Visiting Jewelry Television’s GemStore in Knoxville, TN

As a jewelry marketing specialist, I can’t tear myself away from jewelry, even when I’m on vacation. You’re probably wondering what “jewelry tourism” is. Well, jewelry tourism basically means I drag my companion(s) into every jewelry store I see when traveling to a new place.

Recently, my fiance and I drove across the country, from New Jersey to Los Angeles. On the way, we passed through states like Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. I couldn’t ignore all the unique jewelry along the way.

In Knoxville, TN, we visited one destination I’ve been wanting to check out for some time: GemStore by Jewelry Television.

For the uninitiated, Jewelry Television is a television network and online shopping destination. They’re the largest retailer of loose gemstones and one of the top four electronic jewelry retailers in the United States.

I’ve been watching Jewelry Television for about 10 years. As a result, I’m not sure how I got away with ever only ordering a handful of items. I’ve learned so much about jewelry and gemstones from the knowledgable and passionate hosts.

When we arrived on a rainy afternoon, I was drawn to locally-inspired merchandise like orange crystal and sterling silver jewelry to support the Tennessee Vols. I was also excited by the selection of animal-shaped pins, especially a unicorn adorned with clear and multi-colored crystals.

Jewelry Television is well known for the Bella Luce collection, an exclusive line of fine jewelry that features dazzling, man-made gemstones. The diamond simulant is sparkling and eye catching. I was impressed by the quality of the Bella Luce tennis bracelets on display.

What I love most about Jewelry Television is that they feature colored gemstones – like natural chrome diopside, black spinel, and larimar – that aren’t found in most retail stores. Most brick-and-mortar jewelry stores only carry usual suspects like blue topaz, amethyst, and lab-created sapphire. A customer could spend an entire day at the GemStore just learning about all the stones!

In addition, the GemStore carried some designer jewelry. Pieces by Bellarri were striking, well-crafted, and made with a variety of colored gemstones. One tennis bracelet resembled a rainbow pulled down from the sky; it cheered me on a cloudy, rainy, and chilly day.

Overall, the staff at the GemStore were extremely friendly and accommodating. The gentleman assisting me was eager to help me find something to suit my taste. Though I wanted to buy many pieces, I ended up leaving with the simple yet striking and unique unicorn pin, which also came with a gold-plated chain so that I can wear it as a necklace.

I would definitely recommend GemStore for anyone who lives in the Knoxville area or is passing through on a trip. Have you ever participated in jewelry tourism or can recommend a jewelry store that’s worth a trip?

Jewelry Television’s GemStore In Knoxville, TN

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

Highlights from JA New York Jewelry Trade Show Spring 2016

In order to network with jewelry retailers and designers who might need jewelry marketing services, I recently attended the JA New York Spring 2016 show.

Have you ever been to a bazaar or seen one depicted in a movie? Attending a jewelry trade show was more like spending an afternoon at a bazaar than I thought. Vendors eager to make a sale called to event attendees, and I witnessed some expertly-performed wheeling and dealing.

JA New York is a major jewelry trade show organized by the Jewelers of America and showcases more than 500 designers, suppliers, and brands. I was surprised to learn that JA New York is the only jewelry trade show that takes place in New York City. Unfortunately, the show is only open to those in the jewelry industry and not to the general public.

I was lucky to see stunning finished jewelry, gold, and gemstones, and I wanted to share my finds.

Bespoke, Upcycled Jewelry

First, I was completely charmed by Alan Anderson‘s bespoke and hand-signed couture pieces made from vintage crystals and stones. I exclaimed “Wow!” when I approached his booth. I was impressed to learn that Dame Elizabeth Taylor owned one of his amethyst cuffs. The necklace in my featured photo, as well as the cuff pictured in my Flickr photo album below, are from Alan’s collection.

Lovely Larimar

Next, I loved the larimar from Aziel. If you’re not familiar with larimar, it’s a light-blue stone mined in the Dominican Republic. It was discovered in 1916 but not marketed and sold until the mid-70s, when miner Miguel Méndez named it after Larissa, his daughter, and “mar,” the ocean. A high-quality piece of larimar will look like the surface of the rippling blue sea. The picture in my Flickr album below shows strands of larimar beads that could be made into bracelets or necklaces.

