sabato 20 febbraio 2016

Kate-Inspired Purchase Review: Heavenly Necklaces Gem Drops

Here's my latest review for a fab and affordable repli-kate for the Kiki Classic Cushion Drop earrings by Kiki McDonough.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been photographed wearing these in citrine and green amethyst. She also has a pair of pink morganite drops mounted in white gold, for a repli-kate review of those head here.

Kiki McDonough.
The origianl Kiki Classic pieces retail at £1,300 (approximately €1,850 or $1,955). The hoops and stones can be purchased separately, thus allowing a number of different looks, and retail at £500 and £800 respectively (€710/$750 and €1,140/$1,200 respectively). They are available in 18ct yellow or white gold (Kate owns the yellow gold version) and a wide variety of coloured stones, including purple amethyst, blue topaz and lemon quartz
The first outing for the Kiki Classic citrine earrings: at the Cheltenham races on 15 March 2013.
The green amethyst ones have been worn on multiple occasions, starting on 14 February 2014, at the opening of the ICAP Art Room at Northolt High School in Ealing, west London:
They reappeared the following month at the traditional St Patrick's Day parade at Mons Barracks, Aldershot:

They've then been worn on a number of subsequent occasions, including:
Left: 8 November 2014: a day of engagements in Wales - Right: 25 November 2014, visit to EACH Hospice in Norfolk.
Both 9 December 2014, during the visit to New York City: visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and attending a reception honouring British creativity, as part of the GREAT program.
Given the price tag for the real deal, a nice repli-kate option was obviously called for.
Luckily Heavenly Necklaces (for those who may not be familiar, a British brand specializing in "the finest cz jewellery", and favourited by both the Duchess of Cambrdige and the Countess of Wessex, who is frequently seen wearing their pieces) came to the rescue with their gorgeous Diamond Huggies with Gem.
Heavenly Necklaces.
Available both in 18ct yellow gold plate (shown above) and silver plate, they are available in purple amethyst, green amethyst, citrine and blue topaz. The gems are real cushion cut gemstones and retail for a fraction of the price of the Kiki Classic pieces. Originally priced at £38 (€49/$55) for the cz hoops, plus £42 (€54/$60) for the gem drops (except the blue topaz, which is priced at £62/€80/$89), these are now reduced at a bargain £36 (€46/$52) for the hoops, £38 for the gems (except the blue topaz, which is still pricier at £84/€108/$120).
They're available in a rainbow of colours, too! Apart from those mentioned above, there's clear crystal, pale pink amethyst, aqua onix, indigo quartz (almost the same shade as the real blue topaz at a fraction of the price) and pink hydro. Seriously, what's not to love?
The only downside is that shipping costs are a bit steep: £11.95/€15/$17 for registered shipping to Italy, which does seem quite a lot, considering the parcels are usually small and light. However, when there's a sale going on, like now, it's definitely worth it. Plus, the HN customer service is excellent: friendly, prompt and reliable!

Shown below are the citrine drops in gold suspended from Heavenly Necklaces' lever back hoops (12 mm long), gold plated and studded with tiny cz crystals, and the amethyst ones paired with their gold plated and cz crystal hoops (slightly bigger at 15 mm in diameter). Both hoops retail for £38.

The Duchess' Kiki hoops look more similar in real life to the smaller version by HN (both 12 mm total hoop lenght).
I have since added to my collection with the blue topaz and pink hydro gems - don't these beauties look like jelly beans?

As you can see, I've also purchased a new set of finer hoops, as those shown above on the citrine drops had started to show signs of wear and a couple of crystals had come loose. I have to say I like this new version currently available on the website much better. The slightly bigger crystals suit the gems very well!

Green amethysts with new finer hoops:

 Blue topaz with 'old' larger hoops:

The green amethysts are the ones I've had longer, about 18 months if not more, and admittedly they're starting to look a bit tired. The gems have some minor scratchings, despite careful handling, and you can see the metal has lost its lustre a bit. I've included close-ups for you to see:

The bigger hoops - the ones I've had longer - also have started to show some wear. Below you can see that a tiny bit of verdigris is showing around the mobile part of the mechanism. This doesn't bother me for now as it's still hidden, but I suppose it might get worse with time and wear:

venerdì 19 febbraio 2016

Kate-Inspired Purchase Review: Séraphine "Natasha" Coat

Ok, I admit it: it was love at first sight with this coat the moment Kate stepped out wearing it in Kensington on 19 January 2015:

The second coat after London-based luxury maternity brand Séraphine worn by the Duchess (after the burgundy tweed bouclé "Marina", which debuted in NYC in December 2014; fellow blogger Food, Fash, Fit shared some interesting details on the "Marina" on her facebook page a while ago, well worth checking out if you're considering a purchase), the "Natasha" is part of the brand's Luxe range, launched in 2012, and is made from the most sumptously soft Italian cashmere blend fabric (70% virgin wool, 20% polyamide and 10% cashmere). The colour is described on the website as soft mist blue and the coat is collarless and features large mother of pearl buttons and faux pockets with a gathered detail.
The big question of course is: would it make sense to buy a maternity garment when you're, in fact, not pregnant? Read on to find out my conclusions!

