10.16.2014

Vancouver

View of Vancouver from high above image via Evan Leeson

A few weeks ago I went to Vancouver because one of my dearest friends got married. It was so nice to go celebrate this special occasion in a place where I had never been before. Now that I’m back, I understand why everyone has nothing but good things to say about this city. The big mountains, the ocean and crisp air make this city truly beautiful.

I was lucky to explore Vancouver in the company of some of my best friends while doing active stuff like hiking, biking, paddle boarding and swimming. If you have Vancouver in your travel bucket list, I will encourage you to get outside and enjoy all the outdoor activities the city has to offer (especially if you are there during the summer time). To give you an idea of the things you can do/see while in Vancouver, I’ll share some photos and tips of things I enjoyed doing during my visit.

1. GROUSE MOUNTAIN:

Vancouver view from Grouse Mountain Grouse Mountain is located just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver and it’s probably the place where you can get the best view of the city. You have two options to get to the top of the mountain: you can use the Skyride (gondola) or you can hike the “The Grouse Grind.” If you are in Vancouver during the summer time and you are somewhat in shape I recommend hiking the mountain. I’m not going to lie and tell you that it is easy, but is really doable even if you are not 100% in shape.

Grouse Mountain Gondola Cables My approach to climbing the trail was to go at a slow but constant pace. The trail is a combination of naturally made stone steps and man-made wooden steps. This mountain is commonly referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”! So although this is not your relaxing kind of mountain hike, what I like about this activity is having the opportunity to immerse yourself in the mountain and exercise alongside beautiful tall trees and crisp air. It took me almost 2 hours to get to the top (like I said, I was going really slow!) where we enjoyed the beautiful views of the city and had drinks from the “Altitudes Bistro” (one of the the bars/restaurants at the top).

Grouse Mountain Bears

At the top of the mountain, there are a number of activities you can do. I went to see two orphaned grizzly bears in the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, but they also have bird shows, a Lumberjack show, Helicopter Tours and Paragliding among others. Next time I’m there I would like to explore the area and do more of the Self-Guided Walks or the Guided Eco-Walks.

2. BIKING AT STANLEY PARK:

Biking Stanley Park

While we were in Vancouver, we stayed for three nights in a hotel in downtown. The location was great as we were able to walk to nearby restaurants and shops. We also had a bike rental place right around the corner where we rented bikes one afternoon and spent about 2 hours riding through some of the Stanley Park trails.

Biking in Stanley Park

We rode the whole time by the water which gave us beautiful views of the city, ocean and little beaches. There were a couple concession stands on the way to grab a quick bite and water, but we decided to stop in a restaurant called the Tea House. The food was a little pricey, but every single dish they brought to the table was delicious. If you get there, I recommend getting their carrot soup and their wild salmon.

3. CAPILANO BRIDGE:

Capilano_Bridge image via Netsnake

I think the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the most advertised attractions in Vancouver. I saw so many pretty photos on Pinterest (like the one above!) that I had to get there. The city has done a great job at creating an area where you can do more than just crossing the bridge, but I have to admit that it feels touristy. We arrived there around 10:00 am and just had a small line to buy the entrance tickets. We made the mistake of grabbing some breakfast before crossing the bridge and by the time we went to cross, there was a big line and a big crowd on the bridge. I had never been on a suspension bridge, so that was fun. But having so many people on the bridge somehow took away from the experience and made it harder to admire the scenery. Once you make it to the other side, they have a canopy walk between trees and a walkway with information about the mountain and nature surrounding you.

Capilano Canopi Walk Capilano Suspension Bridge

If you are planning to visit this attraction, I recommend getting there as early as you can to avoid the crowd and to, hopefully, get some alone time while you cross the bridge. Once you cross the suspension bridge back to the main area, don’t forget to do the cliff walk. They have some neat areas where you can enjoy some scary views down to the bottom of the forest.

