Jennifer Montana’s Key to the Stadium

If you live here in the San Francisco Bay Area, then there’s a high likelihood that you’re a 49er’s football fan. Though I, myself, don’t know too much about the sport, I was certainly excited to see jewelry intersect with our home team.

jennifer montana's key to the stadium necklace

Last week I attended a jewelry launch hosted by Jennifer Montana (with Joe there rooting her on) at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto, CA. Jennifer created this “key to the stadium” necklace as a wearable way to raise money for the 49ers Foundation and their own foundation, the Four Rings Montana Family Foundation, as well as commemorate the historic opening of the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

jennifer montana event
Now I have to say, that this necklace is certainly a conversation starter. (There’s a key chain as well.) Jennifer Montana Designs is a jewelry business with a BIG heart. It helps support economically challenged people by providing jobs for the women who make the necklaces, and it donates 80% of their net profits to charity.

The mission of this company is to, “create high quality, casual yet elegant handmade jewelry that inspires people to be positive — simultaneously providing underprivileged individuals with economic opportunity and support.” Her team at Harbor House, a non-profit community center in Oakland, upcycles keys into “chain reaction” necklaces, inscribed with one of ten different inspirational words, such as love, courage and hope. Each piece is handmade by the women at Harbor House.

A display of the key necklaces
A display of the key necklaces

Jennifer also likes to get into the creative process, and she had quite a few of her own designs for sale at the launch. She likes to frequent vintage and antique stores, where she sources jewelry that she, herself, then re-works into original designs. Many of her finds come from New Orleans, where she goes to visit her son, who attends Tulane University.

One of Jennifer's vintage pieces
I loved the sparkling clasp on this necklace.

And look at this centerpiece on another necklace!

jennifer montana necklace
I can tell you that all her necklaces were flying off the tables like hotcakes! If you’re interested in purchasing one of her 49er necklaces, there are still some available on her website. But don’t wait too long, as they were a limited production, and they’re sure to become a collector’s item one day.

amy and jennifer
Amy and Jennifer

Atelier Swarovski

I’m thrilled to have Jennifer Bressie, a fellow image consultant and friend since kindergarten, as a guest blogger today. Enjoy her recap of her visit to the Atelier Swarovski villa at the Couture show!

So this is like that episode of Batman and Robin, where Robin takes over the hour. The last three years I have had so much fun attending the Couture show with Amy as her sidekick/assistant. I am there to take the cute photos of Amy with the designers; I shop for my clients (and myself . . .this blog has cost me a fortune!) and just generally provide comic relief when necessary. This past spring, after registering myself for the show, I received a lovely invitation to view the Atelier Swarovski line, which would be located in the Wynn Villas. As a lover of all things sparkle, of course I was interested in seeing this cool collection. Also, I love visiting the Villas at the Couture Show! Not only are they beautifully decorated, but the Villas feel so separate from the hustle and bustle of the showroom floor. I welcomed the opportunity to focus on the jewelry without distractions.

My morning in the land of sparkle was just as dazzling as expected, maybe a bit more so. Upon entry to the beautiful villa, the most beautiful crystal-encrusted flowers greeted me. I love flowers almost as much as jewelry, so to see this combination just thrilled me. The flowers, animals and bugs are sold exclusively through private sale with Bergdorf Goodman. These flowers would brighten any home!

Flower by Atelier Swarovski by Matthew Campbell Laurenza, photo by Andrew Werner
atelier swarovski butterfly
Atelier Swarovski began in 2007, as a division of the famous crystal business, inspired to offer a fresh perspective to accessories. This luxury accessories line celebrates innovative design from the worlds of fashion, jewelry, architecture, stage and screen. Each fashion week, a new collaboration is unveiled. The first of such lines was a bold creation by award-winning designer Christopher Kane in 2007. Subsequent collaborations have included Viktor and Rolf, innovative architect Zaha Hadid, Joseph Altuzarra, Mary Katrantzou, New York costume designer, Zaldy, and Gossip Girl stylist, Eric Daman. I was able to view the Fall/Winter 2014 collaboration with Viktor and Rolf, British designer Emma Shipley and Chinese fashion designer Ye Mingzi. Below are a few photos of the latest collaboration with Viktor and Rolf; clean graphic shapes inspire the design. Each piece is set with jet and black diamond crystals lying in textured velvet. These pieces definitely have an edgy, rebellious feel! Check out this on-trend double ring.

viktor and rolf DOUBLERING
I can’t decide which one of these cuffs I love more, too much to wear both?

Atelier Swarovski by Viktor&Rolf, Velvet Rock Triple Cuff in Jet
Atelier Swarovski by Viktor&Rolf, Velvet Rock Wide Cuff in Black Diamond
In addition to the amazing collaborations, the line has recently released its Core Collection. Released for Spring/Summer 2014, the collection will continue to develop with new pieces being added each season. The color ways will evolve and change with the seasons, but the design aesthetic and quality will always embody the Atelier Swarovski brand. The collection is split into two stories. The first is the Pointiage, which uses Swarovski’s unique Pointiage technique, setting hundreds of crystals into ceramic. Check out this amazing necklace!

Atelier Swarovski Core Collection, Monsanto Neckpiece in Silver Night
I thought these bracelets were very wearable, in fact maybe many at once!

Atelier Swarovski Core Collection, Guell Bracelet in Bermuda Blue
Atelier Swarovski Core Collection, Regent Bracelet in Golden Shadow
Atelier Swarovski Core Collection, Regent Bracelet in Silver Shade
The other story in their Core Collection is the Crystal Bead Story, which includes stackable designs and beautiful pieces for every day; it’s totally up my alley. Again, easy to wear one big statement piece or mix them to create a unique stack!

Atelier Swarovski Core Collection, Victoria Cuff in Gunmetal
Atelier Swarovski Core Collection, Victoria Bracelet in Crystal
I thought these pieces were so unique and dramatic.

Atelier Swarovski Core Collection, Tia Bracelet in Golden Shadow
atelier swarovski VICTORIA DROP EARRINGS Gold
atelier swarovski Victoria ring Golden
I should mention that most of the core pieces I have shown you come in a gold tone, a silver tone and gunmetal. As if it weren’t overwhelming enough! I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with the team from Atelier Swarovski. I tried things on and generally felt like a princess for over an hour. Please visit the Atelier Swarovski web site to see more of this vast and dazzling collection.

Anne Sportun: New Discoveries at Couture 2014

After getting to know Anne Sportun at the Couture show in 2013, I was eager to visit her booth and see what she’s been up to this past year. It was no surprise that she’s been very busy. Here’s some pieces that caught my eye. (and fingers, and wrists…and neck)

anne sportun double finger ring
This is the first ring I tried on. It’s an uber-comfortable double finger ring accented with 9 diamonds, and it’s part of her stick collection.

Next I tried on this amazing ring which is part of the bamboo collection. I learned this group is an evolution from the stick collection, and it still has her signature stardust texture. While this ring, with its seven layers and 73 diamonds, looks like it might be too wide for some, the design is actually quite brilliant — there’s only one band on the backside, so it’s extremely comfortable.

anne sportun bamboo ring
Anne’s wrap bracelets are always a big hit, and she keeps adding more to the collection. This, in particular, made of rubies, diamonds and chain felt like fabric on my wrist.

anne sportun wrap bracelet
She also dazzled me with this multi-layer ruby bracelet with a gold and diamond bar in the middle. Wow!

anne sportun bracelet
Finally, I really enjoyed seeing her new tassels, which can be added to a necklace or one of her wrap bracelets. The lightness and fluidity add movement and sparkle without weighing the pieces down.

anne sportun gemstone tassel charm
anne sportun tassel on necklace
anne sportun wrap bracelet and tassel
To see more of Anne’s collection, enjoy looking through her beautiful website. Definitely let me know which pieces grab your attention!

