Wednesday, May 30, 2012

JCK Las Vegas

For those of you who know what JCK Las Vegas is, there is no need for explanation. For those of you who do not know, it is the most awesome jewelry event in the world. The best part, if you’re a jewelry buyer, it’s free! Now of course your hotel, travel and food expenses are not covered, but entry into the show, seminars and even a free concert at the Beach at Mandalay Bay is complimentary. This year the concert features OneRepublic as the entertainment. I’ve been getting phone calls and invitations to come and see what will be offered for sale. I will be coming back to say hello to some exhibitors and see what they have this year. Others maybe getting a look see for the first time. It’s fun because it all depends on my mood and for one week each year I’m the buyer instead of the seller.

There is nothing better than spending a week strolling around a convention center viewing booth after booth of spectacular jewelry. I will be in heaven. For most women this would be an experience of a lifetime. Kind of like going to New York for fashion week but with jewelry instead of clothing designs. There will be many designers and manufacturers available all showing off their pieces. Some are large companies with well known designs; others are smaller with avant garde designs trying to make a name for themselves. All will be interesting and at times a little overwhelming. The volume of exhibitors can be a little daunting. As a jewelry nut, the nut in me wants to see everything, every piece of jewelry, big or small, whether it will fit style wise in my inventory or not.

Can't wait!

But of course I have to be reasonable as the show has a finite number of days for exhibition. I will have to plan, see those I must see and try and fit in seminars and visits for new suppliers within a reasonable time frame, darn! So much to see and experience, so little time, after all, I am in Las Vegas and who doesn’t want to have a little time for recreation? Once the show closes each day there will be a few hours to relax rest and fit in some fine dining. I’ve done these shows before and there is a lot of walking and standing, even if you plan well. I’m sure that I will be tired at the end of each day, so having the time to recharge is important.

So armed with a list of “wants” and “needs” I will be hitting the show floor when it opens. I’ve made my plan for which seminars interest me the most and skipping the ones that while interesting, can be missed. I’ve spend more time planning this year as last year I kind of overdid it. I do not want a repeat of last year when I was sick the last day of the show and the following week when I returned home. It was a total bummer. This year will be awesome, but then every year it is awesome, who can resist the largest jewelry show in America?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Women from the Ankle Down

Iconic red soles

This is the title of a book that I stumbled upon while reading the review section of The Wall Street Journal. It was so interesting that I had to download a sample, as the book is not available for purchase until today so I couldn’t read it further. Women from the Ankle Down is a book by Rachelle Bergstein, it delves into the history of shoes and through stories and interviews gives a little insight into women’s obsessions with shoes. Since I am a woman obsessed with shoes, this book was a must read, I have it on pre-order.

I can’t wait to finish reading this book as the sample was extremely interesting. The preface discusses how women justify shoe purchases and even some of the psychology behind our shoe choices, reasoning and consequences. The book talks about the history of shoes and how they’ve been used for “social currency” for centuries. Shoes can represent your position in society and in the courts of Louis XIV it was decreed that only men of high social position and power were allowed to wear loafers with red square heels, kind of like a pair of Christian Louboutin and their distinctive red soles. Most women recognize a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes as representing social and monetary standing. One not only has to have the place to wear a pair but also the budget.

Women wouldn't have spectacular shoes if no one saw their feet

The book delves into the history of shoes and horror of horrors, how women did not have access to the multitude of shoes we see today. Apparently women would own one or two pairs of shoes their entire lives. Shoes were made strictly by hand and were passed down from one child to another when they were outgrown. Shoes also were pretty functional and not very attractive. Shoes were not always made with shapes to fit right or left foot. Although we can blame the lack of fashionable shoes on their lack of visibility, women wore long skirts that covered their feet so no one saw the shoes. Why make a shoe attractive if no one is going to see it anyways?

Today women are blessed or cursed with a wide selection of shoes due to mass manufacturing and the changes in fashion that made women’s feet much more visible. You can’t go to a mall or department store without seeing at least five to six shoe stores and once you go into these stores the selection seems endless. Case in point, the shoe department at Nordstrom is quite vast and the selection is mind boggling. My husband marvels at how many shoes I can cram into my closet but by medieval standards he has more shoes than the average peasant and his family would see in a lifetime. Men just have to understand that women today were born in a time of shoe plenty and we are just taking advantage of it, simple reasoning and justification.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

For many Americans, Memorial Day means a day off from work. This day is celebrated as a day to relax and maybe have a barbeque, for some the day signals the start of summer. For others, Memorial Day is a day to remember sacrifice. So for those who remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember those in our military who worked hard and fought for our Constitutional rights and freedoms and gave the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Affordable Diamonds

Diamonds aren’t just for bridal sets. Small diamonds set in interesting settings of white or yellow gold has been around for a relatively long time. Many designers Pave diamonds in a setting to give big sparkle without a big price tag. David Yurman has been doing this for years and it is common practice to set smaller diamonds around a larger central stone. This type of setting gives the illusion of a much larger stone and as techniques for setting stones becomes more sophisticated; we are seeing more and more innovative methods for increasing the stones visual appeal without increasing the overall price.

