Letters from Wendell

Whether at home or far afield, the company's namesake plush rat also known as The Intrepid Wendell loves to share his stories, thoughts, and perspectives. Join him and follow along to learn about jewelry, gems, and how going the extra mile makes all the difference in each bespoke piece of jewelry we make.
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Skardu, Pakistan, 2021


Sphene is a rare and inspiring gemstone. It flashes green, red, orange, and white when it moves in the light. With every movement, colors dance tirelessly through the stone.

Sometimes called titanite because of its high titanium content, sphene possesses a unique optical effect called trichroism. When viewed from different angles, the stone refracts light in multiple spectra, including colorless, green, yellow, or red. Sphene has incredibly high dispersion. When light strikes the stone, it separates into wavelengths. This creates a dazzling display of light and color in a well-cut stone. In the very best cut stones, the color bounces against the lower facets of the stone, creating a brilliant show for the viewer.

Sphene is mined all over the world in limited qualities. Because it is relatively soft, this stone is seldom made into jewelry and should never be worn in rings. Most fine sphene is kept in collections and out of public sight. However, we do not believe gemstones should be hidden away. Though sphene is generally collected and not worn, we believe these stones should be worn and loved. The Intrepid Wendell loves to share your joy – and the rare beauty of this uncommon gemstone.

We currently have a small collection of museum-quality sphene and are preparing them for bespoke pendants. If you would like to view these unique stones, or possibly add one to your jewelry collection, come by our office and take a look at our show-stopping suite of stones.

We love to share our beautiful gems with you. And we love to share your joy.

Delhi, India, 2021
Jewelry in Wedding Traditions

Jewelry in Wedding Traditions

The Intrepid Wendell has the wonderful opportunity to outfit family and friends with engagement rings and other wedding jewelry. It is a beautiful responsibility. The joy of celebrating love and marriage mirrors the importance of creating jewelry that represents the bond between people who love each other.

Often, clients who were once strangers become our fast friends. For us, it would be nearly impossible to create these intimate pieces of jewelry without coming to know and appreciate the people they are made for. Last year, we created many beautiful engagement rings for new and old clients, friends, and family. Many of them looked forward excitedly to their spring and summer 2020 weddings. Some even playfully bickered in our office over who would have more gemstones in their wedding bands.

Then, COVID-19 happened.

Like most people, we have received the letters, emails, and phone calls that say, in one way or another, “Don’t worry about that ‘Save the Date’ for September — but look forward to receiving one next year!” Others are bucking formalities and just diving in, forgoing the gathering altogether.

Two weeks ago, an old acquaintance had a Zoom wedding. Another friend went to the courthouse with her groom and sealed the deal, promising a large reception for her friends and family in the future. A third friend had a quiet wedding in a church, which was attended only by a priest who stood exactly six feet away from the bride and groom.

When looking at the photos and videos of these unique weddings, a few things stand out: The officiant wears a mask; hand sanitizer is sneaking its way out of the groom’s pocket; the wedding party behind the couple is replaced with an army of people on a screen crying and celebrating over a video call.

Yet some traditions comfortably remain. There is a beautiful bride glowing in a white dress. The newly married couple slips rings onto their partner’s nervous fingers. There is kissing, dancing, passion, lots of laughing, and happy tears.

Our friends’ wedding experiences this year are certainly creating some new traditions. Some traditions stand the test of time and some fade away (although we certainly hope that video call weddings never become normal). Looking at the evolution and history of wedding customs sheds new light on principles that help us understand just how special love and marriage are. Many of these customs are tied to jewelry, and these are some of our favorites.

Ancient Romans believed in the “vena amoris, or “vein of love.” referring to a mythical vein that Romans believed ran from the heart to the ring finger on your left hand. This legend is believed to have inspired rings or cuffs made from hemp, leather, bone, and eventually precious metals.

Indian wedding jewelry also seeps heavily in tradition and belief. Not all modern couples practice these customs, and many of these rituals vary based on region, religion, or culture. There are hundreds of variations to the meaning behind the jewelry worn, or even the type. One could spend a lifetime studying these beautiful celebrations.

The visage of a traditional Hindu bride is awe-inspiring. She wears flowing silks in deep crimsons with shockingly intricate embroidery. Lavish henna drawings called mehndi to encase her hands and wrap up her arms, representing good luck and prosperity for the bride. The maang tikka crowns her head. A beautiful gold forehead piece, designed to rest on the sixth chakra, is said to enhance the third eye. Beautiful chandelier earrings in gold and pearl meant to ward off evil, tug at the bride’s ears. A large and often ornate nose ring, called the bridal nath, is attached to ears by a chain. In some regions, this nath is worn to honor the Hindu goddess Parvati. Jingling anklets of copper or silver are worn to announce the arrival of the bride into the groom’s home. Gold, which is associated with the Hindu gods, is not to be worn below the waist for anyone, not of noble birth. Possibly the most significant piece of jewelry is the mangalsutra, which translates to “holy string”. The groom adorns the bride with this necklace and knots it three times in front of a sacred wedding fire. Traditionally, this necklace was meant to be worn until death or the end of the marriage. The mangalsutra’s main fixture is the thali, a pendant that represents the love and respect that is held in the marriage.

The Irish are not quite as extravagant. The instantly recognizable and beautiful Claddagh ring features hands on the band of the ring, clasping a crowned heart. This ring first appeared in the seventeenth century. The hands represent friendship, the crown represents loyalty, and the heart represents love. The way the ring is worn might signify different statuses in terms of the relationship. When the heart is pointed down the finger, the wearer is single. If worn with the heart pointing up the arm, towards the heart (via vena amoris, maybe?) the wearer is taken. The ring is not very old in historical terms, is well-loved by many.

