My Life In Jewelry

Last week three of my fabulous blogger friends wrote fun articles entitled, “My Life in Hairstyles.” (The Flying Chalupa, Midlife Mixtape and Smacksy) Not only did I love seeing their life unfold right on the screen, but it got me to thinking about my own life and how jewelry has always been such a big part of it. So for your entertainment, here’s my life in jewelry…and clearly you get to see my hairstyles as well, the good and the not-so-good.

As I started my tour through all my (zillion) photo albums, I was so surprised to see that I was already wearing a slim bracelet on my right hand at only one year old. I have no recollection of this bracelet, and how I wish I knew the story behind it and where it is now. I have a feeling it must have started my subconscious love of the bling.

 

1970
1970

The allure of all things sparkly led me to do something very naughty when I was around 5 years old. I had quite a few pieces of nice jewelry gifted to me from family. I distinctly recall a necklace with an emerald-cut ruby pendant surrounded by little diamonds, and another one with an amethyst pendant. I needed to know what it felt like to hold all these gems in my hand, so I meticulously picked out each gem from their settings, one by one. I knew I had done something very bad, so I hid them in a clam shell I had picked up on the beach, hoping my parents didn’t find out.

clam shell
I carried this clam everywhere with me, sneaking peeks inside to see my treasures glitter. Then tragedy struck. As I was using the bathroom one afternoon, with the clamshell carefully placed on the top of the toilet, it fell…right…into…the toilet. I was too mortified to ask for help, and you guessed it — I flushed. Good bye to all my jewels and any hope of having any jewelry for a few years. It was a very painful lesson to learn in so many ways, let me tell you.

The best way I could get my hands on jewelry was on Halloween, when I loved to dress up as a gypsy.  I wore my mom’s necklaces draped over me, and my fingers bedecked in many rings. I love how in this photo, the bracelets are stacked over my quilted parka. In addition, I got to wear lipstick!! And who needs trick-or-treat candy when you have beautiful, dangling earrings on?! I felt so glamorous.

 

My little brother and I, circa 1975
My little brother and I, circa 1975

For picture day in fourth grade, not only did I wear an outfit that I made myself (my mom taught me to sew starting in third grade), but I wore my favorite necklace — little cherries that looked almost like stained glass. I proudly wore this necklace for years, and it always felt very special.

 

Fourth grade photo
Fourth grade photo

Though I was the queen of Valley Girl style in middle school, I unfortunately don’t have any photos of me in my jewelry. (How can that be?!)  Plastic beads in white, aqua, and pink were right up there with my painted clip-on earrings. Totally tubular, fur shuur.

Come high school, I had this weird idea that I was now “grown up” and needed to have more sophisticated jewelry. In my mind, this came in the form of a thin, gold chain, which I apparently wore in my school photos for the next three years. Given the size of my hair (yes, this is all natural!) I should have definitely stepped up the scale of the necklace, don’t you think? (side note: The boys used to bark and call me poodle with this hair…no fun!)  Although I was desperate for pierced ears, my father forbid it until I finished college. (another side note: I didn’t make it till the end of college with virgin ears, much to his chagrin.)

 

1983
1983

New Year’s Eve 1986 was extra-special for me, as one of my best friends, Leslee, came to visit. She had moved to Washington state after third grade, but we remained great pals. (And we still are to this day!) We thought we had it going on at a party in a friend’s garage, on either side of a cute boy. I loved my long pearls, which I wore knotted for a little sass. Love how Leslee was rockin’ the bolo tie! (She’s always been edgier than me!)

 

Amy, Larry, and Leslee
Amy, Larry, and Leslee

Off to UCLA I went, and that’s where I started making jewelry and selling it on campus and in a few shops in Los Angeles. I adored making the beaded earrings, and I really enjoyed helping people pick out just the right pair. Since my ears were newly pierced, it was all new and exciting for me.

 

selling my jewelry on Bruin Walk at UCLA
selling my jewelry on Bruin Walk at UCLA

Though I was most comfortable in my Birkenstocks and beachy attire, I also did some hair modeling. No matter what they did with my hair and make-up (and boy did they pile it on!), I still had to wear huge silver hoops and my favorite crystal, which I still have today. Silver hoops were my first pierced earrings I ever bought, and they remain a staple in my personal style.

 

1989
1989

Setting up my jewelry in my apartment senior year was so much fun for me. I turned my giant bulletin board into a display for my earrings and necklaces, and I had a tray of bracelets below. It gave me so much joy to look at every day, and I felt like I was in my own little boutique when I’d select my ensemble for the day.

 

My jewelry display, circa 1990
My jewelry display, circa 1990

After college, the 8 years I taught third grade were spent wearing a lot of wood cut-out jewelry, as you have read about in previous articles. But when I made the career switch to image consulting in 1999, I definitely upped my jewelry ante. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I purchased these Tiffany & Co. mesh earrings by Elsa Peretti. I wore them for many years before I passed them on.

