Between Two Posts: Goal!

Actually, this is a post with more than one goal.

I mean that literally: it contains an outline of my professional and semi-personal goals, for the purpose of giving me a reference point for the future, general peer pressure, and filling the posting void this week.

I tend to vacillate between highly specific and über-generic goal-setting, thanks in no small part to my belief that most measures of success are not quantifiable. Put another way, I don’t like strict numerical goals because they scare the hell out of me. Nonetheless, here we go:

1. Give a talk/speech/lecture to a crowd of more than 10
Back in my teaching and public speaking days, this was more of a daily habit than something to work towards. But with a new industry came a change in role and shift in opportunity, meaning I haven’t been called upon to speak in a forum in a while. Not only do I miss it, but I feel that I can’t continue to be a “silent contributor” if I want to make any kind of impact on my industry. This voice needs an outlet!

2. Publish something longer than 500 words, with a byline
And no, a long-winded blog post on here doesn’t count. I’m talking about a paying gig that more than 5 people might actually read.

3. Finish my G.G.
Kind of obvious, but I want that knowledge and those skills under my belt. On your mark, get set, study!

4. Meet new people
I originally wrote “make new friends,” but that felt a bit limiting — why do these new people need to be my friends? They could be mentors, clients, associates, maybe even a new barista. I enjoy networking and generating great conversation out of thin air, but I don’t do it enough.

5. Talk about what I do, what I love, who I am
And eliminate the word “just” from my vocabulary. I’m just going to leave this here… thanks, Uma.

6. Embrace my personality
I stopped apologizing for my quirks a long time ago, but I continue to downplay the aspects of myself that I fear might resurrect the middle school bullying days. I’d say that’s far more uncool as an adult than any of the things that made me uncool back then.

 7. Improve the quality of my downtime
Golf with husband. Music with Dad. Shopping with mom. Coffee with those new people I plan to meet. Hiking and reading and singing and shooting (photos) and all of those things I love that have lately fallen by the wayside.

It’s a lot to pursue, but I don’t intend to limit myself to the upcoming calendar year. I like to think of long-term goals as “life improvements.” (Not to be confused with history’s notorious Five Year Plan, despite the five-stone diamond pendant in the featured image.)

What do you think of my goal-setting skills? Do you have any insight or advice for me? I’m all ears!

 

 

Take it Off… Take it All Off

Are you ready for something scandalous?

If you’re sensitive to some rather suggestive content, I strongly recommend you stop reading right now. Of course, if you clicked on the blog title already in anticipation of the titillating, then by all means stick around.

What I’m about to ask of you — Ms. or even Mr. Reader — is very personal. You might disagree with it, feel wronged or slighted, and potentially get a little bit offended.

That’s okay. I’m going to do it anyway. It’s for your own good, I promise.

Here it is:

Next time you’re at home, preparing yourself for a long session of sweaty, steamy, soapy, messy hard work… take off your jewelry. All of it.

Strip yourself bare of any adornment, particularly the kind made out of gold or  silver and gemstones. I don’t care of you do it as quickly as possible or turn it into an all-out, music-timed strip show. Just do it.

Ask a friend or lover (or both) to check you over for missed spots before you go. He or she should visually and physically ascertain that you are no longer wearing any jewelry on any part of your body that might come into contact with something sticky, smelly, icky, corrosive, or permanent. And they should be very thorough, just in case.

Now, this might be a great time to corral your precious treasures in one place and give them a once-over. If everything looks to be in good shape, how about warming up a little water and dish soap in a bowl and leaving it all in there to soak while you go about doing whatever chemical-ridden, paint-splattered, dirt-covered activity you had planned.**

Of course, if you just can’t hit pause long enough, just place everything gently in a velvet-lined tray or peanut-packed shoebox on your bureau. It’ll be there when you’re finished.

Once your various vigorous activities are concluded, don’t forget to wash up. Perhaps invite that helpful person back in to make sure you’re thoroughly cleaned — you know, just in case you missed a spot.

Once you and your jewelry are dry, celebrate your reunited status by recounting every detail of every story you associate with each piece. That helpful person will certainly want to stick around for this part, I’m sure.

Now that you feel satisfied by your accomplishments for the day, reward yourself with dinner, drinks, and an evening of light-hearted and casual shopping at your local fine jewelry store. After all, you worked hard today. You deserve it.

**Gold, platinum, diamonds, and hard gemstones ONLY, please. Leave the soft-cloth-cleaning of the pearls for another day, keep the opals and amber high and dry, and put down the toothbrush before you touch anything 18k. K?

Mythbusters: Old vs. New

How you heard the news? Vintage is in! Well, sort of…

Oh, the litany of reasons people cite in an attempt to justify purchasing estate jewelry (i.e. pre-owned). To me, the only reason a buyer needs to purchase any non-necessity is because they love it — all the rest is just window dressing, as they say. But there is a lot of misinformation floating around about vintage, antique, and previously owned jewelry. So here’s a list of commonly overheard phrases, the myths they come from, and some unvarnished truth to provide some perspective.

