While I’m far from an expert, I do spend ample time shooting fine jewelry. Between that and getting engaged two years ago, I have been a little more thoughtful about jewelry than I may have been in the past.
I started a jewelry conversation on Instagram stories a few weeks back and below is a summary of the most common questions and topics that came through.
How do you care for your jewelry? If at all?
I do make an effort to take very good care of my jewelry. A safe method for caring for almost all jewelry (including gold) is just some warm water, a mild dish soap, and a very soft bristle toothbrush.
With my diamond rings, I bring out the big guns - I have an industrial sonic cleaner that deep cleans and uses sound waves to blast away dead skin, lotion, or debris caught between the settings (gross to think about, I know). This might be overkill for most but I really love how sparkly clean they get with this method. My friend, @emilypwheeler taught me this invaluable trick!
One thing to note is that if a ring has not been set well, this machine can shake stones loose. It's worthwhile to check with a setter to make sure this method is ok for specific pieces. Some pieces have such tiny diamonds that it doesn't matter how well they are set, they can eventually come loose (this can also just happen with rough wear). I felt horrible after recommending this machine to a friend who had a diamond fall out of her ring on the first cleaning! Luckily, it made her aware of a setting issue but it would still be an alarming thing to have happen. As a general rule of thumb - any ring would benefit from a checkup of the settings over the course of a lifetime.
Now that my disclaimer is out of the way - I absolutely LOVE this machine and cannot get enough of it.
Linked a great affordable one here: Sonic Ring Cleaning Machine and be sure to stock up on some Solution as well!
Where do you suggest finding a good pair of small gold hoops / a simple gold ring / etc?
Funnily enough, I no longer have pierced ears! I dealt with tons of sensitive-skin issues with my pierced ears over the years and finally just threw in the towel. I do love a good pair of clip ons! Vintage stores often have really fun ones!
I think a great place to find simple gold jewelry is in the NYC, LA, or SF diamond/jewelry districts. They often have high quality and good pricing. Traditional retail stores have a higher markup.
Please Share a how-to on ring stacking
I don't follow any rules here! I love wearing rings on different fingers or switching up my pinky ring as a knuckle ring. One tip I have is buying a few rings sized for your larger sized fingers - that way you can stack them below smaller sized rings on smaller fingers as well. I was buying way too many rings for my ring finger and realized I was seriously limiting myself.
Do you splurge on the diamond pieces that your friend makes?
Yes! I do because Emily's pieces are incredibly well made and I know they will last me a lifetime. She only uses the best stones (that she hand picks herself), and the quality of her work is unlike anything you will find with other designers.
In the past few years, I realize I was buying a lot of pieces of gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry. They tarnish SO quickly and do not age well at all - which felt like a waste of money to me. Fine jewelry, on the other hand, gets better with age and for that reason, I made a conscious decision that less (fine jewelry) is better than more (gold plated/filled/costume jewelry). I decided to invest only in pieces that I truly love that are at the very least solid 14k gold and/or quality diamonds.
Emily has made me several custom pieces that I adore so much because they are one-of-a-kind but she does have some very similar pieces in her collection:
Rose Gold Wide Band Ring
Baguette Diamond Pinky Ring
Diamond Eternity Rings
Did emily make your wedding band?
No, but she does do custom jewelry for engagements and celebrations. More info on my wedding band down below.
Share a how-to on layering necklaces (and keeping them from tangling).
Mix thicknesses and mix lengths. If I have a dainty small chain close to another it's going to tangle no matter what! I always do some quick readjusting when wearing multiple necklaces, I don't think there's any magic trick to keeping them totally perfect, but that's a look in itself ;)
Resetting vintage engagement rings and general etiquette for heirloom jewelry.
This is a great thing to consider when inheriting a piece of jewelry. My philosophy is this: it's ok to slightly alter a piece of jewelry to modernize it and make it into something you will love wearing.
Changing a brooch into a pendant and wearing it as a necklace
Resetting a ring on a different band (while preserving the overall look of the diamonds or design)
Wearing charms from a charm bracelet on a necklace instead (as I did with my grandmother's)
Adjust anything for sizing purposes
I don't, however, think it is appropriate to completely dismantle a piece and create something completely different. It's important to discuss any changes you might want to make with the person who gifted the piece and feel out whether they would be happy or horrified by the changes.
Regarding family heirlooms as engagement rings - I don't know anyone in recent times who has been proposed to in a bonafide surprise scenario (ie. not discussing engagement at all prior to the actual moment) but if you haven't had a chance to drop any hints and are presented with something you don't like (like a late relative’s ring) - I think it's totally fine to discuss this openly with your partner and find some kind of compromise.
Details on your engagement ring?
Zack proposed with a simple gold band because he didn't want to finalize my diamond band before having me see it in person, which I found incredibly thoughtful. I never thought he would manage to surprise me (the super sleuth) with his actual proposal but with this method, he did completely.
Zack and I designed my diamond band ring together and had it made by a close family friend of his who is a diamond dealer. The last thing I wanted was a really showy ring and something about a band just felt so much more me. We went for color and quality of diamonds over carats/size and ended up with something I could not be more thrilled with. It feels very "me" and is a great wear-everyday ring. Engagement rings are SO personal but I don't believe in subscribing to any one particular way of doing things - it's up to you and your partner and no other opinions really matter.