Q & A with Shelley Gibbs Sanders of The Last Line

The Last Line

Discovering new jewelry brands that are trailblazing in unique ways is my absolute favorite–that is why I jumped for joy after learning about The Last Line, a new project recently launched by jewelry veteran Shelley Gibbs Sanders. Bold colors, chic and iconic pieces…and, wait for it…AMAZING prices! You might scroll around the website and wonder, how can these prices be so good for REAL jewelry that is 14k gold and genuine gemstones?! The answer is their philosophy of being direct-to-consumer, never having a middle man, selling new pieces in batches called “drops.” Their latest drop is actually TODAY where they’ve added to all the incredible earring styles you always wished you could find. These ear stacks are what dreams are made of and that is exactly what Shelley set out to do when creating The Last Line. Can her goal of being “the last line” you will ever need hold true for many of you?! Let’s find out!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Shelley and we encourage you to check out the website and find your perfect piece!

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The Last Line is a continued project, I have been designing this collection for pretty much my whole life and I’m so excited to finally share it with everyone. We just launched at the end of July with earrings and there is so much more to come: necklaces, rings, and bracelets! The inspiration behind the name of The Last Line is it is the last place you’ll have need to look for fine jewelry and trust me, I plan to live up to our name.

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I’ve had the rare opportunity of being on both the design and the production side of the process, which is so helpful and, in the end I am ultimately a consumer so basically it is the trifecta of intel! My career technically began in New York where I studied Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design before returning home to California to train with Master Jewelers in San Francisco. After learning the tricks of the trade, I returned to Los Angeles to begin my career as a jewelry designer. Over time (and companies!) my roles evolved and I became the head designer and creative director for dozens of celebrity jewelry brands and high-end jewelry houses, working with everything from gold, diamonds, and precious stones.

When we decided to officially launch The Last Line, it was almost four years ago. I have been designing jewelry for almost fifteen years and in every design job I had, I was always thinking if this was my line, how would I do this, what would I change, etc. I felt like I had seen it all, but really when I started to look there were definite holes in the market. It felt polarizing, there were two distinct buckets: reasonably priced, not-so-great design or great design and quality, outrageous price with nothing in the middle, which as a consumer I found so frustrating. Of course, after that I started to speak to my girlfriends, family, literally, everyone and anyone and I knew I wasn’t alone in that thought. Fast forward to today and voilà, introducing The Last Line.

The brand is two-fold: The Heart and The Soul, everything is designed in Los Angeles where I live with my family. The Heart pieces are the core of the brand and your jewelry box; they’re the staples that you never want to take off and that make you feel instantly put together. The Soul pieces are the jaw dropping, make your girlfriends ask, “where did you get that,” expertly crafted, special pieces you want to treat yourself to. Of course, I believe you need both!

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I did a lot of research before we decided to officially launch, I mean truly did research: price, design, size, color, the list goes on. The symbolism of our brand name The Last Line is that we want to be THE place for all of your fine jewelry wants (and needs!), the last place you’ll ever need to go.

There were a few things that were important for me when launching TLL, one of which was pricing. Fine jewelry shopping can be intimidating, a lot of which can be the result of pricing. Because we are direct to consumer, we can present amazing, quality pieces without the retail mark-up. It was also important for me to be (and stay) hands-on with the line; I think building a relationship from the beginning with your clients is key for any brand’s longevity. Being direct-to-consumer is not only a more personal approach, but it’s service driven, which is important when spending $2,000+ on a piece of jewelry online. All of our pieces focus on craftsmanship, much of the Soul collection being handmade in Los Angeles. Having a background in production (and as I jewelry shopper myself) it was important to use quality materials that look great and merit their cost.

One of the coolest things about the line for me, is the actual assortment of jewelry is personal, I wanted to present options, in each drop you will have classics with a twist and then some really fun special pieces. In the first drop, we have everything from a perfect gold sphere stud (in over 5 sizes!) to our signature flower earring in a variety of stones. In the second earring drop, there are solitaire studs in a variety of stones, lots (!) of diamonds, from line earrings, to ear cuffs, to a perfect tennis drop earring and of course this amazing doubles spiral hoop earring you may have seen Nicole Richie sporting. And in the third earring drop, well that’s a secret for now.

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I truly hope that I am working on The Last Line, forever. I love to design of all types of jewelry and I love to create. I can’t stop—it is my obsession. I want to continue to create pieces that connect with women all over the world, it is important for my pieces to speak to the woman who’s just starting her jewelry collection and also excites the existing jewelry client who has her go-to pieces but is looking for that perfect_______. I want our pieces to become heirlooms; they should feel current but not trendy. For me, it is how a woman mixes her jewelry collection that makes it cool. I wanted to create pieces that can be worn but not worried about. The earrings can all be purchased individually, so mixing it up is fully encouraged!

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My engagement ring was one of the first pieces of The Last Line. My husband actually designed it and worked with the jeweler for months. It’s was something we always talked about it and one day there he was with it and it all took off from there —our marriage, our line, everything.

From the line, my favorite piece right now that I own is a 3-way tie between the diamond teddy flower earring with the pave tsavorite stem from the Goldie earring, the medium rose gold diamond safety pin and a special bracelet inspired by childhood which will drop soon.

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This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with The Last Line.

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Q & A and Visit with Emily Stoehrer of MFA Boston

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After a long and exciting week in Boston, I had a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts set up to feed my jewelry history cravings. One of my favorite things about my love and passion for jewelry is learning! Museum exhibits are such a great way to see and learn, often producing a lifelong impact or memory–especially for me. Whenever there is a headlining jewelry exhibit, I like to try to schedule trips in hopes of catching it before it ends. Lucky for Boston, the MFA has quite an extensive jewelry department that is constantly researching, collaborating, and creating new exhibits. I got to have a private tour with Emily Stoehrer who is not only a wealth of knowledge, but highly dedicated and involved in what she does for the museum. I was fascinated in so many ways, as she brought me through the MFA’s current exhibit Past is Present: Revival Jewelry.

