Fall Jewelry Showcase at Pratt Institute

A couple of weeks ago I attended an evening lecture and jewelry showcase at Pratt Institute — two exciting and thought-provoking events! The first was a talk and book signing with Damian Skinner, the editor of Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective, a newly released book in collaboration with the Art Jewelry Forum. His information about contemporary jewelry along with the discussion that followed with the audience was fascinating. It is a solid book with a lot of topics to consider. Keep an eye out for my review of it in the coming months!

Contemp Jewelry signed insta copyThe second part of the evening was a jewelry showcase that featured work created by faculty, alumni, and current students. It was wonderful to see these pieces all exhibited together. A level (dis)playing field of sorts! Here were some of my favorites:

Lauren Curry, class of 2014, “My 1st Time Using Chopsticks”, 2013. Brass, purple heart wood, garnets, emeralds, crushed chicken bones.

Lauren Curry chopsticks insta copy

You might remember Lauren’s name from my previous post about the Pratt Junior Jewelry Exhibition — she was the winner of the Tiffany & Co Foundation Jewelry Design Scholarship! Although these chopsticks are more art object than jewelry, I loved them for a number of reasons. It’s hard to tell their scale from the photo but these are actually very oversized chopsticks, which adds to the memory of everyone’s first time with chopsticks. Didn’t they feel enormous and gawky in your hand? Lauren also set a garnet and emerald at the top ends of the sticks, which made them feel very regal and important. I couldn’t help but love that they are made of purple heart wood. Makes it sound like she was going into first battle with a plate full of food, armed only with these courageous chopsticks! And last but not least is the metal chicken head that they rest on. A casualty of the food war?

William Yang, class of 2014, “Black Oyster Necklace”, 2013. Sterling silver, brass, fossilized oyster, green amethyst, champagne quartz, smokey quartz, peridot, black pearl, coffee grounds.

William Yang oyster necklace insta copy

I love how futuristic this necklace is! I can just imagine some distant time when we all wear necklaces like these as a source of power. Energy is drawn from the “fossil fuel” of the oyster shell in the center of the necklace, and using gemstone buttons and cogs it is filtered in pathways upwards. This necklace would have fit in perfectly with the recent LOOT exhibit at MAD!

Alexia Cohen, technician and faculty, “Wrist Expansion 17”, 2007. Gold-plated brass frame, white elastic cord.

Alexia Cohen bracelet insta copy

Alexia actually had a different version of this bracelet on display, with rhodium-plated brass and black elastic cord, but I loved this lighter gold version that she was wearing so much that I took a photo of it instead. She let me try it on and it was lighter and softer than you might imagine. Fantastically flexible and comfy. It made me feel a bit like a superhero (perhaps it’s all that webbing?) because of the concept that I could extend the size of my wrist into a huge gold outline. For when I need to be extra powerful!

Shuoyuan Bai, class of 2014, “Untitled Necklace”, 2013. Copper, transparent enamel, silver leaf.

Ryan Bai necklace insta copy

Yet another piece that totally could have been at LOOT! I love how each round on this necklace looks like a gorgeous piece of stained glass. The blues and green are so vibrant. Definitely a statement piece!

Taylor Kumiko Hermes, class of 2012, “Letting Go: Anger”, 2012. Cross body brooch. Brass, handmade Japanese paper, fishing line.

taylorhermes3Taylor’s body brooch has so many layers to it. I love that it goes across the body (it has pin mechanisms at the top and bottom to hold it in place) in a completely unique and interesting way. The little pieces of paper are feather thin and go from light to dark as they travel down the body. There is so much movement in this — the pieces of paper are literally flying off of you. But the symbolism is what really gets me on this one. To think that this piece of jewelry could symbolize the act of letting go of anger — of taking all those little dark negative pieces that accumulated over time into anger and bursting them apart. It is powerful and artistic and just fascinating. How therapeutic it must be to wear this piece!

Which is your favorite? Would you love to try on that webbed expansion bracelet? Or perhaps the stained glass necklace against a little black dress? Maybe a little catharsis from wearing the body brooch? They’re all so cool. Until next time!

P.S. Although I mention Pratt a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous jewelry created by awesome designers!



Field Trip: If I Had $1,400 to Spend at LOOT: MAD About Jewelry

Yesterday I made my way to the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) on Columbus Circle to check out day two of their five day LOOT: MAD About Jewelry exhibition and sale. This is LOOT’s 13th year, but my very first checking it out. The pop-up sale features the work of over 50 jewelry designers who create one-of-a-kind artistic pieces. These jewelry artists come from more than 20 different countries, so it is a unique opportunity to see jewelry you might not otherwise know about or have access to. LOOT is on the second floor of MAD next to the currently abridged Barbara Berger Fashion Jewelry exhibition. In case you missed my blog post about that fantastic exhibition you can check it out here.

One of the great things about LOOT is that the designers are right there to talk with while checking out their jewelry pieces. A great opportunity to hear more about their inspiration and techniques — plus they know great ways to style their jewelry! I wish I could say I had money to burn at this sale, but why don’t we make it fun and use play money? Here is what I would have purchased if I had a $1,400 budget. And yes, I even included real-life NY sales tax in this play money shopping spree!

Monopoly Money


#1: Meghan O’Rourke’s Pear-Shaped Oxidized Titanium Earrings for $245 (plus $21.68 in tax):

Meghan O'Rourke earrings at LOOT

Much of Meghan’s work on display involved a technique of oxidizing titanium, which gives this wonderful grey hue to the metal. It also gives it a bit of an eggshell finish, so the pieces have a fantastic understated quality. Her method of punching holes in the metal to create the patterns reminded me of the cut-out of a doily. The pair in the top right hand corner were my absolute favorite — the way the pattern looks like the facets of a gemstone. It was extremely hard to leave these earrings at the show instead of taking them home with me! Meghan also does beautiful work with an anodized aluminum method, which colors her pieces in a rainbow of hues. You can see more of these gorgeous pieces on her website.


