Cocktail Rings, A Necessity

Personally I find cocktail rings to be a necessity, not just for drinking, but for the everyday purposes of going about the usual stuff and keeping an eye on one’s hands whilst doing so. It is good to have some weight and glitter hanging off the end of your arms, whatever the time of day and whatever circumstances you have found yourself in.

But to find a good cocktail ring is not easy.

There is very little that I dislike more than modern high-street costume rings. They draw you in with their snazzy and sparkling designs then, after less than a day’s wear, the thin layer of gold finishing has worn away and you are left with an ugly dark copper band and green stains on your fingers. Then, because you have bought into a currently mass-produced product, you look around and see more women flashing the exact same design, with the exact same wear, and the same green stains.

For this reason I have long stuck to only sterling silver or gold, struggling to find or afford anything big or extravagant enough in these metals to fit my requirements. That is until recently coming across various vintage costume rings which are beginning to change my mind…

The designs are much more unusual, and my tests so far show them to leave far fewer base metal marks on fingers. The construction is of a higher and more detailed quality, stones are usually glass rather than plastic, and any gold-plating is often thicker than I have encountered with modern pieces.

If your fingers are feeling a little underweight and dull, here are some excellent cocktail rings available for purchase in my SHOP

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Don’t Be Fooled By The Rocks That I Got

It has been a while since my previous post on our rather optimistic acquisition of a derelict house, and you have no doubt been wondering “how on earth will Lil manage to do any of this quite structural based manual labour and will she have to take all of her jewellery off to do so?

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We have spent a good many days now fretting over beams, trying to figure out how to manoeuvre fourteen pieces of wood whose measurements are longer than that of the room, and dislodging large quantities of stone and floorboarding. These are all relatively big things, and I have struggled somewhat to switch between these massive dimensions and the much smaller scale of jewellery.

I will not bore you with what I have learnt about the main timber frame of a house, but here is what I have learnt about jewellery and dust…Wedding rings (like a marriage) can take a fair amount of battering. Silver rings, less so. You can’t fit work gloves over cocktail rings. Sparkly earrings work well with hats and look pretty in a rubble-filled environment. Short chain necklaces are fine, you can still see them through your boiler-suit collar, in fact there’s barely an excuse for not wearing one. You cannot escape finger sprain swelling and should leave enough wiggle-room for going up around one ring size.

After repeatedly injuring my hands quite badly John imposed a short work ban, and I must now wear the prettier and more delicate rings pictured on the right. This has worked due to the fact that I apparently care more about breaking rings than I do about breaking fingers.

If you are also renovating an old building and wondering what jewellery you should be wearing whilst doing so, or wanting some nicer rings in order to avoid similar injuries to mine, here are some pieces available for purchase in my SHOP

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Things for Spring

It is supposed to be spring but this morning it was snowing, so here are some mostly green things which you can sit inside and look at. Should you feel so inclined, the majority of them are available for purchase in my SHOP

There is more stuff to look at on my FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or PINTEREST

Derelict Findings

Recently John and I came to the important decision that we needed to find somewhere good to live. We had a limited budget (see my previous post on credit rating nonsense) and dreams of some sort of rural nest. Eventually, after browsing pages and pages of small and nearly identical terraced concrete structures with fitted kitchens and neatly fenced gardens, we came across this beautifully dilapidated cottage. It was badly advertised and the estate agents said that if we really did want to look round to just climb in through a window and go upstairs at our own risk. And we did. Also pictured below is the jewellery I felt appropriate for such an adventure; I wore a full length black silk dress as I wanted to feel a little like a burgler but also to fit in with the general dereliction of the place.

The cottage has been empty for at least forty years and contained all manner of interesting things (and a lot of junk), dating from the 1940s to the mid 70s. Below are a few items salvaged, most of which are available – now or soon – for purchase in my SHOP.

More stuff on my FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or PINTEREST

Jewellery Debt, Improve Your Credit Rating

Just contemplating the idea of credit ratings has recently given me a massive financial headache. You need a good trail of large expenses and credit cards and direct debits and overdrafts in order to ever be able to properly borrow more money. You are not to be trusted if you have lived your whole life reasonably and within your means.

This is just one of many different systems of how to judge a human being, so in the same way in which we might try to look thinner or more intelligent, I have selected below some items which should make you appear to have a lengthy history of previous debt.

All are available for purchase in my SHOP, and I have included some higher valued pieces in solid gold, should you wish to improve your actual credit rating by buying something which you maybe can’t quite fully afford. It is also worth noting that I accept credit card payments…

More stuff on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or PINTEREST

Valentines?

