Pearl_ring_contemporary_design_gold

Pearl Care FAQ’s: How to Look After Your Pearl Jewellery

People often ask us how to best care for their pearl jewellery and whether it is safe to wear pearls on a regular basis. The good news is that if you give a pearl care and consideration, it can be a treasure that lasts for generations!

But what should you be mindful of when caring for your pearl jewellery? Here are our responses to your 5 frequently asked pearl care questions:

 

1. How fragile are pearls?

Pearls rank at 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which measures how easily a material can be scratched by another. This means they are very soft and can be easily scratched or ground down by contact with other surfaces.

While pearls usually have a good toughness, they may become more fragile due to aging, dehydration or excessive bleaching that may have occurred during the initial processing of their formation. Pearls may also experience discolouration, cracking or splitting if they are exposed to high levels of heat. While pearls are usually stable when exposed to light for short periods of time, the heat from intense sunlight may cause them to dehydrate or develop a cracked nacre (their iridescent, outer coating). Long-term exposure to sunlight may also cause your pearls yellow.

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This custom-made ring features a light grey Tahitian pearl, which is more rare than darker, black pearls. It is encased in a net of white gold and subtly complimented with 18ct rose gold. A very striking result!

2. Does perfume damage pearls?

Yes. Pearls are vulnerable to the chemicals found in perfumes, hairspray, cosmetics and even the PH levels of our perspiration. Any kind of acid – whether it’s fruit juice or cleaning products – is also damaging and should be rinsed off in lukewarm water immediately. While the lustre of pearls can be enhanced by the natural oils of our skin, direct contact with perfume and other skincare products should be avoided. Consider applying perfume in an area that won’t come into contact with your jewellery.

Remember the golden rule of pearl care:  “pearls should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off.” Style your hair and put on your perfume, makeup, and clothing before you put on your pearls. Always remove your pearl jewellery before exercising or conducting any hands-on activities.

This delicate 9ct rose gold pendant from our ‘Forbidden’ range sits comfortably against the body with the 10mm grey drop pearl acting as a counterweight to the angle of the wire. Suitable for everyday wear, it includes a 45cm 9ct rose gold chain.

3. Can I get my pearls wet?

Plain water does no harm to pearl itself – they were born in it! However, be wary of any chemicals that may be in the water, such as chlorine. Also, if your pearl is attached to metal, it’s best not to place it in hot water or immerse it in any water for too long, since this may melt the glue used to attach the pearl. If your strand of pearls get wet, allow it to dry completely before wearing it to avoid warping or stretching the cord.

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What a thoughtful and unique gift! Daniel had this brooch custom-made of silver and pearls and presented it to Rebecca for Mother’s Day. It also celebrates 10 years of marriage together. Congratulations!

4. How should I clean my pearl jewellery?

Wipe your pearls with a very soft, slightly damp cloth after each wear. Clean them occasionally with warm, mildly soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and place them on a soft towel to dry. Again, if your pearls are strung, the cord should be completely dry before wearing. If you wear a string of pearls regularly, it should be restrung every year or two.

Never expose your pearls to ultrasonic cleaner, steam cleaning, powder cleaners, baking soda, bleach, or detergents. Don’t use a toothbrush or any kind of abrasive surface to clean your pearls.

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Fiona was the winner of our 10 Year Celebration: Win a Ring competition! We designed this ring especially for her! It features a stunning freshwater pearl, which is softly supported with a wave of 9ct gold.

5. How should I store my pearl jewellery?

Whether wrapped in fabric or kept in a pouch or a box, pearls should be stored separate from other hard objects (such as other jewellery pieces) that they may rub against. Since pearls require a little moisture, it’s not a good idea to store them in a very dry room or a safety box for a long period of time. Never store pearls in a plastic bag since they can be damaged by the chemicals emitted by plastics, causing them to deteriorate over time.

But don’t store them away for too long! Pearls will improve their glowing lustre if you wear them regularly, albeit mindfully.

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Pearls come in all shapes, sizes and colours! What kind of pearl would you pair with our ‘Forbidden’ pendant?

Platinum vs White Gold? How to Choose the Right Metal for your Wedding Ring

Choosing the right metal for your wedding ring can be a confusing process! Platinum or white gold? 9ct or 18ct? What about palladium? You’ll soon realise that not all metals are created equal, and each has its pros and cons. Just because one metal is more expensive than another, doesn’t necessarily mean that metal will be more suitable for your jewellery needs or your lifestyle.

