What is a Figa?

Gem Gossip is one of my favorite jewelry blogs I follow. It has a strong focus on vintage and antique jewelry, which is an area I’m always looking to learn more about. Danielle, the talented writer, recently posted an article about different ways she was styling her figa charms. I was totally into it! Here’s an image from her article. And I was left with, “I love this, and what the heck is a figa?!”


How Danielle, from Gem Gossip, is styling her figas
How Danielle, from Gem Gossip, is styling her figas

When I started researching what a figa is, I learned it’s quite the controversial symbol. Properly called the “mano fico,” this is an Italian symbol going back centuries. (Must be my half-Italian side that was drawn to this!) The symbol is a closed fist, with the thumb going through the index and middle fingers. It is a representation of a woman’s genitalia and sex, to be blunt. It is said to ward off the “evil eye” and bring protection to the wearer. Basically, the gesture is supposed to be so offensive that it scares off the “evil.” Interestingly, Brazil and Portugal also see this amulet as a good luck symbol. BUT…much of the world sees this as a very obscene gesture, basically the equivalent of giving someone the finger. (Note to self, never wear this in Turkey, South Africa, France or Russia.)

Of course, I had to have one too, so off I went to Esty where I found a lovely vintage rock crystal figa from MindiLynJewelry. If you follow my blog, you know I’m a complete rock crystal addict! (My body actually craves it.)

rock crystal figa charm
The first thing I did was to style it similarly to how Danielle did hers. I, too, have a vintage gold Italian horn. I then added a goddess charm that brings a smile to my face, which I think makes for a fun trio. I will say that this mix produces a bit of noise, which I noticed anytime I moved during acupuncture. (But it was a happy sound.)

trio of charms
The next day, I layered this same trio with a longer necklace. This one is a moonstone beaded necklace from Flying Lizard with a Dominique Cohen pendant. I like the combo.

layering necklaces
And thanks to this experiment (and Danielle), now I’ve got a new love of “the figa,” as if I needed one more jewelry crush…It’s a good thing this Victorian wooden figa is already sold. It’s wearing a bracelet for goodness sake — how cool is that?!

victorian figa pendant

Doryn Wallach: Designer

Doryn Wallach is a name you’re going to start hearing more and more often. She made her debut at Centurion, where she was named Emerging Designer of 2016! In addition, she’s one of the Rising Stars who will be showing at the JCK show in Las Vegas this June. Way to make an entrance into the world of jewlery! After two decades as an interior designer, Doryn is now channeling her creativity and love of Art Deco line and design into jewelry. Read below as I asked her a few questions about her and her line.

I see that you’ve had a love of jewelry your whole life. In particular, re-designing pieces to fit in with your lifestyle. What’s one of the most memorable re-designs you recall?

I would have to say the gladiator ring from my collection, because that’s what sparked my career change. It started with a diamond eternity band I rarely wore. This ring was a gift from my husband, and I felt guilty that it spent most of the time hidden away in my jewelry box. So I decided to rework the diamonds into something I would wear every day — the gladiator ring. When people asked me who made it, a light bulb went off in my head.

doryn wallach white diamond gladiator ring
The transition from your career as an interior designer to a jewelry designer seems so natural. How did you develop your affinity for the Art Deco period? Is this a carry-over from interior design?

When I was growing up outside Boston, my family spent a lot of our winter vacations in Miami. I was the kid who got my mom from point A to point B by remembering the landmarks, so my eyes were always peering out the car window. I fell in love with the architecture of the city — not only the pastel colors, but the lines of the buildings with their geometric and curvilinear forms. Years later, as an interior designer, I always incorporated Deco pieces in my spaces. I love their timeless glamour.

doryn wallach finely-ribbed hinged necklace with pave-set diamonds
It’s exciting to see what a mark you’re making with your debut collection. What is your current favorite piece?

My agate-and-pearl pendant. I have a deep love for estate jewelry, and I think this piece has an estate feeling as well as a distinctly modern sensibility that allows it to go with almost any piece of clothing – day or night.

doryn wallach agate, pearl and diamond pendant
What do you find are the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of being a jewelry designer?

For me, the most challenging is simply navigating a new business after spending so many years focused on interior design. Of course, that challenge is also what I love about the change. The most rewarding aspect of designing jewelry is seeing my abstract idea become a tangible object. And I love knowing that a woman will wear the piece for many years and one day, hopefully, pass it down.

doryn wallach octagon earrings with diamonds
When you’re not in the studio working, how do you like to spend your free time? Any favorite hobbies?

