Despite popular opinion, diamonds are not that tricky to wear every day! While we’re used to seeing them on luxurious gala nights, red carpets, and other formal events, diamonds are, in fact, one of the jewelry essentials you can wear daily.
Just like any other fashion style, diamonds shouldn’t be too bold and too formal if you intend to include diamonds in your style. After all, you wouldn’t wear a ball gown to an office job – the same applies to jewelry. We offer you some tips on how to make a perfect choice — how to combine casual and diamonds style and intertwine it into your wardrobe.
A Pair of Delicate Earrings
One way to accentuate your face is to wear a good pair of earrings. If you want to elevate your style, even more, a good way to do just that is to opt for a pair of classic diamond earrings.
Usually, these are small and delicate, so they won’t clash with a pair of slacks and a shirt. They will, however, bring some brilliance into your day and your style. You’ll instantly look (and feel like) timeless, elegant, and put together. For best results, you can match them to your face shape.
A Diamond Ring Is Not Just for Engagements
An important event is often marked by a special event. A proposal is marked by an engagement ring, a marriage is marked by wedding bands, and even retirement used to be marked with a gold watch. Celebrating an event of a great importance to you can be marked with a stone that is both beautiful and durable enough to pass it on to the next generation. This is why a diamond ring is perfect.
A delicate band sprinkled with diamonds can be a celebration of your own achievements – finishing a project, running your first marathon, finishing a thesis, or anything else that you hold dear. Such a band cannot overpower your outfit – it will only serve to elevate your style and give you a dose of elegance and sophistication.
A Good Necklace Brings Elegance to Any Outfit
Another way to add some brilliance to your everyday look is to opt for a diamond necklace. Choose the length so that it suits the neckline of your dress, shirt, or top and of course face shape.
Just like with other diamond jewelry pieces, choose an appropriate style. A delicate chain, simple lines, or even just a diamond pendant can elevate your style to that of elegance, grace, and inimitable beauty.
With a simple yet brilliant diamond necklace, you can feel free to mix and match. For a more layered look, you can easily combine it with your other favorites. For a simpler look, choose to wear it all on its own. Really, you can’t make a mistake
Some More Style Tips
If you’re still not sure diamond jewelry can fit in your everyday style, here are some more tips. If you opt for a diamond bracelet, it’s better to choose a subdued, delicate piece. If you wear a chunky, flashy bracelet with an informal outfit, it will look out of place.
If you have your heart set on a more flashy piece, then opt for a more subdued outfit. Pastel shades and minimal makeup combined with large, brilliant diamond jewelry can work even during the daytime.
When choosing how many pieces of jewelry to wear, it’s best to choose fewer pieces. The general rule is that a pair of good earrings, a bracelet or a watch, and a ring are just enough for a daytime look.
There’s no reason not to shine in the daytime, too, with our lovely diamond essentials, amazing jewelry pieces every woman needs! Bring timeless elegance to your style with that perfect diamond piece – drop by one of our stores and make your choice!
The striking blue of sapphire just might seem intimidating – how in the world can you match your outfit to make your jewelry shine brighter than ever? What if you make a mistake and instead of elevating your sapphire, you make it look gaudy? Read on for some tips on how to match sapphires with your outfit!
We all know sapphires are blue – not just any blue but a deep, rich color that sooth and inspires all at once. Other sapphires are called “fancy sapphires” and can come in shades of violet, yellow, pink, and orange. Those colors sound like easy to match outfits with!
The “real” blue sapphire is a tad more tricky. It’s a color that demands attention, and can almost hypnotize you if the jewelry is worn well. So, how to match your outfit to your sapphire jewelry to blow everyone away?
Here are some tips:
It’s all about color! The three primary colors are red, yellow and blue. When these colors are mixed, they made secondary colors: green (yellow and blue), purple (red and blue), and orange (red and yellow). This means that cooler colors will look good when combined with oranges, yellows, and reds.
Combining a sapphire bracelet with an orange top might sound a little off, but those two colors actually go really well together! If you’re not feeling the bold colors, a top or dress the color of pale peach or even blush can bring your sapphire to the forefront.
