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…)
As usual, autumn is zipping by at the speed of light, and it’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is only a week away… Time to get gift lists in order and start shopping!
Trollbeads released their latest holiday collection, and I have to say, it’s one of my favorites to date. There is a little bit of everything – cute, gorgeous, blingy and fun.
The new glass beads include 2 limited edition collections, one in traditional red, white and green and one in a more subdued white, gold and black color scheme. There is also 1 new glass diamond bead, the “ice blue” – acrisp aqua with 13 cubic zirconias, designed by Lise Aagaard.
And these (below) made me smile the first time I saw them: adorable dangle Christmas ornament glass beads – how cute are they?! I could see putting a base bracelet in a gift box and tying one (or more – they are sold both as single charms and in sets of three) of these to the ribbon. Wouldn’t that be a great gift presentation?
Sterling Silver Beads
The new silver beads include the round “winter snow” and “Christmas rose” beads, cute penguin and polar bear beads, both with babies, a bead with a family of seals, the “pebbly” winter berries bead, the (in my opinion) rather oddly shaped Bougainvillea bead (which also comes in a gold version, with diamonds), the softly shaped heart and the adorable Christmas Tree bead (which is assembled in quite a clever way).
They are also introducing their first bangle bracelets, which come in sterling silver in four different sizes, and I know is something many have been waiting for.
A nice new collection, and, as is most often the case with Trollbeads, pretty affordable as well (perhaps with the exception of the gold Bougainvillea bead). Happy shopping!
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.
The new Pandora spring/summer collection for 2012 was just released with a bunch of new beads and rings, as well as a few earrings and pendants. The recurring themes in all of them are flowers and hearts. And the possibility to mix and match – clip beads can be used as pendants, the rings can be stacked, etc.
The new bead collection consists of lots of sterling silver charms (the camera bead is a favorite), several with dangles (love those!), some with cubic zirconias or enamel, and a few mixed metal.
There are three new gold charms (my favorite is this clip with a dogwood flower set with a black diamond) and several very pretty Murano glass beads in “happy colors” and two different designs – the subtle “looking glass”, and the retro-feeling “Stepping stones” beads.
There are 7 new pendants, 6 in silver with various stones (spinel, rhodolite, Quartzite, etc.), one mixed metal, and one in 14k gold with a white opal. They are all gorgeous and I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be the the mixed metal – it’s sterling silver and 14k gold with a pretty, feminine and understated flower-carved mother of pearl.
The new earrings collection (four in sterling silver with stones and two mixed metal) features three new stud designs (which match some of the pendants), three earring charms (also matching) and one pair of silver and 14k gold ear wires with a pretty little flower and loops to hang charms from.
The new ring collection is so pretty! It consists of 12 sterling silver rings set with birthstones, 5 sterling silver and 5 mixed metal rings that match the pendants (yes, there is one that matches that adorable flower mother of pearl) and two gold. Most of the rings can be stacked.
There are also some new watches, but to be perfectly honest, I never wear a watch, so I’m not really interested in those.
In conclusion, it’s a very pretty collection, spring-inspired both in colors and designs, and price-wise, there is something for every budget, from (the surprisingly affordable) $20 spacers and $25 sterling silver beads to the $720 gold dogwood flower clip above.
Amethyst is a member of the Quartz family. Quartz is a mineral, the most abundant on earth, and not only does it make up around 12% of the earth’s crust, it is everywhere. Even those of us who are not living under a rock have quartz all around, perhaps without realizing it. Your TV, computer, watch, cell phone and granite kitchen counter top all contain quartz.
Quartz is commonly divided in two groups – Macrocrystalline (which has visible individual crystals) and Cryptocrystalline (which has crystals you need a microscope to see, sometimes also called Microcrystalline). Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, and it is part of the Macrocrystalline group.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February (except for in the Mystical tradition, where it is Bloodstone. We will cover Bloodstone in the March birthstone post, because it is the birthstone for March in several other traditions), the astrological birthstone for Aquarius, Pisces, and Sagittarius and the 4th, 6th and 17th wedding anniversary gemstone. It has been known and used “forever”, and it was one of the stones in the breastplate of Aaron. It is mainly found in Brazil; other locations include the US (Arizona), Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Namibia, Zambia and Russia.
Amethysts range in color from pale pinkish purple to deep violet and they are the most popular of the quartzes. In spite of that, they are very affordable (the darker the stone, the more expensive it is, generally), and if you’re shopping for the high end variety, you want to look for nice, clear transparent stones without inclusions (i.e. things like bubbles, crystals, graininess, cracks etc. inside the stone). In jewelry, you most often find them faceted or cabochon cut.
Amethysts are sometimes heat treated to alter the color slightly, and when lighter varieties are exposed to heat, they “turn into” citrine (so most citrine on the market is amethyst that has been heat treated).
