Fine jewelry: Wear or worry?

Janice of The Vivienne Files posted a luscious wardrobe sparked by 'real' jewelry, with the observation, "Make absolutely sure that your goodies are insured. Ask a lot of questions about deductibles, conditions of when and where you were when the item might vanish, etc...."

When you purr over your new bracelet, the word "insurance" sounds dull as a vegan potluck, but anyone who has fine jewelry should scrutinize her policy, clause by clause.

Santa Barbara, California jeweler Calla Gold posted a detailed article, "Insuring Your Jewelry", here, with links to some of the best-known insurers and other info you may never need, until a jerk takes an axe to your back door (My story.)

Some friends' best baubles spend 97% of their lives in safety-deposit boxes. My bank is within shouting distance of my apartment, about the only way to actually wear items stored in a vault, unless you have a personal assistant to ferry your jewels across town.

Some women say security issues are why they don't own fine jewelry. Though I see the logic, there are ways to decrease risk and have your pleasure, too.

1. Wear oddball gems

The average lowlife's taste is pretty standard. A flashy diamond solitaire is an obvious attractor and high-karat yellow gold is honey to bad bees. If such jewels are your passion, security will be top of mind. Pieces set in white metal or other materials are less likely to scream "Grab me!"

Hemmerle's aquamarine earrings framed by oxidized copper: supreme luxury under the radar. Though the master jewel thief of movies exists (and knows this renowned house), most thieves are looking at, and for, the big bling.

Your "oddball" may be an antique imperial topaz brooch, a strand of dove-grey baroque pearls, an Italian micro-mosaic ring, or opal earrings. (Shown, Brooke Gregson boulder opal post earrings; price, $2,340.)

That's my favourite strategy, because many stones and pearls are both beautiful and much better value than a flashy rock.

2. Wear real like fake

A friend's friend owns a staggering pair of diamond drop earrings, a gift from her father. She wears them with jeans and a tee. "No one thinks they're real", she says. 

I would do that with Mallary Marks' Amazing Chandelier earrings, about $24,000 worth of cool.

Or you can adopt the reverse ploy, swapping real for a copy, which you'd wear sometimes. Nearly all designs can be reproduced (some specialty jewelers' businesses are devoted to the faithful reproduction of complicated designs), for a price. Some clients who commission costly custom-made pieces have two made at the same time, the precious original and a copy.

3. Roz' Trick: Pinned to protect

At work, Roz, a museum administrator, wears an important diamond ring she inherited from her grandmother. 

The heirloom is insured— but before she commutes home on the subway, Roz safety-pins her ring onto her skirt or trouser waistband. (Note: Not in her bag; talk about a double loss!) Never depend on swiveling the ring on your finger to disguise what you're wearing.

Shown, an Art Deco 2ct diamond set in platinum; price, $26,000, from Beladora. 

4. Use creative storage

If you're away for days or longer and a crew combs over your home with a metal detector or loads everything into a moving van, you're SOL. But the average snatch n' grabber wants to be in and out in minutes. This illustrated article shows concealment options, and not in the master bedroom. Of course bad guys are on to the tricks, but if your 'houseman' is in a hurry, such tactics work. 

An acquaintance uses a two-safe system. One, in the master bedroom, is stocked with some minor items (unwanted jewelry, an old camera) and cash. A second safe, far more concealed, contains the real valuables.

If you plan to be away, your insurance may require secure offsite storage. Even if they do not, it's a good idea to store your sentimental baubles elsewhere.

5. Wear what you can live with
I know women who have pined for fine jewelry and then that day comes, and they feel like a target. 

If you have the chance to add something significant to your jewelry wardrobe, choose a magical piece that isn't so grand it intimidates you, by which I mean you "save it" or warehouse it; for someone, that might be Arik Kastan's deco lapis kite ring. (From Twist; price, $1,298.) 

Another woman will feel perfectly at ease in her antique French emerald (from Romanov Russia on First Dibs; price, $8,900).

As Janice said, if you couldn't bear to lose it, maybe it shouldn't be in your life. At the same time, why restrict ourselves to branded jewelry that has been reissued annually since Dot One? Yes, it is replaceable, but most of it is not that appealing anyway. 

If you receive something so grand or formal you would never wear it, have it restyled. My jeweler recently showed me a client's project: ten thin white gold bangles sprinkled with diamonds, once set in a fussy, dated necklace she had inherited.

6. Imitations still draw eyes

A woman stayed calm while she handed her synthetic diamond solitaire and big "gold" necklace and watch to a mugger, but the police officer told her, "Lady, you were asking for that." 

Synthetic diamonds set in gold, like those sold by Carat and Ti Sento, will attract attention; if you want the showiest pieces, apply the prudence when awearing that you'd use if they were real. (Shown, Carat Baguette Princess 2ct solitaire, about £314.)

