Friday, April 11, 2014

In the Victorian language of flowers this pietra dura bouquet of daffodils and forget-me-knots symbolizes “chivalrous true love.”  Let’s imagine this is a gift Mr. Darcy would have given.   

salamandra75:

1906, Edwardian Fashion

salamandra75:

1906, Edwardian Fashion

Monday, March 31, 2014
His Pearliness
Whether you are positively festooned in pearls or more demurely clad, have a care with your wee organic gems.  UC Berkeley offers these thorough instructions:
The following care advice pertains to all types of pearls, coral and mother-of-pearl (shell) material.
PEARL CARE
Because they are an organic gem comprised of calcium carbonate, pearls require more specialized care than most other gem materials. They are particularly subject to deterioration from contact with chemicals, including components in household cleaners, perfumes, cosmetics and hair care products of all kinds.
The surface of a pearl is soft and is easily damaged. Pearls set in rings and bracelets are more subject to scuffing and scratching than pearls set in brooches, earrings, necklaces or strands. A pearl ring or bracelet should be considered a special-occasion piece, not for daily wear and DEFINITELY not to be worn while working with the hands.
A good rule of thumb is that pearls are THE LAST THING YOU PUT ON when dressing and THE FIRST THING YOU TAKE OFF when you get home. NEVER apply perfume or hairspray when you are wearing pearl jewelry, especially a strand of pearls.
STORAGE
Pearl strands should be stored separately from other jewelry because the surface of a pearl is soft and easily scratched by other gems. A silk bag, velvet-lined box or pearl folder—a satin-lined leatherette envelope with snaps to hold a strand in place—are all good places to store pearls. Your local jeweler is a good source for these items.
NEVER store pearls in a plastic bag. Some types of plastic emit a chemical that will cause the surface of your pearls to deteriorate.
Don’t store pearls in a safe or safety deposit box for long periods. The same ultra-dry atmospheric conditions that extend the life of paper documents may dry out your pearls and cause them to craze—to develop small fractures in the surface.
Pearl strands should be stored flat rather than hanging so the thread won’t stretch out prematurely.
STRINGING
Pearl strands should be restrung every one to two years or more often if the thread begins to bag or fray. Silk and nylon beading threads are the most commonly used materials for stringing pearls.
Knotting between beads offers the most security for your pearls; no matter where the strand breaks, you only stand to lose a single bead. The look of the knotted strand is not to everyone’s taste, however. Whether you string your pearls with or without knots, the first three or four beads on either side nearest the clasp should be knotted because this area takes the most wear and is the commonest place for a strand to break.
CLEANING
Strands:

Lay the strand flat on a clean soft cloth or towel. Make a mild solution of soap flakes (I use Ivory soap flakes) and warm water, and apply with a new pure natural bristle complexion or manicure brush, scrubbing gently. Being careful to support the strand so as not to stretch the thread, turn the necklace over and repeat. To rinse, submerge the strand in cool water flush with cool tap water for a minimum of five minutes. Carefully remove the strand from the water and lay it on a fresh towel to air dry. Don’t move it until it is completely dry.

Other pearl jewelry:
The principle is the same: use only a mild soap and a natural bristle brush, then rinse with cool water for at least five minutes.
NEVER USE DETERGENTS, HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS, COMMERCIAL JEWELRY CLEANERS OR TARNISH REMOVERS ON PEARL JEWELRY.
Never use your pearl cleaning brush for anything else, and store it where it will not become dusty or soiled.
Pearls will naturally darken slightly with age and wear. The golden or creamy tones that come with age cannot be removed.

Image: Maharaja Sir Sri Krishnaraja Wodiyar IV Bahadur of, Mysore, 1906 K Keshavayya, © V&A Images
http://nature.berkeley.edu/classes/eps2//wisc/pcare.html

His Pearliness

Whether you are positively festooned in pearls or more demurely clad, have a care with your wee organic gems.  UC Berkeley offers these thorough instructions:

The following care advice pertains to all types of pearls, coral and mother-of-pearl (shell) material.

