Why is this frame so expensive? – All glasses are not created equal.

 

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In an era where you can get really cheap eyeglasses from an online vendor, you may wonder why the frames offered in retail shops are so much more expensive.  The answer is simple:  It’s not the same product.  Before you settle on your next pair of specs, here are some important things to consider:

It’s  Not Just a Fashion Statement; It’s a Medical Device

Of course we all love the fashion side of eyewear.  It’s fun to try on new styles and see how each one changes your overall look.  Chunky frames, for example, make a bold, artsy statement while ultrathin metal frames provide a minimalist look that lets your lovely face take the center stage.  What matters more is that eyeglasses are a medical device and you’re going to live with this device for the next year or two.  So, durability, safety and function matter just as much as the fashion side.

Top notch eyewear manufacturers pay attention to both sides of the equation.  They hire designers who are in tune with – and sometimes even innovators in – the fashion industry.  At the same time, they use manufacturing processes that include rigorous testing and inspection to ensure the frames will fit properly and stand up to the normal knocks of everyday life.

 Plastics

Most plastic frames are made of acetate, but this category covers a wide range of blended materials, which can include cellulose, nylon, cotton, wood and even castor oil.  The weight and durability varies depending on the materials used in the acetate and the manufacturing processes.

KEY FACT:  The very best handmade acetates in the world are manufactured in Italy. Mazzucchelli 1849 is the worldwide leader in the manufacture and distribution of cellulose acetate, a plastic material traditionally used in the production of spectacles and sunglasses. They develop also exclusive acetate designs for some of the high end eyewear companies.

Fused layers of acetate

Color blends (think tortoise shell and similar color swirls) cost more to manufacture.  Each color is created separately and then the colors are brought together in a complicated way that allows the colors to coexist without blending completely into a new, solid shade.  Because each color has a slightly different chemical composition, this process requires testing to ensure that the colors will adhere to each other so that the frame doesn’t break apart at points where the color patches touch.

 

 

 

Layering
Layering

Layering is another factor that adds cost to the production of plastics.  Frames that have a different color on the inside and outside cost more to produce, but they give a flash of alternate color that makes them interesting and fashionable.  Similarly, a shiny, clear inside layer (sometimes called “crystal”) balances the heavy color on the outside of the frame and makes it look less overwhelming.  This is especially helpful if you want a bold look, but have delicate facial features.  Some high fashion frames have as many as four transparent layers in different shades that give the effect of looking into a deep, clear pool of color.

 

 

Polishing:  For plastic frames to look their best and feel comfortable, particularly over your ears, polishing is an extra step that costs more, but is well worth it.  Some high fashion frames with carved designs in the temple are hand polished for as much as 15 minutes, which makes the design look smoothly embossed rather than roughly chiseled.

TIP:  Before purchasing a frame, hold the temple between your index finger and thumb and slide your hand up and down over the portion that fits over your ear.  If it doesn’t feel really smooth, it’s likely to irritate the top or back of your ear.

sheet of titanium
sheet of titanium

 

Metals

All eyewear metals resist corrosion and warping and they bend easily for a really good fit, but the durability and the weight depends on which metals are used.

prozess_mMetal blends (known as monel) are the least expensive type in this category, but also the heaviest and least durable.  They frequently have an outer coating that looks good, but wears off to reveal a dull gray metal underneath.

Stainless steel is more durable and slightly more expensive, but is still relatively heavy and only comes in only one shade.  Typically it does not have an outer layer that wears off.

Titanium is more expensive, but it’s very lightweight and strong, so manufacturers can create frames that are much thinner and yet stronger.  Titanium also can easily be coated with matte color for a wider range of fashion options.

 

powerlaw_montage2_1Hinges

Hinge failure is the number one cause of eyeglasses breaking beyond the point of repair.  Hinges can either break internally (especially spring hinges) or pull apart from the point where they are joined to the front of the frame.

 

 

TIP:  Before you purchase a pair of frames, hold them in the palm of your hand and open and close one temple.  You’ll be able to tell right away if it’s a cheap, weak hinge or one that has resilience.

KEY FACT:  The very best hinges in the optical industry are made in Germany.

