What’s in a Pearl? June’s Luminary Birthstone

I’ve been a member of the International Light Association for 20 years due to my interest in color and light as seen through the lens of precious gems. In 2018, I was invited to present “Body Brilliant”, a Gem Resonance workshop at their international conference in Oslo, Norway. Though most presenters are cutting edge scientists, lighting designers, and health professionals from all over the world, they find my artful studies viable and fascinating.

I am a founding member of the North American chapter called ILA-NA and this year we are opening membership to anyone interested in learning about the application of light, sound, and color technologies in architecture, medicine, and health. I was asked to write an article for ILA’s June newsletter about this month’s birthstone, Pearl, which is included below.


Top left: Gold South Sea Pearl set on Sunset colored Keshi Pearl with Rutilated Quartz, 14KT Yellow Gold brooch/slide. 
Top Right: Fossilized Opal Clam Shell, Pink Spinel, Saltwater Pink Pearl, set in 14KT Rose Gold Brooch/Pendant. 
Bottom: Purple Freshwater Petal Pearl, Morganite, Champagne Diamond, 14KT Rose Gold Enhancer on a strand of white saltwater pearls and pink metallic freshwater pearls. 

In my art jewelry I love designing with pearls of all kinds. The most iconic use of pearls are the perfectly round white necklace strands, but more intriguing to me are the oddities; the weird shapes that form from non-nucleated pearls with iridescent overtones of rose, blue or green luster. Pairing these unique pearls with a natural gemstone creates a succinct language of light, where something more than beauty occurs, within, without, and all around us.

Any pearl’s mesmerizing outer surface belies a long struggle with something that at first felt alien and threatening. Natural Pearls are caused by the reaction a mollusk has to an irritant like a grain of sand.  To address this irritation, an oyster, clam or mussel secretes nacre the same color as the inner lip of its shell.  The nacre smooths and surrounds the debris, bathing it continuously to reduce internal friction. Over years the nacre builds layers that create the lustrous substance that we recognize as Pearl.  Because a pearl emerges as the “solution” between an invasive force and its environment, these inherent qualities can be absorbed as calming energy radiating into the human body.  It is even said that Cleopatra plucked a precious pearl from her earring, ground it up, popped it into her wine and drank it to entice Caesar.

My observation is that in addition to emitting peace and romance, all trace elements in jewels resonate automatically with the trace elements in our bodies, opening energy pathways between the various organ systems. In pearl, the trace elements of calcium(Ca) and strontium(Sr) are the same minerals that support bone growth and protect against osteoporosis in humans. I’ve been conducting research for many years on the phenomenon of gemstone resonance, focusing on the beneficial aspects inherent in a crystalline structure when used in conjunction with applied light on a person. I offer individual sessions and workshops as a means of grounding and as a design tool to create therapeutic jewelry in collaboration with the clients’ health needs.  In this application I often use a pearl as a conduit to reduce inflammation.

Furthermore, trace elements in the water and diet affect the mollusk, and subsequently, the pearl’s particular hue. For example, copper = golden yellow;   silver = creamy yellow; sodium = peach;  zinc = pink, bronze or lavender. These overtones are due to overlapping translucent crystalline layers containing aragonite and conchiolin, the microscopic pigmented glue holding the aragonite layers together. When white light strikes and penetrates the surface of the pearl and its layers, the light beam is refracted back at the viewer in its entire spectrum, allowing the viewer to see the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Some naturally unattractive freshwater pearls are artificially dyed after the oyster is dead, greatly reducing pearl cost while dulling its energetic vitality.  In general saltwater pearls are never dyed and also emit more natural energy because of the ocean’s added mineral content.

A pearl is seen as a symbol of the Moon offering light in darkness. It is said that a pearl knows the moon like no other, organized by its pull of gravity and tidal force. Formation in saline fluidity evokes faint memory from our time spent in the womb. Try wearing pearls and notice the subtle difference in your mood.  Maybe Kamala Harris always wears pearls to remain calm?   Everyone needs a pearl or two in their life, even if you only carry it in your pocket.

