One of the things I love about being a wardrobe stylist is that it has me traveling all over the country to work with clients. I recently had the opportunity to work in Austin, Texas, for the first time. Not only was it inspiring to visit somewhere new, but I was also psyched I’d finally be able to visit Bell and Bird, an antique jewelry store (specializing in 18th and 19th century pieces) that I’d been following on Instagram for quite some time. After enjoying a delicious gelato at Teo, right around the corner from them, I eagerly entered the store. Rhianna, the owner, could not have been kinder. As soon as we got talking about my jewelry blog, she started pulling out trays and trays of delectable jewels from their vault. Her wealth of expertise was mind blowing.
Not knowing what to try on first, I decided to don this incredible Victorian snake bracelet from the Netherlands. It dates to the 1860’s and is made from 18K gold and old mine cut diamonds.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?!
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?
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.
Over the past few years, antique jewelry has really made an entrance in my life. And with it, I’ve been experimenting with some ways to style antique necklaces so that they look current and express my personal style. I certainly don’t want to look like a “fashion don’t” when stepping out the front door! I want to share two different ways to utilize antique necklaces. The first is layering, and the second strategy is using one necklace as a focal point.
So let’s start with layering necklaces. With this, you can layer various antique/vintage necklaces, or you can mix old and new together. Doyle & Doyle recently shared this photo on Instagram, which is a fantastic example of how to layer with panache.
I’ll share what I did with them two days last week. On Monday I looped the long antique necklace around my neck twice, creating a choker effect, and paired it with the non-antique necklace.
In my typical black, I liked how they looked with my harem pants and sandals. I describe my personal style as “urban bohemian” and I thought this ensemble was true to my style.
Then on Wednesday, I wore a dress over a pair of cropped, frayed-hem jeans. I wore the 57″ necklace long, layered the new necklace. I’d never worn a necklace so long! But once I figured out how to maneuver it (and not get it stuck in the seatbelt), I felt pretty swishy! It’s true that I don’t necessarily look like anyone else on the street, but in my book that’s a good thing.
Now let’s take a look at just using one necklace as a focal point. While I was at the Hillsborough Antique Fair a couple weekends ago, I spent quite a bit of time with the charming Lenore Dailey. I photographed two different necklaces to use in my examples. The first one is a Victorian 18K and silver necklace with rose cut and old European cut diamonds. At first glance, you might think, “Oh, this is gorgeous, but certainly best worn for a dressy occasion.” I feel the complete opposite. I think it would look just amazing worn during the day. Don’t worry…I’ll give you some ideas how in a minute.
The second necklace that caught my eye in her booth was this Georgian 15K gold flower chain with the most amazing clasp — check out the cabochon turquoise. What workmanship!
So yes, of course you can wear these necklaces with a cocktail dress. But how cute would they look with a t-shirt, jeans, boots and a biker jacket? Or what about this — a simple pencil skirt, a pull-over sweater, and funk it up with some Golden Goose Sneakers. (yes, I might be just a wee bit obsessed with these sneakers).
If you add one of these necklaces to the sporty chic look, it’d be awesome! I like how the turquoise would look against the raspberry color. Not too “matchy-matchy,” if you know what I mean. And the juxtaposition of the diamonds with sneakers would be so cool — not a combination someone might typically come up with while getting dressed.
The bottom line is I want you to know that it’s much easier to incorporate an antique necklace into your look than you might think. Try it on with unexpected garments, and you might be very surprised at how original and unique it looks. And with any item you purchase, remember that the more it costs, the more you should wear it so that the cost-per-wear goes down. Never save anything “for good.” Now venture forth into your jewelry box and your closet and have some fun! Send me pix of what you come up with.
What?! Don’t you live/work in SF? Well, yes…I do. I am a Bay Area native. I work in San Francisco many days a week, and I lived in Pacific Heights for a few years as well. (I currently live 15 miles south of the city.) But don’t you find that when you live somewhere, you often don’t take the time to visit all the cool, local places as opposed to when you’re visiting somewhere new? Heck, I know SF born and bred people who have never been to Alcatraz or walked the Golden Gate Bridge, but I know all my friends who’ve visited from abroad have done these things!
