your link to what every woman should know about the finer points in life, love and expressing yourself with jewelry

Archive for February, 2012

Romancing The Stone (Guest Blog)

Posted on: 9 Comments


Guest Blog by Michael Giulietti (aka Paolo)

I was ten and at an Italian ski resort the first time I gave a ‘woman’ jewelry. She was eighteen and to prove my love, I left a gift of dark purple shiny beads by her door, which I was sure would make up for our eight-year age difference. She sweetly accepted the gift but turned down my proposal of undying devotion. Heartbroken, I wasn’t aware that this would be the one time that I’d give jewelry and declare my feelings without trepidation to a special woman.

Buying jewelry is a stressful proposition. Is there a pecking order: should silver come first and then gold?  Is there a way to signify stages? feelings? Cooly inquire about men who have bestowed gifts before? Eventually, it was time to stop questioning and boldly go where I’ve never gone before—into a jewelry store.

I began dating Jen, an American dancer, living in my native Milan. I apprehensively looked at rings and quickly decided that they represented a commitment I wasn’t ready for. Instead, I chose an ornate crystal choker. Jen admitted it was so tight that cut off her air supply. She had left magazines opened to the page of her favorite designer and his simple sculptural jewelry, which was graceful like her. I learned two lessons: follow the signs and look for the right match. We broke up six months later.

Later, I met Arianna. For her birthday, I purchased a Turkish crafted sterling silver necklace, modern and tongue-cheek in its design. More of a wearable piece of sculpture than traditional jewelry, upon closer look the piece revealed a naked human with open arms. I was aware of the possible meanings to be read into this symbol of an extremely manly man, attached to my girlfriend’s neck. “Was I showing sexual insecurity? Did I have any taste whatsoever?”

But when I gave it to Arianna, she was thrilled and I was relieved.  Eventually, I realized the naked guy carved out of silver, which she wore so close to her heart, would remain in her life long after me.

My international marketing career had me transferring back and forth from the US to my native Italy. While working in New York for a year, I started seeing Bettina. A writer and jewelry expert, Bettina introduced me to a world with which I was unfamiliar. “I don’t want to see a bunch of jewelry,” I said snobbishly about a Castellani exhibit that she dragged me to in Manhattan.

“But it’s as much of your heritage as the Vatican and as much of an art as its frescoes,” Bettina said as I marveled at the intricate pieces behind the glass cases.

Although I wear cufflinks, I’d never understood the beauty of French enameling or seen certain gemstones. For Christmas’ and birthdays, Bettina would either find beautiful antique styles or have links made out of exclusively cut stones. I not only got an education of different time periods and great masters, I was now the receiver of jewelry.

Bettina and I continued to see each other long after I was transferred to Rome. She’d come to Italy for her work and I would go back to New York for holidays. I knew she had a penchant for antique pieces, and I searched shops in Milan, Rome and Manhattan.

‘Jewel’ in Italian is related to the word ‘joy’. How to give that gioia di vivere to Bettina, not merely a mortal woman whom I cared for deeply–but also my teacher—with impeccable taste-who reviewed and designed jewelry for a living? You might have been just a tad apprehensive too.  Every time I spotted a pair of earrings, rings or bracelets I thought she would appreciate, I’d get so close to purchasing it and then would totally loss my nerve.

Although my time with Bettina was the closest I’ve come to purchasing a significant piece of jewelry for a woman, I still hope to recapture the courageous young boy who was able to declare his feelings with audacity and present a gift of love with a completely open heart.

Just a note for my readers (some names have been changed for the purpose of the guest blog—including, well, mine) But you can learn a lot more about all aspects of  “Paolo”  and… what he finally does purchase in the way of jewelry… in my memoir: “My Charmed Life: Rocky Romances, Precious Family Connections and Searching For a Band of Gold, NAL/Penguin, July 3, 2012.

In the meantime, I would like to thank Michael/Paolo for contributing a post to this blog and sharing his experience and feelings so openly,  And…for giving me a breather (after my computer crashed and I was told my hard drive was “toast”—and asked by my favorite apple techs “why in hell hadn’t backed up for a week”) … Hopefully  I’ll  get through “the recovery” and back in action again next Monday with a new post.


