Friday, September 2, 2016

Feature Friday Q&A with Julie Anne Palmer

I first discovered the work of today's Feature Friday artist when I was surfing social media one day.  What first struck me about her work was how she could truly capture what her clients where looking for.  Her work runs the continuum from earthy and organic to structured and timeless.  And that is what drew me to her in the first place - her design diversity.  When you see her work, I'm sure you'll agree too!

Introducing today's Feature Friday artist, Julie Anne Palmer!

1.  What prompted your passion for jewelry and jewelry design?
I always preferred Art to any other subject and when I attended Art College, I found the Jewellery and Silversmithing departments the most interesting as I loved tools and had a keen interest in design.  I have lived my life doing the thing I loved most and also managed to make a living too!

Aptly named "Organic," this rings reminds me of a winding wilderness
path.  It flows naturally from one point to the next dotted with color along the way!

2.  What is your favorite piece or collection?
I love Art Deco jewellery and also Rene Laliques’ fabulous designs.  Contemporary designers - I think Stephen Webster is inspirational.

Drawing inspiration from Art Deco design, the clean lines of this Ruby, Sapphire & Diamond ring are stunning!

3.  What would your perfect “jewelry day” involve / be like?
Sitting at the bench listening to the radio making – preferably without interruption – a completely unique piece of jewellery for one of my customers.

Like a constellation, this Diamond Bracelet is a future heirloom.  Perfectly classic.

4.  Thus far, what would you say is your proudest jewelry moment or memory?
Gosh!  I’ve had so many over 35 years. Getting my degree was one, but every day I get a wonderful jewellery moment when I design and make a customer their perfect piece - one which has exceeded their expectations.  I have had some wonderful testimonials.

A perfect statement piece, I am truly in love with this Amethyst & Gold Ring!  Delicious!

5.  Where do you find your greatest inspiration?
If I’m making a bespoke piece for my customers, I get my inspiration form talking to them about the kind of things they like, some people have no idea what they want and it is my job to try to find out about them and draw out something I can work on.  If I am working on a piece of work for myself, I will look at nature and take photos of plants and leaves.  There is a world of inspiration out there if you look.

Another one of her organic, earthy designs, this Sapphire, Diamond & Gold Ring screams "Centerpiece!" to me.

6.  In your personal wardrobe, do you find that you gravitate to one particular jewelry accessory (rings vs. necklace vs. bracelets vs. watches, etc.) more often than others?
I have two rings, a bracelet, watch and a couple of pairs of earrings I always wear.  I don’t have any more jewellery for myself because I never have time to make it!  I don’t like fashion jewellery.  It never lasts very long and I cannot wear silver - I turn it black!

This beautiful Opal & Sterling Silver Cuff is ideal for stacking with any number of bangles or bracelets.

7.  When putting together an outfit, how do you feel about mixing metals, designs and even new with vintage pieces?
I just put together what I like, I am not a fashion slave and know what suits me.

8.  Layering seems to be a trend that is here to stay, for now. What are your feelings on the layered look?  How do you like layered necklaces with layered bracelets plus layered rings? 
I like the layered look, but think you can overdo it if you're not careful.

Truly one of my personal favorites, this Spinel & Diamond Ring is sheer perfection with it's clean
lines & would be an amazing non-traditional engagement ring or right hand/stacking ring.

9.  What advice would you give to budding jewelry designers? To budding fine jewelry collectors?
When I started designing, I would get very frustrated because I felt I couldn’t come up with any good designs, a blank page kept staring back at me!  Then I learnt to relax, look at loads of images and just let myself absorb the type of designs I liked.  Maybe after 2 days of this, I would get flooded with ideas.  Now I am so used to designing I get ideas all the time and especially when I am about to go to sleep.  I never try to force it though, pressure is not conducive to designing as far as I am concerned.

Collectors – Get to know your subject well before you buy, it is a minefield out there.  I know because I used to work in the antique trade for years.  But it is a great buzz when you find that special piece that no one else has noticed yet!

Flash Question - Dream trip destination?
Thailand or Puppy Heaven

This Tourmaline Ring has a toughness to without compromising its clean
lines & angles.  It's another of my personal favorites.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Monograms & Jewelry: Make Your Mark

I don't know about you all but I absolutely LOVE anything that's personalized. I'm sure Freud could have a field day with that statement but in the meantime, let's just focus on a specific form of personalization - monograms!

I've always enjoyed collecting antique and vintage wedding bands - especially the personalized ones!  There is something about wearing a piece with such a rich history.  In fact, they started my obsession with antique jewels (to see my original post, click here).  So, of course, it's only natural that my love of that personalization would also translate into a love of antique/vintage monogrammed jewelry as well.  The stories those monograms could tell!