The ancient Greeks thought amethyst could prevent intoxication and instill a sober mind. The name comes from the Greek “amethustos”, which means “not drunk”. In traditional dramatic Greek fashion, there is the story of Bacchus (a.k.a. Dionysus) and the young maiden Amethyst. A mortal had insulted Bacchus, who as revenge decided to let tigers go after the next human who happened to come along. It turned out the be Amethyst on her way to worship the Goddess Diana. Diana knew of Bacchus’ plan and to spare Amethyst turned her into a quartz pillar, which made Bacchus so remorseful that he wept tears of wine, which turned the now quartz pillar Amethyst purple.
Amethyst Healing Properties
Amethyst is one of the most important stones in crystal healing, believed to get rid of negativity and promote a more positive view on life, protect its wearer, aid in meditation, help when going through major life changes, heal a broken heart and make the wearer able to trust others and fall in love again.
It also helps with addictions, stress, nightmares, insomnia, anger, grief, and feelings of being victimized. On a physical level, it alleviates arthritis and balances the thyroid, helps with headaches and strengthens the skeleton.
And it might be worth it to invest in some amethyst jewelry even if it’s not your birthstone. Crystal Energy Therapist Karen Ryan says “If you could choose only one crystal to wear for healing, Amethyst is the one – it heals all things at all levels”.
Luckily, there are tons of gorgeous pieces to choose from. Here are some of my recent favorite amethyst charm and pendant finds:
As promised in the last Trollbeads news post, the spring collection was just around the corner, and I’m happy to announce that it has arrived!
It’s a fun, playful and pretty collection, consisting of 15 sterling silver beads, 1 gold, 1 mixed metal, lots of glass (in pretty shades of brown/beige and white as well as bright spring colors), and 2 gemstone (ruby and smoky quartz) beads, 1 onyx gemstone bead kit, 1 new clasp, and 3 tassel beads (love the snowdrop tassel bead pictured below) .
The “fun” category includes the whimsical sterling silver cake form, tea and coffee cup beads designed by multi-talented silversmith Lone Løvschal (who also designs beautiful silver tableware, utensils, and her own line of jewelry). The playful includes two adorable baby bunny beads, and the pretty includes all the glass (in my opinion), especially the tassel beads.
This collection also introduces a new Trollbeads designer, Lars Sögaard, who designed three of the silver beads.
Here is a little collage of my favorites in this collection:
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought a post about heart shaped jewelry would be in order.
The Heart – An Ancient Symbol
The heart as a symbol was used as far back as 10,000 BC, although scientists are not exactly sure what it symbolized at that time. In more recent civilizations, it was long believed that thoughts, reasoning and the soul were housed in the heart, and in ancient Egypt, the heart was not only the center of life, but morality and character as well, and your heart was judged to determined your future in the afterlife. The Egyptian Book of the Dead illustrates how after death, a person’s heart is taken to the judgment area and put on a scale opposite the feather of Maat. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the person was all set to enjoy whatever came after, but if it was heavy with sin, the heart would be eaten by the demon Ammit and the person would cease to exist. (so dramatic!)
But why is the heart symbol shaped the way it is? It doesn’t look anything like an actual human heart. And why do we associate that shape with love?
There are many (possible) explanations: Some say it’s because it resembles several different female body parts (use your own imagination here); some claim it is because of a vision Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque had in the 1600s (although that one doesn’t really hold up, because there are stained glass windows with heart symbols that way predates that – maybe she was just commenting on the decor!); it has also been suggested that it’s the heart in the Book of the Dead that inspired it (although I personally think that looks more like an urn or sometimes an actual anatomical heart, but…).
Then there is the theory of the Silphium plant. The seeds from this now extinct variety of wild fennel are shaped just like the heart symbol we use today, and they were widely used as a natural contraceptive. The plant grew in Cyrene (an ancient Greek colony where Libya is today), and was a great source of income for the area. It was extensively commercially traded and the seed pods were even depicted on their coins. It also had a slew of other health benefits (Pliny the Elder wrote that it could be used as an antidote for poison, re-grow hair, cure leprosy, sore throats, etc.), and unfortunately, demand was larger than supply, and it was picked to extinction.
And why it’s associated with love – well, we all know what the heart feels like when you’re in love (or going through a breakup). No mystery there.
Time for the visual part of the post – my selection of some favorite heart charms and pendants:
Collage by Charms Guide
1. Sterling silver filigree heart charm by Rembrandt
3. 10k rose gold charm with set with a red stone (they label it garnet, then say it’s labradorite in the text. Red labradorite has been much debated and a source of both great controversy and lawsuits in the professional gem world. I just wanted to mention that so you can make an informed decision about the piece. Regardless of the quality of the stone, I like it, and I think it’s pretty, so I included it). From Sundance.