Bridal Party Jewels : Gifts for the Entourage

Guest Blogging with Michael O'Connor {Jewelry and Style Expert}

This morning, we're joined by Michael O'Connor who will be sharing tips for finding the perfect bridal party jewels, along with some photos from the Platinum Guild International's web site.

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It's your posse, your gal pals who've been there for you. This milestone in your lives together should be marked with a keepsake worthy of the occasion. There is no better gift than jewelry to convey how you feel about these important women in your life.
The tradition of buying gifts for wedding attendants dates back to ancient times when Egyptian noble women presented precious metals and gems to their ladies-in-waiting.

The pieces you choose are as unique and precious as the women you ask to stand up for you. About 60% of brides give jewelry as attendant gifts, with necklaces and earrings most popular for about three quarters of brides surveyed. More than a quarter of brides choose bracelets.

There's so much you can say with fine jewelry that will last a lifetime, from gem-set earrings that pair the bride's birthstone with that of her attendants to delicate pearl spacer or lariat necklaces on platinum chain to special charms signifying hobbies or traits. 

Initial charm pendants and beautiful lockets—perfect for a fun photo of you and your bridesmaid or even a tiny thank-you inside—are top jewelry choices with a personal touch. You also might consider starting a charm or bead bracelet for each attendant. Stud, drop or hoop style earrings are popular jewelry gifts as well. These timeless gifts will be instant classics for your bridesmaids.

You could always custom design a piece like celebrity bridal blogger Jen Schefft (of The Bachelorette fame), who connected with jewelry designer Erin Gallagher to create pearl bracelets for her bridesmaid and herself.

The trend for 2010 encourages brides to allow their bridesmaids to pick a dress appropriate for their individual body type in a chosen color, a range of shades or whatever hue is hot. This trend evokes an eclectic vibe in the look of the bridal party that really speaks to the significance of customization in our mature consumer market.

Thankfully, bridesmaid dresses no longer frighten away perspective attendants with scary, costumey styles. Overall, the dresses are getting shorter, brighter and lighter. In 2010, look for bold colors like plum, amethyst dark green, and blue, even bright girly hues like hot pink and orange. In jewelry, a range of gems would coordinate well with these colors including quartz, beryl, and garnet varieties.

Also trending in bridesmaid fashion is the wrap dress with a crisscross neckline and asymmetrical one-shoulder looks that bode well for statement earrings; drop-waist flapper-styles ideal for long pearl or chain necklaces; and lighter, more casual fabrics inspiring delicate, classic jewelry styles.

I advocate buying these special women the best that you can and something that will constantly remind them of your friendship. Therefore, platinum jewelry is my choice for special jewelry gifts. Just like their friendship, it's rare (30 times more rare than gold) and will never lose its luster over time. Because platinum jewelry is generally 95% pure, unlike 18k-gold that is only 75% pure, it is hypoallergenic. Also, its density and weight make it more durable than other jewelry metals, holding stones securely in their settings and meaning that it won't wear down over a lifetime of wear like other jewelry metals.

You may think platinum is out of reach for your budget, but many of today's leading designers are creating beautiful platinum pieces, perfect for special gifts like this, for only a few hundred dollars. While platinum may be more slightly more expensive than gold, and often the differential is small, it provides the best value for your money.

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Thank you Michael for joining us today and for sharing these great tips and trends with my readers.