Fine fashion jewelry isn’t a new concept; many designers have latched on to this popular jewelry style. It allows the consumer to purchase jewelry that is several steps above costume jewelry without breaking the bank. Additionally, because it is fine fashion jewelry the styles have a tendency to be more fashionable and on trend. I would think this would be a growing market as consumers are still leery of spending too much money on nonessentials and staying on budget. While everyone wants to be good and remain on their budgets, it is hard to deprive yourself of jewelry forever. I have yet to go an entire year without purchasing at least something small, it’s a curse.

Small diamonds or sapphires that make up a total carat weight of one tenth to one half, if set right can offer a lot of style for very little money. Diamond prices continue to rise and inflation, while stable, always seems to apply in the jewelry industry. Year over year pricing goes up, albeit slightly, each year. There are few times when I have purchased an item for stock that didn’t go up the following year. One would think with these types of increases each year that jewelry would be a safe investment. Unfortunately, I have been unable to convince my husband that this is true. It probably has something to do with my unwillingness to sell any jewelry pieces I’ve purchased for myself.

So regardless of whether your looking for diamonds or sapphires or even rubies, small stones artfully set can look fabulous. My very first pair of diamond earrings were a round setting with small diamonds set close together for sparkle. I’ve since moved on to larger half carat studs but the earrings have been passed on to my daughter. She is absolutely thrilled to have them and I’m sure someday she will upgrade, but until she does, the look of real diamonds cannot be beat.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Synthetic Diamonds

Synthetic or substitute diamonds are not new. This type of “diamond” or a look alike has been around for years. Cubic Zirconia and Mossanite are substitutes that are reasonably priced, good looking and popular. The problem isn’t a diamond substitute; it’s not being told that the diamond is a substitute or synthetic. For years it was easy to tell the difference between a cubic zirconia and a diamond, this includes Mossanite that is a good look alike but can be differentiated from the real deal. Synthetic diamonds are grown in a lab where the conditions are similar to nature and can produce a nearly flawless diamond. This diamond is chemically the same and has the same brilliance and hardness of a real diamond. The cost is much lower than mining and of course under control conditions the outcome is essentially ensured.

In truth, a more descriptive name of synthetic diamonds should be lab created, or lab grown or something that indicates that it was not naturally formed. A naturally formed diamond is of course much more valuable. Recently IGI (International Gemological Institute) has discovered 600 synthetic colorless diamonds that were submitted for grading. The lab was able to figure out that the diamonds were synthetic and told the hapless and probably highly disappointed diamond dealer who was reported to have paid natural diamond prices, bummer. The problem for the dealer was he had paid natural diamond prices for something that wasn’t real. If the diamond wholesaler knew the diamonds were synthetic, then that’s fraud, if not, the question becomes “Where did the fraud begin?”

Experienced diamond dealers are being hoodwinked because these synthetics are so good that they cannot be distinguished from a natural diamond with a loupe or microscope, standard tools for examining diamonds in a retail store. There are other methods to determine authenticity but for now they are quite expensive and out of reach for most small to medium sized retailers. The real shame is how the creator of these diamonds is now selling them in greater quantities thereby eroding confidence in the diamond market. It is unfortunate but there has always been a modicum of fraud associated with the jewelry industry, mostly because unscrupulous retailers are trying to make a quick buck. If this synthetic diamond debacle continues, jewelry retailers may develop the same reputation as used car salesmen, not a good thing.

Jewelry retailers have reputations to maintain. No one is willing to purchase jewelry from a dealer who may be selling something less than what they state. This will definitively put a crimp in the jewelry business which has been hit by the recession pretty hard. After all, if you have a tighter budget what is going to get cut first, food or jewelry? Although sometimes I think I would be willing to forgo a meal or two for something really spectacular. Ultimately we will have to see how this all plays out. It will be interesting to find out who started the fraud and how it all came about; it may have been a simple misunderstanding, yeah, right! Hopefully this recent problem doesn’t damage the reputation of retail jewelers as the economy improves and consumers come shopping for sparkly things and baubles.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Facebook Face Plant?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, Facebook had its IPO on Friday to much fanfare. It isn’t Wall Street’s darling so much this week. Facebook stock has taken a dive since Friday and now investors are screaming foul. Word on the street says that the bank knew that Facebook may do poorly and this particular bank even told a select group of investors about the potential disaster or at least warned them away from the stock. The banks, of course, are saying they did nothing wrong. Analysts believe the trouble may lie in telling some investors but not all investors. The man on the street maybe thinking if what the analysts say is true, this is typical behavior for greedy investment banks and Wall Street denizens. I’m not sure what to think.

