The Girlfriend's Guide to Jewellery

by Anne Wallner Rss
11: Design

There is a jewellery design to appeal to every aesthetic. It may be a design by a world renowned professional jewellery designer or it may be your own personal 'one time only' creation. For our conversation, this is not so much a discussion of the aesthetics of design as it is a look at how function is affected by design. Or is design affected by function? Good jewellery design goes far beyond your initial reaction to its look. This is a case where the adage 'form follows function' definitely applies. Jewellery should be functional as well as attractive. It should have a good physical balance as well as an aesthetic equilibrium. Wearing jewellery is an interactive process: rings should be comfortable, sit upright and hold gemstones securely; pendants, brooches and earrings should sit properly and hang straight; bracelets and necklaces should lie comfortably against the skin without twisting with secure, discreet fasteners. Jewellery can fulfill many purposes: to transport...

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10: Quality

In all things, one rarely regrets buying quality. When we speak of quality in jewellery we may be referring to one of two things or both! We may refer to the level of craftsmanship that has gone into the making of a piece or, we may refer to the relative intrinsic value of its individual components. When it comes to quality of craftsmanship, not every piece of jewellery we buy is or needs to be of the highest quality but we should know how to buy a piece that will live up to our expectations and requirements. Not every gemstone needs to be of the highest quality but we should know where the stones we are considering sit in terms of their relative price and quality. The big questions are 'Is the piece durable?', 'Can it be readily repaired?' and 'Is this particular stone suitable for the wear I intend to give it?'. If the answer to any of these questions is 'no', think twice before buying. In terms of value of components, gemstones are often the most valuable single element...

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9: Life Jewellery

Fine jewellery is made from precious metals and fine gemstones. It is of good craftsmanship, durable, repairable and functional. We have all seen lower quality pieces made from precious metals and set with gemstones. Are these pieces of 'fine' jewellery? If a piece is too lightweight to be durable and cannot be satisfactorily repaired to a renewed state of reliable wear; if the gemstones are of inferior quality and the piece does not sit well when worn, it would be difficult to describe such a piece as 'fine' from any perspective. Over our lifetime, most of us will own only a few pieces of fine jewellery. So it's important to make them count! Not only do those pieces define our personal style, they form an important part of our legacy. They should not only satisfy our aesthetic sensitivities but also be well made, durable, repairable and functional. I want to help you find those wonderful pieces of jewellery that will become part of your 'signature' style; something you will wear...

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8: Jewellery

The ancients treasured it, wars have been fought over it and regardless of their social status, almost every person on earth owns a piece of it. Be a bit of wood, plastic or shell threaded onto a length of string or the crown jewels of the British royal family it is all jewellery. In all its forms jewellery is a very personal adornment. It reflects social status and embodies power. It may be worn and removed as occasions dictate. Whether as a token of personal significance or affection, a tribute of commemoration or special recognition or as a symbol of power and wealth, the perceived value of a piece of jewellery often transcends its monetary value. To the rest of the world it may be thoroughly unremarkable or breath­takingly beautiful but to you, the owner, it is priceless and irreplaceable. I can think of nothing on this earth that is simultaneously more emotionally and economically charged than jewellery. Over time we often come to value our jewellery far more for its...

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7: The Prologue

For over 35 years I have enjoyed helping thousands of women trying on and buying jewellery, but perhaps there has been a 'missing link'. We have all heard and used the phrase 'fine jewellery'. But do you know what makes a piece of 'fine' jewellery? Just because we have bought a piece of karat gold jewellery, have we bought a piece of 'fine' jewellery? Big question! I'd love to help you make jewellery choices that meet or even exceed your expectations; to help you to make choices that will bring you enduring satisfaction and enhance your personal style. Though almost anything can be made into jewellery, this blog will not include a discussion of costume jewellery. When we buy 'costume' jewellery we know we are buying a short term accessory, a bit of theatre and have no expectation of 'investment' or long term wear. Expectations of good or fine jewellery are much higher, and rightly so. My blog will outline some tips to help you recognize the elements of a well executed and...

