Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Quartz: History and Lore

By Jennifer A. Conley

Quartz is commonly found all around the world and due to its abundance is not typically valued today, but Quartz was once an important part of fashion, as well as the beliefs of people all over the world.

Quartz & Scottish history: Those who have studied Scottish history, or know a bit about Scottish lore, know that the Scots tended to be very superstitious. From luck charms to omens, Scots believed gemstones possessed a greater spiritual power.  Quartz was often carried by soldiers before battles, for it was a common belief that quartz had healing powers that could aid an injured soldier. Quartz was also passed down from one “wise woman” or healer to another healer after death. The new owner would take the quartz, place it in a large bowl of water and proceed to soak their feet in the water because water was often believed to charge the powers of the quartz. This would allow the transference of wisdom and healing power to the next wise woman.

In 2009, a four thousand year old tomb was discovered which is believed to belong to a Bronze-Age Scottish ruler1. Inside the tomb was a bed of white quartz, which historians believe was used to guarantee the rebirth of the ruler into the next world.  From royalty to everyday people, quartz played an important role in the spiritual beliefs of Scots for thousands of years.

Ancient civilizations have also valued quartz, and throughout history quartz gems were often worn as protection against supernatural forces as well as fashion statements. Quartz would be set in gold and worn throughout Greece, Egypt, and Western Asian cultures.  Early Western Asian cultures paired quartz with another dark stone, to be a symbol of balance, very similar to the Yin/Yang symbol in China. Grecian women would wear gold hair pins that featured clear quartz, and other forms of quartz such as amethyst.  High born Grecians would wear quartz diadems set in gold as markers of their status. Interestingly Grecians believed that quartz was a varying form of permanent ice, which is where its nickname “Greek ice” originated.

Quartz reached its peak  fashion popularity in the Byzantine Era, as well as the High Medieval and Renaissance periods; and the 17th & 18th century.  Quartz throughout its history was used as more than just a fashion statement: as a means of protection and healing for various ailments.

Rose Quartz was used as a love charm as well as a fertility stone.

Rutilated quartz, often referred to by Romans as the “hair of Venus”, is still to this day believed to help with depression.

Smoky quartz was often believed to help overcome grief.

Phantom quartz is also, still to this day, believed to help with mediation and act as a protection talisman.

Chalcedony, a microcrystallization of quartz, was very popular during the Antiquities and was often used in figurines and goblets.

Agate, a microcrystallization of quartz, helps with pregnancy ailments, dizziness, and impaired balance.

Onyx, a microcrystallization of quartz, aids in mediation and mindfulness

Jasper, a microcrystallization of quartz, helps with kidney, liver, and gallbladder pains. Ancient Egyptians believed Jasper increased sexual energy and used it as an aphrodisiac. Today, Jasper is still used to help with fertility.

Amethyst, another variation of quartz, often used to help with migraines


1. Keys, David. “Ancient Royal Tomb Found in Scotland” The Independent. UK News. August 14th, 2009. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ancient-royal-tomb-found-in-scotland-1771875.html

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

“Unwrapping” Just Desserts by Eve J. Alfille

The new series will be revealed Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 1:00 p.m – 7:00 p.m. at the Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, with guests enjoying festive refreshments, live music, winnable prizes, and Evanston-made art jewelry.


How We See Sweets

All jewelry by Eve Alfille.

There are a few things in life that are as universal as they are self-evident: food is one.

We eat to live.

But…wait…what about sweets???

It seems that Nature has explicitly directed that sweet things go directly to the head of the pleasure line, perhaps ahead of all others. And humans acknowledge this by giving immoderate veneration to their desserts, by cosseting them in special decorative vessels, by adorning them to the point of extravagance, by giving them a special place in the processional order of the meal.

We shake our heads when told of the wondrous goings-on at the palace in Versailles: the lineup of waiters, each bearing an ever-higher dessert, the pastry chefs vying for who could create a more teetering ‘pièce montée’ of candied fruits, pastry and fondant.

But hey, just behold the petit-fours at the bakery! Who can say that Versailles isn’t still with us? The unapologetic cuteness, the unnecessary swirls of frosting, the poufs of sweet cream! You know, I just think that desserts, to us, are the jewelery of the meal!

The Jewelry of the Meal

All jewelry by Eve Alfille.

There is the old rationale for the emergence of jewelry in human culture: originally perhaps as a marker of transcendence, then a talisman for protection, to become a beacon of status. You don’t need jewelry, but it gives you a boost in many ways–it occupies a special place in human cravings, and we expect it to be exquisitely formed.

Well, doesn’t the same go for our sweet indulgences? If it’s your birthday, and an unadorned slab of cake appears; what a disappointment! Here is the sundae I ordered…what, no nuts or cherry on top? If it’s dessert, it must be somehow fancied-up!

True that sugar can appear in main dishes as well, sweet and sour pork or sauces. But this only shows that it is not just the sugar, but the social constructs.

The Power of Sweets

We do not need sweet foods, but they mesmerize us…we idolize them, wrap them in bright foils and frilly skirts, hold them out as rewards, turn to them in consolation, acknowledge them as guilty pleasures. Even use them, sometimes, to trade for personal safety.

Four years of my childhood were spent under war conditions–rationed foods, dark bread, no meat, butter, or sugar. We lived under assumed identities.

