Be Your Own Ruler
Writing a couple months ago about the history of men’s jewelry got me thinking about the grand Maharajas of India once more. When I was first studying jewelry, the portraits of a glamorous, bejeweled ruling class of India always stood out in my mind. Seared into my brain were images of these kings’ magnificent turban ornaments, colorful gem-studded sashes, and most of all, their multi-stranded necklaces. Somehow these men pulled off the “more is more” aesthetic perfectly, looking stylish and fierce in the process.
Years ago, I found a triple-strand of graduated, golden citrine beads that drew me in like a bee to nectar. Transparent citrine with a rich uniform color is a rare find in nature and at first glance, there was something so soothing about the calming yellow hue and supple shapes that reminded me of fat donuts. I had to have them. I already envisioned a grand statement necklace coming to life. However, no gems or stones I paired with them, equaled the grandeur of the citrines. Most importantly, I wanted to ensure all the strands stayed together. The last thing I wanted to do was separate them into individual pieces. So, they sat untouched in my safe.
Even as the months passed those beautiful citrine strands were always at the back of my mind. And as luck would have it one December morning, I found my missing link. I was playing with a pair of baroque Mexican fire opals for another project, when I realized, if I could find these as beads, this stone would pair exquisitely along my strands of citrine! They would have the same “jelly-like” appearance. Little did I know that finding this certain type of opals as beads would be an adventure on its own.
Mexican opals are mined from hidden, extinct volcanoes where ancient seams once filled with water are now opal-filled cavities. Found in a range of sun-tinted colors like deep rust, vibrant orange, golden yellow and colorless or white specimens, these opals form within a host rock called rhyolite. In order to extract them, they need to be broken up with small hammers and then polished by hand into free-form shapes or faceted stones. As a result, one doesn’t often find enough stones of the same consistent shade or size or condition for an entire strand of beads.
But I didn’t realize it would be nearly impossible! My initial calls to my regular gem dealers turned up empty-handed, so I figured I would find my beads by searching through the many tents, rooms, and convention centers at the enormous Tucson Gem Show (my main buying trip every year). And after a lot of hunting, I found just ONE quality strand. It was a match made in heaven! The beautiful irregular surface and luminescent orange light of the jelly opals played perfectly off the rich, sunrise toned citrine beads.The Maharaja Necklace has the ideal combination of a charming softness and approachable splendor. Light filters through the beads illuminating its glow, while catching the little sparkle of diamond accents. One of the things I love most is how versatile the necklace is. You can wear it with the clasp at the back of the neck or poised to the side, showing off the rose-cut diamond clasp. It’s a necklace you can wear to a black-tie event or to a fun dinner party. Either way, it’s a conversation starter all on its own. And really, once the piece was completed, who couldn’t see that on an elegant and bejeweled Maharajah?
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