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Ring Guide
This ring guide may be used as reference if you're not sure about your ring size.
Step 1:  cut a strip of paper about the size of 3" long x 1/2" wide.
Step 2:  wrap the paper strip around your finger.  Mark where the end meets on the paper strip.
Step 3:  the number at the joint point on the paper strip is your ring size.

ring size chart ring size chart birth stones

Glossary

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is a synthetic gemstone commonly known as faux diamond, imitation diamond, or man-made diamond due to its close resemblance to diamonds.  Because of its diamond like appearance and inexpensive price tag, it has become a popular gemstone used in jewelry.  Though synthetic, cubic zirconia is inspired by its counterpart zirconium oxide which is a natural gemstone.  The highest quality Cubic Zironia is clear enough to rate a D on the diamond scale for color.  It’s harder than most gems but a little bit softer than diamond, making it durable enough to be worn as jewelry for a long time.  (On a scale of 10 CZ hardness is about 8.5 while that of diamond is 10).  It also sparkles brighter than crystal and has a higher dispersion rate than diamond.  What this means is it outshines diamond.
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Rhinestone
is a simulated gemstone made of glass or crystal, often with a metal plated backing for increased reflectivity.  The original rhinestones were once gathered from the Rhine river in Austria, hence the name.  That resource became depleted and the rhinestones we know today are all man made.
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Pure silver contains 99.9% which is too soft for most uses.  It has to be mixed with another metal in order to make jewelry.  Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver, with the remaining 7.5% being another metal, most often copper.  Sterling silver jewelry is stamped with “925” as required by law.

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A CHRONOLOGY OF DESIGNS AND STYLES

by Sarah Hue-Williams

Antique (over 100 years old)

Cushion and rose cut diamonds glittered as never before beneath the candlelight of 18th century soirees, as jewellery soared to new heights of grandeur.  Mounted in silver to maximize whiteness, diamond-set jewels were typically backed with gold to add strength and prevent tarnish from staining clothes or skin, while coloured gems were set entirely in gold and often “foiled” behind to enhance and lift their depth of colour.  Style was all about luxury and scale:  elaborate bodice ornaments aptly termed stomachers, chatelaines and earrings long enough to reach almost to the shoulders were all worn for the sake of beauty rather than practicality.  The 19th century love of display created an insatiable demand for jewellery and a host of experimental designs borrowed from the past and from ever more accessible exotic cultures fulfilled this need.  Sentimental, sporting and souvenir jewels of this century all display a typical eclecticism.  From the austere neoclassical style of the Napoleonic era and the ornate but light weight goldwork of the 1820s and 1830s, to the exuberant mid-century naturalism and subsequent revivalist trends of masters such as Alexis and Lucien revivalist trends of masters such as Alexis and Lucien Falize, Carlo Giuliano and Fortunato Pio Castellani – almost every season produced a new style.

The founding fathers of jewellery dynasties still familiar to us today as Chaumet and Boucheron built their reputations producing the ornate parures, or matching sets of jewellery, which became so popular in the Victorian era, as well as jewels such as aigrettes for the hair, necessary for the formality of social life.  A tiara with ostrich plumes and a jeweled comb were essential and helped keep tall coiffures in place.  Large bracelet designs, often with portrait miniatures at their centres, also proliferated and décolleté evening gowns provided the perfect backdrop for elaborate necklaces.

The century closed with the delicacy of fin de siècle designs as the jeweller’s palette faded to paler shades in keeping with the fabrics of the day.  Jewels diminished in scale, though not in number, and diamond-set brooches shaped as crescents, stars and insects were scattered in profusion all over the corsage and hair.  Following a spate of new discoveries, coloured stones now featured in fine pieces:  velety Kashmir sapphires, grass-green demantoid garnets from the Ural mountains in Russia and precious black opals from Australia.  Renowned gemologist George Frederick Kunz helped propel Tiffany & Co. to the forefront of international recognition for the innovative use of such gems.  Meanwhile, the work of the celebrated Carl Faberge, particularly his jewels and objets de vertu crafted in delicate enamels, exemplified the exquisite craftsmanship so prevalent in this closing chapter of the 19th century.

