Jewelry Collection Stories: Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry

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This month’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry and it is a good one! Kate is a full-time art teacher and part-time jewelry enthusiast and collector. You may already be following her on Instagram, but if not you must. Her collection is pretty amazing and her story may resonate with many of you. So without further ado, I give you Kate’s collection story:

I’ve always loved jewelry. I have early memories of playing “dress up” and “jewelry store” with my grandmother Louise. She kept her jewelry in the top dresser drawer. Oh how I loved looking inside those little boxes and seeing all the sparkly jewels inside! We would arrange her jewels on top of carefully arranged bits of pretty fabrics and embroidered handkerchiefs and take turns “shopping.” It was so much fun trying on her white dress gloves and high heels and playing with all those pretty things.

When I was around 10 years old, my dad started giving me jewelry every year for Christmas, mostly rings. One year, I received a topaz ring that had the most amazing shade of bright blue. I adored that ring! Another favorite ring given to me by my dad was a gold signet ring that he had monogramed with my initials. I think I was around 15 at the time. It’s a classic look that will never go out of style and one I wear often today.

One of my favorite early jewelry memories was when my family went out to dinner before my high school senior award night. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to win the top artist award in my class, and my parents bought me this beautiful southwestern sterling bracelet and turquoise ring to mark the occasion. For high school graduation, I received a large, modernist sterling and gold ring. At the time, I wasn’t into yellow gold, and these bold sterling pieces were among the most beautiful pieces I owned. Luckily, my parents have continued the tradition of gifting me jewelry for special occasions, and I cherish them all. These pieces help to serve as reminders of special times in my life. My sweet husband has also joined in on the tradition and I have received many beautiful pieces from him now over the years, including my very first (and favorite) Victorian bird bangle bracelet and my beloved antique turquoise and diamond halo ring.

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As a teenager, I was really into second-hand shops–mainly for vintage clothes and small decorative items, but eventually I started picking up inexpensive jewelry and odds-and-ends; like pendants, chokers, chains, etc. At about the same time, I started making beaded jewelry and even gifting and selling pieces to my friends.

Years later, I decided to try my hand at selling handmade jewelry on Etsy. It was a fun, challenging, and creative outlet. Those were the relative early days of Etsy, and I grew as it grew. I did this for a couple of years and slowly started incorporating more and more vintage jewelry components and findings into my pieces. Eventually, the competition increased and my enthusiasm waivered, so I put my shop on hold.

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My love affair with antique jewelry began about eight years ago when my mom and I were antiquing at one of my favorite stores in Richmond, IN. My mom fell head-over-heels for this old gold cameo ring. At first, I was like, “What? Cameos? Ugh, I don’t get it.” Then much to my surprise, my mom professed her life-long love affair with cameos, citing stories from her youth. The shop owner quoted her a low price and my mom quickly bought the ring. She wasn’t one to make fine jewelry purchases on our excursions together, so I was intrigued and wanted to know more. I couldn’t stop staring at this unusual reddish-orange cameo ring on our drive back home; I was fascinated by it. It didn’t look like the girly, pink cameos I was used to seeing. It was more masculine in style and the gold was a rich rose color. The shop owner estimated the ring to be about 120 years old.

To my knowledge, I had never seen a ring that old before and now I wanted one for myself! The more I researched, the more I realized what an amazing deal my mom got on that ring. Sure, it was more than I was used to spending on random antique mall purchases (about $85), but still affordable. This made antique jewelry seem obtainable to me for the first time ever. I started reading jewelry books, researching online, and educating myself on antique jewelry. I liked learning the history behind each piece. It’s a perfect fit for me– combining my love of history, research, sentiment, story, etc.

Inspired by my new passion and focus, I reopened my Etsy shop–selling only vintage and antique jewelry. I absolutely loved hunting for old jewelry, even cameos! Thinking back to that special trip to Richmond with my mom, I believe this was the critical moment that later turned this new interest into a full-blown hobby and part-time job for me.

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Today I have such a deep and sincere appreciation for antique jewelry; I tend to collect a little bit of everything. All in all, I tend to go more for Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco pieces. Rings are probably my favorite type of jewelry to wear and collect. I love everything from dainty to bold, statement rings. I also love antique bangles and Deco necklaces in all sorts of finishes, metals, and styles.

One of my favorite things to collect are watches. My favorite makers are Longines and Bucherer. I have everything from watch pins, watch rings, wristwatches, and pocket watches. And I really love long enamel watch necklaces. My love of watch necklaces probably began when I scored an amazing Bucherer red guilloche enamel watch ball necklace for $60 in a small, local antique shop. I later learned this was a remarkable deal for one with its original enamel chain in perfect condition. I’ve since added about 10 more to my collection over the years. I just can’t stop myself when I see a beautiful one for a good price. I have such a weakness for fine guilloche enamel-work.

