Monday, September 30, 2013

Are Opals Cursed?

Standard oval opal

My mother in law used to tell me that you can’t wear opals unless it is your birthstone or you will be unlucky. I think this story comes from a novel by Sir Walter Scott, Anne of Gerstein. In this novel a character wears opal jewelry that changes color depending on her mood. One day some holy water is sprinkled on the opal and she faints and dies. This put a bit of a damper on the opal market and it crashed and prices went down 50% shortly after the novel was published.

Opal jewelry

Opals are the alternative birthstone for October, but I believe you can safely wear it even if you’re not an October baby. Opals have a beautiful iridescent quality and at times they may seem like they are changing color to suit someone’s mood. Under magnification opal appear to be a mass of tightly packed spheres arranged in three dimensional layers. The higher quality the opal is the better the play of light and reflectivity of the gemstone.

Opal under magnification

Opals are relatively fragile; they can crack when cut and exposure to high temperatures can also cause cracking or crazing of the stone. Maybe the story of the opal causing a person’s death when touched with holy water has more to do with the opal’s general weakness. Opals should never be cleaned in ultrasonic cleaners, steamed or immersed in water. This will damage the surface of the stone. If the opal is damaged it loses some of its reflective properties and color, it would seem as if it no longer changes color with your mood.

 You can slice opal

There are many different types of opals, one type is the Mexican fire opal. It is generally found in Mexico and comes in a red or orange color. To me they don’t resemble opals but do have a bright orange color that shines from within. Mexican fire opals that have a transparent reddish orange quality are the most valuable. The more yellow or brownish the stone the less value and therefore you should pay less for these stones. Opals can catch the light, change colors and almost glow, so ignore the curse and wear an opal, just stay away from holy water.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Is Jewelry Boring? Never!


I spend a lot of my day looking at and thinking about jewelry. Some may say that it is an obsession and I should probably get professional help, but it isn’t always about jewelry. The jewelry industry is a lot of other things all crammed together. There is software, machinery, design and of course marketing. If you’ve ever been to a jewelry tradeshow you’ve experienced it all.


You have to admit, this is clever
It seems that every day I find something new. The other day while strolling through the mall I found a bead and stacking ring retailer with the most amazing display. It was out in front of the store so customers could interact without assistance from a salesperson. It had different rings of varying sizes held to the display by a strong cable. You could pull the ring away from the display and try it on, it was ingenious. Each ring had a Plexiglas clamp that kept the cable firmly attached to the ring and displayed the price.


Stacking rings
There is a marketing genius out there who knows that if a customer tries on a ring or piece of jewelry they are more likely to buy it. This display allows the customer to experience with the product without having to ask a salesperson for help. There were quite a few rings on display so you could stand and experiment for a while. The more a person plays with something the higher the chances of a purchase. Not to mention it was fun. I was able to try on two dozen rings, how cool is that?


Organic jewelry, mixed media
Jewelry will never be boring as long as smart people keep coming out with new innovations and designs. Someone invented stacking rings so we could have multiple rings on all of our fingers. Another person invented bead style charm bracelets so we could collect different color beads to fit all of our moods. People have more than one piecing in their ears so they can wear more than one pair of earrings. Jewelry will never be boring as long as there are creative people who come up with innovative ideas.
Innovative use of buttons

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Will this Watch Fit Your Wrist?

Pocket watches always fit, The Coin Outlet

The wonderful thing about a pocket watch is size. You don’t have to wonder if it will fit your wrist. Unfortunately most wristwatches must at least go around your wrist. Generally this is not a problem as wristwatches are designed to fit an average wrist based on gender. Different manufacturers have different sizing and some cater to smaller or larger wrist sizes. The first step is to measure your wrist. If all else fails, just try on the watch.


Bracelet style watch, The Coin Outlet
The easiest wristwatch to fit is that with a leather band. These bands are similar to a leather belt buckle and are adjustable. You simply find the hole that offers the most comfortable fit and that is where you wear it. The nice thing about a leather band is no adjust is needed and as the leather stretches you can tighten accordingly. Leather does show wear at a faster pace than most metals so you will need to replace the band sooner. A leather band is generally worn tight.


Bracelet style with hard sides, David Yurman
Link wristwatches can be adjusted by removing or adding links. It is a process whereby a pin is removed and then the link comes free. It does require a few tools or at least some implements to help remove the links. Each removable link is marked with an arrow or other marking. Remember, not all links are removable so there are limitations to sizing. Some watches come with additional links to make the watch bigger but most people want to downsize.


Leather band with deployment clasp, The Coin Outlet
The tricky part about sizing a wristwatch is personal preference. It depends on whether you like your watch snug or loose. A woman’s bracelet style watch is generally worn a little loose like jewelry. A leather band watch will be worn tighter so the dial stays centered on your wrist. Bands made of metal with wider links should be tighter than a bracelet style but looser than a leather band. The dial should not swivel around or slide from side to side. While there are many ways to wear a watch it mostly comes down to what you find comfortable so experiment with different watches, it’s kind of fun and fashionable.
Metal links are adjustable The Coin Outlet

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jane Austen's Ring

The famous author, Jane Austen

It’s kind of funny that I read an article about the resolution of the auction of Jane Austen’s ring while currently rereading Northanger Abbey. Apparently there was a major debacle when Kelly Clarkson of American Idol fame purchased a ring once owned by Jane Austen at auction. Kelly is a huge fan of the 19th century writer and when one of only three known pieces of Jane Austen’s jewelry went up for sale, she bought it.


America's sweetheart, Kelly Clarkson, is a huge Jane Austen fan
Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, South England tried to purchase the ring but was outbid by Clarkson. The ring went for five times what Sotheby’s had estimated. This is when the UK Minister of Culture, Ed Vaizey, stepped in and instituted a ban on the ring leaving England. Now correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t the auction have rules prior to putting the ring up for sale? This would have saved a lot of hand wringing and trod upon sensibilities if someone had put conditions a buyer would have to meet prior to selling the ring.


Jane Austen's House Museum
Kelly Clarkson was a good sport and allowed the ring to hang out in England until another buyer could be found. Jane Austen’s House Museum immediately began a campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the ring and got a big boost when an anonymous donor contributed £100.000 towards their endeavor. Needless to say the museum was able to raise the full amount and Kelly Clarkson accepted the offer.


The famous ring
The ring will now be on display at the Jane Austen House Museum and at least Kelly Clarkson can visit it from time to time. The other known pieces of Austen’s jewelry are already on display at the House Museum. They are a topaz cross and a turquoise and ivory bracelet. So now Jane Austen’s entire know collection of jewelry will be on display for all her fans to see. What I want to know is how this girl got by with only three pieces of jewelry?
Don't worry Kelly, I'm sure there is a replica out there somewhere

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Is it Really High End Jewelry?

Watermelon tourmaline ring

What would you say is high end jewelry? Is it jewelry with a name, Cartier, Harry Winston, Tiffany, or is it something intrinsically associated with the quality of the construction, materials and design? Maybe it’s a little of both. High end jewelry to me has quality construction and materials and of course an appealing design. It is usually a piece that is made to last. It doesn’t require a lot of sales hype and as soon as a sales person tells me it is rare I know they are just giving me a pitch.


Deep color may indicate irradiation or other treatments
If you search on the internet using the term high end jewelry you will basically get everyone who sells jewelry. From De Beers to everyone is claiming that their jewelry is high end. This obviously leads me to believe that the concept of high end jewelry is very open to interpretation. Most of course are using gold, silver and platinum. Others believe that their innovative designs lead them to be purveyors of high end jewelry. The most important point to remember is high end doesn’t necessarily mean high price.


Tourmaline comes in a multitude of colors
Quality jewelry comes in many shapes and sizes. Knowing your product prior to purchase is the best way to ensure that your money is well spent. A fine example of gemstones that are more hype than high end is the tourmaline. I’ve seen tourmaline being sold on-line and at parties where the seller touts its value. Sellers claim it is a rare gemstone. In reality it is a semi-precious gemstone and can be found in plentiful supplies. Many tourmaline stones are irradiated or heat treated to intensify their color. Set in ten carat gold rings of pink tourmaline are pretty but mid-quality at best. Most tourmaline on the market is not natural, a natural stone increases the price considerably. If you purchased a tourmaline ring of significant carat weight in a gold setting chances are you’re paying for the gold not the stone.


Tourmaline can be green and set in silver for the bargain hunter
It is also best to be careful of any seller who may use a misleading name. Sometimes the name is to indicate where the gemstone was mined other times it is to make the gemstone appear more exotic in origin. Always look for natural stones if possible and if your wallet will allow it. The most important point is when purchasing high end jewelry make sure it is what the seller says it is, not a lesser quality item. Don’t let their sales pitch enthrall you into spending more than it is worth. The best way to determine if a piece of jewelry is of value is to ask the seller if they would allow you to trade up and how much they would give you in trade. If they refuse or it is a fraction of what they are asking then maybe it isn’t as high end as they are claiming.
Sometimes you can get all colors of tourmaline set in an innovative design

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dresses at the Emmys

Sarah Silverman looks great in her $60 on-line find

It is amazing what some actresses spend when attending the Emmy Awards. Some spend a small fortune and other just wear something they found on-line. Sarah Silverman who isn’t actually known for her savvy fashion sense looked stunning in a simple little black dress that she later claims to have been purchased on-line. Wish she would tell us which on-line retailer has that dress; this is probably something the retailer would love for her to blurt out also.


