Friday, October 2, 2015

Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry

My friend HappyFace313 left a comment on the post I did about the Rita Dee Hassenfeld auction, noting my reading selection for September, Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry. She wrote that she loved the story about the Prince of Wales brooch once owned by the Duchess of Windsor and how it came to be in Elizabeth Taylor’s possession. I loved this story too and after seeing HappyFace’s comment thought it would be fun to do a post about a few of my favorite pieces from this terrific tome.

The book, published in 2002, is now out of print, but copies are still available from resellers through Amazon or eBay. My copy came by way of my mother, who gave it to me for my birthday. Thank you, Mom!

The book is such a treasure trove of stunning pieces by some of the world’s most famous jewelry houses. Elizabeth had a terrific eye for jewelry, the good fortune to have lovers and husbands give these incredible pieces to her (those gents had damn good eyes themselves, especially Mike Todd and Richard Burton), and the true passion for jewelry that led her to want to learn about the history of certain pieces and to continue to educate her eye throughout her life.

One of the editors of the book was Ruth Peltason, who was the moderator of the Van Cleef & Arpels discussion I attended in June, “Great American Jewelry Collectors: Then & Now.” Based on that talk and this book, I have to say I am now a big fan of Ms. Peltason! I love the way the book is written, the stories help illuminate the details of both a world-class collection and an amazing life, and I know Ms. Peltason had a big hand in that with her wonderful editing.

I loved so many of the pieces featured in this book, but these were my absolute favorites, either for the story involved in how Liz acquired them or just because of their sheer beauty.

Detail of an earring by JAR. The colors are just stunning!

Above are a pair of diamond and multicolored sapphire “ball” ear clips by JAR. There was not a lot of information about these, just that Liz purchased them in Paris in 2001, but I am crazy for pavé by JAR and the color of these earrings just stops me in my tracks, every time! From the book: “Each of bombé design, pavé-set with blue, green, and violet sapphires, enhanced by a line of circular-cut diamonds, mounted in 18K gold and silver.”

I say, gorgeous!

A Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond ring, a gift from Richard Burton.

I really love this gorgeous and huge ruby and diamond ring by Van Cleef & Arpels. This ring was a present from Richard Burton in 1968 and one Liz almost left behind in her Christmas stocking, not realizing the box was in there, below “apples and oranges and walnuts all mixed together.” Burton had told her four years earlier, “One day I'm going to find you the most perfect ruby in the world. It’s my favorite stone—red for Wales. But it has to be perfect.”

He definitely held out for the right stone. Look at that amazing color!

Historical and unusual, this necklace once belonged to Edith Head and Elizabeth Taylor!

I know this necklace has no diamonds or gemstones, but it is still one of my favorite pieces in the book! These are ivory Victorian theatre tickets from turn-of-the-century England which Edith Head, the legendary Hollywood costume designer, collected and had made into a necklace. Incredible! I have never seen anything like them before. Liz said she felt as though Edith Head was her second mother (what a second mom to have!), often stayed at her house, and that they both loved Jack Daniel’s, “so when we came home we would have a nice big glass of Jack Daniel’s together.” Can you imagine? Oh to have joined those two ladies for a drink! Liz had long admired this necklace belonging to Edith, who told Liz she would leave it to her in her will. She did just that, it was the sole thing she bequeathed to her. The book says the ivory tickets were from the 18th and 19th centuries, were opera passes, and were engraved with the name of the opera house, the seat allocation, and the name of the ticket holder. What a wonderful necklace!

Speaking of wonderful necklace...

La Peregrina with diamond and ruby pendants by Cartier. I weep.

La Peregrina is probably one of the most famous pieces from Liz’s collection, right up there with the Taylor-Burton diamond or the Krupp diamond. The pear-shaped pearl has a unique provenance—the book says a slave found it in the Gulf of Panama in the early 1500s, earned his freedom with it, and it ended up as part of the crown jewels of the Spanish throne. Prince Philip II gave it as a wedding present to his wife, Mary Tudor of England, and over time it was also owned by the Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel. The book also states it was in the possession of the Bonaparte family in the early 1800s.

Even Tippi wanted to see the photo of this breathtaking necklace.

Richard Burton acquired La Peregrina at auction in January 1969, for $37,000. When he purchased the pearl, it looked like this:

This was the necklace Burton purchased at auction in 1969.

Liz wore the pearl in its original state in her unbilled walk-on in Burton’s film Anne of the Thousand Days.

Liz wearing La Peregrina in Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969.