Little Black Dresses
Always a classic – black can go with anything. The little black dress and every outfit composed primarily of black clothing can make your sapphire jewelry stand out. Even more laid-back outfits, like a black top paired with some jeans and a black jacket, can make your sapphire pop.
There is nothing like seeing how a sapphire necklace just gleams and glitters when you’re wearing black!
If black is not your style – try grey. Simply cut grey clothes can only bring attention to the blue of the sapphire. You can let your sapphire be the only blue in your outfit, or add some more blue details and make the sapphire your centerpiece.
Another way of combining sapphires with your outfit is to match it with colors that have some blue hues within them. So, violet top that leans more towards blue, a piece of sapphire jewelry can easily fit in.
Since sapphire is a shade of blue when choosing colors to harmonize it with, remember that blue mixed with red produces violet – so any shade on that spectrum that is closer to blue can work well with sapphires. Blue mixed with yellow produces green – so the color spectrum for that choice will encapsulate blue-ish shades of green.
Where better to turn to for inspiration than nature? The azure of the skies, the cerulean of the seas, the blue in the wings of a bluebird, not to mention so many of its shade in flowers!
What you can do is look at nature and its patterns. Once you find the theme you like best (for example, flowers) you can easily build upon it an incorporate sapphires in your outfit.
At Santayana, we can offer you sapphires for any occasion. From a trip to the supermarket when you just rolled out of bed (a small stone nestled in a simple band would be a good choice here), to a white tie even that requires gowns and glitter (a statement necklace perhaps), Santayana is here to help you pick the best piece of jewelry!
Come into our store and find what you’re looking for – all you need to do is pick your favorite!
Miami, FL 33184
Santayana Jewelry has talented professionals who create unique and customized jewelry designs. They have been in the industry since 1984.
JoCo Collection LLC
Miami, FL 33189
If you are seeking a professional who makes unique jewelry designs, try this individual. This expert has the right set of skills to do the job.
Sally J Jewelry Design
Miami, FL 33157
Hire a custom jewelry designer like Omar if you want to impress your friends with your new bracelet. He also provides ring resizing and watch repair services, among others.
Don’t know how to measure ring size? Use our ring size chart and get tips on how to measure ring size for engagement rings, wedding rings and promise rings.
Understanding Ring Size
When it comes to engagement rings and wedding rings, one thing is for sure: size matters. Standard ring sizes are given in millimeters based on the inner circumference of the ring. Just like clothing, rings are sized on a standard scale so that a woman’s size 6 is the same from jeweler to jeweler. With that said, if you’ve ever bought jeans from different brands, you’re well aware that a clothing size 6 doesn’t always fit the same way—and it’s no different for rings.
How to Measure Ring Size at Home
If the mandrel set and plastic ring sizer seem like overkill, try a printable ring sizer, paper ring sizer or the string test, using the ring sizing chart below.
Printable Ring Sizer
This ring size method is based on the inside diameter measurement of a ring that fits the fourth finger of the left hand.
- Print the the ring size chart. To make sure it’s printed to actual size, choose “Scale 100” when selecting your print options.
- Place the ring over the circles, lining up the inside edges of the ring to the circle that best matches on the ring size chart. If the ring is in between two sizes, choose the larger ring size.
Printable Paper Strip Ring Size
This ring size method uses a tape measure approach with specific ring metrics.
- Print the ring sizer, making sure that it is printed to actual size.
- Cut out the ring sizer and open the slot where marked.
- With the numbers facing out, slip the tip of the ring sizer through the slot.
- Place the sizer on your ring finger and carefully pull taut to read the finger size.
String Ring Sizer
This ring size method provides a flat measurement tool to be used with a plain piece of string.
- Print the ring size chart, making sure that it is printed to actual size.
- Wrap a piece of string around your ring finger and cut it at the point where the end overlaps.
- Line the string up with the ring size guide provided on the ring size chart. The one that best matches is your ring size. If the ring is in between two sizes, choose the larger ring size.
