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Octobers Birthstones-Tourmaline & Opal

 Opals And Tourmalines – A Plethora Of Colours!

The October birthstone,  Opal and  Tourmaline are the most radiant gems in the market. Both stones exhibit a vibrant spectrum of colours, lending charm and beauty to any jewellery they are fashioned in. These dual coloured gems are prized across the world and are in high demand for their unique hue combinations and crystal structures.

The Opal was a symbol of and hope to the ancient Romans. The people of the Orient christened the Opal, ‘Anchor of Hope’. Others believed the Opal fell from the heavens when lightning struck the Earth. According to legend, the Opal was believed to make its wearer invisible and was a popular talisman of spies and thieves. The stone has a unique property in changing colour, believed to indicate the health and mental state of the wearer.  The October birthstone is associated with purity, innocence, hope and faith.
October has a second birthstone, the Tourmaline. Tourmalines are a relatively recent discovery and assignment. Due to its recent unveiling, the stone lacks an interesting background, lore, myths and legend. This gemstone however, is known as the ‘Peace Stone’, believing to dispel anger, fear, jealousy and aggressiveness to keep the wearer calm and tranquil. Besides peace and progress, the stone is believed to enhance creativity of its wearer.

The tourmaline is a very interesting gemstone. When warmed or rubbed, this stone attracts ash, bits of paper and lint. This happens since the gem is charged with static electricity when rubbed. The tourmaline is accorded a place of honour in its part in the studies and experiments with electricity conducted by Benjamin Franklin.
According to legend, Cleopatra is said to have worn a magnificent set of opals to attract Mark Anthony, ruler of Rome. Queen Victoria was a passionate collector of the gemstones, one of the many rulers who wore crowns encrusted with the gems to protect them against evil and enemies.
Contrary to popular belief, the Russians believed that the Opal represented the evil eye. The rulers of Russia were steadfastly against using the stone in any form of jewelry.

Other nations believed that the opal was considered a gemstone that brought immense fortune on the wearer as the stone possessed the virtues of each gemstone whose colour was captured by the Opal’s spectrum of colours.As a result the stone was considered lucky.

The word opal is derived from the Roman term ‘Opalus’. Some believe the word was derived from ‘Ops’, wife of Saturn, the Goddess of fertility. Other references indicate the term was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Upala’.

The word tourmaline is believed to have been derived from the Singhalese word ‘Toramalli’, meaning ‘something out of the Earth’. The Sri Lankan term is applied to all green, brown or yellow stones.

Below are two rings I just completed to celebrate October
On the left a large 10mm round Welo opal set in 9ct yellow gold -an incredible stone that flashes orange,yellow,green and red.
On the right a large Green to orange Catseye tourmaline (@ 12mm across ) in rose gold with Pave diamond shoulders.
Both are one of a kind and available to purchase.


