Love It, Couldn’t Wear It

I recently joined TikTok to see what all the fuss is about (as if I needed one more social-media platform to consume whatever little remaining appetite I have for more screen time). I was pleasantly surprised to find not a mere time waster, but an all-you-can-eat buffet of funny, thought-provoking, heart-warming, and even, at times, rather educational content (shout-out to @ohheyitskelseyrae for the stellar parenting tips!). I haven’t created any videos yet. For now, I’m happy to remain a connoisseur of the Tiks (Toks?), and to share the best of them at an annoying frequency with friends and family.

One of my favorite viral trends in recent weeks involves people showing off cute outfits they couldn’t wear because of the pandemic, while an audio track of a high-pitched voice with a Spanish accent (originally spoken by a creepy cat with superimposed human lips and eyes) repeats “I love it, couldn’t wear it,” with each changing outfit. If you’re not familiar, the way TikTok works is that you can re-purpose other people’s audio for use with your own videos. People have incorporated this crazy cat audio into videos of themselves, their children, and even their pets rocking over-the-top outfits.

Here’s the original:

@lorenapages

I ❤️ what everyone did with my previous AUDIO so I made another one 🤗 can’t wait to see 👏 #catmom #funnyaudio #funnypets #fyp #loveitcouldntwearit

♬ original sound – Lorena Pages

…And here’s a cute kid getting in on the fun:

…And here’s a wiener dog named Wilson serving lots of looks:


The sentiment of the #loveitcouldntwearit trend hits close to home for me. It’s frustrating that I have nowhere to wear all the fantastic jewelry I’ve purchased over the past year because, frankly, I never change out of sweatpants, nor do I ever leave my house for anything other than mundane errands. Sure, I can wear the stuff at home, but what fun is that? As many women will likely agree, we really dress for other women, and besides my mom, I’m not seeing many of those these days.

So, I’ve decided to use this forum to share some of the things I love that I couldn’t wear [out of the house] this year. This includes new jewelry and the fancy clothes I keep buying for unknown reasons (especially considering that, even when I do return to the office, we have a casual dress code…).


First up, we’ve got chunky gold hoops and a lovely faux emerald choker, both from Etsy. The choker is now sold out, but here’s a similar option. (I was inspired to get this necklace by my fave Italian fashion influencer, Chiara Ferragni, who has a similar one shown here.) The bright animal print sweater helps me channel my caged-lion-at-the-zoo energy.

Love it, couldn’t wear it.


Next, we have vintage faux pearl studs from Etsy (similar here and here), sparkly glasses from Zenni, and a purple and pink tweed headband from J. Crew (now available on Poshmark here). So preppy, so chic, so wasted on the hermit life.

Love it, couldn’t wear it.


For my punk-glam look, I’m showcasing beautiful mini chandelier earrings from Nadri and a rhinestone-studded sweatshirt that is basically jewelry in and of itself.

Love it, couldn’t wear it.


Moving along, for the lady-who-lunches-somewhere-other-than-her-kitchen-island look, we have a John Hardy yellow gold dome cocktail ring from Poshmark (similar here and here), Georgian hoop charms from designer Shan Adams, and simple yellow gold huggie hoops from Zoe Lev.

Love it, couldn’t wear it.


Next up is an edgy Kalessi necklace from Vanessa Mooney and sparkly swirl earrings of indeterminate brand that I bought from a local boutique during one of my rare in-person shopping stops this summer (similar styles here and here).

Love it, couldn’t wear it.


And in closing, this “Goldie” ring with mystic quartz from Joy Dravecky, juxtaposed with a sterling silver druzy statement ring from Etsy, and three yellow gold stacking bracelets that I actually do wear out of the house because they tuck nicely under a sweatshirt sleeve (see paperclip chain, bead, herringbone).

Love it, couldn’t wear it (all together).


If my pandemic buying habits stick, I’m destined to come out of quarantine looking fancier than I ever was before. Sure, sweatsuits have their charm, but nothing makes you feel more “together” than slapping on some lipstick and sparkly jewelry. Until that glorious day when this nightmare is truly over, I’ll just be over here, at home, makeup-less and disheveled, but so so comfortable.

