Spinel as August Birthstone

I recently started writing a Expert Advice column in ReFined Magazine here in Halifax. I thought I’d share a recent one, which speaks to Spinel.


The concept of associating specific gemstones with specific months is thought to originate in the Book of Exodus: Aaron’s breastplate was decorated with 12 gemstones, signifying the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the twelve months of the year.  For several centuries it was customary to own all twelve gemstones and wear a different one each month. Needless to say: I like that idea!

The custom of wearing a gemstone significant to one’s birth month only developed in the 18th century. The list varies by country and culture; the North American version we use today was formalized in 1912.

Simple 18k yellow gold stacker rings with sapphire and spinel

The original gemstone for August was sardonyx, a banded chalcedony, rarely used today. Peridot was added later. However, peridot can be brittle, and is not a very hard gemstone – it can abrade easily, making the stone look dull. 

Luckily, in 2016, spinel was announced as an alternative birthstone for August. Rejoice – your colour options just opened up immensely!

A largely unknown gem, loved by connoisseurs

Even though most consumers are as unfamiliar with spinel, jewellers, collectors and gemologists have long appreciated this gem for its excellent toughness, spectacular optical properties, and vast array of natural colours.  Spinel’s bright vitreous lustre is due to its very high refractive index, giving it bright sparkle and brilliant fire.

Unlike the majority of other coloured gemstones, spinel is never treated for colour-enhancement. The colour of the stone you see is as it came out of the earth. Reds, pinks, purples and orange reds are the most common hues, but spinel also occurs in lavender, blue, colourless, and – rarely – green. There is even a naturally occurring solid black version.

Untreated raw spinel crystals

Moh’s Hardness Scale

Moh’s hardness  scale is a measure of a gem’s resistance to scratching. You will hear me use this term time and again, as it is an important consideration when choosing gemstones for a custom project. With a Moh’s hardness of 8, spinel is a fairly tough stone (diamonds are the highest at 10). Such toughness and stability make it an excellent choice for everyday wear.

This sterling silver Onefooter ring with pear-shaped spinel set in 18k gold is one of my favs (size 7.5 – clicking on the image will take you to all details)

As with most genuine coloured gems, spinel’s quality and value depend largely on the saturation and intensity of its colour, as well as clarity.  Of course the stone’s weight will also influence the price. Large spinels are rare, with a dramatic increase in per carat prices for fine quality red, blue and pink spinels that weigh upwards of 5 carats.

A Ruby Imposter

Deep red spinel is very similar in colour, provenance, and chemical composition to ruby, and thus has historically often been mistaken as such. Only when it was identified as a separate mineral in the 18th century did it become clear that many of the world’s famous ‘rubies’ were, in fact, spinels.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the “Black Prince’s ruby.” This historic, 5cm tall, 170 carat crimson-red gem is set in England’s Imperial State Crown and displayed in the Tower of London.

18k yellow gold and spinel is a match made in heaven. This one is sz 9 (click on the image for details)

Thanks and see you soon – across Canada

Dear WestVan,

thank you for having me.
The annual Harmony Arts Festival is just such a joy ! I remember the first time I was invited to participate in this wonderful event – and what a delight it has been, ever since! A big round of applause to the many people who make that show happen, including Natalie and her team, and the many volunteers.
Thank you also to all my clients who stopped by to tell me how much they love the pieces they’ve purchased from me over the years – your appreciation really means a lot to me.

I just love the elegant and joyous Harmony Arts Festival


I am back in Halifax now, creating the special pieces that were ordered at Harmony, taking apart old pieces to give them a new life, and filling orders for the many galleries which represent my work. This week, I participated in a local show, the FullMoonMarket at Halifax’s historic Keith Brewery building.

Next month I look forward to the annual Garlic Festival, which will be held on the grounds of Avondale Sky Winery on Saturday, September 21st. This event is more fun that you’d think – keep the date earmarked if you are in Nova Scotia! I love the spirit and gorgeous setting of that one.

After that, I will go further afield for a couple of appearances outside of Toronto:

on Friday, Sept 27th, I plan to be at Mountain Galleries East as part of the Stratford’s Culture Days. This will be a new gallery for me, and I’ve never been to Stratford, so am looking forward to that! That weekend, Sept 28 & 29, I will be in Alton Mills at in Caledon, Ontario, for a trunkshow at Gallery Gemma Jewellery Arts, as part of the celebration of their annual Art Show Weekend and the 10th anniversary of their Arts Centre.
November 7- 11 will see me back in Vancouver downtown at the convention centre for the fabulous annual CircleCraft Market – this year earlier than usual!
Following this I will be in Calgary for the first time, at the Calgary Art Market, November 14-17 . Really looking forward to that one!
Finally, a trunk show at Toronto’s shopAGO tops off my travel show list. This will take place on November 19th. Meanwhile, my work will show at Halifax’s DesignerCraft Winter Show 2019

And whenever I am not on the road, you are most welcome to come see me in my Halifax studio!

I love meeting clients in person, and so I am excited to be able to offer more meet-the-artist opportunities. See you soon across Canada!

Simply make an appointment by emailing hello@dorotheerosen.ca, by calling 902.422.9460, or use the form below:

See you soon!

Discover the MoonPearl Series

I am extremely pleased to be able to present you with my new work: the MoonPearl Series.  I will be launching the series officially at WestVancouver’s Harmony Arts Festival next weekend.

The study of line has long fascinated me.  In calligraphy – the undulation of a black line of ink on paper , its width determined by the amount of pressure applied to the brush, its fissures on the amount of ink left in the bristles.  In photography – the lines which tree branches sketch across a frame of sky. In the translation of such observations into jewellery design – the winding and wrapping of precious metals as in my Onefooter Series.

