However, with so much natural variety, there is room for each person to pick their favorite. If you don’t mind small sizes,naturally colored diamonds in brown, yellow, and black are within reach.

Yellow diamonds also have an enticing nickname which has elevated their glamorous reputation. When they are pure yellow, with no tints of other colors, they are called canary diamonds. One of the most famous colored diamonds is a canary yellow diamond found in 1877, long before colored diamonds became popular.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond is a massive stone just under 300 carats. Once Tiffany bought the stone, they trusted its cutting to new gemologist George Frederick Kunz, only twenty three years old at the time. He proved his talent by cutting 90 beautiful facets in a modified square brilliant cut. Audrey Hepburn wore this incredible gem on a collar as she promoted Breakfast at Tiffany’s. At the 2019 Oscars, Lady Gaga wore the historical diamond in a new setting as a pendant.

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A large number of all diamonds have yellow or brown tints. In the past they have been color corrected in the hopes of being sold as white diamonds. Ironically, white diamonds are more valuable the closer they are to colorless. Colored diamonds are valued for their intensity and saturation. Today the GIA grades colored diamonds from Faint to Fancy Deep, with Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid being the most valuable.

Unlike brown and red diamonds which get their color from the arrangement of their atoms (also known as the stone’s “crystal lattice,”) yellow and orange diamonds are colored by nitrogen. Orange diamonds are more rare and desirable than yellow. One of the largest and most colorful orange diamonds was bought by American jeweler Harry Winston the day before Halloween. It was amusingly nicknamed the Pumpkin Diamond. 

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Two of the most famous colored diamonds come in cooler shades. Also once owned by Harry Winston, The Dresden Green comes from Southern India and dates back to at least the early 1700s. It was bought by the King of Poland and Prince of German Saxony, who stored it in his museum collection in the Dresden palace. This famous collection of artifacts and natural wonders is called the Green Vaults. Its walls, like the Dresden diamond, were once a lovely green color.

The Dresden Green is a pear-shaped stone, weighing about 40 carats. It is a beautiful apple colored green, especially spectacular as green diamonds are very rare. An average of less than ten are sold each year. This means less green diamonds have been studied. Still cloaked in mystery, the green diamond’s makeup is uncertain to gemologists.

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It is possible their color comes from radiation in rocks nearby, as the diamond forms. Irradiation is used in labs to make artificially colored green diamonds, usually a deeper color than natural ones, and more consistent in shade throughout. When natural green diamonds are cut, they lose some of their vibrancy, which seems to concentrate on the gem’s outermost layer.

Another unusual phenomenon, some green diamonds change to yellow depending on light and heat. These mystifying gems are called Chameleon Diamonds. Even less is known about them, having just been discovered in 1943. Storing them in the dark, or heating them to about 400 degrees, will change their color temporarily. In a way, they are similar to Alexandrite, the color changing birth stone of June which you can read about on Eve’s blog.

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Probably the most famous colored diamond of all is the coveted Hope Diamond. This steely blue gem, known in French as “The King’s Jewel,” was once owned by French royalty. It was made even more famous by its theft two hundred years ago. Today it rests safely in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. In 2000, the Dresden Green and the Hope Diamond were displayed there side by side as two of the most striking and historically rich colored gems.

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While the Hope Diamond and the Dresden Green were mined in India, many other blue diamonds come from South Africa. This is a popular location for sourcing yellow diamonds as well. Natural blue diamonds have the unique property of conducting electricity. The reasoning behind this is still unclear, but most likely has to do with the stone’s structure.

Colored diamonds contain a wealth of information, which we have so far only been able to glimpse. Like all diamonds, they come from deep within the Earth, and carry stories upward from this place no human eyes have seen. Colored diamonds are beautiful natural wonders, economic heavyweights, and scientific contributors.