Confessions

The final post of 2020!!!

Now that this craptastic year is almost dunzo (don’t let the door hit you on the way out!), I feel compelled to lay bare my jewelry sins of the past twelve months so I can start the new year with a fresh, clean conscience. In no particular order of egregiousness, I confess that:

1. I created a second Gmail account so I could receive the “first-time subscriber” discounts from my favorite brands a second time (it’s not my fault they don’t cross check their lists for duplicate names and addresses!).

2. After binging Selling Sunset on Netflix, I bought a super sparkly, somewhat tacky heart pendant just like the diamond one villainess Christine Quinn wore in almost every episode and still haven’t worn it out of the house once (PS: Christine was my favorite!).

3. I purchased an antique sapphire and diamond ring from an Etsy shop in the U.K., paid extra to have it resized, and paid even more for expedited shipping, only to discover I didn’t really like it when it arrived. So I sold it, at a small loss, through Facebook Marketplace (note: this is the ring at the heart of my earlier diamond detector story):

Image may contain: ring

4. Speaking of Etsy, the company froze my account at the beginning of the year for unknown reasons, though I suppose it was because they suspected fraudulent activity due to heavy traffic (it was all me!). So, I used my new Gmail account to create a secondary profile, and we’re back in business.

5. When a women located in another state was struggling to place an order for one of my rings on Facebook Marketplace and couldn’t figure out how to process her payment, I blocked her so I could sell the ring to a different woman in Chicago who offered a higher price.

6. I bought this custom necklace from BaubleBar and waited over a month for it to ship. The day I received it, I accidentally dropped it in the washing machine before running an extra hot, extra soapy cycle. The clasp is now completely tarnished, but everything else seems to have survived (the “E” sort of looked like a “B” even before the washing):

7. If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know I unwittingly sold a woman a fake gold ring.

8. A few weeks into the pandemic, I started showering and getting dressed for the next day at night, because my kids always wake up first and, once they’re up, there’s no time or ability to do anything for myself. So, I now regularly sleep in my outfit–and full jewelry–for the next day. Don’t knock it until you try it!

9. More than a few times, I blogged during work conference calls. (SM, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry!)

10. I purchased a ring from a woman on Facebook (yes, I do occasionally buy as well as sell on the Marketplace). She eagerly shipped it to me that same day, but failed to put the ring in any sort of protective box or padding. Instead, she just dropped it in an envelope and sent it off. Who could have guessed it (!), but the ring arrived severely misshapen. Using two sets of pliers and my countertop for leverage, I carefully bent the ring back into shape. I must say, it looked pretty good! But I didn’t feel the same about it, knowing the trauma it had endured. So, I sold it on Facebook Marketplace to someone else:

No description available.

11. Throughout this pandemic, shopping for and buying jewelry has become therapeutic for me, probably to an unhealthy degree. I spend a lot of time mindlessly browsing jewelry websites, adding things to my cart to get that momentary shopping high, then forget about them as I quickly move on to the next thrilling find. I suspect many of us have developed coping mechanisms to get through this year. It’ll be interesting to see what habits stick once this craziness is over. I, for one, seriously need to work on reducing my screen time in 2021…


To end on an uplifting note, I wish everyone health, happiness, prosperity, and love in the new year. May your 2021 be exponentially better than 2020! We’re so close to being through this nightmare – don’t give up now!

Marketplace

I used to joke that the parking lot at the end of my block was my “office” because I had closed so many deals there.

Since last winter, I have run a side hustle selling my stuff on Facebook Marketplace. And I’m hooked.

I can’t remember how the impetus to start listing stuff initially came about. Most likely I went down to my basement one day and saw the piles of unused baby gear and household goods and thought I might be able to earn a quick buck. Once I started making regular sales, I began to look at things around my home with a new eye: Do I still like this? How often do I actually use it? What could it be worth? Many things I’d been hanging on to for years suddenly looked like fresh merch for my virtual store.

Then the pandemic hit and, at the risk of sounding crass, it was GREAT for business. People were staying home, staring at their computers / online shopping all day, and redecorating the living spaces in which they were suddenly spending every waking moment. Being home all day myself, I could meet people at all hours between Zoom calls to sell my wares. Hence the dozens of trips I took to the parking lot at the end of my block, which served as a neutral public place for me to meet my customers.


