The best part of owning jewelry, of course, is wearing it! But we can’t wear all of our jewelry all of the time. Artistically organizing and displaying our jewelry is a great way to enjoy the jewelry we’re not wearing at the moment, add a splash of beauty to our living space—and show off our impeccable tastes in the process.
We recommend displaying your more casual jewelry or jewelry that could easily be replaced. For truly valuable pieces, it’s better to store them somewhere safer where they will be protected from gathering dust and getting lost in the shuffle of things.
Display your favorite rings in a pretty dish.
Tip: In some cases, less is more. Too much jewelry in one dish defeats the purpose of displaying your jewelry.
Tip: Scour thrift stores and antique markets for vintage busts and designer forms. These pieces can "wear" and show off your jewelry when you're not!
Go for a modern, minimalist approach with this DIY Mountain Necklace Display featured on The Merrythought.
Tip: Unfinished wood can make a beautiful, refreshing statement.
Try this Delicate Necklace Solution from Cupcakes and Cashmere.
Tip: If you're going to pin your jewelry to a wall or board, opt for delicate pins in gold, silver, or white.
What are your favorite ways to organize and display your jewelry?
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Photos: Cupcakes and Cashmere, I Heart Organizing, Crafts Unleashed, The Everygirl, The Merrythought
Interestingly, minimalist fashion and intricate layering are en vogue at the same time. While there’s a lot to be said for minimalism, there’s something about layering pieces that brings out the inner girl-in-mom’s-jewelry-box—it’s playful, whimsical, and joyful. Stacking or layering jewelry—whether that’s necklaces, rings, or bracelets—allows the wearer to customize her look and even artfully combine multiple styles.
Layering jewelry can be an art, and like any art, understanding a few fundamentals can take your craft to the next level. Although throwing on just any combination of pieces can lead to a cool look, there are a some loose guidelines that will have you stacking jewelry—in this case, bracelets—like a pro stylist.
How to Stack Bracelets
While necklaces may require more precision layering, you can get away with a lot when it comes to stacking bracelets, so don’t be afraid to go big! That being said, keep in mind the length and style of your shirt sleeves. The more elaborate (lacy, patterned, etc.) your sleeve, the easier you want to go with the bracelets. You don’t want your shirt sleeve to be competing for space or attention with your bracelets.
Start simple. Begin with 2-4 pieces.
Start with a staple—like your wristwatch or a bracelet you wear almost every day.
Experiment with one arm rather than tackling both at once.
When layering bracelets, keep in mind that mixing textures, thickness, materials, and metals will yield a more interesting and personalized stack. Also, don’t be afraid to mix fine jewelry with everyday jewelry—like semi-precious stones or even a friendship bracelet. In fact, avoid anything too matchy-matchy.
Keep the rest of your look fairly simple. Skip stacking rings and layering necklaces, and allow your wrist(s) to make your style statement.
Keep your nails neat. Stacked bracelets (and rings) will draw attention to your hands, so nix the chipped polish if you’re planning to layer jewelry around your hands.
Be mindful of where you’ll be wearing your stack. Any place (like the office) in which layered (i.e. noisy) bracelets may annoy those around you probably isn’t the place to sport your stack.
Ideas for Bracelet Combinations
Gold statement watch + delicate gold chain + charm bracelet with toggle closure + rose quartz beaded bracelet.
Colorful & Fun:
Multicolored bracelet(s) + wrap bracelet + beaded bracelet + bulky statement piece.
Studded cuff + silver chain + rhodium-plated (black) bangle or chain.
Beaded bracelet(s) with tassel + metal cuff + patterned piece + friendship bracelet.
Rose gold cuff + silver bangle + simple gold chain.
Are you a fan of stacking bracelets? What are your favorite combinations?
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A druzy (also called drusy, drusie, or druse) occurs when a set of crystals form on or within the surface of a plate-like stone. (A druzy looks like a stone covered in sugar crystals or glittering snow.) There are several types of druzies because various minerals can grow in a crystalline structure.
Quartz (agate or chalcedony) is the most common types of druzy. In addition to quartz druzies, there are garnet, calcite, dolomite, and malachite druzies, among many others. Druzies are sometimes treated with gold, platinum, sterling silver, or titanium to enhance their colors. A druzy treated with titanium, for example, may have a cobalt or purple hue.
Druzies also vary in size because crystals grow in a variety of sizes. Druzies with a layer of tiny crystals are probably the most popular druzy featured in jewelry. Each druzy will vary in luster, but they’re generally quite sparkly. Compared to faceted gemstones, druzies are rather affordable, making them a great choice for customers interested in something pretty and sparkly at an decent price point.
Druzies in Crystal Healing
In the tradition of crystal healing, druzies are used in a similar fashion as crystal clusters. They’re featured in group meditation and spiritual workshops and are valued for their reported ability to harmonize a group of people and direct them toward a common spiritual aim. Druzies are also used to “charge,” “program,” or “enhance” the energy of other crystals. To enhance the energy of a crystal using a druzy, the crystal user places a crystal on top of the druzy a leaves it there overnight.
Druzies are also associated with creativity and relaxation as well as the relief of emotional strife. Finally, it’s believed that druzies assist the immune and reproductive systems.
Caring for Your Druzy
Handle your druzy carefully to avoid dropping it or knocking it against a hard surface. Although the toughness of any druzy depends on its mineral content, druzies can be fragile and prone to cracks and breakage. Clean your druzy with a damp, lint-free cloth. Avoid immersing it in cleaning chemicals or using an ultrasonic cleaner. Also, avoid exposing your druzy (or any other jewelry piece) to body-care products, including soaps, hair spray, hair dye, self-tanner, and perfume. Store your druzy piece in cloth pouch or lined jewelry box.
Photos: Mickey Lynn Jewelry, Sheilasattic via Etsy, Landon Lacey via Etsy, Cheep and Chic Land via Etsybar
Enamel in jewelry and decorative work goes by a few names—vitreous enamel, porcelain enamel, and painted glass. The word enamel comes from the Old High German word smelzan, which means to smelt.
Enamel jewelry can feature several vivid hues.
In jewelry, enamel is a decorate coating applied to metal. It begins as a powder with a texture similar to that of baby powder. It’s fused to metals using high temperatures (1,380-1,560°F). Although enamel powder comes in different colors, the initial colors of the powder do not ultimately represent the vivid colors resulting from the high-temperature fusion process.
The temperature of the fusion process as well as the metal oxides content of the enamel determine the resulting color’s intensity as well as its transparency. Generally speaking, higher temperatures yield more durable, translucent enamel while lower temps yield softer, more opaque enamel, which is more vulnerable to damage.
Enamel jewelry is made using fine, colored powder.
The Origins of Enamel Jewelry
Enamel design can be traced back to the ancient Persians who called the art meenakari. The ancient Egyptians also practiced enamel work on stone objects and pottery—and less frequently on jewelry.
Chinese cloisonné wine pot, circa 18th century.
The art of enameling seemed to know no geographic bounds and spread to China, Rome, Greek, Celtic territories, and the Byzantine Empire. Each culture brought its own style to the art. The Chinese, for example, perfected the cloisonné technique. Cloisonné is also known as the "cell technique." Wires are adhered to a surface in a desired pattern; the artist then fills the spaces created by the wire with enamel.
A Fabergé egg.
More recently, enamel jewelry gained popularity during the Art Nouveau era in art and design in Europe and the United States (1890-1910). Artists like Peter Carl Fabergé specialized in bibelots (baubles), like the elaborate enamel egg pictured above. Other artists, like George Stubbs, used enamel to create portrait miniatures. This period was an especially ripe time for jewelry making and design in part because enameling allowed artists like René Lalique and Eugéne Feuillâtre to create intricate, nature-inspired jewelry. Enamel also offered a way to feature vibrant color in jewelry without the use of precious stones.
Common Design Styles in Enamel Jewelry
There are several design styles in enamel jewelry (including cloisonné, mentioned above). The following are just three that you may come across.
A stunning and delicate plique à jour creation by René Lalique.
Plique à Jour. French for “glimpse of day,” this style was popularized by French enamelists René Lalique and Eugéne Feuillâtre. In this style, vivid, fairly translucent enamel is suspended between gold or silver wires without any backing. The light shines through the enamel, creating a beautiful stained-glass effect.
A contemporary example of champlené enameling.
Champlené. French for “raised field,” in this style, the jeweler creates a depression in the metal (by cutting, hammering, or stamping the metal). They then fill the depressions with enamel, layering the the enamel until it reaches the height of the surrounding metal, creating a mostly smooth surface.
The baise taille technique allows enamelists to create nuanced texture in the smallest of pieces.
