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Archive for June, 2010

Au Natural

Arman: Vibes: Shaill

I’m a nature girl at heart.  I love exploring gardens, forests and woods, although I do prefer the ‘objects’ I find to be made of precious metals, able to be worn, and completely inanimate. Recently I had a friend  (in a relatively new relationship), who told me, that for a romantic weekend, the new love interest asked her to go camping.  The last time I’d gone, I got bitten by some sort of exotic bug. It snuck up on me in the middle of the night and left welts that lasted for an entire month all over my legs.

“Wonderful idea,” I said. Perhaps the sex in the sleeping bags under the night stars that I mentioned to her was compelling enough to calm her fears that ranged from smelling like “OFF” to cute outfits for hiking to the more pressing topic of how many moisturizers and makeup you can weigh your backpack down with.

I remember going to sleep-away camp and felt nostalgic this past weekend when many of my friends were dropping their kids off ‘at the bus.’ This warm feeling waned when I recalled that they were  being led to bunks with mice, one outlet for every blow dryer in the entire place, and swimming in the lake with all kinds of creatures that would keep any sane kid treading water as close to the top as possible.

The beginning of first letter home from camp  to my mom when I was 11, read:” Camp sucks.  (Sorry I mean stinks).  I can’t believe you did this to me.  Remember the bug juice at day camp, which you explained was really just like Kool Aid, well here, it has real live flies in it.  Okay, they aren’t really alive. They are just kind of floating on their backs. I half expect them to be sipping out of mini straws.”

I was the one who woke up with 30 mosquito bites and had a mouse scurrying up my leg when going on overnight outings with boys and pretending to enjoy the whole thing.  It was during one of these times that I found out I was highly allergic to bees or yellow jackets. I never bothered to find out the exact species of the creature as I was going into anaphylactic shock. It was embarrassing enough when my throat started closing up and my lips grew to the size of a blow fish. So while I find bees an interesting motif, I feel like I need to bring my EpiPen, even when looking at 18K gold versions.

I do have an affinity for the open weave of the web as a motif for jewelry like in Borgioni’s ring. Yet, I  freak out, when, for instance, I see a spider on my NYC apartment ceiling. I usually call in my doorman to remove it before it somehow lands on my head or worse, on the couch and then crawls around only to appear on my shirt.

So, with the exception of spiders and webs, I am not really big on the creepy crawly motifs. I do like ladybugs and the memories that come from making a wish and blowing them to their next destination. I am more drawn to dragonflies, particularly Elyssa Bass’ stone set styles (same goes for butterflies such as Leila Tai’s Art Nouveau-inspired plique-a-jour versions or Mallary Mark’s Japanese inspired beauties) and when they are mixed in with stones, wood  as in the designs of Wendy Yue or in the three-dimensional garden motifs of Shaill.  Speaking of three-dimensional, I will take an occasional bug in the magic fairytale jewels of Vibes. Her collection is like a traipse through an enchanted forest with 18K white and yellow gold flowers blossoming, vines winding and creatures landing on her baroque pearls, raw and rose cut diamonds and newest rock crystal. A fan of H. Stern, the limited “Alice In Wonderland” collection developed in partnership with Disney and inspired by the spectacular creatures of Tim Burton’s Wonderland is magical (particularly the rose ring– and you don’t have to fall through a rabbit hole to find it).

I am completely enamored by various snake motifs and I own serpent rings from the 19th century and most recently, a contemporary version in high karat gold with colored gems on its head and black diamond in its mouth from Arman that I allow to climb up my finger as well the and the winding snake bracelet from Kathy Rose for Roseark that slithers around my wrist. But, you couldn’t catch me in 10 feet of the real thing.

Sometimes, a girl has just got to go out and smell the flowers or at least wear them. Laurie Kaiser, who has a green thumb, which she has turned to gold has created some of the most feminine yet bold pieces featuring the earthly delights of pendants with vines wrapping around trellis’ and hoops twisted like branches with blooms of different floral varieties.  Luckily in her garden, I won’t need to carry my EpiPen.

Elyssa Bass: Borgioni: Laurie Kaiser

Age Defying

While perusing Harper’s Bazaar, the section, Fabulous At Every Age got me thinking. Each month, this feature seems to assign certain styles to different ages. I study the  medallion necklace from Lanvin, which the magazine urges me to wear at my stage in life. Instead, I’m drawn to the Stephen Russell retro diamond clip earrings, although I allegedly need to be 70-something to wear them. I also fall for  the gold pendants on ribbon (from Abraxas Rex by Paris Kainbu) but notice I’m breaking the rules by being drawn to a piece on the 30-something page. Although I know the Bazaar editors are simply suggesting age-appropriate pieces, I’ve found that fine jewelry is more about individual style and playing up your best features.

