Sunday, 3 July 2011

LuXe-factor: choosing new, vintage or antique jewellery

Gone are the rule books about dressing and all the namby-pamby 'blue and green should not be seen' and matching one's blusher and lipstick and so on, and thank goodness for that. Self-expression reigns and we are all own our stylists, and our only consideration is for personal preference, fashion and our mood. There comes a time though, usually when spending a wheelbarrow load of money on one thing, when we want more than to reflect a micro-trend, fleeting mood or daily statement of personal expression. A time perhaps when we want to buy for investment, for the longterm or even for life. Contemplating buying an expensive piece of jewellery is just such a moment. Many people know exactly what they like and what suits them, great, good for them but for the others the choosing is a mine field. Knowing what suits you can be a great place to start.

The colour of the metal and/or stone is the most important consideration when choosing jewelly. Jewellery is supposed to adorn and enhance, make the wearer feel more attractive and powerful. Knowing eye and hair colour as though written on a passport description is not enough. Eyes - green and hair - brown is not enough. What sort of green? With amber flecks or blue flecks, grey-green or emerald green? What sort of brown, mouse-brown, with red or golden undertones, cocoa brown or darkest brown? That's the key, colours are like perfumes, there is a general colour but there are also undertones and overtones.

So here are some rules to follow, completely disregard or consider.

Time to talk METAL

Conventional wisdom 

The palest pink-undertone skin tone (that look best in  ice cream colours) look best in platinum jewellery whilst dramatic pink-undertone colouring, that looks best with jewel tone or monotone colours (sapphire, emerald, black and white) should choose white-gold or silver. Yellow based skin that looks good in autumnal muted colours are the most natural match for high carat yellow gold and those who look good in bright fresh in-between colours like bright clear turquoise look good with paler yellow tones (I wont say lower carat) or rose gold.

There is even a more general rule: silver and and rose-gold look good on everyone, platinum looks best on pink or blue - undertone skin and yellow gold on 'golden' people. I think this rule goes along the lines of what ever colour someone literally glows should be the colour that compliments their skin.

Try on the same ring or bangle that comes in a choice of different gold and see which one (or two) suits you more - usually people are drawn to the one that makes them look more healthy (enhances their natural colour).

High-street Jewellers rules:

a) fashion - don't buy into the latest trend unless you know you really love it, dated resale jewellery loses monetary value no matter how much it cost at first and fashion jewellery revivals usually take at least 20 years.

b) popular - like fashion, what is popular changes, same pitfalls as above plus if and when you get tired of yours, that's everyone will be wanting to get rid of theirs so not great at resale.

c) what is classic usually follows convention and what is accepted to be 'good taste'. White diamonds don't have to be set in white gold or platinum, pink stones don't have to be surrounded with rose gold but classic doesn't usually go out of fashion and if it does it's soon back in. On the other hand, unusual designs or combinations of colours are scarcer and therefore harder to find which could push up re-sale value in the long run.

Premium Brand Jewellery 

a) look for styles that are iconic to the brand, you will be paying for the name and these will usually hold more of their value if you ever need or want to re-sell (just saying)

b) 'entry level' pieces are usually pretty reasonable (relatively of course). If you are looking for a gift for someone else these are a good option as sometimes it is just as much about the wrapping (just saying)

c) If it's for you ,consider carefully and visit the store often, the theatre of shopping at this level is half the fun and lots of the price and at  these prices mistakes are catastrophic. If  it's for someone else and doesn't have to be a surprise, share the experience, as the memory of choosing and purchasing is often as important as the piece itself. 

d) personalise with engraving or initialized the box, the service usually costs less at the time of purchase. 

e) once bought take it back to the same store/brand to have it sized, repaired or engraved not trust any-ol'   person who gives you the best quote for many obvious reasons but also because the original jeweller will not touch the item once someone else has worked on it. 

f) if you can wait (and it could be a l-o-n-g wait) for the perfect piece at a better price, don't mind losing the luxe-factor surrounding or crave a little excitement, auctions are a great place to 'shop'. Word of warning prices are not guaranteed to devalue from full retail, plus, you will pay an extra 15-30% buyer's premium and may not get the usual accompanying box/pouch/authenticity guarantee of a certificate and I doubt you will get the original receipt.  Final warning, you better know your stuff as you can't change your mind or back out of a deal. Auction houses will use terms like 'yellow metal' meaning they can't be held to account if it doesn't turn out to be gold etc so read carefully, ask for a condition report and be careful not to assume. Some auction houses also charge for the use of credit cards in payment.

Remodel or Bespoke

a) if you already have the raw materials and the imagination you can remodel or design your perfect piece. No  guarantees how perfect the jewellery will be to your 'vision' but it will probably be closer to anything anyone else could design if it's not already out there.  Ask to see work they have done already, agree on a  time-frame, the quality of the materials or extra materials to be used and be very firm about your final budget. Write everything agreed down and make a copy for the jeweller . The downside is you can't return the item for exchange or refund. Usually you will have to pay up-front for something you can only hope will turn out as expected.. 

Right then everybody, let's head off for research ;)

Next time stones, design and size