 

Fit Matters

Online websites have fun tools that let you upload a picture and “try on” various eyeglass frames, but the truth is, you can’t tell how a frame will fit and feel without trying it on.  Even if a frame feels good when you first try it on, it may not be the best option for you.  A trained optician can point out subtle problems, like when the nosepiece on a plastic frame is the wrong shape for your nose and will cause slippage, or when the temples are too close or too far from the side of your face to get and maintain a comfortable fit.  Getting the frame to sit properly and stay there is crucial to comfort and to your vision.  Why?  Because lenses have an optical center that must ride over your pupils or you will have blurred vision or eye fatigue.  This is even more critical if you wear progressive or bifocal lenses.

 

Guarantees

Make sure you ask about the manufacturer’s guarantee.  Cheap frames typically are warranted for 90 days.  Quality frames usually carry at least a one-year guarantee and some have two-year coverage.  Some manufacturers of children’s frames also offer free replacement if your adorable little rough-houser breaks or loses his glasses within a year.

Eyeglasses Frames and Hollywood: Guess What They Have in Common

lunettes-kollektion-production-

If you’re a fan of retro eyewear, or if you’re old enough to remember when it was the “new thing,” you know that early plastic eyeglass frames were thick and pretty heavy for the poor nose that had to hold them up. New colors for plastic eyewear emerged in the mid-20th Century, giving birth to the idea that eyewear is a fashion statement rather than a medical necessity. A variety of shapes also emerged in this era, but they were all pretty thick. We’ve come a long way since then to the modern, ultra light plastics that feature flexibility and über thin lines in a wild array of colors. Let’s take a look back to see how we got to where we are today.

 A Volatile Beginning

 SchönbeinThe first composition plastic used for eyeglass frames was celluloid – yup, the same stuff used by Hollywood filmmakers – which was invented way back in 1869. Technically, it was called cellulose nitrate, or nitrocellulose. The word “nitro” isn’t just a coincidence. This stuff was highly flammable. The story goes that German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein (1799-1868 ) used the family kitchen to conduct experiments with a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids. Even great chemists have “oops” moments, so when Schönbein spilled some of the mixture, he used his wife’s apron to wipe it up. The aprons of the day were made of 100 percent cotton, so Schönbein unknowingly mixed cellulose fibers from the apron into his nitrate compound. He hung the soiled apron up to dry above the stove and then he had a second “oops” moment when the apron exploded.

Despite its flammable nature, cellulose nitrate – nicknamed “zyl” by the optical industry – was used for eyeglass frames from the late 19th Century all the way through the mid-20th Century. We finally wised up and found other, less volatile, plastics for eyeglass frames, but cellulose nitrate is still used today in the manufacture of smokeless gunpowder, printing ink, wood varnish, foil and film lacquers, automotive paint, fingernail polish, leather finishes, adhesives and coatings to protect silver and other tarnishable metals. And now you understand why you shouldn’t smoke, light a candle or crank up your space heater in the presence of any of these products.

 The Next Generation

 Acetate framesCelluloid nitrate’s cousin and successor is a compound known as cellulose acetate, or “acetate” for short. This more stable compound comes cellulose, usually derived from wood pulp (birch, eucalyptus) or cotton, treated with acetic anhydride (basically, vinegar minus the water molecules) to make the fibers soft and pliable. In this form, it is used to manufacture cloth. For eyeglasses, cellulose acetate is bound with plasticizer, such as diethyl phthalate, to give it the strength and rigid structure needed to mold frames. While the CDC has issued health warnings about direct exposure to diethyl phthalate, it is so strongly bound into the acetate that it cannot leach out at temperatures below 122 degrees.

Cool New Eyewear Materials – Thinner, Lighter, More Color Options

I_THIN_II_5407 by Italia Independent

The latest eyewear plastics are nylon-based, which makes them stronger and more flexible than cellulose acetate. Because nylon molecules have a strong bond, eyeglass manufactures can use less of it, which means thinner, sleeker and lighter eyewear – up to 72% less weight than cellulose acetate. Nylon also accepts dyes very easily, which means a wider range of colors, including translucent shades that look like frosted glass. The only down side is that they are vulnerable to shrinking when exposed to heat, so don’t leave those designer sunglasses on the dash of your car!

