Monday, August 25, 2008

Looking for Gold in the Silver Lining

We like things that sparkle and shine -- brilliant things that catch the sunlight and use it to make life more beautiful. We make jewelry with this in mind. We like trying to capture the beauty of the world around us and reflect it in our own small way. We mimic this amazing world through our use of natural gemstones and metals. Much of the value, if not the aesthetics, of a piece of jewelry come from the metal. By now everyone knows we’re big on sterling silver jewelry, but did you know it’s environmentally friendly sterling silver?

Caring About Nature because She Cares About Us

Recent films, like Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio, have focused attention on where and how jewelry manufacturers get their metals and gemstones. Because we use genuine natural gemstones and .925 sterling silver at Relios Jewelry, we owe a lot to Mother Nature. We especially owe it to her to take good care of her. We do our part by using recycled silver.

You’ll find that we use recycled silver in every one of our sterling silver jewelry pieces, because we know that the mining of silver and other metals can be harsh on the environment. Metals like gold and silver are sometimes mined with a process called chemical leaching. Chemical leaching is where tons of earth are dug up, placed on a slab and then a chemical solution that binds to heavy metals like silver, is poured through it. The solution binds to the gold or silver and pulls the particles of metal out of the earth for separation later. Digging up so much land is damaging enough to the environment, but some of the chemicals needed to make the process work can be quite hazardous as well.

Since the environment of the Southwest United States has long been an inspiration to the designers of our jewelry collections, we want to do what we can to preserve the beauty of our surroundings. But it’s not enough to just take care of our own little corner. With a heart and mind towards doing good, along with making beautiful sterling silver jewelry , we purchase casting grain that is 100% made from recycled sources.

But that begs the question: where exactly does our silver come from? Our supplier of silver specializes in recovering silver from sources like other jewelers and photo-imaging companies. The silver is collected in the form of scrap bearings from jewelers using mined silver and the waste materials from photo development, then the silver is refined, analyzed for quality and then reformed for use by organizations like us.

Did you know? There is more gold in one ton of landfill than there is in 17 tons of ore.
(Deutschman, Alan. There's Gold In Them Thar Smelly Hills. Fast Company; Jul/Aug2006 Issue 107, p96-98.)

Looking Great In Gold Vermeil

Because it never rusts and never corrodes, gold is the absolute standard for precious metals. It remains a tried-and-true favorite of jewelry lovers the world over. But we also know that gold is amazingly expensive right now. The price of gold today is hovering around a whopping $930 per ounce! So the question is, how can a jewelry aficionado get her gold, and make an investment in her jewelry, without draining her pocketbook?

The answer to that is gold vermeil (ver-MAY).

While the gilding of gold onto other materials is an ancient practice (early examples date back to ancient Egypt circa 2300 BCE), the art of vermeil was first developed in 18th century France.

Gold vermeil is the process of taking sterling silver and combining it with gold either through fire gilding or electrolysis. Sounds interesting, right? But as a sharp-minded jewelry buyer, you want to know more about what you’re buying. Well, to claim that a piece of jewelry is gold vermeil, a jewelry manufacturer has to follow some strict rules. The gold must be at least 10 karats in fineness, it must be plated on a base of sterling silver, and it must be at least 2.5 microns thick.

Golden Nuggets Because the heavy use of mercury in fire gilding would cause blindness, the country of France banned the fire gilding method of producing vermeil.

The Vermeil Room in the White House where the vermeil tableware set is kept was originally designed as a “social room” for Theodore Roosevelt.

The advantage to vermeil is that you get the glory of gold for a fraction of the price. Aside from the value of combining sterling silver and gold, the gold layer on vermeil jewelry also won’t rub off like typical gold plating. Relios offers a number of gold vermeil jewelry pieces to take advantage of this stunning cost-conscious combination of sterling silver and gold.

So, come by the Relios Jewelry website and see the result of putting the beauty of nature first with our sterling silver jewelry or find the gold vermeil piece for you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beaded Jewelry & Natural Gemstones

Jewelry is a personal statement. The colors you choose. The styles you wear. They say a lot about who you are as a person. Bold and outgoing. Quiet and reserved. Vibrant and creative. Introspective and subtle. While the jewelry we design and manufacture at Relios is what we would call a contemporary take on southwestern jewelry, the range of styles and colors can help you tell people who you are no matter which end of the spectrum you're on.

Beaded Jewelry

Beaded jewelry by Relios Jewelry can help you make your statement. Designed, modeled, cast, stone set, and assembled in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA (using genuine natural gemstones from around the world), we offer an amazing range of beaded jewelry to capture the essence of who you are.