PEARL CARE

Because they are an organic gem comprised of calcium carbonate, pearls require more specialized care than most other gem materials. They are particularly subject to deterioration from contact with chemicals, including components in household cleaners, perfumes, cosmetics and hair care products of all kinds.

The surface of a pearl is soft and is easily damaged. Pearls set in rings and bracelets are more subject to scuffing and scratching than pearls set in brooches, earrings, necklaces or strands. A pearl ring or bracelet should be considered a special-occasion piece, not for daily wear and DEFINITELY not to be worn while working with the hands.

A good rule of thumb is that pearls are THE LAST THING YOU PUT ON when dressing and THE FIRST THING YOU TAKE OFF when you get home. NEVER apply perfume or hairspray when you are wearing pearl jewelry, especially a strand of pearls.

STORAGE

Pearl strands should be stored separately from other jewelry because the surface of a pearl is soft and easily scratched by other gems. A silk bag, velvet-lined box or pearl folder—a satin-lined leatherette envelope with snaps to hold a strand in place—are all good places to store pearls. Your local jeweler is a good source for these items.

NEVER store pearls in a plastic bag. Some types of plastic emit a chemical that will cause the surface of your pearls to deteriorate.

Don’t store pearls in a safe or safety deposit box for long periods. The same ultra-dry atmospheric conditions that extend the life of paper documents may dry out your pearls and cause them to craze—to develop small fractures in the surface.

Pearl strands should be stored flat rather than hanging so the thread won’t stretch out prematurely.

STRINGING

Pearl strands should be restrung every one to two years or more often if the thread begins to bag or fray. Silk and nylon beading threads are the most commonly used materials for stringing pearls.

Knotting between beads offers the most security for your pearls; no matter where the strand breaks, you only stand to lose a single bead. The look of the knotted strand is not to everyone’s taste, however. Whether you string your pearls with or without knots, the first three or four beads on either side nearest the clasp should be knotted because this area takes the most wear and is the commonest place for a strand to break.

CLEANING

Strands:

Lay the strand flat on a clean soft cloth or towel. Make a mild solution of soap flakes (I use Ivory soap flakes) and warm water, and apply with a new pure natural bristle complexion or manicure brush, scrubbing gently. Being careful to support the strand so as not to stretch the thread, turn the necklace over and repeat. To rinse, submerge the strand in cool water flush with cool tap water for a minimum of five minutes. Carefully remove the strand from the water and lay it on a fresh towel to air dry. Don’t move it until it is completely dry.


Other pearl jewelry:

The principle is the same: use only a mild soap and a natural bristle brush, then rinse with cool water for at least five minutes.

NEVER USE DETERGENTS, HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS, COMMERCIAL JEWELRY CLEANERS OR TARNISH REMOVERS ON PEARL JEWELRY.

Never use your pearl cleaning brush for anything else, and store it where it will not become dusty or soiled.

Pearls will naturally darken slightly with age and wear. The golden or creamy tones that come with age cannot be removed.

Image: Maharaja Sir Sri Krishnaraja Wodiyar IV Bahadur of, Mysore, 1906 K Keshavayya, © V&A Images

http://nature.berkeley.edu/classes/eps2//wisc/pcare.html

Friday, March 21, 2014
It’s spring in Seattle and it’s raining jade and pearls!

It’s spring in Seattle and it’s raining jade and pearls!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Although this amethyst ring is new to our shop, it is more than 160 years old.  It is an early Victorian 14.6ct cabochon amethyst surrounded in rose cut diamonds.  It’s like a French lavender confection, and the perfect accompaniment to macarons.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Awesome Review

This review of our talented associate was posted by a happy customer to her business blog.  We think it’s great!

Know the difference between a person and a customer.

