A father’s love knows no bounds. This Australian black opal ring in 18k royal yellow gold was designed for a daughter needing a little extra luck and after weeks of perfecting, it is finally ready to be shipped out! Highly prized by kings, emperors, and maharajas, the opal is as timeless as timeless can be, and is often referred to as the “Queen of Gems.” This particular piece showcases bright flashes of blue and green and is set in a bezel with diamonds peeking out from either side. Truly a ring fit for any queen!
He said his heart was the color purple.
She said her heart was the color pink.
They wanted a custom designed ring to represent their colorful hearts and signify the 30 years of love and happiness they shared. Unsure of exactly where to start or what they wanted, they just started looking at our loose gemstone collection. They knew the moment they saw the raspberry trillion cut tourmaline that it was the perfect gemstone! The raspberry color of the stone simply fused the color of their hearts perfectly together.
Once deciding on the tourmaline, the process started and Michael went to work on his bench. Working many late nights and with an injured thumb from a previous custom project, he sketched, designed, and hand fabricated a one of a kind ring that he hoped would be a worthy representation of these wonderful people and their beautiful love story.
It was such fun yesterday to see their eyes light up when Michael showed them the finished ring. With big smiles and excitement, they promptly turned and gave Michael a huge hug. While talking with her, I giggled noticing she couldn't hold eye contact with me for more than a minute because she kept looking down to admire her ring! The emotional reaction people show when first seeing their finished piece is truly incredible. I have tried to hold back my tears but I have yet to succeed. Every client and each piece Michael designs for them is personal and close to our hearts. I am so grateful for these moments and amazed at Michael’s ability to join his artistic skill with the clients visions and ideas. Every piece is designed with passion around the client's story. That is what makes it so special and why it means so much!
The Making of a Masterpiece
- Written by Richard Wise author of The French Blue and Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur's Guide To Precious Gemstones.
What is art and is the work of the goldsmith an art at all or merely a craft? This is an ancient debate. Some would argue that the use of precious materials, as opposed to more mundane materials, such as paint and canvas disqualifies the metalsmith and his product from the status and stature of the fine artist. Jewelry is all about the materials, gold, platinum, gemstones, design being viewed as a secondary concern. The objective of the goldsmith, is to decorate the body and decoration is not art.
Its inspiration hails from the Art Nouveau Movement (1900-1910), with a design iconography that evolved out of the Arts & Crafts Movement, which paradoxically stressed the use of simple non-ostentatious materials and hand craftsmanship. Like Arts & Crafts jewelry, Art Nouveau jewelry utilized naturalistic design, but whereas Arts & Crafts practitioners emphasized the use of unusual and relatively mundane non-precious materials, Art Nouveau eschewed the ideological and abandoned the mundane but retained the emphasis on the naturalistic embracing a more feminine, sensuous vocabulary partially through the use of precious materials.
It is no mistake that the Art Nouveau Period parallels what has become known as The Gilded Age—neither saw anything wrong for sumptuous decoration for its own sake. Plato reduced art to beauty. Is decoration art or is it something else, I guess you will have to decide.
As is often the case, we began with a client, a magnificent pair of black opals and an idea. We worked with the client over several months. The following images illustrate far better than any words the development of the concept.
Birth of A Concept
The concept began with a pair of black opals the two peacocks, a perennial part of the Art Nouveau design lexicon. The peacock has been used as a symbol from the time of the ancient Greeks. However, in this case, it seemed particularly useful as a naturalistic excuse to show off the the bird’s plumage using a rainbow of colored gemstones.
Finding accents for gem opal is always a challenge. Very few gemstones find a simpatico with opal. In this case; ruby and blue sapphire worked very well, picking up the corresponding hues in the opals, but when it came to the orange tones in the opal, orange sapphire and diamond simply did not work. The only gemstone that the opal would accept was spessartite garnet.
Michael Corneau's custom designed jewelry pieces are now showcased in the October 13th opening at Peabody Museum of Art at Yale University.
Charleston, South Carolina has been voted the No. 1 City in the World and No. 1 City in the U.S. and Canada
We are thrilled to share that Charleston, South Carolina has been voted the No. 1 City in the World and No. 1 City in the U.S. and Canada in the Travel + Leisure 2016 World’s Best Awards.
For the very first time, readers of Travel + Leisure have voted Charleston the No. 1 City in the World! Charleston is the first domestic destination to earn the coveted No. 1 City in the World ranking. This is the fourth consecutive year Charleston is ranked the No. 1 City in the United States and Canada. We are both honored and humbled, and we extend a sincere thank you to everyone who voted.
Charleston exceeded other destinations in the categories of Sights/Landmarks, Arts/Culture, Restaurants/Food, People/Friendliness, Shopping, and Value to earn the No. 1 spot.
