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Celebrity Jewelry

Cha-Cha Cowie

If you’re a couple who is leaning toward marriage, you may want to push off your engagement for a couple of weeks, at least until May rolls around. What happens in May? A partnership between Blue Nile and the acclaimed Colin Cowie, which will debut a selection fine jewelry with a special focus on engagement rings. Cowie is television’s ‘nuptial’ expert, having appeared on talk shows such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, to name a few.  He has also hosted the Lifetime TV series Get Married for nearly a decade. Between planning celebrity parties, it seems he also likes to dip his fingers into the fine jewelry side of the design pool.

In this upcoming partnership, for which he will act as Blue Nile’s official spokesperson, Cowie admits to having “a passion for jewelry, and [he is] in the business of romance, which go hand in hand.”  Although no pictures are currently available, Blue Nile has released a description of the variety that will be offered.  Pieces in the collection will be made of one of three materials: 14 karat white gold, 18 karat yellow gold, or platinum.  Design options include a few of the most popular engagement ring styles: solitaire (a single stone mounted atop an otherwise bare ring), halo (a stone accompanied by a bejeweled band), and the three ­stone form (a single larger gem sandwiched between two smaller stones).  This commission expects to produce a sizable assortment, enough to feed four separate jewelry collections — ­­ three women’s lines and one for men.

If you’re not ready to walk down the aisle, don’t feel disappointed.  In addition to wedding­ related creations, Blue Nile’s newest production will include necklaces and bracelets, as well as earrings and a few pendants. No matter the reason ­­ upcoming nuptials, some other milestone, or simply a desire to freshen your inventory ­­ make sure to check out Blue Nile’s May release.

Joseff Hollywood, part 2

After Eugene Joseff’s untimely death in 1948, his wife Joan filled his role in all his companies (including Joseff Precision Metal Products, which built aircraft and missile parts) until her own passing only five years ago.  With almost ninety years in the film business, Joseff-Hollywood accrued quite a collection of jewelry… not to mention an equally boastful collection of anecdotes to match!

For a trio of thieves in 1942’s The Jungle Book, Joseff created a swirling red and gold armor breastplate with faux gold faces, all studded with rhinestones. Due to the considerable amount of jumping and wrestling during scenes, the colorful rhinestones would come loose, forcing the crew to pause several times a shoot just to replace them.  In 1963’s Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor had the famous snake belt designed for her — a thick gold rope clasped by a coiled snake with an emerald crown in its head constructed specifically to her body. Enough changed between the day of measurement and the fitting that by the time Joan Joseff returned with the belt, it was 2½ inches too small. Elizabeth Taylor insisted Joseff had measured incorrectly and although Joan knew the truth (after all, she was known for her meticulous cuts) she didn’t argue.

Like her husband, who crafted heavily ornate jewelry for 67 royal children in Anna and the King of Siam as well as thousands of pieces for a treasure trove in The Jungle Book, Joan enjoyed the hard work for its own sake. Their devotion and determination to their trade are likely what carried Joseff-Hollywood to the top during Hollywood’s Golden Age of film. They left behind quite a legacy and a wealth of ornaments, each with its own glittering history.


Joseff Hollywood

In the twenties and thirties, one of the most prominent Hollywood jewelry suppliers was a designer named Eugene Joseff, founder and president of Joseff-Hollywood. In fact, over a span of 28 years (from 1921 to 1949), he worked on costumes and wardrobes for many films, and his company, which continued after his death, supplied jewelry for over one thousand movies, including classics like Casablanca and Some Like it Hot as well as a few television sitcoms.

Joseff’s popularity rose in part because of his innovative techniques, which were particularly useful for the big screen.  One major asset was his development of a visually effective substitute for gold, called Russian gold plating.  Real gold creates an over-reflective surface causing a glare on film, but with Russian gold plating’s semi-matte copper-gold finish, the unwelcome glare was significantly minimized.

But a clever scientific approach was not the only feature that guaranteed him a spot at the top of Hollywood’s costume hierarchy. His creations are also undeniably exquisite, ostentatious in a way only the early 20th century could manage.  For Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind, he created a stunning diamond and amethyst necklace along two thin chains — both studded with round diamonds — that joined with large amethyst gems at three equidistant points. Leigh’s costar, Clark Gable, carried a gold and silver cigar case that is known as such an irreplaceable part of film history that it can never leave the studio.  More on Joseff’s legacy in posts to come!

Men at the Oscars

It’s no surprise that the women at the Oscars wore elegant and distinguishing ensembles, but many of the men that evening stepped up their game as well, with some sleek decorative pieces to spice up their attire.

Jared Leto wore a Cle de Cartier wristwatch, which won’t be available to the public for another two months. The white gold watch has a leather strap, along with a round face set in an elongated outer shell (a shape called “tonneau”).  Steve Carell also walked the red carpet in a sleek timepiece.  This white gold watch, called Midnight Date, was designed by Harry Winston and features an analogue clock that takes up only two thirds of the face; the lower third, surrounded by a smaller outlined circle, is a digital counter for the seconds.

