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Friday, February 5, 2016

It’s National Wear Red Day today — part of the effort to raise awareness about women’s risk for heart attacks and strokes. Did you know that women often experience different symptoms than men do?  The illustrations posted here are very helpful, but you should check out the comments too. It’s educational to read about individual experiences and how and when people realized they were having a serious problem.

I’m wearing red in the form of ruby studs today. These are the fifth selection for my Valentine’s Day/anti-Valentine’s Day jewelry countdown.

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6 mm cabochons set in 18K yellow gold.

The studs are shown on my website paired with 18K gold cat earring jackets.

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Click to purchase.

You can also buy the studs alone. If you’re interested, email me at info at wendybrandes dot com.

Of course, I’m also wearing red lipstick too!




Thursday, February 4, 2016

It’s Day 4 of my February Jewels of the Month countdown for Valentine’s Day/anti-Valentine’s Day. I’m alternating between the two themes, and it’s time for an anti-Valentine piece. It’s also Throwback Thursday, so I’m going to go with my most popular message necklace, introduced in 2012.

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Sterling silver. Click to purchase.

Got zero fucks to give about Valentine’s Day? Treat yourself to this I Don’t Give a Fuck necklace so everyone knows how you feel.

I frequently wear the 18K gold version.

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Click to purchase.

This necklace can change your life, I swear. I was wearing it when I not only got into an elevator in the Conde Nast building with Anna Wintour — I also SPOKE to her. In all seriousness, I was emboldened by the necklace. Admittedly, the incident didn’t change my life in any big, meaningful way, but I’ve got an awesome story to tell because Anna reportedly doesn’t like to share elevators, let alone make small talk in one. How many people can say they bellowed, “HAVE A NICE DAY!” at Anna Wintour’s back? I can! Get one of these necklaces, and you too might someday be brave enough to speak to Anna Wintour’s back.

By the way, the New York Times had a great story about Conde Nast and Anna a few days ago. I like that she’s not scared of the changing media environment, which has been undergoing a huge shift away from traditional print towards digital delivery. That’s what I was dealing with in 2014 as chairman of the board of trustees at the Columbia Spectator, Columbia University’s student newspaper. Some of our alumni were very reluctant to part with print. But Anna asks, “Why do people want to get stuck in the past?” The article ends with this:

“‘If we sit back with our quills and the visors on and, you know, the old kind of printing presses that I used to see with my dad,’ she said, referring to her father, Charles, who edited The London Evening Standard, ‘what is the point of thinking that way? Come on.'”

A round of applause for a forward-thinking executive!




Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I’ve been daydreaming about wearing head-to-toe red sequins on Valentine’s Day. Bianca Jagger looked fabulous in her dress and matching beret in 1974.

Photo by Ron Galella. Licensed from Getty Images.

Photo by Ron Galella. Licensed from Getty Images.

Dustin Hoffman didn’t look half bad either!

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You can skip the dress-shopping and look ravishing in red on Valentine’s Day (and every other day) with my one-of-a-kind Juana peekaboo skull locket. It’s especially good for a gal with Goth tastes, because it was inspired by the haunting story of Juana la Loca, the 16th-century Spanish queen who was said to have opened her handsome husband’s coffin to take a few last looks. To represent Juana’s story, there’s a ruby heart on the outside of the 18K yellow gold locket …

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Click to purchase.

… and a ruby-eyed skull inside.

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Peekaboo!

I have other Juana skull designs, ranging from stud earrings to a non-locket necklace to a statement poison ring. (Check out this lovely customer review of one of the Juana necklaces.) But there’s only one design with rubies. Get it while you can!




Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Some people loathe Valentine’s Day. “It was invented by Hallmark to sell cards!” they complain. That’s not true, though. The holiday can be traced back to the kinky ancient Roman holiday of Lupercalia, which was then adapted by early Christians, who liked to de-kink pagan holidays by co-opting them and giving them a new backstory (see also: Easter and Christmas).  By the Middle Ages, people were exchanging homemade cards. Much later, in the Americas, a woman named Esther Howland began selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840s. That was decades before the company that eventually turned into Hallmark was founded.

So don’t hate Valentine’s Day because of Hallmark. Hate it because Cupid has been a bitch to you! And show everyone what you think of that annoying (pagan) love god by treating yourself and your friends to my most popular Anti-Valentine’s Day design: the middle finger emoji. It’s available as a single stud earring in silver …

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Sterling silver middle finger stud earring. $35 for a single. Click to purchase.

… and in 18K yellow gold.

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18K gold middle finger single stud earring. $225. Click to purchase.

While your office colleagues are getting horrendous floral deliveries on February 14, you’ll be laughing to yourself over your middle finger necklace (tuck it under a turtleneck if you’re in a conservative environment).

