Thursday, August 4, 2011

What We've Been Up To

July was a busy month, we had our 'African Adornment' show on July 14th, it was great. A bunch of the gang from The Kroo Bay Initiative came, and we had so much fun. We sold a lot of great pieces and 20% of those sales goes to KBI. It was a ton of work and a bit hectic around here leading up to the event, but I am happy to report it went off without a hitch.

Sterling Silver & Batik Bone Bracelets

We greatly appreciate all the folks for coming out, especially the group from Denton, who drove in just for the show, on a Thursday night no less! Speaking of Denton, after the show ends here on August 14th, we plan on moving the show there; if there is anything left!

We also want to thank Indulge Magazine for featuring us in August's issue of 'Style Features.' Our African pieces made the editorial! Check out this month's issue, page 20, and take a look at our spot on the Indulge Website

Your chance to see the show for yourself will be gone soon, so swing on by the studio. We'd love to see you! For more information on the show and more photos visit our WEBSITE
To find out more about the Kroo Bay Initiative visit

Mali Wedding Necklace

African Trade Bead Bracelet

Mixed African Bead Necklace

'Sixes" Bead Necklace

Mason Winters-

Pictures owned by Lisa McConnell Design Studio

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Should Be In Your Jewelry Box

Just like any girl should have a few key selections in her wardrobe, she should also have certain key pieces in her jewelry box. Here are a few staple jewelry items every girl should have.

1) Pearls. Just like that 'little black dress' a simple strand of pearls and pair of pearl studs are basic items that should be in your jewelry box. There are many options, one is natural pearls. Natural pearls are just that, natural, and rare. A strand of natural pearls can cost you thousands of dollars and you must be careful to check that they are in fact, natural. Today most pearls on the market today are cultured. With cultured pearls there are 2 main kinds: saltwater and freshwater. Saltwater pearls are more expensive because they require more work for the producer while Freshwater pearls typically require less labor. Freshwater pearls are most often 'rice' shaped and have a wrinkled looking surface, though today, round freshwater pearls are being created at a higher cost. A pair of cultured pearls can run the gamut in price, depending on quality. Before buying your own set of pearls make sure to research what you want and find a reputable seller.

2) Diamond Studs. Again, simple and classic. These are an investment, and you should be able to keep them forever. Diamonds never go out of style and can go with any wardrobe choice from jeans to a formal gown. Again prices can vary, but you can always start small. In general, a good, average quality 1/4 ct.(total weight) set will cost you in the high $600 range while the same quality at 1 ct.(total weight) will cost around $5000 and up, depending on the metal used. Save your money and invest in a good quality pair of studs. Diamonds are a girls best friend after all.

3) A nice watch. Sure running around in your Casio or Swatch Watch is fine for everyday, but everyone needs a nice watch to wear out on special occasions or in their professional career. There are plenty of options and price ranges to choose from. Of course there are the most desired and expensive: Rolex, Cartier, Chanel, and Chopard, but there are also more affordable options. A simple Raymond Weil (left,) Movado, or Gucci, while still expensive, are more affordable than some of the others. Still if those price tags are far too steep, Timex has come out with a 'Diamond Collection' retailing for under $200. DKNY and Sagen also have some very affordable pieces. There are plenty of choices out there, but you do want a good brand that will last you and is well made.

4) Cocktail ring. Cocktail rings are fun and should show off your personality. Feel free to play with color and stones and even how you wear them, like on your index finger. They can be simple and reserved or bold and brassy like you. A quality cocktail ring can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands depending on the gemstones and metals. Invest in something you will enjoy making your signature piece and love wearing. The ring on the left is one of ours. A dome Amethyst and Sterling Silver a statement piece.

There are more items that are classic: a gold bangle bracelet, a classic gemstone pendant, and more. Above are 4 classics that will always be instyle and should be in your jewelry collection.
Remember, invest in quality jewelry that will last. Always ask for guarantees and certificates for expensive pieces, and do your homework. Investing in a few key pieces is the crux to having quality jewelry. Spend the big bucks on those quality items and less on the trendy ones.

So, what's in your jewelry box? What do you think is a classic piece?
Sound off below and tell us what YOU think!

Pictures:,, and Lisa McConnell Design Studio.
Reference: The Pearl Book:The Definitive Buying Guide, by Antoinette L. Matlins

Mason Winters-

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Affordable Substitutes to Precious Gemstones

Who doesn't want that beautiful Ruby ring, or those gorgeous Emerald earrings, but most of us cannot afford to don ourselves so lavishly in these expensive gems, especially in this tough economy. There are alternatives, that you may not be aware of, to those sparkling Sapphires and dazzling Diamonds. Remember Christmas is only a few months away, time to start planning now.

Diamond, the most sought after and desired gem in the world. Also, one of the most expensive. Want that dazzling look without spending the big bucks? One great option is White Topaz (left.) This is a good option because it has that diamond 'look' for much less money. This is a very affordable alternative. Other options include White Sapphire, and of course Cubic Zirconium.

One substitution for Sapphire is Blue Topaz. This stone is much less expensive than Sapphire and will give you a similar blue sparkle. You can get a nice sized Topaz for significantly less than a Sapphire. A 'London Blue' Topaz (left) has a dark color much like a dark blue Sapphire.      

Another great switch, Rubellite Tourmaline for Ruby. Rubellite Tourmaline's are very red, like the ruby, and have a good clarity and color overall. A true Rubellite Tourmaline (left) can be pricey but much, much less than an equal size in Ruby. If you are looking for even less expensive, Garnet is always a good choice.

Finally, one of the most glorious gemstones, the Emerald. Some Emeralds even cost more than Diamonds. These gems are fabulously colored that deep glorious green. There are other stones that will give you a brilliant green without, well, the green! Green Tourmaline (below left) is one substitute for Emerald. These beautiful stones come in a variety of shades of green and a variety of prices. These are affordable alternatives to Emeralds. Another substitute is Chrome Diopside (below right.) What's that, you say? Chrome Diopside? This is a soft gem that is a very affordable substitute to Emerald or even Green Tourmaline. It comes in brilliant green shades and is striking. The downside is that it is a soft stone so it is best suited for pendants and earrings.

So if you're looking for affordable alternatives to those bedazzling baubles, don't fret, there are options. Semi-precious gems are always more affordable than the precious ones, and synthetics will always be cheaper than semi-precious. Yes, precious and semi- precious jewelry will always be the most coveted, but synthetic doesn't mean fake, it means lab made, and it can also be a good alternative.

Remember when buying jewelry ask for a guarentee, this will help to cover you if something happens to the piece, and a certificate stating what you are buying. Remember to check the store's return policy incase the size is wrong or you have a change of heart. Finally, remember the old addage 'if something sounds to good to be true, it probably is.'

Pictures from:, HSN, and

Mason Winters-

Monday, July 11, 2011

African Adornment

Hello out there!

Our 'African Adornment' show, benefiting the Kroo Bay Initiative, is finally upon us. The opening event is this Thursday: July 14th, 2011!

We've been working hard planning and making great jewelry pieces that will be available for purchase beginning July 14th through August 14th.

The show will feature primitive to sophisticated jewelry along with collector quality items available for purchase as well. The pieces are all hand made from authentic African beads, trinkets and metals; each piece is unique. Twenty percent of sales will go to the Kroo Bay Initiative.

The Kroo Bay Initiative is a student run, nonprofit organization that seeks to restore life for the community of Kroo Bay, Sierra Leone. They are partners with the YMCA and FAWE primary school in Kroo Bay. For more information about the Kroo Bay Initiative visit: Their Website

Here is just a peek at some of the pieces that will be available:



Pictures Owned By Lisa McConnell Jewelry Design Studio. Invitation photo courtesy of Nick Webber.

And we want to send a special thanks to Nick Webber from Pan Ector Industries for the amazing invitations. Check out his website at:


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Colored Diamonds, What's The Deal?

In nature, diamonds are found in a variety of colors from the most common white or colorless to yellow, pink, orange, blue, red, green, brown and yes even black.

Diamond Color is determined structural "defects' and impurities that cause coloration. A pure diamond is considered to be white or transparent.
A colored diamond like a colorless diamond, can be created synthetically in a lab environment. These are of course less expensive and can make a good alternative for those who cannot afford a real diamond.

Naturally colored "fancy" diamonds, are those whose natural color hides any imperfection and has an intense color. These are very rare, and the more intense the natural coloring the more expensive they are.
Good quality colored diamonds have gained popularity in recent years thanks to celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Heidi Klum. These starlets wear beautiful colored diamonds and have made them stylish and trendy.

      Sarah Jessica Parker in black diamond necklace

Pictures from: (Heidi Klum)


Friday, June 24, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sierra Leone Fundraiser

Hello all,

Some exciting news to share. We are gearing up for a month long fundraiser, for which I will be making wonderful jewelry pieces to sell all month, starting the second week in July. We will also be hosting an event to raise money for airfare for a wonderful young lady, Morgan, to go to Kroo Bay Sierra Leone. Morgan is involved in the KB Initiative which "seeks to harness the collective resources and talents of the greater North Texas community to help Kroo Bay in Sierra Leone develop sustainably through empowering local organizations, schools, women and other entrepreneurs on the ground."
This is really exciting and I am looking forward to helping in this cause.
A few interesting facts about Sierra Leone:
  • The movie "Blood Diamond" is set during the Civil War in Sierra Leone from 1996- 1999. Since this film debuted, the awareness of the problem of blood diamonds has soared.
  • The capital is Freetown.
  • English is the official language, but it isn't spoken everywhere.
  • Life expectancy is 56 yrs old.
Want to learn more about Sierra Leone and the challenges it has been faced with?  Check out this website: The UN and please take a look at the KB Initiative website

I will keep you updated on the event and how you can get in on it!


Image from