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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stunning Sterling Bracelets

Last week I shared with you gold bracelets but this week it's all about silver. I have a fondness for sterling silver beaded bracelets and try to find them when I'm antiquing or thrift shopping. 

How do you tell if a piece of jewelry is authentic? Look for the markings on the clasp, or a tag or link by the clasp. It should be stamped STERLING  or a large S or 925. Pure silver like gold, is very soft and sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5 percent silver to 7.5 percent of another metal, usually copper.

Another characteristic of sterling or silver plate jewelry is it will tarnish. Clean pieces occasionally with silver polish and a soft cloth.

 While shopping with my mom last week we found this charming bracelet of daisy charms. It's a perfect match for a pair of earrings I've had for years.

I wear two or three silver bracelets pretty much every day. I found all of these second hand, one was only six dollars!

This sweet little bracelet came from Charleston. It is made of sterling silver beads in the shape of grains of rice to symbolize South Carolina's rice industry.

Pearls and silver beads adorn this delicate loop bracelet. 

This cute charm bracelet was a souvenir from Mexico.

Cuff bracelets are very popular and can be gently bent to fit any size wrist.

Charm bracelets have long been popular. This one is a  Chanel knock off. How do I know? No markings and it doesn't  tarnish. Real silver often has goldish undertones while stainless steel, nickel or zinc pieces have more of a gray cast.

You needn't spend a fortune for sterling jewelry. Lovely estate pieces can be found at most antique stores at very reasonable prices!

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Gorgeous Gold Bracelets

My parents have been visiting this week and that means we go shopping! My folks are avid antique collectors and mom has a special affinity for jewelry. And when I say jewelry I mean fine jewelry as opposed to costume pieces. What's the difference? Fine jewelry is made from precious metals usually gold, silver or platinum and has precious or semi precious stones, in other words - the real thing!

We found a few gold  bracelets to add to each of our collections at very good prices. Antique and thrift stores are a great place to shop for jewelry but it helps to be informed. Gold pieces can have many different markings so here are some basic identifiers. 

karat markings- usually 10 k, 14 k, or 18 k - Pure 24 karat  gold is very soft so it gets mixed with other metals to strengthen it. The karat number represents how much of the gold is pure.

12 k g.f.  - this means the piece is 12 karat gold filled. Gold filled is a thick sheet of gold wrapped around a wire and then formed into jewelry.

gold plate, gold washed or vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is a thin coat of gold applied often over sterling silver.
 Can you tell the difference in this photo?  The bottom bracelet is 12 k g.f. the next one is costume, the next 2 are 14 karat, the next one has opals set into gold plated sterling and the tiny one is 14k with little CZ's. All beautiful! I paid $4 for the costume piece by Sara Coventry and Mom paid only $40 for the opal bracelet.
 One of the benefits of gold is it never loses it's luster or has to be polished. Of course, it can get dirty! Clean it with mild dish soap and a soft brush or cloth.
 Mom likes to mix and match her gold bracelets with sterling silver ones. Fun!
We also bought a few sterling bracelets. I'll share those next time!

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Flower Bricks

Have you ever seen one of these before? Do you know what it is used for?
 No, it's not a toothbrush holder.

It's a special kind of flower vase, 

called a flower brick.

There usually is a hole in the center for filling with water and several small holes for stems.

Flower bricks have been around for centuries and are made of ceramic, especially delftware.

Flower bricks come in all sizes. My smallest one is only about 2 inches long found last year at a French flea market. 
It looks charming filled with violas and alyssum blossoms.
I believe these were originally made for displaying tulips, but alas, tulips are hard to grow in Arizona.

Instead I've got an assortment of spring scabiosa, stock and lavender.

These charming little vases are kind of hard to find so if you see one, snatch it up!

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