As much as I adore costume jewelry for the visual statement that a really enormously chunky piece makes, lets face it, nothing beats the real deal. And by “real deal,” I mean diamonds. It comes down to this very simple fact: the hardness of diamonds allow them to take and keep a very sharp edge once they’re cut, they don’t dull easily and because of angles, vectors, refraction and dispersion (yay science!). . .well, let’s just say the brilliance, fire and scintillation (sparkle) that diamonds give off cannot be matched.
How does one pack for a jewelry convention? Correction, for THE largest jewelry convention to be held in the US? Forget fashion week, the pressure to turn out in baubles and bling is seriously ON once the jewelry industry makes its annual pilgrimage to Vegas. I think I might go with reverse logic this year and not bring any jewelry at all since I will be covering JCK and seeking out the absolute most SWOON-worthy pieces and designers, it makes sense that I should leave my lobes unencumbered in case I need to ah-hem “do research”.
My must have items then. . .laptop with which to blog, business cards with which to network, scarves with which to turban and Mr. Etro Loupe Monkey with which to peer into diamonds.
I received a question yesterday from a reader that I thought was absolutely brilliant and I feel it is my moral obligation to address it in a post. The question was, “At what age should I have my first diamonds and what should my first piece of fine jewelry be?” Brava my dear! Excellent question.
You should have your first diamonds when you can afford to buy them for yourself! Now, I have no problem with accepting gifts if a certain wonderful friend, boy, or family member decides to bestow you with diamonds. By all means accept them graciously and write a thank you note. However, barring the above situation, you should buy your first diamonds when you’ve been earning a steady income, have no credit card debt and are able to put a bit aside for savings AND save up for a pair of diamonds (thank you Suze Orman). My darlings, one should be decadent and fabulous but lets all keep in mind that we should, above-all, be self-sufficient and responsible so that as we get older we can become MORE decadent and MORE irreverent. Cheers!
Next, what piece of jewelry should you invest in? Oh, a pair of diamond stud earrings of course! Here is the reasoning. You don’t want to buy yourself a solitaire diamond ring because if you’re single you don’t want to scare away the boys; and if you’re already engaged or married then you already have a solitaire and you should be looking for something with a bit more character. Diamond studs are a very elegant staple piece. They are also the perfect low-maintenance accessory–I sleep in my diamond studs so if I ever forget, or am too lazy to change earrings, my ears are adorned by default.
How big/how much/what color/clarity? GASP! So much to decide. For diamond earrings, here is how the thought process should play out:
1. Are you a size or substance girl? If push comes to shove do you care more about how big (i.e. carats) or clarity? Decide and use that as your jumping off point to set your budget.
2. What’s your budget? Keep in mind that one wouldn’t want one’s earrings to be bigger than one’s engagement ring until after one is engaged. Why? Don’t intimidate the poor boy! If he has a heart attack every time you wear your 2 carat studs how, much longer is it going to take him to propose?!?! Yeah, thought so. You’re welcome. After you’re already engaged then you don’t have to worry. Although I would say that even then, if your studs are bigger than your engagement ring, something went wrong. My DMD darlings know that if one is faced with a decision to either upgrade one’s diamond earrings or one’s engagement ring, we always upgrade your engagement ring first because then you can match your old stone from the engagement ring with another and make a pair of studs! It’s a sneaky way to upgrade both.
3. Clarity is not as important as size or color when it comes to earrings! No one is going to have their nose against your ear staring at your diamonds! When looking at quality considerations for earrings, here is the order of importance: color, then cut, then size, then clarity. What does that mean? It means that you get the best color that fits into your budget and then see what clarity your budget allows for. The end result is that you have a pair of white sparkly gorgeousness that are large, impressive and within your budget.
4. Don’t fret if your first pair is small. You can accessorize them or use the diamonds for something else when you upgrade them in a couple of years. What you probably don’t know (yet) is that you have a lot of room to work with diamond studs. Using a basic pair as a jumping-off point, you can later go to a jeweler and have him/her make jackets for your studs. What is a jacket pray tell? A jacket is a little accessory that you slip around your diamond studs to dress them up. Jewelers can custom-make them (and they must be custom-made in order to fit around your particular pair of studs because every diamond is different) in all shapes, colors, stones. I have a pair of rose gold jackets with pink diamonds that go around my white diamond studs. It changes the look, gives you more accessories to play with and stretches your budget until you’re ready for your next upgrade.
As always, feel free to click on the “Ask JZP” button on the right if you have questions. Until the next one my lovelies.
I’ve just been asked my opinion on engagement rings and realized that I can streamline this approach and make the process so much more rewarding (and the diamond so much bigger) by addressing this on DMD! Here is what you have to know about yourself before you drop hints about the kind of ring you want to your future fiancé (oh who are you kidding, everyone does it):
1) Are you a size or quality girl? Where is your sweet spot?
Very important. If push comes to shove and you (or your boyfriend) is faced with a budget, whats more important to you, size or quality (i.e. color/cut/clarity)? Now obviously if money is no object, you get the best and the biggest diamond there is but I mean, come on. . . even then you are limited by what the diamond mines choose to produce. For the rest of us mere mortals, I find there is usually a threshold. Meaning if you’re given a budget be it $3,000 or $3,00,000, there will be a sweet spot–a point at which you feel that you’ve gotten the best size and quality for your given budget. Insert really impressive Venn diagram here (use your imagination)! You need to know where your sweet spot is.