Try a snap of turquoise to liven up a neutral outfit. The deep, entrancing blues of our lapis jewelry can help highlight your blue eyes. For the brunettes in the crowd, you might want a splash of red to grab some attention. The great part is that we have such a fantastic library of stones to choose from that we can offer beaded jewelry in a range of colors – earth tones, greens, blues, reds, and more.

But let's be honest, what really makes beaded jewelry fun is the symbolism and meaning in each stone. The richness of the amethyst’s nocturnal purple hues is thought to heal and calm the mind, while the boisterous orange carnelian is said to encourage a positive outlook. Need an energy boost? Try a sunshiny citrine. And when your best friend’s birthday comes around, a warm embracing amber will let her know she’s important to you.
Beads of Wisdom The traditional birthstone for the June birthday is the Pearl, but Alexandrite and Moonstone work as alternatives.


When someone says the words “Southwestern style,” what comes to mind? Vibrant colors? Possibly. Native American and Spanish/Mexican influences? Probably. Turquoise jewelry. Definitely. From the iron-laden green turquoise to the copper-infused blue turquoise, turquoise jewelry is the cornerstone of Southwestern fashion.

As a gemstone, turquoise carries so much history and symbolism. Native American tradition tells us that turquoise stole its color from the sky, and when the wind blows, it is the sky searching for the “sky stone.” This December birthstone was one of the first stones used as a gemstone, and it was so highly valued as a talisman for good health, currency, and jewelry, that man would risk life and limb traveling over treacherous terrain in search of this “green gold.” What's truly astonishing, however, is that turquoise has a rich worldly history outside of the Americas. As a gemstone it was popular in Ancient Egypt, Persia, and even China. It would later make its way to India and Japan. The ceremonial burial mask of the pharaoh, Tutankhamen, is bedecked in stones of carnelian, lapis, and turquoise (all stones we use at Relios).

Turquoise, itself, is a rare geological occurrence. It forms in arid regions where the surrounding earth is rich in aluminum and copper deposits. Weathering and oxidation pull elements from other pre-existing minerals like malachite and feldspar and when those elements settle and interact with each other in cracks and fissures, the result is turquoise. The matrix, the unique pattern you find in turquoise, comes to be when other minerals are trapped in the hardening turquoise deposit. We like to think of these patterns as the fingerprint of Mother Nature, making each stone special – no two are alike.

We take great pride the turquoise jewelry we design and make at Relios Jewelry – all of which is done in our facility in Albuquerque, NM, USA. We want what you want: spectacular designer styles with only genuine, natural, un-dyed, gem-quality turquoise. We protect all of our turquoise, through a process called stabilization, which prevents the turquoise from fading, breaking and makes it impervious to body oils, lotions and other beauty products.
Nugget of Fact The Native American turquoise mines in Los Cerrillos, New Mexico are thought to be the oldest in the world. (Wikipedia)

Curious about our collection of turquoise jewelry? Thought so. Follow this link to find the sky stone piece that fits your style! If turquoise isn't on your list of favorite stones, look for others in amongst our beaded jewelry.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

From Our Corazon To Yours

Everyone loves a deal. It’s like reliving a great birthday. You know as well as we do that a pick-me-up like a great deal would be welcome in the current economy. This is why we’ve put something together for all the Relios and Southwestern Jewelry Fans out there.

Corazon grab bags at our store on Amazon!

We like to think of them as recession defying bundles of joy. For a fraction of the price you would have paid for these pieces in a retail setting, we’re offering six different limited quantity grab bags of sterling silver and natural gemstone jewelry that you will look great wearing! Lets take a quick tour of the grab bags.

Lapis of Luxury - If you like blue, you’re sure to love the Lapis of Luxury grab bag. It starts with two pairs of earrings (chandeliers with lapis beads, and Kachina charm earrings with lapis cabochons), we then added two bracelets (coil bracelet with lapis and sterling silver beads, and a sterling silver cuff bracelet with a lapis cabochon flanked by two cabochons of blue turquoise). And if that’s not enough, we also threw in two sterling silver necklaces with silver and lapis pendants and another scenic pendant with chip inlayed stones like lapis and turquoise.

Pink and Proper – Another grab bag with seven items, Pink and Proper features three necklaces (first, a dainty pink mother of pearl heart on a light silver chain, then a chunkier rhodonite heart on a necklace of rhodonite beads, and finally a colorful beaded necklace of turquoise, amber, rhodocrosite, and rose quartz). After that, we have two pairs of earrings (rhodocrosite drop earrings, and a bolder pair of amethyst, turquoise, and rose quartz drop earrings). To round out the grab bag, we added two bracelets (a light pink rose quartz stretch bracelet, and a rose quartz, amber, and rhodocrosite coil bracelet).

