Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gemstone Basics

When it comes to making jewelry and finding gems, I’m the pickiest person ever. I’m constantly on the hunt for well-cut, perfect beads to use. No matter what type of jewelry you like, gemstones are graded based on the 4C’s (Cut, Color, Carat, Clarity). The grade a gemstone gets determines their value and is a good estimate on how much you can expect to pay for them. 


The International Gem Society offers some insight on how the 4C’s determine the grading of gemstones:

Cut- Cut is the consideration of work given into making the gemstone and the overall appearance, based on factors like shape, symmetry, faceting, polish, and shine.

Color- Color is described by three factors: Hue (purple, red, etc.), Saturation (strong or faint), and Tone (light to dark). Gemstones are usually graded high for pure hues and rich color, but diamonds are graded on levels of transparency. A consistent color throughout the stone is preferred by fine jewelry makers.

Carat- Stones are weighed in carats. Larger stones are unusual to find, but are not always practical to wear as jewelry. Carats are important to consider when factoring in cost for gemstones.

Clarity- Clarity is the graded according to the number of inclusions a gemstone has, meaning anything that will block the passage of light through the stone. Inclusions are minerals, fractures, or hollow areas in the stone. The more transparent the stones, the better the clarity.

Chart of the 4 C's by International Gemmological Institute

Gemstones are then given a grade based on the quality of the stones and the 4C’s. Yelena Jenkins better clarifies this information in her post “Gemstone Ratings.” They range from a scale of AAA-D:

AAA-A- Gemstones given an AAA-A rating are good quality; they are cut with good transparency and few inclusions. AA is top quality and AAA is considered near perfect.


B- B-graded gems have small inclusions, and color isn’t as rich, but the stone is still transparent and used as smaller gemstones for jewelry.

Emerald, B grade

C- C-graded stones are duller and not sparkly to the eye. It has visible inclusions and areas that are non-transparent. C stones are commonly made into chips and use for pave designs.

Emerald, C grade

D- D-grade gemstones are non-transparent and are used as cabochons and rock-like pieces. They have little clarity and commonly have inclusions.

Emerald, D grade

Gemstone grading is more intricate, but these are just basics you can use as information to consider. Grading is especially important to consider when making an expensive gemstone purchase, but your personal preference of jewels should not be based on their grade and value alone. Whether it be raw gemstone clusters or micro-faceted jewels, your taste and style is the most important part to consider when shopping for jewelry. If you like it, go for it! Have a good week!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Currently what you wear no longer signifies the crowd you belong to, the music you listen to, or the fashion icons you follow.  What was once old will become new again.  The unwashed, unkept look of the late 80's-90's grunge has been tweaked.  Greasy hair is now ironed with loose curls, rock concert t's dressed up with tailored blazers and Doc Martens spiced with painted flowers and maxi skirts.

Camoflauge now reworked into a classic wardrobe ironically no longer only sported by the homeless, the hunter or the farm worker.  You island cats know what I mean.  I now find that the local thrift shops know I'm coming to find these camo digs and mark up the prices ridiculously.

Distressed beat up shorts are not only for the hottie 20 somethings.  Old distressed levis preferably mens for its high waisted appeal and 100% cotton distressing are worn mid to high waisted with Doc Marten's, or leather ankle boots with tights or leggings, fancy ankle socks and loose muscle t's for a vintage casual appeal.  This reworked grunge look is one of my favorites.

And finally, slouch hats or baggy beanies what ever you want to call them, the raddest fashion find that actually has never gone out of style.  You know that 3rd day when you need to wash your hair....Perfect.  Seriously I kinda hide my semi-oily mess under a beret, slouch hat, fedora what ever.  I'm being real....

I see reworked grunge fashion as comfy, loose, casual and sexy.  Not over the top glam, but everyday casual.  You can seriously spruce up your 12 inch rise jean shorts or your husbands old Levis straight leg jeans, grab his busted up leather belt too.  Surprise yourself and give it a try.

Support Hawaii's own ART and FLEA, and myself CHIEF for FRESH CAFE'S 90'S GRUNGE PARTY.

Check out over 60 local vendors and their tribute to art, music, and GRUNGE fashion.

February 28th at FRESH CAFE 5-10 pm.  831 QUEEN STREET

See you there XOXO,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Bones of Mother Earth

They are called "the bones of mother earth.” They are the sediments of rock and mountain, filling the landscape in our view of the natural skyline. And with years of patience, these beautiful bones can be discovered and unearthed, then made into elegant, beautiful gemstones. 

There are hundreds of types of gemstones, each uniquely formed then extracted, cut and polished. Each gemstone has a distinct feature and is categorized scientifically by the way they are formed structurally. There is also an art behind the treatment and shaping of these gems. The science behind gemstones and their development is measured meticulously. 

Gemstones we see commonly are used in jewelry. These gemstones can be varied in appearance. Stones can look ethnic and earthy or extravagant and luxurious depending on the way they are made.

