The Skinny on CZ, Rhinestones, and Swarovski Crystals

Shopping for wedding jewelry and bridal accessories and gowns and shoes can be just a little confusing. There are sometimes so many options in front of brides-to-be that it’s easier just to step away from the computer and think about something else. We get it. We really do. But we also spend so much time curating our inventory of wedding jewelry that we tend to forget how overwhelming it is.

Looking through a page of 50 wedding jewlery sets is fun – bump that up to 150 sets and suddenly it’s more than a little tedious. There’s nothing wrong with options, sure, but how do you even start narrowing it down? By color? By style? Or how about by gem? Even that can be tres confusing because again, there are so many options.

That’s why we want to help you narrow down what you want. We can’t choose your wedding jewelry for you, but we can give you the knowledge you need to make an amazing choice yourself! So let’s talk about stones. Specifically, cubic zirconia, crystals, and rhinestones – how they’re the same, how they’re different, and when you should wear which!

Rhinestones

The Rhine is a river than runs through Germany, and rhinestones are so named because the original sparkling diamond lookalikes were cut from the rock crystals gathered along the river. Now most rhinestones are made of hardened glass that is hand cut like diamonds and coated at the base with a mirror-like finish that enhances the sparkle of the individual facets. Aurora Borealis rhinestones were first created by Swarovski are coated with a metallic glaze that turns ordinary rhinestones into iridescent jewels.

swarovski crystal tiara

Glass Crystal

These gems are created from a mixture of glass and lead – without the lead, glass crystals wouldn’t have the same ability to catch the light. Clear or colored, a crystal’s radiance will be determined by the lead content, the quality of the glass, the ability of the cutter, and the placement of the individual facets. Glass crystal can be cut into beads or like gems, and then used like rhinestones.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski crystals are precision cut glass beads made with a top secret recipe of natural minerals, metals, and quartz. They were first created in 1892 in Austria when Daniel Swarovski invented a new kind of crystal cutting machine that allowed cutters to create quality cuts like never before. Because of their unique composition, Swarovski crystals are incredibly brilliant and are uniformly clear all the way through. Fun fact: The facets on Swarovski crystal always meet at a single point.

CZ wedding jewelry 2

CZ

These are true simulated diamonds that possess a clarity and brilliance close to that of the gems they imitate. Cubic zirconia is a man-made gem produced by applying huge amounts of pressure to carbon and other elements – essentially copying a process that takes nature eons to complete. Dyes can be added to the mix to give CZ gems color, but whether clear or colored, cubic zirconia is most beautiful when cut by an expert and mounted in an open-backed setting.

Are you leaning toward CZ wedding jewelry that will mimic the look of true diamonds or a more playful crystal wedding jewlery set?


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Should You Have an Unplugged Wedding?

The newest trend in weddings is not some sparkling bridal accessory or the color of the moment, but rather the unplugged wedding.

In this, the age of ubiquitous iPhone, it’s not unusual to have your view of the bride and groom blocked by some taller guest taking hundreds of snapshots with a tablet. Most of us have gotten used to the fact that at least one guest per wedding will be live-tweeting the ceremony and reception. But a growing number of couples are now asking guests to disconnect for a few hours – and the hope is that everyone will have a more meaningful, more enjoyable time in the process.

Wedding photographers in particular are advocating for the unplugged wedding. While a majority of wedding guests fancy themselves photogs, snapping away during the ceremony kiss and the first dance, there’s the question of whether they (or the couple) will ever even look at those Instagram pics. The professional photographer who is at the wedding to work, on the other hand, has a vested interest in getting the best shots – and isn’t there to enjoy himself or herself. Wedding guests, the notion goes, should put their gadgets away and just enjoy the wedding. They can always check out the “real” photog’s online gallery later.

unplugged weddings - discount wedding veils

Other arguments for the unplugged wedding: Turning off phones means no chance of a ringtone interrupting the ‘I do’s. No chance of someone with their head down in a pew texting instead of listening to the couple’s original wedding vows. If guests aren’t taking pics, there’s no chance of unflattering cake smashing shots ending up on Facebook or Tumblr. The bride won’t have to deal with guests lining the aisle with iPhones held high.

But is it etiquette-appropriate to request that your wedding guests turn off (or even turn over) their digital devices for the duration of the event? I’ve heard stories of guests being asked to leave for violating no phone rules, but I’ve never actually been to a wedding where the couple requested that phones stay in pockets.

