Daily Archives: January 2, 2017

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Winter Wonderland of Jewelry

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Diamonds or pearls? Pearls or diamonds? What’s your pleasure? The brilliant opulence of a sparkling diamond versus the quiet perfect, shimmering luster of a pearl. There is so much to love with both of these gems. They spice up an outfit, give a little shazam to the ordinary day; they add bling, sparkle and a je ne sais quoi that brings joy to the wearer and the giver. Surprisingly there have been quite a few changes in pearls and diamonds over the years, basically there is more to know and more to love about these signature items of refinement.

Dan Telleen, owner of Karats and pearl aficionado, is quick to point out that today’s pearls are not the pearls of yesterday or yesteryear. Pearls took off after World War II when soldiers came home to the United States with great fanfare, carrying strands of the world’s first cultivated pearls, the Akoya pearl. These pearls were grown in Japan, each pearl in a strand was similar in size and color–and nearly flawless. Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Classy, elegant and demure with a touch of playfulness–a look many women admired and emulated.

Pearls are rated in several ways: on shape, luster, color, surface perfection and size. Thanks to the Akoya pearl, many believe a perfectly round pearl is where it’s at. Focus on the luster: the nacre coating that makes the pearl look and feel like, well, a pearl.

Pearls rarely occur naturally, nor do they only come from oysters. Who knew?! Before the cultivated Akoya pearl, pearls were rarer than diamonds–and costlier. To create an entire strand of pearls that matched in size and luster could take years. In the late 19th century, Cartier acquired their building in New York City for a strand of pearls.

“Pearls never go out of fashion and are always the go-to item,” Telleen says. “They go with just about everything. You can throw on a strand of pearls and go to the grocery store or the ball, they work where ever you go.” He goes on to say that not just any strand of pearls works for everyone. There are so many choices colors, shapes, sizes–the world is your oyster and your pearls should match your essence.

Pearls are a lot like a woman: they are, at once, strong and fragile. You can stand on a pearl and it won’t break, yet the surface can scratch. And they come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and colors. Black pearls are rare but do, in fact, occur. There are golden pearls and pink pearls, which were almost never heard of even a decade ago. Pearls, which can be grown in fresh or salt water are a result of the clam or oyster’s defense against an irritant in its shell: it secretes a layer of nacre around the irritant, which builds into a smooth pearl. Clean, clear water is key for a beautiful, lustrous pearl—and they are able to be grown in the U.S., Tahiti, Japan, Australia and Indonesia. The warmer the water, the faster the animal can build a pearl. The colder the water, the more lustrous and stronger the pearl’s outer layer. It takes between one and five years for a pearl to grow…. the longer the growth period, the thicker the nacre and the more beautiful the shimmer.

A modern trend in pearls is to leave the perfectly matching orbs behind and instead embrace the natural looking, funky shaped pearls. Pearls don’t have to be round to be revered: a strand of pearls can come in all shapes and sizes. These are gorgeous, chunky strands of pearl strung together. Definitely no two pearls are the same–and these definitely are not your grandmother’s pearls.

Then there are diamonds which, like pearls, have never been out of style and never will be. “Diamonds represent love, wealth, status; the older a woman, the larger the diamond,” says Michele Howe, owner of Michele’s in Vail Village, a store that specializes in pre-owned and estate jewelry. Actually, the price of a diamond depends upon the cut, clarity, color and carat–the four “Cs” of the stone.

“Diamonds are an investment for a special event or upgrade after 20 years. A lot of diamond jewelry, becomes an heirloom,” Howe says. “If it’s a classic design, not real modern, it’s something to pass on for generations. The value doesn’t go down.”

Certainly, there is something special about looking down and seeing your grandmother’s diamond ring on your finger. It represents history, family and love. A single round diamond solitaire has been the most popular cut for an engagement ring for years.

These days, you might see gray or brown diamonds–some raw-looking or others that enhance the look of a sapphire, emerald or even citrine or blue topaz. The stones get color from the earth: yellow diamonds have nitrogen and blue ones have boron. Colorless is the most sought after quality–with a zero being the best and a ten not as valuable. The larger the diamond, the easier it is to see the color. But, of course, if you love diamonds with color, go for it. Many people are leaning just that way.

