Last week I popped along to the head offices of online diamond shop Vashi Diamonds. Run by diamond expert and celebrity favourite Vashi Dominguez, the company is the fastest growing online jewellery brand. The offices on a beautiful street off Hatton Garden in London, house a large team of staff including a fantastic customer service team to answer any queries. I was the first to arrive so I got a little tour of the offices including some consultation rooms for customers who would like to see the jewellery in person before ordering online.

There are also press clippings in frames all round the offices, Vashi Dominguez often appears as a diamond expert on the TV and in print as well as having many celebrities amongst his list of clients so he has quite a high-profile in the media.

Vashi Teaparty 1

The reason for my visit on this occasion was a vintage style afternoon tea organised by the PR team along with a fascinating presentation on the history of the diamond engagement ring. We then got to try on a selection of vintage inspired jewels from the Vashi collection. I couldn’t help but try on as many as possible, they were all so pretty!

Vashi Vintage style Rings

I was also lucky enough to win this beautiful pair of diamond earrings in the competition they held for the bloggers who were there. Aren’t they beautiful? They’ve taken pride of place in my antique jewellery box.

Vashi Heart Earrings

All Vashi diamonds are handpicked to be of the very best quality and come from conflict free sources.

These are a few of my favourite pieces from the website…

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I really enjoyed this intimate event, and I really appreciate the effort put into the presentation of the rings. I was sent a copy of the images from the presentation so I could share them on here…

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The Evolution of Diamond Engagement Rings…

Engagement Rings 1

1. An example of the type of diamond rings worn in Roman times. This one features a pyramidal point cut set in a gold band.

2. The first recorded diamond engagement ring was worn by Mary of Burgundy in 1477. Photographed is a similar ring.

3. The Chequers ring (1575) belonged to Queen Elizabeth I and contained diamonds, rubies and a pearl. It opened to reveal a picture of her mother.

4. This gold and diamond signet ring (1628) was given to Henrietta Maria  by Charles I.

Diamond Rings 2

5. The first brilliant cut diamonds were introduced in the mid 1700s by a venetian polisher Vincent Perruzzi. This cut also known as a cushion cut made the diamond look more sparkly.

6. Marie Antoinette wore a blue pear cut solitaire diamond ring (1770) This era saw the introduction of fancy coloured diamond engagement rings.

7. During the Victorian era there were many changes to the style of engagement rings. Coloured gemstones became very popular, with different colours representing different sentiments.

8. New trends during the 1800s included half hoops of diamonds, three stone diamond rings and Old Mine cut diamonds surrounded by smaller gems.

Diamond Rings 3

9. This unusual serpent ring (1839) was given to Queen Victoria on her engagement to Prince Albert. The serpent is an ancient symbol of protection and eternity.

10. In the late 1800s the Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau movements saw the next great age of the diamond. including the classic single stone open prong setting. In 1886 Tiffany & Co. introduced the 6 prong Tiffany setting.

11. The 1920s saw the Art Deco era, rings of the ear were often platinum or white gold and featured baguette, shield shape, or tiny round diamonds. Ruby, sapphires and emeralds were included to add coloured accents.

12. In the 1930s fishtail rings were introduced. They had thick trip-tipped prongs with a few small diamonds set into the shoulders.

Diamond Rings 4

13. During wartime platinum was reserved for military use so 14k gold became popular. It also became popular to set the diamond in a white gold head on a yellow gold band.

14. When Grace Kelly became engaged to Prince Rainer of Monaco in 1956 she was given a 10.47 carat emerald cut diamond ring worth around £600k. Elizabeth Taylor is known for her love of large diamonds. When she became engaged to make Todd she received an emerald cut 29.4 cart diamond worth over  £million.

15. In the 1970s the Marquise cut diamond was introduced.

16. When Lady Diana Spencer became engaged to Prince Charles in 1981 she wore a 12 carat over blue sapphire surrounded by 14 small solitaire diamonds set in 18k white gold. It was eventually given to Kate Middleton on her engagement to Prince William.

Diamond rings 517. Large coloured diamonds worth huge sums of money have become popular for celebrity engagements in the 2000s.

