Preserve that Fall Feeling

As the first snow fell over Philly last night, I wanted nothing more than to preserve the fall. It seems autumn gets shorter and shorter each year, but maybe that’s just how years work as you get older. Luckily, there are a couple of stones that support that fall feeling.

FallPicks.labeled

I love gemstones of all kinds but there are two in particular that I have been really obsessing over this fall: Sphene (aka Titanite) and Coral.

SPHENE:

Multicolored sparkle tumbles across sphene facets like autumn leaves shimmying across the sky and onto the damp streets on a gusty mid-October morning. The rich body color ranges from greens through yellows and into browns, but as lights hit the facets of this mesmerizing stone you can always see a variety of colors: green, orange, brown, red, champagne.

It’s magical display is most notably due to a high dispersion rate sometimes called ‘fire’ because it is the way in which light breaks down or ‘sparks’ within a crystalline structure.

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sphene for marchis earrings

Check out more of the detailed specs from The International Gem Society here.

 

TO BE CONTINUED….

Next time In the Giant Jewelry Box:

Coral in Rare Form

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New Girl on Jewelers’ Row

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For me, the fall always flies by and is usually measured by football games and leaves on the ground. This fall in particular has been marked by a barrage of changes for me. It was one year ago this past October that I decided to leave my position in the manufacturing world to pursue my own venture. Everyone* thought I was crazy and never going to make any money with Constance & Carob and that I should take another job before anyone noticed I was “out of work.” Instead, I actually turned down a few offers a few times, and chose to take on a couple of contracts that others felt were gambles at best. And then I did the unthinkable, I moved outside of NYC… and not just to the suburbs, I moved all the way to the suburbs of Philadelphia….

And it was the best decision I have ever made!

https://i0.wp.com/media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/84/7d/2d/847d2d6541d5179706018e248901c830.jpg(This image was chosen as the image of my departure from NYC and arrival in Philly by Frank’s son Orlando… We felt it was fitting.)

A few days after I got settled, I decided to canvas Jeweler’s Row for manufacturing partners in Philly so that I could avoid the long trip to NYC’s Diamond District at least for smaller projects. What I found was the shop of my dreams full of souls just waiting for me to join their United Nations-esq family. So, I did. And I can now say that I am a proud member of the FGS Gems family, located on the Historic Sansom** Street in Center City Philadelphia! Come visit. (That’s  kind of an order.)

FGS GEMS HOME

Why did I sign up?

https://i0.wp.com/mcneil-wiki-3-2010.wikispaces.com/file/view/2621QL10NNW1-4.jpg/178614211/2621QL10NNW1-4.jpgRemember the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin? It’s kind of like that in here… (yes, I know your mind is blown.) There are more gems in this shop than in most museums. NO JOKE! The owner Frank has the largest collection of stones (rough and cut) and mineral specimen I have ever seen. No seriously… just wait till we get into the safe.

*By everyone I mean industry wide and not actually everyone because I have had a great deal of people be very supportive of my choices to follow my dreams.

** Sansom Street was the first “Diamond/Jewelry” District in the United States! 😉 #historylesson

…..The Beginning of the New End Winking smile……

Gemological humility/envy at the microscope

CAUTION: All words and NO PICTURES

A kind face, sharp eye and willingness to learn on the go can take you all over the world, but it can’t identify the origin of a sapphire upon request. I recently started working with a lapidary on Jeweler’s Row in Philadelphia, and to say it re-humbles me is an understatement. I have been to some of the greatest jewelry shows in the world: JCK, Vincenza Oro, Basel, Hong Kong and Tuscon. I have designed jewelry for celebrities and followed the creation process from buying stones, through manufacturing at factories in China, to showing the products live on television shopping networks. But, I cannot identify the origin of a gemstone by simply peeking at it through a microscope¹ which brings me full circle to how and why I entered this industry in the first place.

Standing in the Geology Department’s mineralogy hall at University of Nevada Las Vegas I felt a quiet calm. The sort of relief most people feel when they finally make it home after a long day was the over-arching aura, for me, amidst the sparkle of jagged uncut crystals. I was studying entrepreneurship at the time, but I wanted to stay in this hall forever. As things got rockier in my home and personal life, I promised myself I would build a life I wanted and eventually set forward with a personal mission to learn the jewelry industry from mine to final customer.

Without truly understanding any facet of the industry, I began daydreaming out loud and speaking with people about how to get into the world of fine jewelry and gemstones. I thought perhaps, someday I would own and operate my own import/export company with a small jewelry brand as a pet project to feed my creative hunger. Since I had always been good with my hands and understood aesthetics, I began looking into wire and beads. I first made myself a pair of earrings from silver wire and seashells. They were a success and I decided to debut them at a wedding I would be attending a few weeks later. At that wedding, I sat across the table from a woman who had been a gemstone buyer with Sterling for many years; she asked not only about my earrings but what I wanted to do with my life. Upon hearing the ingredients of my elaborate dream and probably recognizing that I still knew nothing of what I was talking about, she shared her story with me. I leaned in and listened closely as this woman told me about her adventures in Thailand and the Gemological Institute of America. Her recommendation was that I start Graduate Gemologist courses immediately, and abandon my college courses for the time being so that I could get the industry training I needed to make my dreams a reality. I scheduled a trip to Carlsbad to see the school of my dreams and was blown away by the facilities, only to find out just how expensive studying on campus would be. At the time, I had nothing but college debt and a career as a hula dancer, which although fun did not pay very well. But I saw a shiny world of crystallized adventure and I wanted in.

I returned to Las Vegas with one mission: to make and save enough money to attend G.I.A. on campus. I applied to every major jewelry store I knew of but no one would give me an interview because I had zero experience in luxury sales or fine jewelry. Before getting too discouraged I met a woman named Julie at a fashion show who represented a direct sales costume jewelry company called Park Lane. Julie and I chatted and I shared my dreams with her. She told me that while it wasn’t the natural or even genuine gemstones I wanted to work with ultimately, I could join her team and earn some extra money to set aside for my goals. Wanting to make some sort of progress towards my future I accepted and we began the first part of my jewelry adventure. It wasn’t long before I was hosting events of my own in restaurants like the one where I met my first fine jewelry boss.

Julie and I were set on revolutionizing the direct sales model we worked with. We put together flyers, mass texts and even tried pitching executive gift programs. We planned sales events for our Park Lane team partnering with restaurants on slower nights to offer a happy hour for anyone who wanted to join us and take a peek at our merchandise. One particular night we had set out our forms, displays and lights to make the jewelry really pop, but it was a terribly slow event with almost none of our customers even stopping by. Towards the end of the night a man stopped by with his two children. “Jackpot,” I thought. I approached him to make a sale for him to take home to the wife, only to be met with an array of questions like: “What are you doing here?” “[Why are you selling jewelry] in a restaurant?” and “But why are you doing this, what do you want to do with your life?” I finally gave in, figuring the man was obviously not going to be a customer so I may as well have a decent conversation with him. I told him my hopes of using the money I would earn from this company to pursue gemology and then work in the industry as a buyer and maybe a designer someday. At the end of our conversation this man introduced himself to me. His name was Ben and he owned a fine jewelry store on the Las Vegas strip. He made me an offer that changed my life. He said, “Come work for me and sell the way you do here and I will teach you everything I know.” I am still not convinced that Ben taught me everything he knows but he did begin me on the adventure of a lifetime.

Within my first few months on the floor, I had memorized every item of the inventory and read all the materials available, even the jewelers’ tool catalogs. Before long I was a go to source on the sales floor, having made it my business to know and understand everything one of our customers might like to know. I came in early, on my days off and stayed late for any opportunity to learn more. I practiced my sketching every day until I became good enough to sit with customers and design custom pieces for them on the spot; I then worked with the store owner to learn how to price the unique designs. Each custom order sparked ideas for full collections and elaborate brand possibilities. So when the time came for me to tell people what I thought my next step in my career would be I said just that. I wanted to design full collections and put together entire brand packages.

From what I learned with Ben, I was able to finagle a few meetings I probably didn’t deserve for the opportunity to impress the people that brought me to New York where I ultimately became a real designer and merchandiser. Just months after first uttering my desire to construct brands, an opportunity arose that I was not going to let slip through my fingers. I received a phone call that a buyer at HSN was looking for more brands and that if I wanted a shot I could put together a few different brand ideas to be pitched. I sent three concepts with sketches of jewelry and logos for the buyer to review. Her response was that she would need to see some of the designs in live samples before making a decision. It was definitely not a “yes” but it also was not a “no”. A few months after that I had another opportunity to sit in on a meeting with a TV sales celebrity who was looking to launch a new portion of her brand. This was my ticket into the mass market manufacturing world. I understood her when she spoke and was able to translate her words into sketches and then into samples which were ultimately bought to prove that I could build collections.

With one success under my belt I knew I wanted to transition to not only designing for an existing brand identity but also creating one. That was when I met my first actress who needed a brand created for television. Together, she and I built a beautiful TV brand from a few scribbles on napkins. As with each experience before I realized how much more there was to learn with each bit of information I logged. I found myself needing to now subscribe not only to Jewelry Trade magazines but to branding firms, blogs and general retail resources. I went to trade shows around the world to tag along with industry friends for trend analysis and forecasting and I took every opportunity to sit in on lectures.

Once we established the trends and the direction for the brand then there was manufacturing. Knowing nothing of the process, I was sent to China to get a grasp and work with the factory design teams in person. I spent weeks at a time trying to not only teach the trends and brand direction but more importantly learn how jewelry is made. With each design, I learned a little more about the possibilities and often times the impossibilities in creating jewelry. I consulted as many seasoned jewelers as possible to get a good understanding of how difficult or simplistic any given piece would be, and then tried to tailor the designs for our maximum output potential. Completing a beautiful sample collection was still only a small portion of the job to be done. I then had to learn how to price wholesale products and these constraints sent me packing to head back to the factories for less expensive products. As the project progressed, I learned not only what buyers wanted but also what the end customers wanted through their feedback and online reviews.

It is now only five and a half years after I realized what and who I wanted to be. I own my own small jewelry business, work with some of the rarest gemstones in the world alongside some of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met, and now more than ever before I feel the pang of wanting more knowledge straight from the source. Each morning that I walk in and see the lab equipment sitting behind the counter, I cannot help but feel a small covetous sensation for the ability to call myself a true gemologist. It never ceases to amaze me how more is both more and never enough. Is ignorance bliss because the more you know the more you realize you don’t know at all?

¹ [like Frank who you may hear about a lot from now on because he is basically who I want to be in many ways when I grow up which is also why I agreed to work with him even though he basically pays me in African artifacts and lunch. P.S. I am probably way misusing this whole footnote thing. P.P.S. Get over it.]

Have I lost my sparkling Mind???

clip_image002As I sit in my dressing room between shows admiring my gorgeous Asscher cut band ring I have to ask myself… “Am I losing my mind?” I am a diamond jewelry designer completely in love with these synthetic stones I now work with. Where is the girl who shunned the idea of Cubic Zirconia? Where is the girl who loved to play with real diamonds and said proudly that every woman should own at least one diamond because you’re worth it? Am I cheating on my “Girls Best Friends”?

