Thursday, April 30, 2009

Righteous Rings - Conflict-Free Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend

Cut, size, shape and clarity are all important characteristics to consider when purchasing a diamond. But have you ever given much to where a diamond comes from? I am referring to the origin from which your diamond is mined. Diamonds are a hot commodity, and while they are the worlds most sought after gemstone for the durability and beauty, they are often mined in some of the most volatile, ugly environments on Earth.

Have you seen the movie "Blood Diamond?" This movie details the origin of many diamonds, blood diamonds (also referred to conflict diamonds), which are for sale in the United States and across the world. A blood diamond is a diamond that is mined in African (or other) war zones, which are then sold to fund wars and conflicts and to make money for warlords and diamond companies alike. Aside from being a source of income for warlords, the working conditions in these diamond mines are likened to that of a concentration camp. Not a pretty site for such a beautiful product.

But there is hope! The diamond industry has put very strict system in place for certifying conflict-free diamonds. Diamonds certified by Whiteflash, guarantee that the diamonds are conflict free diamonds. Leaving you free from the worry that your purchase is contributing to a war halfway across the globe.

The other way to purchase a conflict-free gem is to buy from a retailer who adheres to the Kimberly Process guidelines. This is a process that is designed to certify and track diamonds to ensure they have come from a conflict-free zone. Each diamond mined in a conflict-free zone is lasered with a serial number and these numbers are checked at the borders of all participating countries. Many large diamond retailers are now participating in this process making it easier for consumers to find a diamond with a clean history.

If this is all too overwhelming for you and you’d just like to know where you can buy a good, honest diamond, I did a little hunting around on the site and found that one of our nationwide vendor, Whiteflash, guarantees that all of their diamonds are from a conflict-free zone. Blue Nile is listed in the "Jewelry" section of each local city wedding planning guide if you’d like to check them out. Otherwise, just ask your local jeweler the following questions:

  • Where do you buy your diamonds and where are they mined?
  • Do you participate in the Kimberly Process?

This should cover all of your bases and ensure that your diamond is beautiful inside and out.



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Tips for Planning a Casual Wedding


The fun thing about planning a casual wedding is the flexibility. Instead of adhering to formal wedding etiquette, you can create a wedding celebration to your own liking - deleting or including whichever traditional wedding rituals fit your needs. Having so many choices, however, can be a bit overwhelming. If you’d like to plan a casual wedding, but aren’t sure where to start, follow these steps to help reel in your ideas and to begin formulating the wedding of your dreams.

  • The Bigger Picture - First, ask yourself: Just how casual do you want your wedding to be? Do you want to wear street clothes and serve a homemade sheet cake or wear a gauzy white sundress and serve cherry pie instead of wedding cake? Run through the details with your fiancé and write down your ideas. Get a good idea of how you want your wedding to feel-both for yourself and for your guests. Casual means different things to different people-so get clear on what it means for the both of you.
  • The Guest List - Most (but not all) casual weddings call for a smaller guest list. Inviting fewer people will ensure a less fussy, easy - going atmosphere and save you a lot of stress. Plus, when you have a smaller crowd you can afford to include a few luxurious details that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to include in your celebration.
  • The Venue - Another perk of planning a casual affair is that you won’t have to spend a fortune on your wedding ceremony and reception venue. Choose a location that reflects the "level of casual" you want. For example, if you’re thinking sundresses and flip flops go with an outdoor setting, preferably on or near a beach. Other ideas are: parks, backyards, community center, your favorite restaurant, or a farm.
  • The Style - Casual does not have to lack style. If your personal style tends toward bohemian, for example, bring elements of this style into your wedding planning. Go with rich colors and vintage details. Your wedding can still exude elegance without being a formal affair. Make sure that your wedding style matches your diamond engagement ring style.
  • The Food - If you’re hosting a smaller crowd, serve a family-style meal. Being able to sit at a table with your loved ones makes the occasion feel more intimate. Another idea is to serve a buffet-style dinner so your guests can help themselves to a simply cooked meal. Place pitchers of water, lemonade, and iced tea along with bottles of wine on a self-serve table as well. Also, set out tubs of ice filled with sodas and beer so that guests can reach for their own refreshments. Your wedding meal can feel more like a potluck dinner or a family gathering than a formal wedding. Just make sure someone is in charge of restocking food and drinks when supplies run low.
  • The Details - Instead of spending an arm and a leg on flowers you can go with more casual, less expensive (however still beautiful) varieties such as daisies, sunflowers, or a mix of in-season wild flowers. If you'll only be addressing 50 invitations, get creative and make them by hand. You'll be able to communicate the tone of your casual affair this way to your guests. Be sure to mention what guests should wear to the occasion just so that there is no confusion. For example, you can tell your guests to wear whatever is comfortable and to refrain from wearing heels if you’ll be married on uneven outdoor terrain.