The Indian bride isn’t the only one who wears jewelry on the crown of her head. The Stefana is a Greek wedding crown set worn by both the bride and the groom. Crowning during the ceremony is a mainstay of the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. A ribbon joins the two crowns to signify unity between the couple. The ribbon is expected to outlive the newlyweds, demonstrating their eternal love and commitment. The crowns themselves show the couple as the king and queen of their new life and home, which they are to rule with wisdom and integrity. During the ceremony, a priest blesses the couple and then places the crown on their heads. The crowns are then switched three times between bride and groom as blessings are said and the union is witnessed.

Wedding traditions are a beautiful part of humanity. The diversity of weddings customs is a testament to the importance of love. Whether you postponed your wedding, or if you chose to say your vows and dance with your family over FaceTime, the important part about wedding traditions is they represent your love and commitment. Whether it’s breaking glass, henna art, money dances, or burying the bourbon, sharing joy and loving one other is what ties every wedding tradition together.

If you had a 2020 wedding planned, The Intrepid Wendell wishes you the best of luck on your new life together. And no matter how you chose to start it, we would love for you to stop by sometime to tell us about your own wedding day and traditions.

Tahiti, 2020
Pearl Primer

The elegance and luster of pearl captivate the eye and the imagination.

It is said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But I believe that pearls are a woman’s — or a man’s — best treasure. Queen Elizabeth I of England loved pearls so much she had them sewn into her sheets. Queen Elizabeth II was married in 1947 in a wedding dress decorated with 10,000 seed pearls. World War II had just ended, and the dress was paid for using ration coupons.

It isn’t just women who have fallen under the allure of the pearl. Mexican diver Kino, in John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, finds one so grand that he calls it “The Pearl of the World.” The Maharaja of India powerfully wore a series of pearl ropes from the Arabian Sea.

The lavish Edward IV of England possessed a toothpick made of gold, decorated with diamond, ruby, and pearl. King James I of England and VI of Scotland wore a hat pin called “The Mirror of Great Britain” to represent his hope for a United Kingdom, which included massive diamonds and two large pearls.

Pearls are entirely organic in nature and are made of aragonite and conchiolin. The luster that makes pearls beautiful is produced when light is reflected off aragonite and conchiolin. Aragonite and conchiolin are secreted by the animal to surround a foreign body that has entered the pearl. In natural pearls, usually they are secreted to wall off a parasite that has entered the animal through its shell. In the case of cultured pearl, the secreted wall surrounds a bead nucleus that is inserted by hand into the animal.

Many animals produce pearls. Even snails and periwinkles can produce pearls. The three most common saltwater pearls on the market today are “Akoya,” “Tahitian,” and “South Sea.” They come from three different varieties of oyster. Freshwater pearls are also very common and are cultured to grow inside farmed mussels.

Akoya pearls are typically about 7~ to 9~ mm in size and are white, cream, or pinkish in color. They grow inside the pinctata fucata oyster. The first successfully cultured oysters were the Akoya, and the vast majority of them are farmed in Japan, although Korea and Vietnam produce them as well.

Tahitian pearls are normally larger than Akoya pearls, measuring between 8~ and 11~ mm and grow in the pinctata margarifitera oyster. These pearls come in many different hues, from black and silver to blues and greens. Some Tahitian pearls, called “peacock” in the trade, have orient in multiple hues. Grown all across the Pacific Ocean, from Mexico to the Philippines, these pearls are often strung together in mixed colors strands.

The largest commonly worn pearl is the elegant South Sea pearl. Much larger than either the Akoya or the Tahitian pearl, the South Sea pearl comes from the pinctata maxima oyster, which is about the size of a dinner plate! Billowy and luxurious in white or gold, these pearls are the mark of sophistication.

The Intrepid Wendell is a merchant of fine pearls of all types. We would love to share our knowledge of this treasure with you.

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2020
Gold Chains

Gold Chains

The Intrepid Wendell has expertise in chain making.  Gold, silver, and platinum are pliable – almost magically so. Since the earliest recorded history, their flexibility has inspired humans to weave chains using links of these precious metals.  Worn to display wealth, show love, protect from evil, and to decorate, gold rope chains and gold link chains are a highlight of any wardrobe.

Handmade 22kt yellow gold chain

Every January, we travel to Vicenza, Italy, where the latest technology in mechanized chain making is displayed.  We see wonderfully precise machines from Italy and Germany forming gold and silver into high-quality chains at many inches per minute.  Popular items like tennis chains and Cuban link chains made by German and Italian technical equipment are stunning.

Handmade sterling silver chain

Precision has its virtues, but well-made handcrafted items can be even more luxurious, especially if made according to age-old traditions. The Intrepid Wendell offers gold rope chains that are made entirely without 21st Century tools.  These chains begin as either ingots or coins that are alloyed to the desired karatage and then hand-drawn into wire.  Using special knitting needles, the chains are woven by hand.  Oftentimes, the person knitting the chain will say prayerful devotions, literally weaving prayers into the finished product.

Antique silver chain with bauble charms. After many years of wear, the metal feels almost as smooth as leather.

The weavers are borne from a tradition of proud, yet nervous, royals. By weaving complicated and elegant chains out of the metal in their treasuries, they were sure of two things: They would be the fashion icons of the realm and they would never be separated from their wealth.


Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2019
The Intrepid Wendell’s 2019 Travelogue
purple shadows stretch across gravel.

Long midday shadows in winter Alaska

In 2019, we have emphasized celebrating beauty and researching designs and materials.  This new website caps a year of inspiration at The Intrepid Wendell.

2019 has seen us in the tundra and the tropics.  We hiked in the highest mountains and strode on frozen rivers.  We met old friends at familiar haunts and paused for newfound experiences.


Creative people often have sensitive hearts.  This year, our hearts were especially touched in Sri Lanka very shortly after the brutal Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.  In Hong Kong, our emotions sometimes lacked for words as we directly saw the people of Hong Kong protest for their cause.


The Intrepid Wendell shared joy all around the world, staying over 125 nights in hotels, inns, and houses.


A fountain comprised of circles sits in the middle of a well lit lobby. Crimson velour seats and intricate lattice match the geometric tiles

ITC Hotel, Jaipur

We visited these cities in the USA:

1.      Carlsbad, California

2.     Denver, Colorado

3.     Fairbanks, Alaska

4.     Las Vegas, Nevada

5.     Los Angeles, California

6.     Nashville, Tennessee

7.     New York City, New York

8.     Richmond, Virginia

9.     Tucson, Arizona


The tallest mountain stands above the sky

Mount Everest, Nepal

And visited these countries:

1.      Belize

2.     Bhutan

3.     Estonia

4.     Germany

5.     Honduras

6.     Hong Kong

7.     India

8.     Italy

9.     Mexico

10.  Singapore

11.   Sri Lanka

12.   Thailand

13.   United Arab Emirates

14.  UK


A desert is split by a road and the sound of the jet turbine

Arabian sands from the air

We traveled on these airlines:

1.     Air India (AI)

2.     Alaska Airlines (AS)

3.     Cinnamon Air (C7)

4.     Druk Air (KB)

5.     Emirates (EK)

6.     Lot (LO)

7.     Lufthansa (LH)

8.     Silk Air (MI)

9.     United (UA)


Airport with maroon brown seats

Jaipur International (JAI)

And we flew over 425,000 air miles to these airports:

1.      Washington Dulles International (IAD) (home)

2.     Washington Reagan National (DCA) (home)

3.     Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK)

4.     Chennai International (MAA)

5.     Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)

6.     Colombo Bandaranaike International (CMB)

7.     Delhi Indira Gandhi International (DEL)

8.     Denver International (DEN)

9.     Dubai International (DXB)

10.  Fairbanks International (FAI)

11.   Frankfurt am Main (FRA)

12.   Hong Kong International (HKG)

13.   Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH)

14.  Jaipur International (JAI)

15.   Las Vegas McCarran (LAS)

16.  London City (LCY)

17.   London Heathrow (LHR)

18.   Los Angeles International (LAX)

19.  Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International (BOM)

20. Munich Airport (MUC)

21.   Nashville International (BNA)

22.  Newark Liberty International (EWR)

23.  Paro Airport (PAR)

24.  Polgolla Reservoir Waterdrome (KDZ)

25.  San Diego International (SAN)

26.  San Francisco International (SFO)

27.  St. Louis Lindbergh Field (STL)

28.  Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA)

29.  Singapore Changi International (SIN)

30.  Tallinn Airport Lennart Meri (TLL)

31.   Tucson International (TUS)

32.  Venice Marco Polo (VCE)

33.   Warsaw Chopin (WAW)


A train station at sunrise

Colombo Fort station, Colombo, Sri Lanka

On land, we rode on these railways:

1.      Amtrak

2.     Dubai Metro

3.     Hong Kong MTR

4.     Indian Railways

5.     Italian State Railways (Trenitalia)

6.     London Underground

7.     New York City Subway

8.     Sri Lankan Railways

9.     Tallinn Transport

10.  Washington Metro

And finally, we rode on countless buses, vans, sedans, jeeps, Ubers, Lyfts, shared cars, taxis, tuk tuks, e-bikes, conventional bicycles, water ferries, and camels.


Founder and President are on camels in front of the sunset

Camels like having their ears scratched!


Going above and beyond to bring the best to share is an ethic that will never fade in our house.

Peace on Earth and Joy to All.

Best Beer and Breweries in Colorado

Adolph Coors set up a brewery in Colorado in 1873. Three years later, Colorado became a state. Yes, beer came to Colorado before statehood. From that proud tradition, the home brewing and craft beer movement have taken root in Colorado, yielding some of the world’s finest beers from amber ales like Fat Tire to a Belgian style-white like Blue Moon to Pilsners like Coors Banquet. These beers were a message from Colorado to the world. And so, the world has answered by sending their best brewers to the Rocky Mountains. 

The result is a booming industry that brings $2.7 billion of value to the state.  Colorado produces more beer per capita than any state in the US.

What is the History Behind Brewing in Colorado?

Colorado was designed for brewing beer. The crisp autumns, the cold winters, the rocky soil adept at growing grain, the freshwater trickling down the Rocky Mountains. It’s an idyllic place to brew beer with the perfect population to drink it. As Colorado was settled in the 19th Century by gold miners, those miners were thirsty. In 1859, Rocky Mountain Brewing established the first brewery in the state. It only lasted a year, but by 1873, the town of Golden became home to the beer most associated with the Centennial State: Coors.  

Breweries thrived in Colorado until Prohibition laws stopped the industry in its tracks. Coors managed to diversify, selling malted milk and dinnerware, but the rest of Colorado’s breweries shut down. A half century later, Charlie Papazian founded the American Homebrewers Association and started the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.  Out of this movement came thriving breweries like New Belgium and Odell and microbreweries like Front Range and Breckinridge. Today, Colorado is known for its vibrant craft beer scene.


Why is Colorado Considered a Top Destination for Craft Beer?

If you want to do a statewide tour of breweries, there’s no better place to do it than Colorado. Start with the beer that tapped the Rockies by heading to Golden for a tour of the Coors Brewery. Golden itself is a gorgeous mining town outside of Denver that seems like it was frozen in the late 19th Century. Coors is the world’s largest single-site brewery, an old fashioned factory on the banks of the Clear Creek. The endless mountain views is what makes Colorado an ideal state to enjoy a beer. 

A half hour away in Littleton, you’ll find the Breckenridge Brewery.  A microbrew scaled up to be available in the lower 48, the 12 Acre campus includes the Farm House restaurant and a 100 barrel aging room. 

If you drive an hour north to Ft. Collins, you can enjoy a 90-minute tour of New Belgium Brewing Company that concludes with a curated flight including New Belgium’s signature beer Fat Tire Ale. 