Jewel Tones and Unconventional Shapes

You’ve probably guessed that I’m attracted to bright colors. Angelique de Paris caught my eye with their bright and bold use of jewel tones and unique shapes. Designer Angelique writes on her website, “Jewelry is an art form that reflects the wearer and the uniqueness of natural gems. I seek the most flattering colours, cuts and gemstones to bring out a woman’s beauty.” Her jewelry makes me want to travel the world and enjoy many cultures and traditions.

In general, I was excited to see an abundance of beautiful tourmaline, one of my favorite colored gemstones. Have you ever been to a jewelry trade show? Do you think you’d brave the crowds to see the beautiful offerings?

JA New York Spring 2016

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

My Smart Jewelry Wish List

Many tech and gadget brands have started focusing their attention on fashion and style. Some, like Intel, have even partnered with designers and luxury retailers to produce a more stylish and visually-appealing product. The market for smart jewelry is definitely growing.

Just recently, I was thinking about how my coworker’s plastic FitBit, though a wonderful shade of pink, didn’t seem to match her blazer and professional image. How can a girl appear fashionable while she tracks her heart rate and steps? Curious, I decided to research what smart jewelry products are available on the market.

I was overwhelmed by the unique and innovative options:

  • A stylish, smart bracelet with lapis and pearls
  • fashiony FitBit made in collaboration with Tory Burch
  • pendant that tracks a woman’s menstrual cycle
  • ring that senses hand gestures and movements

Though I was impressed by the functionality of these devices, I wasn’t moved to share my credit card number. I found myself asking – what would I want from my ideal piece of smart jewelry?

First, I’d hope for something made of precious material to blend in with other gold and silver jewelry I wear regularly. The only piece I could find that incorporated precious metal (if you don’t count gold plating) and/or gemstones is Intel’s collaboration with Opening Ceremony. This bracelet features a sapphire touchscreen and is adorned with pearls, lapis, obsidian, and tiger’s eye. It’s more expensive than many of the other smart jewelry pieces I found, but it also seems the most luxurious.

Second, I’d like something more delicate and inconspicuous. I’m not a tech nerd who really needs anyone to ask me about my functional jewelry. I understand that technology might not be advanced enough to fit a computer system inside a thin stacking ring, but most smart jewelry on the market, like Ringly, is big and bulky.

Let’s be real: I spend too much time in front of my laptop and face-first in my iPhone. I don’t need another reminder that I’ve gotten an e-mail or text. What I really want is smart jewelry that tells me where I cans find the best deals on more jewelry (both smart and stupid) wherever I am, even online. A girl can dream.

What’s your smart jewelry wish list? Have you tested any smart jewelry products?

Cover photo by ARMdevices.net

 

How to Find Affordable Alternatives to Designer Jewelry

Recently I was seeking a delicate, gold-and-diamond evil eye ring, but the only options I could find either exceeded my budget or sacrificed quality for a lower price point.

I fell in love with a 14K white gold blue-and-white diamond ring at Lord & Taylor and another worn by Katie Holmes on the cover of MORE. I don’t exactly have an A-list-celebrity budget.

Finally, I found a ring that satisfied my needs: the Carol Brodie .2 carat diamond and sterling silver evil eye ring from HSN. It’s made from a precious metal, it’s set with natural stones, and it’s delicate and simple. Even better, it cost less than $75!

After purchasing my look-alike ring, I decided I’d like to share some tips for finding affordable alternatives to jewelry that’s out of your budget. After all, we deserve to enjoy at least a sliver of luxury for whatever we can afford.

1. Search eBay

What I like most about eBay is that I can filter searches by price points. Then, the search results won’t tease me with items I can’t afford.

Using this search feature, I’ve found great deals from international eBay sellers. In some other countries like India and China, the markup for jewelry is not as high as in the United States, and a few savvy international entrepreneurs have learned how to market themselves to American customers by undercutting local competition and charming buyers with beautiful photography and enticing guarantees.

Before purchasing, be sure to read user reviews and ask questions to confirm quality, return policies, and shipping terms.

eBay is also a great source for vintage and pre-owned jewelry, which is sometimes less expensive than a new piece. Slightly worn-looking jewelry can often be polished and refurbished by an experienced jeweler, especially if it was made from high-quality materials.

