Hillsborough Antique Show: My Picks

This past Saturday I was supposed to shop with a client, but he unexpectedly had to reschedule. Knowing this would allow me the opportunity to visit the Hillsborough Antique Show in San Mateo, CA, more than made up for this schedule change. I decided to go through the show with my “virtual bottomless wallet” and pick out what I would buy if the sky was the limit. This made the excursion so much fun!

Just a few booths in on the first row I walked down, I found a couple swoon-worthy pieces. First up is this Victorian bracelet from France with angel skin coral and natural pearls. I learned the ornate work in the 18K gold is called “tracery work.” (I am constantly learning new things whenever I speak with such knowledgeable dealers like Lisa!) This bracelet is from A Pocket of Rocks.

victorian bracelet from a pocket of rocks
At the connecting booth I met Alison from Duvenay. She was showing an exquisite pair of Victorian cut steel earrings from the late 1800’s. I knew a bit about cut steel jewelry, but when I came home, first thing on the agenda was to research it a bit more. This article from Lang’s AJU has a fantastic description of this genre of jewlery. I think these earrings are the perfect way to get a special occasion look with glowing sparkle.

victorian cut steel earrings from duvenay
Another booth that drew me in by some sort of jewelry magnetic force was that of Laurel Stearns’ PassItOnLTD. Within just a few moments of chatting we discovered we have a mutual very dear friend, and we’ll both be at her wedding this summer. Is that a small world, or what?! But back to the jewelry…I couldn’t decide between these two rings, and since I didn’t have a limit for this exercise, I chose both! The one on the left is a Victorian navette from around 1890, set in silver wth a 14K shank. The ring on the right features a converted Georgian pin from the late 1700’s-early 1800’s. Which would you choose?

victorian and georgian diamond rings from passitonltd
I had to stop at Lenore Dailey’s booth, which always exceeds expectations. The pair of earrings that was calling to me this time around was these late Georgian hand earrings. Do you see the little ruby ring each hand is wearing? So precious and romantic.

late georgian earrings from lenore dailey
I’ve been following TheOneILoveNYC on Instagram for quite some time, but this is the first time I got to meet Mia in person. Boy were her cases brimming with sparkle — tons from the Georgian era! But typical me, who seems so drawn to Victorian jewelry, selected a Portuguese pendant on a long yellow gold chain. I THOUGHT the pendant was Georgian, due to how the diamonds were set, but I was wrong. (So much to learn!) Isn’t it pretty?

victorian necklace and pendant from theoneilovenyc
Her next-door neighbor was Jewels by Grace, a fantastic vendor whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet at a couple shows in the past year. At her booth, I tried on this diamond and turquoise “tiara” bracelet, which was a very popular motif during Victorian times. How can you not admire the 2.65 ctw of rose cut and old European cut diamonds?

victorian bracelet from jewelsbygrace
But then…I spied “The Olsen Twins” — a truly remarkable pair of elongated cushion cut diamond earrings totaling 9.46 carats!! I had seen photos of them on Instagram before (such as this one below) and in Grace’s ears, but this time I got to try them on myself. Ack! I truly felt like royalty wearing them. Can you see my virtual crown?!

jewels by grace diamond earrings
diamond earrings from jewelsbygrace
Near the end of the show, I stopped at Mary Ann-tiques, as I spied a particularly fetching pair of Art Deco earrings. Granted, this is not typically an era I’m drawn to, but this pair of carved rock crystal and onyx earrings had it going on with the mis-matched earring trend that’s so en vogue right now. To give you a sense of their size, I took the photo with my full-sized pen next to them. Pretty incredible, right?

art deco earrings from mary ann-tiques
Though I didn’t leave the show with all these stunning pieces, I still got a thrill seeing them and trying them on. Thanks to all the kind dealers who spent time chatting with me, and furthering my education on antique jewelry. If you’d like to learn a little more, you may enjoy articles I’ve written about Georgian and Victorian jewelry. And if you’re interested in attending this show, which is open to the public, it’ll be back in San Mateo July 21-23 and November 3-5.

Kara Ross: Designer

Kara Ross, who opened her own storefront on Madison Avenue in NYC this past fall, is a designer I was so excited to interview at the Couture show in Las Vegas.

Amy and Kara
Amy and Kara

Kara’s love of gemstones began early in life, when her parents let her buy a tourmaline during a trip to Africa. When she returned home to the States, she designed her own ring, setting the stone in gold with diamonds. What a generous and creative opportunity to give a young woman! Clearly, this sparked a life-long love of stones and design, and I am blown away by her collection.

Most specifically, I was mesmerized by the Pangea ring. First of all, take a look at some images of the ring, and then I’ll tell you all about it.

kara ross pangea ring

kara ross pangea ring top view

kara ross pangea ring side view

Pangea is the land mass on our planet that existed about 300 million years ago, consisting basically of all the Earth’s continents melded together in sort of a puzzle formation. Plate tetonics then spent the next couple hundred million years separating the land into the seven continents that we know today. Here’s a neat visual to show how this happened.

pangea visual

Using this concept, Kara designed this ring as a tribute to the world we live on. Made of 18K gold (in yellow, white or rose), the jagged diamond-encrusted rows, “…reflect the shifting continents beautifully fusing together, and despite the drift all the pieces remain enveloped in one mass, continuing to come together and forming a harmonious whole.” Making each of these rings takes 10-11 weeks, and utilizes the expertise of 7 different craftsmen. Just drilling the hole through the large cabochon “Earth” is incredibly difficult. One little error, and the gem will shatter.

On the sides of the rings, you see a mosaic of hand-cut gemstones with angular pave diamond boarders, “…which represent the cultures and ethnicities of the world all living peacefully together.” The intricacies of these rings, along with their powerful message leaves me breathless — it’s truly a work of art and a labor of love.

This ring is the centerpiece of her Petra collection, which has over 100 pieces. The overriding design element seen across the collection includes jagged zig-zag motifs. Here are a few more pieces from this collection.

kara ross large petra mosaic earring

kara ross petra contour cuff

kara ross petra split pendant

I just adore the juxtaposition of the raw rubellite and the polished amethyst in this last necklace, don’t you?

Kara also has both a fashion jewelry line, Kara by Kara Ross and a sterling silver line. I’ve tried on some of the sterling pieces in various shops, and they’re quite spectacular. Here’s a sterling cuff with black mother-of-pearl and black sapphires.

kara ross wide maze cuff

And this pair of earrings has a modern Art Deco vibe, for sure.

kara ross triple geo arrow drop earrings

Kara has a huge celebrity following, and includes the Obamas among her private clients. She made pieces for them using the wood from a fallen magnolia tree from the White House garden. These coveted pieces were made for the First Lady and are also given as unique gifts to visiting heads of state and other important people. How cool is that?

Made for Michelle Obama
Made for Michelle Obama

I cannot fail to mention Kara’s gem-tastic handbag collection, either, which includes everything from clutches to day bags. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Lizard with hematite and mother-of-pearl inset
Lizard with hematite and mother-of-pearl inset

And because a pop of celadon is hot for spring…

Ostrich with hematite clasp
Ostrich with hematite clasp

I hope that you are as intrigued by this designer as I am. If you want to see some of her things in person, she sells at various retailers across the nation, as well as having her online shopping site. I cannot wait to see what she brings to Couture this spring!!

Age-Appropriate Jewelry

Trust me, as a 43 year-old woman I’m constantly aware of dressing both myself and my clients in a hip, yet age-appropriate way. Is the skirt too short? Too much cleavage showing? Do any of my friends’ daughters wear this? These are all questions which constantly run through my head when styling. Believe it or not, this also extends to one’s jewelry choices each day.

There are a multitude of fun jewelry trends out there right now, some of which I’ve written about, such as brightly colored jewelry and the art deco craze. I basically feel that the younger you are, the more license you have to experiment with trends — it’s the time where you’re really trying to nail down your sense of personal style.

Here’s the wrist of a 19 year-old I spotted in San Francisco. The neon pink bracelet from Charlotte Russe paired with the silver charm bracelet from Juicy Couture just seemed “right”…remember…she’s 19…

juicy couture jewelry
Perfect for a 19 year-old

And while out and about in Palo Alto I spied this stylish 23 year-old who was rocking both stacking bracelets and the neon trend. Again, I loved it…for her.

age appropriate jewelry
Some summer fun!

But then…there are those times when a poor choice is made. While I know Hello Kitty is more than just a crush for some (I have a dear friend with a tasteful Hello Kitty tattoo), I find it highly inappropriate when an adult adorns herself with said cat in not just glittery earrings, but also with Hello Kitty bedazzled hair clips. Really?! I’m not sure this woman has clearly thought about the image she wants to portray. And really, she was a darling woman.

hello kitty jewelry
My 7 year-old niece would love this

So tomorrow morning when you head for your jewelry box, I urge you to take some time to think about your personal style and what your jewelry will be saying about you before you even open your mouth. Because trust me, jewelry talks!

Spring Trend: Art Deco

So what exactly is Art Deco that we’ve been hearing so much about? Basically it’s a jewelry style that gained popularity during the World’s Fair in Paris in 1925 and remained en vogue for about 10 years. It’s name is derived from the official name of the fair, and it’s characterized by very architectural features: squares, circles, and triangles that form very cool geometric patterns.

Art Deco has been popping up everywhere from the fashion mags to the street, so if this trend appeals to your personal style, then jump on the bandwagon! I’ve seen examples at a range of price points. Here are a few cool pieces that have caught my eye. First up is a pair of earrings that would take you from jeans to a LBD.

CA & Lou aventurine earrings
Aventurine & Crystal disc earrings by CA & LOU

I think this red resin ring by Trina Turk would add a lot of umph to a maxi dress, with a margarita in hand, of course!

trina turk ring
Trina Turk Button Ring

This fabulous Deco bracelet by Kenneth Jay Lane is very hot. It really combines two trends, with the cuff being another important theme this season.

kenneth jay lane bracelet

Finally, this necklace would spice up a slim cardigan and skinny jeans. Love it!

Kara ross necklace
Kara Ross Art Deco Necklace

So if you want to get your speakeasy on, then scoop up this trend while it’s in a store near you…because you know these things never last.

Geometric Design: Jewelry Judge

Art deco is a huge trend this spring, but it can be interpreted in a very Halloween costume-y way. This gal, whom I spied south of Market in SF last week was spot-on with her choice. Not only is the necklace a cool combination of tribal meets art deco, but it’s set off perfectly by the subtle geometric pattern in the blouse she’s wearing. She gets a jewelry gold star in my book!

art deco necklace
A harmonious combination!