But what started it all?  Where did the monogram come from?  When did it make its first appearance and why?  How has it evolved?

Well, the monogram started out as simple initials carved onto coins.  This marked the reign of a particular Roman or Greek ruler.  In the Middle Ages, artisans - who always know a good thing - began to personalize their work by monogramming their initials onto their pieces as a way to identify their work.  This evolved even further into artists actually signing their work.  Essentially, monogramming was the first form of social media or word-of-mouth advertising.  By identifying their work in such a manner, it allowed artists, rulers and the like advertise.  Someone fancied a painting in your home, they looked for the artist's mark so that they too could have something commissioned.

This amazing 14K white gold & carved Sapphire Ring from Beverly Hills Estate Auctions is a Bucket List piece of
jewelry for every monogram lover out there!  The initials appear to be "RMR" & the sapphire is approx. 6 carats.

In the Victorian era, monograms became a symbol of aristocracy.  Believing that monogrammed letters marked on their table linens, cutlery and more was a sign of prestige and wealth; upper class families became veritable monogram generators and before you knew it, every household boasted its own form of monogram styles.  There were embroidered monogram letters for noblemen and simple personalized stamps for the lower classes.

While members of the Victorian era aristocracy often used the monogram to demonstrate their high rank in society and it has had a long historical connection to royalty, it is very widely used today on a variety of personal items, both big and small.  And now, monogram formats are more lenient. Monograms are common among more people than just the wealthy, as they have become more accessible and trendy over time. Some people choose to stray from the traditional Victorian monogram format and create monograms in the style of first-middle-last name.  With this monogram style, all three initials are typically the same size.  Married couples’ monograms typically include the bride’s first initial on the left, the groom’s first initial on the right and the joint last name initial larger in the center.  Modern British royals do this differently, featuring a two-letter monogram reading the groom’s first and bride’s first initials left to right.

This Victoria 14K rose gold, hand-pierced monogram initial Charm Pendant from Roman Jewels Gold is
adorable!  It is roughly one inch in diameter with the initials "KIU" & has some of the most wonderful detailing!

So what started out as a strictly practical way of identifying personal belongings and advertising one's status within society or to symbolize the uniting of two people has evolved into a great branding tool.  So much so that it has become a part of our lexicon.  John Hancock's famous script on the Declaration of Independence was so stylish that his famous personalization become synonymous with the word "signature."  After eight years and numerous iterations of his monogrammed letters, Rembrandt finally landed on his now instantly recognizable mark.  In more recent history, you have Louis Vuitton's son, Georges, the monogram creator of the now-famous "LV" logo which was actually developed as a way to prevent counterfeiting of the company's designer luggage.  Then there are the two interlocking "C's" that helped transform the legendary Coco Chanel into an international symbol of elegance and wealth.

This vintage monogram, a simple "B" in 14k yellow gold Ring from My 1970s Store is a more modern
 interpretation of the monogram.  I might have to add this one to my collection just because it's a "B."

Before Johannes Gutenberg introduced movable type printing in the 1400s, there were also only three script styles: gothic, roman and italic.  Gothic is the oldest and is recognizable as a tight, upright writing style typically seen in religious manuscripts.  The Italian Renaissance inspired a lighter, more open form of typeset which resembled classical stone inscriptions known as "roman."  Then there was the development of the "italic" type-style - narrow and space efficient.  By the 16th century, these styles combined into type families known typefaces or fonts.  Evolving from its early handwritten origins, typefaces soon became either mechanical or decorative.  The strokes became less calligraphic and more constructed like the famous "LV" or interlocking "C's."

Circa 1898, this 14K yellow gold monogrammed Photo Locket from Barclays Auction is a dream!  It epitomizes
why I love monograms & even has an inscription which reads, "Presented to Gemmel McArthur by his fellow
employees Lailey Watson Co Toronto, Nov. 11, 1989."  What is not to love about the history of a piece like this?!?!

So where will the monogram go from here?  Honestly, I don't know.  But I am excited to see how it continues to develop and evolve!  But in the meantime, I will continue to relish in its history.

After a good cleaning, I took my antique monogram ring for a spin with another of my favorites from Jewels by Grace.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

A New Perspective, An Age-Old Divide

I try to stay away from political and even personal posts on this blog.  This is, after all, supposed to be about fine jewelry and jewelry designers.  But, today's climate....  

The suffering in recent weeks in unbearable.  Just this past week alone, my news feed was filled with stories about police officers being ambushed and killed; a group of teenagers who set a litter of puppies on fire and distributed video of the horrific abuse; a petition to free the 'world's saddest polar bear' from a shopping mall display in China; a bull being tortured and blinded by fire for sport; a collection of murder-suicides and yet another police officer killed in my hometown while responding to protect others.  