Séraphine was founded in 2002 by Parisian-born designer Cécile Reinaud, who opened the first store in Kensington High Street, London. Beloved by royalty (Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is also a fan) and celebrity mums-to-be, Séraphine garments are stocked in high-end department stores around the world (including Kate's favourites, Peter Jones and John Lewis) and the brand won the Queen's Award for Enterprise 2015, in recognition of their outstanding achievements in international trade.
Retailing originally for £175/$289/€229, the "Natasha" is still available in most sizes at time of writing and is now 20% off, priced at £140/$231/€183. You can get a further £5/$5/€5 your first purchase when you sign up to their newsletter. Delivery is by express courier, with prices starting at £4.95 for the UK and Republic of Ireland.


A close-up of the back of the buttons. They're mother of pearl rounds glued to transparent shanks. I do hope the glue has staying power!

The coat is fully lined in what looks like baby blue polyester, or poly-mix, although it's difficult to tell for sure as the lining composition is not stated on the label. The coat was packaged in a large jiffy bag and therefore arrived extremely crumpled, so much so that I had to take it to the dry cleaners first thing to have it ironed professionally.
Apart from that, it's perfect! I had some reservations about buying a maternity item when I'm very much not pregnant, however what they said on the Séraphine website proved to be accurate: this smart coat is an elegant addition to your winter repertoire for before, during and after pregnancy.
This is a style that would suit equally well a pregnant or non-pregnant wearer. I got my usual size, as recommended by Séraphine, and it fits well, if somewhat loosely around the bust. However, shoulders and sleeve lenght are just right, so I wouldn't recommend going a size down.
It's a versatile style, that can be dressed up with a dress just like Kate did, or down with jeans for a Saturday morning shopping trip. It goes well with other Kate items, too - including the Beulah "Shibani" scarf shown below right (scarf review here):

P.S.: if you're in the UK, this month's issue of Prima magazine has a great article on Kate's style, which also features the "Natasha" styled as a non-maternity garment!


martedì 16 febbraio 2016

Kate-Inspired Purchase Review: Halo CZ Earrings

Here's my latest repli-kate review for these gorgeous cubic zirconia earrings by The Looking Glass shop on Etsy:

These earrings are one of those Kate items you'd absolutely need to repli-kate, as opposed to getting the real deal, even if you really wanted/could afford to, as these are rumored to be a wedding gift from the Prince of Wales and very likely bespoke and/or antique (together with the matching bracelet).
They made their first appearance shortly after the wedding, during the North American tour:

1 July 2011 - Attending Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa.
9 July 2011 - The bracelet worn with different diamond earrings at a BAFTA Brits to Watch event in Los Angeles.
27 October 2011- Hosting a charity gala at Clarence House on behalf of the Prince of Wales.
4 June 2013 - Attending the Coronation anniversary service at Westminster Abbey, as part of the celebrations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

11 February 2014 - A dazzling duo, with the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, at the National Portrait Gallery annual Portrait Gala.
10 April 2014 - Attending a reception at Government House, Wellington, New Zealand.
25 April 2014 - Attending a reception at Government House, Canberra, Australia (plus a good close-up of the matching bracelet).
As of  February 2016, the bracelet was worn most recently at the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala at the Natural History Museum on 27 October 2015 and the earrings at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 November 2015:

There might be a matching ring in the set, although it's difficult to tell for sure due to the lack of HD images available. The photo below was taken at the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala on 24 October 2013, the only occasion when the Duchess appears to have worn the complete set (if indeed it's a set we're talking about):
The set appears to be either platinum or white gold; it's made up of diamond florets or circles, *possibly* with yellow diamond accents, alternating with baguette-cut diamonds:

I purchase my repli-kate earrings in February 2015 for $53 including shipping to Italy (£37/€48). They're still available at The Looking Glass Shop for $40 (£28/€37) plus shipping (which, in my case, comes up to $15/£11/€14, so total cost has gone up by $2 since I purchased them last year).
From the description on the shop Etsy page: Worthy of a princess, these gorgeous earrings are custom-designed replicas of earrings worn by Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
They feature 2 beautiful cubic zirconia stones surrounded by pave style halos, separated by 3 baguette stones. They measure just under 1 1/2 inches in length 
[approx. 3.8 cm] and have nickle-free posts.
My main gripe about these is that in the originals the three baguette-cut diamonds that connect the florets appear to be articulated. However, this is not the case in the repli-kate. Also, the three stones appear to be the same size, whereas in the repli-kate the top two are the same size but the bottom one is longer by around 1 mm on each side (I know I'm nitpicking, but I reckon I might just spill the beans and tell things as they are).
Front and back view:
Also, in the originals the central brilliants appear to be slightly raised from the surrounding pavé border, as seen in the image below (notice the dark circle visible between the two):

In the year or so I've had them, I've also noticed some very minor verdigris developing. I've highlighted the most noticeable bit in the photo below; in all fairness, although there are a few specks here and there, it's hardly noticeable for now:

 The earrings tried on: