Decor Jewellery

Pewter and Basic Spirit

Pewter and Basic Spirit

Basic Spirit

Basic Spirit is a Canadian success story, one that we are proud to be associated with.  Located in the fishing town of Pugwash in Nova Scotia, Basic Spirit has been creating popular pewter items since 2002. The Shop has been carrying Basic Spirit since 2012. As with many of our Canadian suppliers, their location and history both make interesting stories.

Pugwash and the Nobel Peace Prize

The town of Pugwash sits on the shores of the Northumberland region of Nova Scotia.  With just over 700 residents, this small community is known internationally for being the first location of the Pugwash conferences.  Back in July 1957, a group of “great thinkers” got together at “Thinkers Lodge” to hold meetings about the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Cyrus Eaton, the noted businessman, funded and hosted the gathering and offered to use the location of his birthplace of Pugwash. The attendees considered the meetings a huge success. This then lead to the creation of  an international organization to continue holding future events.  Over time the organization became recognized for their contributions to the advancement of peace. The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.

pugwash conference
The original group in 1957


Pewter Capital of Canada

Pugwash has a second claim to fame – pewter.  Yes, Pugwash is the capital of pewter manufacturing in Canada.  Of the two pewter companies found in Pugwash. Seagull Pewter is the older and larger. Now owned by Royal Selangor, Seagull Pewter has been around for several decades.  However, Seagull got into financial problems in around 2002, ending in its sale to Royal Selangor of Kuala Lumpur.  Meanwhile, a startup was born using the skills that were still available in the area.  Basic Spirit came in to fill a gap that was left on Nova Scotia’s north shore. They began creating and producing a vast range of pewter objects from jewellery to tableware and ornaments.

What is Pewter?

Pewter is a metal alloy with the main component being tin. Archaeologists have found piecesin Egypt that go back as early as the bronze age.  In the 15th century companies made drinking vessels in Europe with the alloying process using 4% lead. This changed by the 20th century.  Other metals were substituted once the dangers of using lead in drinking vessels were understood. Today, Pewter is normally composed of over 92% tin alloyed with copper, bismuth and sometimes silver. The additional metals help give the tin strength and other properties.

Caring for pewter is easy, just wash with a small amount of soap and warm water, then dry thoroughly. Pewter tends not to tarnish in the way silver and copper do. Though it does develop a nice patina over time..  If you wish to return to the original shiny finish, use a metal polish, making sure to rub in straight lines.

Do not store food in pewter as acids could attack the finish,  and keep pieces away from direct heat sources.

Basic Spirit Pewter Designs

Popular items from Basic Spirit include pate spreaders embellished with different designs inspired by the Canadian landscape. The design of the handles range from animals to hearts and Celtic symbols as well as uniquely Canadian images. They make their cutting boards from yellow birch with pewter accents added to the designs. These best selling boards are usually coupled with a cheese knife or spreader.  Also in the collection, Basic Spirit offers tea strainers and spoons which add a classy touch to any afternoon get together.

Besides serving pieces, Basic Spirit has personal items such as jewellery. These  include a large series of bangles engraved with words of encouragement and endearment.  Choosing their favourite sayings, many customers give these bangles as gifts. They have a very affordable price yet look charming. And, importantly,  have special meanings.

basic spirit piano board
for the musician – Basic Spirit piano board


Basic Spirit Pewter Ornaments, magnets and figures

A seasonal favourite are Christmas ornaments. Available in a wide range of designs and themes, these come either boxed or carded.  Pewter figures include nativity scenes,yoga themed poses and more whimsical figures such as their set of elves.  Basic Spirit also offers box sets with three pewter magnets having many Canadian and wildlife themes.

Pewter Nativity scene

Basic Spirit Continues the Pugwash Tradition of Global Responsibility

Small town generosity continues in Pugwash. Basic Spirit has contributed 10% of its profits to a wide range of local, Canadian and global organizations. In doing so they are funding environmental, educational and animal care causes.  Various ornaments are available with labels showing where the donation will be made.

