How to Care For & Clean Your Jewelry May 01 2017
Some of the questions we're asked most frequently, both via email and during in-person consultations, are how to take care of your new jewelry, be it wedding bands or an engagement ring. There are two ways you can go about doing this. You can try to keep the ring as pristine as possible, taking care not to scratch it, and having it regularly re-finished—or you can wear your ring and consider the scratches and dings as evidence of your years of marriage.
Because finishes are just a surface treatment, they will change with continued wear. A matte finish becomes shinier as the metal is burnished, and a shiny finish becomes more matte as larger scratches begin to show up. This happens faster with precious metals than it does with industrial metals, but all finishes on rings will change over time.
The matte finish on your ring can be touched up from time to time with the scrubby side of a (clean) sponge, or with a new, unused Scotch-Brite pad. Similarly, as a shiny finish becomes more matte with wear, it can be re-polished. However, this removes material from the surface of the ring and can make your ring thinner over time (becoming less durable), so we don't suggest doing so too often.
Many commercial white gold rings have been rhodium plated, or "dipped." Similar to the finish on your ring, plating is just a thin coating of another metal on the surface of the base metal, and it does wear away with time. If your ring has a rhodium plating, it will need to be re-plated once a year in order to maintain the look. Because rhodium plating is a very toxic process and bad for the environment, we do not plate any of our wedding bands. We also believe that white gold is a really lovely color that doesn't need to be covered up.
For additional information on ring finishes, check out this blog post.
Cleaning Your Ring
To clean your wedding band, simply soaking your ring in a solution of warm water and mild soap (a shallow bowl or glass works best), rinsing it and drying off with a soft cotton cloth is often enough to remove and oil and dirt that may have built up on the surface. If your band has a deeper texture with hard to reach areas, it may also benefit from a gentle cleaning with a new toothbrush.
Because toothpaste (and its residue) is fairly abrasive and can scratch both the surface of your ring and any stones, the toothbrush you use should be new and used solely for the purpose of cleaning your jewelry.
As you wear your engagement ring, you might notice the stone(s) becoming less sparkly—what gives? Through your daily activities, things like lotion, oil, and dirt become trapped on the underside of the stone and inside the stone setting, which can dull the appearance of the stone as they build up. The longer the build up remains on there the harder it is to remove, so regular cleaning is important.
From left to right: 6mm Stone Texture Hand-carved Classic Band in matte 950 Palladium with a flush set Australian sapphire, 5mm Classic Engagement Ring in shiny 14k White Gold with an Australian champagne diamond, 5mm Crown Solitaire in matte 950 Palladium with a Montana sapphire
The easiest way to remove the build up at home is by using a brand-new, clean toothbrush with mild dish soap (Dawn is great for this). Very gently clean the underside of the setting, rinse with water and use a soft cotton cloth to dry the ring. If the stone setting has prongs, be careful that none of the bristles become stuck. Always close the drain in your sink when rinsing your ring, as metal can become slippery when wet.
While doing so can often feel tedious, keeping your rings clean also ensures that you're aware if something is wrong.
While it's common to want to wear your new ring 24/7 after receiving it, we recommend taking it off while you sleep, as it allows your skin to breathe. Not doing so traps moisture underneath the ring (similar to wearing a band-aid) which can eventually lead to skin irritation. This is different than an allergic reaction to the metal, but can look similar.
Another reason to take your ring off every night is so that it doesn't become stuck on your finger. Because your fingers tend to swell quite a bit while you sleep, wearing a ring while you sleep can cut off circulation. Additionally, if you take your ring off every night, you will notice if your finger size is increasing. That way you can get your ring re-sized before it gets too tight.
When you do remove your ring, take care to store it somewhere that it won't bump into or be jostled by other jewelry items, as they can scratch and dent one another.
Ring storage idea: try one of our walnut ring boxes--they’re handmade from sustainable wood!
While there’s no need to remove your ring when you wash your hands, we do strongly suggest removing your ring before working with bleach-based cleaners and chemicals, or before swimming in chlorinated water (swimming pools, hot tubs, etc) or in the ocean. Both chlorine and salt water can damage gold jewelry and cause it to become brittle, which can lead to discoloration, cracking, and lost stones. Hot tubs are even worse, as the increased chlorine concentrations and the heat speed up the chemical reactions that damage your jewelry.
Additionally, never wear your ring during high-impact activities like rock-climbing, weight lifting, and moving furniture, as they pose a risk for damaging (denting, scratching, etc) your ring. In some cases, you also run the risk of seriously injuring your finger if your ring gets caught on something. The easiest way to prevent this is to use your best judgement, take your ring off, and keep it somewhere safe so that you don’t lose it while you're doing these things--the pouch or ring box you receive your ring in are both great options.
Last year, a customer reached out to us to let us know that his ring had gotten caught on a piece of equipment while at work and had been damaged. While he was fortunate that his hand hadn't been injured and that the damage to the ring was reparable, the outcome could have very easily been different. The takeaway: remove your ring before high impact activities.
With silver, palladium, platinum, and gold bands, it is important to remember that it is fine jewelry. If you do not want your ring to bend, scratch, or gouge, it should be treated with care for it to last. Anything (metal, stone, etc.) harder than your ring can leave its mark.
