Category: Costume Jewelry: Vintage

Ear Cuffs in Earnest

For Millennials, the return of ear cuffs may feel reminiscent of the 90’s when grunge, goth, and punk revival made spike or skull and crossbones ear cuffs practically de rigueur.  While I can just squeak into the Millennials basket (I hop in and out depending on whether it suits my current mindset and stance in a discussion naturally), my study of jewelry history has made it possible for me to disassociate ear cuffs with the grunge movement and hence, embrace them far more readily.

Ear cuffs can be dated back to the ancient Greeks, they were a favored adornment of the aristocracy and widely worn as a symbol of affluence.  Ear cuffs were also worn by the indigenous people of Mexico, Thailand, and India many centuries ago.  In the 1950’s, costume jewelry designer, Marcel Boucher, coined the term “earrite” for another type of ear cuff which wraps around the ear.

While both ear cuffs and earrites are gaining momentum in the arena of aural accoutrement, it seems that Mr. Boucher’s earrites are stealing the show–they first started trickling down the fashion pipeline during the Spring/Summer 2013 shows at Rodarte and Jason Wu but mark my words, this little trend is just taking root.  Hit it early and you may be able to get some quality time with your blinged-out ear cuffs and earrites before every blogger want-to-be starts plastering their social media with their sparkling elfin ears.

Fine Jewelry

Ear Cuffs in EarnestAna Khouri, Mirian 18-karat white gold diamond ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in EarnestNikos Koulis, white gold and white diamond Fontana ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in Earnest

Izel, 14-karat gold diamond ear cuff; available here.

Costume Jewelry

Ear Cuffs in Earnest

Ryan Storer, Swarovski crystal ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in Earnest

Ryan Storer, Swarovski crystal ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in EarnestEmanuele Bicocchi, flower ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in Earnest

Givenchy, crystal and mother-of-pearl ear cuff; available here.Ear Cuffs in EarnestBjorg, silver ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in Earnest

Vicki Sarge, gold-plated Swarovski crystal ear cuffs; available here.

Ear Cuffs in Earnest

Ryan Storer, rose gold-plated Swarovski crystal and pearl ear cuffs; available here.

Look for Less

 

Ear Cuffs in EarnestBaubleBar, winged crystal ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in EarnestBaubleBar, crystal Orion ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in EarnestBaubleBar, Hermes ear cuff; available here.

Ear Cuffs in EarnestJewelIQ, laurel ear cuff; available here.

Someone should make hearing aids for women this pretty…just a thought.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

Costume Jewelry: The Barbara Berger Collection

 

OK, get ready to dork out with me.  Barbara Berger, daughter to a diamond dealer, has amassed a collection of costume jewelry 4,000+ pieces strong and a selection of the Barbara Berger collection is currently on display at the Museum of Art and Design in NYC.  My mind is literally reeling at the prospect that someone else out there loves costume jewelry as much as I do to have curated such a collection.  The next thought that popped into my head is that I have to track down Ms. Berger and trade storage tips.

In her interview with W magazine (and in every interview I’ve ever read about her) she is asked why the daughter of a diamond dealer collects costume jewelry.  Such a ridiculous question.  Costume jewelry and fine jewelry are totally different beasts and serve different masters.  Costume jewelry worships at the altar of fanciful and massive whereas fine jewelry is the commander of rarity and value.  Totally different from design, technique, and aesthetic perspectives.  People who don’t realize that distinction are those who either do not care for jewelry or those who buy costume jewelry that is intended to mimic real gems and precious stones–faux pas.  I can’t resist a tangent on the horrors of buying boring costume jewelry in an effort to pass it as fine jewelry.  A) You’re not fooling anyone worth fooling and B) grow some cojones–if you’re going to buy costume, go for the most frivolous, massive, gorgeously jaw dropping piece you can find. Costume jewelry was not invented in order to pass for real jewelry; it was invented because the crazy shit that people wanted to make would be too cost-prohibitive to make with real gems and precious metals.

