Have you ever wondered what really goes inside everyday jewellery?
I’ve been doing a lot of work on the jewellery design in the past few months and am very pleased to present the new collection here: http://www.maqaroon.com/index.php/jewellery-c-27. After a year of starting Maqaroon, I began to gain some insight on which designs and products do well and wanted to revamp the jewellery section to give it a stronger identity. During my research, I discovered a lot of interesting things about jewellery manufacture which I want to share below. Read on to find out more about the story behind those accessories you see every day!
1) High Street Jewellery
I ‘ve always loved pretty costume jewellery but would get frustrated when pieces start losing their shine after being worn just a few times. The reason for this is that mass-produced jewellery is made out of metal alloy, a mixture of several cheap metals which keeps the production costs down (usually zinc alloy). This is why you can buy rings and bracelets for a few pounds in H&M or Claire’s Accessories. The downside is that you never know what are in those alloys, they may contain traces of nickel which can cause allergies or even lead which is poisonous. They also oxidise rapidly upon contact with moisture and may break easily.
2) Quality Check
The only way to ensure good quality is to look for jewellery made out of one single metal (e.g. stainless steel, silver, titanium, gold) which is plated with precious metal (e.g. gold, rose gold, silver, rhodium). I’ve become so canny at this, recently I tried on a beautiful-looking necklace in a shop wanting to buy it for a ball. I had to ask what it was made of and was appalled to find out they were charging €50 for a metal alloy piece. Metal alloys will always lose their shine so you are effectively buying a disposable item, and paying €10-20 per use! Real gold-plated jewellery will retain their shine for at least a year regardless of wear and pure precious metals will, of course, never lose their shine.
3) Cost Per Wear
It’s always worth thinking about how often you want to wear something and how much you’re willing to pay per wear. I’m definitely happy to pay for cheap and cheerful costume jewellery which I know I’ll only wear a few times with one particular outfit or event. Accessories that have a lot of contact with skin (i.e. moisture) such as necklaces & rings will also tarnish much quicker than brooches or belts. So any necklace that I might want to wear every day, I would definitely invest in a slightly more expensive brand made out of pure metal, not alloy.
4) Design & Delicate-ness
One of my personal silly hobbies is trying to find things which look more expensive than they actually are. You know how sometimes a bag or shoe looks obviously cheap and tatty, but a similar item from the same brand will be much harder to tell. The same applies to jewellery, and I think that the ‘alloy’ factor of cheap jewellery often contributes to its appearance. Because it’s weak and brittle, there are limits to how thin the material can be before it will simply break too easily. I noticed that expensive jewellery are often very delicate and filigree, such as tiny gold chains and charms. Alloy jewellery tends to look clunkier, with heavy chain links and clasps.
Obviously, alloy jewellery is fun and affordable for a reason. I find it totally reasonable to pay between £5 - £15 for any costume piece that I simply love the design of. (However I would draw the line at paying over £20 for cheap alloy jewellery, be very careful not to get ripped off whenever you’re shopping on Etsy or in stores). Though I noticed that the next price range up tends to be over £40 for silver or other semi-precious materials. That’s sort of beyond my range for a spontaneous buy, and I’d have to consider carefully whether I want to treat myself to an expensive piece.
So what was the conclusion to all this? I realised there should be a niche for beautiful, long-lasting jewellery that is priced around £15 - £30 and sits right between mass-produced accessories and artisanal silver/gold products. After a huge amount of searching, I found a lovely manufacturer who can make my designs using stainless steel and 18K gold-plating. I consciously tailored my designs to resemble fine jewellery, requesting the thinnest curb chains and tiny laser-etched tags. I was so delighted to see the results, which turned out even better than I imagined. To keep costs down, I only had the components made and still assemble all the necklaces myself by hand.
I’m really quite excited about the new jewellery products and hope you’ll be able to try it out for yourselves. The previous range is still available at the older prices. These will no longer be restocked so if there’s something you like then please grab them while they’re still around. (There are only a few pieces left of the green and pink eiffel tower macaroon necklaces).
Beautifully delicate moustache bracelet. Original design, only available at Maqaroon!http://www.maqaroon.com/product_info.php/rose-gold-moustache-p-91
Beautifully delicate moustache bracelet. Original design, only available at Maqaroon! http://www.maqaroon.com/product_info.php/gold-moustache-p-90
Stainless steel and 18K gold plated necklace with cute coffee bean charm: http://www.maqaroon.com/product_info.php/coffee-bean-charm-p-94
An illustration for the cover of a Maqaroon catalog. Done with watercolour and Photoshop collage!