My forward-looking mother had somehow managed to stash away a few pieces of wrapped candy: I was told I could have one once a year for my birthday, and you can imagine how I anticipated the little ceremony of unwrapping it and sliding it slowly into my mouth.

But one time, as I was tossing and catching a ball, it veered off, and broke a neighbor’s window. These were the dark years, no telling if the neighbor would be understanding, or report us to the Gestapo. My mother, when she heard, seemed very upset. She immediately went to her special closet, brought out two of the precious candies, wrapped them in a newspaper cone and instructed me directly to take them to the neighbor and make my excuses.

I was furious, and bawling! Me, she only gave me one a year, and here the neighbor would get TWO! And what seven-year old wants to go ‘make excuses’ (i.e. apologize)?!

I don’t remember how the neighbor received the apology–I think my mother ended up going with me, and I felt plenty guilty when I finally understood it could have been a matter of life and death for us.

-Eve J. Alfille

Please send RSVPs to either 847-869-7920 or contact@evejewelry.com. To learn more about Eve Alfille and see more of her works, visit http://www.evejewelry.com.


All jewelry by Eve Alfille.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

The Rough in the Diamond

The Cullinan Mine in South Africa

We all know that diamonds are precious treasures…but did you know that they can also carry even rarer treasures within themselves? This is precisely what was discovered by Graham Pearson, a professor from the University of Alberta, during his time spent in the already-famous Cullinan Mine.

Calcium silicate perovskite, while seemingly abundant as the world’s fourth-most-common mineral, was actually only proven to positively exist when discovered trapped within a single diamond discovered by Pearson. The mineral, perovskite, is so amazingly delicate that it cannot withstand conditions above ground. According to Pearson, “Nobody has ever managed to keep this mineral stable at the Earth’s surface. The only possible way of preserving this mineral at the Earth’s surface is when it’s trapped in an unyielding container like a diamond.”

The Cullinan mine, which produced a pair of some of the most famous diamonds in the world that currently reside in the British Crown Jewels, has now become known as a place of great scientific significance. Pearson’s find “provides fundamental proof of what happens to the fate of oceanic plates as they descend into the depths of the Earth.” The formation of the perovskite within the diamond indicates this, and also the fact that this diamond formed over 400 miles beneath the surface of the earth (most diamonds form only 100 miles down)! …Talk about performing under pressure.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

D is for Dreamy

London is the place to be for lovers of the exceptional this winter. Recently revealed to the public in hopes that a private collector will do just that–collect–a very, very special stone which awaits its new home. 

Image by Sotheby’s.

The exceptionally proud founder and chairman of Sotheby’s, Patti Wong, has announced of the stone that “in the course of my long career, which has brought me close to some of the greatest stones the earth has ever yielded, I have not encountered anything quite like this.” 

According to a statement released by Sotheby’s:

“at 102.34-carats, this masterpiece of nature is the rarest white diamond ever to come to the market and the largest, round D color flawless diamond known to man. [This is] the only stone of its kind ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the diamond has achieved the highest rankings under each of the criteria by which the quality of a stone is judged – ‘the four Cs’.”

The mode of sale currently underway, however, is rather unusual for this caliber of stone…typically, such a dazzling diamond would be put up for auction. Instead, Sotheby’s has daringly opted to quietly keep it available for private purchase. 

According to Sotheby’s statement:

“Only seven diamonds weighing more than 100 carats and with the highest colour for colourless diamonds (D colour) has ever sold at auction; none of them were of brilliant cut.”

Whether it will sell immediately, or not to this generation, is unknown. But what we do know is that if you’re in London and have some spare time, maybe the Rosetta Stone can wait. 

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

The Ring That Survived

Fine art jewelry designer Eve Alfille was greeted by a surprise in December of 2017 when an old friend called her gallery with an unusual request…the fate of one of Eve’s rings, created for a couple back in 2008, was at stake.

ring.drawingsThe ring had just been lost, along with their California home, which burned down in the devastating fires that ravaged over 440 square miles of the west coast. The ring in question, a custom-made storytelling ring, had been covered in symbols and images important to the pair (running water to show “constant life,” a sun symbol representing “happiness,” and so on) and had been hand-crafted by Eve from a unique metal: palladium.

A scientist by hobby, the ring’s owner wanted to know if Eve could tell him the chance of its survival in a fire: melted puddles of aluminum left them with little hope, but the discovery of an intact steel ice pick gave them pause.

Eve responded with a message of encouragement:

“…Your ring was created in palladium – a metal with a very high melting point of just over 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Palladium is a platinum group metal, so its melting point is closer to platinum, making it possible it might have survived. You would have to ask the firefighters more about the internal temperature of the fires to know if you should be digging around in the ashes & rubble to try & find it. And, I would ask them, based on their fire expertise, how things burn/would the items of metal that don’t burn dink into the Earth or rest in the rubble, perhaps it would assist you in your recovery efforts.”

After a period of silence, Eve received a telling picture in the mail:

The ring survived! It had oxidized ‘beautifully’ in the fire, but the grateful owners cleaned the exterior of the ring to return it to its former luster…the inside, however, was purposefully left with a telltale patina of oxidization on the inside. In a final note from the California couple, a message of hope was shared:

“Dear Diane & Eve,
Just a quick follow up. Finding the ring on our own has given us such high hopes of pulling through this loss. It is more about memories attached to the items than the physical being…

…What a pleasure to have had you in our journey.”