Friday, October 14, 2011

Custom engraved tags from Charm Factory

Not long ago, someone posted in a Facebook group about a company looking for jewelry-making bloggers to review their product. I jumped at the chance, because frankly, I needed the inspiration - I've been neglecting my Etsy shop for months! - and soon heard back from Charm Factory about this very cool product: custom-engraved jewelry tags.

I've seen jewelry tags before, usually very small base metal ones that say "Made with Love" or "Handmade for You" on a heart or hand-shaped tag. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a diamond-tipped engraver that could replicate my logo and text beautifully on a gold-plated tag, and let me tell you, now that I know ... I'm hooked!
The contents of my package from Charm Factory
Here is what I received from the kind people at Charm Factory* - not just one, as I expected, but 25 engraved gold-plated tags, and a polishing cloth!

Ordering my tags was a pretty simple process. I just had to figure out which size and shape would be best - they have hearts, ovals and rectangles in different sizes from 6x7.6mm to 8.8x13mm - for the logo I had designed. (I've used Photoshop for ages now, so that's what I did here, but they accept lots of different file types.) I emailed the logo file to Angie, the manager, and requested the 6.7x13.7mm rectangle tags. Unfortunately, as she explained to me via email, my original design would have been too tiny to read if I included the two lines of text underneath the logo, so rather than redesign it I decided to just have the logo by itself.
The original design I requested
One thing I want to stress here is that Charm Factory does not send you a proof before engraving your tags, and engraved tags are non-returnable, so definitely make certain you know what it will look like before ordering a lot! You can order a sample tag for $10 and have that deducted from your final order, but it seems to just be for plain text using their fonts, not the custom image engraving that I have here.
My tags - click for mega-closeup
My tags arrived a week later, looking beautiful, pristine and so professional! While it was difficult to photograph due to the reflective nature of the gold, the image is very clear and easy to read. I could not get over how precise the tiny logos are!
Engraved tag added to the clasp of my necklace (for sale in my Etsy shop) - click for mega-closeup
As you can see, the tag is the perfect size for my citrine, garnet and gold necklace - not too tiny or awkwardly big - and I think it makes the piece look more high-quality! I am completely smitten with the tags and will be editing all my Etsy listings (at least the ones for gold necklaces) to include the engraved logo tag in the descriptions. I may even undertake the huge task of re-photographing all my pieces ... which I really should, anyway.

My only regrets are that I don't have my links on the tag - so in future, I would order them with a different design or have the links engraved on the (blank) opposite side of the tags for an extra $0.60 per tag - and that all the ones I have are gold - so I'd order some sterling silver ones next time, too.

There is a minimum order of 50 tags for as little as $0.63 each, depending on the quantity and metal you select, and you can order a sample pack of the different sizes and shapes of tags in your preferred metal (blank, though) to help you decide which one you need (price varies, but starts at $0.99). If you want an image or logo engraved, like I have, there is an additional fee of $40 for the first order using that image.

Overall, I'm really impressed with the quality of these tags. I think they add to the value of my work, make my items look more professional, and could help me get return business, especially if I had the link to my shop on there too ^_^;

Charm Factory also sells charms (duh!) of all different subject matter, color and size, as well as other jewelry supplies, watch components and more. If you have any questions about their products, I recommend going to the website and taking advantage of the "Live Support" widget to get an instant answer!

So what do you think of my pretty new tags??? :D

*Items were provided free of charge by the manufacturer for my consideration. I am not being compensated for this review and all opinions expressed within are my own.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pink ribbon mani for BCA and Team Pink Eye!

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but: October is Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) month! The sad truth is that most of us have friends or family who have fought breast cancer, or at least know of someone who has lost a loved one to it. Although men are susceptible to breast cancer as well, women are diagnosed more often - about 1 in every 8 women (in the US) will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her life. If you have a close relative who has suffered from breast cancer, you may already have been told that your risk of developing breast cancer is roughly doubled if it was a first-degree relative (such as your mother, sister, or daughter); but did you know that 70-80% of breast cancer diagnoses are made in women with no family history of it? Anyone can be at risk. The two most significant risk factors are gender and age - being female, and growing older.

Frightening, right? The reason BCA month was created was that not enough people are aware of the very real risks breast cancer presents, and these people may be less likely to do or request breast exams, making prevention difficult or impossible. Prevention is the biggest weapon we currently have in the fight against breast cancer, along with early detection. The more people know, the more likely they are to encourage their loved ones to go for regular check-ups, or do frequent self-exams, or spread awareness and knowledge by supporting BCA.

Here's where us bloggers come in! Our goal is to raise awareness of breast cancer and empower people to go out and spread that awareness even further. We also aim to raise money towards breast cancer research - every little bit helps, whether it's $1 or $1,000 - and cover the internet with the color PINK to get people talking about breast cancer! I'm working with the awesome Frances and Rebecca of Team Pink Eye, along with many other bloggers, to bring you BCA posts and giveaways this month :)
Very shaky nail art for BCA
On that note, here is my BCA manicure! I applied four thin coats of OPI Do You Think I'm Tex-Y? (more pink than it appears here) for the base, then added OPI I Lily Love You on all but my thumbnails. I then used a nail art pen to very shakily and inexpertly draw a ribbon on each thumbnail (white on pink was more striking than pink on white, so I went for flashiness over accuracy). The combination of the crazy rainbow flashes from I Lily Love You and the bright white ribbon against the deep pink background are very eye-catching - so the more people notice my manicure, the more people I can speak to about BCA :)

And now, if you've made it through all my facts and amateurish nail art, you're in for a real treat! I'm hosting one of the six Team Pink Eye giveaways this week, and here's what you could be eligible to win*:
Gift set from sponsor Overall Beauty featuring Mink and Pearls 5g jars
From the generous sponsor*, Overall Beauty, one lucky donor will win a gift set featuring a 5g jar each of Mink, a creamy brown, and Pearls, a super soft creamy yellow, as well as their choice of any one of the seven blushes Overall Beauty sells (not pictured).

Now you may have noticed I said "donor" - so here's how the Team Pink Eye giveaways work! If you would like to be eligible to win any or all of the six giveaways we're doing this week, you will need to go to the Susan G. Komen site (please use this link!) to donate at least $5 (the minimum donation possible), 100% of which will go to Susan G. Komen Positively Pink for the Cure. Team Pink Eye will be doing six giveaways each week this month, along with posting eye and nail looks like mine to raise both money and awareness, with your help!

Your donation will enter you into all six of this week's giveaways, as long as you follow these steps:

  • Donate using the same name you comment under
  • Comment on each of the six relevant blog posts, stating that you donated, would like to enter to win, and the best email address at which we can reach you if you do win!

So to recap, if you want to donate to this fund, and enter the six giveaways going on this week, visit our team's donations page and then check out the Team Pink Eye blog to find the other five bloggers who are hosting giveaways this week so you can comment on their posts, too. This week's giveaway will run through  10PM Central Standard Time on Sunday, October 9, at which point the winners will be drawn via random.org Winners will be announced and emailed on Monday!

If you are unable to donate $5 at this time (the cost of about one mineral eyeshadow) to possibly win one of our prizes (valued up to $30), please consider helping out in other ways. You could write your own blog post about breast cancer, and link to charities that fund breast cancer research. You could wear pink, and/ or a pink ribbon, in public this month and explain to anyone who asks that you are supporting BCA. You could donate as little as $1 and still make a difference - just think of how much would be raised if everyone in your town donated just $1 each! The point is to raise awareness, spread knowledge, encourage frequent exams, and support research for the cure. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty if "all" you can do is wear pink this month - you could help save lives by spreading awareness.

And most importantly, remember to take good care of your breasts! Learn how to do self-exams, and go in for check-ups, too.

*This giveaway is sponsored by Team Pink Eye and Overall Beauty, NOT Susan G. Komen.


