Sophie Buhai

She had me at her “egg” necklace — her signature piece. As soon as I came across it online, I knew I had to have one for myself. And let me tell you, when I received it, it did not disappoint! It has become one of my go-to necklaces.

sophie buhai egg pendant
Sophie, formerly the co-creative director of Vena Cava, premiered her jewelry line just last spring. This week I received her e-mail newsletter showcasing her spring/summer ’16 line, and I just have to share a few of my favorite items from this beautifully sleek and sculptural collection.

Quartz drop collar

sophie buhai quartz drop collar
Arp earrings

sophie buhai arp earrings
Joan bangle

sophie buhai joan bangle
Long quartz drop earrings

sophie buhai long quartz drop earrings
sohpie buhai long quartz drop earring
Janet pendant

sophie buhai janet pendant
Pretty stunning, right? These sterling silver beauties are handcrafted in Los Angeles. I encourage you to explore her website (which includes her interior designs) and follow her on Instagram.

Sea Glass Gems from Davenport, CA

One of the definitions of a gem is, “..something prized especially for great beauty or perfection.” In my mind, sea glass definitely qualifies as a gem, although it may not be what initially comes to mind when picturing one. When I tell people I’m passionate about collecting sea glass, they likely picture me strolling along the beach, stopping here and there to pick up a piece. Well let me tell you, this is more what it looks like.


This is me a couple years ago at Davenport.
This is me a couple years ago at Davenport.

Welcome to the world of extreme sea glassing. For this sport, you need gear: a wetsuit, booties, an array of shovels and scoopers, somewhere to quickly and securely stash your finds, and the ability to run really quickly when a huge wave is about to get you. Trust me, you don’t want to be slammed against the merciless cliffs. Davenport, CA, located about 9 miles north of Santa Cruz, is one of the best-known “multi” beaches in the world (the other being in Seaham, England). “Multis” are pieces of sea glass which have more than one color in it. Here’s one of the gems we found last week. Can you see the subtle striations in the white portion? I think it’s simply mesmerizing.

davenport sea glass
You may wonder why this glass exists in Davenport in the first place. It’s all because of the fabulous Lundberg Studios, located just a half mile up the hill from the beach. This studio produces some of the most beautiful art glass in the world. During the process of creating their art, there are glass shards and trimmings which are discarded. In the 1970’s there was a flood at the studio when the San Vicente Creek overflowed, and all these discarded pieces found their way into the ocean. These are the prizes that we are now searching for, some 40 years later.

Finding sea glass at Davenport is definitely challenging. For one thing, it’s very seasonal — the winter storms are needed to churn up and take out the sand to reveal areas of gravel. This is your only chance of finding anything. If the gravel is in the surf, then you have to keep running in and out of the waves, scooping up gravel to sift through, hoping to find “it” at the bottom of your scoop or shovel before you’re toppled by the wave. If the gravel is up on the sand, then you spend hours digging big holes in the beach, hoping to uncover what you’re looking for. The rest of the year, the beach is just covered in sand…no glass to be found.

With years of drought in California, glassing season has left something to be desired. That is until this year, when El Nino has finally brought in some storms to help us out. BUT…this also means huge, dangerous surf to contend with. I’ve been a few times the past couple weeks, and while I’ve been there, I’ve witnessed someone get a concussion, a likely broken leg, a smashed ankle, and sadly last Saturday someone even lost their life. (Thankfully, his body was found yesterday.) This is definitely not for the faint of heart. Here’s a few photos recently shot by the glass guru, James Hailey. James is one of the master sea glassers, and he has helped me learn so much about the craft. (Follow his FB page if you want to see his jaw-dropping finds!)

glassing at davenport
glassers at davenport
davenport ca
Every time I step out of the car up at the parking area, and gaze down at the lovely beach…

davenport beach
My stomach does a little flip-flop, both out of fear and excitement, as I know this is what’s waiting for me…

davenport waves
One of the “holy grails” of this beach is a mushroom. Typically they are found in a green and white pattern, though my friend Tracy from Wisconsin even found a yellow one last Saturday! (Score!) Here’s a couple from my collection, found just in the past month.


