January Birthstone: Garnet

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How Can I Spot It?

The word “garnet” is derived from the Latin word for Garanatus, which means seed-like, as it is similar to a pomegranate seed in both size and color. Although it is available in many colors, deep red happens to be the most common color of garnet.

What Does It Symbolize?

Garnet symbolizes health, prosperity, and regeneration, all of which are in our hopes when starting a fresh New Year.

During the Bronze Age, Egyptians would use garnet as an embellishment in their jewelry and carvings because it symbolized life.  In time, it also became very popular among the Romans and Ancient Greeks. Warriors during the Crusades used garnets as a lucky charm when going into battle because they believed it had healing powers.

Back in the biblical period, it is believed that a garnet stone led Noah’s Ark through the darkness and into the light. Today, people adore garnet mostly because of what it represents, and use it in jewelry, prayer beads, and the realm of spiritual healing.

Where Is It Found?

Unlike many other gemstones, garnet is found all over the world. It is mined in countries like Brazil, Russia, Namibia, and the United States. In fact, there are even a few popular garnet mines right here in Uno Alla Volta’s home state of Connecticut, making it the state mineral.

Here is some of our favorite handcrafted jewelry featuring this deep red stone:

“Gentle Breeze” Gemstone Necklace

image of ''Gentle Breeze'' Gemstone Necklace with sku:WR1830011

“Sunburst” Gemstone Necklace

image of ''Sunburst'' Gemstone Necklace with sku:WR1704011

“Gentle Breeze” Gemstone Earrings

image of ''Gentle Breeze'' Gemstone Earrings with sku:WR1830012

Joli’s Paisley Spiral Gemstone Earrings

image of Joli's Gemstone Paisley Spiral Hoop Earrings with sku:WR0212050

Gemstone Chakra Ring

image of Gemstone Chakra Adjustable Ring with sku:WR1216040

“Sunburst” Gemstone Earrings

image of ''Sunburst'' Gemstone Earrings with sku:WR1704012

Avi’s Garnet & Blue Topaz Cuff

image of Avi's Garnet & Blue Topaz Adjustable Cuff with sku:WR0158050

5 Tips For Creating A Holiday Tablescape Worth Lingering Over

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The season of dinner parties and gatherings with family and friends is here once again! If you’ll be the one hosting this year’s holiday festivities, here are a few ways you can bring an artistic elegance to the table and give guests a dining experience to remember.

1.) Incorporate Metallics

Adding metallic touches to your place settings or centerpieces will bring sparkle and light to your table. Use gold and copper accents to bring warmth and silver accents to bring a cooler, icy touch. If you’ll be using a tablecloth, shoot for one in a rich holiday hue like ivory, burgundy, or forest green, as all metallics mix well with these shades. Here are a few glasses with metallic details to help you get started…

“Christmas Pine” Hand-Painted Wine Glass

“Dripping In Silver” Hand-Painted Glass Mug

2.) Add A Candled Ambiance

No elegant dinner table is complete without candles, so bring an enchanting element to your dining experience by lighting a few. The warm, soft light of a candle makes the tablescape glow and instantly elevates the atmosphere. Here are a few of our favorites from Kristina and Daiva of Lithuania…

Hand-Painted “Merry & Bright” Candle

Hand-Painted Cardinal Candle

3.) Set Your Table With Polish Pottery

Our exclusive Polish pottery patterns will bring a cohesive theme to your table settings and guests will be delighted by the highly detailed motifs. With a wide variety of hand-painted designs ranging from cardinals and poinsettias to snowflakes and candy canes, there is a pattern for every holiday decorating style in our collection of stoneware from Boleslawiec and Brzeg. Here is a peek at some of our latest patterns for the holiday season…

“Cardinal Garden”



“Berries & Boughs”

“Snow Day”

