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.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Amethyst: The Peaceful Purple Stone

By Katie McMath

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It’s February which means it’s amethyst season! This lovely purple variety of quartz was once counted among the most valuable gems, along with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Today we know it is relatively common. Quartz is actually one of the most abundant minerals on Earth. It flows through streams of water in the ground, which eventually dry out, leaving crystals behind. This also means amethyst is usually easier to afford!

It’s not unusual to find large glimmering clusters of this stone. They fill up the hollow spaces that form as lava cools into rock. One amethyst cave in Byron Bay, Australia is large enough to seat four people. Groups can schedule meditation and relaxation sessions inside the magical crystal cave. Nearby stand two of the world’s tallest geodes, full of smoky quartz and splashes of amethyst.

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Scientists hypothesize that amethyst’s purple color comes from iron or other trace minerals which find their way into quartz. When heated, amethyst lightens in color, and may turn pale yellow. The resulting stone is known as citrine, November’s birthstone. Citrine also occurs naturally. When a hybrid of the two forms it’s known as ametrine.

Ametrine

 

While amethyst may have a more modest reputation than other stones like diamonds or sapphires, this hasn’t always been the case. Before the 1700s it was prized around the world as one of the most valuable gems. Egyptian and Greek elite adorned themselves with amethyst ornaments. The Catholic Church prized amethyst as the Bishop’s stone, due to its purple color. It symbolized closeness to Christ. Today the Catholic Church favors the humility of plain white, though rich reds and purples may still be seen in churches and ceremonies.

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Intaglio Carved Amethyst Bishop’s Ring

The name amethyst dates all the way back to Ancient Greek myth. One particular story told of a beautiful, honorable young woman named Amethyst. She was traveling to pay her respects to the Goddess Diana when she became the unsuspecting victim of an angry Dionysus, the god of wine and celebration. Dionysus, having been spurned by a human, took out his rage on Amethyst, and threatened to unleash his tigers on her. Fortunately Diana came to her aid, turning the girl into a sparkling white crystal. Dionysus was moved to the point of tears, which spilled into his glass of wine and tumbled onto the crystal, turning it a vivid purple.

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In the Ancient Greek language amethyst meant “sober” or “not drunk.” They believed those wearing the stone could avoid the wrath of Dionysus. Instead the purple gem would allow its carrier to remain pure and clear-minded like the beautiful young woman Amethyst. If sobriety and peace are difficult for you to achieve, it’s possible an amethyst crystal could help.

The Greeks were not the only ones to recognize amethyst’s ability to cool the mind and offer a greater sense of concentration. Buddhist monks in India and Tibet use amethyst prayer beads during meditation, to channel their focus. Ancient Egyptians wore carved amethyst amulets for protection against evil magic and negative mind-states like anxiety or guilt. King Tut was even buried with a carved amethyst bracelet in his tomb.

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Large deposits of amethyst have been found in South America in the past few centuries. This has brought the crystal’s price down significantly. It is especially abundant in Brazil and Uruguay. One geode known as the Empress of Uruguay weighs 2.5 tons and stands at nearly 11 feet tall! It travels around the world on display.

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Not only is amethyst more wallet friendly, it is also resilient, ranking at a 7 out of 10 on the Moh’s hardness scale. This makes it suitable for everyday wear, even in rings. It is beautiful in its raw, natural form, but may also be cut and faceted to sparkle like a brilliant diamond.

At Eve’s Gallery we have a number of lovely treasures incorporating amethyst. Perhaps you’d prefer a custom piece set with specimens from our gem room. Either way there are plenty of ways to enjoy February’s mythical birthstone. May this gem grant the February babies extra peace and clarity this month!

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

“Ringing in the New Year”

by Ann Covode

Medieval society celebrated the grandest feast during the dreariest time of year. The two-week period from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Day (January 6) transformed into the longest vacation for workers. The Lord of the manor or castle often gave bonuses of food, clothing, drink and firewood to servants. Houses were decked with holly and ivy, and giant Yule logs were brought in and burned throughout the two-week celebration. New Year’s took place during this time and added to the festivities, and “First Gifts” were often exchanged on this day.

rng20939px600dkmedievalEve’s beautiful “First Gift” ring from her “Medieval” series sparkles with a large sapphire totaling 2.87carats, two square sapphires totaling 1.29 carats and 10 diamonds in 18 karat gold.

