Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fashion Expert?

Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a flowing cape at the premier of "I Don't Know How She Does It." Fabulous or odd?

I love to watch fashion makeover shows and read advice in fashion magazines on how to improve your own look. Sometimes the advice is sound and makes a lot of sense. Other times I don’t think the fashion expert took into consideration the person’s lifestyle who was receiving the makeover. My biggest pet peeve in when a fashion expert recommends wearing heels to make one look taller, slimmer and generally more hip and less like a frump. While it is true that a pair of killer heels will make any woman feel better and walk taller, it doesn’t necessarily translate into safe or sane footwear on a regular basis. This rule should be avoided if there are toddlers in the house or if there is walking in soft dirt or grass or near a typical mall escalator. I’ve seen numerous women bite the dust in heels at the mall, myself included.

I’ve also noticed fashion magazines telling their audience what the “hottest” fashion items are for a particular season and sometimes it’s a look few can wear successfully. Take the poncho or the cape. The poncho was hot back in the 70s when hippie chic was in full bloom. When the poncho died there was a massive sigh of relief, please don’t bring it back, and definitely not in puffed up material. The cape is supposedly a hot new trend. The only people who can wear a cape without looking pretentious are royalty, 5 year olds, and super heroes, the rest of us look silly. I think fashion expert look through seasonal fashion releases and pick the most outrageous items, declare it fabulous, and sit back and watch. They are maybe secretly playing a trick and want to see who will fall for it.

So I have to ask, what makes a fashion expert an expert? I’m sure a love of fashion is a “gimme,” but they should also have some background in fashion. Working in the fashion industry, writing a column for a fashion magazine or an education in fashion design probably all qualify someone for a career in fashion. But having vast knowledge about fashion and/or a job that allows one to experience fashion may not always be enough. The person must also be fashionable. They must have style, a sense of taste and confidence in their own opinion. Let’s face it, if they have no sense of style or taste and little confidence in their ability to discern what is truly fashionable, no one would listen to them.

But a good fashion expert must also have ears to listen. Being able to listen to what your client wants and who you’re speaking to is important. This concept is extremely important in jewelry sales. You must know your client in order to make effective recommendations regarding a jewelry purchase. While I’ve always admired a thirty carat diamond necklace, even if I had the money, where would I wear it? Talk about pretentious. Delicate jewelry, wild geometric shapes, abstract colors, classic pearls and a multitude of different styles exist because one single jewelry piece can’t appeal to everyone. So fashion experts please listen a little instead of always dictating because we mere mortals may not be able to wear your recommendations. Does anyone else agree?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You've Got to Love Jewel Tones

A hot trend in fashion right now is clothing in jewel tones. This is clothing in bright or deep colors like purple, magenta, yellow and emerald green. Many fashion houses are “color blocking” using these same bright hues. What a natural for jewelry.

With the skyrocketing price of precious metals and diamonds, gemstone jewelry is making a surge. Just like diamonds, color, cut, clarity or transparency, and carat weight all have a bearing on how much a gemstone will cost, but most gemstones still lag behind diamonds in pricing and this makes them a good value. The added bonus of a gemstone is of course the color.

Gemstones come in all of the colors of the rainbow. As a fashion accessory, you can’t beat a piece of jewelry featuring a gemstone. With gemstones such a good value nowadays, you can purchase gemstone jewelry with a much larger single stone or grouping of stones than you could with a similar quality and quantity of diamonds. This allows large bold jewelry pieces to be made from gemstones which can make a bold fashion statement.

The added benefit of color makes matching an outfit easy. While diamonds may have a lot of sparkle and shine, they can have less visual appeal when worn with dark colors or if the stone is small in size. Gemstones allow bright colors to be added to dark colored outfits for visual appeal. Gemstones also have the benefit of appearing bright against light colored outfits making your jewelry more noticeable. Additionally, with pricing being superior for gemstones, most consumers can afford a large prominent gemstone.

Anyway you look at a gemstone; the colors have fascinated people since ancient times. Different gemstones have also been ascribed certain mystical properties or claims that a particular type or color of gemstone will bestow the wearer with particular traits. Whether or not gemstones have any power over us is not as important as the way certain colors make us feel. If you love a color why not wear it in your jewelry? Colored gemstones allow us to wear colors we love which make us feel good. Why not add some real jewel tones into your life?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just a Little Kiss

I’ve recently added Hershey Kiss jewelry to our website. I thought they were very cute and a whimsical way to wear jewelry. To me, they say “I don’t take myself too seriously, I want to have fun.” The Kiss jewelry has been well received because many women may feel the same way. They look at them as a casual addition to their jewelry wardrobe. The Kisses are perfect with jeans or a summer dress. The interesting thing about these Kisses has been the reception by younger women.

