Monday, April 30, 2012

New Computer

Yes, those are ice skates and I actually use them on occasion

I got a new computer over the weekend. My old computer is still sitting on my desk. I have always had laptops since I kind of lean more towards aesthetics then towards function so a laptop has been my computer of choice. My desk in my office is also one of those large topped, four legged, no drawers to speak of type of desks. You see them in home decorating magazines and while very good looking, they have few places to stash your stuff. Thank goodness for the 50s style credenza packed to the gills on the other side of the office.

My massive credenza, don't open the drawers

One of the tough things about a new computer is transferring files or getting the information you currently have onto the computer that has nothing. I found out the only version of Office I owned on a disk was a 2003 version. While functional it is quite outdated. When I went to look for an updated version on-line I found that a new version is scheduled to come out sometime in June. I will have to wait until then to have a newer version of Office on this computer because I refuse to spend money twice and the release is only a month or so away. I have patience for things like that.

 Two computers are better than one

What I don’t have patience for is getting everything from one computer to another. It takes so much time to download something. Not to mention how to figure out how to download something. If you’re like me you don’t change computers everyday. So you have literally your entire life on one computer. You have all of your internet bookmarks, your accounts and contacts, everything that you go to over the years and put on your computer. I’m also a computer hoarder. I never erase anything. I still have files from when I was in college. Now that’s old.

It’s going to take me awhile to get everything together. It’s kind of like moving your office and having to go through everything that you own and figure out what you need, what you want to keep and what can be thrown away. On top of all this virtual moving I’m learning a new keyboard. The old laptop was simple; the new laptop has a ten key on the side. When I first started typing I was always off to the right, my eyes saw all the keys to the right and naturally kept shifting, weird. I’m getting a little better at it and the keys themselves don’t feel as funny as they once did. Now I can see the advantage of having your computer die. When it dies you just lament the loss of your stuff but carry on. Since I didn’t lose anything I have to computer clean house, bummer.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bracelets Inspired by Nature

As you probably already know I’m a huge charm bracelet fan, but not just any charm bracelet, the bead style bracelets. I just love the tons of beads and how you can add and add and make a bracelet that is exactly your own. Now that spring is right around the corner it’s time to start a charm bracelet that is inspired by nature. The possibilities are endless. Springtime bracelets should reflect the colors of the season. Green is always popular and the jewel tones of spring flowers can also be a hit. I think that beads in these colors would work really well to create a spring bracelet.

Another spring look is natural stone. There are many beads that are made from natural stone and have a wonderful look and color. These beads come in a variety of colors but I’m leaning towards yellows, browns and reds. The beads that have earth tones are appealing, although there are beads made of jade and Russian serpentine that come in green colors that also have a lot of eye appeal. The hand blown glass beads not only come in a variety of colors but many of the patterns simply say spring. These beads have the pattern of flowers or leaves blown right in the glass.

I’ve managed to finish one bracelet and using an 8 ½’’ hinged clasp bracelet I was able to put on nine colored beads, eight sterling silver beads and 2 clips to hold everything in place. Of course if you’re looking for more color you simply reverse the combination. I alternated beads to get the most uniform look and it worked out pretty well. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on this beaded charm style bracelet. The colors are fairly neutral and are cool in color. Since I started it in the winter I was wearing more black, grey and white so these colors were a natural. But now that spring is here I’m looking to create something with a little more color or in earth tones as I transition to spring outfits.

 My black and white winter bracelet, all done!

If the beads that are chosen are earth toned it would probably be best to choose beads that have gold accents or gold plate. Gold is a warm tone and when reds, browns, yellows and oranges are used it is best to stay in the same temperature zone. That is probably why sterling silver beads look so awesome with blacks and whites. Also nothing says spring like beads shaped like flowers or the sun, there are many floral beads to choose from and some have gold accents and even 14k gold with a diamond accent. It took about four months to get my winter bracelet together so I’m expecting about the same amount of time to put together my spring/summer bracelet, can’t wait to begin.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Copy Cat

Kate Middleton's famous blue dress and copies

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not if you’re a designer. Designers guard their fashion and jewelry designs closely but it doesn’t always keep others from making a copy. If something is popular and a copy is made, those who make the copy can cash in on the original’s popularity. For years factories in other countries have been making copies of top designer handbags. Many large luxury design houses have had to deal with these copycats long distance and usually armed with a lot of cash and clout they’ve been able to slow down the flow of counterfeit goods. Counterfeit goods are big business so it seems almost impossible to completely shut it down. What has always intrigued me is when it is a copy and when is it just similar?