Few antique jewels predating the mid-19th century have survived to reach today’s auction rooms.  Supplies of raw materials were still relatively scarce and it was common practice to break up jewellery and remodel the metal and stones into the latest designs.  Yet when these rare pieces appear for sale, they are avidly pursued for their design and historical importance, providing a chance to draw back the curtain of time and peep into the past.

Art Nouveau (1895-1910)

Art Nouveau was a brief movement but it had a lasting impact on jewellery and examples from this period are treasured for their originality and design excellence rather than their intrinsic value.  Named after Siegfried Bing’s (1838-1905) avant-garde Parisian shop “La Maison de l’Art Nouveau”, this was a new style, based on original ideas, innovative materials and entirely different principles.  In reaction to increasingly machine-made, mass-produced jewellery, free-flowing forms from the natural world were explored as never before.  Released from their static settings of densely-packed diamonds, flora and fauna flowed in sinuous curves inspired by the asymmetry and economy of line of Japonism.  Great artist-jewellers like Georges Fouquet and Henri Vever chose semi- and even non-precious materials for their serene and sensual creations:  honey-coloured horn, iridescent enamel and shimmering pale opals or moonstones captured the spirit of a subject beyond its physical reality.

The undisputed master of this genre was, of course, Rene’ Lalique, whose genius oeuvre embodied the very essence of French Art Nouveau.  His use of exotic and often fragile materials, particularly moulded glass and enamel, purely for their aesthetic rather than monetary value, was revolutionary, as was his choice of iconography.

This was a creative world populated by a magnificent bestiary of fanciful beings:  serpents, swans and women metamorphosed into dragonflies, grasshoppers or terrifying Medusas.  Langurous, ethereal designs for dog collar plaques, pendants and hair combs rendered in Lalique’s truly personal and original style outraged some and delighted others, adorning the most exotic and avant-garde women of the time, from Sarah Bernhardt to Natalie Barney.  Despite being an enormous critical success, however, Art Nouveau was never a commercial one.  It was too labour-intensive and suffered from imitation by mass produced lesser jewelers.  I was defunct as a movement by World War I.

Belle Epoque (1895-1914)

Mainstream jewellery of these same years ran alongside Art Nouveau, yet with an entirely different agenda.  After exciting the interest of scientists, platinum quickly won jewelers over as their preferred metal of choice, allowing the manufacture of jewels of unequalled technical excellence, typified by the elegant production of the house of Cartier, whose unrivalled craftsmanship contributed greatly to the legitimacy of platinum as an irreplaceable precious metal.  Malleable as well as supremely strong, this tour de force enabled the necessary lightweight, yet robust settings required by this style to be made using the minimum of metal.  Millegrain settings, giving a tooled soft effect to hard metal edges, provided the finishing touch.

As European society enjoyed a prosperous, light-hearted start to the new century, lavish yet delicate jewels were required to complement the hourglass silhouette and pale-coloured fabrics favoured by fashion.  The ubiquitous design motifs of this new style had their origins in 18th century French decorative arts.  Swags and festoons of flowers, fluttering bow and ribbons, all with an almost lace-like quality, became the leitmotifs of what came to be known as “The Garland Style” in jewellery.  Diamonds and pearls reigned supreme.

The Paris Exhibition of 1900 was the centre for this intensely creative and elegant period of design prior to World War I and manufacture took on a new energy in 1902 when women of every rank began preparing themselves for the Coronation of Edward VII.  Neck ornaments took pride of place:  delicate chokers with different necklaces worn below, simple strands of natural pearls, lavalieres (with pear-shaped drops) or negligé pendants (with two drops of unequal length) were all combined for court functions with tiaras, delicately moulded with a net-like tracery of diamonds, imitating the lacework of daywear.  A strong stylistic link existed between high fashion and jewellery, typified by the marriage of Louis Cartier, the eldest of the famous triumvirate of brothers, to Jean-Philippe Worth’sdauther, Andree, in 1898.

