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Wedding Season is Here!!

Posted on June 04, 2017 by Pamela Koo

With the beautiful weather finally upon us, we are also full swing into wedding season! 

If you're the bride-to-be, there are many choices to be made for your special day from the decor, to the dress, to the flowers. The most important thing to remember on your wedding day is that your wedding is just the start of your life with your partner. The wedding itself is a celebration of the marriage that is to come. A few tips that I remember from my wedding day - don't forget to eat (you'll want to remember everything even after all of the cocktails!) and enjoy your #bestdayever!

Wedding Season Style Edit

My husband and I were on a pretty strict budget for our wedding since we saved up for everything ourselves. We splurged on the food and the bar for our guests. For months before the wedding, I stressed thinking about what to wear on the actual wedding day. In the end, I lucked out and ordered a Karen Millen champagne colored dress online that I didn't have to have tailored at all! For accessories, I wore a vintage pearl necklace and diamond earrings that had belonged to my mother. I did splurge on my YSL shoes - they turned out to be more than the dress! My husband and I splurged on our wedding bands as we knew that these would be for the rest of our lives together. 

Take a look at our Wedding Season Style Edit for our Opal & Jade picks for your wedding day! 

 

Posted in Opal & Jade, Wedding

All about Gold

Posted on July 03, 2016 by Francoise Kout

Mother Earth often creates beautiful materials by surprise. For example, precious metals such as silver, gold, copper, platinum, and palladium can be found in several places around the world. As a goldsmith, much of my experience has been with silver and gold. When finding gold in its purest form, it is not easy to create long lasting jewelry due to the softness of the metal. If a ring was to be made out of 100% pure gold, silver, or platinum, it would lose its shape immediately with thin measurements used and one handshake. One would have to be extremely delicate when wearing any of these metals in its purest form. 
 
A clever solution has been invented where the pure metal materials can be mixed in order to make jewelry so that they are more durable for daily use and somewhat less expensive. Materials that are used to create this are copper, silver, and gold since they cause less irritation on the skin. Generally, gold and silver is mixed with copper or alloyed with copper, silver, or palladium alloy to provide wearable jewelry. Nickel, for instance, is a material where many people have irritation from and has been found to cause allergic reactions. 
 
You have probably seen stamped or written in gold jewelry pieces, the number 585/14K or 750/18K. In silver, you may have seen 925 or 835. In platinum, the number 950 is the most common. Jewelry or precious jewelry show these stamps which correspond to the alloy. These numbers are generally measured out of 1000, so 100% pure gold equals then 1000 pieces of pure gold. So if you see 585 written on the inside of a ring, it means that 585 our of 1000 is pure gold pieces and the remaining 415 pieces is an alloy of silver and copper. In the case of white gold, the 750 pure gold for example is alloyed with silver and palladium to mask the yellow of the gold and create the correct metallic color. 
 
After these alloys are melted, the material becomes strong enough for creating jewelry. The jewelry is then able to have precious stones mounted that will not come out easily. All of our designs at Opal & Jade are handcrafted with 14K rose gold or higher. 
With love & gratitude, 
Françoise

Posted in

Handle with Care

Posted on January 31, 2016 by Francoise Kout

Your jewelry is made of precious materials so please handle them with care. It is wise not to sleep with your lovely jewels as they may get scratched due to direct contact with small quarts dust parts in your bed or turning while you are a sleep. Please take care of your jewelry and place it in a nice, soft plate or jewelry box at night. Automatic watches should be placed on the glass side or in a watch box.

When cleaning your jewelry, keep in mind that different materials need to be cared for differently. Pearls, opals, emeralds and several other precious stones cannot handle all cleaning liquids, so a gentle dish soap dissolved in water dipped in a soft cloth will suffice. Gold, platinum and silver can have a bath in hot water (about half a cup) with a tablespoon of ammonia and liquid dish soap. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires can have this same bath as well. Gently dry your jewels with a soft cloth or tea towel.

Back to the dirty work. Since precious stones need light to show their brilliance most stones are mounted with space sideways or underneath the stone. In these spaces, dirt and grease can easily get stuck. The hot water bath with liquid soap and ammonia should dissolve most of the dirt and the rest can be removed with a very soft toothbrush. Please do this very carefully otherwise you might damage the stones. After having done this clean them one more time with a soft cloth dipped in clean water and dry them with a tablecloth. Now you will be amazed how your beautiful jewels will shine and shimmer!

It is also wise to have the mountings of your jewelry checked professionally once every two years since the claws in the settings may be damaged or have become thin from wear. By doing this you might save your precious stones from falling out and losing them.