If you are not a huge fan of crowds, there is another suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon Park. My friend said that it is beautiful and that all the locals go there. This park offers free admission and also has a good looking 30 foot natural pool where many people swim. Next time I will definitely visit this park, instead of the Capilano Bridge.

Overall, Vancouver is an awesome place to visit and definitely on my “going back to” list. I feel like we only scratched the surface of everything this city has to offer. But then again, doesn’t it always feel that way once a fun trip is over?

Hope these little tips help some of you on your future travel plans to Canada. : )

Cheers to many more trips to come for all of us!

xx,
–Alexandra

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09.25.2014

JEWELRY DISPLAY / 03

Jewelry Box

Jewelry Box 2

Jewelry Box 3

Jewelry Box 4

Mosaic Triangles Jewelry Box via WestElm
Juliette Jewelry Box via Crate&Barrel
Chocolate Shagreen Large Jewelry Box via Aerin
Selma jewelry Box via Crate&Barrel

It is officially Fall, and I felt the first semi-fresh breeze last night while walking around our neighborhood! I’m so ready to feel some real change in temperature though. It’s been really hot this summer, and I cannot wait to wear a cozy sweater.

During my walk, I enjoyed seeing what people are starting to do for their Fall decor. As some of you may know, I am originally from Venezuela. Because of its location right around the equator this country only has two seasons (rainy and not rainy). So although I didn’t grow up decorating during this time of the year, I would like to embrace the fall spirit a bit more this year. For now, I have my eye on those cute little pale pumpkins I’ve seen at the grocery store.

The new season has also motivated me to do some organizing and de-cluttering around the house, and I’m hoping I can extend the cleaning to my jewelry, that is looking quite messy these days. With that in mind, I found a few options for jewelry boxes that are making me consider if I should upgrade one of my current jewelry boxes. As you can see, there seems to be a theme in this curated group: square, spacious and modern jewelry boxes. I love the colorfulness of the Mosaic Triangles Box, the multiple drawers in the Juliette and the gold look on the Selma. What do you guys think?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

(P.S. You can see more Jewelry Display ideas here!)

–Alexandra

09.19.2014

SOMMI Jewelry now available at Rifle Paper Co.

Sommi Jewelry available at Rifle Paper Co. image via my instagram
illustration on blank note card by anna bond | rifle paper co.

Things have been a little quite around here during the past couple of weeks, and it’s time to break the silence. Recently all of my attention has been placed on making jewelry, and I honestly have not had much time for anything else. Although I hate leaving the blog lonely, there is a silver lining to this situation that has put a smile on my face for the past week. You can now find SOMMI Jewelry at Rifle Paper Co.’s flagship store in Winter Park, Florida!

They placed a wholesale order last week, and I have been working really hard to get some of the pieces to them before their big event going on this weekend. It was such a treat seeing my little treasures last night sitting along side all their beautiful products. Eeeek. I cannot believe it!

So if you are in the area you should definitely stop by their beautiful shop. They have an amazing sidewalk sale going on today and tomorrow. And while you are there you can also check out my little jewels : ).

Hope you guys have a lovely weekend!

–Alexandra

08.22.2014

Approach 05 / Path Ring

SOMMI Jewelry Path Ring

When it comes to fabricating rings one of the most challenging parts of the process is making the designs in all the different ring sizes. Since I work in wax, most times I get to re-carve each ring at least three times. For example, I have already carved the Aura Ring twice, in sizes 7 and 8, and I still have to carve it in size 6 and probably in size 9 as well. Although you learn the ins and outs of a design and the best approach to carving a piece the first time around, somehow the process can be more difficult the second time because you are not only carving, but also replicating the piece.

My “production” approach for the new collection (FW14) was to have the ring designs ready in one or two sizes before the launch and then, after the big day, I would carve the extra sizes based on the orders I received. This week I had the chance to re-carve the Path ring for a special friend and decided to take some photos along the way so I could share them with you.

