Vintage Cartier Pendant: Jewelry Judge

I know it’s been quite some time since my last Jewelry Judge post, but I finally came across a worthy subject! In June I attended the wedding of a dear friend. At the reception, I found my way to my table, and before I even started chatting with the lovely lady seated next to me, my eyes were transfixed on the layers she was donning around her neck.

layered necklces

The lengths of the necklaces, the different scales of chains, the mix of metals and the glimmer of diamonds really drew me in. Not only was it a very chic look with her all black ensemble and sassy haircut, but it really was a conversation starter. Of course, the large medallion pendant was the piece de resistance!

vintage cartier medallion
She told me that she purchased this vintage Cartier turtle medallion from Lang antiques back in the 90’s. It was when the economy had taken a downturn, so she was able to purchase it for an amazing price — she actually offered them less than the price tag. Mixed with other family heirlooms and some more recent acquisitions, I just love the whole look. I may not have thought to put it together that way myself, but that’s one thing I just adore about jewelry. It really is a way to express your personal style!




Long Turquoise Necklace: Jewelry Judge

Yesterday I was psyched to stop by The Podolls in Burlingame to see the latest and greatest fall arrivals. As I was chatting with Josh, half of the husband/wife team behind this local, sustainably-made brand, I got distracted… A woman walked in and I was instantly drawn to her look.

long turquoise necklace
Though her outfit was cute, I wouldn’t have necessarily done a double-take without the necklace. Not only did it add a major pop of color, but it created this cool vertical line which led right up to her smiling face. It complemented the long lines of her jacket and the overall impression was casual, not over-done, and just right.

And do you want to hear where it was from? It was found online at Anthropologie! This goes to show that you don’t always have to spend a fortune on jewelry to really take your outfit to a whole new level. (And of course I came home and had to check out the whole jewelry section on the Anthropologie website — I did find the necklace, and it’s only $88.)

gemline lariat necklace by lena bernard
Another key lesson from his look — it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort take an outfit from nice to pretty awesome. In this case, simply adding a necklace. That can’t slow you down getting out the door too much, can it?!

(P.S. I just realized that this is the 500th article I’ve written for my blog. Time to celebrate!)

Vintage Silver: Jewelry Judge

I know it’s been months and months since my last Jewelry Judge post, but I was just waiting to find the right subject…and I think it was worth the wait! I was recently lunching in Palo Alto, and this woman’s jewlery really caught my eye. While her outfit (pants, fun shoes, silky top and jacket) was lovely, it’s her jewlery that spoke volumes without her even having to say a word. Here’s the bracelets adorning her wrist.

vintage bracelet stack
vintage silver bracelets
In speaking with her, I learned the wider cuff was made by her mom when she was in high school during the 1940’s. Believe it or not, jewlery making was an actual class she took at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose, CA!! Say what?! The exotic bracelet it’s paired with was purchased by a distant relative (a cousin of her husband’s grandfather) on a trip to Asia in the 1950’s. She was a world traveler and her dad co-designed the Ellis Island Immigration Station — too cool.

Then, there’s the necklace she was wearing. She purchased it as a high schooler while in Copenhagen during the 1970’s. She and one of her BFFs were on a summer-long trek around Scandinavia visiting relatives. Oh, how I would have loved to be doing that at her age. (Or even now, for that matter!)

vintage pendant from copenhagen
So here she was, in a very modern outfit, wearing jewelry that was 40-75 years old. And the result? I wanted to get to know her. Her jewlery choices showed she had stories to tell, she was confident in her own personal style and it all just worked. She told me, “I have many jewelry treasures from far-flung places, family and friends. Wearing them provides happy reminders of treasured memories and dear ones, in addition to showing up in something uniquely mine.”

The Jewelry Judge definitely gives this woman two thumbs up! It also inspires me to take a close look at my jewlery box and see if I can put some vintage items back into the rotation.