In Pearl We Tryst, and We Trust,
Lainey Papageorge for ILA-NA


Earth Day Offerings of Gratitude

I design a few pieces of jewelry on Earth Day each year to pay homage to our ‘Blue Dot’ spinning on its axis in an infinite vastness.  I can’t sense the turning, but I do feel the changing light, evidence of our radiant Sun as we orbit around it. It is snowing today as I design, each snowflake a blessing on my upturned face. Here are my creative offerings of gratitude to the Earth:

Tiny Sleeping Beauty Turquoise faceted to display its preciousness, to be set into two 14KT mixed metal, dainty, signature orbit pendants.

This ring celebrates the resilient weeping cherry blossoms, challenged by April snow, yet apparently impervious to the icy coating.

Happy Earth Day!
May we protect that which we cherish most,


Anniversary Renewal Rings Celebrate the Patina of Time

When you have lived with someone you love for a long time, say 10 years, 30 years, 50 years, rebirth takes on a new meaning. Becoming a part of a couple’s renewal process with an anniversary or refurbished wedding ring, especially during a pandemic, takes on a reverence I had not anticipated. Each ring celebrates a relationship forged through joy, hardship, sickness, and devotion to one another. Just as a relationship develops its own patina, so does a ring, reflecting the wear and tear of time. When I design I want them to feel the wonder of unearthing a buried treasure, discovering something both familiar and treasured, a glow that emerges through human touch.

May you soon touch all that you love and protect.
Happy Spring,




Lady Winter

Allowing elation then deep sighs of relief to sink in, the Muse finally landed on Inauguration Day. The vibrant colors worn by powerful women on the Capitol veranda shook me from my slumber, their authentic presence proclaiming change. Amanda Gorman’s crimson and yellow ensemble, her expressive fingers dancing along to the cadence of her words, Kamala Harris’ ultra violet suit zapped the Third Eye with intuitive wisdom, Jill Biden’s pale turquoise emitted a razor sharp brilliance in contrast to the soft velvet of her mature beauty and Lady Gaga’s gold peace dove in flight above her flouncy red skirt as she belted out “Our flag was still there!” was a jump start after months of low creative energy.

Massive snow showers have given my Ithaca studio a compelling, reflective quality of light, surprisingly immersive. As I work, I’m also able to observe birds diligently trying to survive this record-breaking winter, their colors pure nourishment against the stark white backdrop of diamantine meadows. Cardinal families and red-headed pileated woodpeckers feast at the suet feeder. Yet the most transcendent of all is a visitation from the rare white and charcoal colored Goshawk that lives and hunts around my studio. She, like the women of Inauguration Day, is so magnificent in stature and flight that I bow in reverence to her potent presence.

I’m grateful that these shots of creative passion have been strong enough to counterbalance the aching isolation that has blanketed me for an entire year. I am shy to reveal these unfinished designs, and to admit that my creative juice has been at a slow drip, but there is beauty in the thaw before the spring, and I believe we are all made stronger when we share our process and experience.

With perseverance and patience,







To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings…
—Wendell Berry

I’m pondering this thought as we enter the darkness that surrounds the Winter Solstice Monday, December 21. On the evening of the Solstice another heavenly phenomenon occurs on the western horizon, precisely at sunset. Saturn & Jupiter, our two gas giant planets align and appear as one exceedingly bright star. Two as one…it won’t happen again in our lifetime, so try to view it if you can!

Gems formed in the depths of the earth or inside a seashell on the lake or ocean floor, bloom and sing to us. Their beauty revitalizes though it originates in darkness. Even as we gravitate toward light, darkness is something to know and to embrace.

Working with the beauties of the Mineral Kingdom each day, I am indebted to all of you who are reaching out to virtually shop with me during this strange season in our lives. Thank you for your trust and your loyalty, and may your holidays and those of your loved ones be safe, bright, and blessed.

In Darkness and in Light,

Amulet Pendant: Quartz with Hematite inclusions that appear as a starry sky, Champagne Diamond marquis, Lavender Petal Pearl, hand engraved stars on sterling, $1050.
Pendant featured on Black Rhodium plated sterling chain with 14K Rose Gold Diamond pave clasp, 18”, sold separately, $440.

Black Spinel, Pyrite Cube beads, Black Rhodium magnetic clasp 17”. $160

Moonshell Fragment Earrings with natural color Freshwater “Fireball Pearl”, sterling, $330.

