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Tips on How to Go from Passion Project to Full-Time

Gem Gossip How to go from passion project to full time career

We all have a passion--something that we've loved since childhood that brings us pure joy when we think about it, talk about it, or do it! Or maybe it is a passion that has developed later on in life--like a newfound love for eating and cooking healthy, or an obsession with all things motherhood. For me it was always jewelry, it just took me a few years to figure out that it was an industry I needed to be a part of rather than the teaching career I had set out to do. And for you, the possibilities are endless as to what passion you have and want to explore...luckily we have the internet and social media to easily connect with hundreds, if not thousands, of others who also share this same passion. 

Having that small idea sparked everything for me--I simply wanted to share my passion for jewelry with others who also love jewelry because at that moment in my life I was the only person I knew who loved jewelry. That idea was the sole purpose for starting Gem Gossip. I never thought in a million years it would end up becoming my brand, my career and my 24/7 life...but here I am, and here we are. 

I've put together some tips, ten of them to be exact, that will chronologically guide you if you are also looking to make your passion project your career. I use my situation in a lot of these and hope you find my advice useful! Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments section.

1. Define your passion

This may seem redundant or the simplest of tasks on this list, but it is most important. It is essential that you define your passion, knowing exactly what that encompasses and what it leaves out. Especially with starting a blog, having a very specific subject is important--being too broad can sometimes hurt you in the long run.

2. Don't quit your day job

Your passion project should always start out as a part-time "thing on the side" gig, because in most cases you won't be earning money from your passion project in the very beginning stages. For some, it may take months, years, even several years before any money can start being obtained from your passion project. For me, it took about five years to score my first big collaboration, but that still didn't allow me to quit my day job. 

3. Work hard towards goals

Once I realized that collaborating on projects, writing sponsored blog posts and Instagram posts, as well as creating content for jewelry designers could pay me about the same if not more than what I was currently making, that's when I knew I could potentially quit and be my own boss. I made sure to first set some goals--for me this was setting aside a certain amount of money before I could quit my job. I had a number in my head and worked hard everyday at chipping away. It is often very hard to quit a job and doing so can be quite scary, but you'll know when the timing is right--you'll get a feeling that is indescribable and walking out the door will be euphoric. I know it was for me!

4. Build your audience

Your audience is everything. They become your value, your reason for continuing to create content. Without them, you have no brand. Every single follow or like should be considered similar to a customer walking through your store. It's important to build audiences on several different platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter...even LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media websites.

5. Don't ever sell out or do things that don't align with what you believe in

Once you build your brand, it sometimes can be easy to veer off from a path you thought was once straight and narrow, easy and consistent. You should know your limits and stick to them. For me, since day one I have never featured fashion jewelry like silver or gold-plated items and that has been easy to stick to (people often praise my decision for sticking with this). On the other hand, I've also drawn the line with synthetic gemstones and vowed since day one to only feature genuine gems, nothing man-made like moissanite or sythetic diamonds. This has been more challenging lately because of all the synthetic diamond companies popping up and offering $$. They are heavily marketing this topic and I have stood my ground. (No thanks, move on to someone else who is easily swayed by $.)

6. Do things for free, eventually ask for pay

I easily noticed my first several clients were ones I had always been writing about, featuring, or Instagramming since the very beginning when I did everything for free and on my own dime. You have to start somewhere, you have to see results so you can show your "worth," so doing things for free in the beginning is essential. Some of my best clients are people I've randomly featured one day, and then they suddenly get 300+ followers and a few orders and realize, hey this type of advertising might be something I should try! Working with "influencers" or bloggers is very new to so many people, so taking things slow is usually necessary but the impact is big. When pay becomes involved, for bloggers it is necessary to cite that it has been paid for--making certain that content says #sponsored quite visibily is both necessary and shows your audience you comply with guidelines.

7. Know your worth

It may be hard to put a dollar amount on your work, after all sometimes creativity can't be priced, but you'll have to formulate some sort of fees for what you do if you do decide to be self-employed. For me, it was trial-and-error when it came to pricing...sometimes I would complete a job that took way longer than expected, but I had set a fee prior to beginning. You learn from mistakes and don't be afraid to make them!  Another important point would be to be sure you work with people that you align well with--only offer your services to those who you truly believe in yourself.

8. Explore different networks, avoid becoming predictable

It's important to branch out, especially if you end up working from home and are comfortably facing everyday tasks in your own little world. Connect with others that are both in your realm and out of your realm by collaborating and working together. A few ways I've done this was by hiring a PR company to help get my name out there--they planned a trip for me to come to NYC and have meetings with People Style Watch, the Observer, The Knot, Cosmo, and Barney's. I was able to share my world with those and branch out. I've also collaborated with some fashion bloggers.