How to Care For and Store Pearls

I hope you read my recent article explaining what the different types of pearls are. (If you didn’t, click here for the full scoop.) Well now that you’ve purchased your lovely new necklace (or ring, or bracelet…), how do you take care of and store it? Well have you ever hear the saying, “Pearls should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off?” Well make that your mantra, and you’ve won half the battle.

Here’s some helpful tips for keeping your pearls in tip-top shape.

When you wear your pearls,

Avoid contact with chemicals. This includes everything from make-up and perfume, to household cleaners. Even our own sweat is bad for them, so if you’re going to work out, then leave the pearls at home.

Avoid getting your pearls wet. Please do not bathe or swim with pearls on. If they do happen to get wet, then let them dry completely before storing them.

When you store your pearls,

Store each piece in an individual bag or pouch. Your items should come with a bag or box, which is usually great, so don’t throw it away. If not, you can certainly purchase a soft velvet, satin, or felt-lined bag. You don’t want to store your pearls together with other jewelry, as they can easily be scratched by metal or other gems. That would not be good!

jewelry pouches
Don’t store in plastic. The chemicals emitted from plastic can harm your pearls.

Don’t store where exposed to heat or direct sunlight. Remember, your pearls are delicate, and the heat and extreme light can cause harm to them.

Store your pearls flat. Hanging a pearl necklace can stretch and weaken the cord it’s strung on. Speaking of which, you should get your pearls re-strung every year or two. I recommend having them knotted between each pearl to protect them from rubbing against each other. It’s also a good idea for safety. Should your strand happen to break, you’ll only be looking for one pearl on the floor, instead of all of them.

Don’t store them long-term in a safe. Pearls are meant to be worn. Storing them in a safe or safety deposit box for long periods of time will cause the pearls to dehydrate and possibly cause surface cracks. Now you don’t want that to happen, do you?!

When cleaning your pearls,

cleaning pearls
Wipe with a soft cloth after each wear. This will get off any unwanted dirt or chemicals. This cloth can be dry or slightly moist with water.

Never use an ultrasonic cleaner. This will just destroy them.

When you have to deep clean them, use a mild soap and water mix with a soft cloth. Never use any harsh detergents, dishwashing soap, a toothbrush, cleanser, etc. When cleaned, allow them to dry flat on a towel. Only when they’re completely dry should you store them. Of course, your other option would be to have them professionally cleaned.

Also, know that pearls look their best when they are lustrous, and over-cleaning them takes the luster away. So wear your pearls with joy and confidence! If  you have any other pearl tips, please leave them in the comments below.

Katherine Jetter: My 5 Fave Pieces from Couture ’14

Each year I attend the Couture show in Las Vegas, it becomes more and more exciting. Not only is it a blast meeting new designers and seeing their collections, but it’s also a real treat to visit designers I know and love and see how their line is expanding. While Katherine Jetter is certainly known for her opals, she definitely has branched out this year, and I’m thrilled to show you my favorite new pieces in her line (in no particular order).

Roman Perfume Bottle

Katherine Jetter Roman Perfume Bottle
This bottle is just heavenly — I would have it out on display while not wearing it, as it’s too beautiful to be tucked away inside a jewelry box. This Roman bottle dates from 1 AD, and has a 22K yellow gold and cognac diamond stopper. L-O-V-E!

Bronze and aquamarine ring

 Katherine Jetter Aquamarine Ring 9.29ct
As part of her new bronze collection, this bronze ring which features a 9.29 ct aquamarine, is simply spectacular. The juxtaposition of elements is extremely creative.

Lava rock necklace

Katherine Jetter Lava Rock Necklace
Never have lava rocks looked so chic! These beads are hand carved and inlaid with 18K gold bezel-set opals.

Pink diamond flower ring

Katherine Jetter Pink Diamond Flower Ring
While this design is quintessential Katherine, the new and striking component is the huge pink diamond in the center. She told me that in 2011, only 15 pink diamonds were found that were over a carat, and she was lucky enough to get one of them. Bling, bling!

Birdcage pendant

Katherine Jetter Birdcage Pendant
Who needs a bird in your cage when you can have a 369.55 gram boulder opal instead? I vote for the opal! This stunning gem is from Queensland and is displayed in a cage of 18K yellow gold.

Katherine, you blew me away, once again! If you’d like to find out more about Katherine and her line, then check out her website.


The lovely Katherine
The lovely Katherine


Rebecca Overmann: Inside the Studio

Rebecca Overmann rings

So does this photo get your mind going to sparkly places? I should imagine so, and this is the type of work that has made me a fan of Rebecca Overmann’s jewelry for years now. The uniquely shaped diamonds, the organic feel, and the warmth emanating from Rebecca herself on the handful of times I’ve met her in person just draw me in. Well lucky me, because I recently had the pleasure of taking a field trip to her studio in San Francisco.

Never having visited an actual jewelry studio before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I finagled a great parking spot in her east Mission neighborhood, and I was ushered up quite a few flights of stairs to an expansive, well-lit space. I was in heaven!


At her Rebecca's workbench
At her Rebecca’s workbench

Rebecca has a solid reputation in the alternative bridal realm for both men and women.


Some selections for the gentlemen
Some selections for the gentlemen


More choices for the ladies
More choices for the ladies

Wanting to know more about the whole jewelry making process, she took me through her education and procedures. She was going to school in Savannah and decided to take a jewelry making class as an elective. While I was there, she pulled out an old hat box filled with her school projects, showing me her early attempts in silver. One of which is this highly complicated Celtic necklace, which was her first carved piece ever. “I don’t know how I actually did this in such detail!” Well clearly she has an innate talent!!


Look at the intricacy of the design!
Look at the intricacy of the design!

Though she did have a successful career in graphic design for an ad agency, the day after she was laid off she went out and bought her workbench, the same one shown in the photo above. She’s never looked back, and she’s been going full-time for 12 years now. (I just LOVE when people find their true calling!)

So back to her self-described “old school” process–she first carves her pieces in wax.


rings carved in wax
Rings carved in wax


Adding detail to her design
Adding detail to her design

She can manipulate the wax perfectly to accommodate the stones she chooses, which she also carves to the exact shape she envisions. And BOY were there a lot of stones around!


Diamonds galore!
Diamonds galore!

When the pieces are then cast in metal, she uses burs for setting the stones, and grinders and polishers for the final touches.


Burrs for setting the stones
Burs for setting the stones


A plethora of grinders and polishers
A plethora of grinders and polishers

With her talent, vision, and creativity, the finished product is always something so special. She designs for a total range of clients, but she told me they all want something with a hand-crafted look. During my visit, she was getting ready for the NY Now show, which runs August 16-20. While she traditionally has used diamonds in her designs, she’s now branching out a bit into the world of color. This came about when she met a sapphire dealer from Sri Lanka who had some stunning gems. There were some woven pieces being made while I was at the studio as well, and here’s a glimpse of some of her colored sapphire rings. Given the rising popularity of colored gemstones, I’m confident that these will be a big hit at the show.


Colored sapphire rings
Colored sapphire rings

While I certainly appreciate the color, I had a few favorites from her various shades of neutral diamonds. She makes the most interesting and diverse collection of studs I’ve seen from one designer. (The photo below is a small snapshot.) I think the oval grey diamonds would make an outstanding addition to my jewelry collection, melding beautifully with many of my oxidized silver pieces…just sayin’.

rebecca overmann studs
I was also in love with her bangles, which were surprisingly comfortable on my wrist. You know how so many bangles are too heavy, or they slip down and catch uncomfortably on your wrist bones? These SO do not do that!