 The slightly longer version for $59.99, notice the model's hairdo

When Kate Middleton stood before the public in her now famous blue dress to announce her engagement the fashion world went nuts. The dress was immediately copied by anyone and everyone. It is still very popular and now a similar dress can be purchased via catalogs. I should know, I received a catalog that has a similar dress for just $59.99. While the dress is not exact, it is similar enough that I know where the original design or thought came from and who is responsible for its popularity. Women have wanted the “it” item for years. In the golden age of Hollywood many women copied the style and look of silent screen actresses and even today we are still all doing it. We can’t help it, they look great and we want that look.

 The original Issa wrap

It all continues to be a battle. Part of the problem stems from a desire to get a particular look that begins in a luxury design house but is desired by a typical college student or working gal. We all want to look fashionable and I buy fashion magazines for the advice and to see what the latest trends are. When we see something we like and are sure that it will make us look good too, we try and emulate it. It’s not always easy because of budget concerns. That’s when copying gets in the way. If you can’t afford that designer dress maybe you can find it on-line or in shop that sells mass produced goods. It’s not easy. I remember a few summers ago when I saw a beautiful Calvin Klein eyelet dress in white. Perfect for summer but not perfect for my budget. I found the dress in an unnamed shop for a tenth of the price and I put the look together for a fraction of the price, all the way down to the straw clutch and wooden sandals.

 Even the engagement ring is being copied in sterling silver

The weirdest part about my copying the outfit was I didn’t feel bad. I actually felt good about how the look turned out and how much money I saved. I still have the dress and maybe I’ll wear that look again during the summer. Fashion gives us ideas, a template to work from; to deny us the ability to take a little artistic license seems wrong. I know that taking a top seller like a Louis Vuitton handbag and making an exact copy is totally wrong, but to try and find a handbag that is similar in shape, color and size seems okay. Where do you draw the line? For now I’m probably going to continue to find looks that I like and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I’m trying to copy a look not an individual item. Maybe that’s where the line is drawn?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Really Big Diamond

The Beau Sancy pear shaped diamond

When I was a kid I thought The Hope Diamond was the world’s largest diamond and at 42.52 carats it’s pretty big. The Hope Diamond is not the world’s largest diamond but it is probably one of the most famous. It’s actually a blue diamond that is displayed in The Smithsonian and its fame probably comes from its purported curse. Whether the curse is true or just legend, it has certainly increased its interest and value over the years. The world’s largest diamond is actually the Cullinan Diamond which is the largest rough cut gem quality diamond at 3,106.75 carats. It was eventually cut into approximately 105 diamonds and of course became part of the British Crown Jewels.

 Pretty big rock

Large diamonds have always held a fascination with the public. Actually any large diamond or gemstone has made news. Since it is not every day that someone digs up a huge gemstone we of course want to hear more. It’s not the norm for someone to find a 50 carat diamond just hanging around in the ground, it’s rare. So when large well known diamonds go to auction, its news. When the Beau Sancy (34.98 carats) was said to be going up for auction this past week in Geneva, it was a media story. The Beau Sancy diamond is well known and has a long history going back 400 years. It has been worn by many of Europe’s royal families beginning with King Henry IV of France in 1604. He is said to have purchased the diamond for his wife, Marie de Medici, yes those de Medicis!

 One would think they would wipe off the fingerprints before they took the shot

Many women would love to have a really big diamond but most of us have to settle for something that costs less than the GDP of a small nation. Which is probably wise since we don’t want to hire a bodyguard every time we leave the house, besides, even the crown jewels are only worn for special occasions. Even the Cullinan Diamond required a bit of subterfuge when it was shipped from South Africa to England. Rumor has it the “fake” diamond was placed on a steamboat with guards while the “real” diamond was sent to England via parcel post, although registered. It makes it abundantly obvious that those who own or wear super large diamonds are really trying to make a statement and that statement is usually “look at me!” Most of the world’s most famous diamonds are usually displayed under glass in museums.

