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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Are you a romantic in constant search of the one thing that so many novels, poems, and films have been dedicated to, or are you one of those people who doesn’t have much faith in love, if any at all, and who mocks the bold “explorers” searching for their one true love?
Regardless of which group you belong to, here are five ancient love stories that will renew your faith in love. Some of them might be nothing but creatures of mythology or literature and others are probably exaggerated, but the sure thing is that all these stories became immortal in time and part of pop culture due to their deep message for all of humankind: Love conquers all.
William Shakespeare’s world renowned Romeo and Juliet (written sometime between 1591 and 1595) stands in the historical record as one of the greatest love stories ever written. It has been retold many times in playhouses and theaters and has a wealth of film adaptations of both traditional and modern interpretations. It is most interesting to discover then, that Romeo and Juliet was not, in fact, truly of his own creation, but rather a variation on a story told many times from the fourteen hundreds onwards. Centered on the theme of star-crossed lovers, borrowed from poets as far back as ancient Greece, Romeo and Juliet’s tale was told at least a century before Shakespeare actually wrote it.
The first certain tale of the woes of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet descends from Italian author Masuccio Salernitano (1410-1475). Published a year after his death, Salernitano’s 33 rd chapter of his Il Novellino tells of Mariotto and Giannoza, a pair of lovers who come from the feuding families of Maganelli and Saraceni respectively.
One can only imagine the types of adornments these lovers may have worn at the time, but Eve has created some designs that might help you…
Eve’s “Ancient Echoes” necklace features a remarkable Vesuvian lava cameo from early 19th Century, set in 18 karat gold, with 18 karat gold links and hearts. 2 diamonds totaling 0.12 carats bring a sparkling touch to this beautiful, historically interesting necklace.
Odysseus and Penelope In our modern times very few people would be able to understand the unique bond between Odysseus and Penelope and even fewer could imitate what they did. Soon after they got married, Odysseus had to leave Penelope and their infant son to fight as one of Greece’s leaders in the Trojan War. He wouldn’t return home for the next 20 years, a period of time in which Penelope was totally faithful to her husband and declined every offer from the 108 suitors who conquered Odysseus’s kingdom.
The mythical king of Ithaca was equally devoted to his true love, and despite following his biological “needs” a couple of times, he eventually declined most temptations and decided to return home to his wife and son. A story for all of us to remember – true love is worth waiting for and can beat any distance if there’s hope and faith.
Cleopatra and Mark Antony This is possibly the most famous love story in the world behind that of Romeo and Juliet – and without a doubt it is the most popular historically recorded love of all time. The two fell in love at first sight and their love was so strong that it became a threat to the Roman Empire, which kept losing power and control to Egypt because of the decisions made a blinded-by-love Mark Antony.
Despite all the obstacles and warnings, Mark Antony and Cleopatra got married and Antony ended up fighting his own people. According to one version of their story, it is believed that while fighting a battle against the Romans, Antony was informed falsely that Cleopatra was dead and, devastated by this news, took his own life with his sword. When Cleopatra learned of Antony’s death, she took her own life, putting an end to one of the most famous loves that ended in tragedy.
Perhaps Cleopatra wore something like these enchanting “Seville” earrings of pearls, diamonds & 18 karat gold are signature pieces from Eve’s “Antiquities” series. These one of a kind earrings feature a beautiful pair of rosey-bronze cultured mabé pearls in the center of the 18k gold elements. A pair of teardrop shaped rose-cut diamonds are surrounded by 18k gold granulation in the permanently attached earwires. These rose-cut diamonds total 0.14 carats. Suspended from sides are 4 freshwater cultured pearls which flutter & dance. Suspended at the bottom of these amazing earrings are 2 tiny cultured Akoya pearls and a pair of tiny shimmering faceted diamond briolettes which quiver and shine as you move and talk.
These earrings are paired with the gorgeous “Surprising Thaw” necklace featuring South Sea pearls, Kazumiga pearls and morganite in 18 karat pink gold and is 19 ½ inches. Also shown is the “Bathing in Bubbles” Kazumiga pearl necklace with an 18 karat gold clasp and a ruby form Eve’s “Klimt” series.
Or, she might have chosen to wear these “Classic Palmetto” 14k and champagne diamond earrings from Eve’s “Antiquities” series.
Tristan and Isolde
The heartbreaking love story of Tristan and Isolde has been told and retold in various stories and manuscripts. Tristan met the love of his life after traveling to Ireland to ask for the hand of the beautiful princess Isolde in marriage, on behalf of his uncle Mark, king of Cornwall.
On their way back to Cornwall, Tristan and Isolde committed a fatal mistake and drank a magic potion, which produced invincible and eternal love in anyone who tasted it. Despite this, Isolde eventually married Mark of Cornwall, but she could not help but love Tristan eternally. The love affair continued after the wedding, but when King Mark finally learned about it, he banned Tristan from Cornwall.
Tristan moved to Brittany and married another woman – only because her name, Iseult, reminded him of his true love, Isolde. Despite both of them being married to other people they never managed to get over each other and their sad story ends with Isolde dying on Tristan’s chest in what is one of the saddest love stories of medieval literature.
Pyramus and Thisbe
The story of these two young lovers comes from the Middle East. In the tale, Pyramus is described as the most handsome of all men in Babylonia and Thisbe is said to be the most beautiful woman. Just like Romeo and Juliet, they were members of feuding families and for that reason they met secretly and shared a love only they knew about.
