Paris Fashion Week: Has the Iconic Become Conventional?

March 8th, 2013

Lan­vin Fall 2013

Review­ing the images of jew­elry on the Paris run­ways in the last week left me feel­ing that so many design­ers are sim­ply too con­tented with their own iconog­ra­phy. The ones who stood apart in styling their run­ways made bolder state­ments, yet all the while under­scor­ing the clothes and their houses’ aes­thetic. The jew­elry at Chanel gave frame­work to the tweeds and knits, how­ever they were pri­mar­ily made from the houses trade­mark leather and chain. So the woman is now the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of the bag she cov­ets. Gives new mean­ing to the expres­sion, “old bag,” doesn’t it? Even if the clothes were great, and of course they were, the over­ar­ch­ing mes­sage isn’t flattering.

Chanel Fall 2013

Lan­vin con­tin­ues to be fas­ci­nated by mounds of chains mixed with creepy crawlies pinned to shoul­der and bust lines. A new addi­tion of moody pro­nounce­ments, such as the word “cool” spelled out in scripted metal was scat­tered around mod­els’ necks and slashed across knuck­les. The col­lec­tion of cloth­ing was beau­ti­ful but the heavy handed styling of the jew­elry was a dis­trac­tion. I’ve often found Mr. Elbaz’s choices cur­rent, enter­tain­ing, and even trend­set­ting, but this past week’s run­way seemed to say noth­ing more than what has been said in the past. I found myself think­ing, “Again?” once too often.

Lan­vin Fall 2013

Christo­pher Kane Fall 2013

Louis Vuit­ton Fall 2013

Alexan­der McQueen Fall 2013

Alexan­der McQueen Fall 2013

Find­ing new state­ments on the run­ways wasn’t alto­gether dif­fi­cult since the weird, fun, and tac­itly cool pieces spoke for them­selves. Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuit­ton gave us the neck­lace of dead fowl, Christo­pher Kane showed how big sculp­ture can work as a cuff, Sarah Bur­ton at McQueen cre­ated the ring-finger glove (what was the ref­er­ence for this, I’d love to know) and the caged crown (shaped like a Faberge egg). Crowns and tiaras are state­ments that res­onated with houses like Dolce & Gab­bana and Lan­vin. There is noth­ing more icono­graphic than a crown/tiara. Not sure we really need a golden halo to tell us that what we are look­ing at is regal or even spe­cial when the focus should be about the mod­ern woman liv­ing in con­tem­po­rary times. Show­ing mod­ern lux­ury on the run­way is inspir­ing, pageantry today is gild­ing a lily that is already in full bloom. We’ve already seen this remark­able work of nature…what else you got?

Dolce & Gab­bana Fall 2013

Speak­ing of golden moments, Ini­tia­tives in Art and Cul­ture is host­ing an amaz­ing con­fer­ence about gold this April. Don’t miss it. .

Need A Former Literary Agent-Turned-Freelance Editor? I Know a Great One!

February 28th, 2013

Caren Este­sen is a fan­tas­tic for­mer lit­er­ary agent (Peter Rubie Lit­er­ary Agency). Lucky for writ­ers every­where she is now a free­lance edi­tor at What’s even bet­ter is that Caren is offer­ing up her ser­vices for a cause: dia­betes. Brenda Novak’s Annual Auc­tion for the Cure for Dia­betes 2013 will have Caren’s ser­vices on the auc­tion block begin­ning May 1, 2013, so if you’ve got a man­u­script, she will read and cri­tique part of it. Every writer knows that a dis­pas­sion­ate reader with the lit­er­ary expe­ri­ence and know-how of a for­mer agent is a bonus that only makes a book bet­ter. This is the kind of help that gets an author pub­lished. Caren is knowl­edgable, patient, kind, gen­er­ous, and packs all of that into every insight­ful con­ver­sa­tion I’ve ever had with her. She is a rare gem and that’s not a com­pli­ment I hand out lightly!

Retailers: Make It Easier to Multitask

February 28th, 2013

SPECK Can­dyShell card case for iphone 4s/4

It was a quiet Sun­day around my house. Many are since our eldest moved out, and our mid­dle is liv­ing at col­lege. Our not-so-little-anymore is gear­ing up to leave us for col­lege next year — and I’m antic­i­pat­ing more too peace­ful week­ends with a bit of angst. “More shop­ping time for me” would have been my mantra but until more retail­ers make it eas­ier to mul­ti­task, I think I’ll opt out and go antiquing instead. Flea mar­kets and tag and estate sales aren’t exactly time-savers, in fact they are just the oppo­site, but at least there is an oppor­tu­nity to uncover a real find, one that you can enjoy and rel­ish for many years. Retail lives in the moment. We walk into stores in search of the now, the immi­nent, the key looks that will update our clos­ets and our style, at least for the short term.

This is where my beef begins. Walk­ing into, in order of the day, J. Crew, Banana Repub­lic and Ann Tay­lor I was dis­mayed by the idea that there is so lit­tle styling with jew­elry and acces­sories going on. Yes, there is a man­nequin here and there done up com­plete with neck­lace, bag, scarf, etc. and yet, in so many instances that’s all they offer us visu­ally. The clothes are mostly sep­a­rates, and of course, dresses, and the jew­elry is tossed on one or two pieces to give us…what? Some vague notion of how to put it together? Most women need and want a lit­tle more guid­ance. Or a lot more. In any case, this is an oppor­tu­nity missed like no other. Even cell phone case com­pa­nies, like SPECK, are offer­ing us more. The com­pany recently sent me their Can­dyShell Card for my iPhone to try out. I like it much more that I antic­i­pated. I can now do with­out a wal­let when I go out for the evening. What a major con­ve­nience, and space saver! My only sug­ges­tion would be to make it so that you can also store busi­ness cards in it too.

J.Crew Lib­erty of Lon­don shirt

Clas­sic Wide Ban­gle, J.Crew

Fan Fringe Neck­lace, J.Crew


Which of the above would you put together? What would the styl­ists at J.Crew suggest?

Return­ing to my gripe, as I walked through these stores I was amazed at how they are orga­nized, like a depart­ment store, rather than an inti­mate bou­tique where the store owner has pro­vided gen­tle input. Each cat­e­gory has a sep­a­rate loca­tion: cloth­ing, jew­elry, shoes, bags, and mis­cel­la­neous items. You have to run around the store to fin­ish a look. Isn’t that what paid styl­ists do? When I, Jane Do-More, shop I have some expec­ta­tion that these retail­ers hire their own styl­ists to pro­vide inspi­ra­tion, so that all I have to do is to politely ask a sales asso­ciate to pull it off the rack and out of the cases or back room so that I can pony up at the reg­is­ter. Shouldn’t it be that easy? Ok, ok, so some com­pa­nies will say in defense, “We want to give women a choice. Not dic­tate.” And I say, “Uh-huh. You don’t say. Well, guess what? We want sug­ges­tions, we like them, we can, of course, choose to ignore them. We have the intel­li­gence to know when to say, “That’s not for me.”

All we want is insight, or fore­sight, or a nudge in the right direc­tion. Time is a pre­cious com­mod­ity these days and if every­one is mul­ti­task­ing, why shouldn’t you? I walked around J.Crew think­ing, “Why isn’t that neck­lace shown with that shirt? That’s a great day look. Take the same shirt and neck­lace, and add those ear­rings and a blazer or that adorable sweater and you’ve got your din­ner with clients for tonight.” Why aren’t the same two arti­cles of cloth­ing shown with dif­fer­ent jew­elry just to give cus­tomers a choice and an option? I’d be will­ing to bet that many would buy not just one, but both jew­elry items and the clothes shown with them. Styling clothes with jew­elry is some­thing most women do on a daily basis — take the guess-work out of it! Yes, we may want to choose our own acces­sories much of the time, but then there are days when we all wish some­one else would walk into our clos­ets and pull it together for us. That’s where a respon­sive, inno­v­a­tive retailer can show off their stuff, this is the value-added to a retail price tag, and that’s why women will return to buy, because they are get­ting more for their money. The styl­ist is in the bag.