In addition, I love bird-themed jewelry and have many bird bangles, lockets, etc. I tend to favor cool-color pieces in general (it must be the Pisces in me!). I am very fond of blue–sapphires, lapis, zircon, and turquoise to name a few. Pale lavender chalcedony, dreamy moonstones, and that particular shade of green commonly used in Art Deco pieces–are all personal favorites. I have a growing collection of snake rings, too.

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I enjoy shopping at small, local places best. The Midwest is a gold mine for antiques of all kinds. The big jewelry enthusiasts seem to live on either coast and being stuck in the middle has its advantages… lower prices and less pickers. But this seems to get harder every year. My favorite display cases and shops seem to be shutting down. The old dealers retire; some pass away. I think part of me has also wanted to open a brick and mortar shop, but the risks are scary.

Currently, I seem to have the most luck shopping at antique shows and online auctions. I’m always on the hunt for new pieces. I would love to own more niello jewelry, antique enamel bracelets, and gutta percha bangles inlaid with gold. I have a thing for portrait paintings but oddly, own no portrait jewelry. I interned at the National Portrait Gallery right after college and it’s a subject I’m really interested in. I would love to find the perfect emerald ring and more “name” or “initial” jewelry to represent the important people in my life.

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Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday (hello, 40!) and had been hunting for the perfect aquamarine birthstone piece of jewelry for months. Then it finally happened…a huge, honking, 14-carat, Victorian, pear-shaped aqua ring in 15K gold popped up on my Instagram feed. Its large size, unfussy setting, and perfect pale-blue color, stopped me dead in my tracks. A direct quote from the seller was, “a mesmerizing, dreamy, huge piece of magic.” Indeed it was. I sold three personal collection rings to make room for this special ring, the latest addition to my jewelry box.

Back when I started wearing, selling, and collecting antique jewelry, I was the only one I knew who did. I just bought what I liked and what I could afford at the time. It wasn’t until I joined IG a couple of years ago that I found other like-minded people who loved and appreciated old jewelry as much as I do. Like most sellers/collectors, I am searching for more high quality and unusual pieces nowadays. Lately, there seems to be more competition, more reproductions, and higher prices on the online auction sites, making it harder to “score” a deal. While I may not be selling forever, I know I will be wearing and enjoying my jewelry for the rest of my life. It brings me so much joy. Marking special occasions and making new memories with jewelry are so important to me. Jewelry has a way of keeping our memories alive…providing a tangible reminder… connecting us to the people, places, and significant moments we cherish in life. Happy hunting!

xoxoGemGossip

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The Ten Best Rings Currently For Sale at The Three Graces

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One of my most frequently asked questions I get is, “where do you find all these amazing vintage and antique jewels?!” And my answer may surprise you, as most would envision me scouring flea markets, old attics and the like to find things like these featured above. It might be easy for me to say ONLINE and it is totally true. Websites like The Three Graces do the hard work for you, scouting out the most unique, wearable and head-turning jewels out there and we should appreciate that! I like knowing that anytime I go on TheThreeGraces.com I can find a whole new batch of sparkly, rare, vintage and antique pieces that expert Lisa Stockhammer Mial has sourced, authenticated, cleaned up and ready for its next lifetime. They also have some pretty special perks like a “no questions asked, free return policy,” offer layaway, and most every ring can be sized to fit! And what is easier than simply logging on to a website and ogling over New Arrivals?!

I got to do just that when choosing my favorite top ten rings that are currently for sale at The Three Graces. A mix of pieces I would love to own, rings that remind me of some favorites from my personal collection, and some that I can’t believe are still available (quick, grab them before someone else does!). Let’s start from the top!

Emerald Art Deco Ring & Diamond Filigree Halo Ring

1. There’s something unique about an Art Deco ring shaped like this emerald and diamond one! Not only does it elongate the finger, but it surely gets people staring. I love how delicate yet statement-making this ring is. Set in platinum with a stunning emerald, currently a size 6.5 and ready for a finger to shine on! Price: $4,950

2. At first I thought this would make such a beautiful engagement ring but then I saw the photos created by The Three Graces with my picks and I am really loving how this ring also looks as a right hand ring! I love when rings are versatile like that and this one definitely doesn’t have a bad angle even if you tried. The center diamond is just over a half carat and has a gorgeous sparkle to it. Price: $3,650

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Deco Rock Crystal Ring & Large Moonstone Sapphire Cluster Ring

3. This ring is one of the best examples of rock crystal jewelry I’ve seen! I love the contrast of the blue sapphires along with the frostiness of the crystal and white diamond. This ring would be a perfect anniversary or birthday gift and I can almost guarantee this will get a lot of wear–it goes with everything! It is currently a size 7 1/4 and done in 14k white gold. Price: $1,350

4. If you know my personal collection as well as you know your own, you will understand why I HAD to choose this grand moonstone and sapphire ring! I have an almost identical one in my collection and the compliments that I get on it are nonstop. If you’ve been wanting to find something similar, this is it! Currently a size 5 1/2 with 2.88 carats of bright blue sapphires. Price: $4.450

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Antique Citrine Ring & Vintage Amethyst Halo Ring

5. A pop of yellow added to any outfit instantly brightens everything! That’s why I love this citrine ring so much–I quickly become happy as soon as I look at it. I think this would be an ideal ring to wear in the summer and it could easily transition to fall wardrobes and colors. This art deco ring is currently a size 4 1/2 and can be resized for its new owner. Price: $1,275

6. Purple was my favorite color for most of my childhood. Anyone lucky enough to have a February birthdate can call amethyst their birthstone and this particular ring would be perfect for you. Or if you’re like me and just love the color purple, then yes you deserve this ring too. Currently a size 8 1/4 and can be sized to your liking. Price: $1,350

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Bohemian Turquoise Ring & Bold Opal Cluster Ring

7. Turquoise is one of my most favorite gemstones–I can’t get enough of it! When most people think of turquoise, they think of Persian turquoise and although that is most desirable and valuable, I actually like when turquoise shows veining, different patterns and depth of color. This particular ring has great natural veining and I love the design–simple yet bold! The ring is done in 8k yellow gold and currently a size 6 3/4. Price: $650

8. So we all know my obsession with opals and if I didn’t have so many opal rings, THIS would be in my virtual shopping cart right now. Everything about it is amazing to me–the design (large oval cluster), the opals (a nice play-of-color that glows in the right light), and the size (big and bold). Don’t miss out on this vintage one-of-a-kind, done in 10k yellow gold. Price: $2,195

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Edwardian Diamond Heart Ring & “Four Corners” Sapphire, Diamond Ring

9. Never thought I’d be such a sucker for hearts, but I absolutely love them, especially the antique versions. This is an exceptional ring, dating back to the Edwardian period and set with rose cut diamonds in a silver topped setting. The band is done in 14k yellow gold and currently a size 5 1/2. If you love heart jewelry as much as I do, you won’t let this one slip away! Price: $3,850

10. Ok, this ring is one that will stop you dead in your tracks and I’m so in love with it! The design is really unique–The Three Graces describes it perfectly by saying, “modernist flavor with strong design elements.” The intensity of the blue sapphires is insane and it is one in a million. This ring deserves a good home that provides lots of love and care! 😉 Price: $4,450

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This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with The Three Graces.

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Weekday Wardrobe: New Favorites

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Since coming back from Vegas and NYC, my days have been long and filled with writing and running all kinds of errands. From Sunday morning brunches, to post office runs, to family dinners, my style has been changing daily and almost always depends on what I have planned. Some days I’m lucky if I get a chance to breathe fresh air outside, while other days I’ve spent more time on the road in my car than normal…but that is what I like about being self-employed and I’m excited for the summer.

Most recently, I was playing in my jewelry box and for some reason or another a lightbulb went off–I took my collection of figas and strung them on my hardwire gold collar necklace. As soon as I put the necklace on I knew that this was one of my greatest moves I’ve ever made. I’m obsessed with the look and it totally caters to my collecting mantra by displaying my pieces perfectly. I actually have 6 more figas that don’t have jumprings, so I’m off now to get them put on by my jeweler.

I’ve also been experimenting with different kinds of earrings to create a “full” look, meaning ALL the way up my ear. To achieve this look without the pain of multiple piercings, I suggest some comfortable ear cuffs. Some are more comfortable than others and it depends on the craftsmanship, so try them out–see if you’re able to wear for a full day before committing to buy.

In the first photo shown, I’m wearing a pair of ombré amethyst ear studs with jackets by Jewelmak. These are so cool and give me a pop of color, which is perfect for summertime. I kept it simple up top with 14k gold balls studs in various sizes, a Paige Novick diamond ear cuff and a vintage swirl motif ear cuff I found on Ruby Lane.

The photo below shows off my figa necklace and a carved opal necklace I recently sold. My earring look is simple to recreate; two pearl stud earrings of various sizes and a gold huggie earring from Stacy Nolan.

