Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ladies who lunch and their jewelry

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 earringsBold
Or
iginally 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?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The overtime octopus and layoff update

Overtime continues to concern me. Like an octopus, the tentacles of both paid and unpaid overtime continue to twist around employees' lives, and the topic persists as public debate through some high-profile lawsuits.


Overtime and unpaid work


Last month, the Ontario Superior Court dismissed a $600-million class action suit against one of Canada's biggest banks (CIBC), saying that the case did not meet the test to be a class-action lawsuit. Dara Fresco and her attorneys will appeal by the end of August. Fresco was joined by hundreds of bank branch employees who protested unpaid overtime.

In the meantime, I received an e-mail from Matthew, who lost his job in July. He's one of
a dozen friends and colleagues chopped from a giant telecom's Canadian head office in the last month. Just back from a family canoe trip, he wrote: "This is the first vacation in 12 years that I have not taken with a pager on my belt, and it felt fantastic."

Shortly after his note, Michael Sanserino's August 10 article in
The Globe and Mail caught my eye: "Two recent lawsuits (T-Mobile USA and CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.) raise a question that many employees and employers have deliberated: Should hourly workers be paid for time spent responding to work calls or e-mails while off the clock?"

Matthew was a manager, so continual off-hours calls were considered part of the job, because managers, though stock-ownership benefits, are considered "owners" of the company. Note, however, that Matthew's company did not pay bonuses to anyone at his level at the last year-end, nor are employee stock purchase plans available to this global company's Canadian workforce.

But, Sanserino observes, "... such disputes are growing as cheaper technology puts
pagers, smart phones or other devices in the hands of more workers."

In the Globe and Mail's August 12 "In Brief" column, Wallace Immen reports: "In the face of the global economic crisis, three-quarters of companies have taken steps to contain overtime costs, including freezes on overtime or setting a ceiling on pay, a (Conference Board of Canada) study of 130 organizations found. In addition, several unionized organizations are trying to renegotiate contracts to reduce the premium paid for overtime work."

When paid overtime costs are being scrutinized, the temptation for managers at all levels to ask people to work unpaid overtime becomes even greater.

People left in the corporate lifeboat are working ever harder, with fewer boundaries between work and personal life. Whether employee or contract worker, manager or hourly worker, unpaid overtime is gaining traction as fear keeps people in line and silent.

Even in companies who pay for overtime, is a routine workload of undesired extra hours any way to live?


From overtime to no time: What happens to those downsized?

Matthew, a 42-year-old IT professional, is making a career change. In September, he will return to university as a mature student to pursue a divinity degree, following in his father's footsteps.

Update on other downsized friends:

- C., 51, a lawyer who specializes in corporate governance: lost senior executive job at a bank in January, was hired by another bank as a contractor in March
; hoping to be offered a full time position there.

- J., 45, who lost her sales job in January: unemployed, and received word that an entrepreneurial venture she was hoping to partially fund with a government grant was declined; she's cut her expenses by sharing her home and wants to pursue her avocation, guitar-building.

- M., 55, who lost her job at a non-profit in January: unemployed; over 25 applications have not yielded one interview. She is planning to revive her freelance training business, though would prefer working for an organization.

If you find my update on the 50+ job-seeker's front dispiriting, Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream" is even bleaker. She presents a version of her real self, a 50+ communications professional searching for a corporate PR/Communications job, and chronicles her trek through job fairs, career counselors, online job boards and image advisors (one of the better experiences).

You can see heartbreak and rejection coming a mile away, but it the unremitting dead ends and unethical scams she reports made me squirm nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pendleton's enduring wools

When I was a girl growing up in Northern Michigan, my family were big Pendleton people: plaid skirts for my sister and me, sturdy shirts for my brother and Dad, bright Navajo blankets on our cottage beds. But I forgot about Pendleton once I hit the city.

Now I'm back for another look. Outdoor clothing companies like Pendleton, Woolrich and Filson are getting attention from fashion writers and stylists, and my brother mentioned that he's still wearing Dad's Pendleton shirts.

