International Artist Blog Hop Invite!

I have been asked to participate in an Artist Blog Hop !  I was asked by my friend and fellow artist Laurel Nathanson! The idea is that we answer some simple questions about the creative process which most people are endlessly curious about!

Quick, I will now change hats from being a Sustainable Custom Jeweler to Victoria Ruta Skirpa, Artist! If you are extra curious about my artistic endeavors, please follow me on instagram!

I have been an artist for many, many years in addition to making beautiful ethical engagement rings for couples in love, :)!I rarely mention this on Sulusso, but today is the day that I am going to post some personal questions that pertain to myself as and artist and the creative process. So here it is:

Q: Victoria, what are you working on these days?

I am always working on something fun. Lately, (I guess because it is still wedding season!) I have been sketching engagement rings. They are challenging from an artistic point of view because if they are to look like an engagement ring they need to have some classical elements, and yet as an artist, when I sketch for myself, I want to add my personality and aesthetic.

I am also revisiting some older jewelry-sculptures, bug like, mechanical forms. Check this one out:

Q: How does your artistic work differ from others of its genre?

I think I combine dissimilar elements very well (so I am also told). Naturalistic with Industrial, and Science Fiction with Classicism.

Q: Why do make and create ?

As a creative person, part of the simple truth is the inability to stop. Being creative is an expression of alive-ness. The ability to manifest has an element of birthing, without babies.

Q: How does your writing/working process work?

This is completely dependant on what I doing. When I work with a client on a custom piece, which is usually bridal, the perspective of another person becomes integral to the process. I love this part about custom jewelry! Often the client has a vision and is unsure how to execute it so I educate and sometimes nurture their ideas to life. It is quite beautiful and this process is very much about listening and paying attention to the clients energy and focus. It is less about a particular design or feature, though that of course enters into the picture. The joy here however, is that even if I am personally not attracted to a particular style, I am still joyful, present, and engaged in creativity.

This ability to be interested in something that is not my automatic “go-to aesthetic” is something that I have felt is very important, so sometimes I challenge myself in this way on purpose. I call myself eclectic at times because I am constantly pushing the boundaries of my own style, opening it to other sensibilities, styles, and ideas, so that while I have my own “style” I am also in constant relationship to what appears to be out of my style. So this mental tension is engaging and fun. This happens in sketching, with carving, and with spontaneous choices in the moment of creativity.

I think it is important to understand that with 3D objects, the creative part is actually a small portion of the object – most of it is execution, through casting, fabrication etc. If my mind is playful the way that I described, I get to extend the creative part and live it a bit longer in the experience, than I would otherwise! Now that is deep fun.

Now, move on to the next hop! Go see my friend Laural Nathanson, she is a lot of fun! Or, if you are a website junkie, just go there: http://laurelnathanson.com/

 

Game of Stones & Zultanite – A sustainable favorite!

This image shows the unusual qualities of Zultanite!

This last February the Discovery channel launched a show detailing the “real adventures” of Don Kogan. He specializes in rare stones from the most dangerous and lawless places on earth, racing the clock to be the first to each new … Continue reading

Fancy Colored Conflict-Free Diamonds

Brazil Minerals, Inc. a U.S. holding company with revenues from sales of gold and diamonds, announced today that one of the diamonds produced by Mineração Duas Barras Ltda. (“MDB”) was graded as a fancy color diamond by the Gemological Institute of America (“GIA”).

The colors most commonly seen in Brazilian fancy diamonds are yellow, pink, and blue.Colored diamonds lend themselves well to specific jewelry pieces.

The special good news about this is that MDB mines conflict free diamonds and gold, and sells rough and polished diamonds and 96% purity gold. As one of the largest alluvial processing plant for diamonds and gold in Latin America, we are truly happy about the introduction of eco-friendly and conflict-free colored diamonds!

US partners with Guinea to Improve Diamond Mining

Happily, we learned that the US Department of State announced a partnership with Guinea to increase transparency and reduce corruption in the “extractives” sector.

Guinea is a valued source of diamonds that are produced through small-scale mining. Due to regulation inefficiency and limited technical capacities and uneven enforcement in the small-scale mining industry, the country can be a highway for conflict diamonds to enter the international market.

The US will focus on assisting the African nation with its diamond mining, as it relates to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the Washington Declaration. They will work to strengthen property rights and land tenure for small-scale miners to ensure more rough diamonds follow a legal chain of custody. Though the Kimberly process has brought awareness and responsibility to the Jewelry Industry, we hope that this and other such partnerships move beyond the Kimberly Process, toward provenance, sustainability, and ethically sourced transparency.

