It’s getting dark and autumnal and I love the knitwear-boots-hot-drinks vibe but I’m less keen on the greyness, so today I’m looking at things through rose-tinted glasses – or rather, rose-quartz-tinted glasses…
Sorry… But really, though, a bit of blush pink crystal is a nice way to brighten up a rainy day, so let’s take a look.
What even is rose quartz?
It’s a type of oxide mineral.
It’s the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust.
The name ‘quartz’ comes from the German for ‘hard’ (snigger snigger), and the ‘rose’ part is, of course, a reference to its pale pink hue.
It’s generally thought that rose quartz’s pink colour is due to trace amounts of titanium, iron, or manganese.
The colour is also photosensitive, so don’t leave your rose quartz pieces in direct sunlight for long periods of time if you want them to stay pink!
Myths, legends, and hidden meanings
From Ancient Egypt to modern crystal enthusiasts, rose quartz’s pretty pink colour and association with romance has created mystical ideas aplenty, but Ancient Greek and Roman myths are the most romantic.
The first is that rose quartz was the physical gift of love bestowed upon humans by Cupid/Eros, the Ancient Greek/Roman god of love. Alternatively, another Greek myth told that rose quartz gained its colour from the blood Aphrodite spilt trying to save her one true love, Adonis. Both lovers bled onto the stone, and this was meant to represent true love. Kinda gross, kinda romantic…
Either way, rose quartz has also been said over the years to have the properties of:
Bringing love into loveless situations
Signifying that a deal had been completed
Whether or not you believe in its special qualities, one thing that’s undeniable is rose quartz’s gorgeous blush pink colour, which has made it popular in designs throughout the centuries…
I know, I know, it’s been a while. Lots of things have happened but the highlights are lots of illness, a holiday & new projects. It has been A TIME.
Anyhow, this week was the start of the new school term, and you know what that means? It’s also time for the new HOGWARTS school term. If, like me, your letter never arrived, don’t despair – you can still show your house colours and pretend it did.
Ready for the new year, I’ve created a line of barely-there Hogwarts house necklaces, for an oh-so-pretty and dainty nod to your dreams of becoming a wizard that won’t get you stared at on the tram…
Image (c) Tiding of Magpies
Image (c) Tiding of Magpies
Image (c) Tiding of Magpies
Image (c) Tiding of Magpies
Image (c) Tiding of Magpies
It was only a matter of time until I made some jewellery inspired by my childhood obsession, and designing these subtle house colours made me think about how much jewellery there is in the Harry Potter series. From Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem and Hermione’s gold time turner to Marvolo Gaunt’s tasteless ring (nobody giggle) and the horcrux locket, I think it’s safe to assume that the wizarding world is as full of magpies as the muggle one!
Because we all know plenty about these fictional magical trinkets (and because I’ve just discovered the And That’s Why We Drink podcast!), I thought I’d have a little look for some ‘real life’ gems with special powers. Here are three sinister sparklers and the mysteries behind them…
1. The ‘Atlantis Ring’
Supposedly magical jewellery tends to fall into two categories: amulets/talismans and cursed objects. Ring number one on our list is the former.
Allegedly found in 1860 by the Marquis d’Agrain in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, this clay ring with its strange markings seemed completely out of place amongst the hieroglyphs and imagery of its surroundings. Long story short, this led to the belief it was from the lost city of Atlantis (because, of course it did). And then it gets weirder…
Howard Carter, the archaeologist famous for leading the exhibition that found Pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb, was so interested in this ring’s supposed protective properties (especially against mummies and their curses) that he had a copy made for himself. Years later, he became the only member of his expedition to die of natural causes… Hmmm.
2. The Hope Diamond
Possibly the most famous cursed gemstone in the world, the Hope Diamond has definitely seen its share of misfortune. Tales of its first owner being ripped apart by wild dogs started the rumour of a curse, although these proved to be false. Perhaps it wasn’t so cursed after all then? Not so fast; after adorning the doomed necks of various members of the French royal family, including Marie Antoinette, it made its way to England and then the USA following the French Revolution. Realising the ‘curse’ could be a selling point, Cartier obtained the diamond and sold it to socialite Evelyn Walsh McLean.