2) What’s your aesthetic
You need to know who you are and what you like (not who you wish you were or wish you looked good in). Here is my point: If you’re girly, never saw a shade of pink you didn’t love, and swoon for Nina Ricci and J. Mendel, you need to be aware of your girliness. Own it and take it into consideration when choosing a ring style. If you’re slightly eccentric and like to mix avant-garde with a touch of preppy and add a bit of fantasy and structure—Galliano meets Maison Martin Margiela meets Lanvin, you probably have a strong idea of your aesthetic already; but can you verbalize it, find it or know how to make it come to fruition in a ring?
3) How much risk do you want to take in the design?
Are you fickle or indecisive? If so, you might not want to take too many risks on your ring design . It’s very likely that you will quickly tire of an outlandish design and fall out of love with your ring. This may happen over time anyway, in which case you can have your diamond re-set or find a matching stone, turn the pair into earrings and upgrade your ring (SWOON). But let’s try not to get bored with your ring or have doubts before your wedding date shall we? On the other hand, if your style is steadfast and you choose a timeless design, you can gaze lovingly at your ring for years to come (or until you decide to upgrade to a bigger ring)! Note to self: diamond blindness is an actual thing–remember not to stare at your diamond too long without blinking.
4) Whether you go retail or bespoke, find someone who gives it to you like it is. You’re not paying a sales person flatter you into a bad decision.
I always prefer a sales person who keeps it real rather than kisses my ass. Don’t tell me I look divine to close a deal. If I ask for your opinion, give it to me straight! I could go on a rant here but suffice to say: I appreciate professionalism, knowledge and honesty. Don’t ever let a salesperson sugar lip or bully you into a bad buy. Guilt is not a consideration in a purchase! If you feel pushed, go to someone or someplace else. I mean it—choose the person you buy your ring from wisely and hold fast to your opinion.
5) Unless you are in love with a ready-made piece that you’ve already seen always go bespoke
It is a misconception that bespoke jewelry is more expensive than buying retail. In fact, most people “in the know” will have jewelry custom-made for them rather than shopping pret-a-porter. When you go bespoke you are paying for the diamond, materials, design and labor. When you buy retail, you also pay for the overhead: inventory costs, real estate, sales staff etc. The only situation in which I would buy jewelry from a retail establishment is if there is a piece I’ve seen already and absolutely love—I don’t believe in copying other brands and violating other brands’ intellectual property and copyrights. Grrrrr! Other than that, I would always go the private order route, which is why I am in this line of work–makes things exceeeeeedlingly convenient.
OK, I shall leave you with that my darlings. As always, feel free to contact me (see the “Ask JZP. . .” button on the right hand side of the page) if you have any questions or would like any recommendations.
Most of you don’t know me yet but rest assured, soon enough you will. I am on a mission to surround myself, and you, with beautiful things. Jewelry is a huge space. There is fine jewelry, costume jewelry, vintage baubles, fashion bling, where does one start? It’s not as simple as the four-C’s my dearees, and the four-C’s are not a cake-walk by any means, trust me, I have a degree in diamonds.
Now just because I am in the business of bespoke fine jewelry does not mean that I discriminate against the other types. Oh no! I will take it all thank you. Little caveat here for those of you who are wondering, what’s “fine” jewelry and what’s “costume”? Fine jewelry is a term used for jewelry made out of precious stones and metals (diamonds, rubies, sapphires, platinum, gold and silver). Costume jewelry is made everything else (glass, lucite, enamel, rhinestones, crystals, Swarovski crystals, etc.). I hear so many people say, “I only wear fine jewelry” blah blah blah, well honey, if that’s the case you’re missing out! Lets be honest, at some point it just gets too damn exy (expensive) to make huge SWOON-worthy pieces out of diamonds and colored stones all the time! Sometimes you just want the look of enamel or lucite or glass! Lets also bust another myth while we’re at it—just because its costume doesn’t mean its cheap!
I recently began collecting vintage costume pieces (anything before 1993 is considered vintage) and I am a little (a lot) hooked. When I say collecting vintage pieces let’s be clear that there are the investment pieces (Gripoix, Schreiner, Hobé, Zoe Coste, etc.) and then there are the randoms. The investments have excellent craftsmanship and are usually made with the same techniques and attention to detail as fine jewelry. The stones are set in prongs or bezel settings, not just slapped on with Elmers glue. If you don’t know what a prong or bezel setting is, don’t fret my pet, we’ll get there in another post. I have nothing against the randoms if you are having a fashion moment and you just need a piece to complete a certain look. However, I would always look for a well-made, quality piece before I buy something from a high-street store (like H&M, etc.) that is shoddily made. The one exception here is J.Crew. J.Crew makes good costume jewelry. . .sometimes (remind me to get into detail about J.Crew and collaboration with Fenton/Fallon back in 2010).
Let me leave you with this: don’t discriminate against your sparklies—they all deserve to be loved whether they’ve been forming in the earth for hundreds of millions of years or pressed out of glass last month. But please, I implore you, don’t buy junk. It’s not worth it. Go for quality and craftsmanship in whatever you buy and each time you buy a piece understand that you are curating your own jewelry collection. In my coming posts I will explain how to tell the difference between investments and randoms, train your eye, maintain your baubles and curate a covetable collection of your own.