In a world where everything seems increasingly digital and fleeting, there’s something to be said for holding an actual book in your hands. I love the weight of it, the smell of “new book” as you turn the pages, and being able to linger over the images for as long as I want, knowing that they’ll still be there for years to come. I saved Jeweler: Masters, Mavericks, and Visionaries of Modern Design for my annual family beach trip to Pajaro Dunes in Northern California. I must say that this book is a delight, and reading it while hearing the waves crash outside was pretty much a perfect afternoon.
In the introduction, Stellene writes, “A piece of jewelry, whether I am wearing it, buying it, or writing about it, always means infinitely more when I know who made it and, more importantly, why.” With this sentiment in mind, she highlights 17 different jewelry designers, “…a group of jewelers working today on what I believe are the collectibles of tomorrow.”
While I was familiar with some of these designers (and I feel privileged to have met a few of them), there were also names that were new to me. With each turn of the page, I got a glimpse behind the jewelry, and feasted on the delicious images accompanying each profile.
I learned that Elena Votsi sees her work as small sculptures. She even has some pieces on display on her coffee table! I read about the Bakelite creations form Mark Davis, who relishes that the material is indestructible. (Who knew?) Since it hasn’t been made since World War 2, he’s always on the hunt for Bakelite so he can fashion them into his luxe, yet not-too-serious jewlery. (photo from p.49)
I especially enjoyed the segment on Judy Geib; her jewelry has been on my “jewelry lust list” for quite some time. I’ve always admired that her work is perfectly imperfect. I was pleased to read, “I love the awkwardness and intimacy that each piece has because of how we make it, but I don’t ever want it to be ‘gallery jewelry.’ I want people to wear it.” This completely jives with my own view of her work. (photo from p.119)
Seven Bicakci is one of the designers who has achieved legendary status in my mind. In fact, I recall once at the Couture show I found myself in an elevator with him. I was so star struck, I couldn’t get a word out! (#epicfail) In his profile I was surprised to learn that he left school at only 11 years old and began to work for a goldsmith in his home town of Istanbul. I can see how the local architecture, such as the Blue Mosque, serve as endless inspiration for his intricate work. He has mastered the technique of inversely engraved instagios, as seen in the Stella Maris Ring. (photo from p. 155)
The index at the end of the the book is an added treat; each designer has a page showing their work featured in their profiles.
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!
Rebecca has a solid reputation in the alternative bridal realm for both men and women.
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!!
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.
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!
When the pieces are then cast in metal, she uses burs for setting the stones, and grinders and polishers for the final touches.
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.
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’.
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.
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
I’m just thrilled to have Brenda Kinsel, one of the top image consultants in the country, as a guest blogger today! Brenda is the best-selling author of many books (You’ve got to check them out.), has been on national radio and TV shows (she rocked it on the Oprah Winfrey show!), and has been featured in countless magazines. During a recent interview on the nationally syndicated Richard Stevens Show (where she appears weekly), callers wanted to know how to look stylish once the weather starts warming up. Of course, Brenda has great solutions, ALL of which involve jewelry. Read on to enjoy her expert answers.
1. “I miss how my wintery jackets, blazers or cardigans always made me feel put together. Now when I’m just wearing a blouse and a pant or a tee shirt and a skirt, I feel underdressed. What should I do?”
One thing I’m wearing a lot of this summer are leggings or skinny rolled up jeans with tunics, which are just two pieces as well. To add a finishing touch, I’m adding long necklaces. Long necklaces or layered chains add so much interest to the top part of your body. And don’t forget about hats! Wearing a hat that works with your outfit can go a long way toward having a put together look. Hats are great for protecting your face and they’re great for your outfit too!
2. “Necklaces can be hot in the summer. Are there alternatives?”
When it’s super hot out I want everything to be lightweight. A bulky, heavy necklace that felt great over a long cashmere tunic in the winter feels too heavy right now. I’m all for lightweight necklaces in the summer. Leather cords with something interesting coming off of them is a way to adorn while still being very lightweight. So are certain chains. The large-scaled link necklace in medium gray mesh in the picture collage (below left) is actually super lightweight. Heat shouldn’t make you shy away from adding a necklace to your outfit!
3. “I used to wear scarves around my neck all winter and that always added interest to my outfits while keeping my neck warm too. Function and fashion- I liked it! Now I don’t want anything around my neck! What options do I have?”
In the middle of a Sonoma heat wave, I find collars on summer dresses or tops to be just too hot. I try to wear clothes with no collars so my neck doesn’t contact fabric at all. And of course, scarves around the neck will feel warm most days too although a linen scarf can be a good option. However, if you want a no-scarf zone, you can still adorn the space between your ear and your shoulder line. Bigger earrings are a great choice. I have an earring I wear more in the summer than the winter because it’s larger and needs to be able to float without running into a scarf or a high collar. You can easily wear a long chandelier type earring and pair it with a crew neck linen top or sweater. The earrings make a great focal point, as it’s so close to your face.