OK, back to Barbara Berger’s massive costume jewelry collection that is on exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design in NYC until January 20, 2014.  It is exactly what costume jewelry should be.  Vintage Trifari, Gripoix, and Boucher pieces are shown alongside contemporary favorites (of mine) Iradj Moini, Lawrence Vrba, and Daniel von Weinberger.  Here is a sneak peek:

Costume Jewelry: The Barbara Berger CollectionMaison Gripoix (circa 2000), France.  Feather bib necklace. Feathers, poured glass, simulated pearls, rhinestones, gold-plated. ©Pablo Esteva

Costume Jewelry: The Barbara Berger Collection

Iradj Moini (1995), United States.  Lobster brooch. Czech and Austrian stones, silver plated. Signed Iradj Moini. ©Pablo Esteva

If you can, go see the exhibit before September 22, 2013 as a portion of it will close.  If can’t make it to New York for a viewing, you can view all the pieces in Fashion Jewelry, The Collection of Barbara BergerCostume Jewelry: The Barbara Berger Collection.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

rosantica green jade necklace

Jade-ed

 

My family was persecuted many years ago during the Cultural Revolution in China.  All of our artwork, property, jewelry, and other worldly possessions were confiscated by the Communist regime.  In the beginning of the revolution before things turned brutal, my grandfather was told by the Communists that all of the family’s possessions would be kept in the bank for “safe keeping” and returned to him after the revolution.  He was encouraged to visit the safe and continue to stash valuable items there.  My paternal grandfather, a savvy man-of-the-world with nerves of steel, suspected otherwise.  He convinced my grandmother to accompany him to the bank to survey their possessions–a trip he usually took alone.  He told her to wear her jade necklace, a strand of large perfectly round beads made of a flawless jade so green they pierced the eyes.  He said even though there was a revolution afoot, one must still keep up standards.  At the bank, he told her he had a change of heart, “Take your necklace off, I will put it in safety deposit.  We will get it back after the revolution as they promise.”  My grandmother did as she was told.  To her surprise, he returned with a box that contained an identical necklace.  He had a glass replica made for her so she could still have something to wear while the real jade necklace was in safe keeping.  My grandmother was not a fussy woman, she put on the glass necklace and that was that.

As the revolution turned into a slaughter, my family lost everything; children were made to betray their parents, women were tortured, youth were sent to work camps in the countryside, and that safe in the bank turned into property of the Communist Regime.  My grandparents eventually emigrated to the United States and the travesties that occurred during the revolution became fuzzy-edged tales of a distant past.  As a child, I remember my grandfather putting a jade necklace up for auction at Sotheby’s in the early 80’s but didn’t learn the story until much later.  As it turns out, grandpa knew all along that the best way to hide a treasure is in plain sight.  While the glass replica of my grandmother’s jade necklace sat in the safe amongst all our family’s other treasures, my grandmother dragged her pristine jade necklace through the Cultural Revolution to America all the while thinking it was a worthless string of colored glass.

Jade ed

 

Jean & Alex jade ring with diamonds and pink sapphire set in 20k yellow gold, black gold and platinum.  Designed by my father for my mother.

I always thought of jade as the signature bangles worn by old ladies in Chinatown and was never particularly drawn to it until I saw a jade ring that my father designed for my mother.  These days, high quality jade can fetch millions of dollars but lower quality jade is still quite affordable.  Jade comes in all different colors, green, purple, pink, white, black and yellow.  If you encounter a vividly colored piece of jade jewelry that is quite affordable, it is most likely color-treated or faux (i.e.glass).  There is nothing wrong with purchasing color-treated jade but as with everything, one should buy it knowingly.  Here is a tribute to all things jade, real, faux and everything in between.

Jade ed

 

Rosantica, jade and agate necklace, available here.

Jade edElisabeth Cole costume earrings, available here.

Jade ed

Napier, faux jade elephant and filigree earrings, available here.

Jade ed

White topaz, 18k yellow gold and black jade ring, available here.

Jade ed

Valentino Rockstud sandals, available here.

Jade edID Sarrieri, jade blossom triangle bra, available here.

Jade edID Sarrieri, jade blossom bikini, available here.

Jade edYSL, La Laque Couture, nail polish, available here.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

Mulling: Over the Ear Cuffs, Earrings and Earrites

 

The last time I experimented with ear cuffs was most likely sometime in the mid-90’s right about when I was dying my hair blue-black, wearing oversized plaid flannel shirts and forest green Doc Martins.  Before those who were born in the 90’s pass judgement, I’ll have you know that everyone was wearing flannel and Doc Martins, even Liz Hurley.  I digress.  Ear cuffs have always in my mind, been associated with an edgy biker/goth/alternative/indie demographic–basically any demographic that would wear black lipstick without even the faintest whiff of irony.  Well, it behooves me to set the record straight.  A certain type of over the ear cuffs that were made popular in the 1950’s were extremely dainty and ladylike.

