Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Go Shopping and Support the Arts!

Just got the email. Also, the Boston Marc Jacobs store always does stuff like this and sales when I am in Florida. ALWAYS. True to form, I will have landed in Florida a few hours prior to the event. As a former (and hopefully future) ballerina, I would love to support the Boston Ballet while buying Marc Jacobs stuff. Go shopping for me! You can find lots of cute gifts :)

Wedding Tip Wednesday: Bridesmaid's Bill of Rights

Since Melinda and I are both engaged (yay!), we are in full force planning mode. This means Melinda is dreaming up decorating schemes and finding vendor options while I read everything there is about etiquette, planning logistics and potentially difficult situations that often arise in such emotional times. We do a pretty good job of playing (oh wait, its working now!) together while providing different information and opinions :)

During one of my many extensive research sessions, I came across a great article at The Knot called the Bridesmaid's Bill of Rights. While Melinda has been a bridesmaid countless times, I have not so I figured this article would give me good insight. I was right. The Knot provides a spot at the bottom for the bride and bridesmaid to sign, but I think thats a bit much. Anyway, for your convenience I have posted the Bridesmaid's Bill of Rights below. For more info on what it means to be a bridesmaid, read about what Emily Post has to say.

Bridesmaids, current and future, this is a helpful guide to what is expected of you and what is unreasonable behavior from an otherwise level headed friend turned bride. Remember, you were chosen by the bride because you are a big part of her life and she knows she can count on you to help make her day lovely. And brides, take note and make sure to treat your favorite ladies in a way that reflects your love for them! There are so many wedding tasks that you shouldn't ask the girl who has never used (or had the desire) a glue gun to make all 150 place cards; rather, find something she may actually enjoy!

  1. You have the right to freedom of speech - sort of: If asked by the bride whether you like something, you may respond honestly. If not asked, you must forever hold your peace.
  2. You have the power to act with the bride's best interests in mind. If a troubling situation arises, you  have the authority to direct the photographer, bounce rowdy guests or ask the DJ to cease playing "Macarena" (or any overplayed pop song that you know the bride cannot stand).
  3. You have the right to weigh in on your dress. You also have the right to hope with all your heart that the bride chooses one that you find less than terrifying. However, in the event your dream does not come true, you have no right to complain for a single second.
  4. You have the right to veto cruel and unusual underwear: a Wonderbra that gives you porn-star cleavage, Spanx that cut off your circulation, panty hose the color of a bad sunburn.
  5. You shall not be forced by the bride to permanently alter your appearance for the sake of looking good in the wedding pictures. This includes, but is not limited to, dyeing your hair, removing tattoos or getting a nose job. *** 
  6. You have the right to call it quits on assemble-400-DIY-favors duty, but only after putting in enough hours to make your glue-gun-hand hurt. Don't forget, the bride needs your help (and she considers these things "fun").
  7. You have the right to keep your other job, your other friends and, yes, your other interests while undergoing your tour of duty. While your loving bride may occasionally forget this important fact, you will remind her nicely.
  8. You are relieved from your duties after the bride and groom head out on the honeymoon. If you want to do more, you can. But technically, you are free at last!

And the question(s) of the day: What were some good experiences you have had as a bridesmaid? Not all girls grow up obsessing over weddings; how would you approach bridesmaids that fall into this category with what what it means to be a bridesmaid?

***Do brides actually ask these things of their "friends"? Ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trousseau Tuesday: Kate Spade Sample Sale

Hurry over to the Kate Spade sample sale and check out all the great deals! There are a ton of purses, shoes, skirts, tops and accessories at seriously discounted prices. The sale ends at midnight September 1st, which is this Thursday. Happy shopping!
I love these shoes! The strips are well done, especially on the heel and strap. And the bow is absolutely adorable! They are currently listed at $150, instead of the original $300.

This purse is great for the upcoming fall season. The neutral color will go with everything and the chains on the straps are such a great touch. This purse is currently $190; compare that to the original $525!

Trousseau Tuesday: Mad Men and Fashion

Dear readers, I must confess, I think I was born in the wrong era. I don't enjoy leggings, rompers, skinny jeans, jeggings, or booties. I can't pull off the boho look and I don't give off that downtown edgy feel. Don't get me wrong, I love fashion, accessories, and shoes...but sometimes I think the "it" look goes horribly awry. I love tailored pieces, nipped in waist dresses, and feminine fashion from the 40s, 50s, and early 60s. That's why I was SUPER excited to find out that Banana Republic was putting together a small collection based on the AMC TV series Mad Men. If you haven't checked out the series, it's a drama about an advertising agency in the early 60s. I'll be honest, I haven't seen too many episodes, but what I do know is the fashion trend that is making a come back thanks to two stars of the show, January Jones and Christina Hendricks.

I stopped in the Banana last week while I was on vacation and did a little looking around. I found that while the Mad Men collection is on the small side, a lot of the other Banana Republic pieces for the fall will blend right in.

My favorite Mad Men picks are this animal print sweater ($89.50), bow blouse ($89.50), lace shell ($49.50), and jacket ($175). I mostly picked tops because I realize that the matchstick pants, full skirts, and sheath dresses featured in this collection are not flattering on every body type. However, these tops can be paired in a ton of different ways to either keep with the Mad Men look (i.e. pencil skirt, slim pants, or fluffy circle skirt) or to add some retro flair to a more modern outfit (i.e. pair of jeans, wide leg pants, or LBD). There are a couple of other pieces that would also fit right in like this blouse ($79.50) or this skirt ($98.00).

Overall, I think this capsule collection is worth taking a look at to add a few pieces to your fall wardrobe.* If you are interested in adding some retro fun to your wardrobe, Banana Republic offers free shipping for any purchases over $50.

* I'm always so sad to see summer go and realize that I'm about to endure another cold DC winter. In order to struggle through, I'll have to comfort myself with a new scarf, the promise of pretty fall leaves, and the return of the pumpkin spice latte!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Exciting Announcement! Part Deux!

Well dear readers, I have some EXCITING news to dish up and serve out,

J has been a busy man this past week what with organizing a scavenger hunt all over Boston...and a PROPOSAL to the funniest, most charming blogger. That's right ladies (and gentlemen, I know we have some menfolk reading along too), my cousin Briana is engaged! Mr. 3 and I got the news straight from the blogger herself on Saturday while we were shopping for our registry. We set up a skype feed right in front of the bridal registry (much to our consultant's surpise) so I could congratulate the happy couple and sneak a peek Briana's new sparkler. Mr. 3 and I are thrilled to pieces for them and cannot wait until we get together to celebrate! I wish them nothing but the best as they enjoy their engagement and start planning their wedding. Love is definitely in the air...congratulations to you two!

