Monday, August 4, 2014

Should You Buy Jewelry on eBay?

Of course I'm going to say yes because I now run an eBay business that sells designer jewelry but I also sold this same jewelry in a high end department store for many years so I feel qualified to provide an opinion.

During my stores days I probably would have told you never to buy on eBay because you could never be sure if you were getting the real thing.  I knew where my merchandise came from since I was the one who received the boxes, checked in it and put it in the cases.  However, over the last few years while still in my store I noticed that more and more of my long time clients were coming in to show me their latest eBay bargain and asking me if it was real.  I hated to say it, but they were real and the client usually paid way less than the retail price of the same piece in my showcase.  I didn't need a brick to drop on my head to tell me that I needed to start paying attention to what was selling on eBay and other after market selling sites.

Thus a new eBay business was born.  We have fun looking for authentic designer jewelry anywhere we can find it and bringing to our cyber clients.  Many of our former customers started asking us to sell their unwanted jewelry for them and so a nice little consignment business was born too.  Plus, we are certain we are selling authentic pieces since we originally sold them to our client in the first place!

Just as you would cultivate a relationship with your favorite store sales associate, I suggest you do the same thing on eBay. Don't just look for a nice pair of earrings, but be sure to thoroughly check out the seller as well. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Look for outstanding feedback scores.  Ours is 100% positive, which means we will do just about anything to make our customers happy - just like we did in the store.
  • Be sure your seller takes returns.  This means you should have no problem sending something back if you are not happy with your purchase.  Otherwise, you will have to open a case with eBay and perhaps do battle with your seller.  This can be protracted and not fun.
  • Try to find free shipping.  The best sellers try to offer free shipping as a convenience to the client.  If your favorite store ships for free (and most do) so should your favorite eBay store.
  • Look to see if your seller posts a phone number for you to call.  This gives you the opportunity to ask a lot of questions and can offer a buyer the same type of customer service you get in a store.  Our many years of client relations at the store level naturally spilled over into our eBay business and buyers who call are pleasantly surprised to find we offer this personalized service.
  • Read the fine print and carefully look at all the photos.  One can get very excited to see the David Yurman piece you almost bought in the store at less than half price on eBay, however; there might be dents in the end caps, or a missing diamond, or the chain might be 13" instead of  the 16" length you really need.  Know your merchandise and read carefully!
These are just a few of the more important things to be aware of before you click "Buy It Now" and the more you buy the more second nature these basics will become.

Bella Tutto Items of the Week



David Yurman SS/18K Extra Large Oval Link Necklace
Retail:  $3950...Bella Tutto:  $2550
David Yurman Sterling Silver .48tcw 7mm Blue Topaz & Diamond Bracelet
Retail:   $1900...Bella Tutto:  $1150
David Yurman SS/18K .50tcw Pave Diamond Metro Ring
Retail:  $2050...Bella Tutto:  $1195





Friday, August 1, 2014

Outlander's Caitriona Balfe Sparkles in Van Cleef & Arpels at Starz Screening in NYC



Outlander panel at 92nd St Y
On July 28th, fans of Diana Gabaldon's novel, Outlander, got an early screening of the book's upcoming television adaptation at New York City's 92nd St. Y. 

My sister treated me to tickets to the screening. She has been a fan of Diana Gabaldon's books for some time now and teaches Outlander in her romance novel class at George Mason University in Virginia. When we got to the 92nd St. Y, we found the place packed with hundreds of other Outlander fans, some of whom even dragged their kilt-wearing husbands to the event.  Note to self…think about buying husband a kilt. 


Much has already been written about the first episode screened that night, as well as the lively panel discussion with series producer Ron Moore, Gabaldon, and the charming stars of the show, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, and a very red-headed Sam Heughan, that followed. Moderator Leslie Yazel, Executive Editor at Cosmopolitan, was funny as hell and could have career possibilities on Saturday Night Live. She guided her guests through the epic journey of adapting Gabaldon's story about a 20thC nurse, Claire Randall (Balfe) who time-travels back to the 18thC where she falls in love with a hunky Highland hero, Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan. This is what happens when you are not careful around ancient stones that make strange noises. 



Caitriona Balfe
But forget those stones. Let's talk about the other stones on display during the discussion. The most striking thing I saw from my seat on Monday night was not Sam Heughan's thighs (you'll see plenty of that in the first episode anyway), but rather the jewelry Caitriona Balfe was wearing (this is a jewelry blog after all).  Balfe wore a beautiful flowered dress from Honor with a poor shoe choice (weird Mary Janes), but her jewelry was the star.  I  mentioned to my sister that I thought Balfe was wearing a Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra diamond necklace.  Her neck sparkled like crazy from where we were sitting and it was a little hard to make out the exact design with all that plaid in the way.  

Van Cleef and Arpels later tweeted that Balfe was wearing the storied jewelry firm's Folie des Prés earrings and ring, along with their Frivole necklace.  The ring alone retails for $56,500 and the necklace for $67,500. Gorgeous!


No time travel with these stones, but I think I hear them calling my name...



Folie des Prés diamond earrings
Folie des Prés diamond ring - $56,500
Frivole diamond necklace - $67,500

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Real Reason Mother's Day Is So Important

Mother 365 days a year when given
the right gift of jewelry.
Regardless of how angelic, beautiful, patient and wonderful your mother is, it is always possible for her to morph into Joan Crawford if the wrong (or zero) present is bestowed upon her on the one official day set aside for her each year.

Whatever you do, don't stop at the nearby Easter Flower ` Mother's Day Flower tent set up next to your local gas station.  That just screams you did not have a good gift ready and you were lazy about getting gas.  If your mother has a conglomerate of lillies, tulips, daffodils and hydrangea's of various colors and fragrances planted outside her front door then you know you do this sort of thing.

For you lazy people, please shop online.  Companies like Bellatutto, Portero, Gilt, eBay, Bonanza and other after market selling sites offer all types of jewelry, designer handbags and shoes, and other fine accessories that mom would love at prices you can afford.  Just click your way through your lunch hour and you can buy a great gift without lowering yourself to the obvious and unwanted gas station flower arrangement.

So the real reason Mother's Day is so important is if given the right gift (of jewelry preferably) you will not wake up with Joan pouring your morning coffee.

Your mother's alternative personality after given gas station flowers.
Some great Mother's Day gift ideas from bellatutto.com:

Charriol 18K White Gold 1.65tcw Flamme Blanche Diamond Bracelet - Retail: $9995 - Bella Tutto:  $4495

David Yurman SS/18K Oval Thoroughbred Locket - Retail:  $825 - Bella Tutto:  $575

Roberto Coin 18K WG/YG 1.00tcw Nabucco Pave Diamond Huggie Earrings - Retail:  $3690 - Bella Tutto:  $2195

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why John Hardy Jewelry Stands the Test of Time

There are so many designer jewelry lines to pick from today it's hard to select just the right one.  Should you look for design, quality, wearability or price?  In my opinion, one designer meets those criteria and more...John Hardy.

Canadian designer and artist, John Hardy, started his company in 1975.  After visiting Bali in the 70's, the jewelry making industry there caught his eye.  He began learning the techniques of the local artisans and developed his first pieces by combining new artistic design concepts with the traditional Balinese jewelry making techniques.  His still largely hand crafted jewelry collections are inspired by the earth, water, flowers, architecture, buildings, windows and more.  In the 90's, Guy (pronounced "Gee") Bedarida joined the company as Head Designer and eventually took on the task of guiding the John Hardy business into the 21st century.  Together with CEO, Damien Dernoncourt, the John Hardy company strives in every way to be a sustainable brand corporately, artistically, humanly and globally.

 
It seems to me that people who are drawn to John Hardy jewelry respect the earth in which we live and want to support a brand that gives back.  I highly suggest if you ever see that Guy is doing a Personal Appearance in your local Neiman Marcus or Sak's Fifth Avenue, you run to that store to meet him and buy a piece of John Hardy jewelry.  To own a piece is like owning a piece of the earth!

If you can't make it to see Guy, please check out bellatutto.com for their current selection of John Hardy jewelry which includes three couture pieces for sale from a Guy Bedarida trunk show. 

Batu Silang Sterling Silver 18K Diamond & Red Sapphire Cuff.  Retail $4000...bellatutto.com $2400

Batu Silang Sterling Silver 18K Diamond & Red Sapphire Enhancer.  Retail $3650...bellatutto.com $2190

Batu Silang Sterling Silver 18K Diamond & Red Sapphire Ring.  Retail $2100...bellatutto.com $1250







Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscar Flubs and Misses

I'm sorry, but I don't consider those Oscar shoes.
There are so many articles dedicated to the fabulosity of the Oscars that I've decided to dedicate my thoughts to some of my more slanted observations from last night.

My first shock of the night was crypt keeper Liza Minnelli and her siblings.  I heard they were going to perform in dedication to the 75th anniversary of their mother's famous movie, The Wizard of Oz, but I was secretly relieved when they didn't.  Apparently there wasn't enough embalming fluid in the state of California available to pump them up and Pink, from my hometown Philadelphia, came to the rescue and did such a memorable rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that for a moment, I was 9 years old again and sitting on the floor of my old living room in front of our huge RCA TV, seven hours before the show was to air, afraid to miss the one time they aired it during the Christmas season.

