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Pearls are a girl’s best friend

Freshwater pearls and sterling silver toggle clasp

Freshwater pearls and sterling silver toggle clasp


The pearl necklace is the equivalent of the wardrobe’s “little black dress”, a jewellery box staple that can instantly transform a plain dress or outfit into something eye-catching, classy and chic.

For many years, the pearl necklace has endured the reputation of being somewhat “frumpy” – the twinset and pearls image of an ageing spinster has been difficult to shake off and consequently, put younger women off wearing pearls for many years.

However, pearls are back with a vengeance – because things have changed! Real pearls are no longer the monopoly of the wealthy, and imitations have so much improved in quality and choice, that in terms of beauty and lustre, they can certainly give the real thing a run for its money.

Whilst a single or double strand of round white cultured pearls will always make you look like a princess, you can have a lot of fun experimenting with different types of pearls, different lengths, multiple strands, beautiful colours, and necklaces featuring combinations of pearls with gemstones, glass or other types of stunning feature beads.

The reason why cultured pearls have become so affordable is due to the Chinese who now have a huge freshwater pearl farming industry established around the coast of China.  Freshwater pearls appear in many shapes described by what the shape resembles such as “potato pearls”, “rice pearls” or “button pearls”.  There are many pearls to a shell, varying in size and colour. Freshwater pearls are often dyed – common colours being “peacock” and “peach”.  They can vary in quality.  The quality of a pearl is graded by its size, shape and lustre. Whilst a perfectly round large cultured pearl necklace would still be beyond most people’s pocket, freshwater pearls are very affordable and can be just as stunning in a fashion necklace.

Glass pearls such as those made by Swarovski (Austrian) or Preciosa (Czech) can allow the designer free rein to their creativity.  Always perfectly round, they come in a variety of glorious colours so there will always be a jewellery item to coordinate with the latest fashion ensemble.

Check out my designs in both freshwater and artificial pearls on the Caravela Jewellery website.


Celebrating Mother’s Day – 10th March in the UK

Now that Valentine’s Day has passed, the next important date on the celebrations calendar is Mother’s Day  (March 10th) !  At least that is the case in the UK.  I noticed when I lived in Spain and Portugal that Mother’s Day was sometime in May – and I believe that is the case in the US as well.Blue heart reverse

My mother always used to say that Mother’s Day was a genuine religious celebration (“Mothering Sunday”) which  always falls on the third Sunday in Lent – three weeks before Easter!  What she was suggesting is that Mother’s Day is rooted in Christian tradition, as opposed to  “Father’s Day” which (she alleged) has been invented fairly recently purely as a commercial ploy to sell Father’s Day gifts and cards.  Or maybe a group of fathers invented it because they felt left out – who knows or cares??!

I have never understood why the moveable feast of Easter Sunday couldn’t stick to the same day each year.  Once again, Easter also falls at different times in different countries.  For example, I visit Cyprus frequently and their Easter is always about two weeks after ours.  At least with Christmas you know where you stand.  Can you image the havoc if everyone around the globe celebrated Christmas Day on different dates?

To come back to Mother’s Day though, I always associate it with spring, and in the UK this week, it has definitely felt as if spring is in the air!  The daffodils in my front garden are preparing to burst forth from their hibernation – although that doesn’t mean we won’t still get snow, so don’t put the snow shovels away just yet!  I strongly believe we should show appreciation for our mothers throughout the year, and formalise it with a special token on Mother’s Day.

The traditional gifts for Mother’s Day  are chocolates and flowers.  The trouble with chocolates is that they are fattening, and many mothers will have had those at Valentine’s and will no doubt get more at Easter.   And the trouble with flowers is that they are lovely on the day, but they don’t last very long.