sea glass mushroom
sea glass mushroom

We’ve been lucky to find a bunch of partial mushrooms lately as well, which are sometimes also referred to as “onions.”

davenport mushrooms
I love the clear swirl in this one.

sea glass
Red is one of the rarest colors of sea glass to find. This one, with its various shades of red, is quite spectacular in my opinion.

red sea glass
An “eyeball” is another highly sought-after piece. This one is extra special, as it has a UV rim around its cobalt core. UV glass, also called vaseline glass, has a bit of Uranium in it. If you shine a black light on it, it glows like mad! But don’t worry, there’s not enough radiation being emitted to cause any harm. Here’s photos of my eyeball, both in natural light and under the black light (front and back views.)

davenport eyeball
UV eyeball
UV eyeball
When I pulled this out of the sand, I first thought it was a rock. But as I inspected it more closely, I could see that each little crevice was filled with glass — the sun gleaming on the deep teals, blues and aquas deep within. I call it the “asteroid.” No one on the beach had ever seen anything like it. I’m so tempted to break it open to reveal what it’s like inside.

sea glass
Canes are another very unique find at Davenport. These slim rods of glass are grouped together, then sliced to form millefiori-type patterns in paperweights, vases, etc.

sea glass canes
If you look down the centers, you can see the patterns. I’m longing to find one with a star inside. Many of my friends have found them, but I haven’t…yet.

sea glass canes
Here are some finished pieces from Lundberg Studios, where you can see the canes used.

lundberg studio glass
On Thursday, we found a smaller egg that is one of my favorites or all time. Doesn’t it almost look like labradorite?! Truly a gem from the sea.

davenport sea glass
Of course, once you get home, shower, and make a cocktail, it’s great fun to sort out all the glass, deciding which to keep and which to repurpose. I have different jars around my apartment. I’ve got a UV jar, a cane jar, a super special bowl, etc.

sorting sea glass
In addition to building up my collection, I’m also delighted by all the wonderful glassers I’ve met the past few years. Most I originally met online at Seaglasslovers, which is the largest community of sea glassers from around the globe that I’m aware of (over 10,700 members!). Now some of us have gatherings, and people travel in from all over the country to glass together. This photo, taken by Tami Ewing, is from last Saturday, where we had friends from Wisconsin, North Carolina, Washington, and more come to glass together. One gal who lives in southern California got up at 2 am to drive and meet the group!

sea glass pals
Many of my friends and family call me crazy, but that’s OK. It’s a unique passion and it brings me great joy. I may not take as many risks as I did a few years ago, especially with the current wave conditions, but I have a wonderful time enjoying the California coast and finding my own type of gems. Hoping there’s still a few more bountiful hunting days left this season! And if you’d like to see some more amazing pieces, definitely check out the Davenport Sea Glass Facebook page and Rare Sea Glass — it makes my jaw drop!

Let's do this!
Let’s do this!

February Birthstone: Amethyst

I suppose I should be an expert on amethyst, as my birthday is this month…but I’m not. I enjoyed researching this birthstone and going on my (much-loved) virtual shopping spree. Unlike so many stones which come in a wide range of colors, amethyst really sticks to the purple family, from lavender and lilac to deep purple and red-violet. The amount of iron in the quartz determines the shade of purple. Though I have heard of green amethyst over the years, I learned this is a misnomer. Green amethyst is in fact created by heating a natural amethyst, and its true name is prasiolite. (Click here for a more detailed description.)

