Fab Friday – Cinnamon Lee

Rings by Cinnamon Lee

These are awesome. By jeweller Cinnamon Lee, courtesy of Metalab


What’s old is new again…

Well, I had a great afternoon at the Northern Beaches Wedding Expo yesterday at Monash Country Club. And one of the questions that came up, and that always comes up, is the question of what to do with old jewellery. To answer that in one post is like trying to stuff a week’s worth of clothes into a carry-on (not going to happen when you travel like I do), so I’ll just hit one option for now: Redesign.

You can use the stones from your old jewellery (most anyway–opals are a bit tricky, as are some other organics, like turquoise) and reset them into new pieces–pieces that you will actually wear and that won’t grow tarnish like a disease in the back of your jewellery box. Some metals can be remelted into new pieces, as well. Yellow gold is fantastic for remelting, while white gold can be a bit tricky due to unfriendly alloys like nickel. A competent jeweller will be able to tell you which metals can be reused and which are best to melt for scrap.

I’ll use Lisa’s ring as an example:

Lisa’s engagement ring (on the left) had an unusual shape to it and she wanted something to fit around it to create an unique set. We used the diamonds from her existing ring in a new fitted wedding band, shown in the picture on the right. The engagement and wedding rings now fit together in a totally unique design, and Lisa was able to reuse a ring that wasn’t being worn. In this case we didn’t reuse Lisa’s metal, as she wanted her wedding band to match the white gold of her engagement ring.

Keep this in mind for some of your old pieces. Have a great week!

Wedding & Engagement set

Remodeled wedding ring, fitted to engagement ring

Engagement ring on the left, and existing ring on the right

Ten Questions with the amazing Allison Wheeldon

Design by Alison Wheeldon

 I am super excited to introduce the first jeweller in our featured jeweller series “Ten Questions”. The first victim, Alison Wheeldon, a fabulous designer, maker and all around lovely person.

Who are you and where do you work?

My name is Allie Wheeldon. I have been working in the jewellery trade for a number of years. Prior to completing the trade course I also completed a Bachelor’s degree in contemporary jewellery/jewellery design from University of New South Wales. My dream is to fuse fine jewellery and fine art in creative pieces. I have participated in an international jewellery residency Red Light Design in Amsterdam, I have had work in the famous Russian edition of L’Official after being noticed at Australian Fashion Week and I was also a finalist in the Next Generation Australian Jewellery Designer of The Year Awards 2008, as well as participating in other national and international exhibitions. I currently work in my own business as a jeweller designing one off pieces for clients. 

 What made you decide to become a jeweller?

I am a really visual person and the materials used to make Jewellery could not be any more exquisite, and the process of making and creating Jewellery is truly delightful. There are certainly strong romantic and fanciful notions associated with this form of creation.  I have to say I do love shiny things too!

Design by Alison Wheeldon
Gorgeous cufflink design by Alison Wheeldon

 What is your favourite metal to work in?

Rose gold is making me crazy at the moment. I love the warmth of it and it forms like butter but it can be a hell of a metal to solder. 

What is the most unusual piece you have ever made?

I once made a silk noose, it was purely sculptural and not to be worn! More recently I have been creating Rosary beads for some nuns in the eastern suburbs; this has been a peaceful and meditative job.

The gem that you can’t get out of your head is…

I am currently obsessed with Paraiba. It is a magical gem that comes in near fluorescent green colours. It is a very unusual and super classy stone. I love it! 

What is your favourite type of jewellery to design & make? Ring, necklace, bracelet, etc?

I am enjoying the challenge of designing beautiful rings. It is challenging as you have such a small space to work with, but you want to create something with high visual impact, as well as the client loving it so much they want to wear it every day for a very long time.

When do you get your best ideas?

I have crazy dreams and every now and then they will be filled with gemstones and jewellery. I also find botanical 

Design by Alison Wheeldon

illustration books, Japanese flower design and visiting art exhibitions very inspirational.

What is your best jewellery tip?

Be bold and get the best you can afford. You will never regret it. 

Describe your style in three words?

Dreamy Modern Romantic

Any news? Events? New pieces?

I am currently part of a very exciting exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum called Love Lace. Check it out- there are some wonderful pieces in it! 

For more info, you can email Allie at: allie@madamedor.com.au

Silver Tarnish be gone!

I was chatting to my friend Ali yesterday about jewellery (naturally!) who asked about a cleaning product for her silver jewellery. Since moving to Sydney, her jewellery  was looking really dull and tarnished–probably due to the lovely sea air! So, I thought I’d share my favourite tip with you on how to do this at home, without using commercial cleaners that often have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them that can irritate your skin.

You will need:

  • a glass bowl
  • aluminium foil to fit in the base of the bowl
  • hot water
  • bicarb
  • salt
  • an old toothbrush
  • a soft cloth

Pop the al foil in the bottom of your container and pour in hot water (not boiling, especially if your jewellery contains gems other than diamonds). Add a tablespoon or two of bicarb & salt and put your jewellery in the mixture. I left mine for fifteen minutes or so, and gave each piece a good brushing with the toothbrush to loosen any of the grit and tarnish. Once your pieces are looking a little brighter, remove them from the solution and give them a good wipe with your cloth. Ta da, clean jewellery!

*Please note: don’t use this on pearl jewellery. For pearl jewellery cleaning tips, please refer to my previous post about pearl care Pearls of Wisdom   


Brush the pieces with an old toothbrush to help remove tarnish

The ones on the left have been cleaned. Big difference!

What a difference! Especially on the mesh ring, which was very tarnished.


Engagement ring budgets

A post today about something that has been on my mind: Engagement ring budgets…a question that is asked of me constantly: What should I spend? Can I afford it? How many months’ salary???

