Gifts

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jennymcJenny McCarthy is definitely not one to shy away from media! She shocked over 3 million viewers last Wednesday on live television via her morning talk show, The View by showing off a huge yellow sapphire and diamond ring and announcing her recent engagement to singer Donnie Wahlberg.

The former model, actress, one-time author and current co-host of The View was immeasurably ecstatic, jumping up and hugging co-hosts Barbara Walters and Sherri Shepherd. A slideshow of pictures of the happy couple played across the screen as Wahlberg made a surprise appearance from backstage, coming up to hug his sweetheart.

McCarthy’s bubbly and vivacious personality seems to match her engagement ring perfectly: a square brilliant cut yellow sapphire, surrounded by a halo of white diamonds set in a split shank pave white gold band. Known to be a spiritual person, she may have chosen a bright yellow stone to elicit inspiration, creativity, and optimism.jennymc

The actress and TV personality describes how Wahlberg had enlisted the help of her 11-year-old son, Evan, with the proposal. While sitting on the couch at their shared home, Evan brought out a card that said “Will” and handed it to her. He walked back into the other room, coming back with “You”. He returned a third time with a card meant to say “Marry” but spelled “Mary”. McCarthy was in laughter and tears before Donnie came out the last time, wearing a shirt imprinted, “Me?” and got down on one knee.

“Of course, I said ‘Yes,'” she related. “In that moment Evan yelled, ‘I have another dad!’ and it made all of us cry.”

McCarthy began dating the New Kids on The Block singer in May of last year. The pair plan to tie the knot sometime in August 2015.

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sunset proposalMarch 20th marks Proposal Day, the day on which an estimated 50,000 couples will get engaged!

Is March 20th the day to pop the big question? Possibly, but this lesser known holiday was initially started for the purpose of giving a nudge to couples who have not yet taken the ultimate step of commitment. Interestingly enough, it was a man by the name of John Michael O’Laughlin who founded Proposal Day. After seeing his cousin being strung along for years by a boyfriend who wouldn’t commit, O’Laughlin decided enough was enough and decided to dedicate one day out of the year just for the act of proposing.

Proposal Day falls on the Vernal Equinox, one out of two days of the year on which the Earth’s North and South poles are both perpendicular to the Sun’s rays. This means that the Sun appears approximately an equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth, so that day and night are equal lengths. O’Laughlin specifically chose the day of an equinox because he believed the equal day and night symbolized “the equal efforts of the two required to comprise a successful marriage.” The Autumnal Equinox falls about six months after March 20th, and is considered by some to be a second Proposal Day for that reason.vernal equinox

The holiday is an opportunity to start a conversation about the possibility of a future proposal, according to ProposalDay.com. Besides, nowadays couples wait longer before tying the knot; a recent poll found that roughly 27 per cent of women whose partners had popped the question dated their partner for three to five years. As an added benefit, talking to your partner about the proposal beforehand means that you can go engagement ring shopping together, which takes some pressure off of finding the perfect engagement ring!

Although it’s certainly not as widely recognized as Valentine’s Day, there are signs that Proposal Day is gaining traction. It has been creating a buzz in numerous social media outlets like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter and has even been featured in the national news media.

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nizamThe Duchess of Cambridge stepped out on her first official event of the year in great style, with an elegant navy Jenny Packham evening gown and her signature wavy locks. But what stole the show was what she was wearing on her neck, a priceless diamond necklace known as the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Named after the man who bestowed this extravagant gift, it has been a part of the Royal Collection of Jewels since 1947 when the Nizam of Hyderabad gave it to Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding gift. At the time, the Nizam was one of the richest men in India, and he governed over an area that indisputably is the origin of the most valuable diamonds in the world. The Golconda region, located just west of the Hyderabad district has produced large diamonds of such purity and quality that many are located in museums and royal collections to this day. The Hope diamond (Smithsonian Natural History Museum), Daria-i-Noor (Central Bank of Iran), Koh-i-Noor (British Crown Jewels), and the Archduke Joseph (recently sold at auction for a record-breaking price) are some famous diamonds with Golcandan provenance.nizam

This is the first time where the Duchess has stepped out in jewels from the royal vault, and she chose the fundraising gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London.  Despite the host of celebrities also attending and the priceless paintings themselves, all eyes were on the Duchess’ neckline. Media reports speculate that Kate will be undergoing a change in wardrobe to look more regal in the coming months.

The Nizam of Hyderabad is constructed of colorless diamonds and platinum, featuring a double drop pear-shaped pendant and thirteen emerald cut diamonds. It is seen worn by the Queen in many official portraits, and like other priceless jewelry pieces is unlikely ever to leave the British Crown’s possession.

