Jewelry: Ornate, detailed, divine

As I pass through a busy street or other prime people-watching spots, I often see women in generic jewelry. Real, classic, but the jewelery equivalent of a bowl of oatmeal. Women buy this because it "goes with everything", and I too have a few passe-partout items.

Oatmeal is comforting, healthy and excellent value, but sometimes you crave a chocolate truffle or a little wedge of brie, a luscious bit of unctuous delight.

But women can seize up when considering a jewelry purchase beyond the classic, hence, today's stroll through the Passage.

Two guidelines for wearing an ornate piece:
1. Take it off-road: instead of pairing with a dressy outfit, wear it with a simple sweater or tee, and
2. Don't cut corners. If it's good quality you will wear it often, with joy, and if not, it sits in the drawer. As you increase the ornateness, fake gems and metals can look tacky, though some vintage costume pieces are magnificent.

I prefer ornate rings and earrings to necklaces; necklaces are the print dress of the jewelry world, very memorable—and they can be heavy. 

Nor does ornate equal blingy; I'm talking texture, richness of materials, saturation of colour, not massive, clanking scale.

Let's window shop!

Admittedly costly, but here to build the eye is the Blooming Daisy ring by the Turkish master jeweler Sevan, a three-dimensional intaglio carving inside a lemon quartz flanked by (low whistle) green diamonds. A showstopper with an accompanying price tag ($13,400). 

Whew! Let's try to drop some zeros, shall we?

Channeling Sevan's boho chic but much more affordable: earrings from Beladora, that trove of chic and unusual treasures: pink sapphires set in blackened silver. Price, $495. 

If longing for lush colour on your finger, spring for this garnet and turquoise ring from the '70s, rich gems set in 14k: the real thing, baby. From Beladora; price, $695.

Love gold hoops, but what if they had that something extra? These Georgian (ca. 1910) French earrings of 18k rose and green gold set with garnets, for example, from The Three Graces; price, $1,950:

Cathy Waterman Diamond Star Earrings: blackened 22k gold set with diamonds, a beautiful design from a renowned jeweler; price, $3,360.

The finale! A modern, nature-inspired necklace light enough to wear all day: London jeweler Roger Doyle's ruthenium (a material related to platinum) and gold-plated silver orchids set with diamonds. Price, £3,000.

Ornate jewellery costs more than simpler designs because of workmanship and use of more materials. Design and fabrication are critical elements; a badly-designed ornate piece looks fussy and busy. The vendors in this post, as well as First Dibs and auction house sites are free displays of the finest examples. 

It's worth saving for one standout—your signature—and that piece will, I predict, please you infinitely more than a safe classic that no one, including you, really notices after the first six months.


Susan B said…
Ooh, that first ring is a beauty. The colors are exquisite. I also like the diamond star earrings.
materfamilias said…
Yummy! Thanks for the window-shopping tour!
Sisty said…
I'm reminded of a comment Miuccia Prada made once, that she gravitates toward antique earrings because they have so much character, and reflect the character of their previous

Ooh a feast for the eyes!
I love strolling through our local antique mall looking for unusual and attractive gems. Ethnic jewelry seems to woo me every time.
It is foggy here today and oatmeal is the perfect start to the day!
I adore the ornate hoops, but I'd be afraid to invest in them for fear of losing one. I have too many orphans...
Duchesse said…
Sisty: I think I have used that quote in a post,so resonant for me.

lagatta: Some fastenings are more secure than others; I'd wear these with flexible stoppers!

hostess: though I can't resist looking in any jewelry store window. the antique ones are my favourite.

unefemme: Sevan is one of my dream jewelers; he is always unabashedly ornate and has such colour sense, breathtaking.
Anonymous said…
I agree....these are beautiful pieces. I really like the idea of wearing ornate things with casual/simple everyday clothes. Gives the outfit and the wearer a "lift".
Cathy W
Susan said…
You are so right to suggest that ornate rings and earrings are easier to wear than a highly detailed ornate necklace.
Wendelah said…
The jewelry is undoubtedly pretty but gosh, I can't imagine spending that kind of money. It's just not me. On travel, yes. Anyway, it's a moot point since right now I'm spending that and more on my son's graduate education. LOL.
Duchesse said…
Wendelah: $695 for a ring like the Beladora one shown, if that is someone's pleasure, may take a bit of saving, but is cheaper than many weekend junkets. All discretionary purchases are just that, not necessary. But the pleasure can last for decades. It just depends on what a person wishes.

Eleanorjane said…
Yes, definitely to bypassing the boring pieces! I've been shopping for a replacement for my engagement ring (sadly I lost the stone and thought I'd buy a new ring rather than replacing it). I have not been looking at standard diamond solitaires as I prefer something a bit more exciting.
fmcgmccllc said…
I have the most beautiful tiger eye large bead necklace. It is gorgeous, but so heavy I rarely wear it. After spending so much time with you it should have occurred to me--have it made over. Thanks for the lessons and the jewelry porn. I too cannot stay away from the windows.
Mardel said…
Oh, beautiful. The Sevan ring is stunning and I do adore his designs. But I can only imagine them with casual, or extremely simple clothes; otherwise it is too much.

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