I'm already gift-scouting. Sarah adores jewelry, especially agate, carnelian, pearl and lapis, and wears it with her customary verve.
I discovered Simon and Ruby, the Etsy shop of Lindsay Farrer of Nashville, Tennessee, on Etsy. Impressed by her trove of natural materials, colour sense, technique, and contribution of 5% of the price to World Vision, I bought this Park Slope necklace, love at first clasp.
It's the nicest (new) necklace I've found for the price ($70), a vibrant mix of smoky quartz, turquoise, riverstone and crazy lace agate (that name alone!), among others. The wire-linked beads drape beautifully. Below, the Park Slope (turquoise version) in detail. The big chunk at 3 o'clock looks white but is fact mint green, a quirky surprise. It adjusts from 18 to 20 inches, a relief since so many pieces I've looked at elsewhere are made at a too-short 15 or 16 inches.
And here's my lovely friend. Sarah is an ebullient brunette who dresses in a classic, feminine style, for example, a Liberty shawl and crisp striped cotton shirt with jeans.
Her underlying skin tone is peachy-warm. She wears white, but I rarely see her in very dark hues or black near her face. Sarah chooses the livelier earth tones (camel, khakis, rust) but also blues and greens from light to mid-range. She's wise and witty; colour is her tonic. (Well, there has been known to be gin involved, too.)
Before you ask: I have already given her pearls and do not want to repeat myself. My budget is $100.
Live, from Nashville, the nominees are...
1. The Foxwood
2. The Valentina
This earthy cornucopia includes green rhyolite, citrine, smoky quartz and one of her favourites, ocean jasper. A longer necklace, 26 inches, it gives a woman the joy of seeing the stones. It's a smidge above my budget ($120) but what the hey.
3. Park Slope in lapis and peach
Same style as mine, but with a blue and peach palette that suits her colouring. Made from a lush mix of lapis lazuli, autumn jasper, black agate, mother of pearl, gray agate, peach aventurine, peach quartz, cobalt blue jade, pyrite, and gray picture stone. Price, $70.
Dear and discerning readers, what would you pick?
Finding real jewelry on a budget
These pieces are examples of the jewelry category I call Relaxed Real: organic materials, simple yet graceful design, neither twee nor tough. They are ideal for the time of life when a woman no longer wishes to wear logos and me-too production pieces, yet craves beauty.
Relaxed Real may be serene as a pair of spring flower bulbs bearing pearls (by Amie Louise Plante; price, $160) or dramatic as amber chunks mixed with etched silver beads. The metals are silver or copper; gold, while beautiful and durable, elevates pieces and prices. (Lindsay Farrer will custom-make her pieces with silver wirework on request.)
This is the gently-priced tier of artisan-crafted jewelry, using noble metals and natural materials.
"Real" jewelry need not break the bank. Pleasing choices at this level can be found at $100 or so, though some of the best jewelers command much more– and their design and technique should merit the premium.
And so, a piece from Simon & Ruby for birthday girl, but which? Please advise–and I swear you to secrecy.
(I'm traveling this week and will respond to comments on Thursday.)