Summer Sentiments

Filed under: The Collection — acarlover at 11:41 am on Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer is here!

There were doubts about Spring; at least in California, the weather kept us guessing if Winter was really over. This last month has certainly shown us that nature couldn’t care about our whims or calendars, but with school letting out and flowers blooming, Summer is certainly here.

Tiffany & Co. made plans for the season early. In Febuary they announced this summer’s “Must-Have Accessory;” a beautiful, flowing line of cabochon rings from Elsa Peretti. After seeing pictures of the line, and regaining my breath, something struck me about the way they flow. About 20 years ago, Peretti released a line of, in her most iconic style, more-modern carreau rings. Lapis, jade, and tiger-eye tiles fit into a cradling mount of silver. The rings, sized to fit a range of fingers, of course, featured either large or small stones.

Recently. I have had the wonderful chance to purchase two of these treasures, both large tiger-eye carreau’s. It is an amazing feeling of connection to be wearing a ring so similar in essence yet so distinct in form from a designer still defining “must-have” for all us aficionados.

Once I have these gorgeous rings shined to their original luster, I will be listing them in my main store and my eBay store.

It will be a happy summer.

Cartier’s Cachet

Filed under: Uncategorized — acarlover at 6:40 am on Saturday, May 15, 2010

It was a wonderful Mother’s Day surprise last week when my boys took me to San Francisco’s Legion of Honor for the Cartier and America exhibition. The collection of exquisite jewels on display was beyond breathtaking. To see the quality of such craftsmanship and brilliant design hold up through decades, some nearly a century, spoke volumes; a well placed, high-grade diamond never looses its luster. Even Mike was taken aback by how Cartier, through their history, was always on the cutting edge. An entire room was set aside to display concepts and design drafts, letting visitors see the level of thought and planning that goes into each piece.

Many of the visitors, like myself, wore jewelry that had a clear emotional value to them. Adjusting a ring while admiring Princess Grace’s 10.47-carat diamond engagement ring, brushing a bracelet while gazing at the Duchess of Windsor’s panther pieces; intentional or subconsciously, we were all adding memories to the pieces we wore. And in the company of such fine pieces, no one who shared an appreciation of fine jewelry would wonder why.

The largest group stood mesmerized at a short film clip, taken on a yacht, of a laughing Elizabeth Taylor. Her dear husband had just surprised her with a spectacular set of rubies and diamonds. She was trying them on, so delighted, in her bathing suit. This fabulous set was on display and you could almost see the happiness they radiated. Planning to spend a lot of time in my bathing suit this summer..just in case…
Having been inspired by Cartier’s rich history and superb quality, I plan to visit some vintage jewelry shops in Europe this summer. It will be fun to see what treasures I can find to bring home to share through my eBay store and website. I hope everyone will find these pieces as amazing as what I was able to see last week.

Honoring Time at Tiffany’s

Filed under: The Collection — acarlover at 8:08 am on Sunday, May 2, 2010

Last weekend, I went into my local Tiffany & Co. to have a clasp fixed and they reminded me why buying fine jewelry is a fine investment. The young lady at the repair counter was gracious, charming, and well mannered. Not only would they fix the clasp, they would put another clasp on for extra safety. I was taken aback. This was a 40 year-old bracelet and they were willing to modify it with no cost. Hewlett-Packard won’t even talk to me about my two-year old printer and here Tiffany will offer free work with a smile. I even offered to pay; they wouldn’t hear of it.

This is a wonderful case of a company standing behind their product and actually respecting their customers. I decided after my printer broke that HP’s customer service didn’t make it a smart buy, but I’ll always appreciate Tiffany’s for appreciating me. Even better, they didn’t ask for a serial number or receipt, they knew it was their bracelet and showed a level of class and decency that’s hard to find in any other business of that size.

On my way out, I picked up the latest catalog and had my first chance to admire Paloma Picasso’s new Zellige inspired Marrakesh collection. Working from Moroccan ideas of geometric artistry, Picasso created another interesting collection. While the earrings don’t have as much of a “Picasso” feel as I’m used to, the pendants, bracelets and rings are gorgeous. I am especially happy that I have three of these gorgeous bracelets to list.

With so much debate on state of the economy, it’s a great feeling to walk back into a shop that has always known that great service and great designs will stand the test of time. If anyone has any doubts, I would encourage you to visit your local Tiffany & Co. Now that I’ve had my fix, I will be back to my listings.

Back-room Insight

Filed under: My Friends at eBay — acarlover at 4:02 pm on Wednesday, March 31, 2010

As true as the sun rising, when the economy sputters, more people are willing to bend their ethics to get by. More pieces of fake Tiffany are showing up on eBay. We’ve all seen pieces with prices that are too good to be true. I wanted to dedicate a post to put forward some tips on avoiding the fakes.

