Monday, March 25, 2013


Ask a Jeweler

1. Can I wear it in the shower?

A question for the ages. Or at least for all of the ages since showers have been invented. The three aspects of your jewelry to consider before bringing it into the bubble bath are: mechanical, metal, mineral.

- Mechanical considerations:

See if there are any nooks or crannies (just ate an English muffin) in your jewelry that might trap water. Think lockets, hollow bangles, or rings with closed-back stone settings. Also, see if any part of your jewelry is threaded on string or glued in place. If any of these features are present, it’s best not to wear that item in water.

- Metals:

Is the piece in question gold, silver, platinum, palladium, stainless steel, or titanium? Congratulations, your jewelry sounds fancy and is shower-safe! Is it copper, brass, bronze, or any other less-fancy metal (a.k.a. base metal)? Take it off! It might turn your neck green!

- Minerals:

Some stones are more delicate than others, and even though pure water shouldn’t hurt any gemstone, the chemicals in shower products can. Organic gems such as amber, coral, jet, shell, and pearl shouldn't come into contact with chemicals at all (this includes household cleaners and perfume, by the way). Turquoise, opals, emeralds, lapis lazuli, malachite, enamel pieces, and peridots also don’t like chemicals. Any gem not in the aforementioned group probably wouldn’t mind taking a bath with you. But, just because they like to be difficult, pearls and opals — even though they shouldn’t be brought in the shower with you — do need an occasional drink of water to keep from drying out and cracking. The best way to do this is by giving them a rub-down with a damp cloth every few months.


Pools are not the same as showers. This is good to know for both personal hygiene and jewelry-care reasons. The chlorine in pools can potentially dissolve metals used in fine and costume jewelry, plus it's bad for all those gems that don’t even like to get shampoo on them. Don’t worry if you do dip your jewels in the pool occasionally, as long as you rinse them off with clean water shortly after so the chlorine won’t have time to do any damage. 


2. Let's say I'm transfixed by ridiculously expensive, glorious, and life-changing (I can just tell!) antique jewelry, but there's no way I could come even a tiny bit close to being able to afford any of them, probably ever. (Although who knows!) What's a good place to find affordable but still interesting (and maybe antique) jewelry that I'd also be excited about?

The old-timey jewels up for auction at places like Christie’s come with a hefty price tag, but for those of us who still consider “Tropical” to be the fancy brand of cheese: Don’t despair! The majority of the cost of most jewelry (antique or modern) comes from the materials used, and since women back in the day also had to be budget-conscious with their jewelry purchases, jewelers of yester-year made awesome pieces out of less expensive materials, too. And today you can find lots of beautiful jewelry from the 19th and early 20th centuries made out of low-carat gold, gold-fill, and silver, as well as paste, semi-precious stones, and even small precious stones, for under $300. And $500 can get you something really neat.

So how can you buy these mystical, attainable, antique treasures?

Find dealers with good reputations and positive reviews from other customers. When you make a purchase, make sure the item you buy is clearly described on your sales receipt (i.e. gold karat weight, type of stones, age of piece). Any honest dealer will have no problem writing a receipt this way, and should willingly accept a piece back if you find that their initial evaluation was incorrect. If you feel like salespeople are pressuring you or being shady, don’t buy from them. Jewelry can be tricky, so don’t get tricked!

A good way to avoid getting scammed is to give yourself a bit of an education before you try to buy stuff. Since at this point you’re not interested in buying super-expensive things, it's not necessary to be a super-expert, but having SOME knowledge is important. Any book on Victorian or Art Deco jewelry will be useful, as those will be about the time periods/styles you're most likely to come across when buying. If you can’t make it to the library, there’s a neat website called Antique Jewelry University that has a lot of good information. And looking around on websites like Etsy, Ruby Lane, and eBay will give you an idea of what sort of prices things go for. The old adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” should also be kept in mind when purchasing jewelry — if someone offers to sell you a diamond ring for $100 that you see selling for $1,000 everywhere else, there may be something suspicious afoot. When buying things online, it never hurts to do an image search of the piece you're considering to see if the same thing pops up anywhere else. If you see more than one of the exact same item, it may be a reproduction.

If you're shopping at a retail store, don’t be afraid to tell the dealer your budget and ask if they have anything worthwhile in that price range. Most dealers are in the business because they love talking about antique jewelry (surprise), and are willing to share information (and possibly negotiate price) with those who ask. Just make sure to be respectful of the dealer’s time; if you're shopping with a $75 budget in a store that mostly sells things over $5,000, don’t take the whole afternoon to make your purchase. Being polite and creating a good relationship with a dealer can be your ticket to better prices and first-dibs on rare pieces in the future.

Below is a list of some brick-and-mortar and internet places that may have what you’re looking for.

- Some businesses with good reputations in the NYC areaErie Basin, Gray & Davis, LTD., Doyle & Doyle, and Erica Wiener. (Don’t expect to find a ton of stuff at bargain-basement prices in these shops, but they do carry a small selection of wonderful pieces in $200 – $600 range.)

