22 Apr 2018

My engagement ring - why I chose a moissanite

I promised in my last blog post about our engagement, that I'd write a post about the ring I chose and why I chose Moissanite as the stone. As I alluded to before, I did a lot of research for this ring so thought I'd share the shortened version for anyone else thinking of choosing moissanite. 

What is moissanite? 
Moissanite is a crystal mineral of silicon carbide and was discovered by a chemist called Henri Moissan in 1893. He discovered it in a meteor and incorrectly thought it was diamond! In the late 1990s, Charles and Colvard started using moissanites in the jewellery market. 

The main benefits of moissanites are:
  • Lower price (apparently diamond prices are artificially inflated)
  • Less exploitative mining techniques (no blood diamonds)
  • Better for the environment
  • In terms of hardness it's 9.5 on the Mohs scale (with diamonds being 10 and rubies/sapphire's at 9)
  • No flaws or inclusions
  • Slightly more sparkly than diamonds and sometimes the sparkles are rainbow-coloured
Me sparkling it in the bright kitchen light

Sparkling my moissanite (below) with my Mum's 1.25 carat diamond (above) in direct sunlight. You might notice the sparkles in a diamond are white, but the ones from a moissanite can be rainbow colours and white.

My interest in moissanite started about a year ago - I love Reddit and frequently stalk the JustEngaged subreddit. I noticed a lot of chat about a new-ish stone called moissanite, however at the time, most moissanites were quite "warm" (apparently a nice term for yellow) and the whiter ones didn't come in many interesting cuts. However more recently the Redditors seemed to agree things were improving. When Sam and I discussed rings, I started looking into moissanites and through this googling, I discovered that the best ones on the market were Charles and Colvard Forever One moissanites which were nearly colourless, didn't have the "warm" hues anymore and had started being produced in fancy cuts like pears and ovals. Plus you also get a lifetime guarantee on their moissanites, just in case I chipped it or something, although this shouldn't be possible. 

The next challenge was finding a Charles and Colvard Forever One moissanite in the UK. They are an American brand and it was actually really hard to find a legitimate looking seller in the UK. The places listed as stockists on the C&C website either didn't have pear shapes, or they only sold wholesale, or just looked dodgy! I finally found Lily Arkwright who stocked pear shapes and could make bespoke rings and got in contact with them. 

They talked me through the creation process, asking me to choose a stone size and metal. They have this stone size comparison chart which I printed and cut out to try on different stone sizes. I sent photos to my family and best friends and settled on a 9x6mm stone for my size K1/2 finger (the equivalent to a 1.5 carat diamond - diamonds are measured by their weight but moissanites are measured by their size). I also really enjoyed chatting through the process at each stage with Sam - he's full of good advice and helpful opinions and he said he was surprised he had more of an opinion than he thought he would!

I told them I wanted the Isabella ring in 18k gold but with a pear-shaped stone. They really quickly sent me some mocked up drawings and created me a custom listing which I could send to Sam for him to buy. The Celine ring is very similar, but I wanted one that got thinner on the band as it went into the stone, which I think is called knife edge. The normal Oval Isabella with a 1.5 carat equivalent stone was £1,155.00 which is much cheaper than £9,409.00 on Samantha James for the diamond version. 

Overall, I absolutely love my ring! I love the sparkles, shape, size, the meaning behind it, everything! I would really recommend moissanite to anyone looking for an alternative to diamonds but who likes a clear stone. I'd also really recommend Lily Arkwright for their fantastic communication and customer services. I know of a few people who own moissanites who like to pass them off as diamonds, and I'm sure that's completely possible. However I'm really proud it's not a diamond and am open to talking about what my extra-sparkly stone is. Sam and I had a few conversations about how it felt to not be buying a diamond, and we noticed there was almost an unspoken pressure to get a diamond because it's "the best", and it took us a while to challenge that and feel comfortable choosing a diamond alternative. However I'm really pleased with our choice. 

Finally, some thoughts around the difficulties with fancy cuts - I always knew I wanted a pear shape, but on lots of forums, people were complaining of "bow-ties". This is essentially where the light going into the stone is blocked by our head when we look at the stone. In badly cut pear and oval shaped diamonds, this can cause the appearance of a black bow-tie shape in the middle of the diamond. It was really hard for me to look at moissanites and see how they do for bow-ties so I had to take a chance, but was reassured that Lily Arkwright do free returns. I'm pleased to show you that they are very well cut and I haven't noticed any bow-tie in mine, just a tiny circle that you'd see in any round diamond/moissanite. 

