Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Vacances de Noel

On vacation December 24 through Jan. 4.

Wishing... you a warm, peaceful and restorative holiday

Thanking... you for your insightful, funny, and provocative comments.

Fondly,
Duchesse

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oprah: Dressing a voluptuous woman

Deja Pseu's open letter to Oprah contains her straight-shooting advice to end "dieting". Pseu makes great points about body image and diets. I had already been planning to write about how she looks, a voluptuous woman in a thin-worshipping medium. I watch only sporadically, on the treadmill at my health club; I don't have TV at home. Since maybe last winter I noticed that Oprah was larger.

In the past year, what interested me was how her wardrobe people were dressing her, and I began to see a formula:

1. Col
our. No hiding her in darks; Oprah kept her signature ecrus, greens, pinks, reds- but they are now tone on tone rather than contrasts, or, if a contrast, she'll wear something like a white shirt under a kelly-green deep v-neck to enhance the vertical effect.

2. Décolleté and a profusion of portrait collars. I began to see the same ruffled-portrait treatment every time I tuned in. A more feminine version of the V-neck, it works the same magic.

3. Close-fitting, supple (but not clingy) fabrics: lots of knits, beautifully tailored to accentuate her very
well-supported bustline.

4. Soft, loose curls, an '08 version of big hair; again, the stylist created interest higher up, balancing the lower torso. The curls and the soft necklines present a hyper-feminine effect, necessary because a heavier woman with severe or too-short hair does not look glamourous even with great makeup.

5. Jewelry: Nothing like 15 carats of diamond drops on each ear to put things in perspective! The jewels are to scale with her lusher body, and also rivet attention on the face.

The overall image is a sensuous mix of luxury, glamour and glow. I will be sorry when she returns (at least for a time) to a triumphant tiny size.

If it's necessary for her health, OK. But if it is not, I'm sorry to see her capitulate to sizeism, and for larger women to lose a beacon of plush, plus-sized gorgeousness.


She's "addressing her issue" in the new year.

Pseu bets she'll unveil a boot camp and I see her bet and raise her a slice of whole grain. I think the diet will be similar to the one in the book Greying Pixie urged me to buy, by Dr. Marilyn Glenville. You can find the approach here, on Dr. Glenville's site,
Fat Around the Middle.

Monday, December 22, 2008

MIzrahi, Merkin and midlife

Looking for learning, or perhaps reassurance, I bought Isaac Mizrahi's book, "How to Have Style".

I wasn't enlightened, but for twenty bucks got a fun, fast read. Everyone looked better in th
e "after" photos, with much improved hair and makeup, but some looked getup-y or awkward. His couture evening gown in lace and taffeta was a standout .

Maybe we're drawn to style books that reflect our own taste, which for me would probably feature makeovers where everyone looked like a member of the Addams Family, but with more jewelry.

In short, Isaac:
- loathes two types of hosiery: nude, and sheer coloured (such as sheer red); he chooses either no hosiery or opaque tights
- adores colour; rarely uses an all-neutral palette
- thinks all women should "love their breasts"
- recommends wearing "two bandannas a day" (is he serious?)
- doesn't like loose or flowing garments, and
- urges us to create an 'image board' of favourite influences and looks to create a style sense.

Some good, but not novel advice:
- Buy dressy clothes when you see something you love, rather than waiting for an invitation
- Splurge on "the most classic item in the world; you will love and cherish it forever"
- When in doubt, wear all black, but vary patterns and textures

The same day, I read Daphne Merkin's wistful piece in The New Your Times' T Magazine,"Belt Tightening" about her mission to buy not 'shapewear', but an old-school girdle, serious weaponry for her middle-aged spread. When she finds it, it's a cruel triumph. It squishes her senseless. Even the multi-paneled corset she eventually buys does not return her to her 20 year old self.

Merkin is 54; Mizrahi is 47. But Mizrahi is of a different generation; he skews far younger, requesting that a 50-ish woman lose weight and expressing reservations about dressing the lone truly zaftig example.

Though there are hints of ageism and sizeism under his bandanna, to his credit he encourages women to reflect on who they are, rather than just dressing them. I found his book mostly an advert for Isaac. He's in so many shots that you wonder who's the subject.

Merkin
gives the corset to her young daughter (who's thinking bedroom, not breathing room) and buys Eskandar (shown, left), Shirin Guild and Shamask, exactly the luxurious, forgivingly-cut clothes Mizrahi won't go near.

