Caring for your Gold-Filled and Gemstone Jewelry

Hello everyone, my name is Tom...I am the fellow who usually runs Mabel’s Union Street location.  I started working with Mabel a year ago, and it's been a fun ride.  I retired a little while back but work with Mabel because I love jewelry!

The excitement of owning a handcrafted piece of jewelry made by Mabel Chong is so palpable and raw.  Mabel calls it "Uncivilized Elegance."  Newness fades, though, and over time jewelry may lose its luster.  How do you revive it?  I'll get to that in a moment, but first let's discuss gold-filled jewelry, which Mabel uses frequently, in addition to 14K.

Gold-filled jewelry is composed of a solid layer of Gold, which must constitute at least 5% of the item's total weight, mechanically bonded to sterling silver or a base metal. By comparison gold plating is a miniscule layer of solid gold applied to a brass base and it can wear off rather quickly and expose the brass base product. It does not stand up to heat, water or wear over time. The gold-filled, with it's 5% gold by weight, and with all the gold on it's surface, offers protection from tarnish and wear and even jewelry allergies.

With that little dossier about what gold-filled is, now let's discuss care and cleaning.  Gold filled jewelry has the same care regimen as 14K jewelry: keep jewelry away from chemicals and clean your items regularly with a mild, soapy solution, rinse, pat dry with a gentle cloth, and gently polish with a soft cloth.

And that's it. It really works, and you really want to do it to preserve the sparkle.

For your hard gemstones it is simply Warm water-detergent-soft brush.

For your porous gemstones it is Wipe with damp cloth; wipe dry immediately.

If you're not sure if your gemstone is hard or porous don't guess do a Google search or call us and we will get you that information. I'm going to list some of both types of stones here so you will easily get the general idea.

Hard gemstones where it's OK to use warm water detergent soft brush are:


porous gemstones where it's best to wipe with a damp cloth and wipe dry immediately are:







Some more tips about jewelry care:

1. Taking care of your jewelry is preventive maintenance.
2. Avoid chlorine! Spray on your perfume before putting on your jewelry.
3. Try not to wear the same piece to the gym every time you work out.
4. Don't wear it into the shower every day with shampoo running down your neck.
5. Love your jewelry and your jewelry will love you right back. After all, it's you who are bringing so much to the jewelry, so bring it a little love for making you look more confident, beautiful, and fabulous!
6. You can trust me on that!

Thanks for taking the time to read my little blog post, I hope to see you very soon!
Mabel Chong, 1949 Union Street
415 345 8833


Hello lovelies, it's Kyle time!

After a whirlwind tour with Mabel in NYC for the NYNOW show, and then a little 'discovery' trip of my own last weekend to Los Angeles, sourcing fabrics and styles for a line of clothing I hope to put into production soon, it became apparent that a few trends have big promise this summer and fall. Let's discuss.



This is the year to embellish a few pieces of your clothing with 'added value' items— anything from sequin patterns to plastic discs filled with glitter, like on this dress by Erin Robertson, who won Project Runway in 2016.


No these are not you grandmother's frocks, but Gucci 2017! Patches are everywhere this year. and unless you've been living under a rock, get out and go buy some patches that suit your style—pronto!—and apply them to your favorite bag, T-shirt, or jeans.

3D Fabric

The clothing below looks almost like lace, but it isn't. It's nylon that has been "printed" with a 3D printer. 3D printers are on the market for nearly $4,000, and enable you to draw up designs on a computer and then print from a variety of fabrics to make clothing that has a unique tensile strength, but also provides innovative new ways to drape. 3D fabrics are trending, and also help eliminate waste! (If 'waist elimination' is part of your program, however, that ball is still in your court!)


Leather has been styled throughout the years to provide glimpses of what's to come. In the past leather has been typically used more for outerwear, but this year it's invading your closet as a layer to work with your favorite denim, or wool overcoat. Seen here is Belstaff's 2017 Promo. 


Ath-leisure is casual, comfortable clothing designed to be suitable both for exercise and everyday wear. Combine these elements to create a chic look that is easily dressed up with heels, or dressed down with a sneaker or flat. Ath-leisure easily transitions through the day, from afternoon to evening. Check out the "technical cashmere" lines at Kit and Ace, too!



Fur is daring and monochromatic, taking on color hues found in undergarments. Seen here in Fendi Promo 2017. The blue and grey tones work together beautifully. 


Platforms are very much in season. Most designers at Fashion Week had some sort of platform with their looks. Shown below are from Stella McCartney 2016-2017 Winter. It is so pretty with a sort of effortless look, and also super comfortable. Of course they make you look taller, too! I really like them with the ath-leisure look, too.  


As always, I'm working with Mabel most of the week at the Sacramento Street store. Stop by and let's talk summer looks, and we'll pair it up with something from Mabel's newest lines, too!



NY NOW 2017--DONE!

Hello beautiful!

This was my 10th year of doing the New York Gift Show, and it is always a delight. This year I landed some amazing new accounts, and I am so thrilled!

--Museum of Art and Design, NY, NYC  

--Adornments Fine Jewelry, in Sag Harbor, (I'm finally in the Hamptons!)