2. Consider Pre-owned Jewelry

As I mentioned above, you can find pre-owned jewelry on eBay and bring it to a local jeweler for refurbishment. However, some brick-and-mortar jewelry stores and even websites of national jewelry store brands have sections dedicated to pre-owned jewelry, just like car dealerships with a selection of certified, pre-owned cars. You’ll be the only one who knows you’re not the original owner!

3. Build Your Own 

Educate yourself on purchasing gemstones and mountings or semi-mountings (the pre-fabricated metal structures that hold your stones in a ring, pendant, or earrings). Online, many resources jewelry education are available, and one of my favorites is the gem-buying guide at JTV.

Soon, you’ll begin to understand how much your favorite gemstones should cost when set in finished jewelry. You’ll be able to spot bargains and turn up your nose at overpriced pieces. Once you feel comfortable, you can purchase loose gemstones from reputable e-commerce sites and hire a local jeweler to set them for a fraction of the cost of buying premade.

4. Forget the Brand

When it comes to clothing and accessories, we’re often willing to spend more for a brand name. Some brands are known for high-quality items. However, when it comes to jewelry, brand name doesn’t necessarily signal a better-quality piece. When purchasing a brand-name piece of jewelry, you can expect to find an original design, but inspired designs can be mimicked by generic jewelry makers.

Unless you can afford to pay for a brand or absolutely must have a specific design, don’t worry too much about brand name. Most people admiring your jewelry probably wouldn’t recognize a brand anyway!

5. Google Search Metal and Stone Alternatives

If you find a piece of expensive jewelry you like, try to Google a description of it but substitute other metals and stones. For example, instead of “white gold,” search for “silver,” and instead of “diamonds,” search for “white topaz.” Silver may require slightly more maintenance than white gold or platinum, but it’s still a precious metal that you should feel proud wearing.

If you educate yourself about gemstones, as I suggested above, you’ll be able to seek more affordable alternatives to expensive stones that will still withstand the test of time and wear.

Did you ever find an affordable alternative to an expensive piece of jewelry? Was the find accidental, or did you have a strategy in mind?

Cover photo by Philip Taylor

Is Yellow Gold Old Fashioned?

My boyfriend thought he liked yellow gold better than white or rose until the moment he peeped some gold men’s rings and realized that shiny, new white gold looks slick under the jewelry store lights.

The saleswoman explained that yellow gold tends to be more “traditional,” while white gold is considered contemporary and up-to-date. Anything but traditional, my boyfriend was turned off by yellow gold’s association with old-school beliefs and values.

Most shoppers I encounter who don’t like yellow gold – “anything but yellow,” they say – explain it reminds them of their mom’s or grandma’s dated wedding sets. They would rather be cutting edge, in touch with the times.

What’s Up with White Gold?

White gold gained first gained popularity in the 1920s, when it was introduced as an alternative to precious and expensive platinum. The various colors of gold are made by mixing pure, 24-karat gold with other metals. In the case of white gold, pure yellow gold is mixed with another metal like nickel, manganese or palladium.

Platinum remained the preferred white metal until the 1990s, when consumers turned to white gold as a more affordable option. Pro-tip: These days, the price of platinum is usually about twice that of gold.

I’ll admit that high-quality diamonds can look dazzling when set in white gold. White metal can enhance the rare and breathtaking look of a colorless diamond and doesn’t distract from its clarity.

In recent years, consumers shopping for engagement rings and other bridal jewelry have more access to information about diamonds; they’re more knowledgable about how to purchase a diamond and what to seek. Therefore, they’re seeking the “best,” and the best diamonds tend to look most impressive set in white metal.

When Would Yellow Gold Be a Better Choice?

Yellow gold can mask a diamond’s imperfections and can enhance a slightly yellow diamond, which can emit a calming candlelit glow. In addition, certain gemstones look better set in yellow gold.

In my opinion, blue, purple, yellow, and green gemstones look best in yellow, while pink and lilac gemstones look stunning set in rose gold. I’d never wear a blue-purple tanzanite set in white gold, but it seems that this combination is popular in retail today.

