David Bowie And The Substance Of Style

By Bob Werber David Bowie, who passed away this week at the age of 69, was routinely called an “icon” of fashion and style. In that, he joins a long list of musicians who helped redefine the "look" of an era. But Bowie understood the meaning and function of style far better even than most in the fashion industry. He saw how each of us, from the flamboyant entertainer to the buttoned-down banker, dresses not just to look good but to show the world something about our inner selves. Everyday life is abundantly theatrical. Even adorned so outrageously that you might be a little scared to see him coming down your street (a particularly wild outfit once prompted a sidewalk passerby to pull a gun on him), you always saw a little of yourself in him. “I’m working class” he told a BBC interviewer in 1999, even though he was by then a...

Birthstones And The Strange Beliefs Around Them

By Bob Werber Adding a birthstone is a great way to personalize a ring, pendant or other piece of jewelry, whether you’re buying for yourself, your love or a good friend. Besides looking great, birthstones carry all kinds of ancient beliefs, and a few superstitions, about how they can affect your happiness, wealth and health. The history of birthstones is long and complex. Historians have connected them to stones on the breastplate of Aaron, high priest of the Israelites in the Book of Exodus, to the Christian foundation of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelations and to the Gregorian Calendar, which has poems that match each month of the year to a birthstone. Of course, modern jewelry salesmanship plays a part in the story. The birthstone list we generally use today in the U.S. was put together at a meeting of the National...

Artifacts & Customs of Those Wild Ancient Celts

If you want to know more about some of the most ancient, most original and purest Celtic designs in jewelry and all sorts of other things, we’ve got just the website for you. Balkancelts is a cool blog that looks back at Celtic icons and art from Eastern Europe and Asia Minor. The Celts, remember, did not only exist in Ireland. In fact, they really emerged from continental Europe and simply wound up in Ireland near the end of their long cultural and military reign. Balcancelts covers ancient fortresses in Serbia, coins, jewelry and other artifacts, along with historical tidbits like the observation by Greek writers that ancient Celts considered it “honorable to eat their dead fathers and to openly have intercourse, not only with unrelated women, but with their mothers and sisters as well.” My my – we knew the Celts were a wild bunch...

Five Contemporary Celtic Jewelers You Should Know About

By Bob Werber Like you, we love to spend time shopping the web for the most unique and interesting pieces of Irish jewelry. Today we’re excited about the A-team of very contemporary jewelers we’re seeing grow in Ireland. Their designs mix deco, ancient, eastern and other motifs with an Celtic sensibility that's totally classic and strikingly modern at the same time. Some pieces we particularly like: Enibas has boutiques in the Schull and Kinsale, two wonderful spots in West Cork. The name is an inversion of the top designer’s name Sabine, who started out in 1993. Enibas has a nice diverse line pendants, necklaces, cufflinks and more. We love this shops sleek, simple take on a Claddagh ring: …and a more modern 3-piece stacking “Croí álainn” ring in silver, gold and diamonds, also from Enibas. Yvonne Ryan is young...

Bring The Celtic Romance With Christmas Jewelry Gifts

Looking for a last minute bauble to show your favorite guy or girl that you’re together in your love of all things Celtic. Here are our picks to help you warm up the Christmas fire. For Her: Triskel Drop Earrings The old Irish triskel symbol of energy is reinterpreted here by Brian DeStaic, one of Ireland’s most creative and famous jewelers. Available in 10, 14 or 18 carat gold or in silver, they range from $57. up to $302. in price. These ear pieces combine beautifully with classic or modern style. For Him: Men’s White and Yellow Gold Claddagh Ring Nobody refreshes classic looks like the Claddagh better than Fado jewelry. This very masculine piece includes knot work and the famous heart hands and crown Claddagh symbol that stands for love and loyalty. $1,750. For Her: Sliver Claddagh "Love Loyalty & Friendship Ring with 10K...

Amazing Ethical Jewelry From A Surprising Source: Afghanistan

One of the more unusual things on the market right now is a line of high profile gold and gemstone jewelry from Afghanistan, being brought to market by London’s Pippa Small. Ms. Small works with a non-profit government agency in Kabul called Turquoise Mountain, to export stunning pieces made by a wide range of young men and women in the old city. Turquoise Mountain is the result of a project started in 2006 by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Prince of Wales, meant to revive an ancient tradition of crafts in the country that years of Taliban rule had almost wiped out. The involvement of Ms. Small has given a big boost to the project, as she’s sold the Afghan pieces to celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine and Eva Longoria. Pippa Small has worked on other “ethical” jewelry...

After 80 Years, There Will Be A Single Thatched Cottage Again In The Claddagh Village

The Galway City government tore down the last traditional cottage in the Claddagh some 80 years ago. Now, it appears that just one of the old style cottages is about to be rebuilt. The Claddagh (which translates as “stony shore”) was a fishing village located just outside the old city walls of Galway. After centuries of supporting a unique culture that fascinated Irish writers and artists, the village died out due to competition from modern fishing trawlers, deteriorating buildings and a tuberculosis epidemic in the late 20’s the decimated the population. By 1934, the Galway city council had ripped down all the old thatched roof cottages, to begin the process of building a wonderfully bland government housing development. But the Claddagh ring design, which emerged from the village in the 1700’s, has become a worldwide symbol that...

Fede Rings – The Absolutely Original Claddagh Rings

“Fede” rings, which were worn in many European countries in medieval and even Roman times, are inspiration for what we now call Claddagh Rings. The word “fede” is derived from the Italian “mani in fede,” which translates either as “hands joined in loyalty” or “hands joined together in faith.” As the name would suggest, this type of ring features a design showing two hands clasped together. They were given as engagement rings for hundreds of years across the continent. The Claddagh Ring we know today ads a heart with a crown on top to the old fede design. When this more complex mofit came into being, or even when this type of ring appeared in Ireland at all, isn’t something historians agree on. What they do know is that Claddagh Rings were being made in the old Claddagh village in Galway as far back as 1740....

3D Printing: The Next Big Thing In Celtic Jewelry?

By Mary Ware 3D printers are already creating everything from toys to medical implants. But what about jewelry? Well, a whole slew of new software products are gradually being adopted by jewelry designers, Celtic and otherwise, to create amazing new pieces. The good news for designers: they don’t have to be “techies” to create a ring, pendant or other bauble through a 3D printer. More Intricate Than Ever At London’s International Jewelry Design Exhibition this past September, one company called Delcam showcased an innovation that pushes the envelope on creativity and efficiency in jewelry design. It’s latest version of ArtCAM JewelSmith CAD/CAM software, created for “designers not engineers,” allows jewelry designers to craft intricate pieces on a computer screen and then manufacture them in gold, silver and just about any other...

Alternatives To Traditional Diamond Engagement Rings

All of a sudden, everyone’s talking about making a different choice when it comes to an engagement ring. And that’s not good news for diamond marketers whose products have, for years, been the automatic choice for lovers about to tie the knot. If you’re a guy about to propose to your lady love, will you look like a schnook if you offer her an engagement ring without the sparkle of a diamond? It may depend on how much importance your girl places on tradition -- or how much she discounts marketing messages. One of the main reasons women have always expected diamonds is that mega-diamond merchant De Beers has spent millions over many years on ad programs proclaiming that diamonds are “a mark of achievement” for a man and that “diamonds are forever.” It may not be worth dropping several months of your salary on a diamond if your girl...