Noticeably Nice: Kataoka

Yoshinobu Kataoka is a master jeweler from Tokyo, whose work crops up in the most unusual places (ABC Home, for example) but also shops like Catbird and YLang. 1602-kok-1-1

After working for his family’s company for years, Yoshinobu Kataoka struck out on his own to create his own jewelry from conflict free materials. The result is Kataoka.

We find these pieces to be a little bit Victorian, but so much more delicate than what you’ll actually find from the era. We’re particularly taken with the bands inspired by branches.

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This is fine jewelry (with the prices to match) and there is a production time if you order it straight from the shop, but these are true heirloom pieces.

Our pick: This beautiful necklace for $1,870

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Review: Vrai & Oro

Casper for mattresses, Everlane for clothes, M. Gemini for shoes … the list goes on and on. And that’s because the idea makes sense. Buy direct and avoid the mark-up. Designed and manufactured in L.A., Vrai & Oro also commits to ethical manufacturing and transparency around pricing – not unlike the Cuyana for leather goods.

It’s always hard to balance shopping and eating well with the price these necessities sometimes cost. The best most of us can work for is balance.

So what do we think?

Packaging: The boxes and note cards are beautiful. We also saw on Instagram that they did these cute Mother’s Day packaging (center image).

Quality: We’ve spoken several times on this blog about how gold filled jewelry and gold plated jewelry sit side by side with our fine jewelry. Vrai & Oro maintains 14k gold standards for all their jewelry, making this an incredible value for the highest quality.

Designs: I loved the pieces I ordered and purchased a second piece as a gift. They are minimal and delicate. The collection is fairly small and is similar to pieces we’ve seen elsewhere. That being said, I’d been wanting a rose-gold solitaire bracelet and had been holding out because of the prices. At $165, this piece fits the bill perfectly.

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Patina Jewelry

Buenos Aires based Sibilia Jewelry is a mashup of Georgia O’Keefe and modern design that we discovered at Anthropologie last month. Turns out, we’re late to the party – Fernanda Sibilia has been designing jewelry for twenty years.

 

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Credit: Instagram

We are particularly stricken with these patina pieces and the landscapes they create. The $100 price point also makes them perfect for birthday gifts.

Earrings by Annie Costello Brown

If Fall 2016 marks the return to minimalism all of us nineties kids are hoping for, it will also be known as the season of the statement earring. What better way to pop your ribbed mock turtleneck sweater than a pair of absolutely over-the-top earrings?

Enter Annie Costello Brown, an L.A. based jewelry designer and artist who we first discovered at a Clare V. shop.

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Image of the designer at her studio and home borrowed from Jean Stories

These are big pieces and they are priced so fairly, we almost couldn’t believe it. Shoulder grazing brass earrings for around $300. Yes, please!

You can order them directly from her shop here, though she notes up to 4 weeks delivery time.

One of the best parts about them is how light-weight they are. Though they pack a substantial sartorial punch. We were amazed at how little they felt like when they were actually on.

Here is one of our favorites.

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Long rain dusters in silver. $239. Available here

Brown has purposefully kept the size of her company small – so small, it’s just her. This allows her to actually create each piece herself.

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Matisse Chandelier Earrings. Gold finish. $179 at Mille

Buying Guide: What does Gold Plated Mean?

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Imagine how heavy a solid gold dress would be? 

Some of our most loved pieces are gold plated. Because gold is expensive, a lot of designers – especially young ones, experiment with gold plated to keep their costs low. For the wearer, there isn’t too much of a difference at first glance since both are pure gold on the outside.

If a piece is labeled gold plated, that means the jewelry made of a base metal or sometimes silver that has been finished with a thin layer of gold on top.

Gold plated jewelry will never be worth as much as solid gold, but you can still buy very high quality pieces this way. In our mind, the main deterrent for purchasing gold plated jewelry is that the gold can wear off. This is especially true on high-impact pieces such as bracelets or even necklaces.