After three years, Taylor and Burton commissioned Cartier to design a new mount for it, based on a 16th-century painting of Mary, Queen of Scots they had admired. Al Durante of Cartier traveled from New York to the Burtons’ yacht in London with the sketches for the new design. Along with the diamond and ruby motifs, fifty-six matched oriental pearls were included in the final necklace, which took several months to complete.

A better shot of the main flame motif.

While I do love what La Peregrina looked like originally, I think what I love even more are the additions to it. Those flame motifs are glorious, I adore how the shape of the flame corresponds to the original diamond bail suspending the pearl. Even the drawings of the design are gorgeous!

The amazing final design for the flame motif by Al Durante at Cartier. What a talent!

Another historical piece, once owned by the Duchess of Windsor and Liz. Wow!

This “Prince of Wales” brooch is circa 1935 and originally came from the collection of the Duchess of Windsor. Liz had admired the pin when she and Burton had visited the Duke and Duchess at their home in Paris and Wallis offered to let her make a copy of it. Liz refused, saying what the Duchess had was a unique piece. Wallis understood, and told Taylor that she would wear it in her honor every time she saw her. When it came to auction at Sotheby’s in Geneva, in 1987, Liz felt the Duchess would want her to have it and she liked that the money raised by the selling of the Duchess’s jewelry was for AIDS research, a cause close to Liz’s heart. She wrote, “Even though I had never bought myself any important jewelry before—in a shop, much less at auction—I told myself that I was going to bid on that pin and that I was going to get it.”

Got it she did, bidding by telephone, and paying $623,333 for it. She was at home by the pool with her kids as she kept upping the ante by phone (I love the image in my mind of this scene) and said when she won, “I let out the biggest scream and so did the kids, especially when I told them the price...some of them threw themselves in the swimming pool.”

Hilarious. What a brooch and what a story!

A magnificent orchid brooch by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. More weeping!

Another brooch belonging to Liz I fell for was this beyond-gorgeous orchid brooch of sapphires and diamonds set in platinum and 18k gold by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. This was yet another gift from Burton, from 1964-65.

My favorite page in the whole book. What a great story.

The pages covering the drop-dead gorgeous ruby and diamond Cartier necklace, earrings, and bracelet that Liz’s third husband Mike Todd gave to her are my favorite in the entire book, in the chapter “The Legacy of Love.” I took a picture of them so you could read for yourself how he presented her with the set.

A ruby and diamond Cartier bib necklace, gift from Mike Todd, August 1957.

It was difficult to get a shot of the necklace as it appears in the book but it is such a pretty page to turn to!

The Cartier earrings Mike also gave her.

Liz wearing the set, June 1958.

What a collection and what a life! I barely scratched the surface of all the lovely things in this book so if you ever get a chance to look through a copy, get yourself a comfortable chair and a beverage. You are in for a sumptuous visual treat!

Bulgari diamond and emerald brooch, a gift from Richard Burton.

If you have read this book, let me know what you thought of it. If you have not, tell me which piece of jewelry that Liz owned is your favorite, and it does not have to be any that I included here!

I am joining the lovely ladies of #StyleFocus, Jennifer at A Well Styled Life and Heather at Stylemindchic Life. Swing by to see what other bloggers are up to this month!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Jenna Lyons in a White Poncho

Jenna Lyons during NYFW. Photo by YoungJun Koo.

I loved that in the midst of New York Fashion Week, which can be so awash in bright, bold colors and loud prints, that J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons wore all white, with touches of black, her signature orangey-red lip, and a white poncho with black trim. I like this streamlined look on her and that poncho seems like something she can make use of all fall and winter (I wonder if it will be available at J. Crew soon?).

Let Jenna’s sophisticated street style look serve as a friendly reminder that October’s “How I Wear My” is devoted to the poncho or wrap. Find your favorite one and join us! Photos are due October 5, 2015 and you can send them to Join us!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jewelry at NYFW and Joining Instagram!

Easily my favorite picture from NYFW! I LOVE that this guy is wearing a brooch! Photo by YoungJun Koo.

New York Fashion Week has already come and gone and because of my schedule of getting kids back to school I wasn’t able to keep up with anything more than the street style photos by YoungJun Koo, one of my favorite street style photographers, who works for New York Magazine. I loved these photos he took of people and their jewelry, especially the young man in a crisp white shirt and a brooch!

A better shot of the brooch. Love that and the sunglasses too. Photo by YoungJun Koo.

The Fendi bag I could leave behind but I do love all the jewelry this gal is wearing! Photo by YoungJun Koo.