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Sterling silver middle finger necklace. $60. Click to purchase.

Tap your fingers to “Cupid’s Chokehold” by Gym Class Heroes …

… while admiring the middle finger ring you’re wearing on your middle finger.

Sterling silver. $90. Click to purchase.

Sterling silver. $90. Click to purchase.

If you want to treat yourself to a really special flip-off, order my one pair of rose-gold-plated sterling silver middle finger earrings. They’re not on my site, so email me at email me at info at wendybrandes dot com to order one for $50 or both for $100. First come, first served.

By the way, the original holiday of Lupercalia called for young men to run around nude, while young women lined up to be smacked with thongs made from the hides of freshly slain goats and dogs. That makes Hallmark and wilting roses look a little better, right?




Monday, February 1, 2016

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I’m going to go crazy and give you a countdown of 14 Jewels of the Month instead of the usual one. Of course, not everyone feels the love for this holiday, so I’m going to alternate between Valentine’s Day suggestions for the romantics — and anti-Valentine’s Day designs suitable for self-gifting.

Charlotte Bronte wrote a poem called “Evening Solace,” which starts, “The human heart has hidden treasures … ” The “hidden treasure” of my Sophie twisting-heart necklace is its shape-shifting ability. The petite pendant is spectacular enough on first glance, because it is packed with 1.1 carats of diamonds.

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Click to purchase.

But there’s more than meets the eye! Give the pendant a twist and you get a different look.

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It’s two necklaces in one.

 

This is a limited-edition design. I only made two, and just one is still available. Perfect for the woman who wants to have something that (almost) no one else has. You can wear it alone or layer it, as seen below.


Tonight's necklace layers #lovegold #layering #jewelry #jewellery #necklaces #locket #madeinnyc #necklacelayering #protips #mrt

A photo posted by Wendy Brandes Jewelry PR (@wendybrandesjewelry) on

The 18K gold Sophie twisting-heart necklace is available for Valentine’s Day delivery. Click to purchase.




Monday, February 1, 2016

Another Hollywood awards show has come and gone without a good candidate for my coveted Best Dressed/Wear What You Want combo award. Like the Critics’ Choice Awards earlier in the month, Saturday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards had a lot of attractive red-carpet looks, but none that gave me that special “so wrong it’s right” feeling.

I did pause for a moment over January Jones, who should have known her voluminous Schiaparelli dress would ruffle fashion police feathers. I always appreciate an act of defiance.

Plus, I do love bustles almost as much as I love butt bows.

But that dress was a strange kind of mullet — Sister Wife in the front, party in the back –, so I’m splitting my awards between two other women. Best Dressed goes to Alicia Vikander, who won Best Supporting Actor for The Danish Girl, while wearing sequined-and-slit Louis Vuitton.

The Fug Girls noted that this graphic look would fit in nicely with Don Draper’s decor in Mad Men, which makes me sorry that Jones — who played Betty Draper to John Hamm’s Don on Mad Men — wasn’t the one wearing it.

The Wear What You Want winner is 82-year-old comedy icon Carol Burnett, who received SAG’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She showed up wearing fleecy Ugg slippers, which she posed in before switching to black pumps.

It’s true that briefly worn Uggs aren’t as eye-catching as a curtain-rod dress …

Carol Burnett wearing the draperies in her "Went With the Wind" sketch.

Carol Burnett wearing the draperies in her “Went With the Wind” sketch.

… but at least they couldn’t actually catch someone in the eye. Safety first! Besides, Carol deserves all the awards, doesn’t she?

Plus, this creates the perfect opportunity to share this Carol Burnett show “Family” sketch, in which Carol, Vicki Lawrence and Dick Van Dyke lose their composure as Tim Conway slowly unravels a story about circus elephants. Stay with it until Lawrence wins the sketch with one line that has Conway literally rolling on the floor laughing.

Every so often, I think of Conway’s line, “I was at this freak show one time and I saw these Siamese elephants,” and laugh out loud regardless of where I am.




Sunday, January 31, 2016

In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week.

Over on Instagram, I realized I should have brought my Bull and Bullfighter Maneater ring to Pamplona. Luckily, I remembered to bring my Juana la Loca peekaboo skull ring and matching skull pendant on my Spanish trip.




Friday, January 29, 2016

Pablo Picasso is often quoted as saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” If he really did say that, he wasn’t the first.  Quote Investigator, which hasn’t confirmed the Picasso attribution, reports that T. S. Eliot expressed a similar sentiment regarding poets in 1920. Eliot, in turn, may have been influenced by an 1892 line from W. H. Davenport Adams, though Eliot transposed the elements of Davenport Adams’s concept. What Davenport Adams wrote was, “That great poets imitate and improve, whereas small ones steal and spoil.” This actually makes much more sense to me than the Picasso version, which was given new life by Steve Jobs in 1996. Davenport Adams for the win!