Most counterfeits are sold from or made in China. Some sellers claiming to be in the USA leave clues in their email or paypal info that, if you’re looking, can throw up red flags that they are actually based in Asia. Of course, false and inconsistent info is another flag. While a lot of people use eBay as an extension of their real store, selling through eBay is still a business transaction. Large-scale e-commerce relies heavily on automation but when contacting a seller is one button away on eBay, we can, thankfully, utilize human-level interaction. So don’t hesitate to ask seller’s questions. Be polite though, realize that, if they’re running an honest business, the people selling items are people too. Good communication and reasonableness are the bedrock of business transactions. Suspecting a seller of selling fakes is no reason to make accusations, insinuations, or insulting offers.

Naturally, only Tiffany & Co sells their pieces new. This goes into tip 2 though, know what you’re buying. You wouldn’t buy a new car except from a dealer or a liar. You also wouldn’t pay the new price, or more, for a used car. The same applies for jewelry; if it’s new, it better be in a Tiffany’s store, if it’s used, it should look used. Also, know what it should look like and should cost; you wouldn’t spend a cent on a Shelby Cobra without knowing (or retaining a consultant who knew) how to spot a real one from a forest of kit-cars, would you? I wouldn’t; paying for an expert’s time can pay you back.

Some pieces of jewelry, like some cars, are rare. A rare piece of Tiffany (or other HIGH brand) jewelry appreciates just like a rare car; especially when copious amounts of rare and expensive materials are used. This affects pricing for cars and Tiffany.

This leads us to tip 3: counterfeiters, the kind who make 10,000 fake pieces in a “Tiffany-style” production run, usually don’t use rare or expensive materials (they make cheap stuff, right?). Similarly, complex pieces which require many man-hours of labor are also too expensive for the average factory-press counterfeiter. You’ll find a lot less gold-scroll earrings fakes than silver charms and silver Return To Tiffany tags.

Finally, for now at least, while checking feedback, check what the feedback is for. Built on cheap hats? Or fine, unusual, quality jewelry like only a collector could accomplish. Shameless plug, for an example of what to hope for in feedback from an honest seller, please check my store’s feedback.

I sincerely hope everyone finds these tips helpful and wish everyone the best in buying =)

Spring Cleaning

Filed under: Travels, The Collection — acarlover at 8:07 pm on Friday, March 12, 2010

Hello!

As many of you have already noticed, Marc spent a great deal of time completely revamping our 5-year-old website. It’s been great, but time for an upgrade. He did this in preparation for a fabulous collection of vintage Tiffany we will be listing in the coming weeks. You will be amazed at some of the rare and wonderful signed pieces we were able find!!

I was able to get away with Michael for a few fantastic days in Las Vegas. Not only did I see some astonishing jewelry, at two Tiffany stores, right next door to each other, but also had a wonderful holiday at the stunning Bellagio. We had the most amazing, completely over the top, dinner at Joel Rubechon. They even sent a gold limousine for us! Perfection. I’m planning on always serving deserts from a special cart now.

We really enjoyed Cirque De Soule’s LOVE. All Beatles music. It was a complete pleasure to sit right next to the stage. It was a wonderful time and so nice to spend a few days with Michael.

I hope you all enjoy visiting our new website and we’ll have those new vintage items listed soon!

Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Maybe…

Filed under: My Friends at eBay — acarlover at 2:51 pm on Friday, February 26, 2010

Lately, a lot of our friends and kind customers have been finding other sellers listing Tiffany items which seem identical to ours. There is a reason for this: apparently, it’s easy to copy and paste pictures from other listings on eBay. So a malitious seller can use our photos, copy our descriptions, and then who knows what they’re really selling?

As a rule of thumb, if our pictures are great, thank you, they’re Marc’s. If you see my fingers in the picture, sorry, but at least you know that I’m actually holding the item I’m selling. If you see other sellers using Marc’s beautiful pictures, please know that they do this without our permission and could be selling ANYTHING.

I recently bought a beautiful Tiffany gold key ring on eBay. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found that the “Tiffany gold key ring” was actually gold-painted straw. When I contacted the seller, they insisted that they had shipped an authentic gold Tiffany key ring. I could have lived without the aggravation and hassle that came with trying to return the piece of straw to it’s owner. Fortunately I paid with Paypal and they helped me sort that out.

I have noticed an alarming increase in counterfeit designer jewelry on eBay recently. Someone is banging out a lot of silver cufflinks and charm bracelets (in addition to the usually suspect pieces). When I notified eBay that the increase in counterfeits was getting alarming, their answer sounded a lot like something I heard two-years ago. That, “many people like buying counterfeits and enjoy wearing them.”

