Sunday Jewelry Report: A Class In Jewelry Design

Today’s jewelry report card focuses on a relatively new designer, whose pieces are a class in how to push boundaries in jewelry design. I hope that this is a Sunday read that will wake you up and get your jewelry juices flowing! Veronica Fabian gets an A++ from us for her innovative yet well designed chic approach to this design form. While she doesn’t currently have her pieces listed for sale online, she does have a portfolio style website, where one can contact her. The artist has a BA in jewelry design from the University of Arts in London. Her award list spans 2016-2018 and it is not a short list. She has been shown in museum exhibits and her latest works which I will highlight here in the order of which I love most, will surely inspire.  Her history is one that starts with an artistic family, turns to economics and banking, and inevitably reverses back to the jewelry art form.

One can see she is drawn to themes in jewelry like chains and traditional aspects which she then turns on their head and elevates.  Her pieces could easily translate on the runway or the museum floor. They touch on human themes and women’s rights in constructed and narrative ways as well.  So without further ado my favorite pieces and where to follow her work.


Why We Follow Her:

Diane Love For Trifari Exclusive Design Archive

A few years ago I sat down with artist Diane Love to go over her career, vintage designs she did for Trifari, and her fine pieces. I was lucky enough to interview her and gain access to all of her original samples which we have included here: Diane Love Archive. Please browse and learn about all the wonderful designs she did for Trifari, as her pieces only had hangtags and were not signed, thus they are often misattributed. Read the interview Here

English Antique Jewellery and Ebay

This morning we are going to indulge a guilty pleasure vie ebay. It is not often one can find the glorious amount of quality antique pieces, the likes of those we will explore today via our A++ instagram account to follow @englishantiquejewellery.  I stumbled across this jewellery shop and have become a bit smitten.  I think they appeal to me because their finds remind me of those precious little unique antique relics I found as a young child, which led me to collect vintage jewelry. They seem to have bottled that magic feeling of discovery.  The owner’s eye is such that they present the shopper with the opportunity to explore the world of true antique jewelry in all mediums. Pieces from the Victorians and the 1920s, lush silvers, and detailed artifacts. Now, since one has to be on top of such auctions to get a chance at the prize, following their weekly sales via ig is a must.  The shop is accessible via eBay only, auctions straight to us from the UK where they reside. The shop has been in business since 2009. To be honest had I discovered them via eBay, the shop’s impact would have been somewhat lost. The array of photography and finds they post on instagram is really impressive and allows them to shine. They post lovely compositions and unique pieces daily. Thus, today’s Jewelry Report Card winner is really for my flea market and antique jewelry lovers, who are always on the hunt for a great score. This secret source will not disappoint. So without further ado:

What We Love: ( a tribute to the best pieces they have listed and we have loved). Shop Current Auctions Here.

Why We Follow:

  • All images belong to Antique English Jewelry via their eBay shop and instagram.

Sunday Jewelry Report: Shopping Bow and Arrow NYC

Enjoy an afternoon in the midst of various Native American jewelers, under the roof of a store that celebrates artisans of various Native North American cultures today. Stack the silver and get ready to explore our A++ pick for one to follow on instagram. Firstly, what attracted me to Bow and Arrow NYC, is the way the shop is sort of a new take on the contemporary Native American jewelry gallery. Started in 2011 by Leslie O’Kelley-Maiden, it brings together a group of southwestern indigenous jewelry designers, whose skills with sterling and various stones are evident in their hand made works.  The shop is founded on the stories of it’s designers in a cooperative and beautiful way.  The turquoise they use comes form North American sources as discussed in her link about the stones, here. Their shop’s work has been seen in Porter magazine and on Kesha.

Enjoy the video of how and why she does what she does:

Bow & Arrow X Convicts from Convicts on Vimeo.

Her respect for Navajo (Dine) culture among others resonates with me. Her short film does a great job illustrating the connections between jewelry, artwork, and culture. Not only does the jewelry validate the things discussed in the video above, they are visually beautiful pieces, supporting a continued heritage, and are current in their relevancy.


WHY WE FOLLOW: ( She does a great job giving us tips on styling these pieces!)

*All images belong to Bow and Arrow NYC and Leslie via her instagram and website!

