1. What is Your Birthstone ?

    JANUARY - GARNET

    If you, like me, are lucky to be born in January, then Garnet is our birthstone. This beautiful stone can be found in a wide range of colours, from greens (for example, Tsavorite), to oranges and most commonly, red. You might notice that the name “Garnet” sounds like the last two syllables of the fruit “pomegranate”. This is because the word “Garnet” is derived from “pomegranate” – given that the deep red colours of some varieties of garnets remind one of the pomegranate’s seeds. Garnet is thought to signify peace, prosperity, good health and eternal happiness. With all these positive symbolisms, garnets are certainly the perfect stones to start off each year!

    FEBRUARY - AMETHYST

    The pretty Amethyst is the birthstone of February. It is the popular purple variety of quartz. Some cultures associate it with the god of wine, believing that it protects the wearer from getting intoxicated. Hence, some people believe that Amethyst gives power to the wearer and encourages a clear head.

    MARCH - AQUAMARINE AND BLOODSTONE

    Those born in March can choose from 2 birthstones – Aquamarine and Bloodstone. Aquamarine is the blue to greenish blue variety of the mineral beryl (which is the group that Emerald comes from). Its name is derived from two Latin words: aqua, which means “water,” and marina, which refers to the sea. It is believed to represent unity. The alternative birthstone for March is Bloodstone.

    APRIL - DIAMOND The lucky individuals born in April have the Diamond as their birthstone. As the hardest of all gemstones, Diamonds form deep within the earth and take up to billions of years to form. With this patient formation, it is no wonder diamonds symbolise endurance. Indeed, Diamonds are a girl’s (or a boy’s) best friend!

    MAY - EMERALD

    Valued for its brilliant and beautiful green color, the Emerald can often be found adorning the wealthy and in elaborate jewellery. Emeralds are part of the family of beryls and are extremely valuable gemstones. They are thought to have healing properties, particularly relating to the eyes.

    JUNE – PEARL, ALEXANDRITE AND MOONSTONE

    If you are lucky enough to be born in June, you have three birthstones to choose from -Pearl, Alexandrite and Moonstone. Unlike most other gemstones, Pearls form in the soft tissue of either a living oyster or mussel. Natural Pearls are rare nowadays, with a large proportion of Pearls now being cultured by inserting an irritant bead into the oyster or mussel and letting the oyster or mussel coat the bead with nacre. Some believe that Pearls bring their wearer clarity to the mind and are universally associated with purity. Alexandrite is an expensive colour-changing gemstone. Moonstone, whilst relatively affordable and abundant, is beautiful and desirable, especially due to its adularesence or sheen.

    JULY - RUBY

    The beautiful red Ruby is the birthstone the July baby. It is the red variety of the mineral corundum. If corundum is any colour other than red, it is called a sapphire. Some of the most beautiful rubies are found in the Mogok region of Myanmar, and gemstones from this region often command a premium over those formed elsewhere, especially those of the “pigeon blood” colour. Rubies are often referred to as the king of gems and are said to bring love and success.

    AUGUST – SARDONYX, PERIDOT AND SPINEL

    Like the lucky June babies, August folks have 3 gemstones to choose from - Sardonyx, Peridot and Spinel. The lovely olive coloured Peridot is believed to bring purity to the wearer, whilst the colourful family of stunning Spinels is believed to promote health. Sardonyx – which is a combination of reddish and white alternating layers, is made up of 2 related minerals – sard and onyx. It is believed that Sardonyx represents bravery and joy, and protects against evil.

    SEPTEMBER - SAPPHIRE

    September’s birthstone is the Corundum variety called Sapphire. It comes in a rainbow of colours, ranging from yellow, orange, pink and the prized cornflour blue. The exception to this wide range of colours is red, as once it is red, it then becomes a Ruby. Sapphires are thought to represent integrity and loyalty.

    OCTOBER – TOURMALINE AND OPAL

    The two birthstone of October are Tourmaline and Opal. Opal may exhibit a spectrum of colors called play-of-color and Australia is a major source of such fine Opals. Another popular variety of Opal is the Fire Opal, usually orange or red in colour. Opal represents hope. Tourmaline comes in many different colours, depending on the trace elements within it. Some even come in more than one colour within the same gem. When the gem contains both red and green – it is often referred to as “Watermelon Tourmaline”. One of the most expensive varieties of Tourmaline is the Paraiba Touraline from Paraiba, Brazil. Given its electrifying and vivid bluish green hue, each carat of Paraiba Tourmaline can easily run into thousands of US dollars. Wearing Tourmaline is believed to bring strength.

    NOVEMBER – CITRINE AND TOPAZ

    The birthstones for November are Citrine and Topaz. They are fairly abundant and easily available in large sizes. Citrine is the golden variety of quartz. Most Citrine is produced by heating Amethyst. Topaz comes in several colours, including golden, blue and pink. Regardless of the color, Citrine and Topaz symbolize love and are believed to bring strength when worn.

