A Discriminating Woman’s Guide To Buying Jewelry, Part One

How do you know when to splurge on a piece of jewelry?  A big step in the right direction involves understanding the jewelry terminology (it’s also helpful if you suspect you’re allergic to some jewelry!) Today’s guest post explores just that.  Author “Kanye East” is an attorney at law, New York City ex-pat, sarcastic Corporette commenter, and amateur metalsmith. On the rare occasions she leaves the office, Ms. East slays dragons and makes jewelry with their treasures.  (Pictured:  Mallarino Alejandra 24-karat gold-vermeil cuff, available at Net-a-Porter for $1,600.)

I’ll be honest: the first time I saw the phrase “gold vermeil,” I thought something like Oooh, that sounds French. It must be fancy! And only $80? For a fancy gold necklace? Steal! I’d better buy two! My friends, I am ashamed. It turns out “vermeil” is fancy—a fancy way of saying “plated.”

Jewelry is my weakness. For lawyers, jewelry is the one part of a professional wardrobe that’s allowed to be expressive or artistic. (My fellow liberal arts undergrads who reluctantly went to law school for the promise of health insurance and a steady paycheck will understand how important this can be to one’s psyche.) Jewelry can elevate an otherwise ordinary outfit to a commanding ensemble. And my own field research confirms that if you wear the same black dress to a law firm job two days in a row but swap one eye-catching statement necklace for another, nobody will notice the fact that you wore the same clothes two days in a row.

With that said, the amount I have overpaid for poor-quality pieces over the years is staggering. To avoid my mistakes, please follow my Rule Number One: know what you’re buying. You don’t have to get your gemologist’s certification and I’m not talking engagement-ring-caliber research, but here are some basics.

Fine jewelry incorporates precious metals (gold, platinum), precious and semi-precious gemstones, and genuine pearls (not glass or crystal pearls, or “shell pearls,” which are actually beads made from mother of pearl or shell, but more about that another time.) Expect to pay more for the design and the materials, especially because the price of gold has been at all-time highs lately.

Fashion jewelry is made mostly with base metals, usually brass, copper, or nickel (a common allergen). Sometimes the base metal is covered with a layer of precious metal—this is where you really need to know what you’re buying. Plating involves a very small amount of precious metal; it’s easy to scrape or rub off, and if you wear a plated piece every day, it’s going to tarnish quickly. Don’t ever pay high prices for plated metals, and avoid them if you have metal sensitivities.

Gold vermeil is simply gold plating over sterling silver. Better than plated gold over base metal, but it’s still going to tarnish.

Filled gold or gold overlay sounds like plating but it’s far superior and worth paying more for. It has a higher gold content, is stronger, and resists tarnish much better than plating. For the price, it’s a great alternative to solid gold for everyday wear.

Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% base metal. Sometimes you’ll see “925” stamped on silver jewelry: this is usually a jeweler’s certification that the piece is made with sterling silver. If you’re sensitive to metals, you should probably avoid sterling silver, but know that it’s the 7.5% base metal you’re probably reacting to, not the silver. On that note, those with metal sensitivities should also avoid white gold, which is typically alloyed with small amounts of nickel, manganese or palladium.

Argentium® Silver is gaining popularity among jewelry makers; it contains more germanium than traditional alloys, is highly tarnish-resistant, and requires almost no polishing.

Fine silver is pure silver with no base metal, but due to its softness, you don’t often see fine silver jewelry.

Now get out there and stimulate the economy!


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  1. Little Lurker :


    (and if not, I love you anyway.)

    [insert all the memes]

  2. This is good to know – thanks! Recently I’ve found that I’ve only been pulled towards very expensive fine jewelry, which is definitely not in the cards right now. I’ve been looking for “quality” knock-offs, which I used to have a lot of luck with, but recently I haven’t seen anything worth getting at a price I’m okay with. I don’t want to pay over $50 for something that isn’t real! I used to really like Ann Taylor, Nordstrom Rack, and even – gasp – Forever 21 for pretty and trendy pieces at good prices, but even my failsafes have been failing me lately… sigh…

    Anyone getting anything good for the holidays? I can’t believe it’s one week to Turkey.