Breast cancer stats in this post are from breastcancer.org

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cherry Culture sale haul with NYX swatches

Well ... what can I say? I've been bad again ^_^; When I saw that Cherry Culture was doing 25% off sitewide (sorry, it's over now),  I immediately went over there and started building what I thought would be a massive dream-cart of products, only to discover after an hour or so of careful Googling for swatches that I had less than $50 of stuff total! That's not bad for what I was thinking of as an unattainable dream :P Anyway, I whittled the cart down to six items, less than $20 shipped:
Top to bottom: NYX Mega Shine Lipgloss in Sunset and African Queen, NYX Round Lipstick in Haute Coutour [sic], NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Purple Rain and Orange, Sinful Colors polish in Shausha
Almost all NYX*, except for one little Sinful Colors polish I haven't been able to find in stores. Some things were already discounted, and the 25% code still applied, so I feel I got a pretty good deal here :) From top to bottom, I got NYX Mega Shine Lipglosses in Sunset and African Queen, NYX Round lipstick in Haute Coutour [sic], NYX Slim Lip Pencils in Purple Rain and Orange, and Sinful Colors polish in Shausha. And I was very impressed by how quickly my order arrived - I placed it on a Tuesday night and it arrived that Saturday!
L-R: Sunset, African Queen, Haute Coutour, Purple Rain wide, Purple Rain thin, Orange wide, Orange thin; direct sunlight, no flash
I've been wanting African Queen, a true orange lip liner, and Shausha polish for some time now, so this haul killed some lemmings for me! Purple Rain liner caught my eye because it seemed perfect for African Queen, and Haute Coutour looked gorgeous in this swatch; and then I gambled a bit with Sunset because it was hard to find swatches, but it turned out to be a super pretty rosy pink with golden shimmer. Actually, Orange was a gamble too; I could find swatches of Coral easily enough but none of Orange, and I recently bought NYX Pumpkin from Ulta expecting to find a good orange, but it turned out to be rosy-peach with gold sheen. Gorgeous too, but not the color I wanted:
NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Pumpkin
L-R: NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Pumpkin swatched thinly, thickly; direct sunlight, no flash
Pumpkin applied to otherwise bare lips; direct sunlight, no flash
I am happy to have them both, though, as well as Purple Rain. The formula is pretty easy to work with; goes on smoothly, doesn't drag or pull or feel too dry, and the color payoff is GREAT! I'm not sure they do anything for lipstick longevity, I seem to wear off lipcolor very quickly no matter what :/ And Purple Rain doesn't look as duochromey as I expected it to - instead of pink with purple flash, it's basically a pinky purple, if that wasn't too gibberish-y ... but again, it's an absolutely beautiful color.
Purple Rain; Orange
As for the glosses, I have to mention one thing first and foremost: the scent is SO heavy! It is a nice scent to my nose, since I like candy, and don't mind smelling cherry Jolly Ranchers, but I'm sure many people would dislike that. They are surprisingly opaque, feel decent on my lips and look stunning. If you have never seen African Queen on anyone before, it's a bright hot fuchsia with bright, bold purple duochrome, and it looks incredibly sexy and fun. Love love love. SO glad to finally have it, I have been wanting this color for ages! Pretty sure I'll wear it and Sunset often.
Left: Sinful Colors Shausha at its purple angle; R: Shausha at its copper angle; direct sunlight, no flash
Shausha is a lovely duochrome I wanted to kill my desire for Zoya Zara - but actually, it looks really similar to Dannii (which I do own and did compare, but haven't got pics of), only Shausha is pearly and Dannii is glittery. It's a lavender-purple with rose gold, or copper, duochrome. I don't think it's in the current Sinful Colors lineup because I haven't even seen empty slots for it in any displays, but Cherry Culture has a LOT of SC shades I've never seen, or heard of, before! Unfortunately many of them are "out of stock" :/

Finally, another item I am so pleased with - the lipstick! Haute Coutour, despite its annoying spelling, is a total win. It's a deep berry with gold shimmer - perfect for fall, work, dates, everything! I've already got it on my lipstick blog so check out lip swatches here :)

Okay, I know I shouldn't be spending twenty dollars-es on makeup, but overall I cannot regret this order from Cherry Culture! I'm ridiculously happy with everything, despite not having seen any of it in person before ordering. Plus, the discounts ... this definitely does feel like winning ^.^

Link me your CC sale hauls if you've got them up already!