I found a number of tempting items on Pendleton's site. My only gripe is that they won't ship the clothes outside the US, but I'm counting on my New York friend Jim to receive my boxes.

Some of the styles are unbearably staid, and the Western wear is best left to my family in the Oregon countryside. But a patient browse yielded some gems, and I liked the wide selection of sizes.

The Checkmate Duffle Coat, $98, provides plenty of graphic punch in a perfect transitional piece. The length means you're enlivened, not overwhelmed, by that blanket check.

A jaunty Plus
h Wool Cape, $228 with stand-up collar and bias-cut packets is functional yet cool. Single-button sides add wind protection.

Anticipating another blustery winter, I appreciated seeing fur's warmth married to the classic toggle coat, $228. I've worn some version of this coat for over 25 years, as did Yves St. Laurent. For this price, not real horn toggles, but if you want those, order from M&J Trimming.

The Toggle Coat's frosting of fox on snuggly Italian fabric (virgin wool/nylon/cashmere), comes in black only, in Misses, Petite and Plus sizes, $228.

There were some surprises, too. I would never have figured Pendleton for this washable silk Turnaround Shell, with its lower and higher neck cuts, depending on which side is worn to the front, $68 in rose, port and wild honey.

And whoa, leopard cowboy boots? Pull on your jeans and the handsewn $375 Leoparditos and say hey, handsome, let's two-step.


The '49er Jacket

One iconic item stands above the rest, and ever since I saw Julia Roberts in 2003's Mona Lisa Smile, I've been thinking of wearing one.


I fell in love all over again with the classic '49er Jacket, the essence of enduring American style with its pearl buttons, flanged shoulders, patch pockets, back yoke with gathers falling from the side, and palette of appealing plaids.

(Shown:
Top of post, Ultralight '49er in Royal Purple/Gray Plaid; left, Classic '49er in Autumn Chic Plaid; bottom, Classic '49er in Seattle Skyline Plaid.)

The original is a vintage store trophy; Pendleton's reissued tartans stay faithful to their retro charms. Price, $178.

They also offer an unfortunate "updated" '09er Jacket, which proves you shouldn't mess with a good thing.

I'd like one for casual days, to
wear just the way my sister and Julia did, belted over pants.


Cold-climate reader alert

Have you ever tried to find a lined pair of wool pants? You can cheat with silk long johns, but often tailoring suffers.

Pendleton
call the fabric in their Worsted Flannel City Trousers "absolutely exquisite, with a smooth hand and the slightest nap", and they are fully lined. Sized for Petite, Misses, Plus and Tall for $158; shown here, glacier blue, a welcome respite from the usual darks, also available.

Those of you living in warm climes should take a look at the site's summer clearance section, now 60-80% off.

This is a company rooted in its hundred-year-old tradition, still operating its Portland, Oregon mills. They never set out to be hip. Some of the items, like a handsome line of washable merino sweaters, suffer from ho-hum photos, but I can see them elevated by a scarf, a la Deja Pseu.

Pendleton
do produce beautiful fabrics, and their Ultraweave Circle Pleat Skirt, in an 8 oz. superstretch merino wool ($168) answers my quest for quality without designer brand tax. Add a cardi, crisp shirt or nipped jacket- here's a skirt one could wear every day.

Someone in Portland is paying attention, piquing my interest with some appealing American sportswear.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The '80s return, if you didn't shop for yourself then

When I read, "Right Round, Baby" by Guy Trebay in in Thursday, August 20's New York Times Style Section, I paused to channel wardrobe in those days: clubbing in a padded-shoulder Kamali jumpsuit, Fiorucci pink leopard print rockabilly skirt, or lace-trimmed scoopneck sweatshirt; my work clothes, more sedate Armani, Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis ensembles.
(Note: This link will expire, to find the article after August 20, search the title.)

The 1980s were the last decade when I was able (and in fact considered it noble) to blow two weeks' pay on an outfit. Nearly thirty years later, I can recall most of the contents of my stuffed and glitzy closet, yet only one item, a custom-made chrome-yellow leather padded-shoulder tee shirt, endures as a souvenir.

