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!
When Thanksgiving rolls around, a time for family and friends, I start to pull out some of my more sentimental pieces of jewelry. One day it might be my Nonie’s engagement ring, with its center stone of deep blue glass, weathered with her years of hard labor keeping up the house and garden. Or maybe it’s my mother’s childhood locket, layered with some other necklaces. Whatever the case may be, these pieces hold a very special place in my heart. Clearly Luika, who I’ve known my entire life, feels the same way, as her jewelry box is filled with meaningful treasures. In this third installment of “Into The Jewelry Box,” I had the opportunity to explore some of Luika’s wonderful memories. The first ring that jumped out was this stunning, large citrine cocktail ring with a delicate gold setting.
As is often the case with jewelry, this ring had a story. She and her husband attended a very special Christmas party at the Kennedy Center in 1997. Each year, a different embassy would host the party, and that year it was hosted by the Ambassador of Brazil. After the main program, select guests were invited to a formal dinner, beginning at 11pm. (Late!) The ladies in attendance, including Luika, were given a special gift from the Ambassador — in this case, this lovely ring. How generous!
She also has a collection of many colorful rings, modeled by yours truly.
The top one in the photos is a vintage jade ring — the color is really exquisite. The next one is a beautiful blue star sapphire set in white gold. This was a birthday gift from her husband back in ’62 or ’63. I was really intrigued with the blue star-cut ring. While the blue star itself is a manufactured stone, it’s surrounded by 5 small diamonds in white gold. It belonged to her mother, so I would place the ring to be from somewhere in the 1930’s. It’s so fun! And finally, the double amethyst, which was designed by H.Stern and bought on vacation while in St. Thomas.
This next bracelet is just so cool, and it was a wonderful gift from her husband. He had it made for her, and it’s gold-dipped pennies from 1957, which is the year they first met and had their first date. How romantic is that?! It was one of their customs to always throw pennies in fountains for good wishes, even after they were married. I think my eyes may have gotten a bit misty hearing this story.
Another very meaningful set for the two of them is this marcasite necklace and earrings, which was her bride gift on the day of her wedding from her loving groom.
Luika was born in September, so her baby ring is set with a sapphire. I think the setting is fantastic. Clearly she was an elegant baby!
Her Benrus evening watch is a classic. This NYC-based watch company was hot, hot, hot in the 1900’s. I wish I could hear the watch tell stories of where it has been.
And finally, I saw these two cameos, which belonged to her mother. Such beautiful detail!
As you can see, looking through her collection is like taking a walk down memory lane. Do you have pieces like that in your jewelry box? Perhaps some of your Thanksgiving companions will be wearing bits of history themselves– you may want to inquire about what they’re wearing, as there may be a great story behind it.
So how many of you just love watching those reality shows were you get to tour people’s homes and get an inside peek into their closets?! Or even a spread in Architectural Digest or In Style magazine that shows you how the stars live? Well I just love them, but I always wish they’d spend a little more time in the closet, and more specifically show me what’s in their jewelry box. I don’t care if it’s Oprah or someone I’ve never heard of, it’s just my curiosity about wanting to see what pieces are important to them. That’s how I came up with this new series, “Into the Jewelry Box.” Throughout the year, I’ll be visiting people’s homes and getting an in-depth look at their collection. I can’t wait see what I find and share it with you!
My first visit was to see Merna, a stylish 61 year-young woman with a background full of fashion. With a cropped blond pixie and twinkling eyes, she seemed very excited to show me her treasures. In fact when she opened the door, she was wearing her first diamond, which she received at 7 months old from her grandmother (who was also her godmother) for her baptism. Jewelry has clearly been part of her life from the start, and she joked, “I teethed on Vogue!”
Still in possession of her first jewelry box from 5th grade, she has been a collector and receiver of many gifts throughout her life. In fact, her collection has pieces dating back over 100 years.
I asked her to show me her favorite piece, and she couldn’t limit it to one. The first was this sunburst pendant/pin from Taxco, which was made by one of Spratling’s students. Just beautiful workmanship!
Another favorite is a large sterling cuff of her mothers from 1949. She used to own its mate, but sadly it disappeared at a photo shoot. (I hope whoever walked off it with is at least enjoying it!)
