Karen Bandy Studio

Mother Nature, rules, inspiration & collaboration

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What motivates and inspires me as an artist? Someone asked me that the other day. I was pretty quick to answer nature, but it's also about working with my awesome clients. It's about problem solving, creating something that meets their needs, all the while paying attention to the elements of design, balance, symmetry, flow and movement, and nature. Your needs are most important, and my job is to recreate those needs and desires in a three-dimensional piece of art that my clients wear. That challenge motivates me. 

The 50th Anniversary ring!

The 50th Anniversary ring!

A recent ring commission was a fun challenge. The husband came to me to surprise his wife with a 50th Anniversary ring. He wanted to use the marquise diamond that he had given her on their 25th anniversary, and two round diamonds that were in her original wedding ring. He wanted something tasteful, simple and elegant. We decided a symmetrical design would accomplish that. I placed the marquise in the center and put the rounds next to the marquise, and did some preliminary sketches. At that point he brought her into the decision-making process. She picked the design that she liked with the marquise set at an angle, chose white gold instead of yellow, and wanted larger accent diamonds to graduate away from her rounds. I then carved the wax for her to try on and we discussed bead-setting the round diamonds instead of channel-setting for a more up-to-date-look. We followed a lot of design rules but came up with a truly original ring.  

Breaking rules is often okay.

Breaking rules is often okay.

Sometimes nature throws us a curveball, switches up the rules, and that's good too ... see the photo of the Mariposa lilies. There are two, not three blossoms on one stem, and the larger one is higher, while it should be lower from a design perspective (pun intended). If I ever break the rules I try to do it in a way that makes sense, having two elements wrong, like the two lilies, totally blows my mind! But it's good for a laugh and a head shake. Nature wakes us up, and sometimes a little shakeup comes through in my jewelry and paintings. 

How do those lessons translate to painting? Well, it's back to nature, animals, landscapes, and my abstractions of those things. Problem solving, the use of color and the principles of design come into play, the choices an artist makes every day. With painting the process is different, but the same inspiration and motivation to create something beautiful or interesting is there, and I can throw myself all the curve balls that I want, intentional or not. The exception is when I do a painting commission. Then the client's wants and needs are of utmost importance. 

If you're thinking about a jewelry commission or a painting commission please contact me today. And remember I have finished jewelry and paintings ready for you now.

Vacation time! Protect your jewelry ... and your peace of mind, with these tips and a free online guide!

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A few years ago I wrote a blog about an amazing jewelry lost and found story, the woman lost her ring in the surf in Hawaii. She visited the same beach nine years later and ran into a guy with a metal detector and he miraculously had the ring! She was so lucky and according to Jewelers Mutual Insurance, she was among the one percent of people who ever recover their lost jewelry. That's when people joke that she should have purchased a lottery ticket that day.

Following is an excerpt from InStore, a jewelry industry publication. It's a valuable read about your most treasured jewelry, and may help you prevent a loss. If you have any questions please reply to this newsletter or give me a call. We can talk about options for you, and about Jewelers Mutual too. I don't make any money when you sign with Jewelers Mutual, but in the case of a loss they come to me to replace your item. That helps both of us.

Recent custom design, emerald engagement ring.

Recent custom design, emerald engagement ring.

[We also need to discuss your having an objective appraisal. Qualified, independent appraisers not associated with a store offer the best information and valuations. It's all they do, they have years of schooling and continue to study current values, industry trends and techniques.]

Anyway, here's the article ...

The number of travelers reporting lost or stolen jewelry has doubled over the past four years, according to a national survey by Jewelers Mutual. The survey revealed that 20 percent of respondents suffered a jewelry loss while on vacation.

Jewelers Mutual reports the most risky place for travelers to wear fine jewelry is at the beach. And while the insurance company advises sun worshippers to protect their jewelry in a room safe or hotel vault before heading to the water's edge, too many are choosing to tempt fate. The result: 27 percent of all travel-jewelry losses can be traced to where surf meets the sand.

Only one percent of lost or stolen jewelry is ever recovered by their owners. "Travel continues to be a vulnerable time to misplace or have jewelry stolen," noted Don Elliott, director of claims at Jewelers Mutual. "Travelers can and should insure their jewelry, and there are also steps they can take to minimize risk."

Elliot outlined these important tips ...

Document: As you're packing, take a photo of the pieces you're taking with you. If you need to file a police report for any reason, this proof of ownership will be very helpful.

Client trying on her wax model, an important step in the design process.

Client trying on her wax model, an important step in the design process.

Client trying on her wax model, an important step in the design process.

Carry It: Never put jewelry in a checked bag. Wear it or stow it in your carry-on bag and keep that bag in sight at all times.

Don't Post It: Avoid being an easy target. Don't share photos on social media of your jewelry or where you are staying.

Wear Wisely: Avoid wearing jewelry while swimming, especially in cold water where finger sizes can temporarily shrink.

Tuck Away: Never leave jewelry out in the open. Use the safe in your room or hotel vault. (Note, I personally think the hotel vault is the safest option, ask when you check in, they are sometimes hard to get).

Conceal Don't Reveal: Tuck necklaces inside your shirt, turn your engagement ring to the inside of your hand and cover any bracelets or watches with a sleeve when in dangerous areas.

Button Up: If you' Penny decided to add some
color to her life!
re packing earrings, fasten them to an extra button to avoid them being separated or misplaced.

Suck It Up: Thread necklaces through a paper straw. This will prevent them from being easily misplaced or lost, with the added benefit of avoiding a tangled mess.

Jewelers Mutual also introduced its new digital publication called "Your Guide For Traveling With Jewelry." It covers packing, time away, and upon-return tips, as well as advice for buying jewelry on vacation and what to do if your jewelry is lost or stolen while traveling. Click this link for more information.

Why clean your jewelry?

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It prolongs the life, especially jewelry like earrings and bracelets with moving parts. It looks better and you'll feel better too, you'll be just as sparkly as your jewels! You can clean almost everything at home, but be sure to see your jeweler for professional cleanings and the ever-important safety check at least yearly.

  • Do clean gold and platinum and gems with warm water, a few drops of ammonia and dawn dish detergent. Scrub with an old soft toothbrush. Rinse and pat dry.

  • DO NOT SOAK pearls, opals, emeralds or turquoise.

  • Only clean pearls with a soft cloth, and check the silk string, it wears out. If you see stretched or dirty string, it's time to have them re-strung by a pro.

  • Do clean pearl studs (posts) with a bit of the cleaning liquid, just don't soak and be sure to rinse quickly.

See your jewelry professional if you have any questions, and remember a cleaning is usually free!

Before Professional Cleaning

Before Professional Cleaning

After Professional Cleaning

After Professional Cleaning

Making it all your own ... your personal statement

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I've talked a lot about turning a favorite piece of jewelry into your signature piece, and when you do that it becomes a personal amulet of sorts, almost a sacred object. You become known for that gorgeous piece. It can offer you protection, comfort or just joy. I've got a lot of ideas and materials for making your most-loved jewelry "your own," so bring in your favorite and let's explore. Here's one:

To turn your favorite pendant into an amulet, besides wearing it a lot, you can make it your own by changing up how it hangs. Many of you know that I wear a South Seas pearl drop almost every day. I usually wear it on a black wire, but when I was at the Tucson show recently I found a killer buy on some tanzanite beads. So, I strung one strand as a single strand and made sure that my pendant bail would slide over the clasp, and strung the other 3 strands together. So now I can wear my pearl on the black wire or on the tanzanite strand, or a yellow gold chain. To turn up the volume a bit I can also wear the multi-Tahitian strand at the same time. It's fun and colorful and adds a lot of versatility to my pearl. You create a life, a personality, and a bond with your pearl, it's your own.

South Seas pearl, 18ky bail and cap, and tanzanite beads

I have lots of pearl drops in stock, come in and we can play with different ways to wear them. The least expensive way to wear a pearl drop is on what I call black elephant wire, and prices start at $120. Pearl drops start at $599 and go up from there. These are all nice big pearls, not the tiny drop that you may have been given for graduation.  

Check out the pictures for thought starters, and give me a call or stop by. The fun part of my job is helping you create a look all your own. If pearl is not your thing we can work on something else you already have, a gemstone that I have in my stock, or we can search the world for a new favorite!

Custom orders filled, plus a few other things you will want to see from the gem show

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While the weather in Tucson was much better than here, I am glad to be back from a very successful buying trip to the largest gem show in the world. I was fortunate enough to fulfill orders for sapphires and a gorgeous emerald too. I also brought back some great pearls, opals and some amethyst geodes from Uruguay that are now on display and ready for you to choose from!

These museum-quality geodes are perfect for your home. Visit the studio to see them in person.

These museum-quality geodes are perfect for your home. Visit the studio to see them in person.

If you don't already know, February's birthstone is Amethyst. And no wonder, it's the perfect gem for February, for a number of reasons:

According to Melody in the book Love is in the Earth, Amethyst 'bestows stability, strength, invigoration, and peace.' How perfect is that for Valentine's month? She also says amethyst is a gem of spirituality and contentment.

Amethyst is a variety of quartz, just in striking, vivid colors unlike the more common white-clear. These new geodes are from Uruguay, naturally formed. Even the unique heart-shaped ones I've obtained were created deep in the earth by Mother Nature. The edges are polished to enhance the shape, and the stands are handmade in Uruguay by local craftspeople. I felt so close to the source picking these for you. Let's face it, picking any kind of gem is fun, but there is the feeling of a treasure hunt when I come across these hard-to-find examples!

I specialize in custom design one-of-a-kind designs. Unlike others in this business I have been here in Bend for over 32 years and have been designing jewelry since I was young. It's in my blood. I hope to share my expertise with you, give me a call today.

Some other news ... some of my paintings will be on display at North Soles Footwear in Downtown Bend. The show opens First Friday March 1st, and runs for two months. North Soles is located at the corner of Wall and Franklin at 800 NW Wall street. It's always fun to see a group of my work shown in a different venue, it gives me a different perspective and gives me ideas for future work. Please stop in, check out the art and maybe find a new pair of shoes for spring!  