If you really want a pair of glasses that you can abuse, look for frame made of Ultem ® (PolyEtherimide) resin. It’s resistant to heat, UV rays and chemical exposure. Because of these properties, it’s widely used in the medical and chemical industries. Like nylon compounds, it is light-weight and can be molded super thin. You can get temple pieces as narrow as 1.2 mm for that “barely there” look. And, your eyeglass frame could be 50% lighter than a comparable one in metal.

See award winning glasses from RISD student at Providence Optical!

Rhode Island School of Design’ student from Virginia and friend of us, Daniel Morgan, won the third place with his concept MAGO: an innovative magnetic hinge, anchored in both the front and in the temples, making the glasses almost unbreakable. Morgan designed MAGO for all those active people, looking for a stylish pair of glasses.

With the magnetic connection, the temples can be removed from the front just as easily as they can be connected to each other again. What was convincing from a technical point of view was not only that the strength of the magnets was exactly balanced, but also that Morgan used the rapid prototyping method beforehand. The result: a bright red, fully functional pair of glasses that the jury could hardly keep their hands off. The front and the temples are 3D printed.

Organized by OWP Brillen, a German eyewear manufacturer, the aim of the International Eyewear Design Contest 2015 is to reward creative and innovative product ideas in the field of prescription eyewear. he contest proved extremely popular, with 146 young designers from 26 countries – including Iran, Mexico, Thailand, Israel and Australia – submitting their creative ideas for eyewear. Based on the theme ‘urban street style’, young product designers are welcome to think differently and to challenge themselves. A jury of designers  selected three winning concepts based on the choice of materials, wearability, manufacturability and functionality.

Makeup tips for girls who rock glasses

Glasses definitely make a style statement, but your eyes can get lost beneath your frames unless you adjust your makeup.

“Being a beauty expert, I’ve always been aware of how dlasses can transform the face and wanted to take the mistery out of how to choose the right glasses”- Bobbi Brown, founder and chief creative officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Inc.

Here are her favorite ways to make your eyes pop from behind your lenses she decribes in “Everything Eyes” by Chronicle Books.

  • Eyeliner is key; it really adds definition from behind your lenses.
  • Always define your brows with a shadow the same shade as your hair color. This ensure that your glasses don’t overpower your face.
  • The glass in your frames can hightlight undereye discoloration and darkness, so corrector and concealer underneath the eye and in creases is essential.
  • Waterproof mascara won’t smage on your lenses.
  • If you have strong frames, you can get away with stronger makeup.
  • If your frames are delicate, or in a nude shade, don’t let your makeup overpower your frames. Choose softer colors for shadow and create definition with a dark liner and mascara.
  • The color of your eye shadow shouldn’t compete with the color of your glasses. If you want to do the same color as your frames on your eyelids, try a base hue that’s a shade lighter, and go a few shades darker for the crease color. Finish with black liner and mascara.
  • For an easy look, go with a bold color on your lips and just corrector, concealer, and mascara for your eyes. Put on your glasses and you’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  An eye shadow color that is lighter and brighter than your frames will stand out, instead of competing with your glasses.

2.  When you have a mix of conident colors on your hair, lips, and frames, kep your eye makeup simple and clean with only a little liner and mascara.

3.  White frames highlight both your eye and makeup colors, making them a great choice to pair with statement eye makeup.

4.  Bold liner, with minimal shadow, looks amazing with thick, oversize frames.

 

Don’t go to Brooklyn to find Brooklyn Spectacles, they are here!

Established in April 2012 and based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Spectacles grows fast. Inspired by the challenging requests of her Brooklyn customers, Jenny Ma, the founder, has composed a collection that matches their expectations. She creates quality-crafted eyewear inspired by local independent artists, musicians and trendsetters.

Brooklyn Spectacles offers a wide array of frames all with bold designs, quality craftsmanship and a comfortable fit.

“Our mission is to design eyewear that is fashion-forward, interesting and technologically advanced. We believe the future of eyewear fashion is the discovery of styles beyond the ordinary.”

