Cape Cod Jewelry

Cape Cod jewelry is characterized by its elegant simplicity. Gold, sterling silver, a ball, maybe a few twists – these are the elements used to create this iconic style of jewelry. Those unfamiliar with Cape Cod jewelry might envision, rope bracelets, anchor pendants – perhaps a seagull in there somewhere? But though this style takes its name from the famous seaside holiday spot, there’s nary a boat or fish design to be seen.

It all began with the Cape Cod bracelet, designed by the late John Carey. The story goes that a customer came into his shop, Eden Hand Arts in Dennis, Massachusetts, seeking a bracelet that wouldn’t fall off. In response, Carey designed the Cape Cod bracelet: a band with screw ball tops on either end. The style quickly caught on, helped out by actress Amy Jo Johnson, a Dennis native who wore the bracelet on an episode of the old hit TV show Felicity.

Jewelry lovers that want an authentic bracelet must go in person to the Eden Hand Arts store, where they’ll be fitted for a bracelet. They are not available through the store’s website.

Fortunately for those of us not planning a trip to Massachusetts any time soon, there are plenty of imitations available.

While the Cape Cod bracelet started the trend, other types of Cape Cod style jewelry are also available.

  • Cape Cod earrings are usually hoops with a ball in the middle, or sometimes drop drop earrings.
  • Cape Cod necklaces often feature one or more balls on a snake chain, which resembles the metal band of the original bracelet
  • Cape Cod rings usually feature a solid band and a ball where a gemstone would normally be.
  • Cape Cod anklets frequently use one or more balls mounted on a snake chain, but sometimes on leather.

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Marquise Diamond Engagement Rings

Couples choosing a diamond engagement ring face a multitude of decisions. New or antique? Diamond or colored gemstone? And if a diamond, then what cut? Here we’ll explore the popular marquise diamond engagement rings. Marquise cut diamonds are beautiful choices for engagement rings.

Advantages of the Marquise Diamond Engagement Ring’s Shape
The marquise cut diamond has an oval shape, which many jewelry lovers feel makes the diamond appear larger than a round diamond of the same carat weight. The marquise diamond’s elongated shape can also give the illusion of length to short fingers.

Accent Stones
While some appreciate the appearance of a single marquise diamond in a platinum or gold engagement ring, others prefer small accent stones to either side. These might include baguettes, round or oval stones. While diamonds are the most common accent gem in an engagement, many women like a dash of color in the form of sapphires, rubies or emeralds.

Metal Choice
While many women love yellow gold engagement rings, keep in mind that the gold can cast a yellow hue upon a white diamond, causing it to appear to be a lower quality stone than it actually is. White gold and platinum preserve the true color of the gem.

Marquise Cut History
It is said that the marquise cut diamond came into being when Louis IV, the Sun King, requested a diamond cut in the shape of the smile of his lover, the Marquise de Pompadour.

Marquise Cut Characteristics
The marquise-cut diamond is considered a “fancy cut.” Because of the marquise cut’s elongated shape, the gem-cutter can get rid of the diamond’s blemishes and use the best part of the stone. The mqrquise cut also makes the most of the gemstone’s carat weight. However, for the marquise cut, the clarity and color of the diamond are the two most important characteristics. Take careful note of the color and clarity of the engagement ring’s marquise cut diamond, since the long shape of the cut can make color and clarity problems more noticeable than they would be in a round cut.

While prongs are vital in keeping a diamond in its setting, for a marquise diamond they serve an additional purpose. A marquise diamond should have a prong covering each of its small ends, protecting them against chips and cracks from being knocked against tabletops, walls, etc.

Marquise Diamond Engagement Rings
Before buying, get an idea of the types of marquise diamond rings out there and their prices by browsing fine jewelry stores and websites. When you’re ready to make your choice, you’ll be better informed of your design and style options.

