The First Chakra
Happy New Year! It has been very busy here at Sacred Charms starting back in November, but we've finally caught up and have some time again to do some writing.
In thinking about the New Year and all the things we can do to get our energies back on track we've decided to share a little more information on the Chakra. We posted some time ago a brief overview of all the Chakra colors and their meanings, however we'd like to get a little more in depth and do a series of blogs on each color of the Chakra.
The First Chakra, known as the foundation or root Chakra is symbolized with red. This first Chakra is located at the base of the spine and helps us relate our sense of feeling grounded and connection to our bodies, a great area of focus to start the New Year. When you are trying to make things happen in the material world, business or material possessions, the energy to succeed will come from the first chakra. While most commonly the color is red it can also go down into a deep reddish brown and even black. The most common gemstones used are Garnet and Red Carnelian.
We have some wonderful chakra jewelry
to help get your root chakra in balance and on the right track. Our Chakra Bracelet
can be customized with an emphasis on the root Chakra as well as our customizable Chakra Necklace
Handmade Jewelry Charms
As we mention on our homepage many of our pendants are hand cast by a local artisan. We want our jewelry to be as original and unique as possible while we do buy materials that are mass produced such as pearls and some beads we try to limit it as much as possible and look for unique cuts and colors in our gemstones, this is often why our pieces change over time or are even discontinued as a certain cut or color of stone may become unavailable and we will have to find a suitable alternative if one exists and still can maintain the original idea behind the piece.
Today we'd like to show you a few of our pieces that are hand cast and give you some information on the process of silver casting for handmade jewelry. The most common way to create a silver charm is called lost wax casting. You start with wax carving of your design. If it's going to be reproduced many times you then create a rubber mold of your wax carving, so that you can create as many wax replicas as you need from the rubber mold.
Once your mold is complete you make a plaster casting of it, it is this casting that the molting silver will be poured into. After cooling has occurred you are ready to break it out of the plaster and give it a polish. The process has changed very little since mankind began casting metals. Here are a few of the pieces that we use our locally cast charms in:
Our handmade jewelry
is made to order, we can customize length, color, and more, just contact us and ask and we will do everything we can to accommodate your needs.
With the launching our new Ganesha Charm Bracelets
, we figured it would be good to provide a little background information on this cherished deity.
Ganesha also spelled Ganesa and Ganesh, and known by names as Ganapti, Pillaiyar, or Vinayaka is one of the most well know and worshipped deities in Hinduism as well as many other Eastern Religions. While Ganesha is known by many attributes he is most commonly associated with his large elephant head and multiple arms. Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and the deva of intellect and wisdom. While often considered the remover of obstacles both materially and spiritually, traditionally he can also place obstacles in the way of people who need to be checked. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati.
The earliest known occurrences of the deity being used in popular culture date back to at least the 4th century during the Gupta Period, the Gupta Dynasty ruled much of India from 280 to 550 CE. Throughout history Ganesha has shown a wide variety of patterns and portrayals unlike many of the deities that are very strict and have minimal representations as far as pose, size, etc. Indian art shows great variation from standing, dancing, taking action against demons, and even playing with his family as a boy.
However he may be depicted by whatever religion that worships him, he has become an icon of material and spiritual obstacles. For further information on the history and religions that worship him please see the wiki article
The Hamsa is a symbol that has been used regularly for thousands of years in amulets, jewelry, and charms. It is said to protect against the evil eye. The hand has several alternate names depending on the religion in which it is being used, for example the Jewish name is the Hand of Miriam, and some Islamic sects call it the Hand of Fatima or the Eye of Fatima. Some archeological evidence suggests it predates both Judaism and the Islamic faiths and goes all the way back to the Phoenicians around 1,500 BC.
No matter the religion or name it is used an emblem of protection. We've just launched a new set of Hamsa Hand Bracelets
where you can choose several available gemstones, we also have a new Hand of Protection necklace
incorporating the symbol as well, it uses Turquoise and Jade both of which are considered stones of protection.
