Wedding band favorites of 2017

When you’re looking at a piece of jewelry that you want to wear daily for the rest of your life, you might find yourself being pulled between current trends and classic looks. How do you choose between of-the-moment and test-of-time? What’s the right answer?

At Sparkles, we like to emphasize that the answer really varies for everyone! With engagement rings and wedding bands alike, we’re drawn to different things for different reasons, and all of those reasons are equally valuable and legitimate!

Working in jewelry with marrying couples has given us the opportunity many times over to witness that sweet moment when a person sees a ring and knows it’s The One. It’s that sense of recognition, sometimes surprising, sometimes not at all, that signals the end of the search, whether you’ve looked at hundreds of designs or only one. This may sound corny, but it’s similar in nature to knowing you’ve found the right person – it’s a feeling. It’s a fit.

All that being said, it’s useful (and fun!) to look at popular styles that are frequenting the pages of magazines and the fingers of your favorite celebs and are flowing from the hands (and jeweler’s benches!) of designers around the world. The more styles you see, the more you can assess what suits you, then decide for yourself what you want.

So what are we seeing lots of this wedding season?

 

ROSE GOLD REIGNS

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As we generally find in fashion, what’s old is new again. Rose gold originally had its heyday in the Victorian era (when the rosy, pink tone was meant to symbolize love!) and returned in the Retro period. Lately rose gold has been looking fresh again, and for good reason. An alternative to traditional white or yellow metals that livens up yet still complements the existing precious metal palette, it looks gorgeous and glowing on all skin tones. It’s also a beautiful way to set off sparkling stones and detailed metalwork.

 

VIBRANT VINTAGE

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Speaking of vintage revival, antique and vintage jewelry looks just keep getting hotter. True estate pieces or simply vintage-inspired styles feel both unique and one-of-a-kind while also imparting the nostalgia and romance of eras past.

 

STACKS ON STACKS

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Can’t choose? Don’t! We’re seeing more and more brides choose to partner their engagement ring with multiple bands. Mix and match for a fun jumble of aesthetics, a self-curated collection you can wear on your hand. Wear one under and over your solitaire, or show off a stack on the next finger or opposite hand. With this fashion, you can add a new ring on noteworthy occasions like anniversaries, births, career milestones, and other achievements.

 

RAW EMOTION

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Love diamonds and gemstones but crave a more natural look? Raw stones and rough cuts are taking their place among their more symmetric and polished counterparts. These unprocessed, non-refined beauties lend their quirky appeal towards a very unique and uncommon style. If you want an earthy and alternative look reflecting the individuality of your relationship, go rough.

 

EVERY WHICH WAY

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Another way to showcase your love of going off the beaten path is to feature non-traditional stone shapes non-traditional stone shapes set horizontally or asymmetrically in a mounting. Baguettes, pears, and marquise diamonds are perking up bands in east-west (horizontal) settings as opposed to the standard north-south (or vertical.) We love the zany scattering of baguettes in the band pictured above. Clusters of non-matching stones are also looking especially gorgeous and can be customized to your exact wishes.

 

LIVING COLOR

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And why stick to white? Colored gemstones are giving us life! Tsavorites (pictured above), sapphires, and rubies are especially vivid choices that are still sufficiently durable for everyday, long-term wear.

However! PLEASE BE AWARE that stone like opals, emeralds, moonstones, turquoise and pearls are NOT a suitable choice for engagement rings or wedding bands if you plan on wearing it daily and you want it to last! The Moh’s Scale of Hardness was invented for a reason, and that’s to prevent jewelers from advising or allowing their clients to wear a delicate stone without informing them the best ways to care for their piece and to keep it lovely for as long as possible. Opals, pearls (and others) are simply too soft and too averse to natural conditions like skin oils, sunlight, and temperature change to wear safely as a substitute for a diamond. We know the internet and beauty mags are raving especially about opals and pearls as THE new wedding jewelry trend, but we have the expertise and education to let you know that as gorgeous as they look, it is very likely they will not survive daily wear for long.

 

MULTI METAL

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Another look we’re seeing that’s reminiscent of earlier eras is mixed metals; for example, rose, white, and yellow gold all in one ring (like Sparkles Jen’s custom engagement ring!) Multiple tone pieces look wonderful for women and men alike. Pictured here are a couple striking examples of men’s bands featuring a mix of metals, like the black zirconium and rose gold band and the two-tone yellow and white gold band above.

 

PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG 

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Lest you think we’re leaving out the guys – let’s talk about men’s bands!

If you’ve seen our selection at Sparkles, you know how many options there are for men these days. While it used to be simply a choice between yellow gold or white, in beveled edge or flat, now there’s an abundance from which to choose.

Plenty of men still love the classic look and the classic metals, which is understandable! They’ve stood the test of time for a reason. Precious metals have that inimitable combination of rarity, beauty, durability, and versatility, and then are endowed with the symbolism of romance and endurance to boot!

But more choice is basically always a good thing, especially when it comes to personal expression. We’re seeing new design options from the dramatic (lots of stones or engraved detail) to the subtle (an interesting finish like matte or sandblast, or a non-standard profile.) There are also a variety of materials to choose from that are both conceptually exciting and visually captivating, like meteorite (yes, from outer space!), hardwood, stripy damascus steel, and stunning mokume gane. Come in and we’ll be happy to show you all of the above and more!

 

Our main rule at Sparkles, and your takeaway should be, when looking for your wedding bands, keep it fun! Don’t feel overwhelmed by the options. We’re happy (and well-practiced) at helping you have an enjoyable and productive search, guiding you in making the choices that are perfect for you, aesthetically and practically and everything in between.

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Sparkles’ Spring Jewelry Trends, 2017

I’d like to venture that no one loves spring quite like Chicagoans. It’s long-awaited, elusive, coy – and completely bonkers, weather-wise.

Spring is extra fun here at Sparkles for all the ordinary reasons and then some. Beyond breaking out our umbrellas and waterproof boots, we’ve also brought in some fresh new jewelry looks!

Today I’d like to share some inspiration from haute couture as well as our own new pieces. We’re slightly more everyday than runway here at Sparkles, but we like to provide something special for all your occasions, from weddings to weekends to walks across the red carpet. And with our dazzling custom capabilities, there are few limits to what we can create together!

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So what’s trending for Spring 2017?

We’re definitely seeing a continuation of the choker trend that began to resurface last year. Now some of us (ahem, Jen) remember our ’90s choker-wearing days and feel awfully nostalgic donning that short length again. For plenty others, this is a new look altogether. In high fashion, we’re seeing all kinds of necklaces in this hip, short cut:

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Some are simple and sleek. Others are bold and beaded, then there’s the classic and chic black velvet or leather bands. Dainty, chunky, or layered, chokers are where it’s at for spring.

Here at Sparkles, we have some pretty, delicate pieces in various shades of gold with dancing, shimmering discs (14k, $350-375). We also love our leather choker with diamonds ($175).

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Another noteworthy trend is the statement earring. Paired, mismatched, or one-at-a-time, go funky or sculptural, as large and dramatic as you can stand!

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At Sparkles, we tend to sell earrings by the pair, but we have some designs in the store that we’re very taken with, such as the following style in sterling silver for $265:

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We’re also seeing other pieces of jewelry in a similarly large scale. Enormous pendants in creative shapes and compositions are taking center stage in fashion houses and beyond.

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Want to play designer yourself? Covet a bat pendant of your very own? Bring in your ideas, your broken or retired oversize brooches, and let’s consult on customizing your own statement piece! We recently collaborated with a client to convert several of her antique pins into whimsical and unique pendants. We’d love to do more this season!

Not feeling so into the license-plate-sized adornments? We hear you. We also carry new and quirky spring pieces that are more traditionally sized!

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(top to bottom: 14k yellow gold interlocked loops pendant $250; sterling silver kissing emoji pendant $85; sterling silver, mother-of-pearl, and diamond pendant $270. Photos taken next door at the lovely Martha Mae’s.)

This spring, pearls are still feeling fresh, but we’re seeing them in more playful sizes, shapes, and settings.

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We love pearls and offer several choices.

RACHELPEARLS

(Tahitian pearl choker $195, matching bracelets $250 apiece, freshwater cuff $375)

To see all our new additions, come on in any day except Mondays! We can’t offer you any alien-esque Maison Margiela bonnets (see first photo), but we’re confident we have something else you will love for spring!

Thanks for reading!

The Women of Sparkles

There’s still time for your Valentine!

Sure enough, it’s that time again – the New Year has begun (both Western and Chinese – what’s up, roosters!), you’ve received all your tax forms (right?), Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and we’re getting our confusing February-in-Chicago weather. Valentine’s Day is upon us!

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Don’t worry – it’s completely normal if you’re still scrambling for a gift! (3 out of 3 Sparkles employees are a little behind on that count ourselves…) With that thought in mind, we wanted to show you some of our favorite options that you can still grab in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day! Plus we’re having a sale in honor of cupid’s holiday (ends 2/14 when we close at 6:30pm) so you can save money when you pick up something shiny for your sweetie!

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First off is a diamond ring with real rustic appeal. The shank is made of 14k white gold and features a delicate wood texture. The gray diamond is faceted in an unusual domed cut and lends a unique vibe to this gorgeous piece. It’s also a tremendous value for the current sale price, which has been reduced from $650 to $325! If your Special Sparkle loves camping, crafts, and constellations, this just might be the perfect ring!

We also recommend these fun and modern triangle diamond studs in 14k white gold. If your loved one is classic with a little twist, these are a great choice. They’re super versatile, comfortable to wear, and elegantly crafted. Formerly $650, these earrings are also on sale for $325.

drops

On the more colorful side, we love this pair of garnet dangles. The warm tone of the 14k rose gold lends a special glow to the wine-hued garnets. The bezel setting keeps the stones secure while giving a nice contemporary shape, and they also have great movement to them. If you’re looking for a romantic, valentine’s-themed piece without being too overtly floral or heart-shaped, we suggest these earrings! 50% off of $465 brings the price down to $232.50.

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diam

Feeling a little more fancy? Make a real impression with this heirloom-quality stunner. This 14k white gold and diamond pendant is a meticulously-set contemporary piece with gorgeous vintage flourishes like milgrain details and Art Nouveau curves. A 25% reduction in price gives you this beauty for $697.50.

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Now, don’t think that Valentine’s Day is just a holiday for the ladies in your life! Just today, a client making a purchase for his partner mentioned his secret hope that he’d be gifted with a new watch. Watches make stellar Valentine’s gifts, as they’re inherently practical but also endlessly stylish. Also, there’s no need to limit oneself to only one. We offer a great range here, from casual to uber-cool, from traditional to high-tech – and our entire line of Citizen watches are 30% off!

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This atomic time-keeping model, after 30% off, is $402.50. Come in to view our many options!

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Lastly, for the serious romantics, we offer a 14k rose gold and diamond heart pendant. This dainty and delicate size makes it great for daily wear, for layering, and for dressing up or down. This sweetheart is on sale for $382.50.

what

If you like these suggestions or if you’d like to see something a little more personalized, be sure to stop in between now and Tuesday evening. We’re open Sunday 11am-5pm and Tuesday 11am-6:30pm.

Also, we have candy.

Hugs, kisses, and see you soon!

Love, the Women of Sparkles

THE WOMEN OF SPARKLES

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As many of you know, our dear Annabelle bid us bon voyage this past spring to move to New York City where she’s pursuing bench jewelry! Rachel and Claire were then joined by Jen to form the newest Sparkles squad. Take a moment to re-introduce yourself and learn some interesting trivia about your friendly neighborhood jewelers!

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Rachel, aka “Rikishi:” President and owner of Sparkles Fine Jewelry, Diamond Lover. (Note: rikishi is the Japanese word for “sumo wrestler.” This nickname was bestowed upon Rachel by her younger sis! Thanks, Amy!)

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Claire: Jewelry Consultant, Novice Yogi and Candle Hoarder.

jenpig

Jen: Jewelry Consultant, Champion Napper, Rogue Poet.

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What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?

Rachel: My engagement ring! The emotion and beauty of this ring is irreplaceable!

Claire: A few months ago, I found a vintage yellow gold swallow charm and turned it into a pendant. The charm is from England, where I studied abroad in college. Swallows represent freedom and hope, which is really resonating with me lately. Additionally, I am almost never without my grandmother’s engagement ring.

Jen: I have my late grandfather’s dog tags from WWII. I love them.

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What’s your favorite piece of jewelry in the store?

Rachel: The diamond drop necklace. 7.79 carats of diamond deliciousness!

diamonddrop

Claire: A white gold diamond cluster band. The band consists of small clusters of round diamonds that look like ovals from far away. I’m not usually draw to white gold, but I try this ring on almost every day at the store! I keep dropping less than subtle hints to my boyfriend about it. I may just have to treat myself 😉

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Jen: The vintage pieces are always my favorites – I’m a vintage girl through and through.

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What’s your favorite Chicago small business?