It’s likely that colored diamonds will continue to grow in popularity over the years, as they branch out of obscurity, and are picked up by clever marketers and celebrities. Their abundant, complex range of shades is a reminder of nature’s incredible capacity for surprise. Which color is your favorite?

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Sustainable Jewels

by Ann Covode

Actress and left-wing activist Jane Fonda signaled her goodness at the Academy awards via social media, posting a photo of herself in a recycled designer dress and her “ethically harvested” and “sustainable” jewelry.

Jane Fonda at the 2020 Academy Awards

Fonda’s designer dress was also reportedly “recycled,” meaning she wore it to an award show once before. Fonda, an avid climate activist, presented “Best Picture” at the 2020 Oscars.

What does it mean to have ethically harvested gold and sustainable diamonds? At this time in our country and around the world it is a good question to ask.
Eve has been buying recycled gold for years. “This is a great way to recycle as there is lots of gold out there that can be reused. The refiner that we use has very high quality mixtures. They remix gold for various uses”. When using recycled gold you avoid the environmentally toxic methods of mining.”

Eco-friendly Gold, Eco-Gold or Green-Gold is mined and recovered with a minimal ecological disruption and WITHOUT using mercury, cyanide or any other hazardous chemical, usually using the gravity method. Gold jewelry and coins are often recycled through brick-and-mortar dealers or mail-in programs that pay individuals for the unwanted gold. Gold recycled from fillings and other dental work is often collected by dentists and sent to a recycler.

What does it mean when you use your family’s gems? It is a form of recycling that has been happening for years.

Eve is a long time fan of recycled and redesigned jewelry. Many of her customers bring in gems from their parents and grandparents to have Eve redesign a piece for their tastes. A recent example is a customer who brought in her mother’s gold watch with rubies and some family diamonds. Eve worked with this customer to design a ring that would contain all of these gems.

Eve sketching a new design

The 14 karat rose gold came from her mother’s watch, as well as the 6 rubies that contribute to the elegant, fun spirit of this Confetti ring. It is 8 mm wide in front, but of course, the diamonds stray beyond its borders!

The Wax for the Ring

The customer requested that the names of the women in her family whose diamonds are in this ring be inscribed inside. It is also signed Eve J. Alfille.

The finished piece!

Recycling and redesigning jewelry isn’t a new concept at all. It has been happening for hundreds of years. A famous example follows:
In the early 1900’s the maharajas from India became enchanted with the art deco designs they had seen coming out of Paris. They, too wanted to redesign some of their jewels for the modern age.

Jacques Cartier with Indian gemstone dealers. Photo from Jacques Cartier’s album recording his voyage to India in 1911. Cartier Archives


The maharajas were fascinated by the Parisian styles Cartier showed them, and many would entrust their jewels to the Parisian house. Between 1925 and 1928, for example, the Maharaja of Patiala commissioned Cartier to re-set his Crown Jewels — one of the largest single commissions in the firm’s history.

The close bond between Cartier and India was most apparent during the Art Deco period, and resulted in two types of jewels: the Indian gems redesigned in the Cartier Western style for the maharajas, and the ‘India-inspired’ jewels presented to Cartier’s Western clientele.

In 1936 Daisy Fellowes, the French-American socialite and Singer sewing machine heiress, commissioned the Collier Hindou, a garden of rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds believed to have been inspired by a Cartier creation for the Maharajah of Patna. It was secured with an adjustable silk cord in the Indian style.

Cartier’s Tutti Frutti Necklace

This style later became known as the “Tutti Frutti” necklace and became popular for years to come at Cartier.

Daisy Fellowes


A long time customer of Eve’s brought in a large diamond from her grandmother set in her wedding ring. She preferred to have a pendant instead so Eve designed a new piece for her.
The result is a stunning pendant that she will wear often!

Design for pendant
A beautiful redesign!