While each of these ring size methods is fast, convenient and free, there may be accuracy discrepancies due to things such as printer settings or stretch of the string. Consider using more than one ring size method for a “measure twice, cut once” approach to ring sizing. And always use any tools or follow any tips provided on the jeweler’s website.
Between upcycling everyday objects into genuine treasures, party girl earrings, an abundance of collaborations and mystical talismans, these are the 13 trends seen on the runways for Fall/Winter 2017-2018.
A lighthearted folly in the spirit of the 90s Margiela metamorphoses, breathing new life into cans, shells, porcelain and other every day objects.
Photo: Loewe, Balenciaga, Prada Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
With BB initials at Balenciaga, sparkling acronyms at Dior and golden monograms at Céline, following in the wake of the logomania gripping the catwalks, the jewelry was labelled in its own way.
Photo: Céline, Balenciaga, and Dior Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
Chandelier earrings illuminated the white crystal king size rings for a Studio 54 vibe. Put on and race to the dancefloor.
Photo: Isabel Marant, Céline, Miu Miu Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
With nails, studs, piercings and barbed wire, the muscular look led by the Sex Pistols spirit at Junya Watanabe started its advance on the runways before it takes to the streets.
Photo: Alexander Wang, Gucci and Junya Watanabe Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
It’s pearls, but spiced up by the designers’ imaginations to shake off their classic image and be reborn in XXL versions, encaged in see-through cages or mounted on chic, tribal rings.
Photo: Gucci, Chanel Y/Project Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
A new sight at the biggest shows, these neo bracelets elongate their lines to connect with a stack of rings or simply to trace the femininity of a woman’s hand.
Photos: Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Lanvin Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
Two-player designs to season the silhouettes, the five-star collaborations put the spotlight on the new guard of talented jewelry designers with Annelise Michelson taking charge of the Zadig & Voltaire jewelry, Kim Mee Hye for Wanda Nylon and the gold medallions by Aligheri at Joseph.
Photo: Wanda Nylon, Zadig & Voltaire, and Joseph Fall/Winter 2017-2018
Mix & Match is more innovative than ever this season with fusions of materials and different designs. Dare to rip up the rule book.
Photo: Maison Margiela, Balenciaga, Ellery Fall/Winter 2017/2018 shows
Going straight to the top of wish lists this season, these keys lose their utility to be reborn as sparkling statement earrings, a scarf bracelet and magnetic pendants.
Photo: Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Maison Margiela Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
Following Gucci whose show was dominated by an incredible pyramid and a torrent of Illuminati-esque references, the Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows sowed the seeds of an intriguing mystery. From the enchanting talismans at Dior to the mystical pearls at Alberta Ferretti via the cosmic symbols at Chanel, the jewelry this season had a secret.
Photo: Dior, Alberta Ferretti, Chanel Fall/Winter 2017-2018
Out of the ordinary necklaces
Between extraordinary breastplates, magnetic UFOs and edgy wearable sculptures, next season’s necklaces are getting even bigger to spice up a look with maximum strength.
Photo: Marc Jacobs, Y/Project and Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
Revolutionary ear cuffs
Going from surprising object to the new jewelry classic in just a few seasons, earcuffs are still no less inventive. For Fall/Winter 2017-2018 have cocktail parties in mind with a torrent of crystals to light up the night.
Photo: Mulberry, Oscar de la Renta and Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
Doubled-up, stretched or redesigned, hoops have fulfilled the graphic desires of designers for several seasons as they rethink and renew the unavoidable classic.
Photo: Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga Fall/Winter 2017-2018 shows
When it comes to finding the perfect earrings, this task can sometimes be daunting when faced with such a vast array of choices on the market. Earrings play a starring role; they not only complete the outfit, but also draw attention to your face and hair.
Consider Your Hair Length
The length of your hair can determine which style of earring will work best for you.
While the saying dictates that blondes have more fun, when it comes to earrings, those with short hair have the most fun.
Short Hair and Earrings
Short hairstyles that bare the earlobes and neckline reap the benefit of being able to wear every size and style of earring effortlessly.
Stud diamonds, sapphires and rubies that shine from your exposed ears can be admired; clusters of long metallic strands can sweep along your neck without competing with a background palette of long hair.