Wisdom from Melinda

First off, forgive me for putting up the Munchie Monday post yesterday. Clearly, MIT did not teach me how to read a calendar. And now to brighten your Monday morning, I bring to you a phrase from Melinda that you should not forget.

"Synthetics are like fondant for the body"

Sunday, August 28, 2011


My very lovely friend (and avid Posh Purpose reader!) Ashley was very excited when she read Melinda's Arnold Palmer post. Ashley was excited mostly because the post reminded her of, and I quote, the "BEST DRINK OF YOUR LIFE RECIPE." Ashley loves sharing her ideas with the world. Fortunately for the world, her ideas are top quality. You can thank her for the content below, which is sure to be enlightening (and delicious).

Southern Belle, from 5 Leaves in Greenport, Brooklyn, NY

Sweet tea vodka
Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Fresh mint
Sparkling white wine (Ashley suggests the wine with the most awesome label)
Simple syrup, for those with a sweet tooth

Squeeze some lemon juice into a glass and then muddle the mint into the juice. Add some ice and 1-1.5 shots of the sweet tea vodka. Top off with the awesomely labeled sparkling white wine and pour contents into a shaker. Shake to some Beyonce (Ashley swears by this step) and then serrrrrve.

Ashley describes this drink as so delish, so you should definitely try it out for yourself. Let us know what you think! And feel free to share any yummy recipes, alcoholic or otherwise.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: Breaking in Your Shoes

Like many women out there, I have a weakness for a pretty shoe. I've bought shoes that I knew would hurt my feet but make my legs look great. I've also bought shoes knowing they will make an outfit look beautiful, even though I don't have that outfit in my closet at that moment. Finally, I've bought shoes knowing that they would be "sitting" shoes only (i.e. no distance treks from a DC metro stop to a restaurant four blocks away).

I'm not at a stage in my life where I'm willing to give up the heels for the orthopedics, but I'm sure that day will come. Until then, I've come across a few tips to share to making the pain a little bit more bearable.

1. If you are trying to break in a new pair of leather shoes, rub vaseline around the back of the shoe or on the straps to soften them up. You may have to give it a couple of coats, but this definitely works!

2. Invest in Blister Block! This is designed to be rubbed on your skin in places that you are more likely to get blisters. You have to rub a good coat of this on before putting on your shoes and heading out the door. Keep it with you in your purse so that you can reapply in the ladies room. Since it's small, I keep it with me always.

3. For those of us who have wide feet, take your shoes to a cobbler/shoe repair place. They can stretch your leather shoes to make them wider for a small fee. Nordstrom and Dillards will also stretch your shoes for free while you shop around.

4. Invest in heel pads or foot pads to give you more cushion as you are walking around. I have a friend who swears by Foot Petals. I like this assortment because they come in multiple colors.

5. Don't buy plastic or vinyl shoes! These are very hard to break in and cannot be stretched. If money is a concern, there are plenty of pretty leather shoes on sale out there. Please buy them and stay away from the plastic!

What about y'all? Do you have any good tips to share that will keep us stylish but painfree? Please share!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Arts and Crafts!

Since Melinda has been on vacation and I am not quite known for my thrift, I am posting a helpful link to an adorable (and seemingly easy) craft project. Sarah Sandel, of Sarah Sandel Photography, is currently working on repurposing a canvas into decoration for that empty wall. Check out her DIY blog post! It involves canvas, mod podge and an old thrift store book.

I have officially placed this project on my to do list, also known as the black hole of productivity. Let us know if you try it out, too!

You could do this!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedding Tip Wednesday: Important Qualities in a Photographer

If you are in west or central Florida, you should definitely check out Shay Cochrane Photography. She takes beautiful photos and also doles out great advice on her blog. One post I found particularly helpful was about which qualities are indicators of a good wedding photographer. You should definitely check out her full post, but you can read a summary here.

  1. Trust your instincts and first impressions! Is the photographer prompt and friendly? Direct? Pay attention to any reservations you have after the first in person meeting.
  2. Shay insists that you only hire a photographer who has: back up equipment, backup photographers in the event he or she cannot make it to your wedding, business liability insurance
  3. Ask to see all images from an entire wedding shoot. The blog pictures are what the photographer considers to be his best work. You want to know what your entire wedding album will look like, which will involve more than just a few blog images.
  4. Only sign a very detailed contract that explicitly states pricing and what you get for that huge chunk of change.
  5. Communicate what type of images you want and what you do not like. 
Please check out her blog post for full details on each of these points! And happy hunting!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trousseau Tuesday: Jewelry on Ebay?!

During one of our many gchat play dates, Melinda and I discovered an awesome collection of estate jewelry on Ebay. The seller certified-jewelry has a frequently updated list of rings along with a few earrings and bracelets. Most of the rings are quite pretty and, based on months of stalking, usually sell for $1500-$3000 which is a great price for most of these items! The items for sale are documented in great detail via high quality photos. Ebay also has a new bidding policy that allows you to place your highest bid but guarantees you the best price by automatically increasing your "present bid" by a small amount at a time each time someone bids against you.

My current favorite out of the available pieces is this opal ring. The Ebay page has pictures from all angles in both sunlight and indoor lighting. You will also find images with the ring on a person's hand (although the rings don't always fit onto the person's finger) and with the ring next to a ruler to give the ring's actual size.

I have seen many sapphire rings through this seller and many of the gemstones are accompanied by quality diamonds. It is definitely worth checking out, even if just for fun!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Munchie Monday: Arnold Palmer Cocktails & Mocktails

So as a Southern lady, I dearly love sweet tea and homemade lemonade, either separately or mixed together for an Arnold Palmer. These make a great summer time drink to enjoy either by the water or on the back porch (or in my case in my 1 bedroom apartment in DC with the AC going full blast).

These are super easy to make and you can come up with many different variations. There's no real measurement here I usually do half and half, but if you like lemonade better use more of that, if you like sweet tea more, use more of that. If you'd like an alcoholic version I recommend using Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. You can use the vodka in place of or to supplement regular sweet tea. If you are using it in place of regular sweet tea, I recommend making it 3/4 lemonade and 1/4 vodka to keep it drinkable. Firefly comes in regular tea, peach tea, or raspberry tea flavor. If you are watching your figure or hosting a girl's night, you can cut calories by using Crystal Light lemonade which also comes in a variety of flavors.

