Haunting Jewelry for Halloween and Beyond

You may not know this about me, but I taught 3rd grade for 8 years. Being a fashionista, I know that you won’t be surprised to learn that I had THE most amazing collection of holiday jewelry for every event from Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving — wood cut-out pieces, necklaces that required batteries, and many home-crafed gifts from students. My 8 and 9 year-old audience loved it! I had many items like these below in my jewelry box.

Perfect for a grade school teacher!
Perfect for a grade school teacher!

When I “retired” from teaching to enter the world of fashion 15 years ago, I quickly realized that I wanted my holiday jewelry to be a bit more refined and subtle. (and BOY did my teacher jewelry sell like hotcakes at my garage sale!!) With that in mind, I wanted to share some hauntingly cool jewelry befit for October 31st — or really, let’s be frank, any day. Enjoy!

Skull bracelet by Alexander McQueen
Skull bracelet by Alexander McQueen

Bing Bang rose gold skull and chain earrings
Bing Bang rose gold skull and chain earrings

REAL spider web preserved by Dolly Bird Design
REAL spider web preserved by Dolly Bird Design

Pearl and spider earrings by Anna Ruth Henriques
Pearl and spider earrings by Anna Ruth Henriques

Snake moonstone ring by Colette
Snake moonstone ring by Colette

Borgioni snake bracelet
Borgioni snake bracelet

Happy Halloween!! And I hope that you get some M&M’s in your trick-or-treat basket, because let’s face it, it’s the best candy out there! 😉

Tips for Preserving Your Jewelry

I’m excited to have a guest contributor today. Thanks to Emma for the informative article!

Jewelry – we use it to express our individuality, to spice up an ensemble, to demonstrate our love to others and perhaps even to honor our lineage with heirlooms. With how much we love it, it’s surprising how so many of us fail to take proper care of the pieces we hold dear. Regular maintenance is certainly not difficult or time consuming, and it truly is an investment to make sure that the treasures lasts for years to come. Below are some tips to get you started!

The composition of your jewelry is the most important thing to consider when cleaning and storing it. It dictates how often your pieces should be cleaned, and with what. As a general rule, silver and gold can withstand much more abrasive cleaning than gemstones, which require extra special care. All-gold and all-silver pieces can be submerged in water without risk of damage. In contrast, jewelry with gemstones, glued bonds or loosely set stones should never be submerged in cleaning solutions, as they may discolor the material or even cause glue bonds to break. It’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with family antiques!

First we’ll talk about all-metal pieces made of gold and silver. To clean these materials, there are several equally effective options to choose from–all depending on your personal preference and the type of jewelry you’re cleaning. The first option is jewelry cleaning cloths. These are widely available–they can be purchased online or in jewelry stores for only a few dollars–and do a good job of removing brightening and shining tarnished silver. They are not as useful for cleaning gold, which doesn’t tarnish. Simply use the cloth to buff the piece until it is looking shiny and new. You can use these cloths whenever your silver beings to look a little dingy.

For pieces with harder to reach nooks and crannies, a jewelry dipping solution may be a better bet. For example, Connoisseurs is a well-known commercial jewelry cleaning solution offering several different kinds of products and is widely available online.


If you prefer a more natural method, silver and gold can also be cleaned in a mixture of hot water and baking soda. You can either make an abrasive paste and scrub the jewelry (for tough stains) or soak the piece overnight to see best results. Some people also elect to use toothpaste to clean, as its granules do a great job of removing tarnish. Warning: these methods are not recommended for silver pieces with matte finishes. Matte finishes should only be cleaned with commercial dip–even soft polishing clothes can be too abrasive. It is, however, great for cleaning gold, which reacts well to toothpaste cleaning. Simply apply and scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush.

No matter your cleaning method, each piece should be thoroughly dried with a soft, clean cloth after washing.

When it comes to cleaning jewelry with gemstones, special considerations must be accounted for. While metals like gold, platinum and stainless steel are mostly immune to daily soap and water exposure (they can usually be worn in the shower), many gemstones–like pearl and amber–should never come into contact with hot water, soaps or chemicals. For these sensitive gems, even perfume and natural body oils can damage the natural luster of the gem. A good rule of thumb for soft gems like pearl and amber is to wipe them down after each use with a soft, clean cloth. Don’t let them get wet. In fact, getting a string of pearls wet can stretch the silk string out! It may sound like a lot of work, but it will pay dividends in preventing your grandmother’s necklace from yellowing over time. For harder gems like diamonds and sapphires, it’s usually safe to clean them with a dipping solution. When in doubt, you can always ask a jeweler; he or she will be able to give you specific advice for the piece you need to care for. Jewelers can also steam clean jewelry (great for diamond rings) for a nominal cost.