Learn more about Emily as she answers my questions below and make sure you stop by the exhibit before it ends in August of 2018. Can’t wait to visit again!

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I am the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry. It’s a unique role in an American fine art museum, which was established in 2006. I was appointed in 2014, and over the last three years have worked to develop the exhibition program; add extraordinary jewels to the collection; connect with jewelers, designers, and collectors; and collaborate with colleagues across the museum to plan programming and events

Spanning thousands of years of jewelry history, there are more than 20,000 objects in the jewelry collection. Highlights include our ancient collections and contemporary jewelry, but over the last decade have added to our holding of fine jewelry. A great example of this is a gift given by the Rothschild family a few years ago, which included an outstanding pearl and diamond necklace that dates to the late nineteenth century. With large, perfectly matched natural pearls, it’s an extraordinary treasure! Yvonne Markowitz (who is the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry Emerita) and I have worked to establish a jewelry resource center for anyone interested in the study of jewelry, and as part of that we have also worked with the Curator of Design to acquire jewelry with related design drawings. Studying drawings from firms like Trabert & Hoeffer Mauboussin, the manufacturer-jeweler Louis Ferón, and the artist-craftsman Frank Gardner Hale, alongside the jewelry they made, has greatly informed our understanding of jewelry and how the industry operated historically.

We have also worked to add strength to strength by filling in gaps in our historical collection. For example, until recently we did not have anything by Carlo Giuliano. But, this year we added two amazingly naturalistic gold and enamel butterflies to the collection—a Duke of Burgundy and Bath White butterfly, to be specific. They are impossibly thin, and enameled on both sides to show every detail of the butterfly’s body and wings. They are a stunning example of the goldsmith’s art. Another historically important and spectacular ornament that I recently acquired is the Apparitions brooch which was designed by Eugene Grasset and made by Henri Vever for the 1900 Paris Exposition. It’s hauntingly beautiful art nouveau aesthetic won them the Grand Prix.

My favorite part of the job is the research and planning that goes into creating an exhibition—doing research in libraries and archives and taking a deep dive into historical documents, publications, and material culture. Unfortunately, as I run from meeting to meeting, I don’t get to spend as much time doing this as I would like. So, I rely on some a team of volunteers and interns to help with some of it. Once the research has been done, and the objects have been selected, the real fun begins. I have learned so much about the storytelling capabilities of jewelry from working with the MFA’s remarkable exhibition designers, mountmakers, and conservators as we discuss and mock-up how each object will be displayed in the gallery.

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As any lover of jewelry knows, the past has consistently inspired jewelers and designers. While interest in historicism was particularly strong during the nineteenth century, there were great revival jewels made before 1800 and after 1900. In the same way the Victorians struggled with the tension between mass-production and hand-craftsmanship, we grapple with digital design and the pace of modern life. So, I see this as a topic that is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago, and if you think about it that way you’ll notice many examples of twentieth and twenty-first century jewelry that engage with a historical narrative. I hope that visitors enjoy seeing traditional “revivalist” ornaments by outstanding jewelers like Castellani and Giuliano, Bapst and Falize and Boucheron, but also some unexpected surprises like a 9-foot titanium python necklace by Munich-based contemporary jeweler David Bielander, and that the juxtaposition makes them question their notion of revival jewelry.

The exhibition highlights four revival styles: Archeological, Classical, Renaissance, and Egyptian. Each case in the intimate space includes a choice group of jewelry aimed to tell a story – travel, nationalism, graduation, cameo, scarabs, and snakes are just a few of the themes explored. If you pay very close attention to the labels, visitors might also be delighted to learn how early some of these objects were added to the MFA collection. Like the Met, the MFA was founded in 1870, and some of these jewels were acquired in the subsequent decades, making them contemporary jewelry when they were donated. A neoclassical necklace and five brooches with mythological scenes in carved shell cameo, and a Castellani necklace, earrings, and brooch commissioned by the amber collector William Buffum are just two examples of the objects that have resided at the MFA for more than one hundred years. Newer acquisitions on view include: a tour-de-force bracelet by the Roman jeweler Ernesto Pierret that features a central bovine head, granulation, and two menacing faces that come together to form the clap; a spectacular early twentieth-century neck ornament by G. Paulding Farham for Tiffany & Co.; and a slithering silver snake belt/necklace, with sapphire eyes, that Elsa Peretti designed for the American fashion designer Halston in the 1970s.

While 80% of the works on view are from the MFA collection, there are also some noteworthy loans. From the collection of Susan B. Kaplan, a startlingly lifelike lion speaks to the genius of Castellani’s designers and craftsmen. Unlike other micromosaic workshops, Castellani left the surface of their work uneven to create a glittering effected. Wartski Ltd., of London, loaned a demi-parure (belt buckle, brooch, and bracelet) by Falize Frères. Enameled on both sides, the glorious ornaments use translucent enamel and foil to create a fantastical scene with birds, like those seen in illuminated manuscripts. Generously sponsored by Cartier, the exhibition includes four magnificent twentieth-century ornaments from the Cartier Collection. Made between 1906 and 1928, the garland style medusa necklace, winged scarab belt buckle, Eye of Horus bracelet (that once belonged to Linda Porter), and the diamond chimera bracelet are outstanding examples of French revival jewelry, and the depth of the MFAs ancient collection allows for these dazzling jewels to be exhibited alongside the ancient artifacts that inspired their design.

