There was a time when I lived in black, from lingerie to every piece of clothing, handbag and footwear I owned, with a few white shirts thrown in. It seemed to be necessary for a Manhattanite who was also a fashion editor and lived in Greenwich Village. It was the easiest way to look stylish and navigate an urban lifestyle, from riding the subway in the morning to getting through a day at the office–and with a quick switch of jewelry and accessories–going to a work-related cocktail party or out on a dinner date, without having time to going home to change .
My mom, a VP for a ready-to-wear company wore Donna Karan and Calvin Klein and neither of us ever believed that brown or any other color would be “the new black”. We did, however, believe in a little sparkle to brighten up our face. My mom wore antique diamond and gemstone stick pins on her lapels and one simple mine-cut station necklace or bolder Robert Lee Morris pieces. I adorned myself in flat-cut garnet Georgian or amethyst and moonstone Victorian earrings as I found them unique and also had two pairs of Ted Muehling simple drops in colored inverted teardrop shaped stones.
When I turned 40, my grandmother, who only dressed in “happy” colors said, “you are just like your mother” and dropped such subtle hints as “black makes you look older. Try some prettier tones in a scarf or a cardigan.”
And then, before I went out with some new guy, she would add: “men like women who are feminine and wear softer, appealing colors. They won’t date women who look like they are going to mug them.”
When I realized I had started channeling Morticia rather than Holly GoLightly , I lightened up my almost black hair and also my wardrobe, wearing such ‘colors’ as shades of grey, stone, brown, and ecru. I also changed from being a steely platinum girl to adding in pink and yellow gold and gemstones in shades of pink and lavender sapphire or tourmalines, making my grandmother proud.
And now, all of a sudden, I am back in all black: black diamonds, blackened metal, lava and ebony beads, and onyx. I not only have versions of the LBD but now the LBS (Little black stud), the LBN (Long black necklace) and LBBs(layered black bracelets). This trend started slowly and then swept through the jewelry industry the way Donna Karan’s matte jersey fabrics took over fashion twenty-five years ago.
Black might be the only black–and it’s beautiful in many of the new designer pieces, but when it’s combined or layered with ‘happy’ colors it will set off your outfit more distinctively and brighten up your face as well as your day. Try mixing in some deeper reds in rubies or spinel such as in Scott Mikolay’s station chain and pendant necklace,, Studio Waterfall’s rose cut muted sapphires and Arman’s green tourmaline and blue sapphires and high karat gold to add life to your darkened metals. Also fancy colored sapphire and other gemstones offer a contrast to ebony beads or cuffs and stack bracelets at Padma. You can wear your black diamonds, mixed with yellow or pink gold and white pave setting. The yellow gold and black diamond chains at Sethi Couture, and white diamond centers stone with black diamond petals for floral studs at John Apel are both versatile additions to your jewelry wardrobes. Yellow sapphires and yellow gold chain adds highlights to a blackened silver and black diamond crescent moon at Emily Keifer. And just FYI–all black jewelry doesn’t have the same effect as clothes: it unfortunately doesn’t make you look thinner…I tested it.