Sunday, July 31, 2011

Zara Phillips Wears the Meander Tiara

Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips, (1981-), pierced-tongue daughter of Princess Anne, Princess Royal, (1950-) was married July 30, 2011 in Scotland to Michael James Tindall, (1978-), an English rugby player who plays for Gloucester Rugby.  Not quite the too-doo of the April wedding of Prince William and clothes hanger Kate Middleton, this brawny and sports minded bride and groom will live a more casual lifestyle.  No honeymoon for them as they are both off to prior sporting commitments, Phillips in career as a show-jumper, and Tindall due back at his England rugby training camp on Monday.

Phillips chose to wear her mother’s tiara, The Meander, which was given to Princess Anne by her mother, Queen Elizabeth in 1972.  The Meander is well known because Anne has worn it time and time again as if it was the only piece of jewelry she ever owned.  The tiara is made from platinum and features a center brilliant cut diamond surrounded by a laurel wreath motif.  The sides of the tiara feature a Greek key design with a floral scroll component on each side.  Originally owned by Princess Alice of Battenberg, (1885-1969), later Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, mother of Prince Phillip.  Alice gave the tiara to her daughter in law, Queen Elizabeth as a wedding gift…as if she needed it.  But you know how it sometimes is with mother in law gifts…the Queen has never been seen in public wearing this particular tiara.  Not unlike the sequined sweatshirt from the Stone Harbor collection I received from my mother in law.

Princess Alice of Battenburg, mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

A young Princess Anne wearing The Meander.
An older Princess Anne wearing The Meander...again. 
Annie and Granny.  When we were little girls, my sister and I had Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret dolls.  Of course, my sister had the Queen doll.

I'm 50 - My tiara thanks you Spanx.
 A more recent photo and she's still wearing it.  
I am now calling this the Groundhog Day Tiara because it keeps coming back the next day.

Zara and her father, Mark Phillips, former husband of Princess Anne.  In August 1985 Phillips fathered a daughter as a result of an extramarital affair.  He was confirmed as the father as a result of DNA testing during a paternity suit in 1991.  Phillips and Anne divorced in 1992.
Zara in The Meander and her Stewart Parvin dress.  He is a favorite of the Queen.  What every young girl wants, her Grandmother's dress designer to make her wedding dress.

From some angles he's very handsome...and from others he looks like that guy from Goonies.
She is getting a gaunt.  Even the size 0’s are hanging off her.

Nothing that a little Round-Up can’t help.
I thought these girls were being coached.  
Next time, they must get more than the shoes right.   

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Excuse Me...Did You Know Your Jewelry Is Dirty? This Is What You Should Do

Everybody wears their jewelry in different ways.  Some people are lucky enough to have a ton of it and cycle through their many favorites, so most of what they own doesn’t show much wear.  Others have only a few pieces and wear them all the time, including to bed, in the shower and even during sexy time.  Sorry, but this type of wear eventually causes stink vibrations to emanate off your jewelry that others can sense.   Some women pride themselves on wearing a particular pendant every day.  “I NEVER take this off”, she brags.  Well, guess what?  Every time you shower with that thing on, soapy skin-flaked water falls down on it and clogs up every prong, and dirt filled crusty layers coat the stone as if you were cultivating your own pearl...and I can see it from where I'm standing.  I feel a Rosann Rosannadanna skit coming on to fully describe how gross it is to wear something constantly and never clean it.  It’s OK to wear your favorites over and over again as long as you clean them from time to time… and here are some tips on what you need to buy to keep your baubles looking their best, and how to do it.  It’s not hard, just invest in the following…

Polishing Cloth - a really good one.  Not the little ones that come along with your jewelry purchase, they are worthless.  You need an industrial strength polishing cloth, like the kind you would use to clean your silverware or your Grandmother’s antique sterling silver teapot.  Sabrina Silver makes a good one and it’s available at Amazon for $6.99.  This cloth is large (12” x 15”), and can be used on silver and gold and does a great job.  It is double sided with the inside used for removing tarnish and dirt and the outside for polishing when you’re done.  You can feel the abrasive material on the inside – that’s the side to use for the first cleaning.  As you clean your jewelry, the cloth will turn black.  This is not entirely your personal schoovatch coming off, but rather tarnish and oxidation as well.  You can continue to use these cloths for a very long time (save your manicure and use rubber gloves while polishing).  Do not wash the cloth.  When you can’t feel the abrasive any longer it’s time to throw it away and buy a new one.   

