When I was (much) younger and asked my Mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day, she always replied “a hug and nice children”. Easy to give and I was happy to do so, but of course she deserved more than that. Even at a young age, I realized that being a Mom is not an easy job, and I was always looking for something special that would surprise and delight her. Sadly, my Mom is not with us anymore, but I still send her a (mental) hug on Mother’s Day.
For those who are lucky enough to still have their Mothers around, here are some recent finds that I think any Mom would love to receive:
Who doesn’t love kids’ drawings and paintings? They are so creative and honest. I have one on the fridge that my best friend’s daughter did of me and my dog 4 years ago and it still makes me smile every time I see it. Cleveland-based company Art-Charms, founded by goldsmith Chad Verhoff, make adorable charms, pendants and cuff links from your child’s drawings (using only recycled precious metals). They come in circle, oval, heart or square shapes with the drawing engraved into the charm. I love the idea, and the final results really do look like the original drawing.
Swedish-born goldsmith Mia van Beek started her company Formia Design in Stockholm in 2001, but fate and love brought her to the US, and since 2004, she operates her business out of Virginia. Mia also creates jewelry from children’s’ art, but with a different look. Her charms, earrings, brooches, pendants, bookmarks and key chains come in gold and silver, and instead of being engraved into the pieces, they are cut out of the metal. The idea for the art jewelry came to her when she was trying to think of a personalized gift for her 3-year old daughter’s pre-school teacher. Her daughter drew a scribble, called it earrings, and that’s exactly what Mia turned her daughter’s drawing into.
Zoe, founder and owner of Three Sisters Jewelry Design, used to be an attorney, but a series of life-changing events made her change course. She opened a photography studio in one of my favorite places on earth – Solana Beach, CA – and also started taking metal smith classes. Eventually, Three Sisters Jewelry (named after her three daughters) was born, and today, she creates a large variety of hand-stamped silver and gold charm bracelets and necklaces. My sister-in-law has a charm necklace from Three Sisters, the “gigi’s jewelry box”, which has a locket with the silhouette of her daughter and two hand-stamped charms with initials. It is absolutely adorable, and my niece loves opening the locket to look at her own profile.
Retired TV and movie costumer Suz of Polkadot Magpie turns metal scraps from her custom knife maker husband’s workshop into these adorable personalized hand stamped charms and pendants. They come in several different shapes: hearts, cats, stars, birds, bunnies, etc. The bunny charms have a very special story: Suz worked on the set of Crash with the late Dennis Hopper (whom she called “The Bunny”) and when he told her that his illness had taken a turn for the worse, she created these charms to help raise funds for ACS (and still donates the profits from the bunny charms to them).
Therese and Sandra, the two artists (and Moms) behind London-based company Joulberry create these darling silver fingerprint charms and pendants. When you place an order, you first receive a print kit so that you can take an impression. The charm is then created from the print, and can also be engraved on the front and/or back with your child’s name, birth date, or any other message you would like.
It’s a new year and the craziness of the holidays are behind us. Everyone is back at work and school, and frankly, things feel a bit drab after all the glitz and glamour of holiday parties and all that time off. And this really is the dreariest part of winter – cold and dark, and summer is so far away. How about some jewelry to cheer you up! Even though the shopping frenzy of December is behind us, there are still some great deals to be had, and the new spring collections are out. And Valentine’s is just around the corner!
Few things are as symbolic of Christmas in American culture as Santa traveling across the dark winter sky in his sleigh pulled by reindeers. He supposedly travels from the North Pole and delivers packages all over the world, although his home base varies depending on where you live: in Denmark, everybody knows he lives on Greenland, in Finland, he calls the mountain Korvatunturi home, and a few years ago, a Swedish company determined that Kyrgyzstan would be the ideal location for him, based on the rotation of the earth and where the majority of people are located.
Although in Sweden, he doesn’t arrive by sleigh at all; he walks, knocks on the door and comes in and hands out gifts in person. And in Holland, Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain. Regardless of what you believe, the image of Santa and his sleigh is a compelling one, and for today’s post, I have selected some of my favorite sleigh charms:
Pretty, powder pink rose quartz is THE gemstone when it comes to love, so I thought this would be a good time to feature it, with Valentine’s Day around the corner.
Rose quartz is (obviously) part of the quartz family (which also includes, among others, amethyst, opal, and citrine) and comes in colors ranging from very pale, translucent pink to dark rose. Some have rutile needles which gives the stone an asterism effect, and you can find transparent stones as well, but they are much more rare, and so pale in color that you can hardly tell they’re pink. (more…)
Everyone is releasing new items and holiday collections this time of year, and Pandora is no exception.
Their new holiday collection is all about glitz and glam, and I really like it. New beads include five new Pave beads – round beads pave set with glittering cubic zirconias in different colors (clear, blue, black, brown and pink), and a sterling silver Christmas stocking bead. (more…)
If the old adage “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is true, then Pandora should feel very flattered. If you have ever shopped for Pandora charms online, you know that there are literally millions of sites out there offering “authentic Pandora charms”. But are they? How can you be sure that what you’re buying is indeed an authentic Pandora bracelet or charm? I have received a LOT of questions regarding this, so I thought I would dedicate an entire post to the subject, in question and answer format:
How Can You Tell Authentic Pandora Beads From “Pandora Style” Beads And Charms?
All Pandora beads are made from sterling silver, 14 or 18k gold, so anything else is not authentic. In addition, everything is stamped with:
A Maker’s mark (ALE, which stands for Pandora’s founder’s Dad, Algot Enevoldsen)
A Quality mark (S for silver, G for gold). Note: this is a more recent addition so if your older beads, like mine to the right here, do not have it, that doesn’t mean they’re fakes
A Purity code (925 for sterling silver, 585 for 14k gold and 750 for 18k gold)
Unfortunately, many of the fake Pandora beads and charms on the market also have these markings, so to be absolutely sure that you are buying an authentic piece, shop at a Pandora store or one of their authorized online sellers.
Can You Find Authentic Pandora Charms And Bracelets On Sale? How About Other Pandora Specials?
Pandora charms do not go on sale. But authorized retailers often have Trunk Shows and other special events where you get a free something with purchase (like a free bracelet with the purchase of x number of beads or x dollars spent).
How About Retired Pandora Charms And Beads? Do They Go On Sale?
No, retired charms and beads are sold at their regular prices, no less, and not any more either. If you see Pandora beads advertised as retired and the seller is asking a higher price because they are “collectibles”, be careful.
Can We (The General Public) Buy Authentic Pandora Beads Wholesale?
There are quite a few sites that supposedly offer this, but no, we can not (only authorized retailers can).
Is It Possible To Find New Authentic Pandora Charms On eBay?
Yes, if they are pre-owned. Pandora does not authorize any of their retailers to sell on eBay (or other auction sites). People can of course sell beads and charms from their own collections, and these can obviously be authentic Pandora charms. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to buy a pre-owned bead, the best thing to do is to contact the seller, strike up a conversation, ask lots of questions, ask to see photos of the bead taken from all angles, and trust your gut instinct. If it’s a charm that is still being sold, compare the photos you get from the eBay seller to the ones on Pandora’s site and check for any discrepancies. Remember that pre-owned beads are not covered by any warranties.
Should I Buy Pandora Charms Online At All?
Yes, but make sure the seller is an authorized Pandora retailer.
Telltale Signs Of “Pandora Style Beads And Bracelets”
It’s easy enough when the seller openly advertises that what they sell is “Pandora style” but there are many out there who try to pass fakes off as genuine Pandora charms and bracelets. Price is an indication, but what else?
I did a quick Google search for “authentic Pandora charms cheap” and ended up with close to 250,000 results. Some were honest about the fact that they sell fakes, but many were not. Granted, the quality of some of these sites would be indication alone that what they’re selling is not the real thing (one site I looked at had even misspelled Pandora!), but there are also some pretty slick sites where customers could easily be fooled. The bracelets are photographed in a Pandora box where you clearly see the logo, and their charms even have the correct Pandora hallmarks. Sometimes it becomes clear that they are fakes if you read the fine print on the page, but not always. My advice? Read the small print everywhere on the site, look at the quality, compare what you see with what’s listed on Pandora’s own website, and again, trust your instincts. If you think the site is selling fakes, don’t shop there. In fact, you should report them to Pandora.