    • I like to try out trends with F21. The stuff doesn’t last long but for $5 I can deal with that. I think jewelry from Ann Taylor and BR is way overpriced for the quality. I’ve turned to etsy for costume jewelry and have bought some nice pieces from: http://www.etsy.com/shop/jewelrylj

      I always suggest a piece of jewelry to my SO for Christmas but am kind of stumped this year. Gifts get more difficult to longer you’re together!

    • What could be wrong with silver plated with gold? How could that tarnish? And what’s the matter with tarnish? You just use silver polish….

      I like to design my own jewery and have it custom made by fine jewelers using gems that have come to me through the family.

  3. Kanye, I love this post!

    Kat, please ask Kanye back to talk about pearls. :)

    • yes, please. really, an overview of gems in general would be helpful. I have an opal ring from my mother that I love and have been trying to investigate getting something similar, but what is called “opal” just seems to run the gamut from really expensive to really cheap. why??

      • Thanks for the suggestions! I’m working on a post about pearls now, and I’d love to do one on gemstones once I educate myself (or quit my day job and become a gemologist).

      • Oh! I know this one! (Thank you study aboard to Australia)

        Opals come in a few different cuts.
        1. Most expensive – You can have a stone that is solid opal, just cut to show the opalescence, but stone all the way through.
        2. Middle expensive – Doublet (2 layers) – you have the opal with stone on the back half, but there is a clear/glass topper to give it the visual depth of a more expensive cut. I think you have to be careful with these types around too much water because the glue between the stone and the top later can have issues.
        3. Least expensive – Triplet (3 layers) – there is a slice of opal sandwiched between a clear top layer and a bottom layer of some sort, glued together like the doublet is.

        Also there are a few different geographical sources for opals. My list is not exhaustive, just what I remember from college.
        – White/fire opals (white with red/multicolor) – Mexico and Australia
        – Boulder opals (blues and green) – Australia
        – Black opals (multicolored, but with dark background) – Australia

      • MeliaraofTlanth :

        CondeNast Traveler had an article about buying loose gemstones in last month’s issue that discussed the factors in price in a lot of different gems, including opals. You may want to see if you can find a copy.

    • anonymous :

      I’d like a pearl primer too. If one is run, please have the writer address whether it is a good idea to string one’s own pearls. I took a beaded jewelry class this summer. I’m willing to put in some time practicing, but recognize that some things are better left to the professionals — maybe I should stick with Czech lampwork beads for now.

      • Check out ‘ passage des perles’ for all you need to know about the teardrops of the gods….that lady knows her pearls.

  4. Diana Barry :

    I love Kanye! :)

    Am I the only person who doesn’t really care one way or another about fine jewelry? I do like my engagement and wedding rings, which were v expensive (a few thousand). But I would never spend more than $25 for jewelry that I bought myself. Is that weird? (I also never wear any jewelry except necklaces and the engagement/wedding rings.)

    • This. No, not weird, and I like statement jewelry. My favorite pieces have come from Limited, Francesca’s, and etsy-type local boutiques. I drool over jcrew jewelry but only pop for it when it’s on sale.

    • It’s not weird, but I think some of us are weirdly in the other camp. I don’t really want to wear costume jewelry any more.

      Unfortunately, my height and bone structure dictate that chunky jewelry suits me more than delicate jewelry, so affordability is a real problem in terms of fine jewelry.

      • I’m right there with you, mamabear. I find myself gravitating more and more to simple, delicate, well-made jewellery and find it’s not even worth my while to buy costume jewellery anymore. I wear the same studs, gold necklaces and pearls again and again (though I have to admit I am a total sucker for both rubies and sapphires, and have some really nice emerald earrings).

    • I’m right there with you; I even have a hard time spending on mid-priced (as in, mall retailers) costume jewelry. I’ve gotten more into it lately (thanks, Corporette), and my husband really likes to buy me nice jewelry (and brag on it- he’s cute), so that covers my nice jewelry needs. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $20 on a piece for myself, though.

    • I’m with you there. Then again, I have a pretty high sensitivity to metals and tend to break out with everything but 18k+ gold or platinum. I’d have to be able to wear those all the time to feel comfortable with the price, and anything else can really only be worn once a week for a short period or the rash starts to appear.