Then, head to the capital city of Denver, home to Blue Moon, which was born at the Sandlot Brewery within the baseball park at Coors Field. Denver has such a thriving microbrew scene that the best Colorado beer we haven’t even heard of yet will be available by the time you visit. 


What Are the Top Events to Visit in Colorado for Craft Beer?

Every October, the finest makers of craft beers from all 50 states come to Denver to celebrate the Great American Beer Festival. For the past 40 years, the festival has spawned a microbrew movement, taking the spirit of Colorado beer all across the nation. The event showcases over 500 breweries, 2000 plus beers, and 10,000 beers are judged to crown winners in over 25 subcategories. Denver is the ideal place for such an event, with its central location and laidback enthusiasts, Colorado beer is about the hard work that goes into chilling.



What Makes Colorado Beer Taste So Good?

It’s the water. Fresh water trickles down from the snowmelt in the Rockies, making the supply ample and the water quality ideal for brewing. The foothill soil is perfect for growing barley and the climate gives Colorado some of the finest brewing conditions in the world. On top of that, the sheer number of microbrews aligned with the big brewers has made Colorado the “Napa Valley of beer.” It attracts the most innovative brewers and deepest talent pools for beer making in the United States. When you add these qualities together, you get a beer industry as eclectic and great tasting as Colorado Beer. 



There is no better environment for drinking a cold beer than in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. With over 335 breweries and thousands of craft beers to choose from, you can’t go wrong with Colorado beer. 

If you love movies, go to California. 

If you love politics, go to DC. 

If you love beer, come to Colorado.

Longmont, CO, 2019
On Friendship and The Elliot Clef

“The Elliot Clef”

This year, I had the great joy of meeting and becoming friends with the conductor of the Longmont (Colorado) Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Elliot Moore.  I met Elliot with my parents over a memorable meal of Colorado buffalo and Italian wine.

I liked Elliot immediately.  His enthusiasm for music, his vision for music as service to the world, and his charm were impressive.  We sat together breaking bread and sharing joy for four hours.  I asked Elliot if I could make a piece of jewelry for him to wear as my personal salute to his artistic vision.

Inspiration for the piece wasn’t hard to come by: Elliot loves Bach and so do I.  Elliot sent me a handwritten note after our dinner.  His penmanship immediately reminded me of a special signature by our favorite musician.

Bach’s Signature

J.S. Bach was a profound musical geek who had a clever way of signing his name. Other musicians reading this can decode the image into a name by turning the picture ninety degrees at a time. As the staff ligature changes, the letter of the note on the clef changes from B to A to C and finally to H. Quite a signature.

Back at Wendell’s office, using the magic of technology and our idea of making a signature lapel pin, we took Elliot’s signature and placed it on a staff.  However, unlike Bach’s name, which revolved around the four existing clefs, we decided that Elliot’s name should become its own clef.  Completing the design is a breve on the staff after Elliot’s signature.  The breve is a marking for a double whole note, which is the longest duration of note for which there is a standard notation.  The piece is made in 18-karat cast white and yellow gold and attaches to a garment with two 14-karat gold straight pins.

Only Elliot can define how that note will sound on his own clef.  But it is my great hope that I will learn – over many years of growth and friendship together – how Elliot’s clef sounds.  And it is with great joy that we at The Intrepid Wendell can share our playful adaptation of Elliot’s signature with him.

We have had a wonderful and joyful year at The Intrepid Wendell and have made many new friends along the way.  We look forward to a prosperous and joyful 2019.

New Orleans, LA, 2019
The Jewelry We Wear to Say Goodbye

Jewelry has been around for a long time. Humans have been adorning themselves with gemstones throughout recorded history. Nowadays, stones are used to guide the airplanes we travel on, keep time, treat sickness, and do many other awe-inspiring things. I believe that almost all of them make things better and more beautiful.

Today, I had the profound joy of joining a group of friends, family, and parishioners to send Wagdi Hanna to the next stop in his celestial journey. The men and women of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in New Orleans prayed, chanted in English and Coptic, remembered, perfumed the air with incense, and wept. They shouted names and tasted the moment when this dearest man met death and began his next life.

The congregants at the funeral wore their finest gems and jewelry to say goodbye to Wagdi.  The jewels also remind us that we are still alive: that we are still here and our bodies are still beautiful, strong, vibrant, and asking for adornment.

Wagdi’s body lay in a coffin at the base of a golden and jeweled iconostasis. Pearls, the historic Egyptian symbol of accomplishment and power, hung around many necks. Even the priest mentioned his special white robe, which was fine and embroidered in gold and gemstones.

Many Americans think of a wedding ring as the quintessential piece of jewelry. However, doing so forgets all of the other gems and jewelry that are around us every day.

We need and use jewels for many reasons. Often, the gems speak for us when we don’t have words.

R.I.P. Wagdi.

Tallinn, Estonia, 2019
Wendell in Estonia

Wendell is frequently on the road.

Last year, we counted hundreds of thousands of miles on jets, propellers, helicopters, floatplanes, trains, subways, busses, cars, vans, three-wheelers, and rickshaws.

We do this because the best things rarely come knocking on the door. We know that, in order to truly give our clients an experience that matches the joy they share, we have to go find the pulse of humanity for ourselves and bring it home.

This week, we found ourselves in frozen Tallinn, Estonia. Estonia is celebrating 100 years of independence but has been ruled by other sovereign crowns over much of the past 1000 years. Their own language of Estonian has been supplanted by Swedish, Russian, German, Finnish, and now English as the language of convenience. Today, the Estonian spirit is thriving and has found itself as a member of the European Union and NATO.

In the cold and dark of 60 degrees north latitude, we shared in a private and fearless jewelers’ scene. With the knowledge and information, we have gathered here, our own work can acknowledge the inspiration of the Estonians who were casting gold in the centuries before the Christian Era and the artists who work today.