Art Deco (1915-1935)

The exuberant spirit of les annees folles found ideal expression in Art Deco jewellery.  Women emerged emancipated from The Great War – sporty, active, heavily made-up and smoking in public.  Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, the Fauvist artists and a wave of orientalism swept away pastel colours, introducing a bright, opulent palette to the new columnar tunic dresses.  Elongated jewels echoed these vertical lines:  sautoirs and long pendant earrings swung to the new rhythm of life as the subtle shading and excesses of Art Nouveau and the Garland Style were abruptly delineated by a bold, simplistic stylization.  Bandeaus worn low on the forehead and bare arms adorned with band bracelets completed the androgynous look a la garconne.

The abstract compositions and essential geometry of Art Deco jewellery were appropriately daring and liberated, accompanied by vibrant chromatic contrasts and the Indian style as flowers and leaves, or caliber cut in exotic shapes to specifically fit their mounts, often with domed “buff tops” to contrast pave’ set diamond grounds.  Gemset wristwatches and accessories provided a new avenue for jewellers to exploit:  necessaires de soirs, cigarette cases and powder compacts provided flat surfaces requiring decoration; panels of inlaid hardstone, angular outlines drawn in rows of diamonds, or enamel on lacquer.  Jewellers such as Janesich, Lacloche, Marchak and, of course, Cartier, united East with West and form with colour in a synthesis of pure art and lasting luxury, as the exotic cultures of Islam, Egypt and China in turn inspired their designs.

During the 1930s the investigation of abstract forms led to the sublime perfection of white Art Deco, as the “functional” approach and angularities of the machine age crystallized into stark, sober statements of inflated size and scale.  Abstract, industrial shapes became increasingly massive and almost architectural in form as colour crept away from jewels to leave entirely white expanses of platinum, diamond and rock crystal or clean contrasts of diamond and just one other colour, ruby or sapphire perhaps.  Double-clip brooches became de rigueur and the new method of invisible setting perfected by Van Cleef & Arpels allowed pavements of stones to be mounted without interruptions, the stones miraculously held edge-to-edge without claws, using a grid system hidden beneath the surface.  Yet within these heavy forms, sleek geometry gradually softened into more sculptural, three-dimensional shapes:  rounded pleats, scrolls and spirals displayed the beginnings of volume and movement to complement the returning curves of femininity, as demonstrated by the designs of Suzanne Belperron and Rene Boivin.

Retro (1940s)

Wartime austerity curbed the whims of fashion and jewellery alike.  Rationed fabric was streamlined into sober attire for women and utilitarian outfits with masculine, square lines were couter-balanced with bold “cocktail” jewels, striking and dramatic despite the scarcity of raw materials.  Designs substituted small and sparse precious gems with large semi-precious alternatives such as aquamarines and citrines, often in unusual combinations and without diamonds at all, while broad expanses of polished gold, in all its colours of yellow, pink and even white, replaced platinum, light in eight but effectively worked into bouquets, ribbons, birds and animals as well as figurative designs.  Glamour and escapism were in demand as Hollywood stars became the royalty of the times but, without money or ready supplies of materials, limited quantities of metal were eked out and cleverly wrought to give the effect of massive magnificence.  Jewellers such as Pierre Sterle’, Jean Schlumberger and Fulco di Verdura excelled in this new genre, revealing a fresh and original approach to themes of flora and fauna, and the brilliance of their new creations of naturalistic fantasy shone out defiantly admidst the devastation and disarray of war.

