Used Fashion Doesn’t Mean Useless

Used Doesn't Mean Useless, Photo by Lauren Jong
Used Doesn’t Mean Useless, Photo by Lauren Jong

Used Fashion Doesn’t Mean Useless

Used fashion doesn’t mean useless. There are many reasons to shop used fashion, not just because you have a limited budget. Used fashion is not only for the extremely thrifty, but every lifestyle.

Used fashion is a powerful tool for fashionistas everywhere. If you are not utilizing your local thrift store you are missing out on some great opportunities for vintage pieces no one else will have and that can really make your look stand out. Having a few standout classic or vintage wardrobe stapes in your closet can really help make your own personal style shine.

Thrifty fashion shoppers with a limited fashion budget know are many ways to keep your wardrobe fresh and current, and best way is used fashion. Used fashion doesn’t have to mean poorly made or worn out fashion, even if it is cheap fashion. Not only will you find used items, but occasionally new ones from the current season for a small fraction of the original price. I recently scooped up a new with tags, from this season, Steven Alan cashmere sweater for $10 at Housing Works. This is a $288 sweater!

I love that I can try out styles that I would normally not, and some have become my all time favorite clothing pieces. I use my local thrift stores to buy current and seasonal trends that change quickly, this way I don’t spend too much and it has twice the extended life it originally had from its first owner.

This brings me to another great reason to buy used fashion, protecting our planet. Buying used fashion keeps clothing out of landfills by extending its life to two times that of normal clothing, and you get to try out items you normally wouldn’t splurge on. Used clothing is also a great source for your craft projects that use vintage fabrics. It is also a great way to learn how to sew, buy experimenting on lower price pieces you can learn how to custom tailor your own clothing. I also never throw out my clothing unless it is worn out I donate it. And I mend and repair my clothing to make sure it stays looking it’s best. It’s also fun to donate my used clothing to local shops. I enjoy the tax benefits from donating to a non-profit and love that my clothing will go on to have a new life beyond my use.

United States Used Fashion Thrift Stores

The Salvation Army Thrift Stores

Goodwill Thrift Stores

You can also search The Thrift Shopper for many more local stores near you!

New York City Housing Works Buy the Bag

If you live in New York, you can take advantage of Housing Works Buy the Bag in Sunset Park Brooklyn.

You get a bag to fill with your choice of fashion and accessories, some in need of just a little care, for just $25. Entry is always free.

159 28th Street Brooklyn, NY 11232, 718-840-2923

Thursday-Saturday, Noon – 4pm
Saturday Power Hour 11am – Noon (10:30am buy a $5 ticket to shop before the crowd, limited to first 50 customers.)

Check out more of my favorite New York City area stores listed below!

Urban Jungle

Buffalo Exchange


Should I Choosing a Rubies or Sapphires For My Engagement Ring

Rubies and Sapphires copyright Anna Harper 2016
Rubies and Sapphires copyright Anna Harper 2016

Should I Choosing a Rubies or Sapphires For My Engagement Ring?

Corundum (Rubies and Sapphires)

You might ask yourself what the big deal is about sapphires and why they are the most popular choice after diamonds for engagement rings. There are plenty of reasons why a sapphire is a great choice, keep reading to find it is right for you.

Corundum Comes in Many Colors

Most people are familiar with blue sapphires. Did you know sapphires can be colorless? White sapphires, are called leucosapphire, and are actually transparent and colorless. Sapphires can even have more than one color. Since leucosapphire is colorless, you would think it would looks like a diamond, but that is not the case. They don’t have the same sparkle and brilliance, because diamonds refract more light.

Sapphires also come in all different colors, all colors except red. Those are called rubies. Outside of the US pink sapphires may be classified as pink rubies. No matter what your favorite color is you can find it in a sapphire.

Padparadscha Sapphires are one of the rarest hues. The word Padparadscha is Singhalese and means water-lily lotus blossom, it has an unusually color that is a blend of both pink and orange.

How Hard Are Rubies and Sapphires?

After diamonds, sapphires and rubies are one of the hardest gemstones. If you want a colorful stone, but are looking for something that is more durable than other colorful gemstones a sapphire or a ruby is great choice. They are also an excellent choice if you are looking to leave a romantic legacy of a family heirloom. A perfect example of this is Princess Diana’s Ring that Princess Kate now wears.

How Rare Are Sapphires and Rubies?

Sapphires of high quality are quite rare. The most common gem grade corundum is blue. Only a small amount of sapphires and rubies that enter the gemstone trade are untreated. Many are glass filled or heat-treated to manipulate color, hide inclusions and strengthen lesser quality stones. Rubies are much more rare than sapphires. Sapphires can range in price from$50 (USD) a carat to more than $10,000 (USD) per carat.

