Bonyak Jewelry Blog

  • Morganite Projects, Part 1

    At this year's Tucson gem show, one of our missions was to buy up as much morganite as we could.  We focused on large, clean pieces with bold colors, and smaller stones with the purest pinks we could find.  We bought a few great parcels of every size, shape, and color, and after some lengthy negotiations we were able to swing some fantastic deals.

    We're working now on creating a line of morganite jewelry from these pieces, which range from smaller stones up to huge cocktail pieces.  As a teaser, check out this ring we are working on:

    10+ carat morganite and diamond ring project 10+ carat morganite and 1/5 ctw diamond ring in 14kt rose gold! All that's left to do is set the large (16 x 12 mm) morganite and it will be ready for sale!

    One of the most popular and sought-after shapes for morganite is the heart, but unfortunately heart-shaped morganites are hard to come by.  Cutters don't like to cut hearts because the heart shape cuts away a lot of good material, lowering the weight (and therefore value) of the stone.  They'd rather cut pears, which are a similar shape but weigh substantially more.  We searched high and low at Tucson this year and managed to buy a parcel of big, beautiful hearts, which we are excited to share with you soon.  They're already set and are actually down in the photo studio as I type this, so keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of this post including links to finished pieces available for sale.

    Check back soon for more!

  • Patron Saint Medal Sizes

    It's First Holy Communion season and patron saint medals from Bliss Manufacturing in Rhode Island are huge sellers once again this year.  We love carrying this line because they are really high-quality medals with every stage of production done by hand here in the U.S.

    The most popular products, in addition to rosaries, rosary bracelets, and bangle bracelets (coming soon to our site), are the engravable patron saint medals available in sterling silver, gold-filled, and 14k yellow gold.

    They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common are the three main oval medal sizes.  Starting from left to right, 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch, 1/2 inch by 3/4 inch, and lastly 1 by 3/4 inch. Thickness of medals range from 1 to 1.2 mm. The left two silver medals come with 18 inch sterling lite curb chains. The largest sterling medal comes on a heavy curb endless 24 inch stainless chain, clasp can be added upon request.

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  • Titanium Hypoallergenic Earrings for Sensitive Ears

    Did you know that up to 20% of women have a nickel allergy that prevents them from wearing most earrings without discomfort?  Couple this with the fact that many metal alloys contain nickel, not to mention other metals that can trigger allergic reactions (sterling silver, 10k and 14k white and yellow gold, most base metals in costume jewelry, etc), and it's easy to see why so many women cannot wear earrings.

    Higher-karat gold is often unsuitable for use in earrings due to its softness, and platinum (which is also hypoallergenic) is not always within everyone's budget for each and every pair of earrings.  Enter titanium.

    We have found that medical implant grade titanium, the same stuff they use in artificial knees, is the most reliably hypoallergenic metal for earrings.  If you have sensitive ears and have trouble with other "nickel-free" jewelry (remember, nickel allergies are just one type of metal allergy, and it's no secret that a lot of "nickel-free" jewelry still contains small amounts of nickel), we strongly recommend giving titanium a chance.

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    3mm Surgical Grade Titanium Earrings
    (Our best selling titanium earrings, tens of thousands sold)

    We currently offer 3mm and 4mm ball earring studs made from the alloy "ASTM F136 Titanium Alloy".  This alloy has been evaluated by ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and has been recommended by them for use in surgical implants and other medical devices.  The alloy consists primarily of titanium, but does also include aluminum and small amounts of vanadium.  These elements are typically considered hypoallergenic, but aluminum allergies are an (exceptionally rare) possiblity.  They are truly nickel-free, nickel again being the most common source of metal allergies.

    Infected ear holes are another source of symptoms similar to metal allergies.  For that reason, the hypoallergenic earrings we sell come sealed in a sterile container and include sterile wet wipes.  We have now sold tens of thousands of these earrings without complaint.  Most customers leave these earrings in long-term, day and night, with comfort.

    Check out our full offering of hypoallergenic jewelry here!

  • Jewelry Coffee Table Book. My Pick of the Month. David Webb: The Quintessential American Jeweler by Ruth Peltason

    Ordered this book after seeing an early David Webb piece in person. I was in awe of the design and the high level of craftsmanship and variety of techniques used and it was the day I became a huge fan. I also read a blog post by GemGossip on this book too and I pretty much buy every book she recommends. I also would recommend reading her blog, especially if you are a jewelry fan.  I enjoyed this comprehensive book about his work and career. I enjoyed that this book showcased his wide range of designs as opposed to showing only what he's most famous for which are his animal bracelets and mainly the pieces he designed for his famous clients, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Lauren Bacall to name a few.

    davidwebbcover

    He was rarely photographed and took a very individualistic approach to jewelry design, mainly self taught and constantly evolving with what he was inspired by whether it be art at the Met or his own country garden in Upstate New York. I enjoyed the tidbit that he often went back to the office because he had several fresh ideas in head and had to get them on paper. Fresh ideas are what served him well and his clientele who were looking for just the right thing or something new and innovative and different from his competition at Verdura, Tiffany's and Cartier. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1975 at the age of 50 and unfortunately some of his sketches did not make it to fruition in his lifetime.  However, the company still continues today, it was bought in 2010.