#2: Danielle Gori-Montanelli’s Grey Felt Key Chain Necklace for $145 (plus $12.83 in tax):

Danielle Gori-Montanelli Key Necklace LOOT

Danielle’s felt necklaces are so much fun! Now that it’s fall (although it was almost 80 degrees here in NYC yesterday, so it doesn’t quite feel like it yet) there’s nothing cozier than some wool. These necklaces made out of thick felt are extremely light and moveable. Danielle also uses bright colors to contrast some of the darker chain links. I fell in love with the center necklace, the light grey chain with the dark grey key. Couldn’t you imagine wearing this with jeans and a t-shirt, or with a fancy little black dress? She also makes fun felt stone collar necklaces, plus felt lego long necklaces, all available in her online shop.


#3: Rachel Eardley’s Coin Wren Bird Ring for $156 (plus $13.80 in tax):

Rachel Eardley coin bird ring LOOT

Rachel uses coins and silver for her jewelry, and it makes for these charming and sweet pieces. Many of the coin cut-outs were of small animals — birds, rabbits, pigs, horses, owls, etc. Her display case felt like a magical fairy-tale forest world! This particular ring was my absolute favorite because of the two-tone metals and the open space inside the circle that lets your skin show through. Rachel was also an absolute pleasure to speak with. Definitely check out more of her work — she has necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings, cufflinks, etc. all in a similar style. I wish this bird ring could fly home to me!


#4: Margherita Marchioni’s Rainbow Colored Pencil Pyramid Necklace for $480 (plus $42.48 in tax):

Image courtesy of Margherita Marchioni

Image courtesy of Margherita Marchioni

Let’s start with a little fact about me: I adore colored pencils. I love the range of hues and using them to blend the colors in an art piece. So a colored pencil necklace? Right up my alley! Margherita uses pencils as a tool to create amazing shapes like these pyramids. The center of the pencils (where the color is) are drilled and thin clear plastic string is looped through to connect the pieces. So this necklace was very dynamic and flexible. Yet another necklace that could be dressed up or down! And absolutely a conversation piece. Check out some of her other jewelry in her gallery — I also loved the twisting colored pencil necklace that looked like a DNA double helix!


#5: Ashley Buchanan’s Powder Coated Grey Earrings for $144 (plus $12.74 in tax):

Ashley Buchanan earrings LOOTPowder coated jewelry has this wonderful soft finish and a modified sheen that I adore. These earrings, like Meghan’s earlier, remind me a bit of a doily because of the cut-outs. Although they may seem like they would be stiff, when I tried them on they actually have a good amount of dangling movement. They also look great when worn with the straight side toward the face — it frames the jaw and neck perfectly. Another very hard piece of jewelry to part with. I am also a (newly) big fan of her Faux Real line, which has a ring called Diamonds Are For Everyone that involves a button with the image of a diamond from a magazine placed in the center setting. It’s pretty fun, you can check it out here.


#6: Alienina’s Sailing Mixed Cuff in Grey for $108 (plus $9.59 in tax):

Alienina bracelet LOOT

Image courtesy of Alienina

If you hadn’t noticed yet, I love the color grey. Love love love. This bracelet, created by jewelry artist Eliana Venier for her collection Alienina, is made from sailing rope and recycled jersey fabric. Woven together it creates a sturdy but stretchable jewelry piece. I fell into serious love with this bracelet because once you slide it on your wrist it hugs you is this perfectly cozy and comforting way. Who wouldn’t want to walk around feeling a permanent hug, especially when the weather gets chilly? A bracelet you could wear every day! Check out her other woven pieces in her online shop – a never ending wish list of great jewelry. And all hand-washable!


Well, we have $8.88 left over. What would I do with it?

Diamond Bingo

Scratch-off lotto tickets! That way there’s a chance to win it all back — or win even more and shop all over again for more jewelry pieces!

Which was your favorite of the bunch? Or are there any pieces you saw on the designer’s websites that you adore? If you are in NYC anytime between now and Saturday you should definitely check it out, plus admission is only $5 to the museum during this sale. Also, they are having an all-day jewelry event on Saturday, October 5th to celebrate the last day of the sale. Lots of jewelry-related workshops and tours. Excited to go back next year!

P.S. Although I mention the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition/sale. I am simply a lover of gorgeous jewelry!


Sotheby’s Important Jewels Auction – Sept 2013

Auction season is upon us, and I am delighted to get back into the fun of trying on jewelry up for sale. Last week Sotheby’s had their Important Jewels auction, along with a viewing of the jewelry a few days prior. These are public viewings that I attend — so if you are ever in the NYC area you should definitely check them out! The salespeople are so sweet, and they let you try on all kinds of fancy jewels. Let’s check out some of the pieces I really liked and what they ultimately sold for!

Lot # 461, “18 Karat White Gold, Amethyst and Diamond Bracelet”, estimated at $20,000 – $30,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

In a sea of diamond jewelry it is always fun to see a stellar colored gemstone piece like this one. The amethysts in this bracelet had a great hue — definitely purple, but with a hint of pinkish red to make it extra vibrant. Plus the faceting on these cut-corner squares was a bit like a radiant-cut. Rather than having straight facets that are parallel to the edges of the stone, they were in diagonal criss-crosses. Couldn’t help but try this one on. Isn’t it stunning?

Lot #461 S 9-2013 Insta copy



Lot #219, “Platinum, Diamond and Colored Stone ‘Rose’ Bracelet, Tiffany & Co.”, estimated at $150,000 – $200,000 USD:

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

As long as we’re talking about fun bracelets, this Tiffany & Co. bracelet had such a great visual tale. With it wrapped around your wrist you could trace the story from bottom to top — the growth of the rose with emerald leaves and stem up to the yellow diamond petals, all set against a sapphire blue sky and illuminated by the glistening diamond moon. A special piece!



