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A Little Lesson in Fashion Jewellery ... and what this means for you

All Brazilian women - like myself - love to wear colourful and varied combinations of elegant and stylish jewellery, on a daily basis. For us, our jewellery displays important characteristics which help to identify the user's personality: for example, they could mean power or wealth, or success, or they identify a strong woman, amongst many things. The main difference between bespoke jewellery and the various types of "Fashion Jewellery" lies not only in the materials, but also the way they are manufactured. Bespoke jewellery are made only from real precious metals, and are mainly laid in gold and silver, but also platinum and others, and enhanced with gemstones, such as diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire, amongst a few. The combination of those ultimately determines the price of each piece of jewellery. On the other hand, a more fashionable - and therefore cheaper and very popular - type of jewellery is made from a non-precious, ideally nickel free base metals, often copper, and finely plated (electroplated, to be precise) in several layers of various precious materials, the most popular of which are 18 carat gold, silver and rhodium. But do not confuse those in any case elegant, high-quality and very pretty pieces with the more common, down-market category of "bathed" jewellery, where the base metals are merely being dipped once into a gold or silver solution, resulting in a much more fragile single coating than their multi-layered, fully plated counterparts, and providing a much thinner, far less durable and less fine finish, reflected of course in their much lower price. The cheapest type of fashion accessories are the so called "Bijuterias", or costume jewellery, often made from a base of cheap, ordinary metals, with a dipping in nickel, chrome or other shiny substances - and therefore not recommended for people with nickel allergies! Those pieces, instead to be set with real gemstones, are normally fitted with only ordinary glass or plastic stones, which can be either cast or polished. Often these "Bijuterias" are mass produced in large factories - in Brazil or abroad - whereas nearly all of the bespoke jewellery, as well as most of our plated fashion jewellery, are hand made by a great number of excellent Brazilian designers. Genuine gemstones must always contain minerals or organic materials (e.g. coral) with a special brilliance or shine, and their value is determined by four factors of rarity - colour, purity, cut and weight - as well as their hardness, and are therefore reserved almost exclusively for the more sophisticated jewellery designs. When buying fashion jewellery, make sure that all pieces are properly plated (i.e. multi-covered) in at least 18 carat gold or silver, with or without rhodium details, and that they are guaranteed nickel free. You can then choose between beautiful, genuine gemstones, or cheaper but equally elegant stone effects, made from colourful resin products. All those pieces should give you the best possible quality that any fashionable designer jewellery can offer, and ensure a durability which is barely less than that of any bespoke jewellery. At Almojewellery, our Fashion Jewellery - if looked after properly - will last nearly a life time! www.almojewellery.com By Monica Kirsch, Co-Founder of Almojewellery

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