As it is always important to have something you're known for, too often than not it isn't good to be so predictable. Do things differently, change up routines, add an intern, try a new photographer...there are so many ways of stirring the pot in a positive way because the moment you become predictable is the moment you become boring!

9. Give back and interact with your audience

Once you've established yourself and are feeling confident as a self-employed being, I think it's really important to give back, especially toward what helped you along the way or to charities that are close to your heart. I also think it is vital to interact with your audience, so no matter how busy I may be, I make time in my schedule to answer comments, DMs and emails.

10. Plan for the future

As a self-employed entrepreneur, you never know what can happen especially living in a society where one thing can be hot one day and the next it's so over. It's important to plan for the future, whether that means saving money, investing in other ventures, learning new skills, or continually network...all these are vital. For me, being self-employed means no 401k plan and I went without health insurance for the first three years. I've learned to make sacrifices in order to be my own boss, and I will continue to do so in the future!




WANT MORE? Check out more Education & Advice blogs

Top Five Online Antique Jewelry Shops, Part Two

This is my updated list of the top five online antique jewelry shops, which I blogged about back in 2013. I figured the list needs some updating as a couple of the shops I've listed are inactive now and I also had eBay on my list, however I would not recommend eBay anymore because the jewelry that is on there now is either junk or overlypriced items that have been on there for years. There are also a lot of Georgian reproductions on eBay and it is difficult to police. 

One thing remains true: I've continued to grow my personal collection mostly because of online finds. Since 2013, a lot has changed and the popularity of Instagram has really garnered a lot of antique jewelry fans to connect on there, where trading and showing off latest finds has been quite extensive. You can quickly learn where the top spots are to find or buy antique jewelry, however the best spots remain secretive to most collectors!

Below are my current TOP FIVE FAVORITES:

1. EBTH -- this website is auction-based, however it is like searching out the best estate sales from around the US in the comfort of your home

2. Fox & Bond -- love their curation and everything is beautifully photographed, constantly updated

3. MetierSF -- their inventory continually is top-notch and I want literally everything they have

4. Maejean Vintage -- an awesome mix of fashion and fine jewelry, perfect for gift-giving season too!

5. Ruby Lane -- I prefer Ruby Lane over Etsy personally as I have found more deals on there, a lot of seasoned veterans sells on Ruby Lane




WANT MORE? Check out more Antique & Vintage Jewelry stories

Jewelry Collection Stories: @SixthCityStyle

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip

I'm so excited to bring to you the personal collection of @SixthCityStyle -- a favorite Instagram account of mine, which I've been following for quite some time now. Her taste is impeccable and she always seems to add just the right new pieces to her collection, each seemingly thought out and great additions all around. It is fun to get to know someone through pictures, like on Instagram, however you don't see their entire story until you politely ask to peek inside their jewelry box and share with the rest of the world. I'm so glad she oblidged and loved learning more about @SixthCityStyle:

At my father’s house, in a closet on a high shelf, is my original jewelry collection: giant, dangly, geometric earrings from the ‘80s; slap bracelets in various colors and prints; vintage gold plate and paste treasures gifted to me from my grandmother’s collection; unicorn pins—-so many unicorn pins…; and a month’s worth of enameled ear studs in every imaginable shape and color, all arranged neatly and lovingly in a purple, plastic container. My mother was a geology professor and I was exposed to rocks and minerals from an early age, so in addition to my avid unicorn collecting I enjoyed visiting the empty pit next to my house and picking rocks. I once found a rock that looked like a chewed up piece of gum; it was gross and I was delighted. As an adult, my tastes have definitely evolved. I don’t wear earrings as often as I used to and none of my bracelets glow in the dark, but I still love rocks and minerals.

My current collection consists of mostly rings. In addition to super large cocktail rings (the larger the better!) I always wear midi rings on several fingers and usually a finger chain too. I hardly ever take off my Bittersweets New York skeleton eternity band—I wear it on my thumb. I’m a professional flutist and people always ask me if I wear all those rings while I play. Yes I do! They’re the perfect source of entertainment during rests and long, tedious rehearsals. Lately I have gravitated toward pastels like aquamarine, pink topaz and Paraiba tourmaline, though I love emeralds and other bold colored stones too. Without question my favorite gemstone is my birthstone: opal.

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip

My taste in jewelry ranges from antique through fresh off the bench. I find the history of old objects fascinating, jewelry most especially as it is deeply personal, having not just been used, but carried around and worn against the skin. I once visited Mozart’s birth house in Salzburg and there, in a glass case amongst other personal items, was a ring that had belonged to his sister, Nannerl. In that moment she became a living, breathing woman. It amazes me that something as simple as a ring can connect people across time.