Here's some general information about gemstones:

Quartz- Quartz is one of the most common minerals. Quarts varieties include amethyst, citrine, rose, crystal and smoky quartz. Quartz can be treated, dyed in numerous ways and is rather affordable. Quartz can also be grown synthetically in large batches. 


Chalcedony-Chalcedony is a form of quartz with crystals that are too small to see without magnification. Chalcedony describes the stones that are translucent, solid colors. Agate stones are a type of chalcedony, usually patterned and often semitransparent, with stripes and multiple colors. Jasper is a spotted variety of chalcedony, although unlike agate, it is non transparent, and usually has more vivid colors that mimic leopard spots or paint splatter. Carnelian and tiger’s eye stones are also in this family of stones. Carnelian commonly comes in warm hues and tiger’s eye is a shimmery gold and brown color similar to wood grains.
Tiger's Eye

Corundum- Corundum are a type of stone crystalized in a specific manner and very durable. The most common and valuable corundum are ruby and sapphire. Ruby comes in dark, rich, warm tones. Sapphire comes in a variety of colors, but notably in a dark azure-blue.


Beryl- Beryl is a type of high quality treated stone that comes in solid yet transparent colors. Examples of stones in this family are emerald and aquamarine. Emerald is a high quality stone that comes in hues of green and dark green while aquamarine has blue hues.


Diamond- Diamonds are the most valuable and hardest mineral on earth. They are used to cut through stone such as marble. Diamonds are graded and measured by color, cut, clarity and carats. 


All information and more can be found on gemsociety.org

Image Source, in order of appearance:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Private Shopping Parties

Today at Milieu, we had a private shopping party for 4 women and their daughters! They had the shop to themselves for a couple hours, and were able to browse at ease.

We have done a couple of private events here and there, but we had so much fun today, it got us thinking of a more refined policy and to let everyone know what we offer!

Here's a few pointers to know:
- We recommend a minimum of 10 people.
- We are receptive to different times of the day, just contact us to see what's available!
- You can bring pupus and refreshments for you to snack on. We will take care of the music and clean-up so all you have to do is relax and shop!
- Receive 10% off all purchases of the party, as well as a hostess gift - our way of thanks for bringing your friends and/or family to Milieu!

If you are interested in throwing a private shopping party for you and your pals, don't hesitate to contact us! info@milieuhawaii.com or 808-744-8667

You deserve it! ;)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sweet Things


It has become a tradition in our home that we abstain from sweets during the week days and celebrate our self-discipline on Fridays...by completely falling off the wagon! This crash and burn usually comes in one of two forms:
1) a popcorn and m&m's mixture or 2) my homemade chocolate chip cookies.(Okay, okay sometimes its both. Okay, okay, sometimes we don't wait until Friday).

Since popcorn and m&m's is pretty fool-proof (just remember, this side up), I would like to share with you the all-time, yummiest, best ever of your life, chocolate chip cookie recipe.

 photo: foodnetwork.com
The Ghiraredelli Chocolate Chip Cookie. It is the champion of softness, flavor, and richness.

You can thank me later.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 dozen cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes (switching top and bottom racks after 4 or 5 minutes) *my trick.
Pour a glass of milk and savor.

Since I make these just about every weekend, I try to add my own customizations to the recipe, to keep things interesting and to make it my own.
 For example:
*Sometimes I "half" the recipe, when we've had a big dinner.
*When we're feeling especially sweet-toothed, I make the "Double Chocolate Chip Cookie" by adding 1/4 cup of cocoa.
*My FAVORITE chocolate chips to use are the 60% Cacao Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips.
photo: ghirardelli.com

*For holidays (most recently Valentine's Day), I like to substitute festive M&M's in place of the chocolate chips.

*Most recently, I make a "healthy" version. By healthy, I don't mean less calories, so be warned. I use vegan butter sticks, soy-nut-dairy-free chocolate chips (I promise, they're delicious!), and almond milk [in place of eggs].
Try the recipe, and share your variations! Enjoy! But remember, come Monday, its back to fruits and veggies, and other real nutrients! :)

Keeping it sweet,

Danielle Cason

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Portugese, Hawaiian, Haole.....

With the vast cultural diversity in Hawaii, and 1 in 4 people claiming more than one ethnicity, as USA Today stated last year, Hawaii carries the most beautiful variety of textile fashions in addition to having the most beautiful women in the world.

Filipino Textiles

Korean Textiles

Chinese Textiles

Thailand Textiles

Growing up in Hawaii, most locals are able to distinguish between the cultures according to facial features, cultural interior designs, and ethnic foods.  Global fashion is greatly appreciated here in the islands and worn freely amongst everyone.

Embroidered flats from La Muse

Find interesting fabrics with colorful designs to accentuate a simple white tee and jeans of your choice.  The outcome is quite amazing. 

From the Hawaiian, Portuguese, and Puerto Ricans, to the Filipinos, Koreans and Japanese to name just a very few Hawaii's melting pot of cultures, they all stimulate a casual style that can be reworked into your updated daily street and work wear.

Give it a try and make a statement, you'll be quite pleased.

Until next time