One client brought in a beautiful Marquise diamond and some round diamonds to ask Eve create something new for her. Eve came up with a vine ring creation which also incorporated her round sapphire and a new pear pink tourmaline. Underneath she wanted a green stone so Eve suggested a tsavorite garnet as a secret stone. The result is a stunning combination of gems set in 14 karat white gold.

Another lovely creation by Eve

Another customer brought in some Native American earrings that she wasn’t wearing. Eve then redesigned them into a necklace with onyx and turquoise in an asymmetrical design.
We also designed these beautiful Sleeping Beauty turquoise earrings with cultured fresh water pearls and our 3mm diamonds set in 18 karat yellow gold. What fun it is to recycle and redesign with Eve!

A happy customer!

Perhaps this is a time to look through pieces given to you from someone special that you might want to redesign into something new?

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Aquamarine – the calming stone

by Ann Covode

For many centuries, oceanic energy was believed to be contained within the delicate semblance of Aquamarine. When amulets made of this precious gem were worn, sailors believed that unmatched bravery would be instilled in their souls, giving them the power to overcome even the most powerful storm. In these uncertain times, perhaps aquamarine can be a solace to your soul?

In the Middle Ages, aquamarine was one of the crystals most often used to create a ball for fortune telling. People back then also believed pairing an aquamarine with a diamond helped create a long happy marriage. They considered aquamarine to be a perfect gift for a wedding anniversary, thinking that it would bring more love into the relationship.

Aquamarine will be featured in Eve’s new series opening of May 2nd (tentative date).

Brazil was previously the world’s major supplier of Aquamarine; however, today, African nations, such as Nigeria and Madagascar, provide a greater supply of this gemstone. The blue color comes from the presence of ferrous iron.

Aquamarine is part of the Beryl family. Beryl is found throughout the world, but commercial gem-quality deposits are limited to a few major producers. Nearly all of the largest examples of gem beryls known are from Brazilian localities. In Asia, quanities of aquamarine come from Sri Lanka and from Kashmir in the north of India and Madras in the south. In the last twenty-five years Pakistan has also produced a number of aquamarines and morganites.

The Malagasy Republic of Africa produces a wide range of fine-quality beryls and some exceptionally dark-colored aquamarines. Nigeria has in recent years produced large quantities of aquamarines, found in numerous pegmatite veins. Most recently, Australia has produced aquamarine from Mount Surprise, in North Queensland.

Eve designed this stunning pale blue-green “Winter Solstice” necklace featuring smooth aquamarine ovals, rainforest aquamarine rondelles, rainforest aquamarine briolettes and labradorite discs. The 18 karat white gold chain beautifully brings all the elements together in this stunning necklace from Eve’s “A Winter’s Tale” series.

Eve’s “Winter’s Solstice” Necklace

All varieties of beryl (other than emerald) are subject to heat treatment. A number of green beryls will change color under mild heat treatment to an equivalent shade of blue and therefore become aquamarines. Another beryl variety is emerald, which often has many inclusions, wheras Aquamarine has a flawless crystal structure. Aquamarine forms in a hexagonal system, which forms bladed crystals with vertical striations.

The name Aquamarine translates as you might expect, aqua marina meaning water of the sea in Latin. Metaphysically, people believe that Aquamarine has a soothing and calming effect.

Eve designed this spectacular new Aquamarine ring featuring a center stone of 6.70 carats with a companion two side trillion shaped stones of 1.20tw. To complement its beauty there are 6 pretty white diamonds totaling 0.14tw.

Eve’s new Aquamarine Ring

This chunky aquamarine and 18 karat gold necklace is from Eve’s “Antiquities” series. The play with gold and aquamarine makes for a delightful combination.

Eve’s Aquamarine and 18 karat gold necklace

Red sky in the morning is a sailors warning, red sky at night is a sailor’s delight. Aquamarine for your loved one means smooth sailing!

Aquamarines

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Behind the Scenes: How Eve’s Jewelry is Made

By Katie McMath

Since Eve opened the gallery in 1988, she and her staff have hand-made each incredible piece of jewelry the old fashioned way. In fact our process is so old fashioned it’s 6,000 years old! It’s called the Lost Wax method. Perhaps you’ve read about it in an art history class. Ancient cultures from just about every continent used this technique to make some of their most precious items. Among these are the Aztecs, Ancient Egyptians, Greek, Chinese, and West African people to name a few. 

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Left: Mounted Ruler 18th century, Edo people of Benin Kingdom Nigeria, bronze;

Right: Ceremonial knife (tumi) AD 900-1100, Aztec people of Peru, gold, silver, turquoise

No one region can be credited for discovering the Lost Wax method. Rather it dawned on many groups around the same time period. This might seem mysterious, but likely has to do with the evolution of the human brain. As our species gained language, currency, agriculture, and the use of tools, we changed dramatically in our abilities. These sophisticated skills were the result of long physical evolution, including gene mutations and changes to our mouth shape. Along with these changes came complex thought processing. Many of the world’s first art historical artifacts come from this era. This was a global advancement, not insulated to just one community at a time. 

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Xin Dynasty coin mold, circa 45 B.C. – A.D. 23

The Lost Wax method has changed very little over six millennia. Today we use wax derived from petroleum, rather than natural beeswax. Much like today, ancient cultures produced jewelry, and artwork. They also made armor. We use mostly the same metals as people did long ago: copper, silver, and gold. Today we use Lost Wax in jewelry making and the arts, but not as much in other industries. 3D printing is a less laborious, more mechanical alternative. Both allow for copies to be made, but not all cultures took advantage of this. Ancient Aztecs would ruin their molds after use, to ensure each piece was entirely unique. This makes the remaining artifacts even more precious. 

So what is this time-honored technique? It begins with a carved wax model of the desired shape. In our case we sculpt rings, chain links, and a variety of decorative elements. These are fragile and must be handled carefully. With tools and heat, we make fine adjustments. This may mean adding space for precious stones, or changing the size of a ring’s band. Skilled wax workers carve intricate patterns and illustrations into the surface. The wax must be malleable yet maintain its shape. During this stage it may be shown to the customer so they can offer input before the process is too far along. 

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Two wax elements, one set with a sapphire

After the wax is finished, it is invested. This is why the Lost Wax Method is sometimes called the Investment Method. In other words plaster (or investment) is poured around the wax to make a mould of its shape. We do this by gathering each wax and attaching them to a “tree.” Organic lines link the pieces so metal may flow easily from one to another. Once the tree is placed inside a cylindrical sheath, we carefully mix and pour the right amount of plaster inside. Next we wait for it to dry. 

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Five invested molds, ready to be cast with metal

Once hard, the plaster mold goes into a kiln and is gradually heated to 1350 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, over a generous thirteen hours, the wax melts and leaves a hollow space behind. The name Lost Wax refers to this dissipation. Once the wax has left, the metal cylinder is quickly removed, and placed into a cradle. Eve pours molten metal, torch-melted, inside. The cylinder is spun rapidly, which projects the metal into the hollow space, forming the final shape in gold or silver. This step of the process Eve and Maurice complete in their home studio. 

Once cool the plaster is broken away, and each trinket may be retrieved. These are finally polished, set with stones, and inscribed by hand with your special message. The extra metal is reused in an effort to conserve. Customers may also contribute their own metal.

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One ring shown in the wax, casting, and final stage with set stones. Titled “Peaceful Coexistence”, it is from the “Undercurrents” series

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A finished sapphire and white gold pendant

I hope this article leaves you with a deeper understanding of Eve’s process. From conception to creation, there is humanity and hard work at each step. This gives the end result an added character as opposed to more commercially produced jewelry. Eve has curated a staff not commercially trained, but sharp and creative. Our jewelry is persistently made by hand, not machine. Each piece is a unique result of labor and love.