Victorian Cameo Brooch from Erie Basin, $265

- Some good places on the internetPrather Beeland, The Deeps, Vintage Diamond Junkie, and Addy’s Vintage.

Antique Rolled-Gold Bangle from Prather Beeland, $245

- Last word of advice: Don’t buy something just because it fits the budget, better to save up and buy one thing you love then two things that are just “meh.”


3. I've been more into stones than gems recently — this bodes well for pricing, right? What are some cool stones? Haha: "What are some cool stones." But I guess maybe suggestions for overlooked but nevertheless fascinating stuff?

Not to get caught up in semantics, but “gem” refers to anything you put in jewelry to make it look fancy. A gem can be a crystal, like diamond (composed of the same molecule); or a rock, like lapis lazuli (a bunch of different kinds of molecules all smashed together); or something organic (like pearl, ivory, or shell).

BUT I totally know what you mean, and YES there are lots of cool stones that don’t fall into the diamond/emerald/sapphire/ruby genre. This other category of gems, often referred to as “Semi-Precious” for those who like broad terms, can be beautiful, interesting, and, above all, affordable.

I perused Etsy and found some good examples of more stone-like gems that I think are neat. As of right now, all are available for purchase and range from "super affordable" to "reasonable splurge":

Agate: Used in jewelry since time immemorial, agate is a member of the quartz family and comes in infinite varieties.

  • Banded agate, also called sardonyx, is the base material for a lot of cameos.

Gold Sardonyx Cameo Ring

  • Dendritic Agate looks like a tiny painting of tiny trees!

Dendritic Agate Mocha Stone

  • Carnelian has a lovely, translucent brick red color and was often used to make signet rings.

Antique Carnelian Intaglio Ring

  • Onyx makes any piece look sleek and sophisticated. Plus it's the name of a pokemon!

Vintage Napier Onyx Necklace

  • Rutilated Quartz: This stone is gaining popularity and doesn’t always come that cheap, but you gotta love the interesting patterns created by golden needles of rutile poking their way through clear crystal.

Rutilated Quartz Solitaire Pendant

  • Malachite: This swirly green stone reminds me of mahogany.

Malachite Bangle Bracelet

  • Lapis Lazuli: Lapis is always a classic. Tiny gold flecks of pyrite dot the deep blue background of this handsome rock to create a beautiful starry night.

Afghan Lapis Lazuli Tooth Pendant

  • Azurite – Malachite: When a Lapis Lazuli and a Malachite love each other very much…

Malachite and Azurite Pendant

  • Labradorite: Although this stone unfortunately has nothing to do with puppies (it’s named after the region in Canada where it was first mined), I still love the stormy iridescence that appears anytime the stone is hit with light.

Labradorite Earrings

  • Persian Turquoise: “Persian” is a trade term describing turquoise that's bright, robin’s-egg blue, and lacks the dark veins usually seen in turquoise.

Vintage Persian Turquoise Ring

  • Druzy: Almost any gem can be a druzy … they form when a bunch of tiny crystals coat a fracture in a stone. A lot of times they're heat-treated to induce crazy coloring.

Tiny Rainbow Druzy Studs in Sterling

Okay, so those are 10 cool stones to get you started! There are dozens and dozens more out there, let these be a jumping-off point for your further gemological explorations.


4. Jewelry's so personal, but do you think there are any good rules of thumb for jewelry-giving? Good, simple stuff that will never go out of fashion?

First things first: Is it romantic jewelry or platonic jewelry? Make sure the intended recipient understands which it is. (Rings can be especially tricky.) They do understand? Okay, good. Next thing: Pay attention to what sort of jewelry the person wears every day. Do they always wear the same necklace their grandma gave them? Then maybe don’t buy them another necklace. Do they generally wear gold or silver? Big chunky things or tiny delicate things? Do they even wear jewelry at all?! If you have a good idea about the answers to these questions, you’re on the right track.

The classics:


Yes, that was a Motley Crue reference, and no, you don’t have to be a fancy WASP-y lady to appreciate a nice strand. Prior to Mikimoto Kōkichi’s early 20th-century commercial pearl farming success in Japan (a topic for another day), pearls were one of the most valuable gemstones on the planet. But Mikimoto believed that every woman should be able to afford nice pearls, and gosh darn it if he didn’t make his dream a reality. A lot American GIs returning home from Japan after WWII gave their wives and sweethearts pearl necklaces (not that kind … well … maybe that kind too), and pearls have been a staple in American women's jewelry boxes ever since.

Today, massive amounts of good-quality pearls of every size are exported from East Asia, and it’s easy to find pearls of all sorts in fun, dyed colors or wonky shapes, if your recipient likes more unique pieces.

- Studs

If pearls feel a little too formal, stud earrings are always classic (pearl or any other gemstone). Studs are subtle, versatile, and work with all those day job-to-fancy club outfit transitions that women's magazines always seem to be mentioning.

