LOVE LOVE LOVE! Lana Earrings

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I pretty much love everything by Lana Jewelry, but I especially love love love! the earrings. Lana Bramlette, known as the “Queen of Hoops,” amps up her breathtaking collections with shimmering 14kt gold, sparkling diamonds, and designs that drape body contours. Totally flirty, feminine, and very very sexy, if you like dramatic fun pieces, I highly recommend taking a moment to peruse the Lana Jewelry website and treating yourself to something truly spectacular. http://www.lanajewelry.com/
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The Easy Breesy Stretch Bracelet

Stretch bracelet from the Petal Plush Pearls Collection by Arpaia Jewelry with cultured pearls, Swarovski crystal, and 22kt Gold accents.
“Water Roses” stretch bracelet from the Petal Plush Pearls Collection by Arpaia Jewelry with saltwater and freshwater cultured pearls, Swarovski crystal, and artisan crafted 22kt gold accents.

The wearable comfort of a stretch bracelet is undeniable, and its slip-on-and-off ease is a most desirable attribute. From casual to glam, the stretch bracelet makes little chore of putting on and taking off a bracelet.

The downside of no fumbling is well known: breakage inevitably occurs causing components to fly everywhere.

Overtime, stretchable stringing materials loose elasticity or get over-stretched and can tear, snap, or break.

Many jewelry designers choose not to include stretch bracelets in their collections because of durability issues. Personally, I did not start making stretch bracelets until very recently, after so many repeated requests by cherished clients.

To overcome my stubborn fear of breakage, I adopted the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Correct fit, gentle handling, proper care, and periodic restringing could counteract breakage woes.

Here are a few helpful hints designed to minimize risk of accidental breakage:

1. Good fit. A stretch bracelet should fit the wrist well. Stretch bracelets should not be tight or snug. Constant tension causes greater wear. The best fit is one that sustains no tension on the elastic core during normal wear. Also, the bracelet should not be too loose. Gaping bracelets are prone to catching on things and getting pulled during wear.

2. Roll on and off. The less stretch, the better. Roll the bracelet smoothly over the hand to put on and take off. Breakage often occurs when taking stretch bracelets on and off. I recommend to clients that they slip stretch bracelets on and off while leaning over a bed, so that if the elastic breaks, all components fall onto a soft area where they can be easily collected for restringing.

3. Gently clean stretch bracelets. Follow cleaning instructions of manufacturer/designer. In absence, a safe cleaning method is to gently wipe piece with a clean soft microfiber cloth after each wear.

4. Store stretch jewelry separately in a soft pouch away from other jewelry. All jewelry should be stored away from sunlight and other heat sources.

5. Restring stretch bracelets periodically. Examine stretch bracelets every time before putting on. If the cord appears slack or shows any other signs of wear, it should be restrung. Stretch bracelets that are worn often should be restrung at least annually if not more frequently. Elastic can dry out over time even when not worn, so all stretch bracelets should be restrung every few years. Craft stores typically carry stringing materials. For those who wish to restring themselves, stringing can be fun, awaken one’s creativity, and be a practical cost-saving approach especially with respect to very affordable pieces. I do recommend retaining the services of a qualified professional to restring more valuable pieces.

Proper Care for Ethiopian Opal Jewelry

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14kt Gold and Sterling Silver Heart Pendant by David Nugent of Evensong Jewelry. Set with a natural Ethiopian opal cabochon by Robert Lang of Arpaia Lang. Before setting the stone, Robert applied a layer of dark blue enamel to inside bezel mounting – the dark background enhances opal’s play of color.

About Ethiopian Opal

Precious opal was discovered in Mezezo, Ethiopia back in the early 1990s, but it was not sufficiently stable for jewelry use due to cracking.

In 2008, Ethiopia’s Wollo province became a source of white precious opal and crystal opal, and in 2013, Wollo also became a producer of dark and black precious opal.

Gem quality opals from the Wollo province are more stable, and have been steadily increasing market share in the jewelry industry due to very attractive play of color and price point.

Precious opals from Australia and several other known sources originate in sedimentary rock. Ethiopian opals originate in volcanic rock. The more porous structure of Ethiopian opal absorbs water in a manner similar to that of a sponge, and this “hydrophane” property affects the transparency of Ethiopian opal when immersed in water.

Care of Ethiopian Opal

It is the hydrophane nature of Ethiopian opal that is pertinent to its care as a gemstone.

At GIA’s 96th Gemstone Gathering in Bangkok earlier this month, Jeffery Bergman, Director and founder of Primagem based in Thailand, presented an examination of Ethiopian opal  as relates to possible treatments. Bergman is an American gemstone dealer with 40 years experience in the mining, cutting, and the wholesaling and retailing of gemstones and fine jewelry.