Posted on: 6 Comments

David Cassidy wearing puka shells, seventies

Recently men I’ve gone out with seem genuinely interested in what I do.  So much so that one guy showed up wearing a necklace akin to puka shells on our first date. He proudly pointed to show me that he owned and wore this choker length strand just for me. Although, I admired his attempts at pleasing me, I couldn’t get passed the fact that he was forty-eight and didn’t know that this was distracting me from listening to what could have been stimulating conversation, had I been able to pay attention. Instead, I kept wishing he was David Cassidy and I was back in the ’70s at an age when I didn’t have to worry much about whether there would be chemistry , if he was financially stable, sane, single and straight.  But, would have been happy if he just knew how to French Kiss.

Another guy, who a mutual friend thought was “perfect for me” was handsome, tall with green eyes, dressed in a pair of Levis and cashmere sweater, He was charming, witty and wearing a classic vintage Cartier watch.  I was high five-ing[  my friend in my head and hoping for a second date until he asked me what I thought of his watch. When I told him, it was perfect, he puffed out his chest and said “my mother bought it for me.” I assumed this MUST mean it was for his graduation from college or grad school, like twenty some-odd years ago. Nope. She had just picked it out for him this past year along with three new sport jackets.  He explained, “I am completely inept at dressing myself. My mother has always picked out my clothes.” I no longer wondered why he was divorced but I did wonder if I should part from the friend who introduced us. And then I thought maybe I should date his mother.

My ex-boyfriend/now friend Paolo calls and I start to tell him about this and (after he gets over the shock that I am dating again–after two years of not seeing him) he reminds me, “You didn’t have a problem with my cuff link collection.” “Really?” I ask teasingly.  I remember when he showed me his treasure chest of links and I made exception because he was Italian, spoke with a sexy accent, wore custom-made suits and shirts with French cuffs and had more style that any guy I’d ever met “Don’t you remember I said I thought that it might be difficult to date a guy who owns more jewelry than me?”  He laughs like he did the first time I said it and we reminisce about how I taught him about the famous Castellani permanent collection of jewelry housed at a museum in Rome, as much a part of his culture as Frescos and the Vatican.  I also taught him about different gemstones. He took all in and was eventually able to identify ruby from spinel.

Which brings me back to the present to another American guy I had gone out with several times. Everything was going smoothly until he started rattling off his knowledge of Mother-of-Pearl, high karat gold and the Four C’s. Although I should have been flattered that he was trying to impress me with his knowledge, I felt it was similar to the dating faux pas of telling me a detailed account of all of his past sexual experiences with the women he obviously bought this jewelry for.

“You’re way too hard on me. I thought you’d like that I knew about what you did for a career.” Not so much. I would have preferred if I’d been the one to teach him about opals and baroque pearls.

I know that I am hard to please when it comes to guys. So, when it comes to jewelry I would like them to take subtle hints about it from me– and perhaps not let on about what they purchased for someone else. I would also like them not to wear anything but a watch (hopefully given to them by  their mother  as an heirloom or when they were too young to buy it for themselves), cuff links, and a wedding band to let me know if they are married (as I strongly stated two blogs back).

Tonight before writing this post, I met a guy who heard that I have a book being published, which is coming out this summer. We talked favorite authors, rare editions and our favorite novels of all time. I was incredibly happy that he was not trying to seduce me with his knowledge of jewelry and that the wedding band he wasn’t wearing really meant that he wasn’t married, rather that it was just “too tight or uncomfortable, so he left it off. ” He took my number and asked if he should wait the appropriate three days to call and I shook my head  no.

“Yeah. Stupid rule,” he had a mischievous smile. “How bout tomorrow I give you a ring? –Maybe it’s not one for my finger but it’s definitely one I’ll be hoping for.