When I say I really didn’t know what to think, it’s true. I still can’t figure out why investors are so crazy over gold. I love gold because it makes beautiful and durable jewelry. Since the dollar is no longer based on the gold standard, are people still believing in that “end of the world” scenario where gold will be the only valuable they can trade? If it really is the end of the world food and water will be the most valuable commodities around since gold or precious gems are inedible. But back to Facebook and its meteoric rise and fall. To describe Facebook as a complete disaster maybe a little harsh so early in the game, it should take at least 90 days before all the rats jumps ship.

Many people purchased stock on Friday with the intention of a quick sale after the price doubled, maybe on the first day. When the stock stayed the same from start of day to end of day many investors appear to be dumping their stock this week. This “dumping” can be the factor that is affecting the drop in stock pricing. Others are saying that the stock was “overvalued” and shouldn’t have been offered at $38.00 per share initially. Some have even chimed in that $20.00 a share is fair and they are just waiting for the stock to fall to this level. Like any IPO there is a lot of speculation and when people speculate there can be problems, remember the housing bust and all those speculators?

Personally, I think that Facebook could be an okay stock once all the wrinkles are ironed out. Mark Zuckerburg has been poised to do better and go farther than any other social media site on the internet. This influx of cash maybe all Zuckerberg needs to further his plan for world domination. Okay, I’m just kidding about that last part, but you can’t deny he’s done really well with a concept and some slick programming. Just about everyone is on Facebook which is like having the world’s largest customer list, and companies like Dun & Bradstreet have been selling customer lists for years with good results. While Facebook isn’t going to sell your name yet, they are advertising on their side bars and using user profiles to track demographics, this information is quite valuable regardless of what anyone thinks. I’ll reserve my final opinion till some substantial time has passed, I wouldn’t want to jump the gun and besides, if I say anything stupid today, someone might just remember it, it is written down after all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Totally chic

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good print, but there is just something about solid colors that make us all leaner, slimmer and much more confident. Now I’ve seem women wearing floral print jeans and I have to admit they look awesome, but it’s a look that I can’t seem to wear with any confidence so I end up looking awkward. There are prints in my closet but they are mostly banker stripped tailored shirts and Swiss dot dresses. I’ve got a couple of abstract pattern silk blouses but they’re reserved for solid colored business suits, my lawyer look. Everyone should have a serious look now and then.

Prints have a tendency to translate into texture and too much texture can make an outfit appear bulky, even if it’s not, and no one wants to look bulky. When you put on an outfit you want to look your best. Now when I talk about a monochromatic look I’m not talking about wearing all black, you might look like a beatnik, or wearing all denim, only cowboys do that. I’m talking about wearing all one color that is muted, soft and flattering. A monochromatic look is streamlined and clean cut; it’s the minimalist take on fashion. The monochromatic clothing trend is all about tasteful and detailed dressing. Anyone who has tried to match a skirt to a blouse and it wasn’t already a set knows what I’m talking about; it is very difficult to find just that right tone. Color is affected by the material of the garment so it takes a skillful eye.

The monchromatic look is slimming

Part of this trend centers on the personality of the wearer. It’s the type of person who wants to look tasteful yet not stand out. The cut of the garments is more important then the “look at me” factor. You always look perfectly polished in one color. It is effortless dressing that can be casual and fun. The advantage of wearing all one color is the slimming effect. When you wear head to toe tan the eye will travel up and down your entire body, not stop at your waist where there is usually a color change. Now who doesn’t want to look a little slimmer? This is probably why I’ve always leaned towards this style of dressing. If you’re still not sold on monochromatic outfits it’s still fun to wear all one color with a blazer or sweater in a complimentary color. This look is still very chic and slimming.

When it comes to accessories you should stick to the same color family. You can wear Smokey quartz bangles and rings with muted browns. Bakelite jewelry also comes in tons of colors and can be found to match any outfit. Champagne is lovely and nothing looks classier than wearing all champagne or even ivory with several strands of pearls. If you love the color of honey nothing looks better than a mixture of earth toned amber, wear them chunky and abstract shaped. Additional benefit of wearing amber is the reasonable pricing; anyone can afford a few pieces. So maybe I’ll go out and look for a pair of blush colored silk pants to go with that blush camisole, it might look pretty awesome with some rose quartz bangles.

The color of summer

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wear Some Gold

Essie polish in Shifting Power

Summer is approaching and wearing yellow gold is a natural. Wearing some gold this time of year is the gold standard (no pun intended). While I think it is silly to consume gold…what a waste…wearing gold on the other hand is brilliant. There is quite a bit of gold out there in the jewelry market so choosing the right piece can either be a daunting task or a shopaholic’s joyful moment. The fun really begins when you start examining all the different ways one can wear gold. It’s not just for jewelry anymore.

There is gold eye shadow. Tom Ford makes a metallic cream eye shadow that can up your everyday look. It’s available at select Neiman Marcus stores and will certainly add a summer golden glow. I’m also sure there are other eye shadows on the market that are manufactured in both creams and powders that can add a shimmery glow. Avon makes a powder eye shadow in Fairy Dust through its Mark collection that adds a bronzy, gold, blushing color for a lot of shimmer and shine. Adding the right amount of gold is just what we should be looking for this summer to turn our outfits from winter drab to summer sizzle.

Try some gold flakes in a manicure

Another way to wear affordable gold is on your fingers and toes. Summer is the time when we take our hands and feet out of hibernation. Wouldn’t it be great to wake everything up with a manicure and pedicure? Essie has been coming out with some interesting colors and this summer is no exception. Essie has a gold polish in Shifting Power which can add a lot of sparkle to your life, and nails. You can also add a little gold to your nails with gold flakes. It can be worn over a complimentary colored polish or alone. Simply apply a clear coat, add flakes with a nail stick then finish it off with a top coat.

So whether you go the traditional route and buy some gold colored, gold plated or the real deal 18K gold jewelry, you’ll always be happy with gold because it’s easy to add to any summer outfit. If gold jewelry isn’t in your budget you can add gold eye shadow or even lipstick. You can have a gold manicure or pedicure. There are many ways to wear gold this summer and they all don’t break the bank. So try a little gold, even if it’s only the color gold, it also very flattering with a slight tan, another summer staple.

Friday, May 18, 2012

We Buy Gold Frenzy

Yes they do, but do they always offer the best price?

There are many gold buying companies out there right now. The concept is simple, a company purchases gold from individuals based on a percentage of current gold values, they in turn melt it down for use in other jewelry or resell it to a processor who does the dirty work. It appears to be a win-win situation. The seller gets rid of their old or broken gold jewelry that they no longer wear and the buyer gets a good price on gold thereby reducing the cost of newly minted jewelry for the consumer. But do they really?

As a wholesale buyer of jewelry, I’ve seen pricing on jewelry go up and down with the market. The market has seen some steep pricing increases and decreases over the past few months.  Gold has hit historic highs and this is reflective in the price of new jewelry that the average consumer sees at most jewelry stores. It does smell a bit like a scam.

If these gold buying companies are truly reducing the cost of repurposed old jewelry, why does the price of wholesale new jewelry go up and down with the market? It’s because most gold buyer need the difference from what they paid the seller and what the price of gold is when they resell, it’s their profit. The real concern with all of this buying and selling of gold is if the bubble bursts. Just like the housing market, and the tech market, the gold market could take a dive. This can occur if too many people holding gold begin to sell in large groups. Large sell offs can force markets down and when the price drops dramatically there will be people left holding the worthless bag.

I personally hate all these fluctuations in the metal markets. It makes it hard to calculate what something will cost month to month. Since I am a retailer, I’m more concerned with my customer’s perception of my pricing. It is difficult to explain to a customer that a bracelet they admired as part of a set is now 10% more because the manufacturer is charging according to metal pricing on a particular day.

On the bright side, the large increases in precious metal pricing have fueled an interest in alternative metals, such as stainless steel and titanium. We are seeing more designs in less expensive metals which have kicked off new creative designs in jewelry for consumers. Many of these alternative metals are featured in the more edgy and contemporary designs. Creativity is what keeps jewelry designs fresh; a necessary alternative is what brings creative designs to the consumer. I guess it is a win-win situation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Birthstone of May

The Hooker Emerald Brooch, 75 carats and located in the US National Museum of Natural History

Probably a lot of people know that the birthstone of May is the emerald. It is a beautiful green stone that can make any jewelry sparkle. The emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl and is green because of the trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium found within the gemstone. It is rated 7.5-8 on a 10 point Mohr scale and can be heavily included which contributes to its toughness, which isn’t so hot. Regardless, emeralds are beautiful gemstones and their deep green color is rarely surpassed. Those of you lucky enough to be born in May should take the opportunity to stock up on some emerald jewelry.

When I investigated emerald there was a long and convoluted way in which the name was derived. Emerald comes from Esmeraude (French) which comes from Esmaralda (Vulgar Latin), which is a variant of Smaragdus, which comes from smaragdos which means green gem in Greek but was originally izmargad meaning emerald or green, from Hebrew. Are you thoroughly confused, I am. When I read further on they added several other words that it could have been derived from including words from Sanskrit and Persian. The fact that the name emerald is derived from so many possible origins is interesting and the Sanskrit and Persian references give it an exotic flavor. Kind of cool.

What is interesting about emeralds is they have similar standards for grading as diamonds, such as, cut, color and clarity but the clarity is defined with the naked eye, not with a loupe. Emeralds are notorious for inclusions and surface fissures so grading with a loupe would cause few emeralds to be graded as flawless. The human eye cannot see inclusions as well without the aid of a loupe. I guess grading emeralds without a loupe is kind of giving the emerald a break. Due to surface fissures many emeralds are oil treated to enhance clarity. This is an accepted practice so there is no need to freak out. Although it is important to remember that while cedar oil is accepted, green colored oil is not, it’s kind of like cheating.

Just like any gemstone you purchase, they can look the same but can vary greatly in treatments. Emeralds that are highly treated are worth far less than emeralds that have had little or no treatments. This is why it is important to talk to the retailer when purchasing an emerald, or for that matter, any gemstone. Treatments are common in the gemstone industry and many treatments enhance the look of the stone, but remember, not all treatments are created equal. You want to find a piece of jewelry that not only looks good, but is a fair value for the money. One of the ways to ensure this is to ask questions, because it never hurts to ask, it only hurts when you didn't ask.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head

“Never eat anything bigger than your head” was the title of a tongue and cheek book that gave advice about some common sense issues. It was quite some time ago that I saw this book and at the time, giving this kind of advice was funny and relatively useless. Today people have eating challenges that not only encompass eating something bigger than their head, but in some cases, bigger than their torsos. It’s hard to believe that things would change so much and people would have to be advised not to do something. Today in the jewelry industry retailers are being warned off rubies.

According to JCK Magazine on-line there are more lead glass filled rubies on the market. Retailers who are unaware can suffer financial losses, not to mention loss of reputation. Heat treating rubies is a common practice and does not harm the ruby or make it more vulnerable to damage. Lead glass filled rubies on the other hand are fragile and easily damaged by common household chemicals or solvents. While easy to identify due to gas bubbles or blue flashing, if a retailer is not knowledgeable they could end up buying a lemon instead of a ruby. Retailers who purchase finished jewelry can be dazzled by the beautiful settings and skip over the gemstone if nothing jumps out at them. The worst part of a retailer not taking the time to make sure their rubies are not lead glass filled is how the customer ultimately suffers.

A retail customer usually places their trust in the retailer who they are purchasing from to help them purchase a well made piece of jewelry. An example in the article used a woman who had purchased from a well known department store. It’s not that lead glass filled rubies are so bad it’s just people want what they pay for, not an inferior substitute that won’t hold up over time. If a retailer is unaware then the consumer is also in the dark. No one discloses to either party that the ruby isn’t what everyone thinks it is; just like in real estate disclosure is key. A retailer could be on the hook if they don’t explain how a lead glass filled ruby differs from a heat treated or natural ruby. Plus it’s just patently unfair to sell lesser rubies and under cut your competition, not to mention against the law.

The best way to protect your self from anyone who knowingly or unknowingly sells lead glass filled rubies is to purchase gems that have been certified by a reputable lab. People don’t seem to have a problem doing this when purchasing diamonds but for some, it’s a new concept for gemstones. By purchasing certified gems you know what you are getting. For retailers, take the time to examine rubies carefully before purchasing and if you can’t trust your eyes, buy the necessary equipment to properly examine the stones or just let it go. After all, as a retailer you’re liable for quality of the jewelry you sell and a reputation can be damaged beyond repair, just like a lead glass filled ruby.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The $1500 Hot Dog

I’ll admit it, I watch the Food Channel. Every now and then they have a program featuring outrageous foods or expensive eats. I’m always amazed that someone can turn something ordinary yet really good into a culinary question mark. There are hot dogs, hamburgers and even ice cream sundaes that have huge price tags. Usually it has a lot to do with the ingredients in the food item that merit the increased price over an average snack. Sometimes it’s an item added, like a diamond bracelet or other piece of jewelry. While I’m not totally against truffles and Kobe beef for a hamburger, I think things like gold should be worn not eaten.

There is an expensive ice cream sundae that uses edible gold as a topping. I know this small amount of gold is not toxic but it sure seems silly to eat it. I’m not sure that it actually adds anything to the ice cream since ice cream tastes pretty awesome all by itself. What would be really smart is to figure out a way to take something really expensive and turn it into a great value. This is true of many pieces of jewelry. There are designs on the market that use extremely expensive material and rare gems. They can get a little pricey and many people, while admiring their beauty, may not be able to comfortably afford such extravagances. It’s the medium priced market that seems to get ignored. Yes, there are plenty of places that sell costume jewelry and some of it is really good looking, but what about someone who wants attractive jewelry that is well made?

This seems to be a semi-neglected part of the jewelry market. I know that I’m more middle of the road than high end so I’m always looking for jewelry that is a good value and attractive. This is probably why I like semi-custom made pieces and natural stone, they give a lot of bang for the buck. There was an article in InStyle Magazine that features some beautiful long dangly earrings. It was touted as a new fashion trend that is both an earrings and a necklace, note the swing. The astonishing part was the price range of these earrings. The lowest was $1900 and the highest was over $28,000. I don’t know about you but this seems like a lot of money to spend on something so trendy.

Sure there are people out there who think money is no object, but for the rest of the world we want jewelry that is attractive, trendy and reasonably priced. So I would suggest finding styles that are similar but made with sterling silver as opposed to white gold or maybe with gold plate or accents. Diamonds are beautiful but so are white sapphires and when paved most cannot tell the difference. One large diamond will look quite different from an equal sized sapphire but little diamond chips look just like sapphires or even rock crystals. My theory is, fake the look but with good quality material, e.g. sterling silver and semiprecious stones. This has always worked for me and I have the jewelry collection to prove it. Besides I never feel bad when I get something I like at a good deal even if it’s a trend is no longer on point.

Monday, May 14, 2012

That Special Look

One of the main reasons I purchase fashion magazines is to get ideas on how to put outfits together. I’m not super astute about what goes with what and how something should be worn. When it comes to new styles or what’s hot this season I become further confused. Putting together an outfit, especially for a special occasion can be very difficult. Most fashion magazines give outfit advice and this month seems to be the time for weddings. A common question is what do I wear for a wedding? Apparently an evening wedding, garden wedding and a regular church wedding may have different requirements. For the first time in many years I will be going to a wedding this July. While I’m not particularly dreading what to wear, since I know the bride really well, I have been giving this outfit a little thought.

First off it will be an evening wedding, this makes it easy. The reception that follows is not a sit down meal but a more casual cocktail party style reception. I’m actually looking forward to this style of wedding because it is unconventional and less stuffy. Traditional weddings with receiving lines, first dances and cake cuttings, while predictable can be a little boring. A cocktail party is rarely boring and with this less structured wedding style a less structured outfit is okay. The little black dress will work perfectly. One of my favorite looks with a little black dress, especially if it has a low neckline, is a mass of pearls. I have a funky pearl necklace with multiple stands of pearls, both cultured and freshwater in different shapes and sizes. It’s the perfect compliment to a little black dress.

Some stylists suggest keeping the jewelry simple when wearing a little black dress because you want the lines of the dress to be the focal point. While this theory is true, don’t over clutter, a little black dress is perfect for a statement piece. Whether that statement piece is a stack of bracelets or large earrings is entirely up to you. Try and place some focus on what you consider your best feature. Outstanding jewelry will always draw the eye. If you want people to see that awesome manicure, try some large bangles or maybe a fabulous cocktail ring. If you want people to look at your face wear a large chunky necklace or several necklaces together wrapped to sit high near your collar bone. This will draw the eye upward towards your face.

While gold is a hot accessory, when wearing a little black dress silver is much more attractive. Years ago colors were given temperatures. You could have your colors “done” and these colors would be in a particular color family. You would be deemed a cool or warm person, not sure if people still do this today. So even if people may not subscribe to this method of finding the best color for you, it is still important to wear colors in the same family for a harmonious look. Black is considered a cool color and cool colors look best with silver. Sterling silver jewelry is both attractive and economical, bonus! So I’ll probably be accessory shopping for this wedding instead of dress shopping which maybe a little easier. One thing to complete this special look is a bold red lip; thank goodness I already have a great lipstick that I adore. One thing I can check off my list.

Friday, May 11, 2012

TGIF (Remember the movie?)

These look kind of 1970s

The phrase, “Thank goodness it’s Friday” pretty much sums up my week. Between computer glitches and tough decisions I’m glad this week is over. Funny thing is, this is a popular phrase, so popular in fact that there is a restaurant named for it and even a movie from the 70s. Unfortunately, I vaguely remember this movie and with Dark Shadows coming out this weekend I wonder if there will be resurgence in the 1970s fashion looks. What I can’t remember is what jewelry was worn with fashion in the 70s. There were so many outrageous fashions at that time that jewelry kind of took a back seat.

Love the natural look

I remember wide legged pants, halter tops and really big platform shoes, not looks that should be revisited. Many of the bohemian looks that were held over from the 60s were still popular and this look was conducive to wearing jewelry of the flower child kind. Handmade jewelry with a natural look was popular and the funny thing is we still see jewelry of this kind today. The bohemian look that evolved in the 70s from the hippies of the 60s is still worn to some degree today. It is much more subtle and isn’t an all over look, just pieces that give an outfit a casual flair.

Striking colors

What I love is the natural jewelry or necklaces of differing lengths all wore together. I’ve seen necklaces of natural stone worn with silver chains and it looks really good even with a simple white t-shirt. The warmer weather is coming and jeans and skirts will soon be worn, a bohemian look is perfect. So why not accent your outfit with a few natural looking pieces? Earth Gems is a collection of necklaces that are made from natural stone set with a gemstone of your choice in a silver bezel. They come with either a leather strap or a gunmetal chain. They can be worn together on one chain for a bold statement necklace look or one Earth Gems on a chain for a simple look.

White is very summer

Earth Gems have 1970s flair in a good way. Not too much and they can be worn anyway you like, that’s what is so wonderful about this jewelry. It allows the wearer to customize their look and to match their outfit. So if 70s fashion starts to make a comeback, try some Earth Gems, it’s a look that is fashionable without looking dated.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Luxury Jewelry

When I say luxury jewelry I’m sure brands like Cartier and Rolex come to mind. The luxury jewelry market is positioned differently due to the behaviors and shopping patterns of the very wealthy, or at least those who spend a great deal on a piece of jewelry or a watch. According to a study by JCK Magazine that partnered with W Magazine, the high end shopper does things a little differently than the median priced shopper. I found this information particularly interesting because who doesn’t want to attract a high end shopper? It would be fun just to watch them in action.

The research has shown that the middle market, that probably propelled the economy before the recession, has disappeared and the high end shopper has apparently been picking up the slack. The high end customer is still spending money and still sticking to purchasing what they like best. Gold is still hot even though the price per ounce has skyrocketed. The high end shopper buys what they want, not what is considered a good deal. Not that they don’t love silver, it has a high fashion look that is adored by both high end shoppers for its fashion appeal and median priced shoppers for its value. Although high end shoppers look for stylish and fashionable pieces when shopping in silver, the look of a piece was more important than the price.

What I found interesting was the statistic that 46% of high end shoppers were comfortable with purchasing without spousal approval. Also, the more money you made the more you purchased independently, 57% of higher incomes made their own decisions, alone. I wouldn’t dare make a purchase for jewelry without prior approval especially if it was an expensive piece. This isn’t because I’m scared of the wrath of my husband; it’s more of a courtesy. I wouldn’t want him to go out and spend thousands without my knowing. Besides, when making a large jewelry purchase it’s best for your spouse to be around, that way he knows he did something special for you and it gets him a bit closer to whatever he was planning on purchasing.

Another interesting statistic is that high income purchasers wear their fine jewelry all the time. I wear my fine jewelry all the time; does this make me a high end shopper? It’s silly to purchase a beautiful piece of jewelry and then let it gather dust in a jewelry box or safe. If I purchase something extra special I want to wear it, that’s why I bought it. I hear from people all the time who admire my jewelry but always end it with, “but I don’t have anywhere to wear it.” It’s pretty jewelry, how can you not have anywhere to wear it, I would wear it to the grocery store and I do. My only problem is I don’t have enough fingers and ears to wear what I love everyday. So while we don’t have to shop like a luxury shopper we can still behave like one, wear your fine jewelry everyday and buy something without your spouse’s approval, after all, they didn’t say how much you had to spend.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Butterflies are Free

Butterfly earrings

I remember a table from my childhood that fascinated me as well as made me feel a little uneasy. It was a butterfly table. The top of the small table has many different colored butterflies spread out over the top of the surface, all embedded in some sort of clear plastic. You could see the iridescent shine of the wings and their little bodies all frozen in time. It was like a butterfly collection without all the pins. Butterfly collecting was an extremely popular hobby in the Victorian Era. There are many butterflies in Victorian collections that are simply unattainable today due to protected species laws, but butterfly collecting continues and jewelry is now being made from these beautiful insects.

A butterfly wing can be worn as a pendant

Today, non endangered species of butterflies are collection from the floors of butterfly houses in South America. The butterflies’ wings are then preserved and made into jewelry, pendants and earrings. Before anyone gets upset, the butterflies are collected from the floor of the butterfly house after they have lived out their natural lives. The species are not endangered and all CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) are followed. These butterflies are not exploited nor hunted to the point of extinction. Additionally, I’ve been told that money from the purchase of these pieces goes toward protecting the rainforest and also provides jobs for the region’s people.

Nature in jewelry is nothing new, antique butterfly brooch

The interesting look of these pieces has made me wonder whether or not there is an actual market for jewelry made from the wings of butterflies. The wings have an iridescent quality that cannot be duplicated in any other manner. The colors are quite beautiful and each piece of jewelry is unique. The patterns on the wings of a butterfly are like a fingerprint, everyone has fingerprints and each is unique to the individual. The iridescent properties of the wings are caused by the reflection of different wavelengths of light. The color your eye sees directly corresponds to refraction of these wavelengths off of the butterfly wings and can change with the angle.

While real butterfly jewelry may not be for everyone, you cannot deny the beauty of a butterfly wing. This is probably why so many people collection butterflies. They have a natural beauty that cannot be duplicated. One of the top jewelry trends for this spring is natural jewelry. This can be jewelry that resembles an animal made entirely from gemstones or metal, humming birds and butterflies are popular. There are rings and pendants of animals and flowers which all represent spring. So I’m hopeful that I get some comments on this blog on whether real butterfly wing jewelry is hot or not. I could always use some feedback.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Handbags Make the Woman

From the Dooney & Bourke look book

This might be a hard concept for many men to grasp, but a handbag makes the woman. There are a couple of things that speak loudly in our outfits when we are out and about, one of them is shoes and the other is our handbag. I always seem to notice these two items first when I’m meeting someone and I don’t think that I’m the only one. A handbag sends a message to others about the wearer’s character. Who they are and what they are about. This is especially true in the working world. A woman who has a disorganized handbag may come off as disorganized and unable to competently finish projects and assignments. If you watch someone fishing around in their handbag for something do you think they have it together or do they seem lost in confusion?

Love this Cole Haane structured handbag

I admit to carrying around a rather large handbag on a daily basis. This is partially because I don’t want to be caught away from home without something essential and my ability to figure out exactly what is essential isn’t always on target. I envy those women who can walk around with a tiny handbag with nothing more than their ID and a lipstick. I am unfortunately not one of these women. I have a friend who is of the small handbag clan and she confessed that she actually has a much large bag in her trunk with everything from makeup to Band-Aids and she simply carries the small bag with just a few things when she leaves the car. What a good idea.

Michael Kors always looks professional

Since organization is the key to looking well organized and by proxy, competent, here are a few tips. A bag for everyday should be big but not too big. You want to be able to carry things with you but not your entire life.  If you can carry a pair of running shoes in your bag it’s probably too big. Think iPad or tablet, not laptop computers complete with power converters and mouse. I always like to have an everyday handbag that can carry a book. If I get stuck in line or end up waiting for a prescription of other appointment it’s kind of fun to pull out a small paperback or my iPad and read a little. Yes you can play with your smartphone but I feel like I get more accomplished when I read a book and my wait time isn’t so dreary.

Dooney & Bourke lambskin totes when you have to take it all with you

Another great tip is having a pocket or two on the outside of the handbag. These pockets are a great place to put your smartphone or car keys. I also like to keep a pen handy or anything that I may have to produce quickly. Nothing slows down a line more then waiting for someone to find what they are looking for in their handbag. If you find that you spend a majority of your day on the road away from home or the office I would suggest investing in a large leather tote bag which hold all your items to get through the day and then keep your essentials in a stylish handbag. This way you have what you need and it’s easy to tote from the house to the car and back. So if you take a little time before you purchase that handbag not only will you look stylish but you’ll come off as organized and totally together. Two things every woman tries to achieve.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mother’s Day and On-line Shopping

For many of us Mother’s Day is swiftly approaching. The age old problem of what to get for Mom rears its ugly head and we sit and think about what she would really want on this special day. Flowers and candy are the norm and always appreciated. For some, taking Mom out for a day on the town or coming to her home for a visit and maybe fixing her dinner are all she will want. Both of my Moms live far away. My Mom lives in New Mexico and my Mom in law lives in Nevada. I live in California so a visit to either one this Sunday would take a lot of planning. I will be the first to admit I don’t plan trips really well. My husband is my travel agent. He finds the best deals and I just call, give the dates and credit card number. He makes it simple.

Having someone to help with gift giving can also makes life a little simpler. This concept is why so many people call 1-800-flowers this time of year. I’m sure they do a booming business from May 1st till Mother’s Day and it can all be done on-line. On-line shopping has made it easy to find that perfect something, get it sent and taken care of without leaving your home or office. Many people are very busy with their day to day lives, work schedules and appointments and have a difficult time getting to the mall or store to shop around for a gift. While I’ve sent flowers in the past, I was able to send something else with the help of friend. I told her want I wanted out of her product line and she sent them off. I didn’t have stand in line at the store or the post office. It was so easy I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t shop on-line.

So can I make some suggestions? Shop on-line and it doesn’t have to be with my store. There are many stores on the internet and today is the day to shop if you want your purchase to make it to Mom on time. There are items on Etsy from candles to scarves, all of which Mom would love. Just about every brand has representation in an on-line store. You can always purchase jewelry and there are many options that are quite reasonably priced. While anything that we get our Moms on this special day will be well received we still want to get something that she is sure to use and enjoy.

I remember the day when all you had to do was make a card and watch your Mother melt. I’m a lot older now and some how I don’t think a homemade card would cut it, but a cake of homemade soap might just do the trick. Trying to figure out what to get Mom will always be a problem because we want to dazzle her. We want to find something unique that speaks to her and makes her happy. So give on-line shopping a try, there are tons of unusual, in a good way, items out there and I’m sure that you can find exactly what you are looking for, that special something that is as individualistic as your Mom.