West Coast Sparkles

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I am exploding with tons of new jewelry experiences that I want to share with you.  So many new artists to talk about!  I have decided to begin my story featuring just one fabulous jewelry artist, Rebecca Norman.

It all started with a girls trip to San Diego to celebrate my friend’s birthday.  San Diego being one of my most favorite places as it is without a doubt FAB-U-LOUS!   And the thing about San Diego is, it is fabulous all the time, not just in some seasons or during certain events, every single day.  Unbelievable!  But so true and the more I go there the more I have discovered how well it suits me.  Now back to the story.  So while in San Diego on this special girl’s weekend we do all our favorite girl things like spa-ing, stand up paddling, drinking, eating, etc.  But no girl’s weekend is complete without shopping and of course we want special shopping because it is a special weekend and we are without a doubt special people who deserve only the most unique shopping experiences.  It’s a tall order for sure but I have no doubt that in San Diego this will be not only totally feasible but we will likely have to choose between multiple possibilities.  After asking the few locals that I know and doing some online research, we head down to Solana Beach to the lovely Cedros Avenue, locally known as,  “the Avenue with Everything”.

Cedros Avenue definitely meets the shopping criteria of fabulous and we start down the 2 1/2 blocks filled with all kinds of stores with artistic ambiance.  It’s the afternoon by the time we get to Rebecca Norman’s shop and the sales lady is just about to change the sign to Be Right Back and lock the door.  Seriously, where do you think your going?  My friend and I look at each other and without speaking we understand that we can’t let this women get away as it would definitely disrupt the flow of our afternoon.  Politely, we ask if she could stay open so we could have quick peep inside, we won’t be long or a bother, please let us in your lovely shop.  With the coffee break on hold, we are in the store and talking to Rebecca Norman herself, jewelry designer, shop owner and all round lovely person.  Danger averted and a whole new line of lovely sparkles are at our finger tips.

I was interested in finding a long, silver necklace to fill a gap in my jewelry wardrobe.  However, when I’m looking at a line that I don’t know I am totally open to anything that may be of interest.  We start by asking Rebecca what pieces she likes most and she shows us two bracelets.  The first one is a thin gold cuff with a little diamond one the end.  The other is a thin silver cuff that has a smoothly polished ruby stone on the ends.  Worn together they a vision of charming simplicity.  Once we finished admiring the front counter we moved around the store excitedly as we were drawn to investigate so many beautiful things.  Rebecca also has a line of leather bags too which had a tendency to distract from the jewelry every now and then as the colors of the leather were totally supple and rich.  One of the things that impressed me was that Rebecca had a lot of variety of styles and media in her store.  For example, she had earrings with just metal and earrings with stones.  She had necklaces with wooden beads and leather tassels, bracelet sets, cuff bracelets and link bracelets.  Some of the bracelets had stones and some didn’t.  Same with the necklaces.  Even the pendants came in different shapes and sizes, with black and brown cords.  And it was all so lovely.

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After several hours of trying on all the pieces and lovely discussions with Rebecca about her inspirations we finally made our selections.  My friend bought a 16 inch silver bar style necklace that layers like nobody’s business and a super cute turquoise macrame bracelet with a Swarovski crystal that is perfect for summer time.  I fell in love with a tear drop shaped silver pendant on a long black cord.  Only, I didn’t love the cord even though it did allow for adjusting the length of the pendant.  Luckily, Rebecca was totally flexible and she made a silver link chain the exact length that I wanted for the pendant.  She even gave me the black cord just in case I wanted to try that look in the future.  Our story for today closes with a happy ending.  We have added truly unique jewelry pieces to our jewelry wardrobe, discovered a new jewelry designer to watch and taught Rebecca a powerful lesson about going for coffee in the middle of the day.

 

 

All Boxed In

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As you may recall from an earlier post, I was ordering a necklace from Jewell Mint to determine the quality and styling of the jewelry that is offered on this website.  Just to refresh your memory, Jewell Mint in an internet jewelry store that allows you to sign up for a program that sends you a box of jewelry each month for $30.  The box will contain 3 pieces of jewelry hand picked by stylists.  If you read the earlier post, you will also recall that I wasn’t too excited about this idea for a slew of reasons.  Yet, I wanted to buy one piece of jewelry to give them a try, as one could always have a need for inexpensive, trendy pieces and this would be a good way to solve those kinds of needs.