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My path to jewelry was a crooked one. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and had plans to attend law school. But a few years working in the District Attorney’s office, I changed my mind and I began researching graduate programs in fashion. In 2005 I moved to New York City and enrolled in the two-year Fashion & Textile Studies program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Thanks to FIT’s remarkable alumni network I ended up back in my hometown with an internship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. As an intern I worked with conservators in the Textile Conservation department to relocate the fashion collection.

My first full-time position at the MFA was as a Collections Care Specialist and my responsibilities included preparing more than 10,000 objects from the Asian costume and textile collection for photography – everything from kimono to dragon robes and textile fragments to temple hangings. When that project ended, I became the Curatorial Research Associate reporting to Yvonne Markowitz (then curator of jewelry). For two years I worked with her on the inaugural exhibition in the jewelry gallery, and the book Artful Adornment. Both the exhibition and the book focused on highlights from the MFA’s jewelry collection. Yvonne quickly became a very important part of my life, and has been an extraordinary mentor. She encouraged me to think about a future as a jewelry curator, bringing my knowledge of fashion history to the understanding of jewelry. She enthusiastically introduced me to her contacts and colleagues, took me to conferences, and supported my own research in the field. She also told me to consider a PhD.

During my time at the MFA, I had been teaching courses in textiles and fashion history, and in 2010 I left the Museum and took a position at a small college in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. As Program Director and Assistant Professor, I managed three robust fashion programs with more than 100 students. At the same time I took PhD courses and exams, and began work on my dissertation. My doctoral work focused on the intersection of fashion, jewelry, and media. I examined the vintage jewelry on the red carpet from 1995-2010 using Neil Lane’s collection as a case study.

After nearly 30 years at the MFA, Yvonne retired in 2014 and I was appointed to replace her. Over the last three years, I curated the exhibitions Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen, Past is Present: Revival Jewelry, and smaller installations; planned jewelry related events and trips for the MFA’s Fashion Council; traveled extensively to lecture, visit art fairs and exhibitions, participated in educational opportunities organized by Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) and Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) trips, attend conferences, visited collectors, galleries, designers, and jewelers. It’s been a whirlwind. Recently I have taken on two leadership roles, joining the board of directors for the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and the Boston chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA).

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I am immersed in research for two forthcoming exhibitions, and a book related to my doctoral work.

Opening in September 2018, an exhibition of Boston arts and crafts jewelry and metalwork will replace Past is Present in the Stanley H. and Rita J. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery. From the establishment of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts to the disastrous 1929 stock market crash that crippled many artist craftsmen, this exhibition will be the first to focus solely on Boston jewelers, and will include design drawings, jewelry, and hollowware by artists like Frank Gardner Hale, Josephine Hartwell Shaw, Margaret Rogers, and Edward Everett Oakes.

That exhibition will be followed by one on Elsa Peretti, who will be celebrating 50 years as a designer in 2020. Beginning her design career making jewelry and accessories for Giorgio Sant’ Angelo and Halston before joining Tiffany & Co., Peretti has created timeless designs that continue to resonate with modern consumers. Her refined taste has focused, primarily, on silver but the exhibition will feature a diverse sample of her work, as well as her inspirations, and—of course—include a fashion element. An esteemed arbiter of style, fashion icon, and friend of many twentieth century notables, this exhibition will celebrate Peretti’s life and career.

My work at the MFA keeps me very busy, but I am also in the midst of writing a book titled Jewelry in Celebrity Culture: Glamour and the Hollywood Spectacle. It will be published as part of I.B. Taurus’s Dress Culture series (edited by Reina Lewis and Elizabeth Wilson). From the tour-de-force necklace that the American firm Trabert & Hoeffer loaned Colette Colbert to wear in the 1935 film The Gilded Lily to the impact of The Representation Project’s #askhermore campaign, the book will examine how jewelry aids in Hollywood’s production of glamour.

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To be honest, the last three years have been a series of highlights. The people I have had the opportunity to meet have been the most memorable. The many conversations and meetings I had with Neil Lane as I conducted research on Hollywood jewelry and his private collection, having lunch with Elsa Peretti in Sant Marti Vell, Spain and discussing her incredible life and work, and spending two days in Wallace Chan’s Hong Kong atelier are at the top of the list!

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I look forward to seeing the field grow in new and exciting ways. There are so many M.A. programs that embrace the study of jewelry history, and there remain extensive subjects awaiting scholarly work. Coupled with a G.G. I think there is extraordinary potential for research and writing. I was lucky to have a great mentor, who guided my career path, and if you can find an experienced curator or historian to play that role for you, it’s priceless. This field is so welcoming. I encourage anyone interested in jewelry to find others that share their passion, social media is a great place for this.

Being a museum curator is much more multi-faceted than I realized after leaving graduate school. Even after years working at the Museum, it wasn’t until I was a curator that I realized the diverse requirements of the job—a natural curiosity, a mastery of your subject area and how it connects to other types of art, a vision and strong ideas that you can translate into exhibitions, excellence in building and maintaining relationships with artists and collectors, as well as strong research, writing, and public speaking skills.

I am very lucky that the MFA has such a vibrant jewelry program. My position, the gallery, and the prominence of jewelry at the MFA is all thanks to tremendous generosity Susan B. Kaplan. It is our hope that other American fine art museums will expand their collection, exhibition, and publication related to jewelry. And, that similar positions will emerge at other American museums.

