Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ring shopping

G and I went ring shopping today. It was very interesting, because we went into all sorts of shops, from antique dealers to modern designers to Tiffany.

We first went into an antique shop near the Theatertinerkirche. There were a couple of interesting rings in the window, so we went in. I tried on 2 pearl rings and 2 ruby rings. One of each looked good on my hand. The pearl ring had a very small pearl, but it looked so much nicer than the big one. It was 8k gold, with the pearl and two small diamonds on either side. The ruby ring that I tried was a ruby and diamond of about equal size, sort of diagonally across from each other (if you think of the band as horizontal, the stones were diagonal). The ring itself was platinum. I'm pretty lucky in that I can wear both gold and silver coloured jewellery, so that wasn't an issue. Both rings were from around 1920 or so. The man in the shop was very nice, telling us about them, saying his opinion of which one suited me better, saying how the rings were made and how the process of resizing them works. It was hard to say which was nicer. I think I was a bit more drawn to the ruby and diamond one, but the pearl ring was also very nice.

I know I said I didn't want a diamond, but as I said, it was mainly a diamond solitaire I had a problem with. Also, these rings being older, the diamonds in question may have originally come from a troubled area, but I wouldn't be playing any part in contributing to the diamond operations of today. Plus, it seems that most rings have at least a few little diamonds thrown in for effect. So although I'm not going to pick a ring based on its diamonds, I'm not going to give up on a beautiful ring just because it has a 0.05 carat diamond on it.

Second, we went into a jewellery designer shop in the center of town. The window display had for the most part only gaudy (to my eye) rings, but we thought that there was enough interesting stuff to take a look inside. Inside, there was nothing. One woman looking at jewellery and 2 salespeople fussing over her. Plus strangely, two teenagers in the corner, colouring and shading on a piece of paper. When I went to look at what looked like their catalogue, the saleswoman snatched it from underneath me and took it over to the customer her and the man were fussing over. Okaaaaaay. Obviously not interested in our business, so we left.

Next, we went into Tiffany & Co. for a kick. Neither of us were serious about it, but hey, we're potential customers, why should we be scared? But we were nervous. However, the saleswoman was very polite when asked us what we were looking for. When I replied wedding rings, she invited us to go upstairs to look at their collection.
Upstairs was several different styles for rings. She asked us what type of metal we were interested in for the ring, but we didn't have anything in particular that we wanted. If we had, I'm sure she would have then continued on with stone size, etc etc and then whipped one out. There was a fair selection not on display. But without something to go on, she just encouraged us to look around. They have a very stunning display of diamond engagement rings. Not wanting any of these, I didn't bother to try them on, but they did sparkle very nicely under the lights. I tried on one ring with a red stone (not ruby but I don't remember what it was) and two diamonds on either side, but it wasn't so great. The band was very thin and I didn't like that. The woman explained that's done so the attention is on the stones, which is certainly would be, but it was not me. Cut into my other fingers too, because of the way the band was shaped. I also tried on one simple gold band which was nice, but nothing really special. Would be cool to have a ring from Tiffany of course. Fairly affordable too, as gold rings go.

The next place we went was on Maximillianstr. For those of you who don't live in Munich, you have to understand that Maximillian is a street full of very expensive shops and boutiques. If you are a high fashion boutique, you want to be here. Think, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, 5th Avenue in New York, Bahnhofstr. in Zurich or the Ginza District in Toyko. Well, after surviving Tiffany's quite nicely, we figured we could handle anything on Maximillianstrasse. We went into what seemed to be a Cartier/Wempe combination. I was not impressed, and this had everything to do with customer service. We told the salesman the rings we liked, one of which G spotted which was a diamond solitaire. He pulled them out of the window, put them on the tray and just sat there. Every other shop we had been in, the people told us something about the ring before we even touched it. What was the material, what the stone was, the age, something. He just sat there, I had to ask him to tell us something about the ring. He then rattled off at such a pace that I told him to please slow down. Even slower, he was still fast, obviously not caring whether we really fully understood him or not. When I asked him where the diamond came from, he shrugged and said, "Oh, I'd guess South Africa." This is CARTIER! I expect them to know where their diamonds are from. He did come around a bit and say there was no chance of it being from somewhere like Sierre Leon or something because that wasn't allowed in Germany. Of course he didn't explain how it wasn't allowed or how that would be proven. I was totally underwhelmed with the service there and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Go to Tiffany & Co. if you want a big name.

The final shop we went in was the kicker. It was another antique store, but only for jewellery. It was next to, or rather, in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Munich. We went in and the man was behind the desk working. He smiled, welcomed us and encouraged us to look around. So, we did. Lots of big gaudy looking rings again, but a couple of interesting ones. We saw one ring, a sapphire with two diamonds on the side and thought at first, a bit too much. I have such small hands and fingers that rings quickly look big and nasty on them. But we decided just for the heck of it to give it a try. The man got it out and gave it to me to try. Well, to our surprise, it looked very nice on me. It was also from the 1920s, an Art Deco style. The sapphire was a very very dark blue, I thought it was a black stone at first. It was delicious. It also cost around 5000 Euros. Mmm, not so delicious. I got him to pull another out of his window display which was an emerald with side diamonds, but it was twice the price and to be honest, didn't look as nice on me either, although it was lovely. The salesman was really friendly as well, and had the good idea to get the sales tax back off of it by writing the receipt in the name of one of our relatives or friends who came over for a visit. At 16%, this is a nice little tip to help reduce the cost. However, even with this reduction, it was way beyond what we were thinking of paying for a ring. But funny enough, it's the one stuck in my head now.

It was fun going out and trying rings on, because although we know our budget, we didn't let that limit us too much from trying things on. Today was just a shopping, not a buying day, so why not try different things on? It was great fun and we'll probably have to go out again to check out a few more stores. The antique jewellery was definitely the most appealing and there are lots of those around Munich. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Everyone is starting to apply pressure for a specific date. Even G, who like most typical men, wants to be involved only to the point where he doesn't actually get any responsibility other than showing up, is starting to want a specific date. So I guess next week I'll have to go down to the authorities and ask about how we go about getting signed up for this sort of thing. That'll make everything seem a bit more real, having paperwork!

P.S. I did get a German wedding magazine last weekend, I'll have a review up soon.

"Do It Yourself" Wedding Tips - Save!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day extravaganza!

Seeing as it's Valentine's Day, I thought I would make a special effort to post today, so look for several more post throughout the day. I'll twist the space-time continuum (did you know how to spell that word? Neither did I until just now) and change the time to late so that this post hopefully stays at the top.

Website review - Weddings

Finally, what I would consider a pretty decent wedding website. And it’s not even dedicated to weddings! has over 50 articles and Q&As about weddings. The link is direct to the wedding section. The articles are 1 to 5 pages or so in length and are informative, not just filled with fluffy advertising for some florist in southern California or some hotel estate in the Carribean. Most of the articles are exerpts from wedding books, so that is where the advertising is, but I feel that is fair enough. If something really hits home, then you might consider buying the book.

The articles range from ettiquette questions (how to invite your fiance’s ex-wife) to ideas for photographs to how go about changing your name (useful even if you aren’t in the U.S.) I really enjoy the clear style they are written in and the consiseness of them. The magazines seem to struggle to give decent content, whereas I found the articles at iVillage to be very meaty. They also have a message board section which I have yet to explore properly, but which looks promising as well. has a British counterpart,, but I’m afraid it didn’t strike me as anywhere as well organised and good looking as the American one. Really, it looked like an amateur’s website in comparison. They only had a couple of articles on weddings, plus their message boards, which I couldn’t access due to difficulty registering. I find it hard to believe there’s another ZeeBride out there, but they seemed to have a problem with that name, claiming someone else had that name. Even if that name was taken, no one ever uses my alternate log-on name, and I couldn’t get on with it either. If they sort that problem out for me (I did send them an email about it), I’ll perhaps go and have another try. But for anyone who is interested, I’d check out the American one first.

Today's Love Is:

Perhaps some of you know the silly little cartoon Love Is. Sometimes it's silly, very occasionally it hits the spot. So here is my very short list of what love is today.

Love is... travelling 4 hours on a train to deliver him his passport when he's forgotten it.
Love is... being nice and not biting his head off when you meet up with him to give him the passport.
Love is... knowing he still thinks you're beautiful even when you have a cold.
Love is... getting sweet emails from him when he is away.