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Q. This may not be your bailiwick because it is a hybrid question that crosses over from style to relationship.  I have been seeing a woman for about a year now.  Due to the disparity in our ages (23 yrs.), I refuse to be involved more than just dating and am clear about my availability.  When she travels, she always brings me a little something.  I was in Santa Fe on business and brought her an inexpensive liquid silver necklace ($60).  You would have thought that I brought her a 3k diamond.  Now I need to get her something for her birthday (27th), I would like to get her something nice, preferably jewelry, but don’t want to send any message other than I enjoy her company.
-Guy and Younger Girl

A. Having had romance, love, liars and cheats, I can take on the role of style and relationship expertise for your answer. I think your soon-to-be 27 year old has been sticking around believing and hoping that your “dating” has turned into more of a commitment. While you made it clear early in your dating that you did not want a relationship due to your age difference, she probably needs a refresher course. She’s probably a great girl who has treated you well and thinks of you often, as is obvious with her consistent gift giving. But it is apparent that you are only offering her morsels of attention when she deserves a full banquet.

Perhaps you give her a grand gift like sending her and a friend off on an all expense paid spa weekend (spafinder.com) and let her know that you are setting her free to find someone closer in age that will give her a chance at true love, perhaps marriage, and maybe a family.  A man that wants to travel the world with her or plant a garden and barbeque in the backyard they share. A weekend away with a friend will give her a chance to vent, release and relax without a bill at the end. She’ll walk away with clean skin, polished nails and a pampered body to start anew. Pair the gift with a heartfelt note about her best qualities and how lucky you have been to know her.

If you are direct with your “only dating on your availability” and she still chooses to stay, then I presume you’ve also made it clear that when a good man comes along and asks her on a date, she should go since you have a no-strings attached affair.

No spa grand gift? Don’t wimp out and buy a gift that carries no meaning or barely cost you a hundred bucks. Does she have a lovely apartment or home? Why not choose photographic artwork and have it framed to add décor to her home. Jewelry is always a safe and memorable gift, but this time, choose real gold in a style that is simple and sophisticated. Or how about a stunning pair of expensive heels that she’s been coveting but would never fork over the cash for. Get her an appointment with a personal shopper at a department store (it’s free) and give her a gift card for $500 or more bucks to spend with the help of the personal shopper so she can get the benefits of the shopper’s talents of finding what she wants in her size.  As long as you are honest, your gift can be exuberant, lovely, and expressive in its meaning that you appreciate her.

Some of my favorites:

UNDER $200

Satya Jewelry aquamarine relief lotus necklace18k Gold Circle Pendant,Kevia Tulip Shaped Rococo Hoop Earrings
1. Satya Jewelry aquamarine relief lotus necklace, $158 at satyajewelry.com
2. 18k Gold Circle Pendant, $150 at bluenile.com
3. Kevia Tulip Shaped Rococo Hoop Earrings, $138 at blueluxe.com

$200-$300

Tiffini Dooris Luna NecklaceJulie Sandlau Mint Crystal and Cubic Zirconia Circle EarringsJulie Sandlau Champagne Zirconia Circular Chandelier Earrings
4. Tiffini Dooris Luna Necklace, $228 at tiffinidooris.com
5. Julie Sandlau Mint Crystal and Cubic Zirconia Circle Earrings, $224 at blueluxe.com
6. Julie Sandlau Champagne Zirconia Circular Chandelier Earrings, $211 at blueluxe.com

$300 & UP

Anna Beck Large Teardrop Pendant NecklaceQuinn's Tulip Small Disc Diamond Earrings18K Gold Ginko Leaf Pendants by DeanBurke
5. Anna Beck Large Teardrop Pendant Necklace, $398 at nordstrom.com
6. Quinn’s Tulip Small Disc Diamond Earrings, $413 at blueluxe.com
7. 18K Gold Ginko Leaf Pendants by DeanBurke, $300 at vivre.com

Untitled1-1Q. I am a bridesmaid in an upcoming beach wedding that the chosen colors are fuschia and turquoise.  I have to say, the bride picked out a hot little fuschia halter dress for the bridesmaid dresses.  But, my dilemma is the shoes and the jewelry.  First of all, what color shoes would you suggest?  I’m thinking more of a silver sandal or very low heel.  Second of all, they just sent the picture of the jewelry (see attached) and the turquoise large teardrop pendant and earrings are supposed to be for me.  Is it just me, or is this a hideous ensemble?

