All That Glitters: Know Your Gold

I was struck by the headline on the one-page fashion piece in the July 2018 issue of Elle Magazine:  “24-Karat Magic:  Glam up a chill ensemble with GOLD BOHO CHAINS and DELICATE PENDANTS—the more the merrier.”

24 karat gold is, of course, pure gold – and it is unlikely you will ever come across any jewelry represented as such. 22 karat jewelry is about the highest karatage one comes across. Much more typical in the United States is 14 karat and 18 karat gold jewelry. 18 karat gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals; 14 karat gold is 58.5% gold and 41.5% other metals.

None of the jewelry pictured in the piece is 24 karat gold. Here’s a rundown of the pieces by designer, magazine description, and gold content as determined from my research on the Web:

  • Stone and Strand “gold charm necklace”: 14 karat gold rose charm necklace
  • Ariel Gordon “diamond and gold hoop earrings”: 14 karat gold pave huggies
  • Seb Brown “gold, diamond, aquamarine, sapphire and topaz ring”: 14 karat gold
  • Theodora Warre “gold-plated necklace”: no additional information available online
  • Aurelie Bidermann “gold-plated earrings”: no information available online
  • Pandora “gold pendant necklace”: 14 karat gold dazzling droplet pendant with cubic zirconia
  • Alighieri Jewellery “gold-plated pendant necklace”: gold-plated Il Leone necklace
  • Jennifer Meyer “gold, diamond and turquoise earrings”: exact earrings not seen at Barneys.com site; however, Meyer works in 18 karat gold
  • Gabriel & Co. “engravable gold and diamond bracelet”: 14 karat yellow gold chain engravable
  • Johnny Was “gold vermeil bangle”: 18 karat gold vermeil snake bangle with wrapped tail
  • Nalin Studios “gold-plated coin ring”: 18 karat gold-plated over 925 sterling silver  – gold vermeil – love ring

Note that, of the pieces described as “gold,” all are 14 karat except the Jennifer Meyer earrings, which are crafted in 18 karat gold.

“Gold-plated” refers to a thin plating of gold over another metal. That metal is likely to be a base metal such as nickel, bronze or lead. Because of the thinness of the gold, items that are gold-plated may need to have the gold plating renewed from time to time to keep the same appearance.

“Gold vermeil” refers to sterling silver covered with a layer of gold (usually by plating). This differs from gold-plated in that the metal underlying the gold is not a less expensive base metal. The Nalin Studios ring should have been described as gold vermeil in the magazine article.

You may come across jewelry, especially vintage jewelry, described and marked “gold-filled,” which refers to a process by which the item is covered in a layer of gold at least 1/20th of the total weight of the metal in the piece, in 10, 12 or 14 karat. Gold-filled jewelry has more gold content than gold-plated jewelry.

By all means, glam up your look with “gold” chains and pendants. But do your homework,  know what it is you are buying, and then buy with confidence.

Jewelry Can Spotlight Your Best or Worst Feature

As an image consultant, I advise my clients that jewelry can do much more than add a finishing touch to an ensemble. Chosen well, jewelry can also draw attention to one or more of the wearer’s best features.

For instance, someone with green or blue eyes may choose jewels of a similar hue to relate to her or his eye color. Repeating the hue provides pleasing harmony and brings the viewer’s eye back to the wearer’s eyes.

Jewelry can also provide directional emphasis. For instance, a long necklace can provide a vertical line that draws the viewer’s eye up and down.

A particularly fine example of the power of jewelry to spotlight a feature appears in the March 2018 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Focusing on “the quest for a younger-looking neck,” the magazine promotes a neck cream sold on its web site and illustrates the sought-after effect with the photo of a model wearing huge earrings with a triangle-shaped drop from Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

Notice how the earrings point to the model’s neck. Not even the crystal-studded Gucci sunglasses distract from this effect.

For many women over 40, spotlighting the neck is not the desired effect. When choosing earrings, be mindful of how the earrings draw attention to your features. Long dangling earrings can end at a spot where they draw attention to your neck. And earrings as arrow-like as those in the photo above will bring every eye to that precise spot.

Jewelry of Flattering Scale

Almost every ensemble becomes more polished with the addition of tasteful jewelry —  jewelry that is not only cohesive with the ensemble itself — the garments, shoes, handbag and any other accessories — but also flattering to the person wearing it.

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I was struck by this ad from a high-end design house, which features an exquisite suite of ruby and diamond jewelry. The beautiful model wears two chunky rings, a tennis-style bracelet, and a pair of earrings.

