Monday, October 24, 2016

A Great Reminder from Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel dazzles in jade! Photo from her website.

I’ve admired the novelist Danielle Steel since I was a teenager living in the Philippines. One of my friends introduced me to her books when I was a sophomore and I was hooked for a long time. Danielle helped get me through high school and college with her engaging stories, when geometry eluded me, when biology and chemistry made me want to take a nap. I would sometimes read her novels right in class! Later on, when I was being extremely bored by the novel Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson while I lit major in college, Danielle’s fresher (and of course more modern) touch reminded me why I liked fiction enough to want to study it in school.

Danielle as a young hottie, 1982. Photo by Ed Kash/Hulton Archives/Getty.

I also just admired her as a person. I admired that she had so many kids (seven, plus two stepsons), yet worked her writing around their schedules. I was wowed by her work ethic. I loved (and still love) that she is a big fan of fashion—I know my first interest in certain brands like Gucci came from her mention of them in her novels. Later on, when I was a bookseller, I admired that she could sell books like no other lady writer—she was right up there in terms of sales with Stephen King and Tom Clancy. I remember a publishing rep who would come into the bookstore where I worked once told me that Danielle Steel was the only one of Dell’s novelists who actually earned back every penny of the millions of dollars she was paid in advance (and in 1990, when I was a bookseller, it was $60 million for a five-book deal). She earned it back and then made even more money for herself and the publisher!

A Danielle Steel poster at my local subway station in Brooklyn.

I was charmed to see a picture of Danielle in the subway station close to my house a few weeks ago. I loved that this extremely successful novelist is being promoted with subway ads! Every time I see a photo of her I remember all the fun and glamour she brought to my life with her books when I was very young and I am grateful to her. She still makes me smile and I still have the utmost admiration for her!

I swung by her blog to see what is new with her and liked a recent post she wrote called “Life is Short—Buy the Shoes,” about ageing and how people still need fun things in their lives when they are older, like crazy shoes or a dog or a romantic companionship, even if their children are telling them they DON’T need those things. I think she is right! If you get a chance, swing by and read it and let me know what you think.

Charlotte Olympia Mid-Century Kitty Glitter Flats. Frivolous! Necessary!

I thought I’d add a pair of glittery Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats here since these seem like exactly the kind of shoes some people would say you don’t need and yet Danielle (and I) would argue that indeed you do need them! She is right when she says you can’t always be sensible in life and that frivolous things can oftentimes bring you the most joy.

Danielle wearing two amazing blackamoor brooches. Photo from Haute Living.

Here’s to sparkly kitty flats and a great reminder from Danielle to keep living life to the fullest, no matter your age!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Grace Kelly’s Engagement Ring at the Cartier Mansion

The newly renovated Cartier Mansion at 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue, NYC.

The Cartier Mansion at 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue is open again after a two-and-a-half year renovation and when I heard they would exhibit Grace Kelly’s engagement ring for nearly a month after the reopening, I had to go see it! Cartier celebrates their unique relationship with both Grace and the principality of Monaco in their new Princess Grace Salon on the second floor of the mansion. The salon is pale yellow and cream with touches of gold and the rounded ceiling features a repeating pattern of the coat of arms of Monaco—two monks holding swords with a checkerboard crest between them, as well as the words “Deo Juvante,” Latin for, “With God’s help.” The salon is devoted to bridal jewelry, but also to Grace, and features portraits of her both before and after she became a princess, as well as some of her famous Cartier jewelry.

The Monaco Coat of Arms outside the Cartier Mansion.

This window treatment is a good example of the color scheme in the salon!

One of the photos of Grace inside the small rooms surrounding the salon.

L to R: Grace’s engagement ring, Grace herself admiring jewelry at Cartier, Grace’s Cartier diamond necklace.

Love this illustration of Grace, based on a photograph of her.

More of Grace’s Cartier jewelry: a diamond bracelet and three cabochon ruby and diamond dress clips.

On view in the salon was the mini-exhibit Grace Kelly, Princess Grace of Monaco which featured four items on loan from the princely palace—Grace’s 10.48-carat engagement ring, a diamond necklace, a diamond bracelet, and a prism clock.

The diamond engagement ring was actually the second ring Rainier gave to Grace after she accepted his proposal at Christmas in 1955, the first ring he gave her was a ruby and diamond eternity band—rubies and diamonds to signify red and white, the official colors of Monaco. Grace’s diamond engagement ring was famously featured in the 1956 film High Society, the last movie she made, where she used it as a stand-in for the ring her character, Tracy Lord, wore. It features two baguette diamonds on either side of the main stone. It is very beautiful and I could not get over the fire of it! I watched High Society so much as a teen that it was a total thrill to see this ring up close and in person.