      • Metmuseum.org has some good quality and interesting costume jewelry, based on some of the stuff from their own exhibits. Good mix of many regional and historic jewelry styles ( Egyptian, 1900s Russian, Greek, and other influences). Medium-priced (many pieces are$60-$250) unless you go for their luxury/”fine” jewelry stuff.

    • I used to feel this way. I wear my wedding/engagement rings every day, and some days a drop pearl necklace or pearl/diamond studs, but I don’t have a lot of other jewelry or trendy pieces.

      However, I have recently been thinking of buying more, because I notice how well it can complete an outfit for other women I see at work. It somehow makes you look more pulled together. But I have been reluctant to buy things because I feel a lot of the Banana Republic/Ann Taylor type stuff is wayyyy overpriced. I’ve been exploring etsy a bit. Anyways, well-timed piece for me and I would love to see more posts on work-appropriate but not “fine” jewelry.

      • Anthropologie.com has some decent pieces, although some of their necklaces seem overly big to me. Wait for their sales, which happen just about every Tuesday or Wednesday. (I think they do big semi-annual sales, too.)

    • Aside from my watch and diamond studs (and hopefully one day wedding ring) I only wear costume jewelry. I had some “fine” jewelry that was bought by family or inherited that I work into rotation. I find bracelets, rings, and dangly earrings super annoying to wear, so I like to wear a nice watch, diamond studs (occasionally small hoops or other studs) daily, and wear a cheap statement necklace when I feel like it.

  5. Any recommendations for etsy sellers using filled gold or gold overlay? I’m looking for a signet/cocktail/statement ring that I can wear most days. Searching etsy is completely overwhelming!

    Any other recommendations are welcome! (I tend to like inexpensive :) )

  6. Jewelry question, ladies. I recently got a “piece of jewelry” that has a diamond from the significant other. Problem: I had nothing to do with picking it out, and while it is nice, it’s not so my style. But what I’m complaining about (I know, why should I complain, loads of girls would love to be in my shoes) is that it’s BIG. Seriously. For instance, last night I was talking to a FOAF and she took my hand several times to admire. In general I’m NOT an ostentatious person and SO is not, but this i’s big and it’s huge and it’s honkin’…any suggestions?


    • FOAF is friend of a friend, sorry.

    • Research, Not Law :

      LOL, been there. I’m also a small jewelry person.

      I got a separate but coordinating wedding band and only wear the engagement ring for special occasions. I’ll be honest: my husband is not fond of this. The engagement ring was really important to him, but after I somehow damaged it (smashed in a car door, perhaps? I am truly not sure what happened), he’s on board. But still sad.

      My sister in law actually marched her fiancé back to the jeweler and got a smaller stone put in the setting. I have another friend who has tried for years (literally, 20) to subtly mention “updating” her ring (since her husband loves to “update” things) but every time she does, he gets excited to get her something bigger!

      So good luck :)

    • karenpadi :

      This situation calls for honesty. I’d sit down with the SO and thank him/her for the gift but say that it’s really too much and not your style. He/she should be able to return or exchange the piece and help you pick out something you both like.

      As a jewelry fan, I really don’t like it when someone else picks out an expensive piece for me to wear. I have a metal sensitivity; I know what I like; and I know what a piece should cost.

      In the past, I’ve been upfront that I don’t want jewelry as a gift but I seem to get pieces anyway. It’s not just SOs but also family. Anyone know how to make it stop?

      • This. Mom always told me “jewelry is personal.” I’ve had so many jewelry gifts over the years from aunts etc. that just sit at the bottom of a drawer. Luckily, SO has gotten good at picking things for me, but if it’s something I don’t like I don’t feel bad about telling another that it’s not for me.

    • At first I was uncomfortable with how large the diamond in my engagement ring was, and was also uncomfortable with how much attention I received wearing it. I, however, got used to it (possibly grew into it?) and I now love the fact that my husband chose it for me on his own.

      I should mention I always have loved the style of ring – it was just larger than I would have chosen, so perhaps that makes a difference. The other thing that happened, though, is that I don’t receive as many comments on it now as I did when it was new, even from strangers. (maybe I just don’t keep it as clean now – LOL!)