A few weekends ago I purchased an engagement ring for my beautiful (now) fiancé. (She said yes!) I didn’t know exactly what the ring would look like, though I had some ideas and some good references. While I knew what I wanted I had a list of concerns:

  • Will she like the ring?
  • What if I pay too much?
  • What if I get the wrong one?
  • Will she think I don’t know anything about her?
  • Will she think I don’t listen?
  • What am I going to have for lunch?
  • How many places am I going to have to go?
  • How many times am I going to have to explain the same thing?
  • Can I have it in within five days?
  • How does sizing work?
  • What if I don’t know her size?
  • Is there a warranty?
  • What am I going to tell her I did this morning?
  • How am I going to ask her?
  • Will she say yes?
  • Etc., etc.

All of this was going through my mind as I walked into the mall. I was overwhelmed. I was distracted. But I still learned a very valuable lesson: I saw first hand the difference made by focusing on what people are concerned about rather than what a customerwants.

Selling to customers focuses on selling products within a defined process—delivering a product as a service, answering every objection people have, tying customers down to decisions, and closing the deal.

People on the other hand, at least me, prefer to make informed purchases based on trust. Informed buying decisions come from being educated and knowing the difference between fears and normal concerns—seeing all the options and deciding which is the best.

Next time you go into a store, notice whether they see you as a customer or a person. What do they lead with? It will be some variation of one of these:

Questions you ask a customer:

“What brings you in today?” “What are you looking for?”

Questions you ask people:

“What are you celebrating?” “What is the occasion?”

CUSTOMERS SHOP. PEOPLE BUY.

When my friends knew I was in the engagement ring market, they referred me to a local shop known for its beautiful rings and exceptional customer service. I assumed it would be expensive, as antique rings and customer service often are, especially when they are together.

Their reputation was enough to get me to the mall on a beautiful, sunny, November morning in Seattle. (For those of you who don’t know, we don’t have a lot of nice days this time of year, so we must take advantage. But we love it…the Seattle weather that is. The darkness brews great beer, creativity, and coffee.)

All to say, there are better places to be than a mall on a sunny Seattle morning.

Maybe it was luck, but the store was not busy. The employee had more than enough time to walk me through everything, but I assume she would have done that anyway. She did not run me through a script. She talked to me like I was her little brother.

She showed me a ton of options, asked me important questions, and offered a lot of direction—all to help me understand what all goes into buying an engagement ring. She was straightforward with me and told me there was a sale coming up and that she would hold the ring for me until then. (THAT is customer service.)

In an effort to do my due diligence, I went across the mall to another jeweler. I didn’t really expect to find anything, but thought I should go look at other styles, prices, and value. So I walked in as open-minded as I could. But what I walked into was a process.

I was met with a standard, “Hello, what are you looking for?” As soon as I said “an engagement ring,” they ushered me over to a case and started showing me rings. The first one they handed me they offered to sell to me. Same with the second and the third. They did not ask if I had any preferences or ideas. They just continued to sell me rings they had.

PERSON, NOT PROCESS

The woman at the first store addressed all of my concerns and helped me better understand the engagement ring industry. The second retailers told me what they needed to sell me. She told me about an upcoming sale, where she would hold the ring and I would save money. They told me a complicated sale process whereby I’d get $200 off, plus 5%, minus whatever…but only until tomorrow! They used a calculator. She gave me hope and assurance that my fiancé would like the ring. It’s cheesy, yes, but it’s true. She knew because she asked me questions. And she was right. My fiancé loved it.

I knew that she needed to know about me and my fiancé so that she could show me some rings that we would like. Through helping me see and understand, she soothed my anxieties—that laundry list of things I was thinking about as I walked into the mall.

Price was not the most important. What was most important was that I found the right one that fit my fiancé’s style and my budget. She talked to me about value, about the story behind each piece, and left the pressure in the cooker.

AUTHENTICITY

Everyone wants to make an informed decision. And if your business depends on deceiving people or scaring them into a sale you’ll never be able to educate them because they will eventually figure you out. If you are thoughtful and care about your customers, you can design a product or process that is authentically good for them. Then you can build trust by telling them all the relevant information so that they can make a good decision. Who doesn’t want to pay more for trust? I will pay more for help and education. Especially when someone really knows what they are talking about.