So what metal properties should you look for in a wedding ring? Obviously, you’ll want something that will go the distance. But you may also want to consider factors such as colour, price, finish, weight, or whether your ring will be suitable for swimming.

Of course, if you already have an engagement ring, we recommend matching metals. Check out some of our engagement and wedding band combinations.

Here is our metal guide to help you break down the right metal choice for you!

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The design for this set of complimentary wedding bands was based on the concept of hearts and arrows. The 18ct yellow gold interior of the groom’s ring echoes the gold heart pattern in the bride’s ring, while the exterior is 18ct white gold with a polished finish. This custom set is an adaptation of our ‘Echo’ design range.

What is an alloy?

Alloys are created because pure metals don’t always have the qualities needed for a particular task. So two or more elements are mixed together, one of which is a metal, to create a more useable material. Pure gold, for example, is too soft to use in jewellery as it more easily bends, dents and scratches. So it is mixed with other materials, such as silver or palladium, to make it harder. As a result, jewellers have a wide range of metal properties to work with to ensure they have the right material for the job!

 

Silver

Silver is a very affordable and malleable metal. Sterling silver is alloyed with a base metal, such as copper, with a ratio of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.

However, since it is softer than gold, silver may wear out more quickly and become damaged if worn every day – particularly if a piece is thin or delicate. Silver can oxidise or tarnish if it is unworn for a long period of time or exposed to chemicals such as chlorine, bleach or ammonia. But don’t worry,  it is easily cleaned with soap and a toothbrush, silver jewellery cleaner or a polishing cloth.

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Our momento range marks your special date in roman numerals. Choose from a range of styles and metals.

 Gold

Yellow gold wedding bands look timeless and classic. Rose gold offers a subtle and contemporary alternative, complementing most skin tones. White gold is fresh and bright with rhodium plating, All are valuable with a rich, luxurious appearance.

When considering whether gold is the right metal for you, the most important thing to think about is the carat weight (ct). Since pure gold is quite soft, it is mixed with other metals to make it harder. And this creates a vew points for variance:

  • The higher the gold content (or carat) the richer the colour will be.
  • The higher the carat, the heavier the gold will be.
  • Price increases with carat weight because of the higher gold content and the higher quality of the materials used to create the alloy.
  • 9ct gold can sometimes tarnish, while 18ct is tarnish resistant.
  • 9ct rose gold can react when swimming in salt water or chlorinated pools, due to its copper content. 14ct may not react. 18ct is safe.
  • While it is commonly believed that 18ct gold is less durable than 9ct, this isn’t necessarily the case. 18ct gold is mixed with higher quality materials, such as palladium, while 9ct gold is mixed with silver. 
  • 18ct gold is better for stone-setting.
  • Some people love the look of natural white gold, which has a slightly yellow tinge. Otherwise, it will need to be rhodium plated for a bright, polished finish, which should be maintained annually (on average, depending on wear), at the cost of around $100. If the ring is thinner, the wearing of the rhodium plating will be less obvious.
  • Anything higher than 18ct is impractical for daily wear due to the softness of the metal and its need for constant polishing to maintain an adequate finish.
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The 18ct rose gold in these wedders and was reused from some pieces our client already had.

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A pair of classic, custom-made 9ct yellow gold bands.

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The wedding band we made for Cassie matches the 18ct rose gold of her engagement ring. Matt wanted to match Cassie, so his ring is made with an 18ct rose and white gold combination with a matte finish.

Platinum & Palladium

If you prefer a white coloured metal, you may consider a platinum or palladium ring. Both are considered pure metals, being at least 95% platinum, and have a natural white colour that doesn’t require rhodium plating. Platinum is a rare and valuable metal and is more expensive than gold, primarily due to its weight per gram. It is also a good option for people who react to other metals, as its purity means that it is extremely unlikely that someone will react to platinum. Platinum also develops a natural patina as it ages, creating a slightly darker, antique-looking surface. Some people love this because it sets of any diamonds that are set. Otherwise, a polish will see it restored to its original finish.

Palladium is of the same family as platinum and shares similar properties of colour and hardness, except that it is less dense. This means that it weighs less and costs less than platinum, which is the heaviest metal option for jewellery.

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This palladium custom-made mens wedding band is hammer textured between two smooth rims.

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Time to freshen up? We clean and refresh your wedding and engagement rings so they look brand new! Here’s a platinum set we polished up while also crafting a new knife-edge eternity band (middle) to match the engagement and wedding band.

So what’s the right metal for you?

Much like marriage, carefulness and timely maintenance is essential for making sure you get the best out of your wedding ring. Regardless of metal and carat weight, we’ve noticed that the biggest factor in the durability of a wedding ring is the way it is treated.

Selecting the right metal for your wedding ring depends largely on your own preferences and the style of your ring. Of course, the design and surface area of your ring will also make a difference as to the overall durability of your ring and the way that it ages over time.

The designs in our Bilingual collection can be made in any of the abovementioned metals.

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your wedding band ideas!

How to Buy a Conflict Free Diamond: Making Ethical Jewellery Choices

So you’re about to take the plunge and buy a diamond – but how do you know that you’ll buy a conflict free diamond?

At Bilingual, we guarantee the suppliers we use are legitimate and so you can rest easy when we source diamonds and other gemstones for your custom jewellery piece. But if you’d like to find one yourself, how should you go about it? How do you know what to get or where to get it from?

Here are our tips for how to make more ethical jewellery choices when shopping for a diamond.

1. Do your research.

Unfortunately, there’s not quick way about it. If you want to have peace of mind that you’re making ethical jewellery choices in buying a conflict free diamond, you have to do your own research.

A few points to consider…

  • Educate yourself about ‘conflict diamonds’ and ‘blood diamonds’, where they are sourced, and which companies are known to deal in them. Look up human rights agencies, like Amnesty International, to find out which countries are linked to human rights abuse in their diamond mining practices or use the profits of mining to fund conflict. Avoid buying diamonds that come from these countries.
  • Instead, look to buy diamonds that come from countries that follow environmental standards and protect human rights, such as Australia or Canada. Not all diamonds from Africa are linked to armed conflict and human rights abuse. Namibia and Botswana enforce strict labor and environmental standards and seek to create jobs through small-scale miners and large-scale industry, leading to the development of their countries.
  • Find a company that has a good reputation for sourcing their stones from reputable mines and has good employee and environmental policies.
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This breathtaking pear-cut cognac coloured diamond hails from the Argyle mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, which is the largest single producer of diamonds in the world. Yet to be set, here it is pictured in a gemstone ring holder… What setting could we design for you!?

2. Consider synthetic diamonds.

Have you thought about synthetically grown diamonds? This can make it easier to buy a conflict free diamond that also employs more ethical and sustainable methods of using the earth’s resources.

While possessing the same sparkle, physical and chemical characteristics as natural, ground-grown diamonds, synthetic diamonds (AKA man-made or lab-grown) are also less expensive.

Just don’t confuse them with “fake” diamond simulants (such as cubic zirconia), which are not of the same substance of diamond.

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Synthetically-grown diamonds are not the same as “fake” diamonds. They possess all the same characteristics as naturally-grown diamonds, just the process occurs in a lab instead of the ground.

3. Don’t buy a new diamond, reuse one!

Consider re-using a family heirloom or buying vintage or antique diamonds. We can refashion the setting for you and reuse the stone. Though you may not know where the stone has come from originally, reusing a diamond enriches sustainability and puts less pressure on mining demand.

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To create this ‘Milestone’ ring, Charlotte reused this diamond she inherited from her grandmother. The bezel setting also makes the stone appear larger – no complaints here!

4. When you buy a conflict free diamond, make sure it’s certified.

Opt for a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certification. which is the most respected laboratory and provides the highest standard of diamond grading. They are well-reputed for their incredibly consistent grading and have no financial stake in the sale of diamonds.

If you already have a diamond, you can send it off to GIA for certification.

EGL (European Gemological Laboratory) and IGL (International Gemological Institute) also provide certification, but are not as highly reputed as GIA and may use a weaker grading system.

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5. Get personal

Buying online can be convenient, and there are some  reputable online dealers that can help you buy a conflict free diamond. But you don’t really know a diamond until you see it with your own eyes. The way it sparkles, the colours it throws – these things need to be experienced in real life and can’t be properly understood through a screen – no matter how good the photograph or video clip!

So if you do choose to buy a conflict free diamond online, make sure you check out the returns policy before you commit.

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To create their wedding bands, our clients came to us with diamonds they had sourced themselves from overseas. 

The upside to all this research and hard work is the peace of mind you’ll have while enjoying an ethical gem that you love!

Check out the gallery of pieces we’ve made from diamonds that our clients have reused.

 

 

From the Cradle: A Versatile and Unique Stacking Ring

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Over the years, our ‘Cradle’ design has been embraced as a versatile, fun and unique stacking ring! From its debut as a Bilingual collection piece in 2012 to its incorporation into one-off custom rings, this simple design has offered a great range of versatility in it’s ability to adapt a variety of metal choices, gemstones and stacking combinations. This versatility allows a great degree of personalisation, making ‘Cradle’ an attractive option for wedding sets.

The Original Cradle

The inspiration behind the Cradle collection lies in the sense of protection and warmth that comes from an embrace.

The ergonomic design, with its rounded interior, results in an extremely comfortable fit. Due to the ‘D’ shape, the ring is able to slide over the knuckle sideways and then twists to lock in place, stopping it from spinning on the finger.

Wonderful!

This innovation makes the cradle shape sit properly as a stacking ring and provides a perfect foundation to display gemstones! When creating unique stacking ring combinations, points of variance can be made with different metal combinations, stones, thicknesses, colour and shape of the top bar.

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^ Classic Cradle in rose, yellow and white gold.

Side Stones

The versatility of the Cradle design is enhanced by its ability to adopt a wide variety of gemstones and settings to create unique stacking ring combinations. Over the years, it has supported various colours, cuts and carats in both Bilingual collection pieces and custom designs.

The off-set stone placement (below) allows stones to sit flat against the hand. This can be particularly useful when incorporating larger stones into a ring and enables the bezel to sit comfortably with other rings.
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 ^ White round sapphire set in 9ct yellow gold; green marquise sapphire set in 9ct rose gold; pink square sapphire set in 9ct yellow gold.

The signature Cradle shape was quickly adapted into the Milestone ring (below), which commemorates a moment in time. Inspired by the notion of a historical timeline, the top of the ring forms a line that is pin-pointed with a bezel-set stone to reflect a significant moment. The bezel also subtly features a date in Roman numerals along the outside face.Unique_stacking_ring_different_combinations_stackers_creative_australian_designer_jewellery_versatile_classic_trendy_new_fashion_silver_gold_rose_white_two_tone_diamond_white_sapphire_gemstoneUnique_stacking_ring_different_combinations_stackers_creative_australian_designer_jewellery_versatile_classic_trendy_new_fashion_silver_gold_rose_white_wedding_set_large_diamond_gemstone_two_tone

^ The Milestone + Cradle combination has had success as a customisable wedding set, enhanced by its ability of incorporate a variety of gemstones, metals and thicknesses, as well as display the special date in Roman numerals.

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Centre Stones

Our 2016 Design Show revealed new additions to the Cradle family with fresh centrestone designs. These centered, elevated bezels are perfect for stacking and allow the rings to sit snugly with other Cradle designs.
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^ Centre Cradle rings: 9ct yellow gold with a 7mm black sapphire; sterling silver with an oval amethyst.

Cradle Pavé

Cradle Pavé  adopts the classic slimline Cradle design but also features a row of brilliant pavé-set diamonds that can be matched up and stacked with our other rings. Available in rose gold, yellow gold, white gold, silver and platinum, this little stunner is perfect for a wedding band and can accompany a custom made Cradle engagement ring. If you want to get more creative, the Cradle Pavé ring can be made with your choice of any precious gemstones!

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^ (Top) White gold Pavé with diamonds paired with rose gold; (Above) The Cradle Pavé in white gold pairs perfectly with this Centre Cradle, featuring a stunning round white sapphire! Find it in our collection, here.

Custom Cradles

Do you have your own vision for a unique stacking ring combination? We can help you create your own Cradle!  Why not re-use your old stones and gold and personalise the design to suit you?

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^ Lara’s custom rose gold rings have adapted our classic Cradle design to feature a white freshwater pearl and a light blue Ceylon sapphire. Versatile, interchangeable, stackable – we’re sure she’ll have a lot of fun with these little gems!

^ The Cradle design is also able to cater to different shaped stones, such as this large, oval opal. This custom-made white gold ring features diamonds either side of the captivating oval-shaped opal and stacks with a minimal white gold bar ring. The shape has been slightly altered to accommodate the stones and create adequate length.