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Summer Getaway: Adventures in New Mexico with Vale Jewelry

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Summertime gives us all the wanderlust vibes you can ever imagine. Our Instagram is typically filled with jewels, gems and all things relating to jewelry design, so it always grabs our attention when our favorite jewelry designers and store owners post an envious getaway pic. We’ve seen glimpses of Paris, tropical islands, Canadian mountains, and everything in between. I’m personally obsessed with the US desert southwest–remember I honeymooned in Sedona, Arizona?–so when I saw a New Mexico landscape scroll onto my screen I had to know more. Luckily the sister duo of Vale Jewelry, Eva & Ava, were more than happy to share about their two-week trip to New Mexico–let’s find out more:

We planned this trip around a visit to Walter de Maria’s groundbreaking land art, The Lightening Field, but it quickly ballooned into a 2-week major road trip around New Mexico. The fifth largest state, but one of the least populated, the vast deserts and scrubland inspired Georgia O’Keeffe body of work as well as numerous other artists. You only have to spend one day there to understand why it’s muse to many creatives, between the sunsets, endless sky, and the ingrained history of crafts. No wonder it picked up the nickname of The Land of Enchantment. Home to most of the US’s oldest Native American and indigenous tribes and pueblos, including the Zuni, Navajo and Hopi, this magical and awe-inspiring land should be on anyone’s travel list.

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Left photo: One of the oldest continuously-inhabited communities in the United States, Taos Pueblo was built in the early 13th century and located right in the Rio Grande Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it holds a very active Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe residing in multi-storied adobe houses built as two complexes made from mud, wood, grass and water. This historic village is located just 1 mile outside Taos. About 4,500 members still live in this area, but only about 150 still reside inside these structures year-round without the modern convenience of running water and electricity. While it is a private community, they do offer visitors to come see parts of the village where locals sell crafts like pottery and local eats like fried bread.

Right photo: San Geronimo has a storied past as one of the first post-Columbian Spanish Catholic churches in the US. Built by Native Americans of the Taos Pueblo people under the suppression of the Spanish missionaries and colonial powers, this one featured above is actually the third reincarnation. It was one of the many churches destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt when tensions between the native tribes and Spanish colonial presence boiled over. The current church shown above was built in the 18th century.

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Left photo: The ladder above resembles some of the staircases used in many pueblos as well as native and local adobe houses. Typically, the staircases are made of local timber such as pine, spruce and ponderosa. These ladders were precious items since the wood had to be cut down from forests located quite a distance from local desert pueblos. They were passed down from generation to generation. In traditional Pueblo culture, the people of the original land came to this land by the underworld. Hence, many pueblos build ceremonial underground chambers within these adobe houses called kivas that the chieftains use for religious song, prayer and ceremonies. The one above is one from the Acoma pueblo featuring a double ladder for going up and down with a lightening rod shape holding the two together.

Right photo: On our way back from staying overnight at The Lightening Field in Quemado, we stopped by Pie Town. Yes, you read that right, it’s a town named after one of the best desserts having taken its name from an early settler of the town in the 1920s that made the town famous with a highway pie shop. The pies above are at a local pie shop called Pie-O-Neer. The Macaroon Apple Pie and Cherry Cherry Pies are worth the stop. And yes, we ate all 4…and then took a few for the road.

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Left photo: One of our favorite stops for local barbeque, Rudy’s had the most incredible brisket and baby back ribs, this is the place to stop for New Mexican bar-b-q in Albuquerque, friendliest staff and the tastiest homemade cherry and apricot cobblers this side of the Rio Grande! If in Santa Fe and craving local barbeque, stop by a food truck called Santa Fe BBQ.

Right photo: A must when you’re in Santa Fe. The New Mexican picnic above is breakfast at a local favorite called Tia Sophia’s. They make some of the best sopapillas, the pillowy fried quick breads in the image. Order everything ‘Christmas’ which means doused in both the red and green chiles. Also, a stop at Gabriel’s just outside Santa Fe is a must too. Known for their tableside guacamole and carne adovada, neither will disappoint! The local enchiladas and tamales are things to order when in town.

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Left photo: This is the view from Sandia Peak after hopping off the tramway. The crest here reaches over 10,500 feet and the tramway’s the world’s second longest ride. The sunsets and sunrise in New Mexico are unreal, typically fiery red and orange against the bluest backdrop.

Right photo: A quick hike in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park is a must if you’re in central New Mexico. Formed by volcanic ash deposits that have since been weather-worn to form sand-colored cylindrical cone shapes standing side-by-side. A walk in between these canyons is awe-inspiring.

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Left photo: No trip to New Mexico is complete without a stop at White Sands National Park. The world’s largest gypsum dune runs for over 275 square miles. So big, this dune can even be seen from satellite in outer space. Despite temperatures reaching 120F during the afternoon, the gypsum sand never gets hot due to the gypsum crystal’s natural ability to reflect the sun and the fact that it does not convert light into heat. We went barefoot and even did some dune-sledding down the steep cliffs. For a cool experience, plan to camp overnight.

Right photo: Another stop along the way is Carlsbad Caverns and watching the enchanting Bat Flight where over 500,000 local Brazilian Free-Tailed bats make their nightly migration from the cave to feed. It’s a coordinated visual symphony!