    • Thank you very much, everyone! I like the thought of sitting him down and giving him a talking-to :).

      And I apologize for the Ellen caps in my first post! (Fooey!)

  7. karenpadi :

    I learned something new today! I didn’t know white gold could also trigger metal sensitivities. I am incredibly sensitive to silver (even Tiffany silver) but I can wear white gold all day, every day and even to bed.

    BTW, does anyone else have a jewelry budget? Mine is $1000/year. If it’s something I really want and over my budget, I make myself use “found” money to make up the difference (like cash gifts, bonuses, cashbask on my credit card, travel reimbursement checks from work, etc.).

    • I have a friend who is allergic to silver, but wears white gold with no problems.

      Tiffany silver is not any better than regular 925 silver — in fact, I find it funny that they have managed to make 925 into a sort of TM.

      I don’t have a specific jewelry budget, but I probably don’t spend close to $1000 on jewelry for myself though. I do like to receive jewelry as gifts.

    • Anonymous :

      Me too re white gold! Must have been lucky so far?

      • I probably should have mentioned this, but sometimes white gold and silver jewelry are plated with a layer of rhodium (related to platinum) as a protective layer. Rhodium can keep people with metal sensitivities from reacting adversely.

        However, as with other metals, the way plating is done (usually electrochemically in a pickle solution) and the relatively thin layer it yields, make it temporary. It’s going to wear away over time if you wear a piece often enough.

        • karenpadi :

          So true! I get my pieces re-plated when they start “itching”. It’s also a great time to get rings re-sized.

          I can go about 2-3 years of every-other-day wear before replating. Is that normal? Are rings like shoes and bras where you shouldn’t wear them everyday to give them time to “rest”?

  8. Research, Not Law :

    Thank you! This is extremely useful.

    I appreciate the clarification on Filled Gold vs Gold Plated. Is Filled Gold less likely to cause a reaction for people with metal sensitivities? Through trial and error, I’ve limited myself to fine jewelry – but I hadn’t made a distinction between filled and plated.

    Similarly, is Argentium Silver good for folks with sensitivities? I’m not sure about my relationship with germanium, but I haven’t had much luck with alloys in general. I’m not a huge silver fan, but it sure would be nice to have an alternative to gold, given the current price.

    Could you speak to rose gold and sensitivities? My understanding is that it’s yellow gold and copper. I absolutely love the look, but I had a copper ring in college that turned my finger green, so I’ve been scared to invest in rose gold jewelry.

    • With the caveats that (1) every skin sensitivity is different and (2) different suppliers/manufacturers produce different quality products, filled gold tends to be absolutely fine for people with metal sensitivities. Sometimes you’ll see filled gold stamped with “14/20,” which means the gold is 14k, and at least 1/20 of the total weight is gold (if you ever see “PG,” under a magnifying glass, that means it’s plated, not filled). 14k filled gold should have about the same resiliency as 14k solid gold.

      I didn’t get into alloys much here, but you’re right about rose gold; it’s typically alloyed with copper or a combination of copper and fine silver. A lot of jewelry craftspeople use copper exclusively because it’s relatively inexpensive and easier to work with than precious metals, but it’s also a pretty common allergen. I stay away from it for that reason.

      I haven’t done any silversmithing with Argentium silver yet, so I can’t vouch for it personally. But based on what I’ve read and from talking with jewelers, reactions to it are very rare.

  9. Anonymous :

    Just want to say that I recently ordered and received some items from Kanye’s etsy store (with the corporette discount) and they are great! The pieces are as I expected in look and quality, they arrived quickly and in cute packaging. I’m wearing a piece today and I really like it so far. If it’s your style, I think it’s excellent value for the price.

    Thanks, Kanye!

    • Wait, corporette discount at Kanye’s store? Do tell.

    • So glad this site just led me to Kanye’s store! I love her stuff. This reminds me ~ I’ve been thinking for a long time that a post on handmade stuff would be cool. I’ve found a lot of handmade clothing on Etsy that’s appropriate for work, and I would love to see more people turning their backs on nasty corporate retailers like J Crew and AT who try to sell us poorly-made mass-produced junk at ridiculous prices.

  10. anonymous :

    Interesting post. I did know what “vermeil” meant, but picked up some other useful info. Thank you.