Carell also had a pair of gold cuff links, designed as irregular polygons with a thin outer rim and a convergence of the two gender symbols for male and female. The overlapping symbols represent the logo for Emma Watson’s gender equality campaign called HeForShe.  Another who promoted the cause on the night of the Oscars was Jake McDorman, whose own cuff links bore the same logo.  Both pairs were designed by Monique Pean. The men certainly chose to make their statements in style!

Night at the Oscars

Last week’s Oscars marked yet another success for fashion on the red carpet. Among some of the creative and flashy pieces worn Sunday is Margot Robbie’s 18 karat yellow gold necklace with a chain made out of a functioning zipper, lined with small round gemstones that alternated between diamonds and sapphires. The zipper ended at the bottom with a cluster of strings of beaded sapphires.  The antique design was actually inspired by the 1930’s Duchess of Windsor.  See more here:

Scarlett Johansson wowed everyone with a piece that was actually part of the collar of her emerald dress but had the semblance of a stunning high­-necked bib necklace.  The collar was made with Swarovski crystal.  To compliment it, she wore a pair of asymmetrical emerald earrings set in 18 karat pink gold.  The right had a single, on ­the ­lobe pear ­shaped emerald and two accompanying diamonds while the left was adorned with significantly more: in addition to a dangling, multi-­stoned piece on the lobe, it had also another emerald on the helix (where the upper ear connects with the head) as well as two thin gold hoops ­­midway down the ear and on the tragus.  See more here:

But, perhaps the most unique piece of jewelry is the one that can’t really be qualified as jewelry at all.  Lupita Nyong’o wore a gown encrusted from top to bottom entirely with white pearls –­­ over 6,000 of them!  With it she wore a large diamond ring as well as a pair of dangling earrings, each one with three round diamonds followed by a much larger, teardrop­ shaped diamond on the bottom. If Nyong’o’s attire counts as jewelry, her gown might just make a new record for heaviest jewelry worn on the red carpet.  See more here:


Grammy Night Glamour

The beginning of every year is chock full of national holidays and a whirlwind of events, one of which is the esteemed Grammy Awards night.  Of course, we don’t just tune in for the accolades.  As with the Oscars, Emmys, and every other entertainment award event, we let out our inner “fashionistas” to find out (and usually fawn over) what these singers and songwriters will be wearing on the red carpet.  This year we weren’t disappointed, especially in the jewelry department.

One woman certainly drew up gossip with her ensemble: Beyoncé.  This superstar chose to downplay her hair and makeup — muted, natural tones and an untouched, bohemian-esque do — in order to accentuate the jewelry that featured quite heavily (think upwards of 150 karats and $10 million) in her look.  A ring on almost every finger may have been a bit over the top, but we can’t deny the stones were stylish.  Made by illustrious designer Lorraine Schwartz, the rings ranged from large teardrop diamonds to equally sizable emerald squares, all set against thin silver bands. The two stones came together seamlessly in a combined entity that dangled to just above her shoulder, earrings that alternated between medium-sized emerald ovals and much tinier diamond and emerald speckles.

But Beyoncé wasn’t the only one with some noteworthy jewelry at the Grammys.  In fact, green and silver seemed to be the colors of the hour. Lady Gaga wore a large teardrop emerald on a long chain of studded diamonds and earrings with two emeralds each, one on the lobe and one hanging just below it. The look was complimented by her soft green and silver eye shadow and a low-cut silver gown. Where there wasn’t green, we found pinks and purples instead (although most of that was, in all honesty, hair dye), so there was no shortage of color at the Grammys this year.  These performers certainly knew how to dress to impress… or at least to catch your eye!

Into the Woods

One of the most recent popular films to hit theaters is Into the Woods, which came out late last month to fairly positive reviews. The magical ambiance surrounding this compilation of re-told fairy tales is thanks in large part to Colleen Atwood, the movie’s costume designer.  Atwood has worked on over 60 films in her career, two of which have won her academy awards for best costume design.  In Into the Woods, she chose a distinctly understated style for the ornaments that go along with the costumes, especially jewels on wrists and collarbones. Certainly, a couple of the characters do wear necklaces — notably, the vine-like gold piece seen on Cinderella as she flees the prince, and the inconspicuous chain that ends in three tiny turquoise stones worn by the baker’s wife.  But other than these, Atwood went with mostly bare necks.

Instead, her jewelry accessory of choice was earrings — and the occasional tiara.  Cinderella’s stepsister Lucinda, for example, wears elongated ebony teardrop earrings, and her stepmother wears a similar pair with two stones on both ears, each of which dangles from its own thin gold chain. Cinderella also gets her fair share of tiaras, the most elegant of which is the white-silver crown on her wedding day.  In contrast to her previous vine-like necklace, the tiara possesses a distinctly floral quality (with a less-than-elegant twig or two entwined for the authentic “natural” feel).  Atwood masterfully manipulates her costumes to enhance the film’s mystical “woodsy” tone.  It is impossible to deny: Atwood definitely grasps the nuances of the dreamlike world in which these fairy tales live, and is an expert at infusing that sensation into every piece of clothing, down to the tiniest gem.

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