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    I felt as I was reading and scanning the beautiful images in this book, that I was looking through the catalogue of several designers. There were Ancient inspired works, some almost Cartier/Art Deco like items, Maltese Crosses that reminded me of Chanel, and nature inspired brooches that could easily be mistaken as Van Cleef and Arpels.  Even though he was influenced by a lot of varied subjects, one thing was always constant, his jewelry was not for the faint at heart, everything was big and bold, while still being very classy. I highly recommend this book to any collector or lover of jewelry.  It also looks lovely on my coffee table too.

    davidwebb1

    Thank you for reading!

    -Ruth

  • Emerald Oiling

    Earlier this year, we had an opportunity to buy a few loose Colombian emeralds from an old dealer parcel tucked away since the late 1970s or early 1980s.  Needless to say, we jumped at the chance!

    The stones we bought have that characteristic Colombian glow, with inclusions suggesting a possible Muzo mine origin (we cannot say with certainty, however).  Since this was an old parcel, the oiling treatment that is so standard for emeralds (even done right at the mine) had leaked out.  Oiling is a great treatment for exactly this reason -- it enhances the beauty of the stone, is accepted as near-universal in the marketplace, and is 100% reversible if you want to restore the original look of the stone.

    We decided it would be fun to show you before-and-after photos as we lightly oiled one of these emeralds.  We selected a 3.63 carat 9.0x8.9 mm square emerald cut stone.  For comparison, here is a before picture:

    before

    We then soaked the oil in 100% pure cedarwood oil and monitored its progress as it soaked overnight (under mild pressure).  Some initial results were visible even after just 10 minutes:

    10min

    And after two hours, most of the improvement there was to be seen in the emerald had already set in.  We let it soak overnight before removing it from the oil.  Then we let it rest, still covered with oil, for another eight hours, before finally using a soft cloth to gently rub away the remaining surface oil.  We did this quickly to avoid wicking.

    Then we sent the stone off to be set in a lovely size 6 halo ring setting we had selected just for this emerald, in 18kt yellow gold with VS+ clarity, G-H color diamond melee totally 0.275 carats.  Emeralds are notoriously hard to photograph, and perhaps one of the worst pictures I took of the ring is the one that most accurately captures the color and glow of the stone:

    after

    This lovely ring is currently for sale in our marketplace.  To check out the product listing, just click the photo below!

    emerald_ring

  • Webmaster Duties

    Matt here, writing up my first post on the Bonyak Jewelry blog.  While Ruth does most of the real work (design and fabrication), I'm mainly responsible for maintaining our website and sourcing gemstones.

    The site has gone through a few iterations now.  The first version ran on the ZenCart platform, which was pretty capable but also lacked a modern style.  The last time I had done any serious website work was in the late 1990s, and I think it's safe to say that the web has changed dramatically since then.  So that site lasted a few months, and it became clear we needed something more dynamic and responsive.

    The current site is built on VirtueMart, which is definitely more modern and slick than ZenCart, but in many ways still requires a lot of custom coding and hacking.  That's a big part of why I'm such a poor webmaster -- I know the website is held together with shoestring and bubblegum and I don't want to make any big updates that could break everything.  So the VirtueMart site has slowly decayed, and not been updated the way it should be.

    But Version 3.0 is coming.  We've decided to move away from the low-cost open source roll-your-own approach and go with something more professional.  So we're switching to a Magento-based website.  This new site is currently under development and should be ready for primetime within the next month.  Our goal is to go live before Halloween.

    Ruth has a lot of great designs that aren't on the site right now.  In fact, less than half of what she's sold has been featured on the website.  Starting with the new site, that will be changing.  Our full inventory will be posted and up-to-date.  We're pretty excited.

  • We are on Pinterest!

    I am definitely what you would call a Pinterest newbie.  I have had a personal pinterest account for awhile now.  However, I rarely pinned anything mainly because I had not a clue how it really worked.  However, once I realized how it worked it was like a big light bulb went off in my head. I immediately was like I wish this was around when I was still a student in fashion design or when I was an art minor as an undergraduate.  Mood boards if you are unfamiliar with them are what artists use in the various occupations of art and design to get ideas and narrow focus into collections. Typically you literally pin pictures using square pins onto foam core boards.   The plethora of pictures and ease of creating boards through pinterest made me stash away my foam core boards and actual pins for now, while saving on a ton of printer ink.  Although, keep in mind you can print them too if you want especially if you need to present your ideas.