*Disclaimer: I still think NYX's sale fail was a disgrace and does fit the definition of a bait-and-switch, so I do not want to support them or encourage people to buy from them. However, there are many ways to get your hands on these products if you want them - Cherry Culture, eBay, BeautyJoint.com, Ulta, blogsales etc - so I will still feature them from time to time!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Even more Darling Girl swatches - Halloween

I was so enthralled by the Darling Ghoul offerings, when they were launched, I spent some time looking around for extra money to spend ... and managed to find $6.70! So I spent $6.50 on two petits from the Halloween collection :) The shop is currently closed while Susan catches up on the HUGE amount of orders she got from us crazed fans!
The contents of my Darling Girl Cosmetics package, minus the invoice
First of all, such cute packaging and freebies for Halloween! Secondly, this order came SO quickly! Very impressed! I love the little Darling Ghoul sticker ^.^ I ordered petits of Witch & Famous and Jack's Lantern, begged for Polaris to be one of my samples and also received a sample of Secret Star blush.
Petit jars of Witch & Famous (L) and Jack's Lantern (R)
Check out the Halloween collection labels!
L-R: Polaris, Witch & Famous, and Jack's Lantern, all swatched over Pixie Epoxy (top) and bare skin (below); direct sunlight, no flash
Please forgive the weird lighting, the sunlight has changed colors lately :/ Click photos to make them huge!

Polaris is a great warm coppery brown with green and turquoise shimmer that I was curious about after seeing swatches at Portrait of Mai - I was wondering if it was at all similar to the taupe in the NARS Dogon duo, but I think that shade is much lighter and more cool-toned. It's a bit metallic in finish, like bronze, with the green shift of all MAC Club dupes (though this isn't one of the Club dupes, it is a different color though slightly similar). I'm kind of surprised by the item description, which says, "Polaris is a complex greenish grey taupe with fine copper shimmers." I don't really see the gray!
L-R: Polaris, Witch & Famous, and Jack's Lantern, all swatched over Pixie Epoxy (top) and bare skin (below); direct sunlight, no flash
Witch & Famous is such a cool taupe! It's sort of smoky plum, neutral with a twist. I see aqua blue shimmer in it, too. The item description says "Witch & Famous is a gorgeous plummy taupe with gold reflect." Pretty spot on!
Blurred to show shimmer. L-R: Polaris, Witch & Famous, and Jack's Lantern, all swatched over Pixie Epoxy (top) and bare skin (below); direct sunlight, no flash
Jack's Lantern is a color I wanted to get in order to pair it with Fyrinnae Mephisto, which is a bit similar but more complex. Unlike the Fyrinnae color, this is a charcoal gray with maroon and purple shimmer. The description from the DG webshop is "Jacks Lantern is my take on the orange glow emanating from all the Jack O' Lantern's guarding the porches on all Hallows Eve. It's a deep black base with a fiery red/orange shift. The combination looks like a blackened purple especially when foiled." This is a seriously gorgeous color, and the shimmer is very visible and adheres well.
L-R: Fyrinnae Mephisto, Darling Girl Jack's Lantern. Both swatched over Pixie Epoxy (top) and bare skin (below); direct sunlight, no flash, blurred to show shimmer
Here's Mephisto next to Jack's Lantern. While Mephisto is a royal blue-violet with a crazy bright coppery-red shift that looks like a live flame, Jack's Lantern is a fantastic complement to it with the purple and burgundy shimmer. I love this combination and really want to figure out how to wear them together (Mephisto intimidates me >_<)!

I'll include the swatch of Secret Star blush in with the other three blushes and one bronzer I already have swatched, coming soon! So did you grab some Darling Ghoul goodies? I'm very much wanting to get the cream blush and Poisoned Plum balm sometime soon ...
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