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Grooms Wearing That Ring...Forever


There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and men not wanting to spend time in a jewelry shop. The simple truth is that most men are just not wired to enjoy the process of picking out and wearing jewelry (props to the ones that are, you’re life is going to be a lot easier).


Furthermore, when a groom comes to the realization that when he slips that wedding band on, it’s going on FOREVER, it tends to lead to some anxiety. It’s not that the groom doesn’t want to display his love and devotion to his wife - it’s just that it’s jewelry...and he’s wearing it FOREVER.


After the wedding, it’s naturally going to be an adjustment for a guy to always have a ring on his finger (especially if he’s never worn one before). If you grooms out there are like me, you’ll find yourself constantly playing and tinkering with the ring for the first few months. Some guys, however, like to take it a step further by coming up with reasons why he sometimes shouldn’t have to wear the ring...


Some of these reasons have merit behind them, however most are completely bogus. Here are a few examples of when it’s acceptable to take the ring off (and when it’s not).


Valid excuse: "I’m going to be in the ocean" - Reasonable excuse. If that ring slips off in the ocean, there’s no getting it back.


Bogus excuse: "I’m allergic to jewelry" - Yes, we know that metal allergies do exist. But they’re very rare. If the groom does have an allergy, make sure to get it checked out and don’t buy a ring that irritates his skin. This is used far more often as a bogus excuse than a valid one.


Valid excuse: "It’s a safety issue or a distraction at work" - If he works around heavy-duty machinery or works closely with his hands – it’s probably a safe idea to not wear the ring at work.


Bogus excuse: "It hurts my golf swing" - Survey says: NO! I’m an avid golfer, and never once has my wedding band affected my swing. Sorry, guys. Nice try.


Valid Excuse: "I’m doing the dishes, and I don’t want it to fall down the drain" - That dish soap does get pretty slippery.


Bogus Excuse: "I’m going to my little bro’s bachelor party, I wanna feel as young as everyone else there" - C’mon guys, use your head.


TMR Recommendation: Only remove your wedding band under certain circumstances that have been signed off on by your wife. Now guys, you don’t have to listen to me - but if you don’t - you might want to start decorating the dog house because you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time in there.



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5.75 Carat Diamond Found at Arkansas State Park : diamond, diamonds, Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas, The Arabian Knight, Loose Diamonds, Wedding Band, Wedding Bands, Diamnd Wedding Bands, Diamond Found, Found Diamond, Dig for Diamonds))

What began as a trip to pan for gold in Salida, Colorado turned into a much more lucrative surprise detour to Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas, the only state park where the finders can unquestioningly keep any diamonds that they find.  When Mike Burns of Arab, Alabama, a retired truck driver who now works for Lowe’s, set out with his friend Craig “Arkansas” Wilds, it was to go to Colorado to look for gold.  Finding that the property owner there was unavailable, he called his wife, Linda. 

Three weeks before the trip, Linda reminded her husband that their 20th anniversary was coming up on May 27, and she’d love a diamond for her gold wedding band.  She mentioned this conversation when he called from Colorado, and suggested that he head for Crater of Diamonds.  During their original exchange, Mike Burns had told his wife that “she’d better get her rear to Arkansas and start digging.”

Instead, he found himself on Tuesday morning, walking along a creek in Arkansas and looking at the wet banks, remembering that mud doesn’t stick to diamonds.  Spotting something shiny, he picked it up and went to the park office for confirmation that he had, indeed, found a diamond.  Margi Jenks, a park interpreter, weighed and examined the diamond, telling him that it was 5.75-carat clear diamond with some inclusions(The Arab Tribune).  While it is still unknown what the diamond will appraise for, a 2-carat diamond found last year—after being cut and set—is valued at $22,000.  Crater of Diamonds State Park provides free identification and certification of the diamonds found there. 

