Not Your Grandmother’s Pearls: Modern Pearl Designs

Do you consider yourself a pearl girl? (Yes, Jen, I see you nodding your head.) I’ve never had a strong affinity for them personally, as most of the designs I saw growing up were too traditional for my taste. It’s just not my personal style to wear an heirloom strand of white pearls or a pair of round stud earrings, as lovely as they are. But let me tell you that the tide is turning, and I’m seeing some sleek, modern designs out there that may have me changing my tune. Take a look at these pieces and see what you think.

Mizuki double black Tahitian pearl and diamond cuff

mizuki double black tahitian pearl and diamond cuff
Xiao Wang pearl Galaxy ring

xiao wang pearl galaxy ring
Sophie Bille Brahe Deesse 14K gold and pearl choker

sophie bille brahe deesse 14K gold pearl choker
Ryan Storer rose gold-plated Swarovski pearl two-fingered ring

ryan storer rose gold-plated Swarovski pearl two-finger ring
Julie Wolfe pearl drop choker necklace

julie wolfe pendant choker
Sophie Bille Brahe 14K gold and pearl earring

sophie bille brahe 14K gold pearl earring
sophie bille brahe pearl and gold earring
N + A New York gold bead and freshwater pearl ring

N + A new york gold bead and freshwater pearl ring
Mizuki 14K gold akoya pearl earrings

mizuki 14k gold akoya pearl earrings
Delfina Delettrez 18K gold, pearl and diamond ring

delfina delettrez 18k gold, pearl and diamond ring
Hirotaka akoya pearl and gold ear cuff (no piercings needed!)

hirotaka single akoya pearl ear cuff
I know there are various types of pearls in the jewelry listed above. If you’d like a quick explanation of the different types, then you’ll enjoy this article I wrote a while back. Also, be sure to keep your pearls in great shape with proper cleaning and storage.

Accessorize Me: Bejeweled Sneakers

Many people associate sneakers with the gym or uber-casual clothing, but I’m here to tell you that you can really elevate your sneaker look. A few years ago, I spotted many stylish sneaker looks on women in Stockholm and Copenhagen. With the increasing popularity of sneakers here in the States, I even started a whole Pinterest board last fall called Sneaker Chic.

The key to looking pulled together is pairing them with an outfit with clean lines and in predominantly solid neutrals. Slip-on styles appear a bit dressier than lace-up options. And yes, you can even wear them with skirts and dresses if you’ve got the formula correct.

With fall merchandise now arriving in the stores, I’ve noticed many pairs of bejeweled sneakers on the shelves. Since I’ve often written about how blingy shoes and bags definitely count as jewelry in an outfit, I thought I’d give you some ideas of how to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe. And of course, both of these outfits I’m going to show you can easily be worn with a simpler, non-jeweled pair of sneakers as well.

First of all, here’s a sampling of what I’ve seen coming in at a variety of price points. Definitely jewelry for your feet, right?!

Lanvin crystal-embellished skate sneaker

lanvin crystal-embellished skate sneaker
Halogen Turner slip-on sneaker

halogen turner slip-on sneaker
Miu-Miu jeweled cap-toe skate shoe

miu-miu jeweled cap-toe skate shoes
Kenneth Cole Reaction Salt King slip-on sneakers

kenneth cole reaction salt king slip-on sneakers
Now that you’ve got an idea of what’s out there, I first want to show you how to pair them with pants. I’d choose a slim (but not too skinny) pant that hits a couple inches above the ankle. J.Crew has a nice option in stretch black wool. This is a weight that’s suitable most of the year here in California. (note: Wear the sneakers either bare-foot or with peds — you don’t want socks showing, or it’ll wreck the look.)

j.crew paley pant
This would look great with a long vest, or as some retailers are calling them, “sleeveless coats.” I think the cut and neutral color of this one by Alexander Wang is hot. If this isn’t your color, there are many other options out there. (I just saw a couple at Zara last week.) Even a cool blazer would work if you prefer sleeves.

alexander wang long vest
If it’s still warm, then you can easily wear this with a black tank. If it’s a bit cooler, or you’d like to make it more work-appropriate, then wearing it with a simple knit, such as this one from Vince, is a nice option.