Now onto jewelry storage. Ask yourself: does the metal tarnish when exposed to air? Can the gem be scratched if it comes into contact with another? Again, the kind of jewelry dictates how the piece can be stored safely. Silver pieces, which do tarnish when exposed to air, should be kept in plastic bags or airtight spaces to minimize oxidation. And while silver can usually be stored with other silver, it’s a good idea to keep it away from any gemstones so as not to scratch them.

brittany jewelry armoire

Gold can also be kept with other gold as it is less sensitive than gemstones. Keep gold in soft, fabric-lined container for extra protection. Most boxes are perfectly suitable to storing gold pieces, though it’s helpful to look for ones with bountiful compartments to stop pieces from becoming tangled, like the jewelry organizers found here.

Gemstones, on the other hand, should be individually separated. This means that even individual pairs of earring should ideally be kept away from one another–if they are made of particularly sensitive gems. Generally speaking, it should be fine to keep each piece in its own cloth bag or fabric-lined box. For pearls, silk pouches are ideal, as they are very soft and allow plenty of ventilation.

A final note on storing your jewelry: If your gems are strung on silk (as is usually the case with pearls), it is very important that they not be hung. Hanging a string of pearls can stretch the silk and warp the sizing, causing you to have to have the pearls restrung prematurely. While those cute jewelry racks may be a great way to display your favorite pieces, they are really more suitable for costume jewelry, which isn’t as sensitive to these factors.

pearl necklace

And it should go without saying that all jewelry should be stored in dry climates, without constantly fluctuating temperatures. Frequent changes from hot to cold can weaken glue bonds and cause breakage!

There you have it. A guide to caring for and storing your jewelry so that it is preserved for years to come. A little care in this lifetime can make all the difference when it comes time to pass jewelry on to future generations. And remember: when in doubt, see a jeweler!

Extra tips: Don’t experiment with cleaners that “seem” like they will do a good job. Bleach may sound like a great option, but it can permanently discolor your jewelry. And while some jewelry can be boiled in hot water for extra cleaning power, you should never submerge any jewelry with glued bonds into water or cleaning solutions–especially if the water is hot. Instead, apply the solution as needed with a Q-tip, and wipe dry with a soft, clean cloth. One more tip: if you have costume jewelry that leaves a weird stain on your skin (that green hue caused by certain metals), there’s an easy solution. Apply a few thin coats of clear nail polish to the inner side of the jewelry. No more unsightly stains!

Statement Hoops: Jewelry Judge

So the “statement necklace” has been a big trend (no pun intended) for quite some time. But as I was paying for a garment at Bloomingdale’s at Stanford this week, I was struck by the earrings the darling gal ringing me up was wearing. Now mind you, it’s the “uniform” at Bloomies that they have to wear black, and so many of the employees lack a personal touch with their outfits. I love how this woman made a major fashion statement with some very large scale hoops.

hoop earrings 1

hoop earrings 2

Now you have to know, that this is a very petite gal, and the inherent scale of earrings for her would normally be much smaller. (Read about choosing the scale of your jewelry here.) But by choosing these large hoops, she was deliberately making a dramatic fashion choice. I also think her big smile really helped balance them out. In addition, her slightly upturned eyes gives her an exotic look, which is complemented by the bold earrings. It’s not necessarily the earrings I would have first though to pick out for her, but as Tim Gunn would say, she made it work!


Brumani is a Brazilian-based jewelry line that I’ve been seeing more and more of on the Red Carpet and adorning celebrities about town, from Jennifer Lawrence to Penelope Cruz. Here’s Jennifer Lopez wearing earrings and multiple rings from their “Looping Shine” collection in NYC recently.

jennifer lopez in brumani

I was thrilled to check out the collection live while at the Couture jewelry show. The array of dazzling colors and gem-laden pieces was enough to get my inner princess drooling!! And visiting their booth was like having a little vacation, including perfumes of the most popular scents of the country.

Though this is relatively young brand, founded in 2005 by three brothers (Eduardo, Emerson and Rodrigo Bruner), they have a 50+ year family history in jewelry making. The essence of the line is all about Brazil, “…inspired by Brazilian music, by the magic and colors of the Carnival, the feminine universe, the arts, the nature of Brazil and by the connection of different cultures brought together by a shared history.”