18. Mary-Kate Olsen’s engagement ring (2014) features a 1953 vintage Old European cut diamond framed by 16 sapphires with side petals set with single cut diamonds.

19. The most popular diamond shape today is the Solitaire diamond.

I hope you enjoyed this little travel through the history of diamond rings. I found it really fascinating.

View the full range of diamond and gemstone jewellery on the Vashi website

The Just Slate Company 3

I’m always on the lookout for new accessories for my kitchen. Being an avid cooker and baker, how I present my food is really important to me. I was delighted when The Just Slate Company sent me one of their beautiful products to review. I love slate kitchen ware but didn’t own any so I was very happy to receive an Oil and Vinegar Dipping Set to try out.

The Just Slate Company 1

The Just Slate Company 2

Because my kids can be fussy eaters I’ve recently taken to making buffet style lunches at the weekends. So I’ll fill the table with deli items like olives, cheese and cold meats along with bread and salad and everyone can help themselves to what they want. My new slate tray is perfect for displaying the bread on the table and looks really classy.

The Just Slate Company 4

The set retails at £30 which I think is about right for a handcrafted UK made item. I would also see these as pieces that would be used for many years so I would be happy to pay a little more for something of good quality that would last.

The Just Slate Company 6

I was so impressed with the quality of the item, which is absolutely beautifully made. It is made from a robust bit of slate and is thick enough to be hard-wearing. I was really pleased that it also had a foam cushion underneath which will stop it scratching furniture.

The Just Slate Company 5

The Just Slate Company are based in Scotland and all their products are handcrafted by skilled craftsmen from raw slate. I love this video which I found on their website which shows their beautiful items being made.

The Just Slate Company Website features a fantastic selection of slate seeing items as well as beautiful serving utensils. There are some wonderful gifts ideas for foodie friends or people who are really hard to buy for. So if you’re looking for some last-minute gifts then their website is well worth a look.

They have also kindly given me a discount code, so my readers can get 20% off everything on the site. just add the code VF20 at the checkout.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to an event at John Lewis in Kingston. Amazingly behind the scenes in the shop they had created a little secret Christmas house. What was once offices is now a beautiful living room, dining room, office, luxurious bedroom and cosy little kids room all decked out for the festive season.

John Lewis Christmas 19

The house was created to give staff an impression of all the christmas ranges and how they work together. It looks absolutely fantastic and was so inspiring, it really put me into a festive mood. The staff at the store were all absolutely lovely and talked us through the winter ranges while we sipped on prossecco and nibbles on delicious canapés.

As usual I took way too many photos on the day and I want to share as many of them as possible with you, so grab a cup of tea and a mince-pie as this post is going to be a long one! I’ve dived them up into different areas of the house and gift ideas.

Living Room:

John Lewis Christmas 16The gorgeous living room was decorated for Christmas in a beautiful silver and white theme with glass baubles and beautiful glittery stags. I loved the TV in the fireplace which was a creative touch and the John Lewis advert playing on the TV, I love Monty the Penguin!

John Lewis Christmas 4

John Lewis Christmas 25Festive drinks at the ready!

Bedroom:

John Lewis Christmas 11How cosy does this wintery bed look? I loved the mirrored wall and the rose gold details on the lamp.

John Lewis Christmas 17A total classic, Chanel No5 on the bedroom shelf.

John Lewis Christmas 24The bedroom also featured this amazing black sewing machine.

Office:

John Lewis Christmas 6No bloggers home is complete with out a lovely little work space, I loved the bright pops of colour and cheerful stationary.

John Lewis Christmas 3Cute knitwear and a fun christmas tree painted on the wall adorned with colourful baubles. Such a fun colourful idea. 

John Lewis Christmas 5I love nothing more than a big pile of notebooks for jotting down ideas. 

John Lewis Christmas 23

At The Table:

John Lewis Christmas 7

John Lewis Christmas 8There were loads of fab ideas to make your Christmas table stand out. 

John Lewis Christmas 12From beautiful crystal glassware…

John Lewis Christmas 20To festive napkins on beautiful china…

John Lewis Christmas 26And cute little robins…

John Lewis Christmas 27I loved all the beautiful ideas.

On the Tree:

John Lewis Christmas 15There were 3 different trees in the secret house, all decorated really differently. I loved this elegant green glass bauble. 

