Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Sapphires of Every Nation

Where do sapphires come from? In ancient Hindu texts, they come from the vanquished body of the demon Bali. Ancient Persians believed that they were chipped from the pedestal that supported the Earth, and whose reflection gives the sky its color! While these claims have yet to be validated, there ARE indeed some stones which can be traced back to their origins.

COLLECTIONS

While it may seem like quite a trek from the suburbs to the city during rush hour, odds are that the glittering sapphires in your ring had to travel much, much farther than that to be worn stateside. Here at the Eve Alfillé Gallery & Studio, the sapphires that we use have come from all different corners of the Earth! Often, these lovable gems’ origins can be determined in part by their color. Now, not all sapphires are blue! Even though it is the most well-known of sapphiric colors, they come in an entire rainbow, and are known as “fancy sapphires” whenever they are not blue.

 

Categories_Gemstone_Sapphire_FancyColor.jpgRubies, of the same ‘corundum’ mineral as sapphires, are only the very reddest selection. Other beautiful reddish shades of sapphire, however, are imported from Thailand, which can also produce yellow-green sapphires. Also from Asia come Sri Lankan blue and red-purple sapphires. Moving into the southern hemisphere, you’ll find Kenyan green sapphires, and a whole bevy of Madagascar sapphires: green-blue, blue, red-purple, golden, and green-yellow.

Tanzania is a veritable font of sapphires, coming primarily from two separate regions; Tundura, home of six different color varieties of sapphires including green-blue, blue, blue-purple, purple, red-purple, and yellow, and Songea, which produces orange-red and yellow-green sapphires. Farther south still, Australia produces green and green-yellow sapphires, mate!

Finally, back in the states, Montana is known for its beautiful green and green-blue sapphires, some of which Eve has even mined herself! So the next time you’re feeling a bit of wanderlust, rather than booking a plane ticket, come by the gallery and you’ll be sure to see an entire world of sapphires!

Advertisements
Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

The Ever-Ethical Eve Alfillé

We know that you love Eve already, but did you know that she also uses a wide variety of materials in her jewelry that conform to the same high moral standards that you do? 
Read Eve’s answers to questions regarding where her materials come from, and how they are each ethically-sourced, conflict-free, green, and gorgeous. For anybody who’s ever sought diamonds both for clarity AND for conscience, for any responsible brides seeking a humanitarian, globally-mindful companion for life other than her spouse, or even anybody seeking an extra-thoughtful anniversary gift.
5b211abe-256d-4f88-b4ff-9e178b58d1a9
A selection of rings by Eve Alfillé. Photo by Matt Arden.


Where do the Eve Alfille Gallery & Studio metals come from? 

We get our metals from a company called “Harmony Metals,” and they are virtually 100% ethically-sourced and recycled.

Where does Harmony Metals procure these metals? 

In this country, recycled gold comes from people who sell gold that they no longer want, and then the refiners will buy it. It used to be that there wasn’t much emphasis on this…people had their own gold, and it just stayed in drawers. Companies would go tear the earth up and mine new gold to satisfy the demand.

Now, with more interest in reusing, adapting, and saving the environment, they discovered that there is quite a resource right here! Refiners take this gold and refine it, removing any impurities, and return it to a form where it can be reshaped into entirely new pieces. And this is, in a way, the circle of life as applied  to metals.

Eve2
A selection of rings by Eve Alfillé. Photo by Matt Arden.

Where do the beautiful diamonds in my Eve ring come from?

When it comes to diamonds, it’s important to know that the sources have changed tremendously in the last 20 years. It used to be that most diamonds came from South Africa, and that provoked a lot of conscience-searching, because you have apartheid, and political reasons, so a lot of people felt badly about that.

Some diamonds come from countries where there is a lot of conflict, like Sierra Leone in Africa, but those diamonds are not traded in the market generally. Dealers have gotten together internationally, and are very careful to not purchase diamonds from those sources. Everyone wants to stay away from it…There was a big meeting some years back, and a document called the “Kimberly Agreement” resulted in those diamonds being banished from the trade (kind of).