Grace’s 10.48-carat engagement ring by Cartier.

Grace’s Cartier diamond necklace was a wedding present.

The 1953 diamond necklace that was on display, featuring 64 carats total of brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds, is one I do believe was given to her as a wedding present. Judith Balaban Quine, one of Grace’s bridesmaids, writes her in book The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and Six Intimate Friends that one of the many events Grace and Rainier attended before their wedding included “a presentation of gifts from the elected assembly and the MonĂ©gasgue citizenry. Grace opened a large padded jeweler’s case that held a set of magnificent diamond jewelry.”

I think this necklace and the bracelet seen below could be what Quine was referring to. If you know for certain, tell me in the comments. The gallery text did not specify a carat weight for the bracelet, just that it was made in 1955, has brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds, and opens on hinge.

A stunning diamond bracelet that was also owned by Grace.

The beautiful little prism clock.

I absolutely loved this small prism clock from 1955 of gold, platinum, and brilliant-cut diamonds. It may have been bespoke since there is a crown at the top, and I am guessing that this gorgeous little clock came from Rainier himself! I love the engraving in the front: “Je Ne Marque Que Des Heures Heureuses,” which I understands translates to “I mark only happy hours.” I loved how the face of the clock disappears if you look at it in just the right way.

The face of the clock disappears!

Prince Albert II cuts the ribbon, opening the salon. Photo courtesy of Palais Princier.

Prince Albert II, Grace and Rainier’s son, came to officially open the salon on September 23, 2016. Unfortunately his wife Princess Charlene did not attend, but Albert brought his niece, Pauline, who is the daughter of Princess Stephanie. I think she is such a beautiful girl!

Prince Albert and his niece Pauline. Photo courtesy of the Palais Princier.

The plaque commemorating that Prince Albert II inaugurated the Princess Grace Salon.

The staff at Cartier could not have been nicer to me, from the doormen, to the lady who showed me around the Princess Grace Salon, and everyone else I spoke with that day. If you get a chance to visit the mansion, I highly recommend it. It has been beautifully renovated, actually feels like it was the mansion it once was, and the selling space has been significantly expanded since Cartier bought and renovated the townhouse next door on 52nd Street!

Let me know if you got to see Grace’s jewelry, whether at the Cartier Mansion or at a previous exhibit. If you have been to the mansion, tell me what you think of it!

[Do note that I do not claim to be an expert on Grace’s jewels, nor am I fluent in French. Any facts listed here regarding the year, carat weight and diamond cuts of the jewelry came directly from the gallery text at the Cartier Mansion. As for my speculation on the provenance of Grace’s necklace and bracelet, I used two sources: The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and Six Intimate Friends by Judith Balaban Quine and Amazing Cartier: Jewelry Design Since 1937 by Nadine Coleno.]

Sunday, October 9, 2016

No Love Locks on the Brooklyn Bridge

When I was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge last weekend, I was surprised to see locks attached to it. My first thought was, What are we, Paris? It seems the locks attached to Pont des Arts over the Seine were the first I heard of this craze of lovers writing (or engraving!) their names and the date on a lock, attaching it to the bridge, and throwing away the key in the water below. Forgive the eye-roll, but really? I imagine its teens or young people doing this, don’t most people just get married if they want to declare their love to the world?

The Brooklyn Bridge is easily my favorite of New York City’s many bridges—though I have a soft spot in my heart for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge (so dumpy and quiet, I just love it), and the 59th Street Bridge (and yes I know it was renamed)—and I hate hearing how the weight of so many locks are damaging the bridge. So let this Brooklynite make a plea—it’s great that you are in love, but leave your locks at home, or back at the hotel, and do not attach them to a beautiful and historic bridge that is a working bridge and vital to the city’s inhabitants making their way in and out of Brooklyn by foot, bike, and car!

No locks here!

Photo courtesy of

Apparently I am not the only one annoyed by the locks. I heard on the news the other night that the New York City Department of Transportation has been cutting off the locks on the Brooklyn Bridge since 2013 and it has cost them $116,000 a year to do so. Since the locks continue to be a problem there will now be a fine of $100 if you are caught placing one on the bridge. Good! I noticed more earbuds tied to the bridge than locks but that seems ridiculous as well and you will be fined if you attach those to the bridge too.

More earbuds than locks, but they all have to go.

Is this a problem where you are, with lovers attaching locks or earbuds to local bridges? Or does this only happen in big cities?