Let me be your "personal shopper" at the world's largest gem show

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Exciting news! I am returning to the largest gem show in the world, in Tucson, Arizona. You can take advantage of my 'personal shopper' service; I have access to suppliers from all over the world, to get you all things gems ... sapphires, rubies, tourmaline, diamonds, garnets, sunstone, morganite, beads, pearls, druzys, and even geodes.

Gorgeous pear-shaped sapphire - can I pick one up for you in Tucson?

Gorgeous pear-shaped sapphire - can I pick one up for you in Tucson?

I already have orders for a sapphire that will be used in a pendant, a matched pair of pearls to go with a client's previously-purchased pendant, and some mint green African garnets to complete a suite of pendant, earrings and bracelet. I just found out today another long-time fan wants a simple, tasteful ring highlighting a single round ruby. I'll get the ruby and we'll work on the ring right after I return.

By starting from scratch with unique, one-of-a-kind gems, we are shaping memories and creating personal expressions, not just making jewelry. That's the beauty of custom design, you can be personally involved in marking special occasions, getting exactly what you want, creating meaningful symbols that represent your life and loves. I've called these pieces amulets before, it's a good term to use to describe something near and dear to your heart. In my book "amulets" can be pendants, but they can also be a ring, earrings, even a bracelet. It's an expression of you, in whatever form you want it.

Besides gems that you can wear, I also have orders for geodes to enhance personal spaces. I'll take pictures direct from the show, send them to you, you choose what you like, and I'll have them packed and shipped right there at the show. Don't worry if they're large, we can handle it. Thank goodness for smart phones, they make my life and yours so much easier! And thank goodness for UPS!

You can give me a budget, and I'll shop for you, finding the items that fulfill your desires. You can be an innovator, wow your friends and family by sharing your story with them. They'll recognize your very personal expression and style.

I know I told you a little bit about diamonds last month, and promised more. With all this news, I will have to continue that discussion in March.

"Lab-grown" defined, and other diamond facts

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Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

My resolution? I want you to be the most informed, knowledgeable jewelry consumers ... able to sort fact from fancy, hype from truth. So let's start the new year with some helpful diamond facts (Part One) that you might find surprising. The Diamond Producers Association and I condensed the facts, for brevity.

Diamonds are older than life on Earth. Most were created one to three billion years ago. Originating 100 miles below the earth's surface, most were pushed up by volcanic eruptions through what are called "Kimberlite pipes" (mainly in Africa) 300-400 years ago. Diamonds are the oldest things most of us will ever hold.

Diamonds are getting more rare every day, which is why they continue to grow in value. The number of "recovered" diamonds (mined from the ground) peaked in 2005 and will decrease significantly over the next decade. They're hard to find, and the larger the diamond, the harder it is to find. 

You can see how natural diamonds are rare and gorgeous things, and if you wear a diamond wedding ring, (or a right-hand ring, pendant or earrings), you know firsthand the joy a natural diamond has brought to your life. It's been with you through thick and thin, and with proper care will last billions of years. Now that's a long-lasting heirloom!

Online they look alike.    Don't get stuck with the diamond on the right - the numbers didn't tell the whole story.

Online they look alike. Don't get stuck with the diamond on the right - the numbers didn't tell the whole story.

I sell natural diamonds. My prices are competitive with prices you will find online. But there are additional, more important benefits:

1) When I source diamonds for you, you get to choose the brightest and best value. When you buy online you aren't sure what you're going to get.

2) Contrary to what online sellers tell you, you cannot go by the numbers. There's a lot more to diamonds than what the numbers tell you. Look at the image to your right for an example.

3) I also guarantee that the diamond I sell you is natural, not lab-grown.

Speaking of lab-grown, keep in mind ... 

Despite availability of equipment to detect them, many lab-grown diamonds are traded to unsuspecting hobby dealers and buyers through pawnshops and online buying sites, even Craig's List! Until more of these types of dealers have the testing equipment I would recommend buying a diamond only from a trusted brick and mortar retailer who will be there after the sale. The diamonds I source have a Gemological Institute of America report confirming they are natural before I purchase them on your behalf.  

The biggest reason to avoid a lab-grown "diamond?" They're expensive now, and like computers, as production ramps up supply will increase, probably causing a drop in price. I sure don't want to tell you a few years from now that you need to update your insurance appraisal - downward. 

If you'd like to learn more about natural or synthetic diamonds please contact me.

C'est Lemon Citron

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Crisp, cool evenings and falling leaves ... fall is here! And just in time for autumn I have some new rings and earrings to show you, they're very vibrant and bold. I think you'll like them. Drop by anytime to take a look, and I'll clean and check your rings for you too.

I've also been busy working on a new series of landscape paintings in a new-to-me-medium. It's called cold wax and is similar to hot wax but no heat is involved. The cold wax method is actually an ancient way of painting, but the modern way involves choosing oil paints to mix with the cold wax medium. It allows one to build up layers and texture, and to dig down and reveal the layers underneath too. Many different looks, styles and variations can be created, my style is just one of them. I do them on panels, so no framing is needed; they're ready to hang as they are.