I have to wonder, how many buyers will see the first counterfeit as the “final straw” that keeps them off eBay forever. One person selling counterfeits hurts all online sellers.

If you’re considering buying an item where the seller is showing a piece that’s too perfect (only Tiffany themselves sell their items new), or using a photo that is so blurred that the details are lost, be reasonably cautious and ask for additional photos; honest sellers who actually have the pieces they’re selling shouldn’t be too hard-pressed to take some extra pictures.

Blue Ribbon Blues

Filed under: My Friends at eBay — acarlover at 5:00 pm on Friday, February 12, 2010

It’s funny…just two weeks ago I was musing that it’s been a while since eBay summary banned me for selling real Tiffany (as they used to like to do). Then I got a notice from eBay that they’re getting rid of their PowerSeller ranking. But…for a decade we’ve been working on climbing the PowerSeller ladder for the wonderful incentives; 15% off final value fees is what lets us offer nice things like free domestic shipping and complementary gift wrap on many orders.

That’s being phased out. The new “gold star” will be the blue “Top Rated Seller” ribbon. According to eBay, the ribbon will be worth a whopping 20% off final value fees. It’s a fantastic incentive, but those PowerSeller stars that we’ve been working hard toward for so long will be capped at 5%. I know it may not seem like a lot, maybe only around $4 or $5 difference per transaction, but those are savings which we have been happily been able to pass along to our clients.

Ebay assured me at length, while dismissing my concerns, that these measures are meant to weed out dishonest sellers. But if this incentive switch is meant to make eBay a safer, more inviting place for people to shop, why spend 10 years baiting us honest sellers with the PowerSeller rankings just to slash them so dramatically? There’s nothing stopping the systems from being fairly combined; the power sellers I’ve asked are, naturally, reaching for the highest mark to reflect the quality they consistently offer. With the Blue Ribbon discount, I could probably start offering patterned tissue instead of solid when gift-wrapping. There’s no need to threaten us honest sellers with cutting incentives and, as great as the Blue Ribbon might seem on paper, I’m seeing a lot of sellers who have less than glowing feedback, a couple even selling blatant forgeries, sporting a “Top Rated Seller” badge.

Of course, in our particular field of fine jewelry, the greatest concern we have is for our clients. With the ease that some classes of seller seem to be able to acquire a blue ribbon (according to one source, “some scammers will even setup 100+ accounts just to make themselves look like a trustworthy seller), I’m most worried that the line separating the good from the bad just got blurrier.

It seems to me the height of irony that, in their effort to remove counterfeits from some sellers stores, eBay is creating a stronger incentive for the dishonest few to counterfeit their own feedback.

ps…for any other fans of courtroom drama, I got to sit mere meters from Kenneth Starr (my new celebrity crush) and Gerald Ullman (also riveting) during a moot court proceeding this week at Santa Clara University School of Law. I was wearing a peach-cashmere sweater set and gold Peretti jewelry. In a courtroom filled with law professors and students in shades ranging from charcoal to navy, I hope I stood out enough to catch his eye.

Best Offer Etiquette

Filed under: My Friends at eBay — acarlover at 10:21 pm on Tuesday, September 22, 2009

eBay is encouraging sellers to offer free shipping and best offers. I can see their point in both of these idea. eBay doesn’t make a dime off shipping, so why should the sellers? Forget the fact that we all pay money to ship everything, even a post card, much less anything of weight or value; eBay makes money off people selling, why not encourage sellers to take a hit on their bottom line if it puts eBay more into the green. The post office is raising their fees constantly and everyone seems to have a reason to ask for a free upgrade to express shipping and insurance in a sturdy, tidy box. All of this free shipping forces many sellers to cut corners, using paper envelopes for shipping and paper towels for cushioning. Things get bent, broken, and lost that way and no one wants that.

As far as the best offer feature…I’m all for it. In theory. It makes it fun for buyers and makes it easier for both parties to come together on a price. This is especially true if a buyer has picked out a number of items and wants to work out a deal with with seller. The problem is the buyers who makes ridiculously low offers, then becomes angry and rude if it’s not accepted. Clearly, if a seller has an item with a scrap value of $2,000 and a listed price of $3,900, an offer of $100 is just ridiculous. Then, if you don’t accept the offer, they might go ahead and raise it to $101. I’m curious to hear what other sellers do when this happens (since I get at least five low-ball offers a day, I’m sure others must be getting them too). I usually think it’s best to just ignore these low ball offers and move on to the serious buyer who is asking questions. The fun of eBay is looking for a special buy and hunt for a special treasure; I can’t understand tainting it with insulting offers and aggressive, almost hateful messages.

