Gift Guides

A Selfish Guide to Gift Giving

A Selfish Guide to Gift Giving

A Selfish Guide to Gift Giving: A Gift for the Boyfriend, a Gift for Me, One for Mom, One for Me... 

Have you noticed this trend when doing holiday shopping?  You start shopping for the holidays and before you know it, you’ve spent more money on yourself than on other people!  And all the shops out there that are luring you in with their advertising are banking on this, too.  I almost never do Black Friday shopping, but this year I got soaps, some new clothes, a new laptop (for the office of course), and a washer and dryer set.  The latter was an unplanned gift to myself; the result of the unfortunate yet not ill-timed demise of both machines within just two days of each other.  At least I got a $600 rebate on the new ones!

Back to the subject of gifting.  As you may have noticed, we created a section in the shop for gifts under $200 for you.  We tried doing “gifts under $100” but the section was too small to bother.  Not much by way of stocking stuffers – if “under $100” can even count as that.  In my family that would be the main gift!  

Stocking stuffer-wise, I do have a couple of suggestions for you though: our new cleaning product is great, and for those of you who faithfully read our blog and have gotten to this paragraph, here’s a bonus for you:  If you’d like an extra polishing cloth or pad, just ask us and we will throw in another one at no charge.  They are quite handy!  

Another somewhat underappreciated gift in the lower price point of our shop is our earring jackets which come in both silver and gold.  They are super cute and rarely bought – I have no idea why:

Finally, our gold chains are currently very well priced because when we initially set those prices up, gold was $900 per ounce... now it’s at $1500!  Next year we will have to change our prices on those, but for now, they're a steal!

We are still working on adding a few silver pendants and silver stacking rings.  They should go up this weekend, as soon as we are finished coming out from under the sale we just had, which was quite successful if I may say so myself.  

Now, on to some recommendations I have from “not my shop,” a few of which fall squarely into the “gift to self” category, ahem.  

First off, let me flag the Etsy shop of my new graphic designer, Johanna Wood (her shop is Metal, Cloth & Wood), who makes lovely bug jewelry like these copper earrings with an etched ant motif:


I own one of her hand carved moth pins, which I pinned on my cloche hat, purchased from Artikal NYC, who also sells locally and offers hat making classes. 

Since I love art deco anything and everything, I purchased this clock for the office when the previous one bit the dust (it’s probably old fashioned to be into clocks but I love them):

Shipping for this item was very fast, and the seller also has this cat clock which I almost got instead:

I love all things cats!  Like I would totally buy these if I didn’t lose gloves too often: 

For a stocking stuffer that’s truly priced as such, I’ve purchased this shampoo soap:

I did stuff my own stocking though, as I am a frequent traveler and this soap beats having to put your shampoo into the suitcase or using those travel packs which I think are wasteful (they're more plastic than shampoo!)

My all-time favorite clothing seller on Etsy is Xiaolizi.  She lives and makes clothes in China, and will tailor anything to your size.  I’ve bought so many clothes from her that she has all of my information stored.  (There are periodic changes to size though, mostly upwards…).  Some of you may have seen me in my Tucson video wearing this dress in a red-orange color scheme: 

Or, for an LBD (little black dress) that would flatter almost any body type (it did wonders for mine), how pretty is this one?!


Xiaolizi’s dress care instructions suggest hand washing, but I toss them into the washer and dryer and so far they’ve all lasted better than a lot of commercially bought stuff!  They have even outlasted the washer and dryer itself, it appears...

On the more comfy side, I’ve gotten lots of use out of these cotton Gaucho pants; they wash well, they don’t shrink, and they are both flattering and comfortable: 

And I have been staring at this listing for weeks; I love it but I am not sure it would love me back: 

Actually, while we are on the subject of weight, I haven’t bought this but I got a kick out of it: 

For my philosophy friends, this one would make a great gift too: 

And I was thinking of giving this to my dentist Dr. Marian Farag, because I see her so often that I have suggested we should try having dinner sometime instead, it would be all the fun without the pain.  

