Friday, December 19, 2014

Pottery Barn Knock-Off: My Winter Mantel

Hello dearest!  Christmas time is here--happiness and cheer--and the perfect time to reconnect with my sweet peeps!  What better way than with a mantel, right?  So here it is, my:

I guess I will start with my PB inspiration:

Faceted Jewel Tree
Photo: Pottery Barn
I saw this picture in the catalog and just melted.  Things I knew I wanted: the mix of shiny and rustic, the greenery, candlelight, trees and that sweet deer.  Here's how mine turned out:

And the long view:

And the longest view:

And some of the details:

My chalkboard banner.  I used chipboard pennants and chalkboard spray paint.
Had to have some "snow" for that wintry effect.
Meet Rudy.
I wrapped a tree form in twine and sprinkled glitter: easy breezy.

While it's not an exact replica, I think I achieved the feel of the Pottery Barn mantel without spending tons of money.  The only items I bought were the glitter trees in two sizes, the evergreen sprigs, and Rudy the deer--all from Hobby Lobby at 50% off.  Everything else was previously purchased or crafted from supplies I had on hand.  So how did I do?  And how are YOU doing?  Are the holidays doing you in, or are you "calm and bright?"  It is such a busy time of year, but I hope you get some wonderful family time, and some time to celebrate the birth of a king!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 photo e0bcbc63-97e4-4f3b-adae-03bfc854ae09_zpsb8a65301.jpg
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Diamond Buying: A Pictorial Stroll

Yeah, I really haven't shown my face much by way of apology and explanation, here's one thing I am into that's keeping me from blogging--my business!  I'm off to Antwerp to buy diamonds later this month, so I thought you might want to take a peek at the process!  Note: this post is being simultaneously published on my other blog, Sparkle and Shine.

Have you ever wondered what it is really like to buy "diamonds direct?"  I don't know how it is for the big guys, but for me it looks a lot like this:

First I travel to this gorgeous town called Antwerp, in Belgium.  Antwerp is richly steeped in history and is also a very cool contemporary city.

Antwerp street scene

Antwerp street scene

After a day or so to recover from jetlag, I head to the Diamond District.  Usually the weather is cloudy or rainy when I arrive each fall. 

Antwerp Diamond District
Glamorous, right?

Antwerp Diamond District

While working I will visit around half a dozen diamond wholesalers.  Each of them has tight security and I often must relenquish my passport at the front desk, then be buzzed into the offices of each wholesaler directly.
Some of the offices work with both rough and polished diamonds.  

Diamond wholesale

Antwerp is the diamond-cutting capital of the world, so a lot of rough passes through here!  It's gorgeous, too:

rough diamonds

Rough Diamonds
A parcel of 9,715.70 carats of rough diamonds.  This plastic bag was larger than a gallon-sized bag.

I've also had the privilege of seeing lots of unusual things, including colored diamonds of all kinds, necklaces made out of polished rough diamonds, and a diamond cutter at work.

colored diamonds

rough diamond necklace

diamond cutting

I spend most of my time the first day looking closely at any diamonds that might meet my clients' needs. After comparing availability and prices of the diamonds I like at each wholesaler, and matching stones if necessary, I will return to each potential wholesaler several times to look again at any new stones that have come in, and to revisit the diamonds I've previously chosen.  After six or seven hours looking through my loupe, my eyes stop working, and it's time to take a break!

diamond parcels
Diamonds are frequently brought in to the viewing office in jumbled baskets or boxes--but make no mistake, the inventory is tightly controlled! 

The next day I will revisit the best diamonds I have seen, and continue discussing options and pricing.  This is a lengthy process and usually takes a couple of days--it is all part of the dance! Sometimes at this stage I will also call or email you to let you know how it is going.

sorting diamonds

pear shaped diamonds

Finally, a deal is struck!  The diamonds I have purchased are shipped back to the U.S. via Brinks, and my goldsmith will mount the diamonds in the setting we have previously chosen.  

The result: beautiful diamond jewelry for a fraction of retail prices!

ovals ring

asscher cut diamond earrings
Now you know the process of buying diamonds direct from the source!  I hope it was fun for you to see what I do!

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