Yellow Gold is “Forever”

If I plan to wear a piece of jewelry forever, I want to purchase something that will look timeless for decades to come. Fashion trends have shown us that what’s no longer in style will most likely come back in style. Though white gold may be more popular today, it may fall out of fashion in 10 or 20 years. For example, I sometimes wonder about diamond halos, which designer Neil Lane has made popular. Will they eventually look dated?

For a “forever” piece of jewelry, I also want something that requires as little maintenance as possible. Gold is mined yellow, and it will tend to turn yellow after time. White gold worn on a regular basis will most likely require routine rhodium plating, a process in which rhodium – a metal in the platinum family – is electroplated to coat a piece of white-gold jewelry. This plating restores the white gold to its shiny, new, white appearance. However, the plating doesn’t last forever and needs to be reapplied every one-to-two years. That sounds like a lot of work to me!

When choosing gold, especially for a piece of jewelry you hope to wear forever, think more about longevity than current trends. Decide how the metal highlights any stones in the jewelry, how the color or metal does or doesn’t complement your skin tone, and how much maintenance will be involved over time.

Personally, I love all colors of gold and think that each has a place and purpose. What’s your favorite color of gold?

Cover photo by epsos

Subscription Jewelry Boxes for Jewelry Surprises

On Friday night, after one-too-many happy-hour margaritas, I walked into a Ricky’s store and asked the young female cashier to select a lipstick from a display of NYX butter lipsticks. In my everyday life, I like to choose how I adorn and accessorize myself, but every once in a while, I like someone else to decide for me.

What are subscription boxes?

Subscription boxes are a safe and fun way to surrender control. These days, there’s a subscription box for everything: vegan snacks, dog treats and toys, wine, shaving, and even Japanese candy. I wasn’t surprised to learn that a few creative entrepreneurs have launched jewelry subscription box services to please the consumer who loves an element of surprise.

bezelboxBezel Box ($35.67/mo. with free shipping): Each month, Bezel Box promises to send you four to five pieces of jewelry with a retail value of $150. You get to choose your style from three categories: boho, cosmo, or icon. The longer you remain a subscriber, the more rewards points you earn; these can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases.

DazzleyDazzley ($24.99 for one mo. or $129.99 for 6 mos.): Dazzley is a low-commitment jewelry subscription box that allows you to choose a one-month purchase. With Dazzley, you choose a necklace style from the following: Statement, Boho, or Delicate/Simple. Then, the company sends you a surprise necklace to match your style.

JewelBitsJewelbits ($33/mo. for a 6-mo. commitment, with other plans available): Similar to Bezel Box, Jewelbits allows you to choose a box based on your style: Boho Babe, Glam Gal, and Classic Chick. You receive two to three pieces every month, and you can choose your subscription commitment level, which also affects the monthly fee. What sets Jewelbits apart is that their founders are involved in the Manhattan jewelry industry, so they catch the latest trends and network with upcoming designer.

RocksBoxRocksbox ($19/mo. for unlimited jewelry rental): With a subscription to Rocksbox, you can expect to receive three pieces of designer jewelry every month. The jewelry is hand-selected for you based on your style and preferences. Hip, on-trend designers include House of Harlow, Kendra Scott, and Slate. You can swap your jewelry when you want something new to wear. Have you fallen in love with your borrowed jewelry? Every month you earn $10 to apply toward a purchase.

YourBijouxYour Bijoux Box ($35/mo. with free shipping): With a Your Bijoux Box subscription, you’ll receive three hand-picked pieces worth at least $100 every month. Each piece has a styling tip, and a sneak preview for January’s box include a necklace with a gold-tone chain and opalescent cabochons.

After reading about these jewelry subscription boxes, I couldn’t find anything truly unique about them. I guess if I didn’t have the time, energy, or interest in choosing my jewelry, I’d like a jewelry subscription box.

I’m also more partial to jewelry made from precious metals and gems, so I would avoid a subscription box that sends costume jewelry. A “Morganite a Month” club would be more my style.

In case you’re wondering, the young lady at Ricky’s chose a lipstick shade called Hubba Bubba Waouh, a bubblegum Barbie pink that I do actually love. Why you pay money for a subscription jewelry box?

Cover photo by asenat29

Stretch Bracelets, Like Stretch Pants, Are a Holiday Trend

Nearly every budding jewelry lover once possessed a stretch bracelet, either handmade or from a 25-cent gumball machine.