That might have something to do with his recent contract to design for Liz Claiborne, whose target market is twenties to forties. If he's an authority to this group, they may return to a label trying to cast off a rep for dependable but unexciting careerwear.


I'm somewhere in between. Merkin's preferred designers are a touch austere for me (not to mention costly), though I admire them on others. Mizrahi's clothes induce ennui via In Style conformity: pretty, perky, only occasionally chic.

I'd recommend the book to someone who has not been thinking about personal style, or to a young woman building a first wardrobe.



Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last-minute host gifts

What is the one magic last-minute item you can bring if invited on short notice to a holiday gathering, or any occasion that calls for a graceful gift? As my mother always said, "You don't show up at someone's house with one arm as long as the other."

If yo
u have than 30 minutes to shop, don't try to be original, be elegant. Belt out and get one of the following:

1. A bottle of champagne or pros
ecco, given the recipient drinks.

2. An orchid. Of course you have to find one, but where I live, even supermarkets carry quite lovely phalenopsis varieties. Cut flowers are an imposition on a busy host, who must dredge up a vase and fuss with an arrangement, while trying to serve drinks and remember your name.

3. A selection of exotic fruits: mangosteens, lichees, mangoes- depends on where you live and what's good. If you can find organic, that's best. If exotic fruits don't look first-rate, buy what's luscious: honey tangerines, glowing grapes, ruby apples. Grab a simple woven basket from the housewares section. You could also bring a luxurious cheese, if you are sure of the quality.

If you have an hour, make these spiced nuts, which take 10 minutes to toss together, plus 30 min. hanging around your oven while they roast. A fun recipe to make with kids.

Spiced Walnuts
(adapted from New York Times Sunday Magazine)

1 pound walnut halves
(or pecans, or skinned hazlenuts)
1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp kos
her salt
Generous pinch cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp cardamom


1 egg white,
room temperature
1 tbsp water


Preheat oven to 300F.
Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, cardamom and cinnamon; set aside.


Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, toss till evenly coated.

Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 30 min, stirring occasionally.


Remove from oven and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour nuts into a bow
l, breaking up any pieces that stick together.

Package in a mason jar, or make a paper cone.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

Ten inches of snow headed our way today. Sun a distant memory. Things will close and the city will crawl, everything white and quiet.

Things to get you through, some for us who live in chilly climes, some for everyone with winter fatigue.

1. Gold Rockwell Ring (plated) from Bernice (search thebeside on etsy), $150 on sale. Got to look good shoveling out.

2. Phillip Lim lamb fur sweater jacket, $1200, Barneys New York. (Pricey, but I am crazy about it.)

3. Amadou et Miriam, "Welcome to Mali" CD, $16

4. Soma Mayan Hot Chocolate, $5 (at Soma Chocolate, Toronto) or $4.75 for 75g by mail order.

5. Golightly Cashmere Watch Cap, $155; they call it "the finest hat on the planet" and I agree. Mine is red but I'm eyeing the other two dozen colours.

6. Reading for a Snow Day:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson, $25

7. Sheepskin insoles, really the most divine things in boots or sport shoes. $15 from Sheepskin.com.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Faking it: CZs


A woman recently asked me, "How do you like my earrings?" and then said, "Could you tell they are CZs?"

These are two completely different questions.

High quality
cubic zirconia is a boon to security-conscious travelers, those who object to inflated diamond prices, or people who just have other uses for their money. If you are thinking of simulated diamonds, and you want them to look real, here are some things to consider.

(If you just want flash and don
't care if it's blatantly fake, rock out at Claire's or any mall costume jewelery shop).

I am not talking about s
ynthetic diamonds, another ball game. Synthetics are lab-grown gems that replicate the actual mineral. So far not readily available in larger sizes, and not yet significantly less expensive than mined. And I'll discuss moissanite in detail later.

1. Go mode
st or go home
It's tempting to get a boulder because you're only spending hundreds, v
ersus many tens of thousands. But if you do not live the life, surrounded with the gear to go with a 5ct. pear-shaped CZ like the ring at right, it's going to look fake. Even a real huge diamond will look questionable if you're wearing a little Target dress and flip flops.

When in doubt, a guideline: If you wouldn't wear it in diamond, don't wear it in CZ.