Kundalini Yoga is a yoga that focuses on the chakra system and is heavily meditative. Kundalini Yoga is a bit more energetic than some yogas and typically involves chanting, meditation, and breathing to help align the chakra energies that are naturally stored in your body. Kundalini in sanskirt translates to that which is coiled, referring to the dormant energy that is lying at the base of our spine, just waiting to be released.
Like several other forms of yoga, Kundalini Yoga links its poses specifically with breathing and adds chanting as part of the breathing process, often times Kundalini Yoga is referred to as the yoga of awareness, it's definitely more meditative and spiritually based than many other yogas.
Long ago Kundalini was considered a dangerous practice by ruling powers in India as it potentially led to infinite potential energy, total enlightenment, and mental clarity so great that the powers that be felt it dangerous for the wrong person to practice such a ritual, it was only done in secrecy. Things have since changed and it is now a widely accepted form of yoga practice worldwide.
Any of our Yoga Jewelry
is great for a Kundalini routine, we designed one signature piece the Kundalini Spiral Chakra Necklace
just for enthusiasts of this Yoga. Also, any of our Chakra pieces
can help users align their chakras during their Kundalini routine.
Iyengar Yoga was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, a master yoga teacher. Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga and seeks all the same elements in its practice. What makes it different is its design and use of props, from blocks, cushions, belts, and pads that help users to perform poses they may not otherwise be able to due to age, injury, or other physical limitations. What also makes it unique is that the poses are held longer than usual with more breathing and relaxation in between poses as well.
Unlike some other forms of yoga Iyengar does not encourage their students to find their own way to asanas by imitating their teacher, it is instead very precise and verbal during the class that each pose (asana) is exact and perfect. While there may be thousands of Iyengar teachers, becoming certified is no easy task, it requires at least 2-5yrs for the introductory level and higher levels can take a decade or more.
B.K.S. Iyengar has been teaching and doing yoga for over 75yrs. Born in 1918 in a poor Indian village with many difficulties in his life he began practicing yoga at the age of 15 under the guidance of his brother in law well known yogi, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in Mysore, India. Iyengar has written dozens of yoga texts and is largely responsible for bringing yoga to the west. His most famous work written in 1966 "Light on Yoga", has been translated to 17 languages and is considered by many as the Yoga Bible. He has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.
With the slower and less strenuous forms of yoga we always recommend wearing any of our Yoga Jewelry
to help achieve balanced chakras and a more meditative state with the power of gemstones.
Hatha Yoga is considered to be the original and most pure form of yoga. Also called Hatha Vidya, this yoga is a system introduced by Yogi Swatmarama an important figure of 15th century India. He wrote the text Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is said to be the oldest surviving text on Hatha Yoga. The text has information on a wide variety of topics related to yoga and spiritual transcendence including asanas, pranayama, chakras, kundalini, and more.
The foundation of all yogas, Hatha uses the asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing), dharana (meditation), and kundalini (instinct). Hatha is probably the most popular form of yoga in America as it is most beneficial for stress management and also is a great strength builder and workout.
The word Hatha comes from two Sanskirt words, Ha meaning sun and Tha meaning moon, thus referring to the solar and lunar channels of our body. When combined to Hatha the term now tanslates as forceful, meaning that powerful work needs to be done in order to combine our masculine/solar side with our feminine/lunar side, in the form of yoga. The term yoga actually means to join two things together. Hatha's ultimate goal is to balance mind and body through controlled breating, postures, and meditation, and does so in a calm and soothing matter.
Since Hatha Yoga is done in a more tranquil manner than some other yoga routines we encourage our customers to wear any of our Yoga Jewelry
, especially for the Hatha we recommend any of our Chakra Necklace
pieces or our Kundalini Necklace
both of which are integral parts of this routine.
