If you’ve been following me here on the blog or on social media for some time, you know that I’m a huge fan of Bay Area designer, Lauren Wolf. I can’t recall where I first met her, but through visits to Esqueleto (her fab store in Oakland), seeing her at various trade shows, and at local WJA events (Women’s Jewelry Association), I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her.
I find my love of her jewelry has increased as time goes by; seeing a designer’s passion for their craft somehow increases its attraction. She began by studying silversmithing in San Miguel, Mexico, at the Sterling Quest School. She then went on to get her degree from FIT in New York City, and from how she describes it, she hasn’t looked back since!
Lauren absolutely LOVES diamond buying, where she hand picks all of her stones. She treasures her long-standing relationships with her vendors. All of her jewelry is designed and made in house in the east bay. Nice, right?
I have shared this particular three stone diamond ring before, but I must admit, to this day it is my most coveted piece of hers. The color combination, the weight of it on my hand…I’ve actually dreamt about this ring! Perhaps one day…
She has countless options in the three stone category, which I happen to find very chic. On my last visit to the store, I tried on this lovely, with dark grey diamonds. While this certainly can fall into the alternative bridal category, I think it’s equally wearable as a right hand ring, don’t you? She is a queen of unconventional diamond rings, that’s for sure.
Just recently, she posted these diamond eternity bands on her Instagram page. I honestly cannot decide which color is my favorite. What about you? Light grey? Champagne? Or dark grey?
Another show-stopper from Lauren is this six-diamond star ring. It has a cosmic vibe fit for an urban princess.
I also have to mention that Lauren makes a variety of stud earrings, which are ever-so-useful in ones jewelry box. I bought this tourmalinated quartz pair a few years back, and they are featured heavily in my earring rotation.
I am SO looking forward to visiting Lauren’s booth in Las Vegas at the end of the month to see all the latest and greatest creations! If you’d like to check out more of her line, you can visit one of her stores (Oakland and Los Angeles) or enjoy a cocktail and peruse her online shop while sitting in the comfort of your own home. (You can see what I do with my free time!) She’s also carried at a variety of retailers across the country.
I’ve got to be honest — London is a bit of an overwhelming city for me. It’s absolutely ginormous, and there’s so much to do, see and eat. But I want to share an itinerary for jewelry lovers that will make this big city feel all cozy and sparkly. My first stop is always Liberty. (I actually visited three times on my last visit!) Not only do they have an incredibly well-edited collection of clothing, but there’s the fabrics, the home area, and of course…the jewelry department.
Isn’t the vibe just too cool with the dark beams, the greenery, and the ultra-modern cases? You’ll find a wide array of jewels here, but I spent quite a bit of time in the Annina Vogel area. This gold-centered line includes both vintage/antique and it’s combined with her own designs. I always have a soft spot for old meets new in the world of jewelry.
I was VERY partial to this diamond and gold necklace… (Where’s my bottomless wallet when I need it?!)
By this point in the day, I’m always ready for lunch, and eating at the Arthur’s Restaurant at Liberty is a real treat. Once your stomach is satisfied, you can walk to Browns, which is completely different than Liberty, but equally enticing. Browns is a large split-level boutique, and you’ll find fabulous merchandise at each turn. I’d been following Browns on Instagram, so I did a little happy dance when I got to the jewelry department.
Depending on how your schedule (and wallet) are doing, you can also pop into Grays Antiques, which is just around the corner from Browns. Although I warn you, this place could easily take up the rest of your day! And if that’s the case, enjoy!
If your spending limit has been hit, then this is the perfect time to cab over to the Victoria & Albert museum. While there are always numerous exhibits to see and enjoy, being that this is a “jewelry day” I’d head straight to the jewelry room, where your jaw will seriously hit the ground!
While of course it’s wonderful to drool over the collection, it’s also fun to try things on, right?! Down in the V&A gift shop, they’ve got a diverse jewelry section with all sorts of modern designers, many of which were new to me, which is always fun.
By this time, your feet will likely be in need of a rest, so take a load off and enjoy happy hour! Hope you’ve enjoyed this little bling-filled tour of London. Let me know if you have any favorite jewelry spots in the comment section below — I’d love to hear from you!
One of the highlights from my recent trip to Seattle was seeing Monica Stephenson, a dear friend and the founder of ANZA Gems, a truly unique jewelry company. I first met Monica when I was a newbie jewelry blogger. She was a fellow (though very experienced) jewelry blogger, among many other roles in the jewelry industry. Her passion for gems and her philanthropic heart melded in a perfect way when she founded ANZA Gems. Read the interview with Monica below to find out more about this exciting company.
