Monday, August 31, 2009

What's in Drew Barrymore's Jewelry Box?

I've written often about how Hollywood stars believe in the "less is more" motto when it comes to jewelry. One starlet who doesn't subscribe to that theory is Drew Barrymore. The lady loves bling! But Drew isn't just into normal bling - she loves statement jewelry at its grandest.

Whether it is a pair of long dangly earrings, a big cuff braclet of a huge statement ring, Drew obviously loves any type of jewelry that will make an impression when worn. She is a jewelry retailers delight!

Statement necklaces abound in photos of her. Here are some of the recent ones:

Here is a peek in to her jewelry box. I'm sure you will agree that Drew believes in accessorizing. Love her look or not, she is obviously and individual.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today's Vintage Bling - Yellow Flower Pin with Orange Rhinestone Centers

This pin isn't a super glitzy piece. It just has a few orange rhinestones that are centers to the yellow enamel flowers but don't they showcase the piece beautifully?

The pin really appeals to me. I love the combination of yellow and orange and the depth and dimension of the design is really special. It is not often that one finds older enamel flower jewelry in such good condition. Someone took special care storing this beauty.

The brooch has a white riveted back setting and is 1 3/4" with a 1/2" dome and rounded V clasp closure. It is from the 1950s but would look spectacular with this summer's fashions. Yellow has been a strong fashion choice all summer long this year.

The pin is available from my Ruby Lane Shop - Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry for only $22.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Textile Jewelry by Silvina Romero

I am enchanted by the jewelry of a talented Argentinian jewelry designer that I have just discovered. Silvina Romero makes gorgeous, colorful, and very tactile jewelry out of recycled pieces of fabric and textiles.

The artist started working with discarded textiles in 2003 when the Argentinian economic crisis was at its height. She gathered scrap fabril, thread and more in an area where the fabric manufacturers were set up. She turned their trash into her treasures and has since been recognized for her unique pieces of wearable art.

According to her website, she makes the jewelry by means of different treatments like dyeing, surrounding ,weaving, and unraveling, so that the original materials transformed into diverse textures.

Here are a few of her designs:

You can view more of her jewelry on her website. (scroll down for a photo gallery when you get to the website.

With our economy in such a depressed state, perhaps it is an opportunity for local jewelry designers to take a page from her book and become "green by necessity."

Friday, August 28, 2009

September Birthstone - Sapphire

It's almost time for a new month, and that means that it's time to discuss the birthstone for September - the Sapphire. Are you surprised that the picture doesn't show only blue stones?

The reason for this is because the sapphire is a member of the corundum family of minerals, like the ruby. By definition, all colors of corundum other than red are classified as sapphire. However, any colors of sapphire other than blue are considered "fancy sapphires." Cornflower blue is the most popular color for sapphires.

Photo of the sapphires courtesy of ebay seller BangkokGemMart

The sapphire is considered the modern and traditional birthstone for the month of September. It is also given as gifts for the 5th, 23rd, and 45th wedding anniversary.

The word sapphire comes from the Greek word "sappheiros" which means precious stone. It is highly prized as gemstones. Sapphires have long been worn by priests, who associate the stone with purity, and also kings who thought that they symbolized wisdom. They have been used in Vintage and Antique jewelry since early times.

The world's largest sapphire is the Millennium Sapphire, a huge sapphire discovered in 1995 in Madagascar. It is designated a national treasure and is valued between US$90 and US$500 million. This massive gem broke the previous record and is an astounding 61,500 carats. It has been exhibited in museums world wide since its discovery.

Sapphires have a hardness of 9 on the Moh's scale of hardness. which makes it a very hard stone, close to that of a diamond. It is mined in many areas of the world particularly Australia, Ceylon and Thailand. East Africa and Montana in the US are secondary sources of the gem.

After mining, sapphires are heat-treated to remove cloudiness which is caused by very fine crystal inclusions, and to improve the color. This treatment is permanent.

