5 Tips for Caring for Vintage & Antique Jewelry

My vintage & antique jewelry is really important to me, so I love these tips on taking care of them!
Victorian Engagement Ring in Rose Gold with old mine-cut diamonds

Many of us have vintage and antique jewelry that is of the more expensive type.  They may be pieces we've bought for ourselves, been gifted, or inherited from a family member, but they're all investments and fabulous additions to our wardrobes.  They're one of a kind and deserve special care to keep them looking pristine and in good condition.

My vintage & antique jewelry is really important to me, so I love these tips on taking care of them!
vintage engagement ring with 1.35 ct natural Burma Ruby, circa 1970's

I asked Flashback Summer sponsor VintageDiamondRing.com to share their top five tips for caring for these precious pieces, and this was their advice:

1. Do the basics to take care of your jewelry.
Take your pieces to a jeweler to be inspected, cleaned, and repaired if necessary.  Try to find a jeweler that has experience with vintage and antique jewelry to routinely check them.

2. Store your fine jewelry away from plastics.
Gems are harder than plastics and might scratch them if bumped against each other.  To keep your celluloid and bakelite safe and shiny, store them separately from your nicer pieces.
My vintage & antique jewelry is really important to me, so I love these tips on taking care of them!
1940s old mine cut diamond engagement ring in yellow and white gold

3. Don't wear your vintage and antique pieces during rough or dirty activities.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but avoid wearing your rings and jewelry during gardening, working out, or other rough times to prevent dirt, damage, and general wear and tear.

4. Store different gemstones in different places.
Rings with emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and semiprecious stones such as aquamarines and garnets are softer than diamond rings.  If they come in constant contact (such as from being loose in a jewelry box drawer), they may rub on each other and get scratched.
My vintage & antique jewelry is really important to me, so I love these tips on taking care of them!
Art Deco ring with French cut diamonds and square cut Kashmir sapphires, circa 1930's

5. Seriously consider whether or not to polish antique and vintage rings.
Especially when it comes to antique rings, a patina has built up over the years.  Polishing destroys this patina.  Consider whether you really want your pieces with character to look new, or whether you want them to retain the aged look we love in older pieces.

Vintage and antique jewelry is special and irreplaceable.  Especially if the piece has sentimental ties to family members, an engagement, or other significant life event, it's important to take good care of these pieces for future generations to enjoy.
My vintage & antique jewelry is really important to me, so I love these tips on taking care of them!
antique Art Deco ring with .70 old European cut diamond in platinum, circa 1920's

I know I'll be following this advice when taking care of my few pieces of fine jewelry like my wedding ring and two of my grandmother's rings!  Not to mention... I went to VintageDiamondRing.com and drooled for a while... and sent my husband the link.  You know, for future reference. 

Do you have any special jewelry pieces?  Do you have any tips for taking care of or storing them that you've found useful?

Which ring on VintageDiamondRing.com is your favorite?  (I have SOOOO many!) 

This post was sponsored by VintageDiamondRing.com, but the opinions in it are my own!

6 Native Designs to Wear With Your Vintage

"Tribal," "Navajo," and "ethnic" prints and motifs have remained popular in fashion since Chimayo pieces of the 1930s, and there's no sign of the trend ending soon!  However, few of these items are authentic and actually benefit the Native American and Canadian communities they came from.  Happily, there are many Native designers that are creating amazing pieces, and they totally work with not just modern looks but vintage ones, too!

It can be a little tricky to figure out how to make these things work with a vintage outfit, though.  Since these brands tend to cater to people with more modern styles, they're usually styled in ways that make it hard to imagine with midcentury trends.  But never fear!  These Native-designed pieces are each a fusion of modern and tradition, and they'll work fabulously with vintage pieces with a little styling creativity!

Below are six examples of ways to work in Native pieces with your vintage looks:

The 40s Nomad

Native motif purse - A.D. Designs //  blue 40s dress,  Lila platformsbakelite bangles
I love this outfit combo!  The mix of Native American/Canadian trends with vintage is AWESOME!

Full Out Novelty
Eagle feather earrings - Kokum's Jewelry Box // purple shirtwaist dressProud Panache heel, black bag
I love this outfit combo!  The mix of Native American/Canadian trends with vintage is AWESOME!

Neutral Chic

Drelynn top - B. Yellowtail // black & taupe maxi skirt, floppy hat, black leather obi belt, Janie sandals
I love this outfit combo!  The mix of Native American/Canadian trends with vintage is AWESOME!