The best prese54-706-3133nt you can buy your mother for Mother’s Day is a bunch of daffodils or carnations PLUS a piece of jewellery that will last a lifetime – which needn’t be expensive.   A silver heart pendant always goes down well, especially the filigree designs we have on our website.  All our silver jewellery comes in a beautiful purple ribboned gift box so makes the ideal gift with money back guarantee if it fails to please.  We also have some lovely Murano glass hearts on crystal bead necklaces, for something a little bit different.

Why not take a peek now and order early for Mother’s Day!



IJL: Jewellery galore – another great London event!

It’s been ages since I wrote my blog – so sorry if you have been waiting patiently –  but my excuse is that I have had a very busy summer what with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Olympics and Paralympics  – I have been out and about a great deal – and what fantastic  events they  turned out to be!  What a great time to be in London, and then all that was followed by the no less awe-inspiring International Jewellery London.  It’s a fantastic annual event and probably  the biggest and best jewellery trade event of its kind in this country.

It’s a great showcase for new and established designers alike.  The ubiquitous shamballa style bracelet was still very much in evidence dominated by Tresor Paris of course – although they do have many imitators with different brand names.   I originally stocked a few of the same style of bracelet on my website, though much cheaper, just to see how they went. They weren’t particularly cheap (compared to Ebay), but unintentionally they became my best sellers, so I have broadened my range, although I hasten to point out that shamballa bracelets are only a tiny part of my inventory. I feel compelled to keep stocking them because that is what customers want, and my aim is to please my customers. My bracelets have become more expensive now as I have chosen to move  more upmarket. I now source them from better quality suppliers, though I am still keeping prices below £30 which is competitive. Customer satisfaction is very important to me, and I know that some of the cheaper bracelets on sale out there may look as good,  but fall apart after a couple of weeks.  Quality costs more.

The exhibition is divided up into various sections.  Diamonds and gold are as popular as ever despite the soaring prices, but silver has now become uber-fashionable with so many silver exhibitors present and so many stunning styles.

There were some brands that I had not been familiar with before such as Ortak and Sheila Fleet from the Scottish Isles producing the most beautiful work, combining silver with enamel in many collections.  Much as I would like to stock their jewellery, my website is all about adding value so there is no point in me stocking items which are available through their own websites as I don’t want to compete with them, however I do admire their work.

Also of great interest was the section on loose gemstones.  You can buy loose rubies and diamonds if you want, but I am more interested in the semi-precious gemstone beads which are no less breathtaking.  I will shortly be offering designer pieces on my website, such as beaded necklaces using only the best materials, hand made and exclusive to Caravela Jewellery and I like to select each stone personally.  My favourite stones are blue lace agate, aquamarine and larimar, and these highly prized stones were available in all shapes and sizes (with high prices to match). I don’t think these shows are the most cost-effective places to buy gemstones and silver beads, so I settled for something more modest, a string of dark green and brown agate which caught my eye because of their autumnal beauty, and some dyed jade hearts which I can see as pendant focal points in my mind’s eye.

I’m already looking forward to the next exhibition which will be in Birmingham in February, in the meantime, I have plenty of new products to add to my website and ideas for my new beaded creations.


Featured in Bella Magazine

Stephanie Rose Quartz Choker

Stephanie Rose Quartz, Jade and Amethyst Wire Choker


Latest news – Caravela Jewellery’s Stephanie Rose Quartz Choker was featured by Bella Magazine last week under the caption “Pretty in Pink”. We have many other lovely gemstone wire chokers and cuff bracelets on our website:




Rhinestones – what are they?

I’ve often wondered, why are rhinestones so called? Have they ever been in contact with the River Rhine? A little research on the internet reveals that indeed they were, once upon a time.

Rhinestones were originally so named because they were made from rock crystal collected from the River Rhine.  (In case you were wondering,  rock crystal is a colourless form of quartz).

Some time later, circa 1775, a French jeweller by the name of George Frederic Strass developed a process which basically involved coating one side of glass with a metallic powder.  Light is unable to defract through plain glass, but his process improved the reflective quality and brilliance of the glass and created the illusion of diamonds. It meant that this glass could be facet cut, polished and even coloured, a great step forward in the evolution of costume jewellery.

