Last week I was fortunate enough to be one of the few invited to the Astley Clarke jewellery showroom for champagne, sushi and looking and learning about the prettiest gems I’ve ever seen.
Now, compared to the Carrie Bradshaw’s of the world, my level of girlynesss and love of shoes is probably easily beaten. I’m a firm, black high heels or ballet flats kind of girl … but my love of jewellery and handbags? Second to none. Therefore I was practically dancing my way down the train from Brighton to London at the prospect of getting to look at beautiful stones I’d never heard of.
Walking into the Astley Clarke showroom gives you the same feeling you get when you’re a little girl peering into your mother or grandmothers jewellery box. A complete sense of awe and wonderment at all the glittering surfaces and a delight in the glass boxes holding hidden treasures. For a visual magpie like me with a penchant for all things reflective and shiny, it’s basically heaven. Shortly after arriving and after meeting Founder and Managing Director, Bec Astley Clarke and her team, it was patently obvious that these women have such a passion for what they do and the messages they want to convey about jewellery and how it should make you feel. You can tell they genuinely love the jewellery and hearing them talk about the pieces they personally liked was far more interesting and gave a greater insight to each person individually than just looking at the gems alone.
After being given a gift of a jewellers 30X-21mm magnifying loupe to look at the gems very closely, we were introduced to the incredibly interesting gemologist Amanda Good, who showed us how to use it to view the intricate gems (making sure your hands touch to keep steady) and passed around different gems to see how strikingly different, and even more gorgeous each gem was when viewed close up. We looked at many different gems including moon stones, (a huge new favourite of mine) labradorite, sapphires, tourmaline, opal’s and many others and listened to her explain the mythology and meanings behind each one as well as the more technical side of which gems are good for everyday wear and which are more suited to be worn only for the best occasions.
Don’t keep your jewellery all together in a draw or bag where they may clash or hit each other. Each gem has different properties and softer ones can be easily damaged by general wear and tear. Try to keep them in soft pouches or separately in boxes.
Nothing beats a toothbrush and soapy warm water for home cleaning of your jewellery to get everything sparkling again!
I think the most important thing I learnt was to stay true to your personality when choosing jewellery. Unlike diamonds, I think gemstones really have the ability to portray you as a person. For instance, gemologist Amanda really likes sapphires and optical effects, especially in quirky jewellery. Other girls were more interested in the meanings of the gems, whether it was their birthstone or what the mythology was behind the piece. Whilst others simply loved certain gems for favourite colours and would pick things for purely visual reasons. I also learnt not to stick to what you know. Titanium for instance is something I never would have gone looking for, but the material is so light and easy to wear and looked so different to everything else that it’s something I’ll now definitely seek out.
My personal favourite out of the many lovely things we looked at (and shown below) was the Astley Clarke take on the Victorian tradition of creating a ring spelling out ‘dearest’ as an acronym, using six different types of gemstone. To update it, the ‘darling’ ring was created (a much sweeter term in my opinion) where each gem represents a letter in the word. On the train home back to Brighton and mentally running through all the pieces I’d seen that night, this ring was definitely my favourite. It’s delicate, meaningful, and something not everyone would have (If I could afford to be frivolous toward myself and get this I’d be the happiest girl ever. Although may become transfixed by it and never leave the house). Definitely the gem of gems. Serious swooning. Below I’ve shown this ring and a few of my other favourites, all in different price ranges for you to fawn over.