Their “Looping Shine” collection strives to “connect the many bonds people have in life: friends, relationships, experiences…It’s a tribute to love, to affection, to companionship, to friendship and to fellowship.” The pieces are made from rose gold with diamonds and double faceted translucent quartz, which has been polished with a diamond powder. I would SO wear one of those big rings!!

brumani looping shine collection

They also have a collection based on the very exotic Baobab tree. Here are some rings from this group that sparkle like crazy!

brumani baobab collection

This following image showcases pieces from the “Baobab Grass” collection. I was so taken by the frosted, matte look of the lemon quartz. (It reminded me of sea glass, which you know I love.) In combination with brown diamonds, chrysoberyl, and Mandarin garnet, these truly are jewels fit for royalty.

brumani  baobab grass collection

The “Baobab Parahyba” collection features white gold and diamonds with hues of blue, including aquamarines and the rare Parahyba tourmaline.

brumani baobab parahyba collection

I also thought their “Nude” collection was very cool. Perhaps a bit more casual, these pieces make a statement about the range in human skin color, “..a way to show appreciation for the ethnic diversity in colors that range from white to beige; from champagne to pink; from brown to black.” Love that inspiration! Here’s a lovely pair of earrings with stunning faceted smoky quartz drops.

brumani nude collection

This line just really makes my jewelry soul smile. Their goal is to “design jewelry that represents the joy of living from the Brazilian soul” and I think they’ve done just that!

Vicente Agor’s Silhouette Jewelry

Though you may not want to admit it, the holidays are right around the corner. (Eek!) I do quite a bit of gift shopping for my clients, and I just love the silhouette jewelry I came across by San Francisco designer, Vicente Agor. He uses a photo (which you provide) and transforms it into a stunning piece of jewelry.

vicente agor silhouette jewelry

vicente agor jewlery

Available in 18K gold or sterling silver, he has a variety of designs, including cufflinks. This would be such a cool gift for a dad or grandfather!

vicente agor cufflinks

Even your pet can be immortalized and cherished for generations to come.

vicente agor pet pendant

So if you want to get a head start on your shopping and are in need of a unique, memorable gift, then contact Vicente!

Elizabeth and James Jewelry Line

I must admit that I’ve had a fascination with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen ever since they shared the role of the youngest Tanner daughter on Full House. Fast forward about 25 years, and these twins are a fashion force to be reckoned with! They even won the coveted CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2012 for their line, The Row! I, of course, was thrilled when they launched a fashion jewelry line under their Elizabeth and James label. I was extremely please to meet with Jocelyn Helm, the head designer for the line (and a twin herself!) for the second year in a row at the Couture jewelry show.

Amy and Jocelyn
Amy and Jocelyn

Jocelyn has been designing the line for about 4 years now, and I must say that I’ve been a huge fan since its inception. I have a couple pieces from when she launched the line (which are still among my fave items in my jewelry box), and I seem to keep adding to my collection. I appreciate the price points and how you really get big looks that are affordable. This line does an excellent job at melding “uptown sophistication and feminine detail” with “laid-back, downtown edge.” One of the collections shown this year is called Berlin. It’s comprised of pieces with bold, linear lines, and it’s inspired by old-world ironwork and European windowpanes. Metals include black ruthenium and yellow gold plate with white topaz, black spinel, lapis, carnelian and black onyx. Here’s a pair of earrings from this group.

elizabeth and james berlin earrings

I fell in love with this cuff from the same collection when I saw it locally, at Wilke’s Bashford in San Francisco. Yes, it went home with me, and I love how I feel so modern and a bit edgy when I wear it.

elizabeth and james berlin cuff

I was also very intrigued by another new collection, called Northern Star. The cohesive note here was the “delicate compass stars (which are) evocative of vintage Vicotrian era.” The pieces are comprised of all-natural white topaz, carnelian, lapis, and green onyx with yellow gold plated designs. I love these two rings from this group! (both available at Shopbop.com) They show the range in style within the collection, yet with a unifying theme of the star points.

Northern Star Statement Ring
Northern Star Statement Ring

Norther Star Large Cabochon Ring
Norther Star Large Cabochon Ring

Finally, I got a sneak peek at their resort line called Metropolis, clearly named for the amazing skyline of New York City. With an art deco feel, the pieces are bold and colorful. These earrings are crafted from amazonite, lapis, and created rubies and sapphires.

elizabeth and james metropolis earrings

While at the show, I was lusting after this chunky chain plated brass bracelet with an amazonite clasp. Love it!! Perhaps I’ll see it in a store soon…

elizabeth and james metropolis bracelet

If this line interests you, then I encourage you to try on some of the pieces at a retailer near you!