15 Apr 2018

Review: L'Oreal Tattoo Signature eyeliner

As I'm sure you'll have noticed, I love eyeliner and I've tried many different types over the years. My biggest problem with eyeliner is I have greasy skin, so if I do a wing or flick, it's often melted away by the end of the day. I thought I'd give L'Oreal Tattoo Signature eyeliner a go

The eyeliner, which is a felt-tip style, promises 24 hours of lasting power and highly pigmented colour. This is something I can't refuse - the eyeliner lasted really well throughout the day with some fading, but not smudging. However I have a big issue with this eyeliner because it's a nightmare to apply!

If you're some sort of genius who can apply eyeliner with one swipe, you might be ok, however I found applying this eyeliner to be a nightmare! Every time I tried to add colour, neaten the line or go over any area again it cracked, flaked and came off! The pen was also only inky enough to put colour down on the first swipe, so the wing which I put on near the end was really patchy and faded.

So overall the conclusion of this very short review is this eyeliner is rubbish, don't waste your £6.99 on it. If anyone has any recommendations for super-staying eyeliners for oily skin types, please let me know!

8 Apr 2018

Our engagement story!

If you follow me on instagram, you'll know that last Friday Sam and I got engaged! So exciting! I know I am obsessed with engagement stories and blog posts so I thought I'd share mine.

The background - 
Sam and I have been together for about 5 1/2 years. We met at work about 6 years ago and for me it was love at first sight (have you seen his face?!). I was told a new member of staff wanted to talk to me and I was totally not in the mood to talk to anyone that day. I agreed to meet them anyway and Sam walked in to the room! I can't remember the conversation but can remember my feelings - it was very overwhelming! At the time, I was in the middle of a messy break up, so when he asked me out 3 times over the next 6 months I kept saying no! Although secretly I was totally smitten and couldn't wait to see him at work each week. 

In the September, we were working really closely together as he'd just got the same job as me, and I was giving him a 2 week induction. On the drive back from a late meeting one night he said "I'm hungry, are you?" and I said yes, so he swung into a GBK for dinner. That week we had our first official date at a Mexican restaurant called Coriander in Bournemouth (he later found out I hate the herb Coriander!). 

We now live together in Portsmouth, and as I keep banging on about, we're buying a house together in Bournemouth. We have our little dog Teddy and our old lady cat Button and have so much fun together. 

The engagement - 
On New Year's Eve we were doing our usual weekend routine, Sam was in the bath and I was sat in the bathroom chatting to him - he gets no peace. We were talking about what we wanted to do in 2018 and I thought I'd cheekily say I'd like to get engaged! We'd had a 6 month ban on me talking about weddings/engagements and I'd done a great job so thought I'd take my chance. To my shock, Sam said ok! He told me to choose my ring and let him know! 

I spent the next month doing lots of ring research, which I'll come back to in another blog post. I then sent him the link and tried to patiently wait! A few weeks later when we were staying at his Mum's, I woke up from a lie in and wondered downstairs. She grabbed me and shouted "congratulations!!!" and in my sleepy state I said "thanks... what for?". She said Sam had told her he was going to propose! A couple of months later and he did it...

This story follows on from my last blog post about a date night outfit, turns out that was my engagement night! We went out for dinner at Koh Thai in Southsea and I had those drinks. We then went to a pub on the way home for a pink wine! We walked to and from the restaurant so when we got back I was soaking wet from the rain. We put on our PJs and agreed to have a little nightcap before bed. I went downstairs and poured out two proseccos from the open bottle and walked back into the lounge. Sam came downstairs, got on one knee and said "Loz, will you marry me?". I squealed, grabbed the ring and jumped at him for a legs round the waist monkey hug. I don't think I even said yes! 

This was my tipsy, over-excited face straight after! 

On the Saturday we were seeing my parents, brother and his girlfriend and my Aunty and Uncle so I saved the news for 24 hours before telling anyone. It was really lovely to have that time together with our special news. We did all the normal Saturday things but as an engaged couple, the dog walk, going to McDonalds, cleaning the house! Going out for the dog was a good opportunity to take a lovely photo of the ring - it's so sparkly and distracting! I'll share more on the ring and specs in another post. It's away at the moment being resized - it fit but was half a size too small! 

On Sunday we told our friends and did the usual Facebook announcement. I hadn't realised but it was April Fools Day so I did have a few texts asking if it was true! Everyone has been so lovely and happy for us, it's been really exciting. Mum and Dad got us beautiful flowers and a balloon. 

