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.