For those who believe in metaphysics, the sapphire is thought to enable the wearer with clairvoyance and insight. The healing properties associated with the gem are that it is effective for health problems relating to hearing problems, cancer and burns. It also is supposed to lower fevers and aid in inflammation.

To care for sapphires is relatively easy. They are very hard stones, but can still be subject to chips or splits, so some care must be taken when wearing to avoid hard knocks. They should be cleaned regularly to keep their bright color. They can be cleaned with a soft cloth and gentle detergent. They may also be soaked if needed in warm water and detergent. Always dry carefully before storing. They are safe to use in ultrasonic cleaners if there are no other stones than diamonds in the setting.

This lovely Georgian poem talks about the qualities of Sapphires:

A maiden born when autumn leaves
Are rustling in September's breeze,
A Sapphire on her brow should bind;
To bring her joy and peace of mind.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Late Summer Reading - Necklaces and Pendants by Angie Boothroyd

The summer is coming to an end and the kids are about to start school, so it's time (at least for me) to catch up on some reading. I'm always looking for new and interesting jewelry books that I haven't read or seen before.

I've discovered a great book for those of you who like to make jewelry. It's by London designer Angie Boothroyd who is an outstanding goldsmith and modern day alchemist. She isn't content to just design - Angie actually makes her own metal alloys to create 18 and 22 carat golds for her products.

Each of her pieces is made by hand, with great attention to design and details, so the pieces are of the highest quality. The designs are both simple and elegant. Angie has exhibited her pieces world wide.

This book is her first and is called Necklaces and Pendants, published by A&C Black. It focuses on making necklaces and pendants and offers step by step projects which are suitable for beginners and skilled jewelers as well. It is well illustrated with practical "teaching photographs" and contains gallery style images of her work.

The book is available from leading book retailers world wide.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Necklace Design Contest by People's Choice Awards

Jewelry designer Kendra Scott and People's Choice Awards have teamed up for an interesting new jewelry design contest. The contest offers a unique opportunity for aspiring jewelry designers to create a necklace to be worn during the live 2010 People's Choice Awards telecast and to be sold in stores nationwide.

The winner of the contest will receive a trip to LA for the People's Choice Awards ceremony, and another trip to Austin, TX to visit Kendra's design studio.

Voting will take place from now until Sept. 14, at will feature a custom-designed program which lets users to mix and match stones, chains and metals to create the ultimate signature necklace.

The contest ends on Sept. 21, when Scott will pick her three favorite designs and post them back on the Web site for fans to vote for their favorite. The winning necklace design will be announced on Oct. 5.

You can view a video of Kendra Scott discussing the contest and the contest rules and entry form here.

Kendra Scott's designs have been seen on couture fashion runways and is appreciated by women around the world. Her bold designs are regularly featured in popular magazines such as InStyle, the Oprah Magazine, and Town & Country. For design ideas from Kendra, visit

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MAD Exhibition of Glass in Contemporary Jewelry

Readers of my blog know that I adore glass in jewelry. I just love the weight of it and the coolness that is present when worn, especially at the neckline.

The Museum of Arts and Design in New York City has a wonderful exhibition running at present called "GlassWear", which showcases glass in contemporary jewelry. This international exhibition opened on July 15, 2009 and will run until September 20. It has been organized jointly MAD and the Schmuckmuseum, Pforzheim, Germany, and displays over 120 appealing glass jewelry pieces by 60 of the world's leading jewelry artists.

The pieces tend to be mainly by contemporary artists, but there are also several from the 1960s. The brooch shown here is from 2005 and is from Austrian artist Helfried Kodré. It comes from a private German collection and is made of silver and mosaic glass. You can view more of his pieces here. I am fond of mosaics, so all of his pieces appeal to me. The styles are very avant garde and have a modern Art Deco look to them.

According to the museum, GlassWear conveys the potential of glass in jewelry through provocative concepts and masterful techniques featuring an eclectic mix of renowned artists and young, up-and-coming jewelers from around the world.

