Monday, August 31, 2009


Today we explore one of the most incredible specimens of "living" architecture, the Kailas Temple in India.

In the 8th century, various architects--using three different types of chisels--carved out this magnificent rock structure from a volcanic hillside.

Built to honor the god Shiva, the temple took hundreds of years to complete and measures a staggering 109 feet in width, and 164 feet in length.

India is also the ancestral home of Mousumi Shaw, the founder and CEO of jewelry brand Sikara & Co.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


One of the largest galleries of cottonwood trees is part of an indoor conservatory featured in Albuquerque, New Mexico's Rio Grande Botanic Garden.

The garden covers a whopping 10,000 square feet and we are eager to explore the grounds, which is encased inside a stunning glass house. New Mexico is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Ron Henry.

Friday, August 28, 2009


We stand along the Chao Phraya River's west bank in Thailand, taking in the beauty and learning the history of the Wangderm Palace.

Though clearly Thai in its architecture, the structure is actually considered the first Thai building influenced by American aesthetics.

As we move along the grounds, we learn there are shrines to whalebones, Thai coins, and antique ceramics located here. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Rudklow Patanaanunwong.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Today we stand within The Great Hall of Warsaw, Poland's Royal Castle awestruck by its majestic opulence.

Refurbished 21 years ago after being destroyed during World War II, our eyes are wide with amazement as we manage to move on to observe the Grand Staircase, the Canaletto Room, and the King's Bedroom. Poland is also the home of featured jewelry designer Marcin Zaremeski.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Today we explore the lush surroundings of the world's second largest botanical garden, Berlin Botanical Garden in Germany.

Dwelling within the various climate-controlled greenhouses are timber bamboo, orchids, bromeliads, fern, and tropical lilies.

Germany is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Cornelia Goldsmith.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Scenic hiking routes surround the stately Altenhof Castle in Austria. The routes are just a sampling of the breathtaking beauty that helps define the ambience of this centuries-old landmark.

Owned by the Salburg-Falkenstein counts, the refurbished castle and its grounds house terraced gardens, garden halls, tennis courts, a golf course, and a sauna. Austria is also the home base for the Swarovski brand.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Today we soak up the atmosphere of the Stella Di Mira Beach along Egypt's Gulf of Suez.

We pause shortly to observe the palm trees' gravity-defying, upright leaves, and then move along to the mainland to try our hand at waterskiing and windsurfing.

Egypt is also the present home of featured jewelry designer Dima Rashid.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


My childhood dream was to be a broadcaster. In those days, before television, it was to be a radio announcer. All my heroes were people that announced on radio.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The Scott Arboretum, located at Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College, offers year round information on landscaping and horticulture.

The assortment of flowering cherries, tree peonies, and roses not only provide lovely scenery for the campus grounds, but the flora also offers "living examples" to visiting homeowners searching for garden and landscaping ideas.

Pennsylvania is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer James Meyer.

Friday, August 21, 2009


We are staying another day in Greece traveling to the province of Epirus.

We take in the sights of Parga Beach with the astonishing, pristine waters of the Ionian Sea and partake in the local waterside amenities.

We then drive a short distance to view the Nekromanteio Ruins in Acheron.

Greece is also the home of featured jewelry designer Sotirios Boulgaris.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


The Balkan Botanic Garden is perched along the hillside of the Kroussia Mountains in Greece.

Within its gates are aromatic plants oregano, mint, and sage; two artificial lakes, as well as an artificial alpine environment.

The garden is multi-functional serving as a conservatory; and a horticultural and environmental research center. 

Greece is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Konstantino Sioulas.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TRACE PALMER | KarmaKulture

Today we observe the assortment of beautiful flora located in the Palm House Botanic Gardens in Belfast, Ireland.

At 181 years old, the botanic garden is a true monument with scatterings of fuchsia, begonia, and geranium inside the "cool wing" of the cast-iron glasshouse knowna as the Palm House. 

Ireland is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Trace Palmer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Demanding Pendant in Amrita, Dionysus &
Split Rose Resin with Wine Beads and Rose Gold
Today we stroll along the southern coast of Sydney, Australia's Bondi Beach.

We see cyclists, rollerbladers, and of course surfers. Australia is also home to featured jewelry designer Elke Kramer.