The model has generously sized features — eyes, nose and mouth. Consider how the jewelry selections relate to her. While the other pieces of jewelry in the photo have plenty of presence, the earrings are quite delicate –  too delicate to be flattering to the woman, as lovely as they are. The slender linear design of the earrings has the effect of drawing attention to the model’s nose and making it appear relatively larger.

This effect could be easily remedied by having the model wear earrings of a design more akin to the chunky design of the rings. Changing the scale of the earrings would be more flattering to the woman.

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The Brooch Is Back

There’s something special about a look when you can personalize it and make it uniquely your own. Whether professional wear suiting, bold graphic designs, military-inspired khaki, or pretty floral dresses are your cup of tea, a quick way to add pizzazz to your look is with a brooch. Stylists have been adding brooches to add interest to fashion photographs over the last several months, and this trend holds strong this spring.

0317 brooch Feb HB Harry Winston on Dolce & Gabbana polka dots REV

For instance, the February 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar has a 10-page spread devoted to bold, graphic prints, and adorns four of the black and white looks with brooches. Above, a bold polka dot dress from Dolce & Gabbana serves as the backdrop for a fabulous De Beers Diamond spray brooch.

0317 brooch Feb HB Lynn Ban brooc on Stella McCartney REV

In the same issue, a “message” dress, top, leggings and shoes by Stella McCartney receive added edge from earrings and a Maltese cross style brooch from Lynn Ban.

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The February 2017 issue of Marie Claire features a selection of two-tone metal brooches from Buccellati in a feature focusing on retro floral prints.

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The January 2017 issue of Elle suggests that “Sparkly pins are more punk than prim when they veer off jackets and onto rocker tees.” The brooches spotlighted in the piece vary in price from a message brooch in rhinestones from BAN.DO at $10 to a $22,700 flower clip from Van Cleef & Arpels.

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The April 2017 issue of Real Simple demonstrates how to wear a brooch on the lapel of a trench coat or jacket. In the photo above, a jacket from J. Crew is accented with a pin from White House Black Market.

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In the December 2016 issue of Marie Claire, models Doutzen Kroes, Imaan Hammam, Fernanda Ly and Constance Jablonski demonstrate a variety of ways to wear a spectacular elephant head brooch from Tiffany & Co. The brooch, based upon an archival Jean Schlumberger design, was re-issued by Tiffany & Co. in support of the Elephant Crisis Fund, which raises awareness of the plight of those magnificent animals killed for their ivory tusks.

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The December 2016/January 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar recommends in its selection of what to buy now, an antique brooch. Pictured is a lovely piece from Cartier, but all manner of exquisite budget-minded designs are readily available on eBay. Considering the extraordinary versatility and sheer delight of these lovely pieces of wearable art, whether fine or faux , I couldn’t agree more.

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Not So Hot Under the Collars

Wide collar-style necklaces may have an aesthetic appeal, but they are notoriously difficult to wear, as recent fashion photographs confirm.

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Actress Zoe Kravitz makes the best-dressed list in the November 2015 issue of InStyle. One of the photos pictures her at the Guggenheim International Gala Dinner wearing a white crop top and split skirt from Dior, accented with a thick pearl collar necklace with an enormous blue cabochon. The necklace separates her head from her body, almost making it appear to be pasted onto the photograph, just a tad larger than might be expected for such a slender frame. The unfortunate accessory distracts the eye and makes it look as though she has no neck.

1115 collar InStyle Hailee Steinfeld in Stella McCartney Jennifer Fisher neck cuff REV

Better  is this look, also pictured in the November 2015 issue of InStyle declared to be the “best dress” of the issue. Actress Hailee Steinfeld wears a Stella McCartney ensemble with flared pants and cape, again in solid white, accented with a wide Jennifer Fisher collar.  The actress has a slender neck, long enough to accommodate the necklace, and its plain design complements the sleek look of her ensemble. With the wide shoulders of the cape, her face appears to be in proportion to the rest of her body.

1115 collar story InStyle Drew Barrymore long neck Etro choker REV

The ideal neck length for any wide collar-style necklace is long, longer, longest. Actress Drew Barrymore, pictured in the November 2015 issue of InStyle, demonstrates how this might look. Indeed, she is pictured in a Dior dress and coat from The Row accessorized with a slender metal choker from Etro. This is a look that can accommodate much more of a statement piece on the actress’s neck.

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For the vast majority of women with average or short necks, slender metal collars are a far better choice than a thick collar. The same issue of InStyle spotlights four examples of cuff-style collars that are narrow and have an opening in the front. The exposed skin on the neck is a look flattering to most everyone.