- Birthstones

Who doesn’t like a gem that’s just for them? Yeah, yeah, I know, the current standard birthstone list only dates to 1912 and was created by jewelers who needed to sell stuff, but when you’re in a pinch for a birthday gift, birthstones can be helpful. For a current birthstone list go to the American Gem Society.

And yes, it’s okay to be jealous of people born in April.

- Chains

I love super long chains that can be doubled or tripled up. So elegant. Gold, silver, strung with beads, whatever. Bonus points if the chain has interesting links.

- Text

Any piece of jewelry can be made special by having a nice message engraved on it. The insides of rings, bangle bracelets, or pendants are good places to write "secret" messages. Don’t know what to say? Go with the always-acceptable initials and/or special date. Most jewelers can do an engraving job even if they don’t have an in-house person, although some shops may prefer to engrave only pieces purchased there. Expect to pay between $20 and $100, depending on the complexity of the engraving.

In the end, I agree that jewelry IS a very personal thing when done right, and the best way to give a good gift is to make sure there’s lots of love behind it.

Anna Rasche works in the Diamond District by day, and helps run the Society for the Advancement of Social Studies by night. She enjoys good cheese and bad puns. Ask her anything.

129 Comments / Post A Comment

ms. alex

Those last earrings!!!


@ms. alex Ohhh I love, love druzy jewelry! Leif actually has a bunch of them right now that I'm eyeing like these little triangle studs aaaaahhh http://www.leifshop.com/collections/jewelry/products/titanium-triangle-stud-earrings


@ms. alex Yes! I was drawn to those like a damn magpie. So colorful! I had never heard of druzy before - now I want to go on a druzy spree (minus the shopping...so, like, an Internet browsing spree).

ms. alex

@ms. alex I'm now feeling really sad (again) about my nickel allergy. I'm so over trying to wade through all the cute earrings to find the three that I'm not allergic to!


haha, this is a good version. @t


But Labradorite does have something in common with the puppies, because the puppies were also named after Labrador the place!

Anna Rasche

@gobblegirl touché


Can we talk about how even though birthstones are kinda silly, the stone for October is definitely NOT "pink quartz" as cheap jewelry often claims? I know opals are hard to mimic but come on!


@sophia_h Opals, sigh... they are my favorite.

Laura Ingalls or some other female protagonist of a book I read as a child had an opal engagement/wedding ring and I've been in love with opals ever since.


@par_parenthese Laura had a garnet ring because it was her birthstone. I...read those books a lot as a kid.

Oh, and Anne Shirley had a "dear romantic little hoop of pearls." Apparently there is a part of my brain reserved for "engagement rings of book heroines."

Beatrix Kiddo

@sophia_h Is Anne Shirley the one who was disappointed when she first saw how boring a diamond was, because she'd imagined it a beautiful purple color? I always identified with that.

miss buenos aires

@sophia_h And there are lab-grown opals that are very reasonable! I have a lab-grown opal bracelet that cost about $100 (probably twice that retail, though, but still).


@miss buenos aires opals are super-reasonable. I found an old pair of opal stud earrings that were my grandmothers. One of the opals was super-cracked and crenulated. The replacement stone cost me $50 (the labor was a bit more)


@Beatrix Kiddo Me too! This comment alone makes me have to dive back into the Anne books again, like, NOW. I needed something to read. Thanks!


@sophia_h You remember the rings, I remember the food, we'll throw an imaginary wedding reception and it'll be amazing.


Stuuuuuuuuuuuuds. My love forever. And that dendritic agate! So pretty!


I hope this is a recurring feature, because I a) love vintage jewelry and b) also love learning things. And I have questions, if you need fodder!

Such as: I want a pair of go-to studs that I can leave in for days on end that match lots of things (read: not a ton of silver or gold showing) and won't turn my ears that weird gray color that crappy posts sometimes do. I don't want to do diamonds because, well, diamonds, but I do like sparkles. Moissanite? White sapphire? Some other lightly colored gem? Maybe something like the aforementioned druzy ("druzy"!) studs?


@brinsonian I ALSO have questions! Can we talk about manufactured diamonds? I like sparkly things, but I'm not into mines. Discuss!


@brinsonian Yes, I like this feature too!

loren smith

@brinsonian all of these are so pretty

I have no html skillz - sorry!


@RNL YES. The boyfriend decided to audition for job of fiance with a ring he designed himself and had 3D printed, and we're looking for fake rocks to go in it. We have no idea where to go or who to talk to.


@loren smith Ooh, I particularly like the quartz ones. Thanks!


@sony_b I wear my wedding ring in the shower, but it's just a plain white-gold band, so I don't know if that counts. Vietnam Itinerary 3 days

Jennifer Culp

Oh, this is great! Rutilated quartz is so beautiful, and I love labradorite. One of my biggest regrets in life is losing my favorite big-ass labradorite ring in 2006. *sob* Keep up with those suckers when you take them off to wash your hands!


If you are a January person that is into birthstones and you didn't already know, garnets also come in green and they are awesome.