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip

I adore beauty and glamour, and am particularly obsessed with the aesthetic of the 1920’s and ‘30s. I have a beautiful set of hand colored Alfred Cheney Johnston photos of the girls of the Ziegfeld Follies, and a collection of books on the subject. When I found this gorgeous Art Deco paste bracelet, I was smitten. I had an instant connection with the seller and through our conversations she revealed that this bracelet had once belonged to a Ziegfeld girl whose identity was confidential. I got one tip though: she had been friends with the Queen of England. That sent me sleuthing!

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip

I acquired my beloved Victorian rainbow Tassie bracelet from Laelius Antiques, one of my favorite places to buy antique jewelry. They curate an excellent collection and are extremely nice too! It’s such a joyful piece and I wear it almost everyday.

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip

As much as I love antique and vintage jewelry, life just wouldn’t be the same without modern designers. Studio 1040 has made a lot of pieces for me, some I have “designed” myself (if you can call sending a skilled jeweler random gemstones accompanied by sketches resembling root vegetables.)

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip

I’ve been following Marla Aarons work for a long time and finally acquired my first piece of hers: a multi sapphire lock. It’s delightfully utilitarian—like a confetti explosion in a hardware store. She is an interesting (and fun!) designer to watch.

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip'

Cheyenne Weil is one of the most gifted artists I have ever worked with, in addition to being smart, kind and funny. I have more pieces by her than any other single artist. Some of my rings are designs she offers in her shop, and a couple (the double peacock ring and the black diamond crowned heart ring) were designed just for me. I feel so incredibly lucky to get to own and wear her work.

SixthCityStyle | Gem Gossip

I have also had the great pleasure and privilege to know Todd Pownell, the designer behind Tap by Todd Pownell. The first time I laid eyes on his work was at a party for a colleague that was coincidentally held in his loft. At some point I wandered away to peek in the jewelry cases and saw a ring that blew my mind. I asked every person at the party who made that ring until I found him—I was determined to tell him how incredible he was! And I did. (And yes, I had him make me a ring just like that one.) That was more than a decade ago, and over the years he has been generous, supportive and encouraging to me in all my endeavors. He is a singular artist, a wonderful human, and his work speaks volumes.

I love jewelry. From old to new, it is capable of expressing a kaleidoscope of sentiments. It’s fun, it’s beautiful, and it’s for everyone.




WANT MORE? Check out the other Jewelry Collection Stories

You can follow --> @SixthCityStyle

Sentimental Jewels Offered in the Upcoming Fellows October Auction

A&M October 2017 Fellows

There's something about sentimental jewelry that makes my jewelry obsession very happy. Hearing stories behind a special piece or knowing that an object has more depth to it than being a material thing is exactly what I'm all about. The upcoming October 12th Antique & Modern Jewellery Sale from Fellows Auction is filled with pieces that beckon to sentiment, both past and future. Some pieces look as though they are filled with harrowing adventure and stories of love and lost love...while others could potentially be attached to warm stories, they're just waiting for a new owner to make that happen.

I've picked my TOP TEN favorite sentimental jewels from next week's sale--and don't forget to SIGN UP to bid and put the auction date in your calendar: October 12th, 2017.

8 54

Lot 8: Lockets always seem to bring the sentiment meter up from zero to one hundred, real quick. I love a good locket and they've been consistently a popular gift-giving item for holidays and birthdays. This locket is especially unique because of the symbolic heart and arrows on the front of it. Set with a heart-shaped ruby cabochon and shot by two diamond laced arrows, this locket screams love. There's even a French engraving that reads, "Mon Coeur Perce" which translates to My Pierced Heart.  

Lot 54: Easily fall in love with this heavily symbolic sapphire and diamond heart ring. Every romantic whim is asking for this ring to be a future engagement ring. The arrows at the top make it even more unique, although it is thought that they were added at a later date (the heart portion being orginal Victorian). The sapphire is of very good quality and is even a color-change one from Sri Lanka. What a gorgeous ring!

73 118

Lot 73: Birds represent an uplifted spirit and often very symbolic. This rose cut diamond swallow brooch immediately caught my attention because it is very sentimental. Swallows go hand-in-hand with representing love, affection and friendship.  How sweet would this brooch be if pinned to a jacket to remember a loved one? Or added to your scarf to commemorate a dear friend? 

Lot 118: Every woman needs a charm bracelet!  It is the perfect extension of yourself, in charm-form. Tell your story with gold charms that become instant sentiments: first vacation, a marriage, a new job, becoming a mom, traveling around the world, birthday surprises, a big move...the charms and milestones are endless. I love this charm bracelet in this lot because it has already been started for you, you now must finish it! Add your story to this ongoing one and wear it happily!

130 271

Lot 130: If there ever were a perfect pair of antique diamond dangle earrings, these would be it! I can picture these as some memorable wedding day earrings that will be passed down to future generations, often borrowed by good friends and continually making memories. They are approx. 3.80 carats total and come with fitted box.