Another of my new cold wax paintings

Another of my new cold wax paintings

The show is titled, "C'est Lemon Citron".

Some of you may recall from past posts that I inherited these supplies from a dear friend who passed, so when I work with cold wax it becomes a way to honor her and our friendship. And it's really fun and challenging too! This new process has gotten me out of my comfort zone and that's a good thing. It's always a good idea to shake oneself up artistically; I'm liking it a lot.

Epic diamond project, and following in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh

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I just completed a bracelet order of epic proportions, probably one of the most complicated and involved projects I have ever attempted. In many ways, it was a "tour de force" for me and my team, of whom I'm very proud. It also shows how we'll go the extra mile for you, no matter what size your budget.

A client had a delicate, pretty but just-too-dainty diamond bracelet. We began discussing bracelet options with the goal being clean and classic, while making an impressive statement.

I suggested a tennis-style bracelet with larger-than-average diamonds of any shape, including the classic round. My client wanted something more unique, though, so I walked her through a variety of less-common shapes, and she chose Asscher cuts.... one of the most difficult cuts to source, and match, perfectly. 

Asscher cut diamond, 3.21cts with GIA report, F color

Asscher cut diamond, 3.21cts with GIA report, F color

Asschers are like an emerald cut on steroids. Not only uniquely cut, they are hard to obtain in large quantities (this bracelet required 36 diamonds), and gem cutters hoard the finest stones for this cut. Every diamond would need to be nearly flawless and colorless, as any imperfections in an Asscher cut will show to the naked eye. While smaller sizes are available, larger sizes are the proverbial needle in the haystack ... in this case, 36 haystacks!

I have a gem supplier who works magic when given assignments like this. An expert on Asscher cut diamonds, he loves them as much as I do. He has a line on obscure dealers whose specialties are also unique, from New York, to cutting shops in Belgium, India and Israel. He called in every favor, cajoled and persuaded, and over several months of back-and-forth we got stones chosen and custom-cut.

We then rejected many due to cutting that just didn't meet our exacting specifications. At one point, we had every 0.50-0.60 carat Asscher cut diamond in the country sitting on our desks! Just keeping track of which gem came from which country and what broker was a giant challenge.

And they all had Gemological Institute of America reports, ensuring that each diamond was of the color and clarity that we needed. Once the collection was assembled, our eyes were the final critics.

We then carefully matched and ordered the diamonds so cut that, color and clarity were consistent from the first link to the last. That's a bigger challenge with Asscher cuts because there are fewer facets, and cutting imperfections show as much as natural flaws in the diamond crystal.

Here's the completed bracelet, 19.18 carats in platinum.

Here's the completed bracelet, 19.18 carats in platinum.

My goldsmith created used a computer-aided-design machine to ensure we cast 36 identical baskets in platinum, then hand made the handmade links, clasp and safety. Only then could the diamonds be meticulously set.

Careful planning, painstaking research, and exacting workmanship resulted in a spectacular bracelet, an epic project that turns heads.

My client was thrilled, as was her husband. When they picked it up we shared a glass of champagne to commemorate the event.

In all, the bracelet took almost six months to complete, a long project in my gallery but worth the wait. When we squinted at the diamonds under bright lights, sparks of color radiated from the bracelet. I have never seen the phenomenon on that scale before. I wish we could recreate that in a video, but making a camera squint is tough!

I know this is a long story about a big project with a lot of moving parts. But I relate it because it is a wonderful example of what lengths we'll go to for every client's jewelry design ... whatever your budget.

PS: Scott and I took the trip of a lifetime, down the Rhone River in France. If you visit my studio, I'll be sure to bore you with pictures, haha! I was truly inspired by the antiquity of the region and by all the art that we got to see up close and personal. Arles, where the tour ended is where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last and most creative years. The light and the air is very clean and fresh feeling, quite a contrast to all the old architecture and Roman influences.

So back to work and gorgeous fall weather. I have some new jewelry to show off, and am working on a new series of paintings inspired by France, that I'll debut in November.  

"Simulant," synthetic, lab-created ... in diamonds, real rules

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Thinking it's time to upgrade your diamond? Couldn't afford the diamond engagement ring of your dreams when you first got married? Maybe it's just time for a celebration of your time together. After all, you've worked hard and stayed together a long time, you deserve to treat yourself to something lasting and meaningful. A diamond sparkles for eternity and shows off your true beauty, and an upgrade to larger size and better cut will shine brighter and bring joy everyday.
Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion on the market today about diamonds. Here are some facts and some guidelines that reputable jewelers are using:

Natural diamond wedding    ring update.

Natural diamond wedding
ring update.

A natural diamond is a mineral formed in very few locations billions of years ago, when the earth was created. Diamond's relative rarity has to do with how they were formed by heat and pressure about 90 miles below the earth's surface, and then brought closer to the earth's surface by volcanic action. Now that the earth has done its part, man takes over putting in many man-hours to extract, cut, grade and distribute to markets worldwide. When one considers the work nature did, and then man's work to extract these gorgeous, timeless beauties, it's no wonder that they are one of the most desired minerals today.

