Mourning Jewelry – Cool or Creepy?

(This is a popular older post that seemed appropriate to share again before the Halloween weekend. Be safe and bedazzle, jewelry hounds!)

Most of us associate jewelry with happy occasions like weddings, birthdays and Valentine’s Day. But many folks are wearing jewels these days that symbolize quite the opposite.

Mourning jewelry is apparently all the rage right now, according to TrendHunter, and with vampire chic taking over our pop culture – from Twilight to True Blood - it’s no wonder.

So what is mourning jewelry exactly?

The earliest examples of mourning jewelry were found in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Black and white enameled heads or skulls were often set into both rings and brooches and worn to signify a period of mourning after the death of a loved one.

The jewelry category reached its height of popularity in England with Queen Victoria after the premature death of Prince Albert in December 1861. Black jewelry soon became a must-have accessory, as thousands of Brits sympathized with their grieving Queen.

In the United States the use of mourning jewelry increased with the outbreak of the Civil War, which included the emergence of hair jewelry – lopped off locks given to loved ones by soldiers who went off to war, often worn as pendants or in closed lockets.

Today, mourning jewelry is making a comeback, with young designers like Anna Schwamborn from London designing a range of styles made with the hair and cremated ashes of loved ones mixed with black bone china. Her “Mourning Objects” collection includes a rosary, necklace and a watch chain tear catcher, among other styles.

So what do you think about this ‘trendy’ jewelry category? Would you wear the remains of your loved one around your neck, for example, or in the form of a ring? Or is the thought of it too morbid to even consider?

I'm curious. Has anyone out there worn mourning jewelry before? Share your story!

Twisted Baseball Necklace Ropes In Players

With the 2010 World Series underway (GO GIANTS!), I had to get an answer to a question many of my guy-friends have asked me this year:

"What's with those weird rope necklaces?"

I have to admit, while I am thrilled to see the menfolk embrace a jewelry tradition, these things look about as appealing as a twisted chain of sea slugs. And neck ropes? They don't really conjure up the warm/fuzzies, if you get my drift...

But apparently there is method to the rope-filled madness (and I mean 'madness' literally).

Phiten, maker of the official "Phiten rope necklace"explains it this way on

"We have a really unique product. It has the effect to stabilize your electric current inside the body. Every single product has been permeated with what we call the aqua titanium. We have technology to dissolve the metal into the water. That specially treated titanium allows the flow of energy."

"So many players believe in our technology, and at the same time, some players wear [them] as a fashion statement, some as a lucky charm. It all depends. There is a reason why they're wearing it -- that special water we permeate into the fabric."

Special water? Electric currents? Aqua titanium? And I thought we women were the only suckers for jewelry marketing. It's never dull in Mudville.

Baseball players may use twisted logic to rock the Phiten rope, but the Los Angeles Lakers don't need ANY excuse to sparkle in one of these little beauties... See today for more on what folks are calling the most extravagant championship ring in the history of sports!

"Unstoppable" Jewelry: Glam, Gauche & Gawdawful

Red carpet jewelry hunting season is in full swing, and last night's Unstoppable premiere in Los Angeles brought out some A-list lovelinesss and some D-list dregs.

The Glam:

Rosario Dawson's dusty blue Stella McCartney gown was a hands-down winner, and her Vhernier jewelry added just the right amount of sparkle. Loving the shoulder-duster earrings -a trend I think we'll see a lot more of in the months to come. (See why here).

The Gauche:

Why was Real Housewife of Orange County, Gretchen Rossi, at the Unstoppable premiere? Perhaps the better question is: What was she thinking when she put on that outfit? Nevermind. I don't want to know.

Look, the statement necklace could have rocked - but the lace bustier and piled on gems pushed the look to the wrong side of 'street walker chic' in my humble opinion.  Sorry.

The Gaudy:

Bless her, Cloris Leachman is having as huge a heydey as Betty White. And she's just as saucy - so leopard and layers are working for her in a Mrs. Roper kindof way (look her up, youngsters).

Can I just say, though, that I'm kinda tired of the over-the-top octogenarian fashion statement? These women look great for their age. Being funny doesn't mean you have to 'dress funny'. You know?

