Absolutely, totally OT: Jewels

I happen to love jewels and beautifully-made little things. If you don’t, please feel free to skip this post.

Today’s New York Times article prompted me to write about the topic. I especially like the palm frond and diamond brooches in the first photo.

The greatest permanent exhibits of gems and minerals I have seen are in the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and the British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. The Museum of Natural History also had a temporary exhibit of great diamonds, including the Star Light of Peace, the Hope Diamond and Empress Josephine’s coronation tiara among others.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC had temporary exhibits of Scythian gold and treasures from Imperial Russia which were spectacular.

Unfortunately, I have never seen an exhibit of jewelry from India but pictures show that these were among the most splendid ever made.

A La Vieille Russie, an antique store on 5th Avenue in NYC, had a special exhibit of Faberge Easter eggs that was thrilling and worth the trip. Imperial Easter Eggs – A La Vieille Russie FABERGE, Antique Jewelry, Russian Art, Antiques, Gold Snuffbox Dealers ALVR NY

I enjoy looking at jewelry in exhibits. But I also own a unique jewel. I bought a 12-carat aquamarine at a gem show in Montana from the man who found and polished it. This sat in my safe deposit box for years since I couldn’t find that special setting for it in commercial catalogs.

I finally decided to design my own Magen David. The setting represents Hagbah, the ceremony in the Jewish religious service when the Torah is lifted. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the “V” sides of the triangle are 3-dimensional scrolls. The horizontal top bar is curved to represent the parchment of the unrolled Torah. The blue and white colors represent Israel. The title of the piece is “The Torah Is the Heart of Israel.” It is 1.675" high. The jeweler who made it said that he had never seen anything like it.

Well, that is my OT meandering about pretty things today. Please share yours.


I have to put a plug in for the minerals and gem collection at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. https://carnegiemnh.org/explore/hillman-hall-of-minerals-and-gems/

We spent the whole day there. Amazingly, some of the extraordinary specimens were found in the unassuming Philadelphia suburb we used to live in. The museums in Pittsburgh were impressive.

Beautiful pendent. The meaning behind the impressive setting is deep. Have you designed other pieces?


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@inparadise, no…because I already have so much jewelry and no place to wear it in my ultra-casual rural PNW town. I rarely wear my Magen David in public for fear of the current menace of anti-semitism.

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I get it. I am lucky if I remembered to put my engagement ring back on after doing work on the house like painting. I have a box full of jewelry and only boys to give it to. Finally told DH to stop buying it and get me tools instead.

who grew up a tomboy and apparently never changed

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Sadly my DW has collected a variety of jewelry as well, but now we lost our DD, the GD’s have no interest, so somewhere down the line it will become a liquidation problem… Changing times…

We lost one batch, carelessness, rebuilt that OK… But then SIL, lost their home in the firestorm, so hot the ‘firesafe’ was useless, left a big melted glob, where only the gold/silver was recovered, stones do not do well in high heat…


When I was in dental school those of us who were interested had the opportunity to apply the casting techniques we were learning to jewellery making. I didn’t do too much but a few classmates who were getting married actually produced some lovely his and her wedding rings. A couple of the lab techs were registered gold dealers (or whatever the term is) which meant that any pieces could be hallmarked.

I haven’t done anything like that since graduating and losing access to casting facilities but I was having a clear out of stuff after I’d sold my practice and unearthed a lot of my metal working paraphernalia, orthodontic pliers and whatnot and set about making wrapped beaded jewellery. I tended to use my pieces as gifts…especially hostess gifts as an alternative to flowers and whatnot…and my daughter oftentimes would snag some of the more “edgy” pieces. I made earrings for her bridesmaids when she got married using Kazuri beads…along with knitting shrugs to compliment their dresses and a wedding shawl for her.

This is a necklace that’s quite precious to me. My 6 year old granddaughter made it for me a few months back. I let her use bits and pieces from my stash and string it herself. I did the finishing knots. It gets a surprising number of compliments :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Many years ago, my dad worked for a Jewelry company (as their IT guy). They were a close-knit group of folks, and after a while, my dad designed a pendant in his spare time. And a friend in the design shop helped him make a cast for it. In the end, he cast a few of them in silver and affixed them to silver necklaces. Dad meant to make one for each male in the family. Once I was old enough, I wore mine … for a few days … and then discovered that my sweat combined with silver creates a rather bothersome rash. I suppose you could say I was “allergic” to silver. And that was the last time I wore it. Once my brother was old enough, he tried wearing it with similar results. Dad has worn that pendant for many decades now with no ill effects at all. If I remember, next time I see him maybe I’ll get a photo of it.