Lot #203, “18 Karat Gold and Diamond ‘Quadrato” Wristwatch, Bulgari”, estimated at $30,000 – $50,000:

Lot #203 S 9-2013 Insta copySuch a sparkly watch! This Bulgari stunner was actually quite heavy on the wrist. Perhaps it was the 5.15 carats of diamonds and all that gold! Oddly enough this watch did not sell at auction. I guess it just hasn’t found the right new owner yet. Maybe next “time” (yes, that’s a watch pun, I couldn’t help it)!



Lot #135, “Platinum and Diamond Ring, Van Cleef & Arpels”, estimated at $15,000 – $20,000 USD:

Lot #135 S 9-2013 Insta copyThere is always one piece of jewelry at every auction that I fall in love with. This time it was this lovely diamond ring. Isn’t it darling? I love how the surrounding diamonds are not all the same size. The three rounds towards the thumb are smaller, while the four to the right are larger. It’s a slight variation on the traditional symmetrical halo. Makes it special!



Which is your favorite of the bunch? Perhaps the vibrant purple of the amethyst bracelet? Or maybe your everyday watch would enjoy an upgrade to the Bulgari piece? Looking forward to the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels viewing in a few weeks. I will post about it then!

P.S. Although I mention the name Sotheby’s a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous gems, especially the ones that I get to try on!


Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age Exhibit

In June I had the pleasure of visiting the Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age exhibit twice, currently on display at The Forbes Galleries in NYC. The first event was part of a talk with conceptual gem artist John Hatleberg, who has several pieces on display. The event was organized by the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) and its co-director, Elyse Zorn Karlin, who guest curated the exhibit. At the second event Elyse gave a private tour of the exhibit to a small group. Both times I was struck by how much detail and information could be packed into the small exhibit. The jewelry gallery at Forbes is just one room but this exhibit, which includes over 100 pieces, contains so many amazing pieces of jewelry. With just a few days left until the exhibit closes, it is a must-see for all you jewelry and space geeks!


“The purpose of this exhibition is to document how the history of space exploration has been reflected in our popular culture through both fine and non-precious jewelry and to showcase the beautiful and whimsical jewels that are being crafted today as jewelers continue to ponder the mysteries of the universe.” — Elyse Zorn Karlin, Guest Curator

Although the exhibit is centered around jewelry inspired by and related to space, there is also great non-jewelry memorabilia to go with the gems — a space ship sewing set from the 1930’s, a space cadet thermos, and a space-themed toy piano from the 1950’s all contribute to the far-out feeling of the exhibit:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

The centerpiece of the room, which is the first item you see as you walk into the main area of the exhibit, is the Tampa Necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels. This one-of-a-kind piece, from a private collection, contains a multitude of diamonds and gemstones — round, baguette, and rose cut diamonds; pink, purple, blue, and yellow sapphires; onyx; orange garnets; red spinels; and beryl. It was created in 2010 and was inspired by the science fiction novel From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

The movement in this piece is incredible, the way the diamond trail of the rocket has swirled around the neck several times, and the burst of orange air beneath it. An ingenious part of this design is the large yellow sapphire at the bottom of the piece, which has an orange garnet set underneath it that shows through because of how thin the yellow sapphire is. It adds to the dream-like fantasy of the piece. Along with that, this necklace can be worn nine different ways, since it is made up of detachable and interchangeable pieces. Such a fantastic piece, especially for this exhibit!

The exhibition contains a wide range of jewelry, with items from the dawn of the space age (the late 1950’s to 1960’s) along with contemporary pieces, like the Venus Earrings by Steven Kretchmer Design:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Looking at these earrings you might think, “Cool earrings, I get it, they look like diamonds in orbit”. But they are so much more than that! There earrings are made up of 18 kt gold, diamonds, and polarium, a permanently magnetized platinum alloy created by Stephen Kretchmer. One of the amazing behaviors of polarium is levitation, which is exhibited in these earrings. The diamond discs are not attached to any part of that center rod — they keep their amazing spacing simply because of the poles repelling. How amazing is that!

There is a fascinating section in the exhibition dedicated to jewelry that has flown in space. Astronauts are allowed to take up to twenty personal items on a space mission, with a limit of 3.3 lbs total. Jewelry is often taken as part of this package because of its small size and sentimental nature. Of course having a piece of jewelry that has gone up into space greatly increases its value as well, and many pieces can fetch between $50,000 – $100,000 at auction, depending on which astronaut it belonged to. One of my favorite pieces is a Towson watch worn in space by commander Gerhard P.J. Thijiele, on loan from the National Watch and Clock Museum, which was worn on US Space Shuttle Mission SS-99 from February 11th-22nd, 2000. The date on the watch is permanently set to the 22nd, the last day of the mission. Looking at the worn leather band and the stopped clock you can almost imagine it has soaked up special space powers!

If you thought the idea of having items on display that have been in space was cool, another section of the exhibit features jewelry created using materials that come from space. This includes meteorites, tektite, moldavite, pallasite, and moissanite. A fun example of this is the Kitchen Sink ring by John Hatleberg:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

This ring is true to its name with a plethora of gemstones set in it — pallasite, white diamond, red emerald, South Sea pearl, zircon, tourmaline, spinel, sapphire, tsavorite, aquamarine, and irradiated diamond. I imagine it is strong fluorescence in these diamonds that gives them a milky glow, which matches so perfectly with the other gemstones in the ring. The green overtone of the South Sea pearl gives the feeling of an alien lifeform’s skin. Couldn’t you imagine this is what the surface of some fantastic alien planet looks like?

I could go on and on about the amazing jewelry at this exhibit, but I would rather leave the surprises for you to see for yourself. The last day of this exhibition is September 7th, 2013, and it is free to the public. If you are here in NYC, treat yourself to a lunch break at this stellar gallery. It is truly out of this world!

P.S. Although I mention The Forbes Galleries a million times in this post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous space-tastic jewelry!