Jewelry Report Card: The Cut London and Meghan Markle Have Us Thinking About Alternative Wedding Rings

Today we take you to London, which only a day ago was in a flurry of activity due to the royal wedding. Whether you admit it or not, married or not, male or female you’ve been fantasizing just a bit about what it would be like to be Meghan or Harry. I’m waving goodbye in my jag with that aquamarine ring, off to a swanky royal after party…wait BUT I digress …Harry’s gift of Princess Diana’s aquamarine ring, which Diana bought after the divorce to wear, instead of her former wedding ring, had me thinking about alternative wedding ring styles!  This is why we chose The Cut London as our A++ recipient for our Sunday jewelry report card. We are handing the grade out to Kate as one to follow on instagram for her unique offerings.  As we go into summer, keeping up with The Cut London is not a bad idea, whether you want to reward yourself with a unique piece, buy someone a promise ring, or pick out that forever style for your big day.

Started by Kate Baxter a jewellery designer, who wanted to help revolutionize the engagement ring world by seeking out unique bespoke pieces, the selection does not disappoint. She offers her all of this online, from unique cuts to colored gemstones at THE CUT LONDON. There is also a tailored selection of antique rings in her repotroire. She books consultations and helps find original one of a kind pieces for clients from her base in London. If one is overwhelmed or actually underwhelmed by the selection of engagement rings out there she specializes in finding something outside the box.  @thecutlondon is full of new pieces, inspiration, gifts or jewelry shopping guides ,and gorgeous designs posted daily, with an email link directly to Kate. She often mentions new finds from up and coming jewelry designers, as well including earrings or whatever else strikes her fancy! Since she is constantly searching for unique pieces many are not online so following here gives you access to some pieces you may only see during a consultation!

What We Love:

Why We Follow: 

*All images from The Cut London, via instagram and their website!

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are Getting Married: Come Tiara Shopping with Us Before the Big Day!

Cartier Bandeau via Harper’s Bazaar and Alamy. Link in image.

There are more tiara’s floating around the royal coffers than butterflies on a spring day. Every blog and news agency around the world is trying to guess which one Meghan will wear on their big day this Saturday.  From the Spencer tiara to the Lover’s Knot. The Lover’s knot was one of Diana’s favorites, but the Spencer won out on her day, paying tribute to the women in her family who came before her. It was chosen over what the queen had actually gifted her for the day. Although many are speculating it has less allure due to the marriage of Diana to Charles not enduring. However, with Meghan having some crazy distant relation to Diana who knows, should she wear it! The royal family and the queen may actually also take stone signification into consideration when choosing the crown, as well as the history of the piece. Your guess is as good as mine!  However; in Meghan’s case it is possible a totally new one could be fashioned, but Harry did give her a diamond from his mother’s collection…so again I digress.  I’m in just as much suspense as the rest of you not knowing whether to bet on the Strathmore Rose tiara worn by Elizabeth Bowes Lyon (a.k.a the Queen Mother) in the the 20s almost like a flapper band or the Cartier Bandeau.  As our coffers might not be so flush I decided to put together a list of fun vintage costume jewelry tiaras available in various shops below, well I stuck in a few diamonds: Enjoy and start planning your bridal party head gear or Saturday night accessories! Plenty of vintage head gear coming to the shop this month as well as we celebrate.



Favorite Tiara filled Links:

Elle magazine’s historic round up

Diana’s Jewels

Town & Country

Harper’s Bazaar article about Meghan Markle’s Royal Ancestors


The Met, Madonna, Jewelry, Fashion, and the Catholic Imagination.

Image from the press preview, Heavenly Bodies.

This evening is the first Monday in May, when the Met Gala is held and the Costume institute opens one of the largest exhibits its ever devised, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. After reported multiple negotiations between Anna Wintour and the Vatican, the exhibit was deemed a go and as of today we will all get a glimpse of what could potentially be one of the most interesting exhibits to date. Catholic symbols are so interwoven into many cultures, it is clear this will be an intriguing look at how fashion relates to everything from the Pope to the Virgin Mary. One of the countries that this is very prevalent is Brazil. After living there over 5 years, I was very aware how the Catholic religion of the Portuguese had mixed with African and indigenous cultures. It infused their fashion and jewelry in a very deep manor.

Image from Carlos Miele, Homenagem a Mario Cravo Neto.

Symbols abound in Brazil…While writing my thesis on indigenous identity in Brazil and the United States, I discovered just how powerful religious iconography could be, when I saw parallels between early depictions of indigenous women as America and the notion of Mary and the anti-Mary or savage woman.  While this was one element of a very long thesis, Catholic imagery has long interested me. From texts such as that by Paul Koudounaries, whose photographs of the early jewel adorned Christian martyrs and saints in underground tomb amaze, to Madonna’s virginal performance, I was hooked. Madonna famously used key components of the religion: like virgins, saints, and martyrs in her musical performances. Her early work especially, really demonstrates her mastery of symbolism.

Nossa Senhora de Aparecida/ Our Lady of Aparecida.