Not one to be cowed by curses, McLean showed the diamond off at every opportunity. However, bad luck began to plague her and her family. Her children both died, one in a car crash and the other from a drug overdose. Then her husband left her for another woman, bankrupted the family in the process, and eventually died of alcoholism-induced brain atrophy. Yikes. But wait, what about McLean herself? She died the year after her husband, her jewellery being sold to pay the family’s debts.
It now lives in the Smithsonian Museum, where the worst it does is doom the tourists who view it to the curse of being overcharged in taxis and losing their passports…
3. The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
In this case, it seems that diamonds really are a girl’s best friend. Or, at least, a boy’s worst enemy!
This whopping 105.6 carat stone passed through the hands of Delhi sultans, Persian shahs, and Mughal, Afghan & Sikh emperors, before being willed to a temple by its second-to-last owner, Ranjit Singh. Unfortunately, the East India Company had other ideas, and the stone was handed over to Queen Victoria in the Last Treaty of Lahore.
Because Disney’s Aladdin, it hadn’t come out yet, so people didn’t seem to realise that stealing stones from sacred places was a really bad idea…
After effectively nicking the diamond from the gods, British sailors faced the battle to get it home, coming up against cholera, attack, and gales.
However, because every previous male owner had lost his throne – and the stone – in unfortunate circumstances, the British royal family did take the ‘sensible’ precaution of making sure that only female royalty wore the stone. So far it’s been in a brooch, a circlet and a tiara, and is currently in the Queen Mum’s crown in the Tower of London.
Its ‘curse’ was the inspiration for Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, and it’s featured in an Agatha Christie novel and Assassin’s Creed since then!
Would you wear a supposedly cursed piece of jewellery? I don’t believe in curses but I’ve not been keen to risk it since reading Simon Raven’s The Roses of Picardie! Excellent book, but also quite scary… For now I’ll stick to my Ravenclaw necklace! What’s your Hogwarts house – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw? Let me know in the comments.
This year, the British summer has lasted longer than a few days in May, and we’re all pretty shocked. The vitamin D, blue skies and bright light are fab; the sweaty air, less so…
Anyway, I’m sat in front of a fan with a cold glass of Pinot Grigio in hand and I’m ready to spread some extra sunshine in the form of sparkles (what else?!).
As long as humans have existed, the sun has been a source of fascination, an object of worship, and a muse for artwork, so it’s no wonder it features in jewellery across time and space. Here are five of my favourite pieces of sun-themed jewellery…
Medal Of The Qajar Order of Aftab, 19th Century CE
This beautiful, honorific badge is a gorgeous demonstration of how to mix materials. The central, painted enamel inlay bears the face of the female sun (aftab), which emanates platinum rays set with sparkling diamonds.
The Qajar Dynasty of Persia ruled from 1779-1924, and the Order of Aftab was introduced in 1873 by Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, the King of Persia. It had two classes, the first for female sovereigns and the spouses of reigning kings, and the second for princesses, women of high rank, or others deemed worthy of special appreciation. The Shah created the order before embarking on a trip to visit foreign dignitaries around the world, which is why Queen Victoria of England was one of the first recipients of a first class order badge.
The first class badge was fashioned in platinum and diamonds, the second uses brilliants rather than diamonds, and is only a semi-circular sun rather than the full disc. Both were worn on a pink and green sash, and all badges were made to this design until the order changed in 1939 with a change of dynasty.
Gold brooch by Castellani, Rome, c.1860
This brooch was made around 1860 by the Castellani jewellery company, which specialised in archaeologically-inspired pieces to cater to the 19th Century CE trend for neo-classicism. It’s based on the Greek sun god, Helios, with both the rays and Helios’ hair executed using the popular but difficult ancient technique of granulation, and is approximately 3.25cm in diameter. It was inspired by a Hellenistic Greek ornament in the Campana collection.