The necklace did finally arrive after almost four weeks from ordering.  The site claims that each piece is hand-made but the time frame that it took to actually get the necklace makes me wonder if this piece was hand-made in China.  Maybe making it by hand in China would be faster.  Are the artists growing the silver from scratch?  In any case, the necklace did finally arrive and the presentation was overall lovely.  The black box was sturdy and had foam inside to protect the piece.  After careful examination, I found the quality of the piece to be excellent.  It was crafted exactly as described on the site and the clasp worked.  So far, the necklace was still in the game.  Then I tried it on and didn’t like it at all! First, it was too long.  And the length was exaggerated by all the strands in the necklace.  Additionally, it laid very wide and stiff.  I think this was again due to all the strands.  I was disappointed for a few minutes as I tried to make it work but quickly realized it just wasn’t for me.  It just didn’t fit me well enough to be a keeper.  Since it came in a pretty box, I thought one of my friends might enjoy it and that would be better than spending the time to send it back to the company.

As I was cleaning up the packaging, I reviewed the invoice and  this little card that was also in the mailer bag.  I assumed it was a thank you or a how to care for your jewelry note.  It wasn’t.  So, get this.  Apparently, I was now signed up for a monthly preferred membership!  What, the heck is this about?  It turns out our artists friends are also Capitalists and the Leisure Learning business class they took has paid off for them!  Jewell Mint does not offer a one time buy option, they only offer the monthly box program or a monthly preferred membership program.  Even in the preferred membership program, you are charged $29.99 each month. Wow, I guess that is a magic number. For this fee, you can pick out jewelry pieces or choose to skip the current month.  The skipping option has to be selected by the 5th of the month or it’s too late.  Today was July 6th and I was charged the preferred membership fee.  And I was annoyed.

So, I’ll say it, shame on me for not reading the fine print.  Julep and other box sites allow purchases without a membership so I just assumed that I could do it on this site as well.  After all, no where during my purchase process did it tell me this purchase would qualify me for membership.  And at no time did I receive an email that I would be charged $29.99 monthly unless I proactively chose to skip that month.  By the way, how long does this membership last?  Do I have to say skip a month by the 5th for the rest of my life?  The FAQ’s are a little shaky on the exact terms of this so-called preferred membership.  To add insult to injury, the site is run like a video game.  I get points for commenting on jewelry, posting to Facebook or playing little casino games.  My points can add up to more free crap!   While I appreciate that the Jewell Mint entrepreneurs are attempting to make shopping more fun and affordable, the whole experience felt immature and cheap.  At the end of the day, I am just a higher quality of jewelry shopper than this.

I have emailed the customer service to see if I can decline this lovely club.  I’m sure it will take several phone calls to untangle myself from their evil clutches.  In the meantime, buyer beware, you may be getting more than you expect!  C

As Seen On

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This week one of my friends was watching The Bachelorette (she’s embarrassed by this of course but, no need for that, after all  who hasn’t indulged in some ridiculous reality tv at some point) when she was totally, and I quote, “mesmerized by the Bachelorette’s earrings”! Now that is a pretty strong statement, especially coming from this friend who is in  complete control of an impressive jewelry arsenal herself. Being the jewelry enthusiasts that we are,  we immediately set out to find these earrings.

So one quick search on Google and we found ourselves on a site called Possessionista, for the fashionably compulsive.  OMG, is that not the coolest name and tag line!  I totally love it!  If I had a jewelry store I always imagined it would be called Possessions.  And of course I am a bit jewelry compulsive.  So this lady threw in an “ista”,  combined all the right words and totally crushed the blog name category.  This site works just like magazines do when they show a star and tell you where to get the exact dress, handbag, shoes or accessories they are wearing.  On the site, you pick a show, movie or magazine and can see the designer and how you may be able to also acquire the desired item.  There are also articles about the fashion style for each media category in case you want to do more research.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program. Right at the top of the blog were the earrings that the Bachelorette wore on this week’s episode.  AND a coupon for 20% off if you purchased any of the jewelry the Bachelorette wore from this jewelry designer.  That is pretty awwhh-mazing!!  For your own education, the earrings are called Genevieve and were created by a designer named Robyn Rhodes.  The earrings are on gold hooks, with little silvery/black druzy rough triangles with long gold tassels.  They are pretty spectacular after all!