Bikram Yoga is one of the more unusual yogas developed in recent history. Often referred to as Hot Yoga, Bikram Yoga is done in 95-105 degree room; this promotes more flexibility as well as detoxifying one's body, if you're looking to lose weight than this is the yoga for you. This form of yoga is truly for wellness and rejuvenation of one's body, it doesn't focus as much on the mind body connection that many of the other types of yoga do. Bikram Yoga strictly focuses on Asana (Poses) and Pranayama (Breathing). Because of the heat and heavy sweating involved we don't recommend wearing our Yoga Jewelry
during your routine.
Developed by Bikram Choudhury, an Olympic gold medal weight lifter in 1963, is now the only form of yoga done in a heated environment. Bikram was a student of Bishnu Ghosh, the brother of Paramanhansa Yogananda, the yogi who is considered the first to bring the philosophy and practice to America around 1920. There is some controversy in the yoga community surrounding the Bikram Yoga phenomenon, in that he has copyrighted and trademarked his yoga style and aggresivly pursued protection of these terms. There are over 500 Bikram Yoga studios around the world and each one must have a certified Bikram teacher that is paid and approved by the Bikram group. Many feel that yoga shouldn't become chains or franchises that not only put smaller yoga studios out of business but also don't focus on the fundamentals of yoga, the connection of mind and body to fulfill self-realization.
Ashtanga Yoga is a system developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga Yoga can be very strenuous as it combines synchronized breathing with continuous pose changes many of which take a lot of physical strength to perform. This creates a full body workout with heavy sweating that greatly improves circulation and cleanses the body.
Ashtanga Yoga is generally accepted to have its origins created from an ancient manuscript known as the Yoga Korunta that was interpreted by Pattabhi Jois under the guidance of his guru, however no one besides Jois and his guru have ever seen this text and even Jois himself has hinted that it may or may not exist. A more likely explanation on its development is that Jois's guru asked him to create a yoga routine that was suitable for children and younger adults that had less of an attention span and needed a more active routine. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois currently resides in Mysore, India.
Aside from its more active and strenuous routine some other things that make Ashtanga Yoga unique are the literal meanings of its translations, which mean eight-limbed yoga, each limb correlates to a spiritual practice that leads to the ultimate self-realization. Each of the limbs is a step and one must master each before moving on to the next.
Since Ashtanga Yoga generally brings the practioner to a heavy sweat we don't recommend wearing any of our Yoga Jewelry
during your routine as the oils and salts may discolor or tarnish the silver and gemstones used.
Ananda Yoga is a great beginner's form of yoga. It focuses on the inner peace and self realization of the student by use of Asana (yoga poses) and Pranayama (breathing and energy control). Ananda Yoga helps bring back the original ideals and practices of Hatha Yoga
Ananda Yoga was developed by Swami Kriyananda who is a direct disciple of the yogi Paramanhansa Yogananda, the yogi who is considered the first to bring the philosophy and practice to America around 1920, his teachings and practice are referred to as Kriya Yoga. Kriyananda was a minister at Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship. Ananda is actually more than just a yoga practice, it is a worldwide movement of intentional spiritual communities that practice yoga and meditation.
Some things that make Ananda Yoga unique are a special series of 39 techniques, each of which has its own posture and affirmation to help the practitioner increase focus and control the life force. The nice thing for beginners is that the poses are not a strict set but instead are designed to adapt to each person's style that best suits there needs.
Ananda Yoga is now practiced all over the world and several successful Ananda communities around the globe have been established and have high regards by many in the yoga community. In the pursuit of self-realization and meditation we hope you will browse through our many pieces of Yoga Jewelry
, designed to help balance your energy, improve meditation, and let the world know that you find such issues important to you.
Aquamarine is actually part of the Beryl family, Beryls come in a variety of colors from pink to green, and the sea blue variety is called Aquamarine. Other stones of the Beryl family include Emeralds, Rubies, and Sapphires. Aquamarine is the birthstone of March and is said to protect the wearer in long voyages and ensure a safe return.
The wonderful sea blue color is unlike any other gemstone and goes great in almost any type of jewelry. Today most of the worlds Aquamarine come from Brazil. It is rated between a 7.5-8 on the mohs scale of hardness making it very well suited for jewelry and resistance to scratching and discoloration.