Earrings for Long Hair
Long hair that cascades over your ears will conceal studs and tiny ball-shape earrings.
For longer hairstyles, opt for larger and longer earrings that stand a better chance of peeking out through your flowing locks. Elongated shapes, such as ovals or rectangles, will follow the course of your hair.
Keep in mind that you can have the best of both worlds, however. For weddings, proms and any other special occasions that entice you to pull your hair into an up-do, this is your time to seize the opportunity and enjoy more flexibility.
This occasional freedom of choice can also arise on days when you opt for tieback styles such as a ponytail or chignon.
Should You Consider Hoop Earrings?
What about hoop earrings? Those big, gold or platinum rings can be the most challenging earrings to pair with hairstyle and face shape.
Hoop earrings give the appearance of weight and add a curvaceous dimension to the sides of your face. If you have a long face with long hair, the round hoop styles will add dimension and balance it all nicely.
If your face is round, however, hoops will only serve to make you look rounder, regardless of hair length.
Pay Attention to Hair Color
Just as certain color choices in clothing, shoes, bangles and handbags complement certain shades of hair, the same concept applies to earrings.
After all, the earrings sit right against the hairline on those with short hairstyles; long hair functions as a background.
Metallic earrings of gold or platinum, as well as the fire of faceted diamonds, look stunning with every hair color.
Ladies with blonde hair should also opt for colorful earrings over white, which can look washed out. Blue and red will appear especially radiant.
White and pastels provide a stunning contrast for brunettes, and sparkling orange-toned gemstones will bring forth rusty highlights from dark hair.
While redheads generally should shy away from red or hot pink, cool shades such as blue, green, turquoise and purple will temper the fire of your hair beautifully.
The choices of earrings on display in the shops appear infinite, with rows and columns of sparkling gold, platinum and precious stones beckoning to dazzle you.
Every hue of the color spectrum seems to pop out from the mix. Hoops, studs, danglers, chandeliers and even feathers grace the earring scene.
Next time you are faced with such an abundance of options, take a few moments to assess your hair. By building your collection with pieces that complement it, every outfit that you wear will be a spectacular combination.
It’s that time of year–spring cleaning! I tried Googling some spring cleaning facts and came up with 77% of people say they spring clean every year. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but I would think that is a decent amount and glad to know that. I guess the other 23% are either lazy or have a hoarding problem…? I am definitely in the percentage that spring cleans…and I actually like to do a deep cleaning a couple times a year, not just once. When people mention spring cleaning, most think of their house–but I’d like to focus in on spring cleaning jewelry for this article. And just like spring cleaning your house, there are several similarities to spring cleaning your jewelry and the end results will have you feeling revitalized and happy.
Let’s get started
1. Storage Solutions
Keeping your jewelry safe, all in one place and consistently visible are three key points for a superb storage solution. I highly recommend the jewelry box that I own, however I did make a lot of changes to it–like ripping out shelves and swapping them out for more ring storage. The jewelry box that I have is from Lori Greiner and I bought mine off QVC about 8 years ago. Since then, they have made a few modifications to the design, but overall it is the same: a mirrored “cabinet” that has built-in everything! Here’s a similar one for sale at Target. It’s ok to have other jewelry boxes–I have several antique ones that I use for either travel or taking photos with–but for the most part, I keep everything in one home base.
2. Clean Your Actual Jewelry
After you’ve established your storing options, it wouldn’t be called “spring cleaning” unless we actually cleaned our jewelry! I will admit that I don’t clean my jewelry daily…or weekly…or even monthly for that matter. The only exception to this would be my engagement ring which I make sure to clean monthly and earrings that I wear often. Because I have so many rings, there are very many that get worn only a handful of times in one year, so I often wear and return back to its storing spot without cleaning.