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Showing off some vintage Native American silver by Navajo and Zuni tribes made between the 1900s and 1950s. We picked up these older pieces during our travel around New Mexico. Some of our favorite stops include:

Shopping Guide:

  • Rainbow Man (Santa Fe) – amazing selection of fabrics, weavings, jewelry and objects
  • Santa Fe Exchange (Santa Fe) – wide range of both sterling silver, objects and some turn of the century pieces
  • Shalako Indian Store (Santa Fe) – widest vintage sterling silver shop, great for Concho belts, rings, and bangles. Nancy and Marsha are both well-informed on Native American jewelry
  • Palms Trading (Alburquerque) – solid selection of old pawn, blankets, shoes and food stuff
  • Rose’s Pottery (Bernanillo) – housed behind Rose’s is an old theatre that the owner converted to a small private collection of early Pre-Columbian to middle of the century art and pottery. If you’re lucky, she’ll give you a tour of this collection passed down from her father. The front features a beautiful collection of Kachina dolls and pottery from all the major pueblos
  • Old Town Antiques (Alburquerque) – the owner Connie is like an encyclopedia of New Mexican crafts, beautiful selection of both jewelry and objects, she even offers Pre-Columbian artifacts.

Eating Guide:

  • Tia Sophia’s (Santa Fe) – best brunch and breakfast place for New Mexican cuisine
  • Café Pasqual’s (Santa Fe) – modern twist on New Mexican with some delicious homemade cookies
  • Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q (Alburquerque) – fantastic ribs, brisket, daily special cobblers and desserts
  • Gabriel’s (Santa Fe) – delicious guacamole and carne adovada
  • Frontier (Alburquerque) – a mix of everything, an all-day diner styled location popular with locals, young and old
  • Jimmy’s on Jefferson (Alburquerque) – quick local favorite for breakfast, order Steve’s Breakfast Special featuring a plate of hash with green chile.
  • Grove Cafe & Market (Alburquerque) – modern eatery with homemade granola and breakfast and brunch
  • Cocina Azul (Alburquerque) – great lunch spot for some of the best carne adovada and homemade and fresh sopapillas and posole
  • Farm & Table (Alburquerque) – fresh and modern New Mexican classics as well as farm-to-table dinners with a small working farm on the back
  • Golden Crown Panaderia (Alburquerque) – tasty fruit empanadas

Cultural Guide:

  • Georgia O’Keefe Ghost Ranch (plan advance for an overnight stay, it books up early)
  • Georgia O’Keefe Museum
  • Walter de Maria The Lightening Field (apply in February when they open up spaces, openings close within minutes)
  • Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (get there early before it gets too hot)
  • White Sands National Park (come here right before sunset for the most magical view)
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (don’t miss the last elevator down at 5pm)
  • Rio Grande Gorge & Bridge (shop from the local artists selling at the foot of the bridge, view is not for the faint of heart)
  • Roswell, NW (stop at the museum and eat at Big D’s for their famous green chile burger)
  • Sandia Mountains (go there an hour before sunset)
  • Taos Pueblo
  • Acoma Pueblo

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Bonhams New York Fine Jewelry Sale Set for April 24, 2017

An important fancy colored diamond and diamond ring 124 (2) A pair of diamond day-night earrings, Van Cleef & Arpels, 129

Bonhams New York, April 24, 2017

133 lots of jewelry top off the upcoming New York sale from Bonhams. This is my first blog post featuring the highly respected auction house which is a global enterprise, having eight different locations worldwide. Their history as an auction house is one for the books, as they’ve been shattering records and facilitating some of the best exchanges in the world. In the US, we have three Bonhams locations, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco (primary sales rooms are New York, Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong), with their online presence @BonhamsJewels Instagram which focuses on all things jewelry. It is a delight to look at and with every upcoming sale, the excitement and momentum is contagious. There are some serious lust-worthy jewels in their New York sale, which I’m going to be covering within this blog post.

The sale date is April 24th, 2017 and the start time is 3pm EST. If you want to get in on the fun, be sure to register to bid in advance of the sale date and surely don’t be intimidated by bidding online! If I can do it, you can do it! Let’s talk highlights…

I can’t pinpoint one particular pièce de résistance of the entire sale, so I’m going to choose these four jewels and make them my final answer! One aspect of Bonhams’ sales is the wow-factor. There are always pieces that make you stop and stare–whether they are big diamonds, fancy colored stones, bold sapphires or juicy emeralds–this is exactly what I’m talking about!

Leading Highlights:

Lot 124: If you know a thing or two about fancy yellow diamonds, you’ll realize this ring is IT. The center stone clocks in at 6.32 carats–color rating of fancy vivid yellow and clarity is VVS-1. I can’t even fathom something so remarkable as the center stone, however to make it even more amazing, it also is set in a ring with two diamonds on each side. These said diamonds are GIA certified as well and are a 2.08 ct & 2.07 ct, both F color stones with VS-1/2 clarity. If you want to see this baby on a hand, click here. Estimate: $400,000-600,000

Lot 129: Nothing more chic than a pair of day/night diamond earrings from Van Cleef & Arpels. A definite highlight of the sale, these earrings are set with nearly 30 carats of diamonds! Wow! All rounds, pear and marquise cuts which are done in platinum and 18k white gold for a stunning pair. The dangles can be removed to reveal stud earrings for an easy, on-the-go look! Estimate: $60,000-80,000

A fine ruby and diamond clip brooch, Cartier, circa 1935 132 A diamond rivière necklace 133

Lot 132: Ok, if you’ve been following me lately, you’ve realized I’ve kind of been obsessed over dress clips lately. For some reason, I keep seeing them pop up everywhere, including some great ones at auction. This one is crème de la crème, being signed Cartier and circa 1935. This Art Deco clip is set with a stunning Burmese ruby, over five carats of diamonds and sugarloaf and cabochon cut rubies. Such an elegant piece of history. Estimate: $300,000-400,000

Lot 133: Leading the sale is this catalog cover star–an exquisite diamond riviére necklace. This piece is composed of 63 diamonds which graduate in size; the biggest diamond in the center weighing 3.05 carats. All in all, the grand total carat weight is approximately 44 carats! A once-in-a-lifetime necklace for a very special lady…and if you’re wondering, it’s done in platinum. Estimate: $200,000-300,000