Oscars 2013:What Makes a Screen Siren Most?

February 25th, 2013

Helen Hunt 2013 Acad­emy Awards

Helen Hunt gave us the newest red car­pet state­ment to date: all you need is a great (fit­ting) dress and even bet­ter jew­elry. She wore an H & M/Global Green dress and gave it the wow-factor with $700,000 worth of Mar­tin Katz jew­els. While some of us may run out and buy that dress, if we can find it, the jew­els, alas, will not be forth­com­ing from the designer gods that usu­ally bestow these rar­i­ties upon those whose images are brighter and big­ger than our­selves. At the end of the red car­pet, or the awards broad­cast, I’m sure Ms. Hunt’s car­riage turned into a pump­kin (or limo), and those jew­els found their way back to the black-velvet lined cases from whence they came. Bet she got to keep the dress though!

Kerry Wash­ing­ton and Char­l­ize Theron 2013 Acad­emy Awards

Babe Paley wear­ing mul­ti­ple dia­mond bracelets

I didn’t get to do my pre-Oscars trend pre­dic­tion seg­ment: it was killed. Which per­haps was a good thing because the color and inter­est­ing stone cuts I would have thought to be on the red car­pet were nowhere in sight! In review­ing the images this morn­ing, there were maybe three or four neck­laces, either Vic­to­rian or Victorian-inspired, and one quite mod­ern; all of them set with dia­monds. Very nice but noth­ing that made me stand up and want a closer look at my mon­i­tor. Note­wor­thy were dia­mond bracelets. They were every­where! When it comes to these Art Deco or –inspired by jew­els, I pre­fer to see them stacked in twos or threes (please click on the image of Babe Paley above to get a bet­ter idea of how this is done). Some­how when they are worn singly, unless it is wide and eye-poppingly gen­er­ous with dia­monds of var­i­ous cuts, they seem set adrift on a lonely length of bare skin. I love a mod­ern, clean look, but it needs to be coun­tered by solid punc­tu­a­tion, or just some punch. Pro­por­tion is every­thing. Yes, size in jew­elry mat­ters. Jen­nifer Lawrence’s Chopard dia­mond ear­rings were stun­ning — and per­haps a bit too old-school (12 carats) for a twenty-two year old Oscar nominee/winner. Her amaz­ingly grace­ful fall on the stairs lead­ing to the podium — she looked like a dancer who neatly lost her foot­ing (see, learn­ing to dance has it’s “sil­ver lin­ing”) was blamed on the under­pin­nings of her gown. I think it was the heft of those earrings.

Jen­nifer Lawrence 2013 Acad­emy Awards

Eve Best as Wal­lis Simp­son in THE KING’S SPEECH — dia­mond Zip Neck­lace by Van Cleef & Arpels

Every­one ohhh’d and ahhh’d over the neck­laces worn down the back by win­ners Jen­nifer Lawrence and Anne Hath­away. I guess no one remem­bered the party scene in THE KING’S SPEECH where Wal­lis Simp­son is wear­ing a Van Cleef & Arpels dia­mond zip neck­lace down her back. Much pre­ferred Ms. Lawrence’s styling to that of Ms. Hath­away. Not a fan of peek-a-boo with a neck­line much less fight­ing for atten­tion with the cross­ing straps at the back of a gown. Messy. The dia­mond chain of Ms. Hathaway’s neck­lace was a great coun­ter­point to her Prada and I won­dered if Tiffany could have elim­i­nated the pen­dant detail alto­gether, that would have been a sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment to the over­all look. Wear­ing a bib neck­lace reversed to the bare back­line of a dress is trend­ing now. Not a fan. It looks like you got dressed, couldn’t find some­one to help with the clasp so you turned it around and did it your­self and then for­got because, well, nature called, the kids were act­ing up for the babysit­ter before you left, or your mom called to ask, for one of many unfath­omable rea­sons, where you had the baby nam­ing party for your eldest who is almost twenty-four (this hap­pened to me yes­ter­day). In any case, unless it’s real dia­monds girls, please don’t go there, it’s meant to be a deca­dent look, and it’s a trend that won’t last. Even Wal­lis Simp­son did this only once and as the true story goes, hers was an authen­tic VCA dia­mond zip­per, cus­tom made and fit­ted for her dress.