Stacked Silver Men’s Cuffs: Jewelry Judge

Today I found myself in my local bookstore searching for sports magazines for my soon-to-be 16 year-old nephew. (The wedding is just around the corner!!) I know you will SO not be surprised that the jewelry on the sales associate is what really caught my eye…nothing against Sports Illustrated, of course. He was a very tall (maybe 6’3″?) super-masculine man with flowing grey hair that reached well beyond his shoulders. And on his wrist, were these two mesmerizing cuffs.

darin bill and canadian sterling silver men's cuffs
He didn’t seem to mind at all that I asked to photograph them. In fact he immediately took off his favorite, the weightiest sterling bracelet I’ve ever held, by the famous (and sadly deceased) Navajo artist Darin Bill.

darin bill sterling cuff bracelet
darin bill navajo bracelet
The inside was just as beautiful as the outside!

darin bill sterling silver cuff
The other bracelet was Canadian and had the eagle head that I’ve seen on some totem poles. The two paired together are just perfect!

Not only did I truly enjoy this pairing, but it was so well suited to his Levi’s charcoal shirt and dark washed jeans. The overall impression was so pleasing, with the bracelets being the focal point.

men's sterling bracelets
men's sterling cuff bracelets
I could tell this man appreciates both beauty and simplicity. Amazing how your attire can speak without you having to open your mouth, isn’t it?

Tribal Necklace: Jewelry Judge

As I entered one of my favorite restaurants on Burlingame Avenue for lunch the other day, my attention went straight to the necklace the lovely woman behind the counter was wearing.

cary lane neckalce
I loved the mixed media, the angles, the sparkle, and the scale. Then I started to take in the whole picture. I noticed that the cream tones in the rope were a nice blend with the off-white blouse she was wearing. And then my eyes drifted down to her pants, which were a very tribal black and cream print.

tribal pattern pants
The pattern was an echo of the large, brass chevron at the bottom of the necklace, which really created a nice flow to the whole outfit.

tribal statement necklace
I appreciate how she kept the rest of her accessories very clean–no rings or bracelets, and simple earrings. The whole ensemble flattered her natural coloring, and the necklace brought your attention right to her smiling face.

After accosting her with questions (She bought the necklace at Cary Lane in San Francisco.) and my iPhone camera, I finally let her take me to a table. Sometimes talking about jewelry is just more important than eating! 😉

Piling on the Rings in Soho: Jewelry Judge

Shopping in Soho is always one of the highlights when working in New York City. I love the uneven brick streets, the deeelish restaurants, and of course, visiting the boutiques. This trip my client and I stumbled across Zimmermann, a feminine and forward-thinking line from Australia. (Click here if you’d like a peek at the kick-a** dress my client purchased.) But I digress…the other thing that really got my attention was the hands of Ashley, the gal assisting us.

stacked gold rings
Somehow, she was able to select a handful of vintage rings and pile them on in just the perfect way. While they are not necessarily delicate rings, they created a creative statement which didn’t feel heavy whatsoever. She told me that she has a bowl full of vintage rings, and chooses different ones each day. Most are from Awoke Vintage in Brooklyn.

Just a short time later, we found ourselves exploring Melissa Joy Manning’s incredible store. (She also has a store in Berkely, CA.) And here, yet another hand stacked away, this time on Michael. He told me this was a “minimal” jewelry day for him.

stacked silver rings
stacked silver rings
And notice how his wrist tattoo adds to the whole look? I love it! These are both great examples of how to stack more substantial rings, and still make it work. Have you tried doing this? I think I may have to go play in my jewelry box and see what I can come up with.

Matchy-Matchy Mistake: Jewelry Judge

Well clearly not everyone in the world read my article about 7 Jewelry Don’ts a couple months back. And not only that, but I guess I need to add a qualifier to “don’t #2,” about matchy-matchy jewelry. So here goes…not only is wearing totally matchy-matchy jewelry a “don’t,” but so is wearing jewelry that identically matches your outfit! Red striped t-shirt + red striped earrings = not so fashionable.

matchy matchy
Now let me preface this by saying I have no problem whatsoever with the striped t-shirt or the striped earrings that this woman was wearing. What I do find boring, and quite frankly lacking originality, is wearing them together. How much more fun would it have been to wear the striped earrings with a polka-dot or floral shirt? The fact that she owns these items, and paints her nails blue shows me that she must be a fun, vibrant person. If she took the time to mix it up a little more, the result would have been much better.