At BELIEF we get to invite our clients to be who they are. Our goal is to uncover why they are doing what they do. When we know our clients, we can craft all creative assets to communicate them and their story—authenticity above all else. Ultimately getting them in front of the right people with the right message.

"AUTHENTICITY ABOVE ALL ELSE…."

No one wants to feel like a customer. Treat your clients like friends and family. Protect their interests. Give them what they want or help them see what they need. What do you want FOR them and FROM them? What would you tell your sister? Your mother? Your son? Treat people instead how you would someone you care about and want the best for them.

What the jeweler wanted for me:

She wanted me to find the right ring. She educated me on diamonds and the industry in general. She showed me what she had. She filled in the gaps in my knowledge. She calmed some fears and helped reduce normal ones. She wanted me to find something my fiancé would like. She gave me a story I could tell my fiancé. She gave my fiancé a story she could tell her friends and family. We found a ring that was as unique and precious as my fiancé.

What the jeweler wanted from me:

Direction and references of rings I thought she would like. She needed to know what I was comfortable spending.

She was helping me make a decision, not helping herself make a sale.

People don’t always know what they need, and customers might know what they want. It’s your goal to treat everyone who walks in your door, inquires about your service, or reaches out for advice like people, as opposed to customers.

Cate Blanchett was stunning at the Oscars in her opal cluster Chopard earrings.  It might have been an opal too far if she had considered our opal cluster necklace, pictured at top.  Thoughtful of her not to monopolize all of the opals, and leave a few for the rest of us.  View them in our shop, http://goo.gl/ZgZrPa.

Friday, March 7, 2014
[British Museum Catalog of Greek Coins, Thessaly to Aetolia, by P. Gardner, 1883.Do., Corinth, Colonies of Corinth, &c., by B. V. Head, 1889.]
(i) The earliest money of Epirus consists of silver coins of Corinthian types and standard, struck before Epirus became a kingdom, B.C. 342, at the town of Ambracia, and of bronze coins of Cassope, Elea, and the Molossi, anterior to the regal period. (ii) The second period of the coinage includes that of the kings, Alexander the son of Neoptolemus, B.C. 342-326, and Pyrrhus, 295-272. (iii) B.C. 238-168. There are bronze coins reading ΑΠΕΙΡΩΤΑΝ, which are certainly earlier than the abolition of the monarchy, but the regular series of the Epirote Federal money did not begin till the Republic was fully constituted on the death of Ptolemy, the last of the royal race of the Aeacidae, B.C. 238.
The autonomous coinage appears to have gone on in some of the towns of Epirus side by side with the Federal money. After B.C. 168, when Epirus was devastated by the Romans and its inhabitants sold into slavery, all coinage ceased.
The prevailing types on the coins of Epirus are the heads of Zeus Dodonaeos and of Dione his spouse. The former is distinguished by his wreath of oak-leaves from the sacred oracular oak of Dodona. The latter wears a veil and a laureate stephanos (see B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XVII). The gold and silver coins of the kings were probably struck in Italy and Sicily.

The coin pictured above is Zeus Dodonaeos.  He is available in our shop.  http://goo.gl/xdnwQi

[British Museum Catalog of Greek Coins, Thessaly to Aetolia, by P. Gardner, 1883.
Do., Corinth, Colonies of Corinth, &c., by B. V. Head, 1889.]

(i) The earliest money of Epirus consists of silver coins of Corinthian types and standard, struck before Epirus became a kingdom, B.C. 342, at the town of Ambracia, and of bronze coins of Cassope, Elea, and the Molossi, anterior to the regal period. (ii) The second period of the coinage includes that of the kings, Alexander the son of Neoptolemus, B.C. 342-326, and Pyrrhus, 295-272. (iii) B.C. 238-168. There are bronze coins reading ΑΠΕΙΡΩΤΑΝ, which are certainly earlier than the abolition of the monarchy, but the regular series of the Epirote Federal money did not begin till the Republic was fully constituted on the death of Ptolemy, the last of the royal race of the Aeacidae, B.C. 238.

The autonomous coinage appears to have gone on in some of the towns of Epirus side by side with the Federal money. After B.C. 168, when Epirus was devastated by the Romans and its inhabitants sold into slavery, all coinage ceased.

The prevailing types on the coins of Epirus are the heads of Zeus Dodonaeos and of Dione his spouse. The former is distinguished by his wreath of oak-leaves from the sacred oracular oak of Dodona. The latter wears a veil and a laureate stephanos (see B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XVII). The gold and silver coins of the kings were probably struck in Italy and Sicily.

The coin pictured above is Zeus Dodonaeos.  He is available in our shop.  http://goo.gl/xdnwQi

Lupita Nyong’o looked lovely in her Fred Leighton Victorian snake bracelet. In case Fred Leighton and Madison Avenue are not on your walk to work, we at Alana are here to help.  The Victorian, Etruscan revival, coiled bracelet (pictured at top) is available in our shop and ready for layaway!  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Image 1, view of present day Hagia Sophia from the Sea of Marmara

Image 2, Victorian handpainted brooch depicting Hagia Sophia.  This brooch was most likely purchased as a memento of someone’s grand tour about Europe.  (The brooch is available at Alana, http://goo.gl/WTSK1E)

Image 3, a pair of jeweled bracelets likely made in Constantinople, 500-700, made of gold, silver, pearl, sapphire, amethyst, quartz, glass and emerald.  Polychrome jewelry was popular in the early Byzantine period of Emperor Justinian, reign 527-565, who rebuilt the empire’s most important church, Hagia Sophia.

Image 4, a view of Hagia Sophia during the Ottoman conquest; Procession of Suleyman the Magnificent through the Hippodrome, 1533.  By Pieter van Aelst, the Younger (Flemish, active 1509-1555) Published in Moeurs et Fachons des Turks (Customs and Fashions of the Turks) http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/28.85.7a

Image 5, interior of Hagia Sophia (present day)

Image 6, interior Southwestern Vestibule mosaic; The mosaic is in the tympanum over the doorway and is dating back to 944. Virgin Mary is sitting on a backless throne decorated with jewels. Child Christ is sitting on her lap and he is holding a scroll. They are both flanked on the left by Justinian I, and on the right by Constantine the Great. Both emperors are in their Byzantine ceremonial dress. Emperor Justinian is offering a model of Hagia Sophia to Virgin Mary, and Emperor Constantine is offering a model of the city, the city that he had made his imperial’s capital giving his name after it. The mosaic presents the connection between the church and the empire and the church as the seat of imperial ritual.

Image 7, Apse mosaic; The mosaic depicts Virgin Mary sitting on a backless throne decorated with jewels, and holding child Christ on her lap. On 29 March 867, patriarch Photius inaugurated the mosaic. The image was possibly damaged and destroyed before and restored heavily in the 14th century, the golden background is the original remaining from the 9th century. On each side of the image stand archangels Michael and Gabriel. Michael is largely destroyed but Gabriel mostly remains. 

Image 8, Empress Zoe mosaic; Located at the upper south gallery on the eastern wall, the mosaic is dating back to 11th century. Jesus Christ is sitting on a throne decorated with jewels. He is wearing a dark blue robe, blessing with his right hand, and holding the bible with his left hand. On his left stands Empress Zoe, offering a scroll that symbolizes the donations she made to the church. The face of her consort is believed to have changed three times according to her two previous husbands. Now is the face of her final spouse Constantine IX Monomachus. They are both in their formal dresses. Emperor Constantine IX is offering a purse, a symbol for his donation to the church. On the text below him is written “Constantine, pious emperor in Christ the God, king of the Romans, Monomachus” and the text above the head of the empress says “Zoë, the very pious Augusta”.