For the Catholic religion, symbols become the incarnate or earthly representation of that which is held to be sacred and holy. It become even clearer over the years these notions of “saints” and “sinners” were part of an elaborate symbolic relationship between Catholicism, Christianity, power, and culture. The adornment associated with Catholicism is a complex narrative of clothing, ritual, and jewelry. One that they brought with them to the Americas, Africa, and beyond. One can also see some of these Catholic references in Georgian and early 1800s Italian jewelry, Victorian Momento Mori pieces, early Byzantine jewelry, and other antique examples which we will illustrate below.

1870s Italian, Castellani piece. Inspired by Byzantine jewelry. Housed in the Met, image by Sarara Couture.

Circa 1850s, some gold construction references to Byzantine jewelry, angel etc. By Luigi Saulini. Met Museum. Image Sarara Couture.

The Saints:

Details on my charm necklace, that I created while living in Brazil. It includes antique examples and newer saints in silver. Our Lady of Aparecida is pictured twice.

Catholicism has a lot of saints, and in each location where they brought the religion with them this varied. For instance, the negotiation between Catholicism and Brazil led to the creation of Afro-Catholic religions, various new Brazilian saints, and adornments. One example of jewelry which portrays this relationship are the pendants depicting Our Lady of Aparecida.  The saint has a long history associated with a mysterious statue pulled from the Paraiba river in the 1700s, all the way to the references to the “Black Madonna”. Scapulars or double saint necklace, featuring one saint worn hanging down the back, and another the front often also depict Our Lady of Aparecida. Popular cultural uses of these scapulars are all over the country, especially for surfers who use them as protection. So in honor of the Met exhibit I wanted to look at a few examples of jewelry and accessories.

Scapular example.

Personal Collection.


What is Catholicism if not Roman? The history of the Roman empire and it’s relationship to Christianity is a saga we cannot hope to summarize here, but we can look at the early roots in terms of jewelry if we look at Byzantium. The empire at the time was divided into two parts. Eastern and Western Rome.  In about 330 A.D. the Roman emperor Constantine I established New Rome or Constantinople and Christianity as its official religion. When Rome fell in 476 all that was left was eastern Rome or the Byzantine empire.  This is a complex history but to summarize this empire survived for centuries after. This is a moment rich in iconography, jewelry, and symbolism until the 8th and part of the 9th century when emperors banned religions imagery. Around 1054 the religious split came where one was called the Roman Catholics and the others the Eastern Orthodox Catholics. The rest is a very long history to get to today’s Rome, Vatican, and it’s relationship to Italy. However; it does lead to my favorite part Byzantine examples of jewelry. Here are some housed in the Met.

6th Century Byzantine. On display at the Met Museum.

Gold Necklace with Ornaments, 6th century
Byzantine, Early Byzantine
Gold; Overall: 36 x 7 x 1 3/8 in. (91.4 x 17.8 x 3.6 cm) Wt: 225g pendant cross: 2 3/4 x 1 7/8 x 3/8 in. (7 x 4.8 x 1 cm) pendant: 1 7/16 x 11/16 x 1/2 in. (3.7 x 1.7 x 1.2 cm) pendant: 1 3/8 x 5/8 x 1/2 in. (3.5 x 1.6 x 1.2 cm) pendant: 1 5/16 x 11/16 x 9/16 in. (3.3 x 1.7 x 1.4 cm) pendant: 1 9/16 x 11/16 x 1/2 in. (4 x 1.8 x 1.2 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.151)

7th Century, Byzantine.

Other Byzantine examples I photographed at the Met.

The Cross:

The history of the cross, as a symbol for Christians, can be traced back at least to the 3rd Century, which continues today and has spread of course into pop cultural references and iconography. That is why jewelry from the rosary to the cross can have so much power for the believer. The rosary is really a tool for prayer, with days assigned to types of prayer and each element or bead meaning different things. The bead above the cross is for the “Our Father” prayer, then you have the 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be and on.  When those messages are converted a vast system of counter cultural references can be created.  Symbols, gender, sexuality, and religion, are all tightly bound in the overall cultural belief system. Jewelry and accessories are one area where that iconography has been unwrapped and rewrapped in pop culture in very interesting ways.

Antique and Brazilian examples, my collection.

Pop Culture and the Fashion Accessory:

Catholicism’s relationship to popular culture is complex to define. Popular culture is a bit difficult itself to pin down! In many ways, it is a set of beliefs and objects endowed with symbols that have been created or reiterated by the newest generation. It becomes dominant at any certain period and proliferates in that setting. Fashion’s use of Catholic symbols was in some cases, a counter cultural response or rebellion that became pop culture history. Other times, it is a romanticism or fetishism of Catholicism that emerges. To celebrate the sure to be enthralling Met exhibit, I’m including below a round up of the best Catholic infused fashion accessories and jewelry for sale at the moment. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to see Madonna tonight!

