Archive for the ‘Tiffany’ Category

Heart Charms And Pendants

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

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

2. Vintage (ca 1945) Walter Lampl sterling silver and enamel charm from Morning Glory Antiques.

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.

4. Sterling silver heart chakra charm from Shanti Boutique Fair Trade Designs

5. Tiny connected custom stamped brass hearts on a sterling silver chain by MomentusNY

6. Brass and silver-tone base metal charms by Fossil

7. Anatomical heart charm by Pnut.

8. 18k white gold and diamond heart charm necklace from Tiffany & Co.

9. Sterling silver, brass and resin pendant by Waxing Poetic.

10. Sterling silver, cubic zirconia and rhodolite dangle charm bead from Pandora.

All content: © Charms Guide

Christmas And Winter Holiday Charms And Beads – Christmas Trees

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Trees have held a special meaning for people since ancient times, and bringing evergreens indoors during winter is something that has long been practiced in many cultures. In some countries, they were thought to keep evil spirits, illness and ghosts at bay; in some they were symbols of deities, and in others, they were simply a reminder that summer – and another growing season – would return.

The Christmas tree as we know it is thought to have begun in the southern parts of 15th century Germany, where people brought fir trees indoors and decorated them with apples. The trees were an important part of the Winter Solstice celebration, and they were believed to keep evil spirits away (who were supposed to be particularly active on Christmas eve). Apples later turned into ornaments, and Martin Luther (the Protestant reformer) is credited with contributing the tradition of adding lights. The custom spread through Europe, but did not reach the US until the early 1800s, and even then, many here regarded them as pagan symbols. It wasn’t until the early 1850s, when a slightly doctored print of of Queen Victoria and her family (in order to “Americanize” them, Prince Albert’s mustache and the Queen’s tiara were removed) with their decorated Christmas tree was published in the US that the Christmas tree became popular.

There is also an interesting variation on the story on how the Christmas tree came to be: the story of St. Boniface. St Boniface was Christian missionary in Germany in the 600-700s, everyone agrees to that, but the thoughts on his impact on the Christmas tree tradition varies. Some say he cut down fir trees in the woods of Thüringen and used their triangular shape to demonstrate the trinity, and the people in the area started bringing the trees indoors, although they hung them upside down from the ceiling. Some claim that when St. Boniface returned to Germany after an absence, he found that the locals had revered to their pagan winter celebrations, which included the sacrifice of a young man under Odin’s oak tree. Enraged, he cut down the oak with a single blow of an axe, which impressed and scared the people. As the oak fell, it had narrowly missed a small fir tree, and when the frightened people asked St. Boniface how they should celebrate, he pointed to the fir and told them to bring such a tree, which symbolized immortality and peace, into their homes.

Today, a Christmas tree is an essential part of the holiday in many countries across the world, even some that are not mainly Christian. They certainly add an unmatched coziness to the celebrations, and every time I walk into a home with a decorated and lit Christmas tree, I feel like a child again – that happy excitement and expectation you always had for weeks (or even months) leading up to the big event.

Now that we’re properly educated on the subject :-), here are some recent favorite Christmas tree charm finds:

Collage by Charms Guide

1. Sterling silver charm by Rembrandt

2. Sterling silver charm by Amanda Jo

3. Sterling silver charm with a gold star by Brighton

4. Sterling silver charm with marcasites and cubic-zirconias by Judith Jack

5. Enameled pewter charm by Jewelry by Aimee

6. Pandora charm bead in sterling silver with a 14k gold star

7. Sterling silver charm bead for the Lovelinks Petit collection. By Lovelinks

8. 18k gold charm with emerald and blue and pink sapphires by Tiffany & Co

9. Rhodium plated charm with metallic green epoxy and crystals by Swarovski

10. Sterling silver charm bead by Zable

For more Christmas-related charms, also see my Santa’s Sleigh charms post.

All content © Charms Guide

Holiday Gift Guide Series – Cupcake Charms

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Chocolate Cupcake Charm Necklace from A Fine Distraction

I don’t think the cupcake craze of the last decade has escaped anybody’s attention. Magnolia Bakery in New York City is usually credited with starting it in the mid 90s, and their creations really rose to fame after being featured in Sex and the City. They are still as popular as ever, and have even gone worldwide: last year, they openend a bakery/store in the Dubai Mall. Tourists from all over the world still flock to the original NYC store as well – I went a few years ago with a friend who was visiting from overseas and had to see it (and eat a cupcake). It’s tiny! But the cupcakes are good.