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Paul WalkerAlmost ten years ago, in the holiday season of 2004, Paul Walker happened to be in a Santa Barbara jewelry store at the same time as another couple that was browsing. That couple was Kyle and Kristen Upham, who were looking for an engagement ring. They were already secretly married in a private ceremony before his deployment to Iraq, but now he was back and wanted to get her a proper ring.

While they were browsing, the “Fast and Furious” star struck up a conversation with them. Kristen recalls when Walker found out that Kyle had just come back from his first tour in Iraq: “I remember seeing the look in his face. He kind of transformed.”

Kristen was back at the store to look at a ring she really, really liked. It featured a round brilliant center diamond, accented with baguette diamonds in the band set in white gold. At $9,000 though, it was out of her husband’s budget. They left the store empty-handed, but received a call later on from Irene King, the sales associate who had helped them, asking them to return to the store. Waiting for them was her dream ring, wrapped up and paid for in full by a mysterious benefactor. The staff at the store refused to give out any details, as per his wishes. According to King, Walker had pulled aside the store manager in private and asked to put the ring on his tab, walking out shortly after.Paul Walker

The staff kept his secret for nearly a decade, until his recent untimely death sparked the wish to share his random act of kindness in tribute to his outstanding character. A great number of Walker’s colleagues and friends in Hollywood have since spoken out about his fantastic work ethic, talent, polite demeanor and passion for charitable projects. He will always be remembered in the people whose lives he touched, and for Kyle and Kristen Upham, they will always have a reminder and a story to tell when they pass down her ring for future generations.

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The most beloved First Lady of Argentina was as well-known for her charitable endeavours as she was her glamorous image. Eva Perón (fondly referred to as Evita), the wifeEva of the former Argentinian president Juan Perón was a charming beauty who created her own legacy. She rose from humble beginnings in the rural town of Los Toldos to become a recognized actress before finally meeting her future husband. Soon after, she established the Eva Perón foundation, which focused on helping the common people and provided services such as healthcare, education, and community development nationwide. Being very hands-on, she made many public appearances in the name of her Evacharity and was always impeccably dressed; often in French couture, fur, and elaborate jewels.

One of Perón’s most memorable pieces has surfaced again to the public: the headliner at the upcoming October 15th Sale of Magnificent Jewels by Christie’s, the historic brooch depicting the Argentine flag. Featuring brilliant colorless and yellow diamonds and “mystery-set” blue sapphires, it was a custom designed piece for the first lady by the house of Van Cleef and Arpels. The last time it was seen in public was in April 1998, where it sold at auction for ten times its estimate at an astounding $992,500!

Another iconic piece worn in her 1947 official portrait (which was also used in Argentinian stamps in that era) is a Victorian-era diamond necklace set with eleven oval Burmese rubies. It was also sold at auction in 2003 at an estimate of about $200,000. What is unusual, according to experts, is that the entire necklace remained intact – it was common during the 19th century for important pieces of jewelry to be dismantled and remade.

Very recently, Spanish police have recovered a hoard of stolen jewels estimated at approximately $6 million euros.  They organized a sting at the hotel the thieves were staying at in Milan, and they recovered a collection of rings, earrings and a Evafantastic diamond tiara believed to have been given to Perón by the Dutch royal family.

Much like her life, there is a lot of mystery of origin surrounding Perón’s many jewels, which may also be why some of her most treasured jewelry pieces have wound up at high-end international auctions, fetching record-breaking prices for fascinated jewelry collectors and historic collectors alike.

 

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cufflinksToday’s popular male stars, such as Jay-Z, Johnny Depp, the Jonas brothers and Justin Bieber, tend to wear more jewelry and that’s opening the door for other men to realize that jewelry is a part of putting an outfit together. Jewelry is also a status symbol for men who have become more established in life and their careers. The more popular and traditional men’s jewellery are watches and cufflinks.

As men’s jewelry progresses, it will go through those conservative categories, of watches and cufflinks, to more modern categories, including bracelets, rings and pendants. These categories will continue to grow as the younger generation moves into the market. Younger generation may not be able to afford nice watches yet but they can all afford some nice silver men’s jewellery. Men’s jewellery can’t be too flashy, feminine or ostentatious; they need to have a masculine appeal. Brushed and blackened metals are great choices of design, and most of the time men’s jewellery are easy to maintain.

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Earrings

Jewellery is a very personal accessory which can make it hard to choose the right piece when shopping for someone else. The very fact that earrings are worn so close to the face make them even more personal.

Some women wear the same jewellery daily regardless of the occasion, others don’t wear jewellery at all – for these women, it might be best to pick a different gift. Anyone else, though, you can have a good shot at it if you know what to look for.