vince skiny rib tee
Now that you’ve got this base of solid colors, then it’s time to add some jewelry (My favorite part!). But I don’t want it to be too complicated or distracting, as then it’ll detract from the sneakers. I saw these silver egg necklaces by Sophie Buhai online, and I’m sort of obsessed with them. They come in two lengths, and I think the longer one would be ideal with the long vest.

sohpie buhai egg pendant
Then you’ve got to keep it simple with the earrings. I would recommend cool studs and perhaps a subtle ear cuff for a little edge, depending on your personal style. Here are possibilities by John Hardy (black chalcedony studs) and an ear cuff by Campbell.

john hardy black chalcedony stud earrings
campbell small ear cuff
The Spinelli Kilcollin Andromeda ring has exactly the right vibe for this outfit. If you’re not familiar with his designs, they can be worn stacked on one finger, or spread out among multiple fingers. (Check out this article about my Spinelli Kilcollin ring.)

spinelli kilcollin andromeda ring
spinelli kilcollin ring
I like the idea of a menswear-inspired watch to go with the vest. Shinola (made in the USA!) has a classic design called the Runwell.

shinola runwell watch
The finishing touch is a sleek clutch by Alexander Wang. I like the touch of grey to add some dimension to the outfit and resonate with the crystals on the sneakers. It makes everything not so matchy-matchy.

alexander wang prisma flat pouch

So now let’s take it a different direction — how to wear sneakers with a dress. Again, I’m going to say keep it simple and clean with the outfit. This will make you look modern and sophisticated. For the dress, I chose this Rag & Bone ribbed stretch-wool design.

rag & bone alanna ribbed strech wool-blend midi dress
For both a little warmth and style, wear it with a close-fitting leather jacket.

veda dali leather jacket
You have options for necklaces. You can either go with a shorter necklace with some punch, or a longer silhouette. I opted again for a longer style, this one by Erin Considine, as I like how it elongates the visual line and gives a little texture to the ensemble. I also like how the gold warms everything up.

erin considine round mirror necklace
These Amber Sceats earrings are a homage to the Dior originals, which do in fact appear to be coming a classic. (Who knew?) They are meant to be worn with the larger ball behind the ear.

amber sceats front to back earrings
amber sceats earrings
Picking up on the gold, I’d add this large ring by Jennifer Fisher. Feel free to go for more than one ring, if that suits you.

jennifer fisher crinkle gold-plated ring
Chloe has a new bag out, and I think it would rock with this outfit.

chloe goldie small leather shoulder bag
The result of all these pieces put together is a sophisticated, urban woman-on-the-go. Is this your personal style?

If you could see yourself creating some sneaker ensembles, I encourage you to go play in your closet a bit and see what you can come up with. Use these ideas, and the looks on my Sneaker Chic board as inspiration, and then see how you can adapt it to your own style.

Keep your budget in mind, and remember the cost-per-wear principal. If it’s something you’ll wear a ton, then the cost-per-wear will go down and it’ll be a better investment. If it’s an item that will be worn infrequently, then see if you can find a less expensive version that will give you the same look.

And if your are so NOT a sneaker gal and you’d rather wear heels, then go for it! As with any fashion trend, it’s all about staying true to you!

My Nonie’s Engagement Ring: A Sentimental Treasure

I spent countless weekends at my Italian grandparent’s house in Los Gatos while growing up. I have so many vivid and cherished memories of the time spent there. Whenever my little brother and I would arrive, we’d run into my Nonie’s closet to get a piece of Chiclets gum she always had in her purse. Just typing that sentence, I can feel the crackly texture and whoosh of mint as I would bite into it. We loved to go feed the ducks and ride the train at Vasona Park, eat her mostaccioli with special sauce, and watch Lawrence Welk (while dancing on Nonno’s feet, of course!) . And I can’t even tell you how many games of horseshoes we played in the backyard, with the hand-made wooden score planks made by Nonno.

I know you won’t be surprised, but on certain special occasions, Nonie and I would quietly go into her modest bedroom (sans boys) and look at the treasures in her jewlery drawer. Though she did not have a valuable collection, each piece had sentimental meaning to her and was carefully separated with the terrycloth towel with which she lined the drawer. I loved listening to her tell me about the different pieces, who gave them to her, and where she wore them.

One of my most favorite pieces is her engagement ring…

nonie's engagement ring
Married back in 1927, my Nonie was only 16 years old when she became a bride!


