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Accessories

The Price is Right

Engagement rings have been part of pre­-wedding tradition for quite a while now, and it certainly needs factoring ­in when considering one’s overall wedding budget.  In years past, there was a pretty simple scale for how to determine your engagement ring price range.  The unofficial rule was, rather simply, that the cost of the engagement ring would equal two months’ worth of paychecks.

Now tradition has become a bit more flexible, which ­­ for those who appreciate an easy ­to ­remember rule like that ­­ may leave you floundering for what to look for.  Well, while we may not have a magical solution to offer, here are a few facts and factors to consider: First, you can always play it safe by conforming to the national average.  According to The Knot’s annual wedding survey, the average cost of an engagement ring is about five and a half thousand dollars.  Twelve percent of couples will top that by spending more than $8,000 on their bling.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can always trick your diamond into thinking it’s bigger than it is; a shallow stone with a larger surface area may not sparkle as well, but it will appear much larger overall than its actual size.  Another good option is to look at products a hair below the next karat (for example, 1.8 instead of 2 karats), which can save as much as 20% on costs without diminishing the clarity of the gem.

Of course, your best option would be to discuss and decide on your alternatives together as a couple. It used to be commonplace for the groom ­to surprise his lady with a ring he picked himself, but the rules have changed quite a bit since then. In a recent study, it seems that that decision ­making technique accounts for only 5% of the current population.  More prevalent now, comprising an overwhelming 69% of couples,­­ is to decide on rings together.

Here’s our last major tip: If you’re still concerned about your engagement ring… don’t be! Although the ring carries large significance in matrimonial tradition, it is by no means the only bit of jewelry seen during the wedding.  Studies show that over 80% of brides will receive additional jewelry for their big day,­­ most commonly earrings, but also pendants, wristwatches, tiaras, and other hair accessories. For grooms, a lower percentage, but still considerable at 30%, ­­ will wear additional jewelry: along with the wedding band often come cuff links, watches, bracelets, money clips, and even necklaces. So don’t stress yourself out over the smaller details, and let yourself enjoy the celebration!

 

Pinned

A type of jewelry that doesn’t often get talked about is the hairpin. Its quiet status doesn’t detract from its value, though: a hairpin can complete an outfit. A row of white fabric flowers, for example, can turn you into a blushing bride while bow­tie shaped barrettes exude a vintage feel.

The Mel Bernie Company (also known as the 1928 Jewelry Company) has quite a selection in this range: silver­ and copper­tone butterfly barrettes or ornate clips with black oval gemstones tucked in a row of three.  There are more classic styles, like hair combs, one of which, ­­ also from The Mel Bernie Company, ­­ is studded with different shapes of real Swarovski crystals.

You can also opt for the bohemian look with any one of countless brightly colored feather hairpin styles. Those include peacock feathers that hug the scalp while showing off an array of purples, blues, and pinks as well as clip-­in feathers that dangle within your locks of hair.  Their best attribute is their versatility; they look great not only in your hair but anywhere! Try them clipped to your shirt or pinned to a chain and worn as a necklace. With these lovely pins, anything goes.

 

What’s a Guy to Wear?

One place you’ll be sure to find some great pieces is David Yurman, a company that provides an excellent selection of goods even in an area that often gets neglected — namely, men’s jewelry.

Along with some things you might expect — like sleek cufflinks or military tags — David Yurman also has a wide variety of collections exclusively for the male population. These include lines like Chevron, Streamline, and Faceted Metal, all aptly named for the products they encompass. The Chevron Collection boasts a triple¬wrap of black braided leather that closes via a magnetic clasp of sterling silver.  The Streamline Collection comes in a range of colors, like the Heirloom Signet Ring, a sterling silver squarish band set with a rectangular gemstone of either jade, black jade, or pietersite. (The ring is also sold without a stone, leaving just the smooth silver facet as its surface.)

The most variety, however, may come from the Faceted Metal Collection, which brings an ‘edgy’ dimension to jewelry. The multi-edged metal cuff topped with 18-karat rose gold has simplicity that gives it a clean, contemporary feel. Another companion in the line is made of silver lobster claw shapes that each clasp the end of another to form a sharp, funky bracelet. If you’re a guy who feels left out of the jewelry market, David Yurman is a great place to get in on the action!

 

Shoes and More

Here’s a jewelry line you may not have expected (or expected us to highlight): One Wink, the new jewelry collection from DSW, the Designer Shoe Warehouse.  DSW has been designing shoes for over twenty years years and have long been purveyors of handbags and similar accessories, but as of last year they broadened their range to encompass adornments of the gold and silver variety.  One Wink offers options for diverse style preferences, including both timeless elegance (like the Pearl 360 Stud Earrings) and contemporary chic (like the Multi Circle Twist Drop Earrings, which boasts a row of six gold- or silver-colored twisted-up circles).

It seems this production decision has worked out well for DSW because, since the introduction of One Wink, they have added another handful of inexpensive selections to the online store. Natasha’s Smooth Hoop Earrings (minimalist hoops with rhinestone accents) and her MultiColor Stone Bib Necklace (silver link-chain with a row of five pentagonal arrangements of colorful stones).

Only time will tell if DSW’s secondary category will continue to profit, but after a year of success they have gotten off to more than a good start.