Enter the over the ear earring, over the ear cuff or as costume jewelry designer, Marcel Boucher named it in 1950, the Earrite.  I sometimes wonder whether this item of jewelry would have gained in popularity if it had a catchier name.  Earrites are earrings that are worn hooked over the ear and do not require any piercing.  I find it amazing that Boucher patented the Earrite in 1950–what a renaissance man.

Mulling: Over the Ear Cuffs, Earrings and Earrites

Marcel Boucher advertisement featuring the Earrite.

Mulling: Over the Ear Cuffs, Earrings and Earrites

Vintage Boucher rhinestone Earrite.

Earrites are sold individually and are meant to be worn alone, not as a pair.  Modern versions are a bit funkier–usually incorporating spikes, feathers and winged shapes.

Mulling: Over the Ear Cuffs, Earrings and Earrites

Estonian designer, Anni Jürgenson’s ear cuffs with rose gold spikes; available here.

Mulling: Over the Ear Cuffs, Earrings and EarritesOASAP, leaves shaped single ear cuff; available here.

Mulling: Over the Ear Cuffs, Earrings and Earrites

ASOS, navette stone ear cuff; available here.

Mulling: Over the Ear Cuffs, Earrings and Earrites

Etro, rhodium-plated Swarovski crystal ear cuff; available here.

 I firmly love the vintage Boucher Earrites but I suspect modern versions may still be a touch outside the purview of my aesthetic.  I would, however, love to design a diamond-studded ear cuff inspired by Boucher’s Earrites.  Now that is something to mull over. . .

What are your thoughts?

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

On Layering Necklaces

 

Do you ever watch Gossip Girl and wonder where they get all their amazing jewelry?  I do.  For those of you who think Gossip Girl is a mindless drama sitcom, it is–but it’s also a jewelry styling masterpiece.  Last week while I was recovering from my self-inflicted injury I took the time to analyze and pick apart Lilly and Serena’s jewelry ensembles and had two major revelations: 1) the jewelry on the show comes from the same places I purchase my costume jewelry–Net-a-porter, Bottica, Max & Chloe, BaubleBar and a scattering of smaller boutiques; and 2) all the necklaces seem intricate and unique but they are actually many necklaces layered together.  Layering necklaces is something of an art form.  When executed properly, it increases your jewelry options exponentially and gives the impression that you possess a treasure trove of goodies.

Lengths

For the layering novice, know there are 3 lengths you can work with: short, long and graduated from short to long.  Obviously for long and short layered looks choose necklaces of roughly the same length and for graduated lengths you will have to choose a selection of lengths ranging from short to long.

Contrasts

Simply piling a bunch of necklaces of the same color or texture together is a no brainer but it also makes for a rather dull arrangement.  In order to pack the most visual punch, make sure you have a contrast in color, texture of both.  The contrast is what makes, as Diana Vreeland put it, the eye travel–the importance of which is laid out in my post here.

On Layering Necklaces

Mink puff-ball necklace from Kopenhagen Fur, Givenchy Crystal Station Long Necklace, available here.

Start Simple

One thing I know for certain is that layering, and accessorizing in general, is a gateway drug.  One day you wake up and innocently stumble upon a simple jewelry combination that makes your little heart go pitter patter, the next you look for another and by the end of the month you look like a crazy bag lady.  So so I’ve been told. . .ahem.  So, start simple with two necklaces to play around and train your eye.  You’ll be building on that naturally so no need to rush.

On Layering Necklaces

Mink puff-ball necklace from Kopenhagen Fur; Givenchy Crystal Station Long Necklace, available here; and silver confetti necklace, similar one available here.

Experiment

Try playing around with different styles of necklaces to see which ones go together and which order of stacking is the most lovely.

On Layering Necklaces

Neon necklace, similar one here; Venus Flytrap necklace, available here; and starburst necklace, similar one here.  All from J.Crew.

Don’t Hold Back

Once you’ve got into a groove and you have a good thing going, don’t edit yourself.  I believe that eccentricity is awesome.  As long as you’re dressed appropriately, who cares if you’re a bit over-dressed or fabulously accessorized?  Nothing wrong with turning some heads as long as you are comfortable with the attention it comes with.

On Layering Necklaces

BaubleBar, White Crystal Mix necklace, available here; Vintage Lawrence Vrba Sultan necklace; Givenchy Crystal Station Long Necklace, available here; and silver confetti necklace, similar one available here.

Happy layering my DMD darlings!  Feel free to comment and include a picture of your favorite arrangements.  I would love to see!

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP