I definitely took note of the earrings Carey Mulligan was wearing on the cover of Vogue in May. They were so pretty, a bit vintage looking, and just the right complement to the dress. Little did I know that a just over a month later, I’d be meeting Marie-Juliette Bird, the designer of these beauties.
On Saturday I popped into the city to meet Delphine Richagneux, the new CEO of Manika. Now as you may know, I’ve been a fan of Manika since they first opened on Maiden Lane back in 2006. Not only do they have a new CEO, but they have they moved to a chic space on Market St. in the Palace Hotel. Of course, while I was there I had to imagine that I once again had a bottomless wallet — what would I buy?? Here’s my five picks, in no particular order
Jenny Reeves Seafoam Cuff in oxidized silver, 18K gold, chrysocolla and diamonds
It turns out this story goes way back, all the way to the University of Kansas, where they met when they were only 20 years old! Jamie was getting her degree in economics, though she managed to take a singular jewelry making class. When they embarked on a “destiny trip” they landed in Seattle. They traveled until everything felt right, and things just fell into place, from a job to a great place to live. Jamie, though, lasted only one week interning at Merrill Lynch, and she soon found her new path in jewelry. (I’m so glad she took that class in college!)
Studying at the Jewelry Arts Institute in NYC, Jamie really started developing her craft. All the meanwhile, Jeremy was busy with his woodworking. (Quite handy, as he built her bench and studio.) Back in the day, they would sell their wares (sterling silver dancing bear earrings and wooden wands) at Grateful Dead shows. Everything would sell out. Her earrings were a hot commodity.
This is the Dahlia ring, which is one of their signature styles. This particular one is a round hand-faceted carnelian with a bezel-set diamond, set in 14K gold on a sterling silver band. Jeremy commented that the diamond is the “beauty mark” on the ring. Adorbs!
Though color is a powerful theme in their line, I was also (no surprise) drawn to the range of neutral shades. Neutrals are my vibe!
Thank you very much, Jeremy, for spending so much time with me and sharing the story behind the brand!
Over the weekend, I had had the opportunity to attend West Coast Craft for the first time, held at Ft. Mason in San Francisco. According to their website the fair is, “…a craft and design show featuring carefully selected designers, artists, and crafts people inspired by the mood and aesthetics of the West Coast lifestyle. Cool but sunny, laid-back yet innovative, they represent the best of West Coast craft.”
Though when I spy a jewelry booth, there’s nothing else in my mind except seeing the line. The first one I encountered was Gabriela Artigas, who I’ve been following on Instagram for quite some time. It’s always fun to see things in person that you’ve only seen in a little photo on your phone. Her designs are clean, current, and edgy.
You may be asking yourself, “What’s a jewelry concierge?” I was wondering the same thing as I headed to meet Gigi Gruber for lunch in downtown San Francisco last week. Was she a designer? Was she a goldsmith? I was unclear. Well after a delightful meeting, I was really excited about Gigi’s talent and business model. I think it’s one that you’ll find intriguing as well. Here, Gigi answers questions that will help explain how she brings beautiful jewelry to her clients.
I know that you have a long history in the jewelry business. Can you tell me about that?
I’ve been designing and working one-on-one with clients for over 15 years now. Like many other designers, I entered the business through the wonderful and (relatively) inexpensive world of beads. I’ve trained at the Revere Academy and other well-known schools, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had some amazing mentors along the way. My first fine jewelry job was at PAVÉ in Berkeley, and it was a fantastic training ground. After 5 years at PAVÉ, I became the Director of Design and Sales at Kathleen Dughi in Mill Valley. This position afforded me an amazing opportunity to design for some very experienced shoppers who had the taste and budget to select only the finest things. Kathleen Dughi has strong ties to Wilkes Bashford (now owned by Mitchell’s), and my designs were sold to prominent clients of theirs as well.
After a few years of goldsmithing, I realized it would take me a decade (or two!) to get to a point where I could make the level of work I expect from others. My natural talents in this field are designing and helping others actualize their jewelry aesthetic into a functional piece of art, so I decided to focus on my strengths. I have a detailed description of my process on my website, but in general, it goes like this:
1. A client finds me through a referral, my website, Yelp!, etc. We meet at my office, or I meet them at a location of their choosing. (This is where the concierge part of my business comes in.)
2. The client shares their ultimate end goal with me. (For example, a custom engagement ring for her heirloom diamond)
3. I get to know the client’s needs and aesthetic through a series of explorative questions and photo sharing.
4. I develop three design concepts to review and tweak until one is selected.
5. I manage the project through all stages of fruition, beginning with the determination of the right person (or people) to craft each piece and ending with my stamp of approval and the presentation to my client.
Do you have any photos that show before/after?
I thought you’d never ask! 😉
As every one of my designs is one of a kind, it’s fairly difficult to take best practices from one project and apply them to the next one. In addition, I tend to attract many clients who don’t know what they want, they just know they haven’t found it yet. My former career as a trainer and coach comes in handy here, as I have a lot of patience and empathy for those who need a lot of hand holding.
The most rewarding thing for me is to see the look on my client’s face when they see their piece for the first time. I often witness tears of joy and get lots of hugs too! 🙂
How can people get in touch with you who’d like to work with you?
I am available via phone (510) 919-3241, e-mail ([email protected]), and my website (ateliergigi.com). I also have a blog and I’m working on becoming more active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Oh, and check out my Yelp! reviews, which I’m thrilled about.
Thank you so much, Gigi, for meeting with me and sharing your business with my readers!
While on the plane home from Jewelry Week in Las Vegas, I started writing down my observations on the trends I saw. Most definitely ear jackets are very on point right now, and I think they will be growing in popularity in the months to come. (WWD was clearly on the same page, as they published an article about it on Monday. Unfortunately, since I don’t subscribe, I wasn’t able to read the article. Know what any overlap in content is purely coincidental!) Exploring ways to creatively adorn the ear has been extremely on trend, staring with the resurgence of multiple piercings and ear climbers. Ear jackets are just the next step in this evolution. In fact, while perusing the jewelry counter at Sak’s yesterday, look what the woman next to me was donning in her lovely lobe!
There is also a plethora of styles out there to choose from, from the very subtle to some real statements. Here’s a little taste of different styles. Do any of them inspire you to try this trend?
You’ll also notice that some of these are sold in pairs, while others are sold individually, or with a coordinating stud. This is one of the great things about current earring trends — things don’t have to be symmetrical. You have license to get as creative as you want!
There’s something enticing, sparkling, and yet serene (though these qualities may seem like they contradict) about Sara Weinstock. When I began speaking with her, I was instantly drawn in — devouring her stories and entranced by her demeanor, let alone by the captivating jewels shining in her cases.
I knew that she was my kind of gal when she told me she brought her mother’s engagement ring to her first day of kindergarten. Eager to share with her friends, the ring was sadly lost. (This is so reminiscent of when I picked out all the real gems from my jewelry at around the same age and was horrified when I lost them as well.) Our mutual life-long love of jewelry led us along our own journeys, which brought us both to this day at the Couture show in Las Vegas.
A fellow San Francisco Bay Area Native, Sara was born into a family of female artists. When she found herself single and with both children out of the house, jewelry was a natural path for her. She needed something to fill her days and bring her joy, and making jewelry surely does that.
One of her new collections, French Tulip, is inspired by the intricate ironwork on the bannisters and balconies of Paris, as well as by the patterns in lace. Here’s a vignette of her inspirations.
When people hear that I’ll be spending six days in Las Vegas, they instantly assume I’ll be lounging by the pool, seeing shows and gambling. I cannot tell you how far that is from the truth (OK, I did donate $40 to the slots one evening.). This was my fourth year attending Couture and JCK, and I thought I’d give you, my lovely readers, a glimpse into what really happens when I’m there. WARNING: There will be no beautiful jewelry showcased in this post. SECOND WARNING: If this is TMI and not quite your cup of tea, then I won’t be offended if you skip this post and wait (eagerly, of course) for my next article, which I promise WILL showcase beautiful jewelry.