@Amanda@twitter I did not know this!! I <3 green stones.


@Amanda@twitter Get outta town! I'm a January person and I had no idea. To the internets I go, in search of green garnets!


I think I might bookmark this when I get home. Neat stuff! And I will always appreciate a Pokemon reference.


I am looking to sell a diamond necklace that was given to me by a former lover. It's not a very expensive piece but I don't feel right wearing it any more so I'd like to maybe turn it into some credit hours!
Which places are the best places to sell jewelry and is it ok for me to go to multiple places or will that piss the jewelry people off?


oh! I would also like to know this. I have a ring that has some different colored sapphires from an ex, and I know it was fairy expensive (>$1000), but I don't see myself ever wearing it again and could really use the coin. I know I could take it to one of those cash for gold places (I've taken junky jewelry there in the past and gotten a few hundred dollars), but this piece is actually very nice and I know those types of places only pay out by weight, so bringing one piece doesn't seem much worth it really. I don't have any of the receipts of anything, because, duh, it was a gift. My mom suggested having the stones taken out and put into a piece of jewelry that I would actually wear, but I don't know if I can totally afford that/can trust myself not to lose a baggie of stones.


@contrary Haha don't worry, you shouldn't be the one taking the stones out anyway. If you want to go that route, or if you're considering it, go to a jeweler you like and get their input on the kind of piece you might be able to design with those stones. Then if you decide to go ahead with it, just mention that you'd like the setting back once the stones are out. Also, depending on the kind of jeweler they may take the value of the gold in your ring against the cost of the new work; it's always worth asking.


@Titania Oh, of course!I wouldn't try to pop those bad boys out myself , I'd probably end up flinging one across the room and have it skittle under the fridge. I meant I didn't know if I could afford to have a new custom piece made with them, though the idea appeals to me because they are quite pretty.


@annev6 My sister is a bench jeweler (aka the person sitting in the back of the jewelry store, usually polishing/re-sizing/fixing broken stuff) who has worked for different kinds of jewelry stores, and she says you'll probably have better luck with a good family-owned store rather than a chain. AND if anyone has any gold they'd like melted for money, a place like this will typically take that stuff for way more than you'd ever get at a Cash for Gold place.


@OhMarie I went to a local jeweller with a few gold pieces my husband had inherited from his uncle and we got WAY more than I ever expected. Very much recommended over the weird chains that make an industry out of it.

loren smith

@annev6 I actually work at an auction house (not a huge one) and smaller auctions can be a great place to unload stuff like this. Just find a reputable one and ask lots of questions. Cash for gold places, from what I've heard at the office, really suck.

Anna Rasche

@annev6 This is a really good question. I agree with @ohmarie, go to a family jeweler and ask what they would pay for the piece. Unless you have a really firm idea of how much money you want to get, let them offer a price before you say anything. Then go to some other stores and do the same thing. It won't hurt anybody's feelings, just tell them you need to take some time to consider their offer. For most items of jewelry, don't expect to get more than half (in a lot of cases much less than half) of the retail price of your jewelry.

Hope this helps!


@loren smith @all
Thanks everyone for the answers!! This was super helpful!! Off I go to make some dough!



As a teenager I was (and I still am, to a lesser degree) completely obsessed with semi-precious stones and all their variety. I went through a hematite phase and bought, like, ALL the hematite rings and earrings I could get my paws on, and a tiger's eye phase, and an opal phase (although I couldn't afford good ones), and a peridot phase, and a padparadscha sapphire phase... and diamonds always just left me cold, especially diamond engagement rings. Like, they're clear and sparkly, I guess that's cool? HOW MUCH DID IT COST?! Well, shit, I guess... that's better than a badass honeymoon or the downpayment on a house? Huh.

Anyway, more of this person, please!! :)

miss buenos aires

@par_parenthese Padparadscha! SO gorgeous.


I got really into stones as jewellery after I started stretching my ear piercings, mostly because I noticed all the cool things I could wear! I have a nice pair of banded agate and a REALLY pretty pair of labradorite. Also, these! These are killing me right now.


@cosmia those are gorgeous! I have never wanted to stretch my ears... until now.

Roaring Girl

Azurite-malachite! No one told me two of my favorite stones made babies, or I would have sent them a card.


My love for this piece is dueling with the great sadness it brings me when I consider the fact that a sizable portion of my jewelry came from the Xhilaration rack at Target.


@synchronized I'm at the point of trying to figure out where to get chains to replace the base metal ones that turn my neck green while keeping all the silly pendants I got for eight bucks or whatever.

fondue with cheddar

I like the lapis lazuli mini vibrator pendant.


I don't...why would anybody wear jewelry in the shower? I just don't understand. I mean, like, other than basic round stud earrings that you (read: I) don't change out for a week or two at a time sometimes.


@frigwiggin I don't know if this counts as jewelry, but I purposely buy pretty (i.e. not sport) but waterproof watches so that I can never, ever take my watch off, including in the shower. I am obsessive about knowing what time it is no matter where I am or what I'm doing.

miss buenos aires

@frigwiggin I wear my wedding ring in the shower, but it's just a plain white-gold band, so I don't know if that counts.