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So Robyn Rhodes has her own website where she features all of her own designed jewelry that is made in Los Angeles, CA, USA!  Like many internet stores, there is a 15% off coupon for signing up for the mailing list.  She also does some point system for reaching out on social media.  As I look at her pieces I’m totally intrigued.  She uses lots of druzy stones in gold, silver (which looks like sparkly black), and copper with some blues and pinks in there to for good measure.  The stones are set in rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.  You get to pick the metal (gold or silver) and according to the site, if you need something custom-made, they will attempt to personalize your piece as desired.  That’s all pretty cool.  Personally, I thought the necklaces were the most interesting and my friend preferred the featured earrings and a ring.  Check it out for yourself and let me know what was the last jewelry you saw that had you totally mesmerized!

Happy 4th of July!  Cynthia

 

Where do all the artists go?

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While I have had a long time love affair with designer jewelry, I also like to have a balanced jewelry portfolio.  In order to meet my accessory goals, I need to ensure that I am investing in classic, fine jewelry pieces, these would be the pearls,  diamond studs, gold and gemstone rings and basic silver and gold bracelets, as well as standout designer jewelry mixed with a bit of fun items, you know the trendy or costume jewelry that can add just the right punch when you need it.   In all three of these categories, special treasures are often found outside the store when made by jewelry artisans.  Some of my favorite pieces from my own collection were handmade by artisans and were found at either a gallery, art market or online.  Designers tend to be prolific and you can count on new designs becoming available at certain times of the year.  You also know exactly where to go to buy them, how long it takes to order or size a piece if needed.  The whole process is  well thought out, available and honestly, predictable.   When shopping for artisan pieces the process is a bit more hodgepodge.  First, you have to seek it out, it’s certainly not at the mall.  And you will have no idea what will be waiting for you once you find the right venue.   Since each piece is handmade, having something adjusted or changed is a process.  I especially love hearing that the artist is on sabbatical/mecca and can’t shorten my bracelet for three months.  Seriously, I can’t wear my piece and your taking some sort of extended break?    I’m here now and want my stuff ready to go asap!  That just doesn’t go over well in the art community.  The trade off is of course is that you may be lucky enough to  find some of the most unique creations that you will ever wear.

It’s too hot for artisan markets right now so recently I have been doing my artisan shopping from my couch on Etsy.  I realized I needed more long silver necklaces, preferably at least one with a tassel and I wasn’t loving any of the normal options.  Etsy provides a shopping alternative and is an abundance of creative, one of a kind things.  All kinds of things too, punk t-shirts for babies, pottery, succulent wall hangings, purses, bizarre things made from yarn, wood, glass and the list goes on and on. For me it is intoxicating and stimulating as I love the range of stuff from the sublime to totally majestic.  It’s a lovely world in Etsy.   In order not to be overwhelmed, I have devised a mini-process for setting the mood and focusing the shopping effort.    First, I review all my favorite stores to see if they have anything new.  I may read a few of the blogs to get an idea where their trends and though processes may be leaning.  I also enjoy it when they show photos of their art room and how they were inspired for certain lines.  Then I go look at what Etsy says is trending and I look at everything, not just jewelry, again, the excitement is in what you may find.  I am really enjoying seeing all the wearable monograms, especially the wide leather bracelets and Jack Roger shoes.  After I have marked any new favorites, I start my own searches.  Clearly people label their items as they see fit, so just because you search up  “long, silver tassel necklace” does not mean that get all your choices in one shot.   I will usually search something in every variation I can think of  in order to ensure that I received the broadest view of possibilities.  If I find an artist that I like their style, I heart it and try to see what words they are using to describe it.  Remember that the artists on Etsy are from all over the globe, so sometimes things are lost a bit in translation.

I did want to tell you about an artist shop that I recently discovered, called Bohemian Fringe, out of Victoria, Canada.  The tag line is  “simple, affordable and stylish jewelry”.  I would have to agree with that description.  Most of the designs are long chains with some sort of pendant at the end like an, arrow, moon, tooth, etc.  The site allows you to customize your order by choosing from different chain lengths, styles and metals.  Many of the pendants also come in color choices.   I ordered the hammered Crescent Moon pendant in sterling silver on a gun-metal chain that was  28 inches long.  I love that the moon doubles as the letter “C” to make this piece seem like a monogram.  The artist was out of office naturally and sent a note saying that the item would ship in a few weeks.  Where do the artists go? Do they all go together or is it just when they get an order?  Alas, this  is a topic for another day.  However, my patience was rewarded because I did receive my necklace  earlier than expected.  It came in a tiny, little, linen colored box with a tiny bow and a tiny note from the artist with a tiny message that simply said, “Enjoy”.  The presentation of my order was so totally adorable, I was hesitant to open it in case the inside wasn’t as adorable as the outside.  Luckily, I had nothing to worry about as the necklace was as featured on the website and wore as fabulously as I had hoped since it was delivered true to all my specifications.  I’m excited to add another silver necklace to the portfolio and will continue to check this shop for new inspirations.

