When I arrived at a client’s house last week to do some closet work, she greeted me at the door in one of her stylin’ tennis ensembles. As she turned around to head to the closet, I had to smile. She was sporting a ponytail holder that featured a HUGE faux green gem (like an enormous green diamond solitaire), and it spoke volumes — it showed her fun, colorful personality without her having to open her mouth. In addition, it was a creative way to add “jewelry” in a way that worked on the court.
This really got me thinking about how your hair accessories really are part of your jewelry. If you find a hair accessory that really speaks to you, then it’s worth the investment. (Remember the whole cost-per-wear analysis.) Though I have a cropped pixie and can’t play with cute ponytail bands or jeweled combs, I know the majority of you reading this likely can. So I took a look around, and found possibilities for every personal style, from sporty to romantic to refined. Let me know what you think.
During my research, I couldn’t believe how many beautiful headbands there are out there as well! But that’s going to have to be a whole separate post. I bet I can even make a headband work with my hair style.
While at the Couture show in Vegas, I made it a point to stop by the Sparkle + Shine lounge. I must admit, that although I’m a total jewelry-o-holic, I’m not the best at cleaning my collection. What about you? Is this an area you can improve upon as well? I asked Kristie Nicolosi, President and CEO of The Kingswood Company, some questions about cleaning jewelry, and here’s what she had to say:
I know with summer upon us, our jewelry is likely getting quite dirty with sand, sunscreen, etc. I also know cleaning jewelry may be the last thing many people think of. But this is really important, right?
We all want to look fabulous on vacation, but wearing your best jewelry to the beach or poolside can end badly. You might lose a favorite piece in the waves or sand. The chemicals in chlorine from a pool or hot tub are damaging to metals. Water can loosen any piece set with glue. Sand can scratch metals. And, of course, suntan lotions will gum up your gems, causing them to lose their shine.
So I recommend wearing fashion jewelry with your favorite bikini or caftan. But whether you’ve worn a fashion piece or fine jewelry (I know many women don’t remove their engagement and wedding rings, for example), you really need to clean it after a trip to the beach or pool, to remove chemicals, oils, salts and sand. Use a cleaning formula that is safe for the piece and then give it a quick wipe-down with a professional polishing cloth.
How often do you think jewelry needs to be cleaned?
It is safe to clean your jewelry as often as daily, when you use the right cleaning formulary, and you should definitely do it pretty routinely for pieces you wear often. No matter how careful you are, your rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces will get dull from body oils, lotions, cooking oils and more. For most pieces, we recommend soaking it for about two minutes in a professional cleaning formula and blotting dry. Some pieces cannot be soaked, such as strands of pearls or anything set with glue (like doublets), so be sure to ask your jeweler for guidance.
It’s also a smart idea to have your jewelry inspected by your jeweler annually. She will examine the piece for damage to the prongs and stones and offer to perform any necessary repairs. Your piece will also receive a professional cleaning and will come back to you looking almost new. It’s like a spa day for your jewelry!
Are there different ways to clean different types of jewelry? I wouldn’t imagine you’d clean a pair of silver earrings with turquoise in them the same way you’d clean pearls, right?
You are absolutely right! I always recommend that women ask their jeweler for guidance on how to routinely clean a piece at home. There are a number of different cleaning formulas which are safe for different kinds of jewelry. A fine jewelry cleaner is generally safe for diamonds, gold, platinum and other harder stones. A delicate or gentle jewelry cleaner should be non-ammoniated, so it would be safe on softer, more porous stones, such as pearls, turquoise, emeralds and more. You may also find a silver jewelry cleaner but those are generally only safe for sterling silver, not on any set stones or antiquing, so exercise caution.
It is safest to clean based on the most delicate element of the piece. For example, if a piece is made with diamonds and pearls, you must use a gentle formula that is safe for the pearls, even though the diamonds can be exposed to a stronger formula. Your example of a piece with silver and turquoise would require cleaning with a formula safe for the turquoise, so a sliver jewelry cleaning formula would not be safe in that instance but a gentle jewelry cleaner would be. If the silver in those earrings were tarnished, I would recommend cleaning with a gentle jewelry cleaner and then using a professional polishing cloth to remove the tarnish.
