Rather than focusing on February's most famous holiday - Valentine's Day - I'm pondering some lesser-known February holidays.
The Pantone Color Institute, most commonly referred to as simply Pantone, is the global color authority and provider of professional color standards for the design industries. These standards allow the exact same color to be used across a variety of products as diverse as home furnishings, paint, cosmetics, clothing, and linens.
Here are just a few of the many purple gemstones that will be featured in jewelry this year.
Regardless of your budget, you'll be able to find just the right piece of jewelry in the 2018 Color of the Year - Ultra Violet.
The holidays are filled with traditions from special foods to fun activities. As we age old traditions are modified and new ones are added. But all traditions, old or new, have one thing in common: they connect us to family and friends.
When I first moved to Arizona in 2013, I put up three trees - one in the great room, one in the library and one in my bedroom. It was wonderful to lie in bed and watch the twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. The trees were all full of ornaments - two or more on every branch. As time passed, I no longer put a tree in my bedroom.
With the advent of three cats under two in 2015, paper and wooden ornaments replaced delicate glass ones. Christmas trees became cat paradises. One year, ornaments didn't even make it on the tree in the library - the cats didn't care.
Regardless of the number of trees I put up and the types of ornaments I use, I'm always reminded of the Christmases of my childhood and the excitement when the tree was first revealed after Santa came on Christmas Eve.
From an early age, I made decorations and gifts. I was particularly adept at making paper snowflakes which adorned packages and were hung in windows. Now I create jewelry from wire and gemstones and fashion wire angel and bird ornaments. I enjoy making things and learning new techniques, so the styles of jewelry and ornaments are continually evolving.
Cooking-baking is one of my family traditions. My mom made the cookies and my dad decorated them and did the dishes. Last year I made fruitcake (liberally soaked with 151-proof rum) and 10 kinds of cookies - I go just a little crazy with my holiday baking. And no, I don't eat all the cookies myself. I share them with friends and family.
And of course, I adorn myself with holiday jewelry and clothes. I have enough holiday socks to wear a different pair every day for the entire month of December. My holiday jewelry has it's own special jewelry box and includes everything from flamingos wearing Santa hats to sparkling snowflakes. Wearing Grinch socks or snowman earrings just makes my day more joyful!
Whatever your holiday traditions, have a wonderful and joyous holiday season!
Find one-of-a-kind gifts for those on your list by shopping at local arts and craft shows, galleries and the websites of local artists.
There are an amazing number of artists and crafters in your community. They create an astounding array of items including jewelry, original paintings, woodwork, ceramics, glass, clothing and home décor. Each of these is lovingly made by hand and many are one-of-a-kind. Prices can range from "oh so affordable" to "sky's the limit."
My holiday craft show booth. See Chic Happenings for this year's schedule.
When you buy from an artist, either in person or from their website, you can learn something about them and the way the make their items. Include a note with your gift telling the gift's story - who made it, how it was made, why you chose it, or where your found it. This makes even a small gift important. A handmade gift with a thoughtful note is a wonderful way to create a special memory.
If you buy early, here's a tip so you don't misplace a gift or forget who it's for. Put the person's name on the gift and then place it in a special holiday box - I use a plastic bin. When it's time to start wrapping you'll know where all the girts are. Before I started doing this, some gifts were hidden so well I didn't find them till long after the holidays!
I really love making jewelry. I get even more pleasure helping someone pick just the right piece to give a friend or family member. The icing on the cake for me is hearing from the customer how much their gift was appreciated. If you can, let the artist know how much the gift was enjoyed.
This year look locally for unique and interesting items for those on your list and yourself. You'll contribute to a happy holiday for the artists and keep the money in your community. Make handcrafted gifts a part of your holiday tradition.
Sapphire is one of the four precious gems (diamond, emerald and ruby are the other three). It is the birthstone for September and for the Zodiac signs Pisces, Taurus, Virgo and Sagittarius.
Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum. Trace amounts of other elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, copper or magnesium color the corundum blue, yellow, purple, orange, green or pink. When chromium impurities in corundum yield a red stone, it is called ruby. Pure corundum has no traces of other elements and is called white sapphire. When the trace elements produce an orangey pink corundum, it is called padparadscha which means lotus flower in Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka where stones of this color were originally found.
Star sapphires contain intersecting needle-like inclusions that cause the appearance of a six-rayed star. The inclusion is often the mineral rutile. Star sapphires can be any color from shades of blue to pink, orange, yellow, green, lavender, gray or black. The most desirable color is a vivid intense blue.
Color-change sapphire is a rare variety which exhibits different colors in different types of light. The stones are blue in outdoor light and purple under incandescent indoor light.
Tradition holds that Moses was given the Ten Commandments on tablets of sapphire, making it a sacred gemstone. Ancient Persians believed sapphire gave heaven its blue color. In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced sapphires protected them from envy and harm. Because sapphires represent divine favor, they were the gemstone of choice for kings and high priests. Ordinary people thought sapphires attracted heavenly blessings.
Sapphires symbolize truth, compatibility, commitment and mutual understanding which make them the perfect gem for engagement rings. They are also said to contribute to mental clarity and perception. Sapphires are also believed to promote financial rewards.
More about sapphires and other gemstones can be found in Jewelry Facets.
Summer brings long, hot, lazy days. To combat the heat we sip cool drinks, take dips in the pool, and wear lighter clothing. Summer is a good time to add colorful, playful, light and airy jewelry to your wardrobe. You can experiment with bold colors and designs with out a large investment.
I've added lots of summer styles to my jewelry collections. You're sure to find just the right piece to add a touch of summer to your wardrobe.
The tradition of Mother's Day started as a spring celebration in ancient Greece honoring Rhea, the mother of all gods. Early English Christians designated a day to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. That religious holiday expanded to honor all mothers and became known as "Mothering Sunday." Unfortunately, that tradition faded away about the same time the Pilgrims came to America.
Heat treatment has been around for centuries; since someone discovered applying high heat to a bland gem turned it into a fantastic gem. For example, heat changes the color of pale amethyst to yellow which is then sold as citrine. Heating aquamarine removes the green undertones producing a bluer more deeply colored stone.
Many gemstones, such as lapis, serpentine, coral and pearls are dyed to either improve their color or create unique colors not found in nature. Stones may be also dyed so they look like other more expensive gemstones. A good example is dying magnesite to look like turquoise; which gives the look of turquoise at a much lower price. There is nothing wrong with dying gemstones, as long as you are aware of it.
Another way of changing a gemstone's color is by treating it with radiation (irradiation). Most blue topaz has been irradiated. Smoky quartz is irradiated to create its color. There are government standards in place to ensure there is little residual radiation before the gems and gemstones are sold.
Porous gems and gemstones such as turquoise, emerald and coral are routinely oiled or waxed to improve their color, luster and clarity.
Lynn's musings about all facets of jewelry.