    But did anyone else find it incongruous that the accompanying illustration is of a $1,600 vermeil cuff? (Which is lovely, but not for $1,600.)

  11. My recent excursions have led me to discover 21k gold, which I didn’t even realize existed.

    Also, if you ever trek to or through the Middle East, BUY GOLD. Yes, gram per gram, it costs the same but each piece is lighter, and therefore less expensive. I don’t know why jewelry in the US wastes so much precious metal. AND you can bargain. Which is why, in addition to the wedding bangles my mother made me purchase for myself even though I’m not getting married, I also purchased five pairs of earrings, a ring and a chain. Obviously, loving the shiny is genetic.

    • I am back in love with all of my gold jewelry these days (the yellow gold stuff) and am envious of your purchases! I prefer 18K to 14K when I can find it, so I can only imagine how beautiful your 21K pieces are!

    • I’ve purchased most of my gold in either Thailand or India. I love the colour of “real” gold (18K +) and can’t believe the mark-up in North America.

      Love that your mom made you purchase wedding bangles, Ru. Your mom is priceless.

      • This. So, so true. It saddens/frustrates me that 14K is the gold standard in the US (and exorbitantly expensive considering the relatively little content, ~ 50%, of gold that you get for it), when elsewhere, it’s 18K+. For the amount of money that I’d have to spend here to get a quality 14K piece, I can take that same amount of money abroad and get the exact same thing but in 18K.

        I admit, I sometimes feel like a snob because I’ll only wear 18K+ gold (or platinum, when I can get my grubby hands on it), so I’m super happy to find like-minded ladies on Corporette! :)

        Kanye East, love, love, love this post! I fortunately know most of this by now, but I also had to make my share of bad purchases before I came by my hard-earned knowledge. Can you explain more about gold-filled jewelry, though? Your post doesn’t go into much detail. For my part, I avoid anything that isn’t “solid” gold, which includes plated, filled, what-have-you, because I figure they’re all pretty much the same thing – i.e., not “real” gold through-and-through.

  12. going anon :

    The thing I love most about Corporette is that it is a very open community that we can use as a forum to discuss issues we may be uncomfortable doing so in person or with people we know. That being said, where do we draw the line on what is and isn’t asked? This was just mentioned in the TPS comment that was an extension of the various discussions we’ve had on dating/sex/virgins/taboos so to speak.

    Can we please comment on what we would like to see more/less of without too much judgement? Some of the responses I saw to the back door post and the virgin at 25 post were plain mean and judgmental. Let’s exercise our tact and talk about this as grownup.

    • going anon :


    • MaggieLizer :

      Personally I don’t mind it, this is the kind of stuff I talk to my girlfriends about all the time so I’m not put off by reading it here. As long as the comments/questions are genuine, that is. Sometimes I get the feeling we’re being trolled, but maybe I’m just cynical. I can appreciate that some ladies wouldn’t want to read this at work (or at all), though, and would support an informal agreement to limit this type of discussion for the afternoon or weekend threads, as suggested earlier.

    • I’m not offended by it, but then again I don’t work in an office where someone could be reading over my shoulder. I value Corporette for the honest discussions that take place here, and frankly, I found yesterday’s discussion really interesting because I don’t even talk to my best friends about that stuff in any detail. If people want to restrict those types of discussions to Coffee Break, that’s fine with me, but I would likely miss it if it went on the weekend thread, because the weekend thread usually ends up being so long I don’t even bother to read it.

    • “we” don’t draw the line anywhere, its Kat’s site not ours. skip over what doesn’t interest you. Everyone is good about using code words so even the stuff I don’t like to see, its not like the words are on my screen.

      Also, sorry people are allowed to be judgmental. In fact, I think thats a good thing. If you are going to get judged in the real world with real people, I think its a good test run to air out in secret here.

      • I think there is a difference between saying, “I think X outfit/behavior is unprofessional,” which is a judgment I appreciate hearing here because I may wear it to work and I’d like to know what my colleagues may be thinking vs. “I think Y personal behavior that no one except my significant other is privy to is gross.” The latter is not constructive.