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^ To create this custom white gold and diamond ring, our client reused stones from two different rings. A particular point of difference is the use of a princess-cut diamond instead of a round. We think it looks great!

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^ Sera came to us with this stunning (and huge!!!) aquamarine. The shape of our Cradle design was perfect for allowing the stone to sit securely on her finger without being too high and cumbersome. The side-setting enables the stone to nestle between the fingers, while the ‘D’ shape of the ring stops the stone from spinning around.

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^ Joanne added her round Australian blue sapphire, complete with its own bexel, to a flush row of hammer-set diamonds.

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^ This unique stacking ring set is designed to accommodate square, channel-set rubies and round, pavé-set diamonds. The large, oval bezel-set ruby is off-centre and nestles into the side of the finger.

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^ This wedding set shows how Cradle is perfect for stacking! The diamonds and Australian blue sapphire have been reused from our customer’s other jewellery pieces.

We have so much fun stacking Cradles!

How could you use the Cradle design to create your perfect wedding set?

February’s Stone: Amethyst in Design

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February is Amethyst Month!

This gemstone seems to tick all the boxes! Well-priced… tick. Easy to source in a variety of cuts and sizes… tick. Versatile… tick. Can offer something unique… tick!!!

Once reserved for royalty, relatively plentiful supplies have allowed amethyst to be more widely available in modern times. Its availability and affordability allow the stone to feature in both mass-market as well as custom designer pieces, making it one of the world’s most popular coloured gems!

We love working with amethyst and are excited to share this vibrant gem with you this month!

Feature Design: Stem Gems with Amethyst

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Here, the rich colour of these amethysts are paired elegantly with 9ct yellow gold. They feature striking marquise amethysts as a fresh variation of our ‘Stem’ design. Comfortable, lightweight and easy to wear, these little beauties are perfect day or night! The minimal, yet artistic form won’t go unnoticed!

Discovering Ametrine

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Ametrine is a spectacular, naturally-occurring stone that is a mixture of amethyst and citrine. It offers a unique variation that is not too widely known and is still very affordable! The off-centre, open-setting of our ‘Discovery’ ring allows the spirited Ametrine gemstone room to shine with its bi-colour hues of yellow and purple. Hidden behind the facets of the emerald cut stone is a hand engraved initial for you to discover…

amethyst_diamond_ring_unique_contemporary_silver_white_gold_custom_design_fbAmethysts can be winning features in custom design projects! To create this custom ring, the design of our ‘Discovery’ ring was adopted to feature our client’s large emerald-cut amethyst and two smaller diamonds, which she re-used. It illustrate how well stones can work together when they differ in scale, while the off-centre, minimalist style allows the emerald-cut amethyst to truly shine!

Affordable Elegance

The affordability of amethysts can make some custom projects possible on a smaller budget – especially in the case of earrings where at least two (usually identical) stones are needed or where the design requires a large feature-stone.

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These 9ct gold earrings support sizeable stones in their contemporary and elegant design.

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How gorgeous is this amethyst! It was a sentimental gem that was passed down to our client. She wanted to transform her original decorative and uncomfortable ring into a new contemporary piece!

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Big, bold and beautiful! This creative, geometric ring is designed to support a WHOPPER of an amethyst! The stone is situated on the side of the finger so it doesn’t sit too high. A-mazing

Do you have an amethyst? Why not use them in a custom jewellery piece or add them to an existing Bilingual design?

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Create Your Own Family Heirloom

 

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For many of us, the Christmas – New Year period is a time for touching base with loved ones, full of afternoon lunches, camping trips and family photos. During this time, we can be reminded of the similarities shared between family members – for better or worse!

These things got us thinking about the role of the family heirloom and the inheritable traits we collect through our lines of ancestry. So, in some of our latest designs, we’ve been exploring the way DNA flows from past to present. For example, You might see your grandfather’s smile in your son or share your Aunt’s flair for creativity.

Our new collection, ‘Portrait’, (below)explores the world of hereditary DNA: how the make-up of who we are is, in part, based on our family members before us. Each design in this collection represents varying combinations of DNA sequences. Our DNA has its own language whereby each molecule is made up of 4 types of bases (G, T, A, C) that forms into various sequential patterns. Similarly, the base design for the ‘Portrait’ pieces includes a pattern of 4 pointed diamond shapes symbolising the GTAC  bases. From this model, a range of design elements can be added to paint a variety of portraits – much like a family!

