Jewelry Box Basics: The Minimalist

Welcome! We’re on article number four of a six-part series highlighting the basics you need in your jewelry box, based on your personal style. So far we’ve covered the lady who lunches, the bohemian, the rock star, and now the minimalist. You still have the romantic and trendy to look forward to. (I know, you are on the edge of your seat waiting for these!) I will re-state that I know most people have a personal style that incorporates aspects from different genres — no need to worry — embrace it! Use these articles as a medium to inspire you and lead you to your local jewelry store with an open, yet focused eye. Don’t let the price tags on the items I write about discourage you. Take the idea and find your own incarnation, with the look and price that you’re comfortable with.

Now let’s focus on the minimalist. I have encountered many of these women during my years as a stylist, and also among my close, personal friends. Being a minimalist doesn’t mean that you don’t have style. (think Audrey Hepburn!) Rather, you have such a carefully curated wardrobe that you know what works, you don’t need a myriad of options, and you don’t want to spend a lot of time each day deciding what to wear. It’s uniform dressing at it’s best. When it comes to the jewelry, it needs to be classic, fuss-free, and lifestyle appropriate.

Choosing a classic watch in the most flattering metal color for your skin tone is imperative. No need for a big trendy statement. Instead, focus on simple elegance, as shown in the Cartier tank watch.

Works everywhere from the home to the office
Works everywhere from the home to the office

Pairing your versatile watch with a stylish bangle is key. Stay away from bracelets that are too “blingy,” make noise, or compete with your outfit. Choose a comfortable-fitting bracelet that will take you anywhere. Hermes nails this assignment with thier clic-clac bracelet.

A subtle, yet stylish statement
A subtle, yet stylish statement

If you’re up for a cuff, then this slim bamboo cuff by John Hardy is a wonderful choice.

Love it!
Love it!

Again, the minimalist needs a ring that doesn’t interfere with her life, whether she’s trying to feed her child at the park or signing a major real estate contract. So don’t opt for anything with stones that protrude or pieces of metal that may catch on things. This ring by Anne Sportun has a whole lot of style, along with a bit of sparkle.

Easy enough to wear 24/7
Easy enough to wear 24/7

Another option that works beautifully for the minimalist is a ring with a bit more of a sentimental bent — the monogramed signet ring. Perhaps this has been inherited from a loved family member, or it’s one that you buy yourself, such as this one from Ariel Gordon. It’s streamlined and fabulous at the same time.

Simple yet luxe
Simple yet luxe

Studs are the definitely the basic go-to earring for the minimalist. Whether it’s a pearls, in metal, or diamonds, there are bound to be at least one pair of studs in the minimalist’s jewelry box. Being the sparkle-lover, I would opt for either diamonds or CZ for your first pair. I love how Bony Levy offers them in a variety of sizes.

How can you go wrong?
How can you go wrong?

Don’t be surprised to find out you’re not the only one who puts on your necklace and then never takes it off. I’ve seen it many times — it’s on in the shower, in bed, and on the beach. Therefore, it needs to be lightweight, unobtrusive, short enough that it doesn’t tangle, and chic. The easy choice here is Tiffany’s diamonds by the yard necklace. (These come in a variety of metals and price points.) Personally, I like taking off my jewelry at night, but hey, to each his own!

Classic glamour
Classic glamour

So are you a minimalist at heart? I clearly am not. (You only need to look at the size of my jewelry armoire to know that!) Though I really do admire this personal style and believe it or not, I do strive to be a bit more minimal when I travel. I’d love to know what minimalist pieces you love to wear!

Metal Earth Studios

It’s certainly trunk show season, and I have been having lots of fun making new discoveries in the world of jewelry! One I particularly enjoyed was meeting Rebecca Longenecker and Meghan Zimmerman, the dynamic duo behind Metal Earth Studios, at a recent trunk show at Manika Jewelry in San Francisco.

Meghan, Amy and Rebecca
Meeting the designers!

Meghan and Rebecca became friends when Rebecca moved in across the street from Meghan about nine years ago. Both having small children at the time, it was a natural connection. Fast forward about seven years, and their Oakland-based jewelry line was born. Rebecca had more of of the jewelry background, and Meghan has talents in art and photography. Combining all of their strengths, they started hand-crafting beautiful, organic, and bohemian jewelry.