Anne Hath­away Acad­emy Awards 2013

The Next List: Project Runway’s Diana Eng (Season #2) Uses Amazing Hi-Tech Textiles and Makes Life-Like Lady Bug Pins by Hand

February 20th, 2013

Diana Eng’s Lady Bug pins, image cour­tesy of CNN

CNN’s THE NEXT LIST will fea­ture Project Run­way alum Diana Eng this Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 24th at 2:30 ET. In this clip from the broad­cast, Eng explains how she cre­ates her lady bug pins, which are mod­eled after real exam­ples she has stashed away in her stu­dio. Eng was smart, sweet, and cre­ative, if not just the tini­est bit quirky. The best jew­elry design­ers have their pec­ca­dil­loes, Eng’s just hap­pen to bring good luck.

London Fashion Week Fall 2013: Louise Gray Is On a Roll…

February 19th, 2013

Louise Gray Fall 2013

It’s Lon­don Fash­ion Week and I had to offer up Louise Gray’s tongue-in-cheek idea of jew­elry: TP, mylar bal­loon, rolls of tape, alu­minum foil, and what appeared to be (a least on my com­puter) dis­pos­able tart pans. There’s def­i­nitely a pun in there some­where, how­ever Ms. Gray took the run­way, if not by storm, at least by a DIY craft project that speaks to the spare times most of us are still experiencing.

Louise Gray Fall 2013

Louise Gray Fall 2013

New York Fashion Week, Fall 2013: Done for Effect

February 15th, 2013

Christo­pher Ross belt for Rachel Roy Fall 2013

Wes Gor­don Fall 2013

Jew­elry at New York Fash­ion Week Fall 2013 was unam­bigu­ous and pre­cise. Sure, there were a cou­ple of run­ways where jew­elry was tossed into the mix like pot­pourri; the designer, or styl­ist, hop­ing the over­all effect would suf­fice as some sort of fash­ion state­ment. How­ever, and clearly, most design­ers did not feel the need to pile on the acces­sories as in sea­sons past. Nei­ther did they feel for cel­e­bra­tory man­i­fes­ta­tions of glit­ter and gleam. There was sparkle in the clothes, and a few note­wor­thy asides, like belts. Rachel Roy’s belts were highly sculp­tural and crossed the the accessory-as-adornment line. Wes Gor­don gave us the belt as orna­men­tal armor. The con­cept of high­light­ing the waist­line in some­thing that speaks to per­son­alty, rather than a quo­tid­ian length of leather, is wor­thy of explor­ing. Not nec­es­sar­ily for every­one, but hey, that’s the whole point behind adorn­ment any­way. In the end, it’s all optional.

Rodarte Fall 2013

Anna Sui Fall 2013

Some jew­eled ideas gave us a nudge in the quizzi­cal direc­tion. You needn’t read more into Rodarte’s barbed wire neck­laces and ear­rings. Nor that of Anna Sui’s neck tie neck­laces. Per­haps these are socio-suggestive of the kind of power women are seek­ing. Hands off, guys, it’s our turn to run things. I was scratch­ing my head try­ing to fig­ure out the inspi­ra­tion for the sil­ver neck­laces at Kim­berly Ovitz. Mat­ing Horn Bee­tles? The neck­lace was organic and strong, yet it’s mes­sage, if any, eluded me.