I could go on, but I don’t shop as much for real handmade stuff on Etsy as I should, and I'm sure Amazon doesn’t need my help!

Happy shopping!

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Unwrapping the Holidays with New Stuff from Cecile Raley Designs

Unwrapping the Holidays with New Stuff from Cecile Raley Designs
Holiday season really IS my favorite season.  While I’m not a fan of winter, holiday traditions are the best way to transition into the cold part of the year in my view.  You change to fall colors, start decorating, figure out your list of “stay at home” activities, and think about gifts and gifting.  For this year's season of celebrations, we’ve selected three themes we want to share with you: Gifting (of course), DIY, and Personalization.   Continue reading

Sparkle the Holiday with a Gift

Sparkle the Holiday with a Gift

Yes, it is that time again.  Are you ready for the holidays?  Our Thanksgiving sale starts this weekend with 10% off the entire shop.  From Tuesday the 20th to Friday the 23rd, we have a special treat with 25% off all of our wedding jewelry! Our specials section will be resurrected for Cyber Monday with extra surprises. 

Calendars: our 2018 calendars are ready and already shipping. They will come to you upon request, or with any purchase over $200.  All of our VIP’s will receive one, as well as a little thank you gift from us for being such loyal supporters. The theme this year: travel.

Free jewelry cloths and other tidbits are still being sent out with each new purchase; we are also now including informational brochures on gems and gemstone enhancements from the American Gem Trade Association.



Gift Certificates: these can be purchased again in my Etsy shop this year.


And here are some gift ideas from our shop under $200:

Gold chains:  We stock those for the holidays and offer them in 16, 18 and 20 inches whenever possible.  Our green gold chains go with yellow gold, and I especially recommend any of our two-toned chains. 

 Beaded necklaces: They have been selling very fast lately but we have been restocking.  Prices are $90-$195. 

Mandarin Garnet, Sapphire, Imperial Topaz, Carnelian and Grossular Garnet Beaded Necklace

Beaded Sapphire, Carnelian, Kyanite, Chrome Diopside, Spessartite with Sterling Silver and Free Earrings

Beaded Tourmaline 20 Inch Beaded October Birthstone Necklace


Earring jackets: Our flower petal jackets are only $45 and now come in a larger size for $50.



Stud earrings: Our star studs make a cute holiday gift.



Gems: Give the special gift of a gem (maybe a birthstone) that the recipient can set to suit their own style.


Check out our Gemstone sections below in our Etsy shop 

Gemstones Single

Gemstone Pairs

Gemstone Melee- 3mm and under


Shipping: We’ve actually upgraded our shipping policy, we are now shipping all finished jewelry and custom orders for free domestically, and starting on the 15th of December until Christmas, all packages will go out priority.  The last day to safely order for priority shipping is Wednesday, December 19th.  But we are happy to do overnight shipping until Friday the 21 st upon request.  If you are ordering an item that needs sizing or any other modification, we can ship it first and you can have sizing or modifications done after the holidays.  Other than that, anything in the shop is ready to ship on the same or next day.


Returns: just a reminder that our return period is two weeks.  Thankfully, we have very few returns, but we do understand that the holidays can be an exception.  So if you are not sure about a gift, make sure you let the recipient know that a return or exchange is not a problem.

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Forgotten Beauties: Some Jewelry Highlights from my Shop

Forgotten Beauties: Some Jewelry Highlights from my Shop

In this blog entry, I want to focus your attention on a few pieces of finished jewelry from the shop that have remained behind in previous sales.  All of these feature gemstones that already are extremely rare or will be in the foreseeable future.  So these are my recommendation for the upcoming Christmas in July sale in the shop.  I've taken some new photos of the pieces in my newly planted garden (now that I have a garden), so that you can admire the flowers and jewelry alike. 