Some of the artists include: Linda MacNeil, Robert Ebendorf and Thomas Gentille (United States), Giampaolo Babetto and Giorgio Vigna (Italy), Otto Künzli and Karl Fritsch (Germany), Evert Nijland and Ruudt Peters (The Netherlands) as well as many other international artists. The exhibit comes with a 210 page English and German catalogue (English/German) which includes 72 color images, a bibliography and brief artists' biographies.

For more information and times of the exhibit GlassWear, as well as photos of many of the exhibits, please visit the MAD website.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Best of Gold Winner announced by National Jewelers

The National Jeweler is a great website for all sorts of jewelry based information. They routinely have various contests to determine for whom they consider to be the best in various jewelry categories.

One of their latest contests was held in June and was a best of gold competition. They received many entries and ended up with this stunning "Verve Bangle Bracelet" as the winner.

The design is by Shaill Jhaveri who says that he draws inspiration from his youth in India and recent travels to the Far East, and he describes his 18-karat gold pieces, including the winning cuff, as "cross cultural contemporary."

The bracelet is crafted in 18-karat yellow gold and oxidized sterling silver. I love the positive and negative spaces as well as the effects of the overlapping patterns.

You can read more about the contest and this bracelet by visiting the National Jeweler website.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jewelry That Looks Good Enough to Eat! Cora Sheibani

I'm always on the look out for unusual jewelry that I haven't come across in my experience with vintage and contemporary jewelry. Since, cooking is also one of my hobbies and ongoing loves, it was particularly interesting to me to learn about Swiss born designer Coro Sheibani.

Photo credit: Matthew Hollow

Several years ago, Cora ran into a production glitch and spent the afternoon eating pastries in Zurich. She made the aquaintance of a goldsmith who had antique molds for making candy and pastries. Ms Cheibani was very taken with the molds, and started collecting them. Since then some of her jewelry is influenced by pastry designs.

Whether whimsical or elegant, her gems sometimes look like items that could be found on a pastry cart. Of course, they look even better on your wrist or finger.

Done in precious metals and stones, her pieces are not inexpensive. Look for price tags around $5000-$10,000. Ms Sheibani has exhibited in New York, London and Switzerland, among other international countries.

Here is a good example of this style of jewelry. I can't decide whether to go make this Lindzer torte or think about wearing it on my finger. It certainly is realistic looking.

She is also the author of the book "Copper Mold Jewellery." The book has recipes for cooking and pictures of her pieces modeled after the finish product.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Pavé

Pavé is the process of setting stones (notably rhinestones) in which a number of small stones are set as closely together as possible. The word is taken from the French and is pronounced pa - vay.
Often better pieces will use a claw setting. For less expensive pieces, the stones are simply glued in. The end result is what looks like a continuous surface of diamonds or other gems.

Pavé is a word that is often misused. So much so, in fact, that the word has incorrectly become nearly a ‘generic’ description of any piece of jewelry with a lot of rhinestones. The original French word meant paving, in a similar manner to paving a street. If you think of this meaning, it will help to get a better picture of pave settings in your mind. The jewelry piece should be literally "paved" with stones or rhinestones, with as little metal as possible showing.

The word is also often used for a strip in a setting which is done in this same style. The strip will look like a little paved street, and is used as an accent, rather than covering the whole piece of jewelry. In pavé, each of the stones each has their own little holding area the shape of the stone. The holding areas are just very close together.

Here are a few examples of pavé jewelry. You can click the pictures to open a larger image.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Find of the Week - Juliana Style Aurora Borealis Earrings

This week's vintage jewelry find is a pair of fabulous Juliana Style earrings with Aurora Borealis Rhinestones. The earrings have many of the elements of D & E Juliana designs but, alas, were not verified by the Juliana verification site. Still lovely and so full of sparkle and fire.

The earrings are set in goldtone metal and have a layered design with prong set aurora borealis rhinestones which rise to a large single aurora borelais center chaton which is surrounded by smaller AB stones.