Postwar (1950s)

Dior’s luxurious “New Look” for women’s fashion heralded an era of opulence and postwar euphoria as jewellery blossomed into voluptuous curves and curls, delicately looping, full of movement and life.  The naturalism of the 1940s now evolved at the hands of jewelers such as Trabert & Hoeffer, Mauboussin into majestic flower sprays, leaves, ferns and feathers, luscious and extravagant with their pave-set petals.  Rich goldwork for daywear mimicked fashions and fabrics as never before, intricately woven into meshes and plaits, pierced to imitate lace and gauze or twisted into ropes, fringes and tassels.  Jewels even copied the shapes of garments, becoming drapes, bows and knots, with one of the most  original renditions being the necklace-scarf, originally designed by Jean Cocteau for Boucheron.

A sophisticated all-white look returned for the formal diamond parures of the Grandes Soirees, with different shapes and cuts used together to create swirls, twirls, fans and volutes.  Compact, closed forms now flourished into light and airy asymmetry, as channel set baguettes created cascades of smooth, fluid lines to follow flowing fabrics.  Pearls also returned to the limelight as a synonym for elegance, as Prince Rainier of Monaco acquired pearls and diamonds for Princess Grace in 1957.
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excerpts from "It's in the Bag - what Purses reveal and conceal" by Winifred Gallagher
Coach:

Not all makers of esteemed purses are particularly concerned with designing It bags the likes of which have never seen before.  As America's oldest and biggest accessories firm, Coach has its own recipe for a great bag:  high quality, fair price - between $325 and $375 on average - and what Reed Krakoff, the company's president and creative director, calls "timely but not trendy style."

Since 1941 Coach has produced iconic American bags, such as totes and hoboes, but "nobody wants something exactly the way it was thirty years ago," says Krakoff.  "That's the trick - to make the traditional right for today."  Ten years ago, after stints at Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, he joined the venerable, $500 million per year firm to do just that.  When he started, loyal customers "went to Coach when they needed to replace the handbag that wore out," he says.  Now, however, the purse's increased importance means that women buy multiple bags" because they have to have them.  That has been my real challenge - to make Coach part of the handbag's fashion cycle."

Like Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, Krakoff must bring a well-known company forward - a task that carries risks as well as benefits.  The first step, he says, is "to figure out the essence of what made you successful.  With Coach that meant quality, understated American good taste, and functional quality, understated American good taste, and functionality - after all, we made bags for military women and airline stewardesses."

Next Krakoff had to decide how to give this reliable brand some pizzazz.  "How do you make all of the good things about Coach relevant to a new world?  A new market?"  he asks.  "It took a while to figure that out, and then to figure out what that insight looks like in a handbag."  One result is the popular Hamptons tote collection, which updates the familiar, functional L.L.Bean style canvas version with different, unexpected materials, more interior compartments, and a lighter, sleeker look.  "We've done that bag with alligator trim and canvas trim", says Krakoff, "and expensive of inexpensive, it always looks good and like only Coach could have done it.  It takes a long time to come up with something that's iconic in that way.  That bag just works."

That this successful line of bags is called Hamptons, after Long Island's fabled Gold Coast, is no accident.  Many timely designs are based on a narrative concept called a "fashion theme."  For example, Krakoff has been working on a men's "trade" collection that was inspired by thinking about what an imaginary architect, interior designer, and photographer would want in a bag.  Rather than simply reproduce the resulting archetypes, says Krakoff, "we make a new bag that keeps the attitude - perhaps conveyed in the pocketing - and the functionaity, which is the heart of American design.  Our customers want something sexy and fun that also works.  That's Coach's overarching theme."

The inspirations for his design themes don't usually come from the current fashion scene, says Krakoff, but from the worlds of art, architecture, and films:  "I'll watch a movie that's set in sixties New York and see a suede bucket bag.  Or an actress will make me wonder, 'What's that girl going to carry?'"  Recently watching the classic Ivy League weeper Love Story, he was struck by a simple split-suede bag with a big buckle - "one of those kind of crude bags from back in the sixties," he says.  "I get a lot of inspiration from images like that.  A bag, a girl, an attitude - then I try to cater to that idea and make it timely."

