Smile Politely

Add sparkle to your weekend

Before you settle in with Netflix and call it a night, why not change it up and treat yourself to a unique experience (and maybe some bling)? Reserve your Saturday seat for the gemstone roundtable this weekend at Christopher’s Fine Jewelry Design for an exciting and luxurious evening you won’t forget.

What is a gemstone roundtable, you might ask? Imagine a range of precious stones. You may be picturing emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, or pearls, to name a few. Gemstone roundtables put these, and other exquisite stones literally in the palm of your hands. It’s like show-and-tell times one-hundred.

As you walk through the back doors of the store, past the display cases, you will find a beautifully decorated dining table with an array of hors d’oeuvres and your very own seat. Employees even serve you wine, which helps kick off the night and set the mood.

At the head of the table sits the gem dealer of the event with a case of lovely, loose gems, each wrapped in paper. The gem dealers vary throughout the year, each bringing something different and special, like magnificent opals, or stones uniquely cut to hit the light just so. This particular show is very special in that it is Christopher’s Collection, showcasing rare gems and stones from co-owner Christopher M. Jupp’s private assortment. The collection has amassed over thirty-six years, so there are sure to be some interesting pieces to explore.

Now the fun begins and it is time to play! Each person takes turns looking at a gem – reading what the wrapping says about it, unfolding the paper and pouring it into your hand, holding it in the light, and admiring its beauty. If you see something and think, “I have to have this!” then you place “dibs” by yelling out the gem number and your name. Dibs doesn’t hold you to buying the gem necessarily, but it is definitely a thrill to pretend you have all the money in the world to purchase every awesome thing you see.

When I attended the gem show in December, it was amazing to think, “I’m holding a very tiny, very expensive emerald in my hand,” and to feel like it was mine in that moment. If you have never really seen gemstones up close, this is the show for you. You can see which shine in the light, which are still sparkly even in the dark, and ask questions about stones you have never heard of.

After everyone has seen everything, the pretty little parcels are passed out to those who placed dibs. Then the person can decide whether they’d like to “adopt,” or purchase, the gem to eventually turn into custom jewelry, or whether they’d like to say goodbye and pass it down to the next person in the dibs line.

Next is when the pencil and paper come out. Christopher (if you haven’t worked with him before to know) is an extraordinary and creative jewelry designer. He looks at the gems you have expressed an interest in and with a few strokes of the pencil and a bit of tape to literally place the stone on your ears or neckline, he can make you see jewelry ideas you wouldn’t have even imagined. For example, I called dibs on a beautiful pair of freshwater pearls with a gorgeous peach iridescence. My instinct would have been to turn them into a simple pair of earrings. He came by and taped them right to my earlobes so I could imagine what they would look like. But then he said, “or you could do something like this.” Before I knew it, he had sketched an asymmetrical necklace. Another woman in attendance explained that Christopher crafted a hummingbird necklace because she was so inspired by a brightly colored gem at a previous show.

There is no pressure or requirement to buy. The staff is welcoming, kind, knowledgeable, and fun, and the environment reflects their professionalism and personalities. The goal is to have a great time and explore new options and beauty in jewelry. If you do, however, see something you love, then take advantage of the opportunity to hand-pick and design something! The possibilities are vast with classic or statement pieces, gifts, even jewelry shaped like your favorite animal. I went home happy about my experience and content with leaving empty-handed, but there are a few gems I still occasionally think about.

If you are intrigued in the slightest, go ahead and reserve your seats. At the show I attended there were both men and women enjoying themselves, so bring your best friend, your spouse, your mom or dad, or someone that owes you a Christmas gift and prepare to have a unique and memorable time.

Thursday and Friday night have already booked, but there is still time to claim your seats for Saturday’s show. Call (217) 352-2415 or stop in Christopher’s at 124 North Neil Street in Downtown Champaign. The show on Saturday will begin at 4pm and is held at the store. For more information, please visit Christopher’s website or Facebook page.

Can’t make it this weekend but love the idea of custom jewelry? Check out the website calendar for upcoming gemstone roundtables, or book an appointment with Christopher to start designing right away.

Photos courtesy of Laura Welle

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