Field Trip: Fashion Jewelry – The Collection of Barbara Berger at MAD

After a rainy lunchtime meeting with a client in the Diamond District last week the clouds parted, the sun broke through, and I decided it was high time I took a walk to check out the Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD).

Fashion Jewelry Insta

Featuring over 450 jewelry pieces from Barbara Berger’s astounding 4,000+ piece personal collection, this exhibition curated by Harrice Simons Miller is the result of over 50 years of collecting. The daughter of a diamond merchant, Barbara purchased her first pair of Chanel earrings at a flea market as a teenager and never looked back. “I buy what I like and it’s usually love at first sight,” Barbara says in her book that showcases over 200 of the pieces from the exhibit.

Coco Chanel book quote Insta

Walking through the exhibit is like being inside of Barbara’s jewelry box. Adding to this feeling, MAD showcases the pieces not only in standing glass displays, but also in rows and rows of pull out drawers. Each time you open another drawer the surprise of what you might find is elating. It is a very intimate experience to see the jewelry pieces that have special meaning to Barbara. Along with the item descriptions there is also a handy audio tour that you can listen to on your mobile device while strolling the exhibit.

Gong necklace Insta

This 24 karat gold and brass piece from 1987 is dubbed the “gold cymbals necklace” in my mind, but is actually titled Gong (not that far off) by Robert Lee Morris. It was a gift from the artist to Barbara in 1995, and I just love the layered movement of the brass circles in the necklace. I could imagine this with a fantastic strapless tribal or floral print dress and sandals. Or a crisp white dress shirt and fitted black skirt. The possibilities are endless!

Butcher paper pink Insta

I am IN LOVE with this necklace by Swiss artist Verena Sieber-Fuchs. This untitled piece from 1988 may seem to be created from delicate feathers plucked from a magical pink bird, but it is in fact created from butcher paper and silver wire. How amazing is that? Each thin slice of paper gives a light, fluffy, and utterly feminine feeling. Couldn’t you imagine a ballerina wearing this to mimic the plume of her tutu? So ethereal!

Etro necklace Insta

This necklace made by Etro (an Italian company) in 1990 is created from velvet and metal, and for me it evokes the crisp and cool beginning of autumn. Maybe it’s the velvet, or the jewel-toned hues (especially the deep burgundy) that remind me of falling leaves and the start of sweaters and jeans. I also appreciate that this necklace is not perfectly symmetrical in its design. Just a fun and playful piece!

Chanel feather neck Insta

If the pink butcher paper “feather” necklace was my favorite piece of the exhibit, this metal feather necklace by Chanel might be my second favorite. I adore the asymmetrical design of the feathers on this, which I can just imagine laying exquisitely over the right shoulder of the wearer. It is simple but completely fabulous.

I could go on and on with photos of the jewelry at this exhibit, there were just so many interesting pieces. I really appreciate how wide-ranging Barbara’s taste is. She can have light and feminine pieces like some of those above, and then you turn the corner and you see this necklace by Daniel Von Weinberger:

Imprisoned in Fluo Insta

Titled “Imprisoned in Fluo”, this necklace is a conglomeration of plastic toys, from glow-in-the-dark frogs to a masked superhero caught in the footbed of a rubbery pink shoe. Even if it’s not your taste to wear for a night out on the town, it’s fun to look through it and see all the little pieces tangled within.

After delighting over all the interesting jewelry I made my way up to the sixth floor, which has both a learning center and a workroom for the current artist-in-residence. The learning center is a bit like walking into summer camp — several tables topped with all kinds of creative supplies. My favorite area was the jewelry making table, of course. Super inviting cups and bins full of beads, sequins, and unusual cast offs were available to string and wire wrap. After seeing all the fantastic costume jewelry from the exhibit my creativity was peaked and I was ready to dig in. I made this fun necklace, and it took everything in my power not to just stay there all day and create more:

Molly necklace Insta

After prying myself from the crafts table (seriously, make sure to hang out up there if you go to see the exhibit) I went to the room next door to see what the artist-in-residence was doing. That day it was David Mandel, a jewelry designer who has several pieces in the Fashion Jewelry exhibit. Having created jewelry for theater and live events for over twenty years, you may have seen his larger-than-life pieces in the 2012 Victoria’s Secret runway show:

Photo courtesy of MAD

Photo courtesy of MAD

David was wonderful to speak with, and I was especially fond of the piece he is currently working on in the artist’s room, a jewelry shirt called Urban Grind:

Jewelry Shirt Insta

 And here is the back (in somewhat different lighting):

Jewelry Shirt Back Insta

The vertical jewelry strips in this shirt are detachable, and with hooks along the neckline that means that this shirt is completely customizable. Mix and match sections of the shirt to create a different look each day. Isn’t that so innovative and fun? Also, note the plastic googly eyes within the design. When wearing a jewelry shirt it’s important not to take yourself too seriously!

As I said, there are a million more pieces from the exhibit that I would love to show you, but that would ruin the fun of seeing it yourself! The exhibition will run at MAD until January 20th, 2014, but some portions will close on September 22nd, so if you are in NYC make sure to check it out before then.

Have you already checked out the exhibit? What was one of your favorite pieces? Did you try and pick up one of the Barbara Berger books on display only to find it was glued to the table to prevent stealing? Yeah, I didn’t either 😉

P.S. Although I mention the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous jewelry!


Photo Blog: Brooklyn Pride Festival 2013

As long as I am playing catch-up with the blog this week (see my post from a few days ago about a couple of Christie’s auctions that occurred in May) why not offer up two posts in one week? The heat is crazy now in NYC, and I am here to help distract and entertain. What better way than my very first photo blog?

