Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio


By Ken Buckingham

From a lucky token to a spell-binding attitude, a charm is something that feels nourishing to have near. Charms are as old as jewelry itself, beginning with a curious object, a piece of bone, a shell, which did not serve a function for finding food or building shelter. Rather, it aided in something intangible. Strung about one’s neck, close to the heart, a charm, with a magical quality, would evoke feelings of protection and power. The first jewelry across civilizations is always the necklace. Eve’s amulets call to this heritage of adornment across cultures. Their organic textures and simple forms speak to something primal and natural.

The essence of charms is that they invoke something beyond their material form. They started as found objects with curious natures but were transformed as humans began to design and modify forms to transcend raw materials. The earliest evidence of personal adornment was discovered in Morocco, Algeria, Israel, and South America. 110,000 year old beads made of shells were painted, carved and transformed into objects of beauty. The earliest object to take on the figurative quality of charms we know today is the Venus of Hohle Fels. The human form carved from mammoth ivory was discovered in Germany and is estimated to be 30,000 years old. Instead of a head, the figure has a ring between the shoulders with a polish from wear suggesting it was worn as a pendant.

Early charms were often used to ward off negative energy and entities. This quality of deflecting harm and evil is called apotropaic magic. It is most popularly embodied by the evil eye charm, originating approximately five thousand years ago in ancient Greece. Still today, about 40% of the world’s population believes in the power of the evil eye.

Another purpose has been means of identification. Ancient Egyptians would be buried with charms that functioned to identify them to the gods. Early Christians living during the time of the Roman Empire would wear fish charms to discreetly identify one another. To this day, people wear religious charms to communicate their faith and carry its spirit with them. This function of identification has branched out beyond the spiritual and into the secular. Infinite possibilities of iconography could communicate one’s affiliation to a group or shared interest that sparks connection and familiarity between strangers if they identify one another. 

Perhaps the most familiar and condensed context for charms in our modern culture is the charm bracelet. Charms are first seen worn on the wrist around 700-400 BC by ancient Babylonians, Persians, and Assyrians. Multiple charms would be strung on a leather chord and worn about the wrist. We have to wonder if they had the same appeal of the jingling sound as one moved about as they do now.

Charm bracelets experienced their second wave of popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria in the mid 1800s. The queen’s love of charms, especially charm bracelets which she would wear and give as gifts, made them popular amongst the wealthy and elite. She also popularized sentimental charms, when previously charms had primarily functioned as identifiers (a family crest) or even functional items (miniature magnifying glasses). The queen wore charms that contained locks of hair from her love, Prince Albert, and her children. She would commemorate major events with the curation of new charm bracelets. Most notably, two mourning bracelets were made in the wake of her husband’s passing. Before she died, she stipulated the desire to be buried with 150 personal charms. Her passion for the power of charms left lasting impact on their popularity.

Because of their association with the queen, charms were connected to wealth and power. At the same time, the industrial revolution was taking place, making mass production more feasible. While they were not made with the skill and highest quality materials of handmade jewelry purchased by the upper class, charms could be obtained by the workers. Being able to wear something synonymized with the power of royalty and wealth added another layer to the magic of charms. The accessibility and pervasiveness additionally added to the popularity.

Above anything else, charms are evidence on an individual and a life lived. Charms are added to bracelets to punctuate life events: a wedding, a birth of child, a trip, a tragedy. This year, a bracelet came through our studio to have a mask charm added to its collection. When the bracelet is passed on, it will carry the lived experiences of its owner, incarnated in charms.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Gemstone Etymology

By Julia Hornedo

Have you ever wondered the significance of your birthstone? Not just the properties the stones are said to represent, but where the words for different gems come from, and what their meaning is? Let’s investigate this using something called etymology, or the study of how words evolve through history.

“6×6” garnet and 14k gold necklace from Eve’s “Sacred Geometries” series.

