Saturday, May 11, 2013

Haute Cocoa Bijou

Love hot chocolate but not all the calories? Why not treat yourself – or perhaps Mom for May 12, 2013, Mother’s Day -- to a hot cocoa luxury that won’t go straight to the hips.

Haute Cocoa Bijou, a term coined by Valerie’s Vignettes, refers to bijou – small, elegant jewels and gems -- that come in delicious chocolate hues. The term references a multitude of precious and semi-precious gems including smoky topaz, chocolaty brown garnets and quartz gems, as well as semi-precious stones like burnt new jade, brownish wooden jasper, chocolate opal and fire agate. However, increasingly popular and distinctive in their own right, both chocolate pearls and brown or Chocolate Diamonds, a word mark owned by LeVian Corporation, reign supreme.

Chocolate Pearls are derived from Tahitian black pearls which come from the black pearl oyster, or Pinctada Margaritifera. Exceptionally sensitive to climate and water-temperature, Tahitian black pearls largely reject attempts to be artificially stimulated to create pearls. This characteristic means Tahitian black pearl cannot be easily mass-produced like cultured white pearls. This also accounts for their rarity and value. In chocolate brown pearls, the rich color is achieved through a bleaching process that transforms the naturally occurring black nacre (that is pearly substance from which pearls get their name and distinctive look) into deep, cocoa and caramel tones.

Gemology Institute of America credits New York-based import-exporter, Ballerina Pearl, Co. as the creator of the technique. Founded in 1985, Ballerina Pearl, Co. generates between $1M to $5M annually moving and manufacturing its variety South Seas pearl products, according to data from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Introduced in 2000, Chocolate Pearls have shown a steady growth in popularity.  Most recently, their popularity has been fueled by the zeitgeist, style and Art Deco fashions seen in the film, Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 masterwork, The Great Gatsby

More than a one-hit wonder, Chocolate Pearls make regular appearances on red carpet occasions worldwide, and are often selected and promoted by stylist to the stars Erica Courtney. Also worth note, women of substance and international esteem ranging from the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama to fashion trailblazer Sara Jessica Parker have been spotted and photographed wearing simple and stunning stands of the modern classic.

Diamonds or Pearls --
Which has your favorite style icons been spotted wearing? 
Chocolate Pearls
Cocoa Diamonds
Michelle Obama
Jacqueline Onassis
 Sara Jessica Parker
Halle Berry
Eva Marcille
Jennifer Lopez
Hilary Swank
Kelly Rowland
 Keira Knightly
Katy Perry
 Sandra Bullock
Taylor Swift
 Katherine Heigel
Ariel Winter
 Jessica Biel
Jessica Alba
Kim Kardashian
The most common color, brown diamonds aren't all created equal. 
Golden Jubilee Diamond -- South Africa -- 545.67 carats
Star Star of the South -- Brazil -- 128.48 carats
Lesotho Brown -- Lesotho -- 601 carats

Chocolate Diamonds -- All diamonds are considered rare and can span the spectrum from green, yellow, orange, red, black, and of relevance here, a tone of hot cocoa.  Contrary to conventional wisdom and the “4-C” scale of diamond grading (cut, color, clarity, and carat) system, which sets colorlessness at a premium, colored diamonds are rarer. Though, naturally occurring brown diamonds are among the most common and get their color from impurities, or inclusions. Historically, these diamonds which possess all the properties of white diamonds were reserved for industrial use.
These days, though, more vividly colored and named Chocolate Diamonds, are upping the game – and value – of the gemstone workhorse into a different category. Capitalizing on proprietary designs and techniques developed and perfected by Persian Master Jeweler Abdulrahim LeVian, LeVian Jewelers that also use the moniker “LeVian Chocolatiers”  has created a signature niche of confections inspired fine jewelry and gems which use black rhodium to intensify the deeply saturated chocolate tones of its characteristic diamonds. According to the company's website, the children of Mr. LeVian continue in their father’s proud tradition and family heritage of producing distinctive, richly colored original and quality fine and popularly priced jewelry.

But let’s face it. Even the most modestly priced diamond or cultured pearl can be out of reach for some. Alternately, others like the variety and  novelty of semi-precious stones. Beautifully natural, polished stones and crystals can offer everyday alternatives for jewelry-lovers of all budgets. Quality crystals can offer just as much “bling” as the quintessential girls’ best friend, diamonds. Whether striking a subtle or dramatic note in chocolate, these Haute Cocoa Bijou make a rich addition to any wardrobe for any occasion.

© 2013 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All rights reserved.

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