Washington D.C., 2018
The Top 7 Airport Lounges In The World

Travel is an art. It’s a blend of luxury and leisure, converting experience into memory. Time spent in airport terminals is forgettable at best, and regrettable at worst. You are overcharged, underappreciated and processed like livestock. That is precisely why spending that time in a first class airport lounge is worth its weight in gold. It’s a relaxing oasis every traveler should experience.  And so, if you’re traveling through any of the following cities, consider yourself fortunate. These are the Top 7 Airport Lounges in the World.


The Top 7 Airport Lounges In The World

1. Air France First Class Lounge Paris (CDG)

Opened in 2021, a brand new, two story First Class Lounge offers “La Premiere” service. A car will pick you up and check you in directly at the Lounge. Once inside, the appealing, retro modern aesthetic graces the lounges, echoing the stylish luxury of the Jet Set Era. The food and beverage selection are genuinely world-class, anchored by a first-class restaurant where the menu was crafted by Micheli chef Alain Ducasse.  Even coffee and water are served on silver platters. The curved interior puts you at ease, leading to a wellness area featuring a full-service spa and beds for relaxation.  Access to the Lounge comes with every Business and First Class ticket, and is available a la carte to all Air France passengers for an additional fee.


2. Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt

At Frankfurt Airport, a First Class lounge will not suffice. Lufthansa opened an entire terminal for First Class passengers. Pull your car up to the terminal, and a valet will park it. Enter the space filled with easy chairs for relaxation, and office space for business travelers. Food & beverage menus are premium, served a la carte. The bars offer over a hundred different whiskies. There is even a private cigar lounge. The Terminal is available to all First Class Lufthansa passengers, and you may invite a ticketed guest from the same flight to accompany you.


3. Swiss First Class Lounge Zürich, (ZRH)

Swiss offers several lounges at Zürich Flughafen, but none more luxurious than Swiss First Lounge E. When you first arrive, a wine humidor greets you with over a thousand wines from across the globe. For business travelers, Swiss First Lounge E features two hotel rooms, mini suites that seat 4-6 for rest or work, a VIP room, and a Conference Room.  There are two restaurants, one a 5-star á la carte restaurant where chefs fulfill individual culinary wishes, and an American Diner.  The lounge offers travelers private bedrooms with comfortable beds and a breathtaking view of the Alps. Finally, if you need fresh air, step out on the 352 m² terrace.  Access is available to First Class guests on SWISS, Lufthansa and HON Circle.


4. Cathay Pacific The Pier first Class Lounge Hong Kong, (HKG)

The Pier is Cathay Pacific’s newest First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. Uniquely conceived, the Pier distills essential Hong Kong experiences into a single location for travelers. Elegant spaces like the Teahouse and Noodle Bar can only be experienced at the Pier. Adorned with soothing wooden walls and earthbound ambiance, the lounge creates a sense of home while you are passing through. Access is available to First and Business class passengers and Oneworld partner program members.


5. Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi (AUH)

Etihad’s First Lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport is ideal for fit travelers as it’s the only lounge on the list featuring a gym. Open 24 hours a day in Terminal 3, the lounge boasts Middle East inspired dishes, beverages from the Etihad cellar and premium cigars. Private VIP rooms grant you a much needed space to relax. Or if you would prefer to workout before your flight, the Fitness Room is at your disposal. Available to Etihad Guest Platinum members or First Class flyers, all passengers at Abu Dhabi may pay to access First Lounge.


6. Thai First Class Lounge Bangkok (BKK)

A private oasis at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thai Airways Royal First Class Lounge is replete with spectacular amenities like an hour-long, complimentary massage.  Featuring á la carte dining, shower suites, and sleeper rooms, the First Class Lounge is the perfect place to recharge before an international flight. Given the stress of air travel, what better place to receive a massage?  The Lounge is reserved for elite status and premium ticket passengers.


7. United Polaris Lounge Washington (IAD)

Less than one year old, United’s Polaris Lounge at Washington Dulles Airport is where power brokers recharge before long-haul international flights. Only accessible to travelers with a First Class or Business Class ticket, the Polaris lounge boasts 355 comfortable chairs, many within pods with a table top for dining, work, or charging electronics. There are two restaurants – a self-service buffet and an a la carte restaurant.  A bar is centrally located in the lounge. Its modern design makes it a focal point.  There are 13 individual restrooms, six shower stalls, and two private sleep pods reservable for up to 60 minutes at a time.  For international dignitaries, there is no better way to arrive in the United States.



Few of us enjoy layovers at the airport. Those who do, must frequent places fitting the title Best Airport Lounges in the World.  These seven lounges represent state of the art luxury in travel. Waiting in airports is necessary. These First Class lounges make waiting a true pleasure.

Washington D.C.
The Intrepid Wendell HQ
These posts are more than just travelogues. Some are related to gemology and production methods; others to our own unusual, yet great personalities.
  • July 2021
    Letters from Wendell
    Letters from Wendell

    Letters from Wendell

    Dear friends of The Intrepid Wendell,

    The personal notes I have been writing as blog posts are getting a new life in an old medium.

    A new communication called Letters from Wendell will be produced four to five times a year. It will be delivered to you the Old Fashioned Way: by post.

    The electronic Joyfully Cast Blog will continue to provide content. However, the content will come from a variety of sources, may not be in my voice, and will be more commercial in nature.

    The personal touch of communicating emotions is personally important to me and to my brand. The electronic format makes it difficult for some messages to seem as personal as they are meant to be.

    If you would like to receive Letters from Wendell in your mailbox, please indicate your preference by replying to this email with your preferred address for delivery. If you miss the email, you can subscribe electronically here. Delivery is available from the USA to any address in the world and the price of subscription is zero.

