Friday, July 31, 2009


We are awed by the lush, green surroundings of the José Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden in Bogotá, Colombia.

Named for the famed Spanish scientist and botanist, the garden houses over 18,000 acres of indigenous flora such as the country's largest aquatic Amazonian flower.

 Colombia is also the home of featured jewelry designer Mercedes Salazar.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Today we are taking a long journey, over 625 miles to be exact, through Germany's Castle Road.

The name of the road says it all, as this extensive route highlights 70 of the most spectacular medieval architecture in the country, including baroque palaces,

Renaissance buildings, and Gothic fortifications. Germany is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Barbara Heinrich.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


14K Gold and Sterling Silver Piece
from Furniture for Pearls Collection
The Korea Botanical Garden has plenty for us to see and explore.

As we step inside the Indoor Exhibition Hall, the refreshing fragrance of wild chrysanthemums and chamomile is immediately evident.

Korea is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Kiwon Wang.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today we visit the stately Stubenberg Castle in Styria, Austria, which has gone through a series of transformations. A structure that would later become the castle was built in the 13th century and overlaid a fortress farm.

Three centuries later, the building was refurbished into a castle, and took the name of one of the most renowned families in Styria, the Lords of Stubenberg. Austria is also the home base for Austrian jewelry brand Humphrey®.

Monday, July 27, 2009


We are going to do some globetrotting today visiting the Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Many say the castle is straight out of a fairytale with its protruding wall supports, painted ceilings, and spectacular Elizabethan fireplace. We leave the regal surroundings of Crathes Castle traveling to Vancouver, Canada.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Today we stand in Seiwa-en, a microcosmic Japanese Garden of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri.

Seiwa-en means garden of pure, clear harmony, and peace, and its understated beauty creates a compelling serenity. Missouri is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Carolyn Rafaelian.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Today we explore the international flora of St. Petersburg's Botanical Garden.

In 1714, the garden was founded by order of Peter the Great and is presently one of the oldest botanical gardens in Russia.

Russia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Nikolai Balabin.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Today we stand within the Bali Botanic Gardens in Indonesia refreshed by the cool climate, and invigorating air.

The gardens have a spectacular orchid collection and house a botanical library, laboratory, nursery, herbarium, and five greenhouses.

Indonesia is also the home of featured jewelry designer Nyoman Sukartini.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Today we are standing at the foot of the Euromast tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Sharing a resemblance to Seattle's Space Needle, the Euromast stands over 331 feet tall and we will take a quick ride straight up on its elevator to the Euroscoop platform at the top. The Netherlands is also the home of featured jewelry designer Iris Eichenberg.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Today we are in São Paulo, Brazil . . . yeah . . . it's all about the beaches, isn't it? Let's not waste another moment because we've got places to see.

First, we will take a drive through the resort town of Maresias to the beach of Toque Toque Pequeno. We can then drive a few more miles to São Sebastiâo to Ilhabela, which has 40 beaches to explore.

Brazil is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Luciana Cätao.

Monday, July 20, 2009


14K Gold Bead and Labradorite Chunk Bracelet
from Zelda Collection
Today we are taking somewhat of a wild ride through the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery.

By wild, I mean unusual but I would recommend holding on to your hats.  We will walk back through time, approximately 50 million years, to the

Canada is also the home of featured jewelry designer Karen McClintock.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Today we will explore the beautiful sights of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden in California.

As we walk through this natural setting, we see a large number of indigenous plants such as the ficus tree, gooseberry shrubs, coral-bells, and purple needle grass.

California is also home to featured jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Winged Angels Ear Cuff and Stud Earring
with Vintage Swarovski Crystals
Today we are in Sydney, Australia's largest botanical garden, The Royal Botanic Gardens.

Not only is there spectacular flora to behold, but some areas of the gardens hold fantastic views of Sydney's harbor and opera house.

We are bound to see some native wildlife as well including cockatiels, galahs, and sulphur crested cockatoos.

Australia is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Sarina Suriano.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Today we are overwhelmed by the unmistakable majesty of Raton Castle in the Loire Valley of France. The landscape surrounding it is equally breathtaking with the ground's blooming array of perennial flowers and gardens; but once we step inside the castle our knees buckle somewhat.