An Inspired Antiquity exclusive, the proceeds of this Sterling Silver & Sapphire (or Ruby) Necklace go to support S.A.F.E.
You can read more about the work that S.A.F.E. does to support the families of Law Enforcement Officers & Firefighters
by visiting our "Giving Back" page, here.

The hatred, the negativity in our world today is stifling.  I feel overwhelmingly sad.  I feel compelled to speak out from a different point of view.  The point of view of a responder, a wife, an animal lover and a global citizen.

The stunning necklace by Retablo donates 13% of all proceeds to areas Animal Rescue Groups.

You see, jewelry is an escape for me.  It's my part time escape and one of my full time loves.  I sometimes wish, and daydream, that I led a more creative life away from all this hatred, abuse and killing.  Where it wasn't something I had to see first-hand on a daily basis.  A life like any number of the designers or artisans whom I have profiled or who's work holds a place of honor in my jewelry box.  But I don't.  

In my *real world,* I don't work for a jeweler, an antique jewelry auction house or artisan.  I work behind the scenes in a world that most have never heard of - Emergency Management.  Hardly inspired, its name is exactly what it is.  I manage (and, hopefully, prepare) for other peoples' emergencies.  It is my job to make sure that my colleagues are educated, trained, prepared and capable of responding to any incident that may affect our little part of this world.  I am (supposed to be) the voice of reason.  The calm in their storm.  

The purchase of this bracelet by Survival Straps will result in 25% of the purchase price being donated to

In the course of my work in this field for the past (almost) 20 years, I've also been a search and recovery canine owner/handler/trainer (you can read about a special piece of jewelry related to that work here.); a member of a National Incident Management Team; a dog fighting crime scene investigator; a critical incident stress counselor and I've even received training in responding to improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  So...I think you can imagine why I need an escape from my *real world* on occasion and stunning fine jewelry becomes the perfect outlet.

But beyond all of that, I support our Nation's law enforcement officers as well as those individuals and professions throughout the world who put their lives on the line to protect, save or recover those who don't.  Those of you who know me personally, know my connection to that "Thin Blue Line" and will understand why I don't refer to it directly in public forums (even one like my own blog).

When you purchase this "Be Brave" Necklace from, $10 will be donated to Wives Behind the Badge - a non-profit that provides a number of resources to the families of Law Enforcement Officers.

But what I am seeing in our world today has me both scared, thankful and puzzled.  

Scared for my friends and relatives who walk that line throughout the world. Scared that one day, they will respond to a call for assistance only to be ambushed, shot in the head, left for dead and turned into a martyr when what they really wanted to do was protect people, love their families and be able to sleep at night like the rest of us.

Thankful that some of my friends and family have left that line behind - although it will always be a part of them.  I am thankful that they made it through their service years with only a few cuts, a bullet hole or two and a lower-level case of PTSD.

Buying this little Sterling Silver Paw Print  Necklace from RescueArtWorks will support Rocky Mount, VA-area animal rescue groups.

Puzzled because I don't understand.  I don't understand why history continues to repeat itself - AND WE LET IT.  Every race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and ethnic background has been discriminated against at some point in our combined human history - or still is (can anyone say unequal pay for women doing the same job as men?!).  Does this make it right?  Of course not!  But isn't that exactly what we are doing right now?  Discriminating and chanting "I wanna see dead cops!" simply because a group of individuals all have a single characteristic in common?  They all wear a police uniform.  How is this form of discrimination any different than any other form of discrimination based upon a single common characteristic?

Every purchase of the Amelia Bracelet from will result in a $10 donation to the
National Alliance for Law Enforcement Support which provides resources & emotional support
to Law Enforcement Officers & Firefighters as well as serving as a positive voice in the community.

Are there bad people in every profession; every walk of life?  Absolutely!  They are, unfortunately, what keeps people like me employed in the *real world* and necessitates the existence of my profession.  Does dialogue need to occur between all the parties involved?  Certainly. Without a doubt.  Do more lives need to be lost unnecessarily?  Never.  

But when my news feed is filled with so much ugliness, hatred, condemnation and supposed injustice (real or unreal); I have to wonder - When did we all forget that the blood we shed is the same color regardless of skin color, uniform, species, etc.?  When did we decided that the Golden Rule only applies to some and not all?  Why must we let hate overpower empathy and civility?  And when will it all stop?  When will WE ALL MAKE IT STOP by holding ourselves personally accountable to a higher standard of behavior, ethics and morality?

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