A vast majority of our sales have been to the 20 something crowd and even high school and middle school young ladies. I’m a little shocked. I thought of my friends when I made this purchasing decision, not their daughters. It is sometimes amazing to me what our children will like and what they will dislike.

The Hershey Kiss has been an iconic symbol in American candy for many years. Recently one of our jewelers secured the right to style jewelry using the Hershey Kiss. The most recognizable piece is the Hershey Kiss pendant fashioned from sterling silver. To me, it looks exactly like the little foil wrapped candy. The jeweler who manufactures these pieces took into consideration the possibility that different styles would be needed in order to appeal to a wide audience. This is why the jeweler also makes the Hershey Kiss jewelry in earrings, rings, bracelets and a multitude of different precious metals. Any piece in this line can be ordered in sterling silver, yellow gold, white gold and rose gold. And if you didn’t think they could top that, they also make their Hershey Kiss jewelry studded with cubic zirconia and real diamonds!

I am always astonished with the creativity of designers and jewelers. To take an American classic candy and turn it into jewelry is truly ingenious and my hats off to them. Now all I need is just a little kiss.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs

Okay, if I was successful with this title, this song is now rolling around in your head like it’s rolling around in mine. This was not my intention when I started thinking about what I needed for a fall update of my jewelry wardrobe. Unfortunately, this song popped into my head and I cannot get it out, no matter how hard I try.

The want-need debate is a huge factor to most of us due to budgetary concerns. The truth of the matter is, needs got nothing to do with it. We buy because we want. We can justify the purchase regardless. As long as the purchase is logical, will work with our existing jewelry and clothing, it won’t “wipe out the nest egg,” and will be long term pieces that will last a life time, I say go for it! Here are a few tips to make the job easier.

First we look for quality. Quality doesn’t necessarily mean diamonds and platinum. Quality is the essential character of the jewelry piece. You should ask the question, is the craftsmanship good? When you pick up the piece and hold it in your hand, does it feel solid? A solid feel is a direct reflection of the amount of precious metal in the piece. Chains that feel flimsy, regardless of metal type, are flimsy and can snap with a small amount of pressure. I purchased a ring many years ago from a major mall jewelry retailer that was so thin and brittle the ring band actually broke in the middle after two or three times of wearing the ring. When I brought the ring back they refunded my money and their only explanation for the break was, “you get what you pay for.” I assumed they meant that the ring was poor quality because of the low price. I say, not necessarily true. Poor craftsmanship and inferior materials made the ring poor quality, not the price.

As an example, our website carries many fine sterling silver and pure silver pieces. Many have semiprecious stones. These rings are not $500 or more, they are featured on our website for around $100-$120. The craftsmanship is incredible and the gemstones are bright and well cut, and around two carats! Yet some people stray away because they think the price denotes quality. Learn quality and price will no longer matter. Certificates are useless if they only jack up the price.

Next, look for longevity. How will you wear this piece and will it fit into your jewelry wardrobe long term. I’ve found that I’ve made a successful long term purchase when my daughter admires and covets the piece. This shows that not only did I make a purchase I am happy with, but another generation also finds it attractive. Being able to pass jewelry down to your children reflects the pieces ability to be attractive to multiple generations, longevity. If a piece can be worn and admired for years by you, and then your descendents, you’ve probably picked something with a long life span.

Remember, when purchasing what you want, always keep in mind the concepts of quality and longevity, and you can purchase pieces that you will “Oh” so need.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Layers, Layers and More Layers

Just like fashion trends, trends appear with jewelry. This season the designers are working with layers and this concept can be applied to jewelry. I’ve seen a lot of necklaces that have been layered, worn one on top of the other. Some designers have made necklaces with this specific look in mind. They’ve added different materials together to give a layered look or they add sections of multiple chains. Pull out a long rope of pearls and add a necklace sans pendant, just make sure that the necklaces fall at different lengths so you can see each one. Make one peek out from behind another. This look works well with semi-casual attire, like jeans. Keep everything casual with a bold statement made with jewelry.