Here are some other shots from the carpet. Anything strike you?

Cushion-Cut Craze Goes Courtside

Maria Sharapova's diamond engagement ring photos are making the rounds this week, and it looks like we've got another cushion-cut cutie on our hands.

US Weekly reports the tennis phenom is wearing a 7 or 8-carat cushion-cut stone in a platinum setting with a price tag of approximately $250,000. Her Los Angeles Laker fiance, Sasha Vujacic popped the question in his Manhattan Beach home a while ago, but the ring is making its first appearance in shots like these taken during an afternoon stroll in Los Angeles last Sunday.

So why are celebs like Ivanka Trump, Anna Paquin, Alyssa Milano and Ashlee Simpson opting for the cushion-cut over, say, the more popular round-cut diamond engagement ring?

The cushion cut dates back to the 1800s and derived its shape from the fact that back then cutters were not capable of making a perfectly round stone, according to 

Today, the square shape is marked by a more affordable price point than the traditional and more frequently seen round stones - unless you're going for a whopper like those seen on Hollywood ring fingers.  Once we're in the 7-8-carat range, folks, saving money is clearly not on the agenda.

I think it's because the cushion offers more of a vintage-y feel over the sleek lines of the traditional (read: boring) round stone?

Here are a few of my favorite cushion-cuts here for your browsing pleasure. The good news is: You don't have to walk down the aisle to wear one - and they come in a variety of stone variations outside of the diamond category.

You like?

Diamonds Get Saucy at the Millionaire Fair

So you're a Russian billionaire on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You've already polished the Ferrari, fluffed up the fur coat collection, and toured the indoor football stadium. Sigh. Now what?

How about a trip to the local 'flea market' to pick up a trinket or two for the kitchen?

Enter: The Millionaire Fair - an annual celebration of conspicuous consumption that's targeted right at the Russian billionaire demographic (all 62 of you!). And wouldn't you know it? They've got that must-have kitchen item you can't live without - a diamond-encrusted saucepan!

The saucepan has a handle and lid studded with a whopping 270 diamonds over 18-carat gold. Made by German cookware brand Fissler, the utensil is not really suitable for cooking (whatever that is).

"It is for serving food beautifully," the Fissler brand manager, Natalya Oreshikina, explained to The Daily Telegraph.

And at a measly $210,000, the pan costs roughly the same as, oh, a Porsche Cayenne SUV. BUT! It's a better value, Oreshkina pitched.

"A Porsche Cayenne turns into a pile of metal once it leaves the showroom. This is an investment."

Throw in a set of steak knives, and I'm in!

Spotlight on Spooky Jewelry

So you weren't invited to Heidi Klum's famous Halloween party. Again. That doesn't mean you have to throw out the bling with the bathwater! 

I'm still working on my Kanye West/diamond teeth costume (Heidi? Your loss, sister.), but I hunted down these fun finds to throw in the spooky style rotation in the meantime:

Gemstones Meet 'The Great Pumpkin':

Add a splash of orange spice to go with your little black dress - like this Great Pumpkin-esque cocktail ring that could work with many a fall ensemble. 

Get Back in Black:

Get in touch with your dark side with some sleek onyx jewelry in any incarnation. And one of those Darth Vader voice boxes.

Kitty Cat Couture:

I've had my eye on this cat pendant for a while now. Love the price. Love the chocolate diamonds. Love that it will satisfy my maternal instincts without making too many demands on my personal time.

Skeletal Chic:

You know you have some skull jewelry lying around from your Morrissey-loving goth girl past.  Taylor Momsen didn't invent this wheel!

P.S. Click here for a fun find you can grab if you had Heidi's accessory budget. And the stomach to wear possum bones.

One more week 'til Halloween! Got some costume ideas you'd like to share?  Weigh in!

Blue Diamond Rocks The Auction Block

Huge diamond alert! Christie's held their "Jewels: The New York Sale" yesterday, and the famous Bvlgari Blue Diamond wasn't just their top seller at a whopping $15.7 million - it broke the price-per- carat barrier to boot!

What a little over-achievor...

"A world record price was achieved on Oct. 20 for The Bulgari Blue, a much-celebrated stone that came up for sale at Christie's for the first time in almost 40 years," said Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie's Americas in a release.