I’ve heard the The Kingswood company has a new natural jewelry cleaner out. Can you please tell me a bit more about that?
Thank you for asking about our Natural Jewelry Cleaner! We are super excited to offer this new formulary to our private-label retailers and brands and their customers. The formula is all-botanical, hypoallergenic, naturally derived, water-soluble and devoid of volatile organic compounds. For women who are concerned about their environmental footprint, it is an excellent choice (though all of our formularies are non-toxic and biodegradable). Our Natural Jewelry Cleaner is the only jewelry cleaning formula for diamond, gold and platinum jewelry to be awarded the EPA’s Design for the Environment designation and placement on its “Safer Choice” product list.
Many of our retail customers are now carrying this product, so check with your favorite jeweler to see if it is available.
I want to thank Kristie for her words of wisdom, and I promise to make more of an effort in the jewelry cleaning department in the future!
Kristie Nicolosi is the President and CEO of The Kingswood Company, the industry’s leading supplier of high-quality, private-label jewelry care products. She travels extensively both nationally and internationally to keep up with the latest trends in the jewelry industry and to share her expertise in jewelry care, cleaning and education. A frequent contributor to publications such as In Store, Martha Stewart Weddings, the American Gem Society’s Spectra, the American Gem Trade Association’s Prism and more, Nicolosi also shares her knowledge and insights in her own blog #cleanjewelry and through Facebook and Twitter.
You may recall reading about Jacquie Aiche about a year ago, when I posted an article about her here on the blog. I was eager to visit her at Couture this year to see her latest and greatest, and she did not disappoint!
Before I could start looking around, I had to first inspect what she, herself, was wearing!
Did she really bling out an antique watch? Yes…she did!
Her crystal necklaces wrapped in diamonds are dreamy–shown in the bottom two necklaces in the photo below. Yes, please!
These carved agate arrowheads with diamonds are unique and versatile.
And how about these sugilite earrings?? (Yep…another gem I had never heard of before!)
The way Jacquie took hoop earrings to the next level is awesome.
Her booth was filled with a riot of color, and I couldn’t resist trying on a few rings.
If you know me or have been following me for a while, then you’re aware that the ocean and jewelry are two of my favorite things in life. When you combine the two, I’m in heaven, which is exactly how I feel about Dezso by Sara Beltran. The first time I saw images of her pieces a few years ago, I tracked down where they were sold, because I had to see them in person! While on vacation down in Santa Barbara I made a side trip to a boutique in a nearby town who carried her line. They did have two of her rings (which unfortunately didn’t fit me), but I was on the quest for her colorful Mexican bracelets, which is what she first became known for.
The way she combines the woven bracelets with the carved shell amulets, inlaid with polki diamonds, is luxe and beachy at the same time. What more could I want? Though I didn’t make a purchase that day, I knew that one day I’d have to own something by her. I was thrilled to see she was on the roster for Couture this year. Meeting her, and her production woman, Regina, was awesome. They are both so down to earth, and I could have chatted with them all day.
Though Sara began her career as a stylist, she made the full-time switch to jewelry designing in 2009. While she was studying fashion merchandising, she started making necklaces. One of the first times she was noticed for her jewelry was when photographer Bruce Weber spotted her wearing one of her own designs and wanted it. Nice!
Her line is inspired by the ocean, and her travels around the globe to different beaches surely provide her with endless ideas. She prefers to use natural materials, from fossils to shark teeth. This one-of-a-kind necklace is made from a boar tusk with polki diamonds. Notice the shark fin detail carved into the gold. This is a motif seen in many pieces in her collection.
I’ve never seen coral and diamonds used in such an imaginative way in a ring, have you?
This necklace, with it’s deep purple hue, even has a surprise on the back, with Sara’s signature and another diamond.
