Sheena is Chalmers Gems Co-Founder and Director (she’s also Marie’s Best Friend), and 17th April is her Birthday! To celebrate Sheena’s Birthday, we sat down with her and asked her all about her favourite Gemstone Aquamarine.
1. Why have you chosen Aquamarine?
Because it is a reflection Gemstone for me. One which captivates me and one which was influenced even ahead of my Jewellery Design Career. It must be said, though, that I absolutely love Diamonds! Aquamarine is my favourite-coloured stone (followed by Sapphires). Without my love of Diamonds, I would never have met Marie!
2. Why does it resonate with you?
I was a teenager in the 80’s and when Charles and Diana got engaged, I wrote to the Palace and congratulated them. I had a letter back! The thing that most captivated me was the engagement ring. It was a huge 12 Carat Sapphire surrounded by 14 round Diamonds. It had to be reset later on, as there were not enough claws to keep it set safely! Diana chose it herself. The Royal Jewellers, Garrards presented her, at the Palace, with six rings and she chose the one she did as it ‘matched her eyes’, but there is also a tale that she chose it ‘because it’s the biggest of course’ – and as a young teen, I loved that!
Some years later, on my honeymoon in Sri Lanka, I went to source a huge Sapphire of my own. They were incredibly expensive, so I went for the next best thing – an Aquamarine. I chose one the same shape and size as Diana’s and when asked why that one, I said ‘because it’s the biggest of course’! I have worn it every day since – over 25 years – only parting with it to have it reset (four times!) and cleaned. I have had to have the scratches polished out a couple of times and have lost at least half a Carat doing this. But I won’t take it off!
Its latest iteration is set in white gold surrounded by a halo of Diamonds. When you look down on it, it looks like its floating on a cushion of Diamonds –which I designed myself and was made by Master Jewellers and a Master Setter.
Some of you may know that I have a strong career in technology, and in that capacity, we designed and created the Wedding Gift Fund Website for their Royal Highnesses, The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. After the wedding, they invited us to the Palace for tea and when I shook Catherine’s hand, she was wearing Diana’s Sapphire – which was now her ring. I was wearing my Aquamarine. It was a full circle and a life-defining moment as it is that very day, I decided to change course and focus on my Jewellery Design. And that is how I met my best friend and sister, Marie.
Now, in a further twist… when Diana divorced Charles, her friend, Lucia Flecha de Lima, commissioned a huge Aquamarine into a ring in 1996 and Asprey made it.
So, we certainly shared a love for the same Gemstone. Apparently, this is now worn by Meghan Markle.
Harry actually chose the Sapphire engagement ring after his Mum’s death. William chose her Cartier watch – as personal keepsake. However, Harry wanted the future Queen to wear the ring, so when William proposed, Harry gave him Diana’s ring. This is devastatingly romantic and selfless.
Diana was a HUGE influence on me during the 80s and 90s. I was devastated when she died and cried for days. I still feel sad now about it.
3. How do you use it in your Designs and Jewellery Make?
Well, I have used Sapphires, Aquamarines and Diamonds in my high-end designs since that day at the Palace. I am rather more a Designer than a Maker, and my Jewellery has adorned celebrities like Zoe Ball, Kate Derham and been showcased by Vogue Publishing Director Vanessa Kingori and Gok Wan to name a few. My pieces are worn in high society with Lords buying heirlooms for their wives!
That said, I now focus my time on Chalmers Gems and supplying Gemstones to Jewellery Makers and Collectors. I do not have much time for Designing!
I do make some simple pieces as a hobby and to gift to family and friends and Aquamarine often is a go-to Gemstone for my Stretchies, Earrings and Necklaces. It seems to suit everyone and as a semiprecious Stone holds resonance as a valuable treat!
4. What is the best setting for an Aquamarine piece?
This really does depend on the type of Gemstone. For example, Faceted Aquamarines would generally be claw or channel set, and Beads would be set on a thread, silk, elastic, or wire, and Cabochons could be bezel-set, clawed, glued (not my favourite!!) or wire wrapped/woven. I would say that ahead of any setting, ensure you have the design in mind for the overall look and feel as you may instinctively feel that one setting is how you’d like to go. Yet, when you get it down on paper (or even freeflow), you end up with alternative setting options. Plus, there are secondary or accent settings. This would be setting the main Stone and then setting accent Stones around it to really captivate and bring out the very best of the Stone. Some incredible wire-worked pieces do this, but I lack this skillset!
Thank you so much Sheena, this is such an incredible insight, and we love hearing about your encounters with Royalty!
Want to know more about Aquamarine?
Aquamarine comes from the Beryl family of Gemstones. Beryl is a family of Gemstones with many varieties of coloured Gems, including some of the world’s favourite Gemstones for Jewellery Designs and Making. The most popular has to be Emerald and Aquamarine. The Beryl family also include:
To name a few.
The Gemstones within the Beryl family are allochromatic Gems. This means they are coloured by inclusion within the Gems structure. The opposite to this is idiochromatic Gems where the colouring agent is integral to the structure of the Gem – Peridot is an example of an idiochromatic Gemstone.
Aquamarine grows in a long Crystal and its inclusions are known as ‘rain like’. Aquamarine tends to have a very light blue colour. Gemstones with rich blue colour are the most popular and therefore the most valuable.
The name Aquamarine comes from the Latin word for water – Aqua, and the Latin for the sea – Marina. Aquamarine is the birthstone of March.
Crystal Healing Properties:
Are you one of these people who feel an affinity with the sea, ocean or open water? If you are you will understand there is a draw to the water that is unexplainable. When you are near the water or in it you feel an overwhelming sense of calm and peace wash over you. Well, that is exactly what Aquamarine does for us in the realms of Crystal Healer. Aquamarine’s soft and soothing hues of sea blue have a harmony with those wanting to overcome judgementalism and calm the mind. Aquamarine (literally meaning seawater) is full of feminine energy, ruled by the moon! A very peaceful and harmonious Gemstone, Aquamarine can be playful and mischievous too! Associated with the Throat Chakra, Aquamarine can aid immunity as it opens the flow between the Heart and the Throat.
Did you know that Aquamarine was used as a talisman of good luck, fearlessness and protection? A Stone of courage, its calming energies, can reduce stress. Perfect for today’s current climate!
Chalmers Gems stock a large variety of Aquamarine in all sorts of cuts, shapes and sizes. You can browse the whole range HERE.