Am I happy to see this era revived? Let another generation will have fun discovering shoulder pads the size of stuffed animals, black rubber bangles and wide elastic belts. I'm also reminded, tha
nks to the article's quote from Germain Greer about Princess Diana ("(she) looked like a TV anchorwoman, but with dreadful hats"), that a subset of '80s dressing was terribly stiff and matchy.

This Emmanuelle Khanh jacket is listed on eBay for $65. I might have killed for it 25 years ago; the moment has passed for me.

If I had to dress in an earlier era, I'd pick '30s and '40s glamour over '80s exaggeration.



But one gelled fan, at a recent Pat Benatar concert, is having a blast.

If your Mom dressed you in the '80s, it might be fun to buy yourself some flash and funk and boogie on!

Since I committed some of those fashion crimes myself, back in the day, I'll leave this era out of my current closet.

T Magazine's style gorge: Colette, Carey, Kristin and more

The New York Times' T Magazine is always a delicious style gorge, and this Fifth Anniversary Issue delivers an extra dollop of desire and dish.
Shown, Lily Cole photographed by Paolo Roversi.

I won't steal the cherries out of the chocolates, but here are a few of my favourite bits:


"I'm very vain. It's because of my vanity and my pride that I don't want to have my skin drawn tight across my face. I don't want to have big lips. Isn't perfection really about being able to wear your years in a way that is agreeable to look at?"
- Kristin Scott Thomas, in "Cinéma Verité by Holly Brubach; photo by Solve Sondsbo

Did you know Colette ran a beauty business in Pari
s in the early 1930s? She developed and tested formulas herself, designed makeup brushes ("like cat's paws"), and advised clients. She told a mother her daughter should wear her hair with bangs.

"That would be a waste", the mother said, "she has such a pretty forehead, why hide it?" "True", Colette answered, "but I'm sure she has a pretty arse, and you hide that."
- "Belles Lettres" by Christopher Petkanas


This hallucinatorially gorgeous necklace by Rome-based jeweler Luigi Scialanga will make it into my inspiration file.

And the perfect red suit, Prada worn by actor Carey Mulligan.
Photo by Raymond Meier.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to get started remodeling jewelry, part two

Copies and 'inspired-bys'

Some designs are copyrighted and your jeweler might not be willing to reproduce them, or will make something similar, but not identical. Other jewelers have their signature designs, and do not wish to deviate.

On the ot
her hand, my GF Valerie had some now out-of-production Cartier earrings reproduced perfectly when she was in Vietnam.

When resetting a ring, I asked my jewelers, Pam Chandler and Don Collins of Artworks Gallery, Toronto, to look at the web site of fabulous jeweler Lina Scarmuzzi of Lucifer Vir Honestus.

Don and Pam definitely have the chops to create this level of work. While they did not copy any piece, th
ey absorbed the organic, luxurious vibe I wanted.


Setting a budget


The cost of a new piece is not necessarily low because you are supplying the stones. There is no magic ratio, but these artists are putting in a lot more work than you might think. You'll get the best value by providing your stones for an existing design. Truly one of a kind will cost more, and some fabrication and setting techniques are labor intensive.

If the estimate is higher than you anticipate, ask questions: What is the cost of the metal? Of additional stones? What substitutes might I make, such as chrome tourmaline for emerald- and where do I want the absolutely best stone, engraving, etc.? Some jewelers present options from the beginning, others need a little prodding to suggest less costly choices.

I was able to lower the cost of a ring by having a platinum shank made hollow instead of solid.


Your jeweler might break down the cost in stages, by initial design fee, providing a wax (a model of what they will make) and final production, or quote one overall price.


Protect all parties

Take a photo of your original piece before taking it to a jeweler. If you are providing a valuable stone and do not have a current appraisal, get one. This is important in case the stone is chipped or damaged in setting: did you supply it that way or did they do it?

I'm not s
aying this to scare you- I have had nothing but great results- but it's wise.

If you have a very valuable stone, you can get it gemprinted before giving it to the designer. This is a process similar to a fingerprint, and uses a laser to capture the unique 'sparkle pattern'. It ensures the stone you gave is the one you get back.