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Day One: (spent doing emails all day and typing blog posts, hence the Beavis & Butthead t-shirt)

Elongated lapis and enamel ring, from Sarah’s Vintage & Estate Jewelry in Buffalo, NY

Antique diamond & sapphire ring from Excalibur Jewelry found in Tucson this year

Pear-shaped vintage lapis ring that I can’t stop wearing because it is so comfortable and bold

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Day Two:

Diamond crossover pinky ring by Halleh Jewelry

“Ring One” from my Gem Gossip Jewelry line, since retired

Fringe ring in 14k yellow gold by Ashley Childs

A stack of “Ring One with diamond” from my Gem Gossip Jewelry line, since retired

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Day Three:

Oval vintage Mexican ring done in 14k yellow gold

Crescent moon ring in 14k yellow gold by Amanda Hunt Jewelry

Dendritic agate ring from Joden Jewelry in Grove City, PA

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Day Four:

Glass + 10k yellow gold ring, heirloom from my Gram

elongated diamond ring turn-of-the-century from my friend Priscilla

Diamond shaped ring set with old cut brown diamonds, from STORE 5a

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Day 5:

turquoise baby rings, worn as pinky ring and midi ring

Victorian turquoise ring from eBay

Victorian turquoise ring with engraving on entire closed-back, from Gold Hatpin

Turquoise and diamond cluster ring found at the Nashville Flea Market

xoxoGemGossip

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Gem Gossip Visits Gold Hatpin in Chicago, IL

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Just as many would associate deep dish pizza with Chicago, I like to associate Gold Hatpin as the windy city staple which abundantly feeds my sparkle appetite. A literal hidden gem–the store is tucked away in the back of an antique shop–owner Diane Richardson has been in business for over 30 years. I’ve been visiting Diane every time I’d attend the Vegas or Miami antique shows, as she has continually set up at both, including the Baltimore show which I have yet to see (which she won’t be attending this year). What is fun about her store in Oak Park is that her entire inventory is there–so you’ll see way more jewelry when you visit her in Chicago than seeing her at a show!

Jewelry slowly came into Diane’s life and antique jewelry became her passion overtime. Although not her main path in the beginning, she ultimately was destined for a life of learning, treasure hunting, dealing and showcasing antique jewelry, all of which her lifelong clients know her for and love her for. Piece by piece things came together–from her love of colorful fabrics from Home Economics studies, to an interest in archaeology and antiques, to a deep connection with a sentimental heirloom that had ties to the California Gold Rush, a topic she had coincidently just learned about in school at the time, everything fell into place.

The Gold Hatpin stands out to me as a shop you cannot miss for several reasons. One is its treasure hunting vibe–what I mean by this is it has a very large amount of inventory, which you could look at for hours, leave for lunch, and then come back again and still see “new” things you missed the first time around. Another reason, and one of the most important–Diane’s amazing prices. If this shop were in LA or NYC everything would be at least double the price. I like buying from shop owners that are fair and reasonable, two things which Diane gets gold stars for. Other qualities include trustworthiness, sweetness & kindness, and always fun to talk to! I also am continually stunned by the variety of jewelry that Gold Hatpin has–from rare Georgian pieces, to sentimental Victorian items, sparkly Art Deco engagement rings, a large assortment of wedding bands, unique mid-century jewels, and even some modern pieces. I tell people, no matter what era of jewelry you’re into or if you’re hunting for something very specific, chances are, if you visit Diane at her store or at a show you won’t leave empty-handed!

Speaking of not leaving empty-handed, I found a very unique turquoise ring while on my visit to Gold Hatpin that had to come home with me! It’s in a few of the photos above–I couldn’t resist the unusual coloring of the turquoise (it has a yellow-blue color) and also a long engraving on the inside, behind the stone not on the shank. The engraving reads, “Cherished Memories 17 Aug 1918 Eddie to Cal” Can’t leave something that special behind! I also had serious contemplations with A LOT of the jewelry I featured above–so if you’re feeling the same way, feel free to call Diane to ask about a piece at 708-445-0610 or go to www.goldhatpin.com (you can send one of the photos from above of any of the things you’re interested in).

Some of my favorite pieces from Diane’s current inventory include the carved lapis necklace and earrings set from the 1940s (the necklace clasp is also a piece of carved lapis), and the onyx and rock crystal chandelier style earrings made in Italy and done in 18k white gold. I could have played with just the rings for hours and hours. Like the coral and onyx bypass ring is such a cool piece and it sure is photogenic! The lapis ring selection was plentiful–a gemstone that I seem to gravitate toward and really love. I also wear a lot of black and onyx is one gemstone I can’t seem to get enough of–when I saw that geometric shaped, calibre-cut onyx ring I immediately knew it was something special! That ring belongs in an eclectic collection, for sure! The serpent necklace, the amethyst Erté ring, the diamond navette rings…my wish list goes on and on.

Next time you are in the Chicago area, make certain you set aside some time to visit Gold Hatpin. You won’t be disappointed!