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Lauren Conrad's Jewelry Line Might Just Be A Huge Rip Off

LC Lauren Conrad Jewelry Line Photo via Google images

"YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID!" LC screams as MTV makes her accidently run into new nemesis, once best friend, Heidi in an infamous scene of The Hills. If you're a millennial, you know exactly where you were when that episode aired and you may have even had a "Team LC" t-shirt on. Nearly ten years later, Lauren Conrad has built a mini-empire with her sense of fashion and likeability. She has plugged into the large fanbase created from the show, a show often critiqued for how fake, construed, and far from reality it was. 

Meanwhile, I'm over here screaming that same phrase as I look over Lauren's newly launched jewelry line and see the astronomical prices for the products with her celebrity name on them. Again, something happening here is far from reality.

I haven't kept up with Lauren or her work for many years, but was surprised to read this morning about her new fine jewelry line launch on Who What Wear. Simple designs--some may call them "classic," others may say they are undeniably basic. The rings are done in 10k rose and white gold, the lowest karat gold alloy out there to still be considered "fine" jewelry. The gemstones are a mix of commercial grade diamond melee, ranging in full cuts and single cuts, and gemstones like morganite, green quartz and blue topaz.  

The descriptions from the Kohl's website, where you can purchase the jewelry from, give all the details (which I for one am thankful for the full disclosure on the goods, including diamond grades and sizes) however most of these details for the average shopper are just as well off in another language. Clarity, color and diamond weight are descriptors that your average shopper might not be able to connect with or translate. 

As an experienced jewelry appraiser with more than nine years in the business, what I saw had alarmed me, and I felt I needed to educate the masses who may not be familiar with evaluating jewelry and putting a monetary value on a piece like this. I'm also 99% sure Lauren herself doesn't know how to appraise jewelry, let alone design it and price it--so I know it is not her personally that is responsible for these overpriced items. I believe it is my responsibility, as a member of the press, to educate and express my concern when I see something I don't understand or feel is ridiculous. I am simply an advocate to the blind consumer, who hopefully won't be so blind after reading this!

I'd like to take a few pieces from the LC Lauren Conrad jewelry line and break them down, in appraiser's terms, and let you know what retail replacement value I would give these rings if they were brought to me for an appraisal. 

LC Lauren Conrad Jewelry Line

First up, this single solitaire ring from the LC Lauren Conrad Collection. Website says it is 10k rose gold and I can see it is clearly stamped that as well. As I alluded to above, 10k gold is the lowest karat grade to be considered fine jewelry, at least in the United States. A quick gold lesson--24k gold is pure gold, it comes out of the ground this way. It is too soft in this form, so the gold is alloyed or combined with other metals to make it more durable and affordable for jewelry wear. 10k gold means that 41.6% of that ring is actual gold, the 58.4% is other metals. Keyword here is affordable; most 10k gold rings are found in stores like WalMart or department stores and pricing should be as such. Not $1,200. That's insane. If you put this ring on a scale and weighed it for gold weight, a scrap gold value would be most likely around $30-60. That is the offer you would be getting from a jewelry store or pawn shop that buys unwanted jewelry from the public--they wouldn't even consider the stones because of how low quality they are (they might pop out the morganite and give it back to you). 

My retail replacement value: $295, compared to $1,200

LC Lauren Conrad Jewelry Line

Next up, the 1/8th of a carat diamond band done in 10k white gold. Here, let's focus on the diamonds in this ring--first and foremost the carat weight. One eighth. That's not a lot. Do you know how tiny the diamonds need to be to ADD UP to an even tinier number of 1/8th?! So tiny! That's roughly 0.13 carats between, looks like 14 diamonds. The photo of the ring is blown up to show detail, so please please don't pay $800 for a ring like this with hardly any diamond weight, let alone high quality diamond weight. Just as the other rings within the collection show, the clarity is I-1/I-2 meaning its at the bottom of the scale--eye-visible inclusions abound. We're talking commercial grade, on-the-brink industrial grade, diamonds. 

