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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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.

 

 

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.

Splurge or Save: Tear Drop Chandelier Earrings

These earrings are the rose gold standard in chandelier earrings. Big and matte they are crafted from 18k gold and lie perfectly flat. When we first tried them on we couldn’t stop shaking our head to hear the trinkly sound they make when the gold chips clang against each other.

At $2,620 these Irene Neuwirth earrings are a total splurge. Before taking the plunge, this Bold Elements version, made of metal, is only $18 and a great way to try the style for just one night.

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Bold Elements and Irene Neuwirth 9 Drop Chandelier Earrings

 

 

Trend Lines: Gold Bead Stacking Rings

We’ve been seeing little gold beads pop up on stacking rings everywhere lately. They are still modern, but a little bit more organic than the hard-edged chevrons and triangles that have dominated stores lately.

Here are some of our favorite gold beaded stacking rings

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Floating stacking rings, brass, by Madewell at Shopbop, $28

Micro beaded ring, 14k gold, Grace Lee, $235 (also available in large beads)

Rhodium Beaded Rings, Set of 5, gold plate, by Freida Rothman at Bloomingdales, $240

 

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Green gold stacking ring, 18k gold, by Lagos at Bloomingdales, $200

Rectangle Ring, 14k gold, by Bony Levy at Nordstrom, $195

UK to USA: The Best of Jewelry Abroad: Laura Lee

LLN23-CLOSEUP_1Our new feature where we share our favorite UK jewelry discoveries and the North American stores you can find them in.

Laura Lee is a UK designer who launched her line in 1985 and opened her boutique in 2004. Her tiny shop is dainty gold perfection and all of her pieces looks fantastic when layered.

It’s hard to find her pieces here in the States, but LLN23-DRAPE_1recently Anthropologie began carrying a few choice designs. Our favorite piece is this long (40″) necklace with a bright, freshwater pearl hanging at the end and smaller pearls sprinkled asymmetrically along the gold chain. There is no clasp and the piece can be wrapped twice to create a more layered look that lies closer to the collarbone.

Draped Pearl Necklace by Laura Lee, gold and pearl, at Anthrolopologie, $478

Trend Lines: Just a Wee Bit of Chain

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Bracelets that do up with a small chain is a nice trend, and it’s also pretty practical. You can usually adjust the width – which makes them easier to wear with other pieces and maintain the order you want on your wrist.

We’ve particularly appreciated this when we wear jewelry at our desks – keeping our jewelry from clanking around too much against our keyboards.

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Wish Cuff, 18k rose gold, Ginette NY, $1,375

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Round Link Bracelet, 14k gold, Melissa Joy Manning, $1,215

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Wingnut Toggle Bracelet, metal, Marc Jacobs, $78

Three Pearl Earrings – Three Ways

A pearl stud is a classic piece of jewelry and a must have for most jewelry boxes. If you’re a fan of pearls and you would like to wear them in a slightly different way, we’ve seen a lot of contemporary three-pearl earrings on the market this spring.

1. Sugar Pearl Posts, glass pearl and metal; Anthropologie, $32: These Anthropologie earrings are not made with real pearls, but their shape has a great minimalist-organic vibe. We like the round casing and that they lay flat on our ears.

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2. Climber Stud, shell pearl and rose gold plated sterling silver, Kellin Silver, $44: Shell pearls (which are made by dipping beads into a shiny white material) are not real, but they share the same iridescent white as high quality pearls. Set in a curved row, these earrings are bigger than the other earrings on this list.

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3. 3Pearl Earring, pearl and sterling silver or 14k gold, Saskia Diez, from 219£: The most expensive pair on this list are also our favorite (sigh!). They are about as large as the Kellin Silver earrings, but lay in the crevice of our ear and keep the backing completely invisible.

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The New Organics: Leaf Jewelry

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Clockwise from top left: CZ Double Leaf Bracelet, Gingko Leaf Earrings by Michael Michaud, Leaf bracelet by Meira T., Leaf studs by Finn, Russian gold gingko leave clip-on earrings

Maybe its because its fall, but we are loving these pieces of fall jewelry popping up in stores lately. It all started with the brass gingko leaves by Michael Michaud, which we love. But they are large and can’t be worn with everyday outfits.

The second piece we found was the Meira T leaf bracelet which is much more of an investment piece – and why we prefer the organic leaves to be less obvious. It is beautiful on and falls beautifully around the wrist.

But are favorites? The Finn gold studs. These are perfect if you have a second hole and look great on their own as well.

Gingko Leaf Earrings by Michael Michaud, brass, $52

Leaf bracelet by Meira T, sapphire, diamond and gold, $2,050

Leaf studs by Finn, 18k gold, YLand23, $550

CZ Double Leaf Bracelet, gold vermeil sterling silver and pave diamonds, Jacquie Achie, $315

Russian gold gingko leave clip-on earrings, gold metal plated ross, Oscar De La Renta, $225