It’s Valentines Day! Whatever you may do with it. Personally I am not a big fan of the commercialism of roses, heart-shaped chocolates, and hoiked up menu prices. In previous years John and I have celebrated with the romantic rebellion of a night time street picnic, sitting outside St Giles cathedral with our tuna sandwiches and watching the tension of other dates traipsing to and from their table bookings. Perhaps this is why I have left it far too late to instruct you to purchase any occasion-specific gifts from my shop… However, should you wish to invest your devotions in any of the following, they are all available HERE

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Things!

Now that January is over, and now that I have finished faffing around with pictures – taking better photographs and re-linking them to over a hundred old blog posts, it is probably time to start posting things again. You can view the new and improved GALLERIES for evidence of my overhauling…

In celebration of having organised myself, here are some of my favourite recent finds…

… and here are some of my favourite recently added, or soon to be added, SHOP pieces…

You can find more on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or PINTEREST

Ideas for Men

It is December. You are probably thinking about Christmas shopping and observing how pretty and sparkly the items in my shop are and wondering what on earth I might sell which you could give to a man. Below are some ideas… As you can see I have decided that the typical man would probably be happy with something relating to fish or bicycles, or possibly this rather smart aeroplane pin; he might also appreciate the masculinity of a heavy brass lobster ornament, or wish to nibble small canapés from a set of intricate Toledo sword toothpicks. All of these excellent gift ideas are available to purchase HERE.

You can also find me on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or PINTEREST

Griffins etc.

This blog has somewhat fallen behind recently. I have been busy: de-cluttering stuff, re-accumulating stuff, discovering INSTAGRAM (where you can find more photos of said stuff), and finding all of these small and unusual pieces – featuring griffins amongst other monsters. Most are available for purchase in my SHOP.

Here are links to my FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or PINTEREST

The Acid Test

As well as beautiful vintage costume jewellery, there are many pieces of silver and gold in my SHOP. Both silver and gold hallmarks are often faked, confusing, or even absent from a given item of jewellery. For the sake of honesty and certainty, every item of precious metal I sell is fully tested before being listed. This post is about that process…

Silver
For this I use a vaguely named “silver testing acid”… It is a very effective and very simple test to carry out.

The acid is a transparent amber colour, and is dripped onto an item with a pipette. The second picture, above, shows what happens on a piece of steel (or any metal other than silver): no reaction, the solution remains transparent amber. The third picture shows what happens on a sterling silver ring: the result is an unmistakeable opaque blood red. After cleaning there will be left a dull grey mark on the silver (this is usually removable, read on)… There will be a similar, though slower and paler, reaction on silvers of a lower purity than sterling, and a faster and darker reaction on those above.

Gold
For this test I use two different acids (both are a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric). The first tests whether the item is gold (9ct or above) or not gold… The acid is clear and will react with non-gold metals, bubble fiercely and/or change colour. On gold there will be no reaction other than (on 9ct gold) a light brown stain left where the acid has been (this is removable, read on)…

The second picture, above, shows the acid on a non-gold item, as you can see it has bubbled up a vivid and quite pretty turquoise green colour. The third picture shows the result on 9ct gold – no reaction, the acid remains clear and still, leaving only a very faint brown tarnish.

Once I have confirmed that a piece is gold, of 9ct or higher, then the second acid is to work out the caratage. The test is carried out in the same way, though this acid will gently fizz a golden colour eventually, and again leave a faint brown stain. The golden fizzing is what you are timing. Basically the longer it takes to occur, the higher the carat of gold. Very approximately around a second per carat!  With practice it is possible to work out the purity of gold pretty accurately.

Plating
To make sure the item is solid silver or solid gold, and not plated, it needs to be filed into. This can be done with a tiny jewellery file in the most hidden place you can find on a given piece. Dust off any shavings and carry out the test again…

dscf4858Here is an example of a silver plated item – an opaque blood red result to the surface layer while the acid remains transparent amber on the filed area where a base metal is exposed. One should usually be neater with the acid, but this is a scrap piece and I needed enough to show in a photograph. On a gold plated item you would see bubbling/colour reaction on the filed area, with no reaction on the gold plating surrounding.

Notes

The acids should be handled carefully, they burn fingers and once ruined a nice pair of silk trousers which I had rather liked.

Tests should be carried out in daylight, a magnifying glass is helpful to see the reactions clearly.

Sometimes filing is enough – if it reveals any change in colour, i.e. copper, beneath the surface then you can be sure the item is plated.

Both the silver and gold testing acids will leave a faint mark on an item. I used to think these marks were permanent – most polishes do not remove them – but a very gentle rub with a little ‘Simichrome’ polish seems to do the trick.

And here are a few pretty things you can find in my SHOP….

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