I know you have an extensive background in the jewelry industry the past 20 years. What drew you to East Africa and developing your own jewelry business?
It started with reading a tweet about a documentary film about tracing the journey of a gem beginning in the mines of East Africa, called Sharing the Rough. I was completely intrigued and couldn’t stop thinking about going to Africa for the filming. I have been involved in the jewelry business for many years, but had never visited a mine–this was an opportunity to truly see where these sparkly gems come from. I went on that film trip (and ended up in the film, somehow!), and there was something so captivating about being there and meeting the people involved there.
For months after the trip in 2014, I literally couldn’t stop thinking about how hard people were working, and how little they directly participate in the global gem business. I created ANZA Gems to support artisans, from the miners who dig for gems, to the cutters and designers responsible for the finished jewelry. All of my experience working in various capacities in the industry, plus my relationships from writing about jewelry designers as a blogger, combined to create this circle of development.
I love how you have a very philanthropic aspect to your business. Would you please tell us a bit about that?
From the beginning, I wanted this endeavor to benefit the communities that supply the gems. I was not interested in being a typical gem dealer. I had heard about “triple bottom line” businesses and wanted ANZA Gems to do a greater good. First, I pay fair prices for the rough gems that I purchase directly from licensed miners and dealers in Tanzania and Kenya. Visiting the mines and meeting the people is my favorite part of the business, and ensures I see what people need in the mining communities. When I pay for gems there, the money goes directly to those families and communities. The rough gems that I bring back are faceted by US cutters, which is kind of a rarity. The faceted gems are set into capsule collections by incredible studio jewelers like Jennifer Dawes, Rebecca Overmann, Wendy Brandes, Alexis Kletjian, Erika Winters, Lika Behar, Vicente Agor, and we’re adding more all the time! The final part of the journey is that we contribute 10% back to schools in Tanzania and Kenya at the primary and trade level. We are reinvesting in the people where the gems originate…
When you go to Africa in search of gems, do you go looking for a certain type? Or do you just play it by ear when you get there?
On my first gem buying trip after the documentary and my epiphany, I naively made a list of gems beforehand of gems I wanted to buy. Ha! East Africa is nothing if not humbling! I quickly had to recalibrate and adjust on the fly, purchasing the gem quality rough I could find, with sweaty palms! It can be such a risk to buy rough–you never know what it’s going to actually yield! The next trip, I found very different gems available. Bottom line, I never truly know what I’m going to see or purchase. It’s a great lesson that this is artisanal mining and you never know what is going to come out of the ground there.
When you have a stone all cut and ready to be made into jewelry, how does that process work? Do you and the designer collaborate?
I have to say that I love ALL of the jewelry that has been created so far for ANZA Gems. I give the cutters autonomy to coax the ultimate beauty from each rough gem, even though that means that every gem is truly one-of-a-kind. I give similar freedom to the jewelry designers, though I may give some general guidance on whether it should be a ring, pendant or earrings, or if we need something in rose gold or platinum, or maybe general price range. I might tweak a detail here or there. But I think the beauty of this is how organic the process is and the truly gorgeous finished pieces.
When I was at your studio, I noticed you had a lovely collection featuring rough stones. Please tell us about this group.
I am so excited about the new rough collection, ANZA PURE! Wendy Brandes of Wendy Brandes Jewelry had often played with examples of rough when we have our design meetings over lunch at our favorite cafe in NYC. We both agreed that the rough gems are beautiful straight out of the ground, and she figured out a way to set them simply in 18k gold. The result is a collection of green garnets and pink spinels set into clean, modern designs that show off the pure gems. It’s relatively affordable (starting at $345 for a single stud earring), one-of-a-kind jewelry made in NYC! I love that it’s accessible, and each purchase supports a gem cutting school in Arusha, TZ.
So, my readers, how excited are you about this company?! So amazing, right? I cannot wait to see the latest and greatest pieces that come to fruition. If you’re looking to keep up too, then I highly recommend you follow the ANZA Gems Instagram account.
Monica, thank you for your time, your fierce passion and your entrepreneurship. You are definitely helping make the world a better, and more sparkly, place!