Touch of Turquoise – Nothing says southwestern like turquoise! Ranging from a light green shade to a vibrant blue, this grab bag gives you 6 pieces of jewelry, five of which have turquoise as their featured stone. There’s the Indian Princess pendant, a turquoise-colored porcelain cabochon wrapped in ornate sterling silver. Then we have a sterling silver native pearl and green turquoise beaded bracelet. After that, we put in two light weight silver necklaces, one features a oval cabochon of light green turquoise, while the other has a bright blue turquoise stone set in a sterling silver najah. Finally, we have two pairs of earrings, sterling silver najah earrings, and long, delicate, sterling silver dangle earrings ending with beads of blue turquoise.

Autumn and Earth – If you’re more of an earth tones girl, this is the grab bag for you. Starting with the earrings, we have two pairs of earrings: one featuring peach aventurine beads dangling from sterling silver fishhooks, and the other a pair of chandelier earrings with stones of peridot, carnerlian, sunstone and smoky quartz. Next, there are two gorgeous necklaces (a carnelian and smoky quartz beaded necklace and a brown rope necklace with a chandelier of sterling silver and carnelian). Finally, we wanted to share with you three of our great bracelets. A prominent sterling silver bracelet with carnelian cabochons, a carnelian, red jasper, and smoky quartz coil, and a lighter toned bracelet of mother of pearl, amber, smoky quartz and aragonite.

Drops that Pop – Five pairs of drop earrings! Two pairs of earrings feature turquoise (one blue, one green with amethyst accenting stones). Then there are sterling silver earrings with red coral mosaic inlay, and a pair of elegant black onyx stones in sterling silver that work well for a night out. Finally, we have a pair of plum jade earrings with drops of quartz atop an abalone base set in sterling silver.

Playful to Polished – Five pairs of earrings… This grab bag is all about fun earrings, so we’ve taken a variety of different styles of our earrings and put them together so you can express a variety of moods. First up are a pair of big, bouncy earrings with large pale purple amethyst stones and beads of turquoise. For the woman out for a nice evening, we thought a pair of sterling silver blue topaz earrings would make for nice addition. Then we felt we needed to add something that’s more traditionally southwestern, so we put in these cute sterling silver zia earrings with mosaic inlayed yellow jasper, lapis, turquoise, and sugilite. Then for something more “reflective,” we added sterling silver and 14k gold rippled earrings that mimic the ripples in a pond.

“But what if you don’t want all of that jewelry, or don’t like it all?” you ask. No problem! Use the other items as gifts or even resell the jewelry. When you consider how much this jewelry would have cost, you’re in a great position to take advantage! Remember quantities are limited, so grab your bag quick! And if you like what you see, visit us at the Relios Jewelry retail site and scope out more great jewelry in a range of styles and prices. Once you've got your grab bag, take some photos and post them to our Facebook profile. We'd love to see your new look!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Finding Inspiration in the People

We talk about what inspires our designers a lot, but it often happens in very abstract terms: “the nature and culture of the Southwest.” While we wake up to the clear blue skies and watch the Sandia Mountains turn pink with the setting sun, a statement like “Southwest inspired” doesn’t say everything about where we get inspiration. It doesn’t tell you about the people.

Relios Jewelry is a member of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), and each year SWAIA sponsors the grandest of all Native American arts shows: Santa Fe Indian Market. This event brings together artists from nearly 100 Native American tribes. Can you imagine the wonders and inspiration we find for pieces like our inlay jewelry in the artwork of the almost 1,200 Native artists that showcase at the Santa Fe Indian Market?

We can’t say that our jewelry is Native American, because the truth is that it’s not. We believe in the power of diversity, and we hire the most skilled workers regardless of ethnicity. We feel that we’ve been lucky to put together a staff from all walks of life: Hispanics, Asians, and most certainly Native Americans. The culture of the Southwest, after all, is an amalgam of Native, Mexican, and European influences. We think the Relios family should be too.

So while we can’t say the jewelry is Native American, we can say that we take the beauty and creativity that we find in Native American jewelry, pottery, sculpture and textiles and create jewelry that offers you our interpretation of their amazing art. Collections like our Santa Fe Sunset collection, for example, take elements that our lead designer, Carolyn Pollack, found in pieces of Indian pottery. (Check out the video of Director of New Jewelry Design, Susan Chiasson, talking about the Santa Fe Sunset Collection on our Facebook profile). As Carolyn says, "At Indian Market, you get this feeling that the pieces have somehow emerged and evolved from the earth. It is truly a magical feeling like no other.”