Of course, it also meant that rock crystal was no longer needed for the rhinestone effect, and through Strass’ process,  imitation diamonds became much more widely available and affordable throughout Europe. The name “rhinestone” was kept, however, and is often universally applied to imitation diamonds whether made from rock crystal, acrylic, or glass. The word “diamante” means diamond-like and can be applied to any type of imitation diamond, including rhinestones and crystal.

In the US, rhinestones were popularised by the song “Rhinestone Cowboy” (Glen Campbell) highlighting the way country and western singers often dress in cowboy style, but the song says they are fake cowboys, like the rhinestones they wear are fake jewels.  These days rhinestone cowboys have become very much a part of  western US culture, and I would hazard a guess that those dressing as such probably do more line dancing than horse riding.

As with everything else, there are variations in quality of rhinestones.  Some of this jewellery is relatively expensive and of very high quality.  Even when it comes to imitations,  some are better than others.

In the UK, rhinestones have become a firm favourite when it comes to bridal jewellery and any occasion where a girl wants to wear “a bit of bling”.  Nowadays rhinestones mean anyone can afford to look like a princess.

Christmas is coming and that means parties, and dressing up,  so why not check out some party jewellery, including crystal and rhinestones  at

Thanks for reading.


SPECIAL OFFER – 30% off selected pearl necklaces

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This is an Autumn Special – 30% discount on “Amore” range of freshwater  pearl necklaces up to the end of September  Usual price £19.95.

Visit the website now 

Offer only applies while stocks last and may be withdrawn at any time.  Offer is restricted to UK buyers.  Discount does not apply to postal charges.

Voucher code: MVC0911


9/11/2011 – Offer now  closed

Bedazzled at International Jewellery London

Yesterday I visited the annual International Jewellery London  (trade fair) at Earls Court.   This was my first visit to this event and if asked to sum it up I  would describe it as a jewellery-lover’s paradise.   I was blown away by the sheer choice and gorgeousness of all the jewellery, as well as the creativity of the designers exhibiting there.

There were 560 exhibitors from all over the world and they offered the whole spectrum of jewellery-related items : loose diamonds and precious gems; loose beads, all types of jewellery making materials and supplies;  well-known top designers with their latest collections;  new talent with their showpieces;  exquisite diamond, gold,  silver, pearl and gemstone jewellery,  as well as costume jewellery in the most stunning, innovative and original designs.  There were also catwalk models showing off the latest trends, and thought-provoking seminars, but my real focus was on potential suppliers.

There were various  stands offering classic brand watches and other giftware, and some rather intriguing and very expensive-looking statues and other pieces from Russia made from silver, onyx and marble.   Everything on display at the fair  exuded craftsmanship and quality, and I have to admit that I felt a bit like a sugar-addict in a sweetshop when I first walked in,  not knowing where to begin, there was so much of interest, I wondered if a day would be long enough.

As I walked round, there was a myriad of dazzling jewels that caught my eye and I couldn’t help gazing in wonderment at the glitzy crystals and blingy objects of desire.  There were lots of those shambolla (friendship) bracelets in evidence which are very popular right now and which I intend to trial in my online shop very shortly.

If you had thousands of pounds to spend,  you could easily spend them in half an hour but I was trying very hard to resist being carried away by the urge to try out lots of different types of jewellery on my online store,  so I tended to stick to what I know : silver and gemstones.

I  eventually succumbed to ordering a collection of silver heart pendants and lockets for my new “hearts” collection.  I was also drawn towards the Indian sellers with their silver and gemstone pendants and rings, which they price by the weight. I was very attracted to the real opals from the  Australian Opal Mines and although the larger specimens were beyond my price range, I did indulge in buying three small opal pendants.