My interest in jewelry, both fine and costume, has really blossomed in the past few years, most recently helped along by the Van Cleef & Arpels lectures at the Cooper-Hewitt in June and the New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show in July, so I decided to start an Instagram account to relish in all things sparkly and glamorous on the jewelry front. Find me @everythingjustjewelry. I already have two jewelry shows lined up to attend this fall so I hope to be posting gorgeous things to Instagram regularly! I really am loving the vibe of jewelry shows—both the range of people who attend and exhibit and of course all the lovely things to see and learn about!

A brooch from the Tower of London.

This brooch is featured in my first Instagram picture, in honor of London Fashion Week. I had originally written about it back in 2013, as part of my welcome to little Prince George of Cambridge. I also wrote about the Imperial State Crown, which this brooch takes its inspiration from.

Leave me a comment about where I can find you on Instagram and I will come follow you. And if you have any tips for a newbie like me, let me know what they are!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Delicate vs. Big Jewels & Age

Love this big pendant necklace on Sharon Stone. Actually I love this entire look on her. So elegant! Source.

As I spent the summer pouring over three jewelry books, Amazing Cartier: Jewelry Design since 1937 by Nadine Coleno, Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels by Sarah Coffin, Suzy Menkes, and Ruth Peltason, and Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, I noticed a shift happening in how I think about big jewelry. When I was younger (in my twenties and thirties), I gravitated toward more delicate pieces, although as a teenager I did love big earrings. I do still like smaller pieces of fine jewelry—I love my amethyst and diamond pendant, my diamond stud earrings, my sapphire and diamond eternity ring, all of which are small. I think because they add just the right amount of sparkle and shine, as well as the fact that they are precious metals and gemstones, I wear them all very regularly. They are part of my everyday look.

Tiny but wonderful: An amethyst and diamond pendant.

But the books listed above, with their focus on huge gems, as well as this (mildly catty) quote from Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl has me rethinking things:

“None of that itty-bitty, teeny-tiny stuff like grandmothers give baby granddaughters either. You’re a grown female. What jewelry you wear should be important.”

Liz in her Cartier ruby and diamond necklace and earrings from Mike Todd.

Of course, who but Liz Taylor could have a gigantic ruby and diamond Cartier necklace, like this one she received from Mike Todd, so obviously most of the big jewels anybody owns are costume, but with that differential out of the way, do you like delicate or big jewels and have your ideas about the two changed as you have gotten older?

Love wearing this big Duchess Jewels necklace. Talk about sparkle and shine!

Somebody, I can’t remember who, maybe my mother (although if it was one of you lovely readers, let me know in the comments), said I’d want to wear big jewelry when I got older, because the small stuff would get lost in the wrinkles. Ha!

A larger piece I am loving is my new Jacket Society tassel necklace.

I am wearing some of my larger necklaces more frequently and really liking the look. I don’t know that I would go any bigger, maybe I will with time. I feel like really big jewelry would just overwhelm my frame but maybe in ten years I am only going to want to wear the biggest stuff possible. I really loved the entire ensemble on Sharon Stone, above, that she recently wore in Italy—loved the red dress, gold high heels, the scarf in her hand, and that exquisite pendant necklace. She is 57. I think she looks terrific and I think I’d be happy to try that pendant necklace on for size, as well as her gold watch, which I do believe is Cartier!

Anna at the US Open in her stacked collet necklaces. Photo by M. Stockman.

Anna Wintour is known for her gemstone collet necklaces, which are pretty big, and she wears them in stacks too, but you don’t see her with a whole lot of other jewelry on.

In dream pieces, I would not say no to this substantial Van Cleef & Arpels Fifth Avenue Magic Alhambra 16-motif necklace in white gold, with onyx and pavé motifs. Gorgeous!

Love this mix of large and small on a VCA Magic Alhambra 16-motif necklace.

I recently visited with my 91-year old grandmother. She wears jewelry everyday. And what does she wear? Small gold hoops. Small pendant necklaces. A slender watch. The diamonds in her wedding ring are a nice size and I love that she has her Liz Taylor moment every single day by wearing that diamond ring. (And she laughed when I told her this, btw.). But it was interesting to me that a lady in her 90s still wears small simple pieces. Perhaps my tendency to like smaller (fine) jewelry is hereditary?

Not too big, not too small, just right: A ring of dark tanzanite and diamonds in rose gold.