This partnership is part of the implementation of  the “Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).” This began in 2002 in the UK at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

June Birthstone: Alexandrite

A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II.Alexandrite ring

Alexandrites are quite rare and have chameleon-like qualities. The color is an alluring green in both daylight and fluorescent light, but it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light. Alexandrites are among the few color change gems to exist in the world.

Due to the rarity of the natural stone, synthetic alexandrites are common on the market. Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone. The only difference is that they have been mined instead of extracted. Because of cost, synthetic is a terrific option.

Alexandrite’s are an 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is about the same as a Topaz, the December birthstone.

Sapphire Enagement Rings (then and now)

In ancient times, Sapphires were favored as romantic gifts because they symbolized love, truth, and commitment.

The link betweePrincess Diana Sapphire Engagement Ringn sapphires and fidelity was promoted during the 18th century in a story called “Le Sapphire Merviellence.” The story was written by Mme de Jenlis who was inspired by the color-change sapphire (the “Sapphire Merveilleux”). The tale was very popular and ignited a demand for sapphires as the engagement ring stone of choice for quite some time.

Blue sapphires had another emergence in popularity in 1981 when Princess Diana selected it for her own ring. Many thought her choice to be “too common,” but Diana was keen to recognize the stone’s beauty. The same ring was given to Kate Middleton by her son Prince William as her engagement ring in 2010.

Sapphires are an excellent alternative to diamonds for engagement rings. They are durable for everyday wear, come in a rainbow of stunning colors and are available as lab-created and even ethically sourced.

May Birthstone: Emerald

Emerald necklaceThe emerald is a symbol of rebirth and believed in ancient times to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. The word “Emerald” is  derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek, is known to have been mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C.

Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is extremely limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are commonly performed. If you see a piece of emerald jewelry and the stone is a bright green, most likely it has been color treated unless it is a lab-created gem.

Lab-created emeralds are an excellent option as they are identical in composition to their mined counterparts, but are naturally a vibrant hue. They are also significantly more affordable.

Emeralds only rate 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, so they aren’t ideal for rings worn every day, but emerald necklaces are always exquisite.

Why an engagement ring?

When I was getting married 6 years ago, I thought engagement rings where antiquated and nothing more than expensive metal and stones. We were trying to save money for a house and a ring seemed like a poor use of funds aMe and my baby.t the time.

Though I did end up with a ring that I love (unique and sustainable), my thinking about engagement rings didn’t really change until I was burglarized and had a daughter, both about a year ago.

I was robbed of my grandmother’s engagement ring which served as a daily reminder of my hilarious, stubborn Nona. The ring made me take pause and remember her in my life. Of course, I can still do that, but I no longer have the ring in front of me to remind me to do it everyday.

The only piece of jewelry that was not stolen was my wedding ring. I am so thankful that it was the one piece left behind. Someday, it will be a symbol to my daughter (and perhaps her daughter) as a happy remembrance of me and how much I loved her.

(by Meghan, Sulusso Founder)

Pearl – the other June birthstone

ImagePearls are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty.

Pearls are organic and are created when an oyster or mollusk covers a foreign object with layers of nacre. Nacre is calcium carbonate and conchiolin, which is a protein.

Pearls were one of the favored gems in the Roman Empire and the 1500s of Tudor England were known as the pearl age. The first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began in the early 1900s. Today, cultured pearls account for the vast majority of pearls on the market.

Primary locations for pearls are the Persian Gulf, Sri Lanka, Scotland, Germany, Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, China (mostly freshwater pearls), Tahiti, Japan, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela.

Fine pearls, especially black, are highly valued having no spots in the nacre and an even, smooth texture.

Diamonds may be a girls best friend, but Pearls have long been considered a statement of sophistication, class and timelessness. You can never go wrong with a set of pearl studs or a pearl necklace.

April Birthstone: Diamonds.

Each of the twelve calendar months has a gemstone associated with it. The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of Aaron which contained twelve gems representing the tribes of Israel. The current list dates back to 1912 with the except of Tanzanite having been added to December.

Diamonds are the gemstone associated with April.

Cut and polished diamonds in a variety of shapes.

Cut and polished diamonds in a variety of shapes.

Diamonds can be harvested from the earth or produced under extreme heat and pressure in a laboratory (though few exist in the world). Though they are considered to be rare, they are actually not as rare in nature as gem quality corundum (sapphires and rubies).

Diamonds are the hardest substance created by nature and have a rating of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. They are 4 times harder than corundum, which has a 9-9.5 Mohs rating.

Today, diamonds can be found in a rainbow of colors including yellows, greens, blues, purples and pinks. White or colorless diamonds are more common and therefore less expensive than colored diamonds. When referring to lab-created diamonds, the opposite is true.

Conscious consumers are staying away from diamonds more and more because of the long history of social impact associated with them. However, ethically sourced diamonds are available. You no longer need to sacrifice beauty for your values.