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Fashion 101 | Ask Aimée

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Shopping for Sparkle

On an awfully balmy Saturday evening I attended a birthday dinner party for a very dear friend. While opening gifts and enjoying fancy beverages she pulled her hair back and showcased her sparkling diamond earrings that her darling hubby gifted her. As the guests retorted how beautiful the baubles were she whispered to me that they were “CZs” or cubic zirconia. Not that I would judge knowing that they were imitation but honestly I really do not know how to distinguish between the real or fakes. And frankly, if someone would offer me jewelry that costs upwards of thousands or a fabulous vacation, I am not embarrassed to say, hand over the fake jewels and send me to Paris.

I am fortunate to own a few pieces of fine jewelry. Most were gifts that marked a momentous occasion or are heirloom pieces from generations past. I love sparkly things; I gravitate subconsciously to them like a Formosa termite to a light post. I tend to wear these pieces like I do my clothes, “a little high with a little low,” wearing my special clothing or jewels with some bargain basement or costume find while cautiously taking into account Coco Chanel’s advice not to over do it. Yet, I am always skeptical when I see a middle-aged woman dripping in platinum and diamond watches and jewels. It reminds me of when my mother once told me a story about a housewife who, every time she caught her spouse with another woman, she received a new piece of jewelry. The bitter still bedazzled wife would then name her pieces after her husband’s mistresses.

Michael May, a local experienced jewelry specialist who is as equally as attractive and precious as the baubles he touts, was kind enough to instruct me on how to go about confidently purchasing a special piece. I trust Michael completely on this subject and because of my trade I felt I needed to be a more educated consumer.  Foremost, Michael believes that developing a relationship with the customer is invaluable. The best sales associates are those who ask many questions to determine the needs of the customer. Michael states, “A professional associate will never just sell a client anything but rather take the time and get exactly what the client is looking for.” Here are some of his guidelines on how to purchase my first piece:

Reputation – Shopping with a respectable retailer ensures that you are getting quality workmanship, customer service and the manufacturer’s warranty. This is most essential when it comes to having your timepiece serviced.

Diamonds – When purchasing diamonds, color and clarity are very important. The cut is a personal choice and a reliable sales associate can always get a specific stone for you.

Gold – This metal in 18k, 20k and 24k is continuously a smart investment. With the price of gold in constant increase, it is recommended you buy sooner rather than wait.

Chat It Up – Discuss the terms of your warranty and exchange policies. You are making an investment and should feel safe and certain about your decision.

I consider fine jewelry purchases a completely different shopping experience than that of a shoe or a dress. I do not suspect that a woman will buy diamonds for herself on a Saturday afternoon after getting her pedicure. However, she may want to treat herself to some well-deserved real diamonds for a milestone birthday or a gold cuff bracelet after a promotion at work. Like any considerable buy, research and cautious consumerism will assure an intelligent purchase without buyer’s remorse.

You may visit Michael May at:

Saks 5th Avenue
333 Canal Street
The Shops at Canal Place
New Orleans
(504) 524-2200 ext. 5321

He is a timepiece and fine jewelry specialist, as well as the Ippolita Jewelry Brand Ambassador at Saks 5th Avenue.