They use green gold, ethically mined diamonds and sterling silver. “Each piece is created to help women feel connected to the earth, its elements, and the feminine creature,” Meghan told me. They do all the forging and finishing work themselves in their home studio. Wow!

metal earth studios
The women hard at work

I love the mixed metals in this necklace.

metal earth studios necklace
The diamond really is a special touch!

And this necklace is beautiful on its own, or layered with other pieces.

metal earth studios
The chain on this is fabulous as well

Since I have tiny wrists, I was very happy to see that they make bangles in small sizes too!

metal earth studios bangles
Perfect for stacking!

The designers are so inspired by the metals they design with, and they clearly have a talent for working with them. Take a look at these beautifully crafted rings.

metal earth studios rings
Very versatile design

If this line appeals to your sense of personal style, I definitely recommend you check it out!

Statement Necklace: Jewelry Judge

I was out one Saturday morning in Palo Alto, and this gal’s necklace stopped me in my tracks. She had a few inches on me, which is saying something, and she walked with presence! Her simple black outfit was styled perfectly with this statement necklace. She said she picked it up at Buffalo Exchange. Not only is she stylish, but she’s eco-friendly with the recycled piece. Lovin’ it!

buffalo exchange necklace
Every aspect is in scale!

buffalo exchange jewelry
Close up of the necklace

Repurposing a Brooch: Jewelry Judge

While browsing the boutiques in Carmel one recent sunny afternoon, I spent more time chatting to a gal in the shop about her eye-catching necklace than I did trying on the merchandise! Turns out that her necklace is made from a vintage diamond and emerald brooch. (Way to work the Art Deco trend!) Her now-husband bought it for her as a wedding gift, and she wore it in her hair for the ceremony. Now, it happily resides around her neck, really showcasing her personal style and adding some bling to any outfit she decides to wear. Love it!

vintage broach
A necklace with a romantic story

Miriam Haskell: Jewelry Judge

Shopping amidst a major downpour isn’t my favorite way to shop, but when I spotted this fabulous necklace it brightened the Seattle Day! Very happy with her smashing Miriam Haskell necklace, this gal just had it going on. Despite her petite stature, her presence definitely carried the scale of this necklace. I also like how her crocheted sweater vest compliments the design of the necklace. Two thumbs up!

Miriam Haskell necklace
Rockin' the statement necklace!

Spectacular Layers: Jewelry Judge

I had the time to pop into Angela’s in Menlo Park recently — a well-loved boutique. I almost ran right into a customer, as her amazing array of necklaces just had me mesmerized!

layered necklaces
Neutrals and diamonds done right!

As I turned around, I literally started seeing double, as there was her twin sister adorned in another fascinating combination!

layered necklaces
Love the pop of color with the white dress!

Come to find out that she’s the jewelry designer of all these lovely creations! I can’t wait to check out her line in person. And don’t worry…I’ll be sure to let you know all about it! 😉

Layering Necklaces: It’s all in the Mix

You may have noticed that one of the hot trends in the world of jewelry has been layering necklaces. But have you been afraid to try this out yourself? Don’t be, because there are no hard and fast rules. Instead, just play around a little and see what sparks your creative eye.

Start with one necklace that hits around your upper balance point. Then add another one that’s a bit longer, maybe even two more. You might try one of your longer necklaces and doubling it. The following picture demonstrates how a longer necklace was wrapped around twice and combined with a shorter necklace for a stunning effect.

jen layered necklaces
layering a short necklace with a doubled longer one

This photograph shows how a shorter necklace is layered with a doubled longer one. Then added to the mix is yet another one, worn long, for sort of a three-tiered effect. I’m just lovin’ it.

three-tiered layered necklaces
layering three necklaces

One more thing you may want to experiment with is the scale of the necklaces you’re layering. Sometimes a combination you may have never thought about just looks hot. I practically accosted this woman, Janet, in Neiman Marcus when her creative combination really got my attention.

Janet-layered necklaces

I just think the chunkiness of the carved wood necklace creates beautiful juxtaposition with the more delicate blue beaded strand with the gold medallion.

So here’s your mission, should you choose to accept it. Go to your jewelry box, haul out all your necklaces (even the ones that have been hiding in the deep recesses) and start playing around. I’m sure you’ll find some combinations that really resonate with your personal style.