The original Scarecrow on the right.

There were other Night of the Living Dead moments.  Without Matthew McConaughey to steer her around, Kim Novak's face could have easily melted by getting too close to the hot lights.  Note to Self:  Check to see if facial fillers are flame retardant before you consider.  And poor Sidney Poitier, being held up by Angelina Jolie...and scary Goldie Hawn...why do they parade these people in front of the millions of us knowing we all have HDTV.

Her plastic surgeon should lose his license.
86 year old Sidney Poitier literally being held up by Angelina Jolie so he doesn't cave in.
Goldie Hawn celebrating her 86th year attending the Oscar's
And, as if John Travolta isn't totally creepy enough, we all witnessed a Vinny Barbarino moment when he introduced Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem.  It's not like you don't have a Q-card spelling the name phonetically right in front of your Beautiful Chrissy Growing Hair Doll head.  Plus, you get to practice the name a time or two before.  If others can say Lupita Nyong'o, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Quvenzhane Wallis all in the same evening, you can spit out Idina Menzel for gods sake.

If John Travolta's display of verbal tongue twisting is any indication of what Scientology has to offer, Idina Menzel will never join.
 
Am I the only one getting a little tired of Jennifer Lawrence falling all over the place.  Is that her good luck charm?  More like a desperate plea for attention.  I'm so glad Nyita Longo, no, oh sorry...I mean Nolonger Pepita...whatever, won for Twelve Years a Slave.

 
Jennifer Lawrence should wear different shoes.
Only Mickey Rooney had the sense to stay off the red carpet.  But then again, I'm not sure he can walk.

.
Harrison Ford checking Mickey Rooney's pulse...just to be sure.



Friday, November 15, 2013

Why Are You Still Shopping In An Actual Store?

Ugh.  My guess is there's only one sales person on the floor.
Signs of the Christmas holiday have been present since before Halloween, but I really don't get in the mood until Thanksgiving approaches.  As a former retail queen, Christmas after Labor Day is abhorrent to me, but since I watch retail from the sidelines these days, I do have an early interest in who will win the black belt of shopping this year - Black Friday vs.Cyber Monday.  Will 2013 be the first year internet sales top brick and mortar sales during the holiest of shopping days - Black Friday weekend?

We all know why on line shopping beats store shopping.  Where else can you score awesome deals and drink, smoke, eat, have your own clean bathroom nearby, yell at your kids, and talk to your sister on the phone all while visiting ten stores at basically the same time (depending on your computer skills).  On-line shopping also protects us from some of the more nefarious store shopping cultures like rude shoppers, profiling, parking lot rage, snotty sales associate syndrome, crowds, lack of store stock, filthy bathrooms, long lines with no one to wait on you anyway, and trans fat only food court offerings.  Not to mention that recently, for some unknown reason, malls have become a target for psychopaths.

Victorian shopper's rage...Bitch stole my lace jabot!
So, tell me, why would you subject yourself to a Victorian way of shopping?  On line shopping is safe, secure, convenient and easy, not to mention a world-wide selection at your fingertips!  Happy Cyber shopping!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Babies Are The New Jewelry!

I'm constantly checking out celebrities looking for new jewelry trends but this year all I see are babies and baby bumps.  In fact, babies have become the new celebrity jewelry.  Babies are hanging off arms where bracelets and watches should be.  Looking back, I remember my bracelets, earrings and big rings had to go for fear my babies would be scratched.  So sad.

There have been so many celebrity babies born this year the east and west coasts have been virtual hatching stations.  One could reverse menopause just by visiting.  Penelope Cruz and Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum gave birth on the same date as the Duchess, and JImmy Fallon and his wife welcomed a daughter yesterday.  Other celebrity and pseudo celebrity baby explosions of note this year include Anna Chlumsky, Elton John and David Furnish, Shakira, Michael Lohan and Kate Major, Perez Hilton, Amber Rose and Wiz Khalifa, Holly Madison (of Playmate fame), Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, beauty Malin Ackerman, Channing and his wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Jessica Simpson, and Busy Phillips, Jenna Bush-Hager, Jeremy Renner's girlfriend (surprise!), Lisa Ling, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West just to name a few.  How odd that we haven't seen Kim and Kanye's baby yet but we've already seen the Prince of Cambridge.  Perhaps it's because Kate and William don't need to sell the photos.

Kate showing her post-delivery baby bump.  No rush here to look like she's never been pregnant. 
Perhaps she will start a new trend.