    I started pinning like crazy on my own personal boards these past couple of weeks, creating boards based on my favorite muses, fashion, nature, and antiques. Then I realized hey I can start a Pinterest for our business that shows what we're inspired by as well as some our own jewelry.  I really do believe a picture is worth a thousand words, inspiration can come from all corners of the globe and all periods of history. So its nice to see what other people have shared and liked and also share what we're inspired by as well.  If you aren't on Pinterest already I highly recommend it even if you don't think you need one like I did. You can create your own dream vacation board, gardening plans, DIY ideas, whatever your interests just happen to be you.

    If you would like to follow us on Pinterest here is a link to our boards.  I promise to add more pins.  I just started it today so its a little sparse. Now I just need to figure out what Instagram is all about (while I am still on the young side, I do remember the days of dial up internet and boy bands, so please bear with me).

    https://www.pinterest.com/bonyakjewelry/

    Happy Pinning!

    -Ruth

  • New Waxes and Products Coming Soon

    Recently I've been inspired by a wide variety of motifs and subjects. I love anything that has a nod to the past.  I love Edwardian, Art Deco, and Retro jewelry and just plain antique jewelry generally speaking. As long as its chic and wearable and preferably a little unique then I am all over it.  I am beginning to collect costume brooches from mainly the 40's.  An era I am particularly fascinated with. I love looking at dresses and hats from this time period, since there were war time restrictions on amount of fabric there was an understated element of chic meets practicality. In my humble opinion, fashion design requires more creativity especially if you have less to work with.  Also I feel there was a sense of glamour that carried from the 1930's into the 1940's with Hollywood ever influencing style.  I am thinking about those fabulous veiled hats and also Betty Grable and Veronica Lake as style icons of the 40's.  The jewelry is especially interesting from this period too, platinum was needed for the war effort so gold was used more.  World War II bakelite jewelry was popular during this time and is sought after by many collectors today. Bakelite is an early hard brittle plastic that is a formaldehyde based resin discovered in 1907 and was considered revolutionary. Bakelite was used in a wide variety applications, but in jewelry subjects included planes, bombs, anchors, hearts, and I've even seen cherries which inspired one of the waxes in the photo.  The jewelry was used mainly as a way to show support.  I love how jewelry can be used to convey an important message.   Here are some of the waxes I've carved recently with many more to come.  Thanks for reading!

    Ruth

  • Tips and Tricks: How to Prevent and Clean Silver Tarnished Jewelry

    I used to get so frustrated with sterling silver tarnish till I learned a few tips and pointers when I started doing research on types of metals. Polishing my favorite necklace which had a snake chain and was very hard to clean came to mind when writing this post and also the tea set my mom had when I was a child.

    Tarnish as most of you know can be removed by gently using a polishing cloth. There are wonderful polishing pads designed specifically for jewelry that approximately 1 inch by 1 inch that take tarnish off easily and almost feel like rubber. Also, there are the more traditional polishing cloths that you can buy in all different kinds of sizes, but are impregnated with cleansing agents, the brand Sunshine comes to mind. If your jewelry has absolutely no stones and is not mixed metal, the piece can be dipped in a silver cleaning solution, such as Connosieurs which takes tarnish off in just a few seconds. Just a warning though this solution is not the most pleasant smelling and I recommend wearing gloves.

    To prevent tarnish from the beginning you can purchase tarnish ziploc bags that have copper in them will help keep your silver jewelry tarnish free, for generally speaking up to a year. Also I like to put a “sacrificial” penny inside my jewelry box and display cases to help prevent tarnishing. When I mean sacrificial I mean a coin of no numismatic or even sentimental value since the coin will oxidize before the silver. If the penny is already pretty oxidized or dirty I suggest rubbing it with a piece of sandpaper to expose the copper surface.

    If you just want silver jewelry that is just going to be maintenance free, look for jewelry that is made with the newest silver alloys that are already tarnish resistant. Its seems to be growing more and more in popularity with jewelers. One alloy is Argentium, of which there are several varieties have silver purity levels that I have seen range between 93% and 96 % silver, which is higher that sterling at 92.5%.  The difference between this alloy and Sterling is the presence of Germanium. Another alloy to look for is Sterlium Plus which is tarnish resistant up to two years. Fine silver which is 99.9 percent pure silver also tends not to tarnish, however it is significantly a softer metal in comparison to sterling silver which limits its use and is harder to find in jewelry. Also, rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry which is everywhere will keep have a nice bright silver luster and help with surface tarnishing. However, the down side to anything that is plated is that plating  does wear off.  Hope these tips and tricks help you keep your silver jewelry the color silver. Of course if you like when silver tarnishes and turns black, there is always black oxidized sterling jewelry. Thank you for reading!

    Ruth

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