So pretty and fantastic condition of the AB rhinestones. The size is 3/4 x 1". They are in gently used very fine condition.

For details and more pictures, you can view these Juliana Style rhinestone earrings in my Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry store. The price is $30.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's Featured Vintage Jewelry Designer - Emmons

Today's featured vintage jewelry designer is Emmons. Most collectors of vintage jewelry know the name Sarah Coventry, but many do not know that the Sarah Coventry line was only one line developed by Charles H. Stuart.

In 1949 Mr. Stuart founded the Emmons Jewelry Company, to honor his wife Caroline (Emmons) Stuart. Like Sarah Coventry jewelry, the Emmons line was also sold at home parties. The prices of the Emmons pieces were higher than the Sarah Coventry pieces. (Sarah was founded in honor of his daughter.)

The company was located in New York City and did business until 1981, at which time it closed its doors for the last time. The early representatives for the company were all men, but by the 1950s women were mainly showing the lines to prospective customers with the home party plan.

The Emmons designs were very well made, good looking and, while more expensive than Sarah Coventry designs, still easy on the pocket book. Often a design was made in matching pieces - brooches, earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets. Full parures are much harder to find now than single pieces. The pieces in the line were all marked with a design name.

The Emmons line made great use of pearls in their designs as well as a wide range of silvertone and goldtone pieces with interesting design techniques. Here are a few examples:

The early design mark in 1949 was EmJ, and the later one after 1955 was Emmons. Here are some examples of the markings:

Emmons pieces were plentiful at the time, but are harder to find now than the Sarah Coventry pieces. It is considered a medium range design name. Emmons jewelry seems to me to have a higher value than the Sarah Coventry pieces do. There is no need to purchase pieces with damage. Choose those that you like, and choose pieces in good condition.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jewelry and Astrology - Virgo

This blog post is another in my series about choosing jewelry suitable for individual star signs. Today's astrological sign is Virgo, which is the sign for those born between August 23-Septempber 22. The sign is depicted as a Virgin and it is an earth sign. The ruling planet is Mercury.

Zodiac Logo courtesy of

Those born under the sign of the Virgo are said to be shy and modest. They are methodical, and analyze every aspect before making a decision. They are practical in matters concerning money. On the negative side, it is thought that they can be too analytical and too perfectionist. They tend to worry too much, even about trivial matters. This is the sun sign that likes all their ducks in a row!

Here is a short poem that typifies the Virgo personality:

Critical Virgo

Who criticizes all she sees;

Yes, e'en would analyze a sneeze?
Who hugs and loves her own disease?
Humpf, Virgo!

Thinking about buying jewelry for your Virgo friend and don't know where to start? Let's examine some of these zodiac facts for a bit of inspiration.

  • Their primary color is blue, particularly navy blue
  • Their birthstone is sapphire, jasper. carnelian, moss agate, or jade
  • Their lucky numbers are four and eight
  • They love all brightly colored small flowers, particularly those that are blue or yellow
Here are a couple of pieces which might suit your Virgo friend:

This pretty set of interchangable flower pins by contemporary designer Joan Rivers would appeal to the small flower lover in her and the color blue as well.

This pretty necklace by Sarah Coventry is called Park Avenue and features a navy blue curved front to it, which is the lucky color for Virgos.

What would your Virgo friend like for a gift?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alexander Calder Exhibit in San Diego - Wearable Mobiles

The worldwide exhibition of Alexander Calder's fabulous and unique jewelry is back in the USA after having been on view at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. The current display opened on July 25,2009 and will remain at the San Diego Museum of Art until January 3, 2010.

Alexander Calder was born into a family of well-known artists in 1898. His career began with his first wire sculpture in 1925. By 1930, he began to experiment with abstract designs and soon added added moving parts to his works, which he later named "mobiles." He died in 1976 and his works have long been appreciated by jewelry aficionados and art enthusiasts alike.