Lot 271: Double horseshoes, giving two doses of good luck for anyone that wears this sentimental brooch by Carlo Guilliano. A rare creation from a celebrated designer and highly collectible. And you may not notice from the photo, but their is rock crystal in the center--it is not open space. What a fantastic piece! 

372 462

Lot 372: I always assume that a two-diamond ring reminds me of my own engagement ring, both very sentimental to me and my husband. This particular ring is an incredibly beautiful take an a moi et toi style, symbolizing you and I. Are your heart strings pulled yet? The diamonds total 2.55 carats and I am truly in love with this one!

Lot 462: One might take a single look at snake jewelry and not realize how much symbolism is entangled in each piece. Those Victorians were highly sentimental and snake jewelry ranked high up in symbolic meaning. This particular necklace is quite the piece! Done in a navy blue enamel and accented with pearls, red gem eyes and holding a locket. The articulated body which composes the necklace is in immaculate condition!

472 485

Lot 472: These earrings grabbed my attention because of their silhohette and striking blue turquoise accents. I could imagine them having a great existence prior to becoming an auction item and I feel like the new owners should keep the adventure going!  Bring these on a fun getaway or dance on the dancefloor wearing them. The possibilities are endless!

Lot 485: More symbolic turquoise blue, this time being a light blue enameled necklace set with pearls and a heart shaped pendant. I love the sentimental heart and knowing that this piece is circa dated to 1860 only makes my head wander even more, thinking of all it has done and seen in its lifetime. Such a lovely necklace!

This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with Fellows Auctions




New October Opals from Arik Kastan Jewelry

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

Let us enchant you with some of Arik Kastan's newest designs featuring October's magical and often obsess-worthy birthstone: OPAL. The brand has been working with opals since the very beginning of launching Arik Kastan and they continue to be a favorite of collectors, and we obviously can't get enough of them ourselves!

Opals can easily transform any design that is created, any outfit we style, or bad moods we're feeling. We love opals set in the signature rose gold just as much as the yellow gold, so we think you can't go wrong picking between the two metals. And as far as gemstones that pair well with opals, we've been obsessing over some cool tones like sapphires, emeralds and moonstones--even pearls! Yes, you must check out the newest pearl + opal ring fresh off the jeweler's bench. You'll flip!

Enjoy checking out the new styles; all are available with a click of a mouse (or touch of a finger on your phone)! 

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

Arik Kastan drew from Victorian jewelry to create this stunning pearl and opal cluster ring, which is both bold and has feminine touches. We love it paired with jeans or a dress for fall.

Lyla Ring with opals and pearls, Price: $1,500


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

These aren't just any ordinary garnets, they are rose cuts which give these earrings a vintage-inspired look. They're nice and large, while still being crazy comfortable.

Pebble Stone Drop earrings with garnet & opal, Price: $1,650

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

A hint of blue sapphire sets off this sentimental padlock that can be the layer-ready basis for our collection. Start your stack with this one!

Sapphire + Opal Cluster Padlock, Price: $1,260

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

A continued favorite, the signature three-stone ring looks glorious in opal and ready for any October baby to make this her special piece.

Signature Three Stone ring in Opal, Price: $1,320


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip


Quite possibly our newest favorite gemstone combination emeralds and opals! The green really POPS in these earrings; they're quite breath-taking.

Nouveau Oval drop earrings, Price: $2,250


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip  

This pinwheel pendant has won our hearts--it's dainty and precious! Again, slaying in our favorite gemstone combo.

Pinwheel pendant with emerald + opals, Price: $1,320

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

An instant favorite, combining floral inspiration with geometric vibes, the Mandala ring has us ready for fall.

Framed Mandala ring in sapphires + opals, Price: $2,750

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

Some major boldness with this padlock, which we can't get enough of. If you want a hefty, gorgeous piece...this is it!

Stained Glass Window padlock with emeralds + opals, Price: $2,470

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

Feeling some boho vibes? Say no more, these are for you! Open metalwork, opals and a wonderful lever back.

Arabesque Drop earrings set with opals, Price: $2,030

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

If you're one who loves to stack your heart out, we've got you covered too! Our thin stacking band is easy to wear and pairs with almost anything else.

Thin Stacking ring done in opal, Price: $1,150

Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

It's hip to be a square and this little padlock thinks so too. Outfitted in opals every square inch and a single moonstone in the center to shake things up a bit!

Square Padlock with opals + moonstone, Price: $1,590


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

The Isabel ring makes us feel elegant and refined. We love the hint of blue from the sapphire and know you will too!

Isabel ring set with sapphire + opals, Price; $1,760


Arik Kastan | Gem Gossip

Just a tip: Arik Kastan padlocks make the most beautiful gifts and yes, there are lots of holidays approaching but I won't name any for the sake of getting virtually slapped!

Horizon Cluster Padlock set with moonstone + opals, Price: $1,370