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Alluring Jewelry Terms

(Starting with “A”)

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This is the first installment of a multi part series on the etymology of some of the more esoteric, unconventional and ancient phrases in the wondrous world of precious metal and gemstone-based jewelry.

À jour – much like ‘soup du jour,’ this term is extra fancy, and extra French; it means “to the day,” and is as delicious as a lobster bisque.  À jour is a type of jewelry setting that became intensely popular in the 1800’s (just like the sexy steam locomotive and the scintillating stereoscope) where the back of the piece is left open.  This is so the sun can hit it with luscious light and BAM: instant solar style, as the jewel shimmers with glowing glee and bright alacrity.

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À la mercure – Ok, this one can be mercurial (and lethal).  Like the name suggests, we’re dealing with actual mercury here.  It’s a type of ‘gilding’ where you meld gold and mercury into a deadly stew and then gently apply it to a jewelry piece (like you would with White-Out to a sensitive document).  Then you burn the heck out of it with a torch or, in a pinch, a lighter with a saucy burlesque dancer etched on to it.  The heat from the fire sizzles the mercury away, leaving behind a smooth golden finish (just don’t breathe while doing this, kids!)

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Aiguilettes – now commonly known as the name given to Christina Aguilera’s children, aiguilettes originally referred to thin little strips of material that held ribbons in place on women’s dresses in the 1400’s.  These stylishly ‘sharp’ items (derived from the French word for needle, “aguille”), became more and more fashionable and were eventually constructed from gold and featured various glittering gems.  They usually appeared in pairs, forming a small “v” or “bird in the distance in a painting” shapes.

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Allochromatic – just like the Allosaur that gets eaten in Jurassic World, this term has epic connotations.  The phrase “allochromatic” is applied to gems that exhibit a certain color…that is not what their chemical components dictate it should actually look like, but rather a hue which is purely visible due to the impurities therein.  Confused?  Good.  Here’s a nice example of allochroma in action: the highly valuable gemstone Sapphire.  Now, sapphire is blue, right?  Dead wrong! (as if you’ve been huffing mercury)  Sapphire is naturally a clear gem in it’s unadulterated state.  However, typically when it forms, iron and titanium particles get in there, alloying the true chemical composition.  These dirty little elements are what give sapphire that azure allure we know and heart.

Alluvial – this one is a little slippery: literally.  The phrase is really just an adjective meaning “deposited by water,” and in the jewelry universe this refers to precious metals (gold, silver, the Lord of the Rings ring) left behind in riverbed rocks.

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Amorphous – Honey Boo-Boo and Momma June jokes aside, amorphous things have no form at all.  What this means in gem terms, is that they are devoid of a “crystal structure.”  Popular gemstones such as amber and opal are amorphous, making them both great gifts for someone whom you want to express the message “Our love has no…form.”

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Arabesque – those who frequent hookah lounges will be familiar with the ornate and intricate style that is Arabesque.  Jewelry with extensive filigreed is often in the Arabesque category, which was definitely #trending during the 1500’s with the Renaissance art crowd.  Arabesque designs feature a lot of flowing flowers, hearts and in some rare cases, shawarma samples.

Archaeological Revival – this term is sort of self explanatory, but cool nonetheless.  When art loving Europeans of the 1700’s began digging stuff up from the Roman and Egyptian Empires, they fell in love with the style and started replicating it like mad.  Wearing a Cleopatra inspired golden asp headpiece became totally en vogue with the bourgeoisie crew.

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Argentan – if you receive a shiny silver gift with an intaglio on it proclaiming this word, then you have a right to be miffed.  It means that the metal is masquerading as actual silver, but, sadly, is not.  This information can be extremely useful when deciding whether or not to melt jewelry pieces down into bullets to combat attacking werewolves.

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Armilla – is just a super fancy word for an ‘armlet’ – a bracelet for the upper arm.  These have been around since the times when people fought lions with their bare hands for the entertainment of the masses (usually on the TNT network).  Roman soldiers wore these to signify rank, as well as for an excuse to show off their biceps.  Today, hordes of  inebriated girls wear them at Coachella.

Assay – is not that thing you had to write to get into college.  Assay is the procedure that jewelry items undergo to analyze the precise content of the precious metal they contain.  The results are often stamped right on the little guys (ie – “24 kt gold” or, in some less than fortunate cases, “100% tin foil”).

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Asterism – akin to the mighty asteroid, soaring through the cosmos, the concept of asterism is equally ephemeral and can scorch you if you attempt to grasp it.  …Well, not really.  It just signifies a star-like shape that forms when light hits certain, inclusion laden gems and then reflects out in said stellar fashion.  Basically, it’s like looking at a jewel-born asterisk*

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Aventurescence – if you are a gem and you possess this quality, it means you are ready for adventure!  …Or something to that effect.  When stones have aventurescence, they have an entirely unique brand of sparkle to them.  Gems that exhibit this property are chocked full of various mineral inclusions that are too hard to spell or pronounce (and in some cases, sound completely inappropriate).  Not a believer?  Just try to say “fuchsite” in polite society and see what happens.