Oftentimes, what people think are scratches on the surface of their new ring are actually scuff marks, similar to how a pair of shoes will show scuff marks when worn. Unlike scratches, scuff marks can be seen but not felt and they can be made by hard leather, wood, and plastic (such as purses, briefcases, dishes, steering wheels, etc), and are part of the burnishing process. This will be less evident with more textured bands, as the marks can "blend in" to the texture and make them less obvious.
That said, visible wear on your wedding band is inevitable. Some metals, regardless of how diligent your care for them, are softer and will begin to show wear more quickly than other, more durable metal alloys. Wide, flat, smooth surfaces will show wear more quickly than textured and curved surfaces.
Looking for more information on metal durability? Check out this blog post!
Still have questions? Send us a message!
Fair Trade Montana and Australian Sapphires April 19 2017
While diamonds and moissanite remain popular choices for a more traditional engagement ring, a lot of customers are interested in the array of fair trade sapphires we have to offer. From light sky blues to deep blue greens (and just about everything in between—honestly!), we have the have the perfect stone with which to customize your engagement ring.
Sapphires are considered one of the most durable colored gemstones and are great for everyday wear, making them well-suited for engagement rings. Our fair trade sapphires are closely tracked from mine to market following strict protocols—including environmental protection, fair labor practices, and health and safety standards—which makes them the perfect choice for an ethical engagement ring.
Left to right: 5mm Classic Engagement Ring with Rustic Texture, 14k White Gold, Teal Blue Montana Sapphire; Square Solitaire Engagement Ring, 950 Palladium, Denim Blue Australian Sapphire; 5mm Crown Solitaire with diamond side stones, 14k White Gold, Light Denim Blue Montana Sapphire
Above: 5mm Crown Solitaire, 950 Palladium, Light Denim Blue Montana Sapphire
Left to right: 4mm Rustic Solitaire Engagement Ring, 14k White Gold, Pale Green Australian Sapphire; 6mm Stone Texture Hand-carved Classic Band, 950 Palladium, Australian Blue Sapphire; Three Stone Engagement Ring, 14k White Gold, Australian Sapphires
Not sure if our fair trade sapphires are right for you? Still interested in our customized rings? Have a look at some more of our customized items or check out our blog post on Chatham Padparadscha Sapphires and Grey Moissanite!
**Please note that stone coloring may vary depending on lighting conditions, your own monitor screen, and stone settings. If you'd like to see additional images of any particular stone, please send us a message.
Let's be honest—even with great photography, it can be difficult to tell differences between things online, let alone being able to see the minor differences between something as small as a wedding band. One of the most common questions we get, both online and in-person, is about the differences between our Hand-carved Classic Bands and our Comfort Fit Classic Simple Bands.
In both images: Hand-carved Classic (left) and Comfort Fit Classic Simple Band (right)
Our Hand-carved Classic Band styles are made, as the name suggests, by hand with an initial wax model. This process translates to the finish product yielding a softer, more organically shaped ring with more of a handmade look and feel. Whereas the Comfort Fit Classic Simple Band is made on a computer-operated lathe. This gives the band a much more perfect, uniform look and feel.
4mm Hand-carved Classic (left), 5mm Comfort Fit Classic Simple Band (right)
While both bands have a similarly shallow exterior curve, the edges of each band differ. The Hand-carved Classic Band's edges taper to a more gradual, rounded shape, while the Comfort Fit Classic Simple Band has a more distinct walled edge on either side.
The last difference is each band's lead time, which is the amount of time that it takes after an order is placed for us to be able to make and ship an order. While both rings are made-to-order with recycled metals in your choice of metal/width/ring size, Simple Bands on our website are made for us by another company. This gives them a slightly shorter lead time of about four weeks, vs. six weeks for the Hand-carved Classic Bands.
4mm Hand-carved Classic (left), 5mm Comfort Fit Classic Simple Band (right)
Like this post? Have an unanswered question? Send us a message!
Handmade & Sustainable Walnut Ring Boxes: Now Available! December 20 2016
Looking to make your ring gift extra special? We're very excited to offer these new handmade walnut ring boxes! These boxes are handmade in small batches in New Zealand with wood sourced from sustainable, managed forests, and they make a beautiful keepsake for both weddings and proposals.
Available for purchase here.
Customize Your Ring with Colored Gemstones July 29 2016
You know you want a unique ring and you're pretty sure that you're interested in a colored gemstone--but where do you go from there? What are your ethical options?
We have a wide range of ethical gemstones to select from, with two newly available options!
Chatham Padaradscha Sapphires
Pink stones have been increasing in popularity in recent years, but many available options aren't hard enough to hold up to daily or near daily wear in a ring setting. We have a wide range of Padparadscha sapphires available to us, ranging from light pinks and peachs to more vivid pinks and fiery orange reds, in a wide range of cuts and sizes to fit our Engagement Ring settings.
Can you tell the difference?
We get a lot questions asking about creating custom engagement rings with morganite, which has a tendency to chip over the course of its lifetime, making less than ideal for setting in a ring. That's why we had Chatham color match a Padparadscha sapphire for us! The stone on the right is Chatham Morganite and the left is our color-matched Chatham Padparadscha Sapphire! It has the same color and look as the Morganite option, but with a resistance to chip and scratching, so there's no need to worry about damaging your ring!