Minoan gold brooch, 17th Century BCE
Found in a Minoan tomb in Mallia, on the island of Crete, this brooch features the sun’s disk, covered with granulation and held up by two bees, right at the centre of the the piece. The delicate and sophisticated work, particularly for the time in which it was made, involved in the piece is one of the reasons I love this brooch so much. It’s also interesting for its symbolism, because bees were believed to be messengers between the living world and the dead, as well as being the symbol of the Minoan-Mycenaean goddess Potnia. This explains both the work put into the piece and the fact it was found in a tomb – I love it when jewellery has a clear design inspiration!
Sunburst costume pendant, D’Orlan, Mid-20th Century CE
This piece was made by D’Orlan, a mid-century Canadian jewellery company, and I love it for its vibrant colours and mixed stones. Although it’s costume jewellery, fashioned in gold plating and imitation gemstones, the mixture of tones within the piece give it a fun, vintage charm. It has alternating pink, purple, blue and green rhinestones, turquoise and coral-coloured cabochons, and faux pearls, all channel-set into the cast gold-plated sunburst shape.
Silver suburst necklace, Graham Watling, 1973
This sunburst necklace is a little more abstract than the other designs on this list, and that’s exactly why I like it. The artfully-alternating lengths of silver seem to shimmer on the chain, designed to move with the wearer and create a sunny halo round their neck. The designer, Graham Watling, was part of the ‘Renaissance of British Silversmiths’ in the 1970s, and the epitome of the phrase ‘it’s never too late to try something new’ – after a military career and 17 years teaching Arts and Crafts, he completed a BA Hons in silversmithing and began designing and selling his creations!
As some of you may have seen on Instagram, Tiding of Magpies has an exciting new design this week:
As well as being super cute, these earrings have another purpose. Everyone loves a feel-good, girl power design, but I wanted these hoops to do more than just look great. As the women we celebrated last weekend so eloquently put it:
Feminism should be about action and change, and that’s why £1 from every pair of hoops sold is donated directly to Plan International UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this amazing organisation, here’s a brief summary of some of the important work they do:
Working to stop child marriage
Promoting the economic empowerment of women
Providing and supporting education for girls everywhere
Working to improve access to healthcare and clean water, particularly concerning sexual and menstrual health
Working to end FGM
Helping communities prepare for disasters and rebuild resources when natural disasters ocur
Helping women and girls gain the skills for environmentally sustainable work
Advocacy and helping shape policy
Why Plan International UK ?
Plan International do a huge amount of important and varied work globally, but it’s their global scope and the fact they’re so aware of the need to tailor their help to the situation and culture of the women and girls they help that really struck a chord with me.
Let’s take their work around menstrual stigma and health as a prime example.
Having your period is an experience the average woman has approximately 450 times in during her lifetime – a completely natural occurrence, yet one which is stigmatised, ill-provided for, and treated as if it doesn’t matter. As anyone who’s had one knows, periods are pretty miserable things, between the pain, mood swings, mess, expense… I could go on.
Most women in the UK, EU and USA are lucky enough to have access to sanitary products (albeit after we’ve paid tax for the luxury of obtaining them). However, in many countries around the world, people menstruating are forced to resort to insufficient and unsafe methods to handle their periods, as well as facing stigma which includes being banned from school, events, or religious observance, or even confined to their home.
But that doesn’t mean menstrual stigma doesn’t exist in the UK, too. Rather naively, I only recently realised the scale of the issue here. For example, did you know that 10% of girls have been unable to afford sanitary products, often leading to them missing school, and almost 70% report not being allowed to use the school toilets during lessons, meaning they can’t manage their periods safely and comfortably?
So, that’s why I chose Plan International UK as the beneficiary of this design, because they work globally on the myriad issues and challenges facing women and girls, understanding and tackling the complexity and importance of topics like menstruation, sexual health, education, FGM & child marriage.
As the business grows, I’m looking forward to more charity designs and being able to give more back. In the meantime, check out the new hoop design, which I STILL haven’t taken off since I designed it…
*Disclaimer: I don’t look that good now, I’m currently on the sofa looking like this (but wearing some adorable Venus hoops)…
One of the best things about running this business is that I get to create beautiful things that become a treasured part of my customers’ lives, and I get to do that by stretching my design wings. I recently undertook a commission which was heartfelt, exciting and challenging, and I thought I’d share it with you…
My client was Suzanne*, a lovely woman who owned a treasured but somewhat battered piece of Whitby jet which had been passed down to her by her grandmother. The piece of jet had an extra-special meaning to Suzanne, because her grandma played a big role in raising her, and she wanted it turned into a wearable piece of jewellery so she could carry the gift with her everyday. She was also concerned about the potential to develop arthritis in the future, so she wanted the ring to be adjustable.