Nonie and Nonno's wedding day
Nonie and Nonno’s wedding day

At one time, this ring had a center stone, but now it’s just a roughly worn piece of blue glass. They were very poor immigrants, and when the original stone (I’m assuming a sapphire) fell out, glass was the only thing they could replace it with. Nonie told me it got so worn and pitted from all the lye that was used in long-ago days doing laundry. Running a boarding house at one point early in their marriage and having three children, she did more than her share of laundry, to be sure.

Though this ring has no real monetary value, it’s one of my most treasured possessions. I wear it frequently, and I’m often asked questions about it. And whenever it’s on my finger, I truly feel like my Nonie is with me. I love her and miss her.


Nonie and Nonno were married for 67 years!!
Nonie and Nonno were married for 67 years!!

Do you have any treasured sentimental pieces in your jewelry box? I’d love to hear your story! Please send me a photo of your faves to [email protected].

Freestone Peach Bangles

I was on Instagram scrolling through my feed three weeks ago, and it sort of went like this…cute, ‘like’…funny, ‘comment’…still scrolling…why did they post that?!…still scrolling…Holy Cow–what am I looking at?!? (almost drop phone)

freestone peach bangles via liz kantner
This is the image posted on Liz Kantner’s page of two of the most unique bangles I’ve ever laid (virtual) eyes on! The designer is Freestone Peach, and I had to find out more!

Joel Adam Baynard, the master behind Freestone Peach, did not set out to become a jewelry designer. In fact, his path to getting here has been quite diverse. Born and raised in North Carolina, he had creative relatives in the Blue Ridge Mountains who quilted, shaped stone and turned wood. He has served as a US Naval officer, lived in Japan four times (He’s fluent in Japanese!), has worked in healthcare construction and administration, and went to business school at Wake Forest University. Who knew that this would be the path to selling his first piece in August of 2013.


Cherry wood with turquoise, azurite and malachite
Cherry wood with turquoise, azurite and malachite

While interning for a construction company in Tokyo in 1999, Joel learned about the Shibui aesthetic, “…which consists of seven qualifiers: Simplicity, Implicitness, Modesty, Silence, Naturalness, Everydayness, and Imperfection.” I had to read this list many times for it to start sinking in. I like this philosophy a lot.

He strives for Shibui in his creations. He told me, “I think second chances and relationships are the heart of my work. I use flawed pieces of wood, scraps that would be burned, and fruit trees that are abandoned to infestation. The wood could not stand alone, typically next in line for the burn pile. The stones don’t make the cut as most cull through them. I take these two imperfect materials and marry them together. The wood provides a darkling and elegant structure that holds the stone together. The gems fill the emptiness of the timber with an astringent spontaneity and new life. Silent, simple, unobtrusive beauty.” Wow…I’m floored by this description.


Raw materials in which he sees the beauty that others may not
Raw materials in which he sees the beauty that others may not

Love this behind the scenes look at his workbench.

freestone peach behind the scenes
Currently based in Rutherford County near Asheville, NC, Joel sources most of his wood “from the peach orchards across the upstate of South Carolina (Greenville, SC) to the apple orchards in Hendersonville, NC, and in the forests around there as well.” I’m moved how he maintains his roots in his art.

Here is a bangle made from the ivory wood of a spalted apple tree. I particularly enjoy the unique color of the wood, don’t you?

freestone peach bangle using ivory wood from a spalted apple tree
Compare this to the deep hue of black walnut, with apatite and copper. Stunning and dramatic.

freestone peach black walnut, apatite and copper bracelet
The perspective in this photo is fantastic –how the light shines through the apatite and makes is look almost other-worldly.

freestone peach apatite bangle
He shared this piece on his blog, which he says reminds him of his grandmother’s quilts. I can certainly see it!

freestone peach bangle
Scrolling through all his work, I’m especially drawn to this one, in black walnut with aquamarine.

freestone peach black walnut and aquamarine bangle
I cannot wait to one day see these bracelets in person. But for now, I’ll get my fill through the amazing images on Instagram. Joel, thank you SO much for the interview, and I can’t wait to see what you turn out next!

August Birthstone: Peridot

Since August began, my Instagram feed has been full of sparkling peridot jewlery, honoring the birthstone for the month of August. Around August third I had one of those “Doh!” moments. Here I’ve been blogging about jewelry for over four years, and never have I written a series of articles about the birthstones for each month. (Sometimes my blondness amazes me.) So I’m very excited to explore the gems for each month, and we start with the peridot, which I learned is one of the few gems that comes in only one color. Ranging from a lighter yellow-green to a dark olive, the depth of the green is determined by how much iron is in the stone.