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Pearl Engagement Rings

Simple, classic and lovely, the pearl is an excellent choice for an engagement ring. While today the pearl engagement ring is a rather unconventional choice, during the Victorian era they were the norm. A symbol of purity and harmony, the pearl is an apt and lovely choice for a betrothal ring.

Engagement Rings in Ancient Rome
Engagement ring history dates back thousands of years. The custom of giving a ring to signify an engagement dates from the time of ancient Rome. In the early days, rings were made from iron. Gold engagement rings came into fashion in Rome during the third century A.D., and were often fashioned with a lovers’ knot or clasped hands.

Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings
Early Christians continued the Roman tradition of the engagement ring, first making it a part of the wedding ceremony and the symbol of an unbreakable vow, thereby transforming it into a wedding ring. Over time, couples felt the need to give another ring as a symbol of the promise to wed, which eventually became the engagement ring that we know today.

Pearl Engagement Rings
By the 1850s pearl engagement rings were popular, so much so that an 1875 article in the Young Ladies’ Journal advised that while any fancy ring could be worn as an engagement ring “pearls or diamonds are considered the proper gems.” Antiques-loving couples may want to hunt down one of these authentic Victorian pearl engagement rings at antiques stores or antiques websites like Lang Antiques or Tia’s.

Types of Pearl Engagement Rings
If antique engagement rings aren’t what you had in mind, there are ample selections of contemporary pearl engagement rings available. You may opt for a ring with the pearl as the central stone, surrounded by small white or yellow diamonds or other gems, such as sapphires or rubies. You might prefer the traditional diamond as the center gem, surrounded by small pearls. Alternatively, you can consult a jeweler or jewelry artist and have her create a unique ring that you design.

About Pearls
Where most gems are mined from the earth, pearls are unique in that they are created by living creatures. Pearls form when an irritant, perhaps a grain of sand, finds its way inside the shell of a mollusk. The mollusk then coats the it with a smooth substance called nacre, making it less irritating. The creature continues to coat the irritant, and over time a pearl forms. Generally, larger pearls took longer to form and have more nacre. Nacre taken from the interior of the mollusk’s shell is known as “mother of pearl.”

Cultured Pearls
Until the early 20th century, the only way to obtain these gems was to find them naturally occurring. Pearl divers could search through thousands of oysters to find a single pearl. Because of this rarity, pearls were one of the most costly gems of the the time. In the early 1900s a method was discovered to manually introduce an irritant into the oyster so that it would create a pearl. Pearls produced using this method were called cultured pearls and made pearls more accessible to jewelry lovers.

Pearl Engagement Ring Qualities
When judging pearls, look at shape, size and luster. The rounder the pearl, the better. The larger the pearl, the better. Luster is difficult to describe – it’s the reflective quality of the pearl.

Freshwater Pearls
Back in the eighties, freshwater pearls tended to be lumpy and rice-shaped, but no longer. Advances in culturing techniques has resulted in pearls that mimic the shape, color and smoothness of their saltwater cousins. Nevertheless, saltwater pearls tend to be far more costly, so freshwater pearls can be had for bargain prices.

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Sunstone (Aventurine Feldspar)

I recently visited the Field Museum in Chicago and headed to the Hall of Gems. I’ve always thought I was pretty well-versed in precious gems, but there is a whole world of gemstones out there that I’d never heard of before. Think of the possibilities! I love finding gems that I’m not familiar with.

While browsing through a jewelry website recently I came across a gem called “sunstone.” I vowed to learn more about this stone.

What is Sunstone?
Sunstone is the common name for aventurine feldspar. The gem is usually orange-brown or reddish-brown, and goethite and hematite inclusions give it a metallic appearance. Most sunstone hails from Norway, though it is also found in the United States, Canada, Russia and India.

Sunstone Hardness
Sunstone gems come in at a 6 on the Mohs hardness scale. This scale rates minerals for hardness on a scale from 1 to 10, with talc coming in at 1 and diamond, the hardest natural substance known to man, measuring a 10. This means sunstone is somewhat hard, but a person wearing sunstone rings, earrings or other jewelry should take care to keep the gem from being knocked around to should be protected from scratching, chipping and other damage.

