Last week at JCK, the biggest jewelry industry convention of the year, I noticed a barrage of body chains. I have no doubt that the fire behind this trend has to do, to a certain extent, with Beyoncé’s body chains. Since their debut in Beyoncé’s documentary, ‘Life is But a Dream‘, body chains have been on everyone’s minds; but aside from the taut six packs of tanned celebrities, I have yet to see many gracing bellies around town. This obviously begs the question: can lowly civilians rock a body chain in real life?
Beyoncé wearing her gold body chain with diamonds in ‘Life is But a Dream‘.
When asked last week during an interview whether I thought body chains would catch on, I opined that consumers would likely be put off by body chains made of precious metals and gems because of the high price points, however, I do think they will be popular once they hit the mainstream costume jewelry market. The logic is simple–body chains make a very specific aesthetic statement; if people are going to dip their toe in the proverbial water, they will do it with a costume belly chain that costs under $1,000 rather than a fine jewelry belly chain that costs upwards of $20,000.
Belly chains are not easy to pull off. I personally think they look ridiculous over clothes which leaves very few styling options left to experiment with. In my opinion, belly chains look fab under a) a crop top, b) over a bikini or a bathing suit with massive cut outs that render it practically a bikini (don’t bother attempting to wear a body chain over a one-piece bathing suit–it’s like wearing a garter belt over jeggings), or c) naked. Naturally, given options a through c above, you can see how body chains may just push a poor unsuspecting soul over the skank edge so tread carefully!
Beyoncé again wearing a body chain in her documentary.
Bottom line: If I walked around half-naked all the time (and had the abs to do so), I would totally invest in a gold body chain specked with diamonds. For those of you who spend most of your time clothed but want to try out the trend this summer, you can find costume body chains here:
Fauxtale, body chain; available here.
Jacquie Aiche, body chain; available here.
L’Agence, beaded body chain; available here.
Luv AJ, crystal and rose gold-plated body chain; available here.
AK Vintage, body chain; available here.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,
Mark my words, the next huge trend in jewelry is going to be midi rings, also known as above the knuckle rings or as mid-knuckle rings. For those of you who think this way of wearing rings is too trendy for you, let me put your mind at ease–it’s not a new trend. In fact, people have been wearing rings on their fingers between the first and second knuckle since the Middle Ages (5th to 15th century). Almost every other fashion source that I’ve seen states that this practice originated during the Renaissance but that’s factually incorrect. The practice of wearing midi rings began in the Middle Ages, however such rings were widely documented in art during the Renaissance so people assume that the practice originated later than it actually did. Humphf! Rookies. . .
Once a practice of the aristocracy and uber-wealthy, it was a statement as to one’s status–the more rings one wears the less manual labor one is able to do. So what does one do if one runs out of finger real estate? Build up! Duh. I suppose revolutions and the fall of many a monarchy had something to do with stifling such overtly ostentatious behavior for a few centuries. Well, now it’s back and I’m not ashamed to say that I will be one of the first to get back on the midi ring bandwagon. Maybe if I wear enough rings on my fingers I can get out of dishwashing duty and make Immigrant Husband take on that chore. . .maybe not.
Bernhard Strigel, Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1515
Raphael, Portrait of Maddalena Doni, ca. 1506
I’m going to design myself one with a rose cut diamond and a pave white diamond band set in rose gold. If you would like to recreate the mid ring look, either contact me to have me design one for you or you can buy more modern versions here:
Elise Dray, midi-finger ring with black diamonds; available here.
Jo.Liu, Linear Knuckle Ring; available here.
Maria Francesca Pepe, gold hammered midi-ring; available here.
Urban Outfitters, midi ring; available here.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,
The saying that one “knows just enough to be dangerous” was invented to describe a lay person who learns about the 4 C’s of diamonds and then goes to buy colored stones. Well, not really–but it could not be more applicable. Generally, people will google the 4 C’s before they buy a diamond and then head off into the trenches to buy a diamond. OK, no harm done. Worst case scenario they just bought themselves a diamond that is not a great fit for their needs or investment strategy but it won’t be horrible. However, walk into a store to buy a colored stone flashing around your 4 C’s and your wallet and/or ego will get a thrashing. You see, when one buys colored stones, the 4 C’s don’t matter at all because an entirely different criteria applies. The second you whip out the 4 C’s the salesperson knows you’re a rookie.