From an armor-like necklaces to the nearly 10-inch long brooch shown here, (given to his sister on her 23rd birthday), the jewelry may not sound like the most practical of accessories but they would certainly be a change from the normal run of the mill fashion accessories.

Photo by Maria Robledo

If you live in San Diego, you are in for a treat! For those who won't be there, I have found a YouTube video showing some of Calder's works which were on display when the exhibit was at the Philadelphia Museum of art last year. The video is made by the curator at the museum and shows Calder's works as well as giving info on his life and his creations. You can view the video here:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cleaning Sterling Silver Chains

I've talked a lot about cleaning sterling silver jewelry in past blogs and given many suggestions about how to go about this process. Readers of my blogs know that I am not a fan of sterling silver dips, since they can be harmful to the finish of silver pieces.

Often, I will suggest just wiping a piece with a Sunshine cloth. But if you have tried this with a chain necklace, you will know that these can be very hard items from which to remove the tarnish because of the small links involved in the making of the chain.

I found a YouTube video which deals with just this situation. The maker of the video gives a step by step demo of how to go about it.

Basically, the cleaning involves baking soda and boiling water in a metal pan. Sterling dips use the same process, but this gets the job done without the harmful chemicals and baking soda is much cheaper to use than the store bought dips.

Most large pieces of sterling silver can be easily cleaned with a polishing cloth, but sometimes, a large ornate piece will have tarnish in the grooves (flower jewelry is especially hard to clean) and this techique would work in this case too. Please note that this techique is good for pieces without stones. (Immersion in water can loosen stones or damage foil to rhinestone pieces.)

Here is the video:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Today's vintage bling - Joan Rivers Art Glass and Rhinestone Brooch

Since 1990, Joan Rivers has been using having fabulous fashion jewelry created which bears her name. She is intricately involved in the design process and insists on the highest quality standards.

Her range is called "Modern Classics" and it transcends trends to become jewelry pieces that you can wear anytime. I have several of her styles on my Vintage Jewelry Lane website and the quality of them is, indeed, very high.

The piece pictured here is a lovely foiled art glass brooch in vibrant green with a brass setting.

It features a long sprig design with a cluster of very pale green rhinestones and pave rhinestones in swirled tendrils. The outer tendrils feature prong set dark brown (look somehwat black in the pictures but are brown) marquis glass rhinestones and gorgeous green and black foiled art glass cabochons.

The setting is a japanned brass finish. The size of the brooch is 3 1/2 x 1 5/8". The pin has never been worn. It is marked Joan Rivers - China on the back. Price is $49.99. To view styles and for more details on this piece, please visit the Joan Rivers jewelry section of the contemporary jewelry part of the website.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Seashells for use in Vintage Jewelry

It's mid summer and thoughts tend to go to beach related themes. I was thinking about all the possibilities of nautical and seashell type jewelry and went searching on google to see what I could come up with.

A lot of seashell type jewelry that I've come across is the sort of jewelry sold in beach town souvenir shops. Nothing to write home about, so I wondered what other possibilities there are out there.

I found an interesting beading blog that had a post about the different types of shells used in jewelry making. The writer of the blog has an overview of the various types and pictures of each one.

Photo credit

The shell featured here is called a "hammer shell" also known as a violet oyster. I love the streaked color and the rippled figure. Imagine using this to make a pendant necklace? It would be just stunning.

For more photos and a description of each style, you can read the whole article on seashell jewelry here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Graff Diamonds of London is the site of Britain's Biggest Jewelry Heist

On August 8th, two armed men entered Graff Diamonds Jewelry store in Mayfair, London and stole £23 million - approximately $65 million dollars worth of rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches. There were forty-three items taken in total including the yellow radiant cut and white marquise and round diamond earrings shown here.

One of the female empyolees was taken out of the premises at gunpoint. She was later released unharmed. Warning shots were fired as the men fled the scene. The theives were brazen - they were unmasked and caught on video camera.