New year’s is always filled with festivities, music and merry making. For centuries people have been ringing in the new year in this way. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.

Panpipe ringEnchantingly irresistible like the songs that emanated from Pan’s fabled pipe! Three fancy diamonds gleam on this “Panpipe” ring from Eve’s “Antiquities” series, one at the end of each 18 karat peach gold pipe; an irradiated 0.35 carat yellow diamond, a 0.20 carat yellow-orange diamond and an 0.76 carat champagne diamond. Set in the richly detailed carvings are a multitude of magically colored diamonds; 11 diamonds totaling 0.05 carats, 11 champagne diamonds total 0.12 carats and 6 pale yellow diamonds total 0.04 cts. This fanciful ring is a Gallery favorite – come in and see for yourself!

Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice. The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, with each new year beginning at the vernal equinox; according to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C. A later king, Numa Pompilius, is credited with adding the months of Januarius and Februarius.

Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today. As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and attending raucous parties. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation); Pope Gregory XIII reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582.

New Year’s Traditions:  In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight.

In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere.

In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune. Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries.

The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.) At this time of year many of us take stock of the last year and make plans for the New Year with goals and resolutions. We often meditate on what is most important to us and what we want to change in the coming year.

Eve saw something meditative in this “Hidden Dream” sunstone ring. She envisioned a roman courtyard with millgrain arches letting the sunshine in. Perhaps the nuns were walking around and saying their daily prayers in this beautiful space? HiddenDream.pngMagnificent Andesine sunstone ring from Eve’s “No Forwarding Address” series is completely hand fabricated in platinum with exquisite details like millgrained edges on the soaring arched gallery. Fabulous rare gemstone ring has fifty-four sparkling diamonds totaling 0.50 carats to highlight the sumptuous sunstone.

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 700-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds. Various towns and cities across America have developed their own versions of the Times Square ritual, organizing public drops of items ranging from pickles (Dillsburg, Pennsylvania) to possums (Tallapoosa, Georgia) at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

No New Year’s is complete without confetti and champagne to ring in the coming year. Confetti RingEve’s bold “Confetti” ring  from Eve’s “Antiquities” sereies dazzles in a wide band of 18 karat gold! A festive mix of 35 glistening diamonds sparkle in 3 shapes: round-brilliants, square-cuts & baguettes totaling 1.14 carats. This is a great ring for your right hand!

We wish you a very happy New Year from Eve’s Gallery & Studio! Thank you for all of your interest and support in 2019.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Eve’s Staff Picks for the Holidays

by Ann Covode

Eve’s staff has chosen their favorites this holiday season and we think you might want some of these pretty things for yourself, or someone you wish to make very happy..

Jen – I like Eve’s Amulets because you can wear them everyday dressing them up or down for any situation. I also like to wear them with Eve’s Wine Angels necklaces for a layered look.

AmuletShown here is an amulet from Eve’s Asia series in 14 karat gold. The accompanying chain is 14 karat gold.

 

 

 

Karen- I like the movement in these Triple Seed Pod earrings and think they could be a great everyday pair.

IMG_1123Triple seed pod earrings in 18 karat and 20 karat gold from Eve’s Underwater series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ann – I love this “Haute Bourgeoisie” Garnet necklace because of the varied shapes and sparkle. It is such a rich color for the season.IMG_1105

“Haute Bourgeosie” garnet necklace with a 14 karat clasp from Eve’s new “Aux Portes du Passé” series.

I also love this “Starlit” pendant because of it’s simple bold design.

Starfish“Starlit” 14 karat gold pendant with a spinel from Eve’s Matisse series. Accompanying light cable chain in 14 karat gold.

 

 

 

Diane – I love the shimmer of the black diamonds in this bracelet!

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This spinel and black diamond bracelet with 18 karat white gold elements from Eve’s Garden of Eden series will sparkle throughout the holidays and beyond.

