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.

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.

 

 

Three New Stacking Rings We Love

So far we’ve seen so many beautiful pieces of jewelry and some trends, like gold stacking rings, continue to proliferate. There’s a lot of repetition out in the market but these stacking rings are breaking the mold. Take a look at some of our recent favorites

Cover image from The Things We Keep Instagram

 

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Piet Oval Ring, $298 at Leif 

Designed by Kay Wang for her her collection of jewelry and pretty things called Things We Keep, this beautiful opal ring is one part organic and the other part refined.

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Leaf Signet Ring, $360 at Lily and Dahlia

We love Lily and Dahlia’s Etsy shop. Designed by Shimrit Zagorsky, the shop mostly sells custom wedding rings and engagement rings. Technically this could work as a wedding band but we loved it as soon as we saw it for matching with other pieces.

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Dew Drop Stacking Ring, $275 at Nordstrom

We’ve chronicled our love for East-West stones in a previous blog post and we think these settings will continue to be found on fine jewelry for non-statement rings as well. This one is topaz set on 14k gold. The bubbly texture of the band is also something we’re seeing a lot more and personally love.

Hands Up

There was a charm bracelet in a vintage shop we saw last weekend with the most beautiful sculpted sterling silver hand. Shaped like a fist, the hand was lovely and we would have wanted it for our own charm bracelet, but the store wouldn’t separate the piece on its own.

The Hamsa is as common an image as there can be and is an amulet representing protection – particularly against the evil eye, one of our other favorite symbols in jewelry.

Later we saw this great bracelet from Winden Jewelry, which looks like two small hands when viewed from the top – in an almost Victorian style. This sent us a search for other hand jewelry, our favorites compiled below:

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Embrace cuff, from $155 at Winden Jewelry

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Fraser Hamilton ring, $183 at Wolf & Badger

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As close as we found to our charm bracelet! Right hand bracelet, $245 at Gillian Steinhardt

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Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry long charm necklace, $308 at Saks Fifth Avenue

How to Prevent Swollen Hands on a Flight

For some reason this has been the winter of travel for us – mostly for work, some for fun. Perhaps it was the combination of salty food and too much altitude, but for the first time in our lives our hands ballooned making it almost impossible to take our jewelry off for several days!

Not only was it incredibly uncomfortable, we couldn’t change out any rings, which would have been fine if we hadn’t been wearing a large cocktail ring that kept ripping holes in our clothes.

To make the swelling go down we soaked our hands in a hot bowl of water and drank a ton of water, but in an effort to keep our hands a normal proportion our next flight, we polled our friends who fly the most for tips on keeping our hands and jewelry friends.

Tip #1: Don’t wear jewelry. Just keep it in your bag when you go through security.

Tip #2: To keep your hands their normal shape, compression gloves are unglamorous but they really work. Especially on flights more than a few hours, these have saved my hands more than a couple of times.

Tip #3. Don’t eat salty snacks or food the night before.

Tip #4: Keep your body moving. Go to the bathroom, flip a magazine or tap your leg just to keep your blood flowing. 

Plus one tip on what to do if everything you try doesn’t work and you arrive with huge hands, one of our friends tried this: Wrap a piece of thread around your finger tightly around the finger with no gaps between the thread. Then, release the thread slowly. Your finger will be compressed and the ring, with a bit of vaseline might just come off too. 

 

 

 

 

How to Wear A Scarf with a Brooch

It’s no secret in this office that we love scarves. Especially around the Holiday season when you often have to dash from event to event wearing the same clothes you wore at the office.

This year, we’ve been loving scarves with brooches – which can run from glamorous to campy and make a cocktail dress more appropriate for an afterwork drink.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite combinations, but we think one of the best places to find brooches are vintage shops, Etsy, and EBay. The prices are usually very reasonable and you’ll get something really unique.

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Marni broochChanel brooch DSquared brooch Marni broochVintage brooch  

What’s the difference between Zircon and Cubic Zirconia

There really is nothing like a diamond – but there is something close. Zircon (or Zirconium Silicate) is as brilliant as the highest quality diamond at a fraction of the cost.

Zircon is often confused with Cubic Zirconia which is synthetic and also a popular replacement for diamonds.

We always recommend going for the real thing when you’re investing in something big, but Zircon can be a great replacement.

We’ve also met some brides-to-be who have Zircon rings until they’ve saved for the diamond they want. You can also preserve jewelry you’ve inherited that may have lost some of their stones.

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So what’s the difference between Zircon and Cubic Zirconia? Here’s our handy guide:

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ps. A Zircon ring we love here