So for me, it all starts weeks in advance, when I realize that I, the girl who is used to the cool temps in San Francisco, need about 10-12 Vegas-worthy, photo-ready outfits. Not only do I need to stay cool in 104 degrees (yes, that’s how hot it got this year), but I know that the countless photos I’m in with designers and jewelry industry peeps will be on the internet forEVER! No pressure there, right?!
If you know me, then you’ll know that black is my color of choice, but it’s a bit challenging to make that look resort-worthy. Oy vey…all I can say is that Eileen Fisher saves my a** in situations like these. Some of you may be asking why I can’t re-wear certain pieces and mix-and-match them. And I will tell you, that 104 degrees combined with peri-menopause does not bode well for re-wearing. You get my drift.
And then there’s the shoes. Given that I will be walking miles a day, flats are the only option for me. While #VegasShoes took on a life of its own on Instagram, I believe I was the sole woman that went for flats only. And yes, there were Birkenstocks in the mix. It’s OK–think what you must. I can deal with it.
My fellow image consultant, Jennifer Bressie, was (as always) my accomplice for the first few days of the show. Not only is she instrumental in interviews, but she is also a guest blogger for this site. Though we did manage a few hours of shopping right after we landed, we were soon immersed in the land of jewelry.
One of our first missions was to attend the JCK Talks session, The Power of Blogging. I was honored to be there to support my fellow jewelry bloggers, Monica Stephenson (iDazzle), Barbara Palumbo (Adornmentality), Danielle Miele (Gem Gossip), Katerina Perez (KaterinaPerez.com) and moderated by Diane Warga-Arias (Jewelry Activist). It was great to hear their perspectives on our niche space — they really represented! And as an added bonus, Robyn Hawk of A Fly on The Wall was seated right next to us!! (Not only is she completely in the know in the industry, but she was fabulous with introductions. Grazie!)
And while hanging out in the hallway afterwards, I was psyched to meet Danielle (from the panel) and Jean-Noel Soni, gem-cutter extraordinaire, from Top Notch Faceting. Though I’m “virtual” friends with both of them, it was our first face-to-face meeting. This is one of those times when I’m so thankful for social media, as we probably wouldn’t have met if not for that. (Side note: It would have been even better if I hadn’t been inhaling a sandwich on the sidelines while all this was happening, just sayin’, but a 3:00 lunch is late for me, and my blood sugar was plummeting!)
Thursday night of Couture is the big opening night party, and that’s always one of the highlights of the trip. They have a cool band, yummy food, and it’s a chance to reconnect with jewelry peeps and make new friends. Thank the lord that Jen’s selfie stick did not fit into her clutch!
This year they had acrobatic tree climbers, and Fitz and the Tantrums were the headliner.
This brings me to a pertinent point — why I’m even at the shows. These shows are not for the public to go buy jewelry. This is where stores go to place their orders for their establishments. I’m there as editorial — interviewing designers, interpreting the trends, etc. I’m there to write, which I love. My goal is to share the world of jewelry with you.
The majority of the remaining days are spent seeing collections, trying on gems (someone has to do it!) and interviewing designers. Most of my time I’m wearing my reading glasses, with pen, notebook and iPhone in hand. (Many people comment about how old-school I am with my lined notebook.) I bought an extra-pretty one this year, as it will live on my desk, and I like to look at something that makes me smile.
It’s not as glamorous as you may think…but it’s damn fun! One day I interviewed for 7 hours straight! Yes, there are the deodorant breakdown times, such as on the shuttle between JCK and Couture, but even on those rides you’re bound to meet some interesting people.
Sadly, this is what the desk in my room looked like the last morning. I you know what an organizing maniac I am, you’ll know this was painful for me to look at.
So now, for those of you who want to see the BLING, let me get to work on that. I know that I have months of articles to come that will not disappoint!