For a long time, the primary birthstone for the month of August was the beautiful green peridot. Accordingly, the ring that I’ve chosen for this August’s Jewel of the Month features a beautiful green … tourmaline. Ha! Fooled ya! Check out the new design in this video by A Thousand Facets.
Absolutely stunning ring by @wendybrandesjewelry this golden and green tourmaline are perfection. Thanks to @agta_gems for inviting me to the #agtaspectrum17 editor's day, I had a blast! Gorgeous tourmalines by @anzagems #wendybrandesjewelry #wendybrandes #oneofkindjewelry #ring #agta #finejewelry #handcraftedjewelry #amorajoyas #jewelryADD #madewithlove #handmadejewelry . . . . . #jewelry #bijoux #joyeria #joias #jewellery #schmuck #gioielleria #diamonds #gems #gemstones #smycken #tourmaline #goldtourmaline #greentourmaline #anzagems
This is the third ring I’ve designed for my friend Monica Stephenson’s ANZA Gems venture. As I’ve explained before, Monica founded ANZA in 2014 in order to offer a transparent journey from the gem mine to the customer. She travels to Tanzania and Kenya to personally select ethically mined, colored-gemstone rough; brings the uncut stones back to the U.S. to be faceted by gem cutters here; and then has the gems incorporated into fine jewelry by U.S. designers.
My first ANZA piece was a delicate ruby charm ring. The second was my prize-winning double-finger ring.
The new design is my take on a toi et moi two-stone ring. “Toi et moi” means “you and me” in French, and it was an epic French romance that fueled this style’s popularity as an engagement-ring choice in the 1800s. In 1796, a soldier named Napoleon Bonaparte married a slightly older widow, Joséphine de Beauharnais, presenting her with a sapphire-and-diamond toi et moi ring. Eight years later, husband and wife were emperor and empress, and the rest is history.
I’ve wanted to do a toi et moi design since 2013, when the original Napoleon-Josephine ring was sold at auction.
Hilariously, the Osenat auction house wildly underpriced this ring in its initial estimates, valuing the irreplaceable piece of history at mere $20,000. “We based the estimates in our catalog on the actual market value of the ring, minus Napoleon and Josephine provenance,” said Osenat’s Emily Villane, who led the auction. My reaction to that is best illustrated by this gif.
The ring, as you might have guessed, beat the estimate. It sold for $949,000, and that price doesn’t include the buyer’s 25% commission to Osenat.
I’ve long been fascinated by Joséphine — I’ve got book recommendations here — so I was pained by the auction house’s weird disdain for the value of her ring. I decided that, some day, I would do my own Josephine-worthy toi et moi ring to make it up to the empress.
Years went by during which I was busy with other designs, but when I saw Monica’s tourmalines from Kenya I knew the time had come. The green tourmaline weighs 3.27 carats, and was shaped into a fancy keystone design by Peter Torraca, the gem-cutter who did all three of the colored gems I used in last year’s double-finger ring. The 1.90-carat golden tourmaline was faceted into a trillion shape by cutter Beth Stier. The recycled 18K yellow gold that I used in the ring weighs 15.2 grams. The seven, conflict-free round diamonds accenting the golden tourmaline weigh seven points all together (there are 100 points in a carat), while the four princess-cut diamonds set next to the green tourmaline total 10 points.
The ring is size 7. Price is available upon request from ANZA. At least 10% of the proceeds from every sale of an ANZA piece goes back to three East African schools that Monica supports, so you can feel extra-extra-good about this ring.
Getting back to birthstones, last year August was granted a new one, spinel. Spinel is actually the month’s third birthstone, because sardonyx preceded peridot. I suspect peridot came along because no one ever said, “Ooh, get me sardonyx earrings.” Anyway, if you’re looking for spinel, I’ve got a ring for you right here. I’d also be happy to custom-make a pair of my birthstone stud earrings in spinel, which comes in a variety of colors. I can also create a custom toi et moi ring just for you, with whatever stones you like. You can get some inspiration from this Jewellery Editor toi and moi article. Holla at me at info at wendybrandes dot com with any special requests. Finally, if you were born in October, tourmaline is really and truly one of your birthstones, so get the one-of-a-kind ANZA ring before it’s gone like Josephine’s!
I love you so much! This ring carries the weight of so much thought and good karma! Loved learning about your whole thought process around the design. I knew it was beautiful in its own right–the story makes it even better! Xoxoxo
Thanks for letting me work with your gems!