Finally, this sea shell, which she found during a photo shoot at Stinson Beach, is a sentimental favorite. Ironically a couple years after she started wearing it, she was flipping through the pages of W magazine and saw that Yojii Yamamoto did the exact same thing in sterling silver! (for $4500!)
Merna’s collection is housed in a large rolling tower of drawers, and we spent a good amount of time opening little boxes and peering inside silk pouches. (It felt like a treasure hunt for me!) My jaw dropped when I came across this exquisitely detailed pre-WWII Chinese dragon bracelet. She also has the matching ring and earrings which she received during college, as she was born in the Year of the Dragon.
These silver filagree bracelets from the early 1900’s also demonstrate amazing detail.
When I asked how her personal style has changed over the years, she talked about how she has shifted more from the small, delicate pieces (unless worn in stacks or layers) to bolder pieces. She likes the juxtaposition of the the bold pieces with her tall, small frame. Case in point are these wide Armani bangles, purchased from the Armani store in SF back in the 90’s.
I will say, though, that I was drawn to her vintage pieces. It was like being in a jewelry museum, but you could actually try things on. Take a look at this silver and amethyst Art Nouveau set from around 1900.
And being a Downton Abbey-o-holic, I could just picture Merna’s mother wearing this 1920’s pearl necklace out on the town in her flapper-esque dress…
If you like vintage watches, then you’ll definitely like this Longines timepiece from the 1930’s, which is completely original inside and with a new strap.
She says that she rarely edits her jewelry, as she has been given so many lovely gifts and she only buys what she loves. With so much diversity in her jewelry box, I asked her what was on her jewelry lust list. Here’s her top items:
1. There are always some Hermes pieces that she has her eye on
2. A gold pearl necklace and matching stud earrings (which would complement her hair perfectly!)
3. A single stone aquamarine pendant
4. Brown diamond stacking rings
I’m sure, like me, she’ll add things to her list. And sometimes you don’t even know when your heart will be pulled by something sparkly as you walk by the window of a random shop. Though whatever she does end up acquiring, either for herself or as a gift, I know it will have a story. There was not one item we found that didn’t have a story to go along with it, and in my eyes, that makes her collection all the more special.
Thanks for opening up your jewelry box for me, Merna! xo
Black and white outfits were ALL over the runway this spring, and it’s no surprise that it’s translated into jewelry as well. The point was driven home when I saw this amazing cuff by Robert Procup — the diamonds, the stingray, heck, I’m hooked!
For a more bohemian vibe on the trend, check out this cuff by Kevia.
Chan Luu, the goddess of wrap bracelets, also has her interpretation in black and white agate.
Nan Fusco has come up with a very versatile black and white combo with this piece. It can be worn as a necklace or a wrap bracelet. Now that’s some good cost-per-wear.
And for a more modern look, these hoops from Ippolita’s Rock Candy Collection are definitely a new classic!
And let’s not neglect our fabulous fingers! If a more substantial, statement ring is up your alley, then you’ll covet this evil eye design by Miriam Salat.
Then again, you may be more apt to wear a delicate ring. In this case, I’m loving this ring by Nolan.
I think that exploring the black and white trend is so much more user-friendly in jewelry, as opposed to in your outfit. Let me explain…if you have high-contrast personal coloring (like Cher — dark hair and pale skin), then repeating this high-contrast level in your clothing is a very inherent look and is fabulous. On the other hand, if you are more low-contrast (think Gwyneth Paltrow — pale hair, skin and eyes), then wearing black and white for your outfit is a bit overwhelming. People will notice your outfit before they notice you. SO, interpreting the trend in jewelry and accessories is the perfect solution.
I’d love to hear how you’re wearing (or not) the black and white trend this spring. Send me photos!!
Spring is here and romance is in the air (at least that’s what I’m hoping for!!)…and this fifth installment of “Jewelry Box Basics” focuses on jewelry for the romantic personal style. Ooh la la! During this six-part series, I’ve covered the lady who lunches, the bohemian, the rock star, the minimalist, and now the romantic. Based on these different personal styles, I’m recommending the type of basics you should have in your jewelry box. While the pieces I select might not be at the price point that you feel comfortable shopping at, please don’t let this dissuade you from following the general theme and finding what makes your heart happy.
