Put a ring on it!

Olivia Wilde's ring  recreated by James Allen at a more affordable priceThere is nothing like a summer full of weddings to produce a new crop of engagements. And as soon as the question is popped the lucky couple usually talks about a ring. These days it seems rare that a man arrives with one picked out in advance. Women today have definite ideas about the ring they want, and it is a substantial purchase. To make it easier, we talked to the experts at James Allen jewelers to find out the average cost an engagement ring, how to care for your ring, and even how to purchase a ring that looks just like your favourite celebrity’s. Here is what they had to say:
 
The average cost of an engagement ring
In the United States, the average engagement ring purchase is approximately $3,500; however, the average diamond ring sold by James Allen is closer to $6,000.
 
How to select a ring to fit your budget
When it comes down to selecting the perfect engagement ring for any budget, there are stunning options in every category:
 
$1,000 or less
Buying on a budget of $1,000 can seem impossible, but there is a solution.  Pre-set diamond engagement rings start as low as $600 and come “ready to wear.” Pre-set engagement rings are usually a classic 2mm solitaire, along with a center diamond of less than 1/2ct in size and imperfect (I1) clarity. 
 
$1,000 to $3,000
This is the budget for most couples. It can be stretched furthest with a solitaire setting and a sparkling certified center diamond of H/I color and SI1 clarity. Choosing your center diamond is half the fun and will make your ring unique! 
 
$3,000 to $6,000
If this is your budget, splurge for a ring with the added dazzle of pavé or side diamonds and a center diamond of G/H color and clarity of SI1 or higher.  These choices are still budget-friendly, but ensure a beautiful ring that will impress.
 
$6,000 plus
If the budget exceeds $6,000, the possibilities become endless.   A meatier budget allows you to go with a fully custom ring (if you desire), along with a center diamond of at least a carat (or much larger).
 
How to care for your ring
Here are some of James Allen's “Tricks of the Trade” for keeping your diamond jewelry clean:
Avoid wearing your diamond jewelry when doing work around the house – there is a chance the diamond could chip. Also, be sure that your diamond never comes into contact with chlorine bleach.
 
If, for any reason, your diamond comes loose, be sure to have the problem resolved right away – you don’t want to risk having the stone fall off and get lost.
 
Give your ring a detergent bath. Simply fill a small bowl with a mild detergent and some warm water. Use a soft brush (a toothbrush can work) and gently scrub the jewelry and wash off the soap with a bit of warm water. Pat your ring dry with a lint-free cloth.
 
Soak your jewelry in cold water. Dip your ring in a bowl of cold water and mild detergent.  Use four parts water to one part detergent. Leave the jewelry in the bowl for several minutes and drain on a tissue.
 
When traveling with your jewelry, be sure to carry it in a soft case that securely holds the jewelry so it doesn’t get lost.
 
Stay away from drains! Never put on or remove jewelry over a drain. It could slip and end up in the sewer.
 
DolceDolce tip
Never take your rings off in a public washroom for any reason. The stories of rings left behind or failing down the sink drain (they do not all have elbow joints to catch the ring) are legion. Keep your rings on!
 
At home and when traveling, have a designated holder to place your rings in when at night or when bathing. Never place them anywhere else.
 
How to have a ring just like your favourite celebrity
 
If you are just mad for your favourite star’s engagement ring, according to James Allen’s experts, it is possible to “get the look” on a smaller budget. James Allen recreated the look of Olivia Wilde, Kelly Clarkson, and Elle Macpherson’s engagement rings in precious stones at a fraction of what the originals cost. Here is how they did it:
 
Olivia Wilde’s ring is simple, yet not understated; the splash of color from the emeralds adds personality. It features a round brilliant diamond set in a halo of pavé emeralds on a slender, plain band. James Allen recreated the look for $8,000 by substituting emeralds in the halo and using1.01ct center diamond. 
 
Jame's Allen take on Kelly Clarkson's ringKelly Clarkson’s engagement ring is a radiant-cut canary yellow diamond in a halo of white diamonds set on a pavé diamond band. James Allen recreated the look for about $7,000 using a 1.00ct Fancy Yellow Radiant Diamond. 
 
Elle Macpherson’s ring, an emerald-cut diamond on a plain band, was recreated for $7,000 using 1.04ct James Allen version of Elle Macpherson's ringEmerald Cut Diamond.
 
 
 
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Get the Gatsby look

Mary Kay True Dimensions Lipstick in Sizzling Red

The Great Gatsby is sure to start a wave of 1920s-inspired beauty and fashion trends. At Mary Kay makeup is trendy, well-priced, and looks fabulous. So when Mary Kay offered us their "Glam squads" take on the Gatsby look we decided to share it with you.

The fashion suggestions are from stylist Lo VonRump. The makeup tips are from Marissa Nemes. The Great Gatsby is sure to start a wave of 1920s-inspired beauty and fashion trends. At Mary Kay makeup is trendy, well-priced, and looks fabulous. So when Mary Kay offered us their "Glam squads" take on the Gatsby look we decided to share it with you.

The fashion suggestions are from stylist Lo VonRump. The makeup tips are from Marissa Nemes.

 
Apply Mary Kay Cream Eye Color in Metallic Taupe and blend a charcoal eye shadow like Mary Kay Mineral Eye Color in Coal over and into the eye crease. Line the water (lower inner lash line) and lash line with Mary Kay Eyeliner in Black, smudge the liner using a smudger brush and sweep Mary Kay Mineral Eye Color in Coal under the lower lash line to create depth.
 
Re-line the top lash line with Mary Kay Liquid Eyeliner and apply a generous coat of Mary Kay Lash Love Mascara for a set of heavenly lashes!
 
For Daisy’s iconic, bright red lip
Apply Mary Kay NouriShine plus Lip Gloss in Rock N’ Red for a vivid, glossy pop of color. For a more versatile red lip, apply Mary Kay True Dimensions Lipstick in Sizzling Red. This lipstick can be applied as a balm, a stain, or a full-bodied lipstick.
 
Style
www.luxuryofpearls.comLayer a pearl rope necklace over a suit jacket or a cocktail dress, stack gold and silver bracelets, and don an oversized marcasite cocktail ring for a retro 1920's feel. Look for clothing in romantic lilac hues, floral prints and shades of pastel. Incorporate items with sequin, beaded and silk detailing to achieve a flapper inspired look.
 
For glam hair like Daisy, accessorize with art deco hair clips and headbands with feather detailing. An art deco nail stands out and is on trend with 1920’s glamour. Try the “reverse French” manicure in black and white.
 
 
 
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Essential oils for beautiful skin

 
Beauty oils are all the rage. The right oil can nourish, calm and brighten your skin. I have been mixing my own for years. If you don’t want to blend your own oils, Aura Cacia Pure Essential Oils has a line of skin serums made with their pure essential oils. Nighttime Baobab Facial Oil Serum is a blend of saturated and unsaturated essential oils will help to moisturizer your skin and restore its protective barrier after cleansing. The serum contains a blend of natural oils as well as Vanilla extract and organic Vetier oil.
 
Vanilla and Vetier have no healing effect on the skin, but are very relaxing. I recently tried Nighttime Baobab Facial Oil Serum. It is very gentle and moisturizing. The scent is subtle and soothing. This is a good serum to try if you have dry or sensitive skin.
 
Or you can use single essential oils to blend your oils. Aura Cacia has a full selection of oils and their uses.
 
Beauty oils are very effective against the drying effects of air conditioning.
 
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Vintage floral shoes

Dahalia Shoe in Blush the perfect update for summerFlorals are one of the prettiest trends this summer, and no one does them better than the Brits. British luxury brand L.K.Bennett has launched a new limited-edition, vintage-inspired line of shoes called “Dahlia.” The shoes come in floral prints with a choice of a light blush or navy background. There is a high strappy sandal, kitten heels, and feminine flats. The stylish cotton satin designs are all printed in the UK. The collection ranges from $275 to $375. One of these shoes is the perfect way to update a work wardrobe of neutrals for spring and summer.
 
