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Mixing and Matching…or just Matching

rainbow compilation of Queen Elizabeth in various colored outfits

We’ve had so many conversations about whether something is “right” to wear with something else of a different color or texture. Are drop earrings too dressy? How many layering necklaces are “too much?” How many bracelets can I/ should I wear at once? Many of you tell me about Coco Chanel saying “get dressed, look in the mirror, and take one thing off.” Hmmm, maybe not.

First, there are no rules anymore about what “goes together.” In fashion, anything goes. People wear all kinds of things, avidly mixing textures and periods, hair colors, and lengths. People do what they want in the interest of self-expression and freedom of expression. Purposely ripped stockings? See-through shoes? Taxidermied alligator handbags? This group may not look so good from a design perspective, but they are really comfortable in their own skin, or feel more secure in following trends or both.

In the opposite corner, there are many people who like to coordinate all the things they wear and are not comfortable straying. Matching shoes and purse, for instance, or all monochrome. I mean, look at Queen Elizabeth! She’s got head-to-toe uniformity. Hat, gloves (sometimes), purse, dress/suit, corsage. All one color. Of course, she has the world’s best jewelry collection, so there’s that.

So, we have the anything-goes group and the matching group, but most of us fall in between. We want to be distinctive, comfortable, and creative. We want our style to be easy and a la mode without being too crazy. We want it to last till we are sick of it and we mostly prefer quality with some junk thrown in for good measure.

You know where I’m going with this… our jewelry should meet the same criteria. However, I think we have way more latitude to mix our jewelry than we do our clothing because jewelry takes up much less area than the clothing we wear. Jewelry is also so personal. Some days, you just “need” to wear these particular hoops because they make you feel confident or look great on a good hair day.

Maybe you want to wear an heirloom brooch one day which you normally wear with something else but you also must wear a particular outfit because your tummy is a little bloated and that outfit feels more comfortable. I’m here to tell you to wear the brooch or the giant bead necklace or the silver choker with the unlikely outfit and the hell with it. Jewelry is meant to be worn all the time, for no reason other than you want to. That’s what confers your patina and it's what your family will remember.

In my next installment, concrete design advice on mixing and layering.

Stay well.

Opal Sees the Light of Day: Renew, Redesign, Revive

Custom design opal gold ring laying on wooden table

Hello to all of you and happy summer. Here is another recent redesign project from a client who had never worn the original opal ring, which was gifted by a loving grandfather many years ago. She didn’t care for the filigree cocktail style that was popular in the ’60s-’70s and just kept it in her drawer. Sound familiar? She showed it to me one day while we were chatting and I urged her to think about resetting the beautiful white opal. It’s a large stone in perfect condition, even after all these years sitting in a bag. (Opals have been known to craze if left too long in a dry environment.)

We sized this ring for her middle finger since it is so large and, being a busy person, she wanted a simple bezel setting. This opal is NOT glued into the setting as many large cabochons are, but it is properly set in a lovely, rounded bezel. That is what fine jewelry work is all about.

This ring is out having new adventures now and enjoying the time to show off its many innate colors. What do you have hanging around?

Best wishes from the jewel box!

Colors of Summer

Collage of sapphire gemstones and jewelry

You can probably tell that I’m in a sapphire kind of mood these days, particularly exploring the subtleties of multicolored single gems. I’m buying gems from Burma, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Montana and combining them as they speak to me. Admittedly, the Burmese stones usually end up surrounded by diamonds, as their provenance is so rare. 

What attracts me overall is the calming palette of blue and green. These colors remind me of ocean, sky, celadon, leaf green, and forest green. The round green sapphire in the lower right corner is called a "Pharoah's Eye," because of its centered golden hue. These are very rare. This sapphire is from Montana, as is the bi-colored oval in the top row.  One stone I particularly love is in the lowest row, center. This stone has a naturally occurring, strong division of color, as do several others in this collection. Some classic blue, round Ceylon sapphires and a pair of icy green, "Coke Bottle" colors are some other standouts. 