Rachel: I have a few favorites in the Andersonville hood: Murray & White, Milk Handmade, Let them Eat Chocolate, and Martha Mae.

Claire: Vincent restaurant in Andersonville. Their food is something to write home about, their décor is delightful, and they leave chalk in the restrooms so you can write on the walls. Sorry not sorry for how long I spend tagging Harry Potter and Doctor Who references all over them! #always #badwolf 

Jen: I’m a huge fan of Rotofugi, which is a toy store for grown-ups down on Lincoln, Racine, and Diversey. I also love everything about Women and Children First.

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When I’m not at Sparkles, I’m:

Rachel: …traveling to a jewelry show or meeting friends for dinner.

Claire: …in exotic locations risking my life to recover precious artifacts and save the world from complete devastation. Wait. That’s Lara Croft. Lara Croft does that. I’m not Lara Croft. Me? You can find me on the couch with my dogs binge-watching Netflix and drinking my weight in tea.

Jen: …reading, writing, walking my dog, demanding food.

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What made you go into the jewelry business?

Rachel: I started at the young age of 18. A family friend owned a jewelry store and they needed some extra holiday help. I fell in love with the industry and had a blast helping people find the perfect gift and sharing in the excitement of so many special moments.

Claire: I’ve always been drawn to jewelry. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of playing with my mother’s rings. Being able to work with sparkly gemstones and rich precious metals on a daily basis seemed like the perfect fit.

Jen: I started backwards! I was working an admin position at a jewelry store as well as the project manager of the back-end of custom jewelry, which was super-fun and a great learning experience. I also loved meeting all the jewelers who worked by hand on each piece the company manufactured. My clients were jewelry stores across the country and beyond. I really love working with people face-to-face, so I came to Sparkles, and it’s wonderful here. I love our clients so much, and I love Andersonville, too!

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Identifying features:

Rachel: Blonde hair, always laughing, yellow-green cat eyes.

Claire: Red hair, flawless makeup, grandpa sweaters.

Jen: Curly hair, goofball expression, tattoo of baby driving car.

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Secret talents:

Rachel: Untangling necklace chains!

Claire: Excessive knowledge of all things British including but not limited to Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Benedict Cumberbatch, and making a perfect cuppa.

Jen: Competitive gluten-free eating, baby whispering, and toddler-level Mandarin. I’ve also got mad haiku skills.

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I would be voted Most Likely To __________:

Rachel: Shop ’til I Drop!

Claire: spend money on clothes, makeup, or books before food.

Jen: Okay, in high school I was voted Most Fun-Loving, and at one point in college I was voted Most Likely To Get Hit on the Head with a Raw Potato. (Yes, that happened – at a show, when the Irish band threw a potato into the crowd. Maybe not super-thought out beforehand.) Now? I’m Most Likely to Sing You a Song Written on the Spot.

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Who’s your hero/heroine?

Rachel: My hero is anyone who has gone through a large struggle in their lives and tries to see positivity.

Claire: Imaginary: Hermione Granger. Real life: Dame Helen Mirren.

Jen: Roxane Gay.

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Favorite book:

Rachel: A Man Called Ove.

Claire: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Jen: Anything by Louise Erdrich, especially The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse. I also love George Saunders. This is a hard question for me. This could be its own blog post, or its own entire blog: 33 Years of Reading, Alphabetized. 

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Favorite movie or TV show:

Rachel: Movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and TV show Parenthood or Scandal.

Claire: Movie: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Show: BBC’s Sherlock.

Jen: Deadwood is the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV, and then Breaking Bad. Movie-wise, I love It Happened One Night and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

oompa

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Currently on your playlist:

Rachel: “Chill Out” on Pandora.

Claire: Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Glass Animals, Tove Lo, and Chance the Rapper.

Jen: I’ve been on a big Whitney Houston kick.

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Something about you your customers would never guess:

Rachel: I’ve been in the jewelry industry for over 13 years. I’m taking Spanish classes. I was a very active online dater with Tinder and OK Cupid, and I met my fiancé on both sites!

Claire: I’ve never eaten a PB&J. I feel like that’s a prerequisite for being American, so that usually shocks most people!

Jen: I’ve been a nanny, a potter, a burlesque performer, a stage manager, a singer in a vaudeville-style band, and a Pushcart nominee.

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SPARKLES DOGS!

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Waffles & Dudley, 5: best buds and co-conspirators.

