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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quartz Jewelry

Today we'd like to provide some information on the common gemstone quartz, and common it is. Quartz is the most abundant mineral found in the earth's crust. There are so many types of quartz that often people don't even realize that the gemstone they are wearing is actually a form of quartz. Some examples include Amethyst, Citrine, Carnelian, Onyx, Agates, and Tiger's Eye. While it may be the most abundant mineral on the planet it can be difficult to mine varieties that are of good enough quality to be used in jewelry making. Quartz is ranked a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness where a diamond is 10 and sapphires are a 9, this makes quartz a very strong and durable material for jewelry.

Quartz in its purest form is clear as water and generally grows in a crystal based formation. When the quartz is crossed or twinned with other minerals you get all of the color variations you see today, usually given their own name such as amethyst, but also named simply after their color, such as smoky quartz, rose quartz, etc. Another interesting note is that some forms of quartz such as citrine and carnelian are amethyst that has been heat treated, naturally or mechanically.

Besides being a beautiful stone for jewelry, quartz has what they call piezoelectric properties. You have probably heard of quartz timepieces. When mechanical stress is applied to quartz crystals they become electrically charged. It is this unique property that is likely why crystals are frequently used in healing ceremonies and have different healing attributes associated with various quartz gemstones.

Almost all of our jewelry uses quartz in one form or another. You can use this link to see all our pieces that make use of quartz, usually in the form of smoky quartz, amethyst, citrine, and carnelian. It's clear and shiny brilliance make wonderful accent beads and faceted stones that highlight pieces very well, here are a few of our favorites:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Sacred Lotus Blossom

Today we'd like to give a little history and background information on the lotus blossom. Having symbolic meaning in eastern religions it has become an icon in the west as well that represents ideas about purity, elegance, and spiritual growth and maturation. We love the ideas and symbolism behind the blossom so much that it is represented in our logo.


The Hindu religion probably uses the symbol of the lotus most heavily, it is associated with their gods Vishnu and Brahma and goddesses Lakshmi and Sarasvati as well as their creation mythology. In both Hinduism and Buddhism much of their artwork depicts various gods and goddesses perched on or holding and wearing the sacred lotus blossoms. The most revered quality of the lotus blossom is the fact that it comes from a seed planted deep within mud below a pond, and it grows through the mud and water and comes out perfectly clean and pristine as a blossom high above the water, almost as though it has transcended to the spiritual plane.

The Bahá'í Faith which is a faith based on the unity of all major world religions and has approximately 5-6 million followers adopted the lotus from the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and built one of their largest temples located in New Delhi, India in the form of a lotus, "The Lotus Temple", a marvelous structure that closely resembles the blossom.

The sacred lotus is one of the world's most celebrated flowers and we have used its symbolism in several of our pieces, here is a list of our favorite lotus blossom jewelry:

Friday, May 16, 2008

The World of Pearls

Pearls have been a part of jewelry for centuries. Initially all pearls were natural and formed without any human intervention, this is why in the early days they were so valuable and rare, a naturally formed pearl is very hard to find, and one of good quality even harder. Today there value is still extremely high.

Today most pearls are cultured on pearl farms where a piece of material is inserted into each oyster or mussel in order to create a pearl. This technique can be done for both salt water and fresh water varieties. While they may look similar, salt water and fresh water pearls are very different in the chemical structure. Also the salt water varieties because of the delicate balance of salt water ecosystems are often times harder to grow and need to be done in protected lagoons. Fresh water pearls on the other hand are easier to culture outside of the natural environment and for this reason don't have any chance of creating imbalances in natural habitats. All of our jewelry uses fresh water pearls.


Here are a few interesting pearl facts:

  • Cultured pearls can take 2-5yrs to mature.
  • The saltwater pearls do not come from any clam or oyster that we eat; in fact they are quite inedible.
  • A natural matching strand of found pearls can fetch upwards of $100,000.
  • Pearl culturing was not invented until 1916 by a group of Japanese scientists.
  • Pearls come in many different shapes and sizes from round, oval, flat, oblong, and teardrop.
  • Pearls are the birthstone for June.