Colour:

Does she wear only silver and white gold? Only yellow gold? Or both? What colour clothes does she tend to go for? Many women like to wear neutral colours and may be seen with a coloured stone ring, but would not wear the colour more prominently in earrings, for example. If she’s not often seen in colour, stick to neutral coloured stones and detailing for example black onyx, smokey quartz, diamond, pearl. When looking at colours, consider her hair, skin and eyes – different pigmentation suits different colour groups so even if you are attracted to the yellow citrine, your pale skinned brunette girlfriend may not agree.

Size/Shape:

This is especially important for earrings. Consider hair length and style. If she often wears her hair tucked behind her ears or up in a hair piece then studs may look stunning, but if she has a cut that frames her face more then those beautiful diamonds will never be seen! Long faces can benefit from a wider shaped earring whereas wider faces prefer more slender earrings. Long necks look exotic with longer earrings while these are just not going to work on a shorter neck.

Metal and findings (the bit that goes in the ear):

Apart from colour, metal is also important to consider for allergies. Many women have sensitivities to metals used in jewellery findings. It is most common to be allergic to nickel. Therefore look for higher quality findings or when shopping for costume jewellery ask the retailer if any are hypoallergenic. Consider the style of finding too – older women often have stiffness and less dexterity in their fingers so when buying Grandma some new pearl drop earrings, check that there are no complex mechanisms that she might struggle with. A simple sheppard hook would be best for her. If your girlfriend wears scarfs often, however, look for something with a locking mechanism like a closed hoop or screw stud.

Once you have these things figured out, and you have taken note of what she wears most often, then you are ready to go to your local jeweler and check out what they have that fits your criteria. One more thing to consider is matching sets. Many earring designs will have a matching pendant or necklace. Many women like to wear matching sets, and the beauty of these is that they don`t have to be worn together but look amazing when they are. So if you have nailed the style and present her with the full set then its like a 3 in 1! Necklace, earrings and set – how could you go wrong?

Look for a jeweler that you can talk to easily and will help you know what you are looking at. They sell jewellery every day and have a good idea of what different people look for, and if you have already done your homework then together you should find something she will love – maybe even show them a picture of her on your phone? – and always ask for the return policy to cover your back if you are unsure.

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Margaret ThatcherMargaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the UK (1979-1990) and first and only female PM is one of the 20th Century’s most famous and influential women. She came from modest roots with a dedication to justice and problem solving that took her well beyond the barriers of gender and class to not only be heard but respected in a male dominated world.

The Prime Minister’s stoic nature was reflected in her fashion sense as much as in her political diplomacy. A style that was understated yet defined, consistent while sentimental.

She is most well known for her skirt suits and handbags – standing out from the sea of black and grey men’s suits and briefcases of her contemporaries. She even coined the used of the term ‘handbagging’ which eventually made it into the Oxford English Dictionary to describe Mrs Thatcher’s abrasive style when dealing with those who displeased her. Her handbag for almost 30 years was an Asprey box style in black leather, it was auctioned for charity at Christie’s in 2011 and reached £25,000.

Pearls were another staple. As Meryl Streep who plays her in the 2012 movie, “The Iron Lady” says “I may be persuaded to surrender the hat… The pearls, however, are absolutely non-negotiable”. Ultimately feminine just as the skirt and handbag, the tough player was almost never seen without her pearl earrings and usually the double strand necklace she was given by her husband after the birth of her twins, or a single strand.

In an interview for the Times newspaper in 1975, she is described as wearing “all the jewelry she has—every piece her husband’s gift—two modest rows of pearls (“a present when the twins were born”); a sapphire and diamond engagement ring and a small diamond half-hoop ring; a slim gold watch; a marble-sized amethyst ring on her right hand and a jangle of cairngorms on the wrist; a nice pearl and diamond display brooch on her right lapel, pearl and gold filigree earrings and an aquamarine brooch on the dress under the jacket. Her foulard scarf matched it.”

Her sapphire and diamond engagement rings is re-emerging as a popular style now, especially since the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Thatcher’s was smaller than Middleton’s (originally Princess Diana’s), while her amethyst worn on her right hand was oval and much more substantial.

‘Cairngorms’ is the name given to citrine quartz mined in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. It is an amber-brown or richly orange variety used extensively in Scottish jewelry in the Victorian period. The larger sized cairngorms were particularly prized and often handed down through families. Thatcher’s amethyst could also have been from this period and location.

Just as it was a secret what she kept in her handbag, it seems there were private and sentimental stories attached to her daily jewellery also. Iron Lady on the outside, but always maintaining that feminine mystique – what does your jewellery say about you?

What special memory does your bracelet hold for you?

Who do you feel you hold close to your heart when wearing that pendant?

How many generations have worn those pearls?

Which piece of jewellery would most express how much your partner means to you?

Old jewellery heirlooms can be remodelled to suit today’s fashion while still using the stones and metal for sentimentality. Custom jewellery can be made specifically to your design to create a unique statement piece. Look for independent jewelers (they are often more accommodating) in your area and talk to them about your options.

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It is very popular to incorporate one of the most important days of your life (your wedding day) with an exotic holiday with your closest friends and family. It makes for great pictures and an unforgettable experience all round.

So you remembered your sunscreen and shades, but did you think about how to look after your jewellery while you’re away?

Holidays can be hard on your jewellery if you don’t look after it. Chlorinated water in pools and salt in the ocean are corrosive and damaging, while being away from home can present a security risk. Here is a breakdown of things to consider when taking your special wedding jewellery on holiday:

  • Do not wear jewellery in a sauna or if you are going to be baking in the sun. The metal will burn as it heats up and many gemstones are damaged by prolonged exposure to heat.
  • Sand will scratch the surface of most metals.
  • Take jewellery off before applying makeup, perfume, hairspray or lotion
  • Do not wear your jewellery in the pool as depending on the chemicals used for chlorination it can tarnish jewellery. Avoid salt water also.
  • To prevent scratches while travelling, pack your jewellery individually so that the pieces are not rubbing together. Use small plastic zip seal bags as a convenient container which will not only protect the items from each other but also from the elements that cause tarnishing.

Different gemstones require different attention:

  • Diamonds are the hardest stone so are more likely to cause damage to other metals and stones it comes into contact with. It does however attract grease so as well as avoiding contact with lotions etc, avoid touching your diamonds as the oils on your fingers will stick to the stone reducing its shine instantly.
  • Other stones: many other gemstones are soft and porous. Do not expose to excess sunlight, heat, chemicals or oils. Store carefully to avoid scratching and do not immerse in water. Pearls and coloured gemstones can change colour and lose their desirable luster when damaged.
  • Make sure that any valuable jewellery is covered in your holiday insurance. Take photos and where possibe get an evaluation/appraisal so that in the worst case scenario you can replace anything that is broken or stolen.

If you are uncertain about how to care for a certain piece of jewellery look for a local jeweller (ideally one with gemmological education) for some advice. They will be able to tell you exactly how to care for your jewellery and also give you accurate and valid appraisals for insurance.

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The internet has revolutionized the way that consumers can maximize their buying power. You can now compare prices from different vendors and have items delivered to you from across the globe. This has pushed retailers to lower their prices to compete with internet businesses, which is great for consumers. However, certain things cannot be bought sight unseen. While buying electronics or home tools are fine to buy over the internet, diamonds are not. Buying diamonds should be almost like buying a house – you wouldn’t buy a house without taking a tour first, and you shouldn’t buy diamonds without seeing them. Just as houses are more than their square footage and amenities, each diamond is unique, with many nuances in its characteristics that can’t be defined in a piece of paper.

1. You can’t sell a feeling on the Internet. A diamond is not all about its physical characteristics like symmetry and the grading of the 4 C’s, but also the feelings that it elicits when it is bought and gifted.

2. Additionally, diamonds are much more than their 4 C’s. A diamond is a work of nature. I could give you the dimensions of a woman and her picture, but you need to see her to truly experience her beauty. The same is true of diamonds. You can’t fully appreciate the sparkle, shine and depth until you see it in person.

3. “It’s too good to be true! – it probably is. Diamonds are all unique, so they are all priced accordingly. Diamonds of the same size can vary greatly in price; for example a one carat stone can be anywhere from $3000 to upwards of $30,000. Even diamonds of the same size, shape, color and clarity will vary in price. Why? When diamonds are evaluated the whole picture is taken into account: things like placement of inclusions, brightness of the stone, any negative effects of fluorescence, the list goes on.

4. Nothing beats an expert’s eye. It is recommended for you can do some basic research yourself beforehand to have something to go by. However, even if you are willing to invest countless hours of your free time reading up all about diamonds, you cannot see what a jeweler sees. Remember that they have spent years looking at many, many diamonds and if they are a gemologist they have gone through several years of intensive additional schooling.

5. Buying online involves shipping, and this comes with its own risks. It is possible for the courier to lose or misplace your package, and dealing with the insurance companies will be a long hassle. Also in the event that you wish to return it for any reason, you will have to pay additional costs for shipping and insuring – and the higher value the package is, the higher price for insurance. With so much money at stake, would you want to risk it?

The best thing to do is find a reputable jeweler you can trust. Someone that focuses on the quality of the items they sell and not the quantity, who will take the time to listen to your needs and educate you. More importantly, find one with formal education such a a GIA Graduate Gemologist who will have the knowledge and tools to point out all the details of the diamond with you.

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