After preliminary research, Bergman concluded that contact with oils or other liquids may result in a reduction of play-of-color and possible permanent damage to Ethiopian opal. In particular, Bergman advised that Ethiopian opal beads should be worn only over clothing and should not come in contact with skin where they can absorb perspiration.

The beauty and affordability of Ethiopian opal are compelling. As we learn more about this wondrous gem, we will learn more about its recommended care.

In the meantime, prudence dictates that Ethiopian opals are best mounted in protective settings that keep these gems away from direct contact with skin. Also, Ethiopian opals do not benefit from a water bath, and in fact, could be damaged from immersion.

As with all opals, Ethiopian opals should not be cleaned by steam, in an ultrasonic cleaner, or with any harsh cleaning agents. In addition, Ethiopian opals should not be cleaned with warm soapy water because of its hydrophane nature – cleaning an Ethiopian opal with soapy water or other liquids could cause contamination of the gem if any residue remains in the opal after drying. Trapped residue could reduce play of color, negatively affect transparency, change the gem’s bodycolor, or cause internal cracking.

After every wear, the best cleaning method for Ethiopian opal jewelry is to use a clean, soft, dry microfiber cloth to gently remove fingerprints, dirt, residue, and oils. 

Short-term contact with plain water does not seem to harm gem quality Ethiopian opals. If a hydrophane opal gets wet from rain or other cause, simply dry off surface with a clean microfiber cloth and then let the stone naturally air dry for 24 hours – any absorbed water will leave the stone and its play of color should be restored to its previous state without any cracking. Do not attempt to speed up the natural air-drying process by applying heat of any kind.

Click this link to view video of Jeffery Bergman’s presentation on “Opal Treatments: Facts, Fears & Fairytales.”

On a final note: This post is meant to be helpful on a topic of general interest and may contain unintended inaccuracies. It is expressly not intended to give advice about the care of any particular piece of jewelry, and as such, this post should not be relied upon for that purpose. Any questions about jewelry care should always be directed to the manufacturer or place of purchase, as these parties are in the best position to give advice about the care and cleaning of the jewelry and gemstones that they sell in the wholesale and/or retail markets.

All gemstone jewelry by Arpaia Jewelry comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth, and care instructions are provided at time of purchase. Click this link for more detailed information on jewelry care.

Juicy Jewelry News!

JUICY JEWELRY NEWS! RECAPS SOME OF THE BIGGEST NEWS FROM TOP INSIDER INDUSTRY SOURCES.

HERE IS ONE RECENT IMPORTANT EVENT IN THE JEWELRY WORLD:

New Digital GIA Diamond Focus Report for Natural Diamonds Between 0.15 and 0.29 Carats

“Snow Flowers” one-of-a-kind Platinum, Diamond & Cultured Pearl Earrings by Arpaia Lang

For decades, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has issued certified Diamond Grading Reports documenting the 4Cs of diamond quality – clarity, color, cut, and carat weight – as well as, shape, proportions, finish, and treatments.

On August 3, 2015, GIA began offering a Diamond Focus Report to meet industry and consumer demand for rigorous independent grading of smaller diamonds. The Diamond Focus Report is a new low-cost digital report for natural, round brilliant-cut diamonds in the D-to-Z color range (not fancy colors) between 0.15 and 0.29 carats.

The report provides carat weight, color, clarity, and cut grades, polish and symmetry grade, and fluorescence description. Laser inscription of the GIA report number is included, and the results are available through GIA’s online Report Check.

A printed report is not provided with this service. Cost of the Diamond Focus Report by GIA labs in Carlsbad, CA and New York, NY is $20 each for diamonds 0.15 – 0.22 carats and $22 each for diamonds 0.23 – 0.29 carats.

LOVE LOVE LOVE!

LOVE LOVE LOVE! Fringe Collection in Sterling Silver by Coomi

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By Kimberly Arpaia: The Fringe Collection by Coomi is fabricated in both 20kt yellow gold and in sterling silver. While both metals are stunning, I absolutely adore Coomi’s silver fringe jewelry, and if I were in a position, I would layer myself in this collection! Some silver pieces are beautifully paired with gold, like the cuff below, and many are studded with tiny diamonds that drip or glimmer at the edges. As a fine jewelry designer, I appreciate the gorgeous details that blend in such a hypnotic, harmonious way, with a palpable tribal spirit.

Breathtaking and beautifully designed – lucky Neiman Marcus is the exclusive retail place to shop this line. Click on this link to check out collection and pricing.