I had an interesting conversation with one of the Indian sellers.  He had two baskets on the table containing rings and pendants in each.  At first glance they looked pretty much the same, gemstones set in silver. However,  he explained that one contained gemstones mounted on metal that had been silver plated, and the other basket contained gemstones set in 925 silver.  On closer inspection I could easily discern which was which – but I wondered if  other people would be able to.  The difference in price was significant.  The 925 silver was almost four times the price of the other.   The quality of stones – which were all real –  was the same.

He said he was there to promote the less expensive range, and encourage buyers to switch to the silver plated versions instead of real silver due to the high price of silver on the global markets which was harming the silver jewellery industry in the recession.    I asked about how long the plating would last before it wore off.  He said it was such good quality it would never wear off (but then he would say that wouldn’t he?)

In the end, I bought one item of each to test if people can actually tell the difference by sight.  So far,  out of the 8 people I have quizzed, none of them have been able to  discern the real silver from the silver plate correctly – they always seem to get it the wrong way round.  On the other hand, they usually manage to make a reasonable guess at the price of the silver item and get the price differential about right.  (Do  you think YOU would be able to tell the difference?)

I am personally trying out a number of silver plated items at the moment to see how well the plating lasts – a bracelet, ring and neck chain – so far they all look as good as new but it’s only been 3 months!I don’t think there is any substitute for buying one’s own products and trying things out from a customer’s point of view.  I would never ask a customer to accept quality that I wouldn’t be happy with myself.

I wondered if offering a guarantee on silver plated goods would reassure customers that silver plated items can look good for a long time or for as long as they want to wear the item.  Do you think it would encourage people to buy silver plated jewellery?   If anyone has any views on this, please respond.

Of the designers that really caught my attention I would have to say I was struck by the simple quality of the Lola Rose semi-precious gemstone collection; by contrast, Michael Negrin had some very pretty but complex pieces (though some people might find that kind of style a bit “twee”); I also liked Martick Jewellery who produce unique, collectable designs.  I collected many business cards for future reference and came away with bags of ideas for future collections I would like to feature on my website – and very tired feet. All in all it was a successful and very enjoyable day and I just wish it happened more than once a year!


Silver Jewellery – Care and Cleaning

925 Silver Earrings

The use of silver for jewellery is becoming increasingly more fashionable and more popular all the time. Although it is still a precious metal and its value is increasing, it is much more affordable than gold, which has reached record prices in the global markets this year.  Wearing too much gold can look vulgar whereas wearing various silver pieces at the same time can look rather classy and stylish without being brash.

One of the drawbacks of silver though is its tendency to tarnish quickly, so you need to look after your silver pieces carefully and if you do,  they will serve you well and remain looking good for many years to come.

Why does silver tarnish?

Firstly, it’s important to note that tarnishing is caused by a natural process called oxidation and it does not indicate that the silver content is below standard or “not real silver”, or that the article is in any way inferior.  Oxidation is the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the different substances they may come into contact with – substances in the air or other materials such as wood, rubber or even foods containing natural sulphides (eggs, onions) can turn silver to yellow or black.

Some people have skin that is more acidic than others, and that alone can cause sterling silver to tarnish almost immediately.  Those people are best advised to look for silver items that have been plated with rhodium, gold or an anti-tarnish coating on top of the silver.

What’s the best way to care for 925 silver jewellery?

 Both silver and silver plated jewellery need a certain amount of care to preserve their longevity and keep them looking their best.

1)                Commonsense dictates that you should always remove your jewellery before washing up or swimming, and at night before bed.  Always keep jewellery away from sunlight, radiators and other heat sources.

2)                 Make it a habit to always apply your makeup and perfume before putting on your jewellery and allow it to dry on your skin first.  Cosmetics and perfume contain acids which can have a detrimental effect on silver and cause it to tarnish faster.

3)                 Keep your silver jewellery separate from your other pieces.  Never heap all your jewellery in one box that allows your silver items to nudge alongside gemstone items which can easily scratch the surface of the silver. It is a good idea to store each piece in its own little pouch or jewellery back, or wrap it in cotton cloth.