What’s your opinion? Do you agree with the Jewelry Judge on this one? Don’t worry if your opinion differs from mine — I’d love to hear from you regardless!

Wearing Multiple Rings: Jewelry Judge

Yes, you’ve heard it from me many times — how difficult it is to pull off the “rings on many fingers” look. Frankly, most people just don’t get how to do it. Heck, I don’t think I’ve even mastered bedazzling more than three fingers at a time! That’s why when I see it done well, I have to take a close look and admire. This was the case with the woman I had lunch with this past week. With a background in fine arts, jewelry, and design, I’m not surprised that this was in her talent base.

multiple rings
multiple rings
So first of all, I want to tell you who and what she’s wearing. The first photo is of her right hand, and here’s the line-up:

pinky finger: black diamond ring by Steven Batelle
ring finger: cognac diamonds in rose gold band by Jennifer Dawes and peach moonstone ring by Gretchen Walker
middle finger: boa constrictor bone ring by Gretchen Walker and rose gold midi ring by Stephany Hitchcock

On her left hand, second photo:

middle finger: diamond ring by Scosha
ring finger: grandmother’s “feral field rat” vintage ring
pinky: rose gold ring by Lauren Wolf

While she was wearing EIGHT rings (how I wish I could do that), it was just so delicate and well-balanced. It didn’t overpower her or her outfit, and it melded so well with her clear sense of personal style. The fact that she could express her style with such an effortless panache, it made me want to get to know her all the more. It wasn’t as if she was “trying” too hard, it was just her.

I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to meet her, and I can’t wait to see what she’s wearing next!

Cost Plus World Market Necklace and Top: Jewelry Judge

We’ve been having a bit of an early summer here in the SF Bay Area, and people are definitely bringing out their summer outfits! While shopping at J.Crew, this colorful ensemble on a shopper caught my eye.

cost plus top and necklace
Of course, as it is my MO, I had to chat with her about her look. The causal distressed jeans, rolled up to perfection, were a nice balance with her vibrant top and necklace. Turns out she got the two at Cost Plus World Market for a steal — she said under $40 for both! I can tell you that the necklace did not look like it was $14.99! And furthermore, I had never even thought about going to Cost Plus for accessories. Clearly I need to stop by and check it out in person!

cost plus necklace
With her blond hair and blue eyes, the shade of blue really suited her personal coloring, and it drew your eyes right up to her face. Finishing it off with a Gucci purse and metallic flip-flops was great. This is the amazing beauty of mixing high and low — you don’t need to be dressed head-to-toe in designer to look fabulous. What about you? Have you mastered the high-low mix in your own personal style? Any savvy tips to share?

Vintage Judith Leiber Belt: Jewelry Judge

While I’m very familiar with Judith Leiber bags, it wasn’t until today that I became acquainted with her vintage belts. (This is so surprising, as I’ve been in countless closets with massive accessory collections.) I was pre-shopping for one of my clients yesterday, when I noticed some sophisticated bling coming from a low-slung belt on a gal at Bloomingdales in San Francisco.

judith leiber belt
Now she definitely has an edgy look and likes to have a little drama in her outfits. When I asked her what the heck I was seeing, she said that it had belonged to her mom back in the 80’s. Raised in Las Vegas (now I’m understanding her style even more!), she described her mom with a wistful look in her eye — describing every detail of a particular suit with big shoulder pads, and bling from head-to-toe, including belts like this. “She was always dripping in glamour,” she said with a big smile.

judith leiber belt
She kept the vibe throughly modern, and avoided the potential gaudy look that you might get when incorporating a vintage bejeweled piece. Her hefty bracelet stack and substantial ring on her pointer finger brought the whole look together on this 20-something beauty. I really don’t think many people could carry this look off, but I think she does it with panache! What do you think?