These days, cupcakes are everywhere: now, there are many bakeries and stores solely devoted to making cupcakes, cupcake caterers, cupcake blogs, cupcake food trucks, cupcake books, wedding cakes, apparel, holiday ornaments, home decor, there is “Cupcake Wars” (an entire show about cupcakes) on Food Network; and what might just take the prize as the trippiest take on the sweet treats ever: cupcake cars from Nieman Marcus. These $25,000 customized motor-driven vehicles – which come with matching hats for the drivers – are surprisingly intended for adults!

There is of course also cupcake jewelry in many forms. Naturally, we are focusing on charms here, and I have put together a collection of some recent favorite finds:

From left to right, starting on row 1:
1. Amore LaVita sterling silver and enamel charm (note the little candle!)
2. Chamilia charm bead
3. CHARM IT! base metal and enamel charm
4. Diva Diamonds Sterling silver and Enamel Charm
5. Juicy Couture14k gold, enamel and rhinestone moveable charm
6. Links of London sterling silver charm
7. Pandora sterling silver and 14k gold charm bead
8. Sweet and Savory Trinkets polymer clay charm
9. Pnut white gold and diamonds charm
10. Rembrandt 14k Yellow Gold and enamel
11. Charming by Ti Sento Rhodium plated sterling silver, cubic zirconia and enamel charm
12. Tiffany 18k white and yellow gold charm with precious stones
13. Tiffany sterling silver and enamel charm
14. Sweet Bling “One Haute Cupcake” charm in 14k white and rose gold
15. Piercing Pagoda Sterling Silver and Enamel Charm
16. Zable sterling silver charm bead

For more gift ideas, check out my Unusual Pendants and Charm Bracelet Charms, Jewelry Men Gifts for Father’s Day and Charmed Bracelets and Necklaces for Mother’s Day posts (and stay tuned for more to come!)

New Charms (And More) From Tiffany & Company

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Tiffany and Co have released their fall and holiday collections, and as usual, there are lots of gorgeous items in all categories, from cute holiday charms to luxurious leather bags and clutches:

Venezia
This is the beautiful new Paloma Picasso collection, and it consists of scroll-like pendants and earrings in gold and silver (“Luce”); earrings in gold, amethyst and diamond as well as heart pendants in gold with diamonds (“Goldoni”); and star-shaped pendants, bangles, and a gold, diamond and deep blue enamel ring (“Stella”).

Era
A 60s-70s-inspired little collection of sterling silver squarish bangles, a ring and a pendant, with a cutout letter on each side, spelling out LOVE.

Charms
There are three new charms, all in sterling silver with Tiffany blue enamel, and all holiday themed: a reindeer, stocking and hat.

Locks Bangles
These are three solid bangles in silver and gold in different widths, two with cutout lock images, and one with a cute little lock charm in silver and rose gold.

Conique
Gorgeous and classic gold, diamond and red spinel necklace and bracelet by Jean Schlumberger (for those with a generous jewelry budget – they sell for $275,000 and $125,000, respectively).

Diamond Hoops
New from Elsa Peretti, a delicate and understated necklace and bracelet, both in relatively thin gold wire with a diamond at each end.

Platinum & Diamonds
The Soleste is a platinum ring set with diamonds; the Grace is a set of platinum earrings and a pendant, all with diamonds, and (this one is my favorite) there is an absolutely stunning new platinum pendant with diamonds and a large sapphire. I’d put it on my Christmas wish list, but I very much doubt I get it – it sells for $500,000…

Bags
I know this is a blog about jewelry, but I can’t resist mentioning the absolutely adorable clutches in the new leather collection. The whole bag collection is fabulous, but the clutches… oh so cute! My favorite by far is the “bracelet clutch” in deep red velvet with a bracelet-like handle (and it’s a relative bargain at $995).

All photos: Tiffany

The Tiffany Collection Of Charms

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Tiffany & Company, founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John Young (as “Tiffany & Young”), is a famous name, not only in the jewelry business. The store (which then sold paper goods and gift items) opened on September 18, 1837 on Broadway in New York City, and the sales total that first day came to $4.89! The company’s sales have obviously only continued to grow, and today, they sell not only jewelry, but watches, leather goods, jewelry boxes, glassware, and miscellaneous gifts for special occasions. That gorgeous blue box was there right from the start, and the only way you could get one was to purchase a Tiffany item.

