Earlier this year we made a few changes to our materials policy of using only vintage gems, and the response has been great. We’ve had frequent requests for diamond alternatives, both because of affordability and because okomido fans are so darn cutting edge that you refuse to be bound by tradition. As a result, we’re always on the lookout for something new and sensational, which is all the sweeter when it supports change in the worldwide mining industry.

That’s where Zultanite comes in. This rare color-change gemstone is found in only one place in the world, in a single Turkish mine that follows strict environmental practices. It’s an incredibly romantic conversation starter that changes color dramatically in different lighting conditions. In daylight it’s a warm, pale champagne with greenish overtones, and in candlelight it’s a rosy, salmon or raspberry color. Perhaps most surprisingly, it is a versatile neutral that looks amazing with literally anything you wear. It’s truly a chameleon stone.

The best part is how Zultanite mining sets the standard for sustainable mining worldwide by minimizing environmental impact; protecting water sources from toxic chemicals and undergoing strict land restoration processes; submitting to regular third party inspections; and providing insurance, fair wages, housing and food for workers. Purchasing Zultanite jewelry is not only easy on the conscience, it’s also casting a vote for an environmentally- and socially-conscious revolution in the industry.

We’re still fully committed to using entirely reclaimed metals in our jewelry until fair trade mining becomes more widely available. But we’ll continue to source ethically-mined gemstones and create new jewelry designs that honor your conscience as well as your impeccable taste.

Park it

Our jewelry isn’t created in what you would call a bustling urban environment. Sebastopol is a small, country town, but it does have a thriving downtown with its share of automobiles and traffic. I’m all for the “greening” of spaces, so when my landscape designer friends Cary and Amy of merge studio told me about their plans to erect a “parklet” and participate in PARK(ing) Day 2012, I couldn’t wait to see the result.

What’s PARK(ing) Day, you ask? It’s an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform parking spots into temporary public parks. Since the first parklet was set up in a metered parking space for just 2 hours in 2005 by San Francisco design group Rebar the event has been held on the third Friday in September each year. Today it came to my tiny town.

Using reclaimed redwood siding scraps and fiber cement panels, Cary and Amy created a little oasis next to their office right off the town square for friends and strangers alike to hang out and enjoy the lovely sunshine where a gas-guzzling SUV might otherwise have hulked. I hopped in my own SUV (um, yes, I am a mother of four! but at least it’s a hybrid) with my two-year-old daughter and drove over to join in the fun.

Now I’m all abuzz with ideas for next year. Not as a commercial venture (no pop-up okomido atelier here), but there’s no reason why you have to be a landscaper to participate. You just have to be civic-minded and have a love of beauty. Or maybe you just like playing in the street.

Summer Song

In summer, the song sings itself.
William Carlos Williams

If only the work would create itself as well! As always, summer is wedding season, and with so many people proposing to their beloved, we’ve been working hard around here, especially designing custom engagement and wedding rings. Even if I’m not sunning myself on Hawaiian sands, I’m certainly not complaining. This work is way too important.

One of my recent favorite commissions was even more thrilling than usual, when my youngest brother told me he was popping the question to his adorable girlfriend in a matter of days. Naturally, I wanted the ring to be perfect (I always do, but of course this is something extra special) but it’s pretty impossible to create perfection in less than a week. Plus, while I’m a great believer in the surprise factor, I always keep in mind that this is probably the one jewelry item that most women want to wear daily, and ideally for the rest of their lives–and for this reason, it’s best if she can have some input into the design. So, we went for the “proxy” ring, which is a fantastic solution that gives her something wonderful to open at that unforgettable moment but still allows her to participate in the design process for the “forever” rings.

My brother wisely chose a sterling silver vineyard ring with vintage diamond accents, for that ever-important bit of sparkle when the box is opened. We also anticipated that she might be too sentimental to give up this ring even if she wanted to create something else after the proposal, so the relatively inexpensive materials were a perfect choice.

I love the photo of her wearing the ring–our first with ink! The romanticism of the vine motif against the italic Z reminds me a little of Sleeping Beauty.

May flowers

If you’re getting married (or hosting any kind of fabulous soiree, really) in the greater Bay Area anytime soon, you ought to call Jolie Devoto. She is the creative genius behind Farm to Table Flowers, a floral design enterprise which is both truly revolutionary and totally old school at the same time. She and her family own an organic flower farm on a ridge above Sebastopol called Devoto Gardens Read more »