Don't see the color you're looking for? Our Chatham Sapphires are also available in a wide range of colors, shades, and cuts--send us a message or check out more of our available options here! Looking for a natural, ethical sapphire? Take a look at our Montana and Australia round cut options!
These limited edition stones have a very unique look and color! Because of the way that moissanite is grown, its inclusions present as needle-like, which give the grey moissanite a cloudiness similar to black and raw diamonds, making them a great (and ethical) alternative.
As these are a limited edition product, our supply is also limited. Please contact us for availability or for an estimate.
Rustic French and Fern Wedding March 15 2016
Looking for some wedding inspiration? Take a look at this beautiful styled shoot by B. Jones Photography, inspired by the lush foliage and fern found along a springtime French countryside path and romantic French lace. Thank you B. Jones Photography for including us in this beautiful photo shoot!
Venue: Dairyland http://www.
Photography: B. Jones www.bjonesphotos.com
Gown: MeaMarie Bridal Atelier www.meamarie.com
Florals & Design: Gather www.gatherwestcoast.com/
Baked Goods: Flour Dusted Countertops https://www.
Decor & Rentals: Snohomish Rental Co. www.snohomishrentalco.com
Jewelry: Aide-mémoire Jewelry http://aidememoirejewelry.com
Cake: Delicately Sweet Confections http://
Makeup: KaylaKollection Artistry www.KaylaKollection.com
Hair: Saige Jacobs https://www.facebook.
Etched Wood Decor: Lasered Design www.lasereddesign.com
Bridal Stylist: Rachelle's Bridal Blog. http://www.
Models: Miriah Howard & Sage Chiniquy
Real Aide-Mémoire Weddings: Ashley and Pat February 04 2016
Desirée Gardner, a photographer in Florida, recently wrote a blog post about the beautiful destination wedding she photographed for Ashley and Pat. Thank you Desirée for mentioning us in the blog post and for whisking us away to Cape San Blas through your gorgeous photos. Here some highlights from the blog post.
Bohemiah Frost January 28 2016
We had the pleasure to have some of our rings featured in the styled photo shoot by juliet + lou event planning and design, and photographer Dorothy Huyhn. Here are some of the highlights from the styled shoot, inspired by a bohemian winter. Thank you juliet + lou and Dorothy Huyhn for including us in these beautiful photos!
Oblique Square Solitaire Engagement Ring,
Chevron Contour Band, 7mm Faceted Wedding Band
Exciting news! November 24 2015
Exciting news here at Aide-mémoire Jewelry! We now have a limited selection of earrings available with only a 3 week lead time! These earrings come in 14k Yellow Gold or 14k White Gold settings, and Moissanites or Diamonds. You can find the earrings here.
Real Aide-Mémoire Weddings: Catherine & Christian October 08 2015
We are so excited to introduce another couple in our Real Aide-Mémoire Weddings blog series. Thank you, Catherine and Christian, for sharing your special day with us!
Names: Catherine and Christian
Location: Josephine Butler Parks Center, Washington, DC
Date: August 15, 2015
What was the most memorable and/or favorite part of your day?
The most memorable/favorite part of the day was our exchange of vows. We have been in a long distance relationship for almost two years, and one major way that we have stayed connected during that time is by writing letters and emails to each other. Our vows were a culmination of those letters. They were the most important letters that we could write to each other. We hadn't shared them with each other prior to the wedding, so when we read them aloud for the first time at the ceremony, it felt very special, exciting, and intimate. Even though we were in a room full of family and friends, it felt like we were the only two people in the world. We will never forget that feeling.
Any advice for other couples who are currently planning their weddings?
A very dear and wise friend gave us the following five pieces of advice, which we found super useful:
- Whenever you get flustered or caught up in the minutiae, call your partner and remind yourselves of your joint priorities and then toss anything on your list of stressors that doesn't directly speak to the priorities. Basically, don't be afraid to step back and refocus.
- After the ceremony, go sit with one another for 15 minutes. Drink a glass of something, have a small snack, and take in each other's company.
- During the reception hold each other's hands. It's really easy to be separated for the whole thing. If you don't want to be, holding hands reminds you (and the family and friends pulling you in different directions) that you are allowed to hang as a couple.
- Try to not set expectations of friends or relatives because a small handful will do crazy, selfish, or thoughtless things that will stick in your craw. If you are unsurprised by it, you won't let it drive you nuts or detract from what is most important.
- On the day before the wedding festivities, anything that isn't finished can get tossed out. It's not important. No one will miss it but you. And you won't care about it after you are married.
If you could do it all again, would you change anything?
Catherine completely forgot to hug her Dad after he walked her down the aisle. (Sorry, Dad!) If she could do it again, she would give him a big hug!
What was your wedding song?
"Tonight You Belong to Me" by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters
What surprised you the most about your wedding day?
The number of unexpected issues that popped up. Despite all our planning, there were a lot of unplanned events in the hours before the wedding — Catherine's sash got stained, our table numbers were attracting ants, we were about a half hour behind schedule, etc. Just goes to show that no matter how much planning you do, there will be surprises, and the best thing to do is roll with it, be present, and enjoy the day!
