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Posts Tagged ‘Pearls’

Pearl Girls


Part two of this week’s three-part blog.

Remember when pearls used to conjure up images of pristine preppies, predictable bridal jewelry and the cultured strands you used to play with in your grandmother’s jewelry box?  Although Coco Chanel did much in her day to totally revitalize and modernize pearls (mixing real and faux, layering multi-strands and adding large gem encrusted Maltese crosses), throughout the 20th century pearls kept returning to their more  tradition roots. Many designers and infamous jewelry houses during this period tried to infuse pearls with an elegance and glamor, succeeding only for short periods of time- mostly when draped around the necks of Jackie O and Grace Kelly.

My own recollections included sitting next to my mom in the mirror and watching her dress up in her Jackie O-style strands.  But, just a few year  later  she was trading them in for love beads, peace sign pendants and woman’s lib.  That was the thing about pearls, there was always a movement or a trend or shift in society that took over and kept pearls in their proper place.

The first time I ever really wore pearls was upon receiving my first bridesmaid’s gift in my twenties of a very basic teardrop shaped fresh water earring, dangling from a sterling silver wire. Not long after, I counted approximately ten similar pairs bestowed upon me for my role in wedding parties–many either in natural or, yes, dyed to match hues — to go with the dress. You remember–the dress–flammable fabrics, fashioned in colors and silhouettes that flattered  no actual woman–but definitely complemented  the decor and table settings of the bride’s venue.

I’m not sure  about your friends and relatives, but most of mine who were getting married (and were gracious enough to have me as a bridesmaid), practiced equality: every body type got the exact same dress silhouette and every face shape and skin tone, the same drop pearl earring.

Later in my early thirties I wore Karl Lagerfeld and Moschino’s high fashion versions of big chunky button pearls and curb chain mixtures that evoked a sort of Haute motorcycle chic.  This look lasted for about 12 minutes for me. My only long-term relationship with pearls was with the tiniest of natural seed pearls chokers, two antique styles from the Edwardian era.

Needless to say, I had no passion for pearls.   And, when I think back, the one piece I could never imagine myself wearing-  a pearl ring.

Then, three years ago I met Danish designer Lene Vibe Dahlgren. The minutes I set my gaze upon her magical 3-D fairytale-like garden motif surrounding a creamy baroque pearl (for her collection, Vibes)  I had to have it. Immediately. Love at first sight. Passion ignited.  Before I even tried it on, I knew that I would wear it on what ever finger it would fit and I purchased it on the spot. I now own three different styles of her rings in lustrous natural shades as well as her enchanting, poetic and sometimes whimsical and one-of-kind baroque South Sea and Keshi pearl pendants with and without rough cut diamonds on both chain and leather cord.

I am also a fan of Nina Basharova’s rough and refined looks of irregularly shaped pearls held by stylized 18K gold versions of barbed wire. Autore’s dazzling sea life and antique motifs elevate pearls to a collectible art form.  There are also designers such as Gabrielle Sanchez who mix various natural pearls in inventive shapes, working long Biwa and Keshi pearls into flowers and cross motifs, and, most recently, the return and update  of Wendy Brigode’s ‘Tin Cup” necklace (the station pearl strand in the film of the same name that graced Renee Russo’s neck and spawned years of imitations). Both of these designers offer contemporary and often sexy alternatives for all women and a welcome, personalized and unbridled approach to wedding jewelry and gifts for your most treasured friends.

Just recently, after many years of  finally vowing to be only  a guest rather than a participant in the bridal  party, I was asked to be witness for a good friend’s second wedding. I wore my own dress and my own Vibes gray pearl and rough diamond earrings. And, I embraced my new and enduring role as a pearl girl (okay, maybe pearl ‘woman’).



Gabrielle Sanchez

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