Get The Hint-again…

Posted on: 1 Comment

Karin Jameison Moonstone and gold earrings

I had posted this blog originally around Christmas time. But feeling that it needs a re-post and some minor changes for Valentine’s Day. To my male friends out there who save everything till the last minute…Just making sure you are paying attention, “getting the hint” and getting out of your office and no  (not to the flower, chocolate  or lingerie shop!) but to the jewelry store.

Once again it’s a time of year when all my women friends tell me secretly what jewelry they want their husbands, boyfriends or significant others to purchase for them. Then, I am supposed to discreetly–and without giving away the ‘plan’– pass this information along, by calling or emailing said husband, boyfriend or S-O for the first time all year, to somehow nonchalantly, offer them my unbiased and completely innocent advice. Inevitably whether I make the initial call or other friends are enlisted to assist in the process, this is  an enactment of how subtly it works:

John:   ”Jenny called you to tell me exactly what jewelry she wants for Valentine’s Day.” (statement, no question mark)

Me: “Well, I wouldn’t say that exactly…she kind of gave a wish list.”

John: “She has more than one item?” (definitely a question)

Me: “No, no it’s one.”

John: Trying to be witty…”And if I decide to get her an iPad 2 instead?

Me: “She will hit you over the head with it and you won’t be able to return it in thirty days in its original condition.” ….And then I go for it:  ”If you don’t comply,  I can’t promise you that you will have a sex life, or those golf clubs you wanted for your birthday.”

John: “Okay. Where do I meet you?”

Now that the cat’s out of the proverbial bag about how it works, remember this for next year: we don’t have to come up with the master plan. Just tell me what you want and I’ll procure it for you..

But –there is always a but– and this is directed at the girls! If you want anything that he doesn’t understand, forget it right now. He will not get you the new spiky necklace because he doesn’t find sharp objects around your neck sexy. Ditto for the fabulous web bracelet, which has the pave spider caught in the corner.  He has been killing all the bugs and keeping the creatures away since he met you.

He will spend hours trying to understand why the hell you would want  a rough or rose cut brown or black diamond-or diamond beads–”where is the sparkle, too dark and dreary–no one will ever know they’re diamonds– are you sure?” I’ve had this conversation.  Last year I spent three hours convincing one hubby that a white rose cut  in a simple setting for a pendant was what his wife truly and deeply wanted. And, “no I was not mistaken.” I neglected to have the frank talk–see above enactment–and I actually had to prove that his wife would accept this as a ‘real’ diamond.

If you aren’t married or engaged and he’s not planning on it in the very near future, like say, for Valentine’s Day, there is no way he will buy you a ring. Not a cocktail style, three-dimensional fantasy version, not even one with a snake slithering up your finger. Rings are just not in a guy’s jewelry vocabulary. Especially not eternity bands or stackables. I once had a guy break out into a cold sweat, turn a paler shade of white,  need a liter of water just because I showed him the thinnest of micro pave bands in yellow gold with yellow diamonds. Didn’t matter that it was for her pinky  where she wore three others.  He kept saying it was a wedding band. It sent him fleeing.

So my advice to all women out there with wish lists and hints…and their favorite stores clued in on the covert operation: buy all aforementioned pieces as self purchases and go for some intriguing but guy friendly pieces. Earrings are always a winner, particularly in moonstone which has mystical connotations, as are pendants with a romantic yet safe motif: floral or lacy openwork  with a dash of muted gems. Diamonds are his best friend too and he will go for the rose cuts and even the polished roughs  if it’s explained to him with care and if your favorite salesperson can ply him with a few, or possibly many beers…

Another small tip, if he’s never seen you wearing bracelets and this year you’re hankering for some bangles,  borrow and wear them and let him hear them clank on your wrist so he notices.

Although he knows it’s a set up and he’s going a long with it because it does make it so much damn easier for him and allows him time to post scores and sports stats on FB, he will still want to feel like he has some say and he will gravitate more to purchasing jewelry he can picture you in.

And if this has the desired effect for you whomever  reads this, you owe me one fix up–with a fantastic guy who, if it works out, I can send to you for my jewelry next year.

Kamofie diamond bezel set bracelets

Nam Cho antique stylediamond floral necklaceIla&I earrings