4)                 Always remove your jewellery after use and wipe it over with a soft pure cotton cloth to remove any skin oil or cosmetic residue.

What’s the best way to clean 925 silver jewellery?

 If you feel your jewellery needs a bit of “sprucing up” simply washing it with a mild detergent will often do the trick.  If you do this fairly often, it can prevent or delay the build up of tarnish.

1)                 Use a polythene washing up bowl filled with warm water and a drop or two of mild (phosphate free) washing up liquid and create a lather with your hand.

2)                 Immerse your jewellery in the water for no more than 5 minutes.

3)                 Remove each piece one at a time and wipe with a soft sponge to remove any traces of grime, and place on a soft towel.  Use a soft bristled brush to gently loosen any dirt trapped in crevices.

4)                 Rinse each piece separately in cold water and dry with a soft pure cotton cloth before storing away carefully.

How to remove tarnish and polish silver jewellery

 A lot of people use silver dips to remove tarnish.  They do work – the difference between before and after can be amazing – but the danger is that if you leave the jewellery in the chemical for too long, it can strip off the silver.  You need to be extremely careful if you use it with silver plated jewellery as it may strip off the plating altogether.

If you trawl the internet for advice you will find all sorts of suggestions, often conflicting, on how to deal with tarnished silver items.  Many suggest the use of baking soda or toothpaste, both of which are mildly abrasive and may cause scratching of the silver surface.

Washing your jewellery (as described above) after each wearing will probably prevent it from tarnishing, but if the item does become discoloured or badly tarnished, use a silver polish or silver polishing cloth specially designed for the purpose.  Please be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

I found a silver torque bangle today in my jewellery drawer that I hadn’t worn for years.  It was so badly tarnished it was black!  I recently bought a “Town Talk”  silver polishing cloth on Ebay for £1.25 and the packet contained  two sachets of moist tissues.  I rubbed the tissue over the bangle for about three minutes, and then used the polishing cloth, and the bangle was gleaming like new in no time at all.

Make sure you only buy products designed for jewellery, not cutlery.

Silver plated jewellery

 Silver plated jewellery can be cared for in exactly the same way as for 925 silver, so follow the above advice but be extra careful if using silver dip, or silver polish, as overpolishing and removing tarnish can also remove much of the plating over time.

Avoid scrubbing plated jewellery.  It is important to keep the plating on the base metal for as long as possible, as once it has worn off the only remedy is re-plating or stop wearing it altogether. Base metals can react with natural skin oils and cause the skin to turn a greenish hue.

Store silver plated jewellery in anti-tarnish cloth jewellery bags, and make sure they are in a low humidity environment.

gold plated silver and emerald earrings

Now that you understand all about caring for silver and how easy it is, why not indulge in some silver jewellery from ?


What is 925 silver?

Caravela Article no. 1 – What is “925 silver”?

“925 silver” is also known as sterling silver and put simply, it is an alloy of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metal, usually copper.  The important thing for the customer to know is that it is used as standard measure of silver purity  and the 925 hallmark is recognised the world over as a mark of quality.

This silver alloy is much better for jewellery making than pure silver, which is a very soft metal and therefore less durable and more likely to bend out of shape.  Copper strengthens the silver and at the same time preserves its malleability making it ideal for jewellery making.  As well as making the metal more robust, a silver alloy makes the silver item more resistant to damage and scratching during wear.  At the moment, copper is the industry standard for blending with silver for a variety of reasons,  but a great deal of research and development is ongoing in this area and refining techniques are constantly being improved.

The term “sterling silver” is used interchangeably with 925 silver,  and it dates back to the 13th century.  It is believed that it comes from an old Norman word “esterlin” (star) and an Old English word “stiere” meaning “strong”.

Now you understand all about 925 silver, why not view our selection of 925 silver jewellery at ?