I never thought I would admit to it to myself but Synthetic stones have gotten crazy good! So good I wear them with confidence right next to my diamonds, and the only fear I have is that they will magnify the imperfections in my real diamonds. I would be lying if I said I didn’t still sometimes feel a bit shy about this around some of my snobbier jewelry friends but maybe, Coco Channel said it best,

“Women should mix fake and real. To ask a woman to wear real jewelry only is like asking her to cover herself with real flowers instead of flowery silk prints. She’d look faded in a few hours. I love fakes because I find such jewelry provocative and I find it disgraceful to walk around with millions on your neck just because you’re rich. The point of jewelry isn’t to make a woman look rich but to adorn her; not the same thing”

And I have always know that Coco is a reliable source because she also said “I only drink Champagne on two occasions: when I’m in love and when I’m not.” 😉

Still what’s so special about the particular ring I have been fawning over in my free time? It’s a row of 8 Asscher cuts…AKA a style I die over but can’t afford to make in real. Why? Because Asscher cuts:

A.) Are super hard to find in the general market place, you pretty much have to cut them yourself.

B.) If/when you do find them they are crazy expensive.

C.) If/when you do find them and can afford them…. GOOD LUCK finding eight of them in a calibrated (aka matching) size to then set in a band.

What’s so special about the Asscher cut? Imagine a stunning 74 facet step cut that combines the elegance of baguettes and emeralds with the vibrant sparkles of all the brilliant cuts. Okay, just kidding you don’t have to just imagine it because it exists and is not only available in the super expensive diamond version but in the stunning AAA quality synthetic diamonds used in this ring I am obsessed with. It was created by the Royal Asscher Diamond Company, dubbed “Royal” by the royal family of the Netherlands for their bejeweled contributions to both the diamond industry and crown jewels. YUM!

imageDiamonelle 14K Gold Asscher Cut Anniversary Band

The Sound Track of Late Summer Sparkle ;)

As I design or prepare for shows, I always like to have a playlist to kind of set the tone for what I am doing. The genres vary but the content is generally the same. “I’m a girly girl who LOVES pretty things.” Sometimes, I’m fierce about it and other times I’m coy 😉 …… but this late in the summer I’m usually a little lazy but still my quirky self…. So on that note, here’s my spotify list as of late:

What are you playing?

#GoldSnob

Last Friday was a blast!  I got to go on ShopHQ to debut Essante, which is a new project I  have been working on since November. It is always good to see projects finally come to fruition and get off the ground.
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The best part was definitely during the second show. Our producer Tim, told us we had a caller that he was going to patch through. Honestly, my heart skipped a beat because, I didn’t know what to expect and I have seen callers go very very very wrong, like talk about dead people wrong. Which is scary because everything is completely live. It isn’t like a reality show that they edit for months or an award show with a slight time delay. THIS IS LIVE TV. AS it turned out the caller was a woman from PA named Sheryl (forgive me if the spelling is wrong) and she was amazing! She understood our mission so well and even called herself a Gold Snob. Brilliant. I told  her on air I was going to make it a hashtag and I wasn’t lying. I think from here on out I will refer to all my Essante customers as #GoldSnob s.
Do you think my friends/customers would be offended to receive Holiday Cards that began:
Dearest Gold Snobs,
         I am sure you are the envy of every party this holiday season in your glowing Essante. Thanks for always snobbing around with me. I love you and can’t wait to share more Golden Snobery with you next year!
Love,
Constance
P.S. You are very welcome for all of my hard work. 😉
Hahaha. With any luck everyone will come to know my sense of humor and this won’t be too far off. I mean hey a girl can dream right!?
Anyways, Thank you so much if you were able to tune in or peruse the collection online!
❤ Constance
WHAT I WORE:
I got a couple inquiries as to what exactly I wore on air and you are in luck because there are still some limited quantities available and there are links in the images. You could also click here to view the whole collection or what is still available at least.
#GoldSnob (The Original)

The Ring

Do What You Love

Do What You Love <3

 

I am fortunate enough to be able to do what I love. And this week, is a very exciting time for me as, I will be launching a new project on the one and only ShopHQ (formerly Shop NBC).  The collection is called Essante and features 14k gold forged with a unique technology that allows for bold creativity that won’t cost all my friends five to six figures even in today’s metal market!

Check out the whole collection here! 😉