When I am not working, I am with my kids, who are five and eight. They take most of my free time! But when I do have a few hours to myself, I love walking around the city, browsing through vintage shops and antique stores and people-watching. It’s very inspiring.

doryn wallach scale ring with bezel-set diamond
Perusing through her collection, I think her turquoise gladiator bar necklace is one of my faves. I could see it easily layered or worn on its own.

doryn wallach turquoise gladiator bar necklace
I look forward to meeting you in person at JCK, Doryn — thanks so much for your insight into you and your line!

doryn wallach black and white diamond fishscale rings

Liz Kantner: A Week in the Life of her Ears

I first met Liz Kantner while at the Couture show in the Todd Reed booth. I liked her instantaneously. Since then, I’ve gotten to know her via social media, even though she’s based in Colorado and I’m here in California. I admire her personal style and how she just gets what’s cool, even if the rest of us don’t know it yet. Not only does she write an on-point jewlery blog, but she is also a jewelry consultant and jewelry-lover to the Nth degree. I was thrilled when she agreed to photograph her ears for a week so we could get an up-close look about what’s hip in the world of Liz. Though she does wear a stud configuration most days, at least a few days a week (when she’s feeling bold) she rocks a dangling earring. So without further ado, check out her week…

In all vintage studs…

liz kantner in vintage studs
This next look is vintage studs with a dangling earring by Laura Wood.

vintage studs with Laura Wood dangle earrings
She can’t go wrong with Polly Wales and Gabriella Kiss.

polly wales and gabriella kiss earrings
A Todd Reed drop earring with a vintage bug and tiny star earring are so unexpected, yet they work!

vintage tiny star and bug stud with todd reed drop earring
This ram earring from Fox & Bond is perfection with the vintage wishbone and tiny star earring.

vintage earrings with ram earring from fox & bond
And what about this Collette Ishiyama drop earring paired with a quartz stud from @xavi.and.gold and the vintage tiny star earring?

vintage tiny star stud, quartz stud by @xavi.and.gold and collette ishiyama drop earring
Though I did get two additional piercings in my left ear in 2014, I sadly had to let the very top one close — it just wouldn’t heal. I am now exploring my next earring purchase for my lone second piercing on my left ear. I did order one of the earrings in this post to try out, as I’m totally obsessed with it. Any guess which one it is?

Thank you so much, Liz, for sharing your lobe and your jewelry savvy with us!! xo

Brooke Gregson: Designer

I’ve had a crush on Brooke Gregson’s jewelry line for many years, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to meet her in person and play with her jewels at the Couture show. Does her name sound familiar to you? You may know her for her well-known woven silk bracelets with gemstones. Simply divine.

brooke gregson woven silk bracelets
If I had my dream, I’d probably pick this boulder opal ellipse silk and gold bracelet for myself. Isn’t it gorge?!

brooke gregson boulder opal ellipse silk gold bracelet
The lovely Brooke was raised in California and now lives in London. She has studios both in her Notting Hill neighborhood and in Los Angeles. Since founding her business in 2004, Brooke has always maintained strict quality in all her pieces, each hand-made with the assistance of master craftsmen. I was particularly entranced with her engraved pieces. I don’t know which of these three rings I like better. The engraving is all done by hand, and is inspired by her watercolor paintings. (Yes, she paints too!)

brooke gregson engraved opal rings
Can you see the wide array of colors in the boulder opals? Brooke carefully selects each stone she works with and often chooses gems which others may have overlooked, as they didn’t seem “perfect enough.” It shows how she can see the beauty within. This substantial cuff is another in her engraved series. No…I did not want to take it off!

brooke gregson engraved boulder opal artemis cuff
The two collections meld together effortlessly, as seen in this stellar stack she posted on her Instagram feed. (If you want a riot of color in your feed, I suggest following Brooke Gregson.)

brooke gregson bracelet stack
I was also drawn to her Ziggurat collection, so named for the rectangular stepped temples from ancient Mesopotamia. Here are two rings from this group.

brooke gregson ziggurat rings
The larger of these two rings is named the Hoffman Boulder Opal Sapphire ring. Don’t you think the color combination is so unique? I think Brooke’s talent in painting and drawing has really opened her eyes to mixing colors in ways that others may not think of.

Here are some Ziggurat necklaces layered together.

brooke gregson necklaces
Once again, I’m in awe of the colors in this complex Ziggurat necklace, composed of boulder opal, turquoise and pink sapphires. It really pops!

brooke gregson boulder opal turquoise ziggurat double bar necklace
If you’re looking for some alternative bridal rings, one of these may be what you’re looking for. I’ve got on the Eclipse Diamond Ring and the Ziggurat Frame Diamond Ring. Which would you choose?

brooke gregson geometric diamond rings
Truly, this line is organic elegance at its best. It’s a jewelry goal to one day own a piece myself. Thanks so much for spending time with me, Brooke! I look forward to our next meeting.

brooke gregson and amy roseveare

Modern Day Cameo Rings

It’s likely that either you or someone in your family may have a vintage cameo in their jewelry box. They’ve been around for centuries, carved in a traditional manner and commonly found in the form of a brooch. Recently I’ve seen many rings I would consider a “modern cameo.” The first such ring I saw was at Metier in Hayes Valley (San Francisco) by Gabriella Kiss. Instead of a whole face, it features just one eye — another, with a tear falling from the corner. Wouldn’t you agree this is a modern interpretation of a cameo?

gabriella kiss 18k eye love token ring
gabriella kiss 18k eye with tear ring
Then I came across Hannah Blount’s cameo collection. The design of this ring, the grey lady, with the head set on its side is simply amazing.

hannah blount medium grey lady ring with diamond
I also follow Hannah Blount on Instagram and couldn’t help but admire this combination of her designs.

hannah blount rings
Then there’s Anthony Lent, who has a bevy of smiling faces among his collection. I appreciate the rectangular boarder in juxtaposition with the curves of the face in his Brickface ring.

anthony lent brickface ring
Israeli designer Ari Kuperman has a more rustic version, made of sterling silver and gold. I could see this fitting in with a more bohemian/rock’n roll personal style.

ari kuperman silver statement face ring
I had to look twice when I first saw this Jurio Fujita Gold Face ring. Is it a human face? Or an alien? “It’s the elongated, otherworldy skulls of the Paracas excavation, deemed by Fujita as ‘neither homo sapiens nor Neanderthal.'” Interesting!

jurio fujita 18K yellow gold face ring
Then there’s this Fraser Hamilton Signet Head ring, which I suppose more resembles a modern intaglio ring, as the face is recessed.

fraser hamilton sterling silver portrait ring
I don’t know about you, but I’m completely intrigued by these unique designs. Perhaps it’s time to add one to my ring repertoire. What are your thoughts?

Todd Reed: Designer

Todd Reed is quite a legend in the jewelry industry (and not just because of his wavy locks) — but rather for creating a line showcasing raw diamonds long before they were in the limelight. Little did he know the trajectory for his career would begin when he was only 10 years old and was mesmerized seeing a silversmith at work. Throughout his formative years, he was involved in creative endeavors such as leather work, sculpting and even graduating from the culinary academy. Creativity is clearly in his DNA.

amy roseveare and todd reed
Launching his jewelry business in 1992, Todd was on his way to making “Raw Elegance” one of the most popular and sought-after independent jewelry lines. I was thrilled to get an up-close look at some of his work at the Couture show. The first necklace I was drawn to was this one, which looks like river stones. They are all hinged together, so it lays beautifully around the neck. It’s easy to see nature as one of his inspirations. (Yes..all those stones are diamonds!)

todd reed necklace
Todd is known for his mixed metals and has created a long-lasting patina which keeps the metal blackened. This fabulous cuff is part of his Marquis collection. I wish I could have kept it on and gone home with it!

todd reed marquis cuff
Here are earrings and a ring from the same Marquis collection.

todd reed marquis diamond earrings
todd reed marquis diamond ring
Based in Boulder, Colorado, there are 20 jewelers now working at the studio! He’s got quite the team, and each item is carefully produced, from the initial design to delivering the finished product to the customer. Todd lays out each stone for each piece. With the amount of diamonds in his work, I can only imagine how much time he spends at his bench creating the ideal combinations. I tried on these two bracelets while at the show. The three-strand one is made of octahedron diamonds, which is a natural pyramid state of raw diamonds.

todd reed bracelets
This statement ring is from his pillbox collection. Wow!

todd reed pillbox ring
There is a lovely range in Todd’s designs. Earrings such as these are perfect for everyday use, and they’d look equally beautiful for a special night out.

todd reed earrings
And couldn’t you see this necklace looking fab with jeans and a leather jacket one day, and then with a red cocktail dress the next?

todd reed necklace
I particularly enjoy Todd Reed’s Instagram feed, and I stopped dead in my scroll when I saw this one-of-a-kind diamond ring recently. Yes, please!

todd reed one-of-a-kind diamond ring
Though Todd’s main base is in Colorado, he’s also opened a sublime studio and store on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA. It’s most definitely worth the stop if you’re in southern California. And don’t worry if you don’t live near either location. His line is sold at many luxury retailers around the country.

March Birthstone: Aquamarine

Even though it’s not my birthstone I’m quite partial to the aquamarine, with its oceanic hues of light blue to blue-green. Named after the Latin word “aqua marinus,” meaning water of the sea, this stone is associated with all things ocean. It’s said to protect travelers on the sea, and those traveling near water. Aquamarines come from Brazil and Columbia and are part of the beryl family. Among the qualities associated with this birthstone are:

-inspires truth and letting go
-aids in articulation and clear speaking
-helps one release emotional baggage
-stone of courage
-brings peace and serenity

I like it — especially the “letting go” part, as my word for 2016 is release. Given how much I love the shades of aquamarine, I was eager to embark upon my virtual shopping spree and see what I could find. In no particular order…

Amy Gregg rectangular aquamarine mirror ring

amy gregg mirror rectangular cocktail ring
Rosanne Pugliese oval aquamarine pendant

rosanne pugliese 22k and large oval aquamarine pendant
Gabriella Kiss large rectangular aquamarine earrings

gabriella kiss 18k and large rectangular aquamarine earrings
Margioni aquamarine and diamond ring

margoni yellow gold, sterling silver, aquamarine and diamond ring
Meira T milky aquamarine and diamond necklace

meira t diamond, milky aquamarine, 14k rose gold and 14k yellow gold pendant necklace
Monique Pean long geometric aquamarine earrings

monique pean geometric long drop aquamarine earrings
L Frank aquamarine and diamond baguette ring

l frank aquamarine and diamond baguette ring
Jacquie Aiche aquamarine small bar stud earrings

jacquie aiche aquamarine and yellow gold small bar stud earrings
Jennifer Dawes mineral asymmetrical aquamarine necklace

jennifer dawes mineral asymmetrical aquamarine necklace
Michelle Fantaci open king ring with blue diamonds and aquamarine

michelle fantaci open king ring with blue dimaonds and aquamarine
Ten Thousand Things large aquamarine cage pendant

ten thousand things large aquamarine cage pendant
Selim Mouzannar caged aquamarine and tanzanite ring

selim mouzannar caged aquamarine and tanzanite ring
If I had a bottomless wallet, I think I’d just have to buy them all. Which piece is your favorite? And if you’ve got a birthday this month, may all your birthday wishes come true!

Selling Fine Jewelry on The RealReal

Back in May, I wrote an article about my attempts to sell jewelry which I no longer wanted. (Click here if you missed that post.) I thought I’d give you an update to let you know how it all went. I did manage to sell quite a bit of my costume jewelry on Threadflip, but that site is sadly no longer in business. (Do any of you have a lead on where to sell costume jewelry?)  The RealReal, on the other hand, is going strong and I had a 100% success rate! Every single piece I gave them sold — both jewelry and clothing/accessories. I’m SO impressed!

In the envelope with my most recent commission check from them, there was this insert:

the realreal
I checked it out, and there’s currently offices in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Chicago (San Francisco coming soon) where you can make an appointment to bring in your items for a free appraisal with no obligation to consign. Pretty cool, right?!

Granted, you don’t have to utilize one of their offices for an appraisal. I live in a city where a team member picked up all my merchandise I wanted to sell. The jewelry was appraised by them, though I did give them a list with the original purchase prices (not that this is necessary — I just keep detailed records). I knew my name brand pieces (Tiffany & Co. and David Yurman) were a sure thing, but I wasn’t confident about my non-branded items. I sold jewlery such as a pair of 18K gold hoops with diamonds, a white gold chain with a circular diamond pendant, and an 18K chalcedony pendant. Everything was swooped up. I was overjoyed!

They have a list on their website of accepted brands for jewlery and watches, but you can see they also accepted some high-end, non-branded jewlery. I did have one ring I submitted which was not accepted due to the poor quality of the diamonds. I promptly had it returned, with no issues.

The RealReal is not paying me a dime to write about this, but I thought it was worth sharing the information. I will definitely utilize them again when I want to sell. Please let me know your experience with the site if you’ve used it, either as a seller or a buyer. And perhaps this post will motivate you to clean out your jewlery box! No sense in keeping items when you can get money to buy something you love.