November Blog Challenge Day 27 - Saving the planet with an engraving machine.

Today’s blog is going to be a short one, but at least its jewellery related. A good few months ago now (actually it might even be a year!) I bought this strange looking second have machine. It’s been sat on the floor still wrapped up until a couple of days ago when I finally got around to testing it out.

It’s called a Gravograph and apart from just looking all cool and vintage’y in the corner of my workshop, it’s also pretty good at engraving the inside of rings!

I usually send my rings away to be laser engraved, and I’ll still do that if a particular font or a more complicated design is needed, but if its a few words or perhaps a wedding date, I can now do this “in-house” and save all of the resources (paper, fuel, electricity etc) that it would take to post it to Birmingham and back. It makes lots of very satisfying clicks and clunks and you turn the various dials to engrave each digit, and I love that I’m bringing an old piece of equipment back to life. Carbon footprint reduced just a tiny bit more! 🌱🌏

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November Blog Challenge day 26 - Birthday weekend...

As it was my birthday on Friday, I decided to give myself the weekend off blog writing. Unfortunately, it’s just not the time of year when I can give myself a day off from any work at all though, so my actual birthday “day” was spent getting my “hopefully” final hallmarking parcel finished and packed up so that everything gets back to me in time to finish it for Christmas. 

Speaking of Christmas, I also had to bring my last ordering dates forward a little, as this year has been way busier than usual! I’m not complaining, but it has meant that I’ve had to tell a couple of people that I can’t take their commissions. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to do that!!

OK, back to Friday, and a lovely (vegan) birthday meal at Mackenzies in Great Malvern, followed by, ummmmm, falling asleep on the sofa - well I am 42 now! Saturday was sent doing exciting things like cleaning the bathroom, but on Sunday, we went out for the day, to visit the area that will hopefully become our new home (if we can sell ours before someone else snaps up the house we want). 

Back tomorrow with something a bit more jewellery related.  

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November Blog Challenge Day 22 - Blogs revisited.....

At this time of year, in the past anyway, I’ve found that it’s been fairly quiet work wise. I guess this is because most of my commissions are from engaged couples, and Christmas gets in the way of wedding planning during Nov/Dec. That hasn’t happened at all this year, and while I’m certainly not complaining, its not leaving me with much time for blog writing, so today’s blog is an edited version of one that I wrote a few years ago (well if Kevin McCloud and George Clarke can do it, so can i 😉)...............

Buying a piece of jewellery with a diamond in it can be a confusing business with prices varying massively. The main thing you should be aware of is where your diamond has come from. The Kimberley Process is an international government-led certification process that guarantees diamonds have not been used to fund armed conflict. Unfortunately the Kimberley Process doesn’t certify environmental and social standards and has recently been weakend by its acceptance of Zimbabwe as conflict free. Personally, I think the “greenest” type of diamond is one that’s being repurposed from a piece of jewellery that’s no longer worn. Obviously, a recycled diamond might not always be available, so then there’s lab grown. These are in every aspect, a real diamond, its just that a 100,000 tons of earth hasnt had to be dug up in order to get it! There are also other options if you want a white stone, such as lab grown moissanite or white sapphire.

If you’re buying an “officially certified” stone, it will be graded based on The Four C’s:

Cut

The cut of a diamond determines how it reflects light, this is responsible for its sparkle or brilliance and refers to the angles and proportions of the polished stone. A well-cut diamond is cut by a skilled professional to the best proportions possible so that light will be reflected from each of its facets and disperse through its top.

Because a diamond with perfect colour and clarity could nevertheless have poor brilliance if it is not well cut, many gemologists consider this to be the most important property to note when choosing a diamond. Diamonds can carry cut grades of Excellent, Ideal, Very Good, Good, or Fair.

Carat

Diamonds are measured in weight, not size. The heavier the diamond, the greater the carat weight. As diamonds increase in size, their cost tends to increase exponentially, meaning a one-carat diamond can cost significantly more than a half carat diamond of equal quality.  The weight of a diamond less than one carat in size may also be described in "points".  There are 100 "points" in 1 carat.

Colour 

While many diamonds appear to be colourless, or white, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones that can be detected when comparing diamonds side by side. Colourless diamonds are the rarest and most valuable of all.

These variations are a result of the natural forces (i.e., temperature, pressure, trace elements) at work during the formation of diamonds within the Earth. Because subtle colour variations dramatically affect the value of a diamond, a colour grading scale is used to categorize the shading differences from one diamond to the next.
Diamonds are graded according to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) colour chart.

Clarity

This is an indication of a diamond's purity. Clarity is determined by a diamond's naturally occurring internal characteristics. These characteristics are sometimes not visible to the naked eye and they are what make each diamond unique. The characteristics, or inclusions, may look like crystals, feathers, clouds or dark spots and the quantity, size, and location of these inclusions has an affect on a diamond's value. Diamonds with fewer and smaller inclusions are generally more expensive.

It all pretty confusing and in reality, unless you’re buying a very expensive diamond, you’ll probably find that there isn’t an official grading certificate to go with it, especially for the increasingly popular, unusual and rough cut stones. The main thing is that you trust whoever you are buying from, that they can tell you where it’s come from and assure you that its been created or mined by people who have been fairly paid and treated. 

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November Blog Challenge - Day 21 - Environmental thoughts....

This might be a bit controversial, but I’m going to write it anyway........

As environmental issues are once again currently mainstream and we are all being encouraged to reduce our plastic waste, I thought I’d throw something else into the climate ring - air travel! 

It’s something I made the decision to stop doing quite a few years ago now and the following couple of paragraphs more or less sum up why........

 

Air Travel’s Impact on Climate Change - Taken from the ETA website

Just one return flight from London to New York produces a greater carbon footprint than a whole year’s personal allowance needed to keep the climate safe.

Our carbon footprint is the estimated amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) given out as we travel, buy food, heat our homes and enjoy our usual lifestyles.

The average personal footprint in Britain is 7.1t (2013). To get down to a fair share of the world’s total; this must be cut to 1.2t. On every flight to New York and back, each traveller emits about 1.2t of CO2. If we fly, air travel overshadows all our other impacts.

Air travel is really worse than this because it puts out more pollution than just CO2.  For example, water vapour at high levels forms thin clouds that have a warming effect. We can see trails visibly blanketing the earth. This and other effects mean that air travel has more than twice the warming effect of the carbon dioxide alone – the whole is referred to as radiative forcing. So each flight adds more to climate change than we should be emitting altogether.

 

OK, so we all want (and sometimes need) our holidays, but do they really need to involve flying? I do wonder if most people just don’t realise how their flight to Spain is essentially completely cancelling out anything else that they do. Things like recycling, reusing, planting trees, not eating meat, walking to work, doing yoga, buying local and healthy food etc etc. 

“But it’s only a one off” is so often said, but how many other people are also saying this, making your flight, one of 1000’s of other one offs.

Last summer, we went on holiday to Spain and France, but we didn’t fly, we walked out of our front door, with rucksacks on our backs and got on a train! Calculating the exact savings is a complicated process but the table below, taken from Seat61, is good enough to give you the general idea.

 I’m in the wedding business and I see and hear sooooo many tales about weddings abroad and tropical honeymoons, and I suppose I know that nothing will really change until there’s some sort of government intervention that makes flying super expensive. But if by writing this, I can make just one person “think” about the damage that their next flight is causing, then just maybe that thinking will one day turn into “doing” and who knows, NOT flying might even become the latest trend, just like not buying plastic has.

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