We've also had lots of cards from family and friends, some gorgeous spring flowers and an amazing cushion to commemorate the date (Thanks B!)

So now begins the exciting and daunting opportunity to plan a wedding! Sam and I have been talking about what's important to us, such as a big party, casual and easy-going, bright colours, Spring time and lots of photos of everyone enjoying themselves (as my friends all know I'm a huge fan of photography and I'm always the annoying one with the camera at parties. It'll feel strange to leave that up to someone else!) We'd also like to be near the sea/beach as we've both grown up on the beach in Dorset over our summer holidays. We're really lucky we have lots of friends who recently got married so we have lots of inspiration and advice at hand if we want it. We also have supportive families to offer advice. We're spending the next couple of weeks exploring potential wedding venues and once we've found one or two we like, we'll probably take parents to have a look and get their input. 

If there are any Dorset brides, or anyone planning weddings, please let me know your top tips, great resources and recommendations

31 Mar 2018

Outfit post: date night

Happy Easter Weekend! Last night Sam and I went out for a date night - we've not been on a proper date in ages due to trying to save for our house move soon, but he treated me. We went out to Koh Thai in Southsea and I got to wear my new dress! 

This dress is the GANT Misty Dot shirt dress and was kindly sent to me to review. I originally chose it as a work dress but thought it was too cute to save for work! The buttons don't go all the way to the bottom so there's room for a little leg! I love with shirt dresses that you can tie and button them in a range of ways to get different looks - from sensible work to going out for cocktails! Apparently GANT created the "locker loops" on the back which you can hang up when you're at the gym. 

I teamed the dress with these heels from the sale at Marks & Spencer which I got for £10! They said they're a size 6 but they're huge and fit my enormous feet! I even wore false eyelashes! I love these from Eyelure lashes called #shoesaremymuse. I've been wearing them again and again - any tips for keeping falsies looking good? (Taking them off in the bathroom while drunk and leaving them there probably isn't one of the best ways to care for them). I also wore my favourite last-forever lippie - Maybelline 24 hour lipstick in Blazing Red

Koh Thai was yummy - we had a selection of Tapas sized things and I had buy one get one free on pina coladas, which I can't believe I've just discovered! I'd really recommend the red curry if you go. Delicious!

What's your go-to date night outfit?


13 Mar 2018

Interiors: My grey & yellow bedroom

Where's your safe place? Mine is my bedroom, with the sun streaming in my window onto my feet, snuggling with my dog. I love my room - grey and white with a pop of colour. Sometimes blush, sometimes mustard yellow. When I'm stressed at work, or sat on the bus, I sometimes close my eyes and imagine I'm there.

I've painted my room Farrow and Ball Pavillion Grey, except I asked the man at Johnstones Paints to mix me the same colour and I love it! My bed is super old and squeaky - I got it from Argos about 7 years ago and I definitely need a new one. On the walls are moon and Earth prints which I got from Etsy and had printed on canvas. (I'm the moon!)

My lovely bedding was very kindly sent to me by JD Williams. It's the beautiful beautiful beautiful Canterbury reversible bedding set which was only £30 for king size. I teamed it up with the matching quilted throw which is grey with polkadots underneath (£50). I used grey sheets (£15) and pillowcases  (£5) underneath. It's so soft and warm!

The bedside tables are cheapies, also from Argos, which I painted eggshell white. The bedside lamps are my favourite ever. They're from Ikea and have a lovely little pully switch. On my side of the table is the Aldi sunrise alarm clock which has changed my wakeup 

I think Teddy dog approves of his new napping place!

18 Feb 2018

Taking my new trainers out - an update on life

Hi team!

I've been wearing these new all-black Nike trainers constantly for the last week. Life's been on the go, so I was so grateful to Footway for sending me a discount code so I could buy these sneaks to sneak around in

We've had a pretty manic time recently. The update is in the last week, we gave up on waiting for the house we were buying in Bournemouth. The guy showed no interest in moving out so we withdrew our offer. Thankfully another house (which I prefer) came on the market and we got our offer accepted. Hopefully we're still full steam ahead to move by the summer. I can't wait to have time for running, joining a new netball team, going out!

I've been commuting 4 hours a day still, but surviving better. I've discovered podcasts and am binging My Dad Wrote a Porno series 1 which is hilarious. Thankfully I get to stretch my legs - I'm on my feet a lot with my new job as I'm working on inpatient wards, so the trainers are perfect - smart enough for work but comfy for running up and down hallways and dashing in the rain back to my office. They're the Nike Air Max Thea Premium in black and cost £105. I'm actually really impressed with Footway - they stock everything and at really good prices! My main complaint is there is too much choice for lazy browsers like me and are more for shoppers who know what they want. 