Or try a flat in Navy 
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Baby smooth feet

The Beauty Chic Palm Pedi Foot Smoother is best foot smoothing callus remover I have ever used. This cute little machine is a must if you live in sandals and have hard, cracked heels. Other heel-smoothing products work, but not like this; the Beauty Chic Palm Pedi Foot Smoother is effortless to use. The little pink machine comes with three circular micro files, and the all dust is caught in the machine to be emptied later. It plugs in and can be used cordless, too. I found it had more power when plugged in. In mere minutes it whisks away dry skin and tough calluses. It is only $29.99.
 
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Mineral sunscreen for sensitive skin!

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, many popular sunscreens may irritate or break out your skin. It has happened to me. In addition, many European skin care experts, including doctors prefer mineral sunscreen especially for the face.
 
Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Sunscreen is an all mineral sunscreen that made for sensitive skin. It contains 22.5% active zinc oxide for complete sun protection. The sunscreen goes on clear too, thanks to micronize zinc. Babo is an all-natural organic formula that contains no harmful chemicals. The formula is not greasy.
 

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MegaGrowth’s Mane Event!

Neisa Caraway  DolceDolce’s Neisa Caraway recently attended the “Mane Event” in Atlanta to celebrate the re-launch of Strength of Nature, MegaGrowth. Here’s her report:
 
Recently, I attended the re-launch of MegaGrowth in Atlanta. Created by Strength of Nature, MegaGrowth is anti-breakage system designed to protect and strengthen natural and relaxed hair. The launch party was held in a funky landmark building with exposed brick walls and chandeliers. The sexy star of “Jumping,” Laz Alonso, hosted the event with Tatyana Ali.
 
I was greeted with a purple swag bag, the familiar smell of burnt hair, and Rihanna’s “Diamonds” playing on the loud speakers. There was a bar and a delicious tower of red velvet cupcakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and brownies (YUM!).
 
Cosmetologists equipped with hot irons revived attendees’ dos that had wilted in the rain. Talk about planning for the weather! Fun makeovers at the Mane Events!
 
I found a table and took a peak into my swag bag. It was filled with the MegaGrowth’s new and improved Stimulating Shampoo, Anti-Thinning Temple recovery, and Anti-Breakage Strengthening Deep Conditioner – all of which are olive oil, Shea butter, and avocado-enriched. Sounds like they got the right idea in adding natural ingredients!
 
I love the makeup line Motives by La La,  a collaboration of the award-winning makeup line Motives and former VJ and reality TV star La La Anthony, so I was excited to see it there. With chair massages and a “Social Box” photo booth, I felt like I was in the beauty salon of my dreams.
 
 
 
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Marinated artichokes

 Marinate artichokes
Marinated artichoke hearts are a great addition to an antipasto platter, or as an addition to a green salad.
I like to keep a jar of these in the fridge ready to  pour over arugula for a quick side salad.
 
You can also cut the artichokes in half instead of quarters. Marinate and then pat them dry to make easy but elegant skewers to serve with drinks. Cut cubes of hard or semi-soft cheese Italian chees. Stack the cheese, artichokes, and black olives on attractive cocktail picks to serve with drinks.
 
Place in a jar or sealable container:
Canned or frozen artichoke hearts
Drain well does not rinse and cut into quarters
 
Add:
10-15 Kalamata olives drained (this forms part of dressing)
 
Add:
1 seeded and sliced sweet red pepper
 
Mix separately:
½ cup good red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Stevia in the Raw
1 tsp. Organic garlic paste
1 tsp. dry mustard
Mix very well.
Add ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. good olive oil
½ tsp. salt and fresh ground pepper
 
Mix well pour over the vegetables in the container
 
Add: 1 Tbsp. Lemon Oil (Olive oil infused with lemon flavour)
Add ½ -1 tsp. Good quality oregano.
Close the container and shake.
Refrigerate or leave in a cool place for at least an hour before serving.
You can add cubed semi-soft Italian cheese such as Provolone or Fontina to this before or after marinating or not as you desire.
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