4. “Lots of people are wearing cute sleeveless dresses but that’s not going to be me. I’m more comfortable wearing a summer print in a top with a ¾ length sleeve. What can make my outfit look more interesting?”
If you’re wearing shorter sleeves in the summer, it’s a great time to pile on the bangles. While one petite bracelet may look too dainty with all that open space, a cluster of metallic thin bangles mixed with pearl bracelets could be fabulous. Or wear one or two bulkier bangles. Especially good for summer are ones in lighter or brighter colors, or in lighter colored-metals or try some in Lucite. It’s such a simple way to add some interest to your outfit. In fact, your bangles could be a whole conversation starter. Have fun picking some out!
5. I have a hard time mixing jewelry together-like my earrings and bracelets and necklaces. I’m never quite sure what I should put with what or if I’m doing it right. Can you help?”
Be sure your jewelry speaks the same language. If you’re doing earrings, bangles and a necklace, they need to relate to one another some way. Once you’ve created a group that works well together you have what I call a Beauty Bundle. That Beauty Bundle can be worn repeatedly whether it’s with casual outfits or dressier ones.
Here’s an example. I recently purchased this taupe-gray distressed leather cuff with a decorative studded pattern in gold by Calleen Cordero. I decided to make the color gold the common thread for tying it together with earrings and a necklace. Because I plan to wear this cuff in the summertime, I went for a crystal earring with gold edges and I found a multi-strand necklace with fine gold beads at another store. I’ve worn that bundle multiple times already.
Some things that can relate together are items with a similar color or texture or mood (like romantic, modern, or urban).
6. “In the wintertime I tend to wear just classic pearls or small silver hoops and darker colored clothes. In the summertime I like to wear white or more vibrant colors. My classic accessories look so wimpy with white or bright colors. I don’t want to look boring. What can I do?”
Save the classic jewelry pieces for the wintertime when your outfit has a lot more going on. This is the perfect time to team turquoise with coral, or turquoise with lapis. And if you have some vintage pieces, they are often more colorful. Don’t be afraid to bring on the bling and make yourself more colorful! You can tame down again when the temperatures head to the 30s and the skies get gray.
7. “In the summertime I like to wear simple sheath dresses. How do I keep them from looking boring?”
A simple, sheath summer dress can be transformed with a necklace that follows the line of the neck and creates the look of a collar. A statement necklace is like that: It makes a statement and is a great choice when your dress is more reserved. It can be done, but it takes a certain personality to be able to wear a statement necklace and a wildly colorful print dress without having them fight each other for attention. With a simpler dress and a more dynamic necklace, we all will know where the focal point is–right on your beautiful face!
I hope these tips are helpful to you as you put your summer wardrobe together with ease and style! You can look great at any age when you focus on style.
Now for those of you who are my dedicated readers (many thanks), you know that I instantly had a jewelry-soul-sister connection when I read “A Charmed Life” by Beth Bernstein. Fast forward to Las Vegas this past spring, and Beth and I got to know each other a bit in person, bumping into each other at various designers’ booths at both the Couture and JCK jewelry shows. It’s amazing how we seem to gravitate to so many of the same designers, admiring what they are creating amidst the global jewelry market.
She selected 38 independent jewelry designers who have “created a unique and distinctive imprint on contemporary jewelry.” You may recognize some of the names, as I’ve had the privilege to interview them, from Borgioni to Megan Thorne to Vibe’s to Amali. And I’m so excited to read about some of the designers that I’ve yet to interview. Take a look at these pieces by some of the featured designers.
Beth, a jewelry-a-holic since childhood, “concentrated on (a) group of small and independent designers who have made an indelible mark with their signature styles, each which distinguishes them from their peers and predecessors.” And from what I have seen from those featured designers I know, she couldn’t have selected a more innovative, passionate group of people. Their talent is limitless, and their lines are amazing. These designers have “learned the rules in order to bend them.” Love that!
I also admire how Beth looks at jewelry in relation to personal style. It’s not all about having the latest and greatest trend. Rather, it’s getting to know what makes you tick as a woman. She encourages women to, “think of jewelry as an extension of their personal style, rather than statements of status.” In my book, that’s spot-on advice!
Beth’s book is set to release September 26th, so reserve your copy now! I know that I have!
In addition to being a jewelry-obsessed wardrobe stylist, I also have a penchant for interior design. I often joke that this will be my career in my “next life.” I admire the work of a range of designers, from modern to eclectic to traditional. Kelly Wearstler has intrigued me ever since I saw her as a judge on “Top Design” and purchased her book, Hue. My interest was further piqued when she branched into the jewelry scene.
I was delighted to visit her flagship store on Melrose during a recent trip to Los Angeles.
Entering the store is like walking into a fabulously appointed abode, from the interior elements, to the racks of edgy clothes (I scored a great oversized teal biker jacket for 60% off!), and the tables of jewelry (of course!).
