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Cha-Cha Cowie

If you’re a couple who is leaning toward marriage, you may want to push off your engagement for a couple of weeks, at least until May rolls around. What happens in May? A partnership between Blue Nile and the acclaimed Colin Cowie, which will debut a selection fine jewelry with a special focus on engagement rings. Cowie is television’s ‘nuptial’ expert, having appeared on talk shows such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, to name a few.  He has also hosted the Lifetime TV series Get Married for nearly a decade. Between planning celebrity parties, it seems he also likes to dip his fingers into the fine jewelry side of the design pool.

In this upcoming partnership, for which he will act as Blue Nile’s official spokesperson, Cowie admits to having “a passion for jewelry, and [he is] in the business of romance, which go hand in hand.”  Although no pictures are currently available, Blue Nile has released a description of the variety that will be offered.  Pieces in the collection will be made of one of three materials: 14 karat white gold, 18 karat yellow gold, or platinum.  Design options include a few of the most popular engagement ring styles: solitaire (a single stone mounted atop an otherwise bare ring), halo (a stone accompanied by a bejeweled band), and the three ­stone form (a single larger gem sandwiched between two smaller stones).  This commission expects to produce a sizable assortment, enough to feed four separate jewelry collections — ­­ three women’s lines and one for men.

If you’re not ready to walk down the aisle, don’t feel disappointed.  In addition to wedding­ related creations, Blue Nile’s newest production will include necklaces and bracelets, as well as earrings and a few pendants. No matter the reason ­­ upcoming nuptials, some other milestone, or simply a desire to freshen your inventory ­­ make sure to check out Blue Nile’s May release.

Helzberg Sale

Helzberg Diamonds is having an online and in-­store clearance celebration, offering up to $1,000 off products in all shapes, sizes, and price brackets. The discount ranges from cheaper dainty pieces ­­ like the double-­digits pendant with two interlocking silver hearts and the word “mom” (something to keep in mind for Mothers’ Day, just over a month away).

They also have significant cuts for their pricier items.  Most notable is a 14 karat white gold bracelet, encrusted with a total of 217 round brilliant diamonds arranged in a floral chain. This dazzling piece, once nearly $10,000, is now being sold for just over half its original price at $6,000.  And though diamond is Helzberg’s specialty, you will definitely find expert manipulation of various other precious stones, as in the diamond and blue sapphire engagement ring, which has each of sixteen sapphires encased in a black square setting.

This major sale is valid for only the next couple of days, so be sure to check out these products­­ as well as others ­­soon.  Visit http://www.helzberg.com to view more.

Going Public!

In the summer of 2005, the site Etsy was launched as an online marketplace of handmade and vintage products, including art, knick­-knacks, and of course jewelry.  According to its CEO, this Amazon­-esque website values the small businesses, the micro-­producers, and the crafts-­makers over the mass­-producing manufacturing companies.

Well, those standards have certainly paid off; at the end of last year Etsy had a 54 million registered members (which doesn’t include the countless unregistered users) and upwards of 29 million items listed for sale. Until now, if you wanted to get in on the action you were out of luck.

Until very recently, Etsy was a private company. But as of earlier this month, the company has finally gone public, releasing privately held shares for public sale. At an estimated $100 million, Etsy’s IPO (initial public offering) is one of the largest for an online company in over a decade. Does that suggest the promise of even greater strides for this civilians’ e­market? Only time will tell.

 

Engagement Annual Survey

Of all milestones in life, weddings are possibly the most steeped in cultural significance. After all, the prospect of forgoing a reception — in lieu of simply a visit to a government building for a marriage license — would fill most people with disappointment. If you’re a traditionalist, then this special occasion may leave you with a slew of questions about how to fulfill those conventional expectations. Well, the XO Group Inc. (formerly The Knot) may be able to ease your concerns with its comprehensive Real Weddings Study, the results of which were released this past month.

These statistics won’t help you determine your personal cultural traditions, but they can at the very least identify some of the many factors found in an average wedding. And if you’re someone who likes to stand out from the crowd, then this report will tell you precisely what to avoid.  For example, the most popular month to get engaged is December, an engagement that lasts typically about fourteen months.

According to this same survey — as mentioned in a previous post — the average price of an engagement ring is documented at $5,855. That’s up nearly $300 from 2013’s $5,598.  Another useful fact to know when picking out your ring is that “round” the most common diamond shape used, with “princess” as the next likely option. In terms of material, you’ll find white gold far in the lead, taking over 73% of the population.

As for the bands exchanged during the ceremony itself, while last year’s final stats haven’t yet been publicized, the year before has quite a bit of information on the subject.  In 2013, more grooms wore wedding bands than brides (96% to 93%), which is an interesting and perhaps unexpected twist.  If you’re looking for most common metals, it will depend on which half of the couple you are; the most frequent choice for brides is — like the engagement ring — white gold, used by an overwhelming majority of the population (70%).  For grooms, meanwhile, the spread is much more diverse.  Only 27% of men go for a white gold band, which comes as a close second to the top metal — tungsten carbide — accounting for 32%.  Least common option?  For women it’s cobalt, at under 1%, whereas for men it’s the dainty rose gold.

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!

 

Blue Nile Update

Last month we mentioned Blue Nile’s plans to open its very first retail store after the drop in sales caused by its lack of a physical presence in the jewelry market.  After success with its year of test ­runs, setting up showcases in some Nordstrom stores, Blue Nile has decided a brick and mortar outlet is the way to go.  Until now, however, the location of this highly anticipated building has been kept under wraps. Well, we may have an update on that.  Although nothing has been made official, information on its website suggests that the first store will be opening on Long Island, NY.  There has been no definitive timetable either, though analyst experts have said they believe it will happen some time in the second quarter. If you’re passing by New York, keep your eyes peeled for more intel!

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.

 

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