Types of Sunstone Jewelry
Sunstone is often faceted and mounted in rings, earrings, bracelets and pendants like other gemstones, but is also rounded into beads that can be used in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Sunstone Folklore
Ancient people believed that sunstone could make the wearer feel more cheerful and less stressed, that it could increase vitality and encourage confidence and self-empowerment.

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Opal Rings

My husband surprised me on Mother’s Day with a beautiful antique, art nouveau opal ring with strong blue fire. It’s my first opal, and it’s lovely. I love it when he buys jewelry for me. I usually stick to my old faves – ruby, sapphire & garnet – but now I have a beautiful opal ring. I wanted to know more about opals.

Opal Ring Color
It is the play of colors within the opal that is so captivating. Unlike most gemstones, opals do not have a crystalline structure but are instead formed by a type of hardened jelly. As the stone cools fine films form with different refractive indices than the rest of the stone, so that light entering the stone is reflected in a array of color. While milky white opal is the most popular form, black opal is the valuable. Water opal is clear, and fire opal is red or yellow and does not always flash colors.

Opal Ring Cuts
Most opals are cut in the smooth, rounded cabochon style that best displays their iridescence. Fire opals are sometimes faceted.

Opal Ring Hardness
Opals measure a 5.5-6.5 on the Mohs scale of gem hardness in which talc is a 1 and diamond, the hardest known natural substance, is a 10. This means that opals are softer than many popular gemstones and special care must be taken to avoid damage like scratching and chipping.

Caring for Opal Rings
To avoid scratching or cracking opals, remove opal rings when doing housework, repairs or any other task that could cause your hands and ring to be knocked around. Also remove the ring when engaging in sports where the opal could be struck and damaged. When placing the opal ring in a jewelry organizer, use the ring slots provided so that the opal is not damaged by sharp metal prongs and clasps from other jewelry.

Because opal is porous, avoid immersing your opal ring in dirty or greasy liquid, such as dishwater. Exposure to heat can dry out the opal, and cold weather can cause it to shrink slightly, so make sure the opal is securely set in the ring.

Opal Ring Folklore
Ancient people believed that opals could free inhibitions, strengthen intuition and promote creativity in one who wore them.

Opal Sources
Opals have been mined in Czechoslovakia and Mexico, but most of today’s opals hail from Australia. In fact, a few months ago my son asked me to read one of his books from The 39 Clues series in which a couple of kids explored the opal mines in Coober Pedy. Sounded awesome.

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Lapis Lazuli Rings

What is Lapis Lazuli?
Lapis lazuli is an opaque stone and thus does not reflect light in the manner of transparent stones. Genuine lapis lazuli is mined in Russia, South and North America, but the finest, bluest stones are found in Afghanistan.

Lapis Lazuli Rings Color
Lapis lazuli rings are known for their attractive deep blue color. The finest examples are a uniform blue color, however most lapis lazuli has a bit of white veins mixed in or inclusions of pyrite that cause silver and gold or white speckles in the stones which add interest.

Lapis Lazuli Rings Imitations
Other gemstones are sometimes confused for lapis lazuli, with or without intention. Swiss and Italian “lapis” are deceptively named, as they are actually quartz that has been dyed blue. Sodalite is sometimes taken for lapis lazuli, but lacks the pyrite bits found in most lapis lazuli stones and sometimes transmits light at its edges, which the opaque lapis lazuli does not. Chalcedony is sometimes taken for lapis, when dyed. Plastic and glass are often substituted for lapis as well.

Lapis Lazuli Folklore
Ancient people believed that when a person wore a lapis lazuli ring it would be protected from evil and would have enhanced extra-sensory abilities.