A simulant is a man made substitute for a diamond that has little lasting value. It can be a placeholder in a jewelry piece in a retailer's showcase, or something you might wear on vacation, leaving your valuable possession at home or in your safe deposit box. The most well known, cubic zirconium (CZ) and moissanite (silicon carbide) are pretty and do serve a purpose. But CZ doesn't last, and neither can take heat so if you need prong repairs done they need to be removed, adding to the cost of repairs. Mistakes happen when the customer forgets to tell the jeweler that it's a moissanite and/or the jeweler is inexperienced and hastily takes in a moissanite and applies heat to the ring. Not a fun situation, but one I have avoided!

An artistic diamond upgrade - that's the beauty of custom design from a trusted jeweler.

An artistic diamond upgrade - that's the beauty of custom design from a trusted jeweler.

Synthetics are man-made diamonds, physically similar but not created in nature. That's why they are often called laboratory-created synthetic diamonds. They are not cheap to buy initially and who knows what their value will be down the road? Synthetic diamonds are a commodity, kind of like TV's or fridge, and the price is projected to drop dramatically as more enter the market. At this point I would not recommend buying laboratory-grown diamonds to use in wedding rings; the market is just too new and unknown.

Disclosure in the secondary market (estate jewelry) is problematic, and scams are everywhere today, populated in large part by newcomers to the trade. Jewelry, and diamonds in particular, are close to your heart, so trusting a potential fly-by-night operator has a lot of risk. A trusted jeweler will provide a report stating that the diamond you buy is natural.

Once you select a new diamond, I hope you'll consider a custom ring made by a fine jewelry designer. Then, put your trust in that person to create something unique and beautiful just for you. I'll work with you to create that beautiful engagement ring, wedding ring, or anniversary ring set with a beautiful diamond or colored gemstone, the ring of your dreams. I'm here to help you own something unique, natural and beautiful ... just like you.

Metal choices, what is best for you?

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Having trouble deciding what metal to choose for your beautiful new wedding, engagement, right hand ring, or custom one-of-a-kind uniquely-yours ring? 

There are many choices available as you can see by this infographic:

  • 14k Yellow Gold
  • 18k Yellow Gold
  • 14k Rose Gold
  • 18k Rose Gold
  • Rhodium
  • 14k Nickel White Gold
  • 14k Palladium White Gold
  • 18k Palladium White Gold
  • Palladium
  • Platinum

They all start off as gold (with two exceptions) and alloys are mixed in to change the color and wearability characteristics.

One of my favorites is rose gold, which has come on strong in recent years. Rounding out the list is platinum, a non-gold option and a timeless classic, truly hypoallergenic, durable and a pure white color. Palladium is also available but not as popular.

The most popular wedding ring made today is a white gold ring coated with rhodium plating. The problem with rhodium plating is that it wears off after a year or two, and needs to be redone, so it becomes a maintenance issue. Luckily there are some newer white alloys on the market today. Jewelers like them because they really don’t need rhodium plating, and they are a little easier to work with than some of the other ‘white’ alloys. As always, the newer white alloys are durable and wear for long time.  

Yellow gold is slowly becoming popular again, and two-tone, white and yellow or rose gold is being used for wedding/engagement rings, as well as right-hand rings. The choices are vast, so be sure to discuss your metal choices with a professional jewelry designer who understands you and your needs, skintone and likes. Different colors of gold wear differently, be sure to address concerns and lifestyle with your designer.

The choice of metal alone can mean the difference between a unique custom-made engagement ring and a ho hum ring. So when you’re shopping Bend jewelry stores for your wedding or engagement ring, be sure to check out a fine jewelry designer who will listen to you and be open to new and unique metal combinations. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I’ll get back to you right away.

Color - new ways to use it in your home and on YOU

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Abstract painting by Karen Bandy with oil paint and cold wax.

Abstract painting by Karen Bandy with oil paint and cold wax.

Spring has sprung in Central Oregon, business and design projects are picking up too. I'm learning a new technique in painting and it's been really fun and challenging. That's what keeps us young, right? Learn new things; push ourselves beyond which we thought we were capable.

This new technique is oil paint and cold wax, a very cool (pun intended) process of layering paints to creature texture and depth. So here's one that I have completed you can help with - it needs a title!

If you'd like to add some color to your life, please consider a painting. A new painting in the home adds a spark of life, and it doesn't have to be large. Even an 8x8 or a 12x12 adds a pop of color and meaning to a special nook in your home, or perhaps above your work desk, next to a lamp. I also like small paintings in bathrooms and kitchens. And no, it's not offensive to artists when clients put treasured pieces in the bathroom!