Good quality rubies that are a full carat are very rare and really expensive. Fine rubies are some of the most expensive gems, with record prices over $100,000 per carat. Prices depend on the ruby’s place of origin, color, size, and clarity, for example stones from Myanmar or Burmese stones with slightly purple tints and light inclusions sell from $100 to $15,000/ct. ½ to 1 carat in size.

There are Different Types of Sapphires and Rubies

A star sapphire or star ruby is one that contains rutile. The star effect is called asterism and is caused by rutile, a mineral composed of mostly titanium dioxide and has the highest refractive index or any mineral known, 2.417 to 2.419. Natural rutile is very rarely found in gemstones. Only about 3 out of every 100 corundum stones that gem grade have rutile and only one will have both good color and a well-formed star. Fine stars are very rare.

Color Change Sapphires are a rare variety of corundum that can produce different colors to the human eye under different types of lighting.

Ruby and Sapphire Facts

Mohs scale 9
Brilliance refractive index 1.77
Ruby is one of July’s Birthstone
Blue Sapphire is one of December’s Birthstone


Sapphire Quality Factors
How Rare Is That Gem?
Wicki How: “How to Buy Sapphire,”
GIS: “Ruby Value, Price, and Jewelry Information,”


Choosing a Tourmaline Engagement Ring

1024px-elbaite_melon_deau_tailleeShould I Choose a Tourmaline Engagement Ring?

How Hard is Tourmaline?

If you want an tourmaline in your engagement ring, be prepared to replace it occasionally. Though it is 7 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale, tourmaline has a scratch hardness lower than emerald.

Fine tourmalines, can be expensive stones so it can be quite a hit. An alternative option is you could get a ring with a number of smaller stones clustered. That way you can replace them without too much expense.

Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tourmaline Comes in Many Different Colors

Tourmaline comes in all colors, multicolored too. The most common are black, pink, green, blue, and yellow. Though it is rare, it is sometimes found in red or colorless. Red tourmaline sometimes called rubellite. And some of the different colors variation are named paraiba tourmaline, watermelon tourmaline, and chrome tourmaline. The most popular color is pink. Tourmaline comes in a range of striking greens, though not the same color as emeralds. Most tourmaline is completely untreated.

How to care for Tourmaline

Because tourmaline has the tendency to scratch easily and wear at the points of the stone, an engagement ring use it should be limited to protective settings or occasional-wear jewelry. Warm, soapy water is best for cleaning tourmalines. Do not use ultrasonic, steam cleaners and high heat for cleaning this gem. When storing this ring with other jewelry, place it in a protective soft covering to keep it from scratching.

Tourmaline Facts

Mohs scale 7 – 7.5
Brilliance refractive index: 1.624 to 1.644
Tourmaline is one of October’s Birthstone


Tourmaline Stone – GIA


Natural Alchemy Collection Recycled Precious Metal Fall Winter 2016

Tourmaline ring, Natural Alchemy Collection by Anna Harper
One of a Kind Tourmaline Ring, Natural Alchemy Collection by Anna Harper

Introducing The Natural Alchemy Collection by Anna Harper. Get a sneak preview here of my one of kind new recycled precious metal designs in this collection.

Sz 7 Aquamarine Hand Forged Natural Alchemy Collection Recycled Gold and Sterling Band Ring Each One is of a Kind alternative wedding band
One of a kind aquamarine Natural Alchemy Collection

The Natural Alchemy Collection is made from recycled precious metals: oxidized sterling silver, fine silver with 14K, 18K or 24K solid gold. Each piece has it’s own special mix of precious metals, blended in various amounts and weight, creating it’s own mystique. The width and thickness of these rings also varies, due to nature of their design.

One of a kind aquamarine Natural Alchemy Collection ring, made from recycled gold and oxidized silver.
One of a kind aquamarine Natural Alchemy Collection ring, made from recycled gold and oxidized silver.

What makes this collection really special is each ring is it’s own unique little sculpture of raw primal natural beauty. No two are ever alike. they are not mass-produced, nor can the designs be. The rings are not casted or machine-made. They are carefully and individually handcrafted with care by me. Most stack well with traditional jewelry.

Sz 6.5 Hand Forged Natural Alchemy Collection Recycled Gold and Sterling Band Ring Each One is of a Kind alternative wedding band
Tiny Sculpture, Natural Alchemy Collection by Anna Harper

These rings also make exceptional alternative engagement rings and wedding bands. I can make custom ones in your size, especially for you, but cannot duplicate any of the rings that are available. You can also view them in my Etsy shop, AnnaHarper.


Why Is Handmade So Expensive?

handmade-with -love
Why Is Handmade So Expensive?

Why Is Handmade So Expensive?