-Jewelry Uncertain

A. Not loving the jewelry choices, especially the “rough” cut combination. Without seeing the dress, it’s difficult to choose many options for you that may work for the dress. I am not a fan of wearing matching earrings and necklace. I think it’s boring and skips an opportunity to express your style and take a chance. I do not know how many bridesmaids are in the wedding party, but as I’ve said in past Ask Alison columns, I am not in favor of making the bridesmaids into paper cut-outs and dressing them the same from head to toe.  It can become costly to the bridesmaids to buy the dress, the jewelry, the shoes, etc. that are the choices of the bride.  Unless the bridesmaids are clueless about style, I believe in letting them make a few choices in their attire, whether it be shoes, jewelry or both. And, of course, with the help of digital cameras and computers, friends can send photos to the bride to let her know what they intend to pair with the dress to get final approval.

With that in mind, I would suggest keeping jewelry delicate for a beach wedding. A thin silver or gold necklace with a charm or small bead would be lovely - and then add earrings. As for your feet, keep to flat silver or gold sandals since you’ll be in the sand. If the reception moves indoors or to a real dance floor, you can bring along heels to slip into.

Neck 3 Lightgreen LEar Gold Blueballs LNeck 7N24 Big

some beachy suggestions:

1. Lisa Goodwin Wishful Linking Necklace Chalcedony/Optimism, $85 at maxandchloe.com
2. Lisa Stewart Hoop Earrings with Wrapped Turquoise, $180 at maxandchloe.com
3. Allison Daniel Large Starfish Necklace, $8 at allisondanieldesigns.com

Hoops PearlNeck Wishbone L

4. Haley M Endless Pearl Hoops, $55 at haleym.com
5. Zoe Chicco Silver Wishbone Necklace, $75 at maxandchloe.com

Q. What a fantastic site!  I’m attending a friend’s engagement party in late Oct.  It will be held in the afternoon at a country club.  I was planning to wear a shawl collared white shirt with a wrap tie (new at Ann Taylor), a black pencil skirt with some small pleats in the back and some awesome Stuart Weitzman peep toe pumps in a deep red/burgundy patent leather.  My sister tells me I would look like the staff and I shouldn’t wear the black and white.  Help?  I thought I could pull it off with killer shoes!  BLACK AND WHITE?
-Non-Staff

A. You can definitely pull it off with killer heels and add a multi strand or chunky stand out necklace or a big cuff to add to the punch of the outfit.

CC Skye Enamel Cuff BraceletMod hammered cuffResin pyramid bangle

Circle link necklaceFloral triple-strand necklace

1. CC Skye Enamel Cuff Bracelet, $202 at pinkmascara.com
2. Mod hammered cuff, $32 at bananarepublic.com
3. Resin pyramid bangle, $24 at bananarepublic.com
4. Circle link necklace, $38 at bananarepublic.com
5. Floral triple-strand necklace, $88 at bananarepublic.com

Q. I have an 18” string of pearls that I received for my wedding.  I used to wear them to dressier events and functions, but my style has changed and evolved over the years. I am mostly in casual, daytime situations with children and other moms and work part time from home in a creative profession. I would love to wear my pearls again, but no longer just for special occasions. How can I make them more of an everyday, hip accessory?
-Pearlized

A.  Unfortunately, an 18” string of pearls is never going to be considered hip.  It will forever be in the sophisticated, classic category - and there’s nothing wrong with that. Multiple strands piled on are tres chic a la Coco Chanel, and one strand worn with your button down shirt is the ultimate in country club prep style. Simply put, pull out your pearls and put them on with your cute tops, button downs and your favorite jeans whether you’re running after the kids, working or headed to a movie. Make the pearls “your thing” to wear, and if you want hip, add a patent leather bag to your wardrobe.

Q. I am the mother of the groom at an August wedding. I am wearing a light pink dress with 1 or 2 strands of pearls, pearl earrings, pearl bracelet. My question is, can I wear shiny silver strappy sandals that have a rhinestone on top? If not, what color shoe would be best? I was thinking bone but aren’t shoes supposed to be the same color or darker than the dress?
-Accessory Uncertain

A. That’s a lot of pearls to be sporting. Shoes no longer have to be the same color or darker than the dress. There are many variables these days to mix up and add sass to an outfit. Wearing silver sandals with rhinestones will help give your outfit a dressier appeal. Cream can also be worn and many times can give a sophisticated look, but the silver will be more youthful.

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