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Coral Rings

What is Coral?
While most stones used in jewelry are mined from the earth, coral hails from the sea. Coral is formed by colonies of sea invertebrates. It is mostly skeletal calcium carbonate and is opaque to semi-translucent. Buyers should be aware that glass and plastic copies are sometimes substituted for coral, so take care to purchase only from reputable dealers.

Coral Ring Color
Coral’s hues work well year round, with the harvest colors of autumn styles as well as the dark clothes of winter and the cheerful shades of spring and summer. While most associate coral with orange, it can also be found in shades of pink, black, white and red. Angel-skin coral is whitish with hints of peach, while blood, or noble, coral, the most costly form, is deep red. Different shades of coral are found in different parts of the world. The black coral you see in the jewelry case probably came from Mexico or Hawaii, while the white forms grew in Japan and some of the best red coral originated in Italian waters.

Types of Coral Rings
Coral can be relatively inexpensive and is found in both fine and fun jewelry. Sterling silver coral rings are quite common and easily found in gift shops, department stores and online. Gold coral rings are less common, but also quite beautiful and easily found online. Coral is frequently paired with stones like turquoise, onyx or diamond.

Coral Cuts
Coral in rings is most often cabochon cut, or domed, but sometimes it is carved or left in its natural, uncut shape.

Coral Hardness
Coral comes in at a 3.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The Mohs scale is a tool used to rate the hardness of different gems with diamond, the hardest known natural substance, given a 10. At 3.5, coral is one of the softer gems.

Care of Coral Rings
Because coral is one of the softer gems, coral ring wearers should remove the ring before cleaning or taking part in sports that might knock the coral around, causing scratching or other damage. Also remove the coral ring before cleaning and subjecting it to harsh chemicals that could damage it. Acids found in common household items like vinegar can damage coral, so be sure to remove the coral ring when mixing a vinaigrette or using vinegar to remove scale from the sink.

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Cat’s Eye Rings

With attractive shades ranging from caramel to grass green, cat’s eye rings are a great addition to any jewelry collection.

What is Cat’s Eye?
Cat’s eye is a member of the chrysoberyl family, which includes the gems chrysoberyl and alexandrite. The chrysoberyl family is interesting in that though the three gems are alike chemically, they look nothing like one another.

Cat’s Eye Rings Appearance
Cat’s eye is milky and translucent, is found in shades from honey to green, and , when properly cut displays a white line of light down the center of the stone, giving the appearance of an eye lit from inside – hence the name. This effect, known as chatoyancey, is best observed under one strong light, directly overhead. The “eye” effect is found only in cabochon, or rounded, stones, not in stones cut in facets.

Cat’s Eye Ring Texture
The cat’s eye gem is known for its smooth, velvety texture.

Cat’s Eye Hardness
Cat’s eye weighs in at an 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This is a tool used to rate gem hardness from 1 to 10, with diamond, the hardest known substance. The harder a gem, the more resistant it is to scratching and chipping. At 8.5 a cat’s eye is relatively hard, making it a good choice for use in cat’s eye rings, which tend to get knocked around quite a bit with regular wear.

Sri Lanka is the source of the finest cat’s eye gemstones, but they are also found in India, Burma, Brazil and Madagascar.

Cat’s Eye and Tiger’s Eye
Cat’s eye is sometimes confused with the gem tiger’s eye, however tiger’s eye is the mineral quartz, not chrysoberyl, is brown, and has a less dramatic eye effect.

Cat’s Eye Folklore
Ancient people believed the cat’s eye gem could see everything and could therefore protect its wearer. Ancient people also believed that the cat’s eye gem promoted happiness and serenity.

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Sapphire Earrings

A spot of brilliant blue is at each of your ears, sparkling in the light. They’re sapphire earrings and they’re lovely. People have adorned themselves with earrings for thousands of years, from the days of the ancient Persia and ancient Greece. Sapphire earrings have been charming jewelry lovers for generations.

