Royal Engagement Ring

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m mildly obsessed with the British Monarchy and everything England. I love Kate’s style, and I have always loved that engagement ring since the first time I saw it on Diana’s finger! I’ve seen rings inspired by the royal engagement ring, but they fall grossly short of the real thing.

The real deal has 14 prongs holding the sapphire in place. There are 14 diamonds surrounding the sapphire, and each of those is held in place by five prongs. Many rings inspired by the original have only five prongs holding the center stone in place and three prongs holding each surrounding stone. Many even have additional stones surrounding the sapphire. Some are set on a thicker band either with additional stones set in the side, solid, or partially split – all unlike the original small band.

I finally found one that is a true replica of the original. It’s a lab-created sapphire, held in place by 14 prongs, and surrounded by 14 Cubic Zirconias, each of which are held in place by five prongs! It’s set on a simple, thin band as well. It’s just lovely!

The price was so low that I wouldn’t feel nervous wearing it in the scariest part of town (not that I frequent such places). So I ordered it for myself for Christmas! Any other day I would pass it by as a want, not a need. But … ’tis the season!

UPDATE: Here is a better photo of the actual replica now that I have it:

12/28/11 Edit:
Why is this special to me?  Several reasons. For starters, the story behind the ring chosen by Lady Diana, which caused a bit of a scandal. She chose what she wanted, though, not what was expected of her. I admire that immensely! Also, the fact that the ring I have consists of a lab created sapphire surrounded by cubic zirconias and still looks this fabulous … I mean, come on! Case in point – it doesn’t have to cost a half million dollars to be stunning. And finally, this was the only Christmas gift this year that is only for me. So, in a way, it symbolizes hope for a better more comfortable future.

Memories of Retail & Yearning to Craft Again

The Old Logo

Whenever I shop at Michaels in Southlands, I kind of feel at home. I have fond memories of working there, and I really enjoyed it. The only thing that started getting to me were the hours (including weekends). Get a fuller story here. I especially miss the 25% employee discount!

I worked under the old tag line “The Arts and Crafts Store”. Apparently they’re under new management and have made changes. Their new tag line is “Where Creativity Happens” with a much simpler logo.

The New Logo

No more red aprons, either. Now they require khaki pants and black tops. In the beginning of the changes, they wiped out all classes offered except for Wilton Cake Decorating (only kept because of a contract with Wilton). They finally brought the classes back, though! I had a brief, fleeting thought of becoming a Jewelry class instructor again for a little extra cash and for the discount, but the position has already been filled. Just as well! My availability would be very limited anyway.

Crafting is more enjoyable when you’re not being paid to do it actually. I hope to be able to make time for it again once I’m moved into my new office/craft space. My problem with making time is that I like to dive into projects and not surface again for hours. If I know I don’t have that long, I just put it off. <– said as I glance over at a necklace that has been laid out ready to be pieced together for many weeks now!

Introducing … Shedora Jewelry!

Remember when I posted my opinion on Pandora jewelry? Well, I finally made some of my own and am proudly calling it Shedora jewelry! Get it? Sheila … Pandora … Shedora? You might have had to be there! It all started with these mood beads I found at a local craft store. I knew I already had a few glass lampwork beads lying around somewhere and plenty of spacers. I found the charm holders at a different craft store (the center pieces) and added a dangler to that. Then I worked in a few semi-precious stones as well. These are the three bracelets I came up with.

Miranda’s

Ali’s

Mine

Pandora Jewelry Trend with High Price Tag

With a rise in handmade jewelry, fine jewelry stores had to find a way to compete.

How much would you guess this bracelet might cost? This looks like something I could throw together for you in less than an hour for $25-$40 max. Was that about the price range you were guessing?

Sorry. You can’t even get the base bracelet for that little. Try $55 for the base alone from Pandora™! Small spacer beads are $20-$25 each. Those square beads (see the green and blue up front) are at least $35 each. The lampwork glass beads are at least $60 each and go up to over $200 a pop! I can’t see every single bead on this bracelet, but my low estimate is over $1,000.  I just can’t see spending this much on this particular bracelet in the photo shown here.

These happen to be sterling silver. If I hadn’t told you that, would you know by looking at it? Don’t lie! When I show jewelry I make, I’m sometimes asked if it’s sterling silver. I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder … if you had to ask, what does it really matter. Does it make a person feel different somehow to be wearing real sterling silver? I’m being serious with that question because I can’t tell a difference.

I understand Pandora does have charms and beads that spark a memory of a special event or milestone in a person’s life and therefore are worn as a representation of that time. I completely understand how something like this is treasured. I’m sure the same people would treasure a necklace made by their preschooler from painted dry pasta and wear it just as proudly. I’m not comparing the two directly or saying one is more precious than the other. It’s so hard to express an opinion without having to over-word the entire thing to avoid offending.

There are two reasons for my rant. When I first saw a commercial for this jewelry, it surprised me a little because it reminded me of the beads I find in my local craft store. I’m sorry, but my immediate reaction was that I could make something that looked very similar for a fraction of the cost. I just didn’t get it. The second reason simply has to do with how I feel about spending money and where/how it’s spent. This is personal. At the risk of getting too far off topic, people could bring up the fact that I drive a Jag and ask how that is different. I bought that car used with 63,000 miles on it for an amount that none of you would believe. Also, I do have some expensive fine jewelry that was given to me as gifts. They are special to me because they were gifts. If they were cubic zirconias, they would be equally as special.

I published this post several minutes ago but am editing it after receiving a comment on Facebook about it being hurtful by a friend who happens to own some of this jewelry. My heart jumped when I read this. I have since deleted my blog post notification from my wall, including that comment. I’m deeply sorry that my opinion offended this friend because she has been very kind to me. That being said, my personal feelings about the jewelry being over-priced remain the same. Many things are. That’s life!

Artisan Jewelry

Handmade by Me!

Did you know that “artisan” is just a fancy word for “hand crafted”?  I’ve been making jewelry for several years now.  That was one of the reasons I was drawn to a new Michaels over two years ago.  I kept driving past the doors watching for a sign telling when it was to open.  One day there was a sign that said “Now Hiring”.  They were conducting interviews on the spot that day.  It must have been kismet!  I got the job, which included a 25% employee discount.  Within 6 weeks I was promoted to Price Integrity Coordinator.  After another few months, I was promoted again to Event Coordinator.  I was in charge of the initial interviewing of class instructors.  Can you guess who made got the Jewelry Instructor position?  ME!

I miss the employee discount now that I no longer work there, but I’ve learned how to watch the sales and coupons.  There are some good coupons this weekend.  Today only there’s a 15% off entire purchase, including sale items.  Tomorrow only there’s a 30% off entire purchase, excluding sale items.  That’s where we’re headed today before the movie theater.  ;->

Click each photo for larger view.

As a woman with many interests and hobbies, I tend to let some things simmer and collect a little dust.  Recently, I decided to brush away the cobwebs and dive back into jewelry making!  The pieces shown here are my latest creations.  The bonus:  combining jewelry making with photography!  Be still my heart!