        I think one of the reasons there was such a flood of comments about this stuff since yesterday is that many people are not comfortable talking about this kind of thing with anyone in their real life and having this community to share/discuss those intimate issues with creates a forum to address issues they wouldn’t otherwise get to address. But I also kind of hope this site doesn’t turn into that. Not because I don’t enjoy these kinds of discussions (I have these talks with friends often) or because I don’t like reading these sort of questions (first thing I do during lunch every Wed. is check that week’s Savage Love column) , but it just becomes too much too quickly. Yes, I can scroll down, but there are soooooo many posts to scroll down past!

        FWIW, I feel the same way with any other totally tangential discussions — yes, we talk about motherhood sometimes, or TTC, or medical illnesses, but honestly there are other fora focused specifically on these things and I would hate if Corporette turned into WebMD or ParkSlopeMom or whatever else all the time. But it is Kat’s site, and I do appreciate the lack of censorship generally and hope that continues. Maybe we could just use our discretion as to what is appropriate and when, because after all we are all really awesome successful professional women with presumably pretty good judgment, no?

        • Said it before :

          I said this before with respect to the parenting threads, but one of the reasons I go to Corporette with some of my medical/parenting/personal questions is because the commenters are so much more thoughtful than on other sites. So while information may be available on WebMD, the same quality of feedback (and yes, judgment) is not.

          • Totally agree. But if Corporette turned into all medical questions, all the time, it would be a different story, no?

        • I like that we have discussions on all of these different topics. I understand that there are forums to discuss all of those topics individually, but I find it valuable to have a forum where the common factor is not any one topic, but the fact that the majority of commenters are professional women.

          • I agree, and I also think that if a thread is long, that means there are people who want to talk about it.

    • I read Corporette most days even though I think a lot of it is extremely judgmental. Even this could be seen as judgmental. You seem to be judging what others are saying. Which is completely fine with me. This is the internet.

      If someone asks for feedback, it does no good to only tell them sunshine and rainbows happiness advice. Sometimes the best advice is the hardest to swallow. So if people are judgmental, maybe that’s the best thing for some people. (and I’m not referring to a specific situation).

      If you don’t want your personal life judged on the internet, don’t put it out there. Its really quite simple.

      • I agree. I certainly don’t like it when things are mean-spirited (i.e., if someone were to describe an encounter that bothered her and the response is “well, you sound like a b***”), but I’ve never seen the horror of someone (particularly a stranger on the internet) being judgmental.

        When I think of someone being judgmental as a bad thing, I think of someone sticking their nose into things that are none of their business, or going out of their way to comment on something that wasn’t a topic (i.e., if someone takes seconds of dessert and another person says something about that person’s weight). I don’t think that “this is what I think about the situation that you just told me about” is at all problematic, and I don’t understand the complaints on it. (All that said, I do appreciate that folks often preface their somewhat negative statements with an explanation that they don’t mean to sound harsh, or something along that lines, and I try to do the same.)

        • But what if the person who described the situation does sound like a b**** :)

          I mean, sometimes we need to be told things we don’t to hear and if I came on and said “I can’t believe my secretary just walked off in a huff. Sure I told her she was stupid, but she is!!!” I need to hear “you sound like a b****”. (I am very nice to my secretary, so this is purely fictional!) And who better to tell me that than an internet stranger who doesn’t have to risk my wrath being directing at them!

    • I’m probably too late here, but I think a lot of these problems could be solved with a better commenting system. Something that allows you to collapse certain “threads” and keep them collapsed (either by having a registered account that remembers this, or by your browser remembering so long as you keep the window open). This way, if a TTC thread crops up and that kind of discussion drives you bonkers, you just collapse it and don’t have to keep scrolling all the way down the page past it.

      I don’t know that IntenseDebate is the best system out there, but Effortless Anthropologie uses it and I like it a lot better than the system here. One reason is that you can sort comments by latest activity, so if you want to do a Refresh later in the day, you don’t have to read through stuff you’ve already seen. It also automatically collapses all comment threads once the thread gets so long (I’m not sure what the threshold is) and then you can selectively expand if the OP looks interesting. Another reason I like it is that it has the “thumbs up” feature, so someone who agrees with a post but has nothing to add can use that to add weight to a post without cluttering the thread with “THIS” replies.

