Engagement Rings: Have You Ever Upgraded, Downgraded, or Swapped It Out?

engagement ring upgradeSo here’s something that I know people do but never really hear people talk about: upgrading engagement rings. If you’re married, engaged, or just fond of thinking about rings: when, if ever, can one “upgrade” an engagement or wedding ring to get a larger diamond, adding more stones like baguettes or upgrading the setting to something like a Halo? When, if ever, can one replace a wedding ring for fashion/style reasons? (Obviously, the easy answer is “whenever the heck you want,” but there’s an etiquette issue here with your partner, as well as budgetary issues, fashion/lifestyle issues, and more.) We’ve talked about whether you have to take a diamond ring off to interview — but we’ve never talked about an engagement ring upgrade or anything else from this angle.upgrading an engagement ring etiquette

A few questions, to focus discussion: is buying “too much of a ring” ever a problem? For example, if your partner were to propose with an engagement ring — but still be in the midst of paying it off when you get hitched — how do you feel about that? Would you prefer zero debt in your union and a smaller ring — or did you have a mindset of “hey, you only get one engagement ring so let’s make it huuuuge!”, but then be OK with a monthly loan payment to which you contribute (or where your partner pays for it alone but then has less resources to contribute to family discretionary spending)? (After all, there are lots of different married money management methods!) Irrespective of engagement ring size, I know of several women who found that ultimately they preferred to just wear their wedding bands, and leave their engagement rings in the drawer (or safe, as the case may be)…

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Jewelry for the Office: Fashion or Fine?

jewelry for the office: fashion or fine? Jewelry for the office: fashion or fine? Is fashion jewelry or fine jewelry more appropriate for the workplace — or is it a know your office situation? Is there such a thing as everyday fine jewelry, other than an engagement ring? Does price and taste enter into it? (Bonus question for the bottom of the post, too: would you wear the pictured necklace to work? Would your answer change if you thought it cost more or less than your home?) Here’s Reader A’s question:

I’m an avid reader of your blog and I have a question for you. :) I read your 2012 jewelry post and was wondering if you had advice on fashion vs fine jewelry in the office. I work in a very casual office (uggs are not out of place even on senior management) but the executives tend to dress sharp and polished. However, I’ve never seen anyone wear pearls or gemstones outside of their wedding rings. Are fine jewelry styles only appropriate in formal offices?

Very interesting question. I do suspect this is a “know your office” situation, but I’m very curious to hear from the readers because I’d love to know which kind of jewelry you prefer to wear to the office, fashion or fine.  First, some definitions for purposes of discussion today…

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Work Jewelry: How Much Jewelry Should You Wear to Work?

work-jewelry-how-much-is-too-much

2018 Update: We still stand by this post on how much work jewelry to wear and links have been updated below; in a semi-related discussion you may want to check out our discussion on when to upgrade you engagement ring.

Ladies, how much work jewelry do you wear? Do you tend to lean towards “too much” or “not enough”? Where do you think the line is? How do you avoid getting into a rut with your jewelry? As I draft this post I realize this is something I’ve struggled with, so I’m curious to hear what readers say. (Pictured: I pity the fool who thinks this isn’t enough jewelry for work! Sorry, had to…)

(Psst: in the past we’ve written before about my jewelry collection for workhow to wear jewelry for work if your style isn’t particularly feminine, and how to mix metals with your work jewelry.)

For my $.02, I’ve always been a bit of a jewelry minimalist — three pieces of jewelry struck me as the right amount for daytime, for whatever reason. This changed a bit when I got engaged and started wearing my diamond ring on the regular. It meant I stopped wearing other rings, and it meant I tended to lean more toward my silver/white gold jewelry (my rings are platinum) versus my yellow gold jewelry or rose gold jewelry. Add a good watch in the mix, and you’re left with a problem — your work jewelry choices are either very boring (because only one piece changes), or you’re suddenly wearing a ton more jewelry.