John Lewis Christmas 14These white and mirrored decoration were beautiful, elegant and feminine. 

John Lewis Christmas 13This delicate glass santa pays homage to vintage decorations. 

John Lewis Christmas 21This cute fox looked adorable peeping through the tree.

Under the Tree:

John Lewis Christmas 22This is everything I need under my tree! Chanel, Chanel, Chanel.

Food and Drink:

John Lewis Christmas 26From drinks and treats for the table to foodie gifts John Lewis and Waitress have you covered. 

John Lewis Christmas 2I loved this display of gifts for mulled wine and Christmas cocktails alike. 

John Lewis Christmas 10Lovely baking bits. 

John Lewis Christmas 9Perfect Christmas gifts for food lovers. I’d love to receive a hamper filled with all these goodies. 

For the Kids:

John lewis Christmas 28Let’s not forget the little ones. I adored this cute little kids room which made me wish I had a little boy, or a girl who liked cars!  Check out the cute stuffed decorations on the children’s tree!

John Lewis Christmas 29I also loved these retro children toys, which are reissues from Fisher Price. Rob’s mum still has the little record player from when her kids were small so I was delighted to see the reproduction one which is identical. Seriously tempted to get all of them for Lila!

John Lewis Christmas 30

Time to Relax and Pamper:

After looking round the house and filling up on delicious nibbles, we were treated to a little pamper with Espa who offer treatments and beautiful products at John Lewis. Their luxury products are absolutely beautiful. I was gifted a little goody bag full of lovely sample size products which I will be reviewing separately.

Espa 1

I’d just like to thank the wonderful staff at John Lewis Kingston for putting together such a great event and for sharing the secret Christmas house with us. It really was such a fun evening. I was also given a very generous goody bag by John Lewis containing lot’s of Christmas treats which I will also try and do a blog post on very soon.

Visit the John Lewis website.

I had been wanting to try Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser since reading numerous glowing reviews of it across the blogosphere. I finally bought it a few months ago and it’s been my everyday essential ever since. I had previously used Cold Cream to remove my make-up and cleanse my face. Although the favourite product of our foremothers is amazing for removing make-up I was on the look out for something a little less oily.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish 4

Cleanse and Polish runs along the same lines a classic cold cream in that you apply the creamy formula all over a dry face including over your eyelids to remove make-up. The difference is in the ingredients which contain mostly natural botanicals as opposed to some rather suspect ones in cold cream. These include rosemary, chamomile, cocoa butter and eucalyptus oil. Not only do they work wonders on your skin but they also smell amazing.

The cleanser comes with a special magic muslin cloth which not only removes all traces of product and make-up but also helps to exfoliate and remove dead skin leaving the face clean and smooth.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish 2

The cleanser comes in pretty green packaging along with a muslin cloth. I picked up the starter kit which comes in a handy zip up bag with a 100ml bottle of cleanser and 2 muslin cloths. At £15 I think it’s great value especially as the product lasts so long. I bought my first set a few months ago and have only just replaced it.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish 1

I love the smooth formula which is easy to apply and is so gentle that it can be used on the delicate eye area. As I mentioned it smells beautiful and really feels like a luxury product. The muslin cloth is very soft, but very effective and can be washed at 30 degrees when required.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish 3

For removing make-up it is an absolute god send. Like many vintage devotees I usually wear a fair amount of liquid eyeliner as well as several layers of mascara most days. I like to remove it without having to scrub the area at all, as I don’t want to get wrinkles before my time! With Cleanse and Polish you just gently rub it over the make-up and it gently melts it away. All you have to do is wipe over with the muslin cloth and the make-up is gone. Similar products I’ve tried have left a faint residue of make-up leaving me looking a little panda eyed, but this removes every last bit.

I’ve always had very clear skin and have never really suffered from spots, although I do get an occasional one now and then especially when I wear a lot of foundation. Last month I did a lot more outfit photos and I usually wear a little more make-up than usual, I found this product really helped to keep the breakouts at bay as it left my skin so clean.

I’m so happy with this product that I use it every day, I simply love it. I also love that Liz Earle is a British company based on the Isle of Wight. They also don’t test their products on animals like so many other companies still do which is definitely a plus point for me.

