Don’t we all just wish we were independently wealthy? Oh, of course YOU don’t, Mr. Oversized-glasses-wearing-jeans-too-tight-works-in-the-coffee-shop-always-contrary-dude. We all know you like the apartment you live in with your three roommates and their four girlfriends. But the rest of us probably do wish that, so for now, you’re outnumbered.
Choosing a career in the jewelry industry can get… well… expensive, some might say. Ever wonder why the biz is so inundated with women? Can you spell, “E-M-P-L-O-Y-E-E D-I-S-C-O-U-N-T?” It really can put a hurtin’ on your Michael Kors wristlet not to mention your marriage, ya know? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to hide the jewelry boxes that my purchases were packaged in before I walked through the front door of my house. Thankfully they’re small. It’s the shoe and boot purchases that usually give me away.
“Why does your butt look like a birthday cake box?”
“Ugh… it’s was Marcy’s birthday and someone bought cake in. You know how that stuff goes right to my ass.”
“How much did you spend on the shoes, Barbara?”
“I love you, honey!”
After a while I realized I just had to stop buying fine jewelry (I will never stop buying boots. NEVER!), because I simply couldn’t afford to be as fashionable as my single-and-no-children self once was. Then, I realized I didn’t actually have to stop being fashionable, but maybe, I could just cheat for a short period of time…
Enter, Concrete Polish.
Located in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, Concrete Polish is the brainchild of Angela Monaco – a local metalsmith with a background in glassblowing and a love for all things geode. Angela started the company in 2009 but has gained notoriety within her craft by being artistically minded, fresh-faced, and genuinely one-of-a-kind. What I loved most about what I found on her website was that I could get a fine jewelry look without the fine jewelry pricing by purchasing items made of bronze or brass but overlaid in actual yellow or rose gold. Her Split Crystal ring which is inspired by natural raw crystal growth is solid bronze with a rose gold overlay and costs a fraction of what a solid rose gold ring would price out at right now. One hundred-and-forty bucks will get you a lot in her shop, but don’t think for a minute that her pieces aren’t “fine”… actually, they’re not fine. They’re what I would call, “faaahhn.” But Angela’s creations are a mere scratch on the overlay surface. Let’s take a look at who else is doing wonders by using gold overlay.
London designer Sara Gunn mixes metals and leather (now that’s my kind of mix!) to create a look that’s completely affordable, blissfully scientific, and yet still feminine where it’s supposed to be. One of my favorite pieces on her site is this cream leather and gold overlay “Skin Cuff” which takes its design from what the human skin looks like under a microscope. Her works focus on showing the differences in the human body and how no two are alike; a concept reflected in each individually made piece of her jewelry.
Perhaps my favorite find in the “Search for Affordable Fashion Jewels 2013” was that of the website Isharya.com. From snakes and serpents to carnelian and coral, Isharya’s website for me must reflect what it’s like for Miranda Lambert when she walks into a tobacco and firearms store. So many choices! So little time! (I’ll take one of those edible confederate panty packs, please. Oh, and throw in a .22 semi-automatic Smith and Wesson while you’re at it. Six-inch barrel. Momma’s makin’ quail tonight!)
Isharya’s website has a crisp look and its collections are laid out beautifully and rhythmically, but truthfully it was the designs themselves and what is being used to make them that held my interest and opened my pocketbook. They’re doing more with brass than Al Capone in the twenties, although both know the meaning of the term “cover-up.” These green malachite Goddess Honeycomb earrings, for example, use brass covered with 18K gold as the metal, allowing them to be retailed at just over two-hundred dollars. And come on, who here doesn’t love honeycombs, am I right? I think these sweet babies are next on my “soon-to-be-purchased” jewelry list. But if you’re listening, Isharya.com… just please don’t ship them in a box that can’t be easily hidden. I’m still in the dog house for my last pair of Jimmy Choos.