Awkward Necklaces

“Necklaces should always be chosen with the neckline you’ll be wearing in mind. ” Thus I concluded my blog post in September 2013, ” Necklines & Necklaces:  The Issue When Everything Is the Same Perfect Length.”

A spate of recent examples in the fashion press of necklaces not chosen to coordinate with necklines prompts my post today.

0415 awkward necklace Y choker over wide neck More 0315 REV

A pair of examples derive from the same fashion spread in the March 2015 issue of More magazine. The first example pairs a thin rigid collar necklace with a drop, visually creating a Y-shape, with an overly large knit tee shirt that looks to be puckering rather than lying flat. The necklace hangs awkwardly over the neckline of the tee, further drawing attention to the problematic neckline. The top was not chosen with consideration for the necklace or the model. In my opinion, the necklace is also too delicate a design for the model, who is tall and has strong features.

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A substantial necklace more flattering to the model appears in the second photo, but again here, the neckline of the ensemble clashes with the necklace. The necklace, with its rigid chunky lattice design, is placed over the vee shape of the neckline, creating a jarring visual effect. The lovely flowing lines of the ensemble would be much better served with a long pendant necklace, which would extend the vee of the neckline.

0415 awkward necklace Kelly Ripa Shape 0315 tee over camisole REV

My final example is modeled by actress Kelly Ripa, whose necklace dips to meet the neckline of her camisole in this photo from the March 2015 issue of Shape magazine. The necklace is just about at the sweet spot of her first balance point, as is her neckline. The result: a visual clash. The necklace looks droopy, not an adjective that any woman of a certain age wants to embrace. Shortening the necklace a couple of inches, or choosing a different necklace at a shorter collar length, would make all the difference.

Jewelry for Women of a Certain Age

Jewelry purchase decisions encompass a wealth of factors, including:

  • For what occasions is the jewelry to be worn (spanning the range from daily wear to gala occasions).
  • With what apparel will it be worn (considering the style of the clothing and its design details).
  • What styles of jewelry are most flattering to the wearer ( considering such factors as scale and color).
  • What styles suit the personality of the wearer (from classic to singularly quirky).

Quite beyond all those factors is another consideration:  What makes sense as a fashion investment. Rare is the individual who does not need to be mindful of her budget. As with most purchases, what is cheapest is not synonymous with what provides the best value for one’s money.

What is of-the-moment trendy — immediately recognizable designs that have achieved cult status and seem ubiquitous for a season or two in the fashion press – will inevitably look tired and dated soon enough. If you want to wear one huge single earring because the fashion editors have embraced that trend right now, that’s fine, but rather than shelling out significant dollars for a single piece, consider purchasing a pair of identical huge earrings that either may be wearable as a set or possibly may be adaptable into a fresh look by a clever jeweler when the trend has finished its course.

What is incomprehensible to me is the promotion of inexpensive jewelry designs that riff off current trends but don’t merit cult status, when the promotion is directed to women of a certain age who have financial wherewithal. The September 2014 issue of More magazine is rife with this type of promotion.

0914 bad jewelry metal crystal cutout bracelet 40s More REV

In your 40s, advises the editors, “become the boss–or just dress like her.” As to jewelry, “Embrace delicate,” urges the magazine. The jewelry selected to wear with the pulled together “multitasking looks” is a $40 metal cuff accented with crystals. The wide cutout style requires a wide expanse of arm, and would not work well with long-sleeved apparel such as the print wool-blend coat pictured. The missed opportunity: A lovely slender bracelet with a tasteful, daytime-appropriate sprinkle of pave diamonds on genuine gold or silver. That’s something the boss might actually wear.

0914 bad jewelry square bracelet 50s More REV

In your 50s, “dress to please yourself” suggest the editors, adding “You’ve earned the right to wear whatever feels best.” The jewelry selected:  An attractive but uncomfortable to wear square bracelet that has a modest $225 price tag.

0914 bad jewelry exception Lulu Frost necklace 60s More REV

In your 60s, “break with tradition:  stop sticking to safe (yes, you) and show the world you’re full of surprises.” As to jewelry, “update your pearls” suggest the editors — excellent advice in this season of extraordinary designs that incorporate pearls. The first of two recommendations is a $588 necklace of brass, crystal and glass pearls in an eye-catching design from Lulu Frost that merits consideration.

0914 bad jewelry faux pearl studs 60s More REV

The second of two recommendations is something entirely off the mark:  a $28 pair of earrings incorrectly described as “12k gold-plated brass and pearl studs.” The earrings do not contain pearls — the pearls are faux, as one might expect from the price. The man-made pearl-like orbs are set on top of square backings. There is nothing whatsoever surprising about this design.

