May 2007

Friend & Faux- Dazzling Jewelry at a Fraction of the Cost

Author: Linda Hopkins

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, the new simulates are hot on their heels, wooing women with convincing alternatives that are beautiful to wear yet easy on the pocketbook. In the not so distant past, imitations were easy to spot. But today’s copy jewels are a cut above, making the difference between real and faux more and more difficult to distinguish.

When CZs (cubic zirconia) hit the mainstream market in the late 1970s, they fooled a lot of people. But a new stone called moissanite is even more realistic. According to Dustin Bryan, owner of Inspired Creations (formerly Frankly Fake) at the Mall at Shelter Cove, moissanite is as good as it gets when it comes to a diamond look-alike. A man-made version of a mineral first found in a meteorite 100 years ago, it is almost as hard as a diamond and even more brilliant. And at $600 a carat, it’s about one tenth the price of the real McCoy. “Its color and clarity are equivalent to a better-quality diamond,” said Bryan. “The bigger you get, that’s when you really can appreciate it.”

In a recent investigative report, ABC’s 20/20 took a one-carat moissanite ring to 10 jewelers in the Washington, D.C. area, asking them to examine it and estimate its value. Five of them thought the moissanite ring was a real diamond. It even fooled an electronic diamond detector.

“Believe me, you cannot tell the difference,” said Inspired Creations sales associate, Conny Corsetto. While CZs remain popular and are a less expensive option, she pointed out that they do not compare to moissanite, which has more depth, looks more expensive and holds up better over time.

Why go for faux?
According to Corsetto, customers choose to buy faux jewels for a variety of reasons. “We have three types of customers,” she said: “very wealthy people who wear it all day long and wear it as travel jewelry; retired people who have been there and done that, don’t need it anymore and would rather spend their money traveling; and the young kids who can’t afford to spend $7-8,000 dollars on a carat.”

“The difference is the stones,” said Bryan, explaining that the metals and settings are the same quality you would expect when purchasing fine jewelry. With the exception of a few inexpensive electroplate pieces, all of the jewelry at Inspired Creations is set in 14K gold or sterling silver. Almost all of the sterling is rhodium-plated to prevent tarnish, giving it the look of white gold or platinum, Bryan added.

In addition to synthetic diamonds, Inspired Creations offers colored CZs and simulated pearls as well as a chain bar, featuring a variety of 18K yellow and white gold overlay chains, sold by the inch and guaranteed for a lifetime. You’ll find chandelier, hoop and stud earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings galore. Selling like hotcakes is the sterling silver, CZ-studded palm tree necklace. Other popular items include tennis bracelets and various celebrity-inspired pieces. According to Bryan, most popular are the designer-inspired pieces. “That is our niche,” he said. “If it doesn’t look expensive, it’s not us.”

Priding themselves on quality merchandise, Inspired Creations also strives to provide the best customer service, offering one-on-one assistance as well as jewelry cleaning and repair.

“I enjoy educating customers and offering them alternatives. I’m honest with them and I think people appreciate that,” said Corsetto. “Every customer is important, no matter what they buy. We want them to come back.”

Inspired Creations, formerly known as Frankly Fake, has been serving Hilton Head Island customers for over 18 years. Bryan, who bought the store from his father, has been in charge for the past five years. Citing negative connotations associated with the word “fake,” he changed the name to Inspired Creations in February 2006, opening a second location in Atlanta, Ga., last May.

Bryan keeps a close eye on the daily operations of Inspired Creations, handling all of the buying and bookkeeping as well as manning the sales floor and regularly interacting with customers.

He employs six knowledgeable sales associates who agree that Inspired Creations is a fun place to work. Praising Bryan’s fairness and flexibility, Corsetto said, “I enjoy selling the product and working with the people here. It’s a pleasure coming to work.”

Open Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun, noon-6 p.m., stop by Inspired Creations. Or visit online at Who knows? You might just find a new “best friend.”

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