4.) Toast With Artisan-Made Wine Glasses

Make this year’s toast extra special (and prevent confusing someone else’s drink for your own) by allowing guests to choose their own design or color for the night. Even better, mixing and matching with decorative wine glasses brings an eclectic touch to the table. Get inspired by some of our most popular wine glass designs…

Hand-Gilded Cardinal Wine Glass

Set Of 6 Bohemian Crystal Rainbow Wine Glasses

Hand-Painted Angel Wine Glass With Crystals

Set Of 6 Murano-Style “Confetti” Wine Glasses

Hand-Painted Santa Claus Wine Glass With Crystals

Hand-Gilded Angel Wine Glass

5.) Treat Your Guests To Artisanal Foods

Decor and dinnerware is pretty to look at, but what really makes a dinner party a success is the cuisine! This year, consider incorporating some gourmet imported foods into your appetizer spread. Because they pair perfectly with breads, crackers, veggies, and spreads, our Spanish sardines are a great treat to start with….

Spanish Sardines In Olive Oil

Spanish Sardines With Lemon & Sunflower Oil

Spanish Sardines With Sweet Piquillo Pepper

Caring For Your Therapeutic Mixed Metal Cuff

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Artisans in California handcraft each of our therapeutic cuffs from a combination of three solid metals: pure copper, jewelers brass (an alloy of 85% pure copper and 15% zinc) and German silver. Each cuff also contains two rare earth magnets which are thought to improve circulation, relieve arthritis pain, and promote energy. These can be found at the tips on the inner side, perfectly placed to line up with pressure points on the wrist.

Because our therapeutic cuffs are handcrafted from solid metals and are not plated, they will never chip, the colors will not fade, and any scratches can easily be polished off. Despite all of this, it is still recommended to regularly clean your cuff to avoid tarnishing.

To best care for your therapeutic cuff, you should clean it regularly by following one of these six methods:

Shower With It

  • By simply wearing your cuff during your daily shower, you can stay on top of removing any dirt, oils, lotions, or other particles that come into contact with it throughout the day and may lead to tarnishing.

Vinegar & Salt Scrub

  • Place your cuff into a bowl.
  • Pour white vinegar over your cuff and then use salt to scrub it.
  • Rinse your cuff with warm water and polish it until dry with a soft cloth.

Hot Vinegar & Salt Boil

  • Combine one tablespoon of salt and one cup of white vinegar into a cooking pot.
  • Place your cuff in the cooking pot.
  • Fill the pot with water until your cuff is completely submerged.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and let it continue to boil until there is no longer any visible tarnish on your cuff.
  • Allow the mixture to cool.
  • Rinse your cuff with warm water and polish it until dry with a soft cloth.

Citrus & Beeswax Rub

  • Cut either a lemon or lime in half, and sprinkle salt on it.
  • Rub the salt-covered lemon or lime all over the cuff.
  • Use the rough side of a dish sponge, or a Scotch Brite pad, to remove any tarnish.
  • Polish your cuff with beeswax.

Salt, Vinegar, & Flour Paste

  • Place one tablespoon salt and one cup of white vinegar in a bowl.
  • Add little bits of flour to the mixture until it turns to a paste.
  • Rub your cuff with the paste to remove any tarnish.
  • Allow your cuff to sit with the paste on for fifteen minutes to one hour.
  • Rinse your cuff with warm water and polish it until dry with a soft cloth.

Ketchup Rub

  • Rub ketchup all over your cuff.
  • Allow your cuff to sit with the ketchup on it for fifteen minutes.
  • Use a non-scratch pad to once again rub the ketchup all over your cuff.
  • Rinse your cuff with warm water and polish it until dry with a soft cloth.