Burns named his find ‘The Arabian Knight’, after his high school alma mater.  Whether or not he’ll be keeping it or giving it to his wife is the only question.  The couple says that hunting for gold and gems has become a fun hobby for them.  In North Carolina, they found enough rubies to make Linda a necklace and earrings, with enough stones left over to make earrings for her daughter, daughter-in-law, and seven grandchildren.  Linda hinted that a new wedding band would be nice with a few of those rubies and, of course, a diamond.

Since the Crater became a state park, over 28,000 diamonds have been found.  The largest was the 16.37-carat gem-quality white “Amarillo Starlight”, found by WW Johnson of Amarillo, Texas.  The most flawless diamond found there is a 1.09-carat D-flawless diamond called the “Strawn-Wagner” Diamond.  It was discovered in 1990 by Murfreesboro resident Shirley Strawn and weighed 3.03 carats in the rough.  It was cut to perfection in 1997 by Lazare Kaplan International in New York, and is the most perfect diamond ever certified in the laboratory of the American Gem Society.

Also found at Crater of Diamond State Park are amethyst, garnet, peridot, quartz, barite, agate, jasper, and calcite. 

After Mike Burns had his find certified, he called his wife so she didn’t first hear it on the news.  She told him it would make a good anniversary present, and he told her that the diamond would be great for his birthday. 

Linda’s response? “You’d better go out and find you one.”


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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Whiteflash: Perfection for the Bridal Party


The Bridal Party plays an important role in your wedding! They're your sisters, brothers, cousins, best friends - people who hold special places in your heart!

A great way to honor your (MOH) Maid of Honor, (BM) Best Man, (Gm) Groomsmen and your (Bm) Bridesmaids is to give them a present that they all could use the day of the wedding, but also after as a memorable keepsake!

A wonderful way to achieve this is to get them something they could wear; like jewelry or accessories. is very well known to have a fabulous tool to create the perfect engagement ring as well as having a grand selection of wedding bands. But, I snooped around a bit more - after awing the diamond anniversary bands - and found that has a fantastic selection of Bm and Gm gifts! It was tough to choose my favorites, but these are beautiful and affordable.

BM & Gm Gifts

MOH & Bm Gifts


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The Groom's Wedding Band: Men's Rings 101

Once you’ve taken care of the engagement ring and mastered the art of getting down on one knee, it’s time to check off another important milestone in the wedding process. Yep, it’s time to go back to the jeweler. But don’t pass out just yet, guys. This time it’s all about you, and it most likely won’t be your pocketbook that’s taking the hit. Generally, if you’ve paid for your fiancée’s engagement ring and wedding band, the common etiquette suggests that she’ll cover your wedding band.

But before you start thinking you don’t really need a wedding band, think again. Although women understand that most guys aren’t crazy about jewelry, your bride-to-be probably won’t let you off the hook without a wearing one after you’re married. Once you understand that, it’s time to start looking for the ring that’s right for you.

First, it’s important to select your band at least one month before your wedding, so there will be plenty of time to deal with any problems related to size or availability. Before you head to the jeweler, it’s helpful to research the types of bands you’re interested in before you step in a store so you won’t be overwhelmed by all of the different options. Believe it or not, there are many different kinds of men’s wedding bands available. Some have different metals, different fits, grooves or engraving, or inset stones. You should also discuss this with your fiancée to decide whether it’s important that your band should match hers. The more knowledge you have before heading in the jewelry store, the better.

There are several different types of metals that wedding bands are made from, and each has its pros and cons. While it often comes down to personal preference and price, probably the most common type of metal used is either white or yellow gold. Gold has several benefits, including its light weight. If you’ve never worn a ring, gold might be a more comfortable option for you. Another popular option is platinum, which is one of the most expensive metals available. However, another caveat is its weight. You’ll definitely remember it’s on your finger. Other options include titanium, sterling silver and palladium. All of these options have their advantages, so it’s important to discuss them with your jeweler before making your decision.

In addition to the metal you choose, some guys like to add diamonds or other gems to their rings. This is another area where it helps to do some research before hitting the stores. Your jeweler should be able to offer you several different options to compare.

Another important decision is the fit of the ring. There are several options ranging from classic to what’s called a “comfort” fit. The main difference between the fits is whether or not the edge of the ring is rounded or straight cut. We recommend at least trying on a comfort fit band, which are popular because they truly are comfortable and don’t dig into your skin, making it easier to get used to your band if you typically don’t wear jewelry.