Vintage example of a saint devotional charm bracelet.



Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs by Paul Koudounaris

In Death Lamented: The Tradition of Anglo American Mourning Jewelry. 2012. Sarah Nehama.

The Meaning of Icons
by Leonid Ouspensky & Vladimir Lossky

The Theology of the Icon
(2 volume set)

Carlos Miele. Cosac & Naify.

Sunday Jewelry Report Card: Going to the Source with Rachel Garrahan

Have your Sunday breakfast in luxury reading one of the many quality articles done by this report card winner! One aspect that seems to be a connecting force for a few very successful jewelry based magazines and such publications is freelance writer Rachel Garrahan.  As such, we wanted to bring you right to the source, her instagram account. Why miss out on the plethora of gorgeous images and links to her newest articles. She discusses all things sparkly for the New York Times, 1stdibs, Vanity Fair, Town and Country magazine, the Jewellery Editor and the list goes on… Her instagram images are gorgeous as she also visits jewelers, galleries, picks her favorite finds, and reports on collections via the account.

Lion via Rachel and @hancocks_london

She discusses all types of luxury jewelry; from contemporary collaborations, new artists on the scene, rare estate pieces at auction, to ancient jewels.

Art is one of my favorite jewelry designers of all time, just look at this piece on Rachel’s wrist!

Why We Follow Her:

What We Love:

3D Jewelry, The New York Times. 

Exotic Fables, The Jewellery Editor. 

British Gems From the 1960s, Mahnaz Collection.

Jewelry Armor, New York Times article. 

How Female Collectors are Driving in a New Era of Watch Design

*All images belong to Rachel’s via her instagram page.

Anthropology of Jewelry: Luxurious Jewelry in the Ancient Americas

“Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas” currently exhibited at the Met museum showcases the finely made gemstone and gold laden piece of the “ancient” Americas. It is a tantalizing presentation into the complex culture and skill level of the ancient Americas to say the least. As a doctor of anthropology, my focus of study was indigenous North American and Brazilian cultures, so I could not wait to see these material cultural items in person. I interned at the university at the Snite museum at Notre Dame and I remember well the Olmec and Native North American pieces we had the privilege to work with.  Although such an exhibit has many positives for the jewelry world, such as the study of culture and debunking the stereotypes of these peoples as “savage”; many aspects must be taken into consideration to properly understand these items.  As some of them were for ritual and spiritual use it would be, per most Native North American cultures, disrespectful to photograph them. I tried to avoid this whenever possible. We as observers should count ourselves lucky to see these pieces as some of which were taken to the grave with the intent to function there. This is also one reason why current artist’s shouldn’t borrow shapes and inspire from such indigenous sacred objects technically speaking, if one hopes to respect the culture. In an ideal situation they would still be there, but as anthropologist I do understand this discipline’s early role in gathering “artifacts” to preserve for science and the pitfalls of that history today as we grapple with the study of the “other”. However; discussions about how they should have been documented and left in the context found or displayed in the original country of origin are becoming more prevalent. While some of them are on loan from those origin countries, which is great, one should not forget that the indigenous descendants of many of these cultures are indeed still living today and we should endeavor to continue to connect those worlds.  The Maya come to mind of course… I am grateful to see such items in person, but I cannot truly speak of them without addressing some of these aspects.

The “wind” Jade Collar discovered in Mexico at the Calakmul tomb. 660A.D.-750.

The spiritual element is extremely important, as the function of most of this jewelry displayed ranged from that, to status, political power, gender, and beauty.  Regalia worn by rulers, on special occasions, and outside of rituals represent some of this complex negotiation, and they can be viewed as such.  However, as many pieces were with the ruler in death it branches from status into functioning as part of the spirituality of the culture, which is complex. Overall gold, jadeite, obsidian, crystal, amber, feathers, turquoise, and shell were reserved for non utilitarian items. Sacred gold helmets with bird feathers found in tombs are such an example.  Of course, the importance of the material varying depending upon the culture making the pieces.  The exhibit did a fine job, as well of discussing trade and how far some of these special materials were transported before becoming jewelry or adornment thus increasing it’s worth to those societies. The items being used over generations and the artistic complexities displayed helped to paint a clearer image for the viewer.

Example of how royalty can show status in their role as leader, while it has spiritual symbols the level is not as high as burial objects or such used in actual rituals.