Here are a few of our favorite therapeutic mixed metal cuffs:

“Victorian”

“Copper Creek”

“Rodeo”

“Light Sage”

“Horseman”

“Banded”

“Embrace”

“Tri-Color Braided”

“Twisting”

“Tri-Color Wavy”

“Copper & Silver Dance”

Meet The Artisans: Andrew & Lori

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While hiking in South America’s chilly Andes Mountains, husband-and-wife architects Andrew and Lori discovered the incredibly warm yet lightweight garments that the indigenous people weave from alpaca fiber. Today, they collaborate with artisans in the Andean Quechua communities of Ecuador and Peru, creating original contemporary designs – and sustainable jobs – for the artisans who use centuries-old looms to create stylish accessories and clothing from one of nature’s most versatile and renewable materials.

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Slip on our soft, warm and luxurious shawls and scarves and you’ll never want to take them off! Handmade by our artisans in the Andes Mountains, these layers are perfect for those cold winter days. They’re hypoallergenic, too!

Click here to shop all Andrew & Lori’s alpaca apparel!

September Birthstone: Sapphire

How Can I Spot It?

Traditionally, sapphire is a brilliant blue gem ranging from medium to royal blue. The more uniform the color, the higher the quality and thus the more valuable it is. Occasionally, sapphires may display a color other than blue, such as yellow, green, or violet. These are known as a “fancy sapphires.”

What Does It Symbolize?

The rich, royal blue color of many sapphires is commonly thought to symbolize just that – royalty and wealth. Like any gem, sapphire has long been thought to represent a number of other things, including innocence, truth, romantic love, and good health. Ancient Persians believed it was responsible for making the sky blue, and throughout history, it has been used in various religious ceremonies, as a source of protection against bad luck, and to decorate jewelry.

Where Is It Found?

Some of the finest and most valuable sapphire stones come from the South Asian island country of Sri Lanka. The first sapphires found in the United States were discovered in 1865 by miners in Montana.

And, of course, you can find sapphire-inspired treasures here at Uno Alla Volta! Here are a few of our favorite handcrafted pieces featuring this gem, and others inspired by its rich color:

Karen’s Sapphire Hoop Earrings

“Light My Sapphire” Swarovski Crystal Earrings

Light My Sapphire” Swarovski Crystal Necklace

Sapphire Guatemalan Seed Bead Hummingbird

Faceted Sapphire Glass Crystal Pendant Necklace

Sapphire Escape” Tunic

The History Of Murano Glass & How It’s Made

Murano glass is exquisitely beautiful. From jewelry to drinking glassesthere is definitely something for everyone. These handmade treasures are created one at a time. Patterns and colors may vary, and some may or may not contain millefiori accents. The surfaces may appear uneven and they’re also in various shapes. This is what makes glassmaking such a special craft. With hundreds of years of history behind it, explore the history of Murano glass and how it is made.

The History of Murano Glass

The origin of glassmaking goes way back to the times of the Roman Empire when they created molded glass for illumination in their bath houses. As early as the 8th century, the Venetian Islands began to specialize in glassmaking. When a ruling class law was passed to avoid the risk of fire in an overpopulated area, the island of Murano was named as the true and most appropriate glass production area.

DECLINE AND SUCCESS

Murano glass had moments of success and gradual decline. Competition increased for them from the glassmakers of France and Bohemia. Rulers in the 18th century preferred their glassmaking in Bohemia and passed laws, making it expensive to bring raw materials into Murano. As a result, half of the furnaces were shut down. Although, the industry in Murano did not die completely, Antonio Salviati, who practiced law, went to Venice to open a factory to produce traditional Murano glass. However, there was still constant fall and rise over the years. For example, during World War II the industry did not thrive, but as soon as the war was over the glassmakers continued creating their art.

THE SPREAD OF MURANO GLASS TRADITION

Many craftsmen were inspired by the making of Murano glass. The art of glass spread throughout Europe. Wherever there was a demand for glass, productions were created. Many artisans outside from Murano developed an eye for quality in creating beautiful Murano-style glass. Today, all across Italy and the rest of the world, these workshops use the same techniques and materials as a Murano workshop with identical skill and artistry.