Now, the big change is that today, a little more than one third of all diamonds actually come from Russia. It turns out that Siberia/Russia has wonderful diamonds, and large mines that are very well-run. They pay the people that they employ, they cut the diamonds very well, and a lot of the diamonds that are on the market now (one third, as I said) are from Russia.

Another 25% come from the Arctic Circle, or close to it, in Canada. In 1996, I was at a big reception at the Gemological Institute in California where they introduced the people who actually discovered those diamonds. They were prospectors who were flying, and noticed that the terrain looked a little different. They had a hunch. So, ever since, a quarter of the world’s diamonds of high quality come from Canada.
Small diamonds that you see are usually cut in India, but India doesn’t really have that many diamonds. So if they are champagne, or pink, then they probably come from Australia. If they are small and white, and well-cut, they probably come from Russia.

Earth_Eastern_HemisphereSome countries off the coast of Africa, like Angola, mine in th ocean! They found some diamonds on the beach, and so there are now ships that are anchored offshore. They drag up some of the water, find diamonds in the water, and then they just send the water back out. So, interestingly enough, some diamonds actually come from the ocean.

Can you repurpose a family diamond if I already have one?

Yes, and we often do!

This is rather nice; to know that the diamond that you are using is such a family symbol…a symbol of belonging, that actually comes from either one of your families, and I think it’s especially wonderful. We encourage people to ask family members if they have stones that they would wish to donate, and if they’re willing to do that, we’re very happy to work with them!

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, Eve's Insight, jewelry

A Sapphire of a Different Color

A very happy birthday to you, September babies! It also promises to be a very happy anniversary for those of you reaching your 5th and 45th years in marriage, as sapphires are the traditional gifting stone of choice for these years, as well as being September’s birthstone.

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.25.25 PM
“True Balance” by Eve J. Alfillé

Of the corundum family, these incredibly hard little gemstones come in every color under the rainbow…EXCEPT for red. Once a sapphire becomes red, it is then officially classified as another famous stone: a ruby! The difference is in the color saturation: anything too pale pink must be classified as a pink sapphire, though some rubies can be a pinkish-red. The spectrum of ruby even plunges so deep as a dark burgundy, yet anything less red than this must be denied the  title of “ruby.” This, however, leaves an entire spectrum of colors yet to span, and thusly, a great variety for sapphires to utilize!

‘Pink sapphires, you say?” Why, yes! Any non-blue sapphires, like the delicate violet and lemon hues found in this beautiful Eve ring, “True Balance,”  are known as a fancy sapphires. Fancy sapphires are just as sapphire as their “true blue” counterparts, only they introduce a whole new spectrum of colors caused by small amounts of rogue trace elements in the corundum, such as iron, titanium, and chromium.

For striking and precious qualities such as their incredible durability and color, sapphires have also earned a place right in the middle of history. These stones have been seen in pop culture as recently as the 12royal-engagement-ring-kate-middleton-princess-diana karat sapphire gracing the finger of the new Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton. The same ring also previously graced the royal finger of Princess Diana.

To learn more about sapphires, stay tuned! We here at the Eve Alfillé Gallery & Studio intend to celebrate this special stone all throughout the month of September in several enlightening installments.

Eve's Insight

10 Tips – How to care for your jewelry

It may seem like your Jewelry takes care of itself.  After all, its made from strong metals, and stones as old as time.  Truth be told, your jewelry is as fragile as it is pretty, and a little bit of care, will go a long way.

Here are a few crucial tips for cleaning and maintaining your jewelry which help ensure that your precious pieces will last a lifetime.

mangled gemstone setting
A mangled gemstone setting.

1. Treat your jewelry with care!  All jewelry should be removed before doing housework, gardening, workouts and sports.

Most people go to great lengths to avoid scratching their car, but expect their precious jewelry to survive all their activities unscathed.  Cars are made out of steel which has a hardness of 6 on the Moh’s scale. Precious metals have a hardness of 2.5 or 3, which is much softer than steel!  Even gripping the handlebars of your bike or elliptical machine will cause your precious metal rings (and sometimes bracelets too,) to bang against a much harder object repeatedly.  (Would you ever bang your car against a steel object repeatedly?!)