    Until you hear from me by post, remember:

    I Love to Share Your Joy.

    Daniel Boettcher


    The Intrepid Wendell

  • April 2020
    The Intrepid Wendell’s Five Favorite Airports
    The Intrepid Wendell’s Five Favorite Airports

    We are all daydreaming about traveling now that we’re stuck at home. To celebrate our daydreams and inspire thoughts of travel to come, The Intrepid Wendell offers this list of our Top 5 Airports.

    Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

    This airport was the first in the world to be developed specifically for jet travel. Built in the middle of Northern Virginia’s horse farms, it boasts four long runways and is a hub for The Intrepid Wendell’s most-used airline, United Airlines (UA), and its Star Alliance partners.

    Eero Saarinen’s terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport

    Washington Dulles makes this list for two reasons. First, it is “home” and a facility that we know like the back of our own hands. Second, the terminal is an Eero Saarinen masterpiece that is built to evoke aviation itself. The concrete and steel-framed building uses building technology that was literally developed on the spot. Although notably lacking in some facilities that other airports consider essential, Dulles means home to us.

    Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM)

    Located north of the historic center of the city, Mumbai airport is home to a lavish international terminal. Designed by the architects at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago, USA, this airport’s hundreds of thousands of tons of preformed concrete create a concrete lotus pond that is nothing short of breathtaking. Giving honor to a Maratha emperor, even the name is as exotic and formal as the architectural wonder of the terminal appears.

    The concrete lotus pond of Mumbai Airport

    Aside from the awe-inspiring terminal, the passenger facilities are comfortable for long layovers. With two long runways and plenty of room to roam – a rarity in crowded Mumbai – this airport is on our list of favorites.

    Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)

    The Japanese mastery of efficient movement of people is second to none. Masses of people flow through confined spaces all day long in Japan, and almost nobody seems to notice the sheer sophistication of it. Public areas are relentlessly clean, accommodations are specific and well thought out, and nobody is ever late. Or early.

    Narita airport is no different. The common areas of the airport are clean. The stores, restaurants, and pubs are efficient. The airside hotel that rents by the hour is a welcome place to lay over for a shower and some sleep after a long few weeks traveling.

    Narita Terminal 2 hourly hotel room

    Transiting at Narita is awe-inspiring. Once, the Wendell team landed at Narita on a flight that was late. We knew we had only about thirty minutes to sprint to our next flight – and that was our flight home to Washington. When the door to the plane opened and ground staff announced that the computer system in the terminal was down, our hearts sank. It seemed that there’d be no way to make it home that day.

    We exited the airplane and were met in the terminal by hundreds of airport staff – all properly uniformed and wearing white gloves – holding signs to direct travelers to their next flights. Nobody was worried; the machine of Japan was holding steady.

    We made our flight to Washington with plenty of time.

    Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

    This is easily the most convenient airport on the list. Compact, usually full of people but never crowded, and accessible to the populated parts of the island by regular high-speed rail service, Hong Kong’s airport is integrated into the city in a way that makes it feel connected.

    This marvel of an airport was designed by the great English architect Norman Foster. It was begun by the British authorities as a grand sendoff to its colony as part of the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong sovereignty to China. The engineering of the place is stunning – the builders took an island in the Pearl River Delta, cut the top off of it, and used the displaced material for fill for the runway beds. The terminal is airy and bright. Furthermore, on the HKG airport campus is the AsiaWorld-Expo, which holds a twice-yearly trade show that we often attend.

    The bright and airy Cathay Pacific lounge at Hong Kong International Airport

    Polgolla Reservoir Waterdrome (KDZ)

    This is the smallest airport on the list. The vastness of the place is made up of a simple set of steps, a floating platform, and an artificial reservoir. Only Cinnamon Air flies here, and the magic of its Cessna airplane on floats cuts the travel time from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport to our work in central Sri Lanka from 5 hours to just 20 minutes.

    The Cinnamon Air Cessna and crew at Polgolla Reservoir

    We will all be traveling again. Sooner than we think.

  • April 2020
    Creativity in the Hour of Crisis
    Creativity in the Hour of Crisis

    The Intrepid Wendell is a luxury jewelry salon. One of the most important blocks in our foundation is creativity. Unfocused experimentation and focused implementation of the creative process are critical to the wonderful jewelry we build for our clients and for the world.

    Creativity and freedom of expression are also a part of the human experience. Even more, for Americans, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution secures our right to be free in speech and thought and action. In other words, our founding documents give us the right to be creative.

    For us at The Intrepid Wendell, to wear our hearts on our sleeves is a job requirement. We see things acutely, taste things romantically, feel things deeply, hear things majestically, and utter things rapturously.

    Those things make us passionately human. They also make us sensitive. Much of what makes this company Intrepid is carried out every day by challenging society creatively. We observe, we adopt, we adapt and coopt.

    As sensitive people, sometimes we come across as strange and even slightly pointless. As my friend Mark McGuinness put it, “The creative process can look a little odd from the outside. Sometimes it looks like we’re doing nothing at all—strolling in the park, lazing on the beach, or staring into space while the rest of the office is busy being busy.”

    Our office suite is full of toys and games. We have stuffed animals that starred in theater productions and the teeth of a Sri Lankan bat that died of natural causes while in our friend’s care. There are magnets from every place on earth and an Olympic gold medalist’s judo uniform in a case on the wall.

    For the next month, we can’t go to the office. The toys and games and precise randomness are alone. We feel alone too. Every single one of us is dislocated today — aching dislocation.

    The unnaturally quiet Natural History Museum.

    Our beautiful city of Washington, DC also offers us nourishment. The museums of the Smithsonian Institution are second to none. The wonderful expressions of architecture – be it the uplifting Brutalism of the Metro Subway or the neo-classical Federal buildings – give us a creative sandbox to dig in.