Did you know the single largest pieces of faceted cut Aquamarine is 14 inches tall and weighs 10,395 carats, titled the Dom Pedro, click here to check it out
We generally use Aquamarine in our jewelry as a enhancement stone combined with many other gemstones. We do use it in an isolated manner in our birthstone jewelry
. Here are some of our pieces that incorporate Aquamarine.
Tourmaline is one of the most fascinating and beautiful gemstones out there. It often comes in multiple colors in a single stone and can vary from a pink to green fade through blue and yellow, it can pretty much be any and every color of the rainbow. The ancient Egyptians believed that this stone on its journey from the center of the earth eventually passed through a rainbow and that's what gave it its magnificent colors.
The name Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese language of Sri-Lanka "turamali" or "toramalli" translated directly means stone of multiple colors. It is a crystal silicate mineral that includes aluminum, iron, magnesium, and sodium, which is why it can vary so wildly in color. It is mined all over the world and every location generally produces a different shade, color, or type. Tourmaline is said to be the gemstone of love and friendship, one of the reasons we feature it in our Family Bracelets
Similar to some other crystalline based gemstones Tourmaline has a pyro-electric property. When it is heated and cooled down it becomes electrically charged with one end of the crystal becoming positive and the other negative, a fascinating property that is very interesting to scientists and meaningful to collectors and wearers of the stone.
We use a couple of types of Tourmaline from chips to pink briolette stones. Here are some of our favorites:
Having just released a new line of Birthstone Jewelry
, we've had many gemstones on our mind and continue to learn and expand our knowledge of these beautiful stones.
One that really stood out as we were designing our new pieces was Peridot. Peridot Jewelry has been around and dated as far back as the 2nd millennium BC found in several ancient Egyptian sites. While very popular in the ancient world it was also very rare and the few areas that were minable were quickly exhausted and the stone more or less fell into oblivion.
In the 1990s a large deposit was discovered in the hills of Pakistan, so large that all demand could easily be met and then some even though the mine is only capable of being worked in the summer months. After this Peridot was in nearly every gem show around the world and a lot of hype was building due to its fantastic olivine green brilliance. Today Peridot is mined all over the US as well as Australia, Brazil, China, and Mexico.
Peridot is actually a mineral called Olivine, when Olivine is of gemstone quality is then considered and called Peridot. Olivine is one of the most common mineral on earth and has even been found in meteorites, on the moon, and on Mars. It is the birthstone for August. Also unlike most other gemstones, Peridot in its pure form doesn't vary in color at all; it is a rich olive green. Although it does vary in shade due to the amount of iron in it from yellowish green to a deep olive green.
We use Peridot in several of our pieces and love its clarity and shine. Here are some of our favorites:
We'd like to provide you with some insight into our jewelry making process. All of our jewelry is designed and assembled in our studio right here in San Diego, California. We have two designers, Lourdes Mustain and Dawn Ellis, you can read more about them in our Meet the Designers
Our designers will start with a simple concept such as an OM symbol and a circular stone pendant; from there they will build and expand on this concept using a variety of gemstones, pendants, metals, etc. Usually only one or two of these ideas actually make it to our main line that we offer here on our website. Occasionally many of them work out together, for example our stone circular pendant pieces
Many of our silver and vermeil pendants are true originals that we have hand casted by local metal smiths in small to medium sized runs. We do also buy and import handcrafted charms from artisans worldwide such as our Hill Tribe
pendants which are made by the people of Northern Thailand.
While we try to keep our inventory up we often can't keep up and many of our pieces are handmade once the order comes in, even down to the very tedious wire wrapping of each individual bead, you can see this in the photo in this blog and you can see a finished product that makes use of the wire wrapping in our Coral Mala Bracelet
We hope you enjoy our handmade jewelry
and as always we are open to ideas and suggestions on anything and everything about our jewelry, if there is something you want and don't see, let us know, we can create that special custom piece that you may be looking for.
