Friday, January 30, 2015

1.30.15 Healing Gems

I don't know what I thought the theme of January was going to be at the start of the new year, but at the end of the month I can tell you it is summed up in an old Yiddish proverb:

Man plans, God laughs.

I am a moderately observant Jew, and I believe in God - in the sense that there are is some force greater than any of us - driving the universe.  Barbara Bradley Hagerty is NPR’s religion correspondent, and the author of a fascinating book, Fingerprints of God: In Search of the Science of Spirituality. I was a religion minor in college, and was intrigued, so I bought the book when it first came out in the summer of 2010.  It's a good read, and it resonated with me in a very real way.  I also practice yoga regularly.  I started as a way to manage my pain and improve my flexibility after being in a nasty car wreck several years ago.  My goal then, and largely still, was physical improvement - but I have found that my practice brings me a great deal of emotional stability and mental clarity as well.

I don't know how I feel about gemstones as a source of healing - although I am a staunch believer in the benefits of retail therapy - but I decided it was worth looking into for a blog post at the end of what has been a rather topsy-turvy month.

According to the American Gem Society, amethyst is considered to be the "gemstone of meditation, peace, balance, courage and inner strength".  I could certainly use a dose of that moving forward.

I've long been a fan of amethyst - both because of its color (generally shades of purple, but it also pinks and greens) and its price.  Amethyst is a form a quartz, which makes it a semiprecious stone, and generally more affordable than other richly colored precious gems.

Two of my favorite personal pieces are a child's ring, from one of Uncle Bernard's trays, which I wore as a pinky ring for many years, and a pendant that my mother bought me on one of her early trips to visit me when I was in graduate school.  Coincidentally, amethyst is also the birthstone for February, and I've pinned a number of lovely pieces to my Pinterest board, February birthstones (how's that for a segue?).

Until next time.
is considered the gemstone of meditation, peace, balance, courage, and inner strength. - See more at:
is considered the gemstone of meditation, peace, balance, courage, and inner strength. - See more at:
is considered the gemstone of meditation, peace, balance, courage, and inner strength. - See more at:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Liz James Studio Sale

Once or twice a year, Liz James Designs in Austin has a studio sale featuring samples and retiring designs.  If you're in Central Texas, it is well worth the trip to Westlake to check out the goods.

Designer Jamie Pope's pieces feature pearls and gemstones, in with both silver and gold, in a wide range of styles from simple to lavish.

I've scored big more than once - buying wonderful and unique items at a fraction of their full cost!  My photo doesn't do these turquoise and smoky topaz pieces justice - and the length on the necklace is adjustable, so it really can be work with almost anything.

These pearls, on an adjustable leather necklace are another of my favorites.  I can dress them up or down depending on the event or the outfit.

A generous member of the community, Liz James Designs supports numerous good causes with donations of items to charity events, as well as producing pieces that benefit specific organizations.

Happy shopping!

Monday, January 26, 2015

1.26.15 The $20 necklace that goes with everything

You know that piece of jewelry you bought on a whim, because it was really inexpensive and you thought "if I wear it even a few times I'll have gotten my money's worth" - well, put a check mark next to this string of glass beads on waxed cotton cord for me.

I bought this necklace close to 20 years ago, at a nifty little shop (now long gone) on South Congress Avenue.  It was called Simply Divine, and they had great all cotton, bright colored clothes for moms and kids.  Their adult dresses in particular, were affordable and awesome - you could add a necklace or a scarf, and some cute sandals and be set to go just about anywhere in the summer Texas heat.

I no longer have the clothing I bought from them - it was either outgrown (kids) or worn out (mine), but this necklace has stayed in my regular jewelry rotation.  It's just one of those "goes with everything" pieces.

Today, I was sporting it (as an accessory to my mom uniform) along with a pair of earrings more in the center of the price spectrum.  These are from Ippolita's "Rock Candy" collection - they are very comfortable and super fun to wear.  I got them last December (they were my anniversary present) at Russell Korman Jewelers during their Ippolita trunk show.

