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Archive for May, 2015

FD’s Jewelry Wonderland


FD’s shop window









FD’s shop window











Just peering into the windows of FD Gallery, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. And no wonder, the rare jewels of Van Cleef & Arpels are displayed with cupcakes, while Cartier confections hold their own when showcased with fruit tarts, chocolate truffles  are surrounding Susan Belperron (0r the other way around) . And, that’s just at first glance.  Walking into the store, my attention span has lapsed. Not just sensory overload— but remarkable one of kind antique and vintage jewelry-all-in-one-place-and-I-get-to-play-with-it-all—joy! I want this, no this, no, this. Okay, I just want everything.

Actually, when my hearts stops fluttering, I realize FD Gallery carries my personal favorites: pieces created in the 18th and 19th century, and there is myriad selection in this time period for me to live happily ever after in this jeweled wonderland.

My eyes dart to the Russian “Faith, Hope and Charity” motif in rose diamonds on an oval gold locket. I am transfixed by the serpent jewels, the memorial rings and the myriad pendants—that I am already imagining layering around my neck.


A group of amazing memorial rings in the shop




Pendants and lockets, from a “lover’s eye to an enamel pendant to a rosed diamond snake locket, rose diamond anchor and perpetual calendar


Russian “Faith, Hope, and Charity” Pendant












French “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” bracelet














Perhaps my favorite piece in the entire shop, being the sentimentalist that I am, is an antique French gold and silver “Je T’aime un peu, Beaucoup, Passionnement” bracelet, which literally translates into “ he loves me a little, a lot, passionately” And for those of us who have picked the petals off of daisies for much of our lives, it is interpreted into “he loves me; he loves me not.” The detail of the center of the daisies and the carving of the entire bracelet has me awestruck when I try it on. Somehow I get a case of clasp amnesia and am unable to get it off.

From the outside, FD gives the appearance of seemingly small shop on the charming east 65th street between Fifth and Madison, with pretty brownstones and a stones throw across the Central Park from my own home on west 65th Street. but once inside the central showcases which house Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, along with other cases, featuring works by a who’s-who roster of the most famous jewelers of the 20th Century: Taffin, JAR and Wallace Chan;Bulgari, Boivin, Suzanne Belperron, Flato, Tiffany, Verdura and Boucheron .

And, having just finished a book which features these renowned houses’ most famous jewels- my appreciation has grown even stronger (as if that were possible) – and in addition to the wearable gems – I am coveting Van Cleef & Arpels turquoise, ruby, gold and silver and lacquer minaudiere vanity case

Van Cleef & Arpels vanity case













Retirement plan? I am truly rethinking that whole thing when I can wear all of this jewelry NOW.
The shop continues on with wall cases and a relaxing salon in the back in which to sit back,  try on pieces and eye the chocolate truffles and jars full of sweet and sour candy. Anyone who knows me—knows my sweet tooth might just be as strong as my passion for jewelry. I can easily be spotted with a handful of Gummi Bears as well as fingers full of rings

Antique Gold Enamel Diamond Serpent Ring


A Victorian mine cut silver on top of gold double heart ring



















Partner’s FionaDruckenmiller and Fernando Bustillo opened FD  Gallery because they realized that “ jewelry collector’s could never find one place that meet all of their needs.” Druckenmiller explains. “I believe that collecting exquisite pieces is both an emotional and intellectual pursuit.”


She continues, “Women have been powerfully drawn to jewelry for millennia. A woman may express herself best with her eyes, her gestures, her kindness and her wisdom, but she also takes an instinctive pleasure in adornment and can feel transformed when she is wearing something lovely. Jewelry plays some role in almost every woman’s life. I hope to make the act of buying and collecting jewelry a special experience. For although our relationship to jewelry will always retain some mystery.”
And with similar feelings about jewelry, I have, of course, put aside – and I will be back. If you can’t stop in personally, You can also see pieces online and  call  for further information on a piece or pieces you are interested in.


A recent post I did for Huffington Post–wanted to share here to honor my mom for  Mother’s Day


In 2013, I wrote a piece for Huffington Post, “No Place Like Home”, on how after losing my mother, 20 years before, I still would never get used to Mother’s Day. Nothing has changed since that article. In my memoir, “My Charmed Life” (Penguin 2012), which I dedicated to both my mother and my grandmother, I recalled many of my most significant memories through pieces of jewelry handed down to me as well as those we purchased together and those I remembered her wearing or watched her get dressed up in when I was a kid. The memories are still vivid. The jewelry, I still wear. Some pieces I have pass along to my niece, while I tell her stories of the grandmother she never got to know. They are joyous recollections times we spent together, laughing, joking, of the push and pull of our relationship and of an understanding mother who was also my best friend.

My mom died unexpectedly at 55 from a brain aneurysm when I was 32. Sometime after my nightly 11PM phone conversation with my mother, ending with her usual “lock your door. I love you and I’m always here for you” and her getting dressed for work in the morning, she blacked out and went into a coma. Three hours after the ambulance rushed her to the hospital and the doctors started working on her in the ICU, she was gone. I had lost my confidant, best friend and the person who was–home.