Why was choosing an ethical and eco-friendly jeweler important to you?
We wanted our rings to symbolize our love for and commitment to each other but also to represent our values. We love that Aide-mémoire’s jewelry is made from all recycled materials and that it donates money to causes that we support. And, of course, we love the simplicity and elegance of your designs.
Photos courtesy One Summer Day
Human Rights Campaign National Dinner Auction September 04 2015
These beautiful Silver and Alexandrite engagement rings will be included in the silent auction at the nineteenth annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, DC. These rings are our interpretation of the rainbow, as the alexandrite changes colors from bluish-green in daylight to purplish-red in artificial light.
"The Human Rights Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. It is organized and will be operated for the promotion of the social welfare of the LGBT community. By inspiring and engaging individuals and communities, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all."
The Difference Between 14k White Gold and Palladium August 11 2015
So you know that you want a white metal band. But what metal alloy should you use? What is the difference between palladium and white gold, and which one is more durable?
14k white gold and 14k palladium white gold both contain 58.5% pure gold, but are alloyed with other metals to make them more white in color. 14k white gold contains gold, nickel, copper, and zinc. Whereas 14k palladium white gold contains gold, copper, silver, and palladium. 14k palladium white gold does not contain nickel, which is a metal allergen for a lot of people.
950 palladium (also referred to just as palladium) is 95% pure palladium, and is a “white metal” that is slightly more gray than platinum or sterling silver. Palladium is in the platinum family, and shares many characteristics with platinum – durability, tarnish resistance, and is hypo-allergenic. It is about 1/3 the weight of platinum (it is comparable to the weight of 14k white gold), and about 1/3 the price of platinum. It is a precious metal, and in addition to being used in jewelry, has often been used in catalytic converters. Its use in jewelry is a newer application for this metal, so not all jewelers and jewelry repair shops feel confidant working with it yet, but that is quickly changing.
14k white gold is a hard and rigid metal that is more resistant to scratching than palladium or platinum. Even though palladium and platinum may show scratches and dings earlier than in gold, with palladium no metal is removed when scratched, just displaced. Whereas a gold band will become thinner over time because the metal is slowly rubbed away over time. By comparison, we would say that in the first year, a palladium band will show more signs of wear, due to the evidence of scratches and dings. But, in 20-30 years, the 14k gold band will be thinner than it was originally, whereas a palladium or platinum band would retain its original weight.
Customize Your Ring with Fair Trade Sapphires June 30 2015
We just got in a great selection of fair trade Australian and Montana round sapphires. These sapphires come in a beautiful range of blues, greens, teal, and aqua. They can be used in most of our current ring styles, and are a great custom option for your ring!
Fair trade stones are closely tracked from mine to market following strict protocols – including environmental protection, fair labor practices, and health and safety standards.
New Work Studio & Parlor, Now Accepting Appointments June 18 2015
Aide-Mémoire Jewelry has recently moved studio locations, and we are delighted to present our new work studio and parlor in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. The parlor is now open to clients who are interested in a unique and charming experience while shopping for the perfect piece of sustainable, eco-friendly jewelry.
Our quiet space is perfect to sit and view samples, discuss options and work on finding the perfect piece for you--whether it be a wedding band, an engagement ring or the perfect stone. The parlor space has a timeless feel, filled with interesting antiques and vintage decor, plus a window where you can peek into the workshop! A nod to Seattle, a simple red "A" from the old Paramount Theater marquee hangs on a robin's egg blue wall.
If you are in the Seattle area and would like to look at rings in person you can now make an appointment online to visit our Wallingford parlor! Book a free half-hour consultation appointment here or at http://www.bookeo.com/aidememoire.
View a few photos of our new space below:
Not near Seattle? Don't fret! You can book a Skype session to discuss options at http://www.bookeo.com/aidememoire.
Wedding Ring Profiles / Cross Section April 06 2015
What is a ring profile anyways? A ring profile is also known as a cross section. Here's one way to think about it – imagine that you put a ring on a cutting board, chopped it in half, then looked at the exposed edge. That would be the profile. To make it easier to visualize, we've made these drawings of some common ring profiles.
The comfort fit classic band has a rounded exterior, with a rounded inner edge for a comfort fit. A classic band has a rounded exterior and a flat interior. Classic bands are also sometimes referred to as half-round and low-dome. A comfort fit flat band has a flat exterior and a rounded inner edge. The flat band is flat on the interior and exterior. Flat bands are also sometimes referred to as pipe cut.
Some profiles that Aran uses in her designs that are not as common. Here are some examples of those.
The trapezoid band is the profile used in our 5mm and 6mm cushion cut engagement rings. The low-dome band is used in the Three Stone Engagement Ring and the Octagon Engagement Ring, and is available as a plain band. The exterior of our low-dome band is not as curved as the classic band, and has straight sides. The Edgeless Band has a comfort fit interior and rounded outer edges. The Concrete Bands and the Hand-carved Classic Bands have a similar profile. They have a low-dome exterior and a comfort fit interior, but with a rounded outer edge, so that they have no hard edges.