Choosing your wedding band is one of the major decisions you’ll make during the engagement process. So it naturally pays to do some research. Make your trip to the jeweler as painless as possible by talking with your fiancée and picking out a couple of different ring options ahead of time. That way, the decisions at the store will be much easier. Finally, as with your fiancée’s ring, it’s wise to look into ring insurance. You’d be amazed at how many guys tend to lose them as early as on their honeymoons (while swimming, etc.).


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Groom's Guide to Engagement Ring Shopping


So you’ve decided to buy her a diamond ring— congratulations! It isn’t easy making such a large emotional and financial commitment. Before you go ring shopping, it pays to do some research to make sure you know what to look for and what to expect.

Here’s a quick guide to help keep you on track.

1. Determine your budget. Remember, this isn’t the time to make a hasty decision or impulse buy. Think of this ring as Super Bowl tickets. If you had one chance to pick any seat available, you’d pick the best one you could afford. This may mean staying in one night per weekend, but it'll be worth it.  This ring will be on her finger for the rest of her life. Do yourself a favor and make it count!

2. There are many different varieties of engagement rings. One of the most traditional examples is the diamond solitaire. This ring features a band and a single (or solitaire) diamond. This can be a good way to go if you aren’t sure about her jewelry preferences. This option also offers the most diamond for your dollar, size-wise.

3. The four C's: The four most important things to know about a diamond are its cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

4. Another thing to consider when buying an engagement ring is whether you’ll also want to purchase a wedding band to go with it. A wedding band is generally a smaller band that is sometimes sold in a set with the engagement ring. Again, this is something you may want to do a little research on before you buy. Talk with your girl. Some women like to have a wedding band while others prefer the engagement ring by itself. 

5. When buying a ring, you’ll want to get the most for your money. Diamond prices vary from store to store as no two diamonds are exactly alike. It pays to do your research and shop around. Go to several of the larger chain stores and price what you want. We then suggest checking out a few online diamond vendors like  Pay them a visit and compare prices. You never know where you're going to find your diamond in the rough.

6. Before you buy, get info on ring insurance. The store that you buy from may have an in-house program or you can find a national company that specializes in insuring engagement rings.

This is an area where you’ll most likely need some help. There are many resources you can turn to for guidance. First and foremost, it's always a good idea to be aware of what type of ring your girl prefers. Knowing her preferences is half the battle. Other people you can seek help with are her best friend, her mother, or if all else fails, one of your groomsmen who has already gone through this process.

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Diamond Sales Struggle but Whiteflash Survives


Although brick-and-mortar diamond retailers are hurting these days online vendors are staying afloat. Stores such as Finlay's, Shane Co, Whitehall and Fortunoff have closed their doors as diamond sales have frozen in the stale economy. Whiteflash, however, has managed to keep consumers' interest with over 60,000 loose diamonds and hundreds of diamond settings. Their internet approach educates potential buyers without the pressure of a salesperson. Plus, Whiteflash keeps their inventory costs low, which they pass along to customers, by only purchasing diamonds once the consumer has made their order. That means a 20-40% reduction in price over other retailers. Incredibly, Whiteflash has even competed with Tiffany's engagement ring sales. It just goes to show, sometimes the better deal is more important than that little blue box.

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Jeweler Doris Panos Files For Bankruptcy


High-end jewelry line Doris Panos Designs has become the latest jeweler to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Papers filed in New York show that the company estimates that its assets and liabilities each total between $1 million and $10 million. Doris Panos is a jeweler who created her own business in 1993 after years in the field. Her dramatic pieces featuring large gemstones and diamonds have been worn on the red carpet and appeared in many fashion magazines. Her line is sold at Neiman Marcus and other fine stores. The jewelry industry has been hit by many bankruptcies lately including Whitehall Jewelers, Fortunoff, Robbins Brothers and Ultra Diamonds.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mandy Moore talks new album, married life, and whether she'd ever record with husband Ryan Adams: The Music Mix Q&A

Mandy Moore wanted her sixth studio album, May 26's Amanda Leigh, to sound like "a quintessential California '70s pop record." So, naturally, she recorded it at an engineer friend's home in Medford, Mass., dead in the middle of a New England winter. "It was so cold that the only time we left the house was to go to the grocery store once a week!" she tells the Music Mix. "Luckily, everything was written in California." Moore met up with the Music Mix today to chat about Amanda Leigh, her Fleet Foxes fandom, mixed martial arts, and life with her new husband, alt-country songsmith Ryan Adams. Click through to the jump for the full Q&A.