I think I first fell in love with fringe back in grade school, when one of my dance recital costumes had red fringe all around the skirt. I would just twirl and shake to see it dance in my bedroom mirror. What really drew me in was the movement; it was mesmerizing. This feeling is translated in a plethora of fringe earrings this season. You really get the full effect of the fringe in the form of an earring, as it sways with each movement of your head. (unlike in a necklace, where it can be a more static look, but still lovely) I’ve gathered up nine different designs to share with you. The first I got to see in person at the Sorellina booth at Couture. So fun!
You can see there’s a real range out there, from minimalist to ornate, kitschy to modern, and varying in scale. Do any of them strike your fancy? Do you have any fringe in your jewelry box? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
As is often the case, I first came across the intriguing designs of New York-based jewelry designer, Page Sargisson, on Instagram. I was at once taken by the texture of the gold, and the wearability of this fine jewelry line. I could easily envision wearing it every day and then dressing it up for a special occasion. I was so thrilled to finally meet her in person at the Couture show in Las Vegas. I hope you enjoy learning more about the line from Page herself.
Can you tell me a bit about how you transitioned from a corporate job to jewelry making?
I grew up always making things – knitting my dolls clothes, wood carving with my grandfather and I’ve always made jewelry. After college I worked in corporate communications at a biotech company and at night I’d craft or make jewelry. People at my company started asking if they could buy the necklaces that I made, and before I knew it, I had a full-on side business. Sometimes I felt like a drug dealer when people would come into my office and I’d open my desk drawer full of necklaces. I ended up taking classes in wax carving and metalsmithing, and the wax carving brought me back to working in my grandfather’s basement studio carving ducks and dovetailed boxes.
The aesthetic of your line is so unique. How would you describe it to someone seeing your work for the first time?
I want the end customer to think of the person who created the piece. I think of my file marks as brushstrokes in a painting – it gives a connection to the process of making the piece that you’re wearing. It is raw and rough – it’s not everyone’s aesthetic but it makes the sapphires a little more casual, which I think allows people to wear it everyday. I wouldn’t wear a traditional round, brilliant cut sapphire ring set in gold prongs everyday, but I do wear my rose cut sapphire bands set in 18KT gold everyday with jeans or a dress.
I know being a jeweler with ethically sourced materials is important to you. Would you please you elaborate on this?
I make a lot of engagement rings using old Euro and old mine cut diamonds – my clientele seems to respond to the idea that it was mined ages ago rather than recently. I also re-do a lot of client’s inherited jewelry. It’s so sad how much jewelry just sits in a safe. Change it, melt the old gold and re-make for your style. It’s just another way of recycling.
Do you have a favorite piece or two in your collection?
I have been wearing this signet ring on my pinky for a year now – I get so many compliments on it. It’s basically a new take on a classic.
And then I’ve really been loving these opal and ruby earrings.
What do you like best about being a jeweler? And biggest challenge?
I love creating pieces, I love working at the bench – I could be there all night carving (and sometimes I am!). The longer I’m in business, the more I realize that I’m more of an artist than a business person. I’m more excited about creating a piece that I love than hitting a sales target. And that would also be my challenge; it’s really hard to run a small business. I have to deal with accounting, inventory management and everything else while also creating pieces that I love but will also sell. It’s really hard!
Page, thank you so much for your time and insight into your luxe jewelry collection. I cannot wait to see what you’re up to next!
What do you think of enamel jewelry? Personally, until a couple years ago, I hadn’t given it much thought. But with its resurgence in popularity, I’m becoming a big fan!! Certainly enamel is nothing new, as it dates back to the 13th Century BC! (If you want to read more about the history, Lang Antiques has an amazing article about enamel jewelry.) Basically enamel is when a certain type of glass, called an allochromatic, is fused to the metal below. You may be familiar with Closionee and Champleve, which are two popular types of enamel.
Today, some jewelers are really taking this tricky technique to new heights, mixing enamel with jewels and themes that really make what’s old new again. Foundrae is one company that really has melded enamel, gold and meaningful talismans together. Here’s their Dark Blossom cuff.
Erica Molinari combines my love of momento mori and enamel in a new type of heirloom ring.
Brooke Gregson adds a whole new dimension to enamel work with hand engraving. She said, “It is really tough to create an enamel that also can enhance the engraving and I feel this piece was successful in doing so!” Agreed, Brooke — it’s awesome!
