Susana Speidel at Circle & Square

Circle & Square is a very chic jewelry and accessories store tucked away on Presidio near Sacramento St. in San Francisco. I always love to stop in and see their latest, one-of-a-kind discoveries. The owner, Bunny Fayne, really has an eye for selecting unique items that you won’t see anywhere else!

I stopped in the other day to take advantage of a promotion they had going on (I mean really…how could I possibly resist a discount on jewelry?!?), and I was completely taken with the line by Susana Speidel. It turns out that this locally-based designer (Mill Valley to be exact) is a veteran antiques dealer and collector. She and her husband travel the globe collecting vintage jewelry, from broaches to bracelets. She then uses them to create beautiful, new pieces that pay respect to the past while still looking incredibly current.

I think my friend Jen would love this necklace. It’s made from a 1940’s Trifari blue bow brooch with pearls, stones, rock crystal, and pearls. So unique!

susana speidel necklace
Vintage with flair!

Personally, I fell in love with this stunner. It’s a 37″ long French metal chain with agate and brown rhinestones. I’m not exactly sure of any dates for this necklace, but I’m sure it’s seen its fair share of decades!

susana speidel necklace
Oh my gorgeous!

And look at the back view!

susana speidel necklace
Even if it flips over it’s pretty!

I must admit that I don’t have a wide range of knowledge on vintage jewelry (yet), but I know what I like and what I don’t, regardless of it’s monetary value. Susana’s work has inspired me to dig a little deeper into this exciting avenue in jewelry. I can’t wait to learn more!

Gift Ideas

Yep…it’s true! You’ve only got a few shopping weeks left until the holidays arrive. Now I know I’ve given you some tips on how to select jewelry as a gift, but I thought I’d make your life even a little bit easier with some specific gift ideas.

1. Personalized mom or grandmother jewelry is a very thoughtful gift, and there is a wide array of choices out there! Initials, birthstones, names, you can find it! One site I discovered that has a very nice selection at reasonable price points is Hearts on Your Wrist. Don’t let the name fool you, as it’s much more than just bracelets! I thought these pendants were especially versatile, as they’re not “too too” and can be layered with other necklaces.

Darling pendants from Hearts on Your Wrist

2. If you’ve got children, grandchildren, a niece or any little one in your life who loves jewelry, then a children’s jewelry making kit would be an ideal gift! I vividly remember the shoebox full of beads I had as a little girl, and the hours I spent creating the most exquisite (in my mind!) pieces! Crayola’s Model Magic Jewelry Studio is double the fun, because you actually get to design and make your own beads!

Crayola Model Magic Jewelry Studio

I also think the Bead Bazzar Sofista Bead Kits are very chic, from the packaging to the contents. They come in beautifully coordinated collections, so your creations are bound to be stunning.

Chic bead set by Bead Bazzar

3. Long ago I wrote about charm bracelets, and I still think they’re one of the best gifts around. They’re appropriate for any age, and once you start one for someone, you have a built-in gift to give them each year. Suppose that this year your gift recipient went to Paris? Or just decorated her place in a French style? Then perhaps a charm of the Eiffel Tower might be just the ticket for her! I have ordered from Precious Accents many times, and I feel it’s one of the most comprehensive sites out there.

Eiffel Tower charm by Precious Accents

4. Family heirloom jewelry is an amazing gift you may not have thought about. Usually gifted after your love one passes away, consider how wonderful it might be to give one of your treasured pieces to someone while you’re still here to see them enjoy it. I have been the lucky recipient of such amazing treasures on more than one occasion. My Aunt Jean has given me quite a few things that belonged to my grandmother, and I just adore them! In fact, just this past week I wore her big opal ring, which I can clearly picture my grandma wearing with her floor-length lavender crystal-pleated, polyester dress back in the 1970’s. To make it even more special, my aunt also gave me matching opal earrings which she herself purchased on a trip to Australia. Sooooo special!

