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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!

Fashion Tips

Women’s fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar offers some basic tips and tricks for how best to accessorize:

First, keep it balanced.  Having too much at once can be visually overwhelming and may ultimately detract from the overall appearance. Don’t be afraid to suit up with an armful of bangles, but be sure to offset that with simpler jewelry everywhere else. The same goes for clothing; if you’re wearing a blouse with extra flair, like ruffles down the front, you’ll want to keep your necklace simple — a thinner chain — and forgo any ornate pendants.  And if you decide go with a wide choker or bib necklace instead, the best way to show it off is to make sure it’s your only piece.

For earrings, Harper’s explains a few simple ways to wear them, depending on your preferences. For many, earrings are casual ornaments worn day-to-day. If you plan not to change your earrings daily to match your outfit, you probably want small studs; worn on the lobe, these stones — often diamonds, but sometimes gold, silver, or pearls — add just a dash of shimmer to your outfit, and they go with anything.  The opposite alternative is a pair of chandelier earrings, long dangling earrings designed to draw attention. When you wear these, consider limiting the rest of your jewelry to give them the limelight they deserve. The middle ground between these two options is a couple of dainty drop earrings for a modest — but not overlooked — addition to your wardrobe.

One major tip for bracelet wearers is to show of your arms! Whether it’s a single elegant chain or stacks of bangles, you want to make sure your friends will see those accessories. Make sure to wear three-quarter or short sleeves, or roll up long ones so that your wrists are on display. The exception is a wide cuff, which at times can slide over long sleeves for a rather chic look.  You may think that a women’s magazine like Harper’s would extol the use of authentic gems and metals, but Harper’s is all for using costume jewelry to accent your look.

You’ll have plenty to work with, regardless of economic boundaries. Just beware of anything that appears too cheap (like a poorly made imitations) because that will cheapen your whole ensemble.


Stuff of the Future

Sometimes, jewelry goes beyond contemporary; in collections like NN by Nghi Nguyen, the style appears downright futuristic. Vietnamese designer Nguyen lives according to the mission statement of creating highly conceptual jewelry, an idea that manifests itself in a distinctly sci­fi imprint on all his jewelry. His design goal is to produce pieces that resemble museum artifacts one might find on an alien planet, a blend of ancient historical traits with postmodern foreign ones.

This vision is perfectly exemplified in his Hephaestus Ring, created as homage to the Greek god of metal ­smiths. Set perpendicular to the silver band is a crescent shape that is studded with reverse-set diamonds. Hovering inside the crescent is a thin disc of 150­karat rock crystal.

One of Nguyen’s many talents lies in his ability to mold familiar materials into unique textures and styles, which he demonstrates often by using heavy metals to create intricate fine lace designs. He establishes this in pieces like the Lace Armor Ring, a bronze ring, thin but wide, that wraps across the entire bottom half of the finger in elaborate four­petaled flowers. Others like this are the Armor Cuff, which envelops half of the forearm, and the Torn Armor Gorget, which is made with a combination of bronze, silver, and gunmetal.

These pieces debuted in a collection inspired by a combination of Joan of Arc’s medieval attire and traces of advanced robotics. This blend embodies the common thread found in all of Nguyen’s jewelry – consistently pushing the limits and finding new ways to captivate his fans.  You can see more on his website:

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!

Equal Opportunity

Nowadays, men’s jewelry is a trend that has become more and more popular since the early twentieth century. Before that, glittering decoration was considered an effeminate attraction… or so you might think.

In truth, outside of Western culture, male jewelry has been a fairly common practice all throughout history. Often it was considered a mark of wealth and authority, giving its wearer a certain aristocratic status in society. In Ancient Egypt, the first culture to use jewelry made of gold, men adorned themselves with just as many trinkets as did women, if not more!  In fact, statues of kings and gods were lavishly bejeweled, as were the living Pharaohs themselves. For the male population, no ornament was off limits: they wore earrings, bracelets, rings, even anklets, not to mention several that have fallen out of use today, like armbands and collar pieces.

Egyptians weren’t the only ones with equal male/female treatment when it came to jewelry. In Mesopotamia, men wore earrings, necklaces, armlets, bracelets, pectoral ornaments, and headbands. (At times women did have a few more gender-­specific options, including headdresses, belts, and some floral dress pins.) Other cultures that made use of male jewelry were the Akkadians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, as well as most African and Native American tribes.  So it seems Europeans were the odd men out in their lack of ornamentation.

Truthfully, although you won’t find too many earrings on European men in the Middle Ages, they weren’t completely without adornment. Forgoing what they considered more feminine relics, they instead chose beauty with a more “masculine” spin, such as gemstones embedded in sword hilts, and they also made use of signet rings, an ornament that could double as a functional piece in letter sealing. It seems no matter how far back you look ­­– and no matter where ­­– you will always find some decorative outlet, regardless of gender distinctions.


Avant Garden

Fashion designer Kendra Scott, CEO and founder of the eponymous Kendra Scott Design, Inc., has a new jewelry line out for Spring of 2015. The collection, cleverly titled Avant Garden, blends a modern style (“Avant”) with natural, elemental beauty (“Garden”). The result is a slew of soft, pastel hues like rose quartz, rose gold druzy, blue lace agate, and plenty of others. These natural tones combine beautifully with the sleek, modern cuts and designs, as seen in the Billie Ear Climbers; inspired by organic crystal spears found along rocky cavewalls, this striking piece is designed with three spear­shaped cylinders that get progressively taller as they climb up the earlobe. The middle spear attaches to the ear, while the upper and lower give the appearance of the “ear climbing” reflected in the name.  These earrings come in one of three soft color options: rose gold, rhodium, or gold.

Within the Avant Garden collection are a number of colorful cuffs, a piece that is pretty popular in today’s market, ranging from lilac to mint to iridescent white.  There is also the bold Yasmin Hand Bracelet, a bracelet that is worn over the whole hand, though it maintains a simple, elegant appearance. The gold­ plated cuff on the wrist is attached to a thin chain that loops over the back of the hand to fit around any finger, giving the piece somewhat of a middle eastern feel.

Every bracelet, ring, and necklace pushes the limits of creativity and innovation, so be sure to check out the rest at:­designer­jewelry/new­and­now/avant­garden

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:


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