Relios does much more with the Santa Fe Indian Market than just browse for ideas. We believe in giving back to those who gave to us. It’s why we use recycled silver for all of jewelry (including turquoise earrings and turquoise rings) and it’s the reason why Relios has sponsored one of the awards at Indian Market for the last 10 years – and we will be again this year.

Not only does Relios bring back ideas from the Indian Market, we bring back friends. Our partnership with Native American designer, Roderick Tenorio, was a fortuitous reward for being involved in such a spectacular event. Relios collectors have been adding Roderick’s jewelry to their collections ever since. And we continue to seek out Native American artists to partner with. The jewelry you find at the Indian Market tends to be one-of-a-kind art pieces. This means they can be really pricey as well. In our opinion, we think everyone who wants to share in the art should get the chance. We partner our manufacturing capabilities with the design skills of artists like Roderick (and hopefully soon a couple others) in order to give everyone a chance to experience Native American-designed jewelry at more affordable prices.

If you’re interested in visiting, this year the Indian Market is taking place on August 23rd and 24th on the Plaza in Santa Fe, NM. You never know whom you’re going to meet – Bill and Carolyn, perhaps – and you never know what you’re going find. What you do know is that the artwork, jewelry, and pottery are going to sparking new ideas for sterling silver jewelry here at Relios.

Visit the Relios Jewelry website to see the kinds of turquoise jewelry the art at the Indian Market and the Southwest culture and spirit has already inspired. Don’t forget to bookmark the site, because we can assure you that we’re bound to be incorporating ideas from this year’s show in future pieces.

We’ll see you at the Santa Fe Indian Market!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thirty-Three Years and Counting...

First, we'd like to welcome you to the Official Relios Blog, RelioSpace. We want to make this space a fun and fanciful source of stories and information about Relios, our jewelry, southwest culture and fashion, and anything else that tickles our fancy.

And what tickles our fancy today is Relios' 33rd anniversary! Isn't that awesome? For 33 years Relios has been providing top-quality sterling silver and natural gemstone jewelry to customers all over the country.

You could say that Relios really began when company founder and President, Bill Pollack, started fashioning jewelry out of his garage in the early 1970's. As an independent artisan, he started with lapidary, sawing, grinding and polishing stone and shell.

"I was always amazed at how beautiful the materials were, and the fact that they came straight out of the earth or bottom of the sea. I still get that feeling today with our new designs. Combining the art of jewelry design and the technology involved with the production processes is still very challenging and rewarding – even 30 years later," says the University of New Mexico alumnus.

In 1975, Relios was born when Bill had the opportunity to purchase a local jewelry manufacturer, Carlisle Jewelry Co. Together with his wife, Carolyn (Lead Designer and Vice President), the inspiration of the culture and environment of the Southwest, and the philosophies and principles that he has instilled in the company, Bill has led Relios to national renown.

Our philosophy

Part of the Relios frame-of-mind is a dedication to designing and manufacturing our jewelry here in the United States. As part of the Relios family, we employ nearly 150 U.S. citizens. And if you consider the average family of four, that means Relios is positively impacting the lives of nearly 600 people. If that isn't staggering enough, consider that with our suppliers, contractors and customers we're touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of people nationwide.

We do as much of the work here in our factory in Albuquerque, NM as we can, and we source most of our recycled silver here in the USA. But how much are we really doing here in our facility?
  • Designing new jewelry
  • Modeling the original piece
  • Casting (lost wax method)
  • Soldering
  • Polishing
  • Mosaic inlay
  • Stone setting
  • Assembling
  • Stringing gemstone beads
As you can see, almost all of the jewelry-making process happens right here. We do source cut stones, like channel inlay cabochons, from overseas, but that's such a small part of the process that we feel confident we can stand by our claim that our products are American made. Sure, we could make all of our jewelry overseas, but we get more satisfaction from helping as many people as we can here at home.

Gearing up!

It's that time of the year. The new Fall Collections from Relios Jewelry are coming! Available to our wholesale customers on August 15th, and then to our retail customers on September 3rd, be sure you're ready to check out the Fabulous Fuchsias, Passionate Purples, Tempting Teals, Earth and Sky, Fiery Reds, Spicy Reds, and Gorgeous Greens when they go on sale!

Find us online

Did you know that Relios has a number of places where you can find us online? Shop on our website and interact with us on Facebook.

Psst! Don't forget that the holidays are just around the corner!