  1. Rose Gold Medieval Tudor Pendant: this pendant reminds me of the Elizabethan period, I would wear it on a bigger gold chain high on the neck (if I could afford a bigger gold chain, that is). The piece contains not just one, but three unusual gemstones: 12 pieces of 2mm hauyne - I can't believe I had so many at one time that I figured it didn't matter to use them in a single piece of jewelry - four mahenge spinel pears, and a 6mm Mozambique purple garnet. The latter gem is still available on the market, but it has gotten expensive.  Same with Mahenge spinel, though it is now very difficult to get good pieces.  Hauyne is pretty much out right now.  The color combo of all three together is stunning, if I may say so myself.  Check out the piece here:
  1. Rose Gold Flower Pendant: this is another piece that has been in my shop for some time. It is daintier but has a very pretty pink and yellow combo, great for spring and summer.  The spinels are Burmese and quite eye popping.  While Burmese spinel is still available, prices are basically astronomical at this point, and I buy only old stock if I can find it.  This piece was priced out before it got so expensive, so you are getting a nice bargain on the sidestones. Check out the piece here:


  1. Marquis Ring with Emerald, Hauyne and Paraiba: this ring is one of my personal favorites. It was originally a custom design, but I liked it so much I decided to carry it in the shop. The color combo is one of my favorites also, I love wearing anything blue and green.  Yes, the ring is expensive, but if you look at the gems, you'll know why: paraiba tourmaline melee - I am on my last round with those - hauyne melee - totally out - and a very bright emerald marquis which is much nicer in real life.  Photos don't do it justice! Check out the piece here:


  1. Juliette Ring: this is another statement piece featuring blue and green stones, and it too was originally a custom order. I like that it combines my scalloped and my petal designs. The main focus is on the gems, and the ring is made to take a lot of melee.  The center stone is an Afghani tourmaline, sister to the paraiba.  Slightly less bright but has a beautiful teal color.  It is complemented by more (Brazilian) paraiba, sapphire and merelani mint garnet (which is becoming exceedingly rare as well). Check out the piece here:


  1. Kite Shaped rose gold earrings with Paraiba: I've actually specifically designed this kite for those of you who like rare gems but have a smaller purse. The design takes a 2mm gemstone, and it can also be pave set around the bottom. It is my suggestion for custom orders if you have a 2mm gem that pops and that that you would like set in a larger earring.  Again this piece is set with Paraiba which is the big obsession in the gemstone market right now.  The earrings are set with 1.6mm gems but 2mm would have worked also - it would just have increased the price. Check out the piece here:

For custom orders I can dangle something else from the bottom (I can add on to this piece as well), and I can remove the 2mm bezel and add a larger one for a bigger stone.

Sale starts Sunday July 16 and ends on July 30. Take 15% off any item in my shop.

A friendly garden patron :)

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Holiday Shopping on Etsy

I don't know how many of you do holiday shopping via Etsy but I do my bit every year to promote some fellow shops that I like.

A big fashion item for me this year were leggins - they are just so comfortable, and I bought from two different shops both of which I was very happy with.

For the lower budget item, you can go to LazyDaisyLeggins, they ship quickly and their leggings are only $18 each. I...
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My Favorite Etsy Shops

As you are looking for holiday gifts, I thought that instead of focusing just on my shop, I’ll tell you about some of my own favorite places to order from.
First off, I know how hard it is to shop for guys, so here's a suggestion for the man: My friend Joanne Simmons, who lives in Jersey City, has the perfect gift for him.   Her shop Silver Sculptorhas a great variety of silver cufflinks, many of...
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Cecile Raley Holiday Buying Guide

My assistant Debbie actually put me on to this blog entry.  She thought it would be a good idea to suggest to my customers what they might get from my shop for the holidays.  But I am such a bad gift buyer – I mostly get useful things for people, not gifts with symbolic value.  So my advice may be terrible, lol.  Still, I am going to give it a try.

1. Birthstones: this is the old standby for all...
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If I May Say So Myself: What I Would Buy from My Shop

With my semi-annual 15% sale coming up on July 13th, I thought I’d assemble a shortlist of my own favorite items, and why I’d recommend those for purchase.  I’m going to try to limit myself to three pieces from each of my favorite sections.


Of course my own favorite shop sections are the gems, and my favorite stones these days are mint garnet and Mahenge spinel. But there are other, less...
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