Singer Phyllis McGuire had her D-flawless 5 carat diamond swapped when she took it to a famous jeweler for cleaning. Her eyes were as good as her pipes, and she spotted it. Settlement undisclosed, but it must have been whopping. If you have stones under 1ct., relax. Jewelers handle them all the time.

Be sure to set a firm completion date; get it documented on the work order and on your receipt for your deposit.



Faith, trust and surprises


Finally, be prepared for the unknown. Commissioning work is an act of trust. The setting of a ring may change the look of your stone more than you imagined.
Changing the style changes how a diamond performs. Your old prong-set round diamond, now in a bezel, might not look as large or brilliant.

There is an ineffable quality to stones, and to the setter's craft. Unless you see a piece and say "Make me one like that, but with my stones", your project will be a leap of faith. Your choice: to always buy production pieces, where what you see is exactly what you get, or enter into an artistic experiment.

I have occasionally had request that some detail be changed in order for the piece to be perfect. But I have never had a piece made that was not a delight. A fine jeweler is true artist, deeply committed to your satisfaction.


The prize: Your new piece

Here's a ring my friend Linda had made to celebrate her retirement, Anne Sportun's Pavé Disc ring, also sold on the Artfully Elegant web site.

Linda's was made with stones harvested from old diamond pendants and a few additional purchased stones.

Anne is a Toronto-based
designer especially skilled in renovation projects; you can reach her directly at Anne Sportun Experimetal Jewellery.

She loves this ring, which has one diamond for each year she spent in her career as a special-ed teacher.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How to get started remodeling jewelry, part one

Intrigued by the idea of resetting her diamonds, Anonymous asked, "So how do I get started?"


How to proceed depends on where you live

If in a medium to large city, look for jewelers whose work you admire. (If you see someone whose jewelry you like, ask her who made it.)

Begin by dropping in to look. If you see only cases of branded jewelry, this will likely not be your artisan, but look anyway for idea
s.

If you like their work, book an appointment, take your stones and talk to them about your wishes. The jeweler's term for a piece they will make for you is commission, custom work, or bespoke.

They will show you examples or make sketches.
You might also plan a vacation or day trip to a jeweler, having made contact first via e-mail and phone.

It helps to have photos of designs you like, just like you would take to a new hairdresser. You don't have to know exactly what you want when you talk to them, but think about a few options: Are you willing to add some stones? Would you prefer earrings or a ring? Does the piece have to coordinate with other pieces you have?

Not all jewelers work with commissions; some make only production pieces. If you fall in love with a production piece but want to use your stones, see Copies and 'inspired-bys' in Part Two, posted tomorrow.

If you do not have good local sources, you can find some exceptional jewelers on the net; call to ask how they handle commissions. They will send photos of their work and provide references. You can send jewelry by courier if under a certain dollar amount; the terms are on couriers' web sites. For valuable stones, the jeweler will make secure transit arrangements with specialized carriers.

Shown above, Alex Sepkus Orchard Dome ring from Artful Elegance, made with fifteen small diamonds, $3,100.


Sources for inspiration

Books about jewelry, a
uction catalogs, and museum exhibits will build your eye and are useful to learn about techniques.

For current ideas, visit online retailers like Twist, Barneys and Ylang23; bui
ld a file.

Shown, Marie-Helene de Taillac Midnight Storm Earrings, 22K gold/smokey quartz,tourmaline, iolite and amethyst, $1,090 from Twist.

It's also useful to learn a few of the terms for jewelry fabrication, see this quick tutorial on rings at Maker Mends Ltd.


Limits to the craft


Having taken courses alongside pros, I will say they are not uniformly talented. Can your cocktail lounge pianist play like Glenn Gould?

If you take photos to a jeweler, not all can produce what you show them. Ask them to be forthright. They may not be able to source the materials, or might not have experience with the technique.

Take your time, sleep on their suggestions. If there's a detail you don't like, trust yourself and discuss it.
Never feel obliged to continue after an initial consultation, and don't buy into someone's vision if it doesn't raise your pulse.