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6: Hallmarks and Trademarks

A hallmark is an official mark or impression stamped into a metal object to indicate the purity of its content. A trademark is an impression stamped into a piece indicating its maker. Hallmarking is a fascinating study unto itself. Historically, hallmarks are a form of consumer protection dating, by some accounts, back as far as the 4th century of the modern era. Traditionally they are used on items of gold, platinum and silver though we also see them used on other metals such as copper and on alloys such as brass and pewter. Some of the more complex hallmark systems indicate not only the purity of the precious metals used but also the place and date of manufacture. Standards vary around the world. In both Canada and the United States if a purity or karat mark is stamped on a piece, by law, it must be accompanied by the makers’ mark. Simple number marks may be used in some parts of the world but unfortunately they may not always reflect the actual purity of the...

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5: Sterling

Silver is another naturally white metal of high luster, density, durability, malleability and luster. Like gold and platinum, sterling silver is a commodity sold internationally by the ounce, priced in American dollars and though its price is floating it is also referred to as the ‘fix’. To give some perspective to the relative value of fine silver, historically it has not been traded at a fix over $ 50.00 US, though it appears we may soon see higher prices! ‘Sterling’ silver is the most widely recognized purity of silver. It is alloyed to 925 PPT, (925 parts per thousand fine silver and 75 parts per thousand alloy). Sterling is the worldwide standard for silver, be it sold as jewellery, flatware or hollowware. Around the world it is the convention that items made from sterling silver are hallmarked ‘sterling’, ‘sterling silver’, ‘ster’ or ‘925’. Though seen less frequently there are other purities of silver in use. The two mostly commonly used are...

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4: Platinum

Platinum is a naturally white metal. It is more rare than gold, more expensive to extract and more expensive to refine. Though platinum has been known and used since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs it has not always been widely used. It is difficult and costly to recover and complicated to refine. It takes about five months to process the eight to ten tons of ore required to produce one ounce of fine platinum. If all the platinum ever found and refined were collected together in one place, it would form a cube that would fit quite comfortably inside your house! Like gold it is extremely dense, malleable and ductile and it is inert. Like gold, platinum is a commodity priced by the ounce with its international price floating and quoted in American dollars. This is referred to as the platinum fix. Like gold, when used in jewellery, platinum is sold by weight, calculated to fractions of a gram. Like gold, platinum standards vary somewhat from country to country. Platinum belongs...

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3: More facts about gold

Luster Luster is the magical allure of gold, a glow that seems to come from within. Fine gold has it. Fine pearls have it. Lower karat gold takes a good surface polish but as it wears and the surface scratches, the gold becomes dull and looks flat. It literally becomes ‘lack luster’. On the other hand, with wear, higher karat gold develops what we call a ‘patina’. Though the surface polish is scratched and marked the gold continues to glow and have luster. This is true of yellow and rose gold. Other colours of gold including white gold polish well but are not generally described as being lustrous. Malleability Malleability is the ability of a metal to have its shape changed with the application of exterior stress. Gold is extremely malleable. A single ounce of fine gold can be pounded into sheets called ‘gold leaf’ approximately one ten thousandths of a millimeter thick without breaking or tearing. That one ounce of fine gold leaf can cover 20 square...

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2: Colours of Gold

There are many different ‘recipes’ for alloying gold. The adding of various alloys to change the colour of gold is not like mixing paint to achieve a third colour. Fine gold is very, very yellow. Its colour can be altered by the addition of carefully calculated amounts of other alloy metals. As you add alloy to fine gold you also change its colour. The addition of any alloy will also affect the price. Imagine a glass of cranberry juice… the full glass of juice is 24 karat gold; the colour is quite rich and red. Drink ¼ of the juice and fill the glass back up with water. That’s 18 karat gold. If you drink just a little less than half of the juice and fill the glass back up with water, that’s 14 karat gold. Now start with a fresh glass and fill it to slightly more than the 1/3 mark and then fill the glass with water, that’s 10 karat gold. You get the picture. The glass is still full but the concentration of juice is lower. The colour of the juice gets a little paler each...

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