An occasion like spring cleaning is the best time to give all your jewelry a good soak. For this step, I want to stress that many antique pieces should not be cleaned at all. Items like foiled backed gemstones, hair jewelry, mourning pieces, tiny rose cut diamonds that are often irreplaceable, pearls and seed pearls, and other soft gemstone jewelry. This cleaning step I mostly do with my all gold pieces, 80% of my diamond jewelry, sapphire and ruby pieces. First, I get a soft toothbrush and run warm water and dunk the brush in Mr. Clean. I gently brush over each piece and then stick it in my ultrasonic cleaner. I have one I bought from Gesswein–the one that has a steamer and cleaner in one (but my steamer broke after one year of working beautifully). Those who know the power and strength of a steam cleaner will never go back to cleaning diamonds any other way–so sadly my broken steamer is also breaking my heart. Need a new one! I usually use water and either a small cap full of Mr. Clean or whatever cleaning solution your machine comes with.
Depending on how dirty each piece is would equal how long you put each item in the cleaner, but I would say 15-20 minutes is plenty. Another perk of having a jewelry background is having a really handy tool at my grasp–a microscope! I usually take a peek at my gemstone jewelry pieces and check all the stones before throwing them into the cleaner. Loose stones will only get looser, or even worse–fall out in the cleaner. That’s my only other pre-caution.
3. Go Through Each Item
Now that you have all your jewelry out of storage and mystery boxes, under beds, and out of old socks (yes, people stash things everywhere), it is a great idea to give each item a thorough evaluation. This is when you decide if you want to keep, trade, or sell–maybe even redesign. You should also take some photos of all your jewelry for inventory purposes and insurance purposes. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve looked through old photos and said, “hey, whatever happened to THAT ring??”
4. Clean Your Actual Jewelry Box
Day in and day out you open up your jewelry box, make your selections and then move on with your daily routine. A lot of dust, debris and dirty fingers can add up on your jewelry box, so it is just as important to clean your jewelry storage solution. I made a video of myself doing this and posted it on Instagram–it got a lot of attention because I was using a vaccuum hose attachment and using it without taking any of my rings out of the case. Of course I was being careful, but it is much smarter to do this step when everything is out. My biggest problem is Chiefy’s white hairs that somehow get on the black velvet padding of my jewelry cabinet. Using a hose attachment on my vaccuum is the best solution for this, but you can also use a lint roller. I also make sure to Windex the mirror on the front of my jewelry box and dust/polish the outer wood.
5. The Finishing Touch
You’re now on the last and final step to spring cleaning your jewelry box! You should feel really good by now and the best part is about to start. I suggest you put on your favorite tunes (obviously I will suggest Girl Talk Radio on Pandora) and get to work.
Start with organizing within each category–earrings, necklaces, bracelets, charms, and rings. I organize my earrings by studs, dangles, ear cuffs, etc. I have a row of pearl studs, a row of diamond studs…even yellow gold and white gold are separated. I used to organize my rings by how I acquired them–so I would just add my newest acquistion in the next available spot. I realized this wasn’t working out very well and one day I took everything out and organized it differently. I put similar styles together, similar stones together and motifs together. All my moonstone rings are together and they look way cooler that way. You can group by color of gemstone if you’d like–similar to how a closet is organized (definitely not my closet, but coveted closets). I have all my baby rings in a section of their own. I don’t have a particular way of organizing my bracelets or necklaces because I simply don’t have that many.
By American standards, fake gold is anything less than 10 Karats/Carats.
If you’re wondering whether your gold is real, the most reliable way to find out is to take it to a certified jeweler and have it tested. If you want to check for yourself, here’s a list of tests you can conduct to tell if your gold is real.
Method 1 – Visual Inspection
The first thing to do to check if you have real gold is to look at it. Look for particular signs that point to real gold.
1. Inspect the piece for official markings. A stamp will indicate either fineness (1-999 or .1-.999) or karat (10K, 14K, 18K, 22K or 24K). A magnifying glass will make this easier.
– An older piece might not have a visible marking due to wear.
– Counterfeit pieces can often have a marking that appears authentic; more testing may be needed either way.
2. Look for noticeable discoloration. It is important to check for discoloration in areas that face constant friction (typically around the edges).
– If the gold seems to be wearing off and showing a different metal beneath it, you probably have a piece that is only gold plated.
Method 2 – Bite Test
We have all seen a movie where a prospector bites down on a piece of gold to test it. We also see Olympic athletes bite on their “gold” medal when they receive it. Whether that is of any use is another story altogether.