Let me know if your taste in the size of jewelry, whether fine or costume, has changed over the years. Were you always a big jewelry gal but now like smaller pieces? Or vice versa? Or do you keep the everyday jewelry small, whether it’s fine or faux, and break out bigger pieces for nighttime events? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How I Wear My: Tassel

Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget).

The hottest days of the year call for lightweight—and maybe lighthearted!—dressing, so Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget) and I thought September’s “How I Wear My” could use the pure fun that a tassel represents.

It’s a flirty little accessory, isn’t it, whether you attach one to your handbag, wear it around your neck or wrist, or have one (or more) on the vamps of your shoes. The tassel is a great way to bring some charm to an outfit, as these photos will prove. Enjoy!


Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget), my lovely “How I Wear My” partner writes, “I wear this gold-toned tassel necklace by Vince Camuto often because it’s so versatile! It’s the first piece of tassel jewelry I bought and have gotten lots of wear from it. I love the way it finishes off an outfit. I wore it here with a simple black maxi dress, peep-toe booties, a Stella Carakasi Flawless Cardigan (new for fall!) and a floppy hat for a fall boho look!”

I love this black & white ensemble on Adrienne and how the gold tassel necklace adds so much elegance to her look.

Tamera of Tamera Beardsley.

Tamera of Tamera Beardsley says, “I love tassel earrings and made these with a simple visit to the fabric store! Made out of buttons and pre-made tassels … they were the perfect ensemble finish!”

This is such a great shot of Tamera. I love the amped glamour that the turban, sunglasses, fan, huge bracelet and tassel earrings provide. Tamera looks like an old school Hollywood movie star in this photo!

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life.

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life says, “This J. Crew tassel necklace has been my go-to necklace that goes with everything. I wore this outfit for Casual Friday at work and took off my blazer for dinner afterwards.”

I really like this look on Alice so much—you know I never met a sequin I didn’t like so I am a big fan of how Alice mixed sequins and a white blazer and a leopard belt and a tassel necklace. All with jeans! And strappy sandals (Is that a blue pedi I spy?)! My kind of outfit!

Carrie of Curly Crafty Mom.

Our new friend Carrie of Curly Crafty Mom is wearing a gorgeous shade of deep pink—I think this is my favorite color of the moment—along with an unusual Joyluxe Boutique tassel necklace I am crazy about. I especially love the pairing of triangle cut-outs of the dress, also by Joyluxe Boutique, worn with a necklace with a rectangular feel. So glamorous!

I love this tassel necklace on Carrie!

Trina of Tea Time With Trina.

Trina of Tea Time With Trina says these photos show “how I wear my tassels beginning at ground level, or feet first. There is nothing better in my book to add fun and style than with a pair of shoes. Can’t wait to pair these with a pencil skirt and possibly a fun pair of socks.”

I love that Trina mixed patterns with the polka dot blouse and zigzag stripes on her shoes and I especially love the sauciness the tassels (and her blue nail polish) add!

Love the mix of patterns on Trina!

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun.

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun writes, “I fell in love with the Calypso St. Barth skirt when I saw the fabulous sequined tassels!”

I love the idea of a tasseled skirt and this is a great one on Dawn Lucy. I also love this just as a photo of her. She looks gorgeous!

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades.

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades says, “There is nothing like a Kendra Scott tassel necklace to brighten up an outfit.”

I am loving the mix of a turquoise stone with a tassel ending in this Kendra Scott necklace and I also love those strappy heels on Cynthia. What a great look for the end of summer!

Nora of Jacket Society.

Nora of Jacket Society writes, “I am wearing one of my favorite white tops from Zara with my ripped jeans, Gucci slides, and red Prada bag for a pop of color. I have added one of Jacket Society’s brand new necklaces with a crochet pendant with beads and a tassel, available on our web site.”

I am a BIG fan of the jewelry on Nora’s site, see below and you will understand why. This is another great look from her, especially with the addition of the blue tassel necklace!

Ana of Mrs. American Made.

Ana of Mrs. American Made writes, “Below is a vintage crystal tassel necklace from Bella at The Citizen Rosebud that I wore with a simple black jumpsuit of jersey knit, #MadeinUSA by Heucy. This versatile piece can be dressy or casual so I glammed it up with heels, a clutch and the sparkly tassel jewels.”

I love this elegant ensemble on Ana, especially with that tassel necklace and red clutch. She looks ready for a fun night out on the town, don’t you think?

Nicole of High Latitude Style.

Nicole of High Latitude Style says, “A tassel is a rare thing in my wardrobe. To be honest, these two tassels are the only ones I own. They are the ‘ends’ of the shoulder holder of this metal bag from Morocco. Here I wore the tassels to a retirement party of a dance friend of ours.”