The Hunger Project 
World Food Program
World Wildlife Fund
The Humane Society 
HOPE for Wildlife
Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station
Sierra Club Foundation
Canadian Pugwash Group



basic spirit ornament
Basic Spirit giving to the environment



Moonstone and Labradorite from Dory Blue

Moonstone and Labradorite – Semi precious gems that play with light

In 2018 we introduced a new Canadian jewellery designer, Kim Paddon from Newfoundland. Her company, Dory Blue from Sparkes Design features one of a kind Labradorite and Moonstone jewellery. Both of these semiprecious gemstones, whether in their natural raw or polished form, create a shine, a flash, an aura, a rainbow, a magical effect when reflected in the light or as it moved from side to side.

Labradorite ring from Dory Blue
labradorite setting in ring

Labradorite (calcium sodium feldspar) is found in igneous rock and is a gemstone named after the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where it was found. It was officially discovered on the Isle of Paul, Near Nain in 1770 by Moravian missionaries, who named it Labradorite. Prior to that ancient Inuit legends say that it was created when the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) became trapped inside the rocks and an Inuit warrior took his spear and freed the lights so it scattered throughout the rocks. They called it a “fire stone” and would use its powdered form to cure ailments.
Each piece of labradorite is unique and locked inside the gems are a variety of hues, colours, brightness and flash. The labradorescence refers to the quality and brilliance of each piece. Its blue sheen is called “royal blue”. It can also have a multicoloured sheen, which is called “rainbow” because of the inclusions of minerals such as hematite and copper which create a wide range of colour. Labradorite can be found in Finland, Norway, Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, Mexico, Russia, the United States, Madagascar and Canada.
Moonstone (potassium sodium), like labradorite is also part of the feldspar mineral group which covers approximately 45 percent of the Earth’s crust. It is known as Labradorite’s “sister” but is not a type of labradorite. Moonstone can be translucent to semitransparent. It has a lower reflective index and blue and white are the only colours of its’ sheen. Due to the thin layers, light is scattered between the layers and creates a magical aura. This is called adularescence.
Labradorite necklace
Labradorite setting – necklace

In Eastern cultures it was thought that moonstone held a living spirit within it and that it would bring good fortune. The Roman and Greeks believed that moonstone had healing properties. It was a gem of the gods. It was also used extensively in Edwardian and Art Nouveau periods. In India it is called a “dream stone” as it is thought that if you put it under your pillow you will have beautiful dreams. Moonstone is found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia and India.
When wearing labradorite and moonstone, the play of light creates the natural beauty in each piece. Sparkes Design’s Labradorite and Moonstone jewellery is encased in either hand brushed or shiny 925 sterling silver. Kim has travelled the world and works with multi-generational artisans to source, select and design these beautiful pieces. Sparkes Design truly recognizes the “artistry of nature” and the beauty of these gemstones.


WhiteLotus Design – Jewellery from Edina Racz

The beach is not always a place, sometimes it’s a feeling. – Unknown
To look at sea glass one cannot help but feel totally relaxed, peaceful and yet energized. All the hues of blue, aqua, seafoam, periwinkle, pale blue and turquoise create the image of being at the waters edge, touching the coolness, feeling its movement, hearing its call.

Sea Glass is known as a reverse gem. Unlike traditional gems, they are actual glass bottles and jars that over many years have been discarded, broken down, smoothed by the movement of the waves and sand of the sea and found on the shore as frosted bits of glass in all shapes and colours.
As natural sea glass is now rare to find, cultured sea glass is used. Cultured sea glass is recycled glass material that has been processed by hand in order to recreate the frosted matte finish of weathered sea glass.