Pandora Compatible Beads
NOT fakes. It is openly advertised in the name that they are Pandora compatible beads – charms that fit Pandora bracelets, but not Pandora brand charms. They are not fakes, just other brands (it could be Chamilia, Trollbeads, or no-name charms, etc.”) that work with the Pandora charm bracelets, and they can be of just as high quality as the brand name charms.
So, in conclusion: you can take your chances with non-authorized sellers or save a bit of money (usually) by going with Pandora compatible beads, but if you want to be 100% sure that you’re buying an authentic Pandora charm, your best bet is to go with an authorized seller, either online or in a shop.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: What is it about Denmark and style? There is so much beautiful design in general, and jewelry in particular, coming out of that country (Pandora, Trollbeads, Lovelinks, Ole Lyngaard, Skagen, etc.). One of the newest brands to emerge, and one that I like a lot, is Blossom Copenhagen.
Launched in May of 2011, Blossom Copenhagen features six collections of interchangeable charms and pendants (as well as leather wrist wraps, necklaces and earrings) designed by Christina Lihn, who previously was at Georg Jensen. As I noted in my article about Ole Lyngaard, flexible jewelry seems to be a huge, enduring trend in Danish design, and here we see it again.
The charms and pendants are all created from Christina’s hand drawn sketches, using traditional goldsmith techniques. The designs have an organic, but soft, feel to them, and the marketing materials (and overall look of the brand) has that delicately feminine and nostalgic “French country / shabby chic” look that is so popular in home decor both in Scandinavia.
Falling in love you & I
A recurring theme is hearts – all the collections include at least one heart charm, and Christina herself says “I am a true romantic and I design jewellery for women who love a feminine touch. My favourite symbol is the heart, and that is the focal point of the entire collection”.
I especially like the “Falling in love you & I” – a different and unique take on the heart charm necklace (and the little charms can hold tiny items), and the hot air balloon-inspired pendants in the Romantic Discovery collection.
So far, they are available in Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and Australia, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they arrive in the US (or at least with an online retailer. I hope I’m right – they’re so pretty, and affordable too. The most expensive piece retails for the equivalent of $130.
Wallis Simpson used to say “I’m not a beautiful woman. I’m nothing to look at, so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else.” And she did – she was a style icon of her time, and it was not just her clothes; she also had some fantastic jewelry.
She is in the spotlight again thanks to Madonna’s new movie, W.E., which is all about Wallis Simpson and Edward Windsor (King Edward VIII before he abdicated in 1936 in order to be able to marry her), told in a story that alternates between the past and the present. There has been tons written already about the costume design – Madonna was adamant that everything be true to the original, and when she wasn’t able to get her hands on the original designs, had exact replicas created (several of the large fashion houses offered to make them for her).
And the same goes for the jewelry – what you see in the movie is a mix of antique pieces and reproductions. There is the famous panther bracelet, the zip necklace from Van Cleef & Arpels, and my favorite: the Cartier cross charm bracelet, which was a gift from Edward to Wallis while their relationship was still a secret (set costume designer for W.E., Arianne Phillip,s has described it as being at the center point of their relationship). It consists of a chain of diamonds with nine gemstone-encrusted platinum crosses which she received as gifts from Edward over the course of 10 years to mark certain milestones in their relationship. Each cross has a date and a personal message inscribed on the back, and the fronts are set with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, aquamarines, diamonds and amethysts.
Wallis (who became the Duchess of Windsor after she married Edward) loved the bracelet and wore it almost every day, including at her wedding. The original was sold at Sotheby’s, first in 1987 (the profits from that auction were donated to the research hospital Institut Pasteur in Paris) and then again in 2010 for just over £600,000 (equivalent to around $940,000 today). The one we see in the movie was recreated by Cartier based on drawings they had in their archives.
Cartier recreated 10 pieces of jewelry all in all for the movie, but once the promotional phase is over, they will be destroyed. Seems crazy, but Cartier says they’re doing it in order not to devaluate the originals. One piece they don’t have to worry about though is that cross bracelet – it was lost in the Mediterranean while filming a beach scene in Nice (makes you wonder if someone has found it by now and is hiding it at home, doesn’t it?).
Madonna loved that cross bracelet and wanted to keep it for herself, but Cartier had already said no even before it was lost. BUT, they did make her a similar version which she has been seen wearing quite a bit (I noticed she was wearing it on the Graham Norton show earlier this month).