My return to pearls was sparked mainly by meeting the right supplier: Montreal brother-sister team Joanie and Pier-Luc are extremely passionate about pearls. I appreciate this passion, and the quality of their wares.

Once I had found the right pearls, I became obsessed to find the perfect design to match the beauty of the pearls. For months, whenever I could, I would spend time on design research – I made sample after sample after sample, until I arrived at a pleasing result. Voila – the MoonPearl Series was born.

Introducing the MoonPearl Series! As always: I like being extravagant in my use of materials – the long piece goes to the belly button, and easily wraps twice if desired

The MoonPearl Swirl circumnavigates the pearl in free-flowing pattern like constellations. If one were to hold in one’s heart a ‘moon of compassion’, this can effect those around us. These are the thoughts which played into the design of those earrings.
Each one is unique and different, yet related, like different thoughts about the same subject.

For the other part of the MoonPearl series, I took the idea of the ‘hand of the maker’, and combined it with the notion of a pearl’s home – the shell. On first glance, the individual sterling elements seem to be shells.  The close observer will discover, however, that these individually hand-fabricated elements are in fact each molded with my own hands, which is evident in them carrying fingerprints: proof of the hand of the maker.

Each piece in this series will be unique and different – no two the same

Whatever work I put out into the world, it will inevitably be a reflection of my state of mind. I really feel that the simple elegance of this series speaks to my having become quite a bit more settled and at ease of late.
May this feeling of peace and ease translate to the wearer!

I only have very few of these pieces with me, so, if you are in BC, come see me soonest at Harmony Arts Festival in WestVan’s Ambleside Park:

Friday, August 2:         2–9 pm
Saturday, August 3:    11 am–9 pm
Sunday, August 4:       11 am–9 pm
Monday, August 5:      11 am–9 pm


Friday, August 9:          2–9 pm
Saturday, August 10:   11 am–9 pm
Sunday, August 11:       11 am–9 pm

I will have more in November at CircleCraft Market in downtown Vancouver, Calgary’s ArtMarket, and Halifax’s CraftNS Winter Show, as well as trunk shows in Ontario (including at the shopAGO in downtown Toronto) and Halifax.

Can’t wait

I can’t wait to share with you my new series.

I’ve been developing this for over a year. And I must say: I am glad I gave it its time. I am madly in love with it –

(I’ll share tomorrow, promise!)

Family Reunion in Europe

If I begin at the beginning, I will say that I was born in Munich, and that my family later moved to the Allgäu region of Bavaria, southwest of Munich, near the famous Neuschwanstein Castle (which is not all it’s made out to be … long story).
By the way, as I post this on Sunday June 30th 2019: it is 30 years ago today that I arrived in Canada!

I grew up with five siblings – four ‘whole’ ones and two ‘half’ (from my father’s first marriage).  I am a middle-aged woman, and my friends have started to get sick, some have died. Makes you think.  A couple of years ago, I started instigating the idea of a sibling reunion; my brother Peter took the idea and ran with it. This event just took place, and I am blown away.

with my siblings, our spouses and children and their partners

We decided to meet not in Germany, but in a place in Northern Italy which carries our family name: Andrich. Peter has done a lot of research: almost everyone in this village carries this name. About 250 years ago, some 150 people decided to leave to seek their fortune: half went to Brazil, half to Germany. All of them were carpenters.  We have not done the genealogical explorations to be certain that our clan originated here, but our father and grandfather were also woodworkers, just sayin’ . Until it was lost to bombs during WW2, my father’s family owned a furniture manufacture in Dresden, producing Bauhaus designs.

The village of Andrich is nestled in the middle of the impressive Dolomite mountain range.  We stayed in a town nearby. On day one of our reunion, we hiked for several hours through valleys and up and down mountainsides to reach this small village. We crossed ice-cold glacier mountain streams barefoot, shoes in hand,  and traversed villages along the way. Such a walk was the perfect way to share in conversation, continually changing speaking partners.

The village which carries my family name, nestled in the dolomites

Our partners and children came along. Sadly, the oldest of my sisters broke her hip a week before the gathering, and was unable to make it. We skyped her in for a couple of occasions.

My brother Peter and his husband Michel

We took further excursions to mountaintops during the days. Evenings were spent reminiscing.

Two of my brothers had brought along photo albums or had digitalized my father’s old Super Eight films and endless slides – Papa liked documenting! There were some amazing shots and reels, which prompted laughter as well as thoughtful discussions. It was very meaningful for all of us to get together, share memories, and reconnect after many years of having gone our own ways.

we spent a lot of time pouring over family photos together

Venice! Ach … amazing.

This was also a first meeting of my family with my partner of over a decade. After the big gathering was over, we went southwards with just my brother Peter and his husband. We relaxed in natural thermal waters which come from deep below the earth in this region, and took excursions to the amazing Italian cities of Padua and Venice.

On a drive which took a little too long, climbing over the alps like Hannibal, we drove through 5 countries in one day (Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Germany), making our way towards Munich.

this image still does not covey the magnificence of those mountains

Where we just came from

There, we dropped in on the annual gathering of the extended clan in the home which my maternal grandparents had build, and in which my mother grew up during WW2. I was able to show my husband the bomb shelter in the basement, where she cowered during raids. Many delightful memories were also shared. How great to see my cousins and their children and my aunts and uncles, sip tea and eat delightful homemade treats in this space that carries so much of our family’s history.

This back yard holds so very many memories. Here, I got to catch up with my aunt Fridolin

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