The Dilettantista

@frigwiggin Additionally many people don't take off their bridal jewelry (rings, etc.) at all.



I go through phases with jewelry, like I will leave the same necklace or bracelet on for a few weeks at a time. I leave my plain band wedding ring on, but before that I would leave other rings on for spells as well. But yeah, this kind of only works with sterling silver or gold pieces, they would get ruined otherwise.

The Lady of Shalott

@frigwiggin I plan on leaving my band on full-time, but I take my engagement ring off when I shower. The (very stupid) reason for this is the scene from Apollo 13 where Tom Hanks's wife is showering and her ring slides off and down the drain.

I know it is irrational but I think about it EVERY SINGLE TIME I SHOWER.


@frigwiggin My job involves putting my hands in water/dirt/even grosser stuff often. I know several women who wear fancy jewelry while doing it, and I really don't understand either.

This is my new username

@frigwiggin The only jewellery I can manager to wear on any kind of regular basis is jewellery that stays on ALL the time. If it comes off it's likely not getting put back on for like 6 months. So earrings, ring, and watch all stay on all the time including the shower. I tried not to do this with my engagement ring, but that resulted in me forgetting to wear it a lot, which made me sad.

This is my new username

@olivebee I am totally with you on the watch thing. Especially in the shower. I need to know whether I have more time stay in the shower and be half asleep or whether I need to start getting ready to leave for work at a panicked pace. I legit do not understand how people deal with this issue otherwise?


@olivebee @This is my new username
I am totally, totally fascinated by this. If I had been told when I woke up this morning, "today you will learn that some people wear their watches in the shower," I don't think I would've believed it.


@SuperGogo Right?! I feel like I'm learning so much! Thank you for chiming in, people who wear jewelry in the shower. For some reason there's a continuum in my brain where it's less strange to me to wear a wedding ring in the shower and more strange to me to wear a necklace in the shower, and most of this seems to be leaning towards the former.

(Also, I shower at night, so I don't really have to worry about the length of it. Although we also have settings for 5, 10, and 15 minutes on the shower fan, so I could set one in the morning if I needed to be out when the fan shut off!)

Faintly Macabre

@The Lady of Shalott I read a long time ago that that actually happened, BUT she found the ring later! (I think they somehow dug through all the pipes.) So as long as you're showering in a building with accessible plumbing and maybe your fiance/husband is an astronaut possibly doomed to die in space, you're fine.

Ladies Who Punch

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!! My favorite parts of The Hairpin are learning about things I didn't know I wanted to know more about.

Did I mention my gratitude? <3


Re: jewelry in the shower/other places. Are my husband and I the only people on earth that only wear our wedding rings when we are at work/out of the house but at no other times? Like, we both take our rings off immediately after walking in the door. It's mainly because we are paranoid that things like sleeping, showering, doing dishes, cleaning, getting dressed, etc. will ruin our jewelry (which, to me, is practical), but everyone I know looks at me like I have five heads when I tell them that I don't wear my wedding/engagement rings 24 hours a day. Tell me, pinners - are we just overly cautious weirdos or are there others out there like us?


@olivebee I take off my ring for: showers, going to the gym, doing stuff outside (hiking, yard work, throwing a frisbee), sleeping, and hard cleaning (like tub scrubbing). For washing dishes, I wear gloves so it's nbd to keep it on.
I like wearing my ring, though, so it's more of a thought of when *can* I wear it vs. when shouldn't I wear it.

[not that you don't like wearing your rings!]


@olivebee I always take mine off to do dishes/shower/clean/do anything that might expose them to bad stuff, but otherwise I usually leave them on because I'm afraid I'll leave them somewhere and forget where. But it's not like you're going to forget you're married if you're not wearing them.

Ladies Who Punch

@olivebee As a woman how is anyone going to know I have accomplished my most important life goal if I don't have a wedding ring on AT ALL TIMES?!?!?! ;)

Seriously though, I have a white gold band with a ruby as my ring on all the time. It's my engagement/wedding ring. The husband has the same but with a sapphire & we call them "power rings". I also wear gloves to wash dishes & gloves in general to look fancy. The size of the ruby HAD to be small to accomodate that request.

ALSO: My mom taught me this trick. When she wants to remember something but can't write it down or take care of it, she moves her ring from the finger it is always on & puts it on the other hand. This way when she inevitably goes to touch it to play with it & it isn't there she remembers what is was she wanted to.

lucy snowe

@olivebee I don't ever take my rings off, unless I'm working with power tools or lifting heavy things, because I don't want to lose them.

And actually, I just tried and I must be retaining water because my rings will not budge.

But seriously, I'm very glad my engagement ring hits all the markers for "safe to bathe with" because the stone was my husband's great-grandmother's. It's beautiful, and there's a lovely old photo on thick paper of her wearing it (in a different setting.)