    The gritty bars and dance halls offer a playground for the soul. And the sculpture gardens throughout the city resound with year-round venues for recharging. But even that is now blocked. Our Cherry Blossom Festival is canceled. Our watering holes are dry. Our office building is locked. Our foliage is somehow separate. The awkward space of living at home – with separation to save lives – is just new.

    Rights create duties. This is perhaps most important in times of trouble. The cherished American right of free expression creates a moral duty to use our expressive talents for good.

    We creatives perhaps can offer leadership in this crisis. We cannot turn off the creative tap just because we must stay home. In fact, we must open the well of creativity even wider today – right now – because it is the creatives who will help us make sense of what we are going through. And tomorrow, when this is past, it is we who will lead society with our impressions of the hurt, the joys, the confusion, and whatever else we pick up emotionally along the way. It is the creatives who will tell the jokes and write the songs.

    Plum blossoms in Washington DC

    As rights to free expression create duties, we see the fundamental duty to being creative as potent. It is an hour now when we can use our creative talents to help each other, our first responders, and the foundation of our society as well.

    At the Intrepid Wendell, we will make jewelry that reminds us of where we are, where we have been, and what matters.

  • March 2020
    Healing, Survival, and Connection: We’ve Been Here Before
    Healing, Survival, and Connection: We’ve Been Here Before

    By now we are all aware of the Coronavirus. Physicians, politicians, leaders, and grandmothers the world over have given us counsel on it. Our free markets have bucked wildly because of it. Our pundits, political challengers, and neighbors have keen viewpoints. The cultural iconography of plague is ancient and — again — brand new.

    In January of 2020, China built two major hospitals to prove that their machinery could outwork the disease. In 1666, Londoners dug new and, for the time, quite sophisticated burial pits to contain the infection. In Provence, in the 1720 plague of Marseille, rural folk built massive walls to try to keep the pestilence that tormented the city at bay.



    Michel Serre, Vue de l’hôtel de ville pendant le peste de 1720 (View of City Hall during the Plague of 1720), Michel Serre, Vue de l’hôtel de ville pendant le peste de 1720 (View of City Hall during the Plague of 1720), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille.


    Humanity also turns to jewelers to soothe worries and treat their illnesses.  Gold, long known for its hypoallergenic properties, was a favored tool of surgeons in ancient days.  Even today, people who wear gold earrings rarely suffer infection in the piercing.

    Some people praise minerals as having specific impacts on the health of the wearer.  Today, people might visit their jeweler to select and display these stones.


    Desk with assorted crystals


    I wrote about the scarab amulet, and how the Egyptians wore it for protection.  The legend of Aida, which has been immortalized in the Western library, lets us consider that sometimes, protective charms fail.

    The Intrepid Wendell’s not-for-sale collection includes this bracelet.  Its charms are meant to protect the health of the wearer.  It is from the Sinhalese and dates from the 1800s.


    a sri lankan bangle


    Today, we trust our physicians and our leaders to bring us back to general health. No beautiful amulet made at The Intrepid Wendell will take the place of well-heeded messages from scientists and politicians. This week, we wish all our friends and family health and joy.

    We are glad to be a member of humanity especially even now.


  • February 2020
    President’s Day in Washington
    President’s Day in Washington

    Today is President’s Day in the USA.


    Lansdowne portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stewart (1796).



    The Intrepid Wendell is deeply respectful of George Washington, who preferred to use the honorific “General” when being addressed. However, he was also the first President of the United States, a farmer, a distiller, a horseman, the husband to Martha Custis, and a gentleman.

    His home at Mount Vernon, Virginia, is a short drive south of our K Street, Washington DC office suite. A few years ago, I bought a membership that allows exploration of Mount Vernon as often as I wish. Which happens to be pretty often. Whether I have time to spend an entire day roaming around or just have time to do a crossword puzzle seated on the back terrace that overlooks the Potomac River, I am always rewarded.


    Mount Vernon Mansion

    Washington’s house at Mount Vernon

    George Washington was deeply engaged in civility. We sometimes call this “manners” today. But to Washington, it was a way of life.

    As a young man, he discovered a text called “Rules of Civility.”  The origination of the document is cited to a 16th century French Abbott on the Mount Vernon website, but it is always difficult to trace old documents.

    Washington copied “Rules of Civility” many times as a handwriting exercise. However, the handwriting practice was only a part of the purpose. It was the psychological ingraining of these rules into his nature that was at the heart of the matter. In fact, the rules made up a critical part of Washington’s character.

    Among my favorite rules are:

    50: Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparag[e]ment of any.

    56: Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.

    82: Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Carefull to keep your Promise.

    110: Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Ce[les]tial fire Called Conscience.


    Book on ornate desk


    We hand out copies of this book in our office to anyone who would like one.  Please stop by and take one — and have a comfortable chat about “Civility.”

    The Intrepid Wendell

    We Love To Share Your Joy

  • January 2020
    Holst, The National Symphony Orchestra, and Peridot
    Holst, The National Symphony Orchestra, and Peridot

    The Milky Way

    Last weekend, the National Symphony Orchestra performed Gustav Holst’s iconic piece The Planets in the Concert Hall at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The NSO has seldom sounded better than they do this season.  The audience was delighted with an additional rarity in the industry — an accomplished and youthful woman guest conductor. Creative minds often inspire one another; I find evenings at the Kennedy Center to be fantastically inspiring.

    John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

    Holst was a stargazer and lover of astrology and astronomy.  When looking at the sky, he explained that “no planet borrows colors from another.” If you’ve ever heard The Planets, you know that Holst was able to see each part of the cosmos both individually and as a complete unit.

    Closer to our home in gemology, we find a few gemstones that arrive on planet Earth from outer space.  Among them is peridot, also called olivine.  This peridot has fallen from the sky on several meteorites.  Known as “pallasitic,” these gemstones have gemological properties that broadly overlap with their terrestrially-formed counterparts.