HOW DO THEY CREATE CAPTIVATING COLORS?

Murano glass products are brightly colored and often infused with metals such as gold and silver leaf or copper crystals. When creating millefiori designs, they layer and slice colorful glass rods which stretch into unique designs. For other creations, glassmakers use a blowpipe with which they masterfully shape layers of color to achieve a richly-colored decorative piece.

What are the techniques?

As the techniques of Murano glassmaking have evolved, Murano glass has become a valuable treasure over the years. These glassmakers use unique, masterful techniques to create these amazing pieces. Both lampworking and hand-blowing create beautiful Murano style pieces, which is an incredibly rewarding experience to these artisans.

LAMPWORKING

This technique is also known as torchworking. Artists use high quality glass rods which are melted with a torch and then shaped into beads by cutting it with a steel cutting jack. Once they have the glass bead, it is heated to a temperature of about 950 degree Fahrenheit until the material reaches its stress relief point. The bead is then decorated by etching, polishing, or by other techniques.

Lorena’s mother creates stunning jewelry beads using the technique of lampworking in the video below:

BLOWING

Blowing glass is a challenging technique. This technique is done by using a blowpipe and basic hand tools to meticulously shape molten glass. These glassmakers are able to get unique patterns and shapes by blow piping. After the process is complete, the glass needs to cool until it becomes solid glass. The final touch that may be done to a glass piece is polishing, engraving, and enameling.

Our glass Artisan, Vittorio shows his methods on Murano glassmaking.

ANNEALING

Both techniques use the annealing process, which helps the glass slowly heal until it reaches room temperature. This process prevents the glass from cracking or breaking easily.

Mexican Fire Opal

As early as the 14th century, Mayan and Aztec Indians sought and gathered Mexican fire opal, calling it “quetzalitzlipyollitli.” Today, this national gemstone of Mexico is also referred to as fire opal, sun opal, cherry opal, and the Spanish word for sunflower – girasol. The Mayans and Aztecs used this gem in mosaics and rituals, while today it decorates beautiful pieces of jewelry. After the passing of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations, knowledge and appreciation for fire opal disappeared. It wasn’t until the early 1800’s when an emergence of mining for fire opal and a renewed appreciation for its beauty appeared.

Mexican Fire Opal is formed when silica and water deposits are left in the voids left behind by volcanic gas bubbles and rock fractures. The silica does not crystallize, but rather solidifies, forming a gel that is filled with microscopic water bubbles. When light makes contact with this gem, it passes through the microscopic water bubbles and creates a spectrum of color – essentially creating a rainbow. The most significant deposits of fire opal are found near the extinct volcanoes in Queretaro and Jalisco, Mexico.

To create our Mexican fire opal jewelry, artisans produce opal resin by crushing natural Mexican fire opal, and then mixing it with a specially developed resin. This allows for the mineral to be cut, shaped, and set into the jewelry.

Mexican Fire Opal has a low tolerance to heat and is easily broken by sharp objects. If it is left in direct sunlight, or hot enclosed spaces, it can crack. Maintaining the water content of the opal is extremely important to the durability of the stone. Over time, opal can become dehydrated and brittle. To avoid dehydration, it should be stored away from high temperatures and frequently rubbed with light oil.

Check out some of our favorite Mexican fire opal designs for autumn:

Leon Nussbaum’s Mexican Fire Opal Leaf Earrings

image of Leon Nussbaum's Mexican Fire Opal & Sterling Silver Leaf Earrings with sku:WU7309032

Leon Nussbaum’s Mexican Fire Opal Tree Pendant Necklace

image of Leon Nussbaum's Mexican Fire Opal Tree Pendant Necklace with sku:WR1904056

Leon Nussbaum’s Mexican Fire Opal Fox Brooch

image of Leon Nussbaum's Mexican Fire Opal Fox Brooch with sku:WN9A08010

Leon Nussbaum’s Mexican Fire Opal Sunflower Brooch

image of Leon Nussbaum's Mexican Fire Opal Sunflower Brooch with sku:WN9956029

What Makes Polish Pottery So Unique?