 Another great shot of the Beau Sancy...with fingerprints

So for the rest of us who live in the real world, think pave or maybe an expertly crafted cocktail style diamond ring. There’s usually a lot of bang for the buck when you go this route. I don’t need the world’s largest diamond to make me happy but I would really be happy with the proceeds from its sale. The Beau Sancy diamond is expected to bring in somewhere around 2 to 4 million dollars, that’s a nice little retirement fund and who would turn that down? Not I.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Simple Solutions for Short Necklaces

You'll need some jewelry pliers

Many of us have chains that over the years just seem too short. The price of gold has also made purchasing a new longer chain for our pendants seem a little ridiculous. I also like chains that are sometimes odd lengths. If we follow the advice of Carla Mathis, who wrote The Triumph of Individual Style and devised a technique which allows women to find the most flattering placement for a neckline we should find the perfect length for any necklace. She is the one who invented the term “balance point” to describe where the neckline should fall to create a flattering frame for the face.

 Snake chains while pretty are not easy to work with, at least for me

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 point to wear a necklace is usually in the middle of the “balance point.” 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.

 Open loops are the easiest to work with

But what if your “balance point” is in an odd position? You might need to add a little length to get the perfect effect. Believe it or not, it’s a relatively easy task. If you have some jewelry pliers and some loop chain by the inch (all can be found at jewelry supply stores) you too can customize the length of your necklace. I have an 18” gold chain but I would really like it to be 18 ½” of maybe 19”. This is kind of an odd length since most premade chains come in set lengths. By purchasing an inch or two of gold chain or maybe a chain extender I can add the appropriate length to my necklace. If you use a jump ring you can attach the extension to the loop at the end of your necklace and voila, instant longer necklace. The beauty of this quick fix is the affordability of the DIY project and the necklace can be worn smaller if desired. Just hook the clasp on the loop of your choice for the perfect length. This same method can be used to make a security chain for a bracelet as long as there is an open loop.

 Don't forget your jump rings

I’m probably going to order some chain today because I also need a few little jewelry items and findings. Many DIY jewelry projects are simple and don’t require anything other than a few items and a steady hand. It’s great that I can do it myself considering I’m not the best at these types of projects. I’m definitely not a jewelry maker. This way I can add an inch to my favorite necklace to get the exact length I need and I don’t have to send it to a bench jeweler. I’m all for easy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Location, Location, Location

As any realtor knows, the most important aspect of any piece of property is location, location, location. Many flaws in a piece of property can be fixed with a little elbow grease and it is not unheard of to bulldoze a house to make way for something new and spectacular. Potential buyers will not take the time or jumps through hoops if the property is in a bad location. If you have a prime location you will probably not only sell your house quickly, but you may also receive top dollar. Having a retail store that is located in the perfect spot is also important.

I saw a story about successful teenagers, these teens had started their own businesses selling home crafted jewelry, stationary and even doggie apparel, while they were all pretty successful, the one who borrowed some money from her parents and got them to sign a lease during the holiday season for a kiosk at the mall was by far the most successful. We can chalk this up to her location. I don’t think that her hand woven bracelets were that much better or craftier than the teen who sold doll clothing, but the bracelet teen had an ideal location. Not only did she make something that many of her teenage friends would like, it was cheap and she was right in the middle of the mall during the busiest shopping period of the year. The other teens sold their wares through word of mouth or at local craft fairs.

The mall cannot be beat when it comes to foot traffic and sometimes that’s all you need to draw people into your store, but what about your internet store? How do you draw foot traffic to this location? Many experts believe that getting you store front on the top of a search engine list is important, after all, how many people scroll through page after page of search engine listing to keep looking for that perfect something. I maybe the exception to that rule since I can run through many pages of listings till I tire of searching, I guess that I’m looking for a specific something as opposed to just searching around. This makes me believe that you have to know what your potential customer is looking for, not just having items for sale.

I also like to browse. If there are quite a few items to look through I’m more likely to “shop” around. But there is a fine line between items to browse through and going on the hundred day march. I’ve been to on-line stores that have over a thousand items in just one category. You feel as if you’ve been running a marathon by the time you get halfway through. This can be a turn off, at least for me. Although I know people who could win gold medals if shopping was an Olympic sport so on-line shopping is just a warm-up to them. Whatever type of store you have think location, location is important and this also means positioning. How you position your brand in the on-line world can either make you extremely visible or practically invisible, so take care. No one can buy something if they can’t find it or you, so fill out that search data on your items when entering them into your store. It makes you more visible and brings in more shoppers.