Wow what a dress Sofia Vergara!
Sofia Vergara wins the award for slinkiest red dress, but in reality you could put a potato sack on this woman and with her curves it would become the sexiest potato sack in history. She also jazzed up her dress with $7 million dollars’ worth of Lorraine Schwartz jewelry. Not sure I can say that the jewelry added anything to her dress but I will admit that those earrings are to die for!


Paula Abdul looks underwhelmed
Some of the actresses hitting the red carpet looked underwhelmed. I don’t know if it’s the photographer but there is a shot of both Julianne Hough and Paula Abdul and they both look like they would rather be at the dentist having a root canal. There are some stars who cleaned up really well. Mayim Bialik was the complete opposite of her character on The Big Bang Theory in a stunning green gown by Pamella Roland.


Mayim Bialik in Pamella Roland looks awesome, you go Amy!
Overall it’s fun to see the pictures the next day of all the stars and what they wore. It’s kind of like the prom but with famous people. We get to see all the hits and misses. Most of the stars are graded from A through F on how they pulled off a dress. Some are deserved and others aren’t, just can’t figure out why someone was a D when they looked pretty good. Oh well, this is what the media does, it grades what the stars wear to parties and out and about. Glad I’m not a star, no one cares what I wear at all.
Jane Lynch in Badgley Mischka looks great and super comfortable

Friday, September 20, 2013

Accessories for Fall

This hat looks like a Wizard of Oz costume

While I would be the first to love a new accessory nothing has really peaked my interest for Fall. In fact it has been rather blasé and nothing was talked about and declared super special. The small bits and pieces I’ve seen almost border on the ridiculous and most are completely un-wearable. This happens every now and again, fashion hits a slump and I think we’re heading that way this season.


This sits odd on the model, unflattering
As much as I love jewelry nothing has been special, unique or “to die for” this season. Most of what I see is either more of the same or unattractive. Those pieces that are unattractive walking down the runway on a fashion model maybe high end but not investment pieces, I would suggest waiting a season then purchasing a similar piece from the costume jewelry department. The ever popular statement necklace and matching bracelet is still in fashion, go with something made with crystals to save money.


I can't figure out what this statement necklace is trying to say
Scarves are in style and probably will never go out of style. If you own a lot of scarves and want to mix things up maybe this is the season to invest in some silk. If you’ve had your eye on a designer scarf and have always coveted a classic, splurge a little. While there doesn’t seem to be anything new on the scarf front, they are a fabulous accessory for adding a little color to the subdued colors of fall and coming winter. A bright scarf makes those subtle greys light up.


Go with a classic silk scarf, you can't lose
Shoes have been a big disappointment this season. Shoes have been comical in their shapes and function. Peep toe booties are a fair example of weird. Shoes that are so boxy and flat that they resemble flippers are not only unattractive; they’re an added expense for a silly fad. My suggestion, invest in good classic leather shoes, pumps, boots, loafers and ballet flats. If you already own these staples then consider it a reprieve from spending money on shoes. Maybe everybody doesn’t feel as I do about the new fashions, if you don’t you’re probably more avant garde than me.
Stay away from the nurse/granny platform shoe

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When are Yoga Pants Appropriate

Black yoga pants are not offensive

I just read an article where the writer hated on yoga pants. She didn’t feel that yoga pants were appropriate attire for a trip on a plane. Other than a yoga class where can you wear these pants? I was thinking that a plane trip was perfect. Let’s face it, you’re crammed into a seat so small it requires yoga to sit in it and you’re never comfortable, just like a yoga class. With all the bending and turning that you need to do on a plane trip yoga pants are the best attire.


Celebrities in pajama pants, bet they're silk
The writer thought that yoga pants were in bad taste. She also felt that any attire that was slovenly was also in bad taste. While I would be the first to say sitting next to someone that looks like a slob isn’t fun it beats sitting next to someone who has poor hygiene. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting next to a college girl who smelled sweet but wore pajamas pants. I would take this seat mate over the guy who smelled like body odor but wore a pair of khakis and a dress shirt. He looked great from a far, but don’t get near him.


