Sara Golden Jewelry

Gems and Minerals

Cleopatra's Emeralds

Gems and Minerals, Style, InspirationSara GoldenComment
Cleopatras Emeralds.jpg

Left: Still from Cleopatra (1963), 20th Century Fox/Photofest; Right: Emerald specimen, photo by Klaus-Peter Kelber.

I’ve always been fascinated by powerful women in history, and Cleopatra has to be top 3 on that list. She took Egypt from her younger brother and made herself queen; she had affairs with some of the most famous men in history (Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, no big deal); and she had an impressive collection of gems and jewels. (It’s entirely possible she was reincarnated as Elizabeth Taylor!)

Emerald Stones.jpg

But one of the stones most synonymous with Cleopatra is the emerald. She figured out way before anyone else that in order to command fear and respect, she had to look look the part of an impressive, heaven-sent ruler.  And she did that by owning all the gems and constantly showing them off. 

She scooped up all of Egypt’s mines for herself, using emeralds as her royal calling card, wearing and giving them as diplomatic gifts. The Roman author Lucanus wrote that her home was littered with emerald-encrusted objects, and that she adorned herself with so many that he wondered how she didn’t “faint beneath the weight of gems and gold” (#goals). She had so many that during her time, when you thought of Egypt you simultaneously thought of emeralds. 

If you’re feeling as inspired as I am by this queen of Egypt, I highly recommend watching Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (buckle up, though, it’s a 4 hour movie). Or, dive into more gemstone lore with Victoria Finlay’s “Jewels: A Secret History” where a lot of this incredible information came from. 

Perfectly Imperfect

Gems and Minerals, Inspiration, StyleSara GoldenComment
Perfectly Imperfect.jpg

Symmetry and perfection are overrated. I’m a firm believer that things that are slightly off or a little messy are so much more interesting and memorable.

I’ll never say no to a beautiful, crystal clear diamond, but I’m obsessed with salt and pepper diamonds, full of inclusions and things that technically dirty them up but give them so much character. And a bouquet of fresh, unblemished roses is gorgeous, but I much prefer an unruly arrangement of wildflowers.

Perfectly Imperfect Pearls.jpg

That’s why I’d never really been a fan of pearls for most of my life — perfectly round circles, all the same shape and size.

But then Baroque pearls came along and totally changed my mind; they’re bumpy and wobbly and asymmetrical, each one different from the next. Then I discovered stick pearls: longer, more rectangular, with all sorts of ridges and dips. They feel like modern versions of your grandmother’s pearls, and I became obsessed with creating simple designs that show them off.

My newest collection of pieces are all about those beautiful imperfections, with plenty of baroque and stick pearls, plus a sprinkling of Dalmatian jasper and cloudy crystal quartz. I’d love for you to check them out and let me know if you, too, are a fan of the perfectly imperfect.

The Romantic Rose Cut

Gems and Minerals, InspirationSara GoldenComment
Left:   Untitled Andy Warhol illustration;   Right:   Rose quartz and black spinel rose cut stones.

Left: Untitled Andy Warhol illustration; Right: Rose quartz and black spinel rose cut stones.

Gemstones have been enchanting people for thousands of years, and starting in the 16th century people figured out that by cutting and faceting them, you could bring out even more of their beauty. (Have you seen rough diamonds before they’ve been cut? God bless whoever first thought, “Hey, we might have something here.”)

One of the earliest cuts developed was the rose cut, named for the tight, spiraling petals of a rose bud before it blooms. (Once I heard that I was done for.) Triangular facets all over the top of the stone mimic petals, and each one catches the light and sparkles, even on dark or opaque stones.

Rose cut illustration, via Erstwhile Jewelry’s  “History of Diamond Cutting”

Rose cut illustration, via Erstwhile Jewelry’s “History of Diamond Cutting”

The rose cut is also more of an old school, antique cut; when cutting technology advanced, you could get more facets and therefore more sparkle out of stones. While newer stone cuts are beautiful, I have a soft spot for the earlier cut, especially when it’s set in a more modern design. I love using them in my own jewelry, and have big plans to use them even more in the not-too-distant future. 

Now that you know its romantic inspiration, have you fallen under the spell of the rose cut, too? 

My Dalmatian Jasper Obsession

Inspiration, Gems and MineralsSara GoldenComment
Dalmatian Jasper Pattern.jpg

There’s magic in semi-precious stones, and something extra special about Dalmatian jasper in particular. It’s the stone I get asked about the most, and stops people in their tracks, eliciting an, “Oooooh, what’s that one called?” I mean, just look at it! Can you blame anyone?

Every time I get a freshly cut batch of Dalmatian jasper it feels like Christmas, with each stone a unique play of black and cream speckles on ivory white. Picking which ones to use in specific designs gets hard — how do I choose when they’re all so wonderful? I especially love seeing lots of them set all together, like in the Willoughby Necklace, so that the natural pattern really starts to show itself.

I’m also a big proponent of natural Dalmatian jasper stones (and most semi-precious stones, really), using them exclusively in my jewelry. They are reflections of a specific moment and place — the chemicals, elements, and debris that got caught up in the stone when it originally formed determine its unique design fingerprint.

Today’s jewelry scene uses reconstituted stones a lot — ground-up stone mixed with resin and put back together. Because it’s man-made you can control the final product so precisely, but I think that takes all the fun out of it. Mother Nature is the best designer, and with semi-precious stones I’m happy to let her work her magic so I can be surprised and delighted with what she comes up with.

I plan on using even more jasper in the future — that whole family of stones (of which Dalmatian jasper is just one member) comes in an incredible variety of colors and patterns. See how I’m using it now, and let me know if you have a favorite stone you’d love to see me use in the future!