“Charleston is a remarkably dynamic place, so it’s no surprise that it has achieved its highest ranking ever in our survey as this year’s best city in the world. The city has managed to preserve all the qualities for which it widely known—a prime coastal setting, historic architecture, friendly locals—while also nurturing a creative culture that is making it one of the most notable destinations for those who seek out interesting restaurants, bars, and shops that highlight a dedication to distinctive craft,” said Travel + Leisure Editor-in-Chief Nathan Lump.
Please help us congratulate the Charleston area hotels recognized in Travel + Leisure‘s World’s Best Awards. The Spectator Hotel has been voted No. 1 Best City Hotel in the Continental U.S. and No. 2 Best Hotel in the World. French Quarter Inn is also ranked among the Best City Hotels in the Continental U.S. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort has been named among the Best Hotels in the South while Kiawah Island was voted the No. 2 Best Island in the Continental U.S. Additionally, Belmond has been ranked among the World’s Best Hotel Brands.
Join in the 2016 World’s Best Awards conversation with @ExploreCHS and @TravelLeisure, and share your love for the Holy City by tagging #ExploreCharleston and #TLWorldsBest.
See why Charleston holds the top honors and begin planning your destination vacation. We’ll see you soon in Charleston!
The design is that of a blossom opening to reveal the treasure hidden within. The soft petal like golden lips serve to present and protect the stone at the same time. Note the shape of the shank, we provide weight at the back to counterbalance the top-heavy center setting. Four tsavorites bezel set, one at the base of each of the four split petals.
Sketches were prepared and working closely with our client, we chose 18k royal yellow gold for the setting. Black opal, particularly those with a vivid display of primary hues; red-orange, blue, green, often look their best in 22k. There are no hard and fast rules to the setting of opal; each gem is individual with a distinct personality that must be carefully catered to. Design and construction by Michael Corneau.
( Richard Wise)
The yellow-green peridot, commonly known by the Egyptians as the “gem of the sun”, shows the perfect balance of yellow and green while almost appearing “minty” to the viewer's eye. This trillion cut pair of peridot’s, sourced from the gem mines of Pakistan,, are brilliantly cut and when paired with the brilliant and rare sphene gemstone, it exhibits three different colors. It moves under the viewer's eye from yellow to green and then orange. In addition, the sphene is dispersive, it makes them sparkle similar to how a diamond sparkles.
Set in 18K royal yellow gold, each peridot is accented with a drop of five greenish-yellow sphenes and then set against platinum. Paired together, the colors exude warmth, like the birth of new vegetation under the summer sun. Custom designed and hand-fabricated in-house by Michael Corneau, these luscious earrings set themselves apart.
Come visit us at Corneau Goldsmithing Jewelry Gallery and witness the stunning elegance of these earrings for yourself.
I feel blessed to be able to have had so many wonderful experiences working along side of Michael.
I wanted to share a recent story; One of our client's wanted a custom designed necklace using diamonds from a bracelet she no longer wears. We adored her from the minute she walked in and it was a pleasure to work with her on every level of this process. She was specific and had an idea of what she wanted but needed it to be brought to life. Michael has a remarkable ability to combine his creative visions and design ideas with what the client had imagined. While listening to their ideas, you can see his mind creating something spectacular immediately. Not being artistic, I will never be able to understand how it all comes together and how he executes that into a finished piece that when presented to the client, it is a gift to see. From sketching a design with a pencil. then banging and shaping metals ( I try and stay out of the gallery on those days.) and finally polishing and presenting the finished piece, has always been remarkable to me.
It always amazes me to watch him while he is intently sketching a new piece with such passion. It is apparent how much he truly enjoys his craft. Each design is inspired and envisioned by the client and he somehow derives a part of their style and personality. Which makes each piece always uniquely designed just for them, never designed on a computer nor ever duplicated or manufactured.
Our client picked up the necklace this week and as beautiful as they both are, they both seemed to shine even brighter once she put it on for the first time!
A wonderful couple wandered into the gallery today and left with a beautiful ring custom designed by Michael Corneau for their 35th anniversary.
This is their first visit to Charleston and although Tropical Storm Hermine is on its way, they have not let it ruin their short vacation to the Holy City!
It always warms our hearts to be part of such an amazing celebration!
The red spinel, historically known as a 'Balas' (or fake) ruby, was not recognized as a separate gem species until the 19th century. You see, back in the day, every gemstone that was red was a thought to be a ruby and everything else a sapphire. Balas refers to the region the gemstone spinel was first discovered in central Asia. More recently, the term Balas has taken on the general description of 'fake', as this brilliant red gem fooled so many with it’s similarity to a ruby. Regardless, this crimson red, gemstone was treasured by kings and emperors and even adorns the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Second.
More appropriately, and in my opinion, the term spinel, which is derived from the Latin for arrow, is much more suiting. It’s color is vivid and intense, piercing even, with its “stoplight” red color. The little beauty in what has been dubbed “the sweetheart ring” was sourced from the famed Burma mines where it is found in deposits alongside the treasured ruby. As we might say in the gem trade; the color POPS! It is lively, brilliant, and saturated with color. Accented by VS1-F/G, ideal cut diamonds (because why would you have anything less?), this vivid little gem is set in 18K royal yellow gold. Come into Corneau Goldsmithing Jewelry Gallery and see this vibrant, red gemstone for yourself and decide whether or not it is “Balas”.