1. Bite down on your gold with moderate pressure.
2. Examine your gold for any markings. In theory, real gold will show indents from your teeth; deeper markings indicate purer gold.
– This is actually not a recommended test, as you can damage your teeth. Not to mention that lead is even softer than gold and gold-plated lead will appear to be gold when you bite it.
Method 3 – Magnet Test
This is an easy test, but it’s not an all-encompassing or fool-proof way to determine whether your gold is real. Something as weak as a fridge magnet will not be useful, but stronger magnets that you can find in specialized hardware stores or in common objects such as women’s purse latches, children’s toys, or even in old unused hard drives will be strong enough to perform this test.
1. Hold a magnet up to the item. Gold is not a magnetic metal, so if it pulls towards, or sticks to the magnet, it’s fake. However, just because it doesn’t react to the magnet doesn’t mean it is real, as non-magnetic metals are used in counterfeit pieces as well.
Method 4 – Density Test
There are very few metals denser than gold. The density of pure 24K gold is about 19.3 g/ml, which is much higher than most other metals. Measuring the density of your items can help you determine if your gold is real. As a rule of thumb, the higher the density, the purer the gold. Make sure to perform the density test on gold that has no gemstones of any kind attached. See the warnings below for important information about the density test.
1. Weigh your piece of gold. A jeweler can normally do this for you for free if you don’t have your own scale. You will need the weight in grams.
2. Fill a vial with water.
– It’s helpful if the vial has millimeter markings on the side, since that will make it easier for you to read the measurements for this test.
– It doesn’t matter how much water you use as long as you don’t fill the vial to the top, since the water level will rise once you immerse the gold in it.
– It’s also important to note the exact amount of the water level before and after immersion.
3. Place your gold in the vial. Take note of the new water level and calculate the difference between those two numbers in milliliters.
4. Use the following formula to calculate density: Density = mass/volume displacement. A result close to 19 g/ml indicates either real gold, or a material with a density similar to gold. Here is an example calculation:
– Your gold item weighs 38 g and it displaces 2 milliliters of water. Using the formula of [mass (38 g)]/[volume displacement (2 ml)], your result would be 19 g/ml, which is very close to the density of gold.
– Bear in mind that different gold purity will have a different g/ml ratio:
– 14K – 12.9 to 14.6 g/ml
– 18K yellow – 15.2 to 15.9 g/ml
– 18K white – 14.7 to 16.9 g/ml
– 22K – 17.7 to 17.8 g/ml
Method 5 – Ceramic Plate Test
This is an easy way to tell if your gold is fool’s gold. Bear in mind that your item may end up scratched.
1. Find an unglazed ceramic plate to use. If you don’t have this, you can purchase a random piece of unglazed ceramic from a home improvement store.
2. Drag your item across the surface. A black streak means your gold is not real, whereas a gold streak indicates your item is genuine.
Method 6 – Nitric Acid Test
This is where the term “acid test” comes from, and is a great way to test your gold. However, due to the difficulty is acquiring the acid, and the inherent safety risks of doing this in your home, it may be best to leave this test to a jeweler.
1. Place your piece of gold in a small stainless steel container.
2. Put a drop of nitric acid on your gold and watch for any resulting reaction to the acid.
– A green reaction indicates your item is either a base metal or gold plated. A gold reaction indicates your item is gold-plated brass.
– A milk-colored reaction would indicate gold-plated sterling silver.
– If there is no reaction, you mostly likely are dealing with real gold.
Buying jewelry can be daunting. But with a little preparation, you can find a real gem: one that brings a smile to her face, at a price that brings one to yours.
One of every three women is asking for extravagant jewelry for the holidays, and one in five gift-givers will be buying it, according to the National Retail Federation. I guess that means someone’s going to be disappointed – but since you’re reading this, it’s not going to be your gal.
But buying jewelry – like diamonds, can be a complicated process for the uninformed. There are so many options, so many zeroes on the price tags. Where to start? With some simple tips.