What a lovely evening look on Nicole and I love that her gold bag features TWO tassels!

Gracey of Fashion For Giants.

Gracey of Fashion For Giants is wearing an Old Navy tassel pendant with her LOFT pants, J. Crew blouse and Isola sandals. I am not sure I knew Old Navy sold jewelry so I will have to check out their collection next time I am there. As ever, what I love about Gracey most is her gorgeous smile, which make me smile in return every single time!

Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo.

Who’s that mysterious lady under the hat? Why it’s the lovely Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo! Ever crafty, she made the wonderful beaded and tasseled necklace she is wearing. This is such a great look on her and I love its elements of bohemian style.

A gorgeous necklace Suzanne made herself!

Linda of A Labour of Life.

Linda of A Labour of Life says that is wearing, “a sheer crop-top from Shein and my Forever 21 flowy boho pants for that hippy Boho look when you want that relaxed weekend vibe.”

I think Linda’s tassel necklace fits right in with her low-key and on-trend look for the last days of summer.

Charlotte, mother of Jodie of Jodie’s Touch of Style.

Our friend Jodie of Jodie’s Touch of Style sent us this wonderful photo of her mother, Charlotte in her tassel necklace. Jodie says, “Being a former home economics teacher, she is as crafty as Martha Stewart and decided to make this necklace. The greatest part about it is she actually made three different colored tassels that she can interchange on the same necklace!”

I love that Charlotte is so DIY when it comes to jewelry and I love her necklace pairs perfectly with her print dress!

Detail of the tassel necklace Charlotte made!

Jane of Toronto Shopoholic.

Jane of Toronto Shopoholic paired her printed romper with a great straw bag and a wonderfully colorful tassel attachment she made herself! I love it! You can read her DIY instructions here.


HappyFace313 says, “I’ve always liked tassels - big ones on long strings to hold back curtains or tied around a knob on a drawer, or tiny ones like those on my shoes. I’ve been really lucky to have been gifted two big colorful tassels. These ‘Carmen’s’ are actually a key holder, but I find them way too big for that. Instead I dress up my bag with them, adding a dash of color to the black.”

I love these bright and multi-colored tassels attached to HappyFace’s wonderful Hermès Garden Party tote, a bag I have long admired! HappyFace313 is celebrating the 3rd anniversary of her blog with a series of giveaways for her international readers so do swing by to see what treasures might make their way to you if you enter and win!

I love the tassels attached to her Garden Party tote. I also love that circular ring!

I didn’t own one tassel before this post so as soon as Adrienne and I agreed on the theme for September I was hot on the case of finding one, pronto! I knew I wanted it to be a tassel necklace since it’s a style I’ve been admiring on others for awhile, but I wanted it to be affordable, glamorous, and a bit different from ones I’ve seen online and around Brooklyn and Manhattan. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to find the perfect tassel necklace by way of Nora of Jacket Society, a regular “How I Wear My” participant! Nora often wears jewelry from her own shop in the photos she sends us and it took one glance at this necklace on her website to know it was the one for me!

Love my new Jacket Society necklace, which arrived in this black velveteen pouch.

I love that this necklace a cluster of black, white and gray crystals with a black silky tassel, all set in gold tone metal. I also love that it is by an LA jewelry designer! It’s so easy to wear and so much fun too. I paired it above with a long black Anthropologie cardian, an ombré tank from Old Navy, and jeans. I wanted a shot of color on my nails to go with this much black, white and gray, so I chose “Riley” by Zoya, a deep shade of raspberry. I will be getting a lot of use out of this necklace starting now!

The necklace with Zoya nail polish and a textured black satin clutch.

If you are in the market for some jewelry, whether it features a tassel or not, I highly recommend checking out what Nora is offering at her online shop. I find the pieces to be well-designed, unusual, budget-friendly, and 100% glamorous!

A terrific transitional piece as the seasons begin to change is the poncho or wrap. You can wear it at the beach to take in that last summer sunset, or you can wear it to a romantic dinner to add an element of elegance to your ensemble. Whether you like a bohemian poncho with pom-poms, or a sophisticated cashmere wrap is more your style, join us in October for “How I Wear My: Poncho or Wrap.” Send photos to by October 5, 2015, and be sure to tell us a little about your outfit!

Do stop by Adrienne’s to see even more terrific looks featuring a tassel.

And THANK YOU to all the fine foxes who participated this month!