Thursday, February 18, 2016

FCE Review: Dark Jewel Designs Snap-on Browband

Observant readers might have noticed a seemingly innocuous head shot I posted of Izzy on Tuesday, with a caption referencing our bright new sparkly plaything. And the most keen of you might have also noticed that our precious PS of Sweden bridle is suddenly looking like a much better fit for Ms Dainty Face Princess Isabel.

"that would be Her Royal Highness Dainty Face Princess Isabel to you, peasant"
So what's different? The browband, folks. We gots ourselves a new browband when Amelia from Dark Jewel Designs contacted me about beta testing a new product she's preparing to offer: a browband with snap-on functionality.

the browband in action
Perhaps you're already familiar with Dark Jewel Design from other reviews in blogland (such as when Aimee of the Sprinkler Bandits reviewed hers in 2013). Basically, Amelia sells fully customized beaded browbands through her company, and the browbands are incredibly beautiful.

Check out the shop or Facebook page for details - but the gist is that a standard browband ($50) or a snap-on browband ($55) (choose either black or brown) comes complete with two fully customized and interchangeable strands of beads. Additional strands are $15, and special order beads are priced on a case by case basis. (the beads pictured below are all regular-cost beads). All orders come with a customer satisfaction guarantee.

i've had my heart set on this pattern for, um, a while actually. and now i own it!!
PC Amelia Pitts
To be completely honest, over the past few months I've repeatedly found myself casually browsing through the Dark Jewel Designs Flikr albums, which are organized by color groupings. The pictures are all of browbands she's made previously, but each new order is totally custom.

However I already knew that I wanted an identical piece to one she already made - the pearl beauty pictured above. That will be our uber-flashy competition browband. And I LOVE it. It's hard to explain how good it looks in person, too. Somehow the beads seem nicer and even more refined than the photos show. They have a nice weight and are sturdy - leading me to believe they'll be safe in even my own clumsy hands.

schooling browband is more toned-down, but would also be totally appropriate for the show ring.
PC Amelia Pitts
I was less sure about choosing the second strand of beads, so Amelia and I had a little back and forth, where she provided additional reference photos (including pics taken in daylight vs indoor studio light) so I had a better idea of how the colors would actually read. Then she mocked up a couple example strands, from which I chose the above version. And I am just SO happy with it! I wanted blues with a hint of depth but that would also catch the light. It's perfect!

please forgive the blur... my phone camera doesn't do them justice
The strands are attached via Chicago screws on either end. All you need is a flat head screwdriver (stubby versions like this are recommended) to release one strand and loop the other in it's place. Seriously could not be easier! (unless it's 15* out and your fingers are frozen stiff, thus explaining the lack of photographic evidence here... sure I could have waited for it to thaw out, but I was just too excited to share! lol).

PS of Sweden bridle in its original condition, with swoopy browband
But see, we already knew that the beadwork from Dark Jewel Designs is on point. The real question was about the snap-on functionality. Would it work well with a PS style bridle? What about the detachable throatlatch - would it still fit?

other original PS browband (love the bling) and the detachable throatlatch
And I had my own agenda too: while I desperately love our PS bridle, the fit of the browband has always seemed slightly off to me. To the point that it's all I see whenever I look at the bridle... So we needed something different.

PS on top, Dark Jewel Designs on bottom
Plus there were a few other things bothering me about the PS browband - it occasionally comes unsnapped (usually at very inopportune times), and there's this extra leather tab on the snap that kinda... sticks out. Maybe it wouldn't be noticeable on a horse with a bigger head, but that extra bit of material really bothered me. In comparison, the Dark Jewel Designs browband looks much more streamlined, with nothing extra sticking out.

with throatlatch attached
Also worth noting: The model I'm testing in these photographs uses a gunmetal snap, so the colors don't match perfectly. Personally I like it exactly how it is. However I believe Amelia is working on sourcing black snaps instead, and the look is very sharp and crisp. (Brown browbands have brown snaps)

Anyways, as you can see from this pic, the PS of Sweden detachable throatlatch still fits over the snaps on the Dark Jewel Design browband. It took a little finagling on this side, kinda had to squeeze it through a bit. Tho I suspect it'll get easier with use and conditioning.

right side with throatlatch
The other side actually slid right on, go figure. So by all appearances, this browband can work with any similarly designed PS bridle. Not bad! Personally I don't care for the throatlatch at all, esp bc the leather strap seems kinda bulky to me... We'll honestly only ever use it for shows probably, and even then I'm considering asking our local saddle repair guru to work up something a little prettier for us...

looking good from all angles!
My favorite thing about this browband, aside from the gorgeous beads obvi, is how it fits Isabel. She's not always the easiest head to fit - tho cob sizing typically works well enough. And it's perfect in this instance - the browband fits perfectly and doesn't pinch or fall down into her eyes.