Starting with January, the word garnet has origins in the Medieval Latin granatum, meaning “of a dark red color.” Very fitting for a famously red gem! But did you know that granatum is related to the word granum, which means “grain” and is found in the word pomegranate? The pome- in pomegranate means “apple,”which at the time just referred to any fruit.  I don’t know about you, but now I can’t stop picturing a pomegranate filled with juicy red little garnets!

“With enthusiasm” amethyst ring from Eve’s “Alone Together” series

Moving on to February, the word for amethyst is derived from Greek amethystos, which meant “not intoxicating or drunk.” If you can remember vocab lessons from elementary school you might recall that the a- prefix means “not.” It is followed by –methystos, which comes from the words methyskein, meaning “to make drunk,” and methys, meaning “wine,” which itself comes from the Proto-Indo-European word medhu, or “mead.” What this illustrates for us is that in ancient Greek culture, amethyst as a stone was thought to prevent drunkenness, perhaps through its purple, wine like coloring.

“Suspended Motion” 14k white gold, aquamarine and diamond earrings from Eve’s “Dwelling and Habitats” series.

March’s stone, aquamarine, comes from Latin aqua marina which literally translates to “sea water.” The Latin phrase itself comes from Proto Indo European akwa, or “water” and mori, or “body of water.” It’s clear that the stone is named for its blue green coloring, and the way it resembles waves in the ocean, reflecting a clear blue sky.

“Fire and Ice” diamond, 18k white gold and 18k rose gold pendant from Eve’s “Aux Portes du Passé” series.

April’s iconic diamond originated from the Latin adamantem, which could be taken to mean “the hardest metal,” but was really referring to a mythical, nonexistent metal revered for its supposed hardness. The Latin word comes from the Greek adamas, which means “unbreakable or inflexible.” Remind you of anything? It’s also the origin for the English word “adamant” which is used to refer to someone who refuses to budge on something. Diamonds sure are stubborn, they’re the hardest gemstone!

“Via dell Abondanza” emerald necklace from Eve’s “Pompeii” series

The word for Emerald, the birthstone for the month or May, comes from the Greek smaragdos, which just meant “green gem.” And this is because originally, the word for emeralds could refer to both the true emeralds we know today, as well as malachite.

“Beat egg yolks & sugar together” pearl and sapphire earrings from Eve’s “Just Desserts” series.

Although pearls aren’t stones, they are the modern birthstone for the month of June. The word for pearl comes from the Latin perna, which referred both to the sea mussels that held pearls and pearls themselves. But the word translates directly to “ham haunch.” This is because mussels resemble hams in shape. Its no surprise either, pearls can be very scrumptious looking!

“Fiery Acanthus” ruby, platinum and diamond ring from Eve’s “Acanthus” series

The word for ruby, July’s birthstone, comes from Medieval Latin’s rubinis lapis, meaning “red stone,” rubinis meaning “red” and “lapis” meaning “stone.” This comes from the Latin rubeus meaning “red,” which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European reudh meaning “red or ruddy.” Rubies are famous for being red, but who knew they literally meant “red?”

“A Cool Riesling” 14k gold and peridot earrings from Eve’s “In Great Spirits” series.

The month of August is an odd one, if only because the origins of its birthstone are so mysterious. The word peridot can be traced back to Medieval Latin peridotus, but no one has any clue what peridotus mean or where it came from. Sorry, August babies!

“Barring unforeseen circumstances” sapphires earrings from Eve’s “Alone Together” series.

September is the month of the highly prized sapphires, and the word for sapphire comes from Greek sappheiros, which translates to “blue stone” but was actually originally referring to lapis lazuli. The Greek sappheiros comes from Sanskrit sanipriya, priya meaning “a dark precious stone” and sani meaning “sacred to saturn.”

“Palais Garnier” 18 karat gold and doublet opal pin from Eve’s “Aux portes du passé” series.