Art Nouveau or 'the new art' stood as a fantastic expression of the natural world. The 'whiplash' represented organic or sensuous symbols such as rippling hair, billowing veils, or even the female form. Vivid mandarin orange and grass- green garnets emphasize the natural botanical themes and colors. Art Nouveau proposes to suggest reality rather than imitate nature. A bouquet of cold diamonds can never have the same charm as a fresh, sweet-smelling flowers. Mandarin and grass-green are suggestive of that natural botanical theme to enliven one's senses as they imagine the smell of a ripe orange or a freshly cut lawn. The interwoven lines of the piece itself shift in color subtly as it reflects its surrounding. There is a true sense of warmth ripe with flavor accented with the natural tangerine freshwater pearl drop.
The Corneau Goldsmithing Jewelry Gallery is filled with one-of-a-kind, handcrafted, and beautifully designed custom jewelry. Shop a curated collection of local and regional jewelry in the gallery or have Michael Corneau design a piece for you!
Written by Susan Lucas
I'd like to share my thoughts and understanding of this "new-age-jeweler". As I have been told, "We design on the computer, send it off to a casting company, and they supply us with a finished product. Sometimes, we set the gems and sometimes they do it for us." So, my question is when did cutting and pasting on a computer become a specialty? Is this the new age of jewelry design?
So basically, as I understand it, the new age jeweler cuts and pastes on a computer screen from thousands of parts (their words and not mine) to create that one-of-a-kind piece for their client. I had to ask: "Where does the designing aspect come into hand, after all, you do claim yourself as a custom designer?"
I was originally trained in interior and architectural design. One of my mentors, department head of the design area from Syracuse University, marked my assignments with red so much that in the beginning one could barely see the original blueprints. But I learned, painfully, as to how things were supposed to be done. Ever since doing things the right way seems to be ingrained in my soul.
Several years ago, I chose to align my love of interior and architectural design with my passion of jewelry design. I used the fundamental values and precision of architectural styles to create the jewelry I had envisioned. I give most of the credit to my antique drawing table from which all my inspiration has been derived. With her glorious wood top and old cast iron legs, we are like one and her unique beauty centers me while I am sketching new designs. She is truly beautiful and she reminds me of the days in architecture and that doing things the right way, no matter how difficult that may be, is always the best way. I have been told that I am a stubborn SOB when it comes to a few things, but I refuse to sacrifice the simplistic values that have been a pillar of strength and direction throughout my lifetime.
So I design on the table. I sketch and I draw based purely on my perceptions of the client. I spend a great deal of time getting to know the client's visions and ideas so I can adequately capture enough to bring the piece to fruition. I feel that the importance of human interaction and the ability to express such has been lost. I believe our society has become so immediate and computer reliant that we have lost the art of appreciating and understanding the importance of the client and the has been completely absent from good design. Most commercial jewelry stores tell us what we should like rather than providing the client with a true designer whose focus is actually on the client!
I will never settle for this idea of the "New-Age-Jeweler" being explained as such. I find the whole idea appalling. And I find the whole idea of randomly picked parts from a menu on a computer screen to be quite a dishonor to true designers.
Throughout the course of a day, I am frequently educating our clients in the art of custom design and hand fabrication, essentially the art of goldsmithing. This is a learning process that often takes several years of being an apprentice and then becoming a master. Many of the gemstones we use in our creations are not cut to standard, calibrated sizes and we cannot rely on manufactured settings. The gems in our designs might be referred to as “free-cut” or “fantasy-cut” and are often cut by gem artists. As such, our designs cannot be mass-manufactured, like many of the popular commercial lines. Instead, they are built in our own workshops by skilled craftsmen and women who often have degrees and training in multiple disciplines revolving around custom design.
Often, custom designs in many retail stores are are using a computer generated model and utilizing pre-made templates. Basically, they are a cut and paste format. The finished model is then sent to a manufacturing house to be cast in wax for the customer’s approval before being cast into a precious metal, such as gold or silver. The parts that make up a ring,necklace, or pendant that are using the pre-designed templates frequently do not accept higher quality or free-cut gems. More importantly, these higher grade or free-cut gems are sometimes forced into settings which cannot properly accommodate non-calibrated gems, therefore, sacrificing the integrity of the setting and risking damage or loss of the gem.
An experienced custom designer will design and build a setting around an individual stone with unique proportions and which may not fit in standardized settings. Because of this, the gem is more secure and protected from wear. Additionally, an experienced designer can also improve the appearance of a gemstone through proper design of the setting by manipulating the light and reflection. Knowledge of color, light leakage, reflected and transmitted light, are vital to a quality design. The art of custom design and hand-fabrication companioned with an education in gemstones generally takes years of training and practice and a generic computer template could never emulate or produce the same creation.