Edina, the creator of WhiteLotus jewellery, has designed a beautiful collection using Cultured Sea Glass. Growing up, she was surrounded by nature and was inspired by the natural elements of clouds, rivers, rocks and sand. As a graduate in Graphic Design at Georges Brown College, she continued her fascination with materials, form and structure and took courses in metalsmithing and jewellery making. From her small studio in Southern Ontario she has been busy creating her spring and summer collection. Within her cultured sea glass collection, she uses various motifs such as silver cranes, trees of life, Moroccan buds, owls and lotus flowers as well as geometric forms within the composition of her pieces. The necklaces, cuffs and earrings are inspirational.
The creation process behind her second collection is sculptural silver wire weaving with gemstones and crystals nestled within sterling silver and/or 14k gold vermeil. She calls this collection Satori, a Buddhist word meaning enlightenment. As Edina states, she feels a very earth consciousness. She is inspired by nature and withdraws from a “disposable lifestyle”. Each piece is individually handmade and “crafted keeping colour, balance, structure and beauty in mind”. She works independently and refers to herself as ‘owner, maker, designer, creator’
White Lotus was introduced into The Shop in 2018. As with most of our local artisans, we host Edina and her pieces at various times throughout the year. At these trunk shows Edina also shows her limited-edition and one-of-a-kind designs. Join our email list or watch our website for upcoming events.



The effects on the Canadian Armed Forces members who spent time in Afghanistan has been well documented.  We owe a great deal to our brave friends, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers that spent time representing Canada under such severe circumstances.  Many still struggle with their combat experiences, and many try to come full circle by embracing their experiences and using them to grow.

Kelsi Sheren is one vet who has worked to overcome these effects and is now using her skills to help others still in need.  Kelsi served on the front lines in Afghanistan in 2009 and was diagnosed with severe PTSD, returning home to Canada in 2011.  Her counselors recommended that her treatment include art therapy, a system that uses artistic outputs to help release the feelings held inside. Kelsi’s favourite outlet became jewellery making, and soon an idea was born.

Kelsi developed a line of jewellery which led to the creation of a company in 2014. This has not only helped her healing process, but also allowed her to support other veterans who continue to face incredibly difficult and painful life struggles.

Using brass reproduction bullet shell casings as a wearable symbol of strength, her jewellery creates a positive symbol.  The company BRASS & UNITY donates a portion of their proceeds to veteran assistance organizations both in Canada and around the world. The word BRASS in BRASS & UNITY is an acronym for ‘Bravery Retired Assistant Soldier Support’ and in unifying the public with the military and the veterans.

Donations in Canada support many veterans and their families through these and other organizations including Honour Home B.C.  Light on PTSD Vets Canada and Wounded Warriors Canada

Each piece comes with a Veteran Crisis Online Hotline information card as well as an info card regarding the support for struggling veterans.


Here at The Shop For All Reasons we carry their handcrafted rope and Warrior bracelets, as well as their sunglasses. Pieces are designed for both men and women. Each Warrior bracelet contains semi precious stones such as black onyx, hematite, sodalite, rhyolite, banded agate, black lava rock, amethyst and rose quartz.  Bracelets also contain a forged reproduction of a brass shell casing that has been melted to the exact specs of a previously fired casing that is laser etched with their logo.  Rope bracelets are adjustable in size, while the Warrior bracelets come in small, medium and sometimes large.

The stylish sunglasses, made for men and women as well, have an 18kt gold plated reproduction casing in each temple. They are scratch resilient and have a polycarbonate frame which makes them extremely light weight. They are made with a category 3 lens that provides extra protection from both visible and UV light, typically blocking 80% or more of the light.  The sunglasses are ‘one size fits most’.


Influencers: Ellen Degeneres, Kirstie Ennis, Julianne Hough, Channing and Jenna Tatum, Jamie Routley, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and many others



Visit to Anne-Marie Chagnon in Montreal

Anne-Marie Chagnon

Some of our suppliers and reps have been with us for the 16 years that we have owned The Shop. SRM Sales is one of our long term reps for independent artists.  We met both Sandra and her husband Ray through their previous relationship with The Shop.  They have represented many Canadian artisans throughout the years, with Anne-Marie Chagnon, being a long-term jewellery line.  Though Ray has sadly left us, Sandra continues to represent Chagnon’s studio as one of her principal lines. Chagnon has been one of our highest profile artists, who for over two decades has been creating original collections.

Chagnon’s Studio, with Judith showing us the display of classic pieces.

Anne-Marie was trained at The Fine Arts Faculty at the University of Quebec in Montreal, starting her studio in 1995. She chose to create, produce and assemble her jewellery in Montreal. Early in her career, in 2003, she was invited to create exclusive jewellery for Cirque de Soleil. This partnership lasted for a decade.  She has been known and acclaimed as an artist jeweller, designing collections that are sold in five continents though museums, galleries and boutiques.  Also acclaimed by fashion icon, Iris Apfel, who included Chagnon’s jewellery in a collection of artworks sold at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem Massachusetts.

Anne-Marie Chagnon is known as a contemporary, multidisciplinary artist creating paintings, sculptures and jewellery. Her ideas are first fashioned on paper, followed by creating wax molds of her jewellery components. Once the design is established, the jewellery is created by hand.  Using nickel-free, lead-free and cadmium-free Pewter, its raw form is melted and cast in her foundry located in her Montreal studio. A selection of Iridescent glass, baroque pearls, carved resin and resin glaze, voluptuous PVC, gold, bronze, leather, wood is used to create collections that are as fashionable as they are timeless.


Examples of Anne-Maries creative process, with artist boards, moulds and material samples.

The 2018 Collection “Point of Origin” reflects “The Power of the Circle”.  It is a powerful, beautiful collection that was introduced this past spring. John and I had the great pleasure to have Sandra P., the Sales Director for Anne-Marie’s Studio, introduce the fall and winter collection that was shown recently in New York and Toronto.  Fabulous colours such as ochre, carmine, emerald, tan, porto, cognac, lichen, lazuli, rose clay, ink, black marble was swirled into outstanding design.

Immersed in her jewellery, we were reminded of how Anne-Marie is an impressionistic artist. She is mindful of being herself and not bowing to trends.

Sandra P. said it best: Anne-Marie is always in a creative state. She is ever present in her surroundings, present in the world around her. She sees, feels, experiences all the details and beauties of life, making them part of her canvas. Being a part of the whole is what it means to be human.


Loretta with Sales Director Sandra in Anne-Marie Chagnon’s show room.

Anne-Marie’s jewellery is her signature. Her pieces are recognized as part of her creative journey, always evolving, timeless and classic.  The uniqueness of her designs makes each of her pieces instantly recognized around the world as a ‘Chagnon’.


Designer, Fashion and Fine Jewellery

Designer, Fashion and Fine Jewellery : Definitely captures our attention, but what is the difference?

Fine jewellery – pieces that become family heirlooms to be passed from generation to generation usually has an associated price tag to reflect the quality materials and workmanship in each individual piece. Here is some needed information to help you feel informed when making the decision to purchase fine jewellery or fashion jewellery.

Fine jewellery is distinguished by the valuable metals and natural precious gems, including pearls, that create each piece. The metals used are white, yellow or rose gold, platinum and sterling silver.

Sterling silver genuine fresh water pearl earrings. Sharelli

Any jewellery that is plated using pewter, brass, copper, bronze, aluminum or other base metals – sometimes in different combinations that may include leather, fabric or resins – is known as “fashion jewellery”. You may have also heard the term “costume jewellery”.

Designer jewellery is fashion jewellery that has been designed and or created by various artisans who are known for their unique use of materials and creative styling.  The pricing will often reflect the designers brand name, the workmanship and the quality of the piece.

GOLD – 14k, 16k 18k gold is primarily gold with a mix of durable metals like zinc, nickel, copper or rhodium, as gold on its own is quite soft. There are 3 types of gold: white, yellow and rose gold.

The Sparkles earrings are inspired by Muizee’s favourite and popular emoji

WHITE GOLD is a mix of pure gold and on an alloy of white material such as nickel, silver, palladium and with a rhodium coating.

YELLOW GOLD is made with pure gold and an alloy metal such as copper and zinc. The higher the karat means the purer the gold, but also the less durable metal.

24 k is 99.99% pure, 22k is 91.7 pure, 18k is 75% pure, 14k is 58.3% pure

ROSE GOLD is pure gold alloyed with copper to produce the rose gold colour. The more copper used in the piece the more rose the colour. The colour range is from pink to rose to red. The common mix is 75% gold and 25% copper which not only creates the colour but also makes it a more durable metal.