When I first met Marc Alary back in 2015, I wrote all about his jewelry featuring animals. Now, I’m a bit obsessed with his rings with accents of enamel and diamonds. I can’t decide which design is my favorite!
But let’s not forget that enamel was quite popular during the Georgian era as well. This past summer I picked up this white enamel mourning ring from Lucy Verity. She taught me that the white enamel signifies that the person died young and/or unmarried. The inscription inside is still very clear, so I must research who this man was who perished too soon.
As you can see, there’s an extremely wide array of enamel jewelry out there. Have you been noticing it where you live? Or perhaps you already have some in your jewelry box? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
I’ve been a fan of Elie Top long before he launched his own collection in 2015. Before that, he designed the jewelry for Lanvin, under Alber Elbaz. Countless pieces from the runway shows made it onto my “I want it!” list. Elie designed for Lanvin for 15 years, after working with Loulou de la Falaise at Yves Saint Laurent. Talk about a pedigree! Though he originally thought he’d be a wardrobe designer, I couldn’t be more thrilled that his path led him down the road to jewelry.
Elie is a truly unique designer, seemingly with the mind of a mechanical engineer and architect with the soul of an artist. Only one with this combination of talents could produce a ring like this…
A still image doesn’t do the complexity of its design justice, so while at the Couture show in Vegas, I took this short video showing how the ring moves and changes, revealing as little or as much as the wearer chooses to show.
This is one of the clever aspects of Elie’s jewelry; things flip, turn, and morph. With one piece of jewelry, you can either be showing bling or toning it down with just metal. Elie has three different collections. The first one he launched is the Mecaniques Celestes, which draws inspiration from astronomical tools from centuries ago. One can see his love of Baroque as well as architectural elements in his work. I was completely mesmerized when I tried on this Aqualung Cuff, with distressed silver, gold, and diamonds.
I would wear the heck out of this necklace, also part of the same collection. I took a couple photos, so you can see it both open, revealing the inner workings of the pendant, and closed, which shows the distressed silver and gold. If you wore it this way, it would be like wearing a special secret around your neck. While speaking with Elie about his inspirations, he told me, with a grin and a glint in his eye, that the little sugar pots at the cafes in Paris helped with his design. I love that little nugget! It will give me all new appreciation when I’m in a cafe in Paris this summer.
The Cosmogonie Secrete is another of the three collections, otherwise known as Cosmo Element. One of my favorite things in this group are the rings, which flip to show two different stories. Here’s the two sides of two of these rings. On one side, you get your element (earth, water, etc.), and on the other side, your astrological symbol. This is most definitely not your average take on a signet ring!
I couldn’t help but snap a photo of the necklace that Elie’s sales and operations manager, Jehanne, was wearing. Talk about a statement necklace!
Another showstopper necklace is this one, from the Mecanique Celeste collection, crafted from ebony with amethyst, lapis, turquoise and diamonds. Once again, you can flip the components to show the jewels or keep it a little more discreet.
Elie’s Etoile Mysterious is his third collection, which has such a powerful vibe! It’s the ideal intersection of a futuristic look with nods to the past.
I could have stayed in Elie’s booth for hours, investigating the intricacies of each piece. Thanks to Elie and Jehanne for all your time and education!
I’m definitely having a moment with all things celestial — stars, the moon, constellations, etc. I’ve clearly got my head in the clouds! And there are SO many great options out there to satisfy my celestial cravings. I wanted to share 11 items with you which I absolutely adore. In no particular order, here they are.
These “written in the stars” rings from Sofia Zakia are just amazing. You can pick two different constellations, and she’ll combine them on one band. How cool is that?! I can picture them as wedding rings, friendship rings, or even one combining one’s parent’s or children’s constellations. Ok, I’ll stop gushing now.
I admit that while I covet this jacket from L’Agence, even the large doesn’t fit me. *drats* BUT…I was able to fulfill my fantasy through my client, who looked absolutely stellar in it. She’s pairing it with everything from a camouflage slip dress to a tee and jeans. Super versatile.
Rails has quite a few styles of shirts with stars on them, but I think this shirt jacket with star patches is my fave. When I’m not in black, grey or white, army green is my go-to color.
Sirciam has been a long-time favorite with their rose gold celestial pieces. This particular ring is a real winner in my book. Even though it’s a larger scale ring, it works perfectly for every day. And yes, I have yet another client who will attest to that fact.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I buy myself a “boyfriend gift” for various occasions. I mean really, why should I have no boyfriend AND no jewelry?! I can’t control the boyfriend part, but I can certainly buy myself jewelry! I await the arrival of my own Samantha Knight pendant with my lucky number 13 on it to celebrate the holidays.