The Sassy Weekender

Ruby Red moccs - LL Designs // cigarette pants, Lily top, abstract headscarf
I love this outfit combo!  The mix of Native American/Canadian trends with vintage is AWESOME!

Girly Cute

Sparkle Pony earrings - Whurl Gurl // Dolly DressAstonish heel, DIY neon stud clutch 
I love this outfit combo!  The mix of Native American/Canadian trends with vintage is AWESOME!

The Winter Office Classic
Native print single button cowl scarf - DA3 Designs // Super Spy dress, suede pumps, vintage bracelet, 1960s velvet hat, black cherry brooch

I love this outfit combo!  The mix of Native American/Canadian trends with vintage is AWESOME!

Which look would you wear?  Do you have or have you seen any Native-made pieces you absolutely love?  How do you work not-obviously-vintage pieces into your vintage looks?

3 Eye-Opening Lessons I Learned as a White Woman in Africa

If you've ever wondered about my experiences while living in East Africa, have I got the post for you!  I have guest posted over on Verily Merrily Mary about 3 lessons I learned as a white woman living in Africa.  These experiences were the catalyst for me becoming passionate about intercultural dialogue and racial equality.  Go ahead, hop on over and check it out!

Click here to read the post...

Flashback Summer: 3 Eye-Opening Lessons I Learned as a White Woman in Africa

Princess Fawzia of Egypt

"Twice in my life, I lost the crown. Once I was the queen of Iran, and once I was the princess [of Egypt]. It’s all gone now. It doesn’t matter.”

 Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt is one of those incredible women that has all but faded into history.  Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1921, Fawzia was the daughter of King Fuad of Egypt and his second wife, Nazli Sabri.  (In Egypt it is acceptable to have several wives.)  She grew up in luxury, cared for by an English governess and educated abroad in Switzerland.  At this time, Egypt was precariously balanced between Egyptian monarchical and British colonial rule.


Fawzia was touted as one of the most gorgeous women in the world, and she was fluent in English, French, and Arabic.  A Sunni Muslim Egyptian who spent time in European society, she enjoyed fashion and never donned the hijab. After returning to Egypt, she felt confined by the rules and regulations of being a royal in a time when everyday Egyptian women were beginning to experience new freedoms.

In 1939, the 17-year-old Fawzia was given in marriage to Mohammed Reza, the crown prince of Iran.  The marriage was a diplomatic arrangement between two countries.  Egypt was given access and authority over a British-controlled region through Fawzia's new place in the Iranian royal family, and Iran's new monarchy received legitimacy from the century-old Egyptian monarchy.  Her marriage is best remembered by many modern Egyptians for being a Sunni-Shiite union.

King Farouk, his sister Fawzia, and her husband the Shah - source
Fawzia and Mohammed were married and lived in Tehran.  They had one daughter and seemed happy for a while.  Mohammed became the Shah of Iran, and Fawzia became Empress.  However, Fawzia soon lost her love for life and began to hate all things Persian.  Rumors swirled about her husband's philandering, Fawzia found Persian difficult to learn, and relationships with her in-laws were tense.  She was sick often, and her father demanded a divorce after seeing her frailty during a visit.  She left Iran, never to return.  The world followed their marital drama through magazines such as The Times.

Empress Fawzia and her daughter, Shahnaz - source

She later married an Egyptian aristocrat and had two more children.  The 1952-53 military coup by Nasser, however, overthrew the Egyptian monarchy and British colonial rule, completely turning Fawzia's world upside down.  Her brother, now the king, escaped to Italy and never returned to Egypt, but Fawzia and her family quietly moved to a home in Alexandria and began to fade further and further from the public eye.


Fawzia lived in anonymity for the rest of her life.  In 1976, Anwar Sadat (the president of Egypt at the time) extended a reconciliatory  invitation to Fawzia's daughter and her family to stay at a palace in Alexandria.  They all visited Fawzia's villa, and Fawzia said she would like to return the visit by calling on them.  This was shocking, for the palace that belonged to Sadat was once Fawzia's childhood home.  She had not been there in 24 years.  During her visit, her former servants met her with tears and embraces.

Fawzia and her second husband, Ismail

Throughout the coups and revolutions, Fawzia quietly remained in Egypt.  The onetime princess of Egypt and Empress of Iran passed away in July of 2013 as President Morsi was being deposed by the Egyptian military.  She must have had special insight into the rise and fall of Egyptian leaders over the years and once remarked:

"When you visit the tombs of kings and queens, you see they leave everything behind, even the crowns.”  {tweet this}

Further reading:
The Slow Disappearance of Queen Fawzia - New York Times Magazine 
Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt - The Telegraph
Princess Fawzia: the Beautiful, Sad Rose of the Nile - Egyptian Chronicles blog

6 Ways to Take a Heart Break

Flashback Summer: 6 Ways to Take a Heart Break

I don't know about you guys, but the recent events in the world have my heart feeling drained.  It takes a lot of effort to care and advocate for different causes, especially when there are so many opposing views shared on social media and in real life all the time.  It's difficult not to feel a mixture of angry and sad and hopeless and passionate all at once, all the time.

I'm very passionate when it comes to certain issues; it's just a big part of my personality.  (I even took a Christian spiritual gifts test recently and got "social activism" as my top score. I REALLY care about causes!)  However, caring deeply about bringing positive change has its pitfalls, and to be truly effective at social activism and creating this change, I have to be intentional in caring for myself and my heart along the way if I don't want to burn out.

Here are the ways I help myself keep perspective and stay strong in difficult times like these:

I take significant breaks from social media.

I think you all understand why!  Taking long periods of time away from social media, especially if I'm feeling really amped or angry about something, prevents me from unwisely spouting off in statuses or from feeding my anger even further by reading other people's lunacy.  I'd include watching or reading news sources in this as well.

I spend time feeding my soul with positive things.
We're surrounded by negative, heart-wrenching information all around us.  I feel like every time I read or see something sad or mean, it "withdraws" from my emotional bank account.  If all I do is drain my emotional bank account with negativity or sadness, I will soon run dry with nothing to offer anyone else.  To keep this from happening, I "deposit" into my bank account with positive sources.  For me, the Bible is a big positive source.  It's substantial and encouraging for me.  Another way I feed my soul is by taking time to do something I love, like going to an art museum or reading a fun book.

I take some time to be silent.
Some days it seems all I do is defend myself, my opinions, and my causes and end up feeling misunderstood or judged.  On those days, I take time to be silent and avoid talking for a while.  Sometimes just being alone and cutting out criticisms from other people helps me sort out my own thoughts and work through my feelings.  I spend time in a peaceful environment.  I especially love putting on some classical or jazz music and sewing silently for a while.  I like having time to chill and relax my defenses, just do something that feels really me without any judgment, usually accompanied by a comforting hot beverage.

Flashback Summer: 6 Ways to Take a Heart Break - 1940s female bass player
I pray. 
I know not all of you are religious or Christians, but I wanted to include this part because it's probably the most effective thing I do to give my heart a break and rejuvenate.  Prayer isn't the same as meditating or venting or channeling positive vibes; it's conversing with God.  I know that I can go and spill my heart to God with raw honesty, and he will 100% guaranteed still love me at the end of it.  He understands the things in my heart that I can't properly put into words.  He's been with me through every experience in my life, so he knows exactly where I'm coming from and what I mean.  There is no safer place to be myself than with God.  In these times where I talk with him, things happen.  My heart is put at ease.  I know God is working behind the scenes on the situations that worry me.  He speaks back to me, often through certain Bible verses or in speaking to my heart in ways that are difficult to explain.  He shows me where my thinking should change, where I need to forgive someone, or something I shouldn't do anymore.  He shapes me into a stronger, better person, not through judgment and condemnation, but through gentleness and loving-kindness.

I put things into perspective.

Sometimes I feel the pressing, heavy weight of the world's problems on my shoulders, and I feel overwhelmed by them.  There are so many issues, so many causes that vie for my attention, so many injustices that need to be addressed.  I feel almost immobilized by the immensity of wrong and evil in the world.  At this point, I remind myself to put things into perspective.  While I am able to bring about change, I am not the person that holds everything in the world together, that will solve all wrongs.  While my actions are important, I am not able to be the fixer of all problems.  I can only do what one person can do.  Beyond that, I am not responsible.  When I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way, embrace the impact of my personal voice, and do the things I am able to do within my sphere of influence, I am doing my part, and it is enough.  No one can ask me to do things I am not able to do (except God, but he's always good enough to equip me for those impossible things).  While we are important and should do what we can, we are not the saviors of the world. 
Once again, this is where my Christianity plays into my worldview.  At this point, I can hand this burden over to Jesus.  He literally is the savior of the world, and the Bible promises that when the time is right, he will right all wrongs and bring complete peace and justice.  I'm pretty excited for that, I won't lie. 

Flashback Summer: 6 Ways to Take a Heart Break - 1940s female weight lifter
I work out.
The consistency of this comes and goes at this point in my life, but on days where I am very emotional or even very angry, I do something to break a sweat.  Even when I cannot and should not punch someone's face when I'm angry, I can pop in a fitness DVD and air punch my way toward better health!  Exercise is proven to make us happier and sleep better, and it can help us focus on the present instead of worrying or stressing about other things in life.  Seriously, even if you're not a gym junkie, go for a walk or pop in an exercise video when you're feeling particularly down, overwhelmed, or upset. (I'm also a fan a of embracing my whiteness and breaking some very impressive dance moves during a "Just Dance" game!)  It will do wonders for your mental state as well as helping with your physical health.
So I know that not all of you will identify with everything I said, but, hey, feel free to try any of them and see how they work for you.  We all need to take "heart breaks" to restore and refresh ourselves, especially in the midst of such a crazy time in our world.  

What other things do you do to take a heart break?  Are there other self-care strategies you have that work well for you?

Thanks to my sister for letting me use her IG picture at the top! 

Ancient Egypt Skirt

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

Sometimes an outfit comes along that just feels fantastic.  This outfit is one of those for me!  When this Mid-Century Egyptian-themed fabric came up for sale on a FB page, I knew I must have it.  I love to collect vintage Egyptian things, but a lot of times vintage things that are described as "Egyptian" in listings and such don't really look Egyptian.  They usually look kind of Greek or Roman or something, so they don't particularly strike my fancy.  HOWEVER, this fabric is undeniably, obviously Egyptian!  

I bought it to make a skirt, and when it arrived I faced a dilemma.  Instead of the design running lengthwise, parallel with the fabric selvedge edges, it was perpendicular to them.  For you non-sewists, this means instead of just gathering the two yards along one edge and putting it on a waistband, it meant I had to cut the fabric into panels to get the design to go the right way when I wear it.  All that to say... I got it figured out!  I added a pocket and a decorative button, and now this skirt is my favorite in my closet.

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

The other part about this outfit that I'm really in love with is the combination of comfort and feeling expensive. This look is easy to put together and low-maintenance to wear, but it feels high-class.  The thing I'm really proud of?  I thought about how much this outfit actually cost me.  Here's the clothing breakdown:

shirt: $5
necklace: gifted, $0
shoes: $2 at an estate sale
skirt: me-made, we'll say $20
belt: $0.50 at a thrift store
purse: gifted, $0

Total: $27.50!

I'll admit, for this I calculated less on the skirt than it actually cost me.  I paid more for this fabric because it's a vintage novelty print, but if I picked a modern fabric, it wouldn't have been nearly as expensive.  This is a totally doable look for not a lot of money, the best kind of fashion, in my opinion!

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

Flashback Summer: Ancient Egypt Skirt - vintage inspired outfit

Do you guys have outfits that just feel AMAZING every time you wear them?  Do you have a look that feels expensive but was actually a real good deal?

Outfit Details
shirt: F21 or Charlotte Russe, I'm not sure
necklace: I think someone got it at Charming Charlie
belt: thrift store
skirt: me-made
shoes: estate sale
lipstick: F21
purse & ring: gifted

The Rogers Home: Bedroom Decor

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

Since my last post about the Rogers home, we've moved! We moved into a cheaper and larger house in a different neighborhood, and that was a chance to reorganize and redecorate.  Since getting married about a year and a half ago, we've saved our money and hit up flea markets and furniture sales to add to our home piece by piece.  You probably wouldn't find it in an HGTV magazine, but I am proud of us.  We don't need to have it all yet, and our janky little home is a good start for us.

The key to the bedroom was to create a vintage-inspired space that both my husband and I could feel comfortable in.  I wanted it to have vintage elements, but I didn't it to be so feminine it didn't look like a man lives there, too.  I think the bold colors and clean lines work well for both of us, and soft touches like gold frames, jadeite-colored accents and fluffy pillows make it comfy and vintage!

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

I found this vanity for $60 in an antique mall!  It's not in perfect condition, but I love it!

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

I got this hope chest a few years ago, and now I use it as a side table and for storage.  I also have a deal with Jacob: any jeans he is "saving to wear for later" will be safe from me and being thrown in the laundry if they are on top of this chest!
Also, the stick next to the bed is an arungu.  It's a Kenyan weapon and Jacob's choice for home defense, so criminals beware!

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

Jacob and I had people sign this picture instead of a guestbook.  Instead of storing away a book in a box forever, now it's a piece of art.

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

And here's a peek into my closet.  I store all my scarves on the door and sweaters and shoes on those little shelves.

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

I made the "Got Five?" Dallas Cowboys pillow for Jacob while we were dating.  It's a reference to their five Super Bowl wins, so of course Jacob heartily approves of this for our home decor!