This is the “tiara” necklace, with gold shark teeth and diamonds. It’s definitely fit for a royal mermaid!
She was showing a lovely collection of charms, which I think is a great way to start adding some Dezso (the Latin word for desire) to your life.
She also has numerous cuffs, with organic forms on either end — perfect in a stack or on their own.
Art Deco is also an influence in this line, as seen in these pearl drop earrings. She has her signature shark fin motif in enamel combined with Tahitian pearls. It takes true creativity to blend Art Deco with the ocean, and she nails it.
This “Jali Collar” necklace displays the same idea, in her signature rose gold, black enamel and diamonds.
Sara has an studio in the CFDA building in NYC, though she is primarily based in Jaipur, India, where production takes place. Her passion and creativity go beyond jewelry. In speaking with her, I learned she recently styled an entire hotel in Saint-Tropez from furniture to curating the menu. Amazing!
If you’d like a glimpse into her exotic life, you may enjoy following her on Instagram. I love her artistic photographs and catching a peek into what inspires her. And of course…seeing the jewlery.
Dezso by Sara Beltran is sold in various stores around the globe. (Click here for a list of stockists.) If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, I know that Angela in Menlo Park also just started carrying some of her work. I’ll definitely be stopping by to see what they have!
When I put out a call for topics in May, I received a great question from Marjory:
OK, Amy… Here’s a question. What does a girl wear on her wedding band finger when she’s past the stage of wanting to get married again. Is it just a matter of individual taste or personal style? I love rings, but that finger feels naked! Should it be a statement ring, stacked or multiple small rings, any particular stones (like my birthstone)??? I’d love your opinion.
First of all, thank you for your response, Marjory. This question resonates with me for so many reasons, and I’ve given it a lot of thought the past few weeks. What I think it boils down to is the “rules” our society has created. If you’re a married woman, then you’re supposed to wear a ring on that finger. If you’re single, then you don’t. Of course, this seems to only apply to women (shocker), as even my own father did not wear a wedding ring during his 50+ years of marriage, and that was acceptable by society’s standards. I can’t name one woman I know who’s married who doesn’t wear a ring. Curious.
And of course, there’s the flip side of the coin. I am single, yet I’d like to marry one day, and I’ve kept that finger bare as a baby’s butt for my entire adult life. I certainly wouldn’t want to scare off a potential suitor in the supermarket if I had a big ring on, right?
So here comes my conclusion. Married or not, I think you should be able to wear ANY ring on any finger you want — statement ring, your birthstone, whatever. Just in the past 6 months, I’ve started wearing rings on my wedding finger. (And yes, if felt a bit awkward at first.) Granted, this was mostly due to the fact that a weight gain (I love peri-menopause, by the way) has changed how some of my rings fit. I decided I didn’t want those rings to go into hiding, so on to my left hand they have gone. Be done with the ring rules, my friends!
I even went a step further this week. My ultra-conservitive father, who I certainly loved dearly, had some very peculiar notions about what a proper lady should do. This list included NO pierced ears and NO colored nail polish. In his mind, these things meant you were a very loose woman. I know he developed these notions during a rough upbringing in Flint, Michigan, and I know he only wanted the very best for me, but I must say that these rules do NOT apply to me…or anyone, for that matter.
So, I did it. I went for a manicure and got COLORED nail polish on my fingers yesterday while wearing a fabulous Arik Kastan moonstone ring, which brings me much joy, on my wedding finger. Bottom line, is follow your bliss and do what makes you happy.
Last week three of my fabulous blogger friends wrote fun articles entitled, “My Life in Hairstyles.” (The Flying Chalupa, Midlife Mixtape and Smacksy) Not only did I love seeing their life unfold right on the screen, but it got me to thinking about my own life and how jewelry has always been such a big part of it. So for your entertainment, here’s my life in jewelry…and clearly you get to see my hairstyles as well, the good and the not-so-good.
As I started my tour through all my (zillion) photo albums, I was so surprised to see that I was already wearing a slim bracelet on my right hand at only one year old. I have no recollection of this bracelet, and how I wish I knew the story behind it and where it is now. I have a feeling it must have started my subconscious love of the bling.
The allure of all things sparkly led me to do something very naughty when I was around 5 years old. I had quite a few pieces of nice jewelry gifted to me from family. I distinctly recall a necklace with an emerald-cut ruby pendant surrounded by little diamonds, and another one with an amethyst pendant. I needed to know what it felt like to hold all these gems in my hand, so I meticulously picked out each gem from their settings, one by one. I knew I had done something very bad, so I hid them in a clam shell I had picked up on the beach, hoping my parents didn’t find out.
I carried this clam everywhere with me, sneaking peeks inside to see my treasures glitter. Then tragedy struck. As I was using the bathroom one afternoon, with the clamshell carefully placed on the top of the toilet, it fell…right…into…the toilet. I was too mortified to ask for help, and you guessed it — I flushed. Good bye to all my jewels and any hope of having any jewelry for a few years. It was a very painful lesson to learn in so many ways, let me tell you.
The best way I could get my hands on jewelry was on Halloween, when I loved to dress up as a gypsy. I wore my mom’s necklaces draped over me, and my fingers bedecked in many rings. I love how in this photo, the bracelets are stacked over my quilted parka. In addition, I got to wear lipstick!! And who needs trick-or-treat candy when you have beautiful, dangling earrings on?! I felt so glamorous.
For picture day in fourth grade, not only did I wear an outfit that I made myself (my mom taught me to sew starting in third grade), but I wore my favorite necklace — little cherries that looked almost like stained glass. I proudly wore this necklace for years, and it always felt very special.
Though I was the queen of Valley Girl style in middle school, I unfortunately don’t have any photos of me in my jewelry. (How can that be?!) Plastic beads in white, aqua, and pink were right up there with my painted clip-on earrings. Totally tubular, fur shuur.
Come high school, I had this weird idea that I was now “grown up” and needed to have more sophisticated jewelry. In my mind, this came in the form of a thin, gold chain, which I apparently wore in my school photos for the next three years. Given the size of my hair (yes, this is all natural!) I should have definitely stepped up the scale of the necklace, don’t you think? (side note: The boys used to bark and call me poodle with this hair…no fun!) Although I was desperate for pierced ears, my father forbid it until I finished college. (another side note: I didn’t make it till the end of college with virgin ears, much to his chagrin.)
New Year’s Eve 1986 was extra-special for me, as one of my best friends, Leslee, came to visit. She had moved to Washington state after third grade, but we remained great pals. (And we still are to this day!) We thought we had it going on at a party in a friend’s garage, on either side of a cute boy. I loved my long pearls, which I wore knotted for a little sass. Love how Leslee was rockin’ the bolo tie! (She’s always been edgier than me!)
Off to UCLA I went, and that’s where I started making jewelry and selling it on campus and in a few shops in Los Angeles. I adored making the beaded earrings, and I really enjoyed helping people pick out just the right pair. Since my ears were newly pierced, it was all new and exciting for me.
Though I was most comfortable in my Birkenstocks and beachy attire, I also did some hair modeling. No matter what they did with my hair and make-up (and boy did they pile it on!), I still had to wear huge silver hoops and my favorite crystal, which I still have today. Silver hoops were my first pierced earrings I ever bought, and they remain a staple in my personal style.
Setting up my jewelry in my apartment senior year was so much fun for me. I turned my giant bulletin board into a display for my earrings and necklaces, and I had a tray of bracelets below. It gave me so much joy to look at every day, and I felt like I was in my own little boutique when I’d select my ensemble for the day.
After college, the 8 years I taught third grade were spent wearing a lot of wood cut-out jewelry, as you have read about in previous articles. But when I made the career switch to image consulting in 1999, I definitely upped my jewelry ante. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I purchased these Tiffany & Co. mesh earrings by Elsa Peretti. I wore them for many years before I passed them on.