    • Oh.so.tired :

      I enjoy reading the new line of posts and hearing the hive’s advice on issues we all face: sex, illness, relationships, etc. I think in many cases the posters have no one else they can speak to–why should we put a muzzle on them? Sometimes the replies are harsh, but I’ve seen that on all threads.

      Fwiw, My employer wouldn’t like me reading a blog during work hours- it doesn’t matter what the content. Let’s not censor and let the free market work :) if the group starts disliking these more personal posts, they won’t receive attention and replies, and the posts will diminish. I hope that’s not the case, though.

  13. re: white gold. I have had some rings made for me by my local jewler over the years. Second-most-recently, I had three interlocking rings made, each with one of my children’s birthstones. The base metal is white gold. I regret my choice. The white gold looks yellow compared to my platinum wedding ring and it is not comfortable to wear.

    • I’m surprised by this. My wedding band is platinum (plan to keep forever) but engagement ring is white gold (plan to upgrade at some point), and they go together fine. I can’t tell the difference at all.

    • Maddie Ross :

      My engagement ring is white gold, but my wedding band and anniversary band are platinum. I can tell the difference if I look closely, but I don’t think anyone else could ever tell. The e-ring definitely has a yellow tinge that the platinum bands do not have. Someday I’d like to re-set the e-ring in platinum, but the price has gone up dramatically since when we got engaged years ago. Like many things, that someday will probably turn into never.

    • My wedding and engagement rings are white gold, but they were dipped in platinum. Looked beautiful, but they are starting to turn yellow now. I’m wondering if they can be re-dipped or something (not sure how they’d handle the diamond, though).

    • I just saw Kanye’s comment above about the plating that happens with white gold. I wonder if that’s the difference between my experience and those of you who find it identical to platinum.

      I’m pretty sure my jeweler would have told me if he was going to do any plating.

      • There is no truly “white” gold. All white gold has some plating (I think mine is rhodium). I have taken my e-ring a couple of times to be re-dipped which also gets rid of any scratches.

  14. Anon Three :

    Where do you ladies buy jewelry from? I’m looking for a online source to gently point an SO too. I like yellow gold and am looking for chunky jewelry that is relatively modest in price.

    • I love Melissa Joy Manning’s stuff, and I also buy a lot on Etsy and various art galleries.

    • They seem to have a bigger is better philosophy at Ross-Simon, so you might have good luck finding your chunky stuff there!

      I used to shop there in the eighties and nineties. Now I have relationships with a couple of local jewelers and would feel guilty. : )

    • etsyaddict :

      what I love about etsy, is you create a login and then you can ‘favorite’ items and create basically a wish list. My sister and I each have one, and shared the links to our favorite pages with each other and our mom. That way, for birthdays, holidays, we can buy the other person something from their favorite list and it appears in the mail! It’s still a surprise, cause I don’t know what from my list is going to show up.

      You could do that to help your SO, create a favorite list on etsy, and then he can find something in that list to give you. That way you know for sure that it will be something you really like.

    • southanon :

      Hubby and I have always had better luck going to local jewelers – echoing the “not a mall store” advice that others have given. Some local jewelers have great sales with steals that beat anything online. And although we have not made this leap yet, one of the most popular jewelers in our city is a pawn shop. If you ask for a recommendation for diamonds or gold, 8 out of 10 people in town will tell you to go to this pawn shop. Most of the jewelry is new – not pawned – and the deals are reputed to be spectacular. Ask around to see if you have something similar in your area.

    • Greenwich Jewelers is in nyc but has a good online shop. Roberto Coin makes a lot of beautiful things in yellow gold, so look for a local shop that carries his stuff near you (Bloomies and Saks has some). For basic things (earrings, bracelets), Blue Nile has some options and is a good value. In general, chunky + yellow gold + modest in price isn’t really going to go together, depending on how you define modest.

    • Praxidike :

      Heh – I buy jewelry from my family’s jewelry store. For any central Jersey Corporettes, it’s Mertens Jewelers in Manasquan, NJ. Family owned since 1940!

      I worked there through my entire childhood, first cleaning the glass, then calling people to tell them their jewelry was ready, and then at the counter. I loved it.