Colored stones are infinitely more complex than diamonds. When it comes to colored stones, color is king. Duh. Always go for the truest color (as long as it appeals to you). However, having said that it is very difficult for a person who is not in the industry to know what the “true color” of a particular stone should be. I know what exact shade of green radiates from the best emerald, the perfect crisp light blue of a Paraiba tourmaline, or deep complex red of a rubellite, from an investment perspective–but for the retail buyer, personal preference plays a larger role than return on investment. Some people prefer deeper green emeralds that are so dark they are almost opaque, others prefer a vivid grass-green. Prices vary immensely based on color.
Inclusions can matter but generally no one cares about inclusions if the stone is lively. By lively, I mean you want to look at a stone and feel as though it is flirting with you. That is the only way I know how to describe it. I’ve seen perfectly clear stones sit on my dealers shelves and never move and then I’ve seen stones with inclusions that seduce their way to a fabulous home. A flirty stone is like someone with a glimmer in their eyes–you can’t miss it.
26 carat Paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique is such a vivid blue and so clear that it costs more per carat than a diamond. This is one sexy stone. The ones from Brazil are so rare I’ve never seen one this size, color or clear.
For a collector, rarity is also key. Thus, it is always important to ask what treatments the colored stones have had. Certain treatments are normal: emeralds are often treated with oil to improve the inclusions, sapphires and rubies are heated to improve the inclusions and color. All collectors hunt for the non-treated natural stones. However, the difference between a treated stone and untreated stone is often hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars so unless you’ve got the zeros on-call, the normal treatments will not matter. The treatment to avoid like the plague is dyeing. Stay away from a dyed stones–once a stone is dyed it’s not worth anything.
Untreated emeralds with no or minute inclusions are extremely rare. This 12+ carat is one of the clearest untreated stones I’ve seen.
Origin is another factor that affects investment value. Certain stones are worth more when they come from specific geographical regions. For example, Colombian emeralds are more valuable than Brazilian emeralds, Brazilian emeralds are more valuable than Zambian emeralds. Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil are the most valuable followed by ones from Mozambique. Burmese sapphires and rubies are more valuable than African ones but a good sapphire from Kashmir or Ceylon can knock the Burmese ones out of the water. It all depends.
For general purposes, focus on color, make sure you choose a flirtatious stone, make sure the colored stone has not been dyed, ask a few questions and make sure the big ones come with certificates. Those interested in collecting or investing in colored stones should always go through an expert.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,
Ladies and gents, I’m calling it now: Heaven Tanudiredja will become the Alexander McQueen of costume jewelry. Not because of his pedigree–trained in womenswear at Antwerp’s Royal Academy, worked for Dries van Noten, stint at Dior–but because the Bali-born, Antwerp-based designer’s mind is just that out-there. He draws inspiration for his collections from. . .mental disorders WTF?!?! It’s ok, don’t judge. Tanudiredja recently told B0F in an interview that he tries to “sculpt the beauty behind the chaos.” I adore people whose approaches to design or to life blindside you–it is so refreshing. Despite the vibrant use of color that you will see in Heaven Tanudiredja jewelry, the details in texture and embellishment reference the dark origins of statement necklaces and cuffs bearing names such as ‘Pyromania’ and ‘Anorexia Nervosa.’ Here is a little glimpse of Heaven Tanudiredja’s past and current collections:
Heaven Tanudiredja Fall/Winter 2012/13 Photos by Zeb Daemen
Heaven Tanudiredja Spring/Summer 2013. Photos by Zeb Damen.
Heaven Tanudiredja’s pieces will be sold at 10 Corso Como, Joyce, Dover Street Market and Luisa Via Roma.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,