The word for opal, the birthstone of October, originates from Sanskrit upala-s, which just means “gem or precious stone.” The word opal is thought to possibly be related to the Greek word ophthalmos, meaning “eye.” The association between opals and eyes can be traced back to medieval times, when the opal was thought to cure bad eyesight and even make its wearer invisible. That might not be true today, but take one look at an opal and I think anyone could agree it’s a magically luminous stone.

“Found on the Ground” chalcedony, topaz, 14k gold and sterling silver earrings from Eve’s “Feathers” series.

The birthstone of November, the topaz, is derived from Greek Topazios, which was the name of a remote island in Egypt, today called St. John’s Island or Zabargad Island, where large Topaz deposits were mined. As such the Greek word topazein meant “to divine or try to locate.” Alternatively the word topaz may originally come from Sanskrit’s tapaz, meaning “heat or fire,” which would be fitting for topaz’s warm yellow coloring.

“Out of this World” turquoise necklace from Eve’s “Latitude and Longitude” series

Lastly, Turquoise, December’s birthstone, comes from Old French pierre turquoise and Medieval Latin lapis turchesius, meaning “Turkish stone.” This is because turquoise was first introduced to Europe via Turkish mines in the 17th century. Next time you see a turquoise, or even something that’s turquoise colored, think of Turkey!

Who would have thought that these gems could have such colorful histories? Some of their origins seem very fitting, and some are more surprising, but hopefully you feel you know your birthstone a little bit better, and if you’re someone who strongly identifies with your birthstone, perhaps you even feel you got to know yourself a little better!

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

“Dwellings & Habitats”

by Ann Covode

Provence village house in South of France

“The snail inside its shell, the fox in its burrow, sparrows gathering twigs – I watch and see how we crave structure, a place to rest, to be, to dwell..” Eve Alfillé.

Eve has been thinking of the idea of home for her new series for several years but during the pandemic it has become even more important. At first she focused on the idea of home because we were all spending so much time there. As the pandemic wore on her ideas became more about the emotional reactions to the pandemic.

“About two years ago, I began to think about jewels in praise of habitat. Reeds and poles, bricks and stones. I hunted for rough gems that could be bricks, clear aquamarines like the sky through a window, and all the while, it was going to be just that: the entrance to my house as a brooch, tiny fireplaces for earrings?” reflects Eve.

“But, just like when I was a very small child and war erupted around us, suddenly things changed.”

At first Eve felt numb when the pandemic began. It was a shock to all of us and she was no exception. Although, she could draw on her experiences from her childhood in France where her family was forced into hiding during WWII. At age 6 ½ they lived in a small room in a house and she couldn’t leave. She was home schooled at a young age. Perhaps, that’s where her creativity started to bloom?

In her collection she experiments with the ideas of independence using keshi pearls which have an independent spirit of their own. She mimics the hard choices we now make in her beautiful “Small wedding” necklace with bold stormy aquamarines and kyanite.

Eve captures many of the emotions we have all experienced in her new pieces. She mimics the sky and freedom with her aquamarine earrings.

She also explores the positive side of home with warm stones that reflect the hearth and warm fires burning.

Eve’s creativity is alive and well in this new series. Diving deep into an emotional response, she captures our conflicting new emotions at this time.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Eve’s Fall Palette

by Ann Covode

With the coming of autumn, our color palette turns to the colors of turning leaves. We reflect on the change of season with the sunsets and change of light. Over the years Eve has created many pieces with these fall colors using garnets, sapphires, carnelians, Tahitian pearls and fire opals.

When I first came to work for Eve she was launching her “Sacred Geometries” series. I was drawn to a fire opal necklace from Ethiopia that was part of this series. Each bead dazzled with fire to create an aura of luminescence.

Fire Opal Necklace

Fire opal is a translucent opal with warm body colors ranging from yellow to orange to gold. Even though it usually doesn’t show any color play, sometimes a stone will show bright green flashes. Querétaro in Mexico is the most popular supplier of fire opals; these opals are commonly referred to as Mexican fire opals.