For a final touch or if you are making a bowl of punch or a pitcher of drinks for a party, cut up a lemon and float some slices around. You can also do this with raspberries or cut up fresh peaches. This concoction makes a cost effective party drink for baby showers, wedding showers, barbeques, girl's night, or dinner parties. It's cheap to make sweet tea and buy premade lemonade or Crystal Light. Firefly Vodka is also relatively inexpensive and a handle of it should cost $25 or less. You can make cocktails for less than $30 and mocktails for less than $10. I hope this recipe keeps you cool! Enjoy this drink and the final days of summer!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: Redecorating On a Budget

So, I confess, I have severe ADD when it comes to home decor. I'm not sure if it's because I have been living in the same 1 bedroom apartment for the past 3 years or if I look at too many decorating articles...but I love to pick out new toss pillows, throws, pictures, etc. However, I also don't like to spend a whole lot of money on redoing my apartment. That's why I loooove back to school time.* Besides my obsession with school stationery (I dearly love a pretty Post It), places like Target stock a huge selection of dorm decor at low price points which usually aren't available the rest of the year. Now, I may no longer need a shower caddy or a marker board for my dorm door, but I think this is a great opportunity to change up your bathroom, living room, and bedroom with a few new pieces in different colors...all while saving a little moo-lah.

The easiest way to change the look of your bathroom, but not invest too much $ is to buy a new shower curtain. This will have the biggest impact as it is usually the largest visual in the room. Try and find one that pairs well with your bath towels, tile, fixtures and paint (all of which are more expensive to replace). If you have a little extra money to spend, invest in a new bathmat and guest hand towels. I helped a friend buy a new shower curtain at Target in the college section this past weekend. She picked out a really cute plastic curtain that came with the shower hooks for $8.50 and a liner for $2.34. She wasn't planning on buying anything else, but then we found a matching bath mat for $4.99 and tossed that in too ( does not have these available online, otherwise I would include a link). We looked at the shower curtains in the regular bath section and found that they ranged between $15-$30 and didn't include the shower hooks. So, she spent around $16 to create a coordinated look for her bathroom for the price of one regular shower curtain! I redid my bathroom last year in shades of blue from top to bottom (including towels, sigh, I couldn't resist), but I was still reaaaaally tempted to buy this fun pink flamingo shower curtain and considered even "putting it by" for a future bathroom (i.e. when I move out of DC's hideously expensive housing market and can actually afford better amenities like a second bed/bath, not to mention a dishwasher...and a washer/dryer set up that doesn't run on quarters). But, in light of my previously mentioned ADD decor issues, I decided it was best to put it back...

If you want to redo your living room or bedroom, look for new toss pillows. These can get ridiculously expensive, but there are definitely more options around back to school time. A new throw for the back of the couch or a couple of new lamps can also really brighten up and change a room. Your eyes are naturally drawn to color, so if you put the focus on these objects the old couch gets a fresher look!

Dorm room color schemes also tend to be bright, so you should have a lot of color options that may not be available at other times of the year. To avoid color overload, keep it from being matchy matchy by pairing your brighter colors with lots of neutrals (grey, beige, cream, white, black, navy, etc.). Finally, if you need additional closet storage and don't mind the look of nylon in your closet, there are lots of shoe and sweater solutions as well as some under the bed options at this time of year as well.

Most of these decor items will go on sale at some point and you might be able to save a few more dollars after school has started (usually around Labor Day), but the selection might not be as good. Also, look for deals on shampoo, soap, toothpaste, blankets, shaving cream, deodorants, cleaning supplies, and hangers. Manufacturers are putting out lots of bonus product deals, gift with purchase, or bigger sized products together...mothers will want to send their kids off with plenty of supplies as students may not be home until fall break or Thanksgiving. Check out other retailers like Bed, Bath, and Beyond, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls as they will also have dorm room sections around this time of year! Here's a few of my favorite picks (You'll have to click on the links to only let's me save some pictures. Most of the time, you need a magnifier to see them):

Wall Shelves: Turquoise, wooden. Set of 2. Regularly $14.99, On Sale for $9.99

Closet Storage: 2 under bed storage containers, shoe rack, and sweater organizer. Price: $39.99

Flower Pillow: Regularly $16.99, On Sale for $12

Green Ceramic Lamp: $19.99! Love, love, love. It also comes in turquoise, pink, and purple.

Target Branding Banners

*Congratulations and good luck to my baby cousin Natalia (she's Briana's baby sister too)!She's off to Georgia Tech this fall to conquer the quad and the boys :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

J. Crew Warehouse Sale

Hey y'all! Melinda just told me that the J. Crew Warehouse is having a sale from Aug 19 - Sept 5. The warehouse is located at 300 Shoppers World Court , Charlottesville, VA, so if you are in the area you should totally check it out! If you remember Melinda's post about the Lynchburg J. Crew Outlet, you will know why she is so excited about this sale.

For more details, check out this Small and Chic in Cville blog post, including shopping strategies!

Thrifty Thursday: Wine Bottles and Container Gardening

Whether you like red or white wine, the glass bottles are great for watering your plants. That's right, watering your plants.

I'm sure you've seen the glass watering bulbs on TV infomercials and to the right. The bulbs keep your plants from drying out by slowly releasing the water into the soil. Personally, I like the idea, but I don't need to buy another dinky item from TV (it reminds me of garden gnomes gone a muck). I came across the idea of using the wine bottles to water plants after renting a house while on vacation in Asheville, NC. Basically, the instructions go something like this:

1. Pick up a bottle of your favorite wine.
2. Drink your bottle of favorite wine.
3. Let someone else drive if you plan on going any place.
4. Sober up.
5. Wash out wine bottle. While washing bottle, remove label if you wish.
6. Fill bottle with water about 1/3-1/2 of the way.
7. Pick out the house plant or gardening container that needs to be watered. Holding your thumb over the bottle opening, invert the bottle, and shove the neck of the bottle a couple of inches into soil at a slight angle, resting the bottle lightly against the side of the container.
8. Repeat as necessary.

I haven't tried this with beer bottles, but I would imagine that the same principle would apply and you would be able to use them on smaller plants. However, I would only use wine bottles with larger sized pots, because if you use a smaller plant/pot the wine bottle will be much more noticeable and your house guests and visitors might think that you just haven't cleaned up since your last shindig.

I really love this idea: Reason to drink wine? Check. Healthy happy plants? Check. One less thing to tend to in your home? Check. Check. Check. Sounds like a win to me!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wedding Tip Wednesday: Wedding Planners

Thank you so much for all the kind words on my engagement! I could not be more excited about marrying Mr. 3 and starting a different chapter of our lives. Mr. 3 is truly one of the "good guys" and I feel very lucky to have him in my life.

