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December Birthstone Blue Topaz

by | Jewellery Wisdom, Wisdom


Pascale of Style Rocks

Image and ring via Etsy

December’s birthstone is blue topaz. December is already a favourite month, with Christmas, but as this author is a huge fan of blue topaz, it makes it even more special!

Topaz comes in many different colours: yellow, orange, violet and so on. However, most people are aware of blue topaz, given its popularity and its flexibility when it comes to wearing it.

Blue topaz comes in various hues of blue:

Light blue – known as Sky blue

Mid blue – known as Swiss blue

Dark blue – known as London blue

Of these, it’s the Swiss Blue – a strong rich colour that has become the most popular of the blue topaz shades in recent years. Sky blue is pale and quite similar to aquamarine – sometimes the two can be confused.

The blue topaz stone seen in this photo, has a particularly beautiful cut – a cushion checkerboard. The many facets of this kind of cut give the ring a real sparkle. Interestingly, this particular stone is somewhere in hue between a Swiss and a London blue, even though it was sold as London blue.


Blue topaz is mined in Brazil, Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia and Australia. Interestingly, the light blue topazes are also found in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Cornwall…perhaps that is where the reference to the ‘Sky’ came from, being farther north than usual gemstone deposits.

The biggest blue topazes were found in the Ukraine in 1964, each weighing a record 100kg. Each!

Blue topaz: it doesn’t have to be big to be beautiful.

Ms Gingham says: What a divine ring. The cushion cut is really quite unique!

About Pascale: Pascale Helyar-Moray, Founder and Director of StyleRocks has fourteen years of financial services experience as a marketing and communications professional working with blue chip companies in Australia and the UK. Maternity leave forced her to re-examine her career options and in looking for a business she could run from home, created StyleRocks in order to harness her lifelong passion for jewellery.

What Would They Know? Jo Da Silva of Quamby Estate

by | Venue Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

Quamby Estate

 Ahhhh Tasmania – you have it all – gourmet food and wines, great markets, beautiful scenery and to top it all off – Quamby Estate.  If you’ve ever wanted to visit Tasmania from interstate, your wedding might just be the perfect time to do it, making a week or a weekend celebration with your guests,  of all that this region has to offer. Today we talk to Jo Da Silva who is the wedding co-ordinator at Quamby Estate. Jo and her team can arrange your whole wedding, or offer flexible packages to accommodate your wishes. And who wouldn’t want to be married here – on a grand estate with old trees and sweeping vistas!

Where is Quamby Estate situated?

In the picturesque town of Hagley just 20 minutes from Launceston in Tasmania.


What are the unique qualities of Quamby Estate?

Quamby Estate is one of Tasmania’s most prestigious and historically significant properties dating back to 1828. The iconic 10-bedroom country manor is situated on stunning picture book landscape and was the ancestral home of Tasmania’s first-born Premier, Sir Richard Dry. Quamby offers extensive entertaining areas including the beautiful Sir Richard Dry function pavilion. The estate has breathtaking panoramic views, gourmet cuisine and a range of activities including golf, bike riding, tennis and picnics. It is also the official base for Cradle Mountain and Bay of Fires Walks.


Please describe some ceremony locations on the Estate?

Quamby is situated on 150 acres of countryside so saying ‘I do’ offers endless possibilities for brides… but here are just some of our favourites:

  • Our spectacular Hornbeam tree creates a romantic canopy for a garden ceremony at the Quamby Homestead
  • An outdoor ceremony on the lawns provide a picture postcard setting with dappled sunlight shining through the old English trees
  • The natural light streaming through the full-length windows and lush country surrounds of the Ante Room in the Sir Richard Dry Pavilion provides the perfect indoor option for your ceremony

Please describe some reception locations available at Quamby Estate?

  • Panoramic views of the beautifully manicured golf course and estate grounds create an impressive backdrop your reception whether you’re looking for a black tie dinner for up to 150 guests or a more relaxed luncheon. The Sir Richard Dry Pavilion is a fusion of Georgian and contemporary architecture featuring private rooms and a restaurant with bar and dance floor.
  • Dine under the stars with a moonlit first dance as husband and wife on the Quamby Homestead lawns.
  • Entertain your guests with a garden party like no other. The Quamby Lawns are the perfect setting for sundowner cocktails.
  • For a more intimate affair a reception luncheon or candlelit dinner in the Homestead Dining Room is a wonderful option for up to 30 guests or a cocktail party for up to 80 guests.


Is there accommodation on the Estate or close by for guests who are from interstate?

Quamby Estate’s homestead features ten beautifully restored guestrooms comprising 5 deluxe, 3 superior and 2 standard rooms. Providing the homely ambience of a boutique country inn, Quamby’s charming Anglo-Indian designed architecture, period antiques and marble fireplaces combine with modern luxuries to offer complete tranquility and opulence.

 Do you offer wedding packages?

We offer flexible wedding packages with a selection of menus ranging from BBQ and cocktail style to 3-course seated dinners. We also tailor weddings according to bride’s desires and budget.

You have a team of wedding and event specialists on site. Can you describe a popular wedding package and what your wedding specialist would do to help the couple?

Quamby has a complete wedding service team led by myself. We have extensive experience and love the challenge of creating a bride’s dream day.  Our weddings are unique and I work with each bride to create a beautiful wedding based on their personal requirements and desires.

What can the bridal couple bring in to the venue?

 We are very flexible with use of external suppliers and decorations. We love seeing the wonderful creations some of our brides bring to Quamby whilst of course providing great options ourselves.


You serve local gourmet Tasmanian produce on the menu. Can you describe for us, a typical summer wedding menu?