Baise Taille. French for “low cut,” this style features a pattern created in the metal over which enamel is applied. The pattern shows through the glass for a unique texture.
Caring for Enamel Jewelry
To clean enamel jewelry, soak the piece in warm, soapy water for five to ten minutes. Use a soft cloth to remove noticeable bits of dirt. Rinse the piece and dry it with a lint-free cloth.
If your enamel jewelry is damaged, please take it to a jewelry or artist who specializing in enamel. Repairing antique enamel is an especially delicate process since using high temperatures to fuse new enamel may negatively affect the older enamel on the piece.
Are you a lover of enamel jewelry? What's your favorite style?
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Although mourning jewelry is typically associated with Victorian fashion, mourning jewelry dates back to at least the 15th century when miniature portraits (which were often worn as jewelry) gained popularity among European monarchy. In fact, the miniature portraits famously featured in Victorian mourning and sentimental jewelry is the product of centuries of development.
Miniature portraits on display at the National Museum in Warsaw.
The Origin of Miniature Portrait Jewelry
Mourning jewelry expert Hayden Peters argues that miniature portraits have their roots in the introduction of the printing press. “Miniature” stems from the Latin miniare, or “to color with red lead.” During the 15th century (and for some time before), hand-printed books often featured red capital letters (these books are also known as illuminated manuscripts).
By the 1460s, however, these handmade books faced competition from books created with the printing press. Although there continued to be hand-illustrated books, some illustrators turned their attention to creating miniature portraits.
By the 1520s, miniature portraits were popular items in French and English courts. Jean Clouet in France and Lucas Horenbout in England were two early notable miniaturists, creating miniature portraits for jewelry that could be worn around the neck or simply held in the palm of one’s hand. At a certain point, miniature portraits were used to adorn snuff boxes as well.
Portrait of a man against a background of flames by Nicholas Hollard, c. 1600.
Miniature Portrait Symbolism
From roughly 1580 to 1635, miniature portraits were fashionable gifts among society’s elite. They could be given unframed to a loved one, allowing the recipient to select their desired frame. In some areas, they were even the subject of public ceremonies. In addition to serving as memorial pieces, miniatures were of special important to those whose loved ones were required to travel or live far away. For example, a wife may have kept a miniature portrait of her husband while he was away.
Peters points out that the Humanist movement during the Renaissance may have played a role in the popularity of miniatures. Given the renewed focus on the individual (rather than the divine), it’s no wonder that people would want to carry around images of the people they held dear.
Miniature portrait of Charles I.
Miniature portraits also served as an outlet for individuals’ political loyalties. During the reign of Oliver Cromwell, some people carried around mourning portraits of Charles I to show their solidarity with the Crown.
Miniature Portrait Materials and Innovations
Miniature portraits were sometimes as small as 40mm x 30mm. Initially, they involved watercolor painted on stretched vellum. By the second half of the 17th century, most miniatures were created by painting vitreous enamel on copper, a method that was particularly popular in France. By the late 18th century, this method was mostly replaced by watercolor on ivory (ivory had become fairly affordable by this point).
Miniature mourning portrait of a young girl.
The quality of miniature portraits varied, of course, with some featuring exquisite details while others were created from classic templates and adjusted to more closely represent an individual’s features—with varying degrees of accuracy.
With the development of the daguerreotype in the mid-19th century, the popularity of miniature portraits eventually diminished in favor of photographic technology.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons, The Art of Mourning
If you’re interested in repairing jewelry, becoming a jeweler, or collecting antique jewelry, you’ll need to have a jeweler’s loupe in your arsenal. The following are a few tips for choosing the right jeweler’s loupe for your needs—and then putting that loupe to use!
Finding the Right Loupe
There are three common varieties of loupe lens configurations.
Singlet: This is a single lens that serves as a magnifying glass. There may be some distortion in the magnification, but these are fairly inexpensive. Keep in mind that if you’re using a singlet to look at a particular point in a gem (like an inclusion), you will likely be able to focus only on that point; the surrounding area will be distorted.
Doublet: A doublet features two lenses glued together. It offers a clearer, sharper view than a singlet.
Triplet: Triplets are the industry standard. These include two concave lenses and one convex lens stacked together. Triplets offer an even clearer and shaper image. Of the three lens configurations, triplets present color most accurately. A clear view of a gem's color is integral in determining its value. A triplet is also the best option for viewing a gem with minimal distortion. (Keep in mind that any magnifying lens may distort subjects viewed through the perimeter of the lens).
The are three most common powers of magnification.
10x: This is the standard power for triplets. When using a loupe with a magnification of 10x, you can keep the loupe about one inch away from your eye. This gives you a pretty decent field of vision.
20x: A loupe with a magnification of 20x will need to be brought closer to your eye (about ½ inch), which decreases field of vision. A lens configuration with a power of 20x is more expensive to produce, so many loupe manufacturers will make 20x loupes smaller than 10x loupes. This means that the natural distortion around the edge of the lens will be closer to the center.
30x: Any challenges experienced with a 20x loupe will be experienced to a greater degrees when using a 30x loupe.
Some loupes come with LED lights mounted around or beside the lens(es). Some also include diffusers to cut down any glare caused by the lights. This innovation in loupes can certainly come in handy if you’d appreciate a little more light when viewing small pieces.
A loupe with an LED light.
Using Your Loupe
Using a jeweler’s loupe may feel a bit counterintuitive at first. You don’t have to close one eye or squint when using the loupe. In fact, keep both eyes open to avoid eye strain and headache. You will, however, want to view the subject with your dominant eye.
With one hand, bring your loupe about one inch away from your dominant eye. You can rest your hand against your cheek for extra stability. With the opposite hand, bring your subject under the lens. For stability, you can rest your hands together.
How to hold and steady a loupe.
There you have it! With two hands and your loupe, you’ve created a microscope of sorts through which to view jewelry.
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2016 has played host to several fun and innovative trends. From glass nail art to Renaissance-inspired evening wear, there’s no shortage of ways to express yourself. The jewelry department is no different. Tassel jewelry, in particular, has made a splash this year.
The cool thing about this trend is that there are so many ways to wear it—from big tassels to tiny tassels, from a single tassel to several tassels, tassels are appearing on earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Some tassels are beaded, others are made of metal, and some are made with good-old-fashioned upholstery thread. Indeed, no two pieces of tassel jewelry look alike.
Here are just a few examples of this festive trend:
Want to try your hand at a beaded tassel? They’re actually easier than they look!
DIY beaded tassel instructions:
1. Cut roughly seven inches of ribbon (ribbon may be around ½-inch thick). You will be sewing your beaded tassel trailers onto this ribbon. The ribbon will also provide the base of the tassel.
2. Cut a length of fireline thread or upholstery thread. Choose a length that you’re comfortable working with (you’ll probably use more than one piece of thread.) Thread your needle.
3. Starting in the middle of the ribbon, thread the thread through the ribbon, leaving yourself a few inches of a tail (will be glued later).
4. Using a ruler for reference for trailer length, thread your needle through the beads you’ve chosen until you reach the desired length for your tassel trailer.
5. Loop the thread over the last bead, and run your needle and thread back through the entire row of beads (excluding the last). Gently tighten until the trailer is flush against the ribbon (but not so tight that it buckles).
6. Loop the thread back into the ribbon about a bead’s width away from the first strand, and repeat the process in step 5 until you have desired number of tassel trailers. (You may need to grab another thread if you run out of length along the way.
7. Fold the remaining un-beaded ribbon over the row of beads. Trim the other side ¼ inch past the end. Fold the ¼-inch bit over the raw edge, and roll the ribbon tightly until you have a round shape.
8. Create a few stitches along the top edge of the ribbon to secure the roll in place. Then create a stitch at the bottom of the ribbon, and stitch your way back to the top.
9. Trim any remaining thread tails, and glue them down.
10. Take a length of thread through your needle, and knot a single bead at the bottom of the thread. Add more beads to this thread—you’ll want your beaded thread long enough to be able to wrap around the rolled ribbon.
11. When you’re ready to wrap this around the top, use a little bit of glue as you go to prevent making a sticky mess. Let dry for at least an hour.
12. To create a beaded loop from which to hang the tassel, take your threaded needle, and run your needle through a few of the beads at the top of the tassel, coming out one side of the top of the tassel. Add five beads to your needle, and go through a bead on the other side of the top of the tassel. Weave your thread through a few more of the beads and tie off your thread. And you’re done!
If you’re a visual learner, check out this video tutorial for making a beaded tassel.
Photos: Lanvin, Farfetch, The Outlet, Halsbrook, Matches Fashion, Meijer Style