Meredith Marks: Designer

I’m like a kid in a candy store when I attend jewelry trunk shows. When I have the opportunity to see a designer’s line that I never have seen before AND it’s tremendous, it’s like Christmas morning. That’s exactly how I felt last week when I went to see the Meredith Marks show at Angela in Menlo Park. WOW!

Meeting designer Meredith Marcks
Meeting designer Meredith Marks

The first thing that struck me about her line was it’s diversity. Some pieces had a more exotic flair, while others were polished to the nines. I also appreciate how she uses gold (in various colors), silver, and both precious and semi-precious stones, which gives her collection a wide range in price points. It is accessible jewelry to be loved and worn.

Another wonderful feature is the multi-functionality of many of her pieces. For example, she showed me a pair of larger earrings (the elongated pointed ovals on the left side of the picture below) where the dangling part comes off and can be used as a pendant on a necklace. Another necklace she showed me is the perfect length to be used as a wrap bracelet as well. With jewelry that can be used in a variety of ways, it really makes your jewelry dollar go farther.

meredith marks jewelry
A selection of Meredith Marks jewelry

Meredith started her line a couple years ago, and her passion for it is palpable as she talks with you and shows you various pieces. You can’t currently find her jewelry in any US department stores–just specialty boutiques. In my mind, this makes her line all the more coveted, as it’s truly unique. If you’re interested in seeing her jewelry, you can contact her to find where it’s sold near you.

Scale: How Big or How Small?

You may have noticed that over the years, the scale or size of jewelry goes up and down. I remember the huge plastic jewelry of the 1980’s and the petite chain and crystal necklaces from the 1990’s. (Think Monica and Rachel a la Friends) Currently, jewelry seems to be fairly large scale, though there are many choices when you go shopping. So how do you choose what to buy?

First of all, you need to get a basic understanding of what large, medium and small scale jewelry looks like. Here’s an example shown in necklaces.

large, medium, and small scale necklaces

This same guideline applies to all types of jewelry, from the thinnest of gold bands to the chunky cocktail ring…from simple diamond studs to shoulder-grazing chandelier earrings. Once you can identify the scale of a piece, you next need to decide what would work best on you.

Think about your physical being and how much “space” you occupy in the world. Are you tall? Short? Somewhere in between? And think about your skeletal frame. Just because I’m quite tall, I actually have very small bones, as shown in my tiny wrists and ankles.

Finally, think about the scale of your facial features. Do you have large eyes? A small button nose? A smile to rival Julia Roberts?

Knowing how you visually come across will help you in determining the most inherent jewelry scale for you. By inherent, I mean the scale that is most naturally pleasing and complimentary to you. For me, I can carry pretty large scale jewelry due to my height and the size of my facial features, but I need to mix it with some medium or small scale to balance out my small bones. Often, I can achieve this by layering necklaces and bracelets of different scales. (I will elaborate on how to do this in a future post.)

Now keep in mind that this is how to get an inherent look. You can also create drama by selecting a scale that you wouldn’t normally choose. For example, picture some five foot tall gal who constantly wears large, oversized necklaces–and she looks fabulous! This is because she’s making a dramatic statement with her necklaces. Plus, it may very well be part of her jewelry signature. Here’s a perfect example of creating drama with a large scale necklace:

creating drama with a large scale necklace

So take all this information and look at your jewelry with new eyes. You may get an “ah ha!” or two…

Dominique Cohen: Designer

I have been a huge Dominique Cohen fan for years, so I was especially excited to meet her in person at a recent trunk show in San Francisco.

Hanging out with Dominique Cohen
Hanging out with Dominique Cohen

I’ve always considered Dominique’s jewelry as perfect layering pieces. Although she makes all different types of jewelry, I associate her most with her necklaces. She has core collection chains in rose and yellow gold. To these you can add a variety of pendants.

She features semi-precious and precious stones, as well as stunning pearls to her jewelry. By adding different layers and stones, you get completely different effects. It’s wonderful (and cost-effective) how you can keep adding different necklaces to your collection over the years, yet they all mix and match perfectly, both with themselves and with other necklaces you already own.

I also love the fact that her jewelry is made right here in the USA. It is hand made, and she casts each gold piece in her Los Angeles facility.

Here are a necklace and some earrings from her spring 2011 line:

beautiful Dominique Cohen necklace

beautiful Dominique Cohen earrings

You can find her jewelry at Neiman Marcus, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and various smaller boutiques. Read more about her and her line at Dominique Cohen.