You may wonder why handmade is so expensive. With most purchases, you get what you pay for. There are advantages to buying handmade. Keep reading to find out why people are willing to pay the extra cost.

Are cheaper product really cheaper?

There are plenty of brands out there that hire cheap labor, or use mass production to make their products. The advantage to operating this way is to the company producing the goods. The products are quickly and cheaply made, often at the cost to a lower paid worker in poor work conditions. Some of the workers are children. There are also many environmental issues caused by the amount of waste mass production creates. So, even if we don’t directly pay a higher price in dollars for a cheap item, we do it in other ways.

You might be surprised to find that child labor even happens here in the United States. It is hard to tell who made an item, or if child workers were used. Even when it comes from a well know brand. Child labor still affects millions of children worldwide. I always make it a priority to find out as much as I can about a company before I buy. I like buying handmade items because I know that the money I spend on those items is going to the person who made them and their family.

Before mass production, goods were usually manufactured on a made-to-order basis. This way we only made what we needed and did not have old stock to clutter up our world, as it does now. You can read more about why making things one at a time is more time efficient in Joann Muller’s Forbes article, “Rethinking Mass Production: Why Making Things One At A Time Is More Efficient.

Is Handmade So Expensive?

You may think you can’t afford to buy a more expensive item and could be wrong. Buying cheaply made items has a hidden cost. Not only to you the user of these goods, but to the Earth. The bulk of the price of a handmade item is in the time and care that was takes to create it. This care and attention to detail creates a higher quality of work. People who invest their time in handmade crafts often choose the best quality materials they can to produce something special that will last a lifetime, and sometimes longer.

Buying a more durable product means that you won’t purchase as many of the same item over and over, because it broke or wore out. Over time quality handmade items outperform cheaper mass production ones because they are made better. And the ease of use and enjoyment of having a high quality item is also a factor. Some cheap items will cost you more because they will not work as well and you will have to take more time to fight with them. Mass produced items are made to break down so that you will buy more often. They often take more resources and make more waste to produce.



Child Labor Today


How to Oxidize Sterling Silver Jewelry

Rustic oxidized Keum-boo wedding band made from sterling silver & 24k gold

How to Oxidize Sterling Silver Jewelry
Without Toxic Chemicals

I use many old world techniques in my work and I love creating unusual modern piece that have a rustic look. One of my favorite techniques is blackening or what is also sometimes called an oxidizing silver jewelry. It creates a wonderful dark gun metal color that sometimes have colored overtones or blue, purple or golden brown within it. It is fun to wear and very dramatic looking.

However, oxidized sterling is by nature not a permanent finish. When I say permanent I mean lifetime durable metal finish. Many people don’t understand when purchasing an oxidized piece that the oxidation will fade over time. The finish is made by a chemical reaction with the metal. How long it takes to fade depends on how much wear and how you care for it. For example, washing your hands with your ring on will make the finish fade faster. This is not a defect, it’s a feature of the rustic beauty and part of the design’s charm. It is a zen design of impermanence. It will not hurt the piece and it can always be oxidized again if you like.

Here is a nifty DIY jewelry project for oxidizing sterling silver that is easy to do, even if you don’t have a creative bone in your body. You can update any of your old silver jewelry using the same simple ingredients I use, found in your kitchen. I use sulfur to oxidize. It is an easy, 100% non-toxic, process you can even do at home with a boiled egg and a ziplock bag.

IMG_0073Step by Step DIY Oxidizing Sterling Jewelry

  1. Clean your jewelry. Note, jewelry must not have a sealed finish for this to work. You can just use liquid soap.
  2. Boil 2 raw eggs in water with their shells on for ten minutes.
  3. As soon as your eggs are finished, drain them and get them into the ziplock bag with the shells on.
  4. Next smash them into small pieces to release their naturally high sulfur content.
  5. Add your clean jewelry. If you have large pieces with flat even areas it can result in uneven oxidizing if it comes in direct contact with the eggs. So push the eggs to one side of the bag and place the jewelry on the other if you need to. Since most jewelry is small you don’t have to do this.
  6. Don’t worry if the finish doesn’t come out as well as you would like you can clean it off with a anti-tarnishing cloth or liquid.
  7. After about 20 minutes, take a look. There is no need to open the bag if you want the pieces darker, just let it sit longer. I have let mine set for up to 6 hours with great results.
  8. When you are finished and have the desired dark finish to your oxidized sterling jewelry, to stop the oxidizing process place it in a small container of clean water with a spoonful of baking soda for couple of minutes, rinse and pat dry. Your jewelry is now ready to wear!

This goes without saying, but the eggs are not fit to eat after using them in this process and must be discarded. However, they can be composed, the calcium in the shells is great for vegetables and roses!