Monday, August 17, 2009


18K Yellow Gold Sand Dune Brooch Pin with Tiny Diamonds
Now is an optimum time to visit Rebun Island, a picturesque area off the northern tip of Hokkaido, Japan. The beautiful landscape is blanketed with some of the rarest alpine flowers.

The best way to explore the island is through a number of hiking trails, one of which is located on Gorota Beach off the island's western coast.

Japan is also the home of featured jewelry designer Keiko Mita.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The sound of falling water greets us as we take in the sight of Chicago Botanic Garden's Waterfall Garden.

This is a beautiful spot with weeping conifers and hanging plants. We observe the sparkling water cascade along a hillside into smaller pools. Chicago is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Eugene Joseff.

Friday, August 14, 2009


We walk along the Coral Beach Natural Reserve in Eiliat, Israel careful not to step on sea urchins. With the beautiful Mediterranean as our backdrop, we opt to go on a scuba expedition.

Later on, we take some time to journey to another of Eiliat's beaches, Dolphin Reef Beach. Israel is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer Ayala Bar.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


We are visiting the pebble-laden beaches located in Nice, France. We have made sure to purchase beach shoes to secure our footing; however, the thought of strolling along the beach of such a glamorous city holds our attention. France is also the home of featured jewelry designer Philippe Ferrandis.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The São Paulo Zoological Gardens Foundation in São Paulo, Brazil is a remarkable place. It is filled with information on animals as diverse as Spix' macaw to white rhinoceros.

It is the first Brazilian institution to participate in programs designed to protect the country's endangered wildlife. Brazil is also home to jewelry designer Adriana Carador.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The mere sight of Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain sends waves of gooseflesh over us. Completed in 1755 by architect Alberto Churriguera, the exquisite, baroque detailing stuns us, as we feel transported through time.

We stand in the town hall, which once buzzed with the cheers of excited crowds watching bullfights.

We move through the ominous arches that lead into a square holding restaurants, shops, and cafés. Spain is also the home base for jewelry house Carrera y Carrera.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The casuarina trees' feather-like leaves shield us from the sun as we walk to the picturesque Digha Beach in Calcutta, India.

Today we opt to relax, positioning our lounge chairs in a good spot as we listen to the gentle lapping of the Bay of Bengal's waves.

At the close of our day, we are treated with a spectacular sunset. India is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Ayesha Mayadas.


For this edition of Splendor Sidebar I gathered up some information providing tips on buying certain types of jewelry like vintage or gold jewelry. I hope the information will be of some help.

There are several factors to keep in mind when purchasing vintage jewelry: quality, condition, manufacturers, and for whom you are buying the jewelry. An article by Pamela Wiggins from gives some helpful information on getting the most for your money.

Buying gold jewelry is a bit more straightforward. 24-karat gold is the purest and most expensive as there are no additional metals mixed in. There are varying opinions, however, on the durability of gold this pure.

Eighteen-karat gold is considered the most durable because it contains 18 parts gold, and 6 parts of one or more additional metals, or 75% gold; while 14-karat gold contains 14 parts gold, and 10 parts one or more additional metals, or 58% gold, which is believed to be not as durable.

Trying to determine which type of gold-coated jewelry is more durable, however, can pose a particularly frustrating conundrum. Check out Carly Wickell's article from on buying all types of gold jewelry, which includes the durability, and pros and cons of gold-filled, gold vermeil, and gold-plated jewelry.

Of course developing a better understanding on how to care for gold-coated jewelry can extend the life of the jewelry. In purchasing gold and gold-coated jewelry, it is also a good idea to know if you have allergic reactions to the metals mixed with gold, as well as the metals coated with gold.

Like gold, the purest silver is soft and is mixed with other metals to provide durability; unlike gold, however, silver is more affordable. For an item to be considered sterling or solid silver, the US Federal Trade Commission requires that it must be composed of 92.5% silver (or .925).

Copper is frequently combined with silver to provide durability, but the downside is copper causes silver to tarnish easily. Due to this, some jewelers are now mixing platinum with silver that makes for shinier, tarnish-free jewelry. For more information on silver, read Carly Wickell's article at

If you love diamonds and pearls, offers helpful tips on buying both kinds of jewelry. Lastly, for those of you considering buying jewelry online, check out's tips on how and why to purchase jewelry from internet shops.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Today we are standing on a terrace within the Renaissance Court of Virginia's Norfolk Botanical Garden. Patterned after ornate, 16th century Italian architecture, the court is a beautiful microcosm of Italian landscaping. Virginia is also the home of featured jewelry designer K Robins.