  15. Any views on Stella & Dot jewellery? The pieces look cute and the price point seems reasonable enough, but what kind of quality am I looking at?

    • anonymous :

      my impression is that it’s fashionable, attractive, fun jewelry that wears well for a year or two, assuming normal wear and minimal care.

      i wouldn’t buy a piece expecting it to last me much beyond that, unless i didn’t wear it very often. that’s based both on the quality and the trendiness of some of the designs.

  16. Somewhat related question: My engagement ring and wedding band are white gold. Someday, I’d like to get a new engagement ring setting in platinum (with the same 3 stones – center and 2 side stones) just for hardness purposes. Does anyone know of a good source for something like this? I assume that it would have to be custom work to work in the side stones.

    • I posted above that I’ve had several rings made. I’ve always used local jewelrs -i.e. on Main Street, not the mall.

      Having a ring custom-made is really fun, and you get exactly what you want!

  17. karenpadi :

    I do have another question about metal sensitivities. I keep finding really cute gemstone earrings but they are silver.

    Would it be possible to get the posts plated in gold? Do jewelers do this? About how much does it cost? I would think it’d be less than replating for rings but correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Some do, and it should be relatively inexpensive. But if it’s the kind of post that requires an ‘ear nut’ backing, the plating will probably erode even faster. Have you tried clear nail polish?

  18. Jewelery related PSA, for those with, ahem, higher end taste in jewelry: Jewelers Mutual is a great jewelry insurance company that offers jewelry-only policies. You need an appraisal for items over a certain amount (fairly high), so it helps to have a relationship with a local jeweler. Otherwise you just need a detailed receipt to add something to your policy. They are GREAT about processing claims and, unlike a policy issued through general insurers, respect the artistic side of jewelry and will replace an item from a specific designer as opposed to, say, a generic gold bracelet. Covers loss, theft, mysterious disappearance, and damage. Between me and my mom, we have filed many claims (including a cufflink that my husband THREW AWAY) and not had any problems.

    There is no point in having nice things if you are worried about wearing them!

  19. Any one who purchases fashion or costume jewelry is throwing money out the window. Fashion jewelry, like the gold plated bracelet featured in this post from Net-a-Porter, has virtually no intrinsic value.
    Smart women (and men) invest in pre-owned estate jewelry….and I don’t just say that because I am the CEO of Beladora.com. Pre-owned jewelry brings you the quality and intrinsic value without the high retail mark-up.

  20. I have a confession to make: I am a fiddler/ fusser/ fidgeter of epic proportions. I cannot stand watches, twist beaded necklaces until they break, find the sensation of heavy statement necklaces so distracting that I have never worn one for more than a few minutes and don’t even get me started on bangle bracelets! For some reason, I can handle earrings, as long as they are light and not too dangly.

    Am I the only person with this issue? I would love to accessorize and look more polished, but don’t seem to be able to.

    P.S. Ironically enough, a family friend recognized my fidgeting tendency at an early age and gave me the only piece of jewelry that I have been able to wear on a consistent basis: a silver colored, tri part “puzzle ring”. It’s the best thing ever, because I can fuss with it when I feel restless without looking like I’m fidgeting (and ring fussing is far more socially acceptable than pencil tapping or other forms of fidget)!

    • Necklaces don’t bother me, but I hate bracelets. Hate. Watches don’t bother me because they fit close to my wrist, but I’ve yet to find a bracelet that I won’t yank off after 5 minutes. Even the close-fitting ones have a thickness that I find really distracting. And bangles are the worst!

    • I am a necklace fidgeter, I wear a lot of vintage costume jewelry and managed to destroy a beaded necklace in a meeting because I was tugging at it. I need to break this habit!

  21. Bebe Gandanghari :

    I guess when it comes to style, being picky comes in really handy. Thanks for the rather informative insights. This should make shopping among the jewelers in nyc a whole lot easier.

  22. Dalia Dvir :

    Looking fabulous just isn’t as simple as many think. You have to be able to pick out the right combination of items for it to work. That’s why I’m very picky when shopping at the local long island jewelry stores.

  23. This article is catered for the woman with the tailored touch of class. I have seen fabulous finds over at jewellers melbourne that is worth gushing over.