Tiffany’s has been a groundbreaking company in many ways. In 1845, they published the first “Blue Book”, their catalog of products, which was also the first mail-order catalog in the US. In 1878, Charles Lewis Tiffany acquired the now famous yellow Tiffany Diamond (which Audrey Hepburn wore on a necklace in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”). It is now on display at their flagship store on Fifth Avenue in NYC. And as the first jeweler to do so, they hired a gemologist, Dr. George Kunz. They were also the first company to set the 925/1000 silver standard (in 1851) which is now the standard for Sterling silver in the US and many other countries.

In 1902, Charles’ son Louis Comfort Tiffany (who was a strong figure in the Art Nouveau movement, and famous for his stained glass work) became the company’s (first) director of design and opened a new division of the company called “Tiffany Art Jewelry”. He worked mainly in glass, enamel and gemstones, and his jewelry designs were bold, colorful and exotic.That same year, they introduced the pinkish purple gemstone Kunzite (named after Dr. Kunz), and later the blush pink Morganite (a gemstone in the beryl family) and the vivid blue Tanzanite.

The charms have been part of the company’s collection since the mid-1800s. And although they are not the least expensive charms you can find (the “cheapest” silver charms are $65, and the gold charms range in price from $200 to over $8,000), it’s easy to see why. There is a huge selection of cute, classic, gorgeous and fun designs in white gold, platinum, silver, rose gold, lacquer, and stainless steel in several categories to choose from. Some have clip on clasps, others jump rings. You can order just the charm(s), one charm on a link chain bracelet (or chain necklace) or put together an entire loaded charm bracelet on their website.

The charms are fabulous, and many of my favorites are in the Travel & Hobbies category: the gold and diamond camera (I wish it came in silver too), the Tiffany blue silver and enamel convertible and scooter, the little handbag with its own blue enamel charm attached… irresistible!

Through the years, Tiffany’s have collaborated with fabulous artists such as Jean Schlumberger (beginning in 1956), Elsa Peretti (1974), and Paloma Picasso (1980) who all have designed many different fashion jewelry pieces for them, including pendants and charms. Picasso’s charms include an adorable painter’s palette in silver and enamel, a tiny yellow gold and red enamel lipstick, and a little sterling silver boat, and her silver heart and read enamel pendant is one of my favorites. Jean Schlumberger’s charm designs consist mostly of tiny gorgeous egg charms made from semi-precious stones and 18k yellow gold, and the Elsa Peretti designs include the adorable open heart and starfish pendants.

There are also several other charm collections including the “1837” which consists of a variety of locks and circles; the Atlas collection with one watch lock and 2 cube charms, all in sterling silver and stainless steel; the Return to Tiffany, which is all little heart lock charms with the inscription “Please return to Tiffany & Co New York” and then the gold or silver content mark; the Etoile which has only one charm – a yellow gold heart with diamonds; and the Tiffany Swing collection which also consists of only one piece: a tiny platinum circle with diamonds.

Because of their popularity (and somewhat hefty prices), there are a ton of fakes on the market. If you do an online search for “Tiffany Outlet”, you will end up with over 11,000,000 hits, and “Tiffany wholesale” results in over 14,000,000. However, none of these stores are selling authentic Tiffany jewelry. Tiffany’s do not have outlets or sell wholesale, nor do they ever have sales (searching on their website for the word “sale” results in the message: “Did you mean salt?”). The safest way to make sure you are not getting a knockoff is obviously to shop at a Tiffany store or on their website.

So how do you detect a fake? Ones first instinct is of course to look for the stamp or signature, as all of Tiffany’s jewelry is signed, but unfortunately, so are many of the fakes, making detection that way difficult. If you are considering buying a pre-owned Tiffany charm online from an auction site or private seller, make sure to ask questions. Ask for photos of the piece from all angles, including the stamp; compare those photos to the item on Tiffany’s website, and look for any little thing that may be off (and make sure the photos the seller are sending you are not just screen shots from the Tiffany site). Check the seller’s rating and feedback. Ask about their return and refund policies. But, even if you take all these precautions, I still recommend buying directly from Tiffany. If you are going to treat yourself (or someone else) to a piece of jewelry that is so special, why go through the worry and headache of not knowing if what you bought is authentic or not? The extra money spent is well worth the peace of mind.

Right from the start, Tiffany’s was an innovative, groundbreaking and glamorous company, and the trend continues today. Shopping, or even just browsing in one of their stores always feels like a special occasion, and opening a wrapped gift and seeing that blue box is a treat every time. And they look fabulous on your dresser!

Fore more on Tiffany, see my “New Charms From Tiffany” post