Bullet Necklaces by Kat Blink

While exploring the shops in Soho, I spied this gal across the racks at a trendy Italian boutique.

kat blink jewels

I was completely intrigued by her creative layers, and I wanted to know more about the bullet necklaces in particular. It turns out she is the designer herself, Kat Blink, visiting from Greece! Click here to check out her website. (Leave it to me to hone in on a jewelry designer!) She uses actual bullet casings and then uses different crystals and stones to complete the pendant.

We chatted for quite some time about crystals and their powers. If you explore her website, you can learn all about what different crystals bring to those who wear them. So interesting!

Linhardt Jewelry Gallery in NYC

I did my best to explore as much of New York City as I could during my week working there. The last neighborhood I visited was Nolita, and I’m so glad that my biker boots wandered in that direction! I came upon Linhardt Designs, an amazing jewelry gallery tucked among the shops and eateries on Mott Street.

Such an inviting space!
Such an inviting space!

I was so fortunate that Lisa Linhardt, the artist herself, was in the store that afternoon!

Amy and Lisa
Amy and Lisa

As I wandered about the gallery, she explained that she has two different lines — “basics” and “signature.” I first tried on some of the “basics” line, and I was happy to purchase my first knuckle ring, complete with a micro-diamond. (This is a trend I saw ALL over the streets of NYC!)

My new purchase
My new purchase

But I have to say that her “signature” line really grabbed me. With a background in sculpture, I could readily see the translation to jewelry in her Tempest Ring, which utilizes two fingers.


And here is a simpler, yet still architectural Gold Arca cuff.

Fits perfectly on the wrist!
Fits perfectly on the wrist!

Dubbed “the green jeweler of NYC” by New York Magazine, Lisa uses all recycled metals and goes beyond when ethically sourcing her stones from Canada and Namibia. Every piece is locally made, which scores very high marks in my book!

I’m not the only fan of the line. Take a look at the cover of Alicia Keys’ album which features one of Lisa’s rings.

Love the ring!!
Love the ring!!

And how pretty is this Tempest necklace?! It can be dressed up or down, and it certainly makes an artistic statement!

lisa linhardt tempest necklace

I’m thrilled to have met Lisa and discovered her line. And if you find yourself in Paris in December, you can catch her at a four-person show at the Ibu Gallery in the Palais Royal. Tres chic!

Image of store: Yoon Kim
Custom cases: Stephane Hubert Design
Custom infinity mirror: Wary Meyers Decorative Arts
Architecture: Diego Garay and the team at Point Design
Curation and creative direction: Lisa Linhardt

Irit Design

Quite a few years ago, I ripped out this page from a magazine, and it has lived in my “style file” ever since. The article was about Amber Valetta, and I was just obsessed with the jewelry she was wearing!

amber valetta in irit designs

The object of my desire was a pile of expertly layered necklaces by Irit Design. As the years passed, I was always on the lookout for her line — I wanted to see it in person! Well luck would have it that Neiman Marcus in San Francisco started carrying it, and I was in the store recently when she was having a personal appearance and trunk show. Lucky me!

Amy and Irit
Amy and Irit

This Malibu-based designer was just as lovely as her line. She took the time to really show me (and my client, Karen) her new pieces, and we spent over an hour trying everything on! Here’s Karen modeling her snake handcuff. It’s so unique and edgy! It’s nicely complemented with the chevron knuckle ring.

irit hand cuff

All of her jewelry is hand made in Los Angeles. She uses recycled sterling, conflict-free diamonds, and Tahitian pearls. And let me tell you, the designs rock! Here I am trying on a stack of her bracelets.

irit bracelets

I loved these triple pearl earrings. The diamonds at the top add just the right amount of sparkle.

iritdesign triple pearl earring

For a more all-out diamond look, these earrings, called “bubbles,” are quite tremendous.

iritdesign bubbles earrings

Celebrity clients range from Sandra Bullock to Halle Berry. Even the First Lady, Michelle Obama, is a fan. Here she is looking quite smashing in Irit Design!

michelle obama necklaces

Not only is Irit a talented designer, but I learned that she is incredibly charitable as well. “Dogs are my favorite thing in life,” she told me, and she is very active in animal rescue charities. Love that about her. Irit’s line is available in various states around the country and online. Click here for a list of stockists.