Stuck for gift ideas this Christmas? It’s hard to go wrong with a breathtaking piece of jewellery. But whether you’re treating yourself or someone special, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To make the job a little easier we caught up with jewellery expert and director of Orsini Fine Jewellery Sarah Hutchings, who shares her top tips for investing in jewellery that will be cherished for years to come.
When it comes to quality, what do I need to look for when buying a piece of jewellery?
I believe jewellery quality depends on three factors. The most important aspect is what the jewellery is made from and the quality of the metals, diamonds and gemstones. If they are made from fine metals and good quality gemstones they will maintain their value and last for a lifetime. At Orsini we use predominantly 18k gold and platinum as this is associated with quality. We also source diamonds preferably with a GIA certificate or credible laboratory certification.
The finish or expertise in which the item is crafted is important too. Our jewellery is either handmade in Italy with talented goldsmiths or in our NZ workshop which has master jewellers. They have 40 years + of experience each. Both sat traditional apprenticeships and have trade certificates in jewellery. They are also Goldsmith Guild members.
And the final aspect is the beauty of the design. However, I think there are more factors to be considered. Is the jewellery made from a credible brand/ jewellery workshop with a good reputation? Is the jewellery ethically and responsibly made? No one wants a special gift that is made from child labour or unethical mining practices. Is the jewellery an item that can be easily and comfortably worn for many occasions.
What’s the biggest mistake people often make when trying to buy jewellery for someone else as a gift?
Not understanding the style of whoever they are buying for. I will often ask men a lot of questions about their partner. I will sometimes even look at a photo to determine what suits someone. Do they have a fair or dark complexion? What is their hair colour? Asking pertinent questions will make all the difference in understanding and choosing the perfect item.
For example, if they hardly ever wear jewellery you will not recommend a big opulent piece as they will feel uncomfortable wearing it. If a woman is passionate about sports and loves the outdoors I will recommend certain items that are more organic, natural, easy to wear and durable. With engagement rings, this is also a factor and I spend quite a bit of time determining what will work best. I am very proud of the fact that none of my clients has returned to get a ring remade in 10 years, except one client who got a ring made elsewhere and we kept of trying to improve the design to the point where we started again, she is now over the moon. One benefit of having repeat customers is having previous understanding and records on sizing, what their jewellery preferences are.
What considerations should you make when trying to buy the perfect piece of jewellery for someone special?
I believe the most important aspect is working with a jeweller you can trust who will make the effort to understand exactly what you are after, what the occasion is, the significance of the item to possibly make the jewellery special (extra engraving added). It is also important to remember that jewellery is often purchased as a personal romantic gift and special considerations such as how they will present the gift may be discussed. We also take special pride in the presentation of the jewellery and the gift wrapping. For example, if it is a surprise gift we will not add our logo on the outside of the packaging to maintain the surprise.
Is sizing something you need to take into account or can most pieces be resized to suit the recipient?
Sizing is not important at Orsini as we will always be able to alter an item or order a different size later. If it is a surprise gift we will often be able to order in the perfect size if it is a custom made ring or engagement ring we can resize the item. I also make adjustments and alter the lengths of bracelets or chain. We have a team of excellent master goldsmiths at our jewellery workshop and they can alter just about anything if made with precious metals.
Once I’ve found the perfect piece of jewellery how do I care for it properly to ensure it lasts for years to come?
Jewellery care is essential with fine jewellery. I get horrified with how some women care for their jewellery and we often have to send the jewellery back to our suppliers to repair like new if they are badly worn or looked after. As with all warranties, this is not covered under jewellery policies unless it is a manufacturing fault. Kiwi women, in general, are very active and often forget to take care of their jewellery.
In Europe, women are taught from a very young age with less expensive trinkets how to care for their jewellery. I spend a lot of time educating women on caring for their jewellery. It is often common sense if you are doing heavy work for example gardening, playing sports or sailing, I would always recommend removing jewellery. I also educate clients about ensuring they have the proper cover with their insurance policies if something were to happen. Go to our website at www.orsini.co.nz to learn more advice on caring for jewellery.
Fine jewellery that is ‘well chosen, well cared for, and quality material’ can be worn and enjoyed for a lifetime. Nothing gives me more pleasure than running into clients and seeing their beautiful jewellery being worn, loved and looking its best. I ran into a client this morning while out walking my dog. She was walking her granddaughter wearing her beautiful Hulchi Belluni diamond pendant her husband brought at Orsini several years ago. She said it was her favourite item and she wore it just about every day and it gave her a huge amount of pleasure every time she wore it. At Orsini we pride ourselves on our excellent high-quality jewellery.