“A lot of today’s modern jewelry designers are using brown diamonds,” Michele says. Just as women are falling in love with various shades and shapes of pearls; they’re adoring larger diamonds as well. Instead of the one carat diamond studs, Howe is seeing three- carat diamond studs. The more bling, the more sparkle and the more clarity to love.

“There is no substitute for quality,” Howe says in her lilting voice. It’s just a matter of deciding what type of quality you’re looking for… then again, why choose? Diamonds and pearls, pearls and diamonds: what’s not to love? They are heirloom pieces that shimmer, full of love.

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SOS Outreach

If you were to you ask Google “Who is considered at-risk youth,” you’ll find this answer: “An at-risk youth is one who is less likely to transition into adulthood successfully. Success is frequently defined as the ability to avoid crime, achieve academic success and become financially independent.”

National, as well as local figures, reveal that 20 percent of young adults drop out of school and another 20 percent are in the “bubble,” or “on the edge.” And Eagle County is not immune to these figures.

Fortunately, however, SOS Outreach, a national youth development nonprofit has filled the niche to help many youngsters find their way: It utilizes outdoor experiential learning to inspire positive decision making for healthy and successful lives. Last winter, 521 Eagle County youngsters participated in SOS programs, with 528 attending summer programs. The SOS curriculum encourages responsibility, self-confidence, service and leadership skills by instilling six core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion and humility.

The organization was founded in 1993 by Eagle County local, Arn Menconi, as the Snowboard Outreach Society to improve the negative societal perception of the snowboard culture that existed in the 1980s and ’90s. The organization serves at-risk youth between the ages of eight and 16 annually, using year round outdoor sports to engage underserved students in long term mentor-based relationships.

Over the years, the organization has expanded and, this year, SOS is anticipating serving nearly 3,600 youth across the United States. Eagle County will account for 560 participants and 360 will be served in Summit County. Last year, the organization had 22,618 programs days —winter and summer—in six states. Recently, SOS received a $250,000 contribution from Vail Resorts CEO, Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam.

“This gift is truly transformational, not only for the organization, but more importantly, the youth we have the honor to work with,” says Seth Erlich, executive director of SOS. “This significant contribution fuels our ability to inspire our community’s youth and enable them to realize their full potential both on the snow and in their lives.” With this gift, SOS will expand or launch programs for underserved youth across metropolitan areas including winter opportunities in Salt Lake City, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and Reno, as well as summer programs for Denver youth.

This past summer, more than 1,300 youth participated in SOS programs including over 300 multi-night expedition in the backcountry. Outings across regions included sailing, skateboarding, backpacking, stand up paddleboarding and mountain biking. This was the first time many of the participants had experienced these activities. Along the way, they are mentored by adult volunteers who help them practice SOS’s core values.

Since its founding SOS outlined a curriculum progression that includes a one- or two-day program in which a new adventure sport is introduced followed by a five day program that introduces one of the core values daily, as well as an introduction to a new sport. SOS’s University is a four-year leadership program that focuses on service, sports and mentorship. In fact, for students in Eagle and Summit Counties, University is now a year round experience offering students a continuous year of positive adult mentorship and adventure sports. Finally, Masters/Jr. Sherpa is a peer mentorship program that offers intensive leadership training and the opportunity to teach younger students.

Over the years, SOS has inspired positive decision-making for thousands of kids who have gone on to live healthy, successful lives and its mission continues. The organization currently operates at eight Vail Resorts mountains and two Intrawest mountains.

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Starting Hearts

It was at a Vail Valley Partnership meeting on Valentine’s Day, 2007, when Sue Froeschle’s boss walked into her office and asked if anyone knew CPR. Fortunately, Sue did.

“I thought he was canvasing the staff to see if we needed training. But, when he said ‘we need you in the conference now,’ I knew it was serious,” recalls Froeschle. “Someone was on the phone with 911, however, I took one look at the woman on the floor, someone I had never met before, and saw that she was beginning to turn blue. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to do CPR, and I had to do it right away.“

It was Lynn Blake who had the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) who Froeschle had helped save that day. Blake was an otherwise healthy 27 year old when her heart stopped without warning. But, due to the quick intervention of bystanders—the one who dialed 911, Froeschle, who performed CPR and the firemen who used an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)—Blake became one of the very lucky eight percent to survive SCA.