Six weeks ago I had an awesome time as a vendor at the Brooklyn Pride Festival. This was the festival’s first year at their new location on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, and my first year being a part of it!

insta flyers copyright


Earlier in the week I gave a sneak peek on Instagram of some fun free items I would have at my booth:

insta rings copyright


All week there was the threat of rain, but when I checked the forecast the night before it looked like the rain would end just in time for the festival. Hooray!

insta weather copyright


I bought a little notebook earlier in the week to write notes on people I met and spoke with during the day. I opened it on the morning of the festival to find the inside cover had this apropos quote!

insta quote copyright


Setting up the booth was easier than expected thanks to my family of helpers. I couldn’t have done it without them! This also meant we had a bit of time before the festival started to take silly photos. Can you see the resemblance?

resemblance final copyright


One of my favorite ideas that worked so well in the booth were these beautiful pink hydrangeas. There was one in each corner to distract from the tent boots (so the tent doesn’t fly away with a gust of wind). They were so cheerful!

hydrangea copyright


My dad, who is an amazing artist and creates incredible artwork with chalk, did diamond ring chalk designs on the concrete around the booth. Here is just one of the sparkly rings!

insta ring copyright


Remember that photo of the rings on my finger? They are party favor engagement rings, which I paired with fake silver and gold bands attached to my business cards. Everyone got one! The little kids who came to my booth and were table height adored them. Who doesn’t love a fun ring to play with during a street fair?

table close up copyright


The crowds were there early and lasted throughout the day:

crowd at festival copyright


Since I wasn’t selling a product but rather a service I had a big sign in the booth that said “Ask the Gemologist!” so people knew they could come and talk to me. I spoke to so many great people who had wonderful questions about diamonds, gemstones, and rings. It was fun to help and inform!

ask the gemologist and me copyright


Since I was in the booth all day I didn’t get a chance to walk to fair. That didn’t mean I couldn’t send a friend to score me a pair of awesome sunglasses that National Grid was giving out at their booth a couple of blocks away. So cool! Cue the requisite smoochy face:

insta national grid copyright


All in all it was a fantastic day. Perhaps you will see me at next years festival!

ring at festival copyright

Did you attend the Brooklyn Pride Festival? Did you find anything great there? Or perhaps there was a Pride Festival in your hometown? This was the first street fair where I didn’t get to consume fair food, like grilled corn or a pickle on a stick. I’ll have to make up for it at the next one!


The Geneva and Hong Kong Results! Magnificent Jewels at Christie’s – May 2013

Yes, you read that right, I am finally getting a chance to post about the items up for sale at the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva as well as the Magnificent Jewels auction in Hong Kong that both occurred back in May. You may remember my post about the jewelry I saw that sold in their US auction back in April. Consider this a summer bonus post! There aren’t any auctions to cover again until September, so this is a fun way to enjoy these amazing pieces a little longer. Let’s dive in!

Lot #1736, “A Sapphire and Diamond Necklace/Brooch, by Cartier”, estimated at $543,664 – $776,634 USD (Hong Kong auction):

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

The loop detail on this necklace is such a great touch, since it is wrapped around the innermost “strand” of the necklace. This gives it an amazing three dimensional quality, as opposed to a necklace that just sits flat against your neck. You can see a bit more of the detail here:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

One of the other magnificent aspects of this necklace is the fact that the center area with the sapphire is actually a detachable brooch:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This 17.95 carat sapphire, of Sri Lankan origin, has also never been heat treated. That gorgeous blue color is completely natural.  Such a beautiful piece!



Lot #1611, “An Exceptional Padparadscha and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $1,035,223 – $1,552,835 USD (Hong Kong auction):

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

The 73.98 carat padparadscha in this ring was enormous! I couldn’t take any millimeter measurements of it, but it was definitely larger than a quarter. Padparadscha, which gets its name from the lotus flowers of Sri Lanka, is a member of the corundum family, which includes sapphires and rubies. The peachy-brown color of this particular piece was just stunning in person. It was perfectly paired with the rose gold setting, which only enhanced the pink color.



Lot #288, (official description not available), estimated at $6,500,000 – $8,500,000 USD (Geneva auction):

Lot #288 Christie's GenevaThis huge 76.91 carat diamond was amazing to breathe on! With an F color and VVS1 clarity, it was great to get to see it unmounted, rather than set in a piece of jewelry as many of the others were at the auction. The culet on this diamond, which is the either pointed or flat facet at the bottom of the stone, parallel to the table (top facet), was flat and quite large. If you look closely at the photo above, in the center of the diamond you can see a large darker circle. When viewed from the top it was very apparent, but it worked well with the rest of the way that the diamond was faceted. So much fun to get to see it out of the case!



Lot #283, “A Spectacular and Highly Important Diamond”, estimate “in the region of $20 million” (Geneva auction):

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This 101.73 carat pear-shaped diamond, named “Absolute Perfection”, is the largest D color Flawless clarity diamond to be offered for sale. It was discovered in De Beer’s Jwaneng mine in a 236 carat piece of rough that took a whopping 27 months to polish! At the NYC viewing that I attended this diamond had its own black tent set up in the room, complete with a velvet rope and a guard. No photos were allowed and I couldn’t get very close, but the diamond shone bright in the special lighting and black background. It would have still been Flawless even if I could have gotten close enough to inspect it!

PRICE REALIZED: $26,737,913 USD (world auction record for a colorless diamond)

Harry Winston is the new owner of this diamond, and has since renamed it “Winston Legacy”. Another fun fact is that the Geneva sale totaled $102.1 million USD, the highest result ever for a various-owner jewelry auction at Christie’s.


Wasn’t that a nice distraction from all the record-breaking temperatures here in NYC this week? Which lot did you like the best? I loved the loops of the sapphire and diamond necklace, along with the fact that it could be converted to just a brooch. At that price it’s nice to have two pieces of jewelry in one! I was also a bit surprised that the padparadscha ring and the 76.91 carat unmounted diamond didn’t sell. They were both such beautiful pieces. Perhaps we will see them again at a future auction!

P.S. Although I mention the name Christie’s a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous gems, especially the ones that I get to try on!