Why is a magazine that targets women of means promoting a $28 pair of faux-pearl earrings? A pair of freshwater cultured pearl stud earrings can be had for under $12 on Amazon.com.

Does anyone aspire to a jewelry wardrobe of inexpensive gold-plated — or worse, gold-tone metal — designs with faux gems and nothing-special style? Dress like the boss. Dress to please yourself. And show the world you’re full of surprises. Don’t settle.

What’s in your jewelry box?

Earrings & Beyond: The New World of Ear Adornment

If your jewelry wardrobe hasn’t been refreshed in a while, you may be surprised at the number and variety of developments in jewelry design that have made this an exciting time to explore new looks in jewelry. Although cutting edge, most of these designs are eminently wearable. The most significant developments reflect a new approach to adornment.

Earrings have taken new directions quite literally — moving upward and extending over a larger portion of the ears. With this new direction comes new terminology.

The initial groundbreaking forays into fresh adornment of the ears may be attributed to Dior, whose Mise en Dior front-back style earrings were ubiquitous in the fashion press in the autumn of 2013. I wrote about this style on October 2, 2013 in my post about stud earrings in my TrulyJewelry.com blog:

“One creative rethinking of stud earring design that has received a great deal of editorial attention is the Mise en Dior earring collection from Dior. The earrings are designed much like men’s cufflinks, with a small glass pearl on one end and a larger, more colorful bead on the other. The earrings are worn with the smaller of the beads in front of the ear with the larger one behind. The resulting look is fresh and unexpected.”

front-back earrings Emma Watson CU Dior earrings vogue.co.uk 2014 Golden Globes REV

Illustration:  Emma Watson wearing Mise en Dior earrings at the 2014 Golden Globes.

Notice that the Mise en Dior earring brings the front bottom of the earlobe slightly into prominence, a design that may not be flattering on large earlobes.

By the spring of 2014, earring jackets were back in the fashion spotlight in a big way. Traditionally, earring jackets are flat disks or other designs placed behind stud earrings, giving them more presence on the ears. They are affixed at the front of the ear. I wrote in my post on the new earring jackets in April 2014:

“”Ear jackets,” otherwise known as “stud earring jackets” or simply “earring jackets,” an add-on accessory for stud earrings, are receiving notice for their style potential this season. The latest styles go beyond designs that expand the perimeter of the stud earrings with which they are worn. They may attach to the earring posts behind the ears and may be worn singly for extra edginess.”

ear jackets 040714 People REV

“The April 7, 2014 issue of People magazine spotlights the ear jacket on the Style Watch page, reporting:  “The newest trend in ear candy is the ‘jacket’ which dangles from the post of a stud and is held in place with the earring back. Kate Mara wore a spiked gold one and completed the look by adding that other of-the-moment piece of jewelry: an ear cuff.“”

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Illustration:  A close-up of the Jacquie Aiche ear jacket worn by Kate Mara.

In my post on June 2, 2014, I noted that the meaning of the term “front-back earrings” had expanded to include what looked very much like the new style of earring jackets:

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“The June 2014 issue of People Style Watch confirms that front-back earrings have become a new category of ear adornment. Featuring styles from Forever 21, ASOS, Rebecca Minkoff, and GoJane, the magazine notes: “These fun pairs add a touch of color, sparkle or cuteness–it’s a party from every angle!””

The distinction between front-back earrings and earring jackets in the new sense of the term, generally seems to be that the earring jacket is generally worn on one ear only. In addition, many earring jackets appear to cradle the outside edge of the ear, whereas front-back earrings do not relate to the shape of the ear.

Speaking of styles worn on one ear only, this widely reported trend likely started with the second groundbreaking change in direction of the adornment of ears, with ear cuffs. This trend took off in 2013, as I wrote in an October 2013 blog post:

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Illustration:  report on ear cuffs in the October 2013 issue of InStyle magazine

“[T]he outer edge of the ear is the focus of the latest styles of jewelry for the ears. Some designs attach to the top or side edge of the ear; others hang over and around the entire ear. The designs are sometimes seen worn on one ear, sometimes on both ears, providing even more variety. All of these designs are referred to as “ear cuffs.””