It was incomprehensible that I would never see her again. I had no time to prepare; not that I could have been ready to lose the woman who put my life back together every time I had my heart broken, who made friends for me when I was shy and ate Mallomars with me when I was sad. My mother believed I could be anything I wanted, that I was intelligent and beautiful, even in my adolescence, while going through my awkward stage, with braces and a badly feathered haircut. She viewed any guy who dumped me as unworthy of me and “knew in her heart” that I would find someone when I was ready who would love me as much as she did.

I didn’t know how long it would take me to grieve, when it would start, if it would ever stop. I didn’t know then, that it would turn into something deeper, a sense of loss, an emptiness that could never be plugged up, that would get more bearable with time but would never go away. There would forever be something missing–my reflection–the woman who looked back at me in the mirror and said, “no matter who you are, you’re okay by me.”

As far as jewelry, She taught me how to keep it simple, that fine pieces are meant to add a little sparkle while still allowing your personality to shine through, how to mix antique and modern, faux and real and somehow make it all work. In the seventies, we would check our Mood Rings, like we did the “Magic 8 Ball” as if they were cheat sheets for our lives. These were the moments, the simple ones that I longed for most and still do just like I still go to pick up the phone to call whenever something small or big happens or if I am just in need of my closest friend.

My mother had an eye for fashion and an innate sense of taste. I had the most fun dressing up next to her, first in her jewelry and clothes, as a young girl and then helping each other get ready for an important meeting or date. My life changed forever when I lost her. But the lessons that she slipped in along the way eventually helped me to figure out who I was. I only began to realize my passion for jewelry and the meaning and sentimentality attached to different keepsakes when she passed away, how her jewelry, along with my own– the pieces handed down, given and not given to me as gifts– would eventually tell the story of my life and would shape my career. These memories and mementos will always be with me and have linked together my past and my present.

When I was five, my appendix almost burst, and I was rushed to the hospital and straight into surgery. I was petrified by the flashing lights and the speed with which the doctors got me onto the gurney. I woke up during the operation and they had to put ether back over my nose. They kept me for two weeks, ended with me being obsessed with the scar that was the exact size and shape as the one on Frankenstein’s head. “It will fade,” my mother said as convincingly as possible but I could not stop looking at it with disbelief.

She took me shopping to find something to make me feel pretty, “maybe a new dress for school, pair of shoes or daisy pendant,” she had offered. But, as we passed through the accessories department, I saw a tiara sitting in a glass class in Manhattan’s 59th Street and Lexington Avenue Bloomingdales. It was all twinkly and sprinkled with glittering rhinestones and Swarovski crystals, dripping off of the sides and decorating the top. It had a metallic sheen that changed from a noble purple to a more royal blue when it moved with the light. I knew that it had to be mine.

Many years later I would learn that it was what my mother called “a monstrosity, rivaling only Cher’s most ostentatious headdress.” But in the store, she knew she had to get me out without a tantrum and sat me down in a chair and explained: “Oh honey, there is only one and they are holding it for a very important duchess from some far away land. It’s amazing that you chose this one. You definitely have royal taste. But let’s see if we can find something else worthy of your style and beauty.” The sales associates were in awe of the way in which she handled the situation and got into their roles, two of them bringing me a tray of more toned down tiara-like headbands, more befitting a five year old. When I was adorned in one that had just a few seed pearls with a tiny floral design and one single tiny diamante teardrop surrounded by a delicate scroll on top, my mother held up a mirror and told me it was me.

She was smart enough to realize that my taste was like every young girl’s, more glitzy than glamorous and she let me think it was me who decided that I was more Grace Kelly than Elizabeth Taylor, although I do believe that style is inherited and that I developed her knack to choose pieces that would allow me to wear my jewelry rather than have it wear me.

Throughout the years, I continued to notice interactions between mothers and daughters.
I listened to my friends who vacillated between complaining about how their mothers still pinch their sides and ask, “have you gained a little weight?” and criticize the care of their children. These same women also fear their mom’s aging and eventually losing them. After all of this time, I still don’t know what to say: that the pain will grow duller into an ache that will always be there? I don’t think they will want to hear that it never goes away. That no matter how old or how many things you’ve been through, whenever you go to a doctor, have an emergency or someone hurts you, you will always need your mother. That no matter how strong or tough a woman you are, you will always long for her love and her protective words, letting you know that everything will be all right.

When I look into the mirror, I see lines forming around my eyes. At fifty four, only one year younger than when my mother passed away, I see her friends– beautiful women like her– who grew up too soon, with children they were too young to raise and husbands like my father, who were still wild. They have gotten facelifts and injectables; I have watched them turn more taut and tightened and filled in, fighting against aging. I wish with all of my heart that my mom had the chance to fight along with them, and that I had the ability to discuss with her the benefits of Botox and the art of detracting with a few precious colored gems around the face.