Dish Soap, Hot Water and Baby Toothbrush – if you have silver, gold, or silver and gold jewelry that has lost its shine because it’s picked up your body oils after a lot of wear, just make a mixture of liquid dish soap (I like Dawn because it cuts grease-even ours) and hot water.  Dip your jewelry and let it soak for about 5-10 minutes and then use a soft baby toothbrush to clean in between any grooves.  Place your soapy jewelry in a strainer and rinse under hot tap water.  Pour the wet jewelry out on a few paper towels to air dry.  After it’s dry, use your polishing cloth to finish it off.  Your jewelry should sparkle and feel very clean.  It’s good to do this a few times if you are wearing your jewelry a lot, especially during the summer.  Body oils and creams, perspiration and perfume cling to the metals and form a film.  If you wonder why you’re getting zits on the side of your face or on your chest, it’s probably because your earrings or pendants are dirty, so for God’s sake, clean them once in a while.  

You can use this method to clean your diamond jewelry as well as your color stones.  If your jewelry has a stone that is accessible and you can see the entire thing from the underside of your ring, you can actually use this process to clean it.  Just use your little brush to clean under the stone and rinse as usual.  Use a Q-tip to dry the underside of the stone.  If your ring is closed underneath and you can’t see the stone, you may have to have it professionally refurbished.  Check with the store where you purchased your jewelry to see if they provide this service.

Baby Shampoo - You can actually use a very mild shampoo (like baby shampoo) to clean very dirty pearls.  Place your pearls in knee high pantyhose if you can find one anywhere (who wears them anymore?)  Slowly swish your pearls back and forth through the sudsy water.  Swish back and forth in clear water to rinse off the soap and lay them out on a few layers of paper towel to air dry.  Check the silk thread used to string your pearls.  If you see lots of space between the pearls, you may need to have them re-strung.  Ask your local jeweler if they do this or if they can recommend someone who does.  Remember to treat your pearls right – they should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off.  Wipe them gently with a soft cotton cloth when you take them off each time and they won’t get so gross again.  This is another good reason to rip your husband’s underwear off his body– they make the best rags.

FYI - I’m not a big fan of ultra-sonic cleaners in the hands of people that don't know what they can do.  Ever since I witnessed an emerald disintegrate in one, I’m afraid of them.  There isn’t much you can’t clean with a strong detergent, a mild detergent, hot water and a toothbrush, and this way, you won’t destroy any of your jewelry in the process.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

All My Jewelry Was Stolen…What Should I Do Now?

You arrive home after a nice evening out with friends and you find your backdoor wide open.   “Oh my god, did you leave that door open you idiot” you yell at your husband.  But as you enter your home, you realize something isn’t right.  In your bedroom, you find your bed has been disturbed.  What's going on?  Where are my pillow cases?  Things are thrown about the room and the top drawer of your bureau is on the floor.  You slowly realize what has happened…that's where you've always kept your good jewelry - right there in the top drawer, rather than in a locked box or a safe where it should be…and now it’s all gone and you want to throw up.

A theft like this takes less than ten minutes.  It’s so quick you wouldn’t believe it if you saw it happen.  Backdoor kicked in, run upstairs to bedroom, remove pillow cases, go directly to woman’s bureau and stuff cases with jewelry that is right there (like it always is), run out back door.  Jewelry is small, easily transported and easily pawned.  It means nothing to the thieves, but when you realize every piece of jewelry you own is gone, including your Grandmother’s wedding ring, you are crushed.

Family heirlooms can never be replaced, but hopefully, your most important pieces were insured so you can start to rebuild your jewelry wardrobe.  If you’re lucky enough to have a homeowner’s policy that includes $5,000 in blanket coverage for lost or stolen jewelry, take that money and here’s what you can buy.

You need a good watch.  Buy the best you can afford – a Michele Deco is fashionable and won’t break the bank… and you won’t have to use the sun to tell time anymore. 

