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Thursday, June 21, 2012

I’m constantly working on new jewelry. I have three 18K gold pieces in the works, as well as one silver ring. I also have wax models made for two other 18K gold pieces and I’ve got ideas for dozens of other designs that I’ll do when I can afford them.

Getting started on a new piece is not just a matter of money though. I often have vague concepts in my head for a long time before I act on them. I like to name my designs after notable women and it can take a while for a design concept and a lady to click. I spent months pondering a design to be named after Queen Min, the last queen of Korea. I originally envisioned a necklace but I didn’t feel 100% sure. Then I saw some gems that I knew would be perfect for Queen Min rings.

My Queen Min ring in 18K gold and amethyst. Note the pagoda-shaped setting. Click to purchase.

Another royal lady who deserved a jewelry design was 7th-century badass Empress Wu of China. I considered doing a dragon-shaped whistle pendant for her. But then I saw a tiny vintage “wolf whistle” charm. It was about the size of my thumbnail and didn’t actually whistle. As I’ve said before, I’m often inspired by antique and vintage jewelry, but my goal is to make my piece better than the original.  I can’t resist a pun — or a woman writer — so I spent over a year working on my Virginia Woolf whistle. I think it’s one of my most humorous and over-the-top designs.  I used over an ounce of gold to create the full-size, traditional-looking whistle. Then I studded it with 112 diamonds totaling 1.13 carats.

Price upon request. Click for more information.

My whistle works, naturally …

Model Tina J prepares to blow.

… and it pops open to reveal a tiny “woolf.” (The little woolf is available on its own as a pendant in silver and gold.)

The little “woolf” in the whistle.

This would be perfect for an athlete, wouldn’t it? I’d like to make it in platinum, smothered in diamonds, for a basketball player.

This year, the whistle appeared in JCK magazine, perched on a very attractive red purse.

After I got the whistle out of my system, I made a dragon ring and cufflinks for Empress Wu.

The dragon is holding a lapis lazuli globe that spins. Of course. I would never do a globe that didn’t revolve.

Empress Wu cufflinks. Click for more information.

Later, I made earrings to match.

Empress Wu earrings. Click for more information.

I still have one other 18K gold Empress Wu piece that’s been in the works for several years. I have to keep putting it aside to concentrate on other pieces because it’s so expensive and complicated, but I’m determined to finish it eventually.

I mused about one idea since 2008: a necklace version of my notorious swear rings.

Wendy Brandes swear rings in sterling silver. $380. Click to purchase.

Non-ring-wearing folks have always asked me for a necklace, but I’ve learned the hard way that people swear they will buy a hypothetical design … until it becomes reality. Then I hear crickets. So unless there’s a check in my hand, I don’t necessarily drop everything and do a new design due to popular demand. I kept debating the concept. Letter and word necklaces are a dime a dozen and they’ve been around for ages. Hell, Anne Boleyn wore an initial pendant in the 16th century. It wouldn’t be anything unique. On the positive side, a necklace would be a logical extension of my ring designs and I do have a cute font. I remained undecided until this January, when I blogged about the YEA HOE rings I made for gorgeous rapper Gangsta Boo in the style of my swear rings.

Boo wearing her rings. Click for original post.

In the comments on that post, slinky blogger Sulky Kitten said:

“You little Dynamo! I love the Yea Hoe! If I wasn’t so shy I’d have a little Sulky made! What about a little necklace with a small Sulky? “

I thought, “Oh Em Gee. Sulky is a GREAT word.” It’s a little provocative, a little bit “don’t expect me to be Miss Sunshine.” I specialized in sulky when I was a teenager.

I sulked throughout the ’80s.

“Sulky” also appealed to me because it has five letters, which doesn’t work with ring sets. No one can read a ring set if one letter is on your thumb, separate from all the other letters. I realized this was my chance to do five-letter words, acronyms and abbreviations. Without saying anything to Sulky Kitten, I made this sterling-silver necklace using the same font as the rings.

$500. Sulky necklaces are made to order. Click to purchase.

The letters are 10 millimeters in height; the chain is 16 inches long. First I showed it to FitzRoy the cat.

My own sulky kitten examines the necklace.

Then I emailed a photo to Sulky Kitten herself. Instead of thinking I was a creepy stalker, she bought the necklace (no crickets this time!), so the first one has already been sent to a new home. I’ll do more as requested by customers.

While I was at it, I figured I’d do a smaller letter necklace with five-millimeter letters. I knew instantly what I wanted to do for that one. In 2008, I did a post about my antipathy to other people’s opinions. I haven’t changed a bit. I agree with TV/movie writer Aaron Sorkin, who said, “While everyone deserves a voice, not everyone deserves a microphone.”  Damn! I am exposed to too much foolery. There are the sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, ageist, violent and plain old ignorant remarks online. The fact that I have a small business seems to encourage non-experts to tell me how to handle issues they don’t understand, such as manufacturing. And I think we all know at least one person who randomly insults our hair, outfit, spouse, house or pretty much anything that is none of their damn business. I just don’t give a fuck anymore, so I made an I Don’t Give a Fuck necklace.

18K gold IDGAF (I Don’t Give a Fuck) necklace. $950. Click to purchase.

On Tuesday, I wrote that I like jewelry with an element of surprise. This fits the bill because the meaning is raunchy, but necklace itself is pretty and delicate. You can see how subtle it is in this photo of me taken by Shane LaVancher; I’m wearing the necklace with my Queen of Scots earrings, NYC and area-code ring sets, and a Stacy Lomman vest.