The jewel was purchased in Rome in 1972 for $1 million and was given as a gift from the collector to his wife to celebrate their first son's birth, according to Christie's.

How could I have left $15 million diamonds off my Jewelry Gift Guide for New Moms? The horror.
Do ridiculous diamonds give you 'the giddys' too? Scratch the itch with me by gawking at yet another blue beauty - this one fetched more money than any stone at auction. Ever!

Hyperventilating. It's the world's worst cologne.

Katy Perry's Wedding Jewelry: A Desi Meets Diamond Delight

If Katy Perry's wedding jewelry is anything like her unique diamond engagement ring, the 50-75 guests she and fiance Russell Brand are flying to India for their wedding on Saturday will have to bring some serious shades.

Why? Because rumor has it, the popstar bride will combine western tradition (diamonds) with Indian wedding custom - which for the uninitiated means golden jewelry shines on every possible appendage.

I have never been to an Indian (Desi) wedding, but by all accounts, it's an elephant-filled, marigold explosion of cheer that puts our country-clubbing, electric-sliding, rubber chicken-eating antics to shame.  And jewelry forms a very important part of the overall attire of an Indian bride, according to

Here are just a few of the many blingy options women are expected to wear:

Shringar Patti
Shringar Patti is kind of tiara, usually in gold, which adorns the forehead of the bride - placed along her hairline with a circular plaque in the middle.

Maang Tikka
Maang Tikka is a shortened version of the Shringaar Patti. It's basically a golden string worn by the bride in center parting of the hair.

Bridal Set: (Necklace & Earrings)
The outfit of a bride is incomplete without the bridal set, which includes a heavy neck piece and matching earrings to match the overall style of the bridal dress.

Throw in nose rings, finger rings, toe rings, bangles, anklets and arm bands - and there's nary a body part that escapes the golden touch.

So will Ms. Perry throw in a splash of diamond bling for good measure? Will Neil Lane stow away in the underbelly of the jet like an escaped convict in a Tom Ford suit to get a shot at bedazzling yet another celebrity bride? Stay tuned.

In the meantime? Back to our regularly scheduled, marigold-barren lives.

Crazy About Cocktail Rings

Cocktails and jewelry make such a handsome couple, and there's a sparkling new interpretation: Piaget's Limelight Cocktail Ring Collection.

While I'm not usually a fan of the 'literal' jewelry interpretation ("#1 Mom" pendants, anyone?), these little libation-inspired lovelies are designed to look like ACTUAL cocktails - from the 18kt white gold Mojito ring with (count 'em) 182 diamonds and a 24-carat green tourmaline, to the classic Cosmopolitan.

Shut. It. Down.

There are 6 rings to choose from.  Or if you're like me after an introductory 'nip' - you can sample them all! The bad news is: the price points are more likely in the 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' range - and, well, if you can afford four rotating nannies, I say: "Go for it!"

For the rest of us mere mortals, there are still plenty of cocktail rings to choose from that won't break the bank - like this fun blue topaz and peridot style for only $83.64 on JewelClub. That'll leave in room in the wallet for another round (or two), right?

So raise your glass to cocktail classics - from top shelf treasures to affordable concoctions that (unlike that 3rd 'well drink' at Happy Hour) won't leave a nasty hangover.

Chin chin!

'Sister Wives' Creates Claddagh Ring Craze

Rings and romance. For centuries we lowly humans have been using metal bands around our fingers to say "Go ahead." or "Beat it!"  And while the mainstream tradition in this country is to don a diamond ring and a wedding band, the Claddagh ring is a favorite of the Irish.

And polygamists, apparently.

The latest reality phenom, Sister Wives, tells the tale of a Utah man, his 4 'brides' and their day-to-day shenanigans. Hollywood Life reports the Fab 5 shut down a Utah jewelry store recently to get a Claddagh ring for the newest member of their clan.

Curious about the Claddagh? Here's the lowdown, according to Wikipedia:

The Claddagh's design features two hands clasping a heart, usually topped with a crown. There are four ways to wear the Claddagh: on the right hand with the heart oriented away to show you're single; on the right hand with the heart turned in to show you're in a relationship; on the left hand turned out to show you're engaged; on the left hand turned in to show you're married.

Confused? Think of how Brigham Young must have felt.

I think the Claddagh is a lovely way to rings thing up if you're looking for something different. And there are both men's and women's styles available - like these affordable looks on

For the curious, Sister Wives airs on TLC on Sundays at 10pm. And Oprah is grilling the group on today's show!

Cyrstal Bowersox's Engagement Ring Revealed

While the jewelry hound pack knows I love myself a diamond, I've always been a fan of the non-traditional engagement ring. Ever since Princess Diana got that stunning sapphire for her ill-fated union waaaaay back in 1981, I've been fascinated by brides who opt out of the diamond for their ring finger bling.

American Idol runner-up, Crystal Bowersox, isn't the first person you'd think of to keep Diana's company, but People reports her diamond-free engagement ring was all the rage at her surprise wedding to fellow folkie and longtime friend, Brian Walker last weekend.

The bride wore an organic, hemp and cotton wedding gown from Vermont designer Tara Lynn, according to People and sealed the deal with a 1.1-carat princess cut ruby ring designed by Walker and crafted by Chicago’s Traci Coughlin and Steve Quick Jewelers.

“There are no diamonds to be found as we don’t believe in the violence and injustice that occurs within the diamond trade industry,” Bowersox explained. “Both rings feature the masonry symbol, an infinity 8, and the Sanskrit symbol for the sound ‘om’ and a personal design that for us represents three: Brian, Crystal, and Tony.”

I won't judge her 'diamond-free' political statement (check out my previous rant on 'eco-friendly' jewelry for more on that), but I do love her ruby replacement. And for brides and grooms on a bauble budget, rubies and other gemstone styles are often a more affordable option than the traditional diamond.

I'm afraid I can't find a picture of Crystal's ring (yet!), but I found this ruby wedding band option on JewelClub for under $300 if you want to go the Bowersox route for your big day. Or for any day, by golly.

What do my fellow jewelry hounds think of the non-traditional engagement ring trend? Anyone out there have one? Weigh in!

Victoria's Secret Is A Diamond Bombshell

Ah, Victoria. That pesky lingerie mass marketer whose 'secret' is to lure us into buying overpriced skivvies by parading around those insipid angels is at it again.

This time, they're putting the impossibly beautiful Adriana Lima in their Bombshell Fantasy Bra - a cross-your-heart creation made out of 2,000 diamonds in a star-burst design. With a price tag of $3 million, it isn't the most expensive Fantasy Bra in their coffers (Gisele Bundchen wore a $12.5 million cup holder a few years back), but it will certainly make heads turn and wallets burn.

Ms. Lima's 'ice chest' will make its sparkling debut at the Victoria's Secret 2011 Fashion Show, which airs November 30th on CBS.

One angel who will be noticeably absent this year is Heidi Klum, who 'retired her wings' with the company earlier this month.

One day you're 'in'? And the next? You're free to eat again.

Danielle Staub's Jersey Jewelry

Jewelry lines and the Real Housewives franchise go together like D-listers and Dancing With The Stars. And while Atlanta's Lisa Wu Hartwell and New York's Ramona Singer actually have a dash of designer street cred to back up their baubles, Jersey's Danielle Staub?

She seems better suited to peddle a line of cat-fight-proof hair extensions. Or stripper poles.

But, alas. Luxist reports the woman who inspired the table flip heard 'round the world is entering the jewelry fray with a line of cross styles she hopes to launch in time for the holiday season.

Staub says the crosses are "an insignia of just being close whether it's a religious thing or a relationship thing."

Manhattan-based jewelry house, Versani, is her named collaborator and they plan to offer rings and cuffs in addition to the cross necklace collection.

Thuggy body guards and frivolous law suits, not included.

For those of you who just can't wait to get 'close' to the cross craze, I found a drama-free Joan Jett-inspired rocker style in sterling silver with diamond accents in JewelClub's coffers for just over $80 ($168 off retail).

Wonder what the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will have to offer us in the diamond department? My DVR is already set for this Thursday's debut. And my brain cells are already rotting.