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Consider taking the artists simple message to heart with all your jewelry and ENJOY!

 

Think Inside the Box???

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Along time ago, there was the general belief that people should be well rounded in their activities, interests and knowledge.  The basic idea being that if you were well rounded, you would be capable of thinking “outside the box”.  Thinking “outside the box” of course made you a more creative, innovative and some what more interesting person.  If everyone collectively had this goal, the world would be a better place and we could all rest easy.  For a long while, this approach seemed to be working well.  After all, we had a technology explosion over the last few years, major advances in medicine were achieved and most importantly, we have the ability to record and watch shows at will!  Yes, good times were had by all.  However, as usually happens when things are going swimmingly, we started to get bored with this well rounded notion and decided it was time for a change.  That change has occurred my friends.  Now we are encouraged to be focused on a theme, to have one great story, instead of a broad range of less focused stories.  Thinking “outside the box” is only really creative when you’ve been so far out, that you are back “in the box”.  

This whole concept of the boxes is a little misleading to begin with.  Whose to say really what the connotation of what’s in the box is at the end of the day?  A Tiffany box with a white ribbon that holds a present from your loved one is an ultimate example of a delightful box that you would gladly accept time and time again.   A shoe box containing a fabulous pair of shoes or the safety deposit box holding all your valuables safely are both perfectly wonderful boxes.  Then there are the boxes that tend to have a negative connotation associated with them like wine in a box, Jack in the Box and the ultimately resting place, pine box.  And quite frankly, where do things like moving boxes and litter boxes fit in to the equation?  

I realize you are reading this and wondering where the tie in to jewelry comes into play.  Here it is.  Jewelry now comes in a box.  I don’t mean the pretty, little box with the cotton lining, box. I mean you can buy a box of jewelry that is themed, i.e. focused, and made available to you on a monthly basis.  So you have probably seen this concept with make up, like Birchbox or Julep.  If you sign up for a  subscription at the low, low entry price, each month you will receive a box with fabulous prizes that are sure to surprise and delight you.  You can also share this excitement with your friends by choosing to send them a box as well.  I have to admit that it does seem like a great idea, especially with makeup.  I had a friend that brought a Birchbox to a Bunco Christmas party for a gift exchange and I was really hoping to win it.  When I didn’t, my friend was generous enough to give me one that she was planning to gift to someone else.  The box contained a high end makeup sponge, lip moisturizer and some other cream that I used up immediately.   I can admit it, the box concept is fun and it made trying new products super easy.  I get it.  I think it works great for makeup, nail polish, shoes and other consumable and somewhat disposable items.  Let’s look at a real life example of the “jewelry box”.

A company called JewelMint is offering a “jewelry box” each month.  Here’s how it works, you sign up and for only $29.99 a month plus free shipping you will receive a box with three JewellMint exclusive pieces that were hand picked by stylists.  By the way, this exclusive offer is an $80 value each month!  From what I can tell from the photos on the website, it looks like you get a necklace, earrings and a bracelet each month, which does make sense.  Rings would be way too tricky due to sizing and I guess they are assuming everyone has pierced ears or at least something pierced that will hold an earring.  The pieces that were in past month boxes were pretty cute and if you are a super trendy person, this concept could really build up your jewelry wardrobe quickly and inexpensively.  