Did you say coral? Yes that's right coral, while not a gemstone coral is a great natural material that can be cut and polished into beautiful jewelry. Some may ask, isn't coral endangered in certain areas? Yes it is but coral that is used for jewelry is not harvested in locations where reefs are endangered and in the past it may have been harvested by large nets killing the whole tree, today it is done by individual divers that only take parts of the trees and leave the rest to continue to grow, making it a very renewable resource.
Corals are a living organism that secret a carbonic substance that hardens and grows in a tree like fashion. The scientific name for the type of coral used for most jewelry is corallium rubrum, it is used in several homeopathic remedies for ailments from coughs to digestion problems.
Red is the most popular coral color for jewelry making but comes in many shades from pink, salmon, orange, black, and very rare a blue. In the ancient world coral has often been used as a protective force, and was often given to young girls as their first piece of jewelry. Coral in all colors looks wonderful against the skin especially in the reds and oranges; its semi-luster glow enhances the natural beauty of your skin.
While coral can be used as carvings for cameos it is usually made into beads of various styles, size, and polish, we mostly use it in its bead form and have the following pieces we'd like to share.
Garnets are one of the most common gemstones used in semi-precious jewelry. They range from a 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness where a diamond is a 10. The most common garnet throughout the ages is the deep ruby red variety, although garnets come in ever color except blue, and there is even a green variety called Demantoid Garnet that has more brilliance and is rarer than most diamonds. While we unfortunately don't use this type in any if our pieces we do use lots of the red, orange, and some of the green varieties.
Garnets have a history dating back several thousand years to the Bronze Age where they were used as gemstones and as an abrasive, when ground to a powder due to their hardness they make a great abrasive and are even used today in modern tools that combined with a powerful water jet stream can effortlessly cut steel. The word garnet comes from the Latin term, granatus and most likely from the term punica granatus, meaning pomegranate, a fruit that contains a deep red seed that is often the same size and naturally found garnet crystals.
Throughout history many gemstones have taken on different meanings and properties depending on culture and availability of the gemstones within the region. However garnets has generally carried on the same meanings and ideals 5,000 years ago that they do today. Chunks of deep red garnets were found in tombs dating back to 3,000 BC. Garnet is said to offer protection both in this life and the next. Many early explorers would carry garnets with them for protection from evil and disaster, it was believed that at night it would glow with power, and in fact it may seem to glow as it has a very high refractive index creating a brilliant luster even under marginal lighting conditions.
Here are a few of our favorite pieces that use garnets in them:
Between summer vacations and upgrades to our website and servers we've had little time to blog. Everything is going well, we've got several new pieces to add to our line many of which are using Peruvian Opal, so today we'd like to give you a brief look at the history and types of opal that exist.
Opal is considered to be a mineraloid gel that is created under fairly low temperatures, overall this makes most types of opal a bit softer than your average semi-precious gemstones, generally rated 5.5-6.5 on the Mohrs scale of hardness. So you will want to take a little extra care for any jewelry that has opals in it. Opals have a lot of water in them compared to other gemstones, this means they love to be worn a lot as they can maintain their proper humidity from the wearers skin.
There are generally two types of opal, common opals and precious opal, the latter is only named precious because of its atomic build that contains a very predictable crystalline structure that creates that famous opalescent sheen usually in a rainbow of milky colors, however just because of the name it doesn't represent rarity of value compared to some forms of the "common opal".
Opals history is almost as colorful as the stones themselves. For most of history they have been associated with good luck, calmness, and mental clarity. Australian aboriginals believed that the creator of the human race came to earth riding a rainbow and that when he landed his footsteps left the color of the rainbow and thus created the opal stone. To this day opal is the official gemstone for Southern Australia. Opal is the birthstone of October.
In our most recent batch of new jewelry we obtained a small stock of Peruvian opal beads and stones. This opal is relatively rare and is only found in the Andes Mountains near San Patricio, Peru. It is also the national stone of Peru. Here are our newest opal pieces.
We've had a few questions about the Dorje symbol that we use on several of our pieces. So here is a brief background on the symbol and its meaning.