Don't expect a jeweler whose work is primarily, say, Art Nouveau-influenced, to be able to make a convincing modern piece. There are versatile designers who can create anything from Victorian-style necklaces to Japanese mokume-gane rings, but they are exceedingly rare.

Some designs are demanding. The Fountain ring at left, made by the renowned Turkish jeweler Sevan, displays masterful workmanship and exotic cuts that are difficult to replicate. But you will likely find someone who can set black and white diamonds on a ring's gallery in this manner, borrowing simpler features of the design.

The jeweler you meet in the shop will not necessarily do the benchwork- the actual fabrication- so a piece can pass from that person to his or her employees (or even to jewelers in other shops), and also to cutters and setters who are running their own operations.

If you are buying stones, your jeweler may have to source them, which also involves expertise and expense. Ask to see a selection of stones, and accept only what you like. Custom-cut stones will cost more than standard inventory.

A good jeweler is open about the parties involved in the project and why he or she uses them.


Do not be talked into abandoning your vision because one jeweler says something can't be done; get other opinions. Some jewelers will not admit they can't do it, but someone else can. Others reject work they don't want to do.

At the same time, listen closely. My jewelers recently advised me to not tear apart a vintage ring that I wanted to restyle. Instead, they recut the stone and replaced only the shank. Their advice saved me a bundle, and the ring is now stunning.

This post continues tomorrow, with copies and 'inspired-bys', setting a budget and more.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Collecting colour for a jump on winter

August is the month for rock-bottom summer markdowns and the first racks of winter-fall items. It's the swing-point when suddenly the season shifts; a filmy top looks past its peak, but we may not be in the mood for heavier clothes when it's still sweltering.

My Parisienne GF Huguett
e is visiting. Years ago, she taught me to grab beguiling pieces now, while stock is fresh and few (in this part of North America) are yet concerned with staying warm. In bleak March, your cerise cardi or ochre jacket will lift your spirits, and just try to find one then.

Here are a few things to get a jump on the season, in the spirit of her advice.


Red
Fendi Wood Ruffle Detail dress from My Theresa, $846. The perfection of this dress, worn with black tights, and pumps or leopard flats, mists my eyes.

J. Crew cashmere shell in Hydrangea, a gorgeous blue, for $90. Soulful cashmere lifts a black jacket from the gloom and won't be too warm in well-heated buildings.

Marc by Marc Jacob's wool/cashmere Maxine Sweater delivers cheek via a plaid peplum below the black body and a close fit.

The delightful intersection of jacket and sweater; $328 at
Saks Fifth Avenue.

J. Crew velvet Eden jacket, $148, in copper. This rich fabric and colour compliment one another. Surprisingly neutral, bound to sell out.

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Military Coat is strict but not serious, with precise purple facing on charcoal wool. $755 from Net-a-porter (and even now only available there in 6 and 8). I'm showing it as a suggestion for winter coats that are not dark and drab.

Speigel, the reasonably-priced catalog company, offer shapely stretch sateen separates, including this sharp deep violet jacket, $69, as part of the Signature Stretch Sateen Collection.

I like the wide lapel and flared sleeve, smart cross-seasonal wear that goes right through winter with a wool shell beneath. They also offer a 25" pencil skirt in this colour (in both Misses and Womens' sizes) for a mere $39.

Fall earrings: Beth Orduna Multi-Ring Earrings with Tortoise Loop; sterling, brass and tortoise shell, $122 from Twist.

If you see what you love, buy now. This fall will be a wobbly season; the first of inventory reductions should be apparent on shelves as orders finally catch up with the economy. Expect fewer 66%-plus markdowns, but less choice, too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Diamonds: New delight from old stones

"I don't exercise. if God wanted me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor." - Joan Rivers

If you enjoy diamonds, this could be a good time for a extra special treat, as many retailers have discounted prices about 15% in the past 12 months. But that requires a deep dip into your cookie jar. Diamond sales are suffering for a reason; this is not the time when most of us decide to break the bank for a new bauble.

Another route to diamond delight is right under your nose: restyle your diamonds, an endeavor that might include
- a piece that you inherited, but was never "you"
- your decades-old engagement ring or wedding band, sentimental but no longer pleasing
- jewelry from an ex; let's get the karma off that t
hang!


