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Sherri Richards, Published September 05 2012

Pretty and purposeful: Jewelry gets practical

FARGO - Kimmy Meyer knew she should wear a medical ID bracelet, an alert to health care providers that she takes blood thinners.

“I just didn’t like how they looked, says Meyer, referring to their chunkiness. “With my personality, and how I’d wear them with my clothes, they just didn’t connect with me.”

She says her mom got really upset because she wasn’t wearing one.

So Meyer took to the Internet, searching for creative medical alert jewelry. She found several options she liked on the website Laurenshope.com.

She ordered a black, gold and silver beaded bracelet that she says matches most of her outfits. She also purchased a bracelet with teal and red beads to match the colors of a wedding she was in.

“I never take them off anymore. I wear them all the time,” she says.

While most pieces of jewelry we wear are for appearance only, some jewels have a job. It’s fairly easy nowadays to find blinged-out versions of items some people need to wear, such as the ID bracelets or a lanyard for keys and ID bracelets.

These pieces are functional jewelry – pretty and purposeful.

Fargo’s Just for Women boutique, part of Sanford Health’s Healthcare Accessories store, sells beaded bracelets that attach to silver medical ID tags engraved with conditions such as asthma or diabetes. Each Fashion Alert piece costs $11 to $13. It also carries lanyards studded with square rhinestones for $8.

Boutique supervisor Sheila Robertsdahl says people call wondering if the store carries the more fashionable medical bracelets. “They look more like a piece of jewelry,” she says.

That’s also the point of teething jewelry, necklaces or sometimes bracelets designed to look good while being safe for babies and toddlers to chew on.

One brand is Teething Bling, created by Amy Creel, whose company is called SmartMom.

“I got into it by my own experience as a mom,” says Creel, of Maryland.

She recalls sitting in church one day five years ago, letting her little one play with it to keep her quiet. With one hard yank, the necklace broke and beads bounced under the pews.

In that horrifying moment, a light bulb went on for Creel. She searched online and found while the idea of teething necklaces had been around since the Victorian age (they were sterling silver then), nobody had created jewelry made from a teething toy material.

When she first thought about this, Creel realized this concept would only work if it looked like real gemstone jewelry.

“I don’t want to wear something around my neck that looks garish or plastic-y,” she says.

Teething Bling pieces are made from a medical-grade, food-safe silicone – the kind that coats the end of infant spoons, Creel says. At first glance, they look much like polished stone, but are rubbery soft to the touch.

They’re sold in 500 stores – including Wizard of Kids in Fargo – and will launch in Target stores this December.

Creel says the necklaces outsell her bracelets 10 to 1. The company can now create almost any color or pattern, such as camouflage or zebra stripes.

“A lot of people tell me they wear their Teething Bling when they go to work or otherwise aren’t with their baby,” she says. “It’s a nice compliment.

“I think that in this day and age, when the economy is what it is, people are very careful about their purchases,” Creel says. “To have something that serves multiple purposes really seems to resonate with people, especially with moms. I think we’re always cost-conscious.”