We presently offers two Brooklyn Spectacles collections: Wood Collection and Classic Collection. The Wood Collection is not made with real timber. While the frames are made of plastic, they have a finish that makes them appear to be wooden which provides the unique look of genuine wood while enjoying the comfort of the versatile synthetic material. The Classic Collection is a traditional polished or matte acetate with invisible hinge.

The collection is inspired by the bustling atmosphere of the neighborhood. We offer solid neat frames for a very competitive price range of $195. These frames are perfect not only for wearers looking for a fresh new look and feel but for those patients looking for a hip new style.

 

Contemporary glasses from the heart of Brooklyn New York, come take a look at our great new brand Brooklyn Spectacles.

 

“Golden Lorgnette” 2015 Awards Ceremony at MIOF, Moscow

Our Onega Astaltsova had an honor to attend the first National Awards Ceremony “Golden Lorgnette” for Russian Optical Industry, holded in Moscow on February 17, 2015 as a guest judge. The event took place at 16th Moscow International Optical Fair (MIOF).

The event in 9 categories is designed to recognize the most important  individuals and companies in the optical industry for providing excellent service, fostering innovation and spreading awareness of the optical industry. Among nominations were: debut in Russian market and new best product of the year, best marketing project and campaign in wholesale and retail, best local optical chain and independent optical store, innovation, person of the year. The guests of the evening were treated with a concert of finalists of TV show “Golos”, which equivalent to USA show “VOICE”.

At an event Onega wears dress by Karolina Zmarlak, polish-american designer and our own Providence Optical 3-D printed eyewear.

Salon ALMAZ-Optic from a small town of metallugists in Ural mountains region is a winner in the Best Independent Optical Shop category.

Elena Pedashenko of Almaz-Optic is getting an award
Alexander Zhurbin, a well-known composer, is a guest perfomer at an event

Temple Worship: Bayne Peterson Honors Native Traditions

Young and talented sculptor Bayne Peterson, that resides in our own beloved state of Rhode Island, has released new series of deconstructed optical frames inspired by his study of the artwork of native peoples in North America and the arctic region.

It all began a year ago, when Peterson was awarded a trip to Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa to study the art of inuits, or natives of the arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Chukotka. He was so impressed by their ivory carving, that he later went to Baffin Island in Canada for further studies.  World interest in the art of arctic natives is growing every year and, as a result, Peterson made a presentation at the archaeological conference at the University of Illinois and produced a series of wooden sculptures to capture the essence of what he had learned from the inuits.

Earpiece size 23″, wood

 Peterson’s passion led him down an intriguing path.  Rather than create sculptures that reside in private homes where few can see them, he chose to create wearable art that brings this artistic tradition out into the everyday world, where all can experience and enjoy it.  Thus was born his sculpture-temples for eyeglass frames. Despite their impressive size, their style and proportions clearly reveal the source of their inspiration.

In the tradition of native peoples who cherish the gifts of nature, they are carved of wood. Some are covered with layers of painted matte epoxy to echo the vibrant colors of native art.  Others, honoring the tradition of caring for Mother Earth by reusing her gifts, include pieces of colored plastic reclaimed from cups, knives and forks from a local deli. To avoid the caustic process of melting and reshaping this plastic, the dinnerware is milled in a coffee grinder.

Nosepiece: wood, epoxy, bits of plastic

Though based on centuries of tradition, these sculpture-temples have a modern look.  Their painstaking craftsmaship and high quality definitely can take center stage in any optical salon.

We are proud to display them in our shop.

Elegant and sophisticated. New Dita Eyewear.

Model STATESMAN is availiable at Providence Optical

John Juniper and Jeff Solorio founded DITA in Los Angeles in 1996 with the mission to create innovative, finely crafted eyewear with a totally unique look and feel. They always shared the same passion for photography and design. Together they were inspired to capture their passions not just on film but in eyewear as well, thus creating the first collection of Dita frames.

Frames FOLSOM and VIDA

Edgy yet elegant with an East meets West aesthetic and design influences ranging from Hollywood’s glamorous Golden Age to the mechanized beauty of the Industrial Revolution, DITA’s ability to enhance and transform a wearer’s persona has earned the brand a cult-like following amongst the world’s most influential celebrities, stylists and trendsetters. Dita became a well-known company in Europe.