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“Ear cuffs are very much a fine jewelry phenomenon, not just a street trend. Writing in the September 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Emily Cronin writes, “what women want from jewelry is evolving. ‘Women are trying to find a different way to wear fine jewelry, where it’s not just the statement watch, the statement bracelet, and diamond studs,” says jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher. Instead designers like Fisher, Eva Zuckerman of Eva Fehren, Ana Khouri, Irene Neuwirth, Jennifer Meyer, Hoorsenbuh’s Robert Keith, Gaia Repossi, and Anita Ko are energizing the genre with pieces that are more than future heirlooms: From ear-climbing earrings to sleek modern bangles, they are a chance to express your style every day, no matter the dress code.””

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Illustration:  vintage ear climber earrings

Given the interest in adorning a larger portion of the ear, the vintage earring style that curves upward along the ear is finding a new renaissance in what are now termed “ear-climbing earrings,” or “ear climbers.” Quite fabulous mid-Century versions, usually in clip-on style, can be had for a fraction of the cost of the new pieces.

Front-back style earrings, earring jackets, ear cuffs and ear climbers:  these are all part of the sea change in jewelry design for the ears. There’s yet more for me to report, which will follow in an upcoming post.

 

How Not to Conceal a Tummy: The Necklace Effect (Repost from My TrulyJewelry.com Blog)

A note to my TrulyBecoming.com blog followers:  I hope you have discovered my new jewelry blog that launched in late 2013 at www.TrulyJewelry.com — it focuses on “the what, why and how of wearing jewelry well.” (TM)  Here’s today’s post, which provides useful tips on how to (and how not to) conceal a tummy.

The haphazard addition of jewelry to an ensemble can completely change its visual effect when it redirects the focus of the viewer. An excellent example of this result appears in the February 2014 issue of InStyle, in an article sharing “editors’ best shape secrets.”

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The above photograph purportedly demonstrates how to “conceal a tummy,” the editors stating: “To cover a muffin top without venturing into muumuu territory, skip fitted Ts in favor of loose, untucked designs, like this one. Styles with ruching, draping, or center-resting colorblocking all do your midsection favors.”

Skimming over what is perceived as a problematic portion of one’ s anatomy is more flattering than accentuating the area with a snug, fitted garment. The style of the T by Alexander Wang shirt is excellent, the three-quarter length sleeves also contributing to the visual effect of a more slender waist. Shiny silk satin, however, is an odd choice – its highly reflective surface makes the garment, and the wearer, appear larger.

But it is the necklace pictured that counters the flattering shape of the shirt. The necklace itself is lovely, a pendant design in fluorite and gold vermeil by Margaret Elizabeth. Slung over the model’s neck and spilling over the collar of the shirt, however, it distorts the neckline of the garment, making the collar and button placket wrinkle. (I addressed this issue in a blog post for JCK Magazine back in October 2009.)  Wearing the necklace over the shirt, under its collar, would be a less distracting option for combining the pendant necklace with the shirt. (Watch for more examples of this styling approach in an upcoming blog post.)

Consider what the pendant necklace visually accomplishes — it draws attention downward and points to the models’ stomach, exactly the part of her anatomy this ensemble is supposedly trying to conceal.

A better choice would be a short necklace that peeks out from under the collar of the shirt. A single-strand necklace would be ideal, keeping the neckline open and allowing the shirt to do its flattering work. A short necklace would also draw attention up to the face — and draw attention away from and help conceal the tummy.

 

The What, Why and How of Jewelry at www.TrulyJewelry.com

The holiday season is upon us, and for many, this is a season of more than the usual number of occasions that call for festive dress. Is there anyone who isn’t aware that even a much enjoyed, seemingly overused little black dress can be revived with the addition of some party-appropriate jewelry?  Or how even the most fabulous red carpet gown is enhanced with the addition of some stunning well-chosen jewels?

More than that, consider how a workday ensemble, whether that be a conservative tailored skirt suit or almost any style required for a casual wear work environment, receives a visual upgrade with the addition of some tastefully chosen jewelry.

Jewelry can add gravitas; it can add playfulness. It makes an ensemble immediately look more polished, as if it took more thought to put together. It draws attention to the  areas in which it is worn and emphasizes the wearer’s features or the details of her ensemble through the repetition of design elements such as color, texture and scale. Jewelry reflects the wearer’s personality. Beautifully made jewelry is essentially personal little works of art.

In short, jewelry is mighty powerful stuff. I hope that you, my readers, have discovered my new blog devoted entirely to the subject of jewelry, and the “what, why and how of wearing jewelry well.” You’ll find my new blog at www.trulyjewelry.com.  

Here’s a sampling of some of my recent posts:

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I invite you to take a look and to follow my posts there. Add comments. Ask questions. I think you’ll find trulyjewelry.com an exciting complement to the fashion advice and style discussions here at www.trulybecoming.com.