In the 1990s, Ethiopia became an important source of opal. Much of the Ethiopian opal is fire opal and precious fire opal. Much of the Ethiopian fire opal is yellow.
Smaller amounts of fire opal are produced in Australia, Brazil, Honduras, and Guatemala. In the United States, Nevada and Oregon produce some beautiful fire opal.

Fire opals are cut in a variety of ways. Some are cut as faceted stones, others are cut as cabochons. The cutter decides how he/she thinks the stone will be most attractive. There is no rule for cutting fire opal.

Eve continues to explore this fall pallete in her more recent series. For her “Aux Portes du Passé” series last year Eve created these lovely “Sacre Coeur” earrings with Grossular Garnet in 14 karat rose gold. The jackets in18 karat gold contain stones of carnelian, rhodolite garnet, garnet, lepidolite, covalite and amethyst.

Eve’s “Sacré Coeur” Earrings

Grossular is a calcium-aluminium species of the garnet group of minerals. The name grossular is derived from the botanical name for the gooseberry, grossularia, in reference to the green garnet of this composition that is found in Siberia. Other shades include cinnamon brown (cinnamon stone variety), red, and yellow.

Variety of Garnets

Hessonite or “cinnamon stone” is a common variety of grossular. The name comes from the Ancient Greek: ἣσσων (hēssōn), meaning inferior; an allusion to its lower hardness and lower density than most other garnet species varieties.

Tsavorite or tsavolite is a variety of the garnet group species grossular, a calcium-aluminium garnet trace amounts of vanadium or chromium provide the green color.
Tanzania in a place called Lemshuko is where this garnet was first found. The specimens found were of very intense color and of high transparency. The find interested the gem trade, and attempts were made to export the stones, but the Tanzanian government did not provide permits.

Believing that the deposit was a part of a larger geological structure extending possibly into Kenya. They began prospecting in that nation and were granted a permit to mine the deposit. The gemstone was known only to mineral specialists until 1974, when Tiffany and Co launched a marketing campaign which brought broader recognition of the stone.

Eve loves to create with these stones and is inspired by the lustrous colors they reflect.

Another favorite from her “Sacred Geometries” series are these “Kurgan” earrings with two carved Carnelian drops in 18 karat gold. Carnelian is a brownish-red mineral commonly used as a semi-precious gemstone. The color can vary greatly, ranging from pale orange to an intense almost-black coloration. It is most commonly found in Indonesia, Brazil, India, Russia (Siberia), and Germany.

Eve’s “Kurgan” earrings

This “Dappled Sunlight” necklace from her “Helios” Series 18 karat and 18 karat Green gold with, Quartz, Citrine and fresh water pearls exudes warmth at the end of summer. Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown due to ferric impurities.

Eve’s “Dappled Sunlight” Necklace

Natural citrines are rare; most commercial citrines are heat-treated amethysts or smoky quartzes. Brazil is the leading producer of citrine, with much of its production coming from the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The name is derived from the Latin word citrina which means “yellow” and is also the origin of the word “citron”.

Eve’s mimics the fall colors perfectly with this Fine Tahitian South Sea Pearl necklace with 5 Diamonds .24 TW. EF/VS in 18 karat white gold from her “Acanthus “ Series.

Eve’s Tahitian South Sea Pearl Necklace

There is general consensus that the quality of pearls from Pinctada margaritifera is the highest quality out of all the pearl oysters. Pearls form when a small particle enters into the oyster and nacre is released by the oyster to coat the particle or object, eventually creating a small pearl. The particle might be a grain of sand, organic material, or even a parasite. The oyster’s release of the nacre serves as an adaptation of the immune system to isolate the invasive particle and irritation. P. margaritifera in particular produces gray or black pearls.

Finally, Eve has some fun with these Opals, Jade, Fresh Water pearl and Magnesite, in this “Random Encounters” bracelet. She loves the play of color and texture in this piece.