1. Avoid prestige names.
Well-known stores like Tiffany and Cartier spend a lot of time, effort and money to create a reputation for quality. But how much is that label really worth to you? According to the gemologist Stacy interviewed in the story above, when it comes to silver, for instance, just adding “Tiffany” to a silver bracelet could mean paying 80 percent more. If that rankles you, check out some styles at Tiffany’s then try other stores like Zales or Jared, which are also more likely to offer holiday discounts. Or look up some local jewelers: Just make sure they’re trustworthy. The Jewelry Information Center can help you search for reputable local stores.
2. Silver is in
We’re always taught to go for the gold and not to settle for silver, but the latter is what’s hot these days – partly because gold prices are running so high. Look for products marked sterling silver, which is 92.5 percent silver. “Nickel silver,” or “German silver,” has no real silver at all. If it’s got to be gold, consider a lower karat quality: 24k is pure gold, but there’s also 18k (75 percent) gold, 14k (58 percent) and 10k (42 percent). 18k is often considered the best balance of color and price. Whatever you buy, make sure it’s clearly tagged with the karat weight and look for a tiny tag that reveals the manufacturer. Don’t ever buy gold chains at a swap meet, out of the trunk of a car or anywhere other than a reputable jeweler. If you’re ever tempted, simply visualize the look you’ll get when your girlfriend’s neck turns green.
3. Give pearls a whirl
Another classic and somewhat affordable option is pearls. These come in three kinds: natural, cultured, and imitation. Forget natural pearls – the kind that bare-chested native divers harvest one at a time. They barely exist at all any more, and even if you could find them, they wouldn’t be worth the exorbitant cost. Imitations are obviously the cheapest option, but since that’s basically costume jewelry, what you want is cultured. The larger the pearl, the costlier it will be. Look for luster – a shiny surface that appears to have depth. Avoid ones that are dull or cloudy.
Best way to buy pearls? Start with a trustworthy jeweler, so you know you won’t be ripped off with fakes. Then ask to see the most expensive strand they have: put in on the black jeweler’s cloth. There – that’s the look you’re going for. Now lay out a few affordable strands, and choose the one that most closely resembles the one you can’t afford. (Warning – if you’re buying for your wife or girlfriend and they happen to be with you, do not employ this technique – if you do, you’ll be buying the most expensive strand.)
4. Find a real gem
Precious stones never go out of style, but make sure you get the right one. Like pearls, there are three categories: natural, meaning dug out the ground; synthetic, meaning made in a laboratory, and imitation, meaning made in China. Nearly all gems – including those dug out of the ground – are enhanced with laboratory techniques, like radiation and diffusion: that’s OK.
Synthetics are obviously much more affordable because of their availability. And don’t think that synthetic is the same as fake: these are gems, just grown in a laboratory. As opposed to imitation, which are colored bits of plastic.
If you’re not sure what kind of gems to get, one idea is to shop for the recipient’s birthstone, which you can look up online by month. If it’s a particular color you’re interested in, you don’t have to get one of the big-three precious stones: rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Although these are more durable than semi-precious stones, they’re also more expensive. Try these alternatives: red spinel, blue tanzanite, and peridot. You can look at gems by color here.
5. Shop with someone you trust
If you don’t know what you’re doing, the best thing you can do is enlist the assistance of two other people. First and foremost, a trustworthy jeweler. You can find one at the site mentioned above, or you can pick one the same way you’d pick any professional, from a doctor to a plumber: talk to several, ask similar questions of each, then choose the one that feels right.
The second person you might like to bring along is a friend of the person you’re buying for. They won’t ruin the surprise, and they probably have some idea of what to buy. They also might know details you’ve forgotten or never knew — including favorite colors and ring sizes.
Whatever you end up buying, make sure you get any guarantees in writing and any certificates, if applicable, that describe the jewelry you’re buying. Look for a good return policy in case the gift doesn’t go over well. And remember rule number one: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Once Upon a Time
Charms go back as far as the Neolithic era where man would pick up an unusual stone or piece of wood and carry it with him to ward off his enemies. Elaborate jewelry made of precious stones and metals emerged during the age of the Egyptian Pharaohs. It was during this time that the first recognizable charm bracelets and necklaces first appeared.
