Monday, April 27, 2015

04.27.15 Elementary

I don't know about you, but I get a big charge out of seeing someone I've come to know receive recognition and achieve success.  Peggy Li is one of those people. I discovered her small, San Francisco based jewelry company several years ago, and have since purchased numerous pieces for myself, and as gifts.  We've never met in person, but we've had lots of very nice electronic chats and social media exchanges over the years I've been buying her jewelry.

Photo credit: Peggy Li
For the past several years, Peggy's jewelry has been seen on actresses on lots of television shoes, including Elementary.  I rarely miss an episode, and I find myself watching and looking for her jewelry on Lucy Liu each week.  As we approach the end of the regular season (and new episodes), I thought this would be a good time to write about my PLC jewelry.

My favorites are probably still the very first pair of earrings I every purchased from her.  Her Ted's drop earrings. The "Ted" is an homage to Ted Muehling, a New York based sculptor and jewelry designer (I have some of his pieces, too) whose designs are inspired by organic shapes. 

I bought the silver ones first, and as often happens, they became the only earrings I wore for several weeks. The dainty acorn shaped earrings were right up my alley, and at Peggy's very affordable prices, I decided that I'd buy them in gold as well.  I still wear them often, and always receive lots of complements on them.

Photo credit: Peggy Li
Two more terrific purchases I made from Peggy have been birthday gifts - for my mother in law and my daughter.  

Photo credit: Peggy Li
My mother in law has a November birthday, and loves smoky topaz.  I bought her this beautiful necklace several years ago, and she loves it.

For my daughter, it was the "Bubble" necklace, in blue topaz.  It's a favorite, and she wears it often.

As I mentioned earlier this month, I have an April birthday, too. Not wanting to miss the fun, I bought myself a gift from Peggy.  A pair of raw diamond dangles on curved earwires, which are lovely and can be dressed up or down.
Photo credit: Peggy Li

So, if you want a little Hollywood glamour in your life, check out Peggy Li.

Until next time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

4.21.15 Elsa (no, not from Frozen)

Photo credit: Tiffany & Co.
Elsa Peretti - designer of iconic pieces for Tiffany.

I have always loved her open heart pendant.  I have one in yellow gold that dates to my years in high school, but I can't remember the last time I wore it.  It's tiny and I wore it so much when I was younger, it's kind of scratched and dinged up.  Sometime in the last decade, they introduced it in rose gold, and when I saw it paired with the larger silver one, I though - "ah, that's what I want".

The open heart is an instantly recognizable Tiffany piece, and it's also incredibly popular.  I have several friends who have one in their jewelry collection, and while it might bother me to see some other pendant coming and going, that's not the case with this one.

I've said before that fine jewelry is an investment, and before you or I or anyone else plunks down a chunk of change, it's worth asking "is this something that I will wear often, and for a long time?"  If the answer is yes, then I say go for it, or save for it.  Even when I'm smitten with a piece of jewelry, I try not to make impulse purchases.
Photo credit: Nordstrom
I didn't make a specific trip to Tiffany after the store opened in Austin, but I was in the same shopping center one day, so I walked in, made my purchase. I'm glad I did. As I said, I'd had the smaller yellow gold one since high school, so I knew I would I wear it a lot (and I do)

I have several pairs of earrings that work well with the necklace; before I started writing the blog, and making an effort to think about the jewelry I put on, I would have probably just worn my trusty Coach hoops - which surely would have been in the small tray on my dresser where I put them when I took them off the night before.  Today, however, I thought about and chose this pair of silver teardrop earrings instead.

This pair, while very reminiscent of the Tiffany teardrops, also designed by Peretti, is at the other end of the price spectrum, which is probably why I hadn't thought about them very much.  They were just another pair of earrings I picked up on sale at Nordstrom, where they are still available.  That's good - because the Peretti teardrops are not.

Photo credit: Tiffany & Co.
Even when I love a designer, I'm not usually a fan of a whole collection - but for the past couple of years I've been pining for (at least one piece of) Cat Island, introduced in the summer of 2013.  Inspired by an island in the Bahamas, these pieces evoke warm sun, blue waters and total relaxation (yes, I could use a vacation, thanks for asking).

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Ms. Peretti should take a deep bow.  The clean, fluid lines of her Tiffany designs are emulated everywhere, proving once again, that there is nothing better than a classic.

Until next time.

