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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

People often ask me if it’s okay to mix yellow and white metals. My answer? “Hell, yes!”

I didn’t always have that mindset, though. I too grew up thinking jewelry had to be matchy-matchy. I don’t know where that fashion taboo against combining different-colored metals came from. One of the most famous jewelry designs in the world — Cartier’s tri-color gold Trinity — was introduced way back in 1924. And if Cartier says it’s good, it’s good.

A classic Trinity design by Cartier. Click for more information.

Then, in the early ’80s, there was a big fad for interwoven yellow, white and rose gold herringbone chains. It wasn’t as good as Cartier, by a long shot. Still, I got one as a birthday gift. We all did! I never wore mine after high school but I had it in my possession till last year, when the price of gold hit a new high. At that point, I melted it down and sold it along with some other unworn pieces. It looked like this necklace from Zales.

Tri-tone herringbone chain from Zales. Click for more information.

You’d think that if it’s okay to mix metals in a single piece of jewelry, it would be okay to wear different color rings on different fingers. But, for some reason, a lot of us are scared to do it. I overcame that concern after I designed my own engagement ring and wedding bands in white metal. There was no way I was going to be stuck wearing only white forever. So this is how I wear rings now.

Photo by Jennine Tamm. Platinum, silver and gold rings are all designed by Wendy Brandes.

And this is how I wear bracelets.

Yellow, white and rose gold bracelets worn together in November. Click for original post.

This New Year’s Eve I mixed metals in a different way. I’d gotten a silver manicure from celebrity manicurist Tracylee Percival because I expected to wear a dress with silver details. At the last minute, I changed to a gold sequin dress. I wound up loving the way the silver nails looked with the gold dress. You can see it in this picture of me with MrB. Note the mixed metal rings.

Click for more New Year's Eve photos.

I wore gold shoes and carried a gold purse on New Year’s, but now I wish I went all out and did silver accessories. Next time I wear that dress, I will.

Thankfully, the fashion police have never ticketed me for such behavior, so I feel it’s safe to encourage other people to mix it up as well.  In 2009, when gorgeous blogger Elizabeth asked me to redesign an old ruby-and-diamond cocktail ring for her, I made her yellow, rose and white gold stacking rings.

Elizabeth's stacking rings. Click for more information.

More recently, my desire to get folks to break the mixed-metal style “rule” inspired me to make a miniature version of my Siobhan perma-stacked stacking ring. The original ring consists of 10 skinny bands — all attached — made from 18K yellow gold. (In the picture of my hands above, the Siobhan is the second ring from the left.)

My Siobhan ring design. Click for more information.

I’ve done mixed-metal versions of the ring for two custom engagement rings. Those rings had fewer individual bands but they were thicker than the originals, so the rings were still fairly wide.

Heather's engagement ring in 18K yellow and white gold. Click for more photos.

Susan's engagement ring in 18K yellow and white. Click for more photos.

For a long time, more conservative ladies have been asking me for a skinny version of the Siobhan ring. I wasn’t super-excited to do it. First of all, I think the beauty of the Siobhan is in its unusual width and the number of the bands. (The design was inspired by the mother of my friend Siobhan. Siobhan’s mother collected wedding bands from markets around the world and wore them stacked on all of her fingers.) Second, I’ve discovered the hard way that, while it’s fine to take popular demand for new designs into account when it comes to less-expensive silver jewelry, all the gals who swear they’ll buy an expensive gold design — if you do it just the way they want it — tend to evaporate once the piece is available. Retailers are even worse when it comes to vague promises. Here is my free Bitchtastic Guide to Business™ tip of the day for all you small business owners: Has a buyer from a prestigious national store told you that she will definitely order from you if you make this, that or the other thing? Check your bank account. Is money from the store in it? No? Then check your orders. Do you see a piece of paper from that store with a written commitment to pay a certain amount by a certain date for a certain amount of product? No? Then that’s exactly what you say to the buyer: “No.” Because if you make that stuff on spec, you won’t get an order, you won’t get paid, and you’ll end up writing a Bitchtastic Guide to Business™ book to warn people against making the same dumb mistakes you made.

Due to those dumb mistakes, I dismissed the idea of a mini Siobhan ring for years. Then, a few months ago, when I was talking about mixing metals with my gorgeous makeup artist friend, Tennille Nielsen. The idea of mixing metals in a mini Siobhan made the concept interesting to me.  Because tricolor pieces are common, as I’ve shown you, I decided to do four colors for the Siobhan: 18K yellow, white, rose and green gold. (Green gold is really a greenish yellow.) Here is the result — and January 2012’s Jewel of the Month. From top to bottom, the gold colors are green, white, rose and yellow. Photos are by SquareMoose.

Mini Siobhan, front view. Click to shop.

As with the original Siobhan ring, I gave each band its own texture. And, just like with the original, the bands are attached in the back. The bands have a lot of room to move around, which makes them look like authentic stacking rings rings, but you never have to worry about losing one of your stack.

Mini Siobhan, back view, showing bands' range of movement.

Now I’m sure I’m going to have at least one person tell me that she’d buy the mini Siobhan if only the bands were all one color. That’s fine! You can have them all yellow, all white, all rose or all green if you want. I’m always happy to do custom work. Holla at me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com to place a special order.