My grandma's opal ring with my Aunt Jean's earrings

5. Cubic zirconia studs are a basic to almost any jewelry wardrobe no matter what your personal style may be, yet I’m surprised how many people don’t have them! Now of course diamond studs are fan-tabulous, but personally I love my cz’s, because I can get the carat weight I want (I think 3-4 tcw is best) without the hefty price tag. And do you think anyone can tell that they’re faux? Certainly not! I learned the hard way not to get them set in sterling, as they quickly tarnish and there goes the whole “lookin’ real” thing! Instead, I think cz set in real white or yellow gold is best. Gold, platinum or rhodium-plated sterling are also good bets. Nordstrom has many cz options, so it’s a good place to check out.

CZ studs rock!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful, and if you come up with some gift ideas you love, please share!!

How to Lose a Sale!

Ok, I know I’m in the image business and that image really does matter. But it still completely shocks and horrifies me when I see it in action in a negative way, or experience it myself!

Jeff and I were enjoying poking around all the shops in Mendocino this past weekend. Of course, I had to hit each and every jewelry store we encountered. On the way back to the car, Jeff spied one on a side street that had escaped my normally perfect radar. Upon entering the beautiful establishment, the sole employee did not even acknowledge us. Hmmm…strange, especially since there wasn’t a single other customer in the store. Granted, we were in our “hiking clothes,” but nevertheless, most of the people out and about were not in their Sunday best!

After making verbal contact with her (though she wouldn’t look at me), we continued to stroll around the stunning displays. I finally stopped and asked about a stylish 1960’s carnelian cocktail ring, talking about its history and asking a few questions. Did she even offer to take it out of the case to try it on? No. Did she seriously just walk away from both me and the jewelry case mid-conversation? Yes. Did she com-PLETELY lose a possible sale? MOST definitely!

I still get worked up just thinking about it. Apparently the scene with Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive from Pretty Woman is not as fictionalized as we might think. How sad…

Really? You won't even show me the ring?!

What’s Your Jewelry Signature?

When people think about you and your jewelry, do you have a signature? Perhaps it’s the big, chunky men’s watch that you wear every day. Or are you usually wearing the topaz cocktail ring your grandmother handed down to you?  If you’re me, then you are inexplicably drawn to necklaces with horn pendants. Whenever my friends and clients see a horn necklace, they inevitably think of Amy.

horn jewelry collection
A selection of my horn pendant necklaces

Developing your jewelry signature goes hand-in-hand with your personal style. It speaks to who you are and what you love. Having your personal style clearly defined is the first building block of developing your jewelry collection. Without a solid sense of your personal style, then you are left adrift in the sea of fashion, and you’ll undoubtedly make some purchases you will later regret.

Think about what makes your heart sing. If you are drawn to more classic styles, then your signatures may include pearls, a gold link bracelet with a monogrammed charm, or a Cartier tank watch. The romantic will likely have layers of pearls or dreamy chandelier earrings. Baubles in turquoise, red coral, and armfuls of bangles will undoubtedly be part of a bohemian style.

Having a jewelry signature really puts the “you” in your ensemble. It could be just one specific piece (like a bangle with a horseshoe on it) or it could include a general theme (such as jeweled stacking rings or pieces with your initial on it). The goal is to not walk around looking like a cookie-cutter image from the latest catalogue or magazine. Instead, let your individuality shine through. So what is your jewelry signature?

Should I buy it?

I can’t tell you how often I’ve found myself standing at the jewelry counter with a client while she tries something on, and she asks me, “Should I buy it?”  Beyond the issues of affordability and if it’s flattering, the answer is easy.

First of all, do you absolutely love it?  If not, take it off and step away from the case.  I don’t care if your best friend has one just like it, or you saw Jennifer Aniston looking amazing in the same thing.  I care about you and your true feelings.

Next, it’s all about cost-per-wear.  Basically, the more you spend on something, the more you should wear it to make it cost-effective.  For example, if you wear your watch every day, then it’s wise to invest more money in it.  The cost of the item will go down each time you wear it.  But if you are thinking about spending a lot of money on a pair of special occasion earrings that you may only wear once or twice a year, then think very long and hard before making that purchase.  It may not be a wise investment.

Here’s an added tip: many stores have a deal that if you buy something over a certain dollar amount on their credit card, then they will spread out your payments, interest-free, over a six month period.  This has worked out great for me at both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.  Just an idea. 😉

Happy shopping!