Consindering that Love Story starred Ali MacGraw, a sixties It girl, as a free- spirited Radcliffe student, it's not surprising when Krakoff says, "That's the flavor of next year - a slightly bohemian hippie chic."  If that same theme flavors the purses of other designers, he doesn't particularly care.  "We don't really think about It bags," he says.  One reason is Coach's huge, disparate consumer base - more than two hundred stores in the United States and more than four hundred worldwide - which requires many collections and hundreds of bags per year.  "It would be tough to sit down and think of a single bag that everyone wanted," saysKrakoff.  "Plus, I don't want us to become known for one thing."  That said, a single must-have Coach bag can mean $40 million in sales.  To come up with a wildly popular purse that both pleases loyal customers, who associate the company with practical good taste, nice leather, and heavy brass hardware, while adding enough sex appeal to attract new ones, who are interested in fresh colors and textures, involves a lot of work - and trial and error.

Perfecting Coach's updated, timely-not trendy brand "is a holistic process that has to do not just with bag design, but advertising, store environments, and the corporate culture," says Krakoff.  "All those things have to change, which takes time."  Rather than rely on outside agencies to present its product, the company does all of its own art direction, graphic design, ad placement, and the like.  Even cool bags and hot ad campaigns are not enough, however.  "If we don't also renovate the stores, people would walk in a says, 'Gosh!  This place looks the same as before....'"  Similarly, as Coach makes its previously rather rugged shops prettier and more feminine, the bags must be reevaluated in light of their new setting.  As Krakoff says, branding is "a very organic process in which each area gives birth to ideas for others.  There are many, many decisions."

One of an accessories company's most important decisions is pricing.  The most expensive Coach purses are eight hundred dollars, but most average less than half that amount - three times less than the typical It bag.  The ratio of quality to price is complicated, says Krakoff, "because an alligator bag, say, does cost more to make than a leather or canvas one."  However, he says, unknown to the public, many fancy European brands now manufacture offshore, which is cheaper, and some of their high-priced bags are, after all, mostly fabric or plastic.  "There's no rason such a product should be fourteen hundred dollars," he says.  "To me, unless you're talking about a Birkin, there's no difference between the average It bag and a Coach."

Looking ahead, Coach has high hopes for the new Brooklyn hobo, which is a chunky sixties-inflected bag with a belting leather handle and a soft, drapey body.  "It's the kind of bag that can mean different things to different people, from 'I can throw all my stuff in it' to 'This is slinky and sexy,'" says Krakoff.  "We don't come p with one that crosses over from the practical girl to the fashion girl every year.  That's hard to do.

Kate Spade:
Her heartfelt conviction that a handbag should not only look good, but also make a woman feel good helped propel Kate Spade from designing and marketing bags in her apartment's living room to running her own major accessories firm.  Her purses and totes are beatifully designed, of course, but what mostly sets them apart from other fine bags is a certain euphoric air.  Whether they choose the tailored red leather Chesterfield Baylor purse or the casual yet paillette-studded paisley Golden Gate tote trimmed in bright yellow boardskin, Spade's customers get a little sip of psychological champagne from the 1950s and 1960s, wittily reimagined.

Pervaded by Spade's distinctive fun-loving, neo-retro sensibility, her manhattan corporate headquarters feels like a piano bar requented by the descendents of Franny and Zooey.  The bright bags and often sparkly shoes evoke MG convertibles and frozen daiquiris,  Lilly Pulitzer shifts and white ducks - Jack and Jackie - but with a postmodern wink, even a giggle.  "I grew up with traditional," says fortyish Spade, "but my idea is, 'Don't make it too serious.'  I'm going for more of link to preppy then the literal thing.  Something that makes you feel nostalgic about a terrific period."