I don’t think I’d be particularly offended to see a politely worded request on the ceremony program, a la “The Bride and Groom request that guests turn off their phones for the duration of the ceremony and reception. The photographer will be posting photos online. Please just enjoy yourself.” But I also recognize I might be alone in that opinion!

Have you been to an unplugged wedding? Or are you planning one yourself?


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Remember, Wedding Trends Change Slowly

Sometimes fashion conscious brides-to-be come to us for a free style consultation worried that the wedding is not for a year. How can they possibly choose a wedding dress or buy wedding jewelry when who knows what’ll be in style in 12 months?

It sounds like a tough question to answer, but it turns out it’s not. The answer is that what’s on trend now in wedding fashion is likely to still be hot in six months to a year. Because the hope is that once a bride walks down the aisle she’s done shopping for wedding dresses and wedding jewelry forever, trends don’t change as quickly as they do in high fashion.

Consider how long strapless wedding gowns were the it dress – a pretty long time, right? And even now that straps are back in style, plenty of brides are still saying their vows sans straps. Eventually, we predict that the strapless neckline will go the way of leg of mutton sleeves, but not for a while yet!

And by then, who knows… maybe leg of mutton sleeves will be back on the racks.

wedding fashion changes quickly - bridal accessories

The point is that when you’re buying wedding accessories and your gown, don’t worry too much about trends or timelessness. Thirty years from now, your wedding photos are going to look dated no matter what you pick because thirty years will have gone by. If your dress and wedding jewlery has come back into vogue, chances are your best man’s suit or mother’s dress will seem like a relic.

Instead of worrying about style, think about what YOU like. Maybe the dresses you really love and the wedding jewlery you are lusting after isn’t in all the bridal mags. Or maybe it is. But that shouldn’t matter. What should matter most is whether they make you feel beautiful and special on what will be one of the best days of your life.

After all, wedding trends change slowly!


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Choosing Your Wedding Scent

You’ve got the ultimate dress (and the most luxurious undies for underneath). Your perfect crystal tiara is perched on your dressing table. You found the most beautiful wedding shoes. Now it’s time to think about perfume. Nowadays, many brides-to-be don’t have a signature scent they’ve been wearing for years and years because it’s fun to try different perfumes or switch scents with the season. If that sounds like you, why not think about picking a special perfume just for your wedding day?

Narrowing down your options is when it comes to your wedding scent shouldn’t be that different than choosing that crystal tiara.

First, consider what impression you want to make. Do you envision yourself dazzlingly happy? Stunningly beautiful? Enveloped by romance? Strikingly serene? How you imagine you’ll look and feel at the altar can help you as you search for a wedding day fragrance.

Next, think about the theme of your wedding. A wintertime wedding decked out in white and silver calls for a very different scent than a ceremony and reception on a tropical island! For the former, think in terms of warm, comforting perfumes. Maybe something heavier. For the beach, fruity florals are just right.

Finally, consider what you want your perfume to accomplish. Are you hoping to make your soon to be spouse swoon? Try something musky. Wearing your mother’s classic perfume, on the other hand, is a wonderful way to honor your mom without having to wear her out of date wedding gown.

So if you have a perfume you adore, wear it. And if you’re allergic, don’t think you need to smell like roses when you walk down the aisle. But if you were thinking about choosing a special wedding day scent, do it! It’s just one more way to customize your big day!


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When Choosing Bridesmaids Dresses Is a Chore

Paloma wrote in to ask:

I’m so sick of thinking about my bridesmaids’ dresses! I’ve been dreading having to make a decision about anything. I can’t even decide on a color! Can you help?

I get it.

Choosing bridesmaids dresses can mean the best day out with your girls ever… or a nightmare of scrolling through pages and pages of dresses because you have no idea how you’re going to choose between the kerjillions of gowns out there. Seriously, today’s brides-to-be have a ton of options, and that many choices doesn’t always make deciding on a color scheme or style easy.

Once upon a time, it was easier. Every bridesmaid wore the same satin dress with dyed to match shoes in a shade determined by the bride’s bouquet of silk roses. Matchy-matchy was IN and it was so simple once you had your wedding colors. But now? Plenty of brides are still opting for matching gowns on their ‘maids (without the dyed shoes, thank goodness), but there are lots of other ways to dress a bridal party.