Friday, August 7, 2009


We are taking a scenic drive today through the lovely town of Taxco, Mexico, which is nestled between Acapulco and Mexico City.

Amidst the cobblestone streets, and red tile rooftops, there is a thriving, 80-year-old silver jewelry industry.

The town therefore has the distinction of being Mexico's silver capital. Mexico is also the home of featured jewelry designer Alicia de la Paz.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Today we visit another award-winning botanical garden located in Gothenburg, Sweden; its name, Gothenburg Botanical Garden.

Over 16,000 species of flora, including orchids and magnolias, cover the 430-acre grounds, as well as a sprawling rock garden, and a traditional Japanese garden. Sweden is also the home of featured jewelry designer Mona Wallström.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We are in Glasgow, Scotland today visiting the Green Botanical Gardens, which is a pleasant escape from the city's bustling streets. A marriage of city park and museum the garden houses interesting sights to investigate.

There is the Enormous Doulton Fountain made entirely of terracotta, and believed to be the largest fountain in the world!

Scotland is also the hometown of featured jewelry designer, Shona Macaulay Fidgett.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Thailand houses some of the world's most beautiful beaches, and today we will visit the serene beaches of Koh Lao Liang.

As we recline on our lounge chairs, we lose sense of time and space staring up at the towering limestone cliffs, and patches of white clouds dancing above them. Thailand is also the home base of jewelry brand Achara Silver Co., Ltd.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Today we visit the award-winning Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens near Manchester, England. The Bhutan Pine Drooping Juniper is among the eclectic range of unusual flora living amongst its grounds.

This quiet, tranquil garden comes alive at different points within the year as it hosts cultural and health activities, and seasonal events. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Gail Klevan.


From the distant past to the present day, the peridot gemstone has fascinated many.  Due to its glowing, avocado-green color, ancient Egyptians called it "the gem of the sun" while the ancient Romans called it "evening emerald."

A derivative of the forsterite-fayalite mineral, the peridot is the only gemstone that does not come in different colors, although they do come in subtle variations of green, from yellow-green to olive-green.

This "idiochromatic" quality is due to the lack of impurities within the mineral from which it comes. This uniform color also gives this gem an interesting characteristic: it looks the same in natural and artificial light.

Like diamonds, periodot form deep below the earth's surface and are a result of extreme heat and pressure. They are found in volcanic rock, as well as meteorites. The gemstones are mined in Norway, Brazil, Australia, the Congo, and Hawaii where it is so highly regarded the sands of the beach of Oahu is composed of peridot grains.

Apache Indians in Arizona's San Carlos Reservation mine not only the highest amount of peridot but also the most beautiful. In 1994, some of the largest specimens of uncut, peridot were found in Pakistan.

It is believed the first recorded peridot mine was located on the island of Zebargad near Egypt. Poisonous snakes were said to have killed mine workers that paralyzed the mine's daily functions.  The reigning Pharaoh then had the reptiles killed.

Once work in the mines resumed, however, the mine was kept a secret from outsiders, and the Pharaoh took extreme measures to maintain secrecy. He ordered his guards to kill any unauthorized travelers approaching the island.

Peridots are believed to bestow eloquent speech, emotional security, and sustain marriage to those who own them. Peridot is believed to remove spells, and repel evil spirits. In addition, the gemstone is named in the Book of Exodus representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Some of the world's most famous peridots (each over 200 carats) adorns the Shrine of The Three Kings, a gilded sarcophagus located in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The shrine is said to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men.

The world's largest peridot (a whopping 310 carats) is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Photo 1 (top right): Shrine of The Three Kings
Photo 2 (bottom right): Peridot Gemstone

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the passing of some well-known people in the last few months. Although controversy often shrouded the lives--and even deaths--of some, each has affected many people with their unique gifts. With that said, for the month of August I will feature a QUOTABLE GEM once a week to commemorate them.

I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I wouldn't say I invented tacky, but I definitely brought it to its present high popularity.


Today we walk along the banks of Connecticut's Mystic River moving towards the Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea.

We witness a recreation of a 19th century village replete with craftspeople, woodcarvers, and musicians.  Connecticut is also the home of featured jewelry designer Amy Kahn Russell.
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