-Joe Leone 

Financial Problems and the Couples Who Hate Them

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Psychologytoday.com reports that 7 out of 10 couples relay that a major source of strife in their relationships is the constant stress over MONEY.  “What should we spend on?  Who pays for what?  What can we afford?  Hey, I found a quarter…is it mine or yours??”  Read the following tips to resolve any and all cash related quibbles with your special lady or fella’.

During the Dating Phase: 

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…Too soon? 

When’s the best time to talk about money?  When you find yourself in a real financial pickle, right?  Wrong.  Dead wrong!  You should set aside a little chunk of time to discuss money plans and goals, ideally before anything goes awry.  Of course you don’t want to rush into it (this isn’t second date dinner discussion material), but it’s fine to address this at the (fairly) early stages of a serious relationship.  Topics of interest should include: “what to do if one of us is fired/laid off/forcibly removed from the premises; should we have a joint checking account; are there any loan sharks waiting nearby to break your legs?”  If your partner is consistently recalcitrant when you bring up matters of finance, this may be indicative of a general non communicative attitude/penchant for keeping secrets.  If this is the case, money may be the least of your worries.

Gender studies 

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Much like opinions over The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and assorted Spike TV programming, views concerning money can differ greatly between the sexes.  In general, women look at (the presence of) money as a rock; substantial capital equals a safe and secure life and a comfortable nest for lil’ ones.  Males, on the other callused hand, typically view money in one of two ways: a) as something to play with and utilize in high risk maneuvers and b) as a status indicator, which increases one’s self confidence with each additional bank account “0.”  The challenge is finding a happy middle ground, where you can see your partner’s point of view and come to an equitable compromise.

All that money…with no honey

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Sometimes the topic of an argument can seemingly be money, but that’s just what is superficially being discussed.  The real issue, or the “subtext,” could be a host of other common relationship concerns: worries over who has the power/control, insecurity over being truly loved, short and long term stability, uncertainty and the basic anxiety that can arise over self esteem and worth.  Certain times you really need to take a microscope to the heart of the fracas to identify the root cause.  If it’s not financial in nature, then it may be time to sit down and have a chat about what’s really stirring up all those volatile emotions.

After the Wedding Bells Chime:

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The Urge to…Merge?

Once you work out most of the typical relationship kinks and go through with a marriage, the merging of finances often becomes the most immediate issue that needs attention.  Keep individual accounts or join them together in a mighty fiscal union?  Engagedmarriage.com reports that “One system is not inherently better than the other; it all depends on your overall approach to marriage. These days, many couples are opting for a middle ground approach, with both spouses keeping some money in individual accounts and also saving a certain amount in a joint account. Later on in your relationship, it may be easier to merge everything into a joint account, but this is not a necessity right off the bat.”  Whichever method you choose, just make sure both parties are comfortable with the arrangement.

Walk a Mile in their Heels/Loafers

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Even after you walk down the aisle, you still may need to walk a little in your partner’s shoes.  That is to say, really try to see things from their financial perspective.  One partner may want to delineate a strict, regimented budget, while the other may not.  In regards to this issue, daveramsey.com offers the advice that “It is tough, but with patience and kindness, your spouse will eventually see the light (don’t beat them over the head with the need for a budget, and please don’t subject your spouse to a lecture.)”  Striving for equanimity in this endeavor is key; clear heads will not only prevail but they can rest assured that their other half is satisfied as well.

Rules Were Meant to Be Followed 

Setting up a spending budget for both parties involved is generally a good idea.  That’s not to say: “you can never buy Nikes without asking me!”, but rather you should collectively agree upon certain things that should have a set amount allocated to them, and then a freestyle budget for whatever other personal expenses you like.  Some couples can be more rigid in this respect than others; the important thing is to find which way of “making expenditures as a couple” works best for your particular situation.

Bring in the Pros 

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If you feel you and your mate don’t really have a handle on the whole financial planning thing, feel free to consult with a financial advisor (a lot of banks will offer this service for free even).  Professionals are used to dealing with these issues and can help alleviate the strain of figuring out what to do.  Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor at Relate, told nhs.uk that “People who’ve never been in this situation before may feel embarrassed.  Don’t be. The people who work as advisers are there to help. If you don’t want to talk about your problems in person, use telephone helplines and look at the information that’s available on the internet.”

At the end of the day, open communication is the best way to tackle basically every relationship problem under the sun, finance related or otherwise.  Consider your partner’s feelings and mindset, and then try to make educated and empathetic decisions together.  Then …give each other a kiss!  You can’t buy love, and you already have that.

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-Joe Leone