The Brooch

By Eileen R Eichhorn           

Recently, our newest employee, Kathy Jenkins, a senior at Bellmont, asked my sister Kate how to wear a brooch. It was such an intriguing question that it prompted me to discuss further. Kate and I were used to seeing our grandmothers and mother wear brooches. Today’s fabrics have much to do with why we seldom see the brooch worn daily on women as in past decades. Wools were much more popular 50 years ago when brooches could be seen on notables such as Jackie Kennedy adhering to her classic coats or suits regularly. Earlier, nylon and eventually polyesters stole the fashion textile limelight for comfort and travel as they required little pressing. Women realized putting irreverent holes from the pin stem in a lightweight polyester blend would ruin that fabric. The weight of some brooches, even mid-size styles, tend to droop on synthetic fabrics. The brooches then moved to scarves of more forgiving fibers. 

I have assisted many people over the past few years who are interested in wearing an inherited vintage brooch with current fashions. Some reinforcement techniques are to back the pin stem with a piece of felt for support. I have even converted brooches to pendants without compromising the integrity of the piece adding a simple earring back for security. Modern brides have asked me assist them with multiple brooches repurposed into their bridal bouquets. They can serve as hair or veil ornaments, too. In 1971 it was suggested to me when I worked for J.B. Hudson Jewelers in Minneapolis that I wear my diamond pansy brooch on the sleeve of my knit dress so I could enjoy it more!

More fashion tips for wearing a brooch: 

1. Mix old with new. Wear a vintage brooch with a structured, graphic print dress or sporty neon clutch for a look that’s polished with an added modern flair.

2. Placement is key. A brooch always works when worn, left or right, over the bust, but it can also be a surprising embellishment at the center of a buttoned up collar. 

3. Blazers and brooches are friends. A fresh way to put some punch into your go-to, tailored black blazer is to add a playful brooch to the lapel to dress.

4. Dress up a boring bag. If you’ve got a plain purse you love to carry from day to night, adding a brooch to the top corner is a creative way to impress for a dressier occasion.

Watching classic movies such as Braveheart or Lord of the Rings is a great place to start understanding what purpose the brooch originally served. An ornamental piece of jewelry that can be affixed to clothing, cloaks or hats by means of a pin with or without a clasp, brooches were were first worn in a functional capacity to fasten or secure articles of clothing. They evolved from simple pins to elaborate Roman fibula and eventually to items of pure decoration. During the Middle Ages brooches transitioned from serving this practical function to their current purely decorative one. Brooches have been constructed out of every conceivable jewelry material from precious metals to plastic. Every motif, theme, fad and fashion has been construed as appropriate for brooch design. All manner of jewelry techniques have been applied from enamel, gem-setting, animation, engraving, etc. allowing brooches to become badges that make a fashion statement and sometimes a political expression. Former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright’s book, Read My Pins is a story and celebration of how one woman’s brooch collection was used to make diplomatic history.

The fashion for brooches has continued to thrive with examples in every decorative period through today.

WISH LIST

By Eileen R Eichhorn 

For many years we had a book that my father would insist we write down customer’s finger sizes, ‘dream’ jewelry items whenever someone mentioned something they really loved in the store: a favorite diamond shape or style…With technology, the WISH LIST was born in 2005 and today continues to help us suggest to both men and women what the other desires if their loved one inquires. So simple to add or subtract an item, the wish list is probably the best kept secret at Eichhorn’s. Many people don’t know it exists! Customers can browse through the store and associates can add items to a customer’s page for future reference. Men love the wish list  because they can be assured their sweetheart will love the gift. Women love it, too, because they get a present they sometimes never thought their guy would consider. It makes it simple for him and saves time trying to select a gift that is difficult to chose for some occasions. Sometimes, just the hint of a favorite color of metal, gemstone or designer is all it takes to encourage the gift-giver. Even that information can be added to the list. We encourage you to add to your list whenever visiting. Always wished you could have matching earrings for a necklace you’ve had for years? Put that on your wish list. If there is a brand watch or jewelry item you don’t see in the store that we could possibly order, that can be put on the list, too. You can always email us with special requests added to your list, such as custom design jewelry or just saying: “If anyone ever asks, even a gift certificate would be welcomed.”

Cleaning and Checking Prongs

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Every day someone loses a diamond from their ring! Failure to get the prongs checked is the common cause. Eichhorn’s will clean and check your ring at no charge even if you didn’t purchase it here. Sometimes though it is an accident and a prong gets pulled. Oddly enough, it can happen if the ring is a week old or 30+years old. Some rings constructed today are manufactured differently than just a few years ago. Everyone wears their ring differently, some wear to work in a factory and others only wear when not doing household chores. I usually ask if the person had been doing gardening and to look inside the glove. If doing laundry, the missing diamond could be in the washing machine or dryer. If you do filing in a drawer at work or home that is another place to look. The car is the most overlooked place to find one’s lost diamond. It can go into a myriad of places including places you never knew existed! In an effort to find a missing diamond l suggest turning off the lights and getting a flashlight. After dropping small diamonds on the floor at Eichhorn’s in the past nearly 50 years I know how to find a diamond. If you think it could be on a flat surface and is a small diamond, using a dog hair roller is a great tool. The sticky surface will also pick up dirt but the diamond should shine no matter how dirty it is. Many people do find their gem. Those that don’t locate their diamond may find they have it insured and file a insurance claim. 

CHARMING

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Month after month since our beginnings in 1965 people have shopped us for charms. Today we have hundreds of styles in our display. One specific charm was in hot demand in 1965 just as it is now. Saturday, a woman called and requested this same charm! The charm is a mustard seed. Even I had a 14K gold one on my charm bracelet years ago until I gave it as a love gift to a girl I had never met. Originally, this charm amulet hung on a long chain around my neck. Some years ago my high school speech team coach, Pat McColly, was coaching another student in South Carolina who had advanced to the national championship competition in Indianapolis. He thought she needed some encouragement and wanted me to write or talk with her prior to her big round. I immediately thought of my charm and sending her a sterling one like it. Instead I thought it more appropriate that I mail her my charm. Rather than having any discussion, I thought the inscription on the back would say it all: If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17:20. Her ‘thank you’ was the trophy she won and the smile on her face.

Personal Jewelry Gifts

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Unlike the grocery which is shopped weekly, the jewelry store is sometimes only visited yearly at most to have a battery changed in a watch or the prongs checked on a ring. There are many exceptions. Long time regular customers may shop several times a year or even more frequently if they have a multitude of renovation projects they have been thinking about for some years. Recently, a referral customer was diagnosed with cancer and decided to have very specific items custom made for her four granddaughters. She sketched pendants that she wanted to be made each set with a diamond. She must have been thinking about these presents for a while with a specific thickness and the placement of a diamond at the top of each. Even the chains had to be a special type and length. I will put each into lovely gift boxes when finished in hopes someday her granddaughters realize how much love went into the thought of such special gifts!

At Eichhorn Jewelry we come in contact everyday with people who want us to assist them with a custom design or restyling of their jewels. Sometimes an inherited diamond brooch is out of fashion or does not fit the personality of the recipient. Repurposing is one of the most rewarding and sometimes challenging parts of the jewelry business. Some ideas are simple. Other complicated jobs require the assistance of one or more of our bench jewelers. 90% of many custom projects is thought. Whereas, 10% is usually execution. There have been only a few jobs we have ever turned down in our nearly 50 years. We welcome your creativity combined with ours to create a personal jewelry gift. Bring in your ideas!

Countdown to 50

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

August 5, 2014 was our 49th year in the jewelry business as Eichhorn Jewelry. Our beginnings resembled some things that we still do and hope to for years to come. But most days we are ever evolving as a multi-faceted jewelry operation with services few stores are willing to tackle. Our longtime employee, Charlotte Sheets, with us now 46 years, put it best when she asked me “Did you ever think you would be doing some of the things you do today?”

A new customer called after she visited our store today. She said “she could feel the love in our store.” That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever commented about us. She was happy one of our very loyal customers not only referred her to us but came with her from Ft. Wayne to visit Decatur. She was informed of our Diamond Club and joined on the spot. “What a great idea,” she said. On Mondays when we call the winners it takes their week to a whole new level. What better way to start a week than to be informed you have won! Our father, John Eichhorn would be proud to think this Eichhorn tradition has grown to encompass so many people. Started as a way to drive traffic into our store in 1970, a father with 10 children wanted to have his customers see all the latest styles in his jewelry store not just during the Christmas season. My grandmother who worked alongside my father for five years often wondered about her $10,000. investment. She loaned her son the money to begin the store and came to work to make sure he stayed the course. She wondered how he would make it when business was slow.  As a certified master watchmaker he had a lot of repairs. However, the Diamond Club was the answer to getting more people in the door. Originally, members paid $1 each week, we now have $2 and $5 clubs. It is one of the things we do for fun at Eichhorn’s.