My retail replacement value: $250, compared to $800

LC Lauren Conrad Jewelry Line

Lastly, this solitaire morganite ring done in 10k rose gold. It's cute; people are going to love it because the blush color of the stone, paired with the blush color of the rose gold--two very fashionable things happening right now. But the price tag kills me--$2,000! Morganite is a gemstone in the beryl family, the same family of gems as a more well-known stone, emerald. Still, Morganite does not compare to emerald in rarity and price. The price per carat varies widely on Morganite, but on average anywhere from $70-200 is a good estimate. This particular ring features a 1.87 carat stone. 

My retail replacement value: $375, compared to $2,000

I understand these prices are set with a huge premium as a celebrity is endorsing them, the profit needs to be split and divided multiple times amongst several different channels--I GET THAT.  But, hopefully after reading this you will understand that these pieces have a value that doesn't match up to the retail price given. It is high-end prices with low-end products. Heck, there's even a "Buy one, get one half off" sale going on--so if that doesn't concern you, then you must just be shopping for the name brand.

Choose wisely my friends!

*ring photos via Kohls website 

xoxoGemGossip

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Book Review: Christie's The Jewellery Archives Revealed

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Have you ever dreamed of going into the vaults and archives of the infamous, world-renowned auction house Christie's?! I feel like I dream about that on a daily basis and although I've never gotten my chance, author Vincent Meylan may hold the key to unlocking that door with his latest book called Christie's The Jewellery Archives Revealed. In it, he chronicles some of the most headlining jewelry auctions--from British Royalty jewels, to Elizabeth Taylor's collection, and everything in between. Mr. Meylan had insider's access to the Christie's archives to research for this book, where he brings hundreds of color illustrations, including more than 100 original documents reproduced just for the pages of this tome. 

The history behind Christie's is even more extensive than what I thought--with their first sale being on December 5, 1766! It is interesting to read that during this revolutionary time, the events that took place may have actually benefited Christie's because so many people of royalty were being sent to the guillotine. Chapter two has quite the attention-grabbing title of "Murdered Queens." The extensive stories behind each historical piece are quite fascinating, and I am thoroughly enjoying the paintings of the royals as well as photos of the jewels which illustrate the book. It gives you insight into European royalty as well, including history and intriquing stories behind many of their ill-fated lives. 

Chapter 11 is a favorite, titled "Diamonds are Christie's Best Friends," it chronicles a few of the top-selling, biggest, rarest and most stunning diamonds to ever grace Christie's auction floor. This chapter opens up about how mysterious and extensive their diamond sales were over the past couple centuries. The earliest diamond consignments reveal not much on where they came from...and in the same breadth, where did they end up once sold?  A trio of rubies, for example, went up for auction in 1891. The weight and rarity of any one of these, if they were to resurface, would shatter any record ever set. So astonishing.

Aside from the last chapter, it is noteworthy to check out the Appendix. It lists significant names of pieces/collections that went up for auction by year, starting with the year 1767. It is a great, quick reference as well as a "who's who" amongst those who sold pieces through Christie's.

The auction world is quite mysterious, legendary and totally unique. It is one of my favorite parts of my jewelry hobby. This book encompasses all this and more, and should you find yourself daydreaming of all the jaw-dropping jewels that once passed through Christie's auction house--you might want to buy yourself this book to know exactly how incredible they truly are!

To purchase your own copy of Christie's The Jewellery Archives Revealed, click below:

Five Investment Pieces You Need In Your Jewelry Wardrobe

Gem Gossip

I've been collecting fine jewelry for over fifteen years now and it is interesting to look back on pieces that I purchased in the beginning. I like to ask myself if those items were a good investment and part of evaluating that is knowing how much wear I've gotten out of each piece since purchasing. Your investment is only as good as how much joy and wear the piece of jewelry is providing for you--I am a firm believer in that!

But what if you don't know where to start? Let's say you're new to collecting fine jewelry and only own a few odds and ends. You've got to start somewhere and being able to create a look by accessorizing your daily outfits with these pieces is a must. So let's start with a list I've compiled of the five investment pieces you need to have in your jewelry wardrobe. These are staples that are meant to be classics, which never go out of style and will continue to get worn for years to come. These are pieces you should not feel bad for splurging on and rightfully so. These are future heirlooms, diamond encrusted, solid gold, hefty pieces that will be worth the same, if not more later on.