“I like the look of older jewelry.”
Me, too! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find new jewelry that is made to reflect a particular era’s style. In fact, with the recent resurgence of white metal, filigree detail, and the ubiquitous halo — all styles that are “comebacks” and not even remotely novel — I’d say your chances of finding a newly-made  ____-style piece are sky-high.

“If it’s antique, it lowers my carbon footprint!”
Not necessarily. From international shipping and customs delays to pre-sale repairs, that estate piece might even have a larger environmental impact than its newer cousin — you know, the one created in a state-of-the-art factory in the US where it was picked up and carried on foot from person to person until it arrived with many of its friends in the Prius-driving sales rep’s eco-friendly luggage.

“I don’t want to buy a conflict diamond.”
Great, because I won’t be selling you one, and I can actually prove it. The Kimberley Process was established in December of 2000 and was adopted in full effect in 2003 in order to impose controls on the rough diamond trade that limit and track the policies (and practices) of participating nations. This certainly doesn’t mean that a diamond sourced prior to this time is a product of a conflict region, but it does mean I can’t prove it either way. Reputable jewelry stores work only with reputable diamond vendors — many of them siteholders at established, well-run mines — so we can be fully confident in our products. The same can not be said for the majority of estate pieces.

“Jewelry always appreciates, so I’m getting a better deal!”
Please repeat after me: “Jewelry is not an investment. I buy it because I love it.” We do not sell jewelry to you today with the idea that you will resell it in 10 years and make a profit, and you don’t buy it because you think it’s a better option than stocks and bonds. Jewelry carries meaning, and that is its primary value. A “deal,” as such, is a rare bird — most often, if you think you’re getting one, what you’re really getting is had.

“If it’s lasted this long, it must be pretty sturdy!”
In a general sense, this carries some truth. A very well-made piece is more likely to stand the test of time, and will likely be in better shape after 50 years than a counterpart of lesser make. Unfortunately, that’s the only bit of truth here — many of the older pieces were made using inferior materials and processes (that is, relative to today’s standards) and they have simply been worn so much that they are in dire need of repair. Often, the issues can’t be repaired at all; when metal has worn away to nothing and gemstones are chipped and crushed, there is very little that can be done to salvage the original piece.

A note on family heirlooms and other types of sentimental jewelry: we fully understand that intrinsic value trumps just about everything I mentioned here, and that you’re often willing to do “whatever it takes” to get that special piece wearable again. But when more than half the ring needs to be replaced — new shank, new prongs, new head, replace four sapphires, recut the center diamond, etc. — ask yourself if it’s worth the time, money, and potential heartache if something unexpected happens in the process. And also, ask us what your other options are… we might surprise you.

Try This One Weird Trick

Clickbait: modern internet users love to hate it. So why do absurd claims and questionable tactics persist? The answer lies in consumer (read: human) habits. Though we vehemently deny it, a tiny piece of us still wants to find that too-good-to-be-true panacea for our perceived woes, and we never really stop searching for it.

Well, I’m sorry to say I can’t offer you a cure-all — I’m in the jewelry business, not snake oil. What I can give you are some neat little tips (definitely not tricks) to help solve some common jewelry woes.

Woe #1: Help! My previous jewelry gets all tangled up whenever I travel. I’ve tried everything!
Woe-away: Meet your new best friend, the drinking straw. Depending on the style and length of your necklace, you can either (a) drop one end of the chain through the straw and re-clasp it, which will keep it from tangling; or (b) cut a small notch in the top & bottom of the straw, drop the whole necklace through, gently tug the chain down each notch, and lay a small piece of tape to keep them in place. Stack multiples together and secure with a rubber band, and off you go. No more tangles!

Woe #2: I’m on vacation and really don’t want a sunburn, so I’m wearing lots of lotions all the time and getting very sandy. But now my diamond rings look disgusting! What do I do?
Woe-away: You have options galore on this one. In order of most to least effective, they are:

  1. Leave your diamonds at home next time, and just wear a pretty but non-gemstone band. Easier to clean, and no risk!
  2. Purchase a portable cleaning stick with brush attached. Use it to gently remove all the build up, rinse, and pat dry.
  3. If applying lotions in a safe place (hotel room), simply remove all jewelry first and allow lotion to dry/set before putting them back on. Be mindful of where you place your jewels during this process (ring holder or jewelry case good, edge of sink bad).
  4. Rinse hands thoroughly with soap and water, taking extra care with rings to rinse well. A very soft, old toothbrush used to brush gently will help dislodge some of the gunk.

