Isadoras antique jewelry

Monthly Archives: May 2015

  • Q & A: What is a Fire Opal?

    As you peer into it’s fiery depths, the question beckons: What is that stone, with it’s vivid flaming hue and spectral iridescence? Fire opals, as they are known, are the gemstone of which we speak. While many opals are said to have ‘fire’ or a play of light within them, the opals mined in the deserts of Mexico are the considered to be the authentic Fire Opals. They were first discovered by the Aztec and Mayan cultures, which gathered them for use in their rituals and colorful mosaics, calling it quatzalitzlipyollitli, or ‘the stone of the bird of paradise’. Indeed, it’s flashes of multicolor remind one of the red and orange blossoms native to Central America that share the same name. It was not until 1835, however, that the fire opal was rediscovered and came to be known as Mexico’s native gemstone.

    Mexican Fire Opal

    FIRE OPAL from Pinterest

    While similar stones have been found in smaller quantities in many countries, few have come close to the amount and quality found in Mexico. Iron is the mineral that gives fire opals its shades of yellow, orange and red. While some opals have a fierce play of fire and light, others tend towards a more gentle and mellow tone and jelly-like transparence. Fire opals, true to their name, are created from volcanic activity, forming when water and silica rich lava comes together. A beautiful stone birthed out of the interplay of fire and water, the fire opal is a magnificent and magical stone to wear, inspiring passion and vivacity.

    Moved by the history and beauty of the fire opal? Take a look at the collection of lovely fire opals in Isadoras collection of antique jewelry:

    This stunning 5.40 oval cut Mexican Fire Opal ring is haloed with sixteen brilliant diamonds and set in platinum, boasting clarity, color and elegance.


    Shop: Vintage Mexican Fire Opal Diamond Ring

    For a twist on the classic Art Deco look, we have this 3.25 Mexican Fire Opal set in a stunning 18k white gold filigree. Circa 1930s.


    Shop: Vintage Mexican Fire Opal Filigree Ring

    Lastly, this 1910 Mexican Fire Opal ring is set in a dramatic pronged 18k yellow gold setting. The cabochon is full of amazing color, from reds and oranges to yellows and greens.


    Shop: Antique Mexican Fire Opal Ring 

    As always, more fantastic pieces can be found on our website!

  • 5 "Pinworthy" 1950's Engagement Rings

    Today we celebrate the 1950’s and the perfection of the classic vintage diamond engagement ring.

    The engagement ring, as we know it, was invented in the 1950’s. The diamond was established as the engagement ring stone of choice and the solitaire setting was popularized. The next seventy years of engagement ring design was built on the foundation of the 1950’s.

    1950's Vintage Engagement Rings #isadoras #vintageengagementrings (1)

    But what makes the 1950’s engagement ring so special, so extraordinary? When I think of art & fashion that is simultaneously traditional and extraordinary it all comes down to details. What are the characteristics of this diamond? What fire does it have? How does the diamond’s cut elevate the stone to the sublime with each and every facet? And the mounting, how does the curve of the shank enhance or detract from the central stone? It is those small details that are hard to express in words, but are transformative in reality, taking a diamond engagement ring from beautiful to extraordinary.

    And so, today, I thought I'd share five undeniably "pinworthy" 1950's engagement rings with you.

    1. This is a stunning Mid Century diamond platinum engagement ring. Centered by a sparkling 2.55 carat brilliant cut diamond, this 1950's wedding ring is all about the center stone.


    Shop: 2.55 Carat Diamond Platinum Engagement Ring

    2. For the alternative bride, this beautiful 1950's vintage diamond halo engagement ring is centered by a sparkling 1.6 carat yellow Old European cut diamond. Eleven smaller Old European cut diamonds provide the perfect halo for the beautiful center stone.


    Shop: 1950's Diamond Halo Engagement Ring

    3. The perfect classic vintage diamond engagement ring, this platinum ring is centered by a 1.1 carat Old European cut diamond in an illusion setting.


    Shop: 1.1 Carat Old European Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

    4. Exquisitely feminine, the central diamond of this 1950's engagement ring is accented by soft lines and sparkling diamonds.  A favorite of mine, this Orange Blossom diamond engagement ring reminds me of my grandmother's wedding ring.


    Shop: Orange Blossom Diamond Engagement Ring

    5. This is another wonderfully classic vintage engagement ring, with a 2.03 ct brilliant cut diamond set in a prong setting. Small diamonds sparkle from the shoulders of the platinum ring.


    Shop: 2.03 ct Brilliant Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement Ring

    Please visit our site for more stunning 1950's Engagement Rings!

  • Q&A: Can I Size an Antique Ring?

    A question I'm asked daily is, can antique & vintage rings be sized? And so, today, I thought I would share my thoughts about sizing antique rings & altering vintage jewelry.

    First off, I believe it is okay to alter antique jewelry so it fits correctly. In fact, a minor adjustment here or there, to ensure a piece of jewelry fits correctly, is not only appropriate, it is sometimes necessary. I would much rather size a ring, than have it fall down a sink drain because it fits incorrectly. It happens. Believe me. 

