Saturday, April 20, 2013

Big City Style, and interview with Rachel Lynn Chicago!

As exciting as The Four C's are, I thought I'd take a little break to talk about what's HOT in Jewelry style right now.  Having lived in Chicago now for nearly 6 mo's it's amazing to me how distinctive Chicago fashion is, I admit I'd never really thought about it before.  Being a Milwaukee native, I always kinda thought, Chicago was more or less the same, but like a good wine, Chicago has it's own individual terroir. 

Everyday, I have the privilege of working with the most outstanding, professional and talented group of people, on gorgeous Oak Street, also know as, the epicenter of Chicago Fashion.  I also get to work with one of my favorite designers, Rachel Lynn Chicago!  Disclaimer:  Not only do I wear Rachel's designs, I also sell them;)  Today I had the opportunity to pick her brain...

Rachel, you're a Chicago native, how long have you been designing jewelry, and what inspires you?
Yes I am native! I love Chicago! I started making jewelry at a very young age. I was around seven years old when my mothers jewelry company started booming and she needed an extra set of hands to help her bead and knot the custom designs. More recently and after ten years in the fashion industry, I found myself back in the jewelry business and catching the design bug. I began trailing my mother and then finally started making pieces of my own. My esthetic is very different than my mothers but we have a blast inspiring one another. Before I knew it Rachel Lynn Chicago was a business, and for three years now it has been my avenue to make pieces for friends and clients that I love, as well as myself.

Living and working on the Gold Coast, how would describe the Chicago Women's sense of style?

There are all different types of women in Chicago each with a personal esthetic and lifestyle of their own. I think the few things that ring true across the board is that every women wants a piece of jewelry that makes them feel good and beautiful.  They want something easy, that is at a good value!  Jewelry is an accessory that tells a story of who that person is and gives the outside world a glimpse into their expression of themselves. I remind myself of this every time I design and handcraft a piece of jewelry.

We are patiently awaiting Spring here in the Mid-west, how do you incorporate a little "Spring" into your wardrobe when the weather isn't exactly cooperating?
I personally really enjoy my Mystic Labradorite Collections. The mystic gemstones, in this case natural labradorite; is heated.  The heat changes the gemstone and gives it a higher potency of iridescence and a bright shine that emanates from the stone like a bright white light. These gemstones shine no matter how cloudy it may be outside; the only thing they don't offer is vitamin D!

Rachel, what are your personal favorite pieces of Jewelry?
My favorite piece of jewelry right now is a diamond pave dog tag. It is on a extra long chain so it falls under my long necklace category. I love long necklaces because they look perfect with any outfit! All the long necklaces I create for Rachel Lynn Chicago are perfect for layering; which for me are a must!

You've done some International travel this year, what pieces always travel with you?

Yes we took a beautiful memorable ski trip to Cortina Italy! Being such an active trip there weren't many opportunities to wear jewelry - most jewelry pieces can get in the way, snagged or tangled during fitness activities. Although, I did enjoy wearing my diamond pendant. A simple pendant that is about 16" long is perfect even for fitness and sport centered vacations. You can always clean a pendant, and at that length they are out of the way of getting caught or broken. 

What is next on your Jewelry bucket list?

I am working on expanding my beaded necklace collections, they are the perfect match to the beaded bracelets and are extremely timeless!

Thank you for the interview! I can't wait to see what you write next Lisa the Jeweler!

Rachel Lynn Chicago is a Chicago based jewelry brand that includes jewelry for both men and women using only nature and hand selected gemstones. All pieces are one of a kind and created entirely by hand. 

Keep up with Rachel at:

Shop the collection at Geneva Seal Jewelers in Chicago or online at

Twitter: @RachLynnChicago
Instagram: rachellynnchicago


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Back to The Four C’s… Clarity!

Ah, Clarity, that thing we all seek in our thoughts, day to day decisions and for this blogger, on my yoga mat… so what is Clarity in a Diamond?
Clarity is the degree to which a Diamond is free from inclusions, birthmarks, blemishes, or whatever you want to call them.  Inclusions are internal characteristics, and blemishes are external characteristics.  For example, a “feather,” or internal fracture that healed itself at the time of the formation of the crystal, would be an example of an inclusion.  Something as simple as a scratch on a Diamond is considered a blemish.  Easy right?
Remember when we talked about Color and much emphasis was put on Diamonds being graded face down?  (I know it’s been a little while.)  Well, for Clarity grading, it’s exactly the opposite, Diamonds are graded sparkle side up!  They are graded for Clarity under 10 x magnifications preferably using a Microscope.  This does take practice because Clarity grading is a professional opinion.  The size, number of inclusions, location of them in the stone and whether they are low or high relief (light or dark) all determine the final Clarity grade that The Gemologist will assign to the stone.  In the Jewelry trade it’s common practice for two Gemologists to view a diamond separately, each come up with a grade, and then discuss their reasons for grading the stone the way they did.  If there is any discrepancy, they will be very close to one another, they will then discuss and then come to a consensus before assigning the final grade.  Make sense so far?
So, what’s with all those letters and numbers?  The GIA, once again, has come up with an international language for discussing the Clarity of a Diamond. 
Here it is:
1.)    Flawless (FL)
2.)    Internally Flawless (IF)
3.)    Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
4.)    Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
5.)    Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
6.)    Included (I1 and I2)
According to GIA grading standards, anything SI2 and up, should not have eye visible inclusions!
That’s right; you heard me, SI2 and up should look the same to the naked eye.  There are a few exceptions.  Sometimes in larger stones, or Step Cut Diamonds, like Emerald Cut, an inclusion could be noticed.
Under a microscope, one would certainly see the difference between an SI2 and, say a VS2, but otherwise, the difference will be seen in the price.  Once again, the rarer a stone is in Clarity, the more expensive it will be.  The larger the stone, the more small differences in rarity, will affect the price!
Whew, that was a lot of info!  Do you have clarity on Clarity?  Are there any questions?
Here is some more information:
UPDATE!!!  The Customer shopping for a Sapphire did end up making a purchase from me, the ring is beautiful, and you know what?  Not only did he not get “hosed,” he got an excellent value and was able to make an informed purchase, and had fun while doing so.  I hope to have earned a customer for life!  ~Lisa

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April Showers Bring Diamonds! What are the four C’s and why are they important?

Most people have heard of the four C’s, even learned them, and maybe long since forgotten what they are.  If you’ve ever shopped for a diamond or accompanied a friend or family member to a Jewelry store, you’ve no doubt listened to some level of an explanation as to what the four C’s are.  If I had a dollar for every time I had the privledge of going over the four C's with a client...well, you know the rest;)
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, it is this Jeweler’s opinion that it’s important to know just where they came from.  It was in the early 1950’s that The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) came up with what is now an international and universal language for everyone (cutters, dealers, jewelers and consumers) to discuss and understand the rarity characteristics of a Diamond.  Not only is GIA the world’s foremost authority on Diamonds and Gemstones, but they are a non-profit and independent institute that serves both the industry and the consumer.  They are also My Alma Mater!  Woot!

So here we go, let’s start with Color….

1.)     Color is the degree to which a diamond is free from body color.  The two most common colors of a Diamond are yellow or brown caused by nitrogen that was present when the Diamond was formed.  The GIA color scale starts at D and goes to Z, with D being completely colorless.  Some jewelers will tell you that color in a diamond is bad, and that it affects the quality or beauty of a Diamond.  Color only determines rarity.  What most jewelers won’t tell you is that most people can’t tell the difference between up to four color grades.  They also won’t tell you that Diamonds are graded face down for color against a “master set” of stones that already have a predetermined color grade.  Sparkle side up, it is impossible to grade a diamond for color!  All their fire, sparkle and brilliance hide the body color of the stone.  Diamonds are also graded for color under daylight equivalent during the morning hours, because our eyes fatigue as the day goes on.  Diamond color grading is not easy!  The higher the color grade, the more the price goes up!  And, at the end of the day, color is a matter of personal preference.  I’ve included a few charts, please note that Fancy Color Diamonds are not included in this scale.  Fancy yellow and brown Diamonds aren’t either.  They have their own scale, that is essentially below Z. 

Any questions so far?  Send them in!
Halfway through this blog post I decided to split it up into four postings.  Although the four C’s are a fairly simple concept, and they are designed to be, it is also an expansive subject that deserves a proper explanation.  So stay tuned for clarity

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  ~Lisa