All area-code ring sets are available for pre-order. Email me!

I’ve had so much fun with this necklace. It’s shocked a couple of people and made others laugh out loud. Last night, I bumped into a friend who said she was thinking about marking a major birthday by doing something “age inappropriate” like getting a tattoo. We discussed the necklace as a more amusing and practical option.  At least you can take the necklace off for occasions when you really do give a fuck! She and I will chat about it again when she comes back from visiting her new grandchildren. Anyway, no one has gotten seriously offended by the necklace yet, but if I hear any complaints, you know what I’m going to say, right?

If gold isn’t your style or not in your budget, I’ll have a small IDGAF necklace available in sterling silver next week (the price is yet to be determined). A sterling-silver IDGAF necklace in the larger size will be $500, like the Sulky necklace. A small GTFOH style in silver will follow. As always, I’m happy to take custom orders —  you don’t have to wear something that refers to the word “fuck” if you don’t want to.  You can also choose your metal and chain length. Email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com with any customer inquiries about IDGAF, GTFOH, Sulky or custom necklaces. Oh, and Topshop and DCK Concessions, stay away from these, okay?

UPDATED TO ADD: When I look at pictures of charm necklaces, I always wonder how they sit on the neck. Do the charms clump up? Move around? Stick out funny? I’ve had bad experiences with that, so I don’t like to see a pretty picture and then find out that an item doesn’t wear that way. In real life, the IDGAF necklace lays exactly as it does in my photo. Nothing was done to style it or separate the letters for the photo; that’s how they’re attached.

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30 Responses to “Jewels of the Month: Sulky and IDGAF Necklaces”

  1. ali says:


    “I cant resist a pun– or a woman writer” is a life motto.

    didn’t know the woolf whistle had a wolf inside it.

    and, of course, the queen min is my favorite of all your designs (but I prefer the crane) !

    Good post!

  2. Mary Panjari says:

    I must have the silver version of the IDGAF necklace! MUST!

    • WendyB says:

      Oh, yes, that’s your style! I’ll know how much it is either tomorrow or Monday, whenever I can get to my manufacturer! Friday is too jam-packed.

  3. Mary Panjari says:

    I await your response! Plus my word is nirvana. It is meant to be.

  4. sulky kitten says:

    Thank you so much Wendy!I am still pawing my Sulky necklace as it lies nestled in my furry chest! I absolutely LOVE it and shall treasure it always.I think Fitzroy needs the IDGAF as his next collar!

  5. Maja H says:

    Oh how I wish I could get away with IDGAF. I give too many fucks and need to work on giving less of them (in the metaphorical sense, of course)! Maybe a WTF would suit me better? Or AFK? Although, that would look silly when I am actually sitting in front om my mac at work. This acronym business needs some serious consideration 😉

  6. mystyle says:

    The IDAGF necklace looked amazing on you during our blogger meet up, I love the all new SULKY too!! xx

  7. stacy says:

    Oh Wendy, as I read through this post I am floored by each piece even though I’ve seen them before. Your work should be in a museum, though I would much rather see it on people’s ears, fingers and necks! Or MY ears, fingers and neck! The new necklaces are so cool — particularly love the daintiness of the IDGAF necklace! SULKY is a great word and FitzRoy agrees (how did you manage to get that photo?)!!

  8. Andrea says:

    aww the necklace with the little wolf is super sute!

  9. Andrea says:

    i mean cute muhaha 😀

    and i love your kitty 😉

  10. So much fun reading this post. I want the SULKY necklace super bad!

  11. I love reading about your creative process, accompanied by your quick wit.

  12. Eli says:

    Oh my, the Queen Min ring is beautiful! Are the fish engraved into the stone?

    I actually really like the IDGAF necklace on you because the letters are so small. It seems as if you wouldn’t be able to tell what it says unless you got up close, which would be interesting and is subtle.

  13. GrandRapstaG says:

    I could have used IDGAF earlier this week.

  14. I adore the IDGAF necklace, that would suit me down to the ground. One day when I earn proper money I WILL buy one from you, no crickets (just might be a while!) x

    Penny Dreadful Vintage

  15. Oh my goodness. That Queen Min Ring is absolutely stunning. I can’t get over it.

  16. HelOnWheels says:

    Even though FitzRoy seems unimpressed by the SULKY necklace I am. As I said on Twitter yesterday, all the new additions to your line are fantastic. I will own the IDGAF necklace in silver!! Yes, yes I will. I love the new Queen Min ring!! I’ll have to put it on my “Wendy B designs I will buy when I win the lottery” list! Let’s just scribble in all of the Empress Wu pieces too. So stunning! Curse you, Wendy, for being so talented and coming up with such wonderful, shiny designs!

  17. Christine, fine art jewelry says:

    Wow, the whistle totally blew me away. I’d never seen something so unique. Its really hard to find fine art jewelry now a days. Very neat post, I had a blast reading it.

  18. siddlepit says:

    Being a first time viewer it is really great reading about your creative process. Keep it up.

  19. Marti says:

    One of the reasons’s why I look up to you… You tell it like it is.

  20. I love these necklaces!! I love the way the letters hang–beautiful. I also think an IDGAF necklace would serve me very well sometimes 🙂