Monday, February 25, 2019

5 reasons why winter is the perfect time to hit British beach

Fish and chips, sandcastles and sea air… in winter?! It may sound incongruous, but believe me, escaping to the sea this winter is the greatest secret tip you’ve never heard. Whatever you want from your time at the beach, you’ll be able to enjoy it in winter as well as in summer. Ever since we started a few years ago, it has completely changed our holiday lifestyle and we’re getting more from the coast than we ever thought we could. Don’t believe us? Here are five reasons why winter is the perfect time to hit the beach:

Less expensive

When we took our usual weekend holiday to Devon in January instead of August, we guessed that it would be cheaper—but we didn’t guess quite how much. Overall, the things that we usually do at the beach ended up costing us around a third of the usual summer equivalent, meaning we had lots more money to spend on extra things and treats to make this holiday really special.

Less crowded

Ever arrived at a ‘serene beach holiday destination’ only to find it crawling with crowds of people? It’s happened to all of us—and it is often enough to ruin a holiday. More people means more stress and less fun for everyone involved. Crowds drive prices higher, fill the beaches to bursting and generally make a peaceful weekend away into the holiday from hell. Luckily, most of those people wouldn’t think to dodge the bustle by coming to the beach early—so when you arrive at the beach for your winter holiday, you will have it all to yourself. Almost like a private resort—except a lot cheaper!

Get creative

Heading down to the beach for winter is the perfect way to escape the bustle of busy city life—and even better, it works as fuel for your body and brain as well! Let the sight of the empty beaches and rolling waves get your creative juices flowing, and seize the opportunity to be inspired by things out of the every day. When we headed down to Devon this January, we were constantly finding inspiration in the most surprising of places—like when we accidently stumbled across some incredible fossils in Lyme Regis, and preserved the memory forever in this Ammonite Necklace. It was the perfect way to recharge, and by the end of the holiday we were actually excited to get back to work.

Ammonite Necklace

The weather isn’t actually bad

Let’s face it—if you’re going to the seaside in Britain, you have no guarantee that the weather will be good, no matter what time of year it is. If you time things right, you can get to the beach when it’s not freezing but actually really nice—and you won’t get any summer storms, either! When we went to Beer this January, we enjoyed a lovely weekend in temperatures of +13 degrees, with clear blue skies and lovely bright sun. It was perfect for lovely walks through the countryside and along the coast. Our holiday to the Welsh coast the summer before, on the other hand, was only 15 degrees—and we spent the whole time inside hiding from the non-stop rain!
(At the time of writing—25/02/2019—the temperature in Wales is 21 degrees Celsius… a record high!)

Get personal

The British coasts have some amazing heritage and some amazing people. Winter’s the perfect time to get to explore places like Cornwall and Devon on your own terms, without the barrier of summertime crowds, prices and rush. When you drop by at pubs for lunch, you’ll be treated to handmade spreads instead of your usual tourist set meals, and the lack of other tourists means that B&B or campsite owner will be able to take care of you personally, meaning your whole holiday has a much nicer atmosphere.

So that’s it! Those are our top five reasons to head away to the sea this winter. Now it’s your turn! Where have you been recently during winter, or anywhere you’d like to go? And do you have any top tips for others who want to explore the beach outside the summer rush?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Resources Link Roundup

No person's an island, and we at House of Silver know that better than anyone. Jewellery gives the most joy when it shared with other people who love it, and we want to do the same for you. So here's a comprehensive list of all our go-to jewellery resources — from directories, designers, blogs, and everything in between. Here are the people who have helped and inspired us and kept us going — and whom we hope will help and inspire you too.

This list is always being updated, so you won't have to worry about ever missing out on any new or exciting resources. WIth that said, sit back and enjoy!

Resources around us (in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter)

I've written before about people who'll try to trick you out of your money for low-quality jewellery. It's despicable, but people like these help preserve the integrity of the business -- and your jewellery box.

An invaluable institution for the nurturing of those early in their jewellery careers. We're proud to have an alumni of the Jewellery School among our staff at House of Silver, so I know how much of a difference this place can make in somebody's life.

Odds are, if you've even dipped your toe into the jewellery business, you've heard of the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter -- and for good reason! World-famous home of hundreds of the best, it's well worth a visit.

Putting all the best of the Jewellery Quarter in print and delivery it right to your door, the Hockley Flier is part of the lifeblood of the BJQ community. Are you subscribed?


We'll be the first to admit we can't cover all the bases, but luckily we don't need to! These directories are treasure chests of indispensible links, businesses and everything you need to know about the jewellery trade. 

Jewellery Sites : Your guide to all things jewellery
Just Jewellery Directory

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Share the Charm this Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day! And we all know what that means: flowers, chocolates, and of course, jewellery. It's one of our favourite days of the year, and to celebrate, apart from our 25% off offer, we also have the blog post about what Valentine's Day means to us as jewellers—complete with the requisite cheesy metaphor! If everyone is ready, then:

Why is your love like a charm bracelet?

Yup, we’re bypassing all the hearts and flowers of Valentine's Day with a little argument in defense of the humble charm bracelet: the underrated gem of a Valentine’s gift that you should all be wearing.

Bead Charm Bracelet

There's more than one type of love. People seem to think Valentine's Day is a time for romance and love for your partners, but we at House of Silver believe that it's just as important to celebrate all the different types of love that surround you. And luckily, we've got all the charms to do that! Whether you're celebrating Valentine's day with your besties, showering love upon your canine companion or simply showing your family how much they mean to you, we've got you covered.

Image result for galentine's day gif


Where would we be without our furry friends? Our cat is absolutely cutest, and she keeps us going through times thick and thin. People underestimate just how much a faithful feline or canine companion can mean to you, but why not prove them wrong by wearing your love proudly on your wrist? Check out lovely little accessories like this gorgeous dog or cat charm.
Cat Charm

Paw Charm


Related image

Raise your hand if you've also been binge watching Marie Kondo (I know we have…). It's time to seize the opportunity to show your love for all the little items and things that you use every day. Celebrate the all of the simple objects that spark joy in your life. Here’s a selection of our favourites:
House Charm Bead

Car Charm


Of course, the charm bracelet has a long history in relationships of all kinds. Whether or not you're going romantic this Valentine's Day, we’re seizing the opportunity to remind you of the glory of the friendship bracelet, from plaited cords exchanged by seven-year-olds in the playground, to gorgeous sterling silver charm bracelets as a special gift for a friend of a lifetime. And there's no better way to show that you care of them by really making it personal with things you know they'll love — check out this one we designed for one of our marine-loving friends.

Charm BraceletCharm Bracelet

More about charm bracelets this Valentine's Day


Another thing that makes the charm bracelet perfect for Valentine's Day is the fact that it just keeps growing. Adding charms each year is a great way to show what love is really about: always adding something new and exciting, but built upon a precious base of years of trust and beauty. It's like a metaphor for life: the more life you live, the more love you experience, and the more experiences you can add to your bracelet.

And then, of course, there’s the most basic thing that makes a charm bracelet work. The clasp. Maybe it's not the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about Valentine's Day, but you know that without it, the whole thing will just fall apart. The clasp keeps two separate entities class together in one never-ending circle — what better description of love is there?

Image result for holding hands

So there it is. That's our passionate defence and the little sibling of all the fancy diamonds and heart necklaces that you might be used to giving and receiving on Valentine's Day. We think it's perfect — an example of something that is simple beautiful, and can grow to contain the experiences of a lifetime.

How about you? What would you add to your Valentines charm story?

Friday, February 8, 2019

5 Step Guide to Strike a Bargain When Buying Jewellery

Save Money on Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

Haggling has a bad name, but if you have the right knowledge, it can save you a lot of money. This breakdown aims to show you that shops are willing to negotiate on price—if you ask them.

This post will tell you just how to haggle your way into a brilliant bargain, whether you’re buying that special engagement ring or a wedding ring, or simply looking for some glamour for your everyday life. You'll get an exclusive look at the normal breakdown of jewellery costs with an example supplied by experts in the field, and hear some invaluable tips on how to save money when buying jewellery.

As a real life example, we’re breaking down the costs and prices of ‘Solitaire Brilliant Cut 0.50 Carat Diamond Ring Set In 18 Carat White Gold’ from most popular high street shop Goldsmiths, usual price £3,000.