Seven sided step-cut Fibrolite (rare gem that looks like an icy blue diamond) with irradiated Blue Diamond on cast sterling shell fragment band.
(Sapelo Island, GA). Size 8.5. $1630.

“Beacon In the Darkness”. 24K Pure Gold Nugget from Chicken, Alaska with flush set Diamonds with detachable White Topaz drops set in 14K white gold.  $1800


December’s Light Blue

Blue as the summer sky or a robin’s egg, people the world over have revered this particular shade of blue as a good luck symbol. The color turquoise is inspirational and transformational. A single photon of light entering the eye can light up the entire brain. Colored light from any source entering the body through the eyes and skin will activate the brain to release hormones to cells throughout the body. Transmitted light through gemstones will also have this effect even though we are unaware of it.

The color teal is found naturally in many different gems and minerals from deposits in the Himalayas to the Rocky Mountains. Some natural stones are permanently dyed to attain this turquoise color vibration.

Here are a few one-of-a-kind offerings from Lainey’s trove of teal & turquoise designs.


“Glacial Melt” Ring. Aquamarine and White Keshi Pearl, sterling. Size 8. $2088
Sleeping Beauty Turquoise nugget with pyrite, sterling ring. S
ize 8.5 $845


14KY Threader earrings with Italian hand-carved turquoise clamshell, briolette golden sapphire, 18K spool bead. $345

Chrysacolla Chunk Pendant set in sterling, $200.

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, Freshwater Pearls wings, Chalcedony (dyed), 14KY earring jackets. $330
14K Gold Huggie Hoops with sparkling laser cut pattern. $240. Can be sold separately. 

Amazonite beads (dyed) with freshwater Pearl, Bronze/Purple Fireball pearl, and magnetic clasp. 18″ $315
Natural color Apatite, Kyanite and Kunzite, sterling clasp. 20″ $245

To purchase or to make an appointment to virtually shop, for custom orders/repairs, please call or email Lainey at (678) 662-6156 and lp@elainadesigns.com. Shop online for more jewels at www.elainadesigns.com.

Free gift-wrapping and a piece of homemade Greek lemony baklava accompanies each shipment.

Wishing you love, safety, and stillness this holiday season–



Lainey is on Instagram!

This is the first time in 47 years that I have not been madly preparing for holiday show. Usually the first weekend in December is preceded by advertising, polishing the jewelry and my home/studio, setting up intricate displays and shopping for flowers & party snacks. Do I miss it? YES! Do I feel relief? YES!

With deep gratitude, custom jewelry orders have remained strong the past nine months, keeping me focused in my workshop. I’ve taken the guidelines for social distancing/quarantine to heart. It’s an opening, an invitation to slow down, focus keenly on each order, and communicate my designs clearly through drawings, words, and videos.

Be sure to check out @ElainaDesigns on Instagram for videos that feature pieces from the Green Door showroom. My lovely Ithaca friends and clients model my jewelry while I describe the source of the gems and the trace elements that give them their color and vibration.  My showroom is full of jewels that can be browsed online or in person. Visit my website elainadesigns.com or call me at (678) 662-6156 to make an appointment for an in-person visit or a virtual tour. I still gift wrap and will ship to you within two days, doing whatever I can to keep your holidays bright and loving.

David and I hauled our first self-sawed Christmas tree in support of local farmers in Trumansberg, NY. It was quite an adventure! I captured photos of the Beaver Moon penumbral eclipse and walking under the moon in winter light reminded me of these earrings and necklaces that have the same ethereal quality.

Leaning into heavenly beauty this holiday season, and hoping the same for you wherever you are.
Keeping it safe,

Rose cut Diamond slice, engraved sterling vermeil teardrop, $200.
Opal on sterling chain 16″, $200
Moonstone Rondell, 18K spool beads, secure J-hook clasp, 16.75″, $485
Faceted White Sapphire, Diamond and 14K designer clasp, 17″, $800


Sending Pink Love

Without our big family gatherings this year, Thanksgiving presents a time to count our blessings, solo.  If someone you know needs a pick-me-up during the holidays, please consider these warm offerings in all shades of pink. Pearls, tourmalines and sapphires will be sure to brighten up anyone’s day! Browse and follow my Instagram feed for videos and details of more items in the shop and shop online: www.elainadesigns.com.