The items stolen were with encrusted with almost 1,500 individual diamonds, so the likely intent of the theives was to remove the stones from mountings and disperse them through several hands.
Previous to this, Britain’s biggest diamond jewellery robbery is believed to be a £23 million raid, which also took place at Graff's, in 2003, by the Pink Panther gang of robbers, featured in a previous blog of mine. How unlucky to be the holder of this dubious record twice!

The UK Guardian has a photo spread of much of the jewelry stolen in the 2009 Graff jewelry heist as well as the video which shows the robbers entering the store.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interview with Carole Tannenbaum

Collectors of vintage jewelry may be familiar with the name Carole Tannenbaum. Carole is a high-profile personality in the worlds of costume jewelry and fashion, and is one of North America’s foremost collectors of vintage costume jewelry.

Her pieces have been featured in more than forty international venues, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Barneys. They have also been showcased in exhibitions in museums that include New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Carole is the author of the book called "Fabulous Fakes," which gives you details of one hundred years of the most amazing pieces of costume jewelry ever produced, in brilliant and beautiful color. It tells their story, starting with mass-produced Victorian jewelry, moving through the wonderfully sophisticated lines of art deco geometrics, and ending with 1990s designer and artisanal jewelry.

The Collector's Weekly recently interviewed Ms. Tannenbaum, and the discussion is very interesting and filled with rich details of some noted high designers such as Coco Chanel, Schreiner, and Coppola e Toppo. She also discusses bakelite vintage jewelry, and talks about her collecting tastes and how she amassed the vintage jewelry collection that sheshe owns.

The Carole Tannenbaum interview is very comprehensive and you can view the whole transcript of it on the Collector's Weekly site. It's quite extensive and well worth the read.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Bakelite

Bakelite is an early vintage thermoset plastic made from phenol formaldehyde. It has fillers to make it durable, strong and relatively inexpensive to manufacture.

The material is a US manufactured product, patented in 1907 by a Belgian chemist, Dr. Leo Hendrik Baekeland, who worked in New York.

Bakelite was first manufactured between 1907 and 1927. Early uses of Bakelite were radios, handles for pots and pans, castings for televisions, toys, etc. It was later used in the manufacture of jewelry.

Bakelite jewelry has become a hot collecting area in the last several decades. Genuine bakelite jewelry commands very high prices. It should not be confused with French Bakelite or "fakelite," which is a modern mass produced material made to look like bakelite.

Some bakelite material is translucent and looks somewhat like lucite. Other examples of it are quite dense, like the bakelite dress clip featured here. Once you have handled some, it becomes much easier to determine whether the piece you have is actually bakelite or plastic.

There are many ways to determine whether the piece that you have is genuine bakelite. For more information about Bakelite and how to test jewelry for its content, please go to the bakelite testing information page in my resource library at Vintage Jewelry Lane.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Find of the Week - Trifari Pink Glass and Rhinestone Necklace

This week's vintage jewelry find is a stunning necklace made by Trifari. The necklace has a very feminine and romantic style to it and features tear shaped pink glass stones with aurora borealis rhinestone accents.

This pretty necklace has a wearable length of approximately 16-17" and is 5/8" wide. It is signed on the back of the necklace with the design mark Trifari TM.

Make this stunning pink glass Trifari necklace yours today for only $42.99. Hurry though. I only have one of them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Big Chunky Bracelets are Hot Right now

I don't seem to be able to keep big chunky bracelets in my store for long. I listed this one in my Ruby Lane shop the other day and it sold within about 15 minutes. That has to be a record!

Big bracelets like this are so funky and fun to wear. I've even seen some runway photos were the current trend is to combine more than one for an even bigger look. It appears that bigger is better when it comes to this style of bracelet.

This style of bracelet comes in a wide variety of materials, from plastic or lucite styles to goldtone or silvertone metal all the way through to bakelite or other vintage plastics.

Here are some to choose from. Prices range from $11.99 for the cute fairy cuff style to $95.99 for the bakelite style. Just click the pictures for more details.


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