    DECEMBER – TURQUOISE, TANZANITE AND ZIRCON

    The first birthstone of December is Turquoise. Its blue green colour comes from copper. Turquoise is sensitive to direct sunlight and chemicals like perfumes, creams and perspiration, hence requiring care when stored and worn. Do be careful when buying turquoise as there are many other stones which either naturally or through treatments resemble Turquoise. Turquoise is thought to bring peace. Tanzanite, as its name suggests, was first found in Tanzania, which remains the world’s only known source. It has a lovely purplish or violetish blue colour and is said to promote balance. Although the colour most associated with Tanzanite is blue or violet or shades of these, the majority of Tanzanites available in the market are heat treated to remove the greenish or brownish colours found natural in most Tanzanite rough. The third birthstone for December is Zircon which can be found on the market in various colours, including colourless, blue, and brown. Unfortunately, it is often confused with the cubic zirconia due to the similarity in name. However, it is a natural mineral.

     

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    Sources- GIA/ AGS AND AGTA

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  2. Behind the Scenes - Running a Jewellery Business

    Behind the Scenes - Running a  Jewellery Business
    Whenever I tell people that I am a jeweller or a jewellery designer who customises fine jewellery and sells gemstones, the first reaction I usually get is - "You are so lucky !" or "So fun!". True - running a jewellery business, for me at least, is extremely enjoyable as I get to work with beautiful gems, jewels and fine metals like gold and platinum. However, my jewellery business is NOT about flipping through a fashion or jewellery magazine and pointing to a picture or a desired outcome or ordering ready made or ready designed jewellery from a mass manufacturer. Instead, my jewellery creations are individually designed and customised, and much of my work involves researching not just designs that resonate with a customer, but (as a metalsmith) also looking into the ability to fabricate and construct the desired jewellery piece. In addition, a lot of time is also spent on planning, looking at numbers, drawing up proposals, evaluating gemstone and raw material suppliers, carrying out quality control of fabricated jewellery pieces (whether customized or bespoke or ready-to-wear), business development and other administrative matters, amongst others things. And one of the most important areas that take up my time as a jewellery designer – is continuing my learning journey as a professional jewellery and gemstone specialist. Truly all in a day’s work !
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  3. Amethyst - Birthstone of February

    Amethyst - Birthstone of February
    Happy February everyone! The birthstone of February is the super popular Amethyst, which is a purple coloured quartz. It can be found in abundance and spotted in almost any jewellery store in the world. Apparently, it was once believed that the Amethyst gemstone could protect people from getting drunk! As mentioned, Amethyst is a quartz and its colour is smetimes obtained through treatments. Although it is most often seen as a purple quartz, this gemstone also ranges from light pink to deep reddish or bluish violet and sometimes even in a mix of these colours within the same gemstone. As it is fairly hard (7 on the Mohs scale), it is suitable to be crafted into jewellery, and not just earrings, brooches and pendants, but also those pieces which may take more wear and tear like rings and bracelets. Amethyst can be found in many places around the globe including North and South America and parts of Africa. Seen here is a photo of one of my favourite Joanne L designs – the Lunar Ring. It is set with a beautiful purple Amethyst and flanked on the sides by white spinels. The Lunar Ring was originally launched with a smoky quartz but this version was customised with a specially cut checkerboard Amethyst for a bespoke order ring.
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  4. Joanne L Asian Heritage Ring

    Joanne L Asian Heritage Ring
    The iconic Joanne L. Asian Heritage Ring was first launched in 2015 to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday and to pay tribute to Singapore's multicultural roots. Whilst clean and contemporary, a look which is very much Joanne L., the lines, geometry and gemstones are reminiscent of Asian sights and scenes. After receiving numerous requests, I've now created a Limited Edition Asian Heritage Collection. Every piece is unique, individually handmade in Singapore and is set with different gemstones like amethyst, topaz and peridots. Truly one of a kind.
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  5. Jewellery Pop Up - Popsicle Event

    Jewellery Pop Up - Popsicle Event
    I participated in a jewellery and accessories pop up called Popsicle at one of my stockists stores. It was a flurry of excitement preparing for the event, pulling together handcrafted earrings, bracelets and pendants. Happy to report that the event went well. Time to re-stock and re-charge before the next event !
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  6. Off the Cuff !

    Off the Cuff !
    I absolutely love big, bold cuffs. They speak of strength, yet add a touch of sensuality. 18k gold plated brass cuff - hand cut and shaped. These cuffs are all individually hand cut, hammered and finished by me in my own studio. Always a joy to be sitting at my bench working on these.
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  7. Silversmithing and For the Love of Felines!

    Silversmithing and For the Love of Felines!

    S came to me with a request to make something special for her bestie's birthday. I was given specific instructions to go with a cat theme. I must say, I really enjoyed customizing this bespoke sterling silver cat pendant which I attached to a silver chain.  Happy to add - the birthday girl was "purr"fectly happy with her one of a kind pendant! !

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  8. Colours and the After Six Solitaire Range of Rings, Earrings and Necklaces

    Colours and the After Six Solitaire Range of Rings, Earrings and Necklaces

    There’s nothing that lifts my spirits quite as much as a bowl filled with colourful candies and M&Ms in front of the TV: the riot of colours and flavours are a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. That, and catching a rare glimpse of a rainbow, or soaking in the myriad of colours and energy of a night out in the city.

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