Michele Deco Watch, 16mm New Deco Stainless Steel Bracelet ($250) and Deco 16mm Stainless Steel Watch Head with Diamond Dial ($425).  FYI-Michele watches are often sold in two pieces so be sure to price accordingly.
Buy a good pair of gold hoops.  I think yellow gold is the classic color to buy.  If you have extra money you can purchase a pair of white gold hoops as well, but yellow gold hoops are the classic and where you should make the investment.  I still have mine from high school.

Roberto Coin18K Yellow Gold Hoop Earrings, 1 ¼” diameter, $520
Pearl studs are feminine and stand the test of time.  Buy Mikimoto if you can and, if you’re over 30, buy at least 7.5- 8mm in size.  Anything smaller will look like you have boogers on your ears, especially if you have long hair.  They must be at least 8mm to be seen, even if you pull your hair back.

 Mikimoto Akoya Pearl Studs, 7.5-8 mm.  White or yellow gold, $730
David Yurman Bracelet:  It seems everybody has one, but that’s OK, join the cult.  You get a lot of look for your money and wearing one tells your friends you’ve arrived.  Buy a 7mm Onyx Color Classic Bracelet.  And, remember you are an adult…the 7mm size is the middle size…not too big and not too small, and, onyx will go with everything you wear, plus it’s one of the cheapest stones he has available.   

David Yurman Onyx 7mm Color Classics Bracelet, $595.
A diamond solitaire pendant is the type of necklace you can wear all the time and never take off (this way you will never lose it).  It would look nice with your pearl studs and Michele watch.  H, VS2 is excellent quality for a diamond pendant.   

Blue Nile .50 ct., H, VS2, diamond solitaire pendant, $2475.

Speaking of insurance...  depending on how much jewelry you have, you may want to do the following:

Check your homeowner’s policy to see if you have any coverage for "unscheduled" jewelry that is lost or stolen.  Some policies offer minimal coverage ($2,500-5,000) for the loss of unscheduled pieces (not listed and insured individually), and some policies offer nothing.  Check yours.  

Appraise, schedule and insure your most expensive and sentimental pieces.  This is called an insurance rider and you pay extra for it.  Big ticket diamond items like your engagement and wedding rings, tennis bracelets, studs, or antique diamond pins, etc….anything that exceeds the minimum coverage your policy provides should be covered separately if you can afford it .  Consider listing any other important items where the replacement value is more than you can handle out of pocket, or where you feel the need to be compensated for an appraised amount.  Scheduled jewelry is expensive so don’t list (and pay) for anything you can easily replace out of your personal budget.

If insurance is too expensive, buy a good safe and use it.  Lowe's has a good, fireproof safe with a digital combination that is easy to use.  If possible, have a handyman permanently attach your safe to the closet shelf or floor so thieves cannot simply walk away with it (however, some of these safes are very heavy already and not easy to walk away with).  Then, be religious about securing your things when you are not using them.  I’ve met many people over the years who learned this lesson the hard way.  You can’t believe how careful people become with their new jewelry after they’ve lost all their old jewelry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Have You Been Vajeweled?

A vajewelectomy in progress.
If you watch the Real Housewives of New York City, you’ve already met the newest addition to this season: Cindy Barshop (one and done - I understand she may not be returning next year).  Cindy’s claim to fame is she owns and operates multiple locations of the “Completely Bare Spa."  One of the services they offer is Vajeweled – or, jewelry for your hoo-hah.  After you get a complete waxing of your girly parts, for a nominal fee you can add Swarovski "elements" (more like shards) down there in various shapes and designs.  Ms. Barshop prides herself on the ultimate waxing experience, including a service for inner AND OUTER buttocks.  Thank God girls born with permanent mink thongs have someone to turn to.

Now I'm all for jewelry but I didn't realize I needed to adorn my girlgyna on top of all the landscaping I already do.  It 's an established destination point in my house and is highly sought after - so do I need to decorate it as well?  And what happens when the hair starts to grow back and some of the sparkles have fallen we maintain the vaginal rejuvenation experience or do we let it turn into one of those skankaroll Halloween decorations that are still  hanging around at Thanksgiving...just sayin.

Here are some options:

Do I have to spell it out for you?

I think you know what to do.


This one's for the guys.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Jewelry Catherine Duchess of Cambridge Wore Through The North American Tour

Catherine and William are back in England now that their North American tour is over.  William wants to fly helicopters and Catherine wants to grow herbs and get pregnant.  However, she’s going to have to eat a little something because developing embryo's don't do all that well on watercress.  At 5' 10", some say Catherine is hovering around the 100-105 pound range.  Jewelry doesn't look good on a broomstick.