Sapphire Color
The gem we know as sapphire is the blue form of the mineral corundum, while ruby is its red form. Generally speaking, the most desirable shades of blue sapphires are a pure blue, without green or yellow undertones. Corundum actually comes in many colors, but these are two of its best known forms. Pink, yellow and green sapphires are known as fancy sapphires and are being seen more and more in jewelry shops.

Sapphire Hardness
Sapphire is one of the harder gems, measuring a 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The Mohs scales rates hardness on a scale from 1 to 10, with diamond, at 10, being the hardest. This makes it a good choice for jewelry you wish to wear often, like sapphire earrings, since it is less likely to be scratched and damaged than softer stones.

Sapphire Origins
Some of the sapphires in earrings with the richest blue color hail from Burma and Kashmir. Sapphires from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) also have a lovely blue shade, though less of a deep blue shade than that of the Burma and Kashmir stones. Burma, Kashmir and Ceylon stones tend to be more costly than sapphires from places like Australia, Brazil, Africa and Montana in the U.S.

Types of Sapphire Earrings
The most commonly found sapphire earrings are studs, where the gemstone is mounted on a post that fits through the ear, dangle earrings, where the gemstone dangles from a wire or post that fits through the ear, and hoops, where the stone is mounted on a hoop earring.

Types of Metals
Because sapphires are considered precious gemstones, sapphire earrings are most frequently made using precious metals like gold, white gold or sterling silver.

Where to Buy Sapphire Earrings
Sapphire earrings are popular and easy to find. Check fine jewelry stores, the jewelry counter at department stores and discount stores like TJ Maxx. Scour antique shops and malls for unique styles from decades ago. Shop online at reputable websites like

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Silver Rings

My favorite color is black, which is a trial to my children around Mother’s Day, when they pour their hearts into an art project at school as a gift to me, and the teacher asks them “What’s your mom’s favorite color?” as her hand hovers over ribbons in pink, purple, yellow and green to tie around the gift, and they have to say black, and the teacher gives them a strange look. Sometimes they lie.

But I love black and wearing black, and black looks fabulous with sterling silver jewelry, so I have a nice collection of silver rings with colorful gemstones to suit my mood. A garnet ring with a celtic trinity knot design is my favorite.

Benefits of Silver Rings
There are so many reasons to choose sterling silver rings.
As most fine jewelry lovers know, the price of gold has shot up over the past few years, so that even the type of small, simple pieces that were once relatively inexpensive can be quite costly. Silver rings allow us to own genuine precious and semi-precious gemstone rings without breaking the bank. Moreover, silver won’t crack within a few years of use like some metals used in costume jewelry. For someone who likes to wear her jewelry 24-hours a day, such as myself, silver is a wonderful metal because it can be worn in the shower. I tend to stay away from silver plate because it’s just not durable enough for me.

Where to Find Silver Rings
Because they are less costly than gold, sterling silver rings are usually found outside of fine jewelry stores. Try the jewelry counter at department stores like Target and Kohl’s, as well as accessory shops like Claire’s. Gift shops often carry silver rings and toe rings – especially in tourist towns – and jewelry artisans frequently display them at art fairs. A multitude of jewelry websites carry them, but as always, be certain that you are dealing with a reputable site before buying your sterling silver jewelry.

Tarnish and Silver Rings
One drawback to sterling silver is that it tarnishes fairly easily, although I think that a touch of tarnish gives the piece a nice old-fashioned look. Regular wear helps keep the tarnish away, as well as storing the ring in a tarnish-prevention bag made for that purpose. Humidity leads to more tarnish, so try to keep the ring in a dry, cool space. Polishing cloths or silver polish solution can be used to remove tarnish once it has set in.

Caring for Sterling Silver Rings
Because silver is a softer metal, it can be scratched when careless tossed into a jewelry box alongside sharp prongs and earring posts. The tarnish bags serve the dual purpose of protecting the ring from tarnish and from damage from other jewelry. Jewelry box ring grooves can also keep the silver from being scratched.

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