We love pearls and a lot of our jewelry makes use of them, occasionally as a full strand but usually just to highlight and enhance the piece with that wonderful luster that pearls create. Here are a few of our favorites:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mandala Charms & Jewelry

Today we'd like to provide some information about the mandala, its meaning, history, and properties. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning, circle or completion. The idea and meanings of the mandala mostly originate in eastern religions but definitely hold meaning and value around the globe in almost all religious and spiritual beliefs. In its most generic translation the mandala has come to represent the universe itself both physically and spiritually, it is the human expression of the cosmos.

The mandala is often used as an aid in meditation. The Tibetan Monks will spend days possibly weeks creating intricate sand paintings of mandalas, after a brief moment of pondering they will brush all the sand into a container and dump it into a river or stream as an offering to the universe to help live and realize the idea of impermanence . The creation of these mandalas can be a long and detailed process. Before one is even allowed to begin such a work of art in the Buddhist religion they must learn the meaning of every symbol and practice its design years before they actually form all the elements into a mandala. Some students have been known to create up to 100,000 pieces on their spiritual path to enlightenment.

The mandala is used in a wide variety of uses from paintings and meditation aids to floor plans for Hindu temples. It can represent the entire universe to one of many gods and deities. As a piece of artwork the mandala is used in many types of offerings, from a purely spiritual point to a physical offering to ones guru or lama in appreciation of their teachings.

We have several mandala charm based necklaces that we've designed to help create a balanced energy that you can use in meditation, yoga, or just your everyday routine. Our mandala charms are all pure sterling silver combined with quality gemstones of various styles.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Jade

Continually thinking about Gemstones and their properties both physically and metaphysically we would like to explore the properties of Jade today.

Jade is a great stone to use in jewelry as it is nearly as hard as quartz so it is very tough. It has a wonderful luster and brilliance to it that very few other gemstones have. Jade comes in many variations of green, blue, red, and yellow and it is really two different stones both of which have similar variations.

The first stone is referred to as Jadetite consists of sodium and aluminum rich pyroxene, the second Nephrite Jade is composed of calcium and actinolite, scientifically speaking these are two very different stones, and in many eastern cultures the distinction is very important, here in the west we usually just refer to both types as Jade.

The Nephrite Jade has been used in China since the earliest Chinese Dynasties through modern day. It is considered the "Imperial Gem" used in everything from fancy table ware to the grave sites of high ranking officials of the imperial family. This type of Jade was used exclusively in China until about the 1800s at which time Jadeite was brought over from Burma and it quickly replaced the Nephrite and the imperial version of the stone. The white version of this stone was often considered to be more valuable than gold or silver, as it is very rare. The Mayan and Aztec cultures also considered Jade to be more valuable than precious metals.

Most cultures around the world relate Jade to being lucky, protective, courageous, and seductive. Many culture also used it in creating weapons because of its hardness and durability, which is possibly why many felt it was protective and inductive of courage. In Egypt the stone was considered to be the stone of love, inner balance, and harmony.

Many of our favorite pieces use Jade, here are a few things to check out:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hill Tribe Jewelry

Today we would like to provide some information on the Hill Tribe peoples and their crafts, some of which we use in our jewelry. We'll provide a link at the end to each of our pieces that use these wonderfully crafted items, all of which in our case are sterling silver charms of various styles.

Generally the Hill Tribe people are any one of about twenty or so groups located in Northern Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Some of these groups do exist outside of Thailand but generally when you hear of Hill Tribe crafts of any sort, it is known that they come from these regions. In total there are approximately 550,000 people that are considered to be part of the Hill Tribes. There several main groups in which much of the silver handicrafts come from, primarily from the Thailand Hill Tribe peoples. Here are a couple that are more famous for their silver crafts.

The Akha migrated from Tibet and China starting in 1910. Originally known for their involvement in agriculture they now focus more on their crafts. They are also famous for their extravagant and exotic costumes which are very colorful and laced with silver beads, charms, and other pieces.

The Hmong originated in Mongolia, Tibet, and Western China. Traditionally known for agriculture and Opium production which has steadily decreased over the years they are now focusing on their handicrafts as well to supplement their income, they are gaining popularity for their intricate embroidery now as well.

These are just a few of the tribes, to read about many more and their wonderful histories go to Tayara.com to see our jewelry that contains Hill Tribe Silver follow the Hill Tribe Jewelry Link.

During the writing of this blog a huge natural disaster occurred in Myanmar which many Hill Tribe people come from. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected by this great loss.
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