Essential for all Carrés jewellery is a rich use of gemstones. Below you can read Shiri Haugsbøls personal description of some of our most popular gemstones. The descriptions are excerpts from our Book of Gems.
Aquamarine is completely transparent at its finest and most valuable. My favourite is the milky aquamarine, so full of character, varying from light blue and half-transparent to almost opaque, from yellow/blue to green. It can be completely saturated or contain minute mineral flakes. This gem is difficult to acquire in the exact same tone, making the selection process quite complex. The tone is a question of taste, so it takes time to choose these stones. I've yet only used it set in 18 carat gold in the Queen of Hearts collection, which does it justice in both style and colour.
Amethyst gets its colour from iron that's exposed to natural radiation. I use the powerful Bolivian amethyst for the Queen of Hearts collection in 18 carat gold, with a checker cut that reflects and spreads the light in the gemstone, allowing an optimal play of colours. It has an intense colour, clean and clear, making it quite valuable. The cabochon cut Indian amethyst, where the inclusions increase the saturation in the gemstone, is magnificent. Teardrop amethysts, both facetted and en cabochon, reflect the light, displaying the inclusions.
Chrysoprase is available in all hues, from light green with brown veins to an exclusive and intense green stone equal to none. I've used the finest quality for the Colour of Envy collection, in 18 carat gold. Almost completely opaque, this variant of chalcedony from Australia is the most valuable. It's available mostly in cabochon, at highly specialised dealers. I use both round, oval, and teardrop chrysoprase.
My father taught me everything about diamonds. He used black diamonds to make his own cutting tools. His stories about the properties of the diamond as the hardest non-man made material and its brittleness, closely related to its hardness, has always entranced me. I've seen diamond cutters at work, seen how they use a turntable to form and polish the gem. Diamonds can only be cut with diamonds, and the process requires extreme concentration and precision.
The name Carré stems from the early days of my career when I was selling traditional white diamonds. Carré is the name of a square cut diamond, an older and less utilised cut. The round cut is the most famous, probably called brilliant because the facets of this cut are designed to reflect as much light as possible. It's also an easier cut to sort, since the roundness of it means it's possible to use a diamond sieve to sort the different sizes of the smallest diamonds.
Corals are fantastic! The colour spectrum of coral is in a league of its own and dependable upon personal preferences and use. The colours vary from white and Momo (Japanese for peach) to vibrant red. White spots, which are the core of the coral, show that it's the real thing, no artificial colouring. Coral is valuable, rare and porous. Only certified dealers supply the coral for my collections. The texture and beauty of elaborately hand-engraved corals set me on the path towards my 18-carat gold collection Power Flower in 2004. Engraved corals are all different and therefore unique and handpicked. When black diamonds and corals are combined, an exotic marriage between the soft warm coral and the hard cold diamond is born.
Labradorite is one of my absolute favourites. The stone is beautiful by itself and emphasises colour and light in other gemstones. Labradorite has a delicate rainbow sheen, like oil on water. Purple, green and blue light play across the stone, making it exceptionally lively. Look into it and you'll find it filled with inclusions. Small stones are clear, while larger ones have many obvious lines that are a natural part of them. The name of this gem stems from the Labrador Peninsula in Canada, and has in turn given its name to the light phenomenon labradorescence in gemology.
Freshwater pearls are created in pearl oysters and snails, which secrete mother of pearl to encapsulate grains of dirt and sand, which have found their way inside. It takes between three and eight years for the pearl to be encapsulated in enough layers for it to be ready for use in jewellery. Freshwater pearls are naturally white, pink, golden, orange, grey and violet when harvested. There's a great variation in colour, and many of the pearls are bleached to acquire a uniform shade. The word lustre describes the quality of the light on the surface of the pearl, which depends upon the thickness of the pearl's layers. I use button-shaped, round, teardrop and baroque pearls, which aren't flawless, but full of character.
Sapphire and Ruby
Sapphire belongs to the corundum family. Most people recognise the sapphire for its blue colour and the ruby for its red. They're both corundum, and beyond the classic blue and red is pink, orange, yellow, colourless, green – indeed the corundum family spans the whole spectrum of colours. The opaque ruby has another character entirely than the transparent ruby, a lovely blue-red tone, and compatible with both gems and pearls. It's the chemistry that determines the colour of the stone. The range and intensity of colour, the hardness and rarity have made the corundum one of the most highly prized gemstones, donned by kings and emperors since antiquity. Larger sapphires are featured in my 18 carat gold collections, where I handpick only the most beautiful for hearts, round and oval cuts. The tiny sapphires in pink, blue and green I primarily use in the Mini Me and My Precious collections.
Turquoise has an irresistibly clear colour. Turquoise is very rarely found without black or brown markings. Since fine turquoise is highly sought after, nowadays, porous raw stone, which is then impregnated, is widely used. These stones are extensively mined in Arizona and California. Turquoise, which varies from greenish to intense blue, is delicate, and doesn't fare well with heat or even mild chemicals, such as those found in cosmetics. In the 80s, turquoise was used in hippie jewellery and lost its status as an elegant gem, still enjoyed by coral. Liberal use of large turquoise rocks with lots of black markings, set in chunky silver jewellery wore it out. In my world, turquoise, pearl and coral are related. Exotic, beautiful, and eye catching with a long history.