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.
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.
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
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:
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.
There are few things more exciting than finding out that an item of clothing you love is reversible. It’s two for the price of one. Even if you prefer wearing it one way over the other it’s nice to know you can switch it out once in a while.
We never even considered that jewelry could be designed the same way, but it’s such a smart idea. Some of our favorite convertible fine jewelry earrings can be found here and here. But for less than half the price, the pieces below are also good investments and – considering you’re technically getting two pieces from each – a great deal.
Convertible choker and earring, gold plated brass, Maison Margiela at Net-A-Porter, $480
Convertible cuff and necklace, alloy and ribbon, by Gabriela Artigas at Des Kohan, $218
Studs with removable drops, gold plate, Chalcedony and Iolite by Bounkit at Charm & Chain, $495
It’s hard to find Polly Wales pieces in the States. The British designer tries to make jewelry that is the opposite of glossy and chic and is more about celebrating the inconsistencies found in handcrafted jewelry.
We are incredibly fond of her pieces that display beautiful rainbows of sapphires without seeming silly at all. Their scale is perfectly proportioned to display the variety of colors without looking garish at all.
This necklace is an investment, to be sure. But it demonstrates the perks of fine jewelry at it best – it’s noticeably nice without being in your face. There are a few other pieces available at Love Adorned but it’s worth checking out the designer’s website in case you find yourself in the vicinity of a store. The quality is noticeable and each piece is slightly unique.
Quill Necklace by Polly Wales, 18k gold and sapphire, available at Love Adorned, $2,375