The finely furnished citadel houses paintings and antiques, sitting rooms, more than one kitchen, and resplendent bedrooms. France is also home to featured jewelry designer Brigitte Salomon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Today we are in Bamako, the decidedly modern and lively capital of Mali in West Africa. There are looming skyscrapers, museums, music clubs, a zoo, and botanical garden; however, the city maintains a rich sense of the country's heritage as we pass outdoor markets to observe beautiful, traditional African crafts. Africa is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Tetou Gologo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Today we are stunned by the historic antiquities and natural scenery of Rome, Italy's Borghese Gallery.

Also known for its lovely gardens, many of the paintings and sculptures of the Borghese Gallery were collected by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope John V.

Italy is also the home of featured jewelry designer Carla Riccoboni.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Are you still ready to explore your creativity and have some fun doing it? Why not try your hand at making simple earrings. Check out Tammy Powley's article at for simple earring projects, or look at's how-to video.

If you'd like some information about making jewelry with wire, then take a look-see at's numerous articles on the subject.

Maybe you have been tossing around the idea of starting a handmade jewelry business. In that case, you would be interested in Rena Klingenberg's blog about getting one started at

For those of you who would prefer to peruse affordable jewelry instead, you can buy jewlry online's Cheap Chic selection or

If you're interested in vintage jewelry be sure to visit to view its sprawling collection. was established in 1998 by Tom Johnson and Jim Wilcoxson in order to cater to antiques and collectibles. For additional information, click here.

Well, that is the scoop for this month's Splendor Sidebar.


We are taking in the sights along the spectacular three-mile stretch of white sands of Venezuela’s Playa El Agua (The Water Beach).

Touted as Venezuela's most famous beach, the Playa El Agua boasts shady palm trees, and plenty of fun things to do including parasailing and bungee jumping.

Venezuela is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Amaloa Bonvecchio.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Today we stand underneath the towering, glistening Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. The monument stands yards away from the Mississippi River.

The stainless steel, self-supporting structure stands 630 feet high, and was the brainchild of American-Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. Missouri is also the current hometown of featured jewelry designer Camille Peace.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Kokkino Limanaki Beach in Greece is a quiet, clean area located in a creek near the town of Rafina.

Literally translated the beach's name means `Little Red Harbour,' referencing the red color of the surrounding cliffs. Greece is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ilias Lalaounis.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Today we will take a guided tour of the 90-Mile Beach in New Zealand.

Along the way, we will see the "uncovered" 1,100-year-old trees of the Kauri Forest, observe the wild horses of the Aupouri Pine Forest, and ride across the Te Paki "quick sand" stream.

New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer Tania Patterson.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Get ready to explore because today we stand within the Museum and Art Gallery in Bristol, England. The museum is housed inside an Edwardian Baroque building and there is plenty to learn throughout its floors. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Sue Gregor.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


There are over 3,000 species of trees and plants in Tel Aviv University Botanic Gardens in Israel, and there is some interesting trivia to learn as we stroll along its paths.

Amidst 750 species of eucalyptus, we learn that the cinnamon tree is not only closely related to the avocado tree, but the outer bark lacks a cinnamon aroma. Israel is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Yossi Harari.

Monday, July 6, 2009


The Emerald Beach in Okinawa, Japan derives its name from the astonishing emerald colored waters bordering the white sands of the beach.

Considered one of Japan's best beaches, it is a supervised beach with picnic areas, float rentals, and the incredible Churaumi Aquarium.

Japan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Ema Takahashi.


For centuries, the magnificent sanguine color of the ruby gemstone has captivated all who see it. Rubies are a red variety of the corundum mineral, and are considered red sapphires as they share the same mineral properties of sapphire except for color.

Rubies are the most valuable, and durable of the precious stones giving them a slight edge over diamonds. They are also rare and are found in Madagascar, Vietnam, Kenya, and Sri Lanka; however, rubies of the highest value are mined in Myanmar due to their uniform red color.

Rubies come in numerous red variations including pink, burgundy, and reddish-brown. Rubies of this nature are heated at high temperatures to enhance the red hues and improve clarity.

In order to charge a price for rubies, jewelers are required to obtain a laboratory report certifying that the stone's red color is natural and transparent. One of the most beautiful types of rubies contain slender, tiny, Rutile needles that create a star-type formation known as asterism. These types of rubies are aptly named Star Rubies.