I bought my set from the Birchbox website.

Liz Earle is also available at John Lewis

A few weeks ago I asked the followers of my Facebook page to ask me some vintage fashion related questions that they wanted answered. The response was some really interesting questions that I couldn’t wait to get answering. First up is a question from my reader Naomi who asked about repairing and maintaining vintage stockings. She mentioned that they are expensive to buy and she wanted to make them last as long as possible. Something that women of the past would definitely understand.

For the Loveliest Stockings

There is nothing worse than buying a beautiful pair of vintage stockings only to catch them on a ring or a nail and make a hole, the hole then becomes a ladder and the stockings are destined for the bin. However all is hopefully not lost and it may be possible to save them.

Firstly though it’s important to think about preventing damaging them in the first place and there is lots you can do to prolong the life of your stockings. One important factor is choosing the right stockings for the occasion. Everyday stocking should be far more robust and harder wearing so go for a thicker style with a higher denier. It’s worth remembering that low denier stockings are almost impossible to repair. This advert from the early 50s explains little about gauge and denier.

Gauge and Denier of 1950s Stockings

This Charnos advert from 1954 describes some of the different styles they offered for both day and night. If it’s not clear on the packaging or they have come to you unwrapped if you look closely you should be able to see how tight the weave is and how thick they are. Keep the thinner more delicate pairs for special occasions. It might also be worth investing some reproduction stockings for everyday wear.

1954 Charnos Stocking Advert

Once you have worn them be careful taking them off and don’t put them with your other washing where they may be caught on other garments. They should be hand washed and dried away from heat. These washing instructions from a pair of my 50s stocks tell us a little about the care required when washing.

Vintage Stocking Washing Instructions

In the 1940s stocking were hard to come by and had to last as long as possible. This label from a pair of 1940s CC41 stockings from my collection explain that the stockings should not be thrown away until they are completely unusable. It also reminds us to be careful putting stockings on and not to catch them on rings and nails.

Waste Not Want Not Label CC41

I’d have to say almost every pair of stockings I’ve ruined has been because of a nail. Remember to keep your nails well filed and don’t put stockings on at all with rings on.

If the worst does happen and you do make a hole things are a little harder for us today then they were in the past. Back in the days where every woman wore stockings and had to make them last there were repair shops you could go to have them mended for you. This was actually a very skilled and intricate job and repairs could be made almost invisible. They even developed special machines which did all the hard work. With stockings being so expensive during war-time repair was absolutely essential. Many women also often had the skills and materials needed to mend them adequately themselves. So things are definitely a little harder today.

Vintage Stockings

Your first ports of call for a damaged stocking are clear nail polish and hairspray. they will both help to stop a run in it’s tracks and can be a great quick fix. If the hole or ladder is high on the leg and won’t show then this can be the ideal solution, just dab a bit of clear nail polish at either end and it shouldn’t get any worse.

If you want to try to actually repair the hole them you’ll need some hosiery mending thread, a ball point needle and a lot of patience. The thread is pretty hard to come by these days and your best bets are eBay and Etsy which always have a few on sale. Most advice I’ve read still recommends a little hairspray or nail polish to seal the ends of the run before stretching the stocking and stitching up the hole. Nylon thread is pretty stretchy and hard to work with however once you have managed so stitch up the hole the stretch is exactly what you need.

Vintage Nylon Stocking Repair Thread

Any mends will obviously show so this will really only work on small holes or on places on the stocking that will be hidden. In the 1940s when times were hard and stockings needed to last it was completely normal to have lots of repairs in your everyday stocking but not so much today, so there has to come a point where the stockings are no longer useable.

This handy tip from a 1947 magazine shows how to use the tops from an old pair of stockings to make a too-short pair of stocking longer. So if you do have a pair that is beyond repair why not keep them to one side and see if they come in handy later on.

Making Vintage Stockings Longer

I hope this was helpful for you. Remember to look after those stockings!!!

Do you have a vintage related question that you’d like me to answer in a similar post? Comment below and I’ll get to work on answering them.

Thank you to Scrapiana who pointed me in the direction of Nylon mending thread.