Like people of many ancient civilizations, the citizens of ancient Egypt lived very short lives by today’s standard – 30 to 40 years on average. With so little time on earth, they obsessively prepared for a prosperous life after death. Charm bracelets played a significant role in the preparation process. Charm wrist and neck bracelets were not only coveted as protective shields and signs of status in this life, they were also worn as ID tags to help the Gods guide the wearer and his/her possessions to the proper status level in the afterlife. Kind of an “if found, please return to” note from home.
. . . When In Rome
During the Roman Empire Christians would pull the “ichthys” (fish) charm from underneath their garments to identify themselves to other Christians to gain entry into secret, forbidden worship activities. The Jewish scholar of that same time would write passages from Jewish law on tiny slips of parchment and carefully insert the slips into a small, golden amulet that was worn around his neck. This of act reverence and piety was meant to keep the law close to the heart.
. . . Knights, Fights and a Little Extra Protection
Fast forward to the dark days of the Middle Ages, and we find that charms and amulets were put to use by knights and kings. They were most often used with incantations to wreak havoc on the occupants of enemy castles and protect warriors in battle. Charms were also worn on belts to represent family origin, political standing and profession.
General wearing of charms began to lose favor with the wealthy classes during the Renaissance as mass produced books emerged and superstitions faded. However, charms and amulets were still widely used by people of lesser means and education. The role of the charm remained relatively unchanged until the early 1900s.
. . . The Queen of Charm
In the early 20th century, the bracelets of Queen Victoria ignited the next big wave of charm wearing. It was at this stage that charms had a dramatic change of purpose. They went from being practical tools to becoming decorative fashion jewelry. Small lockets, glass beads and family crests that hung on bracelets and necklaces were all the rage.
. . . The Greatest Generation
The end of WWII saw the explosion of charm jewelry as we know it today. Soldiers leaving Europe and islands in the Pacific purchased little handmade trinkets as gifts to bring home to their sweethearts. Native craftsmen fashioned small bits of metal into little replicas of items common to the locale. Enterprising jewelers in the States quickly picked up on the trend to create charms for all occasions.
. . . Gumball Charms
I ran across these fun charms not long ago and fell in love with them. Made of celluloid (an early plastic) they are charms and little prizes that came out of gumball machines and candy boxes in the 1940s. These charms were collected by kids and worn on bracelets and necklaces of string and beaded chain (dog tag chain). Many of the themes are common – jungle animals, sports, sailing ships, army men, and family pets. But there were a number of commercial applications as well, primarily from comic strips. Popeye, Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, the Seven Dwarfs, Orphan Annie are just a few examples.
. . . Bobby Socks, Disco, and the Go-Gos
By the 1950s, the charm bracelet was a must-have accessory for girls and women. Major rites of passage – 16th birthdays, graduations, weddings, travel and the arrival of children – were all recorded on the links of their bracelets. Today some of these vintage bracelets sell for two to three thousand dollars at auction.
The charm bracelet began to disappear from the fashion scene during the early 1970s. Disco was in and bare gold chains became the new status symbol. But in the mid-1980s charm bracelets reappeared. New-money heirs uninterested in the old baubles of their dead relatives were liquidating huge estates. Charms that had been out of circulation for decades were showing up in antique stores and flea markets. Savvy buyers snapped them up at cheap prices.
. . . There’s No Place Like Home
The boom in collectibles in the 1990s drove a huge demand for vintage charms and charm bracelets. A gold charm costing $10 in 1950 easily commanded $70 to $80. Vintage mechanical charms (charms with moving parts) often sold for over $100 and were highly prized by serious collectors. Even with the advent of massive buying and selling arenas like eBay, prices for vintage gold charms remain strong and show no sign of decline in the new century.
The fashion industry once again discovered the lure of the charm bracelet, flooding the market with new charm styles in all price ranges. Fashion giants like Louis Vuitton have brought the glamour back to charm bracelets, declaring them the must-have accessory for any occasion. And if the past is any indication, charm bracelets will be in style for quite some time.