The layered look can be applied to necklaces, bracelets and even rings. Stacking rings are currently “de rigueur” and many jewelers are carrying these items. The layered look in rings can be applied by wearing multiple rings on different fingers. J. Lo has defined this look; you can see it in any print ad where she is featured. Usually she is wearing a sparkling band on her ring finger and then a large statement ring on her index finger. As a ring lover, I think this look is great. I love any excuse to wear more rings.

Bracelets are a natural for those who love bling upon their wrists. You can mix and match bangles with chain links and even pearls. The idea is to get your ensemble to pop. Three quarter length sleeves work best with adding a lot of bracelets since you don’t want a sleeve cramming everything down to your hand. You can get the same effect with a large cuff that is in a woven pattern, etched or studded with gems. This is useful for those who don’t want their jewelry clacking about their wrist. The wrist full of jewelry is a perfect way to set off that LBD or when going out and wanting to make a statement.

The beauty of the layered look is using jewelry you already own. Many women have multiple necklaces, rings and bracelets. Highlighting one feature is a great way to make that feature stand out. If you’ve just gotten a manicure why not dazzle them with your rings or bracelets. New hairdo, highlight your face with an array of necklaces. Either way you do it, it’s a look anyone can pull off.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fashion in the Age of Restraint

When I refer to restraint in fashion I am not referring to what reality stars should do. No, I am referring to the economy. We are now in an economic downturn and it is also apparent that more and more people want to remain fashionable without injuring their meager budgets. This can be hard to do.

One of the best ways to stay fashionable is to assess what you already have in your closet. Many of us buy at random intervals and then just put it in our closets. If you take the time to go through your closet and see what you actually own, you might be pleasantly surprised to find you have some pieces from last season or the end of this season that are still the latest thing. This evaluation of your closet may take some time because you want to go through all the pieces. I would suggest setting aside an afternoon or maybe a weekend if you have a large closet. You will want to try things on to make sure they still fit. Create a pile for keep, one for donations and another for alterations or cleaning. The keep pile is perfect just the way it is, the donations are for things that either don’t fit or were just a bad idea. Alterations are those pieces that would be perfect if only the hem was right or you replaced that missing button.

In today’s economy most of us can’t go out and buy a new wardrobe each season. It would be fun, but not practical. It is probably more reasonable to go out and buy two or three pieces that will be added to our existing wardrobe that will bring it into the next season. Hot items for fall include leather, layers and prints, maybe not all at once. The leather jacket is being seen more and used in a variety of ways. Jeans are a natural but designers are pairing it with floral dresses and menswear trousers. If you own black leather you’re ahead of the game, think about finding a leather jacket in tan to double your looks.

Layers, long over long, vest over jacket and jacket over vest, short sleeves over long sleeves and vice versa. The combinations are endless. Just remember that layers can get bulky so keep proportions in mind and highlight your waist with either a belt or end a layer at waist height.

Fabulous prints are everywhere, geometric shapes, floral prints and prairie style prints are all prints that seem to be making it big. Keep in mind that prints should not be overpowering and any polka dots, checks and stripes all together is too much. Think one statement print with more subtle solids that pick up colors in the print. Try a prairie print jacket over jeans and a plain white shirt, or a large floral print dress with dark leggings and leather booties, top with that leather jacket.

Anyway you look at it, keeping your fashion purchases to just the essentials makes updating your wardrobe budget friendly. Plus most of the fun is in the hunt. Finding that absolutely perfect piece that compliments other pieces you already own would thrill anyone. Happy fashion hunting!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Finding the Right Length for a Necklace

I am a self professed necklace avoider. I personally do not wear them often and I wish I looked better in a necklace. This is partially because I see so many beautiful necklaces and they really do dress up an outfit and add a finishing touch. This got me thinking about what makes a necklace look good on a person.

According to Carla Mathis, who wrote The Triumph of Individual Style she devised a technique which allows women to find the most flattering placement for their neckline. She invented the term “balance point” to describe where the neckline should fall to create a flattering frame for the face.

The “balance point” is essentially a point on your torso. This point is derived from measuring from your hairline to your chin. The point on your torso is the same length from your chin down to this “balance point.” When wearing a necklace the concept can be applied. If the bottom of your necklace falls near this point, it doesn’t have to be exact; the necklace should flatter your look. It does this by elongating the neck and giving a more graceful appearance.

