Category: Spotlight

July birthstone: Ruby

Oh, you lucky July babies!  You get a spectacular birthstone: the ruby.  Red being my favourite colour, I think you’re pretty lucky to have such a gorgeous gem.

Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, which also includes sapphires.  (Any corundum that isn’t red is a sapphire.)  They occur naturally in pink to blood red, the colour due to the presence of chromium.  Rubies have a hardness of 9.0 on the Mohs scale, making them the third hardest stone in the world.

All rubies have imperfections.  The colour impurities and rutile (fine needles of material that are also referred to as “silk”), are how gemologists identify that they are natural.  When the rutile is oriented just right, the gems can show a three-point or six-point “star”.

Most rubies come from Burma and Thailand, though they are also mined in Cambodia, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Greenland, Kenya, Macedonia, and a few states in the USA.

Rubies, because of their colour, are associated with fire and blood, and often represent passionate feelings.  They are said to bring love, confidence, strength, and courage.  It’s associated with the first chakra, stimulating basic survival instincts.


A cabochon-cut star ruby.
A cabochon-cut star ruby.

Drakestail Jewellery Interview Series – part 1

Over the last 8 years, Robyn and I have had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with a number of artistic people who channel their creativity in a variety of different mediums. Recently we decided to start an “interview series” on our blog, to introduce each of you some of the fascinating people we’ve gotten to know. Today’s post is our first in this series.

Ashley Green is a vibrant energetic young photographer and all around ‘artsy type’, I had the good fortune to meet a few months after I first moved to Edmonton in 2010.
She lights up the room and has the kind of energy where you can’t quite take your eyes off her. She has quickly become one of my very best friends and I am so thankful for every Skype chat, every text exchange and every in person visit I get to share with her. I hope you enjoy our interview with her as much as I did!

– Roxy

What is your background in photography? What inspired you to start?

I started really being inspired by photography while I was in high school. I went on a school trip to Germany, Austria and Switzerland and I spend so much of that trip behind the lens, trying to capture all the beauty and history that surrounded me. After that trip, I began experimenting with photography and eventually fell in love with portraits.

Are you formally trained or self-taught? What has been your best source of knowledge in your art?

I’m completely self-taught. I found that that one of the best ways to expand your practical knowledge and creativity is through practice. Nothing is better than spending some quality time behind the lens and I look at every shoot as a learning experience. I think in any profession that requires creativity one needs to always be hungry for more and keep an open mind.

Describe your style in one sentence.

Natural, intimate and expressive photography.

What inspires you while you are working in a shoot?

Everything! Sometimes it can be so much fun to head to a location for the first time without a single pre-planned idea in your head and the creativity is fuelled by the spontaneity! Other times, I get inspired by things around me; art, other photography, media, and, most of all, watching people in their day to day.

People watching (yes, I know this sounds sort of creepy, but I swear it isn’t!) is where I find so much of my inspiration. There is beautiful and natural rhythm to the way people are and how they interact with one another when they don’t think others are noticing. I try and recreate that rhythm in my shoots as often as possible…it’s magic.

What are your favourite types of shoots/favourite subjects?

When it comes to couples, engagement sessions are by far my favourite session to capture. It’s a really exciting time and all of that energy comes through so easily in the shoot.

That being said, I really love working one-on-one with people, especially for boudoir and concept shoots. Boudoir has all these wonderful elements of mystery, femininity, strength and beauty – all while making women feel incredible and proud of who they are. (What’s not to love?) Concept shoots are where my creativity is able to take over and mix in my love of fashion, storytelling and whimsy!

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently in the start of my wedding season for the year and I have boudoir weekend marathons for late Spring being planned so it is very busy right now! I am also stepping outside of my portrait work to take some landscape and street photography in California that will be displayed in an Edmonton exhibit this summer.

What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you?

I have fans? Eeeee! How cool is that?! Well, I guess I’d like to let them know that I am a fiercely optimistic individual who loves wine, a good book, and giant closet of fabulous clothes.

What is your favourite photo, and why?

My favourite photo I’ve taken is of my 79 year old Grandpa grinning from ear to ear at his second wedding with his new bride. After my Grandma passed away, I didn’t know if my Grandpa would ever find much happiness again, let alone love. The photo reminds me cherish those around you and live every day with your heart.

What is your favourite camera/piece of equipment?