GOLD VERMEIL refers to jewellery made of silver that is plated with a 10k layer of gold.

PLATINUM is almost the same as white gold but is pricier as more platinum is needed due to the density of the metal. Platinum is known to scratch more easily and needs to be cleaned and polished more often.

STERLING SILVER is an alloy of silver that is 92.5 % by weight of silver and 7.5% of weight of other metals, usually copper, thus the reference 925. The additional alloy creates the hardness and durability of the silver. Some sterling silver jewellery is plated with a layer of silver to increase the shine of the silver. Sterling silver if not coated can tarnish due to the humidity in the air. If not worn often it is best kept in a plastic or specially lined bag.

Monitio leaver bracelet from Brave Leather

Hopefully this brief introduction helps you understand the basics of materials, terms and qualities of jewellery.  Further blogs will delve into individual pieces, specific artists, fashion trends and other fun jewellery information.


Julie Bessette Jewellery

Julie Bessette is a Montreal jewellery artist we discovered late last year. What caught our attention was her hand made and distinctive designs that are earthy and powerful.
After pursuing a career as an artist and fashion designer in Montreal, Julie and her family spent two years in Thailand, India, Tibet and Bali. She was inspired by the regional artisans and their use of natural materials in the form of beads, stones and crystals. Each piece of her own jewellery has been influenced by these experiences as well as her own creative abilities. The crystals and stones that she uses “represent an ancient wisdom and knowledge that connects to the strength and beauty of each woman and are designed to trigger harmony and well being”.
The ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, used lapis lazuli, emeralds, clear quartz and turquoise. These beads, stones and crystals were used as talisman (a magical figure charged with the force its suppose to represent).

Agate is one of the oldest healing stones that are meant to bring protection, courage, emotional strength and self confidence.

Amazonite is the support stone and is meant to support communication of one’s own thoughts.

Lucy bracelet incorporates pyrite, Indian silver, brass beads and brass chain. Wided earrings with hematite arrows and Indian silver.

Julie uses a variety of materials, each with its own unique characteristics.  Here are some examples of additional semi precious stones she uses.  Amethyst is meant to promote calm, balance, peace and happiness, Amber is meant to be the love crystal and a symbol of beauty, tenderness and attraction. African Turquoise is meant to bring encouragement and growth, balance and prosperity.

Jewellery mens grooming Uncategorized

Men’s Jewellery Cufflinks

Looking for a simple and effective way to make an individual fashion statement? Consider wearing cufflinks. The extra touch can stand out without being garish – unless of coarse that is the effect you are trying to create. Formal dress in a tux would be incomplete without cufflinks, but as the level of formality drops, their use becomes less essential, yet makes a real fashion statement. They lend a touch of class that brings attention to the detail in your overall look. Novelty themes of the jewellery become quickly noticed and are sure to elicit comments if not compliments.
Wearing Cufflinks
Normally worn with French (or double) cuffs, they also work with convertible cuffs which sport a hole beside the button(s) that allow access for a cufflink.

Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

There are a couple of methods of using cufflinks with convertible barrel cuffs. Here, the cuff is folded as if it were a French cuff, with the buttons now being on the opposite side of the cufflink, facing out. You can also shape the cuff as you would if the buttons were being used, now the buttons would be layered between the top and bottom cuff.

This barrel cuff is made with a button hole running between the two buttons affixed.

Here, the cufflink has been passed through the straight through the two button holes with the lower part of the cuff underneath the top, basically worn as a regular barrel cuff. This works best when the sleeve of the jacket is slimmer, not allowing for the extra width of the French Cuff.

Another option is to wear the cufflink through the holes with the same method used for French cuffs.

French cuff – a more formal look. But don’t be afraid to use these cuffs on less formal shirts and event.

In our next posting, we will show you a range of cufflink styles that are currently available.

Canadian made Lipson custom dress shirts are available at Ladner’s Clothiers in Streetsville.  (220 Queen St S – now on the upper level)