Over the yips of her little woolly dog, spade says that for her, a great bag is "one that makes me go, "I have to have it'"  With her simply delighted laugh, she exclaims, "It's really just that!  It's about a woman's sensibility, not price, which is why the same person might own a Hermès bag and an L.L.Bean tote.  My own sensibility is playful chic."

Because she sticks with elegant, simple shapes, Spade can express her playful streak in a bag's bright color or unexpected point of interest - a dusting of glitter on a daytime tote, perhaps, or a sporty bone handle on an evening envelope.  Stroking a little clutch, she says that its clean form allowed her to indulge in the fuchsia satin that would be too much in a trikier bag:  "A simple background allows me more flexibility."

Spade's path to the pinnacle of American accessories took her from Kansas City, Missouri, where she was born and raised, to college in Arizona, and finally to New York, where she became the accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine.  Outside Manhattan, American women wear color.  At Condé
Nast, says Spade, "everyone wore a lot of black!  That's when I started feeling more confident about how I wanted to look.  I didn't toss the black dress or boots, but I didn't feel it was necessary to dress in black uniform, either."

Looking at fashion from both an out-of-towner's and an editor's perspective pushed Spade to envision stylish, functional handbags enlivened by color and pattern - practical but not boring.  If Mademoiselle was doing a story that focused on pink, she says, "I'd wonder, 'Where's the pink bag or loafer I want?' I saw what was out there, and what wasn't."

In 1993 Kate and Andy Spade, her husband and business partner, wanted to shake up their lives with a career change, so Kate decided to fill that hole in the marketplace with her first bag.  "I never thought I'd be a designer," she says, "but Andy said, 'Handbags?"  How hard can it be?'"  Following her first It bag - the iconic square nylon shopper - the influential Council of Fashion Designers of America gave Spade accessories awards in 1996 and '98, and her business took off,; in addition to bags and shoes, the compan now produces stationery and home furnishings.

Over her years in the business, Spade has watched women become, like her, more expressive where accessories are concerned.  "There was a time when you thought, 'I don't need a bag, I already have a bag.'  Now you think, 'I want something to carry at that coctail party.'  Or, 'I want smething that makes me feel good.  I don't know that I need it, but i like it.'"  Regarding It bags, Spade says that although there's "something kind of fun and exciting about them, when a bag is not longer It, then it's Not It.  you end up chasing your tail.  And now that the purse is such a bug deal, a woman almost becomes the It bag she carries!"

Of her own designs Spade's current favorite is the big, bright pink straw malta Cabana tote trimmed in white leather.  "I use 'summery' things all year round," she says, with her flutty laugh.  "I'd take this on a plane in the middle of winter.  I adore it!"

Suddenly the very idea of not carrying a beach bag in February seems dreary.

Our ideas about the must have purses are shaped by talented designers and their works, from classic totes to the latest It bags.  However, our notions of style - and our purchases - are also influenced by the decisions that a small, highly influential group of tastemakers formulate many months before the goods hit the stores.
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Care of Watches
by Frank Edwards

A mechanical watch should never, if at all possible, be allowed to stop.  Do not think it saves wear and tear if it is stopped.  On the contrary, if its moving parts are not in motion, the special oil which lubricates the bearings will eventually dry out and harden.  The lubricant may eventually become loaded with dust, to the detriment of the fine mechanism.  If you do not use your mechanical watch regularly, wind it at least once a week.

Try to avoid subjecting your watch to sudden changes of temperature.  Diving into the pool after having been in the sun, for instance, can cause the moisture in the air inside the watch to condense (particularly in a water-protected case) and seep into the movement; this applies to quartz watches, too, since the circuitry is very susceptible to humidity.

Remember, you have a high precision instrument on your wrist which ticks ten times a second every minute and every hour of the day, 314 million times a year.  It is subjected to all sorts of stresses and strains in its daily life.  Try not to add to them or create new or unusual ones for it.  And do remember to take it to a qualified re-oil every year or so.  That way, it could well last your lifetime.