Owners of this spectacular gemstone are said to be assured of peace, physical and mental protection, and prosperity. One of the world's most famous rubies is The Star of Bharny, which is a Star Ruby. It is 28 carats and was owned by the Indian dynasty, House of Bharny, which set the ruby in an 18-karat gold ring setting, surrounded by diamonds.

One of the world's largest rubies is the 125 West Ruby, a crystal found in Myanmar weighing 8 pounds with a remarkable 18,696 carats.

For more information on Star Rubies, check out Star Ruby: The Eternal Gemstone, a website pertaining to everything Star Ruby.
Photo: The Star of Bharny

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today we are in sunny Los Angeles, California taking in the sights of The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. It is an astonishing place with plants, trees, and shrubs from around the world filling up its 127 acres.

We may catch glimpses of turtles catching some rays on the rocks of the Baldwin Lake, or notice splendid, free roaming peacocks. California is also home to featured jewelry designer Devon Leigh Sedlacek.

Friday, July 3, 2009


The Toluca Botanical Garden in Mexico includes the deep purple leaves of the Santiaguito plant, beautiful Azucenas, Mexican orchids, and an array of plants from Brazil and Africa. Mexico is also the home of jewelry designer Carlos Muñoz.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


We are gonna have a fun-filled day today as we explore Alberta, Canada's Calaway Park, the city’s largest amusement park. We have got plenty to choose from like the dizzying mechanical arm of the Air Gliders, the splashy vertical drops of the water ride Shoot the Chutes, and the gut wrenching twists and turns of the Vortex rollercoaster. Canada is also the home of featured jewelry designer Danielle Stirling.

What I find so great about jewelry designers and creative people in general, is that their passion to create is innate.

It begins early, while they are young. Stirling is no exception. Her eye for beauty, fascination with nature and color began in her youth. Her interest peaked after her mother bought her a bead loom.

In fact, she and a friend established a jewelry business in the 6th grade. "We created friendship bracelets from embroidery thread along with friendship pins. We'd set up shop at lunch and sell our bracelets for 15-20 cents a piece." While in the 7th grade, she began creating beads and working with Polymer clay.

Over the subsequent years, she continued to expand her jewelry-making knowledge. In her adult years the size of her family also expanded, "After I had my third child, it was important for me to be able to stay at home with them," she says. In 2006, she launched her company Elle Jule, "It gives me a creative outlet while allowing me to be with my children whenever they need me. Who could ask for a better job?"

Stirling's attraction to fairy lore, art, colors in nature, as well as her own moods inspire her wonderfully ethereal, custom jewelry creations. She admits that inspiration can come randomly and unexpectedly such as the Forbidden Love Bracelet part of a limited edition jewelry line inspired by Stephanie Meyer's Twilight book series.

Stirling carefully selects the materials she uses--freshwater pearls, Bali and Argentium silver, topaz--to produce her delicate jewelry. "I am a self-representing jewelry artist, which means that I create all of my jewelry myself from materials that have been hand picked from responsible suppliers that practice fair trade and provide good working conditions and fair pay to their employees."

The joy Stirling brings to her incredibly beautiful designs is matched by her clientele's response to the designs. "The thing I have come to love the most about my business is the feedback I have received from customers. It warms me to be able to share a part of myself that way."

Stirling's collections include the fairy-inspired, Bower of Bliss; the vintage-inspired Nostalgia Collection; and the Afterglow Collection featuring items inspired by the Twilight book series. She also designs custom bridal and men's jewelry, and her Salvation Bracelets tell the story of Jesus in colorful gemstones.

For more on Stirling's gorgeous custom jewelry check out her Flickr photostream or her blog.
Photo 1 (top right): Gold Vermeil On Golden Pod Earrings with Keshi Pearls, and Moonstone from her Bridal Jewelry Collection
Photo 2 (bottom left): Moonstone, Blue Kyanite and Topaz Celeste Bracelet

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I have no illusions at all about being a sex symbol. None of my former girlfriends ever thought of me that way, and I don't have any packs of women chasing me down the street like a Brad Pitt or someone like that.


Today we travel along Apollo Bunder's waterfront in Mumbai, India to pass through the arch known as the Gateway of India.

With architecture influenced by Hinduism and Islam, the arch is made of reinforced concrete, and yellow basalt. It stands 85 feet high, and the central dome is 49 feet in diameter. India is also the home base for featured jewelry brand Tanishq.
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