Other Favorites:

A black opal, demantoid and sapphire necklace, attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co.,  6 An Arts and Crafts citrine, diamond and gem-set pendant,  8 A diamond solitaire pendant necklace, Golconda  104

Necklaces

Lot 6: Anytime I see the words “black opal” I know it’s going to be pretty incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever met a black opal I didn’t like. This particular necklace is extra special because it is circa 1915 and attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co. The detail in this piece is great as the chain is accented by demantoid garnets and sapphire–and also love the gold filigree. Estimate: $15,000-25,000

Lot 8: An Arts & Crafts necklace that is quite unique–set with a citrine and some diamonds, circa 1915. I love the silhouette of this piece, with the draped chains and dangle. The craftsmanship of the chain sets it apart from others I’ve seen. And the colors–perfect for fall! Estimate: $7,000-9,000

Lot 104: As we’ve seen lately, heart shaped gem cuts are going strong. This pendant necklace is a bold 4.46 carats of a heart cut diamond, done in platinum. The specs on the diamond are VS-1 clarity and D color. I can picture it sparkling from a neck and looking gorgeous. It is simple, however anything but dainty! Estimate: $75,000-95,000

An emerald, diamond and onyx ring 20 A coral, diamond and enamel ring, Donald Claflin for Tiffany & Co. 22 A diamond solitaire ring 69

Rings

Lot 20: I think this is one of the most beautiful rings I’ve seen up at auction in awhile. Mounted in platinum, set with a large 8.36 carat emerald and surrounded by diamonds, onyx and smaller emeralds. I love everything about this ring–from the style, to the gemstone combination, to the width of it. An heirloom that will be treasured for years to come–I am already jealous of whomever places the winning bid. Estimate: $15,000-20,000

Lot 22: This fun Tiffany & Co. ring has a striking color combination made up by the coral and blue enamel. Of course it is from the 1970s, a time period I’m obsessed with–their jewels and music, yes please. Done in 18k yellow gold with some diamond accent to finish off the design, this ring will stop people in their tracks! Bet! Estimate: $5,000-7,000

Lot 69: A ring that could single-handedly bring back the marquise cut as the most popular diamond cut! The ring is set with a VVS-2 clarity, I color diamond that is GIA certified. It weighs 6.07 carats and one request–making a major impact on the finger. I also love the fact that it is done in 18k yellow gold. Estimate: $70,000-80,000

A diamond and emerald pendant-brooch  5 An art deco diamond, sapphire, spinel and black onyx dress clip  17 A pair of fancy colored diamond and diamond earrings 125

Miscellaneous

Lot 5: This pendant/brooch is two pieces of jewelry in one! And did I mention the style and design is just breath-taking?! Lozenge-shaped emeralds dazzle with old European cut and old mine cut diamonds are set in this plaque style pendant, set in platinum. Estimate: $9,000-12,000

Lot 17: Of course I had to include another dress clip because I’m smitten with them. This one is more affordable than the amazing Cartier one mentioned earlier–but still just as gorgeous. And this one is also Art Deco, done in diamonds, sapphire, spinel and black onyx, all set in platinum. Estimate: $5,000-7,000

Lot 125: THESE. The cuts on these diamonds make them look like real ice–they are pear-shaped rose cut diamonds as petals and then the center of each flower is a fancy pink diamond. Such a great combination. The earrings total 17.59 carats of diamonds and are done in 18k white and rose gold. Estimate: $70,000-90,000

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Bonhams New York.

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Laura of Maejean Vintage

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Continuing on from yesterday’s Jewelry Collection Story, today we are peeking inside the personal jewelry box of Laura–the other half of Maejean Vintage. Just like her sister, Laura has a love for sentimental and family heirloom pieces. She also added a very important piece into her collection last fall–an engagement ring! And just as expected, it is stunning in every way possible.

If you’re new to Gem Gossip, you may have missed my visit to the Maejean Vintage offices in Pennsylvania in July of 2015. No worries, I’ve got the link for you right here — so make sure you read it or revisit it; it’s a must-see!

We hope you enjoy a look at Laura’s collection and if you missed yesterday’s post, here is the link to her sister Amanda’s collection story.

Laura’s Collection:

Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection Laura | Maejean Vintage Collection

Above: Laura’s engagement ring! It took almost two years of searching until we found my dream ring. With being in the industry myself, I couldn’t let him purchase a ring at normal retail prices. We ended up getting an amazing deal on it! Marty proposed to me on my 30th birthday, September 22nd 2016, before leaving for our beach trip.

From a very young age, I was completely enthralled with jewelry; It’s hard to recall back to a time I was not collecting it! When I was a little four month old baby, the first thing I “reached for” was my Mom-mom’s vintage 14k gold garnet cluster ring, which she often wore. When our Mom-mom passed away, I inherited the sentimental ring around 10 years old. Also around this age, my grandmother (on my father’s side) gave me a 14k gold sapphire ring for Christmas. Since then, I have been officially hooked on jewelry and have been collecting for two solid decades! (Guess I am giving away that I have hit the age 30 milestone!)

I am a huge fan of filigree designs in jewelry. The ornate scrolling metal work gets me every time! Lately I have been on the hunt for special figural animal jewelry that speaks to me. I am hoping to add a special antique fox and / or dog design ring to my collection soon!

Vintage jewelry is my passion because of its beauty, history, sentimental value, and craftsmanship. The history of vintage jewelry is so fascinating – from the design periods, symbolism, provenance, and decoding maker’s marks.