When I started sketching the Path ring, I wanted to create a double banded ring that was shorter in height than the other double banded rings I had already designed. My one requirement for this ring was to have some sort of straight vertical line connecting both bands in the middle of the ring. The solution was to create the connection by making the bottom band gradually become one as a vertical line and elongating it all the way to the top band.

Wax Carving Path Ring SOMMI Jewelry

Above you can see the sequence of photos that show the main steps I took to complete the design (total of seven hours), starting with a solid wax shank and ending with a shaped ring. For this piece, I carved the main part of the design first and then I added some wax to create the small tip on top of the ring. When the wax model is ready I send it to be cast in metal and once I get it back, I polish the piece to a bright shine.

I hope you guys enjoyed taking a peek at how this ring was made. It’s nice to be back to jewelry making after spending some much-needed fun days in Vancouver. I’ll try to share more about my trip in the coming weeks!

(If you want to see more on my approach, you can do so here!)

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

–Alexandra

08.05.2014

Getting Married In Vancouver

Rifle Paper Co. image via rifle paper company 

It’s been two weeks since the launch and, even though I hate to leave, just as I’m getting into the swing of things, I’m thrilled to be heading to Vancouver for one of my best friends’ wedding. We will be there for six days, which I feel will be enough to explore the area, and it’s surroundings. The most exciting part, though,  will be to wander through a new place with some good  friends and, most importantly, to celebrate with my friend on her special day.

So far, we are planning to do a lot of outdoor activities like biking, mountain hiking and swimming. You guys, I can’t tell you how excited I’m about this. Florida is a beautiful state, but I miss having mountains around. I grew up in Caracas (Venezuela) which is located in a valley with beautiful mountains all around. And well, I spent lots of time going through all the trails and looking at the city from high above.

As soon as I get back I will be sure to let you know how the trip went and will share the best places I visited. Perhaps you guys will head that way someday and may find some of my recommendations enticing.

See you next week!

–Alexandra

07.29.2014

A Proper Launch Announcement

SOMMI Jewelry website launch.

If you follow me on social media, you have probably heard the good news. But for those of you who haven’t, I’m extremely happy to announce that my first jewelry collection and brand has launched! SOMMI Jewelry is a contemporary jewelry line designed and created by me. I begin each of my pieces with a pencil sketch which I translate by hand into wax, using ancient and modern wax carving techniques. The carved wax is then cast in materials such as sterling silver, bronze and 14K gold.

The website launch happened exactly one week ago, on July 22nd. As expected, the week before the launch was one of the busiest I have had in a really long time. Long nights and early mornings were the week’s theme to the point that, unfortunately for me, I didn’t even get to sleep during the last day and a half before the launch. As you can imagine, I was ready to drop dead by the time I launched, but thankfully everything that needed to get done, got done. There are still many things on my to-do list that I’ll be tackling in the coming weeks, one of which is finishing this collection’s look book and publishing it on the website. Right now you can see some cropped frames of the photos from the shoot in the product pages, but soon I will have a page on the website where you will be able to see all the styled photos in one place.

SOMMI Jewelry Aura Ring After the launch last Tuesday, I have been working on fulfilling my first orders (so exciting!) and getting some things in order. A big change around here is that I’m changing the company who is casting my pieces. The timing is terrible as I’m shipping my molds to a different state, and I’m figuring out all the logistics right as I launch and work on my first orders. But I realized the company I was using wasn’t a good fit for me and the quality of the product I was getting back was inconsistent. So at the moment, I’m working on sorting all this out as fast and efficiently as possible so that things can run a lot smoother later on. For the lovely people who have placed orders during the last week, this means that out of the “2 to 4 week” estimated timeframe to ship your order, most likely, I’ll be using the 4 full weeks to fulfill your order. But I promise I’ll ship your jewelry as soon as I can and I’ll work all this out so that the wait time will be cut to two weeks or less in the near future!