White gold & Diamond engagement ringThe emotional stress of purchasing an engagement ring is enough to cope with, let alone the financial stress of purchasing something so valuable. Someone, somewhere came up with the concept that you should spend three months’ salary on an engagement ring. Three months’ salary….seriously??? I know that you should have three months’ salary saved up for eventualities like the loss of a job, illness, etc, but it seems a little silly to put so arbitrary a number on the purchase of what is essentially a bauble. An emotionally charged and prized bauble, but a bauble all the same.

So, what should you spend if you are looking to get engaged? My answer is simple: Whatever you are comfortable with. I always tell my clients that you shouldn’t be going into debt to buy an engagement ring. You should be as happy to give the ring, as your partner is to receive it, and to me, that means not looking down the barrel of three months’ of eating beans & Kraft Dinner. This being said, set a budget and stick to it. Having a clear idea of what you can and want to spend will allow you to enjoy the process.

It’s easy for me to say, from the lofty position of jeweller, but the good news is that there are a few options that you can look at if you don’t have the cash to splash out on an enormous diamond:

  • Consider a diamond alternative for your ring. Sapphires come in a huge range of colours, wear beautifully and are considerably less expensive than diamond per carat, allowing your dollar to stretch further.
  • Use a number of small gemstones or diamonds to create the illusion of a larger ring, if you want to go for size. My ring by the fabulous Brenda Radford www.radfordstudio.com is a beautiful creation of seven round brilliant diamonds that pack a huge punch…and cost considerably less than one large diamond.Custom made ring in white gold with seven diamonds
  • Propose with a band, and buy the engagement ring later. Again, using smaller diamonds now will be less expensive, and will allow you to discuss what you both want for an engagement ring. I recently made a beautiful pave set diamond band that my client used to propose with, having no idea what his partner wanted. We’ll make an engagement ring for their wedding.
  • Be creative! Many jewellers (I won’t say all, but  many of us are!) are fantastic at helping you work to your budget. A jewellery maker and designer can help you create something really beautiful for the money that you want to spend. Custom Jewellery is not more expensive than something off the shelf. In many cases, working with an independent jeweller will allow you to work to a budget you are comfortable with, create something truly unique and can help make the process easy and enjoyable.
  • Reuse old diamonds. Sometimes Mum or Grandma has a ring that can be reset. Diamonds can be set and reset, so if you have an inherited ring that is not being worn, consider reusing those diamonds in a new ring.
  • Ask your jeweller if they have a lay-by option.
I’ll write more about these options later, but if you have any questions, let me know! But don’t stress…You can have a beautiful engagement ring for any budget, I promise.

Old School

There is something about this architecture of Uno Prii that I just love. Having grown up with his angular, somewhat unwieldy but ultimately elegant buildings towering above me, it took me a long time to appreciate the futuristic super modern buildings he created around Toronto. A link to a great article about him and his work is attached:


As a jewellery student at George Brown College, I studied in the lee of some of his most famous buildings in the Annex.

Sterling Silver & reticulationSomehow, I think these got into my head when I designed this ring. Handcrafted in silver using a technique called reticulation (a silver and copper alloy where the fine silver is brought to the surface and the lower melting point of copper is boiled underneath to create the texture), I made this ring in my second year Decorative Techniques (or “dec tech” to those in the know) class. Hard edged, a little bit ’70s, it’s a homage to the monoliths of my youth. How poetic!


Pearls of Wisdom

In keeping with my pearl kick, I just thought I’d write a little post about how to take care of your pearls. This comes from my shocking mess of a jewellery box–or crate, as my husband calls it!– that has piles and piles of necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings all jumbled together. All jumbled…except the pearls.

Pearls are an organic substance, whose outer layer is made up of shell. Not exactly rocket science, given that we all know where pearls come from. However, it is easy to forget that while shells are sharp enough to hurt our toes on the beach, they are also much, much softer than gemstones, some plastics, glass and metal. For this reason, pearls need a little more love than your average piece of jewellery.

So, if you are like me, and just toss any old thing into your jewellery box, please keep your pearls separated from your other jewellery! A soft pouch in any material other than plastic (plastic can cause your pearls to lose their lustre) will serve them well and protect their soft surfaces from scratching and marking. Also, remember that pearls are somewhat porous and their lustre will be affected by any chemicals, including body lotion, perfume, sunscreen, hairspray…Put your pearls on after you have finished getting ready. Pearl pendants and earrings are pretty easy to maintain if you follow these two rules.

Pearl rings and strands follow the same rules as above, but can require a little more care. Pearl rings often suffer more damage than earrings and pendants, from being banged about as you reach into your handbag, drawer or desk. Pearl rings make fabulous dress rings and should be treated especially carefully and removed when washing dishes, gardening, using chemicals, etc. as all of these things may affect the surface and lustre of your pearl.

Unlike rings, pearl strands don’t usually feel the brunt of daily wear, being worn gracefully around our necks. The silk they are strung on, however, can get a bit grimy after sometime. Keep your strands clean by using a

very soft old toothbrush (kids’ toothbrushes are great for this!) dipped in a very mild solution of hand soap and warm water. A light brush of the toothbrush between each pearl should brighten up the cord and won’t degrade the silk. Lay them on a towelto dry. Also, remember that pearl strands don’t last forever! If you notice that the pearls are looking unevenly spaced, or that the cord is fraying slightly, get your pearls restrung. It doesn’t cost much ($50-150) and will keep your pearls in good shape.

Pearls love to be worn. The oils naturally present in our skin helps to keep pearls hydrated and looking their lustrous best. If you don’t have a pouch to keep your pearls in, email me and I’ll be happy to send you one!