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Ultra Glam Hoops and A Very Special Promotion

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Sterling Silver Twist Hoops by Arpaia Jewelry

Sterling silver hoop earrings are timeless classics. The subtle curvature and premium dual finish of ice frost matte exterior with high mirror polish interior elevate this stunning pair of hoops by Arpaia Jewelry. Highest quality materials and craftsmanship. Optimal rhodium plated for beautiful wear and longevity. 40% OFF discount code HAPPY applies to online orders placed today and tomorrow only (7/30/15 – 7/31/15). Purchase qualifies for regular FREE SHIPPING within continental US. A very small production run, so quantities are extremely limited. To order, simply click on above image or this sentence and enter discount code HAPPY at checkout.

Shopping for Gemstone Jewelry? Knowledge is Key!

Dancing Slipper Petal Plush Pearl Pendant by Arpaia Jewelry on Italian Vermeil Chain
“Dancing Slipper” handcrafted pendant by Kimberly Arpaia. Petal Plush Pearls Collection by Arpaia Jewelry. Natural color cultured freshwater pearl with handmade dichroic glass and Swarovski crystal on 36″ Italian chain.

Today, gemstone treatments are prevalent. It is estimated that up to 95% of all ruby, sapphire, emerald, and tanzanite used in jewelry are treated.

Common gemstone treatments include heating, irradiation, dyeing, bleaching, impregnation, fracture filling, lattice diffusion, laser drilling, high pressure high temperature (HPHT), and surface modification.

These treatments and others are responsible for bringing many desirable gems to market, and in fact, are often necessary to meet the demand for some popular gems.

All known and suspected gemstone treatments must be disclosed at time of sale.

It is vital that consumers have this information in order to make informed purchases, and also to understand how treatments might affect wear, repair, and care.

Unfortunately, some retailers are not knowledgable about gemstone treatments or simply fail to disclose.

As a result, jewelry shoppers are best served by being aware of common gemstone treatments, at least enough to know what questions to ask before completing a sale.

In addition to understanding the differences between natural and treated gems, it is interesting and useful to know about synthetics and simulants (imitations).

All of these topics are covered in the Arpaia Jewelry Newsletter: Good Stuff to Know when Shopping for Gemstone Jewelry: A Friendly Primer on Gemstone Treatments, Synthetics, and Imitations. Just click this link!

The Paris Bracelet

JUICY JEWELRY NEWS! RECAPS SOME OF THE BIGGEST STORIES FROM TOP INSIDER INDUSTRY SOURCES. HERE IS ONE SUCH COLOSSAL EVENT HAPPENING IN THE JEWELRY WORLD RIGHT NOW:

The Paris Bracelet Hits the US …

Is it the next big thing?

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Retailers in the US are hoping that “The Paris Bracelet” is the next huge success story like Pandora and Alex and Ani. Currently priced at $29 to $59 retail, the line falls within the magic price point of affordable, accessible jewelry fashion. Plus, adorned with Swarovski Elements, The Paris Bracelet incorporates the ultimate bling factor.

The stretchable color-fast ribbon that serves as the foundation for the bracelet is made in Japan with couture quality. Then, the bracelet is hand-assembled in Paris incorporating Swarovski crystal and base metal.

In Europe, the bracelet is known as “Les interchageables.” It was created by Parisian designer, Audrey Bot, who started out making interchangeable bra straps. The elegant and wearable bracelets have been produced in France since 2009, and they have been steadily gaining market share in several countries.

Pennsylvania retailer, Susan Fotos, who owns Higashi Jewelry and Eyewear in Harrisburg, first saw Les interchageables in the summer of 2013 at a “Who’s Next ” trade show in Paris. In early 2015, Fotos purchased the brand for her own store, and “The Paris Bracelet” was born. After it immediately sold out in her shop, Fotos reordered and astutely collaborated with Bot to become the sole US distributor.

The Paris Bracelet is now in at least 176 US stores, with that number certain to explode. The bracelets come with a one-year warranty: if a crystal falls off in that time frame, it will be replaced at no charge. In the US, the bracelet is available in 20 colors and 24 patterns, with additional designs coming out for the holiday season. The most popular colors are nude and black.

Click this link for a list of US retailers:  Where to Buy

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Fluff Puff & Real Stuff

Real Stuff: Sharing Advice From Sales Coach, Pat Henneberry

Kimberly Arpaia: I like working with a fire in my belly, and I find that I am attracted to working with other people who have fire in their bellies. Whatever this fire arises from – knowledge, adrenaline, passion, ego, competitive will, discipline, desire to build, desire to please, or bursting creativity – it seems to supply an air of excitement and happiness for me that is like electricity.