(Sidebar: I had a godmother who did her laundry in a strand of gumball-sized "pearls" with a "diamond" clasp. One day, as they clanged into the machine when she bent to pull out her wash, my mother said, "Gertrude! Pull up your pearls, what if they were real?" Gertrude said, "They are.")

The second reason to hover around the 1-to-2ct point (or lower) is that the stone looks less real as size increases.

Without going into the physics (refractive indices, etc.), the brilliance and fire of a CZ is not the same as diamond. Online sites selling CZs love to say "even more brilliant than diamond!" but that's just another way of saying "does not look quite the same". This is much less noticeable in a smaller
stone.

2. Set is paramount


If you want to travel worry-free or like classic styles, buy good CZs set in gold. If you ven
ture beyond the simplest studs or pendant, be prepared to spend money. In short, do not drop the setting quality for the CZ, set it as if it's a D flawless diamond. (Shown, 18k setting by Fragments.)

The reason why a CZ piece looks fake is that about 98% of production houses use cheesy settings. Even if gold (usually 14k), the weight is thin and fabrication poor. Take the CZ to a fine jeweler. Don't be embarrassed; they set CZs all the time. Or buy a beautiful heirloom mount (the setting minus the stone) and put a CZ into it.


If you're putting the sim into a ring, you will pay far more for the setting than the stone, but do not co
mpromise. (Never set in silver-which will look muddy and dull- or plate.) If you eventually replace the CZ with a diamond, that setting will endure.

A client of my jeweler's set at least a hundred 15 to 25-point round CZs into an 18kt gold necklace she bought in India. One day she might replace them with diamonds, but today she has a jawdropping piece for a relatively modest investment.

There is more hideous CZ jewelry out there than fake dating ads, and these products give a decent material a bad rep.

The only online CZ rings that I might like (I'd have to see them "in the flash") come from MiaDonna; the Summa tension ring shown is about $1500 with a 1ct. stone.

3. Choose from a selection
If your jeweler throws a hissy fit because you're not buying diamonds, find someone new.

CZs range of colour varies, like diamonds, from absolutely white (D in diamond grading) to a warmer tones (J-K), as well as fancies (pink, yellow) which are certain to look fake unless very small or you are traveling with a bodyguard.
You can pay $175 for a loose CZ and the identical CZ will be marketed by an online retailer for $550, branded and surrounded by all kinds of hype.

Specify a very high quality loose stone, with a durability guarantee.
Order a selection of stones (various sizes, cuts or colours) and see what you both think. Look at the sim in natural light; let your eye be the judge.

4. A CZ is not forever
Remember, you are buying it because it is
not an investment. It may look like diamond, but it will not perform like diamond. Think of your stone like a pair of good shoes that need upkeep, not like an irreplacable heirloom.

Clean up your act

Dirty CZs look different from dirty diamonds,
sad and depressing. Be a fanatic. Clean with Windex and a soft cloth. If you have a sonic cleaner, use it, but don't put the CZ-set items in the tub with other pieces.

Treat it right

Scratches are the kiss of death for CZs because it's the scratching that turns them cloudy. CZs have improved in the last decade but nearly all cutting houses are supplied by one dealer (Ceres). Treat the stone like glass, not diamond.
On a Mohs scale of mineral hardness, CZ is 8.5, diamond 10. Yes, a CZ cuts glass, but glass cuts glass. It's softer also than ruby or sapphire (9), but harder than emerald (7 1/2-8.)

Replace as needed

Some sellers guarantee the material for a year; be prepared to replace the stone to keep it looking real.

The stone in a ring lasts two or three years if you don't wear it gardening. You'll have much longer wear from earrings, a pendant or your tiara.
If you get a custom-cut CZ, buy two so your replacement is ready when you notice a change.

What do I think?

I've seen crappy-cut diamonds that I thought were glass, I've seen CZs that looked like good diamonds. I have not yet seen CZs that look like the finest diamonds. If you're waving your hand around at a cocktail party, a well-set CZ will pass muster with 90% of your admirers, unless the person sitting next to you is a jeweler.


Under jewelers' display lights, I can see the difference without a loupe when comparing good diamonds next to CZs. But in natural light, I lose my accuracy.


I don't subscribe to the mystical notion of genuine stones' effect on health or spirit, and the investment performance of a diamond (unless an exceptionally large, extremely fine, or rare stone) is not as stellar as the public believes.