Kate’s royal tour fashion was nice but I feel a little meh about it because the royal corporation has a lot to say about how she must dress when on these official visits, i.e., British designers, no short skirts, pantyhose is usually a must, discreet hairstyles, and even closed toe shoes most of the time, so – kudos to Kate for going against the grain and wearing those Jimmy Choo, five inch heeled, silver, Housewives of London foot jewelry while in LA.   

Although tasteful and demure, the jewelry she wore (some her own – some on loan) was very pretty.  She didn’t establish any new trends (other than pantyhose, ugh) so don’t worry...I don't think we'll be wearing maple leaf pins on our shoulders this fall but if we're not careful, there might be a Ruth Buzzi sighting in my neighborhood.

I'm warning not bring pantyhose back.  Do I need to say anymore?
Something new, the human fascinator.  
No, wait - that's William's hand, Ottawa, 7/01/11.
Really very beautiful - and you know how I feel about pins.

While in Yellowknife, Catherine and William received beautiful gifts of a diamond polar bear pin and diamond polar bear cuff links made with Canadian diamonds, by Northwest Territories Diamonds.  It was presented to them by Premier, Floyd Roland to commemorate their Royal tour of the country.  Both of the gifts were created with diamonds mined at the Diavik Diamond Mine and donated and designed by Harry Winston.  Diamond is the official gemstone of the Northwest Territories and the region produces about 15% of the world’s rough diamonds.  Who knew Canada was the world’s third largest diamond producer (in value) after Botswana and Russia.  I could almost drive there.  Yellowknife, 7/6/2011.

Fashion alert!  Let's see if any of the bear jewelry is ever worn.

Kate is a real fan of jewelry designer, Kiki McDonough.  A British designer who specializes in pieces made with semi-precious  stones with diamonds, Kiki McDonough has been in business for more than 25 years.  It only takes a celebrity with the status of Catherine to completely sell out many of the pieces she’s is offering on her website.  McDonough’s well priced jewelry features vibrant stones in contrasting color combinations set in 18K gold.   

Arriving at a private reception in Los Angeles, California.  Kate wears a Roksanda Ilincic Peridot dress. Her earrings are Kiki McDonough Grace Earrings, £695.00 ($1125, US).  Of course, they are currently out of stock.
California, 7/8/2011.

If you have a good local jeweler, these earrings are not hard to have made.  The white topaz is not an expensive stone and the diamonds are rather small.  The stones are approximately 9mm in size and, set if you set them in 14K gold (instead of 18K) you could have these made for much less than $1125.

Kiki McDonough white topaz and diamond earrings.  
Here's a closer look in case you want to have them made.

Kate is wearing Kiki McDonough citrine earrings featured in the photo below. 
Los Angeles, 7/09/2011.
One of Catherine’s favorite Kiki McDonough earrings.  
18K citrine drop earrings.  £495.00 (about $800 US).  Los Angeles, 7/9/2011.
Hard to see what earring she is wearing.  See below...

Cassandra Goad "Temple of Heaven" 9K gold earrings.   
£1,100, roughly $1750, US.  Seems very high for 9K gold.  
Check out Ippolita below for similar earrings but in 18K.

Ippolita 18K gold Open Oval Cascade Earring.  $2095 but 18K gold instead of 9K.  
I don't think I would invest that much money in 9K gold!

Catherine in Alexander McQueen and diamond earrings 
from the Queen's jewelry box.  Los Angeles, 7/10/2011.

A hard to find closeup of the diamond earring loaned by the Queen.  It's a posted earring with a bezel-set diamond at the top with three diamond stands, made with baguette and round diamonds attached.  Suspended from the center strand is what looks to be quite a large pear shaped diamond. Those LA beeyatches didn't have anything on her.

Almost jewelry.  That nice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Field Trip! Part VII - Personalities at the Van Cleef & Arpels Exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

I know it’s about time I brought this thing to a close but I've been having so much fun researching, writing and viewing all the beautiful jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels. However, something even more interesting exists...the back stories behind the jewelry, as well as some of the photos where the jewelry is being worn.