How To Know if you’re buying gold plate jewelry:

Look for the following markers:

  • 14KGP: A base metal covered with 14k gold. You might also see other numbers such as 10K
  • Bonded Gold: Just means gold plated.
  • 14K HGE: Stands for 14K Heavy Gold Electroplate, which refers to the process for plating the metal called electrolysis.
  • Vermeil: Is usually found on older vintage pieces and refers to gold plate over sterling silver, instead of the more common copper.

Big Impact Earrings for Less that $75

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We LOVE these. Christine Young’s Young Frankk circle earrings are made in Richmond, Virginia but (and maybe it’s just how the look-book is styled) look like they could fit in any European city.

We would wear these with a white shirt or something off-the shoulder in the summer. But could also add the perfect touch to a black ribbed turtle neck this fall.

What a perfect find! What do you think?

We like them in gold plated (which just happens to be the cheaper option at $72. Plus, if you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get 10% off.

 

 

Unusual and Different Engagement Rings: Artemer

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The Etsy only store Artemer makes beautiful fine jewelry in gold and other precious metals. We follow their shop and have ordered a few pieces as gifts (note their home base in Tel Aviv and accommodate shipping time accordingly). But the other day we were really struck by this beautiful engagement ring.

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One of the parts we love the most is that it works with any wedding ring. Because the triangle is set with the point towards the nail it makes it easy to place a wedding band underneath.

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Made with 18k yellow gold (also available in rose and white gold) and a conflict free diamond, this unusual setting is so beautiful.

ps. if you aren’t looking for an engagement ring Artemer also makes lovely smaller triangle rings from around $600.

 

 

UK to US: Brooke Gregson

 

nasa14.jpgWe went crazy for these astrological necklaces. The astrology sign necklaces are designed by Brooke Gregson from London and are a beautiful splurge birthday gift for someone you love.

 

Each piece is priced differently and made from 14k brushed and carved yellow gold and diamonds. The Aries (3 diamonds) is just over $1,000 and the most expensive Virgo, is just over $2,600.

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We loved trying our sign (Aquarius) on. The piece is weightier than it appears in photographs and falls below the collar bone. The 14k gold is very shiny and bright. Depending on the sign, the token may be oblong or a smaller circle.

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You can find the entire 12 piece collection here

Not Your Grandmother’s Pearls

 

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We first found these earrings on Instagram and fell in love. They are just a little bit edgy and really stand out against our other pearl pieces.

We’ve been wearing a variation of these since college and these feel like just the right update without being too fussy or prim.

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Made from Pave diamonds, sterling silver, and, of course, a pearl. Available at Irini Designs

Necklace, $685

Earrings, $1268

Do you have any updated pearls you’re wearing lately?

How Do You Know if Something Is Fine Jewelry?

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When we first started wearing and caring about jewelry we made some big purchasing errors. It’s hard to know if the price you’re about to pay is worth it, so here are our tips for making sure you’re buying the real thing.

What is fine jewelry?

Most jewelers define fine  jewelry as anything that’s made with gold, sterling silver, platinum or gemstones. The big clue is that gold has to have at least 10 karats to be considered fine jewelry. The second major thing to know about fine jewelry is that gemstones must be naturally made, not man made. That means that anything  made with cubic zirconia cannot be considered fine jewelry.

How to tell if vintage jewelry is fine jewelry?

Because selling and buying jewelry depends so much on trust, it’s rare to find something mislabeled. However, when you’re buying jewelry second-hand the seller may not always know. Here’s what to look for:

Metals:

How to tell the difference between gold and gold-plated? Use a magnet! Gold is a non-magnetic material. With vintage pieces you can also look for discoloration where the softer gold plate may have rubbed off exposing the non-fine metal underneath.

How to tell the difference between silver and platinum? Most fine jewelry is cast in platinum rather than sterling silver. This is almost 100% the case when there are gemstones in the piece as it is usually not worth it for the jeweler to bother using sterling silver. Platinum is also heavier than silver, which can sometimes be helpful to consider. But the best way we’ve found is just to see if the piece has more of a white-ish or grey-ish tint when something is reflected on it – such as diamond. Platinum is much closer to white than silver.