Although I think my mother knew how much I loved her. I might have liked to tell her that I realize that she wasn’t just a mother but a woman too. That it must have been a bitch after being divorced at 35, to raise three kids with very little help from my dad. I’d like to apologize for never acknowledging that she might have felt just like me– flawed and imperfect, hurt and sometimes angry. I would have liked to tell her that she did a damn good job and that there is never a day that goes by that she is not missed or remembered.

Each year, when mother’s day or her birthday rolls around, I take out the pieces of jewelry that were passed down to me. I slip on her long strand of creamy Mikimoto pearls and pretend that I am standing next to her once again, a young girl, dressing up in her jewelry, imagining her looking back at me, her smile filled with understanding, her eyes warming over with pride for the daughter who so wanted to emulate her. As I continue getting dressed I slide on her Victorian bangles–“three for luck” as she used to say–and hope she knows that it’s her voice I always hear whenever I need courage, strength or a good laugh.

When I fasten a black cashmere sweater that has lost a button with the baguette stickpin, I feel her eternal presence beside me. I hope that I am reflecting the woman she would have wanted me to become. And, I thank her for passing down her compassion her big mushy heart, her style, and for always allowing me to believe that I had royal taste.

Do You Know The Way to Sante “Fe”

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In previous blogs, I wrote about my passion for turquoise and gold in Early Victorian designs and then in the contemporary collections of jewelers who reintroduced turquoise with high karat gold. In one of the blogs, I talked about how turquoise had gotten a bad rep since the 70s, defining the decade with bold cuffs, rings that took up much of the finger and long earrings. Being a child of the seventies, I saw a lot of this jewelry. I was given a inlaid Southwestern sterling silver and turq band for my first “going steady” ring (which turned my finger green) and then some Zuni turquoise bracelets later on for my sweet sixteen, and earrings, which were long and weighty before I was so aware of how they could tear or pull at my lobes. My mom, who was in her in her late twenties and early thirties in the seventies, also took to the trend, which we get an interesting and informative glimse of in Southwestern Indian Bracelets: The Essential Cuff by Paula A. Baxter (Schiffer Fashion Press, An imprint of Schiffer Publishing Ltd, April 2015).


In addition to being on target with the wide cuff making a comeback as well as the 70s and vintage jewelry returning to the fashion scene, this book is dedicated to educating on the intricate and evolving styles, the first of which were designed in 1868. And that is where the author Baxter is so adept at showing us the historical context. A quote which starts chapter siz, explains “The 1970s was the decade when American Indian Jewelry ‘suddenly” came into vogue.” After being around and displaying incredibly intricate artisan and metalsmithing abilities, Baxter talks about the various possiblities as to why these styles took a firm hold in the 70s. It was a time of change and of more acceptance of ethnic diversity. It was also a time when the traditional life style for American Indians went through transformation and more natives were “living off reservation and moved into regional towns and cities.” Popular culture and young Southwestern Indians learned from each other and the Sante Fe Indiaan Market with its overview of various Inter-tribal styles and designs ushered in a decade that created more awareness.


But the heritage of earlier designs ran through the late 19th century into the early 20th century with a focus on the historical cuffs, meanings, motifs, handi-work and symbolism. The earlier bracelets borrowed inspiration from the Greeks and Romans, but then the symbolism or secret believes of a tribe were magically incorporated in to the designs of a bracelet whether it be one symbol or an entire scene. Inlay, black and silver relief, cut out designs and deeply engraved work was all part of the designs , which focused on a rich mosaic of colors of gemstones in the inlay works. Although I still prefer my turquoise in gold, after reading this book, I have a new appreciate for those pieces I used to “borrow” (read: sneak out of) my mother’s jewelry chest in a time when the Southwestern Indian cuffs snuck into our culture and captured a decade.

While you are purchasing your copy of “Southwestern Indian Bracelets” you might as well add another book to your shopping cart. I prefer to shop in real life in store –although delivery is definitely an option when you have to ride the subway in Manhattan with these more bulky books.

But there is a rich history to be found when purchasing these two Schiffer books together, Non-Figural Designs in Zuni Jewelry by Toshio Sei , (Schiffer Fashion Press, January 2015)

This well illustrated guides the reader through the origins to the contemporary interpretations of various styles of non-figural Zuni jewelry designs, including nugget work, cluster work, petit point, needle point, snake eye, and channel work. Many Zuni artists from the forties, fifties and sixties are showcased within these glossy pages, once again bringing me back to my youth: Turquoise and coral pins, bracelets, bolo ties. Seems so interesting what one can appreciate in retrospect. (I broke up with a boy for sporting an inlaid bolo in college to an important party)…


There are more than fifteen pieces each by masters, past and present. More than three hundred vibrant color photos reveal subtle variations that indicate each master’s distinctive style. There are cluster work bracelets by Leekya Deyuse, the single most famous jeweler in the Southwest, and Dan Simplicio’s nugget work, along with ways to distinguish his from other artists’ works.