Navy is also a good selection
The writer believed that we need to be more aware of those around us and how wearing yoga pants can bring judgment down upon our shoulders. Her final thoughts were its okay to wear what is comfortable as long as it didn’t elicit nasty stares from the expensive Italian luggage toting suit set boarding the plane. Why should I care what someone who is stupid enough to bring expensive luggage on a plane thinks? The one and only time I brought an expensive piece of luggage on a plane it got ruined by careless people. Never again, now I bring the K-Mart special.


He may look slovenly but I bet woman would fight over the seat next to him on a plane
Plane travel is uncomfortable, dirty, tiring and an invasion of privacy, we should be allowed to wear what we want. My take is wear comfortable clothes that can be searched easily and shoes that are easy on and off. You should be aware of others who might be offended by body odor or weird smelling perfume, don’t bring oversized handbags or carry-ons that require herculean effort to get in the overhead compartment. If you get the window seat don’t drink a gallon of water right before take-off, unless of course your seat mate is wearing yoga pants and wants a work out in flight, but always ask first.
This guy not so much

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kim Kardashian's Engagement Ring goes on the Auction Block

Yup, it's for sale!

While I’m not a fan of “Keeping up with the Kardashians” TV show I do know of its existence. I actually watched a few episodes because I found their love of everything sparkly fascinating. Their enthusiasm for jewelry was probably similar to mine except they have a ton of money. In particular they indulge in some pretty big rocks.


The bling girl
Unless you live under a rock, you probably know about the weird divorce triangle that was going on with Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband Kris Humphries. They were married for all of two minutes before they both started having regrets and Kim wanted a divorce. It didn’t seem like very long before things started getting really contentious and Kim was hooking up with Kanye West. Needless to say things got interesting when Kim was still married to Kris while having Kanye’s baby. Are there way too many Ks with these people?


They were happy for one day
Anyways, Kris has the massive engagement ring back in his possession and now he is selling it to recoup some of his cost. Rumor has it the ring cost him close to $2 million and they expect to get about $300,000 to $500,000. Talk about a bad investment, he losing all the way around. He’s divorced and he’ll get a fraction of what he paid for the ring. Actually he’s lucky to get the ring at all.


The new boyfriend and a baby on the way
Typically the engagement ring is given to the bride to be, if she backs out she must give the ring back to the prospective groom. If the groom backs out the bride gets the ring, kind of like a consolation prize. If the wedding happens usually the bride can now lay claim to the ring, unless there is some prenuptial agreement that states differently. Seeing how Kim is still making bank on her celebrity status and poor Kris has lost his NBA contract I can see how Kim would have given the ring back just to finish things up, but it must have been hard to let go of that 16.21 carat sparkler.
I give her credit for giving up the ring because she sure loves her bling

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wear a Pageboy Hat

Pretty standard pageboy cap

If you read my post yesterday you know that I went to the America Cup Races on Saturday. It was really fun, really windy and quite sunny for a San Francisco day. I of course forgot to bring a hat. I will be the first to admit that I am part vampire. I can’t stand or sit in the sun for very long without getting terribly sunburned. Needless to say my skin is usually pretty pale. I don’t think about this until I get somewhere and find I need a hat.


Worn by young boys during the 1900s
You would think with my bad memory I would have dozens of hats acquired over the years. Since I always forget my hat I would end up having to buy one when I got to my destination. Usually I resist this impulse and just get sunburned but this time I refused. I went to one of those tourist places that sell hats. I didn’t buy a cap with I “heart” San Francisco written on the front instead I purchased a pageboy cap. It was khaki and matched my khaki jacket and red scarf.


Became popular with women in the 1960s
Apparently after talking to my daughter these hats are quite popular. After a little research I found that these caps were popular with newspaper boys of the early 1900s. Although they were not exclusively worn by young boys they were also worn by adult men.  It was a cap that was originally associated with the lower working classes, primarily those who worked on the docks, steelworkers and shipwrights. Coincidence that this hat was sold from a shop on a pier, maybe not, maybe it was the result of some skilled marketing.


Even John Lennon wore a version
Although the style was associated with the lower classes it soon became popular with the wealthier who wore this style of cap for leisure activities. Like most fashion, it came and went and has recently made a resurgence in the past decade. You can now see women wearing this hat as well as men. Today it still remains popular and I personally kind of like my new hat. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll get another, in black, to go with some of my other outfits. It’s a very fashionable way to keep the sun off my face.

Even comes in distressed leather