The Dorje in Tibetan literally means indestructible. The Dorje or Vajra (Hindu word for the Dorje) is a ritual tool used in ceremonies. The scepter often contains diamonds inside of the spokes, this represents the idea of absolute as a diamond can cut anything but cannot be cut itself. Often times it is represented as two scepters crossed over each other this is the symbol of Amoghshiddhi, the fifth Dhyani Buddha.
The symbolism has many meanings depending on the religion or area in which it is used. In Hindu mythology the Varja/Dorje is the weapon for their god or war, Indra, bringing great spiritual power and enlightenment to he who uses it. It is often referred to as the weapon that destroys all ignorance. In Jainism the symbol is associated as the mark of the Thirthankars, a human who has achieved total enlightenment. In Buddhism it is the symbol of Vajrayana, also known as Tantric Buddhism, the symbol signifies thunderbolt enlightenment, that sudden moment in one's life that they realize the nature of all reality.
We combine this symbolism with that of the OM, the symbol for spiritual perfection, to create some powerful jewelry pieces that reminds us of these great spiritual ideals. For now we have two pieces using these symbols combined, and we are working on more that will be showcased soon.
We use so many different gemstones it is hard to pick ones to write about. While we eventually hope to have a blog on every gemstone we use for now we are concentrating on the ones that have a long history and cultural significance, mostly because they are just more interesting to research and write about, and will eventually be linked together with all of our jewelry to help you the customer make a better decision about what jewelry is right for them or their loved ones.
Lapis Lazuli is usually just abbreviated to be called Lapis. Lapis is unique as a gemstone as it is technically a rock and not a mineral as many other gemstones are. Don't be fooled though just because it is considered a rock, it has a long history dating back to Predynastic Egyptian sites where it has been found to adorn the graves of high officials and commoners alike. It has also been recorded that Cleopatra herself used a powdered version as eye shadow as it is incredibly brilliant. It is on the record as being mined in Afghanistan for over 6,500 years and still comes from this area today. Lapis is made up of calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and pyrite (gold). The most valued Lapis is that that doesn't have any white or calcite in it just solid blue with flakes or viens of pyrite.
Up until the early 1900's Lapis was used in the making of Ultramarine blue as a paint pigment, one of the most sought after paints by the old masters as it was the most brilliant of any blue ever created. A synthetic material has since been discovered and is now used for the pigment of ultramarine blue. The ancient Romans believe that it was a powerful aphrodisiac and also had many healing properties, it was often ground down to a powder and used to treat skin irritations and mixed with milk to help with ulcers. Written about in the Egyptian book of the dead, lapis set in gold in the shape of an eye was considered to bring great power, and was often pictured on the heads of supreme beings for this reason.
We make use of lapis in several of our pieces and love its brilliant color. Here are a two of our favorites:
Mother of Pearl
Today we'd like to give you some information of nacre, pronounced "nay-ker
", or more commonly called mother of pearl. In fact it truly is a pearl, while it may not be the typical round pearls we think of when it comes to pearls it is made by the same organisms that makes pearls, instead of forming around a piece of material the pearls forms on the interior of the shell of the organism, which includes pearl oysters, freshwater pearl mussels, abalone, and several families of mollusks. Today they use mother of pearls as the material for culturing pearls, it is cut into squares, then rounded by a machine and finally inserted into the oysters as the seed for a pearl. You can read more about the world of pearls
in our previous blog.
The use of nacre has been dated back to the ancient Egyptians at almost 4000 BC, far out dating
the use of traditional pearls by several thousand years. Today mother of pearl is used in everything from buttons and musical instruments to jewelry and decorative wall hangings.
Mother of pearl has a beautiful iridescent quality to it that can range from pure white to the fabulous multi-color varieties from the abalone, which is one of the most popular as well ranging from pink to green to silver and orange.
We use mother of pearl as small highlights as well as larger full pendants, we hope to use it more often but for now here are a few of our favorites that use this wonderful jewel.