In the jewelry world here in the United States, in the idea of luxury is often associated with gold or diamonds, however in circles of costume jewelry collectors, it is not material but the designer or rarity that colors its overall worth. This one of the important details of understanding material culture and how value is decided by the cultures creating it, not necessarily by the rarity.  In the ancient Americas this was also the case as a feather or jadeite could be the material of choice for spiritual or status laden works of body jewelry.  As such we must remember we are gazing through a lens which values golden jewelry, so that is what is most heavily displayed at such exhibits, although again they did a good job of including and discussing jadeite, shell and such.

So we come to the crossroads of how understanding the ancient Americas is important and whether we can try to merge this desire with respect and awe. The works displayed here really do a fantastic job of illustrating the fine craftsmanship and what luxury meant to these cultures. It gives us the history of gold working and technology exchange in the Americas. Their research has helped to highlight how women of power also wore such jewelry and nose plugs. They present us with the works of great artists and put value on the endeavors of these societies in a magical way. There are lots of newly discovered items, even some rescued from the ocean such as the “Fisherman’s treasure” an item looted but was lost in the ocean, which saved it from being melted down! See the Met video below and our favorite pieces from our trip.  With various exhibit tours and discussions happening this month be sure to check it out in person! It ends May 28th. Exhibit Text link here.

Our favorite jewelry and objects to see:

Pectoral, spirals hammered gold. Nahuange. A.D. 200-900. Colombia, Magdalena, Santa Marta.

Ear Ornaments. Peru.

Ear Ornaments. Peru.

Ear Ornaments Narino, A.D. 800-1300. Colombia, Narino Highlands Consaca.

Octopus Frontlet. Gold Peru, La Mina. A.D. 300-600. Would have been affixed to a headdress.

Serpent Labret or lip plug. Aztec. A.D. 1300-1521.

Spanish crown of the Virgin, 1660-1770 showing influences of pre Columbian cultures.

Colombia Tolima region. 1 B.C.- A.D. 700. Pendant.

Jadeite, Maya plaques. A.D. 700-900

Peru, chest ornament. A.D. 200-1470.

Peru, chest ornament. A.D. 200-1470.

Spear thrower, Diadem, Nose ornament, ear ornaments, ear pendants, Pectoral. Calima Yotoco 100 B.C.-A.D. 800
Regalia worn in life and death.

Ear Ornaments Mexico, Tenochtitlan A.D. 1486-1502.

Tabard, 1,446 plaques of shell, thought to be similar to those used by warriors. This one is symbolic (possible reference to water and fire and opposing elements of the cosmos). found in the Burned Palace. offering to ruler or burial. Toltec. A.D. 900-1200.

Helmet and Armband. Crocodilian beings and birds. Panama Sitio Conte.

Circular plaque, usually affixed to a garment. Crocodile god. Monkey pendant. Emerald and quartz pendants set in gold.
Cocle A.D. 700-900. Panama.

Fine group of ornaments from Peru’s North coast. High status individuals wore such ear ornaments. Cupisnique, 800-500B.C.

*All images taken by Sarara Couture at the exhibit.

Sunday Jewelry Report Card: Ushering in Spring with Madina Visconti Jewelry

Today’s jewelry report card selection is almost like a necessary ritual to bring forth spring. Her pieces seemingly contain a sort of earthly power held in the enamels and forms.  Let’s just say I now know what I want to wear to the May pole and the city next time I’m there. The A++ jewelry report card goes to Madina Visconti di Modrone. She is based in Milan and her jewelry roots itself in both modern form/sculpture, and natural incarnations. It feels like her enamels are catching the perfect Italian light and freezing it for us. Her work is also playful, the right scale, and has movement.  Her mother Lucio Fontana, was a jeweler and she remembers as well as draws from her childhood experiences.  The pieces are not fine jewelry in the sense of gold, but are on that level, yet allow the jewelry lover to indulge.  Each piece is made in 24k gilt bronze and silver.  The family talent runs deep with her sister Osanna also creating objects and furniture.  

She has a boutique in Milan’s historical center on Via Santa Maria for anyone who is in the area.  The jewelry designer has been featured in Vogue, W as one to watch, and worked on collaborations with Matthew Chevallard founder of a footwear brand, as well as designers presenting at Milan fashion week.  As Vogue mentioned in their article about Madina, she made a series of bronze pieces for the shoes including Italian food elements such as pasta. While her new collection is like the Garden of Eden in spring, other works by her include snakes, thorns, and harder edged themes.  I like her mix of both sides of life.

Her work can be found in her Milan boutique and as well as

What We WANT:


Why We Follow Her: (well some of her spectacular designs aren’t online and we want to request them, her new items hit instagram and her Milan boutique).