Whether you delight in collecting Polish pottery for its vibrant and elaborate designs, or love it for its functionality in the kitchen, here’s a bit more about what makes it so unique:


• Each piece is brought to life by skilled ceramicists and painters in Poland according to artistic traditions dating back to the 14th century.
• Polish stoneware is made with high-quality white clay which is high-fired to attain its extreme durability and then covered in a special lead-free glaze which provides chip-resistant and non-stick properties. This unique handmade process makes Polish pottery safe to place in the microwave, oven, dishwasher, and freezer.
• The ornate designs on Polish pottery are entirely hand-painted. Carved sponges are used to stamp the larger shapes before fine brushwork brings each individual motif to life. The painting process can take many hours depending on the complexity of the design.
• Each piece of pottery is numbered and signed by the artist who painted it.
• It’s easy to clean! Polish pottery has a special non-porous and non-stick glaze which means soaking is not required after use in the kitchen.


Uno Alla Volta is proud to bring you exclusive Polish pottery straight from the source in the villages of Boleslawiec and Brzeg, Poland. Because we work directly with the artists to develop special patterns, what you see in our catalogs and on our website cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

View our latest exclusive patterns and shapes!

May Birthstone: Emerald

How Can I Spot It?

Emerald is a brilliant green stone ranging from yellow-green to blue-green. The more vivid and intense the color, the purer the stone and therefore, the higher the quality.

What Does It Symbolize?

Throughout history, emeralds have been seen as a symbol of love. Perhaps this is why ancient Romans and Greeks associated them with the goddess Venus, who was thought to symbolize love and passion. Emeralds have also been associated with wealth and compassion.

Where Is It Found?

The first emeralds were found in Egypt around 1500 BC. Today, these gems are mostly mined in Columbia, Brazil, and Zambia, but are also found in numerous countries throughout Europe and Asia, and even right here in the United States! The state of North Carolina is the only place with significant emerald deposits in all of North America.

And, of course, you can find emerald-inspired jewelry here at Uno Alla Volta! Here are a few of our favorite jewelry pieces and accessories featuring the rich color of this beautiful green stone:

Piotr’s Emerald Swarovski Crystal Jewelry Set

Avi’s “Emerald Allure” Swarovski Crystal Necklace

Julie’s Vintage-Style Barrette With Emerald Swarovski Crystals

March Birthstone: Aquamarine

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What Does The Name “Aquamarine” Mean?

Aquamarine is derived from the Latin words “aqua,” meaning “water,” and “marina,” meaning “of the sea.”

How Can I Spot It?

Aquamarine is a gem with oceanic color which ranges from light blue to dark blue to seafoam green. The purer the shade of blue, the more valuable the stone is. It has a natural clarity to it, sometimes even appearing to be transparent.

What Does It Symbolize?

As with all birthstones, aquamarine has long been associated with a number of healing and spiritual powers. As the first birthstone of the spring months, it is most commonly seen as a symbol of youth, rebirth, and hope.

Where Is It Found?

Aquamarine is found inside certain types of granite rocks. The first aquamarine gems were found in 1723, nestled deep in the mountains of Siberia. Today, it is mined mostly in Brazil, but it is also found in parts of Africa and even right here in the United States! At 14000 feet elevation, Mount Antero in Colorado has revealed some of the finest quality aquamarine gems in all the world.

And, of course, you can find aquamarine here at Uno Alla Volta! Here are a few of our favorite jewelry pieces featuring this beautiful blue stone:

“Earthen Glow” Statement Necklace

“One With Nature” Earrings

Joli’s “Paisley Spiral” Gemstone Hoop Earrings

“Sparkling Seas” Pendant Necklace

“Hidden Meadow” Gemstone Necklace