Glitter: Leaving autumn

Few images are more cozy and comforting that the gentle swirl of falling autumn leaves. With November wrapping up the fall months and December about to usher in winter, these Tiffany Leaf Earrings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art are an especially elegant way to capture the spirit of the changing season.

From the design archives of the famed Louis Comfort Tiffany Company, these pieces are a perfect balance of classic style and emerging trend. The richness of 14K gold is heavily accentuated by a layer of 24K gold plating, making the precious pair appear as pure as can be.

A sprinkling of freshwater pearl accents completes the subdued harmony of the nature motif.

While the Metropolitan Museum might not be your first thought when it comes to places to buy fine jewelry, their sophisticated origin and artistic venue only add to their appeal.

Treat yourself: Tiffany Leaf Earrings, $225, MetMuseum.org, (800) 662-3397

—Judy Ann Olsen

Fabulous finds under $50

If you're intrigued by the incredible detail in these dainty Gold Birch Leaf Earrings, you might be surprised by their origin: They're made with real birch leaves! Using a special process, the leaves have been chemically treated, allowing them to be preserved in an ultra-thin layer of 24 karat (or pure) gold. Think of it as a sophisticated version of the beloved childhood pastime of pressing autumn leaves in a book.

Treat yourself: Gold Birch Leaf Earrings, $19.95, trishastempations.com, (949) 588--0832


Did you know?

Ever wonder about what "karats" mean, as in 14 karat or 24 karat? Gold on its own is far too soft a metal to stand up to daily wear in its pure state and must be combined with other metals for durability. Hence, the karat degrees of fineness (not to be confused with the “carat” weight that refers to gemstones).

Judy Ann Olsen is a noted jewelry expert specializing in diamonds and couture. A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, Judy Ann is an accomplished metalsmith whose work has been recognized by the Platinum Guild International. She offers jewelry consultation for private clients.
Website: JudyAnnOlsen.com
: JudyAnnOlsen[at]msn.com



Goods: A little help going green

You already know that saving the Earth means using less gas, recycling more and leaving a lighter carbon footprint. But, there are also lots of new products that can help you give Mother Earth a break. We've rounded up some of our favorites:

Go green starter kit

There are so many ways to help save the planet that sometimes it can be hard to figure out where to begin. Luckily, the GoGreenGift makes it easy. This eco starter kit is overflowing with Earth-friendly items including two compact fluorescent light bulbs (each one cuts up to 75% more energy than standard bulbs, saves the air from CO2 pollution and 32 gallons of oil), a low-flow showerhead (which reduces water usage by 20% or more), organic products, such as tea, fair trade coffee and fruit leather and environment-minded bath and body care products. Buy it to start your own planet-saving habits or give it as a gift to someone you'd like to help leave a lighter footprint.

Treat yourself: GoGreenGift, $45, GoGreenGift.com

Sweet biodegradable dinnerware

The next time you have a picnic, party or other event that requires disposable plates, skip the plastic and styrofoam and opt for dinnerware made from 100% biodegradable sugar cane fiber instead. Though not edible, this virtually unlimited natural resource is an Earth-friendly and affordable alternative. Choose from plates, bowls, cups and utensils.

Treat yourself: Packs of 50 range from $3 to $13.50, BranchHome.com, (415) 341-1824

A home-based recycling center

Cans, bottles, cardboard, things with that little triangle symbol on them. Sifting through what needs to be recycled at home can be confusing, time-consuming and, worst of all, space-stealing. (Who hasn't tripped over a bag of recyclables on the kitchen floor?) But if you don't recycle, you could get hit with a fine (or your landlord may ream you out the fine she got). And, well, recycling helps save the environment. Some good news? A three-compartment stacking bin makes it simpler to recycle at home. Made of durable, easy-to-clean white plastic, this hands-free unit works with a foot petal that opens its doorsjust like your trash bin. Standing about four feet high, it's a compact 14 inches in diameter, so it sits unobtrusively against any wall. It does not, however, rinse out the cat food cans. That's still all yours.

Treat yourself: Three-compartment recycling bin, $49.99, StacksandStacks.com, (800) 761-5222

The green diaper alternative

For the past 40 years, eco-sensitive moms have had to choose the lesser of two evils: disposable diapers that fill up landfills for, like, ever or messy cloth diapers that chafe. But no more! Today's moms have one new option: gDiapers, Earth-friendly diapers that have flushable liners. Yes, flushable. The reusable outer pant is made of 100% biodegradable water-resistant breathable material that keeps bottoms dry and wetness  out. The inner flushable liner is made of chlorine-free tree-farmed fluff pulp and absorbing poly-acrylate, which hold up to 100 times their weight in liquid. Along with a gentle elastic waistband, gDiapers may be the first baby step your little one takes toward saving Mother Earth.

Treat yourself: gDiapers, $24.99 for a starter kit that includes 2 "g" pants and 10 flushables; flushable refills start at $14.49 for 40 small or 32 large, gDiapers.com, (866) 55-FLUSH (35874)

 —Judy Ann Olsen

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