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How to get the bling without the costly sting

With "Today's Brilliant Buys," style expert Charla Krupp offers up diamond-inspired looks that won’t crush your budget.
/ Source: TODAY

In the latest edition of our special series, "Today's Brilliant Buys" — the insider's guide to smarter shopping — we tackle the latest shopping challenge: Getting the look of diamonds without blowing the bank. Who says you have to have a movie deal to afford some nice ice? Style expert and contributor Charla Krupp was invited to appear on "Today" to share a look at the best bling. Here's her scoop with details about items shown on the show:

Today’s mission: Supersize me! Get me the look of gorgeous diamonds without having to spend the college tuition. Diamonds are the must-have look in jewelry right now, but you can get the look without being a hotshot celeb. And, just for the record, it will make you feel better to know that most stars borrow — not buy — those diamonds they sport at red carpet events. And sometimes they don’t even buy them for their wedding! What are the diamond trends of the moment?
The bigger, the better
The look of diamonds — the bigger, the bolder, the more sparkle — is all the razzle dazzle in jewelry. And there is no end in sight. Looking ahead to fall, all the party dresses are all a-glitter with rhinestone and crystal. Here are two examples: -Graff Diamond Drop necklace with pendant is $6 million! It's 24 inches and 100 carats, D-flawless. (Graff, 721 Madison Avenue in New York, 212-355-9292.) -The multi-strands of diamonds Neil Lane created for Catherine Zeta Jones at "The Terminal" premiere. (Neil Lane Diamond Chain necklace from Neil Lane Diamond Chain Collection. $100,000 each, call 310-275-5015 or visit www.neillanejewelry.com.) Layers of diamonds that move and diamonds by the yard are the hottest trend. By the way, Neil also designed the diamond drop worn by Kate Hudson at the Hollywood premiere of her movie "Raising Helen." The cost is $300,000. Playful designs
At the top of the fun list, L.A. jeweler Rafinity has created diamond poker chip necklaces. They come in black diamond/yellow sapphire, pink sapphire and diamond, ruby and diamond, for $2,900-$4,500. (Available at: Rafinity, 1408-A Third St. Promenade, Santa Monica, Calif., 310.458.3515.) Their star clients include: Kobe Bryant ($4 million purple diamond), J.Lo (Cris Judd wedding rings), Gwen Stefani (wedding rings), Halle Berry (wedding rings), Melissa Ethridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels (wedding), Jessica Simpson, Mary J. Blige and Vivica A. Fox.Everyday wear
Diamonds are styled casual enough to wear everyday. No longer waiting for a man to drip them in jewels, women are buying diamond rings for themselves! Self-purchased rings shot up in sales 21 percent in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the same period last year. Aaron Basha in New York offers some that cover your entire finger, north to south. (Aaron Basha Floppy Diamond-shaped ring, $16,000, Aaron Basha Diamond Overflow ring, with brown and white diamonds, $22,000. Demi Moore wears their crown ring everyday. (Aaron Basha Crown Ring, $6,800.)What’s out right now?
Heavy estate pieces that sit around your neck, weigh you down and don’t move are out. It's the dowager duchess look, as L.A. jeweler Neil Lane calls it.

Wearing diamonds every day is in
Don't keep them in a vault for that once a year black-tie outing. Think denim and diamonds, diamonds to shop in, casual chic. Think diamonds styled casual enough to wear every day. Diamonds now are meant to be worn, meant to be enjoyed, flaunted and admired. Women in L.A. are wearing diamonds to the gym! How do you get the look for less?
We have four comparisons between expensive rocks and look-alikes in cubic zirconia (CZ) and Austrian crystal. It’s very difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not without a jeweler’s loop. 1. Deco-style rings: Kentshire diamond, $13,500 and Emitations CZ, $75. (Kentshire Art Deco Diamond ring with pierced oblong-shaped bezel centering on a round-cut stone, with open diamond-set shoulders, in platinum. Circa 1920s, $13,500; Kentshire Galleries at Bergdorf Goodman, 212-872-8653 or www.kentshire.com.) (Emitations Art Deco Right-Hand ring, 6.8 carats, $75, www.emitations.com, 800-652-5002.) 2. Bulls-eye earrings: (Graff diamonds, $90,000 and Emitations CZ, $135). Paris Hilton wore a pair that looked exactly like the CZs. (Diamond Graff “Bulls-eye” earrings, $90,000, Graff, 721 Madison Avenue in NYC, 212-355-9292.) (Emitations.com Elegant Circle Within a Circle Dangle Drop earrings, $135, www.emitations.com.) 3. Floral brooches: Kentshire diamond, $23,500 and Ben Amun Austrian crystal, $185. (Kentshire Diamond Daisy Brooch in platinum-topped gold. 11.68 carats. Circa 1920s, $23,500, Kentshire Galleries at Bergdorf Goodman, 212-872-8653 or www.kentshire.com. To order Ben Amun, call: 212.944.6480.)4. Geometric pendants: Mimi So diamond, $13,200 and Emitations CZ, $115. (Mimi So Piece Collection, large rectangular Swing Necklace set with round brilliant cut 2.15 carat diamonds in a pave setting, .18K white gold $13,200 at Mimi So Fine Jewelry, 580 Fifth Ave., New York,  212-354-1407 or www.mimiso.com.) (Emitations.com Pelinni’s Rectangle and Changeable Pave pendant and chain in cubic zirconia. Pendant can be worn in three different styles. The middle part of the pendant swivels so that you can glam it up or down depending on your outfit, $115.)And last, a few other affordable pieces that would fool the most discerning shopper! Here are some favorites:

-Try the CZ brand "Inspired Silver.com." They have about 30 rings "inspired by" the rings of the stars including their best seller, Jessica Simpson's engagement set, $45. Also: 10 carat Catherine Zeta Jones, $19.95, Kate Hudson, $36, Trump engagement ring, $25. For these, go to www.inspiredsilver.com or call: 1.866.54.SILVER. -Swarovski Crystal: Rhodium and Crystal Pave Oval pendant with cord, $65. (Swarovski Gallery stores nationwide or call 800-289-4900.) -Ron's Rhinestones: genuine Austrian crystal rhinestone oversized stone rings, $29.99. (Ron's Rhinestones, call 800.299.2185 or visit www.ronsrhinestones.com.) -Kenneth Jay Lane Silver-Plated Rhinestone clip-ons, $100. (Kenneth Jay Lane, 877.953.5264.) Happy shopping!