The excitement still hasn't ended for me, but I feel a eensy bit calmer, enough to get in planning mode. That said, the wedding countdown has begun. Mr. 3 would like to get married next week, but I'm hoping for next summer. We currently are running around trying to figure out the who, what, where, when for the affair. Despite writing this blog and reading/researching so many other wonderful blogs out there, I've always looked at these things more as "pretty pictures" and "cute ideas." It dawned on me (and slightly overwhelmed me) that I will now have to make decisions, including big financial decisions. That's a little scary for me and I'm hoping that I make all the right ones (well, right for me).

I'm about to get hyper organized out of necessity. I'm generally an already organized person, but I refrain from alphabetizing my spices or ironing my sheets. Not that I judge or anything if you do. In addition to planning our wedding, I've also just been assigned a project with a six month turnaround time at my 9 to 5 (projects usually run 9 months or longer in my office)...and I'm in charge. Our wedding will also be outside of the DC area, which means I'll be planning from afar and spending lots of time in the car. Yikes! I've decided that as much as I love electronics for things like guest addresses, I really need to write things with pen and paper, not an ipad. So, I ran over to Barnes and Noble after work yesterday to begin my wedding research and find something that I was certain would be like the Holy Grail of wedding planners.

I started with the magazine section and I came across a GREAT magazine from the U.K. on flowers. I've decided it's easier to bring in magazine pictures to show vendors than try to print them out online. So, I shelled out the $10.99 for Wedding Flowers magazine. Not the most creative of titles, but the inside is what counts! The magazine is FILLED with great arrangements (bouquet, centerpiece, corsage, etc.). There is also a guide to the language of flowers (who new that yellow roses conveyed jealousy?) and a seasonal guide to flowers with pictures. Although, I'll be honest, I was completely sold on this magazine after I saw that they had documented the royal wedding flowers (I <3 you K. Middles for your church trees and elegant style!).

The second magazine I picked up was Brides. I chose it because I literally thought "Hey! That's me!" Also, the $5.99 price tag made it more affordable than another $11 magazine. I should have saved my money. The magazine is filled with wedding dress and honeymoon ads. Normally wouldn't have problem with the ads, but the wedding dresses looked like bad white prom dresses. The bridesmaid ads were even worse. The honeymoon information was tempting, but I'm not even close to planning that part of the events.

Finally, I headed over to the wedding planning section and started searching. I looked through many planners and found that none of them had the 100% solution I was hoping to find. Spiral bound notebooks mean that you can't hole punch magazine pictures or handouts. Heavy planners will probably throw my back out or at the very least give me an unflattering Quasi Modo hunch. There were also many planners that were bogged down with every last piece of wedding advice and knowledge...which since I have Briana, I'm pretty sure I don't need. I also came across planners that had built in folders and even an accordion file folder attached, but they added a lot of bulk to carry around. Finally, I came upon the Martha Stewart wedding planner. For $30, I can get a 3 ring binder (yay! hole punching), in a reasonable size/weight (I so dislike a hunch), and with a limited, but useful amount of wedding advice (so poor Briana can have a break). The best part about this wedding planner is that there are clear plastic pouches in the back for holding receipts, samples, and possibly my sanity. There is also another clear plastic sleeve for storing business cards (think like the ones you used to hold your baseball cards). Now, I'm not one to spend $30 if I can find it cheaper someplace else (especially since my mom wants us to have identical ones for maximum organization). So, after a quick google search I found that you can get the planners on Amazon for $19.77.

I'm excited to get started on the planning and just hoping I don't get too overwhelmed. I'll keep you posted as I go along. However, now that I have a planner picked out (my first wedding purchase!), I'm suddenly overwhelmed with the need to alphabetize my spices and iron my sheets...

Boston Deal

I got an email today about the current Boston Living Social deal. It's $10 for $20 at Gourmet Boutique in Copley. I apparently walk past Gourmet Boutique quite frequently (I have a shopping "lifestyle"), but never go in. The picture of the chocolates is very tempting but since I have never been in the store, I'm not quite ready to commit to buying $20 worth of stuff, even if it is only costing me $10. However, I thought I would share in case any of our Boston readers were interested! Let me know your opinions on Gourmet Boutique and if you think this Living Social deal is worth it!

Wedding Channel Store Sale

If any of y'all are searching for some good bargains on items for your reception or a bridal shower, look no further! The Wedding Channel Store has a long list of personalized items on sale.

For example, these luncheon napkins can be customized for a bridal luncheon or shower. They are currently priced at $22 for 100 napkins.

These bubbles are $4 for 24 - buying approximately 100 will cost you $16 and you can make them prettier by wrapping each one with a little square of tulle and ribbon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trousseau Tuesday: Patent Leather Pumps

Back in June, I noticed that my favorite pair of pointy toed black patent leather stilettos were tearing on the sides! I was absolutely devastated by this discovery as they are my only pair that fit such a tight description. Is there any other type of shoe that is more versatile than a pair of patent leather pumps? I can't come up with anything and I am a true shoe fanatic. You can wear the pumps to work, to church, on dates, out dancing, to the movies, just to name a few places. Black patent leather is appropriate for all seasons, which makes this type of shoe even more adaptable. 

As I am very picky about my shoes, I have not found a suitable replacement yet. And it is not for the lack of trying! J promised (i.e. bribed) me a pair of shoes if I got a job in Boston. We thought we might take advantage of Boston's tax free weekend (up to $2,500 for any item) by going to Neimans and Saks since it seems that I should have a paid, full time job soon. However, I could not find anything that I liked! I have too thin calves, so I avoided anything with too much of a platform in the front; I want to avoid looking like a scrawny newborn foal!

I tried on these Louboutins at Saks, but in patent leather.Unfortunately, my foot is too wide up front for the right size so my heels kept slipping out the back. Normally, foot pads solve this issue by keeping your foot from sliding forward. However, since the foot pads made the shoe too tight on my toes and still didn't keep my heel in the shoe, I decided to keep looking.

I found this pair in Neiman Marcus. I really like them since they are slightly different with the Mary Jane strap, but still appropriate for work. I can rarely wear shoes with a strap across the top of my foot, though. This strap gaped, as I predicted. So sad! 

I still have not found a pair that works! Any suggestions of where I should look? What is your go to shoe?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Exciting Announcement!

Last week, like every week, Melinda and I started dividing up this week's scheduled posts. I offered to do the Munchie Monday post, but Melinda insisted that she would do it this week since she was vacationing with Mr. 3 and family. I, however, knew she would not be baking or cooking. I knew this because I was in on a secret. Oh, how I love secrets!

A few months back, Mr. 3 approached me regarding rings. While finding the best choices for him, I found out a bit of info as well. (Multitasking was very easy as Melinda and I had spent countless hours pouring over estate rings so I pretty much knew which rings to suggest.) Mr. 3 shared that he wanted to propose when he and Melinda were on vacation with both of their parents so that Melinda could be with her mother right after. He does not remember telling me this, but he did and I have chat records to prove it.