After the popularity of small-scale jewelry in the 1990’s, I was excited to see bigger, bolder designs emerge in the 2000’s. This turquoise necklace, purchased from a street vendor in NYC in 2001 seemed SO big at the time, but it was a perfect transition to a larger scale. (Now, it seems almost dainty!)
While at a glamorous girl’s weekend in Montecito in 2003, I borrowed this crystal necklace to wear with my Ralph Lauren rhinestone earrings. I felt like a princess!
After a long trip to Italy the summer of 2005, I returned oh-so-tan, and I thought I looked pretty cool in these chandelier earrings with turquoise drops in them. I think they only cost about $20, but they hit just the right note with the dress. Without the earrings, the outfit would not have felt complete.
Buying this amethyst lariat necklace by San Francisco designer Alana Leigh was a big moment for me. It felt like a substantial purchase, and I wore it a lot.
I went REALLY big for New Year’s Eve 2009, with this Elie Tahari necklace I won at a contest at Neiman Marcus.
I started getting into layering necklaces and stacking bracelets around 2010. Here’s a shot which shows one of my initial attempts while in Copenhagen. (Great city!) Layering and stacking opened a whole new jewelry door for me, and that was likely one of the pre-cursors for me to start my blog less than a year later.
I know you’ve seen my whole jewelry life since then, so I won’t bother repeating. I would LOVE you to send me some images of you wearing your favorite jewelry throughout the years!! Send them to me at [email protected]com. Thanks for coming along on this nostalgic ride with me–hope you enjoyed it!
It’s not often I see a line which renders me speechless, but when I saw Lydia Courteille’s line at the Couture show, I was dumbstruck. This is something you’d see in a museum — certainly nothing like I’d ever seen in my day-to-day shopping. It’s completely fitting that her tag line on her website is “rare jewelry,” as that’s indeed what it is. And here I was, meeting Lydia and trying on her gems. Life is pretty darn amazing sometimes.
This Paris-based designer has that quintessential je ne sais quoi about her, and I was enchanted. The first ring I tried on was sublime. Here’s a couple different views.
Have you ever seen anything like it? The dimension and the strata of color had me twirling my hand around to appreciate its depths.
Rubellite, a rare red tourmaline, is currently her favorite stone, and she has a splendid collection utilizing it called “Scarlet Empress.” It’s inspired by the Russian Empress Catherine II, and she incorporates both fantasy and the 18th Century in her designs. Here’s an example from the group, showing the color and intricacy of the work in red-coated gold, rubies and spinel.
In speaking with Lydia about her inspiration, she talked about everything from savoring time in a boat on the floating gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico to all the time spent in museums. Her travels have certainly brought a fantastical essence to her designs, as seen in this 3-part ring which she told me is, “magma on the sun.”
I love how ahead of the curve she is. In fact, I think she may be one of the true visionaries in wearing one dramatic earring. Here, she showed me two different styles of “Chinese Kite” earrings, which are fab worn one at a time, with something simple on the other ear.
The sea is also a big inspiration, and one I can most definitely relate to. How lovely are these earrings, with adjoining seahorses.
Lydia told me she is always in search of stones. She puts them all into a big box, and when she feels she has enough, she lets creativity take over. She feels a strong “pull” and puts her own culture into her designs. She feels that “jewelry is a team story,” from the workshops to the PR team, and “success is a result of everyone.” I so appreciate how her passion was bursting forth during our interview. It was an immense pleasure meeting her.
It is true… back in the 90’s when I taught third grade, I had a BIG collection of holiday jewelry. I had wood cut-out necklaces and earrings for every occasion, and even some battery-powered pieces that my students loved. Now that I’m no longer working with little ones, I gave away my collection long ago, because let’s face it…it’s clearly not my personal style! But that’s not to say that you can’t find a more subtle way to celebrate with your jewelry. With the Fourth of July almost upon us, I thought it would be fun to explore options with a star motif. Granted, these would be good all year round, but extra special while watching fireworks burst overhead, don’t you think?