Customer Watch: Jewelry for a Client with Port Wine Stain Birthmarks

I recently had the privilege of provided an image consulting consultation to a young woman with birthmarks, consisting of port wine stains, visible on her face, arms and hands. She was matter-of-fact about her coloring, which had become essentially a non-issue to her as she matured.

 

I did a bit of research into birthmarks. I learned that some 80 percent of babies have some form of birthmark, or discoloration of the skin. While some of these marks fade over time, others are permanent. Port wine stains, which fall in the latter category, range from pale pink to deep purple in color and occur in approximately 1 out of every 300 births, usually on the face, neck, legs or arms, and equally among males and females. The coloring is due to an increased number of dilated blood vessels in the upper layers of the skin.

 
     

 

[Photo from Vascular Birthmarks Foundation]

 

I found that, in choosing jewelry, my client preferred metals that suited her coloring (in her case, the better choices being white metals, rose gold and soft yellow gold but nothing too orange or copper) over jewelry that had saturated color incorporated into it. Even beads in soft hues of turquoise, which are flattering on almost all skin tones, seemed too bright against her skin. Relatively colorless stones were more flattering than stones with saturated color. She also preferred to wear a watch or bracelets on the wrist and arm having less coloration.

 

In working with all my image consulting clients, I determine their best colors and the color groupings or resonances that work best for them based upon the colors in their skin, hair and eyes. For many clients who look best in soft, muted colors, I might suggest gemstones that have soft variations in hue or a mottled effect, such as agate. However, the similarity of the markings on such gemstones to the markings on this client’s skin serves to emphasize the variation of coloring in her complexion. Unless she chooses to draw attention to the port wine stains, the mottled stones are not a good choice.

 

For more about a personal experience of birthmarks and their lore, you may be interested in an article entitled “How to live with a birthmark” by Hannah Betts, a young woman writing in the U.K. What follows is some thought-provoking lines from her article:

“There is something about myself that I am barely aware of, yet it is, I am reliably informed, the first thing that people take in about me. Not my charming personality, alas, nor my dancing green eyes, but my congenital melanocytic naevus, the flower-shaped birthmark that lurks to the right of my throat.

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“A friend  . . .  suggested that I tattoo petals around my corker to transform it into a sunflower. But, then, why would I bestow a tattoo on myself when nature has provided me with such a resplendent one? I would no more dream of having it removed. And I hope that, had my naevus been on my face, I would have felt similarly fond of it. After all, even the most flawless diamond boasts its birthmark.”