 
Which ones do you want to play with?
 
Happy summer!

Sapphire Tray

The End is Just a Beginning: Jewelry and Divorce

Woman sitting on top of a mountain at sunset

Jewelry is so very personal and distinct in its value to us as both a beautiful object and a symbol of an intimate moment, whether our husbands or wives gifted it for a special occasion or it’s something we bought ourselves “just because.”  Many of my clients who are getting divorced ask me what they should do with their jewelry. Do they even want it? Will they wear it? Will they give it to their children someday? Is it fair for jewelry to be included as an asset in a divorce settlement?  Here are a few things to think about.

Know what you own.

Most of the time in a divorce settlement, the giftee can keep her jewelry but, if there are high value pieces (think 10-carat diamonds and the like,) they may be itemized on the asset sheet. The financial outcome depends on the type and quality of the jewels and their current value. In the case where jewelry affects the balance sheet, an independent appraiser can create a valuation that can be used by both sides. As an appraiser, I can help you figure this out. 

In any case, it’s important to know the current value of what you have for insurance purposes. Every so often, an independent appraiser should do a re-valuation for you. Many times, people are overinsured. That’s a subject for another time. 

Does it have “bad marriage cooties?” 

Some version of this thought is expressed as a question or a declarative sentence and I get it. I melted down some of the pieces I received from my former husband for that reason, until I realized that with a little steam cleaning, I could metaphorically burn off the cooties and continue to enjoy wearing things or at least tuck them away for my children. 

 I totally get the cootie thing. But I’ve evolved. As a jewelry designer and gemologist, I know that it’s not the stone’s fault. 

My solution for clients (and for myself many years ago) was to reset the stones and update my look. In that process, we clean and steam the stones (when they can tolerate it) and just the act of someone who understands your feelings working on the gems on your behalf can give you a sense of peace and continuity. Then you can tell your children that this stone was something their father gave you and you wanted to keep it for them but honor your new life. 

If melting or selling is the purge for you, I can help with that, too. No judgments here, just suggestions born of personal and client experience.

black and white close up image of woman handing man her wedding ring

But we paid X for that diamond!

If you decide to sell your engagement diamond because no amount of steaming will help, just be aware that, unless you bought the diamond 30 years ago, you will not receive what you paid for it at the time of purchase. The resale market for diamonds is very tight and tough. To dealers, a diamond is a commodity with a very low profit margin.  Many clients who choose to sell just want to be rid of their stone, but I will take it into the marketplace and do my best to get you a fair price.

The other option clients sometimes choose is to get a matching diamond to make the studs they always wanted or create a pendant they can wear. Remember, we can add some gorgeous sapphires or garnets or tourmaline to that diamond and make it one of a kind. Same with the studs. 

Sometimes, the end is a beginning and jewelry is one way to mark a new path. 

Diana Widman has her own jewelry design and appraisal firm called Diana Widman Design.

You can find her at dianawidman.com, on Facebook and Instagram (@dianawidmanfinejewelry), or call her at 312-346-2363. 

Sample Appraisal Report: Do You know What You Have?

Antique Gold Fancy Link Necklace

Since some of you don’t know what an appraisal report looks like, I thought it would be helpful if I showed you a few examples. Shown here is part of a report I am doing for a Client who has a vast jewelry collection, including many antique pieces.

In this case, the most helpful things I can do are to evaluate the condition, gemstones, and karat of the gold used, as well as to consider the time period of initial creation and which materials were available at the time. To check on the history, I use my own knowledge and research and an expert in the field whose opinions I fully trust. There are several places in this report where I have cited his opinion which may be different than the opinion of the person who sold my Client her jewelry.

Date: November 8, 2020
Introduction and Purpose
Client:

This report includes valuations of Client’s extensive antique and modern fine jewelry collection for the purpose of gifting to her heirs.