This was the impetus for Friday’s field trip, with my fabulous co-hort, Jennifer Bressie. There were a few jewelry stores in areas of SF we don’t often frequent which have been on our “must see” list. So we both cleared our schedule for the day to check them out. Jen was the driver, and I was the the direction girl…(Jen probably should have been worried when I had my directions scrawled on a piece of paper, instead of using Google maps on my phone!)
Our first stop was going to be D & H Sustainable Jewelers in the Castro. Now I know that directions aren’t my strong suit, but the streets in the area where Noe and Market (and others?) meet are so catywompus, that we found ourselves stuck behind this trolley, at a dead stop. (Please note the “Dead End” sign to the right. It’s true, signs don’t lie.) Oops! Let’s do a “creative” U-turn. Perfect. Did I mention I’m not the best navigator?!
But it was all worth it, and Jen’s superb driving skills got us to our destination. In a matter of about 10 minutes, I knew that I wanted Shawn Higgins, half of the duo behind D & H Sustainable Jewelers, as a new best friend. His humor, expertise, and openness are infectious.
This store is among the first that will be SCS certified, meaning that 100% of their products are ethically sourced and sustainable. What a fabulous feat! They sell their own designs, as well as representing many other jewelry designers. It’s clear that bridal is a huge category for them. Being the magpie that I am, I went straight for the bling-iest ring in the case, featuring a flawless yellow canary diamond. (This is one of their own designs.)
Another one of their amazing pieces is this cage pendant, which took over a year to make, to get it just right. It’s made of sterling silver and 14K gold, and housed an incredible Alexander the Great coin, dating back 2500 years. Adore.
You can open it up, and really put whatever sort of talisman you’d like inside.
I also thought this necklace, made from a re-purposed 1910 Edwardian lingerie pin was quite fantastic.
If you’re looking for a supremely unique wedding ring for your guy, then check out this Gibeon meteorite set in rose gold by Lashbrooke!
After briefly meeting Lindsay (the other partner), we had to run. Lunch was most definitely next on the agenda, and you can’t go wrong with the croque monsieur (for me) or the burger sans bun (for Jen–she’s so good!) at Absinthe in Hayes Valley.
With our appetites sufficiently satisfied, were were off to Metier. You may be familiar with this store. They spent 5 years on Maiden Lane (Union Square), 16 years on Sutter (where they were a large clothing and jewelry boutique), and then a year in the Shreve building, before moving to this new location on Laguna. This jewel-box of a boutique offers both vintage/antique jewelry as well as merchandise from current designers. The more carefully you look, the more you see. The owners, Sheri Evans and Trina Papini, have an impeccable eye, so the collection is curated to perfection. During our visit, the place was hopping with customers!
I couldn’t resist trying on these Georgian rings, which are from the late 1700’s-early 1800’s. Amazeballs.
Or what about one of these silver bracelets, from Victorian to Arts & Crafts? So easy to mix with current outfits!
One of the current designers they carry is Arielle de Pinto, who weaves magic with metal. The ombre finish on this necklace is just perfect.
Loved seeing Sheri and Trina, and I’ll certainly be back soon.
Our last stop of the day was in the Mission. Love & Luxe is an amazing jewelry gallery and atelier owned by artist-in-residence, Betsy Barron. She shows her own work and also showcases 40+ other hand-crafted lines in her spacious store. As luck would have it, she came to the store during our visit. Yay!
First checking out Betsy’s line, I couldn’t help but try on a few rings.
Jen was in love with this rose gold locket from 1870. She is a total rose gold girl!
I definitely have always had a thing for turquoise, and this vintage-inspired design with Sleeping Beauty turquoise by Chris Neff made me smile.
Definitely one of the most unique lines I’ve ever seen is James Banks, which is a collaboration between Adam Schulman and Heidi Nahser-Fink. Here is their necklace called “Lightkeeper.” On one necklace, there is a glass bulb filled with black diamonds and one ruby. Then on the other necklace are the “tools” you can use to open the bulb to add/change whatever you want inside. Have you ever seen something like this?!
Even the box it comes in is exquisite.
There was also a lovely selection of work by Johnny Ninos. His current collection is inspired by barnacles, as shown in these rings. Organic beauty, no doubt.
Jen had to take one more look at that locket before we had to leave and get back on the road…
I can’t think of a better way to spend the day–with a life-long friend (We actually went to kindergarten together!) looking at gorgeous jewelry! Thanks to all of you for your time, knowledge and kindness!