Anyway, the thought of losing it makes me panicky. It's the nicest thing I own, and I can't replace it (on any front.)


@olivebee You are not the only ones! My husband and I both remove all our jewelry/accessories as soon as we get home, and only wear the rings when we are out and about. We don't do it out of caution though, it's more of a comfort thing. I tend to get fed up with the feeling of having jewelry/binding clothing on so I will switch to comfy pajamas and take off all my jewelry as soon as I walk in just to be comfortable. I have a jewelry box where everything goes when I'm not wearing it. He takes his off and puts everything all in one place so he knows where it is.

Not that the rings are uncomfortable or anything, it's just part of the "shed nearly everything" routine of getting comfy and settling in at home. :)


@olivebee I don't take my ring off, but its a plain gold band so not much to get messed up. I also leave on necklaces and bracelets for weeks on end sometimes though so apparently I have a high tolerance for this.

My husband takes his ring off when doing certain sports but that's it.


@olivebee I'm not married, but I can't see wearing it all the time either. My mother only wears hers at work, too, and refused to wear it at all when she was teaching (to spite the kids that insisted she had to be a Miss or a Mrs and which one was she?)


@olivebee I have ring that I ware constantly because I'm afraid I will lose it if I didn't. I've lost nice jewelry before (some diamond studs from my father) and didn't want to take a chance on this one even though it's kind of an embarrassing setting (it's a diamond set into a heart :/) and the implications of it are gross. (It's a "promise ring", as in I was supposed to promise my virginity till marriage to my Dad. BARF. Thankfully this was the one time that my Dad being a terrible communicator worked in my favor because I don't remember promising anything. ...Not that it would have stopped me.)


@olivebee We're the same! My husband's ring is slightly too big, so he barely wears it at all in winter when it's cold and slips off easily. (We should probably do something about that.) I work at home so don't really bother much with jewelry, even my wedding ring, on a daily basis unless I'm going somewhere other than the gym. I'm paranoid about my engagement ring (the only diamond I own and by far my most expensive piece of jewelry), so I now wear that for only fancy occasions.


oh, I am too lazy and also absent-minded to take it off. And then have to think about it, and whether or not I remembered to put it back on, etc.? I would have lost it 500x already with your system (which I am sure works beautifully for you, we all being quite different in regards to these things!).
That's all. No big romanticism or attachment to symbols.
Luckily I have a thin gold band, so it's not a big deal -- isn't harmed by going everywhere with me. No fuss!


@olivebee I used to take mine off in the shower but quit doing that years ago. I pull it off to fiddle with it sometimes but there's not really anything I take it off specifically for, except maybe digging in wet sand at the beach.

My husband used to take his off to cook but he lost his at some point, probably because of doing that. (We've never figured out what happened! One day I was just like "omg where is your ring" and all we could think was he'd made hamburgers the night before.) It's never been replaced because we didn't want to spend the money, but if we ever do he is not taking it off at all, haha.

Priscilla Peel

@olivebee My husband and I do the same thing: the rings go off as soon as we step in the house. We do it for comfort reasons too. Sometimes we forget to put them on before leaving and then people think we're getting divorced or something, so it does have its downside! I'm not going to stop, though.


Yay for labradorite! It is in my wedding ring and I just loooove it.

lucy snowe

@Hollydoll85 Labradorite is beautiful. I've been lusting after labradorite jewelry for years now.


up cubed

Can we talk about how to store the good stuff? My grandmother gave me some lovely delicate heirloom jewelry,and I'm unsure about what to do with it when I'm not wearing it.


@upupandaway It depends on the jewelry! If you want to prevent sterling silver from tarnishing, keep it in an airtight container (ziploc bags work). Pearls and some more porous gemstones need to breathe, though, so mesh pouches are usually recommended. Otherwise, anything that minimizes friction and scratching is best.

up cubed

@upupandaway Thanks!


I'm a little surprised that you linked to those labradorite earrings, because I've wondered before if the OhKuol shop that sells them just resells mass-produced earrings from Alibaba. That probably doesn't matter to many people. But do you have any tips for identifying quality work vs. mass imports?

I'll include a comparison of the Etsy earrings with their cheap import counterparts in comments after this, because apparently you can't include more than one link (even in text!) without being flagged as a spammer.


Here are some $44 white druzy earrings on Etsy...


And here are the same earrings for $1-$10 per piece, shipped from Wuzhou.

Anna Rasche

@wallsdonotfall hmmm...you may be right. I was concentrating more on finding pieces that showed of the gems than the sellers. Will do my best to avoid resellers in future posts.


@wallsdonotfall If you spend enough time on Etsy, a lot of components/findings become dead giveaways. Look at the tags and descriptions a seller uses in the listing, and then do some comparison searches. If you see hundreds of items using the same components, it's probably not handmade. And I hate to say this because there are so many great shops there, but treat any shop in China with caution. And treat any shop that doesn't list their location with more caution.