I was thinking about the possible Picasso quote today because MrB and I are still in Madrid, where we visited “Guernica,” Picasso’s great anti-war painting, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in the afternoon. That, however, didn’t make me think of the quote. I had already been contemplating it after our morning visit to the Prado Museum, where we saw a painting by Rubens next to a painting by Titian.

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Titian on the left. Rubens on the right. Images courtesy the Prado Museum, via Studio Rousar.

Our tour guide explained that in the 17th century, the Spanish king, Philip IV, allowed Rubens to copy — at full scale — many of the Titians in the royal collection. I neglected to ask why Rubens would want to do this, and pondered it off and on during the rest of the day, until I could consult with Poodle. According to this paper by Jeremy Wood, the Rubens copies were never intended for sale. They were for the artist’s own collection. D’oh! I can’t believe I didn’t realize that on my own. It’s not like Rubens could take an iPhone photo of the paintings he enjoyed, or buy a postcard of them from the museum gift shop, or beg the king for the original. If he wanted to have his favorite Titians, he had to paint them himself. As you can see, there are still differences between the paintings. I’d call the Rubens work a good example of Davenport Adams’s “great poets imitate and improve” concept. If you’re ever in Madrid, be sure to see this (and many other great works at the Prado), because you need to see the pair of paintings life-size to appreciate them.

While I’m on the topic of art, I was recently reminded of a great 2014 quote from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who, inspired by the sociopathic female character at the center of the book/movie Gone Girl, wrote:

“Art is meant to explore all the unattractive inner realities as well as to recommend glittering ideals. It is not meant to provide uplift or confirm people’s prior ideological assumptions. Art says ‘Think,’ not ‘You’re right.'”

I do recall reading that column at the time, but the line came to my attention again this month when RuPaul tweeted it. RuPaul, by the way, didn’t copy or steal the quote, try to improve upon it or wind up spoiling it. He correctly attributed it to Dowd.  But, he is a participant in the artist copying/stealing concept in another way.  In 2014, I placed RuPaul in the middle of a chain of imitation/improvement/whatever when I realized that Nicki Minaj kind of looked like RuPaul who kind of looked like Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford, who — of course — looked like the real Joan Crawford, who might have looked like someone else I haven’t found yet.  It’s “Bitch stole my look” across decades!

 




Thursday, January 28, 2016

MrB and I have been visiting Madrid and Pamplona so that MrB could speak to journalism students and alumni at the #CelebratingJournalism events organized by the School of Communication at the University of Navarra.

For those who don’t know, MrB (also known as Paul Steiger) was the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal for 16 years. During his time there, the paper won 16 Pulitzer Prizes. When he hit the Journal’s mandatory retirement age in 2007, I told him there was no way he could hang around the house all day, staring at me and the pets, so in 2008, he became the editor-in-chief, CEO and president of the nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica. In 2010, ProPublica became the first online news operation to win a Pulitzer Prize. It won a second Pulitzer Prize in 2011. At the end of 2012, MrB became executive chairman of ProPublica’s board of directors, succeeded as editor-in-chief by Steve Engelberg, and as president by Dick Tofel. MrB is still busy with ProPublica strategic work every day. He also gets a lot of requests to speak about the future of journalism, which is what he’s been doing in Spain, on the theme of “Investigative Journalism as a Public Service.”

On Tuesday, he gave a speech and did a Q&A in a packed auditorium at Fundación Rafael del Pino in Madrid. (There were two overflow rooms in the building where people could watch the livestream. This came after he met with journalists separately and did numerous interviews. The organizers called it “the Madrid Marathon”!) Journalist Carlos Salas was the moderator, introducing MrB’s 25-minute talk and then relaying the attendees’ questions about Sean Penn interviewing El Chapo; Donald Trump’s presidential campaign; and Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post, among other topics. The organizers of the event were very excited that their hashtag, #celebratingjournalism, became a trending topic on Twitter in Spain.



The next day, we flew to Pamplona — where the bulls run in July — so MrB could meet with and speak to the undergraduate journalism students at the university there. (Madrid was more for alumni and grad students.) While I attended the Madrid speech, I didn’t go to the Pamplona event because I was eating tapas and drinking wine touring the city with gorgeous student Cristina Muñoz Sagastibelza, who also took me around in Madrid. But we kept tabs on MrB thanks to a new hashtag: #SteigerUnav.

If you want to know more about what MrB had to say about the current state and future journalism, you can explore the hashtags as well as check out some of the press:

La Vanguardia
Publico
La Rioja
ABC
El Mundo

I’m partial to the El Mundo story because it starts by saying (roughly, according to Google Translate and my own vague memories of Spanish), “He looked tired from going back and forth, but there was an unexpected spark of youth for someone who is 73, with a long career behind him.” BWAH! Personally, I get annoyed when someone says I look tired, because I’m always trying to NOT look tired, and I want other people to go along with the charade. But that doesn’t compare to how annoyed I was when a woman in Pamplona asked me if I was Cristina Sagastibelza’s mother. In the future, if anyone gives me a choice between being described as tired or the mother of a college gal I’m drinking with, I’ll pick tired.

Anyway, the Throwback Thursday part of this post comes courtesy of MrB. At the Madrid event, he was speaking about how, in the past, if you wanted to be part of the media, you’d have to invest millions of dollars in a staff of journalists and a printing press. Now, he said, anyone can be a publisher instantly, as I was when I started this blog. I was so mortified when he joked, “Stand up and wave” to me that I can’t remember everything he said after that, but apparently he gave me a big plug. He was about to move on to a different topic when he remembered I’d written about the 15th/16th-century Spanish queen known as Juana la Loca and told everyone to look it up. No need to look it up. Here’s the link to my 2008 Juana post.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT JUANA LA LOCA

When you read it, you’ll find out why my Juana-inspired jewelry features skulls. I did bring some Juana pieces to Spain with me. This Juana necklace enjoyed some tapas and wine with me and my newfound daughter, Cristina.

The fact that I brought two Juana pieces consoles me, slightly, for my failure to bring my Bull and Bullfighter Maneater ring to Pamplona. Yep, I went to the city with the bulls made world-famous by Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and I forgot to bring my bull ring. Let’s pretend I didn’t do that.

I could have held the ring up to one of those signs for a picture!

I could have held the ring up to one of those signs for a picture!

Remember that when it comes to my ring, the bull is the winner. It’s a “maneater” design, after all.




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When I write an obituary for this blog, it’s often for someone with a household name, such as David Bowie. This time, it’s more personal. If you’re not in the fine-jewelry community, you may not have heard of Cindy Edelstein, but I encourage you to read about her anyway, because she is a role model for upstanding behavior in any industry or workplace. Cindy died suddenly from heart failure on Sunday. She was 51.

Cindy-Edelstein

Cindy Edelstein

Cindy did so much for so many in the jewelry world that no standard job title captures the breadth of her career. Therefore, I’m going to go with her Twitter handle: JewelryBizGuru. Here are two of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the word “guru”:

  • A teacher or guide that you trust.
  • A person who has a lot of experience in or knowledge about a particular subject.

Plenty of people are called gurus  — or call themselves gurus  — because they’re the second of those two definitions. They have lots of experience and knowledge. But how many of them have the heart to act as “a teacher or guide that you trust”? It was in that role that Cindy shone like no one else.  I came to know her because she took a special interest in emerging designers. She made me think of the advice given by the late Carmel Snow, the Harper’s Bazaar’s editor, who told fashion editor Polly Mellen, “Go see every designer everywhere. You never know where the next talent is coming from.” I’ll tell you that not many people make me think of that quote. But Cindy went out of her way to showcase new or smaller designers and connect them to other people in the industry.

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At the jewelry trade shows in Las Vegas in 2014. Cindy’s on the right. Photo from Adornmentality.

“How can I help you?,” Cindy asked on her website’s About Us page. Like the word “guru,” that phrase tells you how Cindy treated people — whether they were designers, store owners, sales people, editors, bloggers or practically any other fine-jewelry-related role you can think of. For more on how she helped others,  here are some quotes from and links to a few of the tributes:

  • Barbara Palumbo of Adornmentality: “Cindy Edelstein was exactly what I needed at a time when I had no idea what it was I needed.”
  • Michelle Graf of National Jeweler: “Cindy could tell people exactly what she thought without offending them, and they were better off for it. She knew how to be honest while being nurturing and encouraging at the same time.”
  • Trace Shelton of InStore: “Cindy was one of those rare people who knew everyone in the room and yet still had a space at the table for you.”
  • Rob Bates of JCK: “Edelstein was known as a tireless advocate for designers and jewelry design in general. But she always reminded the burgeoning talents she worked with to never lose track of the commercial realities of the business.”
  • Andrea Hansen of Luxe Intelligence: “Mentor, loyal friend, supporter, champion, force of nature.”
  • Amber Michelle of Rapaport Magazine: “Cindy celebrated design and through her many projects, she made sure that the rest of us celebrated with her.”

Cindy is survived by her husband and business partner, Frank Stankus;  her daughter Remy Sasha Stankus; her stepson Byron David Stankus; and her brother Philip Edelstein. Jewelry designer Erica Courtney has created a YouCaring page for Remy’s college fund here.

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