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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tzafora DanceSport Jewelry

Recently, I discussed the importance of having actual dancesport jewelry rather than opting for regular street jewelry to compliment your ballroom costumes. Equally important to having jewelry designed specifically for ballroom is having jewelry that coordinates well with your costume. While there are ready-to-wear options available, in my opinion custom is almost always the best way to go. While it may sound pricy, custom dancesport jewelry isn’t usually any more expensive than buying a ready-to-wear piece. Of course, to make sure you’re not over-paying for your custom purchase and that you’re going to get top quality, it’s important to make sure you choose a trusted jewelry designer. Your initial instinct my be to ask your dress designer to design a piece specifically to compliment your dress, but I strongly recommend against that, as most dress designers don’t have the same skill with jewelry that jewelry-only designers have. I’ve had and seen jewelry from a variety of designers and retailers, but there is one jewelry designer that, in my opinion, stands far above the rest and that’s the Canada-based jewelry designer Tzafora. After making my first purchase from Tzafora I knew I had found the perfect jewelry designer for all my future needs. Since then, I have referred several friends and readers, all of whom have become loyal customers.

My first encounter with Tzafora was immediately after purchasing a new standard dress for which I needed a necklace. The dress has a fairly low neckline, so I wanted something large to fill up the space on my chest, but since the dress was pretty traditional, I didn’t want anything too avant-garde. After looking online for a while and not finding anything that was the quality I desired, or if it was decent quality it wasn’t a good design for my dress, I came across the Tzafora website. Browsing through their gallery of ready-to-wear necklaces I saw the Champagne Sunset design and fell in love.
Champagne Sunset Inspiration 
The only problem was the color. The particular dress for which I was ordering the necklace has a royal blue skirt, but the entire bodice from my hips to shoulders is nude covered in clear AB crystals. It’s a beautiful dress, but it needed some color at the top, which is where the necklace came in. Knowing that I loved the Champagne Sunset necklace, I sent Tzafora an email asking for better images of the necklace (as their site was under construction at the time) and also to inquire about customization. Within 24 hours I heard back from the company’s owner and main designer, Renee, who was happy to send more photos and help create a custom design for me. I sent her a couple snaps of my dress, so she could get a better idea of where the necklace needed to fall and the style of the dress. Since the dress is fairly traditional, she stuck with traditional necklace designs for this particular project, though her contemporary-styled options are fantastic. In total, Renee sent more than five custom drawings for design ideas for my necklace.

Design concepts by Tzafora
While each of the designs was beautiful, the Champagne Sunset necklace still had my heart. It was the one. I just needed the right color. Once we knew that I without a doubt wanted the Champagne Sunset necklace, Renee started reworking that design to include blue stones. This is where we ran into a problem. Turns out, Swarovski only has a handful of blue stone options, and those options become even fewer for larger and specialty shape stones. Swarovski’s Bermuda Blue color was perfect for my dress, but unfortunately Bermuda Blue lacks consistency between stone sizes and shapes, often pulling more green than blue. Thus, the hunt for the perfect blue began. Renee first mailed me a sample of Sapphire, which turned out to be too light. Then we collectively decided to try mixing Bermuda Blue with Capri Blue. Using the smaller pear-shaped Bermuda Blue stones (on the left and right sides) was always questionable, since they pulled a bit green, but Renee went ahead and made the necklace and a pair of earrings with the Capri and Bermuda Blue just to see how it turned out.
Blue stone options and Bermuda Blue inconsistency
Unfortunately, while the finished product was beautiful, it still wasn’t the right color for my dress. As expected, the small Bermuda Blue pears pulled very green, and the small Capri Blue round flatbacks were too light. When I voiced concern over the color, Renee was in total agreement and didn’t pressure me at all to purchase the item. She said she would just add it to her inventory (psst... it's still for sale here) and we would try something else. I can’t even express how unbelievable her customer service was with this purchase! Moving forward, we discussed a few ideas, but I was still dead set on the Champagne Sunset style. Knowing that we couldn’t use the smaller pear-shaped stones on the left and right sides we started discussing other options. Renee initially thought to use oval stones instead of pear stones, but I really wanted the pear stones, so we decided to use all large pears in Bermuda Blue. Once we decided to use only large Bermuda Blue pears in the Sunset Champagne design, things got a little easier. Our last hiccup was the smaller round stones in the original design, which we had intended to replace with blue stones, but the variance in the Bermuda Blue presented an issue again. Surprise surprise - thanks Swarovski. So to rectify this issue Renee suggested we replace them with large pears, which turned out beautifully since it brought even more blue onto my upper body.

Center stone variations
Despite the issues with the stone color, through which Renee was patient and unbelievably accommodating, the entire experience of working with Renee was just a joy. I so appreciated how Renee never, ever pressured me to purchase something that wasn’t exactly right. She even encouraged me not to buy anything until I was completely happy. She was so focused on making sure the item was right for me, even when it made more work for her. I can also vouch that she’s extended the same care to my friends who have ordered from her, as I’ve been there through the design process for some of them. Finally, the price of my necklace and earrings came out to a grand total of CA$178, which made it a bargain at about US$138. Good luck finding just a necklace for that price, let a lone a necklace and earrings. Here’s a picture of the finished product:

The final product
Also check out some other designs she’s done, including one for a friend of mine:

Examples of other Tzafora work. The green set is a custom piece done for a friend of mine.
Also important to keep in mind, during the entire process of designing this jewelry set Renee had no idea that I blog and intended to blog about my experience with her. I only told her after the project was complete and I had received my beautiful necklace that I wanted to review her on the BallroomBitch site. After telling her I wanted to write a review of her, I was ecstatic to find out she’s a loyal reader of BallroomBitch, so it makes me happy not only to promote a fantastic jewelry designer, but also a loyal BallroomBitch fan! I highly recommend Renee and Tzafora and I won’t purchase jewelry anywhere else. Her quality is unparalleled in the market and her prices can’t be beat. Check out the Tzafora shop here, and also take some time to browse the Tzafora Pinterest and Instagram pages and like them on Facebook!

Images in this post are courtesy of Tzafora. All images are copyright protected and cannot be distributed without prior consent. All opinions in this post are my own. I do not receive compensation from Tzafora for reviewing their products.

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