 

A Brooch for Every Occasion

Some people are under the impression that brooches belong with an antiquated set of ornaments that don’t fit with the glamour and pizzazz of modern society.  But if you’re of that mind set, you may want to think again!  It’s true brooches were a common component of Victorian dress, from which brooches get the then-common oval shape bearing the portrait silhouette of a woman.  While that particular style may no longer be in fashion, brooches have plenty more to offer — both in the past and present day.  Brooches came into vogue long before the eighteenth century.  In fact, since they have existed as far back as the Bronze Age and since their style changes in quick fads, brooches can be excellent clues in identifying historical time periods.

But brooches are more than just relics of history.  As jewelry styles have modernized, so have they: pieces like a Georg Jensen brooch designed by Henning Koppel in a biomorphic figure eight-like shape. For rougher options there is Giorgio Armani’s tarantula brooch, its body made of one perfectly round black gemstone with head and legs made of tiny studded diamonds.

Even how you choose to wear it can add some flair. Though traditionally worn on or near the lapel, a brooch can go anywhere!  Try it on the hip of your dress, as a scarf fastener, or to close a vest.  You can try clusters of smaller brooches that share a motif, rather than one single larger piece.  There’s no reason to cast off brooches as the fashions of the past, not when they are still unquestionably at the height of design.

 

Costume: Is It Fake?

For many people the term “costume jewelry” suggests gaudy, over-the-top necklaces they once used for playing dress-up at a grandmother’s house.  For others it brings up thoughts of gold rings that turn your skin green.  Sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile less satisfactory pieces with the high quality costume jewelry you can find on the market now because our instinct may be to assume that anything “fake” is not worth our money.

In reality, though, costume jewelry has quite a bit to offer if you give it a chance.  True, the cheaper options, produced in bulk by machines, go for quantity over quality, and you’ll find the gold or silver plating chips easily and the rhinestones fall out.  But there is a higher quality available, too, on that bridges the gap between costume jewelry and fine jewelry.

The main difference between costume and fine jewelry, aside from price, is the materials that are used.  Fine jewelry will be made with precious metals, namely, silver, platinum, titanium, or gold that is 10 karats or higher. All natural stones are classified as fine jewelry, including cultured pearls (which are still naturally formed). Diamonds that were created in a lab are still considered fine jewelry because they have the same chemical properties as mined diamonds, but when sold they must be identified as having come from a lab. (They are also significantly cheaper than their naturally formed counterparts.)

In contrast to that, costume jewelry can be made with any other type of metal, like copper and stainless steel; often these non-precious metals are coated with silver or gold.  Gems used in costume jewelry are synthetically made, the most common of which are quartz, rhinestone, cubic zirconium, and even glass. When you talk about jewelry that stains your skin, you're referring to the lower end of the costume jewelry spectrum.  Those are pieces made with nickel, copper, or silver, all of which react with the acidity of lotion or sweat. But metals like stainless steel, if pure, are fairly nonreactive with the skin.  In the higher quality fashion jewelry, you will often find semi-precious stones, like jade or high quality crystal.  Stones like cubic zirconia, which simulates real diamond, don’t cheapen the look of the piece and are just as durable as are precious stones.

Chanel, a major purveyor of jewelry, has costume pieces reaching prices in the thousands — with one vintage necklace made of gold-tone metal and faux pearls.  For an heirloom that you can pass on for years to come, fine jewelry is still probably your best bet.  It’s made to last for generations, using materials that are more durable in the long-term.  But costume jewelry shouldn’t cause an upturned nose.  There is much more to costume jewelry than what you may have gleaned from a first impression, and if you give it a chance you’ll likely find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Mismatched

The new trend among earring wearers is something people are calling ‘Askew Crew’ — that is to say, mismatched jewelry on either side of your face.  This style takes various forms — from different colors to different sizes, even single-earring designs that leave one ear completely bare. Maybe the next time you lose an earring, instead of pocketing the other one, you can make your own statement by leaving it in!

Some of the most well-known designers have decided to get in on this action, like Louis Vuitton, Betsey Johnson, and Oscar de la Renta. Louis Vuitton has gone all out, with a whole array of single studs from the Monogram Idylle collection. They offer simple four-petaled flowers encased in a thin-rimmed circle, dangling from a single round diamond, a piece that comes in one of three shades of gold (white, yellow, or pink). This earring can be worn as one of a set, but it also is a great statement piece as a single earring or as a mismatched pair with one of the other golds. Another option is the asymmetrical Monogram Resille, with one thin-petaled flower inscribed inside a square while its partner, a round-petaled flower, is inscribed in a circle.

Betsey Johnson takes a more playful perspective, like their mismatched partners of the Ear Cuff with Arrow: one, a silver star-shaped stud with a single diamond core, and the other heart-tipped arrow that dangles, the entire head encrusted with ten small diamonds. Oscar de la Renta, meanwhile opts for a bolder imbalance with its Swarovski Crystal Ear Cuff. Created for only one ear, this three-piece set includes separate pieces for the upper and middle part of the ear, as well as a single pearl for the lobe. If none of these feel right for you, there’s plenty more where each one came from. After all, this new wave is just getting started!

You can see more here: http://us.louisvuitton.com/eng-us/products/monogram-hoops-yellow-gold-and-pearls-001802

and here: http://www.betseyjohnson.com/Item.aspx?id=107916&np=914_919

and here: http://www.oscardelarenta.com/jewelry/swarovski-crystal-ear-cuff

 

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