So why not? There's no shame in CZs, as long as you don't end up with an overpriced, badly-made piece.

If you're craving a bit of glittery glamour, get your sim on and sparkle away. Just stay away from monster sizes, buy 'em loose, set them beautifully, and replace as needed.


Sources:

These sites that sell high-end finished CZ jewelry and loose stones; useful to research before talking to your jeweler.

Better Than Diamonds, Asha Brand
MiaDonna (One jeweler posting in an online forum says these are also Asha CZs)


Loose CZs and custom cuts:
This company sells to both retail and wholesale customers.
InterLap

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Charm bracelets: Build or buy?

Charm bracelets are an acquired taste; my mother started one for me in my teens, but I abandoned it in my hippie days, rediscovered it decades later, but never revived the tradition of adding charms. Today it's a bit tight and jeune fille, so I'll save it for a granddaughter or great-niece.

My friend Christine came to dinner wearing an eye-popping 1950s-era bracelet of oversized, jeweled charms that knocked me out. Every time she raised her champagne glass, a charm glinted. She bought it at auction, sitting quietly till it came up, raisin
g her paddle with determination.

Here's the thing: I'm 60, if I assemble a few charms each year, till I have e
nough to fill a decent bracelet, I probably won't remember where I put the damn thing.

So I'm on the prowl for an already-loaded bracelet with personality.
Several options:

1. J Crew "Storybook"; resin, plated brass, acrylic beads, $125 I like the twist of a tortoise resin bracelet, and the colour. But I'd like to see it in person. It may not be the quality I want.

2. Victorian Snooker and Fob; 18k, agate, turquoise, coral, £550.
Pendant charms, spinn
ing agate fobs and two snooker championship pennants (engraved 1928-1929, one with a hand-painted motif). The piece, ca.1900-1930, is someone's very personal snooker-sparkled story. Listed on eBay by seller w.associates2 as BIN.

3. Ruby Lane "Loaded Charm Bracelet"; 18k gold bracelet with charms of 18k, and 9k and jewels, $3, 500
This is really close to Christine's, same era, of English and Italian charms. It includes treasures like a Roman Empire gold coin, an ancient compass, a 1914 English sovereign, and an Etruscan 18k charm with turquoise. If you have a lavish Santa ba
by and don't like to defer gratification, it's a spectacular gift. But alas, at 7 1/4 inches a touch tight for me.


I'd better see what I like in silver!

4. Georg Jensen Henning Koppel; sterling, $1,160
I saw this superb bracelet in Paris. eBay seller silvergroup.dk's price is cheaper than the Jensen boutique, but still an investment. The seven silver Koppel charms dispel the cutesy image of this kind of bracelet.


5. Red Robin Antiques vintage silver charm bracelet, $295
A forty-year collection of charms (38 in all), many movable, such as a plane with propellers, candy box, a marriage license. Most charms are sterling, and the bracelet is a good heavy link.
Lots of charm for the change; big clangy fun.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Exotic jewels from the Himalayas

You can spend hundreds on a contemporary piece of costume jewelry, or for the same amount own real gems and precious metals, infused with mystery and age.

Online dealer
Potala World (Andrew Failes and Sandra Park) visit Tibet, Nepal, Laos, Burma and Thailand regularly. Browse their site for treasures and advice about heading to this part of the world, and capsule summaries of their trips.

Several
magnificent examples of their pieces, below.

Nine Jewel Ring
18 karat gold with pearl, sapphire, opal, coral, citrine, emerald, peridot, garnet and a central ruby. Among the Newari people of Kathmandu, the nine jewels are thought to bring harmony and balanc
e which in turn bring good health. On the back of the ring is an engraved double dorje. Sizes 7, 7 1/2 and 8. The face of the ring is 1" long. $475.


Antique Naga
"Carnelian" and Brass Bell Necklace
Old glass beads made to simulate carnelian. Wonderful old bells made by the lost wax process, now so old that they are worn through in places. 28" long. $395.



24-Kar
at Gold Dangle Earrings
A traditional Nep
ali style in repouseé gold and solid chains with a secure backing. The gold has been faceted, so these earrings really sparkle. $325.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The #1 2008 hair style

If I could award an annual Most Popular Hairstyle Award for 2008, the inverted bob wins.

Women swarmed to the style; it moves becomingly and flatters most faces. Seeing this particular version everywhere dimmed its allure, but that's what happens when a style captures the salon.