Amethyst comes from the Greek word meaning “without drunkenness” and has often been referred to as the sobriety stone. It can be transparent or opaque (didn’t know that!), and it has some potent qualities, such as:

-guards against overindulgence
-aids with curing addictions
-it is “nature’s tranquilizer,” helping soothe the mind and emotions
-brings the wearer balance and peace
-wonderful in meditation, as it opens the channels between realms
-enhances intuition and psychic ability

Having this new knowledge in mind, I set off on my quest for amethyst jewelry. With colored stones currently so en vogue, I was surprised there weren’t more pieces to be found. Many popular jewelry sites I visited didn’t have a single amethyst piece. (What?!) I have a feeling this is going to change with the coming season. I know many designers are amping up their color game. Nonetheless, I found many items I would be very happy to have in my own jewelry box. In no particular order:

Sevan Bicakci pave fish padlock

sevan bicakci pave fish padlock
sevan bicakci padlock
Jacquie Aiche mini amethyst pyramid triangle wrap ring

jacquie aiche mini amethyst pyramid triangle wrap ring
Antique Arts & Crafts sterling and amethyst bangle

antique arts & crafts silver and amethyst bangle
Lola Brooks 18K & amethyst teardrop earrings

lola brooks 18K & amethyst teardrop earrings
Jamie Joseph rectangle ametrine ring (combo of amethyst and citrine)

jamie joseph rectangular ametrine ring
Stephen Webster “fly by night” amethyst dagger drop earrings (The dangling part can be removed as well.)

stephen webster fly by night amethyst dagger drop earrings
stephen webster earrings
Alison Lou amethyst and purple enamel ring

alison lou amethyst and purple enamel ring
Ila amethyst, sapphire and diamond earrings

ila drop earrings
Irene Neuwirth amethyst ring

irene neuwirth amethyst ring
So what do you think? Do any of these gems spark your interest? I guess it’s time for me to find my self-gift for my birthday! (But where is my bottomless wallet??) Sending warm birthday wishes to my fellow February-ians. (Yes, I just made up that name.)

Jewelry Box Basics: Valentine’s Treats

Each year when Valentine’s Day rolls around, it’s not my single-ness that first pops into my mind, but rather, “Yay!! It’s time for another self-prezzie!” If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know I’m a firm believer in what I call The Boyfriend Gift. In a nutshell, when important days come along (or heck, even a Tuesday, for that matter!) I use the opportunity to treat myself to a new piece of jewlery…because why should I have no boyfriend AND no jewelry? There’s nothing right about that! I may not be able to do anything about the boyfriend situation, but I can certainly do something about the jewelry situation. So any money I would have spent on the boyfriend, I spend on myself.

To give you some jewelry inspiration, I thought I’d take it back to my Jewelry Box Basics format, which is a series I began back in 2013. In this series, I describe 6 different personal styles, and then I suggest pieces of jewelry which would be harmonious with that style. Granted, no one fits in any one box, so please use these as general guidelines. To catch up to date, click on each of these styles to read more in depth: The Lady Who Lunches, The Bohemian, The Rock Star, The Minimalist, The Romantic, and The Trendy Gal.

Without further ado, here’s some ideas for each personal style…

The Lady Who Lunches: Chopard Happy Hearts Bracelet

During my 17+ years as a wardrobe stylist, I’ve learned that this woman likes high quality, and having something that’s a name brand doesn’t hurt. They don’t want to be ostentatious, but rather tastefully elegant. This Chopard rose gold bracelet with two hearts, one of coral and the other with a moving diamond, hits this desired note. Equally lovely worn alone or in a stack.

chopard happy hearts bracelet
The Bohemian: Otto Jewels arrow rings

The Bohemian gal wouldn’t likely gravitate toward traditional heart jewelry. Instead, taking inspiration from Cupid’s arrow sounds much more up her alley. These bold arrow rings from Otto Jewels are very chic, from the finish on the metal to the sparkles. Yes, please!

otto jewels arrow rings
The Rock Star: Marla Aaron heart locks

I feel like I practically know Marla just from her fabulous Instagram feed. I’m obsessed with her line of locks, which come in a variety of sizes, metals, and even embellished with gems. Her heart locks are ideal for the rocker in you and would be killer layered up with some of your other fave necklaces.

marla aaron silver and yellow gold heartlock on gold chain
marla aaron diamond heart locks
The Romantic: Victorian Fede Betrothal Ring from Erica Weiner

The Romantic personal style is most certainly drawn to vintage and antique jewelry. When I came across this clever ring, I was instantly intrigued. It has two clasping hands, which swivel open to reveal the sweetest of hearts. Don’t you just love it? The sentimentality and the history would definitely resonate with a Romantic’s heart, as well as her personal style.

erica weiner victorian betrothal ring
erica weiner victorian fede betrothal ring
The Minimalist: Ariel Gordon or Jennifer Meyer heart ring

The true Minimalist has the smallest jewelry collection of all the styles. She usually has her “uniform” of jewelry she wears each day, which may be as simple as a watch and a pair of stud earrings that are never changed. This is not to say that this woman lacks fun in her life, so I think if this gal wanted to give herself a Valentine-themed treat, it would be in the form of the most delicate and simple heart ring. I found two I really like. The open heart is in 14K rose gold, from Ariel Gordon, and Jennifer Meyer has a precious 18K gold ring with a singular, solid heart.

ariel gordon 14K rose gold heart ring
jennifer meyer 18K gold heart ring
The Trendy Gal: Alison Lou Mwa! Necklace

This personal style likes to play, experiment and have some fun with fashion. What a better way to show a little sass than with this Alison Lou necklace? It’s surely a conversation starter with its ruby lips and fancy lashes. It makes me smile just looking at it.

alison lou mwa! 14K gold and ruby necklace
Now that you’ve taken a glance at these categories, which personal style seems to suit you most? Has it inspired you to visit your local jewelry store this week? I certainly hope so! Have fun shopping and Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

Sarah Graham’s Fingerprint Jewelry

Your fingerprint is one of the most unique things about you. Sarah Graham has found the perfect melding of fingerprints and incredibly meaningful pieces of jewelry. It all ramped up when she became a mother. When her son was four months old she created a necklace which had his fingerprint on it. Soon, all her mom friends had to have one too. (This is SO not your typical “mommy jewelry,” right?!) She was then tasked with figuring out a way to take this outside her studio and offer it to people far and wide. She knew there was a market for these future heirlooms. When I stopped by her booth at the Couture show, I was thrilled to see some of the collection in person!

sarah graham fingerprint necklaces
Instead of using the old-fashioned technique of taking wax impressions of the prints and then translating them into jewelry (as she originally did), she is now using CAD technology. This allows her to take the line to a whole new level and expand her audience across the country. Take a minute (and 18 seconds) to get an up-close look at how this works.

Pretty awesome, right? And you can see that the finished product still looks very organic, as if you really did push your finger into wax. Her use of recycled gold and her signature black oxidized cobalt chrome make her designs all the more intriguing.

sarah graham fingerprint stacking rings
I cannot imagine a more meaningful wedding ring, with the prints of your bride, and perhaps your children on it as well. (How ideal would this be for a second wedding with a blended family?!) I tried on a couple men’s designs while at her booth.

sarah graham fingerprint rings
One of the things I like about this collection is that the prints are so subtle, that others may not realize what a treasure you’re wearing until they look closely. It’s like wearing a precious little secret…and definitely a conversation starter.

sarah graham fingerprint necklace
sarah graham fingerprint necklace
Though Sarah has been based in San Francisco for many years, she has recently teamed up with Richards and West Jewelers, a family owned business of master bench jewelers. This is allowing her to get out in the world for more inspiration and focus on design. She is currently doing a winter-long artist in residency with Elliott Yeary Gallery in Aspen, Colorado. I can only imagine how her new environment with inspire her. I greatly look forward to seeing her new creations at the Couture show in Las Vegas in June!