Sunday, February 17, 2019

The History Of Coral Jewelry



I read a very facilitating article from my latest issue of Beachcombing Magazine and wanted to share it with you as it really raises awareness of the importance of sustainable practices when using items from the ocean. Here it is in it's entirety.
by Meg Carter

The ocean and beach have never failed to provide an endless stream of inspiration for artists. Since the beginning of history, ocean and beach found objects and shapes have found their way into songs, paintings, architecture, sculpture, and many other artistic works. Jewelry in particular has seen the ocean's influence in design and material. Among these inspirations is coral. With a broad past, an interesting story, and an uncertain future. Red, pink, orange, and black are among the most sought after colors of coral used in jewelry. These colors are typically found in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Hawaii, near the Strait of Gibraltar, at the Cape Verde Islands (located off the coast of West Africa), off the coast of Portugal, and around Japan and Taiwan. Harvested coral is usually cut and polished into cabochons, shaped into beads or carved. The part of coral that is used for jewelry is actually not the living organism, but rather its carbonate secretions, which form the structure that the polyps live on, and although it is not the living part of the animal, it is essential for its survival. 

La infanta Ana Nlauricia de Austria, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, 1602
In 77 AD, Pliny the Elder wrote in depth about coral in one of the earliest encyclopedias, Naturalis Historia (Natural History). Pliny describes the most valued coral as the reddest and most branchy. Red coral, corallium rubrum, was thought to have amulet powers for warding off dangers. It was also viewed as a thing of beauty and powerfully religious. During this period, Pliny claims that the Gauls used coral as ornamentation on their swords, shields, and helmets. The power of coral also followed into medicinal purposes. Reduced to powder or by burning and ingesting, it was said to help with ailments such as bladder problems, fever, ulcers, and scarring. The value of coral was so high that it was not commonly traded where it was harvested but rather brought to wealthier areas to trade. Coral used as an amulet spread far around the world. In 7000 Years of Jewelry, Hugh Tait describes coral as "a material to which in the ancient world great amuletic powers had been attributed. It was said, according to Greek mythology, to have originated as the spurts of blood gushing forth after Medusa's head had been severed by Perseus." Hundreds of years ago, coral was thought to be a protection against magic spells, especially for children. From Spain to Italy in historical portraits, infants are shown holding coral branches. 
Throughout the centuries, coral has held steady as a medium in jewelry. According to the book Gems and Gemstones by Lance Grande Allison Augustyn, "The use of coral as a gemstone is an extremely ancient practice, going back at least 25,000 years. Coral has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and prehistoric European burial sites: Coral can be found in historic jewelry from Tibet as early as the 17th century. The Italians have always been known for their exquisite jewelry, and their use of coral is no exception. Through the 1800s and 1900s elaborate coral carvings were produced in Naples and throughout Italy. Techniques and styles from Italy spilled over to the U.S. in the late 1800s when jeweler Tiffany & Co. began using coral in their pieces. Today, coral has a different appeal. "Living Coral" has been announced as Pantone's 2019 

color of tile year. "Living Coral" (whether Pantone intended it or not) is an ironic title when it conies to the story of coral. Pantone describes the color as an animating and life affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge:' Although Pantone is describing the color, the actual marine invertebrates are definitely struggling with the "life-affirming" part. 

The world's coral reefs are threatened by pollution, over-harvesting, and climate change Several species of coral have been declared endangered and are now regulated, and more than 180 countries restrict the export of red coral harvested after 1969. 
Today, the use of coral in jewelry is controversial. Coral jewelry is still popular, and vintage pieces fetch astronomical prices at auction. While some jewelers continue to use coral in their designs, many jewelers only use coral re-purposed from vintage pieces and others have stopped creating coral jewelry altogether. In 2002, Tiffany & Co. stopped using natural coral in all of their jewelry designs. Along with this change, they have also played an active role in coral conservation. Over the past 16 years, Tiffany has donated $75 million to organizations dedicated to stewardship of natural resources, including coral and marine conservation. The jewelry industry has done damage to the world's coral reefs over hundreds of years, but changes going forward will make a difference. With fewer jewelers using coral, the reefs will have a better chance of recovering. And, until then, coral lovers can buy beautiful antique coral jewelry pieces, or if they're lucky, see coral living in the wild. 
source: Beachcombing Magazine