For example, did you know Muhammad Ali’s wife, Veronica, is the other woman in the photo above being pushed out of the way?  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) is wearing her gold VC&A “Wonder Woman” cuffs and hoops (actually they are an early “Perlee” creation) and is doing a pretty good job of arm wrestling Muhammad Ali.  Ali's wife, Veronica, is the woman being ignored.  Jackie and Ali met in 1977 at the Rainbow Room kicking off festivities for the Robert F. Kennedy Tennis Tournament in New York.  
Most of the time you see this photo…and I always wondered who Jackie was talking to.  These cuffs were sold at the infamous 1996 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate auction at Sotheby's.  With an estimated worth of $1,500-$2,000 at that time (based on a gold price of a little over $400 an ounce, versus around $1500 per ounce today) these cuffs sold for $167,500.  You do the math if they were on the auction block right now.

One of the most spectacular pieces in the entire exhibit is the emerald and diamond necklace and earrings that belonged to the Maharani of Baroda.  There are many interesting stories about the Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda, (1917-1986), or as she was known, “The Indian Wallis Simpson” (you already know she was probably trouble).  Already married to someone else when she met and immediately fell in love with the Maharajah Pratapsinh Gaekwad of Baroda in 1943, she (and the lawyers) concocted a Chinese fire drill of events in order to obtain a divorce from her current husband so she could marry the Maharajah later that same year.  She converted to Islam and obtained a divorce under the grounds that she was unable to stay married to her present Hindu husband.  After the divorce, she re-converted back to Hinduism and was now free to marry her lover, the Maharajah of Baroda.  I'm exhausted just thinking about planning such a thing but hey, you go girl, jewels were at stake and a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

The Maharani placing the priceless seven strand pearl necklace on the Maharajah.   He is having agita after finding out how much these pearls are worth.
One of the only photos of the famous necklace.  Circa 1880.  All the stones in this necklace are diamonds.

After her marriage, she received gifts of jewels from the Baroda treasury that dated back to Mughal times. These included a magnificent seven-strand natural pearl necklace (see indigestion photo above) and an incomparable three-row diamond necklace (above) that suspended both the Star of the South diamond (cushion cut center top at 128.80 carats) and the English Dresden diamond (pear shaped below at 78.53 carats).  She also received many other Indian jewels from her husband and it was from these various jewels that she extracted the emeralds and diamonds used by Van Cleef & Arpels in her 1949 commission to create a most magnificent necklace and earrings. From time to time we have a cheesy remounting events in our store where customers can use old stones in new settings, but so far, nothing has turned out like this.

The “Hindou Necklace” first appeared for sale in Monte Carlo in 1974 where the Maharani had been residing since the 1960's.  It remained in private hands until 2002 when the necklace and the earrings were auctioned at Christie’s in Geneva with both pieces selling for $1,647,976. 

Completed in 1950, the piece was christened “The Hindou Necklace” by Van Cleef & Arpels. Made in platinum, with thirteen emerald drops (Colombian in origin), weighing approximately 150 carats, they are suspended from a panel of pavĂ©-set diamonds and decorated with carved emeralds. The entire design originated from her Mughal beads.  Sita Devi liked to be green in so many ways and was ahead of her time in terms of recycling.

The earrings are comprised of five polished octagonal shaped emeralds and five drop-shaped emeralds with each earring containing a suspended diamond briolette weighing approximately 20 carats. As per a mystical Indian belief, these precious stones set within a circle are meant to gather and radiate cosmic energies to favor the one that they adorn.  It would have been cheaper to own Stonehenge.

The Maharani must have been a real hoot at party.  In 1953 the Maharani of Baroda sold Harry Winston a pair of anklets, consisting of cabochon emeralds and rose-cut diamonds.  Winston used them to create a necklace which the Duke of Windsor bought for the Duchess of Windsor.  The Duchess and the Maharani were both present at a ball in 1957, and, observing the necklace on the Duchess, the Maharani remarked rather loudly that the emeralds had looked just as good when she wore them on her feet. The Duchess needed some of those calm-me-down pills and returned the necklace to Winston the next day. Harry Winston promised not to sell the necklace to anyone who might wear it in the Duchess's presence or know this paper bag over the head story.  Years later Christina Onassis was turned down when she tried to buy it.