Kim­berly Ovitz Fall 2013

The ven­er­a­ble went their usual way. Oscar de la Renta showed won­der­ful clothes; the jew­elry was, at best, col­or­ful. I’m a huge pro­po­nent of the pen­dant ear­ring because it’s sexy, allur­ing, face flat­ter­ing, and all that jazz; still, I need a new way to see the women who wear these clothes. Ralph Lau­ren is stuck in the same time warp. It’s all lovely, but it’s so expected that it’s become cliched to the nth degree. What if the ear­rings weren’t long and bold but instead directed towards the mod­ern woman who dashes into the room while work­ing a long day, a polit­i­cal cam­paign, or giv­ing time to one of many char­i­ties. If I’ve inad­ver­tently left out a demo­graphic here please let me know. Women’s roles are ever-changing and the clothes and the jew­els design­ers cre­ate need to reflect the man­tle they are wear­ing at the moment.

Marc Jacobs isn’t in any way a tra­di­tion­al­ist and his Marc by Marc Jacobs run­way didn’t have any jew­elry to speak of, except for the fact that the mod­els were wearing…watches? I could have men­tioned him in my dis­cus­sion above about the quizzi­cal, or the ven­er­a­ble. He is both and nei­ther, and only when it suits him. Why any­one under the age of thirty would need a watch isn’t the point here. It is the idea of sim­plic­ity, of a watch being enough to acces­sorize a look with­out mak­ing it about the watch itself. It’s not a gold Rolex, or white ceramic Chanel bracelet. A sleek black strap and a neat, square or rec­tan­gu­lar dial is enough. It is, in fact, cooler and more allur­ing because it’s about a flick of the wrist, the adorable clothes, and know­ing the time of day. The girl who lives in the moment is far more inter­est­ing than the one who spends too much time aspiring.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2013

Speak­ing of man­tles, there was one thought that struck me. And per­haps you will call me to the mat on this as not being jew­elry or adorn­ment. Because of the mate­ri­als employed in the dress were not sar­to­r­ial in the usual sense but more of jew­elry, I want to men­tion it here. The use of abalone on the right hand (fac­ing) shoul­der on a dress from Three As Four has a brooch-like qual­ity. Ok, embroi­dery can do that, of course. The place­ment of that mate­r­ial, the insides of a mol­lusk the ocean pro­duces and later washes ashore, was as detailed and emphatic as any pin I’ve ever come across.

Three As Four Fall 2013

Cindy Chao’s Royal Butterfly Brooch Will Be Inducted Into Smithsonian’s Gem Hall

February 8th, 2013

Cindy Chao The Art Jewel Royal But­ter­fly Brooch, 2009

Cindy Chao The Art Jewel’s Royal But­ter­fly Brooch will be inducted into the Smithsonian’s Gem Hall on March 5, 2013. This will be the first Tai­wanese jew­elry designer rep­re­sented in the museum’s per­ma­nent col­lec­tion. Chao’s Black Label line is a series of one-off cre­ations that require a min­i­mum of two years to execute.

The but­ter­fly, with views of it front and back pro­vided and be sure to click on them to enlarge, is three-dimensional and mounted with 2,328 gem­stones total­ing seventy-seven carats. Chao employs fancy-colored gems as well as color-changing stones. This winged beauty boasts sap­phires, rubies, white and col­ored dia­monds, and tsa­vorite gar­nets. Seen under ultra­vi­o­let light, many of the gems flu­o­resce, becom­ing a poly­chro­matic play of extra­or­di­nary blues, greens, fiery oranges and reds.