See a beautiful Coral Reef inspired necklace at Handmade Jewelry Haven.
Coral Reef Necklace

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Thoughts on Valentine's Day



Love, Cupid, hearts, chocolates, cards and flowers are everywhere--it's Valentine's Day! On February 14, Americans celebrate love and friendship. But where did this holiday of affection come from?

The origins of Valentine's Day are murky. We do know that the ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the 15th of February. With the introduction of Christianity, the holiday moved to the 14th of February--the saint day that celebrated several early Christian martyrs named Valentine. But somewhere along the way, Valentine's Day came to represent romance. You can watch a romantic movie right here, "The Kiss," produced by Thomas Edison back in 1900. The romance we associate with Valentine's Day may spring from the medieval belief that birds select their mates on February 14th. During the Middle Ages, human lovebirds recited verse or prose to one another in honor of the day. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" wrote William Shakespeare. 
Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed love this way:

How do I love thee; let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach. . .

Do you write poetry? We also hear these sentiments in love songs, such as this funny old tune, "Aba Daba Honeymoon." How many love songs can you think of that could send your message on Valentine's Day? 

"Will you be my Valentine?" Nowadays, people often ask this of their loved ones in greeting cards. Probably the first greeting cards, handmade valentines, appeared in the 16th century. As early as 1800, companies began mass-producing cards. Initially these cards were 
hand-colored by factory workers. By the early 20th century even fancy lace and 
ribbon-strewn cards were created by machine. Perhaps you will give or receive a card today or celebrate your family or that special someone in another way. Valentine's Day also gives people a chance to reflect on the meaning of love. What do you think makes true love? 
Source: America's Library

Come express YOUR love to your special someone with a unique, one of a kind, jewelry piece from Handmade Jewelry Haven. You will forever have her heart!
Heart Bracelet
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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Chinese New Year 2019 - Year Of The Pig



Tuesday February 5th 2019 rings in the Chinese or Lunar New Year, which runs until February 20th.

The Pig is the twelfth of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take the twelfth place.

The Pig is also associated with the Earth and the hours 9–11 in the night. In terms of yin and yang, the Pig is yin. In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth.

Their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well.

Pigs might not stand out in a crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs can be opposite.

Not wasteful spenders, they will let themselves enjoy life. They love entertainment and will occasionally treat themselves. They are a bit materialistic, but this is motivation for them to work hard. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them security.

They are energetic and are always enthusiastic, even with boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. They believe that only those people have the right to speak.

Men born in the year of the Pig are optimistic and gentle. They are very focused. Once they decide on a goal, they’ll put everything into it.

They are not the best with money. Though cool-headed, they are also gullible. They trust others easily and are often scammed. This can cause them to lose a fortune.

These men are also quiet. They love learning but don’t really know how to put their knowledge into words. They’re not conversationalists, but treat everyone warmly. This results in a large social circle. 

Women born in the year of the Pig are full of excitement. They attend social events whenever possible and treat everyone genuinely. Combined with their easygoing personality, they gain everyone’s trust.

However, they are sometimes over-friendly. In their excitement, they can forget to give others personal space.

They also have good fortune with wealth. As long as they keep at it, the efforts will not go to waste. Though they don’t start with an advantage, their hard work will keep money flowing in.

At home, they are highly organized. If the room is messy, they’d stay up the entire night to clean it up. These women love children too. Playing with children is one of the things that bring them the greatest joy.

Celebrate the year of the Pig with a wonderful Asian inspired Lucky Yen Bracelet!
Until February 20th, we are offering the matching earrings for FREE!!
Lucky Yen Bracelet and Earrings
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