EW: Tell me more about how you recorded your new album.
Well, the last record we were in a proper studio up in Woodstock, with all the time and money in the world. This time around, it was like, you don't really need that. In fact, I was going to do the record in my house, but I thought that my neighbors would make me move. So that quickly got squashed. [In Medford,] we played music down in the basement. I'd sing my vocals in the stairway. We tracked a string quartet in the living room, French horn in the dining room.

Are you shooting a video for the first single, "I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week"?
Mm-hm. I think it's coming out next week. I actually didn't want to do a video for this record. Before we started recording, I was like, "Maybe I'll put it out under a different name." I'd like for people to at least give the music the benefit of the doubt and feel like they're discovering something new. Not to sound oddly jaded, but because I've been doing this for 10 years, and I understand the rigamarole that goes along with it, I was like, "I don't want to do a video." But then my good friend wrote this fun, crazy little treatment that involves martial arts. I was like, "C'mon, you know I love UFC." And then I pulled some strings and got Chuck Liddell in my video. Pretty cool!

What was it like working with Chuck?
He is a total sweetheart, and actually a really great actor. He has a fight on Saturday, and he was right in the middle of training. I felt bad about taking his time. But he just kind of walked in and did his thing on the first take. We were all blown away.

Who are your favorite contemporary artists?
I love Sara Watkins. Last year, I was obsessed with Fleet Foxes, and I still am. I found their [Sun Giant] EP at the record store -- I liked the cover, so I picked it up. I love them. I actually exchanged one email with [Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold] last year. I was like, "I want to write with him!" He was so nice -- such a deep, intense music guy. He was really inquisitive about, "What kind of record is this? What do you want to write about?" Obviously he wouldn't have been listening to my music. I just thought it was so cool of him. He said, "I'd love to, but we're busy." I was such a nerdy fan, like, "Oh my god, I can't believe he wrote me!"

You just got married last month -- congratulations. Is music something that you and your husband bond over?
Well, yeah! That's definitely a common interest between the two of us. There's always music playing in the house, or being written. It's nice to be able to share that with one another, and share new things that we discover and find. Usually it's him introducing me to something. There's a lot more metal being played in the house than ever before. It's like, "No, no, that's hair metal, that's not black metal. And that's more melodic Scandinavian metal." It's hard to discern, but I'm starting to get there.

Do you ever talk about each other's music when you're working on it?
Sure, just as you would with any other friend or relationship. It's nice to be able to bounce ideas off someone, especially someone that you have a lot of respect for. It's wonderful.

Would you ever think of working with Ryan on a music project?
Yeah, I'd throw him a bone. I know he needs the work. I'd certainly allow him to come on the road if he needed a job. [laughs] No, I'm sure in due time something will probably come about in terms of collaborating. We certainly have done that at home, writing together -- it just organically happens. In terms of putting stuff out there [for public consumption], I don't know. Maybe somewhere down the line that'll be fun.


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How To Get Through Life

Sleep as much as you can  ....  


Read books that you enjoy...


Play with simple things...


Do  whatever you want --

whenever you want...

Look for affection when you need it...


Get serious once in a while...


Forget about diets....


Show some affection...


Get angry once in a while....  


Change your looks...

Above all, be happy,
regardless of what
your challenges may be...

Have a great life!

May your troubles be less,
your blessings more,
and may
nothing but happiness
come through your door.


All of these cute babies are as unique and precious as an “A Cut Above” diamond. They sparkle and shine in our lives to show us the beauty that is within.


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What Will Be the Hottest, Hippest 2009 Wedding Trends

If you're planning a wedding, you're probably wondering what will be trendy and hip. There's no denying that 2009 Wedding Trends will be heavily influenced by two things. Firstly, the economy. It seems dreary to be constantly talking about how the economy will impact your life, but fortunately, I'm already seeing ways in which a smaller budget has inspired couples to have more creative, intimate, and personal weddings.

