After my last two blogs entries (on my experience with turquoise throughout the years and with spiritual jewelry), I began to mull over how , like everything else in life, certain jewelry is attached, not only to personal memories but to very specific connotations, status and stereotypes. But, in the past 10 or so years, some pioneering and inventive fine jewelry designers have done much to dispel our more conventional and sometimes negative associations with various styles in jewelry.
I’ll be addressing some of these styles in a three-part blog this week:
A few years ago while wearing the seven graduated yellow gold talisman chains (I recently wrote about in Lifting the Spirits), I flew over to Rome to spend time with the guy I was seeing at the time. I was dressed in a black cashmere cardigan, with a hint of black La Perla lace peeking out, black slim pants and Prada ballet slippers. The minute he saw me, he gave me the once over, and bluntly asked– “what happened to your elegant taste? You look like an aging Sicilian woman praying to the saints.”
As a guy, he had no problem with the lace cami, as an Italian, who understood fashion, he got the idea of basic black for traveling, but the overall effect was one that conjured up a look, that, while inspirational for Dolce & Gabbana, left my Milanese-born man confused.
While I thought I looked quite fashionable– and was initially hurt by his statement–I came to understand it. The image I had evoked for him was more of the grieving Sicilian widow, Anna Magnani played in The Rose Tatoo, then the playful, style-conscious Manhattanite he had thought he was dating.
For me, there was also a time that yellow gold conjured up less than high fashion images. Throughout the ’80s, I came to associate it with flashy divas, who danced the night away in glittery lame, accentuated by gaudy accessories that reminded me of shimmering disco balls. I was a white metal girl back then: yellow was all about generic hollow bangles, huge hoops, mesh bibs: the jewelry of women with long red fingernails and big hair: Think the beginning scenes in Working Girl and nocturnal wannabes in stiletto heels, waiting endlessly on line and at clubs such as Area and Odeon and you’ve got the picture. At the time, (if I must admit it) I lived in the Northern part of the Garden State and this look also came to represent everything I never want to be. (read: ‘The real women’ from “Jersey Shore”)
When I started writing about jewelry for magazines in the 90s, designers kept trying to bring back yellow gold and finally, sometime around 2001-2002 there was a major revitalization, no longer a trend trying to lose its bad rep, but a category of jewelry that is here to stay. Whether shown over the past years in symbolic pendants or the ultra fine lace inspired cuffs of Barry Kronen.the high karat, highly textured hand of Gurhan, the fanciful and ornate contrasts of Arman’s gold, highlighted by blackened silver and popped by beautiful gemstones, the artful simplicity of Stephanie Albertson, the sprinkle of sparkle of the bezel set styles of Annie Fensterstock, the intricately detailed work of Jamie Wolf and the delicate stardust hand texture by Yasuko Azuma, there are a plethora of pieces from ancient-inspired to bohemian global: cool, chic and collectible. While I still wear my gold layered, my fashion choices tend toward more pleasing and tonal neutrals of greys, browns and stone colors, except of course when I pop into a Dolce & Gabbana shop, buy black and savor the design duo’s Sicilian roots.
Stay tuned for my next installment on Wednesday on my ‘Un-Bridled’ Passion for Pearls–