Dita is an independent and somewhat underground brand for edgy, unique people with style of their own. The frames are based on traditional shapes but morphed in the design and technology to be unique and original.  

 

While the design is made in Los Angeles, Dita Eyewear manufacture in Japan,  in some of the oldest and the most respected factories dedicated exclusively to producing eyewear which use laborious combination of traditional and modern production techniques and technologies to transform the world’s finest metals and acetates into luxurious eyewear. Dita eyewear is an innovative and unique juxtaposition of timeless elegance and mechanical chic dedicated to creating original artistic statements.

Come to experience the exquisite quality and beauty of Dita!

SINTRA in crystal cream color

 

Award winning eyewear is here!

Silmo Ceremony where Lucas de Staël won the Silmo d’Or for the Best Optical frame.

There’s something about a repeat winner.  Think Serena Williams, Tom Hanks, Peyton Manning, Lebron James, Meryl Streep.  You can rely on such people to give you an amazing performance again and again.  In the world of eyewear, Lucas de Staël has become a repeat winner, as he walks away once again with best ophthalmic frame design award from this year’s Silmo d’Or – the eyewear version of the Academy Awards. For a run-down of his previous Silmo award, see our blog posting of Oct. 17, 2012.

We’re proud to say that we’ve been working with De Staël for a long time. First, he brought us his innovative Undostill and Suprematic lines, which revolutionized the industry by creating frames from a single piece of steel with no hinges.  His next adventure was to craft frames of out of leather, including his Minotaure line, made of  cow skin, and separate collection made of goat-skin, which he dubbed “Monsieur Seguin”. The frames have hinged temples and high calibre stainless steel between layers of leather for durability. But don’t think boring leather shades like in shoe wear.  Think attention-getting mod colors.

Production of Minotaure cow-leather line at Lucas de Staël studio in Paris.
Fronts from Minotaure line.

His latest innovation is eyewear made of genuine stone like granite, slate and pearl schist. He has two lines using thin stone cuts, “Stratus” and “Petrus”. “Stratus” uses a combination of stone, steel and leather. “Pertus” frames have a stone front and stone temples. The the material is so thin that it actually bends.  Again, de Staël used a metal skeleton to provide support while minimizing weight.

Presentation of “Petrus” at Silmo 2014
Lucas de Staël and Onega Astaltsova at his studio in Paris

Fascinated by this unparalleled ingenuity, we visited de Staël’s studio-factory in Paris to see the manufacturing process for ourselves.  The site is as innovative as the eyewear it produces.  The two-story glass building nestled between two typical city buildings is light, spacious and well-organized.  Inside are machinery and tools created by de Staël and his team.  They have to create their own because no other technology can manipulate the natural frame materials in this unique way or produce such meticulous results.  For example, the layers of the frame have to line up with a minuscule 0.05 mm tolerance.

Production
Sheet of slate for “Petrus” line gives matté finish to the frame.

Fall Holiday 2014: Garrett Leight New Releases

Amélie Pichard for GLCO: Frame “Pamela” with sparkling acetate on the front and in the lenses.

California based frame maker Garrett Leight and French shoes and bags designer Amélie Pichard launch this fall a limited series of solar retro glamor eyewear.

The singular frame shape presented in different color versions to express three very different personalities of feminity: Grace Jones for her fierce and fearless nature, Juliette Lewis the tomboy and Pamela Anderson the lively bombshell. This timeless line is composed of all classic features of Amélie Pichard aesthetics like glitter, sparkles, and radiance. Sparkles are present on the frame, incorporated in the acetate or on the lenses.

Amélie is everything that she claims her brand to be: dreamy but realistic, masculine but terribly sophisticated. She makes shoes in her image: timeless, surreal, and glamorous, but fitted to everyday life.

                  

For this season, Garrett Leight California Optical is also releasing new models for his own collection. It is about a return to classics. You will see some familiar shapes in rich new acetate colors and larger sizes.

Stop by Providence Optical and check them out. We will offer a 10% discount on all GLCO frames for the Holidays!