--Edgecomb in Portland, Maine   

--Chebellezza in Ponce, Puerto Rico 

--Amaryllis Jewelry in Baltimore, Maryland. 

I took Kyle--my partner in crime--and Tom (Terrific!), and the three of us rocked Manhattan. We built a stunning booth, and highlighted my "Floranecklace collection, as well as my new "X & O" Collection. In the evenings we hobnobbed around town, and found a great ramen at Tabata

Needless to say:


The booth looked amazing. I love the little burlap-covered neck forms Kyle made. It got so much attention. 

Four days later, it was all over, and we scurried to break down the booth and get to JFK before the storm arrived! 

So excited to be back in the store again, I hope to see you sometime soon. Look for a blogpost by Kyle coming soon!


"Honest and real." That is so kind.

I was recently interviewed by 32/7, a website that focuses on working and entrepreneurial moms. I posted the article on Facebook, and a kind acquaintance said that my responses were 'honest and real.' How that touches me!

Because that is why I create jewelry. Part of my "Uncivilized Elegance" ethos is to help liberate the best of every woman, to bring out what is honest and real in her, and highlight her unique individual beauty. Thank you, Sive!

Read the article here, or below. I hope to see you sometime soon.

Stay beautiful!


7 Questions with Jewelry Designer Mabel Chong


Oct 28 2016

Anyone watching the fourth season of ABC’s “Revenge” could have spotted the blue-and-gold drop earrings worn by actress Emily Van Camp, or the intricate necklace worn by Madeleine Stowe. But for Mabel Chong, seeing those pieces of jewelry on TV had special meaning: She was the one who designed them.  

The chance to have her jewelry appear on a network TV show in the United States is just about as far-removed from Mabel’s childhood as you can get. The jewelry designer was born in a small farming village in the south of China with a population of only 500. The closest town was an hour away. Her family—she was one of seven kids—moved to Hong Kong when she was 13.  

Mabel’s next move came in 2000 when she arrived in San Francisco. Her job with a pearl wholesale company enabled her to travel to jewelry and gem shows all over the country, and at the same time, she studied history, art history, English, and metalsmithing at City College of San Francisco.  

Just two years after coming to the U.S., Mabel started her eponymous jewelry business, which today has grown to two stores in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and two daughters, ages 4 and 9. Her beautiful earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings can be found for sale at shops, galleries, and museum stores from California to New York.    

We talked to Mabel Chong about her designs, her business, and her life as a working mom.   

1. How would you describe your designs to someone who's never seen any of your pieces?  

Colorful, feminine, intricate, and crafty. I have a certain look but I can't put it into words! 

2. Where do you find inspiration for your jewelry?   

I was born with an appreciation for beauty and style, and I strive to make beautiful things. When I was a little girl in China, there wasn’t much fashion available, but I still managed to find fashion. My only accessory was a flower headband and I wore it every day to school. I adored my mom with her tiny, yellow-gold hoop earrings. Travel, nature, and drawing with my daughters all inspire my designs. 

3. Are there any particular pieces of yours that you would recommend for working moms—for example, something especially suited to wear to work?   

Most pieces are suited for moms to go to work or [go] out at night. Most everything I make is "day-long, year ′round." 

4. What does a typical day look like for you?   

I get up at 6 AM most days and start working on emails with coffee. Then we have to get the girls to school, so I am at work by 10 AM. I set the course for my jewelry-makers for the day, and customers will start coming into the shop around noon. I also [do] quality control and ship everything throughout the day. After 4:30 is my most creative time: I sit down and design jewelry and I will leave work around 6:30.  

5. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of owning your own business?

Favorite: To have a business that sells everything I design and love! Meeting different people every day is amazing; working with different talents—my staff—and working together is a great feeling. Most of my jewelry-makers have been with me for years. We all became mothers about the same time. There is a lot of conversation about kids and husbands.  

Least Favorite: 1. Staffing. It has become very challenging … to find people to work at retail. Because the city is so expensive … it becomes difficult for them to live in the city. 2. Accounting. I was pretty good with math growing up, but accounting is a different thing. Ugh. 


6. In the years since you launched your business, what lessons have you learned that would help other women starting out on their own?

Do what you love with perseverance and focus, and believe in yourself. Ask for help when you need it. America is an amazing place to start a business. People are so willing to go out of their way to help you. It is always going to be an up-and-down journey; just ride it with a smile on your face. (I am still trying.)  

7. What do you see as the hardest part of being a working mom, and what does the term "work/life balance" mean to you?

I used to be very guilty that I am a working mom. I don’t spend as much time with my kids and they all have to go to afterschool care. I also travel five weeks a year for trade shows.  

I can’t be as involved at school like other moms. I am very thankful for my husband, who actually works and is very hands-on with the kids and very helpful with my business.  

Work/life balance means when at work, throw yourself in and get your work done. When at home, give 100% of yourself to be with your husband and kids. Again, I am still working on it. 

Click here to shop our collection of Mabel Chong jewelry.

Holiday Shopping Events

Last year my husband arranged for me and a few other makers-designers to hold an ad hoc Holiday Shopping Event, at Salesforce, where he works.