“How long does it take to make a ring?”
Easy answer is “As long as it takes”
It’s actually difficult for me to pin point the exact time it takes to create each ring, some are complex ,others are simple ,and some are just a right pains in the [email protected]@ from the very beginning.
Sometimes things don’t cast properly and I have to remake them ,or occasionally I succumb to human error and somehow make the wrong size ,or do something just as silly.
Creating jewellery by hand is always challenging -it never gets EASY!
But I like it that way ,if things were too easy ,I would get complacent ,or worse still -bored!
Back to the question “How long does it take,Deb?”
So here I break down of my typical week
In the studio at around 9am to start on the weeks orders .
I tend to work on a group of rings at a time-anywhere from 6 to @ 10 max -anymore than that and it’s too much work.
I pull out the notes on each job, read through them carefully carving and  creating an individual wax for each ring ,which is then sprued and set aside ready for casting.
In eight or so hours we may get 8-10 waxes done ,ready for casting the next day.
Continue with orders or make some stock items from pieces cast over the past few weeks.
Because I am not really a collections based jeweller (that would get incredibly dull ) ,I often head to my gem boxes and start with the gems first choosing what stone for what combination eg: A rose gold crown setting on a wide silver band with a cobalt spinel perhaps?
I never quite know what I will end up with when I start on stock rings, sometimes what I originally envision changes  completely by the time the item is finished.
Obviously custom work is completely different as I am constantly referring to mine and the customers notes ,recalling our conversations and the whole “feel” we are after eg: not too bulky, not too wide ,brushed or shiny flush or grain set .
I then line up the combinations ready for soldering(with a big gas torch) and tend to solder 8-10 in a row .
Even 15 years on, some days soldering goes like a dream, other days  nothing seems to “run” properly on those days you just have to walk away and say “let’s try again tomorrow!”
Most evenings after dinner I answer emails ,messages, post on social media ,quote jobs,
test gold from remodelling jobs ,photograph old gold for remodelling jobs ,send invoices, it does’n’t really stop out of the studio!
All the work I soldered yesterday is ready to be “cleaned up”.
Starting with a very course bastard files I file the top layer of metal off the bands of the rings and any rough bits from soldering around the ring tops-they have no stones/gems in them as yet, they are just empty little vessels, all charred and black looking.
I check all the joins thoroughly and re solder if necessary .
After the initial “rough up” I then work with smaller needle files from a course grade to a finer grade ,moving the ring around ,smoothing rough patches.
After filing comes sanding ,I use  pieces of sandpaper working in one direction smoothing the metal. Grade after grade is used from 80 grit through to 1200 grit, paying special attention to the joins  ,needless to say I go through [email protected] of sandpaper!
Larger areas on the back of the rings can be done on the bench grinder, mine is nothing fancy a good old Ryobi workhorse called “Rob” with spindels attached on either end to take flap-wheels *
(compressed sandpaper/emery paper grit buffs).
This saves me hours ,although my fingers and nails unfortunately take the brunt of this.
Often after a day on the grinder my thumb pads are  worn and bleeding and my nails are filed in weird directions!
Normally whilst I am doing the outside of the rings ,Hubby Dean is grinding out the interiors.
I am a firm believer my rings must be as nice on the inside as they are on the outside so we work these just as hard.
The rings are now ready for polishing ,I change the flap-wheels to buffs and use a polishing compound to cut and polish them to perfection.I repeat this process with 3 different compounds so they are smooth like silk.
It’s very dirty and messy, even with a respirator on and the extraction unit going,I still get manage to get covered in black grime!
The rings are then cleaned in an ultrasonic bath.
It’s 3pm now and I realise I have an appointment down at the shop at 3:15pm ,so quickly wash my face and scream down for that.
The Monday’s waxes have been cast so it’s clean up and file, sand and repeat.
I get Dean on onto sprue removal whilst I decide which rings finished yesterday will be ‘set”(the gems put in-and no we do not glue them in ,as a lady last weekend asked in t the shop) by us or couriered to one of two setters we use who set the more complex jobs for us.
We do set a lot in house ( Well..my husband Dean does much more  than me!)
Gem setting is actually a completely different trade to jewellery ,and finding a good setter can make or break your work ,so I totally treasure the two that I use (Adele and Dave if you are reading this!).
It takes many, many years of training and practise to be a good setter .In another newsletter I will go into detail about setting a bit more ,but just so you know all those little gems set into my “scattered” gem style of work can take 20-30 minutes each to set .
The courier delivers last weeks lot of rings from our setters .I re polish them all till they are pristine then photograph them ,invoice them ,send off to their forever home or pack up ready for the shop tomorrow.
I then realise I should make a few earrings and necklaces ,but by Friday  afternoon I need a break  (wine) because I will be at the shop all day Saturday and possibly Sunday ,so they are put on the back burner till till next week (Yet again..Lol!)

This video shows me at work!

Together Loves: Debra Fallowfield

Tell us about your design background and what lead you into Jewellery Design?