Gold can scratch gold and diamond can scratch diamonds. Therefore try to avoid wearing jewelry so closely together in order to avoid friction. While traveling pack your jewels in a jewelry roll separate from each other to avoid unpleasant damages.

Handle your jewels with care and wear them every day to sparkle!

With love and gratitude,

Françoise 

Posted in

Holiday Packing & Travel Tips!

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Pamela Koo

With the holiday season coming up, we are all busy with packing and getting ready for our holiday travels! I'm constantly traveling for work and can pack in under 30 minutes! Here are my tips to share with you so you don't have to stress, traveling can be stressful enough as is. 

Happy Traveling!!

  1. When packing jewelry - make sure that you have a padded jewelry roll and always carry it in your carry on. You never want to risk losing your diamonds when checking your luggage! 
  2. I wear a mix of Opal & Jade, bespoke, and vintage jewelry. I always wear my wedding ring which I also designed with Françoise. I wear our Waterlily Diamond studs, they are a great every day earring (http://opalandjadejewels.com/products/waterlily-diamond-studs). My mother passed away 7.5 years ago and I always wear her wedding bands around my neck to remember her every day, I can still hear her voice talking about her rings and the smile on her face when she said that her diamonds were “flawless.” I wear our Jade Art Deco bracelet which feels very ladylike yet architectural, a great every day piece. http://opalandjadejewels.com/products/art-deco-bracelet
  3. Multi-use and reversible clothing is a major space saver!
  4. I try and pack light when I travel. I came across a brand called Jia Collection, all of her designs are comfortable, versatile, and stylish. I’ve gotten compliments on both of the dresses that I ordered. They’ve been a great addition to my wardrobe, especially since I’m traveling 2-3 weeks out of every month! I have both the Danielle http://jiacollection.com/collections/dresses/products/danielle-navy-grey & the Bela http://jiacollection.com/collections/dresses/products/bela and have found packing super easy with these Jia Collection pieces! 
  5. I always try and pack my travel yoga mat from Manduka and workout clothes and sneakers. It’s really important to stay healthy even when you’re on the go.
  6. Try and keep shoes to a minimum - flats, ankle boots, and cool sneakers.
  7. I always pack my cashmere wrap from a local Munich designer http://www.svenjajander.com/home-en/. It’s great on planes and doubles as a blanket when I’m flying. I also can wear the piece 3 ways as a short wrap, long wrap, or dress. 
  8. Black slacks and a mix of t-shirts work as a base and I always have layering pieces to dress up or down. 
  9. Go basic and light with your luggage. If you’re on the go, it’s great to have lightweight and sturdy luggage with you. I love North Face luggage! The nylon Longchamp bags literally fit everything in from my laptop, jewelry bag, passport, notebook, and makeup bag. I do wish that it had compartments in it though.
  10. MAC has these great see-through bags that I pack all of my toiletries and makeup in: https://www.maccosmetics.com/product/13812/17314/Products/Brushes-Tools/Tools/Bags/Clearly-MAC-Trio

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Why I became a jeweler and goldsmith

Posted on November 08, 2015 by Francoise Kout

When I was a little girl, around 3 years old, I remember trying to explain to my mother that I wanted to have my own ring. I had seen such a thing on another girl’s finger and I was totally attracted to it and could not keep my eyes off it. I needed to have one too! So my mother bought me a silver ring with red stone in it. I really loved it although my favorite color was blue. About 5 years later, I was given a gold ring with a blue stone, which I fell in love with, not only because it was my favorite color, but because it was real gold!

When I was about 7 years old, I was playing at a friend’s house and she showed me how to make some simple jewelry with with wire and beads. This soon became my new favorite hobby. I gathered all kinds of material to make the fashion jewelry that I liked so much. During those moments, I wondered how real jewelry was made. How are gemstones mounted? How are two loose pieces of gold or silver connected?

During High School in the Netherlands, you are asked which type of study you would like to follow. For me, it was very clear that I wanted to work with jewelry, which is what I had dreamed of since I was very young. I went on to study how to become a jeweler and goldsmith in a small town called Schoonhoven. It was exactly what I was looking for.

During my studies, I was offered a job at the biggest jeweler in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I sold loose diamonds, expensive watches, and beautiful jewelry. At school, I learned everything about jewelry, from the chemistry within the metals, about gemstones, and how jewelry is made. I enjoyed every aspect of it to the fullest. My interest and passion for anything and everything associated to the jewelry industry still is with me today. I try to keep up with new technologies, new styles, and new markets. I suppose if you were to open up my tummy, you may well find diamonds and jewelry pieces, because of my deep love for them! Every time I visit an exhibition or venue, and when I see something beautifully made, with exceptional material usage, I get excited and feel butterflies in my tummy. The love for jewelry has infected me and I can’t live without it!