The movie opens on February 3 here in the US, and I can’t wait to see it. From the previews, it looks gorgeous – the scenery, costumes, the jewelry, everything.
I don’t know what it is about the Danes, but for such a small country, they have an extraordinary number of talented, groundbreaking designers in every possible discipline – art, architecture, furniture, clothing, jewelry, you name it. Even their (super cool) Queen Margrethe II is an artist – a painter, illustrator and set designer.
Some of my favorite mid-century modern furniture designers were Danish (Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Bruno Mathsson), some of my current favorite clothing brands are Danish (Noa Noa, Bon’a Parte, Cream), and then there is of course the jewelry: Trollbeads, Pandora, Lovelinks, Georg Jensen, Skagen and Pilgrim are all Danish brands.
But today, the topic is Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen, a jewelry company that was started by its namesake in 1963. After studying and working all over the globe, Ole, a goldsmith, returned to his native Denmark, bought a small workshop and started building the brand. His jewelry was very well received and slowly but surely, the company grew.
1979 was a big year for Ole Lynggaard: he revealed a completely new type of clasp for his jewelry. It was a truly groundbreaking design – not only was it functional, and so pretty that it became an important part of the jewelry rather than just a utilitarian item, but more important was the fact that the clasp could be moved from one piece of jewelry to another, which made it possible for the wearer to create their own look. It was an instant hit, and today, all their jewelry carries (a variation of) this lock.
Interesting how the easy customization concept keeps surfacing again and again in Danish jewelry – just think of Trollbeads, Pandora, Lovelinks, and Georg Jensen’s Fusion collection. Makes sense I suppose, since according to Professor Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Denmark is an individualistic society (he gives them a score of 74, which places them in the top 10 among individualist countries along with the rest of Scandinavia, the US, UK and the Netherlands). Anyway, I digress.
Ole’s daughter Charlotte inherited her Father’s design talent and at an early age decided to become a fashion designer and worked in PR and fashion in Paris for a few years. Trained as a goldsmith, she eventually discovered however, that her true passion was designing jewelry, and, like her Dad, went on to work with jewelry around the world for several years. In 1992, she returned to Denmark to join her Father’s company. Today, Charlotte (who is regarded as a trend setting style icon in Denmark) is the head designer, and Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen is still a family business – her husband, Michel Norman, is the head of sales, her brother Søren is the managing director, her sister-in-law Hanna also works for the company, and Ole himself is still very much actively designing and crafting jewelry. Their headquarters are located in a cozy old house just north of Copenhagen, where the entire staff of 75 (30 are goldsmiths) is housed.
Princess Mary wearing a Lynggaard charm bracelet
In 2008, Ole Lynggaard was appointed a purveyor to the Danish court, and the company was invited to participate in a tiara exhibit at Amalienborg museum. Their contribution was a design by Charlotte: a breathtaking tiara in rose and white gold and oxidized silver set with diamonds and moonstones (it has since been worn by Princess Mary, who has been spotted wearing many other Lynggaard jewelry pieces as well).
Charms have been part of their collections for many years now and there are also many small pendants that can be used as charms. And the collections for Spring 2012 will add even more charms to their lineup with the release of the “all charms” collection My Little World. The new Dew Drops collection is all pendants and charms; the Katrine collection includes one “sweet spot”; and the Lotus collection has several of the smaller pendants.
So, what are the different charm collections? Well, the ones that have been around for a while are:
The Sweet Drops collection, designed by Charlotte, consists of thick leather bracelets and 93 interchangeable charms, made from 18k yellow, rose and white gold, silver and gemstones. The many different stones come in both faceted and smooth versions, and some are set with a single diamond. The solid precious metal charms come in “plain”, set with 10 or 66 diamonds (white or black), filigree cut with 6 diamonds, and there is an adorable little birdcage charm in gold with a tiny gold bird inside. The collection also includes a few red coral charms, and in line with the whole “flexible jewelry” concept, all the charms can be added to their silk and chain necklaces and link bracelets as well.
Sweet Spots, designed by Charlotte and made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones, are flat rounds (the collection also includes four hearts) designed to be clipped onto the Sweet Drops leather bracelets.