If you own treasured (not necessarily valuable) goods, you will eventually lose something through theft, an accident or mysterious disappearance. My approach is to not be cowed by irrational fear, but at the same time, take precautions. At various times, I've insured to the max, and at other times cut back. 

I will not refuse precious jewelry any more than live without art; insurance and attention to your surroundings mitigates most worry. (Do not place your ring and watch beside your yoga mat and then walk off after class, like I did!)

As for the asteroid-hits-earth scenario, I am sorry that all those lady dinosaurs lost their pearls!


une femme said…
Good tips, Duchesse. I don't own much that thieves would notice or be interested in, but have lost pieces I love (getting home and realizing I'm only wearing one earring) so the insurance is a good idea.
Laura said…
can live with monetary loss, mostly, it is just when the b&e crew took the sentimental stuff; mostly worth $0 except to me.
Madame Là-bas said…
Thank you for the wise advice. I don't have much to steal but loss of jewellery is always sad.
LauraH said…
As usual, you've covered the ground thoroughly. Luckily(?) I don't have much fine jewellery so I would be more concerned about losing sentimental stuff. A family diamond ring was given to me by my Dad a few years ago. I tell myself I should wear it but I don't, probably because I'm not used to wearing a ring with a stone and fear damage or loss. I'm still mulling this over.
LPC said…
Very good reminder. Another thing to consider is the ease with which one can alarm/surveil one's house these days, using an iPhone or 2, and an app.
Good advice...not to attract attention as wearing major bling does make us an easy target. Although it would be fun to have some seriously gorgeous diamond chandelier earrings to wear with a white tee and jeans!
AnnetteAK said…
Timely advice. I don't have much in the bling department but do have some high quality Alaska Native carved ivory pieces and silver.
I wear them all of the time while in Alaska but take the lesser valued pieces when I travel out of state. Your's and Janice's advice to wear what your comfortable with is the best advice. Why make yourself and your jewels a target.
Jane in London said…
'Dull as a vegan potluck' - love this phrase, just sums it up wonderfully!

Here in London, obvious status handbags (purses) are as vulnerable to attack as showy jewels. Fortunately, I have low-key taste and even my expensive items would slip under the radar. But I still have good insurance...

Janice Riggs said…
Excellent advice - I'm so happy that you addressed these very real concerns with your usual intelligent and thorough attention.
and thanks for the shout out - I'm always happy to get some new readers!
warmest regards,

High end jewelry insurance is very costly, and you only get a small break when you keep it in the safe deposit box.
I will never keep my pearls in my safe deposit box. It's too dry for pearls.
I keep my pearls (they like the humidity) in the bathroom, hiding in plain sight;(a trick I learned from the original movie Sleuth) but not easily noticed.
If you must keep jewelry in your house; one of the best places (they always look in the master bedroom/closet) to hide it, is in your basement. What crook has time to look through your basement; especially when the alarm has been tripped?
Duchesse said…
Duchess of H: I know, I've paid for it!

Thanks for reminder; I would not store pearls or opals in a SD box except for a brief trip. However, a "safe hiding place" depends on two things: the thief's experience and the time he has in your home (or other locale).

If you leave for the weekend and a crew of burglars enter, your basement will be searched, likely with a metal detector; some even indicate type of metal. I've had persons recommend many offbeat places for concealment, from inside TVs to tampon containers; my mother hid her jewelery in the bag of her vacuum cleaner!

Anonymous said…
I think you may be unlucky with your vegan friends , I have a friend who is Indian & her vegan curries are pounced on at any get togethers .
Wendy in York
Duchesse said…
Wendy: Indian cooks do sublime things with vegetables, and I truly enjoy vegetarian cuisine and have had some deftly-cooked vegan meals. But an •entire• buffet table without cheese, butter (or other dairy), eggs or honey is not something I anticipate with much eagerness.
Tiffany said…
Thank you for the giggle - 'dull as a vegan potluck' made my day.
Anonymous said…
My sister did exactly the same with her white gold 1 ct sapphire ring. Put it near yoga mat and walk away. Never saw it again. Thank you for the great article! Just one more question, could you recommend some company who will do imitation pieces? Thank you!
Duchesse said…
Anon@ 9:43: Two in NYC:
1. Maxim Semyonov
2 West 46th Street, Suite 309, 212-819-9408

2. Ray Griffiths

Such projects are custom work; even if the jeweler is not using precious stones, the labour to replicate a detailed design will be a significant cost. The most cost-effective way to duplicate precious jewelry is, whenever possible, to have the copy made when you buy the piece, from the same artisan.
Danielle said…
Well, your opinion vis-a-vis 'dull as a vegan potluck' is your small-minded loss. Making fun of my lifestyle with such aplomb has lost you a reader, which is lucky for me since your sense of humour is so dull.
Duchesse said…
Danielle: Thanks for reinforcing the stereotype of vegans, and enjoy every bite.

Seo Sea said…
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alice87 said…
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