Personally I wouldn’t wear diamond skulls or gold Cleopatra-esque neck collars but that has little to do with age: rocker chic has never been my look nor can my frame carry off a necklace larger than my entire chest.

Fine jewelry transcends trends and fashion dictums and can be both stylish and timeless simultaneously. Even when put away for five or more years, a diamond chain or stud earrings (unlike, say, jodhpurs  or pirate shirts) can be resurrected to fit in with current styles.

I’ve been known to give up articles of clothing earlier than necessary so not to look as if I’m trying too hard. Even though my legs are perhaps the best feature of my figure, I gave up skirts that weren’t long enough to graze my knees in my 30s. When mini skirts came back in style a couple of years ago, I enjoyed the irony of friends who were raising their hemlines while lifting their foreheads. Personally, I’ve grown into a more classic style in clothing: cashmere sweaters, shift dresses, feminine lace edged layering pieces, well-fitting jeans, menswear trousers and crisp white shirts.

But with jewelry, I can be more creative in my tastes in choosing pieces that will also endure the test of time. Here are some looks that I believe look fabulous at Any age:

John Apel’s moonstone Necklace in varying lengths with rose cut rainbow moonstones in 18K yellow gold is set with ultra thin bezels so if it flips the gems show from both sides and offer a modern take on an familiar Victorian style–great to set off summer whites or year round black as well as all shades of gray.

Todd Reed’s rose cut black diamond ring set in silver with white diamonds on top of 18K gold has an ancient feeling of a found treasure and also works with the simplicity and ease of black or white.

Sofia Kaman for Kamofie Design‘s initial shield. Kaman continues to create this style that she added to her collection two years ago. It’s personalized and stylish and the shield is a symbol for protection. wear it long, short or on cord or mixed in with other charms. The piece you never want to take off and can wear everywhere with everything.

Yewn’s wide cuff in vibrant gemstones and cut out floral design has the feeling of cloisonne and offers a subtle way of adding color to your wardrobe. A more statement making piece that should be worn on it’s own or with a small drop or stud earring

Just Jules delicate 18K bangle bracelets with various shaped rose cut diamonds or accented with small diamonds and textured finishes, wear just one for an ultra delicate look or play with a group of them to create different stacks. These can be worn with floaty tops or sleeveless dresses in summer or with lightweight cashmere sweater with the sleeves slightly rolled up and go with any color, from muted natural hues to brighter tones.

Anzie‘s Turquoise and 18K yellow gold cluster earrings. Both studs and turquoise are in the height of fashion right now but are also favorite classics that will have a long life span in your jewelry wardrobe. Try it with white jeans and sandals with a simple shirt or tank or to liven up a more tailored natural colored shift dress.

All original content is ©Beth Bernstein 2010. No words may be reproduced with out permission from the copyright holder.

©2010B-Jeweled. All Rights Reserved.

The Family Jewels: lessons on life and style

Like most young girls, I loved going through my grandmother’s jewelry box . I played dress up, mixing her real and faux pieces: Art Deco diamond bracelets with crystal beads, strands of cultured and South Sea pearls with marcasite brooches. During my preteens, when my parents got divorced, when I was getting braces and starting to think about boys, I turned to her for guidance and she taught me life lessons as well as passing on style, beauty and jewelry tips, sometimes mingling them for more impact.

Last week, a month before her 97th birthday, she passed away, which has brought up many memories of the real gems she passed down: her love, friendship, honesty and wisdom. The more humorous recollections are comforting and are keeping me going.

As early as I can remember, my grandmother’s rule was “never leave the house without a little lipstick and some earrings as you never know who you are going to meet.” She believed that “they brightened your face, but worn with a smile–even better –as that can enliven the people around you.” My mother completely shared in this sentiment (with the exceptions of the earrings when I was eight) and both were truly appalled when they came to visit me in college. I was on my way to do the laundry, sans make-up, in overalls and my hair up in a high “Pebbles style” ponytail. “And you complain that you haven’t met a guy here yet! Maybe a little lipstick and wearing your hair down might give you more of an advantage,” said my grandmother.

Later on, my grandmother suggested “taking two minutes to put on a little ‘rouge’.” Even when she was diagnosed with dementia at 93 and we had to move her into a nursing home, where her ‘flat mates’ were wearing pajamas, my grandmother was fully dressed in a twinset and what she called ‘slacks’ with light makeup and turquoise and gold clips earrings and a gold bangle on her wrist. When I arrived in what I though was a chic version of sweats: gunmetal gray wide velour pants and hoodie , suitable for the environment, she shook her head and said “I thought you were coming to visit me not going for a work-out at the gym,” As she hugged me tightly, she continued, “There are single doctors here and perhaps a pair of jeans and a sweater might have been a better choice.”

She also believed that black brings you down and color is the way to go. “Add some pink, some lilac, any shade of blue …and if you must wear neutrals, try a nice shade of ecru or a pale gray and a beautiful strand of pearls.”