These weddings are benefiting from a heavy dose of style, influenced by the many images and ideas circulating around the blogosphere. This chic style will be the second biggest influence this year. Rather than huge weddings, where cost cutting means a lack of details or fun, the 2009 wedding trends are full of fabulous details meant for smaller, affordable weddings.

Here's what I predict will be the top 2009 wedding trends:

Farm Weddings No, I'm not talking about getting married amongst the combines, or having a cow for your bridesmaid. But farms can be an affordable place to get married with a lot of charm. Several of them allow your guests to interact with the animals, while others just provide idyllic pastoral settings. Add some additional down-home touches like gingham tablecloths, pitchers of jam or other country wedding style. Look for a farm that has a barn suitable for a reception. An opportunity to

Small luxurious weddings Budgets might be tight, but that doesn’t mean that luxury and glamour are going away. Instead, couples are opting for intimate glamorous affairs. By having fewer guests, they can have more opulent details, like elaborate favors, beautiful wines and gourmet tasting menus. With such a backdrop, it then feels right to be in your tuxedos and gowns, surrounded only by your truest friends and loved ones.

Macarons The delightful French cookies not only have a delicious almond flavor and light texture, but bakers have a tradition of making them in bright eye-catching colors, making them perfect for weddings. The newest trend is creating a tower of macarons instead of a wedding cake, but they’re also stunning as favors or as accompaniment to wedding cake.

Gray For the past few years, chocolate brown has been the “It Color” popping up in weddings as a hip neutral, and combined with bright pink or cheery yellow. While chocolate brown isn’t going anywhere, the hippest new color for 2009 is gray. You may think of gray as too dreary a color for weddings, but on the contrary, it can serve as a sophisticated foil to brighter colors. It’s great paired with pink or yellow, but perhaps the hottest combination this year will be silver and royal purple.

Affordable and Rewearable Bridesmaid Dresses Forget the peach tulle atrocities of yesteryear. 2009 brides are considerate, and mindful of the economy, so they’re looking for bridesmaid dresses that are truly rewearable, and don’t come with a sky-high price tag. For a beach wedding, consider telling your bridesmaids that they can wear a knee-length, spaghetti-strap dress in any shade of blue. They’ll not only be able to shop the department store sales, but your wedding reflects the beautiful colors of the ocean. If you still want a unified bridal party look, consider gathering your maids for a group shopping expedition.

Vintage Fashion and Fascinators Having a vintage-inspired wedding is a great way to add some style without adding a lot of cost. 1920’s weddings will be especially hot this year. Especially look for brides wearing birdcage veils and fascinators. If you’re a Project Runway fan, you’ll definitely recall Kenley’s fascinators – the feathery charms that perch on your head. But many other designers also make a wide range of fascinators. They look vintage and modern, whimsical and classic, all at the same time.

Diamond Fashion for the Bridal Party Have your bridal party sparkling with diamonds on your big day. Whether is be diamond earrings, diamond bracelets, or diamond rings make sure that your bridal party is blinged out for the big event.


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Grey's Anatomy: Meredith Picks a Wedding Dress!

Seattle Grace was showdown central this week’s Grey’s Anatomy. There was no love between Alex and George or McSteamy and McDreamy. Izzie advocated for a big white wedding while Derek were thinking small with Buffalo wings.


The Wedding Planner: After finally getting engaged, Deredith started talking about their perfect wedding (no dress, no church, simplicity), but Meredith offered to let Izzie plan it to keep her mind off her cancer and she essentially turned her hospital room into a bridal boutique. Mer sent Derek in to rein her in, but he wimped out when she cried. Mer caved and tried on dresses while telling Izzie that she wanted simple. “It’s your day. You can’t just piss it away on a slip dress and a cheese tray from the grocery store,” Izzie whimpered. When she admitted to Yang that she was “just another patient trapped in dying body,” her friends played along with her wedding fantasy and found the perfect dress for Mer.


But I do have to say that Meridith’s wedding dress is stunning and will look amazing with the diamond engagement ring Derick bought her.


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Bulgari's 125th Anniversary Marked by Commemorative Stamp

Luxury jeweler Bulgari is about to celebrate 125 years as one of the world’s most sought-after jewelry brands.  To commemorate the occasion, it is teaming up with an unlikely partner: the Poste Italiane, or Italy’s postal service.  Special edition stamps like these are very unusual, and this particular series features only two other celebrated Italian products—the Fiat 500 and the Lamborghini Miura.  This puts Bulgari—not surprisingly—in very good company.