Anyway, I am thrilled to announce that Melinda is engaged!!! She was so very surprised (I never gave her any indication at all - this being a surprise in itself) and is very very very happy! I totally knew what was up this weekend despite Mr. 3 trying to throw me off the trail. I made sure to have a back up Munchie Monday recipe available and to keep my phone on me at all times so that I would not miss Melinda's call. I'm pretty sure the phone only got through half of the first ring before I answered it.

I am so excited for her and Mr. 3! They make an amazing couple and are such great and loving people. They will have very pretty blonde babies who will keep the spray tan industry in business. I am also excited for myself because now Melinda and I can change our "Let's plan a wedding" game to "We are totally planning YOUR wedding, Melinda!" game.

Stay tuned for pictures!

Munchie Monday: Blackberry Pie

I made this in DC last summer after an intense berry picking
adventure with Melinda & Co
I got this pie recipe from Southern Living (surprise, surprise!). It is absolutely delicious, with the right balance of sweet and tart, it makes for a great summer dessert! However, feel free to use more berries than the recipe states. As you can see in the picture, my pie could have used a bit more. Now, I fill the entire crust with a layer of tightly packed berries before adding the liquid. I also skip the food coloring, which is why your pie may not match mine.

**At the time of the picture, Melinda and I had 11.6 lb of blackberries to work with. As any good southern girls would do, we immediately starting baking**

Though this pie should be assembled and served the same day, you can get a head start by combining the berries and sugar and chilling them the night before.
This recipe goes with Fresh Blackberry Pie
Yield: Makes 8 servings


  • 1 1/2  cups  fresh blackberries
  • 1 1/4  cups  sugar, divided
  • 1/2  (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
  • 3  tablespoons  cornstarch
  • 1 1/4  cups  water
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  (3-ounce) package raspberry gelatin
  • 4  drops blue liquid food coloring
  • Sweetened whipped cream (optional)


Gently toss berries and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl; cover and chill 8 hours. Drain.
Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pieplate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork.
Bake at 450° for 7 to 9 minutes or until lightly browned.
Stir together cornstarch and remaining 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan; slowly whisk in 1 1/4 cups water and vanilla. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 7 to 8 minutes or until mixture thickens.
Stir together raspberry gelatin and blue liquid food coloring in a small bowl; whisk into the warm cornstarch mixture.
Spoon blackberries into piecrust. Pour glaze evenly over berries, pressing down gently with a spoon to be sure all berries are coated. Chill 2 1/2 hours. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: Flower Arrangements

It's finally Friday! As we all prep for our weekend plans, I thought I would share a few interesting flower arrangement ideas that I gathered from The Knot. These arrangements would make lovely centerpieces for a wedding, party or even your supper table.

If you have a small table such as an end table or even a petite dining table, this arrangement is a great idea to add an unexpected pop of creativity. You need a tall cylindrical vase and some wire to hang the pomander balls. Alternatively, you can make your own pomander balls out of tissue and styrofoam as seen in this Project Wedding DIY tutorial. You can also use the Martha Stewart DIY tutorial to make pomander balls without styrofoam.

This picture is of a layered plexiglass centerpiece for a wedding. The layers are filled with various flowers. The idea is to make each layer monochromatic and to fill it with voluminous buds so one cannot see bare patches. But no need to fill the layers entirely! Place something in the center to take up space, while focusing the flowers along the walls.

If you want to adapt this for your own home and are willing to get a bit messy, you can grow the tall center flowers in a pot and build the plexiglass layers around the pot. However, plexiglass is not easy to cut! You can take the plexiglass to a local glass cutter for help, to lower the risk of shattering the plexiglass.

Bored of vases? Then check out this great idea! You can easily make the twine balls by checking out this Frugal Home DIY tutorial. Just add some hardy flowers and you have a great centerpiece for a rustic bridal shower!

This arrangement makes it look like the flowers are growing right out of the table! You can make a similar arrangement by purchasing and trimming some artificial wheat grass and then sticking silk flowers into it. Make sure to wrap the base with some pretty ribbon for the finishing touch!

If you try any of these great arrangements or have ideas, let us know in either the comments or by emailing us at poshpurpose at gmail dot com! We would love to hear from you!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Special Edition Blogger Review: Lia Sophia Jewelry!

I love the power of a great accessory, don't you? I feel like they can take a blah outfit and remake it into something that makes a great statement and really makes you stand out from the crowd. Growing up, my mother got into jewelry making and some of my favorite pieces were (and still are) my big, colorful, beaded necklaces that she made for me to wear in the summertime. As a result I'm not afraid of big, chunky statement pieces or color, but I also think that a combination of more delicate jewelry can really pull together a cohesive look!

Recently, one of my Sigma Kappa alumnae sisters, Courtney Dickinson, decided to start a side business selling lia sophia jewelry.

Courtney and me sportin some lia sophia swag

She asked me to come to her first sales party that she hosted this past weekend. Although I'm usually one to avoid those at home parties, mostly because I hate feeling pressured to buy things, I wanted to support Courtney and I have heard great things about lia sophia jewelry. This line often gets written up in magazines like In Style, it's been spotted on several celebrities, and they usually have a swag tent at events like the Sundance Film Festival. Lia sophia is also about empowering women - first, by helping women earn an income while working at home, and second, by participating in Dress for Success, a non-profit dedicated to helping disadvantaged women re-enter the workforce. I asked Courtney if I could write a blogger review of lia sophia and I hit her up with a few interview questions prior to the event. Courtney is the sweetest girl and was so enthusiastic about her new business venture, which I'm sure you can tell by our interview below!

Posh Purpose:Courtney, what made you want to sell lia sophia jewelry?

Courtney: I had attended a friend's party when she hosted one for a Sigma Kappa event, back in the summer of 2010; I had so much fun at her party, I wanted to host my own! I went home and looked online for a lia sophia advisor in the DC area, and I found Elizabeth Voeller! From our emails back and forth, and 3 hostess parties with her, we have become really good friends through lia sophia! Watching Elizabeth while she shows off her jewelry at the parties I've hosted has always looked like so much fun. I've picked her brain for the past 3 months or so after she threw out the idea to me about becoming an advisor, and the rest is history!

Posh Purpose: What sets lia sophia up from other home based businesses/jewelry lines?