Small is beautiful


You might have small diamonds lounging inconspicuously on the shoulders of a ring, or set in a bracelet or pin that's dated. Resetting them in a new piece releases their potential. Don't ignore small stones, offer them a new home.

This Pat Flynn Diamond Stripe Ring shows how a single row of small (10-point) diamonds has presence. (All photos provided to give you ideas, but of course you could fall in love with a finished piece; they are offered online at Twist).

Not enough diamonds to make the circle? Buy the rest; the cost is a few hundred dollars or less apiece. The daring of iron (the black exterior), diamonds set in platinum, and the 18k gold interior, now that's
design.

Think "projects", not necessarily one piece


Project #1 : Pull the old stuff apart and use the bits in a fresh design.

Here's what you might do with a boring engagement ring: first, make a 3mm band.

Example: Use two trapezoid baguettes (an elegant cut often foun
d on the shoulder of a '30s to '50s ring), teamed with a small diamond, salvaged or new. Example, shown: Cathy Waterman's Platinum Tube Band, lovely on its own, or as a stack ring. This band is deliberately discreet; it reminds me of one Audrey Hepburn wore.

If you have older-cut diamonds (ca.1950 or earlier), c
hoose a classic but not ho-hum design; otherwise they look out of their time, like an obviously lifted face.

Want more flash, you little minx? Here's a hand-grabber that uses pointers to thrilling effect, a nearly 5ct. sapphire beneath a vine overlay of tiny diamonds, on a band of pavé. This Cathy Waterman design is shown to give you an idea.

You need expert execution and a generous centre stone, which need not be precious. Even resin would suit this overlay technique.

So what to do
with the centre stone? Girlfriend, I'm getting to it, that's project #2.

If the diamond is under a carat, it can shine in more modern designs. I've deliberately chosen pieces other than rings; here are three
necklace options.

The bezel-set solitaire necklace is a major doze. If you have one, let's add it to the rehab stash too.

1. This simple pod, Shaesby's Fiore Pod, could accommodate a diamond of up to around a half-carat. (Proportion is important so your diamond does not look 'plunked'.)

2. If you have more small diamonds to work with, consider a design similar to the Andrea Fohrman Sophia
pendant.

The smaller diamond you received long ago would sit up and say hey set in 14k pink gold and oxidized gold. Forhman's uses small stones but you could add a larger one or use mixed sizes.

Notice how the materials lift the diamonds; the quality of the chain is essential.


3. My favourite way to use a single diamond
is in a clasp or focal element in a string of beads, for example, pearls, coral, malachite or lapis; the beads need not be costly. Shown: a white coral necklace by Mizuki, below, with a 1/2" diameter starburst coin charm set with that diamond.

Go for one piece you wear and wear (and when it's right, you will!)

Take a risk, do something so relaxed that people wonder, "is that a....diamond?"

Example: An eccentric take (and the only piece not from Twist), Vivienne Westwood's diamond safety pin and paper clip necklace.

A friend had a similar design made with the half-carat oval diamond from her ca. 1970 engagement ring and never removes it. On hers, the "paper clip' detaches, and she can add other charms.

Or mix diamond with unusual materials. Tiziana Vigano set diamonds around the perimeter of a horn bracelet. (From Barney's web site.)


Keep up the good works

Remember to recyle your gold or platinum, or ask your designer if she has scrap. A number of jewelers participate in Earthwork's "No Dirty Gold" project.

Delight someone you love!


A charm
for a friend commemorating the birth of a child? A diamond twinkling in the clasp of a small gold box for your mother? A jewel-set letter opener for a beloved mentor?

Diamond studs (made from the side stones of a three-stone ring) to welcome a new daughter in law
? A birthday zodiac pendant for your sister? (Shown, Cartier Sagittarius charm from Ruby Lane.)

A teeny diamond on your dog's collar? I thought of this when I saw this sign in the doggie grooming boutique in my neighbourhood: "You cut off my nuts, the least you could do is buy me something nice."