Since, she warned me early on not to buy dented cans as they could cause botulism, my grandmother was very definite in her response to my inquiry of whether she thought I’d look better with a bit of Botox. “The lines on your forehead show that you laughed, cried and lived. And when I can actually see them, I am sure they will add more character to your face!” She also eschewed ‘fancy anti-aging serums’ and believed Pond’s Cold Cream as the number one moisturizer and the key to a youthful and smooth appearance. It seemed to work for her.

She had a theme: getting me hitched and insisted, ” please find a nice man who will appreciate you, rather than the unavailable schmendricks that you’re choosing”. She also took pride in introducing me to all her friends and talking about my writing on the topics of style, jewelry and fashion. “Maybe one day you could come here looking the part.” As always, it was said somewhat teasingly, and I never let on that I spend most days at the computer in different versions of sweats, except when I am traveling, going to industry events and on hot (and not so hot) dates.

Most of my grandmother’s life was spent taking care of her family and doing charity work for less fortunate children for two different organizations. She was a proud woman, who believed less in vanity then “when you look your best, people won’t know what you are feeling inside, even when your heart might be breaking.”

At her funeral, mine was indeed broken, but I got dressed-not in black- but in a mix of white shirt and sand color jacket and trousers, put on my favorite earrings (the antique mine cut Russian double drops she’d passed down to me), the required lipstick, ‘rouge’ and even some mascara, in honor of her. I think she would have been happy.

Both of my brothers (who are married) noticed that the reformed Rabbi we had chosen, (who was a tad younger than me and in great shape ) was showing interest in me and saw it as a sign. I saw it as a sense of comic relief and a wink from my grandmother.

So, before I sat down to type this–in sweat pants and my hair–yes up in that high ponytail, I put on a bit of lipstick and my moonstone stud earrings. I could hear her say “Take a walk; get fresh air and remember to smile. You never know who you are going to meet.”

All original content is ©Beth Bernstein 2010. No words may be reproduced with out permission from the copyright holder.
©2010B-Jeweled. All Rights Reserved.

The Long and Short of It

moritz glik


I remember desperately wanting my ears pierced. In the mornings before 3rd grade (I was 8 at the time), I’d scotch tape cutouts of stars, moons and flowers to my lobes.

“Your teachers will think you’re crazy, worse yet, they will think that I am letting you out of the house like this,” my mom had said.

To which my reply was “then let me get my ears pierced.” I think I stomped my foot for emphasis. The verdict: not happening until I was 14. It was a number she’d arbitrarily come up with and for me seemed like a lifetime.

So I did what any 8 year old would do, I went over her head to her mom, my grandmother. She took one look at the scotch tape creations and promptly took me to a jewelry store near where she lived in Brooklyn. I almost changed my mind and passed out when I saw the “gun” but I made it through. Then, I waited six weeks with the surgical steel studs till I could wear the little twisted wire 18K gold hoops my grandmother bought for me. My mom felt manipulated and decided to scare me into listening to her in the future with talk about infections and other really dramatic stuff that never happened.

By the time high school rolled around, I wanted an asymmetrical look and let some guy pierce one more hole in my right ear and two more in my left with ice and a sewing needle. My mom just rolled her eyes and cautioned me never to wear anything too heavy because that would cause the earlobes to droop and the holes to stretch as I got older. Sounded awful and left more of an impression than the earlier warnings.

But throughout my twenties and thirties, which were in the ’80s and ’90s I was into style over function (not realizing there was a way to have both) and I wore everything from large dangling ethnic styles to over sized gold hoops. But once a chandelier earring got caught on a crochet sweater, I decided to retire the longer, heavier looks for delicate double drops and ultra small pendant earrings, mostly antique styles that were lighter in weight. I began meeting women who went through the ordeal of getting their piercings sewed up and re-pierced again and also noticed the dreaded droop. I was not going to let a fashionable pair of earrings take down my lobes.

Then in 2002, I met Brazilian born designer Moritz Glik, who, in addition to his sophisticated yet playful collection of floating diamond jewelry set between sapphire crystals, creates featherweight longer and chandelier style earrings that literally feel like you are not wearing anything, very contemporary in feeling yet with undertones of antique style and technique. A little over a year ago, I met Sara Freedenfeld who spins gold into a fluid collection of fabric inspired designs for her Amali collection, (sentimentally named after her grandmother). She weaves every piece out of chain herself and her longer looks are also airy and lightweight.

Both designers have allowed me to expand my earring collection, at a time when longer, more fluid earrings with movement are being shown everywhere from runway to red carpet.

In time, gravity would have it’s pull on my ears like it’s having on my upper arms and gluts but I am going to hold out in style until then.

All original content is ©Beth Bernstein 2010. No words may be reproduced with out permission from the copyright holder.
All Rights Reserved.