I love to pick up special vintage jewelry wherever I go! Whenever I travel to a different area for any occasion, I absolutely have to check out the coin shops, antique malls, auctions, and flea markets. Each marketplace has its own special perks. There’s the thrill of bidding at auction, excitement of finding a valuable piece for a few dollars at a market, and the satisfaction of “saving” a piece destined to be melted down for its precious metal at a coin shop.

My family heirloom jewelry is all extremely special to me! Interestingly enough, some of the jewelry passed down to me has unknown origins. Part of the collection was given to me by an unknown family member when I was extremely young to “play” with. We believe the family member must have thought the pieces were all costume jewelry, without value. I am extremely thankful that I somehow managed to safely keep these pieces over the decades. As I gained more knowledge of antique jewelry years later, I realized the pieces were mostly fine antique jewelry including 10k rose gold Victorian Era jewels!

xoxoGemGossip

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One to Follow: @Walters_Faith

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Walters Faith Jewelry has been creating a buzz since launching in 2013. They’ve captured an audience that needed jewelry badly, and that audience happens to be the unisex crowd. Now more than ever, unisex jewelry is on the rise and Walters Faith has created lots of options of hefty, handcrafted pieces. From their wide, ridged bands in multiple gold colors, to their links and hexagonal motif, all pieces are architecturally pleasing and staples in so many wardrobes.

Their latest venture is a collaboration with Olivia Chantecaille, launching a capsule collection of diamond, sapphire and amethyst pendant necklaces inspired by the elegance and luxury of beauty compacts. The collaboration between jewelry designers and beauty guru brings two worlds together that usually are very separate, and the end results are beautiful! That’s why Walters Faith is this month’s One To Follow!

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Leslie of @PinkPirahnah

PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah PinkPirahnah | Gem Gossip PinkPirahnah | Gem Gossip

This month’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from someone I’ve actually met in person, which doesn’t happen too often since so many people from our lovely Instagram community are from all parts of the world. Leslie came to the GIA Alumni meeting when I spoke in DC last summer and I recognized her right away because of the opal ring she was wearing! Funny how sometimes that happens. It has been fun getting to know her on Instagram and am so excited she agreed to share her personal collection story with us–take it away Leslie:

“I am a total museum junky by nature and my love for classical art and history runs deep. However, jewelry as art was not on my radar until about 12 years ago when I found my first vintage piece, the pretzel ring. Yes, I had a few token pieces of mall jewelry but I never really thought there was much substance to jewelry until I discovered the vintage and antique world. A golden pretzel with diamond salt appealed to my sense of humor and art. It was also meaningful to me as a Speech Pathologist working with my special needs children on requesting items, one of those items was actually pretzels! I can’t tell you how many kiddos have actually tried to lick it over the years! This one ring started an obsession but also introduced me to my friend Lara from Icon Style in NYC. I learned so much from her over the next few years and with her help I really grew my collection and love for all eras.

My current collection includes Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau. Art Deco, Vintage and a few Georgian pieces. I don’t necessarily have a preferred era but I think the biggest appeal of antique and vintage jewelry is how unique and detailed the pieces can be. Color is a big factor for me but most importantly I like quirk. If it’s funny or unique, I have to have it! I love to mix and match eras and pile it on pretty thick. Certainly, no one would accuse me of neglecting my jewelry.

One thing I wear every day is obviously my Art Deco engagement ring. I had always assumed I would get a Victorian cluster ring but when I tried this piece on I fell hard for its lively black opal.

The one motif that I am magnetically drawn to is snakes. I can spot a serpent in a jewelry case like a shark scenting blood in the water. In fact, I found my tiny snake earrings despite their purposely discreet location in my friend’s display case. In the histories of various civilizations, snakes have come to symbolize many ideas but my favorite is that of eternal love. Symbolism aside, snakes have the unique visual impact that I find hard to resist.

Charms are another obsession I have. I try to limit myself but I just love some of the funny and super detailed pieces you can find. My favorite charm is my vintage gold ghost. He is perfectly crafted and has the most beautiful brown marquise diamond eyes that peek from behind his sheet.

Another style of jewelry I desperately love is Art Deco era “pools of light.” Layering these rock crystal orbs is addictive but also causes some serious neck strain. I have several pieces but the most interesting one is a rock crystal orb the size of a jaw breaker. It is completely encased in an open silver work shell depicting bunnies paddling in canoes.

Rings are my go-to to buy and again I don’t discriminate. I collect a variety of stones, styles, and metals. One thing I don’t like to do is size my rings. I have a few exceptions but in general I try not to alter the finger bling that comes into my collection. If one is too big I simply stack it with gold bands to adjust the fit.

When I was first collecting I would shop at Icon Style in NYC and I would go to all the big NYC shows religiously. Having relocated to the DMV area I have had more opportunities to go to antiquing in rural areas but also go to the bigger shows like the DC flea and the Baltimore Antique Show. I don’t shop online much but I have found several lovely pieces through the Instagram community.”

xoxoGemGossip

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Valentine’s Day Picks from KAVADOR

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Launched in 2015, Kavador was created with a main goal in mind: to dig into the vaults of jewelry stores around the country and give these hidden jewels their time to shine online! Jennie Pastor, CEO and Founder of Kavador, and myself have a few things in common. One of them being that we both realize there are so many amazing pieces of jewelry out there belonging to smaller, independent jewelers that don’t have the means to promote their inventory online. Websites are expensive and having one that is fully functional with e-commerce capability is often way over a jewelry store owner’s head. Just as I like to travel the US, visiting jewelry stores to showcase all that is out there, Kavador does as well! Only they have a whole team dedicated to curating items they find and listing them online, available for purchase. Kavador has quickly become a growing marketplace for stores to sell their pieces and for jewelry lovers to frequent often to find new treasures. And if you glance at their inventory, you’ll recognize right away how this website needs to be on your radar and checked regularly! Their SOLD gallery is fun to look at as well, although it is slightly sad because they’ve already found their forever home.

I’m so excited to partner with Kavador–not only have I gotten the chance to learn more about this amazing company and speak with Jennie (interview below) but I also got to curate my own favorites just in time for Valentine’s Day. I’ve also got a special treat for everyone–have $150 credit on me! Have fun exploring the vaults of Kavador and use code GEMGOSSIP150 from now until the end of February for your $150 credit.

As a kid, I have always been attracted to glitter and sparkle – I made my own accessories, tinkered with colorful nails and clothes and hair… No surprise then that I married into a family of jewelers and gemologists!

My family has been in the fine jewelry business for over 40 years, owning and operating independent retail jewelry stores and developing relationships with jewelry lovers and buyers as they select and maintain jewelry for generations. I’ve personally watched how dramatically the industry has changed in the last decade, specifically the challenges faced by independent local retailers in the face of changing consumer buying patterns and reduced in-store foot traffic.

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Tucson Gem Show: Don’t Miss the JOGS Show!

JOGS show JOGS show JOGS show JOGS show JOGS show JOGS show JOGS show JOGS JOGS Show JOGS show

JOGS Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show is one of the leading jewelry events in North America, let alone the annual Tucson Gem Shows. It brings approximately 40,000 visitors to the Tucson region annually, including international and national dealers from across the globe. Jewelry manufacturers, miners, stone cutters, carvers, jewelry designers, importers and treasure hunters from 26 countries make the trek to Tucson every year! This annual show is an absolute must for jewelry hunters chasing unique jewelry and gems masterpieces, stunning new jewelry lines that manufacturers were preparing all year long for the JOGS Show buyers, making JOGS perfect event for restocking for the new year.

I would recommend checking out the JOGS Show for at least 2 or more days—why?? Because it features more than 800 booths! They also offer cool things like jewelry making classes and seminars (over 200 possibilities with classes taught by world renowned designers and craftspeople). The atmosphere is friendly and inviting, just an overall upbeat and warm place. You never know who you might run into—new business contacts, stone collectors, miners, and jewelry designers. Those are just a few special reasons to love and attend the JOGS show. Other reasons include amazing deals (liquidation prices mean you could buy a ring for under $100 and see that very same ring at a store or mall a few months later for $100s), be ahead of the trend forecast (much of what is offered will become the next upcoming trends), and other perks like free parking, free shuttles and complimentary brunch buffet for qualified buyers.

JOGS gained popularity by having diverse international and domestic pavilions: Amber Jewelry – direct manufacturers and designers from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Indonesia and Columbia with large variety of amber cameos, carvings, beads and designer jewelry; Southwest/Native Americans – handmade Native American Jewelry, Southwestern/Indian Arts and Crafts reflect the mastery of techniques; Major miners and dealers with finished sterling silver jewelry, cabochons, beads and rough from the world’s best turquoise mines; Indonesian/Bali Jewelry Manufacturers – direct manufacturers and designers of sterling silver and gold jewelry with semi-precious stones, shells, wood, pearls and corals, handmade from Bali and all around Indonesia; Silver Manufacturers​ – superior selection of finished sterling silver jewelry presented by the largest silver jewelry manufacturers and famous jewelry designers from USA, India, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, Italy and other countries; Nepal Group – ethnic tribal handcrafted jewelry, crafts and gifts from Nepal and Tibet; International ​Jewelry ​Designers; ​International ​Gemstones – international dealers bring their stocks of gemstones, precious and semi-precious from low to exceptional quality; rarest colored stones, cut stones, specimen, cabs, rough, fossils and beads from Thailand, India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Africa, Russia, Bolivia, and other countries and Stone/Mineral Decor – finished gemstone products, rough materials for decor purposes: sculptures, luxury fountains, stone and petrified wood furniture, onyx decorative home and kitchen decor, hand carved interior decorations from China, Madagascar, Brazil, Africa, and much more.

Registration is already open. To save time in line, pre-register now, just follow the link here.

JOGS Tucson Show is a not to be missed gem and jewelry event of the year!

This post was brought to you in collaboration with JOGS.

JOGS Gem and Jewelry Show

Show Dates: Jan 26 – Feb 6, 2017

10 am – 6 pm, last day Feb 6 10 am – 4 pm

Address: Tucson Expo Center, 3750 E Irvington Rd, Tucson, AZ 85714

Pre-registration link: http://jogsshow.com/register/?cmpn=gemgossip

For more info please visit www.jogsshow.com


>> P.S. JOGS Gem and Jewelry Show 2017 will host the biggest clam in the world!!!! from Volker Bassen (Volker Bassen will be showcasing it at JOGS Tucson Show along with other unique pieces).

He found the clam personally in East Africa. Once cleaned and polished it weighted 355 kg, making it the biggest giant clam in the world! It took him a week to clean out the giant clam as it was full of calcified lime stone, almost as hard as cement. To his surprise, he found a blister pearl the size of a tomato followed by a smaller one, 2 pearls in one clam! He called the largest of the pearls ‘Pearl of Noah’ and the smaller pearl ‘Pearl of Siv’ (names of his sons). Being 1256 carats, the Pearl of Noah is the largest T.Gigantea pearl ever found while the Pearl of Siv being 758 carats, making it the second largest T.Gigantea pearl in the world. The pearls are now in Switzerland to be dated, estimated age between 200,000 to 240,000 years old, making them the oldest baroque pearls ever found. The clam is absolutely unique and largest one and will be presented exclusively at JOGS Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show only.

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