I continued in learning foreign languages at a European business school. Upon finishing school, I found a job at Cartier where I worked for 6,5 years. I was able to look closely and work with so many exquisite pieces of jewelry and watches during my time there. I was really astounded by the heritage that Maison Cartier captures. But the creativity in me wasn’t able to find its way out, so I started my own business with designing and making jewelry for clients. I thought it was a shame that so many people keep jewelry boxed away, so I help my clients to create new pieces from their existing jewelry so they can wear it every day, and not hide it away in a box!

Last year I was approached by Pamela to start a jewelry line, and we named it Opal & Jade, which is inspired by Asian influences with a European twist. It has been a really exciting journey to set up your own jewelry business, selling pieces online, working and designing together, and figuring out which steps to take. Now we have launched our own online shop Opal & Jade Jewels where we are able to sell our pieces. We love these pieces so much and they are made out of materials so precious, it’s just a dream come true!

With love & gratitude,

Françoise

Posted in education, inspiration, Opal & Jade, opals

How I fell in love with Opals

Posted on October 14, 2015 by Francoise Kout

I must have been around 10 years old when my father came back from a business trip from Australia. In those days, he would bring back presents for us, especially after such long and far away business trips. My sister and I were always very much surprised about the things he brought back for us. Nowadays globalization makes it so that you can get anything from almost anywhere, but in those days, as children were surprised by everything, from silly games to a walkman. My father gifted us with two cuddly stuffed koala bears and two beautiful koala pendants of which the tummy of the koala was set with a triplet opal. My mother received a beautiful gold ring with a blue to greenish opal as well. I was amazed.

How could a stone have so much color, depth and effect? Opals look like colorful, bright disco balls! It peaked my full interest and from there I took the time to learn about opals and where they came from. Australia has some of the most beautiful opals in the world. I also learned that it was my birth stone, for the month of October.

   

A few years later, I asked my mother if she would let me wear her opal and gold ring, since it was my birth stone. It was also a triplet opal. Opals come in different colors like white, pink, green, blue, etc. Since it is quite an expensive stone, in order to still showcase the colors of opal, while keeping costs down, a thin slice of opal can be taken and treated as a double or triplet. The slice is placed on a plastic material and the opal is covered by a clear piece of material. It is a very clever and economically wise solution with a nice effect. At Opal & Jade, we will use only pure opals in our designs. I personally prefer the real stone so you can see the full depth and color that it represents.

Many years later, my father had to return to Australia and asked me what he could bring back for me. And of course, I asked him to buy me an opal pendant, and if possible with the original stone, not a doublet or triplet. I was happy that he found a beautiful opal that also shows in the back a piece of mother stone.

There are some that believe that stones can give power to the person who wears it. Opals represent hope, innocence, and purity. Opals also bring to those who wear it happiness, confidence, and loyalty.

With love & gratitude,

Françoise

Posted in Meanings, Opal & Jade, opals

Giving back

Posted on September 15, 2015 by Pamela Koo

“I want to Live. I want to Fight. I want to see the World,” is a quote from a very wise person who has inspired me throughout my entire life. Seven years, I lost one of the most important people in my life after a 16 year battle with cancer – the woman who bore me, the woman, who alongside my father who built the foundation of the woman I am today. I grew up with a woman, who despite all odds, flourished in her life all the while, being extremely uncomfortable.

When my mother was diagnosed, I was only 11 years old. She was 33 years old and had the weight of the world on her shoulders. Despite this, my mother focused on getting better and taking care of her two young children, myself and my younger brother. To this day, I admire her strength, courage, and grace. I honestly don't know another woman as strong as my mother was. 

Françoise and I started Opal & Jade in order to create beautiful jewelry to inspire women. Our collection is also inspired by the incredible, strong, and wonderful women in our lives. We are so fortunate to have had these pillars of strength in our lives that have been our light houses that have helped guide us through the storm. 

At Opal & Jade, we will strive to donate 10% of our profits to a variety of different causes that we believe in. We want to make sure that we are giving back in this world, in this life. We will be donating to various charities that are involved in breast cancer awareness and in education for girls and young women in emerging countries. 

With love & gratitude,

Pamela 

Posted in breast cancer awareness, education, philanthropy