 

Holiday party in 2000
Holiday party in 2000

After the popularity of small-scale jewelry in the 1990’s, I was excited to see bigger, bolder designs emerge in the 2000’s. This turquoise necklace, purchased from a street vendor in NYC in 2001 seemed SO big at the time, but it was a perfect transition to a larger scale. (Now, it seems almost dainty!)

 

2001
2001

While at a glamorous girl’s weekend in Montecito in 2003, I borrowed this crystal necklace to wear with my Ralph Lauren rhinestone earrings. I felt like a princess!

 

2003
2003

After a long trip to Italy the summer of 2005, I returned oh-so-tan, and I thought I looked pretty cool in these chandelier earrings with turquoise drops in them. I think they only cost about $20, but they hit just the right note with the dress. Without the earrings, the outfit would not have felt complete.

 

2005
2005

Buying this amethyst lariat necklace by San Francisco designer Alana Leigh was a big moment for me. It felt like a substantial purchase, and I wore it a lot.

 

2006
2006

I went REALLY big for New Year’s Eve 2009, with this Elie Tahari necklace I won at a contest at Neiman Marcus.

 

New Year's Eve 2009
New Year’s Eve 2009

I started getting into layering necklaces and stacking bracelets around 2010. Here’s a shot which shows one of my initial attempts while in Copenhagen. (Great city!) Layering and stacking opened a whole new jewelry door for me, and that was likely one of the pre-cursors for me to start my blog less than a year later.

 

Copenhagen, 2010
Copenhagen, 2010

I know you’ve seen my whole jewelry life since then, so I won’t bother repeating. I would LOVE you to send me some images of you wearing your favorite jewelry throughout the years!! Send them to me at [email protected] Thanks for coming along on this nostalgic ride with me–hope you enjoyed it!

 

My niece and I in our Swarovski Crystal tiaras at Disneyland, 2014.
My niece and I in our Swarovski Crystal tiaras at Disneyland, 2014.

 

Jewelry Box Basics: Gifts for Grads

Oh…tis is the season for graduations! 8th grade, high school, college…these gals are ready to take the next step in life! And there’s no better way to mark these amazing milestones than with a piece of jewelry. Trying to find the perfect gift for someone can be a challenge, but I think if you consider their personal style then it might make the decision a bit easier.

During my 6-part series, Jewelry Box Basics, I discussed what jewelry each person should have in their jewelry box, based on their personal style: the lady who lunches, bohemian, rock star, minimalist, romantic, and the trendy gal. Now trust me, these personal styles can develop early, so just use your keen eye to determine where your grad might fall into the spectrum. Once you determine this, then you have a clear direction of where to start shopping. Here are some of my recommendations based on each personal style.

The Lady Who Lunches
You can never go wrong with pearls with this personal style. But given that the graduate is younger in age, you don’t want to select a pearl piece fit for her grandmother. I love these earrings by San Francisco designer, Alana Leigh. The baroque pearls and the unique setting are so versatile — from jeans and a t-shirt to a cocktail dress.

Current and classic!
Current and classic!

The Bohemian
When the bohemian woman is building her jewelry collection, she is undoubtedly going to build up quite the wardrobe of statement rings. Selecting a gorgeous ring with an organic feel would be perfect. Case in point is this druzy ring by Peppina jewelry. It’s simply stunning.

A perfect, daily statement
A perfect, daily statement

The Rock Star
Even if your grad isn’t part of a rock-n-roll band, her style definitely reflects an artistic quality. This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s covered in tattoos or multiple piercings, but she still has that edge. In which case, this amazing bangle by Alexander McQueen would be spot-on for her.

Subtle skulls
Subtle skulls

The Minimalist
Granted, the minimalist won’t necessarily be expecting a piece of jewelry for her graduation. In fact, she might not even know what to do with it at first! So the key here is to give her a piece that incorporates itself so easily into the minimal pieces that she already wears, that it becomes one of her must-wear pieces. Given the popularity of initial jewelry, choosing a simple, clean initial necklace by Jennifer Meyer is the perfect choice. It can easily be layered with other necklaces, or simply be worn on its own.

Simply elegant
Simply elegant

The Romantic
The woman with the romantic personal style typically has quite a sentimental bent. So giving her something with special meaning, like a birthstone piece of jewelry, would definitely warm her heart. I recently discovered the shopNBC.com site. (Who knew!?) and fell in love with this opal ring. (Happy birthday, October!) And a cool side note, this site offers something called “value pay” on certain items, where you can split your payment into monthly installments.

I love the fire in opals
I love the fire in opals

The Trendy Gal
Only the latest and greatest will do for the fashionista grad. Since you of course want to be on time for her appointments, the perfect gift for her will be a brightly colored watch to keep her on track. This stylish aqua watch by Kate Spade fits the bill perfectly.

Colorful, yet classy
Colorful, yet classy

I hope that you all enjoy this graduation season, and I send my very best wishes to all you grads out there!