I consider architectural elements to be one of her hallmarks, and these necklaces with ball pendants are a perfect example of her aesthetic.
And these wrapped brass pieces are so cool. In one display, she used the bracelets as stunning napkin rings.
There were also some amazing one-of-a-kind pieces in the store. This ring really made my jaw drop. Not only is the stone gorgeous, but the architectural setting is noteworthy. Wow!
Kelly often incorporates gems into objects d’art, as shown in these stunning boxes. I remember seeing some of these at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC and drooling over them…
Kelly’s pieces are fabulously modern, eye-catching, and they have a great feel when you wear them. Click here to find out where her line is available near you.
Well yesterday I returned home from one of my favorite places in the world, Las Vegas. When I combine that with two amazing jewelry shows, saying that I was in heaven is putting it mildly! There are two major jewelry shows that occur at the same time each year in Vegas. Couture is held at the Wynn, and JCK is held at Mandalay Bay, at the opposite end of the strip. (love that they have a shuttle between the two shows!)
As editor of this blog, I was just thrilled to attend the shows. My dear friend and colleague, Jennifer Bressie, joined me again this year, and I have to say that we met and interviewed some amazing designers. I will be writing up articles about them in the months to come, so be prepared for a visual vacation.
Here’s Jen and me at the entrance to Couture, ready to explore all the glittering baubles that time would allow!
The shows are more than just jewelry, too. There are social events and parties, which are the perfect opportunity to get to know the designers and other people in the jewelry business better.
I was also so excited to see Efva Attling, one of the designers I met last year who truly made a lasting impression on me.
Beth Bernstein, author of My Charmed Life, has a new coffee table book coming out soon, and I was honored to be at her book launch. Clearly, Todd Reed (designer extraordinaire) is a fan as well. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!!
This year was my first time attending JCK, which I believe had over 3000 exhibitors. (Can you believe it?!) I cannot wait to tell you about some of the cool, talented designers I met there as well.
My last night was topped off by attending the Couture design awards — basically the Academy Awards of jewelry design. Here I am with Mary Esses (who was nominated) and Lisa Evans, awaiting the big announcement.
So buckle your seat belts, and get ready for the glittery ride. You’re going to love what’s to come!
When I first heard about My Charmed Life by Beth Bernstein, I knew I had to read it! In this memoir, she shares her life story through the jewelry she wore, from “rocky romances, precious family connections and searching for a band of gold.” While I knew that I would certainly enjoy the story, I had no idea how much I’d resonate with her feelings, her stories, and how powerful jewelry is in ones life story. In fact, many times I felt like I was reading from the pages of my own life!
Simply the introduction brought tears to my eyes, as she described a ziploc baggie of jewelry she was handed as her mother unexpectedly passed away. I can only imagine such heartache and grief…and then reliving all the memories that each special piece in the bag carries with it. Personally, I know that each time I wear my grandmother’s opal ring or my Nonie’s engagement ring, I feel as if they’re right there next to me. Images flash before my eyes of our times together.
I just adored the chapter about her wanting to get her ears pierced, and her only ally in the “grand scheme” was her much-loved grandmother. It was written with such young feminine angst that I could honestly feel her deepest yen to get them pierced. (But I won’t tell you how that chapter turned out!) I was emotionally right there with her when growing up, as my dad forbid me to pierce my ears until college graduation, threatening to stop paying my tuition. Luckily, when I tempted fate and went through with it my sophomore year, he didn’t make good on that threat. 😉
The way Beth describes her relationship with her niece, Sammie (and later her nephews) is purely magical. She made a gorgeous jewelry box for her to celebrate her birth. As she states on pg. 172, “I wanted to be the first person to purchase her jewelry that she would cherish and remember later on, and that would connect us as it had my grandmother, mom and me.” I, too, gave my niece a jewelry box for her birth, and deemed myself “the jewelry aunt.”
I feel like the author and myself have lived somewhat parallel lives when I read lines such as, “…while I was multitasking — flipping through fashion magazines, writing an article on buying estate jewelry and perusing profiles on Match.com.” Seriously?! I’m not the only one? In fact, much of the book is dedicated to the different relationships Beth has had in her life, and I admire her penchant for foreign men and taking that risk. Her romances take her all over the globe, and in each one, there is a jewelry story as well.
It was through her life experiences that she really found the joy in self-gifting, which you know I’m a huge proponent of! On pg. 197 she reveals, “I learned that it might be easier to find the right ring than the right man.” Oh, how true, sister! Thus began her fabulous practice of self-gifting, with a lovely platinum and diamond eternity band. I completely agree with what she says on pg. 199, “I’ve joined the growing ranks of self-purchasing women who are in touch with their tastes, more confident about their personal styles and know they’ve worked hard and are worth it.”
Well you, my dear readers, are worth it as well. And while I encourage all of you to buy and read this delightful book (because I know you’ll love it!), I do have ONE autographed copy available for you to win! So enter the contest below, and best of luck to you all!