Known as “the gem of the sun” and “the emerald of the evening,” the peridot apparently has many benefits to its wearer, including the following:

-Enhances harmony in relationships
-Strengthens intuition
-Slows aging
-Attracts love into your life

What’s not to love about this list?! With that in mind, I started my search to see what fabulous peridot designs I could find. In no particular order, here’s eleven pieces that I would wear in a heartbeat.

Mayson peridot and diamond earrings via Zaver and Mor

mayson peridot and diamond earrings from zaver & mor
Ippolita five-stone peridot bangle

ippolita five-stone skinny bangle
Amrit birthstone necklace via Broken English

amrit birthstone necklace from broken english
Anne Sportun peridot wrap bracelet via Quadrum

anne sportun peridot wrap bracelet from quadrum
Carved peridot cameo with diamonds via Lang Antiques

lang antiques carved peridot cameo and diamond brooch pendant
Judy Geib peridot and emerald drop earrings

judy geib emerald, peridot and gold drop earrings
Jennifer Dawes square peridot stacking ring

jennifer dawes stacking square peridot band
Sydney Lynch Strata cuff with peridot, andalusite, tourmaline, and Umba sapphire

sydney lynch moss green strata cuff
Gabriella Kiss oval peridot ring via Quadrum

gabriella kiss oval peridot ring from quadrum gallery
Vintage peridot Jannecke ring via Brilliant Earth

vintage jannecke ring from brilliant earth
Melissa Joy Manning peridot earrings

melissa joy manning gold and peridot earrings
So what do you think? Is peridot a stone you can see yourself wearing? Happy birthday to my August birthday readers! I hope all your birthday wishes come true.

Marli: An NYC Gem!

Do you recall seeing Jennifer Hudson in this fabulous necklace at the Grammy’s? It was one of my favorite looks of the evening, and this year at Couture, I was able to meet Maral Artinian, the co-founder and curator of Marli, the name behind the diamonds.

jennifer hudson in marli necklace grammys 2015
Marli elegantly combines minimalism with architectural and pop-culture inspiration in 18K gold and diamonds. Though Maral studied psychology in Montreal, she has found her passion in jewelry. It must be in the blood, as both her father and brother are jewelers as well. The first thing I tried on were these two bracelets, the Cleo and Dahlia. So comfy, yet blingy at the same time!

cleo and dahlia bracelets by marli
Here’s a better view of the Dahlia bracelet.

marli dahlia bracelet
This bracelet features the” Y” shape, which is a signature in her designs. Not only is it a very strong, powerful shape, but its use of positive and negative space reflects the shadow and reflection of the Chrysler building. Constantly being inspired by the streets of NYC, Marli definitely has her pulse on the beat of the modern woman.


Dahlia ring
Dahlia ring

When I first looked at her pyramid bracelets, I didn’t realize they had moving parts. Take a peek at this 9 second video that shows how they move.

She recently posted this bracelet stack on Instagram, which showcases other variations of the design.

marli bracelets
Speaking of Instagram, I reposted her diamond Vine cuff on my feed, and it’s among my most popular posts ever.

marli vines white gold and diamondslip-on cuff
I wish I had tried on her Ipsilo white gold and diamond collar. The Ipsilo collection is, “..characterized by distinctive “Y” shaped motifs and triangular cut-outs; the collection is inspired by the work of Rudi Gernreich and highlights our interest in the juxtaposition of positive and negative space, and the resulting shapes that are consequently formed.” Simply fantastic.


Ipsilo collar
Ipsilo collar

I also have to share a couple avant garde ear cuffs with you. The first is from the Avventura (meaning adventure in Italian) collection. I can only imagine how the diamonds sway when you walk.

marli avventura ear cuff
And how about the Iris cuff, which wraps your ear in diamonds in such a unique way. I would SO wear this!

iris ear cuff by marli
Actually, I’d pretty much wear every single item in her cases! It was a pleasure meeting Maral and getting an up-close look at the line. And next time I’m in NYC, I’m going to check out her favorite restaurant, Felix, down in Soho. (She said it’s great food, and she met her boyfriend there — gotta love that!)

maral artinian and amy roseveare