isabel is skeptical of my close up photography haha
Particularly - the end loops are actually wide enough to be pushed up over the intense padding on the PS crown. Their own browband won't fit over the padding, so I always felt like it sat too low, too close to Izzy's eyes. Not so with the Dark Jewels Browband - it sits right where I want it to and, imho, improves the entire picture.

pretty mare!
I'm totally sold on this browband - I love the colors and bead work and have been showing it off to anybody who makes the mistake of eye contact haha. "Did I show you my new PRETTY THINGS!?!? You must Come SEE!!" lol. Because I'm crazy. ;)

But seriously tho - just look at it! It checks off every box: It fits, it's easy to use, you can't beat the convenience of the snaps, and the interchangeable bead strands mean I can update our look without even changing tack. Oh, and the value proposition is huge, given Dark Jewel Design's affordable pricing. Win win win. Thanks again Amelia for letting us test this product!

36 comments:

  1. Amelia makes GORGEOUS stuff... I have several of her browbands and they are just sooooo pretty! Love how that looks on Izzy and so glad that it works with the PS bridle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm pretty sure the snap would work with regular bridles too! it's so convenient!

      Delete
  2. Why??? I already want a PS of Sweden bridle and now you add sparkles...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Aww, thanks Emma! So glad that the browband works for Ms. Izzy! She looks great in it :) Thanks again for helping me out and for the phenomenal review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks again for the opportunity - i'm so happy with the browband and beads!

      Delete
  4. Looks AMAZING! The whole bridle just looks like it was made for her now, what a huge difference it makes. And I totally love your choice of beads!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amelia is awesome, she does great work. My eye has gotten so used to the slight swoop of the PS browbands, I kind of prefer it to a regular straight browband now. Maybe someday she'll have those too...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i like the slight swoop of the PS too - but the actual dimensions were all wrong for izzy's face. the crown piece padding comes so far down past her ears, and the browband wouldn't slide up over it, so it met the cheek pieces closer to her eye than her ear... not a good look, esp with the swoop!

      Delete
  6. Both designs are gorgeous but I am drooling over the pearls. Gorgeous!!!
    Isabel is such a super elegant lady wearing her jewels!

    ReplyDelete
  7. It looks SO great! Can't wait to see Izzy in her pearls at a show!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Such a better fit than the original browband. And sparkly on top of that! Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with you on the PS of Sweden browband. Not my favorite feature of theirs. I will have to get one of these!

    ReplyDelete
  10. It looks much better than the original browband. Very nice!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This solves my hesitation for the PS bridles, the swoop totally doesn't work on Prisoner's tiny head either. Dark Jewel browbands are seriously the best though, snaps added and pretty much my mind is blown!

    ReplyDelete
  12. hah i need to post pictures of mine, i caved and got a dark jewels browband as well. it debuted at the clinic and I got an OUTRAGEOUS number of compliments before I even put it on the bridle! It was sitting in my mailbox and a ton of people came over and were like "omgz. put that on your horse asap its amazing."

    that's awesome that she's making PS of sweden 'compatible' ones and the designs you got are GORGEOUS. i actually really love the schooling one! you're lucky you have a mare and can force her to wear sparklies. altho i did get one string of VERY sparkly for runkle for his more 'flamboyant' days ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol Runkle has to have a little flair, obvi

      Delete
  13. Oh goodness. Now I need one! I already have two of Amelia's browbands but they are black and I only ride in brown bridles new. I'm super stoked to here these will work with my PS bridles!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Soooo pretty. I think I need one of the browbands!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. pretty sure everyone needs one. or five. ya know... lol

      Delete
  15. I love her designs! This is great and looks awesome on your mare!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I want it.

    I need to quit buying shit before Alyssa finds out, but I'm pretty sure one of these will be coming home with me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there are worse things to bring home for sure haha

      Delete
  17. I really like this option for the PS bridles! Like you, I have not been thrilled with the fit of the browband. I might have to check these out (or sell the bridle haha)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that was honestly where i was at too, except i really did NOT want to sell the bridle. this fixed everything tho!

      Delete
  18. Oooo I love those! I really want one but I'm really partial to the V browbands, which seem kind of impossible with this style. Maybe for schooling though...

    ReplyDelete
  19. This browband has a much better balance on her face than the PS browband did. Thanks a lot! Now I must repeat my anti-binge-shopping mantra "I can't have all the sparkly, pretty things". ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. maybe not allll the sparkly things, but perhaps some of them? lol

      Delete
  20. These are like horse tiaras and the designs you picked are lovely! Hopefully you'll get to wear them out and about soon... the weather is supposed to be quite nice this weekend. (Fingers crossed, as there's still ice/snow up here and we could do with some melting.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm so excited about the weather this weekend - we will *definitely* be out and about sporting our 'tiara' haha

      Delete
  21. I need a reason for something pretty and sparkly from her!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Beautiful, I have been eyeing those gorgeous browbands for years. Sadly haven't been able to splurge yet...but one day my turn will come ♡♡♡

    ReplyDelete