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

Flashback Summer - The Rogers Home: Our Bedroom - vintage modern home decor

And here's a quick video to give you an overview of the whole room:

Controversial Post: Is Fair Trade Really the Answer to Ethical Consumerism?

Flashback Summer - Controversial Post: Is Fair Trade Really the Answer to Ethical Consumerism?

Today I'm happy to share a guest post by Mary of Verily Merrily Mary. I love her blog because she boldly tackles hard issues and facilitates lots of good discussion, and today she's here to start a conversation about something many of us fashion lovers have pondered long and hard: ethical consumerism and fair trade.

It’s no secret that sweatshops have injustice threaded into the fabrics they produce. It is also no secret that virtually every piece of clothing that makes its way into the West is stitched with these fabrics. Along with these articles of clothing, the production of shoes and accessories are almost always problematic. But three years ago, I came across what I perceived to be the solution to sweatshops, a solution that would be one step forward in the fight for social justice in the supply and mass production of merchandise.

The CEO of a certain company came to my university to present their mission and how their bags and accessories were different from what the general public would typically buy. She mentioned that her company is fair trade certified, one that trains artisans abroad to make products for their company. Unlike sweatshops, workers in “Third World Countries” work fair hours and receive fair compensation for their labor. No child is exploited. No person receives cheap pay. Essentially, they go with the “teach a man to fish” approach and the lives of the workers are changed for good.

Many people believe that companies like these are the solution to ending the existence of sweatshops as we know it. They are the beacon of hope for workers in poorer countries that could otherwise be exploited or jobless. And as such, companies like these urge those of us in the West to do the best we can to purchase their products. Others go a step further and say that we should make it a goal to live off of fair trade products only. And by doing this, we are living a truly ethical consumer lifestyle.

On the surface, this sounds pleasant and inspiring, an undertaking that makes shopping an act of social justice instead of your everyday, run-of-the-mill consumerism. But if anyone is familiar with fair trade clothing, one of the things that makes them distinctly different from sweatshop clothing is their price. Since the artisans are getting their fair share and suppliers are not being grossly ripped off of the natural resources needed to make the products, the retail price tends to be expensive. For example, what would normally be a $15 pair of pants could be $40 or even more. Your average consumer would likely have a hard time affording it. When looking at the United States alone, 25% to 66% of those living in America are in the middle class. 45 million other Americans live below the poverty line. A fair trade only lifestyle would be especially hard to keep up for those in this demographic.

Since Fair Trade companies are their own entity and are not affiliated with sweatshops, they typically do not get involved in the social justice issues that contribute to making sweatshops a more ethical place to work. According to this article, since the United States is the most demanding of cheap clothing from sweatshops, it is up to U.S. department stores who sell their products to make sure that children are not exploited, factories are safe, and people earn the wage that they deserve. Fortunately, there are some companies that are putting pressure on their supply chains to make sure workers are treated fairly. All this to say, it takes more than purchases from fair trade companies to advocate for those who work in sweatshops.

Often times, conversations about sweatshops are talked about outside of the United States and the Western world. Reality is that there are exploitative sweatshops inside of the United States despite the fact that we have laws in the United States that protect workers. Obviously, purchasing from fair trade companies whose suppliers are foreign has no connection to making sure sweatshops in U.S. soil have just conditions and a just wage.
Clearly, the situation concerning social justice in the textile industry is multifaceted. While purchasing from fair trade companies contributes positively to the movement of justice, a lot more is required for an overhaul of the entire industry where exploitation is non-existent.

Given what you know about fair trade and sweatshops, what are your thoughts on social justice in textile factories? What are some initiatives or movements that could contribute to a better working conditions for textile workers and an affordable price for those who buy from them?

About the Blogger

Mary is a 20-something millennial trying to survive the post-grad life much like other millennials are doing. She is a bi-tribal (Efik & Igbo) Nigerian-Canadian-American third culture kid (TCK) with Nigeria as her place of birth and sunny, Southern California as her current home. She is a storyteller and a writing coach at Verily Merrily Mary who uses her stories and insights to spark cultural conversations. As a writing coach she equips and emboldens difference makers to use the power of the written word to affect change.

Deco Sweater Victory

Flashback Summer: 1930s Art Deco Sweater - vintage knitting

I have a love-hate relationship with knitting.  I love the possibilities for one-of-a-kind garments that knitting affords, and I ADORE the fact that knitted items don't need ironing and such.  HOWEVER… I am a slow knitter, and oftentimes I don't catch onto mistakes until I've knitted pretty far past it, or the fit just doesn't turn out right.  I'm still working on my skills.