 

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A Custom Family Heirloom

These custom-designed contemporary family heirlooms are imbedded with ideas of family heritage and the passing-down of inheritance.

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Family gold was melted down and refashioned into this sweet pendant for our client’s daughter.

 

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What have you inherited from your family?

What will you pass on to the next generation?

What kind of family heirloom could you create with Bilingual? 

 

Give a Meaningful Gift

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At Bilingual, we’re all about meaningful design. And that means we also care about helping you find a meaningful gift!

We work hard to create thoughtful, concept-based designs that don’t only look beautiful, but are enhanced by the ideas and sentiments they carry as vessels of meaning. Bilingual jewellery pieces are reminders of the people, places, values and experiences that are important to us.

As we think towards Christmas and the season of ‘giving’, what kind of gift will you give to the people you love? Most of us have enough ‘things’, but to be able to give a meaningful gift that has value beyond its function – that’s a special experience.

Here is a peek into a few of our collections that are embedded with meaning and are wonderful pieces to give to the people who matter most.

Forbidden

‘Forbidden’ is a collection full of little treasures that remind us to enjoy the good things in life. In the business of the day-to-day, we often feel a tinge of guilt for allowing ourselves a little treat, enjoying a moment or a well-deserved break – but these are good things to enjoy. The collection includes pieces with a single twisted wire, illustrating the serpent and exploring perceptions of temptation.  It is represented in as twisted wire which makes its way through the leaves and finally into the fruit. Pearls and leaves represent the good things we long for.

Is there someone you know who needs to remember to stop and do something for herself every once in a while?
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Cirque

Inspired by circus movements, each piece in this unisex collection can be interchanged to form a neckpiece or ring, creating an element of intrigue. As a rings these pieces represent the skills of juggling, contortion & acrobatics. As a neckpieces, they are suspended on a red silk thread and  secured with a knot, similarly to the act of aerial silk.

Let’s face it, life can seem like a bit of a circus at times! Are you inspired by someone’s ability to juggle many things at once or appreciative of the friend who’s ‘bent over backwards’ for you this year? Perhaps ‘Cirque’ would be a meaningful gift for them!

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Woven

Think of all the connections you’ve made with people over your lifetime – people with whom your life has become intricately woven. Some of them might seem to have happened by chance. Some people come to play quite a significant role in our lives, even though their presence might only be transitory. How often do we meet someone new only to find out that out paths have already crossed without realising!

‘Woven’ explores the bind of a chance meeting and the way we become entwined with someone during a particular period of our life. The pieces in this series feature a fluid, enhanced loop that represents the point at which paths are crossed and become ‘woven’ forever, for a period of time or for a vital, unforgettable moment.

The perfect gift for the person whose relationship you are supremely grateful for!

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Give a meaningful gift this Christmas.

Need it now? Here’s what’s already in store, waiting to be picked up!

 

Our Favourite Christmas Gift Ideas

With just 7 weeks to go – now is the time to start getting those Christmas gifts sorted or at least start dropping some hints! This festive season it’s easy to say spoil yourself and your closest ones…..but when there are so many lovely pieces, which shall you choose?  We have put together our favourite Christmas gift ideas with some fabulous treasures that are sure to be …..treasured!

Christmas Gift Ideas Under $200

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1. Mini Shadow earrings in sterling silver $195  2. Quad Tunnel earrings in sterling silver $115  3. Woven stud earrings in sterling silver $175  4. Serpent leaf pendant in sterling silver with 45cm chain $155  5. Wisdom bracelet in sterling silver with freshwater pearl $165  6. Cirque rings in sterling silver $195 ea. 