In one of their secret meetings near a lake, Thisbe, who was sitting under a tree, saw a lioness with blood on her jaws thirsty for water. As the animal approached the lake, Thisbe panicked and ran to a cave to hide but unfortunately as she rushed to hide she dropped her veil. When the lion saw the veil, it picked it up and left blood all over it. When Pyramus arrived on the scene and found Thisbe’s bloody veil, he only thought of the worst and was shattered by the idea that a wild animal killed Thisbe. The pain led him to take his sword and stab himself in the chest. When Thisbe returned to the meeting place and saw Pyramus lying dead she killed herself with his sword too.
You might be able to imagine Thisbe wearing this richly detailed, elegant “Palmetto” bracelet is 18 karat gold, with 5 tawny champagne diamonds totaling 0.30 carats and 18 glittering diamonds totaling 0.18 carats.
Heloise and Abelard In 12th-century Europe, the norm for your average society was to be as repressed and strict as it gets; thus, a love affair between a theologian and philosopher (Abelard) and his younger student, Heloise, scandalized and challenged Parisian society like never before. The thin line between blind faith and logic was violated and the consequences were about to hit Heloise and Abelard hard, who by the way had already been married. The trigger was when Heloise got pregnant; they both realized that it would not be safe for her to remain in Paris and they fled to Brittany, Abelard’s birthplace.
Heloise’s uncle, Fulbert, canon of Notre Dame and the one who had hired Abelard to be his niece’s tutor, in a scheme to protect her dignity (only in his own mind), was the one who put an end to their love by having his servants castrate Abelard while he slept.
Abelard became a monk and dedicated his life to philosophy while the heartbroken Heloise was forced by her uncle to give her child up for adoption and become a nun, even though she remained in love with Abelard, with whom she corresponded for the rest of her life. Their affectionate but sad love letters were later published and continue to touch thousands of people around the world today.
Possibly, Heloise could have worn something like these sweet “Cherub” earrings in 14 karat gold, with a delightful hand-carved image of Cupid himself!
Some love affairs don’t end tragically. One good example is Eve’s relationship with her husband Maurice Alfillé. They met over 60 years ago in Montreal after Eve attended McGill University (Maurice graduated from Berkeley in CA and was working and living in Montreal). On the weekends people went up to the Laurentian mountains for the weekends to enjoy swimming in a beautiful setting. Eve remembers going up there with her friends to stay at a camp and invited friends to join her. They went to a nearby resort to see what the scene was like but determined that it really wasn’t their type of thing but decided to stay overnight for a dance anyway. The next day they were hanging around the pool at this resort. Eve looked quite stunning in her wide brimmed straw hat and was having fun talking with her friends. Maurice noticed this woman on the other side of the pool surrounded by people. He wondered who this fascinating woman was and why so many people were around. Eventually, a mutual friend introduced them and the rest is history!
What is your love story? We’d love to hear it at the gallery. Celebrate love this month! It really does conquer all!
January’s birthstone garnet is one of Eve’s favorite gemstones and her birthstone as well. Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, but not blue. Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form.
Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs, and were entombed with their mummified corpses as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents.
The term carbuncle was often used in ancient times to refer to red garnets, although it was used for almost any red stone. Carbuncle was thought to be one of the four precious stones given to King Solomon by God. Centuries later, in Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 AD), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility.
Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500. This source became the nucleus of a regional jewelry industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s. They are now exhausted.
Eve was first attracted to garnets as a young girl in France. Her parents presented her an opal heart with a halo of garnets for your 13th birthday. These were the famous Bohemian garnets from Czechoslovakia. She went to Prague with her family and learned more about the history of garnets.
Later, while studying antique jewelry methods she was challenged to make a piece resembling a pin from Charlemagne’s time with delicate walls separating shaped inlays of garnet. This mosaic like piece was difficult but Eve succeeded in mastering the design.
Eve played with multiple colors of garnets in a piece she designed a few years ago and entitled it “Darn it another garnet”. Later, when she needed a new engagement ring she employed Demantoid garnets which are green in color and scarce. She combined these with some family diamonds for an exquisite piece.
Demantoid garnets are very rare and were found around the early 1900’s. Salamander designs with these garnets became very popular among the well-known jewelry houses. Other interesting garnets include andradite garnets with both green and yellow . Color change garnets shift from blueish purple to pink or orange.
Mt. St. Hilaire garnets are a delightful peach color and bring back many memories for Eve as she remembers visiting this delightful place near Quebec when she was a college student at McGill. This renowned gem site features a unique topography and stone varieties found nowhere else.
In Eve’s recent collections she has created beautiful pieces with garnets. In her “Doors of Perception” pendant she features a cabochon hessonite garnet in a 14k gold bezel with 9-14k gold granules which almost suspend it in the beautiful sterling silver setting. The “Doors of Perception” are based on a design known as a Yantra in Hinduism. A Yantra is a symbolic figure. It’s world is to be protected once you cross the inner triple circle.
In her “Sacred Geometries” series she created this luminous “6 times 6” Hessonite garnet necklace with a 14 karat gold clasp and 6 spessartite garnets.
Also, for the “Sacred Geometries” series she recalled ancient shapes with these “One plus two plus three” earrings in 18 karat rose gold with 2 anthill garnets and 2 garnet briolettes.
“Vampire’s Kiss” ring with 14 karat gold and 14 karat white gold features a large garnet with 12 black diamonds and 20 small diamonds.
This beautiful “Reticent Splendour” necklace from Eve’s “Feather’s” series features garnets, mandarin garnets, spinels and sapphires.
Come explore the wide selection of garnets at Eve Alfillé Gallery & Studio! You won’t be disappointed.
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.
Eve’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.
Enchantingly 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? Magnificent 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. Eve’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.