If you cannot take off your rings to work out or garden, at least wear the proper gloves to offer some level of cushioning and protection of the metal and gemstones!

2. Do not store your jewelry together.

Keep each piece in a soft pouch, separate compartment or cotton lined box. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires will scratch or abrade every other thing they touch.  Likewise, metal will scratch other metals.  Pearls are also extremely soft and should not be stored with other gems.  Store your things carefully, don’t cram all the pouches into a drawer or box, delicate settings can become damaged or bent (even broken by too much pressure) if improperly stored.

3. Clean your jewelry regularly – but be sure the method used is safe for your piece.

For most of your jewelry we actually recommend cleaning it with a common household item you might not expect. . . rubbing alcohol!  Yes, really, rubbing alcohol – a simple solution that is readily available at any drugstore or supermarket will remove grease and dirt with a little gentle brushing.

Misaligned pearls on a strand
Pearl Necklace in need of restringing.

We suggest putting the jewelry in a small dish covered with the rubbing alcohol for a few minutes, then use a soft brush (like an old soft bristle toothbrush) to remove the film left by lotion, soap, dirt and oils (yes, we have seen dried food inside settings too – ugh!)  Be sure to use the brush to go in & around and behind all the settings and gems, then rinse again with alcohol (or water) and let air dry on a clean soft towel.

DO NOT use rubbing alcohol on porous gems; like emeralds which contain oil and must only be cleaned with lukewarm water; opals, which have a high water content; or porous gems like turquoise, bone, etc.  Porous gems should only be cleaned with lukewarm water and a soft brush, then dried as above.  If you own a laser-drilled diamond, fracture-filled ruby or other gem with an unconventional treatment, skip the alcohol and use only warm water & the soft bristle brush, and keep them away from acids like lemon juice!

If in doubt, have it professionally cleaned.

Scratching and other damage can occur from improper cleaning.  Do not over clean.   Never use bleach or household cleaners.  When in doubt, do not use chemicals, but use a soft brush and luke warm water.

Surprisingly, rubbing alcohol will not damage pearls, however, pearls set into jewelry are usually also cemented to a precious metal post with glue or epoxy, so do not leave a piece with a pearl set in it soaking in any liquid for more than a few minutes as it may begin to loosen the cement that is holding it in place.

4. Periodically check for loose gems by gently shaking the piece, or by tapping it with your finger near your ear.
Prongs may be checked by trying to insert a thin piece of paper between the gem and the metal prongs. When in doubt, have it professionally checked. Have all loose gemstones tightened before wearing your jewelry

5.  Restring your gemstone and/or pearl bracelets and necklaces regularly.

Pearls are usually strung securely with silk, and are knotted between each pearl to avoid abrasion and prevent loss if the string should break. If your pearls seem to “travel” loosely on the thread or if the thread has discolored, it is time to restring. Have the pearls restrung once a year, if worn frequently. Heavier pearls may need to be restrung more often.

If the pearls seem to become dingy, it is time for a cleaning. Pearls can be cleaned professionally or you can wash them gently with Woolite in warm water, being careful not to stretch the thread. Rinse thoroughly and let air dry on a towel until the thread is completely dry (usually at least 24 hours).

Separated metal clasp
A separated metal clasp

6. Check clasps and fasteners often.   If they are not properly adjusted you risk losing your piece, so bring it in and have it professionally checked, adjusted or repaired if needed.

7. Do not store opals & pearls in the vault or a plastic bag, unless you keep a small open container of water in with it, and do not store them in direct sunlight either, or let acids and chemicals come into contact with them.

