Baby your Bling: preparing and caring for your belly dance costume jewelry

Costume jewelry

Costume jewelry

It’s happened to you before. You’ve scoured the Internet, the discount boutiques, or the rhinestone-filled stores of midtown Manhattan or downtown LA to find the perfect set of costume jewelry to match a costume. And then it happens. Maybe you saw it onstage, maybe you don’t realize until you’re unpacking your gig bag home, or until days later when you fasten the earrings on again. WHERE DID THAT CRYSTAL GO?!

While costume jewelry can be inexpensive (check out the price tag on this set I just got!), you get what you pay for in many ways.

Fear not, with a few easy preparation and care steps, you can keep your costume jewelry looking as good as the day you pulled it out of the package.




  1. Box with a lid 
  2. Old t-shirt
  3. Toothpick
  4. E-6000 glue
  5. Clear nail polish or Jewelry Shield
  6. Pliers


1. Storage: Tangles and scratches are the enemy of costume jewelry, whose weak links and soft imitation stones damage easily. Prevent damage by creating a storage system that uses the plastic packaging that most costume jewelry sets come with now.

Cut the plastic packaging to fix in a lidded box. Take the twist ties that were used to secure the necklace from the set and turn them around so that the ends face up. Use the twist ties to secure the necklace so it doesn’t rattle around in the box.

Costume jewelry in storage box with cloth

Costume jewelry in storage box with cloth

Twist ties keep jewelry in place

Twist ties keep jewelry in place

Place the earrings into the original holes from the packaging.

Cut a small piece from the old t-shirt to fit your box to place over the jewelry; this will prevent movement and scratches.

2. Check for loose stones and links: Tiffany-quality settings these are not, and more often than not, crystals fall out and prove to be nearly impossible to replace because of odd sizes or colors.

As soon as you get your new jewelry, use a toothpick to pry at the space between the setting and the stone.

Checking for loose stones

Checking for loose stones

If there are any loose stones (or if they pop out all together!), use a small dab of E-6000 glue to secure them back in place, making sure to wipe the glue off any metal or stone surfaces. Use pliers to tighten any loose links.

3. Coat the backing: Costume jewelry’s mystery metal likes to turn weird colors when it reacts to your sweat, causing streaks to run down your skin when you’re dancing. Prevent this by coating the back of your jewelry with a coat of clear nail polish or Jewelry Shield.

Coat the back of your jewelry to prevent discoloration

Coat the back of your jewelry to prevent discoloration

Now that you’ve prepared your new jewelry, you’re ready to dance!


1. Dry it off: Even though you’ve coated the back of your jewelry, sweat buildup can still eventually damage it or wear through the coating. Use the cloth in your storage box to wipe down your jewelry after each wear. Wash or replace the cloth as needed, and apply a new coat of nail polish or Jewelry Shield as needed.

2. Examine it: Did any prongs come lose? Did a link open when you caught your bracelet in your hair and had to pull it out? Look at your jewelry frequently to check for any problems, and if you find them, fix according to Step #2 in the Care section.

Just a few minutes of maintenance before and after each use can keep your costume jewelry in dance-ready shape for years!


Yale Belly Dance Society presents Hips Against Hunger 2013, or, a love letter to my college dance troupe

Hips Against Hunger 2013

I’ve got to brag a little (or a lot!) here today about how very awesome my college dance troupe, the Yale Belly Dance Society is. If you don’t believe me, read this article in the Yale Daily News about their upcoming show (April 5-6, 2013), 10-year history and past successes in raising money for New Haven’s Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen. It’s not always easy to get good, fair press as a belly dancer (see the many articles with the words “gyrate,” “exotic” or the like in them), and this might be one of the most positive and well-deserved I’ve read. The troupe has come so far from its humble beginnings in 2003.

I don’t know very much about the troupe’s first year, but when I joined as a college freshman in the fall of 2004 and unexpectedly became president to the troupe, I had no idea how important it would be in my life, and what an adventure running the troupe would be over the next four years. From four members that year, we blossomed into dozens, matured into an audition-based group, staged our first gala show in 2006 and became a presence on campus, and later–and most importantly–became a presence in the New Haven community through performances and our very first Hips Against Hunger in 2008. If I remember, that event raised a few hundred dollars; last year’s HAH raised nearly $4000! Since graduation, it’s been such a joy to see the group grow and succeed in so many ways, from greater fundraising to more professional level shows.

Running the troupe wasn’t always easy; we did everything ourselves, from choosing and fitting costumes, to creating choreographies, to managing finances, and sometimes disagreed in the process. It was a lesson not only in dance and culture, but in learning to work with one another and with other groups on campus, and for that, I’m really grateful. Being in YBDS gave us a chance to grow together not only as dancers, but also as people in general. Belly dance was something I was interested in during high school, but it was in college where I became passionate about it, and YBDS had a lot to do with that, as laboratory, performance venue, and sounding board for ideas and interests.

I’m happy to count the ladies of YBDS among my enduring friends, and so proud of everything they’ve accomplished on and off stage over the years!

Hips Against Hunger 2008

Hips Against Hunger 2008

Buy tickets for HAH or make a donation on the Yale Belly Dance Society website; all proceeds benefit the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK) of New Haven.

Friday, April 5 – 9 pm

Saturday***, April 6 – 8 pm

Yale University – Harkness Auditorium

333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT

***I’ll be performing a solo as well as a group number with the alumna at the Saturday evening show.


UPDATE: Coverage of the event in the New Haven Register, along with video of last year’s show, here