A selection of inverted (or reverse) bobs, below. (Wait! How can 'bob' be reverse, since it's a palindrome? By the way, my favourite palindrome is "Go Hang a Salami, I'm a Lasagna Hog.")

1. Ellen Barkin in a short version. A little stiff-looking; I want to muss it up.

2. Straight, mid-length with requisite texturized long
sid
es. The #1 cut on urban 30-somethings.

3. Overgrown; this lovely needs a visit to her stylist. Upkeep of the R-Bob is more demanding than you'd think.

4. Victoria Beckham: Impeccably bobbed here; has since moved on to brunette pixie.When Posh defects, has the cut jumped the shark?

Will the economy bust the inverted bob? Like the '80s Dorothy Hamill wedge (which I still see occasionally), the R-Bob demands precise cutting to razor-in swingy details. Though the style is jagged and piece-y, you can't ignore it for months or it looks as neglected as my leggy pot of pansies.

With hairdresser's tabs running well into three figures (in my city) I predict a return to less high-maintenance styles, ponytails and DIY colour- or none.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Irresistible bargain: Nico necklace


Bernice's Cale ring is rarely off my finger these days. As I said to Anjela, I love its Victorian-punk sensibility. Selling on etsy as The Beside, Bernice stands out in a sea of earnest crafts.

The design, inspired by a vintage
Scottish brooch, twists the traditional. At $65, a gift with presence.

Once I discovered this Brooklyn-London Irish expat, I kept returning to stare at her evocative Nico necklace, offered in sterling, $180, or 18k gold plate, $85. I decided on the gold, maybe because it's winter.

I enjoy hunting interesting pieces like the Nico. I've ogled astonishing rare jewels, received antique treasures, bagged bargain plastic bracelets, but few items have enchanted me in the under $100 range. And here it is on etsy from The Beside.

(To find Bernice, go to etsy and search "thebeside".)








Thursday, December 11, 2008

J'adore un beret

With the cool but not yet deeply frigid weather, it's time to dip into my foot-high stack of felt berets and find a jaunty angle. The beret is the perfect intersection of practicality and style: you can tuck it in a bag, and it emerges intact. You can buy a new colour for less than $20 or splurge with studs, sequins or cashmere.

Pulled over the ears, it stops sharp wind, but on a clement day, pushed to the back of the head, it
's barely there. Mine are wool felt; blogger and expert knitter materfamilias creates a luscious soft wool model that friends beg for. Like a well-cut black V-neck, the beret's neither in nor out of style, just indispensable.

And for some reason, perhaps only wishful thinking, berets impart less hat head. An embellished beret, like the gray model at left, elevates a simple dress and boots. One of my favourites is deep purplish blue with gold nailhead studs, from the hat salon at Holt Renfrew. I like a brooch on a beret, an effect I saw several times in Paris.

If that's how I feel about berets, guess how I feel about men in them! I beg Le Duc to wear his Basque beret, and he occasionally obliges, though he prefers fedoras.If you doubt, pause to admire, strictly for sartorial edification, Alain Delon in "Doucement les Basses".

A cat in a hat? If a beret, mignonne!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Etiquette and civility

A colleague recently asked me if I would be interested in developing "a course to teach people manners", by which she meant young professionals, about 25-30 years old. I asked her what she meant by "manners".

For m
e, the territory separates into two categories:

1. Etiquette: The codified behaviours which signal acceptable social behaviour (which vary by class, geography or culture, and era), such as table manners or the use of conventional grammar, and

2. Civility: Behaviour that shows consideration for the safety and comfort of one's fellows, such as moving one's bags off an unoccupied bus seat or not using a cell phone at a closely-packed restaurant table.


Etiquette, the province o
f parents, image consultants and authors, usually offers no rationale except "that's the way it's done", and the rules shift according to era, culture, and class.

We might retain outdated behaviour (the gentleman walks toward the street side of the lady, to protect her from splatters thrown up by passing horses), or struggle with new: should you end a relationship by text message?

Some of my etiquette is deeply ingrained. I flinch when a man leaves his hat (usually a baseball cap) on in a restaurant. But (as my sons point out) what does this have to do with my meal? I'm reacting to rules my parents invoked. Suppose I never heard that rule? If Emily Post fell in a forest, would anyone hear her?