Thank you all so much for your support and patience during this adjustment time. Although things are a little hectic, I’m delighted to be making jewelry for some awesome people out there. It really means so much to me to have you come along with me on this journey. And last but not least, if you haven’t been to sommijwelry.com yet, I invite you to click here and take a look at the new 20 piece-collection showcasing bohemian, tribal and edgy jewelry that I have created. I truly hope you will love the jewelry as much as I have enjoyed making it!

–Alexandra

07.15.2014

How To Clean & Care For Your Jewelry

Sommi Jewelry Rings Antlers

New jewelry is bright and shiny, but as time goes by it can begin to look opaque and dull. As a jewelry users, we have two options: (1) we can enjoy the patina that develops over time (which can add character to a piece) or (2) we can slow down the tarnishing process and learn how to bring the jewelry back to its original luster.

While keeping in mind the second option, I have compiled some basic tips on how to care for and clean your jewelry. I’ll begin by sharing some general advice that you can use for all metal jewelry and then I will focus on sharing specific recommendations for each metal.

General Rules:

  • As a rule of thumb, remove all your jewelry when exercising, swimming & cleaning. I know this can be annoying, but exposing your jewelry to sweat, chlorine, salt water and chemicals will tarnish (and sometimes damage and discolor) your pieces.
  • Store your jewelry in a clean and dry place. I’m a big advocate of displaying jewelry in pretty ways around your room, but the truth is that we need to be selective. For example, if a piece is prone to tarnishing and you enjoy wearing it bright and shiny, then is best to keep it protected inside an airtight box. On the other hand, if you have a piece that does not tarnish easily or a piece that you love because of the patina that has developed over time, then yes! do keep it out for everyone to see. Remember that there are many beautiful jewelry cases that can also make awesome displays. If you need some ideas, you can see some here.

** The tips below are for jewelry that does not have stones in them.

GOLD: Although gold jewelry will not tarnish over time, it can accumulate dirt and grime making it look dull. The easiest way to clean it is by soaking your gold jewelry in warm soapy water for about 15 minutes and then gently scrubbing it with a soft bristle brush. After removing the dirt, rinse the piece(s) thoroughly with warm running water and pat dry with a soft cloth.

GOLD VERMEIL: Gold vermeil is an overlay of gold over a base of sterling silver and, as such, it will tarnish over time. To clean gold vermeil, use a mild dish soap and a soft-bristled brush under warm running water. Rinse well and dry the piece with a soft non-abrasive cloth. Make sure the piece is completely dry before returning to storage as water residue can cause staining.

STERLING SILVER, BRONZE & BRASS: Although there are many ways to clean silver, bronze and brass jewelry, I have found that the easiest and fastest way is by using a treated polishing cloth. I use this particular cloth to clean my jewelry, and although it’s labeled as a “Silver Care Cloth” it works great on brass and bronze as well.

BRONZE & BRASS: When cleaning bronze and brass be aware that sometimes jewelry made out of these metals may have a protective transparent coating to keep tarnish away. If this is the case, avoid using treated polishing cloths or brushes with cleaning mixtures on these pieces, as they could remove the coating.

Hope this information helps you keep your jewelry looking great!

xx
–Alexandra

07.06.2014

How to Know Your Ring Size

Figure out your ring size

One of the challenges when purchasing jewelry online is figuring out what size of rings and bracelets to buy. Today I would like to share with you some of the best ways to find out the size of each of your fingers so that you can feel confident when purchasing rings, no matter what finger you are planning to wear them on.

Option #1: The most accurate way to figure out your ring size(s) is to go to a nearby jewelry store and ask if they could size your fingers. All jewelry stores have ring sizers on hand, and most of them will be happy to help you out even if you are not planning to purchase a ring at that particular time.

Option #2: If you feel uncomfortable with the last option, the second best option is to make a small investment by purchasing an inexpensive ring sizer that you can keep handy at home for years to come. Here is a great and inexpensive option I found on Etsy.

Option #3: If you need a quick (and free!) solution, head to this website and follow the instructions to find out your ring size. Remember, this digital tool will give you a good idea about your ring size, but just like with “Option #4,” the result will be an approximate size, rather than an exact one.

Option #4: Use a free ring sizer template that you can download and print in your own home computer. There are several options online, but I decided to create my own and make it available for all of you to use. Printable ring sizers work great to get an idea of your size, but keep in mind that because you are using paper there is some room for error and, therefore, the results will be more approximate sizes than exact ones.

Here are the instruction to get the best results when using my template:

STEP 1: Download and print this template on a heavy stock paper. Important: You must print this PDF at 100% (actual size). Please don’t scale/shrink the artwork to fit margins, or any other way, when you are choosing your print settings.
Ring Size Template

STEP 2: Using scissors, cut throughout the gray dashed lines around each circle.
Cutting Ring Size Template

Cut out ring size template

STEP 3: Using an exacto knife, cut through the gray dashed inner circumference on each ring template.
Cutting Ring Sizer Template

STEP 4: Place each of your fingers through each circumference until you find your size. Make sure the template tightly fits around your finger to ensure the most accurate sizing.
Trying Ring Sizer

STEP 5: For a more comfortable fit around your finger, you can go one step further and cut the pink dashed lines located around the inner circumference with an exacto knife. I only recommend doing this if you are using a thick stock paper.
Ring Size Template

And that is it! After you are done cutting the templates, you can keep all of the pieces in a small envelope for future reference. As always, don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions!

–Alexandra

06.26.2014

SOMMI Jewelry is Launching July 22!

A goal is a dream with a deadline

It has been a long time since the day I set the goal of creating a jewelry collection. Some people may say that I have taken too long. And although they may be right, I have been working extremely hard to get this done as fast as I possibly could.

During the past ten months, I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. Although I have probably learned the most about jewelry design and fabrication, some of the biggest lessons so far have been about myself. The lesson that stands out the most to me is to always keep moving forward, even if at times it seems impossible to see the final destination. Small step by small step, today I have arrived at a point where I can officially announce the launch date for SOMMI Jewelry.

So with no further ado, I would like to announce that my first collection will be available to the public, at sommijewelry.com, on July 22nd! I’ll be launching with a small collection of 21 pieces showcasing a mix of tribal, bohemian and edgy jewelry. I had so much fun designing the pieces and figuring out the business side of things. I cannot wait to officially embark on my journey as a jewelry designer and entrepreneur.

If you would like to learn more about what I’ll be offering on July 22nd (materials, sizes, prices, etc.) and get some insights about the stories behind some of the pieces in the collection, sign up here to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thank you for signing up, you will receive a special discount with our official launch announcement that you can use towards your first purchase!

–Alexandra

06.18.2014

Jewelry Display / 02

Jewelry Box Anthropologie Wonders Of The World Pyramid Box / Free People

Jewelry Box Anthropologie Folding Mirror Jewelry Box / Anthropologie

Jewelry Box West elm Textured Boxes / West Elm

Jewelry Box Anthropologie Arca Jewelry Box / Anthropologie

Jewelry Box Free People Large Heart Jewelry Box / Free People

These last days have been crazy. I have been putting a lot of deadlines on myself and well, I have to confess that it has been a bit stressful. All in all is good, since I have finally settled on a launch date for the SOMMI line and the website! I’ll be making the announcement in the upcoming days and, as you can imagine, I’m very excited.

Until then, I leave you with these five lovely jewelry boxes. If I had to pick my favorite it would be between the Large Heart, because of its antique look, and the Arca jewelry box, because of the cool way one can hang and display a pair of earrings.

p.s. remember to sign up to be notified of the launch so that you can receive a special discount that you can use towards your first purchase!

–Alexandra