Writing about the different colors brings me back to my first sentence. I must confess that it was a lie. No one ever asks me if it’s okay to mix yellow and white metals. The question is always whether or not it is permissible to mix gold and silver. The problem is that white gold is silver-colored, as is platinum, but neither of them are the metal “silver.” The mini Siobhan ring is not made of “gold and silver.” It’s 100% gold.  My Memento Mori skull and bones necklace, however, IS (18K) gold and (sterling) silver.

Memento mori necklace in gold and silver. Click to shop.

So when I’m describing color combinations to y’all, I use the words “yellow” and “white.” If I’m describing the mixture of two different metals, I’ll say “gold” and “silver.” Got it? Good! Merry mixing!

NOTE: The price of the mini Siobhan will be announced soon — I’m exploring manufacturing options.

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30 Responses to “Jewel of the Month: Siobhan Ring With Mixed Metals”

  1. Cathy says:

    Love this post and couldn’t agree more with the mixing of colors and metals! I have been a “metal mixer” for many years (despite the “those don’t go together” comments from my mom). I enjoy mixing gold, silver, copper, and brass, as well as all colors of 14k gold (green, purple, brown, black, and of course yellow, white, and rose). Love the Siobhan ring and will continue to follow your blog and jewelry line. Thanks! @Cathy_Showan

  2. Poochie says:

    These are just lovely. I haven’t heard much about green gold but I’m interested to learn more. I’m also loving rose gold lately. Hmm…

  3. Mary says:

    You make the mixing look so effortless. I don’t have the chops to wear a gold dress plus it would look awful with my skin colour. Meh I am boring in black, black, black. I love that new ring,how much?

  4. Variety is the spice of life, no? I’ve always loved the look of mixed metals, to me it seems to make each piece stand out more rather than all one colour where the details get lost. Love the new ring — especially the addition of rose and green gold!

  5. I’m mixed up every day…metals, not mindset!! Your rings are beautiful…I love Heather’s so much!

  6. Tina says:

    I love the new ring. and p.s. Just saw a promo for the new Ice Loves Coco!

  7. sulky kitten says:

    The re-design you did for Elizabeth is just beautiful. I adore your work, but I will just have to save up. ( Mind you, my parents named me after a 16th century Pirate Queen, so guard your loot!)

  8. Lynette says:

    A very interesting post, WendyB, which is what I know I’ll find when I come to visit your blog. Your jewelry designs have such a funky elegance about them. Thanks for stopping by Portland Oregon Daily Photo.

  9. Vyque says:

    i love mixed metals!!!

  10. Rocquelle says:

    I’m certainly a fan of mixing gold colors and metals, so I truly enjoyed this post!! The mixed metal Siobhan ring is gorgeous!!

  11. silvergirl says:

    Mix silver and gold all the timloving those rings

  12. NancyDaQ says:

    My wedding band is yellow gold and titanium, my diamond is yellow gold (not an engagement ring, a recycled solitare–long story), and my anniversary ring is titanium and diamonds. All stacked. I usually wear silver but sometimes gold.

    I guess you could say that you trained me well.

  13. Eli says:

    I didn’t even know there was green gold! Love the concept of mixing the metals, you rock it well!

  14. I love the gold, white (and even rose – the pinkish/bronzish gold) mixed together..Love your NYE sequin gold dress and those funky earrings!!

  15. Natasha says:

    Wendy you are so talented! These rings are so gorgeous. Same question as Eli,green gold? I love the mixed metal look in the photos above.

  16. stacy says:

    That’s a VERY COOL stacked ring! Elizabeth is going to be a happy girl. OMG, that Zales herringbone necklace… I’m gagging!

  17. I love the Mini Siobhan!! Beautiful! And I agree….it’s very liberating to mix metals. Don’t know why I used to be so afraid of it either!

  18. Invaluable tutorial with ideas to put to use immediately!

  19. I’ve always been cautious with mixing metals, not so much with colors of gold, but still cautious. I’m not against it but I like it more when it’s mixed into a particular jewelry design’s idea – that’s my favorite. I’ve also noticed that I tend to like such mixes in necklace, bracelet and earrings designs more, less so with rings… Can’t explain why though.

    Btw, it’s the first time I’m hearing of green gold! You live you learn. What do you think of chocolate gold?

    • WendyB says:

      I would love to work with darker shades of gold, but the alloy used to create the color can be fragile and cause the metal to shatter. A few brands say they’ve come up with a special alloy that provides the color without affecting durability. I need a metallurgist to work on some alloys for me!

  20. Alice Olive says:

    Oooh, mini Siobhan is stunning!

  21. Envious Gems says:

    Those look amazing! I love the ways you mix gold and silver together, especially for those bands. I have to say though, the cute skull is my favorite.

  22. valerie says:

    People often ask me if it’s okay to mix yellow and white metals. My answer? “Hell, yes!”

    OMG I KNOW RIGHT?! I loved that line lol..

    If you like that mixed metal and matte on shiny on bedazzled look you should look into Claudia Endler. She is at the altered space gallery on Abbot Kinney in Venice and has a website come visit us here in Venice!!

  23. Susan Tiner says:

    I love your tutorial posts. The mini Siobhan is just gorgeous, great work mixing of colors!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I LOVE my rings. LOVE.


    I’m so glad I had you do them. And don’t forget, we did them blind. I had no idea what they were going to look like, and I LOVED them.

  25. Elizabeth says:

    Now, comments on the SIOBHAN rings—I LOVE those too, always have. I think the attached stacking ring idea is so clever.

    Someday . . .