As a side note, my son, Michael, is participating in a walk on Sunday to raise money for the Susan G. Komen charity. If anyone is interested in participating with or donating money to this very worthy cause, more information can be found here

And a Tiffany related side note, did anyone notice Tiffany’s Fifth Ave on CSI: New York? Loved seeing those big blue bags =)

My European Adventure, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — acarlover at 8:21 pm on Saturday, August 29, 2009

As many of you know, my son Marc has been in charge of my ebay store and website for the last month. Vito and I met Michael in Rome and traveled by train north to The Netherlands. It was a spectacular holiday and we filled every minute with adventure.

I was especially thrilled to watch the artisans in Murano create their spectacular works of art from a blob of hot glass. Just amazing! I brought home some treasures from Murano and have already listed a few pieces in my ebay store. I also fell in love with a few of the small towns; I found them much more comfortable than many of the capitals. Paris was glorious, but Strasbourg felt like a place I could come to call home. I could have stayed for months. Brussels was exciting, but Brugge captured my heart. The most spectacular jewelry store was in The Hague.

We visited jewelers everywhere but this one shop in The Hague had the most magnificent jewelry of all. Every piece was exquisite. The funny thing was, the areas devoted to jewelry, like Ponte Vecchio in Florence, just overwhelmed me. I prefer the hidden treasures and small out the way places. I was thrilled, one morning, when Michael and I got off the tram in Brussels, to find a lovely Tiffany & Co. store. It was a with a feeling of complete contentment that I looked through the familiar glass cases.

We visited the Vatican, the Uffizi, Versailles; the place I was afraid to visit (but I’m glad that I did) was Ann Frank’s house. I knew it would break my heart, and it did. But it gave us a lot to think about. Interesting, with all of the landmarks and museums, the two place with the longest lines were Versailles and the Ann Frank house.

After we climbed the dome in St. Peters, I developed a fear of heights. Actually, a fear of looking up and looking down. I was almost hysterical on the lift on the Eiffel Tower. After that, Michael made sure I kept climbing and it really became fun for me. I love climbing now! I can be such a complainer…

We walked for miles everyday. My feet were in such need for a pedicure that the sheets on the bed started to hurt my toes. I did find some fun pieces of vintage jewelry at the tiny shops I love so to explore. Every meal was unique and delicious; one of my favorite meals was a buttery apricot Danish and cappuccino in Paris.

In Florence, after two weeks of pizza and pasta, we decided to have Mexican food….what a huge mistake that was. They confused our order, the manager yelled at us, and a fly even crawled OUT of Vito’s burrito when he got to the end. I was amazed that no one got sick after that meal.

We stayed in some very strange hotels and some truly luxurious places. The first night we were in a hotel that actually terrified me. After that we moved to a hotel that made me feel like a princess. My bed was the size of two queen size beds, pushed together. It had 8 pillows!! I could have stayed forever!! Everything was marble and I was so happy there…

I was worried about Marc trying to locate and ship everything, but it looks as though everything went smoothly and I was not missed at all. Now, where to go treasure hunting next???

The Tacky Kay Jeweler Coinsidence..On MyName Is Earl…What The Heck????

Filed under: The Collection — acarlover at 9:22 pm on Thursday, November 6, 2008

Its Thursday night and I am happily watching the funny shows I spend all week
looking forward to. Before I know whats happening, Jane Seymore is is the mirror
pitching new “Open Heart” necklace from Kay Jewelers. It looks so much like
Picasso’s Double Heart pieces, its not funny. So, here she brilliantly came up
with a name that happens to also be Elsa Peretti’s most iconic collection and it
looks suspiciously similar to a Paloma Picasso. She keeps referring to herself
as an artist. Really? I’m not seeing it.
A few months ago, Van Cleef and
Arpels filed suit against Heide Klum for designing a collection that looks
exactly like the VCA Alhambra design.

I guess everyone would love to be a
jewelry designer. That’s fine, but a real artist knows the value of a unique
design and the frustration of having work stolen. If these celebrities want to
call themselves designers and artists, how about some originality? Lots of
brilliant designers are able to come up with ideas that haven’t come out of
famous design houses, maybe Heide and Jane can take a lesson.

Inspired
and curious, I looking around eBay looking for Kay pieces. I happened to find an
interesting item from Mary Kay. A silver Floating Heart that, also, looks
suspiciously like a Tiffany Floating Heart (plus three dreck pink
crystals).

It’s an interesting gray zone we’re at. Some factory in China
makes Tiffany-esque pieces and they’re banned from ebay (in a shake that brings
many legit sellers with it, by the way), a domestic company blatantly flaunts
knock-offs and it’s celebrity art work.

Please

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