Waffles is a shepherd mix from PAWS. She thinks any and all leftovers belong to her. Her ears are aerodynamic, her tail has a kink, and she has resting female dog face. While not naturally affectionate, her brother Dudley annoyed her until she gave in and became a snuggler. But don’t tell anyone, because she’d like to maintain her rep.

Dudley is a poodle/lab/wolfhound from Wright-Way Rescue. He has looked like an old man since puppyhood. Although he weighs in at 70 pounds, he thinks he’s the size of a bunny. He likes to be touching someone at all times, but he’s not, like, needy or anything. He was named after Cary Grant’s character in The Bishop’s Wife, not Dudley Do-Right.

wiffy

Wiffy: 1 year; 11 lbs 11 oz; Bich-huahua, Bodyguard, Muse.

Wiffy came from a drug-bust in Nashville! He enjoys long walks, peanut butter, and soothing cello tunes. Wiffy’s a big fan of little kids, but if you’re an adult or you work for UPS, he wants you to know he might just MESS YOU UP. He loves to learn new tricks, and he has a deep-seated aversion to the DEA.

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You’re not likely to run into our dog pals in the store, but feel free to come visit Rachel, Claire, and Jen anytime! We’re always happy to answer any questions you have, whether they pertain to jewelry, Andersonville, small business, or the relative merits of the book vs. the movie version.

All our Sparkly love,

Rachel, Claire, and Jen

An Andersonville Holiday Shopping Guide, curated by Sparkles

Andersonville is such a vibrant neighborhood, full of fantastic small businesses of all types, making it the perfect one-stop holiday shopping destination!

We love working (and shopping – and eating) in Andersonville, so we decided to make a personalized guide to highlight some of our absolute favorite places and gift choices.

Also, as firm believers in supporting local businesses, we wanted to share our motivation for supporting our community in this way.

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What are you really getting when you buy an item from a local business? What is your money actually paying for? Not only do you get the item that you chose to purchase, but you are showing with your dollars that you value the time and care the business owners and employees took with you to provide service – which is something you don’t get when you buy online!

Your money also goes towards providing jobs within your community and ensuring that these unique businesses continue to thrive and diversify your neighborhood. You’re showing you value their place in your community and how they give back to the people and place where you live.

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Also, you get qualified expertise and even passion from people in local businesses. For example, at Sparkles, we’ve all been GIA-trained and we truly know and love jewelry. Even more, we love the relationships we form with our clients and the community we are able to serve! At Women & Children First (5233 N. Clark St), you’ll find devoted readers who are eager to recommend books to you as well as readings and events that benefit the wider public. The only thing you have to do to show us your appreciation is keep shopping local!

And we’ve gone ahead and made it extra fun for you. Enjoy our gift guide, and don’t be afraid to shop off the beaten path… there are so many more treasures in the neighborhood for you to find!

Murray and White, 5416 N. Clark Street

murrayandwhite

Rachel enjoyed perusing the magical wares at Murray and White. Her favorite splurge was the custom sofa ($2475) and ottoman ($1215) pictured above with the owners, JT and Travis. She also loved this grizzly bear bottle opener that can mount to the wall (other animal options also available, $18.50) and yummy candy cane soap ($10)!

bearface soapa

Also of note are the great DIY gift basket options at In Fine Spirits, 5418 N. Clark Street.

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Wine buyer Julia makes knowledgable recommendations for the mixologist or wine lover, and if you give this gift and you’re lucky, maybe the recipient will share!

Norcross and Scott, 1476 W. Berwyn Avenue.

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At this gorgeous shop, Claire found quite a few things she’d love as gifts for herself, hint hint!

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Our favorite is the five-foot Roundie Beach Towel in “Dream Time” ($110.)

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These cheeky keychains make excellent stocking stuffers ($15). Or stop by Cas Hardware, 5305 N. Clark Street, for a copy of your key for that someone special!

Milk Handmade, 5137 N. Clark Street.

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Claire discovered more amazing goods at Milk Handmade, including some candles she couldn’t leave (or live?) without!

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Check out these boozy-themed goodies chosen by store owner Hallie Borden. Handmade in Chicago, they would also fill a stocking nicely! (Body scrub $12, body oil $10, bar soap $7.)

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We also seriously covet this knit layer scarf ($48) and Milk-exclusive leather handbag ($248.)

Toys Et Cetera, 5311 N. Clark St.