Q&A with Debi Griffin of Illustrative Moments

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Debi Griffin, the amazingly talented artist and owner of Illustrative Moments. She creates custom bridal illustrations and has over ten years of experience in luxury bridal design. Her renderings are created in a high fashion design, and are an amazing keepsake for the modern bride. Through photos of the dress and bride, Debi is able to capture this chic and glamorous moment in a completely new and exciting way. As a fellow artist I was more than excited to talk to her about the business and her designs!

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Molly: Tell me a little about how you decided to start the business. 

Debi: When I was seven years old I got Brides magazine and that’s how I learned how to draw. I would draw the brides and they were like my paper dolls. I ended up going to school for fashion and that’s when Vera Wang was really hot and I ended up getting this amazing job there. A few years later I got a call from Amsale, and from fall of 1999 until this January I have been with them. I was the Senior Designer, so I did all that plus I was sketching for everybody, for private clients, for celebrities, for the magazines. My friends would see the sketches when I would bring them home from work and they would say “oh my god I want that, can you do my wedding dress?” Before I knew it I was doing sketches for their aunts and cousins. When I got married my friend who’s a graphic designer suggested I draw a fashion sketch to put on the invite and I thought, that’s an amazing idea!

When I found out I was pregnant over a year ago I decided I would need something to keep me going when I’m home. We live on Long Island and the fashion industry is not exactly child friendly, and my husband is a cop so we decided I was going to stay at home. This business was the perfect option because I could still be involved in the industry.

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

In December of 2011 I started a small Etsy shop with just a few sketches, and I was still just throwing the idea around. I had to take that first step, and within a day I had someone asking if I could sketch their girlfriend in her favorite going out dress. It didn’t take long for the press, and it’s been amazing. I wish I had a lot more time to do it and really throw myself into it. I’ve had some very amazing experiences. I just had a bride who for all ten of her bridemaids she gave each of them a sketch as part of their gift bag. She sent me the video of all of them opening it up, which was really cool.

When I was a student I would love looking at fashion sketches in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and I would always say I would love to have one of those. There’s something about a fashion sketch versus someone drawing, it’s the proportions and everything. A blogger told me it’s a very coveted item coming from somebody in the fashion industry, to have that person do a sketch of the bride. At Amsale it’s a high caliber of brides, and now I’m able to sketch brides from every economic standing. It’s just amazing to be able to offer it to everyone now.

It must feel great to be able to make everyone feel special. They don’t have to own a million dollar dress in order to have a beautiful fashion sketch!

These days people don’t hold onto their dresses, they rent them, they give them away. My wedding dress I let one of my good friends wear to Vegas, everything down to the earrings I had on my ears. I enjoyed it for my time, now it’s going somewhere else. A couple can only saturate their walls with so many photos, and this is a new option. And it can be handed down. I’ve done generational sketches – there was a woman who had me do a sketch of her grandmother, her mother, and her wedding dress all framed in a tryptic that she put up on her guest room wall.

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

What a lovely keepsake! Going back a little, for college you went to Pratt?

I loved my experience at Pratt; I thought it was great. I still mentor, and I’ve been the senior critic for their bridal department for several years. It’s great to give back and work with kids and be able to say I’ve been in your position, I know exactly what you’re going through. Sometimes these kids have no idea what they’re about to get into in the industry, they think it’s all Project Runway and I’m like no, it’s isn’t, it’s not that way. I would love to teach there one day, in the next couple years. We’ll see what happens!

I am a huge fan of colored pencils for my own art. You use colored pencils as well as ink for your sketches?

I use Prismacolor pencils, permanent stylist pens, Prismacolor markers, I accent with metallic pens, and sometimes some white paint in it to give it some texture. I like to use a lot of mediums because once it’s finished it has a lot of texture. I always send clients the scans of the work before I mail them, and I’m like please don’t think this is what you’re getting, this is just a flat scan on a computer, when you get it it’s layers and layers of color. I love working with multi-medium, it’s a great way to bring life to your artwork.

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

All that sketching must take its toll. Does your hand hurt a lot?

Last night I was up pretty late working on a lace dress and I was like, I’m going to have some major arthritis soon! But I’m so finicky about details, I’ve seen where people sketch things and for lace they will just make squiggle lines, but I try and really mimic the lace and the beadwork and the directions they go in. I’m really detail oriented on that aspect.

So is lace the hardest detail of a sketch?   

Yes, lace is the most labor intensive. You’re going from a life-sized dress to drawing it on a small scale and trying to get the same characteristic across on a 9×12” piece of paper. No matter how many hours I spend on it, in the end it’s just so beautiful, all the work is worth it.

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

And what do you do if you make a mistake?

I start over.

I knew that was going to be your answer!

One time I almost got all the way through, I was finishing it up and something happened, my hand just went out of the line. I could have put flowers there, sometimes people ask for a bouquet, but I was like no, I have to start all over. My husband was like, you’re crazy! But I had to do it, I couldn’t send out something I wasn’t proud of. It’s quite grueling, once you get so far into it and to make a mistake. I try so hard not to let that happen but it does happen. I never let my clients know about it, but there are some people who have had their sketch done several times!

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

How long does it take you to complete a sketch? 

Once I have the photos, if I’m not working on several at one time, from laying it out in pencil, and then inking it and coloring it and then doing the texture and my whole matting process, it takes about four to five hours, and that’s uninterrupted which is rare. Some brides I’m really inspired by and I’m feeling it and it goes smoothly and quickly, but sometimes I pencil it in one night and then just let myself breathe. If you do too much at once that’s when you make mistakes or it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it. Or sometimes I’ll just do it all at once and it’s a really natural process.

Are there some dresses that are more fun to draw than others?

I love the brides that are really high fashion. I had a bride who wore three gowns in her wedding. She got married on New Year’s Eve and she had an amazing gown that was a Carolina Herrera customized ball gown. But then she also had a really fun Vera Wang gown and it had a black sash, big charcoal crusted beads, and it was a fit and flare but the neckline was all twisted and wrinkled, and she had this amazing black fascinator with black netting over her face. To this day that was probably one of my favorite sketches. It was so much detail and it was very chic, the whole feeling of it. When you have pops of color like that, or brides now who have all this texture in the skirts that looks like it’s torn up fabric, that’s when you can really let loose and it’s not such a tight hand. I just kind of go with it and make it look almost like fantasy.

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Do you wish you could use more color in your sketches? 

I would love to get into some more color. I’ve thought about offering the option to do prom and sweet sixteen. I had a photographer who does lots of red carpet photography ask if I would illustrate her favorite Oscar gown. That would be awesome, I would love to get into that area. After drawing lots of white and ivory gowns you have to make the rest of it more important and stand out. You don’t know how many white Prismacolor pencils I have down to half and inch!

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

So you illustrated your own dress?

I illustrated my own gown, and I custom-made my wedding album through a book binder, so the opening page of my wedding album is my fashion sketch. All the dresses were custom-made for the wedding, I even have my niece and all my bridesmaids dresses sketched, and then also I photographed the whole process of the dresses getting cut at work. It’s pretty cool, it’s like a diary of the gowns getting made. I still want to make my own piece and have it framed for the wall one day after I get done with everyone else’s.

It sounds like you’re so busy you’ll never get around to it!

My husband thinks I’m crazy, I’m always like I have to do work and he says, you don’t have to do this right now! I just love the creative aspect of it. I don’t sleep, I start working after my son goes to bed at night, and at nine o’clock I pull everything out and I’ll work until two in the morning. I love to draw brides. It’s been with me for thirty years now, since I was seven years old, this “drawing of the brides”. It’s very relaxing to me, and I love looking at everyone’s wedding photos. It becomes this personal thing where we’re emailing back and forth, I love it, it’s so much fun to be part of people’s special day.

What’s your next step?

I would love to get into paper goods and stationary. Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York, that amazing wedding invitation line, just had me do a sketch of her amazing Oscar de la Renta gown for her anniversary issue. I would love to collaborate one day with her, or any paper company. I would love to have my own line where the thank you notes could be of the wedding gown, or even their bridal shower invites. There are so many amazing things you can do with paper. And it doesn’t even have to be bridal, it would be nice to just keep doing some sort of fashion sketches.

Image courtesy of Ceci New York

Image courtesy of Ceci New York

My nieces would love when I would Xerox my sketches before I would color them in, and every time I would see them they would say “did you bring bride sketches?” and that was their coloring books. Their mother was like you have to make some wedding coloring books, these girls love that stuff! And all I could think was oh no, another thing for me to stay up all night thinking about!

Why is it that in your fashion sketches there is only one eye, and the other side of the face has nothing?

In the industry, at Badgley Mischka their sketches look like aliens, and Isaac Mizrahi sketches are very scribbly, you almost can’t tell what the gown looks like. For illustrators you want to have your own identity, where people will say that was a “Debi” sketch. The one eye came up because when I would illustrate when I was younger I would always get one eye perfect and then the other eye would almost be like Shannen Doherty from 90210, where the one eye would be a little higher than the other. It was my style, the one eye. People for the most part think it’s cool, but sometimes mothers will order a piece and say “I really want my daughter to have two eyes”, and I say that’s ok I can do it, it’s just my little take on it. You don’t know how many times I have to answer that question!

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

Image courtesy of Illustrative Moments

On a somewhat serious note, I know that you and your family had a hard time during Hurricane Sandy last year.

We lost our house. We lived right on the water in Long Island, and we got to our house after the storm and there was four feet of water in it. We had just remodeled and bought all new furniture seven months before the storm. In March of 2012 we had refurnished the entire house, the closets, the baby’s room, a brand new kitchen, everything. Since October 29th we have been living with my sister-in-law. On Monday we will hopefully get the keys to our new house, which is far away from the water! I just can’t go through it again. I lost everything. I lost portfolios of artwork, all of my stuff for the business, our wedding albums were gone. It’s very sad. When the storm hit we had a mandatory evacuation the night before, and the fire department was coming around with bullhorns saying we had to leave. I had two clients with sketches that were due the next week, so I brought my big drawing board and all my folders and my colored pencils, so the major things came with me. I was somehow still able with Sandy to fulfill the orders.

That is some serious dedication to your clients! Was there any bright side to all of the sadness?

All we had was our overnight bags, that’s what we were left with. When we came home we had to throw everything out on the curb. But once I got past all of that I realized that I was lucky. I was lucky that we had someone to take us in. My sister-in-law had a room for us, but we could have easily been in a shelter, or we could have been hurt. I keep trying to tell myself every time I get sad about it, every day I remember oh my god, that was in that drawer, something that you can never buy back. I hope it never happens again but now you just have to think that it could, that it’s always a possibility.

I’m so glad to hear that you’re getting to move into a new place. And hopefully you will get to have your new space soon so you can sketch even more amazing pieces for your clients! 


A huge thanks to Debi for the wonderful conversation! If you would like to know more about her business, Illustrative Moments, you can check out her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

UPDATE: Check out the amazing bridal illustration that Debi did for me of my wedding dress! The sheen of the metallic pens in person for the veil and shoes is awesome. I couldn’t be happier. Thanks so much Debi!




The Geneva Results! Magnificent Jewels at Sotheby’s – May 2013

A few weeks ago you read all about my trip to the Magnificent Jewels exhibition viewing at Sotheby’s, and the results. Today the additional jewels I wrote about were sold at the Geneva Sotheby’s auction. Let’s find out what they went for!