Here are my general thoughts on work jewelry, just to throw some spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks:

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Tips on Fine Jewelry Care

Tips on Fine Jewelry Care | CorporetteWhat are the best ways to care for fine jewelry like sterling silver, gold, and platinum, as well as diamonds, pearls, and other gemstones? In the past we’ve talked a lot about jewelry, including jewelry storage, how to start a jewelry collection for work, and how to buy pearls — but we haven’t looked at jewelry care in detail. Kate talked to some experts and did some research — enjoy! Also possibly of interest: Nordstrom has a ton of fine jewelry marked 30-60% off today. 

In general, it’s smart to follow these tips for all of your fine jewelry:

  • After wearing your jewelry, gently wipe it off with a 100%-cotton cloth.
  • Remove jewelry before gardening, cleaning, doing home repairs or other physical work, playing sports, getting into a hot tub or pool, showering/bathing, or swimming in salt water.
  • Put on makeup, lotion, perfume, and hair products before putting on your jewelry. Avoid letting jewelry come into contact with soap or sweat.
  • Protect your jewelry by storing it in individual boxes or soft bags, and don’t keep it in your car, near windows or heat vents, or in direct sunlight. In general, keep jewelry out of extreme temperatures.
  • Don’t use a polishing cloth on a piece of jewelry with a matte or oxidized finish.
  • If you clean your jewelry near a sink, close the drain!
  • Ask your insurance agency what’s covered in your homeowner’s or renter’s policy — you may want to buy additional insurance coverage. (Here’s a great NYT article on point as well.)

Here are some tips that are specific to certain kinds of jewelry:

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Jewelry Organization

Jewelry Organization: Organize Your Work Jewelry, Fun Jewelry and More2016 Update: In addition to the below discussion on jewelry organization, you may also want to check out our discussion of jewelry-related closet organization hacks.

How do you organize your jewelry (work jewelry and fun jewelry) at home? Reader L wondered:

You recently posted about traveling with jewelry, which is really helpful as I’m traveling more for business. However, storing my jewelry at home is another beast altogether. Jewelry boxes don’t do it for me (too many funky/chunky costume bracelets and cuffs to fit), and I hate the formal, old fashioned look of jewelry armoires. My jewelry collection is comprised mostly of cheaper costume pieces, though I have some legit antiques and also quite a few mid-price (for me) bracelets/earrings/watches from Kate Spade/Tory Burch and the like, so I don’t want to throw everything haphazardly into a drawer just to get tangled/scuffed/scratched/lost/forgotten. Please help? Thank you!

I’ve been rethinking my own jewelry organization, so this is a great time to discuss. As Reader L notes, the easiest solution here is the jewelry armoire, and you can find freestanding pieces of furniture as well as mirror armoires (both freestanding and over-the-door). These look like they would be great for someone who is starting totally from scratch… but I kind of like some of my older solutions better, and I don’t necessarily have the space/need for another piece of furniture or another mirror, so fortunately for Reader L, I have some other ideas… Some of my older solutions have been working for me, and some of them haven’t, so I can’t wait to hear what readers say. (Pictured at top: the Acme 16000 Teresa Jewelry Armoire, Java Finish, for $122 at Amazon.)

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The Next Step: Jewelry

Jewelry for Work | CorporetteIn our ongoing discussion on The Next Step — i.e., how to upgrade various areas of your life — a reader suggested we discuss how to upgrade your jewelry collection, and how to buy jewelry for work in general. Excellent idea, and I’m curious to hear what people say. (I swear, I intended this to primarily be an open thread — but it turns out I have a lot of favorite designers I just HAD to look up and link to.) Note that I’ve talked about my own jewelry for work, and we’ve had excellent guest posts on how to buy jewelry for other women, as well as a 411 on different jewelry terminology (different metals, pearls). In other posts in this series we’ve talked about upgrading your bag collection, upgrading your shoe collection, how to upgrade your work wardrobe, better personal services for busy women, and how to buy grown up furniture.

For my own $.02, here is how my own jewelry buying has looked through the years:

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