1) Speaking as a person born in April, I assure you it is more likely than not that a person born in April wearing a birthstone is wearing glass or CZ than actual diamonds. As a child who wanted something birthstoney (as it was popular when I was about 10-12 for everyone to wear their birthstone) I wore a lot of faux jewelry. Which totally makes sense from a financial standpoint.

Also, it leads to a) the same arguments you get re: value of engagement rings and b) people saying stupid shit like "Oh you'll get one when you find a man!"

2) I LOVE jewelry but CANNOT HANDLE sleeping in it or showering with it on. How people do either of these things has always baffled me.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Scandyhoovian If a hypothetical future fiance ever, EVER proposed to me with a genuine diamond engagement ring, I'm pretty sure I would throw a fit and demand he returned the absurd thing. I'd screech something about using the money for a trip to somewhere cool and insist that he get me a convincing CZ instead. I just.....maybe some of my woman circuits are broken but the idea of spending that sort of money on a colorless stone - one that would probably get lost down a drain within weeks, see above - I just....gah....


One thing about studs - they may be versatile for most people, but for some of us they just don't work. Which is to say, I have giant earlobes and stud earrings always pinch. So if you give me studs I will regift them. People also have problems if their earlobes are unusually thin. So... pay attention to your recipient's earlobes, I guess?


If you are savvy about jewelry and about buying on ebay, there are great deals to be had. I purchased our bedding bands, which are turn of the century hallmarked 22k English gold, for little more than the crap cost of gold.


@zeytin Bedding bands is a GREAT typo.


@zeytin Wow, I also typed "crap cost" instead of "scrap cost". And I don't know how I got bedding, b is no where near w. Bedding. Huh huh.



Does everything stated in the article about which gems should not be worn in the shower also apply to handwashing? Like, if I have a pearl ring, are the chemicals in hand soap going to degrade it, or will wearing it while I wash my hands after using the bathroom actually give it the "occasional drink of water" that it needs? (Except washing my hands after using the bathroom is more than an "occasional" activity, I assure you!)

And if the ring were an emerald ring, would this change any of the answers?


@rosaline Well, not knowing this, I wore a pearl necklace all the time (hot sweaty drippy yoga, shower, etc.) for like a year and a half (it had one pearl and three teeny-tiny diamonds, I wasn't just just rockin' a full-on string of pearls 24/7) and I think it looks a teeeeensy bit less shiny than it did originally?

Now I don't wear it all the time, which means I wear it never. I'm bad at necklaces.


@enic I would love to see someone rocking a full pearl necklace at yoga. Maybe with some sort of stretchy sweater-set.

Anna Rasche

@rosaline Yep,these rules apply to hand-washing as well. Pearls are one of the most delicate gems, and things like hand soap or really hot water will make their shiny surface wear away if they are repeatedly exposed. Also, the pearls on rings are attached using a bit of glue (even in really high end jewelry) so it's best to try and not get that wet lest in start to deteriorate. Emeralds are not quite as delicate, so it's ok for them to come into contact with mild handsoap.


@Anna Rasche Thanks so much! This is great to know.


I love everything about this. Someday I will be that lady who wears simple, classic clothes and jewelry and always looks amazing. Until then, I can just pretend with the Hairpin.


Ugh I loathe loathe loathe my birthstone. I doubt you were planning on buying me anything, LW, but give December a freakin' miss, please. Labradorite and moonstones have been an obsession of mine for ages, definitely amuse yourself forever trying them on and seeing how they change against your skin and hair!


@Titania Me too, because the peridots I see are always that weak-ass light green and it's just so blah. August babies have it rough.


@anachronistique I could be wrong, but I feel like I've seen peridots (in museums at least) in every color of the rainbow. A lot of the semiprecious stones come in a wide variety of colors.

(The gems and minerals room of the Museam of Natural History is one of the only reasons I'd recommend it. That and Native American artifacts, which also make me sad.)


@cminor I bought a rainbow stone-chip necklace that the vendor said was peridot while on a trip to Hawaii a few years ago, and then someone told me afterward that it couldn't be peridot if the stones weren't all green. Now I don't know who to believe!


@cminor The American Museum of Natural History seems to at least try to give a shit about their Native American artifacts and the communities they came from. A friend of mine was part of a delegation Heiltsuk who went there to care for the Heiltsuk pieces, with support and funding from the museum. Of course, I don't think they'll be allowed to bring the pieces home any time soon, but at least it's a start. If anyone is interested, I'd recommend reading her blog posts about it, because she is a fantastic writer. *ahem* Sorry for the tangent, I just think it's really cool.

Anna Rasche

@frigwiggin Peridots are definitely always green, although they do come in a wide range of greens. Some more common gems that come in a whole rainbow of colors are tourmaline, sapphire and flourite.


@Anna Rasche Sorry! I was thinking of Sapphire. Sapphire's are amazing. The range of colors is really astounding in person.


@cminor This is off-topic, but if the artifacts make you sad, have you ever checked out the National Museum of the American Indian in D.C., or its building in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center? There's a lot of great stuff there about living Native cultures, and I'm not just saying that because it's my favorite museum because I used to work there. It's also free, which is nice these days.