And here is an illustration explaining the dimensions of a band.
4 Ways to Choose an Ethical Diamond January 12 2015
You know that you want an ethically and environmentally conscious diamond. That’s great! But if you are like many people out there, knowing precisely what that means is an entirely different story. What exactly is a conflict-free diamond? How is a diamond gemstone related to environmental risk? Here is a guide designed to explain the separate characteristics and benefits of the four types of diamonds that we offer. We’ve very carefully chosen these diamonds to work with because they have minimal environmental impact and high labor standards – we only select sources where workers are treated well and paid fairly.
Octagon Ring with Recycled Diamonds
A “recycled” or second-hand diamond is our standard conflict-free diamond option. It is one that has already been previously mined. These classic beauties are meticulously graded, re-polished and buffed to their original sheen and luster to be placed in new settings. A recycled diamond is, on average, significantly less expensive than a new one. By choosing a recycled diamond, you are not contributing to the more than 150 million carats of new diamonds that are mined from the earth each year. Unlike lab-grown diamonds, second-hand diamonds also have greater availability. But, perhaps one of the best features of recycled diamonds is the allure of time; these gemstones have the aura of having seen different decades and periods in history. It is rare, but some recycled gemstones are so old that they were cut by hand directly at a mine more than a hundred years ago!
Lab-grown diamonds have several great features that make them another ideal choice for socially and environmentally conscious brides and grooms to be. They are typically twenty to thirty percent less expensive than newly mined diamonds, have extensive options for customization in size, cut, clarity, and color, while still maintaining the exact same chemical composition of a natural diamond. New diamonds from heavily sourced, conflict-zone locations further pollute the surrounding environment and often place mineworkers in danger for shockingly low wages. In contrast, the lab-grown diamonds we work with are created in the Netherlands. No water or air pollution result from their production and only a modest amount of energy is consumed. For this process, they primarily use renewable resources.
Three Stone Ring with Austrlian Champagne Diamonds
If a newly-mined natural diamond is your choice, then choosing a mine that ethically sources diamonds is key. We only work with two diamond dealers for newly-mined diamonds who have proven that they adhere to the highest labor and environmental standards with mine to market traceability. They go far beyond the requirements of the Kimberly Process, which aims to prevent any “conflict” diamonds from entering the marketplace, but relying on the Kimberly Process alone is not enough to insure that a diamond is conflict-free.
Newly-Mined Canadian Diamonds
Newly-mined diamonds from the Canadian Arctic must adhere to strict standards outlined by the Canadian Code of Conduct and other government authorities. They are all certified as conflict-free and must be cut and polished responsibly. Employees in the industry are paid fair wages, and efforts are made to reduce negative environmental impact as much as possible.
Newly-Mined Australian Diamonds
Similar to Canadian-mined diamonds, newly-mined Australian diamonds are also subject to closely monitored standards that value socially ethical and environmentally responsible practices. One of the more unique aspects of Australian-mined diamonds is the array of natural colors available. They range from translucent yellows, soft chocolate browns, and other earth-tone varieties.
Square Solitaire Engagement Ring with Recycled Diamond
In our efforts to provide the very best ethically and environmentally conscious diamond options to our customers, we adhere to the strictest standards of traceability that sometimes limit the availability of certain gemstone cuts. Raw diamonds and black diamonds are typically hard to secure as they very often can be traced back to conflict-zones. However, we are more than happy to work with you in your search for the perfect diamond regardless of your varied needs.
3mm Classic Engagement Ring with Recycled Diamond
Diamonds larger than .23 carats, which is approximately 4mm in diameter, typically come with a certificate outlining the stone’s grading for cut, color, clarity, carat weight, and origin. Diamonds smaller than this carat weight are considered “melee” and are traditionally loosely graded and will not be paired with an accompanying certificate.
If you would like a diamond other than our standard recycled diamond option, or have any questions regarding specific aspects concerning carat weight and other factors, please feel free to contact us! We will work one-on-one with you to determine your best available options. We can either work with information you supply us, or we can do all the hard “sleuthing” and come up with an ethically and socially responsible diamond we know you will love forever.
Inspiring Friends at Penland School of Crafts November 12 2014
If you didn't know, Aran has spent the past few months away from Aide-Mémoire Jewelry as a visiting instructor at Penland School of Crafts, in Penland, North Carolina, teaching a Fall concentration in Metal Work. If you aren't familiar with Penland, take a seat right next to us, because if you're interested in fine art, craft or intricate handiwork--this is the place for you. Aran loves to refer to Penland as "Craft Camp for Adults" which is the perfect name for such a special space.
Photo by Mark File
Penland says of its programs: "Penland School of Crafts is an International Center for craft education dedicated to helping people live creative lives. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Penland offers one-, two-, and eight-week workshops in books & paper, clay, drawing, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking and letterpress, textiles, and wood. The school also offers artists' residencies, community collaboration programs, and a gallery and information center."