Another position where a necklace could fall is usually in the middle, between the “balance point” and your chin. This is a nice point especially if the neckline of the outfit is cut low. It helps to break up the expanse of skin and draw the eye upward. The concept when wearing jewelry is to enhance your outfit while flattering your features. The right combination of clothing and jewelry can help stylize your look and bring everything up a notch.

Now we all know that math isn’t the only factor in determining what we should wear. Our own personal style must shine through. So find those pieces you love to wear and wear them with confidence, math be damned! Although it probably doesn’t hurt to think about these proportions before you buy or when making a purchasing decision. Every little bit helps.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Designers are Really Artists

My jewelry company works with a lot of small design houses throughout the United States and other countries. One of the reasons behind this decision is the quality of the jewelry and the individuality of the pieces. Large design houses either have exclusive agreements with a select group of vendors or they handle their own sales through individually owned “boutiques.” Large design and manufacturing businesses supply quantity jewelry to chain retailers and offer no customization or variation from design. Small design houses feature unique jewelry designs, options for customization or personalization and high standards.

Small design houses present their jewelry at various gem and jewelry shows and hope to find a buyer who will come back again and again. The representatives usually wear more than one hat and they are always happy to talk jewelry with you, not just sales. Sometimes you find that the sales representative is really the designer or owner and possibly both. It’s wonderful to discuss the design of a particular piece with the person who designed and made the jewelry. The designer can give insight into their work and a perspective that many would overlook. It’s fascinating.

Although I’ve only worked with some of these designers for a short period of time I have found all of them both informative and helpful. If a customer wants a particular piece made with a different stone, or different metal, the designer is more than happy to comply. I’ve spoken with designers to have the design reduced in size, chain length shortened or lengthened and rings made larger and smaller. They never seem to be stumped and no request is too outrageous. This is what I love about working with small design houses.

Case in point, Ed Benzaquen makes fabulous large gemstone earrings that we feature on our website. The gemstones are bright and have great sparkle and shine and his prices can’t be beat. The rock crystal earrings at 30 carats are quite stunning. When I was ordering inventory, Ed mentioned he had a new bracelet. He sent a picture and I am seriously considering adding this to our line. Now some people would say, “One bracelet?” Well this is the thing; these designers make unique jewelry, not mass produced pieces. They work on each piece and make it just the way they want it. Ed has taken his penchant for large gemstones and made a bracelet that highlights this element.

The small design houses I work with are designers, gemologist, manufacturers and quality control all wrapped up into one. So far it has been a joy to work with them and they never get upset when I ask if they can make a change to their designs. They are passionate about their work and I think this passion translates into a superior product that is both unique and well crafted. They are truly artists who turn jewelry into art.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wouldn't it be Nice?

I commented the other day that I would love to have an unlimited budget for jewelry and accessories. Wouldn’t it be nice? This thought usually gets me fantasizing about what I would buy, that I don’t already have, and what do I need. I’ve found that need really has little to do with it.

This got me thinking about what would be considered a list of basic needs for most women who love jewelry. This basic needs list is pretty tough but I came up with a most basic need and that is a pair of stud diamond earrings. Most women I know have a pair, which is why I figured it was a basic need. I then thought a watch might make the basic need list, but only if you like watches. Some people choose not to wear them and some people would rather refer to their cell phone.

Upon further reflection I realized that my stud diamond earrings, my wedding ring and a watch are really all I need, but it wasn’t anywhere near what I wanted. I currently own a lot of jewelry, although I admit it is not all mine to wear. The problem with owning a lot of jewelry is you get to look, feel, clean and evaluate it on a regular basis. This just inflames my desire to own and wear. This is not necessarily a good thing.

My fantasies include multiple rings, earrings and bracelets, my personal favorites, but what is shocking is the number of things I rarely want. I rarely see necklaces I must have, or many watches. A basic Movado watch is what I wear everyday with my diamond Chelsea by David Yurman for special occasions. Why is this? Maybe it’s the delicate chains on most necklaces that make me leery because of a fear of breakage, or maybe it’s because I hate my chin, or lack thereof, and avoid drawing attention to this facial flaw. Maybe I’m just not a necklace type person, although I am partial to pearls. I think it’s because they “breathe.”

Either way my imagination lets me dream of jewelry and my profession gives me the opportunity to see many amazing pieces. If only I had somewhere to wear it and a budget that allowed its purchase. Wouldn’t it be nice?