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Product Review: BlackJak Refinery Browbands

“These are, hands down, THE HIGHEST QUALITY Swarovski browbands I’ve encountered. Ever.” Morgane Schmidt Gabriel goes gaga for these crystal browbands that should satisfy the bling lover hiding in every dressage queen’s heart.

Photo (c) BlackJak Refinery

Despite not being a particularly girly type of girl, it’s no secret that I am enamored with sparkly things. I am also a self admitted tack addict. It makes perfect sense then that I would be in love with Swarovski browbands.

Up until very recently, my go to brand was Otto Schumacher. Schumacher makes some of the most beautiful, high-end tack available for the dressage market today. They are also one of the few retailers that will fully customize almost any aspect of your bridle. In less than shocking news, Schumacher bridles and browbands are quite expensive. They also come from Germany which takes some time.

As I am not a very patient person, and also just because I love looking at beautiful tack, I have been on the lookout for a similarly customizable, high quality option here in the states. Everything I initially found was sort of unremarkable — even if it was fairly sparkly, nothing had the quality to it that a Schumacher does.

Until I found BlackJak Refinery, that is. I first saw some of their browbands on Facebook, then went on to see their full line on the BlackJak Etsy page. I was pretty impressed with the photos so I emailed to see if I could get one to review. I was not disappointed!

This iridescent blue is super sparkly and fun without being distracting. I loved the browband I demoed so much that I ended up getting this one for a friend. Photo (c) BlackJak Refinery.

Into that whole “Unicorn” thing that’s so popular right now? Here you go! Photo (c) BlackJak Refinery.

I went with an ombre Swarovski browband that fades from a gunmetal to gold. I’m currently going with a brown and gold theme on The Beastlet for shows and I thought that color scheme would work nicely.

This is the browband I reviewed. Photo (c) BlackJak Refinery.

When the browband came the quality was immediately apparent. The leather is exceptionally supple and the crystals ridiculously sparkly. Finer details like stitching and the padded backing were also totally on point.
The high level of quality is possible as each browband is 100% handmade. This is completely apparent as the attention to detail is unparalleled. Because machine set crystals are notoriously fragile due to weak clasps and an imperfect set, to ensure durability each crystal set on a BlackJak browband is done by hand using German made jewelry grade clasps. To further enhance the beauty of the browband, these crystals are also set stone to stone. This simply means that they’re set right next to one another so you don’t see the ugly metal band running between them.

For comparison, here is a similar browband from a different manufacturer I ordered custom. Notice that there is space between each crystal where you can not only see the metal band, but also where dust and gunk can collect. Photo (c) Morgane Schmidt Gabriel.

BlackJak uses Swarovski Xirius chatons for their browbands as these are the industry leader in lead-free, durable, diamond-like gemstones. With over 110 color options, they’re also able to create any number of fabulous color combinations and patterns.

The customization process is super easy too. All it takes is an email, Facebook message, or Etsy email to get things started. I personally recommend browsing the examples on their Facebook and Etsy pages for some inspiration. After discussion, BlackJak will send photo mock-ups to ensure that you love what you’re ordering before you purchase. I thought that was an especially nice feature because you may think you know what you want and then decide otherwise once you see it. I don’t know of any other company that allows for this.

Ultimately, while I love Schumacher bridles, BlackJak is my new go to for high-end browbands (I even had to buy another after reviewing the first). They’re not only high quality, in crystals, durability, and padding — but the entire processes is user-friendly and fast, and you’re supporting a small, family-owned business. What could honestly be better?

You can see the full range of  possibilities on the BlackJak Refinery Etsy page — not into glitter? They have super cool metal browbands and spikes as well!

Got a macho beast? Not excited about bling? BlackJak also offers classic clencher browbands as well as other unique metal options. Photo (c) BlackJak Refinery.

Clinchers available is standard brass as well as gunmetal and copper. Photo (c) BlackJak Refinery.

They also have started with their own Ace Bridle Collection (I have not had the chance to see these yet but if they’re anywhere near as nice as the browbands they’re worth a look). Check out and follow their Facebook page and Instagram (@BlackJakRefinery) as well for specials, updates, and drool-worthy photos of beautiful tack.


 Go Riding, with sparkles! 😉

Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 34-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now beastly 7-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.

 

Photo (c) Tamara with the Camera

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