Penland boasts an intensive workshop curriculum with long-term workshops that last all day for months, to hone and perfect your artistry, and is a tight-knit community of artists, makers and crafters. In this community, we've developed relationships with some amazing artisans who inspire us through their work and friendship. We'd love to introduce you to a few of them today:
Mercedes Jelinek | Photographer
An amazing photographer whose "Neighborhood Photo Project" is well worth your time. Mercedes says, "My tools of choice consist of multiple film based cameras, a homemade photo booth, and a sign that reads 'Free Photographs for Neighborhood Picture Project,' announcing the project to everyone who passes by." View the project here.
Weddings Around the World: Canada, Eh! October 30 2014
We're back for another round of Weddings Around the World! We're excited to be chatting about our close neighbor to the North, Canada! You may be thinking to yourself--Canadian weddings can't be that different from American weddings. And you would be correct. However, there are a few traditional wedding quirks we just love and wanted to share with you all. Félicitations, Canada!
Local Creatives: A Few Favorite Pacific Northwest Vendors October 16 2014
Today, we wanted to send a few shout-outs to some of our fellow event vendors that are creating beautiful work in their respective areas of expertise. Although these creatives aren't necessarily limited to weddings, we are certainly inspired by the work they are producing for so many couples' special days. If you're looking for a good resource for any event you're planning (or even for design help in your home, or a special dress for a fancy night out) look no further than these fabulous artists:
The Dress Theory. Looking for the perfect dress but aren't into the mass-produced scene? The Dress Theory carries hard-to-find, elegant pieces that flatter any figure. Unique, romantic and local, check out their Seattle blog for details and sample sales.
Jaquilyn Shumate Photography. Never was there a more Pacific Northwest-friendly photographer. Located in Tacoma, this Kinfolk-published duo will travel around and across the sound (even nationally and internationally) to capture the perfect tone and feel of your event.
McKenzie Powell Designs: this lady does it all. From floral, to event to home design, we have never met an unhappy client. With a knack for color, space and styling, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better designer to guide you through your special day.
Julie Harmsen Photography: who doesn't love a fabulous photo booth? Another Seattle-native, Julie Harmsen Photography is another go-to for your local event. Hurry up though, I hear they are booking up quickly with a baby on the way!Got some favorites of your own? We'd love to hear about them! Let us know on Facebook or Instagram!
[Photo credits as linked above.]
An Eco-Friendly Choice: Lab-Grown Gemstones October 02 2014
Here at Aide-Mémoire Jewelry, we meet a lot of new clients who are perfect examples of what makes the Pacific Northwest so special: they value the environment, and love living in an area where the ocean meets the mountains meets the forest meets the city. They are nature-lovers through and through! This is what makes us the perfect team.
Image courtesy Andie Powers. Photo by Jaquilyn Shumate Photography
Most couples who value nature and the environment want to wear a piece of nature: a natural stone. The term “lab-grown” makes them feel uncomfortable and as if they are choosing something unnatural. However, one of the best things that eco-friends can do for the environment is invest in a lab-grown, synthetic or cultured stone.
Does that mean that a lab-grown gemstone is not a real gemstone? No! The only thing that differentiates a lab-grown stone from a mined gemstone is its point of origin. Here are some benefits to a synthetic or cultured stone:
• They are REAL gemstones in every sense: chemically, physically, atomically and optically.
• Lab-grown gemstones have a significantly lower impact on the environment.
• They are typically created by skilled laborers that receive fair wages and benefits, unlike most foreign mining practices.
• Lab-grown diamonds are rated with the same rating system as mined diamonds--the Four C’s--which are Clarity, Cut, Color and Carat Weight, and are available in different colors.
• The primary lab-grown stones that Aide-mémoire offers are lab-grown diamonds (by request) and Chatham created gemstones (an option for many of our engagement rings).
Another type of gemstone is a simulant (not to be confused with a synthetic gemstone). Some common simulants are diamond simulants--stones that resemble diamonds--such as cubic zirconia, Moissanite, white sapphire, and lead crystal. These stones are usually much less expensive than mined or synthetic diamonds.
5mm Moissanite Rustic Cushion Cut Engagement Ring. Choose from Moissanite, Forever Brilliant Moissanite, or a Chatham Sapphire.
Moissanite is another type of gemstone to consider if you want to minimize your eco-footprint--and one of our favorites! This is a jewel created from silicon carbide (SiC), based on naturally-occuring Moissanite (very rare--and originally found in meteorite particles). These are very hard and durable gemstones, second only to diamonds, but are much more brilliant!
If you’ve really got your heart set on a non-synthetic or non-cultured stone, a recycled diamond may be another option for you. These are diamonds that are naturally occurring in nature and were previously set in jewelry which has since been removed, re-polished, then sold as loose diamonds.
Questions about lab-grown or synthetic gemstones? Send us an email! We'd be happy to talk you through your options.
Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Wedding or Party September 18 2014
Here at Aide-Mémoire Jewelry, we very much value practices and products that promote ecological consciousness and sustainability. It is what we are all about! So, we thought we'd put together a few eco-friendly tips for your upcoming wedding or party! See below for how you can make your event just a little more sustainable:
Invitations: This one is a given. Avoid deforestation for the sake of an invitation that may just be throw away! Recycled papers can be just as stunning, and come in all colors and textures. Recycled paper or recycled cotton stocks are best, plus for a bonus, find a printer that uses earth-friendly, soy-based inks. Also, consider placing a "please recycle me" notation on the back of your invitation.
