Something has happened to my jewelry taste in the past few years. I hit 60 and found myself drawn to styles I'd bypassed since the '70s.
Out of nowhere has come a Ladies Who Lunch proclivity for bangles, whimsy and heavens-to-Betty Draper retro styling. Never mind that I don't live this life 98% of the time; my usual lunch is an omlette at a handy diner or sandwich at home. But part of me wants to drape myself on a chic banquette, order a leisurely three courses, and say "si" to a Bellini.
Part of this shift is the realization that if investing in good pieces, I'm not wanting to tire of the item in two years. Classic looks better all the time, if I'm choosing now to keep wearing at seventy-five.
Here is some of the real stuff, as a reference, and to channel one's inner Babe Paley.
Jean Schlumberger enamel and 18k bracelet
The ne plus ultra, $22,000 to about $27,000, depending on width and detail. The translucent paillonné enamel, developed by Jean Schlumberger, and meticulously maintained by Tiffany jewelers, is a collector's item.
1990 Vintage Gump's Cultured Pear and 18k gold earrings
Originally made by San Francisco jeweler Gump's, but sold by
Ross Simons in their estate collection, these seashell clip earrings evoke summer earrings on a yacht.
(Le Duc does not like them, but I think perhaps he does not understand that on sale for $1,721, reduced from $2, 295, they are not all that expensive, sigh.)
Seaman Schepps Fish Brooch in sapphire, diamond and gold with emerald cabuchon eye
Price? Contact Seaman Schepps and then your trust officer. This beautifully-modeled piece of whimsy is typical of the company called "America's court jeweler."
And now for some budget-respecting variations, in the spirit.
Each season, J Crew offer a selection of Ladies Who Lunch accessories. I liked this Estate Link bracelet, which fakes gold, but hey, it's $58.
Cultured Pearl Earrings with Turquoise in 14kt Yellow Gold
4mm cultured freshwater pearls and turquoise cabuchons. On sale at Ross Simons for $296.25. Pearl, gold and turquoise pop against neutrals like an umbrella in a Singapore Sling. Now where is that pool boy?
Lulu Guinness' Enamel Fish Brooch was £85 now £42.50. The graphic, cream and black stripes, and the 10.5cm length make it wearable yet striking.
This Yves St. Laurent Arty Enamel Ring has it all: size, detail and wit. Could dress down, relatively, or float up to cocktail time.
And it's only $195 at Net-a-porter, available now in sizes 6 and 7, also available in a striking cobalt blue. The ring in black and silver is on sale at Bergdorf Goodman's web site for $137.
Brooches and necklaces are tricky
The original Ladies mixed their real and costume pieces, but that's harder to do today because workmanship in the costume realm has declined: glued-in instead of set stones abound. I returned a Banana Republic piece that, while a ringer for the socialite look, was soulless.
So I'm looking at vintage, and found this carved faux jade and gold-toned necklace that converts to a brooch, by Hattie Carnegie. It's in mint condition, priced at $410 from Ruby Lane seller Gaspee. Though pricier than the BR piece, it has so much more essence.
What to wear with LWL accessories?
Since I'm not angling for a prize corner table at La Grenouille, I would wear the simplest polished cotton pants and linen shirt. Why compete with your vibrant jewelry?