I offer free gift-wrapping, quick shipping, and if all goes well…a piece of delectable handmade lemony baklava!

Call or email me for any of your jewelry shopping or repair needs.
678-662-6156, lp@elainadesigns.com

Feasting on Love,

Earrings: Pink Watermelon Tourmaline Slice, Fireball Pearl, Diamond cluster on black rhodium plated sterling post. $630
Necklace: Natural color and fine luster freshwater Fireball Pearls on knotted silk with rose gold metallic clasp, 18.5″.  $980
Ring: “Azalea Love,” Sapphires 1.78 tcw, 14KP, black rhodium plated reticulated sterling, size 8.5. $1290


Bluebird Series Preens in Time for the Holidays

An unusual Bluebird visitation occurred early this morning as I began to design jewelry at the Green Door Studio. Was this family confused by the springtime like temperatures?  Or just visiting their ancestral birdhouse home that Orion built for me? Whatever the reason, I’ll take their presence as a blessing. Observing the bluebirds’ activity, I’m inspired by their familial love and generosity to one another and created a series of jewelry in their honor.

Many thanks to those of you who have faithfully worked with me to shop, create, and complete custom designs since Covid quarantine began. Your continued support is deeply appreciated. My hope is to be able to move freely between Ithaca and Atlanta in person when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, Aalia continues to work closely with me, to facilitate pick up and delivery on repairs and custom orders. She is our Elaina Designs Wonder Woman.

If you haven’y already, please follow me on Facebook and Instagram at @ElainaDesigns. I’ve been posting videos and photos of jewelry in the showroom right now.

Please call me if you need me at (678) 662-6156.

Stay safe and spread love,

Ring: Boulder Opal, Cerululite, Sterling size 9.5, $985
Earrings: 14K yellow gold, Sterling, Tanzanite, Cerululite, $1000
Bracelet: Hand Engraved Sterling, Petal Pearl, Tanzanite, $1600

Link Bracelet Becomes a Transformative Symbol

“The most amazing thing about wearing this bracelet is that its meaning continues to evolve as I wear it. Lainey has unified the gemstones carefully collected over my lifetime into an intriguing art form that tells me my story.”  — Shelley S. 

Mixed gems, sterling, 14K rose and yellow gold.
Designed by Lainey Papageorge, articulated by Fareed Abdulky, 2020

Long before I met Shelley she had a passion for collecting jewelry containing vibrantly colored gemstones to mark people and events that influenced her life. Her intuition in asking me to connect these important gems into a personalized link bracelet became a uniquely collaborative journey for both of us. She told stories about her life which I would then translate into my design process which she would approve. There is meaning in each link as she explains, “wearing this bracelet is like a snap-shot guide about how I want to live my life now, looking at the past.” After wearing her bracelet for six months, she is finding deeper significance in its design and she recently shared her thoughts about it:

“Lainey’s bracelet design has symbols in each link. The spiral symbol reminded me of the dream sequence in the movie, Vertigo, a Hitchcock film. For me this spiral ending in the Black Opal (that used to be a plain post earring that lost its mate) is an emotional stabilizer. It represents the Goddess Psyche, goddess of the soul. Life is more than a physical journey but also one that takes your spiritual essence or soul, on its passage through life. 

“The two anchoring links on each end are in the shape of an arrow, yet arrows pointing in opposite directions. American Indians believe an arrow pointing left is warding off evil; pointing right gives protection. These opposing arrows house triangular stones of significance to me: The Tanzanite was my mother’s favorite stone located in the right pointing arrow, (protection, of course). The Golden Garnet is in the left-pointing arrow warding off evil. Interestingly, the Tanzanite and Garnet point toward one another whereas the metal links point away in opposite directions…double protection, I believe. These two anchors are giving me a goal like shooting an arrow trying to hit its mark. I keep trying until l hit the bullseye. 

“Tanzanite —  It brings wisdom, truth, dignity and spiritual mastery. A stone of judgment and long life, it promotes introspection and can result in profound wisdom when used well.
Golden Garnet— higher thinking and self empowerment, it is also a stone of strength and safety. It speaks of prosperity, and abundance, encouraging gratitude and service to others.”

–Shelley S., Atlanta, GA, 2020.

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