Image courtesy Artcadia
Tableware: If you've got your heart set on disposable tableware, make sure to avoid plastic at all costs! All disposable plastic (that includes balloons and other favors!) is bad for the environment on many levels. Bamboo cutlery and paper straws are better options.
Another option is biodegradable, compostable plastic. However, make sure that the product packaging states that the plastic is approved by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) with a logo seal. All biodegradable waste should be disposed of at a commercial composting facility.
Image courtesy Ali Express
Beverages: Did you know that according to Band the Bottle, "last year the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38"? All the more reason to ditch those plastic bottles for your event! Unneeded, disposable plastic water bottles are a reception no-no. Opt instead for decanted water, diffused with fruit and herbs! (Click the link below for a fabulous citrus and cucumber water recipe). For more facts about why we should "ditch the bottle," head over to Ban the Bottle.
Image courtesy No Gojis No Glory. Click for citrus & cucumber infused water recipe.
Decorations: There are so many lovely ways to decorate your event with eco-friendly options that are useable event after the event! Recycled paper materials are best for any necessary favor bags, and consider decor and gifts that keep on giving like succulents, baked goods or vintage accoutrement. Think minimal, and reduce decorations as much as possible. Waste not, want not!
Image courtesy One Fab Day.
We hope these tips help you create the most perfect, eco-friendly event that you possibly can, and don't forget the cake!
Weddings Around the World: Down Under in Australia September 04 2014
It's another installment of our new series, Weddings Around the World! Today, we are so excited to chat with friend, Melissa Cameron, a fabulous jewelry designer. Originally from Perth in Australia, Melissa has agreed to share with us some of the fun and interesting tidbits about weddings down under. Don't forget to click over to Melissa's site to see some of the amazing pieces she is working on lately. Thank you, Melissa!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a jewelry artist. I trained in Australia as an interior architect and worked in that industry for a few years before heading back to school. I did a postgraduate diploma in jewelry production in my hometown, Perth, and then moved to Melbourne in 2007 with my new husband, Bruce. There, I got my MFA in jewelry and metals in 2009. I moved to Seattle in 2012, when Bruce started a new job here, and I’ve set up my practice in the basement of our house. I have exhibited in many countries and stock my works in galleries in Australia, the USA and Europe, and I have traveled to the UK, Europe and USA for residencies and around Australia and America to lecture and critique at conferences and to students at colleges and universities.
Are there any interesting differences between American and Australian weddings
That’s tough to answer as I’ve yet to go to a wedding in America! If I go by what’s in the movies and on TV, I’d have to say that there are a lot of similarities, though I have a feeling that the weddings of my friends here were probably a lot less formal and costly than a lot of what I’ve seen across different media. And the same goes for my Aussie family and friends. In my experience it’s a big occasion for family and friends to get together and celebrate and I’m going to make a guess and say that holds true here too. I’m not sure if this is similar, but it seems as though the grooms have equal say in what’s happening, and that is probably a function of the fact that they now tend to share the cost of the wedding. Back home outdoor weddings with celebrants are in the majority - if the whole celebration isn’t outdoors, at least the ceremony will be, so there are fewer weddings happening in churches.
Well I’m not sure if this is the same here, but often times mum and dad walk their daughter down the aisle. And occasionally their son, too.
What is Australian wedding jewelry like? Do couples have engagement rings? Matching sets?
Gold and diamonds still rule, I think, though for men stainless steel and titanium are definitely becoming more popular options. Women still get engagement rings, or if the man is a little reticent about choosing the ring, perhaps a stone is the engagement gift, or a symbolic but temporary ring. My husband knew he was marrying a jeweler, so he forsook all gifts but my best friend worked in a gift shop so by the end of the day of our engagement I had a tacky plastic sea-urchin shaped beaded ring to impress all my friends and work colleagues with! But back to the real deal, platinum has had a comeback of late, and it’s fairly common for white gold to be rhodium plated. The solitaire diamond engagement ring for a woman has been in the ascendency for some time now, though I have a friend who went for Tanzanite in an unusual cut which was a really beautiful alternative.
Which hand do Australians wear their ring on?
Generally in hetero relationships the woman has an engagement ring and the man does not. They both have wedding bands and sometimes these are matching, but in many cases the man still wears a plan half-round band in gold or platinum, while the woman will have something a little more tailored to her engagement ring. Some couples will have matched rings but that’s less common, and in those cases the man and woman will both have a single wedding ring. I like that idea a lot though. Oh, and we’re generally left-hand ring wearers.
What are the marriage equality laws in Australia?
This is a contentious issue at the moment as we have a conservative government who is not looking to change the current laws, which do not allow for same-sex marriage. This is despite the fact that I believe that it’s now over 60% of the population who think that it should be changed. A really high-profile gay couple has recently become engaged, and they have said that they will be traveling to New Zealand to marry. I have told my cousin on numerous occasions that I will welcome her to Seattle when she wants to marry her partner, but she’s hopeful that the laws will shift before she finds ‘the one!'
What do Australians traditionally eat at the wedding? Do they like to sing? Dance?