Cindy Chao The Art Jewel Royal But­ter­fly, 2009 — reverse view

IAC 3rd Annual Gold Conference Talks Fashion, Art, Design, and the Environment, a Sponsored Post

January 29th, 2013

This year’s third annual gold con­fer­ence hosted by Ini­tia­tives in Art & Cul­ture (IAC) from April 11–13 is an absolute must for any­one with an inter­est in jew­elry. The ros­ter of speak­ers is a rare and impres­sive gath­er­ing of indus­try icons and nota­bles, from fash­ion edi­tor favorites like Irene Neuwirth and Waris to mas­ter stu­dio jew­el­ers George Sawyer, Kent Raible, Namu Cho, and Henry Dunay. Great Britain’s Gem­mol­o­goical Soci­ety chief, Jack Ogden, will be on hand, as will Chris­tine Miller, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Eth­i­cal Met­al­smiths, and exec­u­tives from Van Cleef & Arpels, Buc­cel­lati, David Webb, and Cartier are also par­tic­i­pat­ing. Gold jew­elry is never far from the dis­cus­sion of style, design, and what’s new. Emerg­ing tal­ents Eliz­a­beth Garvin, Annie Fen­ster­stock, and Stephanie Albert­son will explore their approaches to gold, and a dis­cus­sion about the poten­tial of incubator-stage tech­nolo­gies will offer insights into cutting-edge tech­niques in jew­elry design.

George Sawyer, Cos­mos brooch / pen­dant, 18kt yel­low, 14kt gray gold and pati­naed ster­ling sil­ver set with dia­monds with a 3.01ct Tsavo­lite and an 8.81ct Kun­zite © 2012 George Sawyer

A talk about jew­elry today must include envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns. The need for respon­si­ble min­ing and refin­ing as well as envi­ron­men­tal and social sus­tain­abil­ity, the chain of cus­tody and related require­ments of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act are planned top­ics for con­fer­ence lec­tures. Any­one who works in this indus­try or is touched by it should have these lec­tures pen­ciled in! To under­stand the impor­tance of these top­ics is vital to keep­ing cur­rent as well move for­ward in tan­dem with the con­sumer; where and how gold is obtained has become a pitch point in jew­elry sales.

Buc­cel­lati, 18kt yel­low and white gold hand crafted one-of-a-kind bracelets. Photo: Buccellati.

Recep­tions and oppor­tu­ni­ties for book pur­chases will be included in the con­fer­ence. Until Feb­ru­ary 28, 2013, IAC is offer­ing read­ers a first oppor­tu­nity to pur­chase tick­ets at a pre­ferred rate of $250. There­after, tick­ets may be pur­chased for $350. Be sure to use the code JEWELHISTORY when sign­ing up for the con­fer­ence at

A 19th cen­tury Jew­ish mar­riage ring: hands enam­eled white raise up the house, bosses stand­ing out from each of its walls, its gabled roof sup­ported by columns at the cor­ners. Zucker Fam­ily Trust 2007. Photo: Peter Schaaf.

An Impeccable Equation: Mrs. Obama + Jason Wu + Kimberly McDonald = The 2013 Inaugural Ball

January 24th, 2013

For those of you who didn’t see the jew­elry Mrs. Obama wore to the 2013 Inau­gural Ball, here are a few images. The pieces were designed for her by the extra­or­di­nary Kim­berly McDon­ald. Loved the idea of using rose-cut dia­monds. Rose-cut stones offer a softer sparkle and gave the pieces some­thing of a time­less, vintage(-ish) feel yet they were com­pletely con­tem­po­rary and organic in char­ac­ter. A nice mix done with a deft hand. Mrs. Obama man­aged to appear com­fort­able, glam­orous, and even relaxed despite the fact that the world was watch­ing. I was so happy that Amer­i­can jew­elry and fash­ion design were rep­re­sented in a way that cel­e­brates them together — in their nat­ural synergy.

Sketch of Mrs. Obama’s custom-designed Jason Wu gown incor­po­rat­ing a neck­line jewel by Kim­berly McDonald

The Kim­berly McDonald-designed rose-cut dia­mond geode-outline ear­rings Mrs. Obama wore to the 2013 Inau­gural Ball

Dia­mond Ban­gles designed by Kim­berly McDon­ald. Worn by Mrs. Obama for the 2013 Inau­gural Ball

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