All Staff – All of Eve’s employees love her Wine Angels necklaces. “You can dress these up for a night out on the town or wear them with a T-shirt. So versatile!”WineAngels2JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erica – I like this necklace because it is very simple yet bold. Each stone has so many lovely and individual details – and many shades of green.

IMG_1119“Ville et Champs” jasper, serpentine and chrysoprase beaded necklace from Eve’s new “Aux Portes du Passé” series.

 

 

 

 

 

Katie – These sweet feather earrings would make a wonderful gift and have beautiful movement when worn.

IMG_1132“Rachis & Barbules” earrings from Eve’s “Feathers” series with two diamonds in 18 karat gold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Clare – These are the perfect gift for someone who is fun loving and fanciful!IMG_1138

“Plain Vanilla” earrings with two fresh water pearls and 14 karat green gold from Eve’s “Just Desserts” series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan – I love the element of nature in the Eucalyptus earrings. I have always been smitten by tree structures, foliage and nature’s cycles.Eucalyptusear

Small eucalyptus earrings in 18k green gold from orpheus descending series.

 

 

Sara – I love silver! The Agamemnon Ring is so comfortable to wear and looks so powerful.  And I love the design of the “Quadrature du Cercle” earrings!

Lori – I like a pair of diamond briolette drops because it is like starlight dancing at your earlobes.Sleetdiamond drops

“Sleet” diamond briolette, raw diamond and 18 karat white gold removable drops from Eve’€™s “A Winter’€™s Tale” series.

 

We wish you all the best this holiday season!  Come see us to choose something for your special someone or send your significant other this way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Say Hello to Topaz and Citrine

by Katie McMath

November is here and it’s time to start looking for special gifts for your loved ones. This month’s warm-toned birthstones could cheer up any scrooge on your holiday shopping list. Topaz and citrine are both most popular in golden orange shades, reminding us of beautiful autumn leaves. It’s no coincidence these cheerful tones are popular at the gloomiest time of year. In fact, Topaz is often compared to the rich color of Cognac. So sip slowly on your holiday drink and learn a little more about these two beautiful gemstones!

ImperialTopazTopaz comes in a cornucopia of other lovely colors. When treated, it can turn sky blue or deep indigo. These varieties are called Swiss and London Blue topaz respectively. Its rare reddish forms are called Imperial Topaz, named after Russian royalty with excellent taste! We have many tantalizing examples in our gem room. Perhaps one may find its way into your collection.

Tradition says blue topaz is appropriate for a 4th anniversary, while Imperial is best saved for your 23rd. Of course anyone with a November birthday might also appreciate one of these gorgeous gems.

TopazRing2This gorgeous Swiss topaz ring from Eve’s “Celtic” collection celebrates the beauty of topaz. The five carat center stone is as brilliant as a diamond. Cool colored platinum laces around the band in intricate knotted patterns, speaking to a magical Celtic sensibility. Small blue sapphires accent the bezel. All in all it is an irresistible ring!

Citrine is a lesser known and often more affordable crystal, previously called yellow quartz. Its current name comes from the citron fruit, which has a thick yellow rind and is similar to a lemon. As the name suggests, citrine is citrusy in color. It ranges from yellow to rusty orange.

 
AmethystWhen naturally formed, iron gives this stone its color, but this is rare. Most citrine begins as purple quartz, or amethyst, and is heated to change color and remove impurities. The resulting rust color mimics Imperial topaz. This explains why it joined topaz as November’s birthstone in 1910.

LemonMany outside of the jewelry world appreciate citrine for its healing properties. The heat treatment it undergoes it thought to further purify it. Citrine is motivating and boosts creativity, while dispelling fear. Its positive attributes make it the vitamin C of crystals. Citrine is also relatively durable, at a 7 on the Moh’s hardness scale. This makes it softer than sapphires or diamonds, but still hardy. It works well in rings, earrings, and necklaces alike.

 
CitrineRingEve’s joyous citrine star earrings hang from fourteen karat gold wires, with one diamond each. This sweet pair comes from the “First Light” series. The citrine’s unique cut is especially charming. They are paired here with a medieval inspired ring, from which more citrines glow like honey. It’s easy to see why topaz’s lookalike is associated with optimism and sunshine.

 

Whether you prefer citrine or topaz, count yourself lucky to be born in November.