Courtney: This is a very good question! I am glad you asked. I decided to join lia sophia after I considered a few other jewelry businesses, as well! In the Northern Virginia/DC area, there seems to be an abundance of Silpada and Stella & Dot jewelry advisors. I read through their websites and talked with a few advisors of those lines that I know personally, before deciding lia sophia was the best match for me. Some of the points of difference: lia sophia offers that you can't find anywhere else: with their monthly specials, when they offer a 'Buy 2, get the 3rd for half,' nowhere else will you find that the first 2 items can be the LOWEST priced items, allowing the 3rd item to be the highest price and become HALF off! Also, the price points of the other lines are OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive! I have purchased and worn lia sophia jewelry for the past year now, and can tell you firsthand that even though their jewelry is the most affordable fashion jewelry of the 3 lines - it is made of beautiful jewels and stones as well as high-quality metals. I haven't had any issues with the jewelry tarnishing or turning my skin colors, as you may find with some jewelry. And the best thing about lia sophia? It has a lifetime guarantee! Just hang on to your receipt and you can exchange items - say your fingers change sizes and your rings no longer fit, your dog found your necklace and it is now in 3 pieces, or you just changed your mind and want to order something else! I often compare the return/exchange policy to that of Nordstrom - no-hassle, no questions asked. It's the best!

Posh Purpose: Can you give us your 3 top picks at different price points?

Courtney: Sure! My 3 favorite gift ideas at different price points are:

1. 'Diary' Earrings (Style 22283 Gold/22284 Silver) $24

One of the pieces I'm most excited about in our fall/winter catalog: these dainty, feminine earrings! Such a deal at just $24, earrings are such a great gift to give.

What's even better? Buying a pair of earrings as one of your full-priced pieces to score a pricier, intricate necklace for half off! I love that these earrings come in both silver and gold - to be worn with every outfit!

2. 'Lemon Chiffon' Ring (Style 6C661) $88
This was one of my first lia sophia purchases and I will wear it forever; it is often mistaken as a David Yurman, and people are so surprised when I tell them it's lia sophia!


I recommend this ring to all of my friends - as a matter of fact, through the parties I've hosted, I've had 6 friends add this ring to their jewelry collections as well!!

3. 'Sugar Plum' Necklace (Style 31L60) $128

I originally had planned to order 2 of this necklace - one for my sister-in-law and one for myself. I had picked out a few other pieces I was interested in, and decided to only order the 1 necklace for my sister-in-law. Boy, did I learn my lesson! Once the order had come in and I took the necklace out of it's box, I regretted my decision and immediately placed an order for my own Sugar Plum necklace!

This is, hands-down, my FAVORITE necklace I've ever ordered. I receive numerous compliments every time I wear it! The stones are absolutely gorgeous and can be worn with so many different colors and outfits. It is worth every single penny, even more of a deal if you buy it as one of your half off items!! The necklace is made of five layers of purple jade and metallic silver, white alabaster, hematite, tanzanite and clear resin beads. A silvery chain and scalloped beaded accents meld it all together.

SO! I went to the party last Saturday and I had a great time (Courtney's apartment is so cute!). There were about 8 girls total and we all got a chance to chat before the event started. After snacking on some yummy treats, the party began with a demo of Courtney's favorite lia sophia picks from the fall catalog and an overview of the lia sophia brand. All of the picks were passed around the room and we were given copies of the catalog and paper to write down our favorites. Lia sophia jewelry is made of high quality materials. The silver products are anti-tarnish and are made from rhodium, which is a member of the platinum family. The gold products are made of 18K-22K electroplated gold. Stones may consist of glass or resin beads, pearls, crystals, or semi-precious stones. All of the earrings have a surgical steel post. For those of us with metal allergies (including me), these features make lia sophia a very attractive choice!

After passing around about 10-15 pieces of jewelry, we were divided into groups of 3 to play a game. Our assignment was to take off all of our jewelry we had come with and dress up our other team members with lia sophia jewelry. Everyone then voted on the favorite and second favorite look. Two lucky ladies got free piece of swag, including this fun cuff bracelet!

After the game, we were left to our own devices, to go through the catalog and try on the demo pieces that each lia sophia consultant uses at the shows. You are also free to ask questions at any time about the materials, construction, or information on lia sophias amazing policies. I also snuck a peak at Courtney's jewelry box and found that the girl definitely practices what she preaches. Check out her lia sophia stash! This is only the top drawer, and Courtney had several of her personal pieces set up on the demo display.

At our particular party, Courtney had two specials going. The first is the standard lia sophia any two regularly priced items, get the 3rd (which is your most expensive item) half off. So, if you have your eye on a $120 necklace and two pairs of $25 earrings...your total would be $25 + $25 + ($120/2)= $110, which is less than what the one necklace would cost if you bought it by itself! In addition, Courtney's August special was a BOGO, buy two regular priced items, get two half 3, get 3 half off, buy 4, get 4 half off, etc.

I spotted several pieces right off the bat, and actually spent quite some time narrowing it down to things I could use for both work or play. After Courtney places the order, it takes about 5 days to come in. When I get my pieces in, I'll post an update with some pics.

I also found quite a few pieces that I thought would make gifts for anyone. However, I feel that the lia sophia price specials and selection make their jewelry an especially great option for bridesmaid's gifts! Here's a few of my favorite picks with the price breakdown assuming that you have 6 bridesmaids. I picked the number 6, because I feel like this is a number that shows how much $ you could save when you need to buy that many gifts (which can get quite expensive).

Icon Earrings (Style # 23102): Cut crystals, comes in both silver and matte gold. Pierced Ears
Price Breakdown: $62 ea.
If sold separately: $372
With August special: $279 (or $46.50 each)

Plaza Necklace (Style # 32L21): Glass and resin beads, 16-19" necklace
Price Breakdown: $78 ea.
If sold separately: $468
With August special: $351 (or $58.50 ea)

Curio Necklace (Style # 33N13): Cut crystals with resin. 17-20" necklace. Note: This necklace appears black in the picture, however it is actually an antique gold color in person. Don't be afraid of the gold aspect! I was only two feet away from Elizabeth (pictured below, work it girl!) and it looked black to me!
Price Breakdown: $98 ea.
Price if sold separately: $588
With August special: $441 (or $73.50 ea)

Bottom line: You can maximize the deals to work with your budget and with lia sophia's no questions asked return policy it's definitely worth checking out! I should also mention that I never felt pressured to buy anything or felt like I was getting a hard sell. The party was just a lot of fun, and I've got my eye on some other pieces to buy in the future!

If you'd like to contact Courtney about hosting a party or purchasing any of the items listed here, please check out her website or contact her at! If you'd like us to review your products or business please contact us at!