Luckily, I did find the perfect pair of star jeans that actually came in a size 16. Score! Loving my new Mia star print jeans from Kut. I put them with a distressed over-sized light blue chambray shirt and felt awesome.
Honestly, this is just the tip of the starry iceberg. There are SO many options out there in clothing, jewelry and accessories, I could go quite crazy. What about you? Do you have any celestial cravings? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.
Last week I had the honor of attending the Project Glimmer luncheon, and I was so pleased to run into local jewelry designer, Ashley Berman, of Ashley Morgan Designs. (If you missed my previous article about her, then click here to catch up.) We were talking about business, and she told me how her custom work has really been taking off. With her creativity, I was not surprised to hear this.
I welcome Ashley as a guest writer this week, where she shares one of her latest custom creations. Enjoy the article!
It all began with a dress. The dress was an elegant one: designed by Carolina Herrera, it was whimsical in design, with detailed lace set in garden-inspired patterns. When I was approached to make a necklace and earring set for this outfit — which was destined for a wedding — I was immediately inspired. I found myself intrigued by the intricate lace patterns, and sketched an elaborate collar necklace composed of medallions that had four separate designs; each reflected an element of the design of the dress.
I chose my favorite for the matching drop earrings. After pulling different themes and motifs from the dress, I customized the neckline to fit the dress exactly. I talked with my client about what she hoped the necklace and earring set would represent; I learned that she was attending her eldest daughter’s wedding, and that she wanted these pieces to be a celebration of her, the event, and what it symbolized. We chose blush pink sapphires as the stone that would stud the necklace: these represented the little girl she had raised into a lovely young woman, now all grown up.
The next step was to finalize the details. For any custom project, a computerized CAD is required to cement the crucial elements. After my client had seen the sketch of her lovely necklace and earrings, a CAD was made. This was then shown to my client, who happily approved what she saw. With the CAD and details confirmed, the project was ready to begin!
Production of the necklace involved carving each tiny element of the necklace and earrings out of wax, and then casting the medallions individually. Every rose gold swirl, vine, star, and cross-hatch had to be formed expertly and exactly. Then the many sparkling sapphires were added, in their hues of blush-pink. We wanted the necklace to exude a warmth and a glow, to give the impression of a natural garden preserved in gold and precious gems. This feel was achieved through the combination of rose gold and blush-pink sapphires.
The final result was more enchanting then we could have dreamed. A symphony of pink and rose hues, the necklace lays elegantly against the collarbone. The earrings seem to twinkle as they dangle, a perfect match for the necklace. A true joy from start to finish, this necklace is without a doubt one of a kind. Contact me today to begin your own custom project–experience the joy and satisfaction of bespoke fine jewelry created specifically to suit you.
(This article originally appeared on Ashley’s website.)
So what do you get when you mix a lapidary artist, fourteen different jewelry designers and some absolutely gorgeous opals? You get Fire & Forge, a contemporary artisan jewelry show curated by the discerning eye of A Thousand Facets, at Vincents Fine Jewelry in Pelham, New York.
I’ve been friends with Jo, the jewelry blogger behind A Thousand Facets for a few years now, and I can vouch that she has a very keen eye for killer jewels, so I know the show is going to be amazing. She has been working with Loren Gurche, who is a Paleontology and Geology student at the University of Kansas. Although he’s been busy at digs the past 8 years, he has spent the recent years teaching himself lapidary cutting and polishing, among other mineral and fossil pursuits.
Together, Jo, Loren, Vincent (the owner of the jewelry store), and these talented jewelry designers and have collaborated to bring a capsule collection of one-of-a-kind pieces to this show. Jo says, “Vincent and I were excited to partner and celebrate both artisan jewelers as well as Loren Gurches’ opals. Loren’s passion for opals is as deep as the designers’ is of their work. The result will be an incredibly special collection of jewelry that marries the artists’ signature styles with Loren’s stones to create works of wearable art.”
Let me give you a sneak peek at some of the pieces that’ll be available at the show, which opens on November 9th and runs through the end of the year.
Is your interest piqued? That’s what I thought! The event opening is coming up on November 9th from 6-9 pm. If you find yourself in the area the next couple of months, definitely stop by — I guarantee it’ll be worth your time.