My 70-200mm 2.8. It’s a beast of a lens and one of the best investments I’ve ever made. (Plus it helps tone my arm muscles) 😉

What do you find most rewarding about being a photographer?

Besides doing what I love every day, I’d say the biggest reward is the people. I get to meet and work with some truly incredible people and those connections make my job so easy to love.

Best piece of advice for someone looking to start out in photography?

Practice, ask questions and never compare your work to anyone else’s but your own.

Thank you Ashley!


From Photos with Ashley's online portfolio

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Being an April baby, I have a soft spot in my heart for diamonds. I love the clarity, and I love the sparkle and shine. I used to think that diamonds were boring because they had no colour, but coloured diamonds are all over the place these days, too. Besides, what’s not to love about a gemstone that’s that gorgeous and yet so strong? They are the hardest gemstone in the world, rating at a 10 (out of 10) on the Moh’s hardness scale.

Diamonds are made of pure carbon, and are created deep in the earth’s mantle, under great pressure and high temperatures. The diamonds are then carried up to the surface in volcanic eruptions. While people commonly believe that diamonds come from coal, the bulk of the diamonds, and certainly all of the commercial diamonds, come from far deeper in the earth than coal deposits are found.

Diamonds first came into use as gemstones in India, and the first written work describing their use dates back to the 4th century BC. They were traded to Romans, and diamond crystals were primarily used in rings. Rough diamonds were considered talismans against mishaps and it was taboo to cut them. The oldest known cut diamonds date back to the 13th century.

Roman diamond ring
Roman diamond ring. © Trustees of the British Museum

The first recorded diamond engagement ring was commissioned in 1477 by the Archduke Maximillian of Austria for his fiancee, Mary of Burgundy. The diamond didn’t become widely affordable until de Beers opened its South African mines. Aggressive marketing campaigns, which included images of movie stars in jewellery, as well as their famous slogan “Diamonds are Forever”, have set the diamond as the standard for engagement rings and luxurious jewellery.

Rose cut diamond ring
Rose cut diamond ring

OOAK Made in Canada Tension Set Canadian Diamond Ring Solitaire
OOAK Made in Canada Tension Set Canadian Diamond Ring Solitaire

The most popular cut of diamond is the round brilliant cut, followed by the princess and oval cuts. My personal faourite is the trillion cut, but I also absolutely love jewellery that incorporates rough diamonds.

Trillion Diamond Ring
Trillion Diamond Ring

Bezel-Set Rough Large Diamond Engagement Ring
Bezel-Set Rough Large Diamond Engagement Ring



All about topaz

Topaz in many colours
Topaz in many colours

I’m a November baby so I may be biased but I’ve always loved my birthstone. I find it beautiful. I love that is comes in a variety of colours, though I am partial to the traditional deep golden yellow I knew growing up. Turns out the purest form of topaz is colourless and the golden yellow I remember from when I was a child indicated the stone had impurities.

As child it was a sparkly pretty stone and nothing more (isn’t that enough?). Turns out topaz has a lot going on for it. Topaz can occur in many colours including colourless, white, pale blue, light green, yellow, yellowish brown, or red. It is said topaz has many healing properties. In the past topaz was believed to actually absorb fever and was used to relieve symptoms of arthritis. In India it is used to treat tonsillitis, whopping cough, and mumps. It is also believes that topaz can aid in a man’s virility if he wears the stone. It is also believed to help with eating disorders and nightmares.

The origin of the name is derived from Old French: Topace, Latin: Topazus and from the Greek: Τοπάζιος (Τοpáziοs) or Τοπάζιον (Τοpáziοn). The word topaz is also related to the Sanskrit word tapas meaning heat or fire, which predates the Greek word.

So much history and so many healing properties for just a pretty sparkly stone!


Blue diamonds are a girl’s best friend

A diamond mine in South Africa as unearthed a spectacular beauty: a blue diamond reported to be worth more than $10 million dollars.

Blue diamond
The stunning new blue diamond from the Cullinan mine, South Africa. Photo courtesy BBC News.

Renowned for other stunning blue diamonds such as the Star of Africa blue diamond, I think the Cullinan mine is a place I’d love to visit if I ever made it to that part of the world. I’d bet that would be an exciting place to be able to sift around in the dirt.

Blue diamonds
Can’t afford that South African beauty? Check out these gorgeous rough blue diamonds on Etsy!
Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonTwitter Icontwitter follow buttonView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram Feed