Christmas Gift Ideas $200-$400

Christmas_Gift_Guide_2016_200-400_jewellery_good_price_gold_silver_pearl_modern_unique_australian_sustainable1. Serpent drop pearl pendant in 9ct yellow gold $365  2. Serpent earrings in 9ct yellow gold with black pearls $395  3. Shadow bangle in sterling silver $355  4. Cradle ring in sterling silver with blue sapphire $365  5. Woven hoop earrings in sterling silver $215  6. Serpent leaf earrings in 9ct rose gold $395  7. Liberty cuff in sterling silver $325  8. Next cufflinks in oxidised sterling silver $245

Christmas Gift Ideas Over $400

Christmas_Gift_Guide_2016_Over_500_australian_jewellery_unique_gemstones_gold_rose_pearl_diamond_men_women_girl1. Woven bangle in 9ct yellow gold $850  2. Milestone earrings in 9ct white gold with diamonds $635  3. Milestone pendant in 9ct yellow gold with diamond $595  4. Cradle ring in 9ct yellow gold with white freshwater pearl $495  5. Lunar earrings in white gold with blue sapphires $1590  6. Lunar ring in 9ct rose gold with garnets and sapphires $1190  7. Momento Silhouette ring in sterling silver $445  8. Momento pendant in 9ct yellow gold $665

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1. Custom made Family Tree from $110  2. Family Tree Vouchers from $50

Search our website for more unique and meaningful gift ideas, or come and visit us in store! We’d love to help you find the perfect gift this Christmas!

Black Opal Country: Mining Rare Gemstones in Lightning Ridge

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Awake before the rooster crows, it’s a balmy morning at the Grawin opal fields. Situated on the edge of the outback in north west NSW, about 80km from Lightning Ridge, this is Black Opal Country. Australia is the largest producer of opal in the world, and black opal is found nowhere but here. Black opal – the rarest and most valuable kind of opal, possesses a mysterious dark tone created by its black potch base that work to enhance the opal’s colour.

The Opal Miner

We’ve been staying with some locals, Pete and Leanne, who live in the Grawin. Pete began opal mining at a nearby field called ‘Sheepyard’ in 1988 and has been at it ever since.

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Like the opals found here, the land surrounding Lightning Ridge is a unique and captivating place.

Originally from the NSW south coast, I ask Pete what brought him out here.

“There was a bloke who used to fish with my brother down the south coast,” Pete recalls. “He was living up here mining and said,  “Wanna come up for visit?” I liked the area; ended up buying this place. Was expecting to make good money – like gold mining – but it doesn’t work like that.”

I ask whether he’s ever found himself in a dangerous situation while he’s been mining.

“Bit of dirt fell on me hand once”, he tells us. His wife, Leanne, fills in the details: there was a cave-in that saw Pete rushed to hospital. She tells of how he had to climb up a swinging ladder for 60 feet with one hand to escape the mine. “The Flying Doctors flew him to Dubbo and he was there for a week to put a steel pin in it.” More than a bit of dirt, perhaps…

“What’s the greatest opal you’ve ever found?”

“There was this one stone we called the Bread Loaf”, Pete chuckles. It was a large green and orange coloured stone which, as its name suggests, looked like a loaf of bread. Leanne insists that it was the “ugliest thing.” Well, each to their own! “The eye of the beholder”, Leanne says.

Pete continues to explain that a miner “might get a good haul one month and then you get six months without a stone”.

“So what keeps you going?”

“Well the best thing is having a good find. Opal is amazing stuff to look at. Its an amazing stone! You can see the quality of a good stone and think “Gee that’s nice!” And there’s not ever two opals the same!”

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Touring the Black Opal Fields

Pete took us on a tour of the nearby opal fields: Grawin, Glengarry and Sheepyard, which house the largest deposits of black opal in the world. He showed up some of the local attractions (see the photo gallery below) and explained a little of what’s involved in opal mining.

Once a claim is made on an area, a vertical shaft is sunk between 5 and 25 meters into the ground. This is to intersect the levels of the earth hoped to contain opal. The miner then digs horizontal tunnels or drives into the opal levels. If an area shows potential for opal, the ground consisting of clay or sandstone is removed with a jackhammer or hydraulic digging machine.

On our way through the fields, these mine mounds are a common sight:

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Once removed from the mine, the dirt is taken in truckloads to an agitator (aka. ‘aggie’, which is like a modified cement mixer) to be tumble washed in water.

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Once the dirt and clay are removed, the hard parts remain to be sorted through with a keen eye for colour! 

Lightning Ridge is a great place to acquire your own rare, one-of-a-kind, locally mined black opal! Should you find yourself in the possession of such a stone, we’d love to help you create a custom jewellery piece, as befitting your timeless Australian treasure! 

Check out some of our custom design work for ideas of what to do with your opal, here. 

Flick through the gallery below to see more pictures from our trip!

 

 

 

 

A Tour of the Rainbow: Sapphire Jewellery Designs

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Sapphire jewellery isn’t all blue! At Bilingual, we love to use a range of colour in our sapphire jewellery designs. The gemstone offers a great strength, versatility and colour range! With such wonderful and exciting design possibilities, it’s no wonder that they feature in our designs more often than any other stone, besides diamonds.

We’ve used just about every colour of the rainbow of this September birthstone! Here, we look back at are some of the beauties we’ve worked with…

White

Colourless white sapphires pick up the colours around them – including their setting. They are a beautiful gemstone, and while they are both rare and durable, they are more affordable than diamonds and a great gem choice for many jewelry designs. Here, they sparkle in our ‘Milestone‘ earrings and ‘Cradle Stone‘ ring.

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Pink

Two brilliant pink sapphires feature in our lovely Lunar ring. One square, vivid pink sapphire sits on the tip of our classic Cradle design. And twelve channel-set pink sapphires were used in a custom designed ring commemorating our client’s mother.

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Yellow

Yellow sapphires are fresh and fun – and not to be confused with citrine! Use them as a bright contrast to white gold or a subtle match with yellow gold. This custom-made hexagonal styled ring represents the idea of ‘day vs. night, summer vs. winter, joy vs. sorrow’, featuring white and yellow sapphires set in white gold. The yellow sapphire in our ‘Trace‘ ring is designed to create the illusion of a continuous band.

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Green

Deep, mysterious and romantic – green sapphires are a unique and sophisticated choice in jewellery design. Uncommon yet elegant, these marquise-cut gems (below) are beautifully paired with white and rose gold combinations and exude a natural confidence.

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Parti

With variations of colour ranging from yellow-green or blue-green, parti-coloured sapphires (top)are always exciting! Sera and James’ wedding rings feature a parti-sapphire in the groom’s band and a stunning oval-cut parti-sapphire in the bride’s engagement ring (bottom). Our Salvation ring (middle) was adapted to hold a cushion-cut parti-sapphire in a unique, geometric design for our client.

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Blue

The most commonly known colour of sapphire, the blue variety offers a range of classic and unique options. From dark Australian blue, to light and fresh Ceylons, blue sapphires have a wide range of personalities! These diamonds and Australian blue sapphire (below) have been re-used from our customer’s other jewellery pieces to create an elegant wedding set incorporating out ‘Cradle’ design.

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This feminine engagement ring (above) features two stunning Ceylon and Australian sapphires set in white gold with a lovely twisted band. To create the pieces pictured below  for herself and her daughter, our client reused stones from her mother’s wedding jewellery. The ring was adapted one of our collection designs: Act Un.

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The design for these sapphire earrings was inspired by a family heirloom and echo a traditional mix of white pave set diamonds and rich blue sapphires. But this is where the tradition ends as the trillion-cut stones adorn the earrings in lieu of a typical oval shape, while pave diamonds create a mirrored form to balance the sapphires.

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Our striking Ratio stone ring is beautifully handcrafted with your choice of diamonds or sapphires. The above ring shows a unique combination of  round Ceylon sapphire and pear-cut Australian dark blue sapphire. This custom bracelet (below) was inspired by blackberries and features delicious dark blue sapphires!

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Lastly, this custom engagement ring is based on the idea of the couple being very alike and just a little bit different. The shape of the large cushion-cut sapphire is repeated in the diamonds that frame it. Yet this ‘halo’ effect tapers back in the centre to break away from echoing the shape of the sapphire completely, thus being a little ‘different’. This ring design also incorporates a sense of fun, with the ring shank being a playful shape. The three sides represent three years of being together.

Purple

Much less common than traditional blue, purple sapphires are also able to naturally change color in different lighting. Unique in so many ways, this custom cushion-cut purple sapphire engagement ring is supported with two white sapphires.

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Black

Mined mainly in Australia, the dramatically elegant black sapphire is a nearly opaque stone whose color is so dark that it appears to absorb all light that enters it. While they share the same colour, the black star sapphire is a variety that gains its name from the unique crystal structures that reflect light in the shape of a star. This custom-made ring (below) features a Black Star sapphire cabochon set in a yellow gold bezel.

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This black sapphire sits prominently in our new ‘centre Cradle’ design and is perfect for stacking with a standard ‘Cradle‘ or our ‘Cradle Pave‘ ring. Available in any colour of stone or metal, what combination would you create? How could we use sapphires in a unique custom-design piece for you?