Appraisals will include research on each piece for the purpose of informing her descendants about the history and provenance of her jewelry.

Every effort was made to identify the origin of each piece, whether it was inherited from Client’s family or that of her husband.

The values obtained are not a guarantee of value if an item gets sold as market prices, desirability, fashion, and other influences move prices in unanticipated directions.

Diana Widman, Graduate Gemologist, Ai-V (accredited international value,) designer, metalsmith
312-346-2363 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Item Description
1. Georgian Gold Chain: Georgian, triple loop gold chain, likely 18KT gold. Chain is 41.5” long and was intended as a muff chain. This piece was made before the Industrial Revolution and, as such, is crafted with hand cut tiny granulation, ball disks, and chase work. The estimated date of this chain is 1835. Chains made of gold were relatively rare in Georgian times because of gold’s price level. The barrel clasp is typical of the period and has a missing turquoise.
Value to dealer: $XXXX
Mothers Necklace

2. Gold Chain: This 18KT chain is a later, Turkish copy of a Georgian chain made by machine. This piece shows a lot of wear and has been noticeably resoldered in several places. The clasp is in the shape of a hand set with turquoise in the cuff (one chipped) and possible ruby or garnet on the hand. Value: $2500

Hand Clasp Necklace

3-4. Fancy-Link Gold Chain and Fob

This 23”, fancy-link chain dates from around 1900, which is the end of the Victorian and beginning of the Edwardian period in Britain. Links are of the disk and knot design and gold content is between 15KT and 18KT. This is a fob chain.

Value of Chain: $XXXX

Fob
Carnelian Fob:
The fob contains the initials FDD. Four words are carved around its edge including “Virtus nobilitat,” and one Alos (Latin for cherish.) A hand holding a star and crescent is carved in the center. The fob has an elaborate floral motif and the metal around the bezel is possibly gold-filled or low-karat gold. It is unclear.
Value: $XXX

 Fob Face

A Burmese Sapphire to Celebrate a Long and Happy Marriage

Burmese sapphire with its certification report

This six-carat, Royal Blue oval landed between two high white diamond baguettes in a platinum ring. This ring marks 45 years of love and laughter between two extraordinary people who have traveled the world together and been through thick and thin. I can’t wait to get pictures of this ring’s travels… Made with love to celebrate love.

Inner World: Crystal with Skid Marks

Tiny blue crystal with skid marks

This photograph (by a fellow gemologist, Laurianne Lognay) made me laugh. Snugged into a sapphire, this crystal made marks like an ice skater doing practice turns. It’s another example of how heat, pressure, and time create random, spontaneous patterns, colors, and moods that we have above ground. This crystal probably does not impact the brilliance of the stone and we can’t even see it without a microscope, but just knowing it’s there gives a gem identity and character.

This little capsule crystal and its attending lacy skid marks show us that at some point over thousands of years, this tiny crystal moved into position amidst the blue material, perhaps during a volcanic eruption. This itty bitty thing traveled a bit, looking for just the right spot to land. This little crystal is a good illustration of why we call these “inclusions” and not flaws. These inclusions are formed during Earth’s constant state of renewal and creation and they imply activity and energy in a now-still gem.

I hope you are all well. More sapphires are in! Bring me your jewelry and we can look for inclusions. It’s free and fun!

Sparkles from the studio.
Diana

A Long Love Gets Renewed

Ring redesign before and after image

ZappalaCurvyReset

This client brought a series of rings to me for redesign. On the left, her old wedding band, a cathedral-style, white gold piece set with diamonds. Looking for something more artful and updated, we decided that the Curvy band would be a perfect fit for her busy hands. Lucky for her, the diamonds are a generous size and so we modified the band by making it slightly heavier. The result is what you see on the right. There will be more from this series as she is blessed with several rings for redesign.