For instance, you could:

  • Pick a color or even a palette of colors, and let bridesmaids choose any bridesmaids dresses in that palette from a designer like Dessy bridesmaids dresses. Some brides will give ground rules, like no strapless dresses or full length, but some let their ‘maids take the lead.
  • Put together a set of guidelines, like cocktail length… jewel tones or pastels… strapless… polka dots… Grecian… whatever. Then let bridesmaids shop for bridesmaids dresses they love that fit into your criteria.
  • Pick a pattern. When letting bridesmaids pick their own dresses, this option is for only the most laid back brides, since ‘florals’ might mean different things to different people. But brides can also choose a series of patterned dresses and ask their ‘maids to decide who will wear which dress.
  • Really consider what gowns will look best on what brides and create a palette of not just colors, but also girlfriends. You pick not only colors, but also dresses – and then assign those dresses to individual bridesmaids. This works best for laid back bridesmaids.

Is it any wonder brides-to-be can get frazzled over frocks for the bridal party?

The best advice I can give you if you’re starting to consider just go matchy-matchy even though you’ve never loved that look is to browse tons and tons of pics. The more bridesmaids dresses you look at – and I mean just look at, no pressure because this should be fun – the more confident you’ll be when it comes to actually making a choice. And loving that choice! Don’t rush it, think creatively, and remember that whatever you pick, your besties will adore it.


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Crystals and Pearls: A Perfect Combo

Wedding trends come and go in waves. One year brides all seem to be wearing crystal wedding jewelry and the next they’re just crazy for pearls. Part of why we keep such a big stock in house is that we want to please not only the brides-to-be who follow the trends, but also the ones who follow their hearts. Crystals or pearls – to us it’s all gorgeous.

Last year, sparkle was in. Now we’re seeing more pearl wedding jewelry and accessories fly off the shelves… but not just pearls upon pearls upon pearls. These days, brides are choosing headpieces and jewelry sets that bring all that sparkle to the table with just a hint of shine. A little bit of pearl and a lot of crystal. The best of both worlds!

This combo is amazing for any bride-to-be who wants all the sophistication of pearls and the brilliance of crystals.

As for how to wear crystal and pearl wedding jewelry (or carry it if you’re going to be blinging up your bouquet), that’s up to you. My online guideline would be to let your gown be your guide if you’re wearing a wedding dress that has crystal and pearl embellishments. Are there more crystals than pearls worked into your embroidery – or vice versa? Then try to find jewelry and accessories with the same ratio of one to the other.

Here are three of the crystal and pearl pieces that are moving off our shelves like crazy right now:

This silver plated bridal bracelet has the perfect balance of gorgeous white pearls and crystals in a floral vine detailing that’s amazing on brides or bridesmaids.

This spectacular pearl wedding jewelry set is hand crafted with genuine Austrian crystals accented with delicate soft white faux pearls.

What’s not to love about this beautiful bridal hair comb embellished with sparkling rhinestones, Swarovski crystals and pearl accents?

Never think you have to choose between crystals or pearls… double up!


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Wedding Planning Tips: Prioritizing Versus Economizing

When it comes to wedding planning on a budget, trying to get the ceremony and reception you want can feel like a second job. You’re hunting down deals. You’re bargaining with vendors. Looking for steals that look like splurges. It is, we know, a lot of work for the bride-to-be who has caviar dreams with a canned tuna bank balance. It’s a big part of why we sell beautiful wedding jewelry at prices every bride can be happy with – we think you deserve to look beautiful no matter what.

(You’re already beautiful, of course – you know what we mean…)

pearl wedding jewelry

But anyway, back to point. We have a secret to share. You can get what you want – the best version of it – by giving up the things you don’t care about. Or you get the whole package, everything and anything for your wedding, by lowering your expectations just a little bit.

Maybe that means working up DIY baby’s breath centerpieces instead of decorating tables with professionally arranged roses. Or wearing simple glass pearl wedding jewelry instead of shelling out for the real deal. A classic outdoor ceremony in your nearest public park instead of the high profile house of worship with its supposedly optional “donation.” Or maybe it means cutting back nearly everywhere except for your clothes and accessories so you can hire a kickass photographer. There is no right way or wrong way to plan a wedding.