@MarkR maybe you could have your pendant gold-plated?

My pendant is 14K white gold. I have never heard of anyone who had an allergy to that.

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I forgot to mention that. It was possible, and it was discussed, but kind of expensive at the time. All he had to pay for was the small quantity of silver he used, but to pay for gold would have been a much bigger deal. Even though it was small.

Also, I’m not a “gold” kind of person. I likely wouldn’t wear it in gold, and would barely consider it in silver. Maybe just plain polished steel? But that wasn’t an option.

I think gold is one of those things that “nobody” is allergic to. That’s why they strongly recommend that people, when they first get a piercing, use only gold fasteners/posts/etc to avoid allergic reactions or infections.

Anything but 24 carat isn’t technically “pure” gold but an alloy of other metals…sometimes nickel which is a common cause of contact dermatitis and is likely to be in the silver pendant your dad made.

Pure gold is too soft for jewellery making and was only used in dentistry as a direct, malleable restoration…i.e. you can use it as a direct filling like silver amalgam which replaced it, rather than a cast restoration like a crown or inlay… but it has to be “work hardened”.

My wedding band is 22 carat which is the purest gold that’s generally used for jewellery. I don’t have an engagement ring but that would also need to be the same carat else it’d wear through.

My husband has a gold inlay from his med school days. His rugby playing crony graduated dental school in 1973 so it probably dates from 71 or 72. Wouldn’t be anywhere near 24 carat (or 100% “noble”)

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Not even white gold?

Not even. I’m not a jewelry person at all. We’re not a jewelry family at all. I offered to get my wife an engagement ring, and she would choose it. Well, it’s 3 decades later and she still hasn’t chosen one. We do have simple wedding bands but neither of us wear them anymore. She stopped when her fingers swelled during pregnancy. I stopped when the ring started bothering me and getting damaged during lifting. The only reason I would even think of wearing a pendant is because my dad designed it and h would get pleasure out of having his son(s) wear it like he does.

I stopped wearing a watch a few months after getting a cellphone and only started again about 2 years ago when I got an Apple watch to track my swimming. Now I wear it 23 hours a day (and charge it during the remaining 1 hour) and thoroughly enjoy it. It’s a wonderful device and keeps track of all sorts of health things that I otherwise wouldn’t keep track of. I’ve gotten so used to keeping track that I’ve also purchased a blood pressure monitor with bluetooth so it can send the daily results to my phone. And I weigh myself every few days at the gym right after my shower and enter that data as well (that has to be entered manually because the gym scale doesn’t have bluetooth).

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I never liked jewelry, as much as I tried to like it. I only wear my plain gold wedding band (with a tighter keeper ring of silver to prevent unconscious loss), and that with some difficulty. Mom said I basically never liked to be anything but naked, and that “things” around my neck or wrists or fingers drove me almost frantic.

Beyond my plain gold wedding ring my favorite, although now almost unused jewelry, is an insanely “Diamond Jim Brady” style pair of gold cuff links, one sporting a massive ruby and the other an identically sized sapphire, with a matching set of diamond dress shirt studs, each piece a diamond surrounded by a “court” of littler diamonds. My (moderately wealthy lawyer investor) first husband had them made for me back in the 70’s when our lives as gay rights activists were becoming more and more endangered, and I was doing heavy fundraising. Husband excused his gift saying nothing beat compact ostentatious jewelry as a store of value for fugitives, and we might end up needing that, but also told me that I would know ten times more about wealth and power if I wore them a few times in such settings as the $100 entry fee “charitable casino nights” that were popular in those days, and more importantly within the strange world of hidden Hollywood gay bars and clubs catering to wealthy, mostly Republican, closeted men, especially after Oscars, Opera Opening Nights, and etc.

Husband was right. The change in how I was viewed and treated was mindboggling, and the doors and wallets that were suddenly opened to me were revelatory. I raised a hell of a lot more money. I also often often found myself trailed by gawp eyed eager to get close pretty boys of all ages.

Jewelry began as amulets of power showing connection to mighty forces. That aspect still exists.

david fb

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White gold is rhodium. It can be plated onto jewelry.

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