However, I think some key concepts are missing from this model that is preventing this from working well.  First, there isn’t any care or concern to your personal style.  You get the same box that everyone else gets that month.  We all like and wear the same thing right? Augh, I hate that thinking.  Even the hard core trend followers want to put their own spin on things. How do we know a stylist is picking things out and that this isn’t just the stuff that didn’t sell last month?  Julep, gets this.  Julep’s box is mostly nail polish with a few other beauty products thrown in for good measure.  Before Julep sends you the monthly box, they at least attempt to understand your style and what colors or products you may prefer.  If these highly scientific Rorschach like questions are off in some way, you still have a chance to change your preferred style to something else.  Today I’m not Classic with a Twist, I feel more Boho Glam…no problem, just update your profile and new colors will show up in your next box.  The other thing that is lacking from the jewelry box is any ability to buy nicer pieces.  Three pieces for $80, makes each piece about $26.  I have plenty of costume jewelry and  most of those pieces still costs more than $30 a piece.  One idea would be to have a Luxe box that contained one, $80 piece.  This would allow the box to still be affordable but upgrade the quality and interest of the mystery piece.  And just to be sure you know, there are no returns on the jewelry box.  You get what you get and you will like it.  That makes three big strikes for me.  I will have to pass on the jewelry in a box concept for now.  Just so you know, I have ordered one, $30 silver necklace from JewelMint so I can evaluate the quality and styling of their products.  I’ll let you know what I think once it arrives.  

If you have ordered something that comes to your home monthly in a box, please share.  Did you love it or leave it?  

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C

 

 

 

 

Math Saves the Day!

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A couple of years ago, one of the fashion magazines, Lucky, I think, featured some very fun, gold looking bangles that were square-shaped on the inside.  The were sold in a set of three for some amount less than $100.  Clearly, they were brass or plated for that price, but the shape and stacking were so interesting that I was intrigued.  I usually can’t wear bangles because they are too big and just fall off my wrist.  However, that square shape on the inside had potential to be the answer to my prayers. These bracelets were designed and created by a UK company called Made.  This is another socially responsible brand that is helping impoverished areas.  Made buys only environmentally sound, local materials and pays a fair price.   They employ 60 men and women in Kenya, that are specially trained, to hand make each piece of jewelry.   All the jewelry is designed by artisans that look European and desire to make beautiful, wearable jewelry.   Yes, I know this is sooooo heavy and some days we are just not up to saving the world via our bracelets.  My story continues.  So at the time, I followed the website that was in the magazine and requested information on the bracelets.  I guess the bracelets were super popular after being featured at were not available.  The website they had back then had like only a few other things on it but overall it was unimpressive and difficult to ship to the US, blah, blah, blah, and that opportunity slinked away.

Now don’t fret, because it seems like they have figured out their marketing and have a new, attractive, functional website. Welcome to the age of technology Made!  Now you can easily see all their products, including the leather bags that they make and ship your order to the greatest country on the planet.  The only drawback is that the website is still using pounds to represent the costs.   And worse, the site is using centimeters to represent bracelet lengths and ring sizes.  You read that correctly, CENTIMETERS.  Raise your hand if you know how many centimeters your ring finger is?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Of course not!  As by-products of the American educational system, we all know inches and feet!  And we sure don’t want to hear about the pound!  The almighty dollar is our currency and we think it rocks!  Here’s your first word problem – How many centimeters are in an inch?  Frankly, I didn’t know and I am not sure I ever knew, so I had to go find a measuring tape.  If you did actually know the conversion rate then I question your patriotism and suggest you get more hobbies.

After several attempts to measure my fingers, I think I figured out that a size 4 is about 5 centimeters and a size 5.5 is about 6 centimeters.  The weird thing about it is that the website says the rings come in two sizes, 1.7 CM and 1.8 CM.  Clearly, this math problem is getting complicated and I’m thinking I am going to have to recall some trig to figure this out when I think, surely, like all things, the answer is on Google.  Without having to use math, I found a conversion chart on Google.  There it was and they have another chart that shows the rings sizes for all the other countries that chose to make up their own systems.  My measurements were a little off and it turns out the rings are much closer to a size 7 and 8.  The rings are brass so I’m not sure how well they size.  That is disappointing to me because even the small size is way too big for my biggest finger.  The bracelets were mostly 22 centimeters which is 8 3/4 inches long.  Again, that’s a very large bracelet that will not fit me in any way.  The nice thing about bracelets is that sometimes it is easier to shorten them than size a ring, but it starts to make the whole endeavor risky.

But what is life without a little risk, even if it takes a little math.  In this case, I just need to stick to earrings and necklaces until we can use the CONTACT US button and give them some strongly worded feedback about their sizing methods.  I’ll admit I have spent over an hour trying to pick out one necklace or pair of earrings to order.  I am going to sleep on my decision and decide later as I had originally been hoping for a bracelet set.  In the meantime, think about how math helped us solve this critical problem in daily life.  Until another day… C ImageImageImageImage