Selling jewelry that I no longer wear has proven to be the most lucrative aspect of my side business. There’s something sad about jewelry that just sits collecting dust. It wants to be worn and admired! By selling it, I’m not just making a little extra money, but I’m also performing the humane service of liberating the jewels so they can be loved by others.

I’ve had some interesting experiences selling my jewelry this past year. To name just a few:

  • I sold this rose gold band featuring pave diamonds, which I purchased during my last year of a law school, to a man who eagerly shared with me that he was planning to send it as a gift to his newly discovered 16-year-old daughter living in Mexico! Apparently he reconnected with a woman he had been in love with many years earlier and learned she had secretly given birth to his child.
  • I’ve swindled only one customer to date, but totally by mistake. I listed this piece as a 14k rose gold ring featuring a morganite center stone and diamond halo. The woman who bought it messaged me the next day to say she had brought the ring to her jeweler for cleaning, and he informed her it was 14k rose gold plated silver. I was mortified. I (truthfully) assured her I had purchased the ring believing it was solid gold, and did not mean to mislead her. I refunded her half her payment, and all was well in the end.
  • I listed this 14k gold ring, naive to the fact that when it comes to trading in gold pieces, people seem to care mostly about the weight. I must have gotten 20 inquiries asking “how much does it weigh?” or “I’ll buy it if it weighs at least 4 grams.” At that point, I realized if I were serious about selling jewelry, I needed a gram scale. Now I have one and weigh everything. I finally sold this piece to a woman who thought it was just a pretty ring and seemed apathetic to its weight (which is good because, full disclosure, it didn’t weigh very much.)
  • As described in an earlier post, I once had a buyer use a “diamond detector” machine to test the stones in a ring I was selling. Thankfully they passed the test, but not without a few tense moments for me.

My experiences as a secondhand jewelry salesperson have taught me some unexpected lessons:

  • Certain jewelry seems to hold its value and popularity better than others. Predictably, people clamor for the recognizable brands like Tiffany and David Yurman. But less expensive, popular brands like Swarovski and even J. Crew sell quickly and consistently, as well.
  • Hallmarks are everything when it comes to reselling nicer jewelry. Prospective buyers want to see pictures of a designer’s mark and the stamp indicating the metal type. 925 is sterling silver; 750 is 18k gold; 583 is 14k gold; and 950 is platinum. You might be surprised to find a 925 hallmark on what you thought was a gold ring, which indicates it is, in fact, gold-plated silver, a.k.a. vermeil (see above — the woman I inadvertently mislead sent me a photo of the “925” stamp inside the ring I sold her to prove she wasn’t lying about its lesser value).
  • People are generally pretty bad negotiators. I can’t tell you how many prospective buyers have started negotiations by asking: “What’s your best price?” or just straight up saying “I like these but I can’t pay [your asking price].” I will never negotiate against myself as the opening move. If you want to offer something less than asking price, go right ahead, but don’t expect a seller to magically drop their price. My favorite failed negotiation was with a woman who messaged me about a ring I had listed for $100, writing, in rapid succession: “$50? $40? Hello?” Sorry lady, but no.
  • Apparently my taste in jewelry resonates with teenage girls.

I sell lots of things other than jewelry on Facebook Marketplace, primarily art and furniture. I’ve started selling things for other people on commission, as well. My parents, for example, have hired me to help empty out their storage unit, which is full of antiques and collectibles. One of my favorite Marketplace experiences to date happened this summer when I sold my mom’s antique bamboo easel to an enthusiastic buyer who, days later, sent me a photo of its final placement in her gorgeous home. That easel never looked better! It felt so good to know it ended up exactly where it belonged:

The listing photo for the easel

The easel in its new home

One of the worst (and most comical) experiences to date also happened this summer, when I listed a pair of new Birkenstocks for a family friend. Birkenstocks are a pretty divisive commodity as it is, because many people seem to aggressively despise them. I suspect my family friend tried the shoes on before handing them over to me to be sold, because there were faint toe marks on the footbed (though the soles clearly showed absolutely no wear). I made the mistake of listing the shoes as “brand new,” which—in light of the toe marks—provoked the ire of half the population of the Chicagoland metro area. In a barrage of fast-flowing comments on my listing, people said horrible things about my character, accused me of being a liar, told me the photos made them physically ill. (Hysterically, in the midst of all the negative comments, one oblivious woman offered me $50 for the shoes.) It was truly awful, and my first real taste of the horrible toll that online bullying can take. I edited the photos to make clear that the shoes were indeed new, and the attacks stopped. But I was reeling all day from the abuse. Now I can laugh about it, but it was traumatic at the time.

The replacement photo of the offending shoes

Selling on Facebook Marketplace has served not only as a recreational outlet for me during these Covid times, but has also allowed me some unexpected, albeit fleeting, human connections that make the world seem a little more…normal. It feels good to bring joy to strangers by imparting to them jewelry and other things that have served me well but are no longer “sparking joy.” (But note: I now have a strict “no Birkenstocks” policy.) The extra money I make that goes toward buying more jewelry as source material for this blog doesn’t hurt either.



PS: I was out for a walk one morning when I came across this amusing ad posted on a schoolyard fence. Not the most efficient way to sell a piece of furniture (caption reads: “FOR SALE (Please leave contact for inquiries inside of plastic sheet)”):

Ring Redesign Part II: The Consultation

(If you missed the first installment of this series, catch up here: Part I.)

I met with Andre Lukawski on a beautiful, warm day in September to discuss my ring redesign. Andre’s workshop is located on the lower level of a three flat where he lives upstairs, on the northwest side of Chicago. He was waiting for me on his front porch when I arrived. I was so excited, it felt like I sprinted from my car to greet him.

I didn’t know what to expect as we made our way downstairs to Andre’s lair. I’ve never seen a jewelry workshop before—only jewelry store showrooms and the front counter of a jewelry repair shop. 

Upon seeing his workshop, my mind was blown by the scale of his operation. The wood-paneled room featured four separate workstations equipped with grinders, and buffers, and vices, and magnifying glasses, and all kinds of hand tools. In a smaller room off the main space (an erstwhile kitchen) sat an assortment of glass jars and vats of chemicals with tubing and wires coming out of them. It had the look of fully stocked high school science lab, and stirred within me giddiness at the prospect of all the jewelry alchemy that must happen within its walls:

Andre and I stationed ourselves at his large work table and, while maintaining proper distance with masks on, began to chat about my project. I had a clear vision of what I wanted my rings to look like, but didn’t appreciate beforehand just how many decisions were required to shape the design. Did I want the band to taper toward the stone or stay uniform in width? Did I want 14k or 18k yellow gold? How tall and wide should the bands be? What design did I want for the basket where the diamond would sit? As I contemplated the various options for each design element, Andre pulled out picture catalogs and sample rings from his behemoth safe to provide greater clarity for my choices. He made rough sketches and measurements as we talked, and paused throughout our conversation to pensively consider the design as it came to fruition in his mind. 

One of my concerns was whether I could save my original engagement ring setting, perhaps to gift to my kids someday. Andre had the wonderful idea that we could set a gemstone where the diamond had been. I’m planning to do that as a special gift for Sloane, maybe on her 16th birthday or as a high school graduation present.

Once we had worked through all the minutiae, Andre explained that he would convey the design to a CAD drawer, who would prepare renderings of my rings for my approval before making them. 


More to come about the renderings and the final product in Part III, the last installment in this series: The Final Reveal.

Toi et Moi

“Toi et moi”–meaning “you and me” in French–describes a style of ring with two gemstones sitting near each other, symbolizing the union of two souls. Traditionally the stones were identical or at least of a similar size and shape, but more modern designs feature greater variation among the stones.

Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to his future wife Josephine in 1796 with the diamond and sapphire toi-et-moi ring shown below, which sold for almost $1 million at auction in Paris in 2013:

According to this source, the toi-et-moi style was very popular for engagement rings during the Belle Epoque and Edwardian periods in the late 19th / early 20th centuries. Beyond just the romantic symbolism of the side-by-side design, the stones themselves had special meaning: diamonds, which represented love and prosperity, were often paired with rubies, which symbolized passion and devotion.


I recently purchased my very own toi-et-moi ring featuring two pearls mounted in a bypass setting, flanked by fans of delicate blue topaz, on a yellow gold band:

There isn’t much romantic symbolism to this ring vis-a-vis my husband, Andy. Instead, I bought this ring as a gift to myself to commemorate the special bond I share with my daughter, Sloane (a.k.a. my angel baby from heaven), who–at 19 months old–is well on her way to becoming an independent child, though she still relies on me for most of her needs for the time being. It is quite bittersweet knowing that my second (and last) child won’t be my baby for much longer. I hope that the tight bond Sloane and I have now will translate into a lifelong relationship of trust and closeness. In the meantime, it warms my heart to look down at my toi-et-moi ring and think of the pearls as me and my best little gal :).


I found these other toi-et-moi rings that I absolutely adore–some quite traditional, others more edgy, but all beautiful:

Pearl and Blue Topaz Toi et Moi Ring, available on Etsy ($180)

Messika, My Twin Toi & Moi Ring ($4,870)

Swarovski, Attract Soul Ring ($89); similar here

Victorian Pearl & Sapphire Paste Toi et Moi Ring, available on Etsy ($300)

Danhov, Abbraccio Infinity Single Shank Engagement Ring ($4,560+)

Edwardian Style Emerald Toi et Moi Engagement Ring, available on Etsy ($2,000+)

MDC Diamonds, Toi et Moi Emerald Cut Diamond & Sapphire Engagement Ring ($2,150 excl. center diamond)

Antique Pearl and Diamond Toi et Moi Ring, available on Etsy ($695); similar here

Ruby and Moissanite Toi et Moi Statement Ring, available on Etsy ($2,700+)

Vintage Victorian Bypass Diamond Ring, available here ($30,000)

Two Heart Toi et Moi Ring,
available on Etsy ($145)

Vintage Black & White Pearl Toi et Moi Ring,
available on Etsy ($315)

Forevermark, Two-Stone Bypass Halo Ring ($7,620+)

Et toi? Do you like this style?

Back to School

This fall, the return of children to school (in some form or another) got me thinking about class rings. My class rings are among the jewelry pieces I wear least often, if ever. I have one from high school and one from college, shown below:

My high school ring.

My high school ring is very intricate. Set in sterling silver, it features our school’s mascot on one shoulder and crest on the other, an “LP” insignia (for “Lincoln Park”) on a central emerald-shaped prasiolite stone, my initials on either side of the stone, and my graduation year in four segments surrounding the stone. One feature I had forgotten about until now is that my full signature is etched inside the band. Funny to see that hasn’t changed much in 17 years!

My college ring.

My college ring is more modern and simple. It features an oval-shaped center black stone carved with the university shield, my graduation year on one shoulder, and my degree acronym on the other shoulder. It also has my initials etched inside the band.

At some point, I acquired my mom’s high school class ring, which I happen to like better than both of my own:

My mom’s high school ring.

Hers, which is set in 10k gold, appears to feature the “comedy and drama” masks on either shoulder, her graduation year across a central deep blue stone, and a “C” insignia with a tiny “Davenport” inscription for Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, where she grew up. Her initials are also etched inside her band (that must be a thing). Her ring has some really beautiful art deco waterfall lines:


I remember when the ring catalogs were distributed during senior year of both high school and college. At the time, I thought the rings were an absolute necessity to serve as a lifelong reminder of my academic achievements and glory days (only kidding). But in actuality, my rings have sat in my jewelry box, largely untouched, for years. Why is that?

It’s not because they’re ugly, which they certainly are not. Maybe it’s because they’re too…personal? Too gimmicky? Too tied to a specific place and time to feel relevant today? It’s hard to pinpoint the reason.


The tradition of wearing class rings began at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1835. According to custom, the wearer should face the insignia on the ring inwards while still enrolled in school, and after graduation, the ring can be worn with its insignia facing outwards.

If you’ve ever met someone who graduated from MIT, they might have been wearing the school’s very distinct class ring, shown here:

Although it is affectionately called the “Brass Rat,” this ring depicts a beaver, not a rat, and is made in various alloys of gold, platinum, or stainless steel–not brass. The beaver is MIT’s mascot because it is considered to be “the engineer of the animal world.”

Next time you see someone wearing this ring, you can impress them with your very esoteric factoids.


I scoured the Internet for modern designer versions of class rings, but that appears to be a niche market that doesn’t yet exist. Instead, I leave you with these lovely vintage class rings:

14k Gold 1884 Class Ring ($268) (My birth year and my ring size!)


Do you have a class ring? Do you ever wear it? Let me know in the comments!

Stacks of Stacks

There are few things I adore more in the jewelry realm than ring stacks. I love the freedom to mix and match ring styles, metals, stone colors, and proportions. I love how well-curated stacks convey such a commanding presence on the hand. To me, bold ring stacks manifest luxury and power. Some nights, when I’m sitting in my daughter’s nursery rocking her to sleep, I run Google image searches of “ring stacks on fingers” and flip through a million photos. Is that odd? Maybe, but I trust this is a safe space for sharing.

Now that we’ve established I’m a Stack StalkerTM, let’s explore some of my personal favorites.

The Ruby Rose

I consider this first pairing to be my most successful stacking accomplishment to date. It brings together rings of several different geometries, metals, textures, and price points. Red is not a color I wear in clothes very often, but I love the fire and passion of this central ruby and how the bold color brings some spice to my otherwise temperate hand:

The higher the stack, the closer to God.

The two rose gold pavé bands with diamonds are both from Noémie, an excellent resource for ethically sourced, beautiful, and affordable diamond jewelry (and their online orders are delivered the next day). See here and here.

The asscher-cut ruby solitaire ring in rose gold was a custom design from a Michigan-based jeweler I found on Etsy. Similar pieces available here and here.

The octagonal black rhodium and ruby band is an unusual and edgy piece by jewelry designer Stephen Webster.

The twisted rose gold band is also from Etsy.

The Jewel Tones

This stack came pre-assembled by my trusty gal pal Kendra Scott. I love the earthy jewel tones and interstitial spiky bands that give the gemstones room to breath:

This one has always had a medieval vibe to me.

The Playful Pairs

I purchased this Swarovski mini-stack on a vacation in Italy. I normally like my stacks to feature an odd number of rings for balance, but there’s something so clean and feminine about this petite duo, which features black and pale pink faceted solitaires:

Don’t judge a ring stack by the hand that wears it.

Here’s another twosome I purchased at Art Effect, a local boutique in Chicago:

Definitely reminiscent of the pricier Ippolita Rock Candy line.

The Wedding Set

What would a post on ring stacks be without featuring my wedding set? I opted for two platinum pavé eternity bands–one with a simple circle motif and the other more fanciful–to surround the thin pavé band of my engagement ring, all from Steve Quick in Chicago (I highly recommend them for all fine jewelry needs – they are wonderful!):

The one downside of eternity bands is they aren’t easy to resize when fingers swell during pregnancy/summer.

Though I can’t claim it as my own, my friend Isabelle’s wedding stack is to die for. The beauty of her set is that any one of the rings makes an impact on its own, but they also look stunning together:

Isabelle’s covetable wedding stack.

The Aspirations

Jewelry designer Spinelli Kilcollin has a line of Galaxy Rings that feature multiple bands interconnected by smaller rings. The rings can be worn stacked or spread across multiple fingers. There are many options ranging from more affordable (with less sparkle, of course) to out-of-this-world pricey, but all are dazzling. I love the mixed-metal Vega SG style most of all (starting at $4,800):

Finally, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I’m a huge fan of UK-based jewelry designer Jessica McCormack. Her Instagram is chock FULL of drool-inducing stacks, e.g.:


Now it’s your turn to go forth and experiment. If you’re nervous to build your own stack from scratch, look for pre-arranged sets like these at various price points:

For further tips on how to perfectly stack your rings, check out these helpful guides.

How does your stack stack-up against the rest? Share your favorite stacks with me! My appetite for stacks is insatiable!