Who doesn’t love a toy store? This one is jam-packed with toys for kids of all ages, from plush toys and puppets to puzzles and playsets. Jen adored the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar (44.99) and may have to snag one before the beginning of December.

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There’s also the requisite and much-loved train table for railway or Thomas the Tank Engine fans, as well as Calico Critter families and accessories (24.99 for a family of four.)

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And for your furry friends, don’t miss Jameson Loves Danger at 5208 N. Clark St.

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Sparkles dogs Dudley, Waffles, and Wiffy would drool over the fresh and stylin’ variety of collars and leashes available here, as well as the winter weather gear, ranging from doggie parkas to warm, cozy sweaters!

And behold, the WALL-O-TOYS!!!

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Lots of diverting cat toys are available too, as well as food and treats and grooming accessories. Two paws up – or maybe four?

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Speaking of our four-legged pals, don’t miss out on Martha Mae’s (5407 N. Clark St) gorgeously curated daydream of a shop. Sweet Martha Mae (pictured above) and her talented human associate, Jean, have gathered artwork, art supplies, and all things visually lovely in this must-visit boutique.

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Jen wishes for the tiny lidded vessels ($35-$40) hand-thrown by local ceramicist Christie Chapin. She also goes ga-ga for the artist’s model dogs ($25) and horses ($200-300) as well as the exquisite hand-silkscreened Japanese paper ($18).

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After you’re finished admiring Martha Mae’s, don’t forget to stop in and see us next door at Sparkles Fine Jewelry (5405 N. Clark St.) 

We’ve got goodies for all kinds of giftees. One of our favorite pieces is this lovely garnet and diamond pendant on 14k yellow gold ($762). It’s so festive and colorful and that checkerboard cut is stunning!

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Another beautiful gift item is this wave-patterned diamond ring ($2400).

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We also carry an attractive range of Citizen watches, like the one shown below ($195), as well as sparkly silver earrings ($180) and a variety colors and styles of leather and steel bracelets ($60).

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Whatever you choose, make sure to support your local businesses and have a wonderful time!

Lots of love from your Sparkles staff!

Party Time! Excellent!

We love fall in Chicago, and here at Sparkles, we have an extra reason to celebrate: this September is our third anniversary of serving our wonderful clientele from the beloved neighborhood of Andersonville and beyond!

To mark this momentous occasion and show our thanks for three fantastic years, we’re throwing an anniversary party, and we’d love to see you there!

Festivities to be held at Sparkles Fine Jewelry (5405 N. Clark St) on Friday, September 23rd from 6-9pm. There will be refreshments, a photo booth, and lots of sparkly fun – plus, what everyone loves the most – a jewelry sale! All items in our cases (excluding vintage pieces) will be 30% off for those three hours only!

Please join us and lift a glass (or a delicious piece of cheese! We Sparkles women are serious about our cheese.) on Friday the 23rd. We will treasure the memory, and maybe you’ll take home something new to treasure as well.

Cheers!

Rachel, Claire, and Jen

Jewelry Care: Tips & Tricks for Cleaning and Caring for your Collection

Hi there from Sparkles!

As fellow jewelry lovers, we know how it feels to own and wear fun, sparkly pieces. But as they say, with great jewelry comes great responsibility! (Do they say that? Is it canon?)

We’re just kidding – the responsibility’s not THAT daunting, but proper care of your jewelry prolongs its life, enhances its look, and ensures more happiness in both the short and the long term.

At Sparkles, we’re all GIA-trained, so we know about metals and gemstones and their relative strengths and limitations. We want to pass on this knowledge to you so you can put it to good use with your own pieces!

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for taking the best care of your jewelry. 

DO bring in your engagement rings (or any rings worn on a daily basis) for a check-up with your jeweler every 6 months. That way, we can check your mounting(s) – are any stones loose? Do any prongs need tightening? – and keep a professional eye on the condition of your rings to prevent stone loss or damage. Normal wear can eventually cause prongs to loosen over time, but with regular check-ups, jewelers can detect any needed maintenance and make any touch-ups or repairs as necessary. Not only does this keep your rings in great shape, but it keeps them clean and looking their most beautiful as well! 

DO perform at home checks for loose stones. Hold the piece up to your ear and gently tap it. Hear any movement? If so, a stone is loose. Immediately stop wearing this piece and bring it to your jeweler so they can tighten the loose stone. A loose stone can quickly turn into a lost stone. 