Lot #630 as part of the Geneva auction in May, “Fancy Light Purplish Pink Diamond Ring”, Property of a Gentleman, estimated at $1,200,000 – $1,800,00 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

PRICE REALIZED: $1,512,236.00 USD


Lot #636 as part of the Geneva auction in May, “Magnificent and Very Important Ring”, estimated at $4,000,000 – $6,000,000:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

PRICE REALIZED: $4,450,892.00 USD


Lot #501 as part of the Geneva auction in May, “Spectacular Diamond Bracelet, 1930’s”, Property of a Lady, estimated at $70,000 – $90,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

Lot #501 Insta



Lot #663 as part of the Gina Lollobrigida auction in Geneva in May, “Magnificent Diamond Necklace/Bracelet Combination, Bulgari, 1954”, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s



Are you surprised by any of the results? These were all such gorgeous pieces, especially the necklace that was part of the Gina Lollobrigida collection. And the 1930’s bracelet I tried on had such intricate detail. These bidders are all taking home some amazing pieces!

P.S. Although I mention the name Sotheby’s a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous gems, especially the ones that I get to try on!


Pratt Institute’s 2013 Senior Show

Three weeks ago I attended Pratt’s Junior Jewelry Exhibition on its Brooklyn campus, which featured the amazing work of twelve talented juniors. Monday night I had the pleasure of attending the annual Pratt Senior Show, a huge exhibition of work by hundreds of seniors with various majors, in the Hammerstein at the Manhattan Center in NYC.

Image courtesy of Pratt Institute

Image courtesy of Pratt Institute

The night I attended the exhibition included a champagne reception for industry professionals, and all the students had resumes and business cards at the ready next to their work. It was a bit like a reverse job fair, with professionals seeking out students to talk about potential jobs. Since it was a special reception, we also received some very cool swag:

Action Journal Pratt

Can you think of any better promotional gift at an art college exhibition than a sketchbook? As a bonus, this Action Journal (made by Behance in collaboration with New Leaf Paper) has a section on the right side of each page for listing the action steps needed to make your ideas come to life. Very excited to try it out!

After powering through the intense crowd huddled around the crackers, cheese, and vegetable platters (college students are like my cat; they act as if they’ve never eaten before!) I made my way through the works from various departments on display. I wish I could tell you about all the amazing work I saw — one of my favorite project themes was a rebranding and reimagining of current mainstream brands — but this is a blog post about the jewelry department. I will tell you that this cut out of Tom Selleck, part of Michael J. Silber’s thesis “Digital Humor Theory”, made me very happy:

Tom Selleck Pratt

Now for the really fun stuff, the jewelry! Eleven seniors showcased their thesis jewelry collections, and each had a very clear vision. Let’s start with Sara Cochran, who is greatly inspired by insects, and her beautiful Tarsus bangles in silver:

Image courtesy of Sara Cochran

Image courtesy of Sara Cochran. Photo credit: Andreana Bitsis

I really loved these bracelets from the moment I saw them. They are immediately recognizable as bug legs. But because they are created in silver with a patina that gives them a gold sheen, it elevates the look and makes it sleek and wearable. You could wear these with an edgy jacket or a summery dress. So versatile!

The next piece is by Simonne Feeney from her collection “Atomica”. This necklace is a take on the traditional 1950’s pearl necklace:

Image courtesy of Simonne Feeney. Photo credit: Andreana Bitsis

Image courtesy of Simonne Feeney. Photo credit: Andreana Bitsis

The necklace is hand crafted using brass wire that is then powder coated. It gives it a white wicker effect and felt very much like a piece you would wear in the springtime. Simonne created the necklace to show an Atomic Era take on the jewelry status symbol of that time. I am guessing she did not necessarily set out to design it as the fun and playful necklace I see, but I can’t help it! I bet it looks especially great on the neck, since the open spaces in the rounds would show your skin underneath. Very pretty and cool!

Kelly DeKenipp, whose collection was titled “Adornment and Torment”, created this “Splitter Bracelet”, a spikey-cool silver bracelet with gold leaf:

Spikey bracelet PrattThe gold leaf is in the inner edges of the spikes and gives them great dimension. Plus Kelly filed down the tips of the triangles, so when you wear the bracelet it doesn’t scratch at all. I love how this bracelet can be interpreted in so many ways. It could be a monster’s mouth with the top and bottom teeth bared… or perhaps it is more structural, like a bridge turned inside on itself? No matter what you see in it, it’s sure to get compliments!

Next up was Lia Branning-Chen and her collection “Scales on Scales”. I fell in love with this trio of copper and powder-coated bracelets:

Image courtesy of Lia Branning-Chen

Image courtesy of Lia Branning-Chen

These bracelets are inspired by scales and the Chinese dragon, but I actually fell in love with them because they reminded me of beautiful lace doilies, especially the center one. Can you see it? The powder coating gives them this really nice soft and smooth finish. So delicate and feminine!

To finish off this jewelry love-fest is the “Porous Gold | Precious Ruins” collection by Jenna Pierson, and her fantastic necklace:

Golden Bottle Necklace

Image courtesy of Jenna Pierson

I purposely didn’t tell you the official name of this piece, or what it is composed of. Can you guess what those crinkly rosettes are made from? Bottle caps! This Golden Bottle Necklace is handmade from bottle caps, 23 karat gold, and silver. Isn’t that so cool! It is so beautiful in person and such a great use of an otherwise discarded material. Who knew bottle caps could be so chic?

One of my favorite things about the work that I have seen from Pratt’s jewelry design students over the past few weeks is that it truly reflects the students’ creativity and tenacity. Patricia Madeja, a Professor and the Fine Arts Jewelry Coordinator at Pratt Institute (who is an incredible studio jeweler as well) encourages these qualities in the students, which I really appreciate. There is plenty of time for these students to create commercial jewelry in their future jobs. For now they get to have artistic freedom. What’s better than that?

Which is your favorite of the bunch? I’m not sure I can really pick a favorite — I made sure to show you all the ones I adored! If you want to see these in person, the Pratt Senior Show runs through Thursday May 8th here in NYC and is open to the public. Go check out these and all the other fabulous pieces I didn’t have room to cover here!

P.S. Although I mention Pratt a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous jewelry created by awesome designers!