Thinking of another spark of color - for yourself? That's jewelry. Consider a custom ring, pendant, bracelet or earrings. I have many in the showcase ready for you to wear today, or if you'd like to work on something from scratch just let me know. Every piece I design is one-of-a-kind. I start with the colorful gems or diamonds, and the ideas fly from there. Choose your favorite gem from my collection or I will get something in for you. If I don't already have what you want, one of my worldwide suppliers will. My gem traders travel the entire world in search of unique stones and I often get first pick. Come in, let's play with gems and see what enhances your colorful life!

If you'd like some design ideas to start with, click here. 

PS: If you'd like any information on cleaning jewelry or would like me to clean it free with my new equipment call anytime!  

Capturing the magic of a mountain in a ring

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Originally printed in The Source Weekly, written by Teafly Peterson

How do you capture the feeling of a mountain in a ring? Or the magic of a dance in a painting? Somehow, Karen Bandy does just this. Whether through jewelry or painting, Bandy has the unique ability to capture movement and the feeling it projects.

Bandy landed in Bend over 30 years ago after various stints from Southern California to Portland. It was in Portland that Bandy worked under a master jeweler, honing her craft and learning the ins and outs of the business before moving to Bend and opening her own shop. "I love redesigning and collaborating with a customer. Taking an old piece and making it new," Bandy says. Inspired by the gem she's working with, Bandy credits design skills, combined with the ability to listen to a customer's needs, as the recipe to her success.



It was the jewelry business that sparked her next passion: painting. While hosting various artists in her shop for First Fridays, she realized she wanted to give painting a try. A move into a new house with a spare room already set up as a studio helped solidify the idea, and Bandy has never looked back. That was 12 years ago.



While the two mediums might seem completely opposite, Bandy's approach to each is similar. With jewelry, she begins with the gem and allows it to inspire her with its color and shape. When painting, Bandy completely covers her canvas in magenta and yellow as her base coat, allowing that to inspire what she paints over it—even allowing some of the color to come through. Her emphases, whether creating in 2D or 3D, are color, shape and lines, inspired by architecture and the natural world. The feeling of creating, for Bandy, is the same, regardless of the medium. "The difference is jewelry is so permanent and exacting, and paint is so feeling. It is totally different, like a little release."

Tucson to-do list ... some done, some waiting for you!

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Just when we thought we were done with winter, well, what did we know? It's finally here! We can hope it warms up for First Friday March 2nd. 
Last February I went to the Tucson gem show and came back with many goodies. It takes time to get them ready for you, and admittedly, I have quite a few more to design settings for, so as I work on those, here are a few recent ones just completed. 

Initial ideas....

Initial ideas....

Finished! Ancient Greek coin pendant. (to see the backside  click here )

Finished! Ancient Greek coin pendant. (to see the backside click here)

Queensland opal ring with diamonds

Queensland opal ring with diamonds

On my wish list for the show was an ancient coin. I found one that I love! This 18k yellow gold pendant features an ancient Greek silver coin from the Classical Period or Golden Age of Greece, which spanned from around 500 to 300 BC. That's the era that gave us the great monuments, art, philosophy, architecture and literature which are the building blocks of our own civilization.  
That period has also given us this cool coin, and as many of you know, I love horses so this one fit the bill. I designed the pendant so the back is visible when you turn it over; it reveals a youth wrestling a bull. Accenting the pendant is a green tourmaline and a boulder opal. I thought the 18k yellow gold accented the gems and the silver coin perfectly. 

Also high on my list was a visit to my favorite, Lightning Ridge, an Australian opal supplier. The family owns opal mines, the sons work the mines and travel to the U.S. to sell the opals. It's a direct connection from mine to you, so you're assured a quality product at a great price. This newly-designed 14k yellow gold ring is set with a crystal opal and accented with diamonds. I think you'll like the flowing curves of the ring and the bright blue color of the opal.

I have a lot of other treasures from Tucson just waiting for you to see ... maybe, like these, one will speak to you. 
MORE NEWS: For two months I'm the featured artist in the lobby at the Oxford Hotel. Please stop by and see my paintings in that setting, so much more like a home setting than a gallery setting. If you've never been in the Oxford lobby, it will be a good opportunity to check it out. 

2018: the year of creativity, ingenuity, "third eye chakra"

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Happy New Year!

Creative, intuitive, that's tanzanite - is it you?

Creative, intuitive, that's tanzanite - is it you?

I hope you had a lovely holiday season, and phew!, glad that's over. Let's get on to being creative in 2018. What has sparked my interest lately is an article that I saw about Pantone's color of the year. Pantone is a guide for designers of clothing, advertising, and home décor but in recent years has branched out to more of a spiritual guidance through color, more about setting the tone for what's going on in our lives right now.

Pantone chose Ultra Violet, a color of "creativity, ingenuity, the cosmos, intuition, the third eye chakra, and the depth of the unknown" according to Elizabeth Wellington at the Philadelphia Inquirer. It's also a nod to Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, some great musicians who celebrated color in their lives.

It's not really a political statement, even though Women Against Abuse uses a similar color in their campaigns, but according to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone Color Institute, "purple has a futuristic exploratory aspect to it, purple allows us to play with the possibilities. We don't know where we're going but at least we're trying " She ties all this in to creativity.

My signature stone, chalcedony

My signature stone, chalcedony

Some gems that fit this Ultra Violet category are my personal favorite blue Chalcedony, tanzanite, and purple sapphire. It's really a purplish blue color, almost a periwinkle blue rather than a royal purple. Other related purples are amethyst and lilac and blue-violet sapphires.

If you'd like to play with this color and stretch your creativity, I am making a special offer to you only this month, January 2018. All purple gems in stock are 10% off when used in a new custom design. And if I don't have what you want, I will get it for you. To sweeten the pot, I will also give 10% off the cost of the other materials, including gold and accent diamonds or color, in the new design.

Old friend, new and unique Sunstone pendant  

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An out-of-town friend called recently. She wanted a beautiful and special Oregon Sunstone pendant. I wasn't worried about creating an original design for a unique stone as it's what I do, but wasn't sure what specific color and shape Sunstone she wanted. She had seen a lot of them, but hadn't found exactly what she wanted ... there was nothing special about the gemstones available on the consumer market.

We went to an award-winning gem carver's website - one who only works with select designers on a personal basis. From a vast array of one-of-a-kind stones, she especially liked two or three gems and said she'd be in Bend soon to start the project. I asked this master cutter to send a selection of gems based on what we had seen online. We had fun looking at the stones in person, a special treat to see so many hard-to-find gems in one place. It's fun for me to work with such an accomplished craftsman.


The photo above shows the gorgeous peachy-red pear-shaped custom cut Sunstone my client chose. The fancy cutting enhances the shape and the color of the Sunstone, a skill only a few cutters have mastered. His knowledge of gems and their refractive qualities is astounding. No wonder he has won so many awards.

One can go it alone, shopping for gemstones online, but well, it's complicated: shipping, quality, pricing, and as important as anything, the ability to counsel with an expert on the other end that you trust to look out for your best interest. And you don't have to pre-purchase all your selections simply to see them up close! Ultimately, a stone is only as good as the design it goes into, and no online gem dealer offers that.  

Can't wait? Above is a new Tanzanian orange garnet ring in rose gold with diamond accents ready to go home today.

That's what I'm here for, to help clients get the best quality, value and beauty and create a special piece of jewelry just for them. Maybe the completed piece will be an award winner as well.

All-in-all it was a fun experience working with my friend and her husband. We got caught up, picked out a gorgeous gem, and figured out a unique design for a stunning gemstone. I also suggested two chain styles because rarely does one chain fit all outfits.

Are you interested in a fun project like this? Let's talk! In the meantime please come in for a free cleaning and inspection. It's key to keeping your jewelry in good shape, and extending its life. 

What goes around...

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Recently a client came to me with a dilemma, and the good news is, there's a happy ending!


But first, here's the backstory: I had a client who was a wonderfully generous, and intelligent woman and for lack of a better word, was my patron for many years starting in the mid-nineties. She was a pioneer in her field and a testament to womanhood, surviving ovarian cancer as a young woman, but the treatments left her with holes in her pelvis from the radical radiation, which turned crippling in later years. A physician, after retirement she volunteered with Doctors Without Borders. She also played a lot of golf and loved good food and wine, enjoying life with generosity and gratitude in her heart. She passed about four years ago and I still miss her friendship and wit.

A recent timeless ring design.

A recent timeless ring design.

She loved cars and luckily, also jewelry and she loved giving. She bought jewelry for herself but also bought jewelry for others from me: close friends of hers for whom she had great affection. She enjoyed working with me on designs, helping out my business and loved the process and the closeness. She also bought ready-to-wear treasures out of my showcase.

So back to the dilemma, one of the most frequent recipients of her generosity called me and explained that she just wasn't wearing some of the gifts she'd received from my client. It felt like a burden for her to have so much, and she hoped she wasn't offending me. I told her to bring in what she wasn't wearing, and we'd have a look. After the fun reminiscences with the jewelry (yes, I'm weird that way), the first thing that struck me was how timeless these pieces actually were. And, most are yellow gold, which has made a strong resurgence in recent years. After all the fun, we decided the pieces could find a new home.

It took a lot of time to research details through old receipts, job envelopes, inventory cards, and then arrive at a reasonable price for today. We also had to factor in that the pieces were previously worn, however lightly, realizing that appealing prices are key in an estate showcase. I have added a few other estate pieces from other clients, and decided to only show and sell pieces that I have designed or sold in the past when I had my larger store.

Adding her pieces to the current inventory and it was logical to put in a special estate case. I have received tons of positive feedback and have already sold many of them. I love the confirmation that these pieces are appealing today.

Perhaps you are looking for something ready to wear and a bit more affordable. Let's talk. It could be a win for everyone, especially those who provide a new home for these treasures!

The lesson here, trust a jeweler whose designs are timeless.

Okay, just a little bragging here, but it's the clean lines and seemingly simple (but actually complex) designs that make them timeless. That, combined with feminine and elegant touches and no unwarranted busyness, continues as my esthetic to make my jewelry unique and current. Call me today to design your timeless design.

Rock Stars ... Sisters ....

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Sisters, "rock stars"

I was thinking about what I do for a living and how that fits with your wants and desires. Every woman wants to feel beautiful, happy, special and loved. One way women feel those things is to wear jewelry that is special to them. I recently read that there is a fundamental emotional synergy between jewelry and the female wearer. Even if it is only one special piece that becomes your amulet, your trademark, go-to piece of jewelry, when you put on that ring, pendant or earrings, you feel comfort, and feel loved. 


Okay, so how can we create that synergy? You bring in jewelry that you already own but don't wear, and we scrap the gold and use that for credit towards something new for you. And yes, sometimes we can use the gems that were in the old jewelry, or we start from scratch. We can create something new for you, for a daughter or perhaps a sister so they feel loved too. 



From one "rock star"
to another

Speaking of sisters, a client once came in with a special project. Her sister spent several years taking care of their beloved aging mother. Mother and sister lived in the Midwest so it was hard for the local sister to participate too much in their mother's care. When the local sister came in she told me the story, and she said her sister was a rock star. She said she could never repay her for what she had done for their mother, but wanted to show her appreciation in a tangible way. We went through my portfolio of finished pieces and when we came across a photo of a pendant in the shape of a star, we both pointed and said "that's it." 

Star with Aqua

Star with Aqua


With a general direction, I set out to create a unique new piece with that kind of spirit. The star shape became the inspiration, and to truly reflect her sister's personality, we included her favorite gem, aquamarine. This unique, start-from-scratch "star" expressed her true inner self. 


She loved it, and felt loved, too. A week or two later she called me and asked me to create one for the local sister. When complete, I called in the local sister, using the ruse of having to check her wedding ring. When she arrived I made her sit down and revealed a "star" made just for her. It was such a wonderful surprise and we called the sister right there from the shop. 


I love feeling part of my client's lives. I think they appreciate my help, my ability to listen to their wants and desires, and also the quality of the work. It is the perfect synergy between my clients and me. 



Lisa Dae, singing the Great American Songbook
on First Friday

Join me for a special First Friday June 2nd. I am hosting live jazz with Lisa Dae & Gordy Michael. They are a guitar and jazz vocal duo performing songs from the Great American Songbook. They start at 5:30pm. Please come support local music. We'll serve white wine, so please stop by!

I hope to see you tomorrow night 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. 






 The only international award-winning jeweler east of the Cascades
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and
by appointment First Friday 3-8pm  

25 NW Minnesota, Suite 5, Downtown Bend

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Touching hearts with gems, gold ... and paint  

Happy Spring!

It's been a great first quarter and I've been busy with a lot of custom work, both painting and jewelry. There were some very interesting special orders and I'd like to share a few with you. These are heartwarming stories about something a lot of us boomers are going to face as we age. These stories also address a new trend, at least one I haven't seen much until now.

Three women have recently visited, looking for for help with jewelry restyles after their spouses had passed. One asked that her wedding ring be sized for her right hand, an idea from her support group. She's wearing the ring now while honoring her dear husband's memory. Another woman I have known for years moved her wedding ring to her right hand, but wanted a memory of her husband on her left ring finger. She didn't want something that looked like a wedding ring. An opal he had given her years ago is now being re-worked from a '60's-style ring into a meaningful and contemporary memory for her left hand.

An enduring reminder: diamond cradled in holley-blue agate

Yet another brought in the wedding set I'd created about 10 years ago featuring a diamond her late husband's grandmother had given him. We moved the wedding band portion of the set to her right hand and decided to put the diamond in a pendant she could wear close to her heart. Together we searched my gemstone inventory and found the perfect new stone to complement the diamond that had so many memories attached. I suggested a design that cradled the diamond with a holley-blue chalcedony from Sweet Home, Oregon. Both stones now reside in a 14-karat yellow gold setting that honors the wearer's spouse and their shared memories. The photo is shown above.

Everyone honors the love of their lives differently, but I am seeing some trends ... moving a ring to the right hand, and making a placeholder in their heart whether on a finger or with a pendant using the original gems or starting fresh. Both are organic, natural expressions from the heart.

Which would you choose ...   
this one? 

But it's all not metal and stones. Here's a fun painting commission story: A long-time client visited looking for ideas. His uncle is very generous and supportive, but buys anything he needs immediately, so is (of course) very hard to buy for. You know the type, I know the type too. I'm married to one. 

Anyway, the uncle adores his dog, a Shiba Inu named Akamai. My new clients love my pet portraits, and a perfect gift idea was born. I was given a lot of creative freedom, but wasn't sure where I wanted to go with this portrait, especially since it was a surprise and I couldn't consult with the actual recipient. So, secretly I painted two portraits, and let the gift-givers make the choice. It was a fun exercise and I think I captured the dog's bright spirit. I've shown both paintings - which one would you choose?

... or this one?

First Friday is tomorrow, April 7th, 2017. I hope you'll visit, share a glass of wine, and see all the new goodies that I purchased in Tucson... gorgeous, lustrous pearls, gems and drusys. You'll love these new items, and maybe be moved to get your own heart-touching design.

I hope to see you tomorrow night 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.