Woe #3: My ring is doing loop-the-loops around my finger in the cold weather, but it usually fits fine in the heat. What do I do?
Woe-away: While it’s best to bring this sort of problem straight to a trusted jeweler, there’s a good chance that he or she will suggest some version of sizing balls or bars. Think of them as speed bumps on the inside bottom of the ring, as they help to “grip” the finger a little better when it’s loose, but maintain enough breathing room for when the ring feels snug. Keep in mind that someone people find the little nubs uncomfortable at times, but since they’re typically fairly easy to remove, it’s often worth a shot. Useful for arthritic knuckles, too.

I think that’s enough secret-spilling for one day, don’t you? If you have a jewelry woe, feel free to ask in the comments or send a message. The solution might just help you AND someone else!

Welcome, spring!

As a native New Englander, I’ve grown up in a world that revolves very much around the seasons. We slog through tough winters, squelch through wet springs, sigh about humid summers, and stumble around the leaves of fall. Seasons also have nicknames — “mud” or “tourist” or “black fly” — that often describe the shared misery of the region in its respective states.

May typically brings with it the transition out of our winter boots and hats, and into shorter hemlines and brighter colors. It also brings another round of gift-giving occasions: Mother’s Day, graduations, weddings, showers, and of course birthdays (ahem, like mine!).

I’ve been asked more often than I can count to recommend a gift, and typically I’m happy to oblige. But lately it seems that my gentle questions — how old? style? hair length? current or dream profession? hobbies? — go unanswered, simply because the buyer is totally unprepared for them. One notable interaction ended when a customer realized she wasn’t entirely sure if this was for a high school or college graduation, and left to call her sister for more information.**

So if I may, a little advice from one who truly wants to help you select a perfect present, but needs a tad more information in order to do so:

1. Know the basics. Gender, age, and basic physical description help. Bonus points for hair & eye color; double bonus for skin tone.

2. Know (at least one of) the specifics. Favorite color, preferred metal type, ear piercings, lefty or righty, birth month, sports team, degree, hobby, pastime, career.

3. Know the occasion. While it doesn’t always dictate the gift, it can help with direction (and, to a certain degree, price point). Bonus points for details like wedding color(s), school colors or mascot, religious symbols, family traditions, etc.

4. Diamonds, pearls, watches. Repeat this, mantra-like, to yourself as you shop during this time of year. You’ll see these items placed front and center in advertising due to their immense popularity and widespread appeal, so you might as well consider them. Lockets, charm bracelets, and money clips are all great options as well, and often customizable to boot.

Friends and family (and perfect strangers), do you have a gift-giving conundrum? Ask away, free of charge! 🙂 Also, feel free to share a story of a memorable gift you’ve received — everyone loves a good tale for inspiration.

**As it turns out, it was neither: the giftee had been cast in the leading role of her school theatre production. The gifter returned just to tell me this and promptly left, saying she “didn’t feel it merited a gift” after all. Break a leg, kid!

Ring, Ring!

Clients often ask me when “engagement season” is. I’m not sure why they want to know (it’s usually not an engagement customer doing the asking), but my answer is the same: it’s always engagement season.

While it’s true that more proposals happen during the winter holidays, the rings themselves aren’t necessarily purchased between November and January. We simply see an uptick in foot traffic during that time, so it sometimes feels like the diamonds are flying fast and thick.

On the other hand, I can say with some authority that there is a “wedding band season,” and it’s starting right about now. The most popular months for marriage are June, August, September, and October, which means we’re 3-6 months out and the checklists for the intended couples are getting their boxes ticked bit by bit. Couples often want to wrap up what they perceive as important or expensive (or both), to reduce stress and long-term financial burden. It’s a winning strategy, and one that’s encouraged by the multitude of published and online planning tools that are so ubiquitous today.

If your style is simple or popular and your finger is stock or sample size, you could walk into and out of a jewelry store with wedding band in hand after about twenty minutes. You’ve probably also never missed a flight, always get green lights when you’re in a hurry, and should purchase a lottery ticket immediately — that is to say, you’re one lucky duck.

For most, the wedding band search is a slightly longer process. Try them on, price them out, and then purchase or order with a minimum of one month until your wedding.*** We’d prefer two to three months, because we like tight and important deadlines even less than you do (trust me, the idea of combining a special rush order and a bad hurricane season is not an appealing one).

I want your wedding band to be perfect, and that can sometimes mean a custom creation to accommodate an estate setting that won’t allow a straight band to sit comfortably on your finger. This is probably going to take longer than a month, and we’d like to take our time to get it exactly right.

Take this as a pleasant PSA, from our beautiful industry to all you soon-to-be-newlyweds: if you’re getting married in the near future, come in and see me. We’ll talk wedding plans and weddings bands, and get one of thing checked off that lengthy to-do list.

*** Cautionary tale: a client once told me she had two months until her wedding, but neglected to mention she’d be leaving for Mexico — her destination location — three weeks prior to the actual wedding date. We got the rings completed on time, but it was a pretty near thing. Keep in mind your actual plans, not just the wedding bubble. Please.