Well, food is dependent on your culture in Australia, though that said a lot of the weddings I have been to have been cocktail party style - so couples have forsaken the sit-down meal for canapés and plenty of champagne! But I have been to a Vietnamese wedding where there was course after course of extravagant dishes, a breakfast wedding where it was champagne and eggs at 9am as well as the odd backyard wedding where the good old mini-meat pie and sausage roll was a part of the menu. But it seems that having a drink in one hand and the other free for a quick nibble, or a chat or a handshake is the most popular. People love to dance at weddings! The dance floor is very popular after those champagnes and the music is usually a reflection of the bride and groom’s musical tastes. And for the weddings I’ve been to, the singing has been reserved for the very end of the night ;)
Australian Mini Meat Pie, courtesy Home Life
Any fun facts or observations that you might like to share?
There’s a growing trend for quirky places and destination weddings; from having your reception in an old prison, disused quarry or mountaintop, to jetting off with family and friends to Bali or Thailand, or taking everyone down south to the beach or into the middle to be married on the red-earth. There’s been many weddings where there’s ‘theme music’ to introduce the bridal party, and for individual members of it when they make speeches. That has varied from the Star Wars death march in one humorous case, to songs that name-check the speaker. The other common thing in the digital age is to have a photo booth. I guess it’s the equivalent of the disposable cameras that were passed around or added to table center-pieces at the start of the 2000’s. Now they set up a photo booth with a few hats, sunglasses and fake moustaches so that the wedding guests will come and have their photo taken with their friends and family, and the smiles they capture are great, generous and more natural.
Real Aide-Mémoire Weddings: Reid & John August 20 2014Another blog series! We are delighted to begin a brand new blog series with handsome clients Reid & John as our first couple in the hot seat. Real Aide-Mémoire Weddings will profile some of the fabulous couples that we have been able (and honored!) to work with on their special day. As our debuting couple, Reid and John got married next to an authentic Connecticut lighthouse, complete with New England beach elegance, family and friends, and a shellfish or two. Enjoy, and thank you, Reid and John!
Names: Reid & John
Location: Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven, Connecticut
Date: Saturday, June 21st, 2014
What was the most memorable and/or favorite part of your day?
It would probably just be the magic of having so many people who are so important to us—from family and friends we'd grown up with, to the found family of our more recent years in New York City and Connecticut, and everyone in between—all there to celebrate with us. It was so wild and unreal to be out on this little beach we love out in New Haven, in the shadow of a lighthouse, surrounded by the people we care about. Being able to share that setting, especially knowing the effort so many had made to be there, followed by carousel rides, what felt like a metric ton of shellfish at dinner, and a night of dancing felt just as important as having everyone there to witness our exchange of vows and rings.
Any advice for other couples who are currently planning their weddings?
The one bit of advice we received from several couples was to take a few minutes for ourselves, just the two of us, immediately after the ceremony. We're really glad we did. Once we were pronounced the "most recently married couple in the state of Connecticut," as our officiant, Reid's cousin Margaret, put it, we walked back down the "aisle" (of sand), past the lighthouse, and kept on going. Taking a brief walk together gave us time to digest everything that had just happened before the craziness of the rest of the evening got underway. One other thing: It's all going to be fine.
If you could do it all again, would you change anything?
We only wish we could've spent more time with everyone who came—it was all over in a flash.
What was your wedding song?
We weren't even sure we were going to do a first dance for a while (having never really slow-danced in front of a big group before, let alone 150 of our closest family and friends). But we decided to, in the end, and we danced to "You Ain't Alone" by Alabama Shakes.
What surprised you the most about your wedding day?
"Are we going to be heckled at our own wedding?" was a question we asked ourselves a few times after we booked our venue. Since Lighthouse Point Park is a public beach, there's only so much you can control. But the answer to that question was "no," thankfully, and that extra layer of unpredictability and visibility actually ended up being one of the most special parts of the day. We weren't cloistered away on a private beach far from prying eyes—we were out in the middle of everything else that was going on that day. Prying eyes were everywhere! There are sunbathers, gawkers, and kids playing in the background of a lot of the photos from the ceremony, and we're so glad for that. It could have easily gone down another way, but as it was, all those people were cheering and clapping when we were pronounced officially married, and there was something extremely powerful about that show of support that we never would have expected.
Why was choosing an ethical and eco-friendly jeweler important to you?
When we found Aide-Mémoire, completely by accident, we knew almost instantly that they were the jewelers for us. Beyond the fact that the simplicity of the rings was exactly what we were looking for, the idea of recycled metals was very appealing to us. For environmental reasons, sure, but also because we value things with character, individuality, and history, both in our daily lives and as part of the wedding—we used mismatched chairs for the ceremony, thrift store plates for dinner, and shells, sea glass, and odd flea-market finds for decor. That Aide-Mémoire also donates to causes we ourselves believe in only cemented that this was the jeweler to go with. We're so, so happy with our rings.
Photos courtesy Christopher Ash and Kerry Long.
Human Rights Campaign Silent Auction August 15 2014
These lovely silver and diamond engagement rings will be included in the silent auction at the eighteenth annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, DC. The dinner is sold out, but you can bid on them online here.
"The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all."
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