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Posts Tagged ‘Rings’

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

Too Hot to Handle

Lauren Harper

I usually like it hot. In winter, I sleep in cashmere and hang out in down “booties” style slippers that might be suitable for Alaska.  Yes, I am a sight, but at least I am cozy and warm in my Manhattan apartment. One winter, I remember it being so cold both inside and outside that I thought I would have to re-size all of my rings because they would fly off of my fingers every time I moved my hands. Instead, I went ring-less that year, which for me, is like going without lipstick or mascara for most women.

This summer, however, when I walk out the door, Manhattan’s heat wave feels as if I walked into a pizza oven, with humidity that makes Florida look arid.   Yesterday, I headed from my Greenwich Village apartment to Union Square and then to Soho and my fingers swelled up so much that they were twice the size and there was no way of getting them free from the bands that bind.  No amount of lotion, cream, running water, ice, or holding my hands it in front of the air-conditioner, (or all combined) released the grip that was blowing up my right ring and left index finger and turning my them a purplish cast.

And, no way I was winding up in emergency room on a Saturday night with the explanation of being strangled by my rings. No intern was slicing a few of my favorite styles (some were eternities–another, an 1880’s emerald with an engraved shank), which even the best of trained jewelers would be hard pressed to put perfectly back together.

Eventually I cooled down, literally and figuratively, woke up in the middle of the night, and although they didn’t exactly slide off my fingers, the swelling was somewhat down and I eventually got them off.

Moral of this story: when it’s sweltering outside, there are still some hot styles and a few tips when wearing rings in summer:

-Cut your stackables to half the amount you usually wear or chose one statement ring for summer instead.

-Don’t wear looks that are too wide all-around, as there is no room to maneuver these as your begin to notice your fingers blowing up.

-Keep antiques for a different time. You don’t want to have anyone mess with these, should you not be as lucky as I was.

Katie Diamond

Once I was able to bend my knuckles again, I thought of some rings that have a big, bold feeling in the front but have a tapered or thinner shank and also seasonless and lighter weight than they appear:  Katie Diamond’s rose gold garden motif, which has a feminine cluster in front, Lauren Harper’s triangular morganite style with diamond accents, Nam Cho’s round moonstone cabochon with pave diamonds, Temple St. Clair’s oval opal with small sapphire accents and Jamie Joseph’s pave diamond looks.

Oh, and I found that as wonderful as lush lotions with essential oils  (Kiehl’s, Sabon, L’Occitane, and Molton Brown–I tried all) are for creating soft, smooth hands upon which to wear your jewels, there’s nothing like pure olive oil  (any brand will do) for slipping out of your too tight rings.


vibes: ila & i: christine mackellar: stephen webster

Recently, at one of the jewelry trade shows in Las Vegas, as I was doing a little personal shopping (as in, for myself–not for other people) one of my favorite designers and friends dubbed me a jewel-aholic. He caught me in the act of both seriously reviewing and also perusing a neighboring collection, trying on different rings and checking the upside down price tag . He knew, from that moment that I was going to buy one of the pieces and my new title seemed to be confirmed.

I’d never thought of myself as having an addictive personality. I gave up smoking three and half years ago, cold turkey, after a two pack a day habit. I never replaced it with food, just an over load of exercise till the cravings wore off. The only exception was perhaps my shopping sprees at the three B’s, Barneys, Bergdorf’s and Bendels. I can easily make a case for everything I bought back then: When it was chilly, I needed cashmere, for dating: La Perla lingerie. And, my closet was like a shelter for all black pants and LBDs. No style was turned away. Hey, I live in NYC.

Yet, I can now walk past a pair of shoes, (even with 40% off sale going on) and leave handbags hanging, unless you count the two times a year I travel to Italy. Oh, and if we are being totally honest, I am no longer attracted to unavailable men, (unless, you once again count the two times a year I travel to Italy…and see my ex).

But as far as baubles bangles and all things sparkly go, I must confess, my name is Beth and I AM a jewel-aholic. Have been since I wouldn’t let the tiara go without a major tantrum in Saks Fifth Avenue when I was six. The denial stops here.

I have given up all other fashion vices to accommodate my jewelry habit. I don’t think I qualify for a 12 step program unless some of those steps include buying antiques (as they appreciate with time), only wearing real gems since CZs just doesn’t cut it and…well… “God grant me the serenity to know”… when trends change and which of them will last.

Here are a couple I’m coveting for summer and beyond.

Going Natural: Christine Mackellar’s naturalistic bangles in 18K gold and blackened silver and gold mixed with rough and polished stones can be worn three at a time in this mix or one two or all can be combined with additional bangles in your existing jewelry wardrobe

Enchanted Gardens: Vibes rough gray diamond, set in a feminine motif of flower sprays and accent diamonds, can take you through warm sunny days but is also truly a collector’s item.

Modern Heirloom: Stephen Webster mixes old world Victorian charm with Rocker Chic in this bold silver and gemstone pendant and the contrast is just right for wearing with the new menswear-inspired looks and well into the future.

Keeping It Simple: The rough and refined look that is being shown by fine jewelry designers is translated with a more dainty feminine flair at Lika Behar in this bracelet with flexible diamond line front and silk cord, finished by a high karat gold and pearl clasp.

Sentimental Journey: ila&i’s blackened silver and 18K gold locket with center rose cut stone is both current and reflective of earlier times. It’s a sentimental keepsake to hold loved ones close to your heart with an edgy contemporary slant.

Budding Trends: Studs continue to be one of the items to purchase this season in fine jewelry. Rebecca Overman’s 18K gold freeform rose with a diamond center offers a simple elegant approach to the look.

Take A Dip: Alberian & Aulde’s rose cut sapphire station chain which doubles as a lariat offers a subtly sexy look when it dips down to the decollatage. Best feature about this piece is its unstudied appeal, allowing the wearer to bring their own personal style to it.

lika behar: alberian & aulde: rebecca overmann

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