So the romantic is a style that is extremely feminine. Often lace, floral prints, family heirlooms, and sheer fabrics can be found in her closet. Just as with the bohemian style, there is a wide range in this genre — from just a few girly touches here and there to someone who channels the look from an era gone by. I’ve spotted some great examples of this while at vintage clothing and jewelry fairs. The underlying theme is delicate and feminine, often with a nod to the past.
I recommend that the romantic select a watch that’s not too over-sized, such as this one by Kate Spade. Instead, think of a refined watch in your most flattering metal or with a slim leather band. Perhaps you even have your mom’s or grandmother’s watch in your jewelry box? This could definitely be a basic for you!
More than any other personal style, the romantic is the most likely to have, love and wear a charm bracelet every day. Charm bracelets pair beautifully with a watch, and can be stacked with a simple bangle as well.
Floral motifs figure prominently for the romantic, so choosing a ring with some sort of flower is certainly fitting. This delicate creation by Cathy Waterman is a beautiful way to achieve this look without looking “too too.”
Vintage or vintage-inspired jewelry is spot-on for the romantic. This necklace by 1928 Jewelry incorporates this look, along with the flower detail we just mentioned.
Lockets and cameos are two other types of necklaces that would be a great basic for this personal style. Many times cameos are made to be worn on a chain or as a brooch, which make them even more versatile.
You know my penchant for hoops, yet each personal style will have slightly different versions. For the romantic, I love these hoops by Armenta, with their unique shape and scalloped detail. And really…how can you go wrong with a few diamonds thrown in?!
For a non-hoop option, these drops by Judith Jack are right on the money.
So what do you think? Does your personal style include any of these romantic aspects? Remember, people don’t typically fit into just one style box…
Do you remember how a while back I told you that my interest had been piqued about vintage jewelry? Well ever since then, I seem to be noticing it more and more! (I guess it’s sort of like when you’re in the market for a new car, and suddenly you’re surrounded by the make and model you have your heart set on.)
At any rate, I found myself at a swanky cocktail party in San Francisco, and I was taking in the scene unfolding around me. Before I knew it, my eyes made a bee-line for this cross around a very glamorous woman’s neck.
In chatting with her, I learned that she bought this at the Vintage Fashion Expo back in the 1980’s. Looks like this show will be back in the Bay Area in September, so I just may have to check it out! (They have three shows in the Los Angeles area this winter/spring as well) I think it’s great that this piece has stood the test of time, and that she makes it her own by mixing it with current fashion.
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!
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!
And look at the back view!
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!
Hot guys and jewelry…put them together and how can you go wrong?!? It’s even better when that guy designs some of the most amazing and increasingly popular jewelry around. When I first stumbled into Alexis Bittar’s Soho store in NYC years ago (I think circa 2005), I knew he was on to something big. Press fast forward and he’s become one of the most well-known jewelry designers I’m aware of.
Alexis’ line is probably most famous for his lucite pieces. In fact, my friend Jen seriously needs to enroll in a 12-step program to deal with purchasing said pieces. Here’s a peek into her collection:
His collection has three different branches. I think the one he’s most well-known for is his Lucite collection, which includes amazing hand-carved, often embellished works of art. Then he’s got his Miss Havisham collection, which is a bit more hard-core — encrusted with crystals and the occasional feather detail. Finally, there’s the Elements line, which truly has an organic esthetic.
While his line can be found in major retailers throughout the nation (Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Sak’s to name a few), I feel it’s his singular boutiques which really get his vibe across. San Francisco (my stomping ground) had the privilege of his store opening this past year on Fillmore Street. I stopped by for a visit recently. Upon entering the boutique, I felt like I had walked into a large jewelry box, complete with bleached grey cabinetry filled with his vision, a light grey marble floor and papered walls adorned with painted cherry blossom branches. This case highlighted his tribute to Grey Gardens, with feminine tones of pinks and greys.
One of the coolest aspects of his boutiques are the collection of vintage pieces he has curated. He has a been a collector for most of his life, and he’s accumulated a wide array of delights which he now sells solely at his retail boutiques. Here’s just a few of the items available on the day I visited.
So between his own designs and the amazing treasures he’s picked up from his lifetime of travels, I think I have a crush on him. If he’s not yet on your radar, then get up to speed. You may find yourself in need of an Alexis Bittar 12-step program yourself.