1. Stud Earrings:

If you have your ears pierced, owning a few pairs of stud earrings that flatter your face shape, style and taste are necessary for your jewelry wardrobe. Whether you choose a pair that features gemstones, all gold, or unique shapes, just as long as you feel they are classic for your style. I have a few pairs of different sized pearl studs, some diamond studs in various carat sizes, all gold flower studs, and my diamond X earrings. I wear all these constantly and they have been worth the investment. Every woman, in my opinion, needs a pair of diamond studs!

 

2. Solid gold necklace:

Gold chains are an important accessory to buy and will always be worth the investment. As the years go by and styles go in and out of fashion, different chain lengths will ultimately come and go. I remember when I first started collecting jewelry, long chains were all the rage. Then a few years later everyone was wearing dainty, thin gold chains with pendants. Of course, now long chains are back in style and luckily I still held on to my original 30" chain that I had invested in years ago. So invest in multiple lengths and also a chain that can hold charms easily, with sliding on/off accessible.

 

3. Wide Band:

It seems as though I've created a whole section within my jewelry box that can only be labeled as "wide bands." It is a category of rings that has stood the test of time and has really become my go-to when accessorizing an outfit. I often wear a wide gold band in place of my engagement ring. Another good use for them--pinky rings! There seems to be a perfect way to end a great ring stack, and that's with a finishing touch of a wide gold band on your pinky!

 

4. Hoop Earrings:

Ah, yes hoop earrings. The best way to make a statement on your ears, in my opinion. There are so many different styles out there so my best piece of advice for hoops is to choose a pair that suit your own personal style. Or take the easy way out, like I would, and invest in a few different sizes. A pair of small "huggie" type hoops, a mid-size pair, and a pair that is larger than your average size. It is funny how these size differences can make you totally feel different. I have a few pairs, but personally love my braided hoops. It gives the ordinary hoop some personality and I love a good texture!

 

5. Statement Ring:

It's no secret how much I love rings, but if you don't own a statement ring (also known as a cocktail ring) you are seriously missing out!  Such a simple thing can strike up such pizzazz for any outfit, any occasion. There are so many different styles to choose from, I found some great options for you below to shop. Whether you want to go for a piece that focuses more on the gemstone or a piece that is focuses on the design and structure, either way you can't lose! 

 

xoxoGemGossip

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Disclaimer: Above post contains affiliate links 

One to Follow: @Walters_Faith

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Walters Faith Jewelry has been creating a buzz since launching in 2013. They've captured an audience that needed jewelry badly, and that audience happens to be the unisex crowd. Now more than ever, unisex jewelry is on the rise and Walters Faith has created lots of options of hefty, handcrafted pieces. From their wide, ridged bands in multiple gold colors, to their links and hexagonal motif, all pieces are architecturally pleasing and staples in so many wardrobes.

Their latest venture is a collaboration with Olivia Chantecaille, launching a capsule collection of diamond, sapphire and amethyst pendant necklaces inspired by the elegance and luxury of beauty compacts. The collaboration between jewelry designers and beauty guru brings two worlds together that usually are very separate, and the end results are beautiful! That's why Walters Faith is this month's One To Follow! 

 

xoxoGemGossip

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SHOW ME YOUR RINGS! XC

jhadleyjewelry lynn_ban jessicamccormackdiamonds amygreggjewelry roseark lfrankjewelry diamondsinthelibrary luckandlockets oldgoldobsession

{from top to bottom:

jhadleyjewelry and her amazing one-finger wonder, the mani is everything too

lynn_ban shows how color can be powerful and so is the phrase "more is more"

jessicamccormackdiamonds gets in the spirit of Valentine's Day with rubies

amygreggjewelry sets free form opals and bold gems into her amazing designs

roseark combining several designers--Selin Kent, Christina Magdolna Jewelry, Amy Gregg & Queen Vee

lfrankjewelry does a good triple stone and of course major cluster

diamondsinthelibrary found another twinned heart ring at the Miami Antique Show but didn't buy it

luckandlockets has the blues in the best way possible--Georgian blues

oldgoldobsession has an amazing collection of portrait miniatures--the furthest on the right is from the Miami show}