My mind was whirling after our hour together, and I can’t wait to go visit again! Before leaving, she gifted me an autographed copy of Beth Bernstein’s Jewelry’s Shining Stars, which is a visual feast of a book featuring 38 jewelry designers who are really changing the face of jewelry today. No surprise that Rebecca is one of the featured designers.


Yes! I want your signature!
Yes! I want your signature!

I can’t thank Rebecca enough for opening her studio to me and letting me pick her brain about it all. It was an amazing field trip! xo

Tory Burch for Fitbit Flex

How many of you have avoided getting one of those step/calorie/basically “your whole life’s data is gathered right here” gadgets because it doesn’t blend well with your jewelry and outfit? I know that I certainly fall into that camp! Tory Burch has come up with a fashionable solution for those looking to wear a Fitbit Flex in a more covert way. She has developed a necklace and two different bracelet styles in which you can insert the device, yet it’s totally camouflaged.

tory burch fitbit flex
This solid brass hinged bracelet has Tory’s signature graphic design. ($195)

tory burch fitbit brass bracelet

She also has two silicone bracelets (in fuchsia and navy) with a subtle print. ($38)

tory burch silicone fitbit bracelet
Finally, there’s a brass pendant necklace with the same fretwork. ($175)

tory burch fitbit pendant necklace
These items are available for pre-order on her site, with an expected ship date of October 30th. Note that these pieces do not come with the Fitbit Flex device itself. That needs to be purchased separately for $99.95.

fitbit flex
Now…if someone would just come up with something like this with diamonds… 😉

Zaiken by Malak Atut

zaiken throwing stones

So…does this array of stunning gems get your mouth watering? I know it does for me! Given the choice, I don’t know which one I’d want to wear first! Well all of these lovelies are the creation of Malak Atut from her jewelry line, Zaiken. (I learned the name Zaiken is a combination of her two sons’ names.) I was very honored to spend some time with her at the Couture show, and get an inside look at her collection.


Malak and Amy
Malak and Amy

Malak’s line is based in Manhattan, and every piece is made there. (Woot!) She has two main looks in her line. The first is Throwing Stones, which the above photo shows. This is where she “bezel-sets eye-poppingly gorgeous gemstones atop other gemstones.” The result is truly unique and lovely. Here’s a closer look at a pair of rainbow moonstone earrings from the collection.

zaiken thowing stones earrings
One of Malak’s specialties is using unexpected color combinations. These earrings, made with sapphires and adorned with paraiba and yellow diamonds, are case and point. They are simply works of art, don’t you think?!

zaiken earrings
With the tag line, “There’s more than one side to you,” you’ll understand her other main collection, Alter Ego. The pieces in this group have a geometric feature that flips over, revealing a whole new design. Because it’s true that we all have two sides to ourselves … maybe a little bit naughty and a little bit nice? I tried on one of the rings, which has diamonds on one side and enamel with diamonds on the flip side.


Two looks with one ring!
Two looks with one ring!

Here’s another clever example in the form of a necklace.

zaiken alter ego necklace
During our interview, I couldn’t help but notice her wrist, and the beaded bracelet that clearly was made by a much younger designer — a 4 year-old, in fact. Her son gave it to her when she was leaving for the show so that she’d have part of him with her while she was gone. How cute is that?!

malak atut's wrist
Not only is Malak a talented designer and loving mom, but she also is involved with a special project in conjunction with Gemfields. Gemfields is the largest supplier of ethically mined stones in the world. You may have seen some of their press, with Mila Kunis as their ambassador. Malak has designed a capsule collection for them this year. This pair of gold and emerald studs and ring are part of the capsule. I think it’s fabulous to know the jewelry you wear has come from a good place, don’t you?

zaiken for gemfields
zaiken for gemfields
The passion and creativity were simply bursting from Malak while we spoke. I can tell that she has numerous designs in her head, and I can’t wait to see them come to fruition. I’ll be waiting and watching!