    Always work with someone who specializes

    Once you've decided a piece of jewelry needs alteration, find a jeweler who specializes in antique jewelry. I’ve seen bad things happen to good jewelry. Use an expert.

    Antique Ring Sizing #isadoras

    Ring Sizing: Because a ring is often the one piece of jewelry we wear every single day, it is of paramount importance that it fits correctly. If it is too tight it can get stuck on your finger. And if it is too loose it can get lost. That is why it is important to have it sized correctly.

    The majority of antique rings can be altered two sizes up, or two sizes down. And many antique rings can be sized much more dramatically. I have a thing for Victorian men’s pinky rings and our jeweler has worked wonders, sizing rings down four or five sizes for me.

    But how does a jeweler size an antique, or vintage ring? First off, a good jeweler almost never stretches a ring. Rather she makes a small cut at the very base of the shank and either subtracts or adds metal. This way the shank of the band remains its original width. The jeweler then cleans up all sizing marks. Our jeweler uses a laser for the least invasive jewelry alteration process.

    If a ring is engraved, or has hallmarks, can it still be sized? In the majority of instances, a good jeweler can find an alternate place to size a ring with engraving, avoiding the original markings. For instance, if the base of a ring has hallmarks, a jeweler can often cut the side of the ring instead. And in those rare instances, when the entire ring is engraved, a very good jeweler can re-engrave the small portion of the ring altered by the sizing. Our jeweler always lets us know the re-engraving will not be perfect, but I am always hard pressed to find the location of her re-engraving.

    What rings cannot be sized? We generally advise against sizing diamond eternity bands, as well as any other band that has diamonds set around the entire perimeter of the ring. But there is an exception to every rule, so if you love an eternity band and it does not fit, check with a jeweler first.

    Sizing FYI. Our fingers typically fluctuate ½ a size over the course of the day: depending on the weather, how much salt we’ve eaten, if we recently played the piano, etc. For this reason we recommend sizing your finger multiple times when possible.

    And for those men (or women) trying to slyly discover a man’s (or woman's) ring finger size by borrowing an alternate ring, all fingers are a different size, even the same finger on a different hand.

    Necklace Alterations #isadoras (1)

    Necklace Alterations: Although the fit of a necklace is not as crucial as the fit of a ring, it still bears conversation. Women’s neck sizes vary and the same necklace can fit individual women very differently.

    So what do you do if you don’t like the length of a necklace? To shorten a necklace a jeweler can almost always remove a portion of the chain. To lengthen a necklace, a jeweler can almost always add a portion of chain to extend the length. Although the pattern of the added chain may not be a perfect match it can almost always be a very good match. And a good jeweler can “antique” the chain so it has the same aged look as the original chain.

    But what if you wish one necklace to be worn at different lengths? One of my favorite things is a necklace extender. A piece of chain that can be added or removed at the wearer’s discretion, allowing for a diversity of lengths.

    Bracelet Sizing #isadoras (1)

    Bracelet Sizing: Some bracelets can be sized, and some cannot.

    Link Bracelets. A link bracelet can easily be sized down; A jeweler simply removes the extra links. A link bracelet can sometimes be sized up. A good jeweler can sometimes create additional links to extend an antique bracelet. At Isadoras, we determine our ability to size up a link bracelet on a case by case basis.

    Cuff Bracelets. A cuff bracelet, with an opening, can almost always be sized up or sized down. The jeweler simply reshapes the cuff until it fits correctly. Some people reshape cuff bracelets themselves. We, however, recommend working with a jeweler. Reshaping a bracelet on your own can often lead to cracks in the metal.

    Bangle Bracelets. Unfortunately bangle bracelets can almost never be sized.

    Earring Conversion #isadoras (1)

    Converting Earrings To Pierced. Although earrings do not need to be sized, there is another alteration service we often offer. Many vintage earrings have a screw back (or clip back). If you have pierced ears and prefer a pierced earring, it is almost always possible to convert a screw back (or clip back) earring to pierced. A jeweler simply removes the original earring back and soft solders the desired earring back on instead. This is very standard. I inherited a collection of 1950’s clip back earrings from my grandmother who believed it was unlady like to pierce her ears. Although I adore my grandmother, I chose to have her earrings converted to pierced. Now that her earrings have been converted I wear them frequently. Conversely, if you do not have pierced ears, you can often switch an earring from pierced to screw back (or clip back).

    Heirloom Jewelry #isadoras

    These are the major jewelry alterations we recommend. It is, however, by no means a comprehensive list. If you have a piece of jewelry you find you are not wearing because it doesn’t fit quite right, do not hesitate to consult with a professional. Often one minor adjustment can make all the difference. So whether it is an alteration I covered in my article, or one I did not, we encourage you to find a way to ensure your jewelry fits.

    If you are in the greater Seattle area and would like assistance with a jewelry alteration projects, please visit our store at 1601 1st Ave (part of the Pike Place Market). 

    Please visit our site for more beautiful antique jewelry!

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