She also bought one of our handmade Twist rings as a spacer ring or to wear alone on super busy days. Spring is here and renewal is in the air on so many levels. If you've been thinking about custom redesign, now is the time!

TwistRings

Jewelry Sizing

Sizing Cuff

Since so many of you always ask, here is a guide on jewelry sizing, for necklaces, bracelets, and rings.

Chains and Necklaces

BlogJewelryuSizningNecklace This photo shows a scale chart for necklace lengths from choker to opera. Most standard necklace lengths fall between 16” and 18” because that’s where the neckline for clothing usually sits on the body. Obviously, we all have different types of necklines, depending on what we are wearing. Consequently, my studio makes most of our pendant chains adjustable between 16” and 18” to give you choices when getting dressed. In many cases, the pendant can be transferred to a longer or shorter chain for added variety.

If you’ve purchased a pendant from me that is fixed to its chain, we can adjust the chain by adding length to the back or inserting an added jump ring.

We love long chain necklaces here. Only one caution… don’t wear them on days when you are bouncing around a lot or getting up and down from a table constantly. In other words, beware of the potential to bang your pendant onto the edge of a table too many times.

 

Ring Sizing

It’s crucial to know that when a jeweler sizes your finger, we look for how that size will slide over your knuckle. Too easy and the ring can slide off. Too resistant to sliding means you may end up with a very tight ring which would be hard to get off should you need to. Do your hands swell at different times of the month or in the summer? Do you have arthritic knuckles? Ring sizing is part art and part science. It also depends on the width and contour of the band and the size of any center gemstone. Large stones can flop around the finger. Wide bands need a larger finger size than you might normally wear.

BlogSizingMandrel

Trying to find someone’s ring size in secret? Take a ring to the jeweler and we can size it for you by sliding it on a mandrel. Then, we calculate the size based on the dimensions of the borrowed ring with how wide or narrow our ring is going to be. Again, science and art.

 Real Simple magazine has a very good article about different ways to size your fingers at home.

Bracelets

A standard women’s bracelet is between 7” and 8” long. But we all know that wrist size is anything but standard. In addition, the style and width of the bracelet or cuff changes the fit, much like a ring. Obviously, link bracelets are much easier to size down. Cuff bracelets can be adjusted but only if the metal can be reformed.

BlogSizingHandsimages

The information below is taken from Rio Grande, a jewelry supply house. It is comprehensive and very helpful.

How to Find an Accurate Bracelet Size
To determine bracelet size, follow the steps below.
1. Measure the customer's wrist below the wrist bone (where you would normally wear your bracelet) using a bracelet gauge, a flexible measuring tape or a strip of paper.
2. If using a plain strip of paper, mark your strip with a pen where the end of the bracelet needs to be. Then measure the paper strip with a ruler. This is the wrist size.
3. To find the bracelet size, increase the wrist measurement by the increment below, based on how the customer wants the bracelet to fit.
For a snug fit, add 1/4" to 1/2".
For a comfort fit, add 3/4" to 1".
For a loose fit, add 1-1/4".

How to Determine Bangle Bracelet Size
1. Ask your customer to close her fingers together, bringing her thumb and little finger together (as though putting on a bangle).
2. Using a strip of paper or measuring tape, measure around the closed hand at the widest point, pulling the tape snug against the skin. If you are using a plain strip of paper, mark the paper with a pen, then measure the strip with a ruler. This is the circumference of the customer's hand.
3. Find the hand circumference below. Create (or choose) a bangle with a diameter at least 1/4" larger than the diameter shown below.

Converting Circumference to Diameter
7-1/2" is approx. 2-3/8" dia. (small)
8-1/4" is approx. 2-5/8" dia. (medium)
8-5/8" is approx. 2-3/4" dia. (large)

 

 

 

 

 

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+1.312.346.2363

5 South Wabash Ave
Suite 411
Chicago, Illinois 60603

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