Jewelry: Bauble for a birthday belle

One of my dearest friends, "Sarah" turns 60 early in the new year; I'll attend her birthday luncheon. She's inviting a group of women friends to sit around a table, tell stories, dine. And we have something else to celebrate: after a layoff three years ago, she just got a juicy job.

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 

Made of serene sea green jade, clear quartz, pyrite, tourmalinated quartz, picture jasper, prehnite and hematite, this has colours she'd love and a bumply, organic presence. It is wire-linked only near the clasp. Price, $88.

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.)


These are lovely and I am certain your friend would enjoy any are wise to go the jewelry direction! I also turn 60 in 2013 and I plan to make it a keynote year!!
Anonymous said…
Good morning, Duchesse. I'm partial to the Foxwood tho' I may be influenced by the greens Sarah's wearing in the picture. The darker stones would balance the contrast between her skin and hair color. On the other hand, I'm a big fan of her having the same necklace you do in her colors. I think it's fun when close friends buy something similar and have it in common and will think of each other every time said piece is worn.
Thanks for your inspiration and suggestions. I'm off to check your links! jac
Susan B said…
The Foxwood is very pretty, though the blue version of your necklace might be a nice color accent to the earth tones you say she likes to wear. I do love these designs!
Poppy Buxom said…
They're all gorgeous, but my coloring is a lot like hers, and the Foxwood makes my heart sing.

Lucky her to have a friend like you!
KSL said…
They're all great, but I like the Valentina the best I think. Love the longer length.
LPC said…
I vote for the Valentine. Matches what she's wearing in the photo:). Lovely woman, nice friend!
I vote for the Foxwood.
Your friend is truly beautiful, I love how she looks so chic and relaxed in the photo.

Have fun at the luncheon.
She'll be thrilled to have you all there to help her mark this milestone. Good Friends are such a treasure.
Lorrie said…
I first thought the Foxwood, because of what Sarah is wearing in the photo, but then I saw the blue version of yours. It's a little higher contrast to Sarah's colouring, but is so very pretty. Maybe I'm just biased because that would be my choice for ME.
Kristien62 said…
I agree with Lorrie above. The Park Slope has peach stones which I think would be lovely with her complexion.
Susan said…
I personally love the Valentina for its colors and its length. And, you say she wears these colors. Next, I would choose the Park Slope for it's colors and length. The Foxwood is equally lovely, but appears to be somewhat sorter.

Your friend is lovely and she is fortunate have such a thoughtful friend.
Wendelah said…
I love the Foxwood, but she'll love any of the three you choose.
Swissy said…
The Foxwood, hands down, for her. Just look at her in that paleish green. Lovely. And so are you, there Duchesse...
Swissy said…
That should read "there Duchesse."
Swissy said…
Well, I'm not trying to say "there", but computer keeps changing it! Let's try "dear".
Wendy said…
I vote for the Park Slope, though any of the three would be warmly received, I'm sure!
I love finding new jewelers on Etsy....may I request a post on your Etsy favorites, jewelry and otherwise?
materfamilias said…
I'm voting for the lapis and peach although I may be thinking of myself more than of Sarah. . . . Happy 60th to her! (I do that particular celebration myself next year)
Jane M said…
I'm joining the Foxwood party although Valentina is a close second. Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate her special day.
Anonymous said…
I agree that the blue version of your necklace would be a fun present!
dana said…
How can you go wrong? Unless your friend reads this blog, of course!
Anonymous said…
I like the third one
Unknown said…
THANK YOU. Etsy can be a seriously mixed bag, so pointers to the more artistic sellers are always welcomed!

If I may undercut my own coveting, I'll also recommend Etsy seller Forever in Style (Debbie Aram or Arem?) for beaded Chinoiserie style jewelry. I have one large hand knotted Chinese bead necklace that is gorgeous and I'm coveting a second.
Duchesse said…
ALL: Foxwood has the majority vote with Park Slope second and Valentina third. I just saw her; she has something very similar to Valentina so it would not be enough of a different piece.

I'm going to convo Lindsay re making a Foxwood with silver instead of copper. If not, I'll go with Park Slope. And yes, she's going to love either one.
Thank you!
LauraH said…
Duchesse, you've given such great advice / suggestions about jewellery, I'm learning so much from your posts. Thank you far sharing your 'finds' with us. As a fellow glasses-wearer and jewellery maven, do you have any advice about combining them with earrings?

Hope Christmas is being good to you.

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