Every jewelry design project that I undertake, whether on my own or by collaboration, is thrilling from the start. My cup does runneth over throughout the creative process.

When it comes to selling my original work, that same fire and excitement is there.  I am comfortable in my element, showing my lovely jewelry to potential buyers, and sharing my knowledge about the pieces.

Clients often express that I’m a super sales person. So why, then, is my conversion rate less than stellar?  I should be superb at selling the jewelry that I am so passionate about.  Why does this fire in my belly not drive most sales to a stunning close? I want to be more than just a good worker bee. I want to be a successful artist and business person.

Clearly, I need to develop enhanced sales techniques. Observant of this truth, I read a lot of advice from dynamic business people on the internet. Read. Listen. Learn.

I’m beginning to realize that the most practical time-honored methods are those that I forget when approaching a sale. I want all my beautiful jewelry to find loving homes. In my enthusiasm, I lose sight of the single crucial objective: to make a sale. Instead, I make a merry production. Not what the client wants. Not what the client needs. Clients want super fast and to be keenly interested. They don’t want to expend precious energy and time unnecessarily. Obviously, I could do much better with an easy, straightforward method. Yes, I still want my sales approach to be fluid and natural, but to be successful, I must become effective!

Henneberry-articleOf all the writings on point, I recently came across a salient article in National Jeweler by Pat Henneberry, Vice President of Global Learning and Development at Hearts On Fire, and Founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers.

The article is titled “Coach’s corner: 10 common mistakes salespeople make.” I think it aptly applies to business people in general. The points raised could be useful to successfully closing a sale, making a winning presentation, or succinctly articulating opinions and ideas.

The article references 10 mistakes. To reinforce how to conduct a sale, here I highlight Henneberry’s 10 points in the affirmative.

The first huge point that Henneberry makes is to be at your best during face-to-face time. Rock your customer’s world! 

Using some of my own words, and mixing in a few of my own thoughts and interpretations (hey … this is a blog), here is how Henneberry advises to rock your customer’s world during a sale (and I’m listening!):

1. Be on Time and Be Proactive. If you have a store, be sure to greet every customer within seconds from walk-in, otherwise the customer may feel unwelcome and uncared for.

2. Step Up your Appearance. Your appearance shows respect for your customer, makes you feel good, and lends credibility to you and what you are selling. While dressing down is common today, this is not true in the jewelry world. Jewelry customers deserve the best treatment and the best experience. Part of that experience is your appearance. It is wiser to be overdressed.

3. Treat Your Customer with Courtesy and Respect. Customers are not long lost friends, so acting way too friendly, verbally or physically, is just phony and “salesy.”

4. Listen Rather Than Talk. A genuine smile is your best asset. Get curious about your customer. Ask questions that prompt responses about what they want and that provide information that you need in order to help them. Build a relationship of trust.

5. Understand your Customer’s Position. Never get defensive or argue with a customer. If your customer does not agree with an important point, posturing will only set that opinion in concrete. Instead, be interested and ask why the customer holds that opinion. Then, really LISTEN. Not only might you learn something, but also, you will continue to build on that relationship of trust instead of deflating it.

6. Present your Jewelry Based on the Customer’s Needs. Don’t give a sales pitch. You don’t need to once you’ve learned what your customers wants. Base your discussion on your customer’s needs – use what you have learned.

7. Product Knowledge is Mandatory. Know everything about the product and brand you are selling as well as all policies pertaining to sale. This knowledge will enable you to respond to your customer’s questions on the spot. Customers do not want to hear “I’ll get back to you on that.” (My addition here: Provide pertinent key information even if the customer does not ask. For example, part of selling a piece of jewelry is explaining to the customer how to properly clean and care for it. Also, as a jewelry professional, you must disclose gem treatments and you should know how to easily explain them to your customer in a positive manner).

8. Hands Off Smartphone. Turn down sound completely on your phone. Keep phone out of sight and do not answer email, phone, or text when you are talking with a customer. Your customer is your universe!

9. Stay on Track. Your customer’s time has great value and young customers demand fast. Do not meander. Get to the point quickly and masterfully. Provide a brief (operative word) agenda of what you are going to show them and discuss. Keep it simple. (Me again: Be poignant. Everything should be geared toward the customer’s needs).

10. Say “Thank You” and Be Grateful. Your customer could be anywhere else, so thank them for their time and for trusting you.

Henneberry concludes her article with praise and encouragement (smart!): “Continue to be the great sales professional you are. Make those lifetime customers and hang in there when things get tough. Believe in yourself and always, ‘Make it the best sales day ever!'”