Eve’s “Random Encounters” Necklace

Eve helps us to embrace fall and all its beautiful tones in her designs. We hope you consider making an appointment to see the complexities of her offerings and the stones from which she can create something specifically for you.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Jewelry in Trying Times

By Katie McMath

When history plays out as tumultuously as it has this year, a little perspective can soothe our unease. Many of us are still shaken by what feels like tectonic plates shifting beneath us. Yet as health, safety, and security are challenged, we continue to celebrate the positives. Couples are still getting engaged and married. There are birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations. If anything, loved ones should be held a little closer. When family is able to reunite, what marks their milestones? Sentimental, personalized jewelry.

At Eve’s we have had the pleasure of creating many special pieces for such occasions this year. Many recently engaged couples have come to Eve looking for their perfect rings. One such couple decided to each get a special engagement ring, both for the man and the woman. For the woman, we placed her fiancé’s exquisite pale blue Paraiba tourmaline in an elaborate setting. Small stones glistened around the sides of the band, and the raised bezel which held the tourmaline aloft in a highly decorated seat like a royal jewel.

Her fiancé chose for his own ring a unique, smooth chrysoberyl with a gleaming cat’s eye effect. When tilted from side to side a beam of light flashes across the stone’s surface. This gem we set between two canary yellow tourmalines, echoing the tourmaline for his bride-to-be. The ring’s medieval style, green gold band gives off a confident, masculine look. Finally in the back of each of these exquisite rings, a small blue sapphire is set as a hidden treasure for the bride and groom.

In August an equally unique couple selected their wedding rings from Eve’s gallery. One bride wore an organic vine ring, modeled after the twisting branches of a tree. Its white gold arms cradled a pear-shaped diamond, and seven smaller diamonds sprinkled throughout. The fluid lines of Eve’s vine rings offer something for nature lovers and those with less traditional tastes.

 Her wife-to-be wore a more structured band with intricate swirling openwork, mimicking the vine ring’s curves, contained within the band’s borders. Also set in white gold, this band held four deep blue sapphires and five diamonds, for much needed sparkle. Each ring is one-of-a-kind, yet they are harmonious together.

The couple’s beautiful backyard ceremony brought family and friends together. Even the couple’s dogs were part of the wedding party!

For another summer wedding, the mother of the bride trusted Eve to transform a family heirloom. Using their onyx stones, Eve created a new band for the bride’s watch, in white gold. Segments of dark, polished onyx were cut and carefully bezel set, side by side in geometric links. Between each stone, diamonds punctuated the bracelet, complementing an elegant watch face. Before embarking on this project Eve sketched up a blueprint, which touched the family as a precious memento. They are having a copy of Eve’s sketch framed, to forever capture this glimpse in time.

Another popular item lately has been gifts for babies. Little additions to the family are always a cause for celebration, no matter what is going on in the larger world around them. One customer recently came to the gallery, shopping for something to honor her friend’s new baby. She purchased a pink tourmaline and freshwater pearl bracelet, small enough for a newborn wrist. Eve has created many varieties of these tiny bracelets with different gemstones stones giving pops of color. For an October baby, the tourmaline was a perfect choice!

For another newborn, Eve crafted a detailed spoon cast in sterling silver. Carved on one side were the baby’s initials, in elegant abstracted script, echoing the twisting vines of a tree. On the other side Eve carved a joyful illustration of a rabbit, and set a small pink sapphire (the baby’s birthstone.) The spoon was a charming labor of love which now shares a special place in the family’s trove of memories.

Suffice it to say, custom jewelry design plays a crucial role in honoring important occasions and expressing love. Even amidst sickness, war, and chaos, loved ones gather to celebrate the positive moments and enjoy what they find beautiful. Our staff has been surprised to see how much pleasure people take from the process of designing one-of-a-kind pieces to fit harmoniously into their lives and last long into the future, whatever the future may bring.