    The Gemological Institute of America’s journal Gems and Gemology detailed the methods for telling the difference between and among pallasitic peridot in a 2011 article. Using very specialized equipment, the presence and concentration of six particular elements is diagnostic in identifying these “gems from space.”

    2.26ct pallasitic peridot – currently available to view at The Intrepid Wendell

    The Intrepid Wendell has also been captivated by the stars, by space, and by this very special peridot.  Among our inventory are some notable examples of pallasitic peridot, which you can see in our office.

    “The Heavenly Spheres make music for us” quotes Holst from an ancient Gnostic poem in his 1917 The Hymn of Jesus.  The Intrepid Wendell finds gemstones from the heavenly sphere that inspire another of our senses — these delighting our eyes.

    The Intrepid Wendell
    We love to share your joy

    Wendell’s artistically joyful representation of pallasitic peridot on its commute to our office, background photo by NASA

  • January 2020
    Gratitude and Joy
    Gratitude and Joy


    Working in gems and jewelry wasn’t an obvious career path for me.  After all, going to American University in International Service, Georgetown Law, and graduate school in International Relations at Yale tends to tee up a student for a career in a well-paid law firm or consultancy, in high government, or in lofty academics.  In fact, nearly all of my classmates are now working in these fields.  More than a few of them are making our universities proud in usual and unusual ways.  I am also very proud of all their work.

    My fortunes led me along different paths.  A dear friend calls me “equally left brained and right brained.”  I consider this both a serious compliment and a serious challenge.  What my friend means is that my creative sense is no more and no less strong than my rational sense.  I therefore need a very special career.  In fact, only a career I tailor for myself will truly fit.

    The luxury bespoke jewelry house I founded in 2014 as The Intrepid Wendell was at first stamped out of my intellect — both creative and rational.  But it never was a vanity project for me.  The Intrepid Wendell has developed its style and short heritage because of the team of inspirational coworkers around the world who have taken on the magic spirit of sharing joy with clients and one another.  Each of us arrives at the task with unwaveringly high design values.  While we hold our collective feet to the fire building inspirational jewelry, we are also committed to making a rational and respected business.

    At the start of 2020, I am grateful to all who understand the joy of The Intrepid Wendell.  To all my clients, colleagues, friends, and other associates who live and work on literally every continent and on the oceans between them, I repeat loudly:


    Happy New Year 2020!

     –Daniel Boettcher

    Wendell on a ski lift in a tree

    Wendell — on skis! — is featured on our 2019 Holiday card.

  • April 2019
    Joyfully Cast: The Intrepid Wendell Story
    Joyfully Cast: The Intrepid Wendell Story


    A few years ago, The Intrepid Wendell was born out of a vision that joy can be shared through beautiful design, remarkable natural gemstones, and an honest intersection between our company and our clients.

     Today, The Intrepid Wendell is made up of two full-time creators, Daniel Boettcher and Joshua Collier.  We have a supporting cast of new and old friends and family.  We also have a collection of clients who have become like family to us.  Wendell himself is a very special plush rat toy with an eager work ethic and a welcoming air.

     We have been working quietly, doing our best to strap on our design boots, learn the scholarship related to the gems and jewelry we sell, and make friends who are interested in our vision of joy through design and jewelry.

     Our days of quiet work are ending. This blog is here to let you, the viewer and consumer, into our salon for a visit.  We believe in our products and we present our goods sincerely.

     The word “cast” uses seven pages of the Oxford English Dictionary, while the word “joy” uses barely a column.  We hope that Joyfully Cast will give you many and new dimensions for experiencing joy.

    For those of you who haven’t heard from us before but like our content, please subscribe.  And please share our joy by letting your interested friends and family know what we are up to!





  • December 2018
    Bespoke Fittings at The Intrepid Wendell
    Bespoke Fittings at The Intrepid Wendell

    The Intrepid Wendell carefully safeguards the identity of its bespoke clients.  However, one very special client whom we privately fitted for an item is pleased to show you the process of being properly fitted by the professionals at The Intrepid Wendell.

    Wendell — the legend himself — used a bespoke sleigh for our holiday cards.  Because of his unusually long legs and his jaunty arm position, playing the role of Santa in an off-the-shelf sleigh (prêt-à-sleigh) wasn’t an available solution.

    Measuring Wendell, our stuffed mascot rat.

    About a month ago, Wendell came into the office for a measuring and a fitting. Here he is being properly measured and fitted for his own sleigh.

    CAD render of Wendell's sleigh

    His holiday sleigh, which was computer designed and printed in-house on our 3D printer, fits him perfectly.

    Josh, our President, painting the sleigh

    Several coats of paint in Wendell’s favorite color make a beautiful holiday image.  In fact, you’ll probably never see a character of such distinguished stature driving a more perfectly appointed sleigh.

    Our Christmas card with Wendell in sleigh, with jewelry and gifts gathered around. He is waving to us.

    Should Wendell’s fitting inspire you to spend some time of your own at The Intrepid Wendell, drop us a line.




  • February 2018
    What is Gemology?
    What is Gemology?

    Sakura No Mai Pendant in UV Light

    Simply put, gemology is the study of gemstones.

    More academically stated, at The Intrepid Wendell, we see gemology as the field of study that details the scientific, historic, economic, anthropological, and artistic aspects of the use of precious gems.

    That’s a mouthful.  The intention is not to cause your eyes to glaze over.  But the fact is that the study of gemology is a big field.


    Training in knowledge of the gem and jewelry industry takes a lifetime.  The field is unique in its conversation among geologists, museum curators, investors, jewelers, young men and women in love, historians, and any number of others.

    In Joyfully Cast: The Intrepid Wendell Story, we will go into these issues in more depth.  We will also discuss some of the organizations who offer gemology training and academic advice on the subject.  Our hope is that you can find the place where gemology becomes relevant to you.