Breakdown of prices

Raw Material costs

This is the baseline cost if you add up the price of all the separate components. In plain terms, it's what the materials that go into making the jewellery cost on their own. Usually, this makes up anywhere between 10% to 25% of the total price of the finished piece.

For this ring
  • Cost of diamond (I1-I2 quality): £400 - £500
  • Gold (4 grams at usual market prices): £130 - £150

Labour costs

This is the money that goes towards the actual making of the jewellery - what you're paying someone to devote however many hours to making the piece. This factors in all the time, effort and skill that goes into making any piece of jewellery. Like raw material costs, this is usually between 5% to 20% of the final price.

For this ring:
  • Cost of labour between £100 - £200


Commission is what the shop will charge for displaying and selling a piece of jewellery. This is the part that will go to the specific retailer, so they can get a profit from the item, rather than going towards the making of the jewellery or the person who made it. Very often, commission is more than the cost of raw materials and labour combined. It usually takes up at least half of the price, if not more.

For this ring:
  • Commission: £1,550 - £1,870


VAT (Value Added Tax) is legal requirement, which means it cannot be altered by the retailer. VAT is currently 20% of the final selling price, which means 1/6 of what you end up paying is VAT. 

For this ring:
  • VAT: £500


VAT is 1/5 on top of total price of materials + labour + commission. So,
in short, the more money they charge for commission, the higher the VAT, and the more YOU have to pay.

Haggling Tips and Tricks

By the time the finished item is in front of you, the material and labour costs are already fixed and unalterable. But you’re still paying three to five times what the item actually costs! So, how do you reduce that amount?

Jewellery shop on the high street can’t negotiate on the material and labour costs or VAT, so anything they knock off the price comes out of their own commission. But as you can see, they get a lot of commission, and there's plenty of room in there to negotiate your own deal. 

In the case of the ring we're using as our example, even when it's on sale at 1/3 off, the retailer is still left with a tidy profit of £500 - £800... and you still have enough left over for a comfortable honeymoon fund. But true love doesn't wait for annual sales, and sometimes it's good to be able to drive down the price on your own terms. To help you, here are five top tips for haggling when buying jewellery:

1. Know what you’re talking about

High street jewellery retailers will often try to trick you into paying more than the item is actually worth. But with the information we’ve given you, you’ll be able to meet them armed with all the facts and figures necessary to get you the best ring at the best possible price. Use facts, figures and statistics to let them know that they can’t get away with overcharging you—they'll soon be ready to compromise!

2. Compare retailers

For retailers, any sale is better than no sale. Often, items in high street jewellery shops won’t be exclusive, so if you let them know you’ve seen the same or similar item somewhere else for cheaper, they’ll often be willing to slice a bit off their price. Some shops have a special price-match guarantee, but that doesn't mean you can't use this method in other places too—it's a great way to start off your haggling, and it shows them that you mean business.

3. Talk to the makers

One step better than comparing prices at different retailers is going back to the source itself. If you can deal directly with the actual jewellery creators instead of going through a high street retailer, you'll save a lot of money on commission. Of course, this isn't always possible—but even talking to someone in the field will give you a good idea of what sort of prices you're dealing with when you haggle with the retailer.

4. Do your research

Trends change quickly, so jewellers won’t want to keep pieces hanging around. They will likely be more willing to discount items they’ve had in stock for a while, or that aren’t quite in line with the most popular trend of the day. Take the time to check out what’s currently popular, and don’t rush into sales—slow and steady wins the race!

5. Sound Confident

All of the above tips work best when used with confidence. Remember: be calm, be confident, and have faith in yourself. No matter where you are or what you're buying, retailers will soon see that they can’t cheat you out of a deal!

So, those are our premium haggling tips! Make sure to tell us if you’ve tried them, and if they worked for you—and of course, if there are any we’ve missed!

Also, to help you with all the above steps, House of Silver has a Free Jewellery Valuation Service. All you need to do is email them with a link to or picture of your item and they'll give you a calculated estimate of costs, so you can work out just how much of what you are being charged is just commission.

End of Autumn Competition

Competition is now closed. Congratulations to the winner - Claire from Yorkshire! As usual, choose one prize from below and enjoy thes...