DO take off your jewelry before you shower, swim, clean house, or apply anything to your skin or hair that can come in contact with your jewelry (think lotions, sunscreens, hair product, perfume, bug spray, etc.) The chemicals/ingredients found in body products, swimming pools and cleaning supplies can damage or discolor both metals and stones, sometimes permanently. Gems like turquoise and pearls are especially porous and require extra care.

DON’T work out or perform otherwise manual types of labor in your rings and jewelry. You’ll want to avoid wearing jewelry during any activity that could make it more likely for you to knock your pieces into things or catch them on hard surfaces or edges. Even simply gripping the handles on an elliptical machine routinely over time can misshape a ring.

DO take your jewelry off before you sleep. Prongs can catch on the sheets or blankets and loosen stones in your mounting (or rip your 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets!). Your body changes as you sleep – fingers can swell quite a bit making a ring mighty tight (and not to mention bad news for blood flow!) The same goes for necklaces – chains can tangle, catch and rip on bedding, or even get crushed if slept on. Earrings can come undone and get lost. 

DO place your jewelry in the same place every time you take it off, which will help you remember exactly where you put it and aid in establishing good caretaking habits.

DO store your jewelry individually in a pouch or box; this protects it from the potential damage and debris from just lying out, and it also prevents close contact with other pieces of jewelry, with which it might tangle or scratch.

DO avoid excessive light and heat as well as sudden temperature changes, as these elements can cause your gems to fade, change color, or even crack and shatter.

DO feel free to gently clean your jewelry at home with warm water, dish soap and a small, soft brush, like a baby toothbrush or makeup brush. We carry a great foam cleanser here at Sparkles that comes with its own brush and is safe to use on all fine jewelry. We also carry silver polishing cloths and a liquid silver cleaner for your sterling pieces. 

DON’T put any other metal other than silver in liquid silver cleaner and only leave your silver pieces in the solution for 30 seconds or less. If your piece has stones, use a cotton swab to dip into the solution and clean around the stones. Rinse thoroughly with water. 

DON’T leave your jewelry sitting in water or cleaning solution to soak. 

DO leave ultrasonic cleaning to your jeweler. Ultrasonic cleaners are widely used in the jewelry profession to clean jewelry. They utilize gentle vibrations and heat to deep clean pieces. However, not all gemstones are safe in an ultrasonic; stones like opals, pearls or emeralds should never go into an ultrasonic cleaner as the vibrations can damage them. A trained jeweler will know which pieces are safe and which should be hand-cleaned. 

DON’T assume all gemstones are equal! There’s a reason beyond appeal and tradition that makes diamonds the most widely used stone for engagement and wedding rings – because of their hardness, diamonds are extremely durable and thus ideal for every day, long-term wear. Sadly, not all gems can measure up to the same level of strength!

For your reference, here is the Moh’s Scale of Hardness:

10 – Diamond – absolute hardness of 1600

9 – Corundum (ruby, sapphire) – absolute hardness of 400

8 – Topaz – absolute hardness of 200

7 – Quartz (amethyst, citrine, ametrine, etc) – absolute hardness of 100 – scratches window glass

6 – Feldspar (moonstone, labradorite) – absolute hardness of 72 – a steel file will scratch it

5 – Apatite – absolute hardness of 48

4 – Fluorite – absolute hardness of 21 – a knife will scratch it

3 – Calcite – absolute hardness of 9 – a penny will scratch it

2 – Gypsum – absolute hardness of 3

1 – Talc – absolute hardness of 1 – a fingernail will scratch it

As you can see, diamonds win! Moving just one step down the scale, we see a 75% drop in hardness between 10 (diamond) and 9 (corundum)! This doesn’t mean that diamonds are your only safe option, but that if you should choose another stone (sapphire, topaz, etc), it’s helpful to realize the differences in toughness so you can take the best care of your ring.

If you’re interested in a softer stone, like an opal (rated 4.5-6 on the hardness scale) or a pearl (2.5-4.5), please be aware that, simply due to their own delicate nature, these gems are less than ideal for the everyday, lifelong wear expected out of an engagement or wedding ring. 

And finally, DON’T be afraid to ask your jeweler questions. That’s what we’re here for! We feel it is part of our job to properly educate you on the best ways to care for your jewelry, and we’re definitely committed to helping maintain your pieces so they last for generations to come!

Thanks for visiting! See you here at Sparkles soon! 

xoxo, 

The Sparkles Team