As I've said before, I'm really partial to rectangular shapes and emerald cuts, and I'd been eyeing several pieces in this line for a while, but hesitating because the pieces were all set in gold.  The Ippolita sales representative had brought extra pieces for the trunk show, and this great pair in dark blue and sterling silver had my name all over them. 

I asked the rep about the stones - and she told me that it is one of their crystal and mother of pearl doublets (with a colored layer in between - which gives them a richness my camera doesn't fully capture) - and that the color is "indigo".  I almost think it should have been "denim" because you can dress them up or down, and like my $20 necklace, they go with everything.

Until next time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

1.22.15 9:00 to 5:00 (Watches are jewelry, too)

The holidays are really over.  My college kid went back to school.  Last night I was in a meeting until almost 9 p.m. Today, putting things on my schedule is kind of like playing tetris, and my Google calendar looks like a patchwork quilt.

Photo credit:  Rebecca Minkoff
As much as I love being able to see my appointments and set alarms on my phone I'm not one of those people who is successful at using the phone as a watch. I need that dial divided into twelve hours on my left wrist to keep me on the straight and narrow.  My workhorse watch is this smart looking Baby G from Rebecca Minkoff.

I first learned about the Rebecca Minkoff brand from another pair of bloggers I follow religiously - Tina Craig and Kelly Cook of BagSnob.  (My habit for handbags is almost as bad as the one I have for earrings, but bags require much more space to store.)

I fell in love with this watch as soon as I saw it - and ordered it for myself immediately.  The brushed black stainless bracelet (with a deployment clasp)  and rose gold face make it stylish enough for all but the most formal occasions - but it's still sporty enough for dressed down weekend wear.  It has a nice "heft" to it but is by no means heavy.  It is very comfortable on my wrist, and easy to read with both analog and digital displays (good for someone like me who wears multifocal lenses).

It was a limited edition collaboration with Casio - and sadly no longer available for purchase.  However, rose gold seems to be here to stay and I have seen a number of other watches where it is combined with black for a similar look.

Oh, look at the time!  Gotta run!

Until next time.

Jewelry by Cari - free 14K pink gold heart for Valentine's Day

One of my favorite jewelers - Jewelry by Cari - is giving away a free 14K Pink Gold Heart Charm ($145 value) with every $300 purchase by Valentine's Day, February 14th.

Happy shopping.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

1.20.15 Resisting the urge to go grey

In my wardrobe, that is.  My hair started going grey when I was in my 30s (I'm now in my 50s).  I fought it for a while, but honestly, I'd rather spend my mad money on jewelry than hair color - the jewelry lasts so much longer.

I was feeling pretty grey when I started working on this post.  The weather was gloomy, a longtime friend and client (part of my life in the public policy world) passed away recently - and very suddenly. When I reached into my drawer for a sweater, my first inclination was to pull out a grey or black one...but I didn't.  Instead I chose one that is a bright azure blue - in part because I figured I could write about it, and the jewelry I chose to go with it.  The good news is, today the sky is just about as blue as that sweater, although the weatherman says it won't last long.

As I predicted when I first posted about them, Jonathan's earrings are in heavy rotation - this time I picked the blue ones. They allowed me to give into the grey feelings, without letting them overwhelm me or my outfit.

I paired the earrings with a great beaded necklace that I purchased from a longtime friend who runs a four times a year pop-up boutique in Northern Virginia, called Chick's Picks by Hillary

Hillary seeks out great, creative women and gives them an outlet for their wares.  She holds her pop-up in HER HOME (which is beautiful - and she has an amazingly supportive family) and turns it into two floors of accessory shopping mecca - she also has a facebook page, and website with a sampling of wonderful items you can purchase anytime.

When I was there in March, a couple of years ago, I saw a short version of this necklace - and asked if the artist, Terresa, could make a longer version for me.  Hillary sent a quick message, the answer was yes, and in a couple of weeks I had this beautiful strand in my possession.

As with so many things - the photo doesn't capture the true beauty of the beads, but they are great shades of white, gold, seafoam and aqua - and I can never wear them without receiving lots of complements.

So for now, I'll take a case of the blues over greys.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Raven + Lily job opening - Director of Operations

Raven + Lily - a very cool Austin, Texas based clothing and accessories business with an emphasis on helping women in poverty is looking for a Director of Operations.  Click the hotlink to see their job posting.  It's a great place to shop - I'm sure it is an equally fabulous place to work.

This is me - wearing one of their great necklaces made from recycled shell casings - with the fabulous Rosanne Cash.

Happy Friday everyone.

1.16.15 Garnets - January's birthstone

One my personal goals for this blog is to learn more about gems and jewelry.  My current knowledge has been accumulated primarily as a shopper and admirer -  but I'd like to know more.  My daughter plans to be a biochemistry major, I'm more of a written word kind of person...but one of the most fascinating things - to me - about gems is their chemistry.  Combinations of elements have to come together in a very specific way to create the crystalline structures and vibrant colors of gemstones.

On a family trip to Washington DC a couple of summers ago, we spent most of a day at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History.  I could have spent all day in the gem room.  I love seeing
both the natural crystal formations as well as the cut stones.

Because both my mother and niece were born in January I've been thinking about garnets - hence today's post.

Garnets are a group of silicate crystals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones in jewelry.  Not all garnets are red - their color is a function of the element other than silicon (generally aluminum or calcium) that combines to make the crystal.

Photo credit: GIA
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has a wonderful guide to gemstones, including garnets on their website.

As you can see garnets come a range of colors - the most common are the reds - but my favorites are the deep green tsavorite and demantoid varieties.

Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs

These beauties, from one of my favorite jewelery designers, Yvonne Raley, are tsavorites.  I love their almost grass-like color.

You can see more of my favorites on my Pinterest board - January birthstones.

Until next time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1.14.15 You're never fully dressed without...


We have a wonderful neighborhood coffeehouse/pub that is a regular gathering place for those who live nearby.  It is essentially my second kitchen - as we are there several times a week for coffee, breakfast or dinner.  There are several large tables which seat about a dozen people - it is what my husband, who spent 18 months living in Germany calls a stammtisch.

Photo credit: Scarlet Mare Studio
One frequent member of this group is Jonathan - who owns a specialty mobile hardware store - but is also a jewelry designer.  When we first met, some time ago, he commented on the earrings I was wearing - and that sparked what has become an ongoing discussion about jewelry in all its incarnations, including curating and writing about it.  Without Jonathan's encouragement, I might not have started this blog at all.
The past couple of times we've run into Jonathan at breakfast on the weekend, I've been in my sweats, sans earrings.  Last Sunday, as we were headed out the door, I thought I'd better wear a pair, just in case.  I was wearing an aqua colored hoodie, so I grabbed these wire
wrapped hoops from Scarlet Mare Studio on Etsy. Sure, enough - we saw Jonathan, and he commented them. 

He also had a surprise for me - two pairs of beautiful sapphire and oxidized silver earrings!    He said this is a new design for him - and he explained to me how the earrings were crafted (and I use that word very intentionally - jewelry artists are craftspeople) - rolling out the silver from the ingot, hand forming the bowl and bezel, oxidizing the silver for color, setting the stones and fixing the earwire.  I love them - and will be wearing them a lot. 
As if that weren't enough, after taking our daughter to the airport to send her back to college, my husband and I went to dinner - this was in my fortune cookie....

I think the universe is on my side.    Til next time...

Monday, January 12, 2015

1.12.15 Happy birthday, Mom

This is my mom.  Today would have been her 74th birthday, but she died 10 days before turning 61.  Since she's not here to celebrate for herself, I'm going to fĂȘte her with this post.

In this photo, she's 52 years old - the same age that I am now.  Sometimes, when I catch a glimpse of my reflection I see her rather than myself - it used to freak me out a little bit, but these days I'm just fine with it.

A few months before she died, she insisted I sit down with her at the kitchen table and go through all her jewelry - piece by piece.  I resisted at first, I didn't want to admit what she had already accepted - she was dying.

As was almost always the case, she was right and I was wrong. Going through each item, reminiscing about where she got it, when she wore it, and how I remembered it - was one of the best afternoons I ever had with her.

I refused to take any of the jewelry before she died, but after the funeral, my dad insisted it go home with me. For the longest time, I couldn't bring myself to wear much of it - there were just many painful associations.  I kept thinking "I shouldn't be wearing this, Mom should."

It took a few years (yes, years) but finally I came to the realization that none of the jewelry was doing anyone any good locked away in the safe deposit box, and leaving it there wasn't going to bring her back.   I decided I would finally start to wear it.  However, when I did, I realized not all of it was really my style - for one thing, I prefer white metals (silver, white gold or platinum) and almost all her pieces were set in yellow gold.

I had an extended conversation with the fine folks at Russell Korman Jewelers, and with the help of their dedicated staff and master jeweler, Chuck Schaffer, things that weren't quite right for me in their previous form have since been transformed into wonderful pieces - for me, my daughter and my niece.
The first two pieces were earrings - a pair for myself and a pair for my daughter's 16th birthday.  I realize now, that it was in the process of resetting the diamonds - and giving them "new life" - that it first occurred to me that there could be (for me) more to jewelry than just buying and wearing it. 

I had Mom's solitaire stud earrings reset as dangles (because I have a beautiful pair of solitaires, that were a gift from my husband for my 40th birthday) in what Brooke at Russell Korman calls a "martini" setting - because it looks sort of like a martini glass.  I wear them often, and when I do - I feel like I have Mom with me.

For my daughter, I took some smaller diamonds, from a pair of channel set earring jackets, and had them put in a "flower"setting.  I know they make my very daughter happy, and I like to think Mom would be pleased, too. 

So, happy birthday Mom, you were like a diamond in so many ways - strong, brilliant, beautiful and rare.

Friday, January 9, 2015

1.9.15 Old Friends

Old friends, they shine like diamonds
Old friends, you can always call
Old friends Lord, you can't buy 'em
You know it's old friends after all.
- Guy Clark

My daughter and I had a lovely visit over lunch with my two of my mother's best childhood friends.  I wish with all my heart that she were still here and could have joined us - but since that wasn't possible, I did what I always do when I want Mom with me - I wore some of her jewelry.  Not surprisingly, when I mentioned the earrings were Mom's, her friends recognized them right away.

My mom wore this pair of simple gold hoops all the time.  Like my silver pair (shared in a previous post) they were the ones she never bothered to put away.  I went looking for a photo of her wearing the earrings and found this one - taken just about a year before she died.  She's holding my niece, who is now 14 - and for whom, along with my own daughter, I've had some of her jewelry reset into new pieces.

Like my mom, my niece has a January birthday.  One year I gave my mom a pair of garnet earrings as a gift - she wore those a lot, too.  Because there were two (earrings and granddaughters) I had the garnets reset as pendants, with another of the small diamonds from Mom's earrings - one for each girl, as a remembrance.  Once again, the work was done by Chuck Schaffer at Russell Korman Jewelers.

I'm so grateful for all the connections I still have to my mom - through her friends (who have become my friends, too, especially as adults), my family, and the tangible tokens she left to me.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New pieces from Fluid by Design (Sarah Clarke)

Sarah is a UK based jewelery designer.  She has been designing and handcrafting her work since graduating in 2001 from Leicester with a B.A.(Hons.) in Jewellery Design.

Her January 2015 newsletter is full of lovely new pieces - including some in rose gold and additions to her "tiny" collection.
Photo credit: Fluid by Design
I am particularly fond of her heart earrings.

Happy shopping.

1.8.15 Flowers in Winter

Winter is not my favorite season.  It's cold, it's dark and it makes me kind of grumpy.  But these two pieces of jewelry - a mix of dark oxidized silver and warmer metals (gold and brass) have become go to items when I'm feeling gloomy.

I rarely buy jewelry in sets or choose pieces designed to go together.  I much prefer to mix and match items that I find to be complementary.  I found this necklace and pair of earrings at different times, in different places - but I think they are perfect together.

For several years I had wandered past the Scattered Light booth at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and admired their botanical pendants.  Then I saw this bluebell, which rather than being like most of their pieces made of polished gold or silver, was fashioned from mixed metals.  It was different, and I liked that - plus it was handmade, local (well, then it was - the shop has since moved from Smithville to Round Top - but it's still Texas), and something I knew I would wear a lot. So I plunked down my credit card and took it home with me.

A couple of years ago I spotted this pair of Jamie Joseph "Dahlia" earrings in another wonderful Austin shop, Eliza Page, and immediately thought "wow, I have to have those" to go with the bluebell pendant. 

Lucky me - my husband works right across the street from Eliza Page, so one day when I met him for lunch I mentioned the earrings, and he said "let's go get them".  We did, and I wear these two pieces together often, especially when I need a reminder that winter in Texas really is only temporary.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Another etsy favorite on sale

Photo credit:  Madelynn Cassin Designs
Madelynn Cassin Design creates beautiful pieces and has great sales.  I scored this gorgeous amethyst pendant a couple of years ago during her Black Friday sale.  She's currently having a January sale - 20% off all ready to ship items with a coupon code.  Happy shopping.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Some of my favorite sellers - on sale!

Three of my favorite jewelers are having January sales - and I love a sale!

You have one more day to check out Cecile Raley Designs Semi Annual Sale (through 1/7) - 15% off everything except custom orders.

Peggy Li - whose designs have been worn by Lucy Liu on Elementary is having a coupon sale - 20% off with code NEW2015 until 1/13/15.
Photo credit:

Metalsgirl - located right here in Austin, Texas has just added new items to her "GOODBYE 2014 SALE".

Happy shopping.

1.6.15 In uniform

My 19 year old daughter frequently tells me my clothes are "boring" - she calls them my "Mom uniform".

I will grant her that I do have a "style" (I like to think of it as classic, or timeless, rather than just boring) that is built around basic pieces - and my day to day outfits are frequently a polo or tee shirt, a cardigan (often but not always black, blue or grey), jeans or khakis, my favorite small hoop earrings and "mom" necklace and some flat shoes.

The fact of the matter is - I work primarily from home, I run errands, I do volunteer work.  Honestly, I don't need a wide ranging wardrobe - and I have plenty of things to wear to attend a client meeting or a dressier function.  Most days, it's just easier to simply pull out the same kind of clothes - especially if I'm getting dressed before I've had coffee.

Jewelry on the other hand - well - I've got so much that it takes up the entire top drawer of my dresser (with each item in its own small carefully labeled ziploc bag), and yet I tend to follow the same pattern as I do with my outfits...that's part of why I'm trying to blog daily about the jewelry I'm wearing.  If I don't change it up, nothing new to write about.

Photo credit: Coach Jewelry
Today's earrings are Coach mini snap bar hoops. A gift from my mother in law so long ago I don't even remember - it's probably been close to ten years.  I love them.  I wear them so often I never really put them away. 

They're only about 5/8"wide - but they are solid, incredibly comfortable, and go with darn near everything.  If you didn't know better - you might think they are the only pair I own - so that has to change (after today).
Along with these earrings, I frequently wear this necklace - one with a mix of silver and gold charms hanging on a simple chain.  All of the charms, with the exception of the Star of David (purchased in the summer of 1980 on a two week family trip to Israel) come from Cari Streeter's line - Jewelry by Cari.  There's a small yellow gold heart, a larger silver heart with a diamond, a tag that says "MOM" with a diamond for the "o", a shamrock (hidden in this picture) and a tiny tag that says "LOVE".

Because it's a favorite, a mix of gold and silver - and because I have far more earrings than necklaces - this is likely to continue to be in the rotation pretty frequently.

I discovered Cari's pieces (as I have many other things) at Russell Korman Jewelers.  In addition to her wonderful charms, Cari has rings, earrings, bracelets, pieces with gemstones - it's a truly wonderful artisan line.  I also love that when I contact her about having a piece customized she responds by saying "go buy it from them, and that way you are supporting two independent businesses at the same time". Beauty and generosity - I like that.

Other than a blog post, there not much on my agenda today, and like most days, I'm wearing my uniform - right down to my dogtag that says "MOM" - because that's who I am.

Monday, January 5, 2015

1.5.15 Ancient History

Today's earrings are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art .  The design is reminiscent of Greek boats, and very typical of the items in the museum's Hellenistic jewelry collection.  The earrings are gold vermeil, and the "boat" part is solid, which gives them a great feel when I wear them, but they are by no means heavy.

They are also "ancient" in the sense that I bought them more than 30 years ago - from the shop catalog.  I saw them in the glossy paper catalog, filled out the paper order form, wrote a check, and sent it back to the museum in a prepaid envelop. (Postage was sufficiently inexpensive that the vendor paid it for you as a way to encourage ordering).

I waited, and in a couple of weeks the box arrived in the US mail with my shiny new bauble. 

The basic design dates back to roughly 350 B.C. - proving once again, that great design is truly timeless.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

1.4.15 - Emerald cuts

I love emerald cuts - I find them to be the simplest and most elegant shapes for faceted stones.

Photo credit: Coach Jewelry
Photo Credit: Cecile Raley Designs
Today's sparklies come from Coach and Cecile Raley Designs.

I've been surprised by how much I like Coach's silver earrings - these, and a pair of small hoops, are among my favorites and most frequently worn.

The pendant comes from Yvonne Raley at Cecile Raley Designs - and it's one of several of her pieces in my jewelry box.  This is from her "Gotham" collection, inspired by the architecture of New York City.

Not only is her work spectacular (the pendant is engraved argentium silver with a champagne colored zircon) - but she is dream to work with, and so, so smart.  She started making jewelry as something of a hobby, and last year she LEFT ACADEMIA to become a full time jeweler.

Her blog,, is a great resource for learning about gems - sourcing, pricing, cuts and color - and custom jewelry.

Til next time...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Getting started

I like jewelry - it's in my blood, literally.  I like puns.  I think "Facets of Myself" is kind of clever.  My husband and children will probably roll their eyes - they think most of my puns are lame.  I don't care - this blog isn't for them, it's for me.

For the past 30 years I've been in the public policy business.  For 25 of those years I've been raising children.  My nest is now empty, and I've long had a pipe dream of being in the jewelry business (although I have no formal training - I do have years of shopping and wearing experience).  That said, I'm seriously considering trying to make jewelry more than a this is where I'm going to start.

My great, great uncle was in the diamond business.  When my grandmother and great aunt were girls and he would visit, as a treat he would pull out his ring trays and let them pick something.  My profile picture (above) is one of those rings - a fabulous synthetic sapphire set in white and yellow gold with green enamel.

When my parents became engaged, Uncle Bernard mailed my father a packet of diamonds, a loupe and two pieces of diamond paper. He said "pick the one you want, wrap it separately from the others and send the stones back." My dad did that, and Uncle Bernard set the chosen diamond in a 4 prong Tiffany platinum setting.  Thirty years later, when I became engaged, I picked a different stone shape (emerald versus brilliant cut, from a nice Jewish diamond broker in Austin) - and an identical setting.  Until I had the ring and compared it with my mother's I had no idea our rings were the the same.

I can't remember when I didn't have jewelry.  I started buying my own pieces - inexpensive silver rings and pendants - in junior high school.  I still have most of them - well, actually my daughter does.  I saved them and when she was a young teen I passed them along - and she wears them.

As I got older, I continued to acquire things - from my parents, as purchases (especially when I was a single woman with disposable income), and over the last 25 years from my wonderful husband.

My great aunt, both my grandmothers and my mom are now all gone, and as a result I have a trove of treasures, some of which date back as far as the 1920s.  Some pieces I wear as is, some I've had reset - and some I'm just never going to wear.

I'm starting to go through the pieces in the last category, list them on etsy, and blog about the process. My goal is to find all the items a good home, and to increase my own knowledge at the same time.

Find me, and my goodies, at Deb's Destash (

This is a new journey for me - and you're welcome to come along for the ride.