Civility interests me keenly, for it's a barometer of quality of life. Civility is a result of a person's willingness to make life safer, smoother, easier, more pleasant for others, as well as hoping for reciprocity
. I'm not sure civility be taught, at least not to unwilling adults.

This week I observed littering, driving that endangered others, and found a
bandoned shopping carts on neighbourhood streets. If the perps are caught by a law enforcement officer who has the time and inclination, they might be fined, but likely not edified by a lecture on the responsibilities of citizenship.

We have far deeper rends in the social fabric in this large city, shootings and assaults, some within schools. The premise Malcolm Galdwell presented in "The Tipping Point" is that the first tiny rends- the litter, graffitti, broken windows- open the door for the mugging or assault.

Is there a cumulative effect? If no one says to the litterer, "Hey! Pick that up!", do people think, I can do anything?


I was recently in line at a bakery, where a plate of gingerbread snowflakes was displayed. I decided to buy one, and idly sorted through several. A soft, gracious voice whispered in my ear, "Best to take the ones you touch." Of course, this is a lesson I taught my sons, but forgot in the moment. I appreciated this woman's reminder, but it's so easy to get defensive, isn't it?


Please make your call outside. Excuse me, did you see that No Parking sign? This person is blind, would you please give her your seat?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Confidence game

I had lunch yesterday with a distressed friend, M.. A high-profile two-day meeting she chaired recently had not gone well. During the event, she was criticized by her manager. She said, “I lost my confidence, then I made even more mistakes.”

Though she believed the criticism resulted from her manager’s stress about the politics of the event, M. admitted there were segments she wished she'd handled more skillfully. After a few days' cooling-off, she had a productive conversation with her manager, who apologized for undermining her. But she is left with her confidence shaken.

Built in increments, confidence can be eroded by a single bad day, when we undermine ourselves or absorb others' remarks as absolute reality, rather than their perception. If our confidence is dependent on others' judgments (whether proffered as praise or criticism) we put, as my friend Diane says, our keys in somebody else's pocket.

Do you use style as a confidence-booster?

For a job interview, we buy an outfit; for a party, striking earrings; for a visit home, a great hair style or fresh colour. We choose a talisman to remind us, baby, it's you. But you can't buy confidence, only its proxies.

When my boys were toddlers, we'd sometimes dress them with a little extra polish. Le Duc would kiss each one and say, "Tu es beau comme un coeur." I imagined their tiny hearts would lift a touch. Confidence flourishes with love.

Real confidence, like beauty, emanates from within, deepening with time. It's neither inflated to the point of arrogance, nor vulnerable to a harsh remark. To find confidence, dip into your well of contribution, achievement and celebration.

(That's why counselors in the outplacement firms ask the newly-terminated to make a list of their accomplishments; the well is pretty dried up by a pink slip.)

M. is still raw; her crisis of confidence causes her to question her job security, her skills, her self. A woman of heart and strength, she has overcome much worse, and will rise. She asked me "Has this ever happened to you?" and I had the pain and pleasure of recounting some major gaffes. Humility is the other side of the hard earned gold coin of confidence.





Monday, December 8, 2008

Diamonds: Fanning desire, upholding retro roles

De Beer's holiday ad series, an unprecedented double-spend blitz, delivers a masterpiece of ju-jitsu persuasion: It's a recession, so buy diamonds.

One ad from the series, headlined "Fewer, Better Things" captures the psychology:

"Perhaps now is an opportunity to reassess what really matters. After all, if everything you ever bought her disappeared overnight, what would she truly miss?"


Below the minimal, starkly-styled text, huge, gorgeous diamond earrings.


You've gotta hand it to t
he present day Don Draper who cast this lifeline toward a gutted industry. Don did his research well. I do want fewer things of higher quality, and carats trump costume. But I rankled at the patronizing "everything you ever bought her". Isn't this the same industry who in boom times encouraged women to buy their own stones? What happened? Suddenly we're all retro and it's over to the guy, who hardly needs the pressure now.

O
ne of my favourite ads from the flush '90s featured dazzling earrings with the cheeky caption, "Why wait for one man to buy you a ring when you can get yourself a pair of studs?"

Here's a rewrite of that ad:

Times are tough, but here's some ice
Sorry I took my broker's advice!
Catfood, trailer, here we come
But on your ears, yum yum yum!


If you're interested in learning about the deep turmoil in the diamond world, visit Janus Thinking and click on "Diamond Industry."