The Spot On collection is essentially Sweet Spots for men. Also designed by Charlotte, it consists of the same type of “disks” that clip onto chunky leather bracelets. The charms are again made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones, but in simpler designs and darker, more “manly” colors (blue and green), and one design also features a dragon.
The My Friend collection was designed by Charlotte and consists of 18k gold and sterling silver charms and pendants in the shape of a penguin and a fish. The jewelry was designed to support Børnefonden (ChildFund Denmark) and a portion of the sales are donated to them.
This very pretty and feminine collection was inspired by a flea market find (a vintage piece of lace) in Paris and consists of rings, (amazing) clasps, earrings, bracelets, pendants and charms in 18k gold and diamonds.
The Spring 2012 Collections
The new charm collections are:
My Little World
The most traditional of their charm bracelets to date, this new collection (designed by Charlotte to represent certain “moments in time” of the company’s history) consists of a chain bracelet and 36 charms in 18k gold, sterling silver, coral and gemstones. And one thing I really like is that when you buy one of these charms, it comes attached to a black string bracelet, so if you prefer that look, there is no need for the added cost of a chain bracelet.
This collection was also designed by Charlotte and is similar to the Sweet Drops. It consists of pendants and charms in 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones. The design is a little bit different though, and the settings are more ornate and many of the stones are opaque.
The Katrine collection, designed by Ole, consists of earrings, brooches rings, clasps and one sweet spot, all in the shape of butterflies in 18k gold set with lots of tiny diamonds (some have over 150!).
The Lotus is the “flagship” collection in the Spring 2012 release. It was designed by Charlotte, and she has described it as “gypsy style” and “bohemian with a splash of luxury”. The rings, earrings and pendants (large and small) are made from 18k gold, sterling silver and gemstones. It really is a fantastic collection and both the settings and the colors of the gemstones, which almost seem to be glowing, are stunning.
Danish supermodel Helena Christensen is the most recent face of the brand (a position previously held by actress Connie Nielsen and singer Lene Nystrøm), and the new, gorgeous catalog was shot by Marc Høm. Helena’s eyes almost match the gemstones in some of the pictures – amazing.
Ole Lynggaard is a luxury brand, and these designs are not inexpensive – charms range from around $270 (My Friend penguin in sterling silver) to $10,000 (18k gold Sweet Drop with 66 diamonds), Sweet spots are $1,400 to $3,500, and the Lotus drops retail for around $980 to $5,400 (prices are based on current exchange rates and include local taxes). BUT, when you take into account that everything is handmade on site and they only use top notch gemstones, 18k gold, sterling silver and high quality leather, it definitely feels like money well spent. And a good investment – this is jewelry made to last a lifetime (and longer).
Where To Buy
Unfortunately, there are currently no retailers here in the US, and they don’t have an online store. But there are stores all over Europe, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. And they are constantly expanding, so there is hope. Søren Lynggaard has been quoted as saying “We want to develop the company, but when we do it, we do not want to make compromises, so we´re taking it at our own pace. You don´t want to break your neck by moving too fast. We want a healthy company that we can be proud of!”
In the meantime, I’m going to take my chance to visit one of their stores the next time I’m in Europe. In a way, it’s kind of nice that there still are things you can’t get everywhere in the world.
Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana recently revealed their new fine jewelry collection, and it is stunning. We have seen charms from Dolce & Gabbana many times before, not least in this amazing wool clutch, but nothing quite like this.
The new 80-piece collection is all handmade 18k gold – white, rose and yellow -embellished with rubies, sapphires, black jade and freshwater pearls. The designers say they were inspired by their heritage, and Sicily in particular (one of the lines in the new collection is even called “Sicily”), and wanted to create jewelry that had the look and feel of heirlooms that have been passed down for generations. Italian supermodel Bianca Balti stars in the sultry ad campaign, and the pieces will retail for just under $1,000 to around $25,000.
The collection includes charm bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings, and is indeed loaded with imagery that is classic Italian, both religious and superstitious. There are both gold and handpainted ceramic charms with pictures of the Madonna, bejeweled crosses, charm necklaces that resemble rosaries, as well as hearts, beautiful filigree, and lots of good luck charms such as horseshoes, four leaf clovers, cornicellos, etc.