Three years later, Blake formed Starting Hearts, whose mission is to save the lives of SCA victims by providing free CPR and AED education along with reducing the time in which emergency medical assistance is received. The nonprofit has three primary trademarked programs: Call.Push.Shock, a free community education program on how to respond to SCA; Nearest AED, a program focused on increasing AED access throughout Eagle County and Neighbor Saver, a 911 aided citizen dispatch/response system.

This year, in cooperation with Eagle County School District, Starting Hearts is conducting one of the most unique programs in the nation—teaching the entire population of the public school system. This includes 6,800 students from kindergarten through high school, as well as all teachers, administrators, coaches and bus drivers. The students are captivated by the 45-minute class, with video and hands-on practice of Call.Push.Shock, and each adult receives American Red Cross certification from Starting Hearts. The entire program is underwritten by the nonprofit and its donors. Already, 34 states require CPR training as a prerequisite for high school graduation.

The organization also places defibrillators in public areas to make these lifesaving devices available to all when needed. “With the generous support of the Vail Valley Medical Center (VVMC), Staring Hearts is placing an additional 50 defibrillators over a two-year period,” says Alan Himelfarb, executive director of Starting Hearts. “Today, Eagle County has one of the highest per capita placements of defibrillators in the nation and we’re working to make ours a model community.”

As well, the organization offers to all Eagle County residents, a free downloadable mobile app called PulsePoint that uses a GPS system to quickly locate the nearest defibrillator around the user. The app has been integrated with the Vail Public Safety Communications Center, which is responsible for managing the county’s 911 system. Through this app, citizen volunteers receive the same alerts as emergency medical personnel when a cardiac arrest victim in their area is in need.
Starting Hearts works closely with police, fire and sheriff departments, the VVMC and Eagle County Paramedic Services to make our community one of the safest in the nation to experience a cardiac arrest and survive.

As for Lynn Blake? She and her husband, Matt now have a two-year-old son, Thomas. His middle name is Froeschle.

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Cogswell

John Cogswell announced his retirement and closed Cogswell Gallery following a successful 35 years in the heart of Vail. Established in 1980, Cogswell was the first art gallery in the Vail Valley. It featured Southwestern paintings and sculpture. Over the years, it grew into a mixture of Native American artifacts, Western impressionists and furniture from Tibet, Indonesia and Mexico.

A new gallery, A Hint of Asia, will open in the space this winter under the ownership of Vivian and Paul Jaszinki and will feature artists from around the world, including Asian-influenced contemporary silk and lacquer paintings. Also on view will be Indo-China art in which the cross-pollination of Western art skills back into the Asian art traditions. The gallery also carries those artists whose is by considered Photo work provided Frost Creek to be the foundations of modern art, including Matisse, Van Gogh, Cezanne, to name a few, when Paris was very much influenced by the Asian culture.

When asked how one can know the value of a painting, Vivian responds, “The art that will give you a smile every day when you look at it, that’s the true value.”

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Slifer Express

Vail Mountain recognized long-time Vail local, Rod Slifer, for his commitment to the community for more than 50 years. Expresso, a blue run, has been renamed to Slifer Express in honor of Slifer. Slifer Express is located on the front side of Vail Mountain and can be accessed from the Mountaintop Express Lift (#4).

Slifer’s introduction to Vail Mountain came after being hired by then, Vail Associates, in the spring of 1962. Slifer served as the assistant ski school director during his first winter in Vail. He went on to work in real estate, initially for Vail Associates and eventually starting his own firm, Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate. Slifer, alongside Pete Seibert, Earl Eaton and Morrie Shepard, named many of the runs on Vail Mountain during the resort’s inception.

“Rod has been one of Vail’s greatest ambassadors,” says Chris Jarnot, executive vice president and COO at Vail Mountain. “After naming many of the runs on Vail Mountain, including famously Tourist Trap, we are thrilled to honor him with his own run for his enormous contribution to Vail’s success from before it was Vail all the way through today.