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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Low-down on DanceSport Jewelry: Why you need it and what makes it different?

The necessity of proper ballroom jewelry, I have recently noticed, is somewhat of a controversial topic. In my opinion, having the appropriate jewelry is a necessity to complete any dancesport costume. However, I have recently noticed that many dancers forgo purchasing dancesport jewelry in lieu of wearing their own street jewelry, which while a minor faux pas is somewhat of a pet peeve of mine. Many newcomers don’t realize that ballroom has its own style of jewelry, and many dancers who have been in the sport for a while still don’t understand why it’s inappropriate to wear street jewelry on the dance floor. While it may seem like jewelry is jewelry, that just isn’t the case in ballroom and this post is going to explain why you need to invest in proper dancesport jewelry.
First and foremost, dancesport jewelry has an entirely different construction from street jewelry. Dancesport jewelry is generally constructed using flat-back crystals on either a fabric or silicone backing; generally, better dancesport jewelry has a silicone backing and may have mesh netting within the silicone. The benefit of the silicone backing is three-fold. First, the silicone is much lighter than the metal used for street jewelry, which can be a huge benefit considering that dancesport jewelry is often much larger than run-of-the-mill costume jewelry. Second, and probably most important, ballroom jewelry usually has minimal or no metal components (often opting for Velcro or small hook-and-eye clasps), which prevents the jewelry from catching on your costume or your partner’s costume. Metal fittings on street jewelry often get caught in costumes, causing ripping, runs, and various other issues. I've even heard of fringe tops being ripped off when metal fixtures become tangled in the fringe - this happened to my former partner during a competition when his watch (which he shouldn't have been wearing) became tangled in his partner's fringe. The silicone construction of true dancesport jewelry prevents these types of malfunctions. Finally, the silicone backing helps make the jewelry more stationary, preventing it from moving around while you're dancing. Most people hate to see jewelry move as people dance, and I know this can be a pet peeve of many judges. Just think of how distracting it is to see a necklace bouncing as a couple dances jive or quickstep. The silicone back helps the jewelry stay in place, as it naturally grips the skin a bit. In addition, the silicone backing allows you to glue the jewelry to your body without damaging causing damage to the jewelry.
Aside from the construction materials, dancesport jewelry also varies in overall design from regular jewelry. Dancesport jewelry designers often use larger stones to construct their pieces than you would find in typical costume jewelry. This is important since the goal is to make an impact from a distance. Further, considering the elaborate stoning on ballroom costumes, regular costume jewelry often pales in comparison and can look a bit dull beside the dress. The larger stones and decorating patterns used in dancesport jewelry compliment the dress and stand out in their own right, which street jewelry often can’t do. Further, the types of stones used for dancesport jewelry differ from those used in regular costume jewelry – even the stuff you buy at Swarovski. Aside from just having larger stones, dancesport jewelry uses stones with an Aurora Borealis (or AB) coating, which is designed to reflect light more effectively than plain crystal. These are the same types of stones used to decorate ballroom dresses, which is part of the reason street jewelry just doesn’t stand out beside a ballroom dress.
Long story short, it’s pretty obvious to seasoned dancers and judges when a competitor isn’t wearing proper dancesport jewelry, and I think most would agree that it’s a huge let down. It all sort of goes back to wearing the appropriate uniform for the sport you’re in, so don’t ruin your perfect dancesport look by forgoing the appropriate accessories, because people will notice! That said, I don't really advocate buying jewelry from your dress designer, unless it comes with the dress or is just a piece you really love. I much prefer buying jewelry from jewelry designers, as the jewelry from dress designers is often more expensive and lower quality than what you receive from companies and designers who focus solely on accessories. My favorite dancesport jewelry designer is Renee at Tzafora, though you can also buy pieces from sites like DanceShopper, as well as at jewelry booths at most competitions. Keep an eye out for an upcoming review of Tzafora, as well as a couple more posts on ballroom accessories! Sound off in the comments below and let me know your opinions of ballroom jewelry and your favorite designers!

All images used with permission. Images copyright of Tžafora. Special thanks to Tžafora for providing images for this post. 

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