Skip to Content

ShoppingBadger.com Blog

The Big Apple

In a few weeks Sotheby’s will be hosting an auction in the heart of New York City; items for sale were chosen specifically to reflect NYC’s Big Apple atmosphere, which means every artifact was inspired by or otherwise celebrates the energy of the city that never sleeps.  Of course, that still leaves a lot up to the artist’s interpretation, and the options are as diverse as the New Yorkers that inspired them.

There is the fierce Chrysler Redux bangle bracelet.  Designed by Marilyn Cooperman, this silver and gold latticework, interwoven with baguette diamonds, was inspired by the city’s architecture. David Webb’s Twin Frog bracelet could not be further from Cooperman’s style. These leap-frogging amphibians — made of green enamel and gold spots, eyes of oval-shaped cabochon rubies, and a row of diamonds for a mouth — represent the more playful side that New York can offer.

To check out more lots go to http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/the-new-york-sale-n09215.html.

And be sure to find yourself in New York this April Fool’s Day at 8:00 pm!

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.

Diamond Secrets

A few fun facts about one of the most popular gemstones on the jewelry market: diamonds.

Although white/transparent diamonds are most common, that’s not the only hue you can find. There is a huge variety, from black diamonds to pink to blue… in fact, diamonds exist in pretty much every color.

De Beers, a diamond mining company founded by Cecil Rhodes, is one of the most powerful diamond companies of today; it controls as much as 70% of the entire diamond industry. Actually, in the late 1800s, De Beers mined a huge yellow gem that weighed in at nearly 430 old karats (a measurement used until early 1900’s) and measured as one of the largest diamonds during that time period. Now cut, it currently holds the record for seventh largest diamond in the world.

But to find the largest diamond in existence, you’ll have to look outside of De Beers’ mines.  In fact, you’ll have to look outside of planet Earth altogether!  The largest diamond is, in fact, a star — specifically, a chunk of crystallized carbon found within the Centaurus constellation.  Located about 50 light years from Earth, this white dwarf star was aptly nicknamed “Lucy” after the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.  Lucy may be only a dwarf as a star, but she’s a giant as far as diamonds are concerned; she would weigh in at about 10 billion trillion trillion karats… more than all the karats of diamond worn on Earth all together!

 

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

 

Established

Last week marked the launch of Nikki Erwin’s new jewelry collection, Established.  Nikki Erwin, who until now was known for her extensive handbag brand Donatienne, has decided to branch out in the fashion market. The event was hosted by actresses Erin and Sara Foster at Soho House in West Hollywood.

Erwin’s collection is made up of 14 karat and 18 karat pieces that Erwin describes as a blend of “edgy and sexy”. Pieces include a diamond torpedo necklace, pyramid dagger earrings, a “Thug Life” chunky gold ring, and many others.  Some, like a necklace in the shape of a razor blade, are studded with diamonds. Others call on religious symbolism, like the evil-eye diamond bracelet.  Although this is Erwin’s first line, she has been designing jewelry on an individual basis for nearly a decade. The recent choice to come out with a complete collection wasn’t so much of a decision as it was a natural progression.  She found herself with a sudden “influx of creativity” that simply developed into a fully functional jewelry line.  The results of this influx — well, they speak for themselves.

You can see more here: http://www.establishedjewelry.com/

Joseff Hollywood, part 2

After Eugene Joseff’s untimely death in 1948, his wife Joan filled his role in all his companies (including Joseff Precision Metal Products, which built aircraft and missile parts) until her own passing only five years ago.  With almost ninety years in the film business, Joseff-Hollywood accrued quite a collection of jewelry… not to mention an equally boastful collection of anecdotes to match!

For a trio of thieves in 1942’s The Jungle Book, Joseff created a swirling red and gold armor breastplate with faux gold faces, all studded with rhinestones. Due to the considerable amount of jumping and wrestling during scenes, the colorful rhinestones would come loose, forcing the crew to pause several times a shoot just to replace them.  In 1963’s Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor had the famous snake belt designed for her — a thick gold rope clasped by a coiled snake with an emerald crown in its head constructed specifically to her body. Enough changed between the day of measurement and the fitting that by the time Joan Joseff returned with the belt, it was 2½ inches too small. Elizabeth Taylor insisted Joseff had measured incorrectly and although Joan knew the truth (after all, she was known for her meticulous cuts) she didn’t argue.

Like her husband, who crafted heavily ornate jewelry for 67 royal children in Anna and the King of Siam as well as thousands of pieces for a treasure trove in The Jungle Book, Joan enjoyed the hard work for its own sake. Their devotion and determination to their trade are likely what carried Joseff-Hollywood to the top during Hollywood’s Golden Age of film. They left behind quite a legacy and a wealth of ornaments, each with its own glittering history.

 

Joseff Hollywood

In the twenties and thirties, one of the most prominent Hollywood jewelry suppliers was a designer named Eugene Joseff, founder and president of Joseff-Hollywood. In fact, over a span of 28 years (from 1921 to 1949), he worked on costumes and wardrobes for many films, and his company, which continued after his death, supplied jewelry for over one thousand movies, including classics like Casablanca and Some Like it Hot as well as a few television sitcoms.

Joseff’s popularity rose in part because of his innovative techniques, which were particularly useful for the big screen.  One major asset was his development of a visually effective substitute for gold, called Russian gold plating.  Real gold creates an over-reflective surface causing a glare on film, but with Russian gold plating’s semi-matte copper-gold finish, the unwelcome glare was significantly minimized.

But a clever scientific approach was not the only feature that guaranteed him a spot at the top of Hollywood’s costume hierarchy. His creations are also undeniably exquisite, ostentatious in a way only the early 20th century could manage.  For Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind, he created a stunning diamond and amethyst necklace along two thin chains — both studded with round diamonds — that joined with large amethyst gems at three equidistant points. Leigh’s costar, Clark Gable, carried a gold and silver cigar case that is known as such an irreplaceable part of film history that it can never leave the studio.  More on Joseff’s legacy in posts to come!