My Misfit Ray broke at the beginning of the month, but thanks to their warrenty I was sent a new one really quickly and it's an upgrade with a grey leather strap. Perfect for tracking those steps and how much (little) sleep I'm getting!

This week I've also been at my lovely friend Emma's hen do! 5 weeks till the wedding and I have the huge honour of doing her hair and makeup. We had a trial run a couple of weekends ago and I had a really fun time playing around with my favourite hobby - beauty! It does help that her face is such a flawless canvas to begin with though. We went to New Manor Spa in the New Forest and I enjoyed my first hot stone massage. I really needed it and felt so relaxed after, and I think I fell asleep several times during the massage. Then we went out for dinner and I provided the mandatory willy cake! I won't post it, just in case you're reading this at work!

This week, Sam and I are off together so we've got plans to go for breakfast, go to the New Forest for a dog walk and have a mid-week night out together! I'm really excited for it, plus lots of knitting and resting. I love a stay-cation. 

25 Jan 2018

My yarn dying workshop experience

In December, my BFF Becky and I went on a yarn dying course! We're both huge knitting fans, and had been eyeing up gorgeous (and expensive) hand dyed yarns for years. We decided as a Christmas present to each other, we'd go on a course together to learn! After a lot of research, we discovered a place near Andover, North Hampshire called Beaker Button. It's run by a lovely lady called Jen who is passionate about all things yarn-based. Her beautiful shop was a cave of inspiration and gorgeous colours. 

The class was £40, and there were only the two of us. We got 3 skeins of sock yarn each and learnt 3 different dye techniques - kettle dying, hand painting, and dip-dying. We learn to hot-dye, and how to do it at home. 

Jen was a brilliant teacher - so knowledgeable and confident in her well-practiced skills. She was hands-off enough that we got to mess around, choosing and mixing dyes and playing with colour schemes. However she was also always watching us (usually me!) like a hawk to remind me not to let colours touch, where I'd missed and to remind me to put bright colours in for change! She had a great eye for colours too. 

She then taught us how to wrap, heat and prepare our newly dyed yarns for knitting. We learnt lots of little bits for how to do it and took home some dye to play ourselves. I was amazed that using the same three colours: grey, teal and yellow, I got so many different looks (plus I pinched some purple from Becky for my dip dyed one)

L-R: Kettle dye, hand painted, dip dyed

I knitted mine up into an asymmetric scarf, perfect for spring! Look at the colour pooling! It was really fun to knit up, and see how the colours fell (geek!) This is it blocking out after I finished it.

If you have a knitter in your life, I'd really recommend taking them to this class. I feel really confident now and am going to have a go at making my own kettle-dyed yarn for a jumper - I love that gentle, variegated effect.

17 Jan 2018

Stationery addict - my new office

New year, new job! When I'm not blogging or knitting, I have a real job! I'm a Psychologist in a hospital and in my new role I have my own desk! I was recently contacted by a stationery company called Mustard about their range of bright, fun things and they kindly sent me a few bits and bobs to look after me

My particular favourite thing is the tiny pencil case (£8) on an elastic - it's absolutely genius! Now I can keep my diary shut and I always have pens for writing in my diary. It also has a tiny lucky cat zip pull

The range of sticky notes is INSANE! I love a sticky - I have them dotted everywhere. It started out  a helpful habit, but now I have so many with "important" notes dotted around that I have gone note blind! Like my other habit of highlighting everything so nothing ends up standing out! 

I love these marbly ones (£6) - they're all different lengths and my geeky thought is the sticky area is really large so they stick really well. I also got rainbow ones (£6) which have a stand so they look gorgeous on my desk. I don't really want to use them. The marble block (£8) isn't sticky, but so helpful for taking a quick number or phone message down. 

At lunch, I also have some new treats. My HydrateM8 bottle broke really quicky so I luckily got this new fruit infusing water bottle in a watermelon print (£15). It has some little markers on the side with encouragement to drink, my favourite saying "looking good!" I popped some frozen berries into the middle infuser and left it with water in overnight for some yummy juice!

and my favourite thing ever - a t-rex lunchbox in dayglo brights (£8.99)!

So far I'm settling in well. The staff seem really lovely and I'm excited to move. I still haven't - sigh. The sale fell through again but hopefully will be coming together soon. 
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