As well as being delighted that Suzanne had entrusted this piece of jet with such sentimental meaning to me, I will admit I was a little nervous! Jet is notoriously difficult to set, being quite a flaky and fragile stone. However, the challenge was exciting, and I explored a number of different design options to set this stone into a silver ring, since, after some discussions with Suzanne, it became clear that she favoured rings over other types of jewellery.
I knew as soon as I saw the jet that I wanted to make a design feature of the missing corner rather than crafting a setting to hide it. After all, this jet is a piece of Suzanne’s life story, and life has its imperfections as well. I wanted to embrace the history of the 150-year-old stone, and Suzanne was also excited about this idea, so it was full-steam ahead! We decided to go with the double-band design, and Suzanne absolutely loved it.
After receiving the ring, she sent me a lovely email telling me that she plans to pass the jet down to her own daughter in the future – I could not have been happier or more touched.
I also love the way the design turned out, and the whole process was one of the best commissions I’ve ever had. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually get to do this job!
*Not her real name; I like to maintain my clients’ privacy unless they wish to be a part of blog posts etc.
I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with some wonderful artists for two exciting photoshoots, and the edits are back! Here’s a selection of the final images showcasing Tiding of Magpies jewellery…
This first look featured a simple white tee to highlight Kitty’s gorgeous ink, topped off with fun and bouncy curls, a shimmery make-up look (using the Naked II palette) and metallic wayfarers. The necklace will be on sale at Tiding of Magpies VERY soon, and is a gold version of this piece, featuring gold-filled stars, discs and leaves, as well as amethyst, moonstone and crystal quartz drops. The hoops (which look fab through Kitty’s stretcher!) can be found here, with a smaller version here.
I love this look because it’s effortless festival cool that allows the model’s individuality to shine through (and would be pretty low-maintenance even when knee-deep in mud!).Look 2 has more country vibe with it, complete with plaid shirt and hat. More pared-down jewellery works perfectly with this look, so my classic silver chevron necklace and silver-wrapped amethyst teardrop earrings complement the look beautifully.
Plus, I’m loving this lip colour (Illamasqua Magnetism)…
The final look is my absolute favourite. Alia used two chunky glitters by Festival Face and a finer one by Stargazer.
As a magpie, I fully endorse all glitter, all the time! And I NEED more glitter roots in my life…This adorable flowery ensemble and awesome make-up really highlights the bluey-purple and rose gold tones in the coin pearl lariat necklace Kitty is rocking. My rose gold filled mini star hoops add a bit of extra sparkle to complete the look…The coin pearl lariat was a wedding jewellery design, so I was absolutely thrilled that Alia chose to show its versatility when styling this shoot!
Shoot 2: Soft summer style
The second shoot by Adrian G, with hair and make-up by Alia-Michelle, had a softer, more classic vibe, featuring the stunning Lilly Graham in a series of clean, simple spring and summer looks, all created with the Naked II palette.
The final look featured a gorgeously summery look, complete with a soft, floral hairstyle and my amethyst earrings making another appearance.
I love how many pieces were used for different looks on these shoots – it just goes to show that a good design can be really versatile. From festival to picnic, and work to date night, Tiding of Magpies has got you covered with beautiful jewellery, all handmade with love in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter!
A huge thanks goes out to Alia-Michelle, Adrian, Kitty and Lilly for being your fab and talented selves! I’ve loved being a part of these shoots…here’s to the next one!
This week’s post is an exciting collab post over on Rowton Castle’s site. I got married at Rowton last year and can’t recommend the venue enough, so I was delighted to write another blog post for them. Check it out here…
Available in the online store
And for gorgeous, elegant jewellery for brides, bridesmaids and members of the wedding party, head to the wedding section of the Tiding of Magpies shop!