Some wedding planning truths:

  • · Cheapest does not mean best
  • · Neither does most expensive
  • · Sometimes prioritizing means giving something up so you don’t have to deprive yourself
  • · Sometimes budgeting means not having to prioritize

Wedding-Planning

Things you do not need for your wedding:

  • · Wedding favors
  • · Ceremony programs
  • · Alcohol at the reception (no kidding)
  • · Live musicians
  • · A big white wedding dress
  • · A tiered cake
  • · Five different inserts in your wedding invitation
  • · Anything that isn’t you, your honey-bunny, an officiant, and some witnesses (if your state requires them)

Basically, you can prioritize. Or you can budget. Or you can do both, but you don’t have to. If you plan your wedding thoughtfully, you can get the wedding you want without breaking the bank and love every minute. Promise!


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Inspired By…

A big part of wedding planning is finding inspiration. Go on Pinterest and wedding inspiration boards abound. Brides-to-be are making their own inspiration boards, saving inspiration boards they find on blogs, and reading the magazines for even more inspiration.

blue-and-yellow-inspiration-board-wedding

You might think with all that wedding inspiration, every bride-to-be can find the inspiration she needs when shopping for gowns, bridal accessories, shoes, vendors, flowers, and everything else she’ll need for her ceremony and reception.

But nope. Lots of brides-to-be are floundering. It’s like water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Too much inspiration. Too many options. You could drown in all that inspiration.

That’s why we sometimes tell the brides-to-be who come to us for help with their bridal accessories that they should find inspiration in things meaningful to them. Not in what’s trendy or what’s made it into the pages of the bridal magazines. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you love?
  • What makes your heart beat faster?
  • What are your passions?
  • What interests do you share with your spouse-to-be?
  • What colors are in your closet?

Your wedding should be about you and the things that make you excited, not the things wedding experts recommend. Who cares what colors are in this year – your favorite colors should be your guide. Throw out the magazines. Close your computer (after finishing this post, of course). And then look around you… what do you see?

There’s your inspiration!


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Bride-to-Be: Take a Break

How easy is it to get so wrapped up in planning a wedding that everything else in your life gets the short end of the stick? Too easy. Trust us, we get it. Wedding planning is alternatingly fun and tear your hair out stressful in that way that makes you feel like a reality TV star. We love it all, the good and the bad. Touring venues. Shopping for wedding jewelry. Oohing and ahing over gowns.

The only problem is that wedding planning 24/7 is not exactly healthy when you stretch it out over a period of months. You need to do something else. Anything else. But preferably something else that makes you happy and helps you reconnect with you. You are, after all, more than just a bride-to-be.

We say take a break.

Treat yourself. Go shopping. NOT for the wedding! For you. Buy yourself something fun that isn’t related to the ceremony or reception. Like a pair of amazingly impractical shoes. Or a funky ring. A book you’ve been dying to read – and then make the time to actually read it. Or sign up for a dance class. Buy a huge bag of yarn and learn to knit.

Go crazy! Buy an old junker and fix it up in your spare time – that’s right, you could DIY your own classic limo.

In other words, the sky is the limit. The purpose of this exercise is to spend some time not thinking about your wedding. You’ll be happier, less stressed out, and will have more energy to devote to planning that wedding. Pinky swear.

So do something nice for yourselves, brides! Something just to make you smile!


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Brides and Bridesmaids, Lovely in Lace

When I was poring over the spring 2014 wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, trend hunting my tush off, one thing I saw over and over was lace. Let me tell you, I love lace. But is lace a trend? Can a lace wedding dress be trendy? I’m not ready to go there. This flimsy fabric has been found on wedding dresses for so long that who knows when it first found its way onto a train or bodice.

What was surprising that I was seeing lace on bridesmaids. Wouldn’t you know it, what was once the sole territory of the bride herself has trickled down into bridesmaid fashion – and how!

What’s so exciting about the lace bridesmaid dress trend – yes, I said it – is that it gives brides-to-be and brides yet another option. Bridesmaids dresses have, not by design but sometimes by default, been rather dull. The same old A-line frocks in jewel tones that virtually guarantee said dress will never, ever, ever be worn again.

But a lace bridesmaid dress? This isn’t just femme, it’s femme fatale! I’m picturing a draped back panel. An illusion neckline. A lace overskirt in any color you can imagine.

Now are you excited?!


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