Monday, April 13, 2015

4.13.15 April showers

...bring wildflowers, with an especially bountiful crop of bluebonnets this year, and hopefully
some drought relief for Central Texas. 

April also brings...DIAMONDS!  Yes, those crystals of perfectly aligned and bonded carbon atoms formed deep in the earth, the hardest known natural substance, are also the birthstone for those (including me) born in April.

Diamonds have a long and fascinating history - with references to them occurring as far back as the 4th Century BC.  Many of the same characteristics that we value in diamonds today - clarity, size, hardness - were valued by the ancients as well.  Faceted diamonds can cut through metals, other stones and light - splitting it into the colors of the rainbow.

My personal interest is in gemstone diamonds, rather than industrial ones - and I am fortunate to have a number of wonderful pieces of diamond jewelry.  I have several that have been gifts from my husband, and others that have resulted from creating new things from old stones.

Diamond cutting has always been both a skill and an art, and with increasingly sophisticated technology has come a wider range of shapes and cuts for diamonds.  The contemporary round or "brilliant" cut dates to the early 1900s, and while there have been modifications in the past hundred years, the basic shape has remained the same.

The piece of jewelry most often associated with diamonds is the engagement ring.  While DeBeers created the modern "a diamond is forever" campaign, the tradition of diamond engagement rings can be traced back as far as the Middle Ages.

My grandmother's wedding band
Like cuts, engagement ring styles change over time.  My grandmother's ring is a "bypass" design, typical of the late 1930s and 1940s.  

My engagement ring is about as simple as you can get, except that I have an emerald cut stone, which is considered to be a "fancy" cut.  I also have an anniversary band - a gift from my husband to mark our first decade together.  It has ten stones, and each of them are ten points - very clever on his part. 

No matter what else I'm wearing, I've always got these rings on.

In addition to fancy shapes - diamonds also come in "fancy colors" - shades of yellow, pink, red and blue.   One of the largest, and most famous diamonds in the world - the Hope Diamond - is blue.

Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution
Because not everyone wants (or can afford) a diamond, there are several other gemstones that are used as April birthstones -  clear or "white" stones, such as sapphire, topaz, moissanite and "herkimer diamonds" also make lovely jewelry.  In fact, this year my birthday bauble is a herkimer and white topaz pendant from Etsy seller GreenGem.

Photo credit: GreenGem
I confess, I am like a crow - attracted to shiny things.  I do love my jewelry - but when I stop and think about it, more than the intrinsic value of any item, it is the story and sentiment that makes each piece a treasure.


Until next time.

Monday, April 6, 2015

4.6.15 Home Grown

It looks like winter has finally faded away, and it is truly spring.  Sunshine, blue skies and bright green have replaced the browns and greys of the past few months.  Soon there will be local peaches, strawberries, and tomatoes. 

One of my favorite local growers, and an organization I am proud to have supported since it's start, is Urban Roots.  Urban Roots provides paid internships to high school students to work on a 3.5 acre urban sustainable farm in East Austin.  Not only do the interns sell their produce to local shoppers at farmers’ markets and through CSAs, they donate thousands of pounds to local food support organizations.

Thinking about Urban Roots made me pull out this great Kendra Scott necklace that I scored at one of their fundraisers several years ago, as part of a silent auction package.  The turquoise is very springlike - a clear blue like the sky on a summer day.

I don't own a lot of "statement" pieces, but I really like this one because while it is long, and larger than a lot of what I wear, it never feels like too much.

Kendra Scott's jewelry is home grown, too.  Back in 2002, she started her business with small trunk shows in boutiques around Austin and Texas.  Her highly recognizable jewelry is now seen and sold all over the country.

Photo credit: Kendra Scott
Her flagship store in Austin is fabulous, bright and airy and the staff is great.  They also have something they call the "color bar" where you can mix and match stones, metals and designs (you can do it online, too, but it's even better in person).  It's ideal for someone like me - frequently I know what I want (but I can't find it), so it's nice to be able to say "I like that one, but can I have it dark green and silver instead?".
Photo credit: Kendra Scott

On a trip in to the store last summer, I spotted these "Pippa" earrings.  I'm not usually a "buy to match" kind of person, but in this case it was really nice to have something that matched the colors of both the stone and the metal in the pendant.  Even so, the shapes are different, resulting in a pairing that is coordinated without looking like a "set".

I'm off to get my Vitamin D, in the sunshine, and eat my veggies.

Until next time.