I fell accidentally into jewellery when living in Australia ..I worked as a retoucher back in the days PM (pre Macintosh!) on magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire etc-.Retouching fashion shoots and Mag covers by hand -old school with paintbrush , scalpel, etch and a magnifying glassAccidentally -because I went to do a Computer -mac course at the local highschool . The course was cancelled due to not enough people and I was asked if i wanted to choose another course..I choose jewellery as a laugh.

I reckon I was pretty much hooked after the first night!

I had always been ‘arty ” as a kid I was painfully shy -but always drawing,painting or making stuff …But when I left school I had no idea what to do – I did work experience with a local print firm and ended up training up as a retoucher before moving and living in Sydney for over 15 years…When I returned to NZ late nineties pregnant,without a job and a single mum (oops ) I started making jewellery in my dads mechanics garage of an old kitchen bench with a handful of second hand tools.


What sets the Debra Fallowfield brand apart, and what do your clients come to you for?

I have no formal jewellery training nor did I go to art school.. I lamented for years about not attending art school..but now that I am older I feel it’s a blessing in disguise -I have such a distinct style,being pretty much self taught (apart from the basics) has meant I do things so differently to most jewellers.

That’s what sets me apart -I think outside the box,I take risks.I was mixing gold colours together long before it was fashionable –I look at what’s happening today in the jewellery world and think “hell,I was doing that 15 years ago!!

As well as my strong design aesthetic -I refuse to use CAD (computer aided design) -the majority of what you see these day’s from big brands is mass produced CAD work on 3D printers-Bang out one mold and then cast of 100’s of the same thing,over and over…

Everything I make is entirely by hand,made by me with a little help from my amazing husband.-old school ways -with saw,solder,flame ,files,polishing-I get my hands dirty ,I just don’t draw pretty little pictures then hand them over to someone to do all the dirty work!
My clients come to me because they want to escape the blandness that dominates the jewellery world -they come to me because they know I will create them something no one else has,they come to me because they like me are individuals.They come to me because they appreciate quality and craftmanship ..and because I am South island straight up -no [email protected]


Where do you get inspiration?

Inspiration comes from anywhere-I tend to see things in minute detail..droplets on a blade of grass,shadow on a building,erosion,natural landscapes,manmade landscapes-I don’t tend to sketch-I work with an idea in my head and just roll with it…Otago is so freakin beautiful and rugged and wild it’s a great place to be an artist..everyonesan artist in Port Chalmers. Hotere used to live up the road.
Isolation breeds creativity..

How would you describe the Debra Fallowfield aesthetic?

Strong,bold,confident – extraordinary jewellery for uncommon jewellery ..wearable art. REFRESHING ..it’s different -I don’t follow trends nor others-others follow me!

What have been some of your favorite commitment pieces to create, and why?

Every committment piece tells a different story-it’s hard to pick one ,and whilst I love making wedding and engagement rings for your couples-it’s the 60 years olds that are still loved up getting their rings re designed that rocks my boat!

Do you have a favorite metal or stone?

I love coloured sapphires the ones called “partis”-who does not love a good party!!!
Grey diamonds,rose cut stones ,coloured diamonds and high coloured golds


Apart from Jewellery Design, do you have other creative outlets?

My other outlets are travel -I head away to Sri Lanka for a month soon -traveling solo ..it’s my adreneline.I’m a pretty good cook too-buying contemporary art and sculpture…Music (Hubby DJS )

Favourite thing to do outside of work?

favourite thing is walking the dog at many of the amazing beaches down here on Dunedin harbour..If all you North islanders realised how bloody gorgeous it is down here i swear the would be no one left in Auckland..lol

Kerens Remodel

Keren approached me a while back to create a remodel using some inherited rings of great sentimental value.The main ring (which comprised of sapphires) was previously her Nanas, gifted  to Keren after she passed away, the other diamond ring (with the two small diamonds either side) was from her mother.
We began by figuring out what liked l and did not like.Referring to my many styles on facebook ,instagram,and the website we were able to come up with a design that used the elements from a few  of my designs.
Because Keren lives outside Dunedin up in Moutere ,we did this via facebook ,through the message box on my page.Facebook business messenger is great for this as it’s was just like having a real conversation and we could bounce ideas off each other pretty instantly.Keren then couriered the rings down to Dunedin.
I have to say Keren was an absolute dream to work with -I really appreciate a woman who knows what she wants!This absolutely makes my job much, much EASIER.
Never be afraid to tell me what you want!!!
From the information gathered I sketched out a rough design to make sure we were completely on the same page before starting.
Then began the painstaking task of carefully removing all the stones from their old settings ,sometimes this can take hours.Once that was done all the gold was sent up to a refinery I use in Auckland to be refined and returned as pure gold granules ,clean and alloy free to be used in the new casting!


Keren’s original rings
The finished creation in a very solid 18ct gold.We added a large central 1ct Forever brilliant moissanite and 3 smaller diamonds amongst the diamonds and sapphires either side to balance out the design.
*I go into full detail in my FAQS about the process,base costs etc-click below!

Love love my new ring, thank you so much Deb 

Mystic Topaz -What Actually Is It?

Mystic Topaz is a stunningly beautiful gemstone!
Mystic Topaz has been on the market since 1998, and the first time I saw it WAYYY back then,I was… Well, Mystified!
Mystic topaz looks like no other  gem in the world due to the Insane Iridescent Rainbow Colours that the stone exhibits.
It is  Brilliant, Bright, Sparkly, and Beautiful ,all rolled into a single gemstone!
Being the Magpie that I am ,I adore Mystic Topaz ,and feature it in a large selection of my work.It is a relatively cheap gem (when compared with say sapphires ,or other precious gems) yet carries a huge “wow” factor
Originally the only variety of Mystic Topaz available was the classic green/pink shade(As featured in the ring above),but now it is being created in a myriad of shades (see below)-although often the more unusual shades are difficult to find .
Most of the Mystic Topaz I purchase is created in the USA from white Topaz mined in Brazil .
So what is Mystic Topaz?

Mystic Topaz is actually an Enhanced, however still real , Topaz GemstoneWhite Topaz isCoated with a Layer of Titanium on the Pavilion to Create these Wonderful Colours. It is only Microns Thick, and only Coats the Pavilion or Base of the Stone (Never the Top or the Table).
The Result is a Multi-Color Effect that’s Breathtaking and Surreal.

How hard wearing is Mystic Topaz ?

Mystic topaz is an 8 on the Mohs scale and very suitable for everyday wear in rings, pendants or earrings.
One should take the same care as one would when wearing a diamond.
Like a diamond it has perfect cleavage and it can break, chip or form straight cracks if one were to hit it in just the right place.
So protect it from hard knocks.
As with all gemstones, one should avoid using chemicals like bleach or chlorine or abrasive polishing cloths when wearing your Mystic Topaz.
I always state “common sense prevails”

“Talk to me anytime about creating your dream ring in MYSTIC TOPAZ “



Whilst it is  definitely  common knowledge I am more a “ring” gal, last month I finally grabbed some time to craft some fabulous new bangles from designs I had had swimming in my head for quite sometime.

These are solid,bold and edgy -and would make amazing timeless gifts,for young and older woman alike-future heirlooms to pass down no less!

Some are inspired by my ring collections ,whilst others such as the ARAMOANA bangle is based upon morning walks along beautiful Aramoana beach with Maia (our rescue Pitbull) and  my husband Dean.
I am  completely fascinated by the curvature and flow of  the long kelp strands strewn  on the beach, I have always been  attracted to nature with it’s complexity and simplicity at the same time.
My other new favourite is the new RELIC bangle ,showcasing my darker side and  love of textural elements,erosion and decay.

Most have a BUY NOW option on the website -head to the WRIST section to check them out!

I am slowly working on increasing the amount of ready made items available on the website,but it is difficult due to the high demand for my custom pieces,and only one pair of hands!

Our new monthly blog”Romancing the Stone”

Lisa and Paul

We came across Debra’s website quite by chance and immediately knew she was the woman for us. Debra is clear, direct and an awesome creator – and all that made her super easy to work with. We wanted wedding rings that were special, well considered, expertly created, and crafted by someone we really respected. After all, we’re planning to wear these every day for the rest of our days and wanted someone who would really put a lot of energy into our jewelry.

My husband loved one of Debra’s rings at first sight, so he was an easy fix…me, a little more complex (!). After just a few emails back and forth (we’re not in Dunedin), Debra sent through a design concept and I loved and we were full steam ahead. We found out part way through the design process that we were expecting twins, so we wanted five little gems to symbolise each member of our little family. I wanted a ring that complemented my husband’s – but in a subtle way – so Debra incorporated some of the texture from his ring onto the back of mine. I’d shown Debra a photo of a ring I wear daily from another awesome NZ designer, and she was somehow able to *seemingly magically* pull together my eclectic tastes and interests to create a ring which is just perfect! It’s practical for home life with three small children, and for running and mountain biking, yet also timeless and whimsical and girly. We couldn’t be more delighted to have worked with Debra. Such an easy and delightful process – even from afar!

Australian sapphire prices are about to rise dramatically

Australia has had a reputation for top quality Sapphires for a long time. Sri Lankan and kashmir Sapphires take the prestigious top place for their beautiful quality sapphires but Australian sapphires have been popular to those in the know because of their deep blue colours and general good quality.Australian Sapphire Prices Are Set To Boom.

Stock Supply

Australian supply of sapphires is small compared to many international gemstones. Many Australian mines have closed down since 1990 when more treated gems were marketed in Asia. The Australia Sapphire could not compete against the price of these treated stones.

Sapphire mines in Madagascar, who supply the majority of the worlds Sapphires, until 10 years ago have been exhausted and old stocks have already been sold. Production of Sapphire in this region is now limited

Sir Lanka has also not increased production and Gem guide tracking shows prices have increased 20-30% per annum since 2011.

Kashmir blue sapphires have already increased 100% in price due to low availability of this deep blue sapphire.

We are now at a cross roads where demand overtakes production. No large sapphire mines have been started and all countries including Brazil now have high environmental studies to complete before production. With current requirements it can take up to 5 years to bring new mine into production.

Chinese Demand

This new emerging market does appreciate deep blue Sapphires and could greatly increase price of Australian blue sapphires.Chinese buyers have steadily increased since 2011. Originally they purchased yellow and parti sapphires but now they prefer deep blue colours.

In 2015 Chinese buyers were strong but they have slowed down recently with strong Anti Corruption Policies being rolled out in China. This  lead to many rich Chinese having stopped or slowed down buying expensive items.

However with hundreds of millions of middle class now emerging from the farming sector it is obvious that demand pressures will build up rapidly for sapphires.

The bottom line is if you are thinking of having a custom sapphire ring made -do it sooner rather than later!



Gift cards are now available to purchase in ANY amount-they can be sent online or via post just ask!!!

They are valid for LIFE !!!


I am super excited to be exhibiting once again at the Big Design Market ,in Australia.

I will be attending both the Sydney and Melbourne events ,and bringing a wide variety of work.




The Big Design Market is a three day design market featuring the very  best of Australian and overseas designers.

Over 200 stands selling goods ranging from fashion to Homewares.

A once a year event not to be missed!


Tourism Dunedin do a video..

Tourism Dunedin do a video..


Thanks for the cool vid Dunedin NZ!



Debra Fallowfield makes custom jewellery to fall in love with … Crafting every piece entirely by hand..