Pearls and opals will dry out and become discolored or loose their luster, even crack if stored in too dry an environment. Never expose pearls or opals to hair sprays, cosmetics, perfumes, sun lotions or insect repellents – the acids in them will attack the pearls. Often “Grandma’s pearls” are no longer beautiful and lose their value because they were stored in a safety deposit box or vault where the temperature and moisture are adjusted to keep paper documents, stocks, money, etc. in the best condition.

Pearl and opal dealers will keep an open container of water INSIDE their safes (and make sure to keep them filled) to avoid this sort of damage. You should also do this.  It is OK to keep your pearls & opals in a sealed plastic bag for a short period of time, but they will dry out and potentially sustain damage if left for too long.  This also applies to leaving these jewels in a hot, closed car – we do not recommend this!  Pearls should be the last article to go on and first to come off when dressing.

8. Take your jewelry off at night or when doing rigorous activities.

Platinum & palladium jewelry is very durable and strong, and they do not lose metal through wear and contact like other precious metals do, however they can still be scratched.  Other precious metals, like gold and silver, will scratch and gradually become worn as they come in contact with other objects and frequent wear.  Even your sheets will contribute to this, so we strongly recommend you take off your jewelry at night and store it gently until you put it back on.

9. Avoid wearing any gold or silver, opals, pearls & porous gems) jewelry in chlorinated water, such as swimming pools and hot tubs, because chlorine attacks the alloys in these metals.

Jewelry made of 14 karat gold is 58.5% gold and the other 41.5% is a mix of different metal alloys — depending on the color of the gold and the manufacturer’s formula.   18 karat gold is 75% pure gold and the balance are different metal alloys.  Chlorine attacks the molecular structure of the piece, and suspends the alloys in solution, actually carrying away some of the alloys with each exposure, greatly weakening your piece of jewelry.  You risk gems falling from their settings or the piece cracking as a result of the effects of chlorine and other damaging chemicals, so do not wear them in swimming pools, hot tubs, or while working with bleach and other harsh chemicals & acids.  Platinum and palladium are nearly chemically inert, so they are not affected.

10. Dirt & grime build-up will dull the beauty and sparkle of your gemstone set rings & cause stones to be pushed out of their settings!

This is true for all your jewelry, but rings are the most vulnerable because we wash our hands frequently through out the day. Soap residue, lotion, sunscreen, dirt and grime build-up inside your rings over time and can actually gradually cause your gemstones and diamonds to be pushed out of their settings and be lost. As these substances accumulate inside your ring settings through normal wear, they will dry and harden almost acting like cement behind the gems. Then, as you wash your hands during the day, or while washing dishes or preparing food, this buildup gets moist and expands, creating a pressure that works to loosen your gems. Over time, with repeated wetting, expanding and then drying and contracting, the gems are slowly pushed out of their moorings. So, please remember to clean them regularly to avoid these problems and keep them looking pretty, sparkly and well cared for.

If you’re ever in doubt about the care of your precious pieces, or you have a piece in dire need of care, please drop by or call for a special appointment.

Eve J Alfillé
(847) 869-7920

Design Series

Jazz Age in France

From the Jazz Age Series by Eve J Alfille
From the Jazz Age Series by Eve J Alfille

A fascinating and optimistic time in history when music, art, architecture and society took on a transformation of unconventional ideas while maintaining a sense of elegance. We’re drawn to the breathtaking time of excitement and hopefulness wanting to explore for ourselves these wonderful delicacies.
Music was electric and captivated our senses. Everyone knew of Gershwin, Cole Porter and Maurice Ravel. But it was French entertainers like Ada “Bricktop” Smith and the great Josephine Baker who performed nightly to Paris audiences.  When Jazz arrived, it was overwhelmingly accepted by the Parisians. It allowed people like Josephine Baker to become a star.
Inspirational developments included Art Deco design and architecture. The Art Deco aesthetic was wonderfully sleek and streamlined with symmetrical and geometric designs. It’s character was seen in everything from furniture, fashion to jewelry.
As a society, the sense of excitement came from freedoms of individuality such as hand holding, free flowing dresses and beautiful jewelry. It gave permission to define who you want to be.

Watch a wonderful video of France in the 1920’s.