Our menus highlight the gourmet cuisine Tasmania is famous for. Here is one of our favourites this season. Our brides are also welcome to work with our chef to create a personal menu for their special day.

All menus are served with house made dinner rolls and farm house butter.


Confit Pork Belly Encroute (Pastry Case)

Green Pea Purée|Brandied Raisins|Apple Balsamic Glacé

Salt & Pepper Calamari

Tomato & Chilli Napoli|Homemade Potato Gnocchi|Torn Basil (NF)


Crispy Skin Atlantic Salmon

Roasted Dutch Carrots|Wilted Bok Choy|Cauliflower Purée|Tarragon Butter (GF)

Rosemary & Garlic Marinated Lamb Rump

Country Style Hassle Back Potatoes|Pumpkin Purée |Broccollini|Shiraz Jus (GF)  (NF)


Kaffir Lime Panna Cotta

Strawberry Soup|Pistachio Nut Praline|Brandied Citrus Segments (GF)

Sinapius Pinot Noir Poached Pear

Meander Valley Double Cream|Caramelised Hazelnuts (GF)


What is the nicest time of year in Tasmania (for a wedding)?

The wedding season is traditionally during the warmer months with strong bookings from September until May.  Our deciduous trees offer an autumn palette that is simply breathtaking and wonderful for photography.  We are however seeing an increasing trend in winter weddings. Perhaps it’s the romantic cosy fires and mulled wine! Winter weddings do offer a discounted rate which does make it appealing to our brides-to-be.


If the couple wanted to make their wedding a ‘wedding weekend’ what activities do you suggest for guests to participate in?

Quamby has a golf course, tennis court and expansive grounds for bike riding, picnics and beautiful walks. The region is well known for gourmet touring which is a must!

What is it about Tasmania that you love?

Tasmania has been my home for the best part of 25 years and find it easy to relate to our brides having married here a couple of years ago myself.  A major drawcard would have to be the extensive range of gourmet local produce and showcasing this is a priority of our chef at Quamby Estate.  It is also fantastic to see our local vineyards recognised  for their high quality wines internationally.

I find it very rewarding working at a venue which has such a grand setting and as Quamby becomes more and more popular with our Interstate and International brides, I feel such a sense of pride showcasing this stunning part of Tasmania.

Thank you Jo for joining us on Polka Dot Bride today. To find out more about Quamby Estate please visit the website.

All images courtesy of Jonathan Wherrett

Ten Best Wedding Songs

by | Entertainment Wisdom, Wisdom


Kimba of Perfect Day Music
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory

One of the things I love best about playing music at weddings is learning tunes selected by the couple for their wedding ceremony or first dance. It’s certainly labour-intensive, but it’s actually super heart-warming to see a couple of lovebirds misting up to their favourite special song! And I occasionally get a re-education about my musical opinions (Bryan Adams ‘heaven’ is actually a great tune and works beautifully for an aisle walk!)

Today I’m going to spill the beans on some of the best wedding songs that can add something quirky and gorgeous to your big day.

Image by Matt Reed via Amy and Scott’s Sydney Country Club Wedding

Five tunes for walking down the aisle

Here are some suggestions for tunes that manage romance, boho sweetness and plenty of unique charm…

1. INTO MY ARMS by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

By the time the chorus hits there will be misty eyes all around with this gorgeous song. Great choice for churches with it’s pseudo religious overtones. Just don’t watch the film clip or you’ll be crying in a different way!


This one holds a special place in my heart because it’s what I walked down the aisle to. It’s sunny and sweet and a little bit sassy. Unique!

3. YOU’VE GOT THE LOVE by Florence and The Machine

I wasn’t sure how this would work when a recent bride requested this, but as an acoustic guitar and vocal tune it has all the elements; romance, truthful words and a great feel to cruise down the aisle to. Dad was strutting!

4. THIS OLD LOVE by Lior

Full of romance and beautiful lyricism, I love this tune for couples that have been together for ages prior to the big day.

5. MELODY OF YOU by Sixpence None The Richer

Beautiful imagery and an indie-folk sensibility that lilts a boho bride down the aisle.

Image by Solas Wedding Photography via Celeste and Alten’s Australian Winter Wedding

Five Fun and quirky first dance tunes

1. HOME by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes

This is such a summery and heartfelt song, brilliant if you have a band with a horn-section (something we can help with!) and you can just jump around or actually choreograph something. Your guests will dive in at the first invitation.

2. HOW SWEET IT IS by James Taylor / Marvin Gaye

People love a song they know, but it’s not a common choice for a first dance, even though it has a great feel and rhythm; the words are also pretty darn gorgeous. Good to just jump around to if you’re not really dancers.

3. ALL I WANT IS YOU by Barry Louis Polisar

This is a super fun tune, amazing with a live band that can sing the harmonies and really good for people that love a bit of thigh-slapping and do-see-doing.

4. HAPPY TOGETHER by The Turtles

I love this tune because it has a slow build and you can ham it up a bit and then invite the whole crowd to join you on the dance floor. Also a stellar choice for a farewell circle.

5. THUMPER by Mumford And Sons

One of those tunes that is timeless but also really current and totally fresh. It has a slow dance element and also has a bit of a rhythm for those swayers out there. It then breaks into out and out joy! Try it, you might like it!

Ms Gingham says: This list is going to become such a resource to couples getting married. A great selection of varied and beautiful music!

Perfect Day Music is run by husband and wife team, Ryan and Kimba Griffith. They are not agents, and actually play in each of the bands, together or separately. Kimba and Ryan fell in love over music 14 years ago and have honed their jazzy sounds playing everywhere from the most intimate clubs to some of the world’s biggest festival stages.

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