Thrifty Thursday: Reuse Greeting Cards Part II

As I explained last week on Thrifty Thursday, I have a serious inability to part with greeting cards and it takes me six months to let go (I hate throwing stationary away), so I've been trying to find other ways to reuse them. I've often gotten hand painted cards or printed cards using artist prints that are just so pretty. I remember using greeting cards to make pictures for my dorm room in college and I think that it's a great way to make cheap artwork for your apartment, house, or dorm room. My mom and I used artist signed greeting cards from a local gift shop to make a couple of small pictures for my dorm. While they were like $8-$10 each, i.e. far too expensive to actually send to someone, they were very pretty and we wanted to find a way to use them. We purchased 5 x 7 picture frames from the dollar store and a couple of thin picture mats from the craft store. Make sure to get frames that have a hook for hanging on the wall and not the kind you stand up on your mantle (next to pictures of your dog and your dear Aunt Myrtle). You just take the greeting card and cut it down to fit the mat. Then tape the card to the back of the mat at the top and bottom to keep it from moving around. Slide the matted cards into the frame and you've gotten some easy, great new pictures for hanging around your home! I think this is a great way to decorate small spaces like your bathroom or kitchen, so keep an eye out for those handy Hallmark cards in your mailbox, I bet they will look wonderful on your wall!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Engraving vs. Thermography

Happy Wednesday everyone (only 2 more days until the weekend)! For today's Wedding Tip Wednesday, we were delighted to receive a reader request for our opinion on wedding invitations! If you have questions, please feel free to send them to us at We love to put our Nancy Drew/Angela Lansbury skills to work!

Dear Posh Purpose,
Perhaps you could check something out for me. I want to have engraved wedding invitations for my daughter's wedding. A lady I met at the tanning salon said that thermal printing looked like engraving but was cheaper. Now, I wouldn't mind saving a little money...but....if people can tell it's thermal rather than engraved (i.e.) by running their finger over the print, I would just skip the economy. Could you check this out and let me and your other blog readers know?

Sincerely, Nancy Jones

Thanks for sending us the request Nancy! Briana and I have read several articles that describe the differences in the types of printing and the price points. However, we haven't come across a whole lot of information about the actual look and feel. We decided to pay a visit to Papyrus to feel and look at examples of thermography and engraved invitations. Briana took J with her to Papyrus Boston, and Mr. 3 and I paid a visit to Papyrus at Tysons Corner. Papyrus has over 160 locations nationwide, so it should be available in almost all larger cities. We also picked Papyrus because of the quality of their paper goods and their wide selection. I also knew from ordering personal stationary in the past that they have tables in the back of the store where you can sit down and peruse the examples at your leisure.* We both had very helpful (but not annoyingly intrusive) sales associates who were knowledgeable about the different types of invitations.
Now! On to what we found. Text and desgins on thermography invitations are created by spreading an ink and powder residue on the paper and applying heat to get the text to "puff up" through a chemical reaction. It has a raised appearance and you can feel the raised print if you were to rub your hand across the lettering. Engraved invitations are made by taking a metal plate (often made of copper), and cutting the text into the plate. The plate is then inked, removing any excess ink on the blank portions of the plate, and then pressed into the paper using tons of pressure. The design and text also has a raised feel. Engraving is more expensive because the metal plate cannot be reused.
Both kinds of printing have the same feel to them if you were to run your finger across the front/top of the text on the invitation. However, if you were to take the invitation and rub the front and back at the same time, you would feel a difference because engraved printing presses the plate into the paper causing an indentation on the back. In contrast, thermography invitations will have a smooth back.
Thermography ink has a shiny or glossy finish, whereas engraved ink has a much more matte appearance. A word of caution, unlike engraved ink, thermography ink will absorb the color of the paper. So, if you are looking at a sample invitation book and you want to change the ink color, paper color, or both you may not get the exact color match you want. For example, a pink ink may appear more rosy or red depending on how dark/light the cardstock.
You also need to check the quality of the cardstock that will be used to print your invitations. According to my helpful Papyrus associate, some companies, such as Carlson Crafts, use a lower quality paper that isn't really suitable for engraved invitations. I say, when in doubt, use Crane and Co. paper regardless of the printing decision that you decide to go with...if the U.S. can use their paper to print U.S. currency since 1879, then it must be the best choice for a wedding invitation.
One really neat thing that I did find out is that you can request that your engraving plate be sent to you with your invitation order. The plate (especially a copper one!) would make a beautiful keepsake for your wedding that could be framed and hung in the home next to a copy of the paper invitation and/or wedding photo. According to my Papyrus associate, there usually is not a charge associated with this service.
Now to price. Here are a couple of examples that I found to illustrate the difference in cost. I chose them because they are printed on a plain paper with two colors of ink and a delicate embossed border. They also were about the size of a normal greeting card, so there shouldn't be any extra postage costs.
Thermography Example

So, for 125 invitations, it would be $417 with double envelopes (E pricing). The smaller sized card is $150-$276 depending on your envelope option (C pricing).

Engraved Example
Again, for 125 invitations, the price would be $657 ( E pricing). For the smaller cards, it ranges from $150-$476 (C pricing).

Based on these examples, engraved invitations are about $240 more and the engraved cards could be up to $200 more. So, it's a toss up. Yes, there is a difference between the feel of the thermography and engraved, but not so much the look. I really think another important consideration is the type of wedding you are having. For a backyard wedding or a beach wedding, a thermography style invitation would be a nice (perhaps more appropriate) choice, but if you are having a black tie optional or black tie affair I think the engraved option should definitely be considered as it conveys the feel of the event.
The best advice I can give is to take a look at your budget, the number of guests, and the postage it will require to send out all of the invites. I don't think you should buy engraved invitations at the expense of a great photographer or a beautiful dress, but if this is a wedding element that is important to the bride or the mother of the bride then there are ways to work this cost into your budget by using only one color of ink, plain white or cream (but good quality) paper, and knowing your size and weight limitations for postage. The more complicated your design is (like most things in life), the higher the price. If you can't find some wiggle room in your budget for engraved invitations, it's not worth blowing your budget and thermography is still a great choice! Nancy, I hope this helps with your question! Please let us know if we can help out in any other way!

*Big thanks to Mr. 3! He schelpped those heavy sample invitation books from the shelf to the table and then bought us a soda to share to keep my (and his!) strength up while looking through sample after sample. He also kept the heavy sighes to a minimum and I rewarded him by taking him to a man flick, with lots of shoot em up and blow em up scenes. I highly recommend the reward system when it comes to looking at invitations. Some other poor man was there with his fiance and he was ready to bounce after about 15 minutes...I think they were there for at least an hour and never placed an invitation order...bless his heart.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mathematician's Guide to Diamonds

Diamonds are the most romanticized gem stone in today's culture. They also have the potential to be super sparkly, which is really what we are after :)  However, before you (or your beau) run out and buy a diamond, there are a few important things to understand. More specifically, the four C's. I'm sure many of you have heard about these C's but I have found that most guides don't give you useful information. I will use my math and science knowledge to explain why each C is important to you, the sparkle chaser, and Tiffany diamond standards as an indication of quality. Remember: a diamond must sparkle, otherwise you are better off buying a clear sapphire.