The special edition stamp, worth 77 cents (or .60 Euros), features a 1965 yellow gold and platinum necklace encrusted with turquoise, amethysts, emeralds and, of course, diamonds.   This Friday, the Poste Italiane will issue 3.5 million such stamps.  Collectors can try to pick up these coveted items at post offices in Rome, Milan, Venice and Naples—the only cities in which they will be sold.  They can also be purchased online at  Along with each purchase, this philatelists dream will include an article detailing the history of Bulgari, written by Bulgari Group chairman Paolo Bulgari.

Along with the stamp, Bulgari will be celebrating its anniversary with a retrospective called “Between Eternity and History”, held on May 22 in Rome, with a celebration to immediately follow.  The firm will also showcase 15 new exclusive diamond jewelry designs and eight new timepieces worth approximately $3.9 million.  These will be auctioned off in New York in December, and all proceeds will go to charity.


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Monday, April 27, 2009

Stylish Spring Wedding Design


Spring weddings are about to be in full bloom.  This is a time when nature is renewing itself and planning your wedding around a spring theme is a fun and fresh idea.  Break out of the heavy drama of winter weddings by using these few tips on trends, colors and other creative ways to celebrate the new season and your nuptials with style.

Pastels are a refreshing change to winter colors, consider the use of a baby blue or a light green for your bridesmaids; maybe even a pair of light pink shoes for the bride to add a fun twist to the wedding day look. Pink and green together make a traditional spring palette, but don’t be afraid to mix it up with other bright colors like sunflower yellow.  Just stay away from the darker jewel tones that are more appropriate for winter or fall.  Incorporating green accents will help your spring theme too - use fruits, potted plants, and rustic elements sprinkled throughout your event to bring the spring season to life!
Décor should be as light and playful as the season.  Try wide colored stripes, polka dots, ribbons, flowy fabrics, and lots of white for a clean look.  Green leaves, hand printed cards, and wood pieces keep the spring theme close at hand.  Have fun unusual accents like birds’ nests with robin’s eggs candies.  Do your best to be good to the environment and use local fresh flowers (which will automatically give you that spring floral look).  Live mini-pots of grass to hold place cards, earth-friendly invitations, and sustainable agriculture from your area for catering are all easy ways to be eco-conscience and spring friendly.  If your wedding is outdoors during the day, drape fabrics that can blow in the wind, tie ribbons in unexpected places, perhaps even have a maypole!  You can set up games on the lawn to keep everyone entertained while you take photos.  Croquet, bocce ball, horseshoes are all great options as they are easily set up and contained. Keep the atmosphere fun, airy and light, just like spring itself when you say “I Do” in the outdoors.

Don’t feel cornered by the need to have a wedding that’s too typical spring.  There are many other directions you can take while still maintaining that same seasonal feel.  Victorian elements can evoke spring with an outdoor garden feel with the use of delicate antique laces and vintage linens, small wrought iron designs for your tabletops with dried lavender along with wicker chairs and lounge furniture.  Shabby Chic is another solid direction to take by hanging antique chandeliers outside, overstuffed cushions for your chairs and distressed painted wood décor pieces.  Mix vintage with contemporary and add candlelight to easily incorporate a romantic intimate feel.

Favors can be anything from a packet of seeds or bulbs that your guests can plant to enjoy in the new growing season or a sweet wrapped package with a festive pastel or floral-topped cupcake inside, perhaps even a bag of brightly colored jelly beans to leave your guests with a fun reminder of your spring wedding!  And of course, don’t forget to gift your flowering and live plants on hand and encourage all to continue to cycle of life in their gardens

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Bold Jewelry Makes The Look

This season, look for oversized statement pieces with a rocker edge and feminine charm.


Lisa Ellis is a little bit corporate, a little bit rock 'n' roll. On any given day, the former executive vice president at Sony Music Label Group might spend the morning at a business meeting for her private equity firm, Fireman Capital Partners, and the afternoon in a recording studio with artist Wyclef Jean, one of her partners in Karnaval House, a music and entertainment company.