@siniichulok The thing that makes me sad is honestly just HOW MANY artifacts the Museum has, the displays are nice but poorly labeled and a lot of the info looks like it hasn't been updated since almost when the item was first "collected".

Thanks for the recommendation I'll have to look into it next time I'm on the East Coast :)

Faintly Macabre

@siniichulok I've been there! (As have lots of other strangers, but whatever.) We spent at least three hours there and saw barely two floors. I really want to go back!


Who else spent a ton of time learning about minerals and gemstones after becoming a Sailor Moon fan? Just me?


@anachronistique Definitely not just you!


I just want to say thank you for this non-relationship advice column! I mentioned in the Jane-leaving thread that although I like the regular ones, especially AQC, I was missing ACP and AHF (A Handy Femme) and those types of advice columns - really more like "here are some facts you did not know" rather than "here is my opinion based on the 300 words you chose to tell us about your relationship". Not that I don't like them! They inspire really good conversations in the comments, but these other kinds of advice columns teach me more stuff - Druzy gems?? Amazing!

Edith Zimmerman

@highfivesforall I love these, too. And thank you for this comment. (And thank you, Anna!) #druzygems


@highfivesforall A Handy Femme! I totally forgot how awesome that one was!


ALL jewelry should be removed for showers, handwashing, dishwashing, etc., even if it is all metal and has no delicate gems or base metals, if you have very hard well-water, especially if your water is high in sulfur and/or iron. (Rust stains everywhere? Water smells like rotten eggs? Take your jewelry off!) I learned this the hard way, as the sterling silver rings I wore all the time got badly tarnished. Luckily it was easy enough to clean the tarnish off them, but still, would have been easier just to remove the rings.


@Maryse42 I don't know, I feel like I would just lose my stuff if I took it off all of the time (or dump it down the drain! ahhh!!). Better to have to buy a replacement eventually than to lose my jewelry.





Miss Maszkerádi

$300-$500 is affordable?!

I hate grad school.


Smaugin' it all up in hurr.


Malachite: a lackluster Sailor Moon villain, but a pretty great stone for jewelry. I love the look of druzy stones and I feel like they are the new black because I'm seeing them everywhere.

I'm kind of into gemstones, so I love seeing unusual stones in jewelry and I love even more when I can i.d. them. I just wish I were all cool and a jewelry person, but I find I'm prone to breaking/losing things.


Thankyou, Edith, for making the stinging loss of AaCP hurt a little less with AaJ!
2 questions:
1. Why must that Rutilated Quartz pendant have no list price?!?!
2. As a non-pierced-ears person, I wonder how to do studs at night while sleeping? Like, I want to be a pierced-ears person, but I don't like sleepers and want to go straight to studs. Is this is thing that is doable without clawing them out?


My name is Mrs.Karisa Jack, from U.S.A,New York City. I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once. when i went to Africa in July this year on a business summit. i ment a man called Dr. AIGBE.He is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love’s gone,misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you, bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job.i’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2 years… i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job. so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him..at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. and in 6 days when i returned to New York, my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married..i didn’t believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do… well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid,and my husband also got a new job and our lives became much better. in case anyone needs the spell caster for some help, email address aigbespelltemple@yahoo.com


My name is Mrs.Karisa Jack, from U.S.A,New York City. I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once. when i went to Africa in July this year on a business summit. i ment a man called Dr. AIGBE.He is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love’s gone,misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you, bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job.i’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2 years… i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job. so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him..at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. and in 6 days when i returned to New York, my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married..i didn’t believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do… well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid,and my husband also got a new job and our lives became much better. in case anyone needs the spell caster for some help, email address aigbespelltemple@yahoo.com

Miss Maszkerádi

Whoa! Now that's some of the best spam ever!


@Countess Maritza Spell casters for the win!


The main thing I took from this article is...people wear jewelery in the shower? That is a thing people do?


@MrsLlama I sell jewelry, and you wouldn't believe the kinds of stories I hear from people. Which is a roundabout way of saying yes, they do--and then some.


Practical question: is it prudent to get an insurance policy on expensive jewelry, like engagement rings? How does one go about that? Anyone have any experience with this?


@alpacasloth yes! I did this for my engagement ring. It's through USAA (where I also have my car and rental insurance.) It's called Valuable Personal Property Insurance and it was totally easy to sign up for. For things under $20k, you don't need to submit paperwork to prove value, but you'll need the value from the appraisal/sale price. It's pretty inexpensive and it also means I won't be totally screwed if something were to happen.



@allofthewine Thanks for the info! That makes sense. I will look into it with my insurance company.

Asad Yousuf@facebook

Jewellery may be made from a wide range of materials, but gemstones and similar materials such as amber and coral, precious metals, beads, and shells have been widely used, and enamel has often been important. In most cultures jewellery can be understood as a status symbol, for its material properties, its patterns, or for meaningful symbols.Fashion jewelry


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