I still have my favorite stretch bracelet, which features my name and a variety of colored plastic beads. The elastic is so worn I’m surprised it hasn’t snapped.

Imagine both my surprise and delight when I started noticing stretch bracelets in fine jewelry stores. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d want to spend more than $5 on something stretchy. Would it break? But I soon realized that stretch bracelets are versatile, comfortable, and casual.

Why have stretch bracelets become so trendy?

Stretch bracelets exude effortless style. They’re for the jewelry lover who wants to look like she spend about 30 seconds getting ready for her day but, in reality, thoughtfully edited her wardrobe. Furthermore, stretch bracelets make the perfect gift for gift givers worried about fitting a recipient’s wrist size! Here are a few stretch bracelets I think are worth their grown-up cost:

pearlPearl and Gold Bead Stretch Bracelet ($32)

In general, I’m not pearl’s biggest fan. It has a reputation for being too “stuffy” and conservative. Instead, I’d take a scintillating diamond or colorful gemstone over pearl. But there’s something about pearls in stretch bracelet form that make them accessible and unique. The 14-karat-gold-plated bead in this particular stretch bracelet highlights the sheen of these 4-mm freshwater pearls.

ItalianSterlingBraceletItalian Sterling Silver and 18-Karat Yellow Gold Stretch Bracelet ($99)

When I was in high school, the cool kids wore stretchy mala or prayer bead bracelets without understanding their significance or purpose. These days, I’m embarrassed by my cultural appropriation but still appreciate the aesthetic of a uniform set of cool-to-the-touch gemstone beads. This Italian sterling silver bracelet with 18-karat yellow gold overlay mimics the symmetry and infinite nature of those mala bracelets.

bluetopazBlue and White Topaz Sterling Silver Stretch Bracelet ($269)

I haven’t met many people who don’t like blue topaz, the crowd-pleasing gemstone. Perfect for December babies or anyone who loves sky blue, this blue and white topaz stretch bracelet is excellent for everyday wear but can also serve as a fine accessory for a New Year’s Eve outfit.

What kinds of stretch bracelets have you been coveting?

Cover photo by Tommy Wong

Affordable Yet Wrist-Grabbing Tennis Bracelets

My taste has come a long way from coveting 25-cent, stretchy rhinestone bracelets in bowling alley candy and prize machines. But I can’t afford the drool-inducing diamond dreams!

What lover of sparkle wouldn’t desire 18 kt rose gold arm candy with more than 5 ct of diamonds or an 18kt white gold stunner with a minimum of 10 cts of VS2 diamonds? A girl can stare inappropriately.

Line bracelets – also known as “tennis bracelets” after the tennis star Chris Evert who wore one during matches in the 80s – are as classic and essential as stud earrings. Though they can be crafted with any metal and stone combination, bracelets made with diamonds set in white metal are the most aspirational.

Recently, I noticed a shopper with a line bracelet so stunning, I grabbed her wrist and asked, “Where did you get that?!” She responded, “Kohl’s.” Since then, I’ve made it my personal mission to find an affordable line bracelet that will make a stranger want to yank my arm – gently, please! Here are a few of my picks:

mixedcutsMixed cuts

Jean Dousset Absolute™ Round and Asscher-Cut Sterling Silver Line Bracelet ($199.90): Available in 6.75 and 7.5″. HSN’s branded Absolute diamond simulant set in sterling. Up to 20 cts.!

Round

AAA Cubic Zirconia Bracelet ($44.99): Available in 6.75 or 7.5″. Swiss cubic zirconia set in white-gold-plated copper. Classic style!

kohlsDrawstring

Cubic Zirconia Sterling Silver Adjustable Lariat Tennis Bracelet ($40.00): One size fits most, Rounds set in rhodium-plated sterling silver.

Princess

Stainless Steel Princess Cut Crystal Tennis Bracelet ($57.25): Available in 6.75, 7.25, or 8″. Semi bezel-set, princess-cut set in yellow or white-colored stainless steel.

crystalquartzMaximum Bling

Crystal Quartz 82.50ctw Sterling Silver Bracelet ($189.99): Size 7″. Square cushion cut crystal quartz set in sterling silver is 1/2″ wide!

Cover photo by Maria Panayiotou