One of her favorite corporate uniforms is a crisp, tailored button-down shirt and form-fitting jeans, which she makes her own by accessorizing--a belt or scarf here, a jacket or cashmere shawl there. Then there's Ellis's bold, unique jewelry: wooden beads with diamond accents; a chunky platinum-and-diamond ring she bought on a trip to India.


In Pictures: Gorgeous Jewelry That Won't Break The Bank


Few top-level executives can get away with Ellis's glamorous, slightly sexy Dolce & Gabbana suits and sky-high Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik heels--let alone the jeans. But there's one lesson all women can adopt: A great piece of jewelry can take an outfit from standard to standout.


"It's the jewelry that actually makes the look," says fashion stylist Jesse Garza, co-founder of Visual Therapy, a New York wardrobe consultancy, and co-author, with his Visual Therapy partner Joe Lupo, of Life in Color: The Visual Therapy Guide to the Perfect Palette for Fashion, Beauty, and You!. Says Garza, "I love a flattering, clean backdrop with a statement piece--a pop of color."


This year, the emphasis is on bold, chunky jewelry--a triple-strand of big beads; a thick, geometric bangle; an oversized ring. Perhaps as a reaction to tough economic times, precious jewels have been stowed away, replaced with semiprecious stones such as lapis, pyrite and quartz; and materials such as horn, resin and even Lucite. "I think today, to walk around with a stack of diamond bangles doesn't feel right," Garza says. His and Lupo's picks for great daytime jewelry: chunky, midsize hoop earrings; wood cuff bracelets; and turquoise bead necklaces.


Then it's time to think about how to wear them. Ellis, who says she doesn't like to look blingy, takes the less-is-more approach: If she puts on a bracelet and diamond earrings, for example, she'll forego the necklace. She might wear an oversize cocktail ring on her first or second finger, and keep the rest of her jewelry minimal.


Lupo and Garza take a slightly more scientific approach to jewelry, prescribing one piece near the top of the body--either earrings or a necklace--plus a ring on one hand and a bracelet on the opposite wrist. "A 'pow' up around the face, a 'pow' around one of the wrists, and a 'pow' on one hand," Garza says.


The best news: The season's great jewelry doesn't have to break the bank. If your budget is small, choose the best materials you can afford, and don't try to fool anyone with an obvious fake (no phony 5-carat "emeralds," please). Or spend your entire budget on one great piece--and wear it well.


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Top 10 Must-Own Jewelry Classics

Some jewelry is trendy, sticks around for a couple of years and then disappears.  But some jewelry is so timeless that it looks great no matter what the current trends are.  Those pieces are great to have in your accessory wardrobe - they’ll allow you to accessorize almost any outfit in your closet!

In no particular order, here are my top 10 picks for the jewelry that every woman should own:

  1. A simple pair of diamond studs (or cubic zirconium or small faceted clear quartz if you’re on a tight budget).  My diamond studs are my everyday earrings - they work equally well with jeans or a dress.  Go plain, not to big and pick a metal color you like.
  2. Pearl necklace - again, if you’re on a budget, fresh water pearls are a great option at a fraction of the price.
  3. A simple gold or silver chain.  You can add diamond pendants or charms, or just go plain.   White gold and yellow gold are popular options.
  4. A cocktail ring.  Cocktail rings  also known as right hand rings can add a great dash of glamour to an outfit - buy one that you love, it represents your personal style!
  5. Small hoop earrings.  Hoop earrings are a great casual earring, and they’re one of those timeless designs that will be around forever.
  6. A statement necklace.  Statement necklaces are for those occasions that call for high-impact style.  Don’t go with trends - buy a necklace that’s going to last.  On a budget?  Check out Etsy or other indie jewelry shops for some great deals from upcoming designers.
  7. Simple gold or silver charm bracelet.  I know some people may think this pick is a little odd, but charm bracelets can go from classic and timeless to bold and trendy.  Go with a simple design and add just one charm (how about a pearl or a faceted glass stone?) for a fancy event.
  8. Quality watch - if you can wear a watch, they’re worth saving and getting a good-quality watch that shows your own personal style.
  9. A brooch or pin.  Brooches can be a tricky accessory to pull off sometimes, but chose a simple style in silver or gold and you’ll be set with a classic.
  10. A statement bracelet.  Like a statement necklace, a statement bracelet is for when you need to go bold with your personal style.  Timeless picks include simple cuff bracelets or bracelets using faceted gems or glass.


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