I brought my friend Phuong, from Tourance, and there were a few other vendors (who I didn't know) selling unique items over the course of a three-hour window. We all made some money, but mostly we had a lot of fun. Meeting new customers is always a delight, introducing them to our creations and our businesses, which we consider a member of the family ("it's my baby!")

We'll probably be doing another holiday event this year at Salesforce, which prompted me to think that maybe some of you would enjoy creating an event at your workplace, too. It requires only a little bit of coordination, and we're happy to work with you for a suitable time: maybe a lunch-oriented time works best, maybe a happy hour is better for your group.

We're also open to helping out with holiday giving, and will entertain donating a part of the proceeds to a charitable organization that your company or employee group supports.

If this is appealing, send me a note! I'd love to hear from you, and I'll work with other designers to make it a sweet holiday event. Drop me a line at mabel@mabelchong.com.

Stay beautiful!





October is Tourmaline month. October is Opal month. Octoberlicious!

I first learned about tourmaline and its beautiful variations back in 2004, when I had just started making and marketing my designs. They captivated me because they came in a variety of vivid, beautiful colors, and I was just exploring my newfound confidence with color. i had seen them before, but hadn't had much interest in colored stones---I was mostly a pearl and opaque stone designer.

Their colors and facets dazzled me, though!  Their mix of colors is especially interesting, where in one stone there are two and even three colors. Have a look at some of my Tourmaline designs.

Tourmalines share October with Opals. They, too, are regarded for their display of many colors, and can produce a fiery look from the way they diffract light. Black opals are rarer, though, and release little or no light. Elvis Presley wore an opal pinkie ring! Click here to see my Tahitian Sunset pendant necklace, in 18k gold.


Union Street Atelier

Dear Mabel Chong enthusiasts!

I started working with Mabel at her Union Street store last December. The store design was cute, but I thought it had much more potential. Its high-street location gives the store the potential to be fabulous.

With a background in Visual Merchandising at Neiman's and Personal Shopping at Saks, I wanted to bring the two together somehow. I sketched some ideas and presented them to Mabel to see if she would allow me to create something truly beautiful in the store. She said yes...to everything!

We said goodbye to the grand showcase, re-arranged the wall shelving, added some new furniture and two display cases, and voila! I present to you the new Mabel Chong “Union Street” atelier.

But the re-design is just the beginning. Starting immediately, I will be running the store. Expect for me to call you up and set a time for you to come in and shop for yourself, your family, and friends. This will be personalized shopping at its finest, and it’s all about you.

I personally invite you to the Opening Night with champagne and nibbles, this Friday, Sep 23rd, from 5:30 to 7:30. Stop by and feel the magic. I'll be taking photos of our guests, so dress to impress!

This is an exciting new chapter in Mabel Chong, and I look forward to delighting you in my new role.

See you there!

"Kyle days" at Union Street are:
Tuesday to Friday from 11-6.
On Saturday and Sunday, you can look forward to being served by the wildly knowledgeable and enthusiastic Thomas Little. See you soon!

August Rocks!

I love Peridot, the August birthstone.

My husband reminds me that it was the first gemstone I worked with, over 12 years ago (I had been working almost exclusively in pearls.)

1. Peridot is one of the oldest known gemstones, with records documenting the mining of Peridot as early as 1500 B.C. Some historians believe that the famous Emeralds of Cleopatra were actually Peridot, although the world may never know.

2. Peridot was used a talisman in the ancient world and it has a mystical reputation. It was once thought to ward off anxiety, making men more articulate and facilitating successful relationships and marriages. (I'll be putting some more peridot at my Union Street location this month...)

3. Peridot was also believed to be able to cure asthma. I'm so glad we live in the 21st century...


But mostly, I like them for their beauty. They remind me of summer, lemony scents, wide open fields, and laughter. August is good.

NY Now!

Are you in New York in August? I'll be there for the NYNOW show, at the Javits Center, from the 20-23, showing my latest designs. Come by the show, or maybe ring me up for happy hour! Kyle and Taylor will be joining me. 



Trunk-Show at Auberge Du Soleil

We recently were invited to Napa's Auberge Du Soleil to do a trunk show, and I wanted to share with everyone how wonderful a time we had there, and show a little about the resort itself.

Located at the top of Rutherford Hill Road in St. Helena, this getaway rests and looks out over the Napa Valley and borders the Mayacamas Mountains. As a Relais & Chateau resort, everything is luxurious to the extreme!

Treat yourself to the Auberge Spa where their staff excels at making you feel welcomed and relaxed. The service was so exceptional that Mabel and I didn't want to leave. So much so that while I was touring the spa, a woman from the staff saw me and said "Mr. Hamilton, your room is ready!"-- You have no idea how bad I wanted to be Mr. Hamilton!

The food at the restaurant was exceptional: we had an apricot and mixed greens salad, and a cauliflower with pasta entree, both completed with a refreshing sparkling grapefruit juice.And the guests were splendid. Toward the end of the day a gentleman came over and offered us Napa sparkling wine mimosas--I guess he was a mind-reader!

I can't wait for our next trunk show at Auberge DU Soleil!



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