Now let's learn about sparkle! As we all know, sparkle is really what Marilyn was singing about.

Basic Info
A diamond's sparkle is due to the light that passes into the diamond and then is reflected out the top back to your eye. The light reflection is controlled by the facets that are cut into the diamond (which is an extremely mathematical process), but can be altered by qualities of the stone. The higher the score in each of the four C's, the more the diamond will sparkle. The idea is to pick a range in each category and find a diamond that falls into all those ranges AND your budget.

Clarity refers to how many/what kind of imperfects, called inclusions, reside inside the stone. Inclusions redirect the natural path of light which can make the light exit the diamond in a less than ideal location, meaning the diamond loses some sparkle. Below, you will find diagrams of the clarity categories. Tiffany uses diamonds that are IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, and VS2. You will not be able to find the inclusions in these diamonds unless you magnify the diamond 10x and become a trained gemologist. You will most likely not notice the inclusions in S1 by just looking at the stone, but there will be less sparkle. 

If you are on a tighter budget, I would suggest looking at VS1-SI1 diamonds. These diamonds will be the most affordable without a drastic loss in quality. I would suggest that if you can only afford a diamond in the I1-I3 range, you should consider dropping down the carat size or looking for alternative stones such as sapphires (stay tuned for a post about alternatives!).

White diamonds are graded on how yellow the color is. Obviously, the most desirable (and most expensive) diamonds are colorless. The color of the diamond determines how much light is reflected back out. White light goes in but then yellow light comes out, so the more color the diamond has the less light (meaning sparkle) you will see coming back out through the top. I have also included a chart of the color gradings. Tiffany uses diamonds that are D, E, F, G, and H. When I was in Tiffany, the person helping me compared an H diamond to a D diamond; I could only tell a difference in color when i turned the diamonds on their sides and held them up to the light. That being said, the presence of color in an I or J diamond is hard to distinguish without a significantly more colorless diamond for comparison.

I suggest that you closely examine any diamond that is K or L in as many different lightings as possible as you do not want to end up with a diamond that brings out yellow tones in your skin. It is safer to purchase a diamond that is J or above.

This is the C that everyone talks about. A carat is a measurement of mass, where one carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Price increases exponentially with size, meaning that a 1 carat diamond is far more than twice the price of a .5 carat diamond even though it is twice the size. More light enters a larger diamond simply because of surface area, thus allowing more light to potentially be reflected back out the top. Again, light reflected out of the top means sparkle! 

If you are going for maximum size for your budget, consider asking for stones that are right under the major markers; a .9 carat stone will be much less expensive than a 1 carat stone, just like a 1.45 carat stone will be significantly cheaper than a 1.5 carat diamond. Another budget approach is the halo setting, which gives the illusion of a bigger diamond. If you are very financially restricted but want to stick with diamonds, look for a ring that is made up of many small diamonds rather than one solitaire diamond, such as this one. The cluster of diamonds is extremely glittery and eye-catching.

Beware, though - many lower quality jewelers will cut a diamond so that the top is bigger. This tactic makes the diamond appear bigger, but also throws off the mathematical balance which causes light to be lost out of the bottom or sides of the diamond, resulting in a less sparkly diamond (please see diagram in next section). I always suggest going for either a single or collection of higher quality but smaller diamonds rather than get something that is less brilliant. 


I believe that this C is the most misunderstood. Most people just think of diamond shape (such as round or princess) but there is much MUCH more to cut. It is true that the shape of the diamond affects the sparkle. A round diamond has the potential to reflect the most light out of the top and is considered the ideal shape. A well done princess cut diamond is also very brilliant. A marquise must be done by an expert or else it will have a dark spot in the center; this shape also is hard to pair with a wedding band. An asscher cut is very interesting with the inner "steps," but light is lost resulting in a less sparkly but still interesting diamond. Here is a list of some fancy cut options. **just because the list has a heart shaped diamond does not in any way mean I advocate choosing that shape - please please please pick another shape, for fear of looking trite 10 years down the road**

Ok, that was the easy part. Now comes the most difficult quality for a regular person to judge: cut proportions. As you can see in the diagram below, the diamond absolutely must be cut in the correct proportions in order to maximize light reflection out of the top. There is no arguing with math (angles) and science (light waves). However, unless you can see the ideal proportions on your own, you will have to trust your jeweler to be honest.

Sound complicated? Cut is not an easy C as there are no strict categorical guidelines to use in evaluating the stone. I advocate going to Tiffany and trying on rings in your price range (so as to not get attached to something you cannot have) to get an idea of how sparkly a diamond can be. Use this experience as a guideline for how well cut the other diamonds are. Quite often, a smaller well cut diamond will appear bigger on your hand than a larger poorly cut diamond simply because of the amount of sparkle.

My Opinion
All of the above information is factual and paired with my advice on how to simplify your search for that perfect diamond. However, I am now venturing into pure, biased opinions. Melinda (and many other people) do not agree with what I am about to say, but since this is my blog post I am going to share it anyway :p

I believe that you do not just pay premium for the Tiffany name but that the price of the diamonds is perfectly reasonable for the quality and guarantee that the diamond is cut proportionally. I am very pale and the diamonds I tried on at various estate stores and small jewelers blended into my skin. They were less than spectacular because there was not enough light being reflected back out of the top. However, the Tiffany diamonds were always sparkly, regardless of what light I stood in. I specifically sought out dark patches in the store (they exist!) and the diamond was both sparkly when I looked at it AND when I looked at it in a far away mirror. If you are drawn to diamonds for the sparkle, I strongly suggest you consider a Tiffany diamond in your price range. Good news is that Tiffany has something for most price ranges and the salespeople are extremely helpful and are definitely not judgmental or condescending.

Reasons why you should consider Tiffany:

  • Trusted quality in all aspects of the four C's = maximum sparkle!
  • Something for all kinds of price ranges ($3800 Tiffany ring, or a solitaire starting at $2000)
  • The extremely thin Tiffany band makes diamonds look larger, in comparison
  • You can always take your ring in to any Tiffany location for a free cleaning and check up to make sure nothing is loose
  • The prices of a Tiffany diamond and another with the same shape (not necessarily cut), color, carat and clarity will usually not be significantly different while the amount of sparkle usually is