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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Wall Street Journal today ran an article by Jenni Avins called “Falling for the Flip Side” about jewelry with secret details. I so wish I had been included in this story because the first paragraph captures my design philosophy so well:

“To the casual observer, jewelry is all about catching the eye—how a stone captures the light, or the way a certain shade of gold complements the skin. But for some jewelers, the undersides and interiors of their pieces—places that are usually only noticed by the wearer—merit as much attention as the exteriors.”

Later in the story, Dr. Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian Art at Christie’s, says of this jewelry style, “It’s a holistic approach to jewelry as a work of art.” That’s well-put too.

Or you could explain it more irreverently, as I did earlier this year to Jennifer Heebner, a senior editor at jewelry industry publication JCK Magazine, while showing her my Frog and Prince “Maneater” Ring: “It’s like a pretty girl who’s smart too!” I mean, I love a piece that looks beautiful when you give it a superficial once-over …

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My 18K-gold frog ring has a surprise for you.

… but it’s just as important to me that, when you get to know the piece, you find something deeper. In the case of the frog ring, it’s a prince with diamond eyes tucked inside the band.

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The inside of the frog ring. This is why I call this design a “maneater” ring.

The first pieces I did with a surprise inside — like Cracker Jack! — were my Juana “peekaboo” skull pieces, which I started doing in 2006. (I wrote about the inspiration for them here in 2008.) The first one was a necklace in 18K yellow gold and rubies that is innocent on the outside …

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Juana peekaboo locket, shown closed.

… and spooky on the inside.

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The Day-of-the-Dead-inspired skull within.

I delight in pieces with mechanical elements like the Juana. As I wrote on my website’s About page, I wrote, “Expect the unexpected, including jewelry that opens up, twists into new shapes and even whistles.”  With my Hathor swivel earrings, you get two pairs of earrings for the price of one. The Hathor looks gorgeous in carnelian …

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Carnelian side of Hathor earrings.

… but if you want a fresh look look, press gently on the center to swivel it …

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The earrings shown mid-swivel.

… and wear the turquoise side out instead.

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Swivel completed!

Of course, there are other ways to amaze the customer. Sometimes it’s just an unexpected feeling when you try on the jewelry, as I mentioned on my About page: “Rings are surprisingly hefty, often incorporating more than an ounce of 18K gold for a luxurious feeling that will spoil you for anything less …”  Just yesterday, I wrote about how I wouldn’t make my tiniest stud earrings as lightweight as the manufacturer suggested, because that sensation of quality is so important to me.

I also like to astonish people with my extreme attention to detail. I always direct attention to the snout wrinkles and nostrils on my Isabella wolf-fang necklaces and the veins on the underside of my 18k-gold oak-leaf pendant. My Empress Wu dragon earrings — which recently placed third in the Pearl Jewelry/Over $10,000 category in the 2013 JCK Jewelers’ Choice Awards competition — are my pride and joy as far as this kind of work goes.

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Click to read about the making of the Empress Wu earrings.

The 18K-yellow-gold dragons have 18K-rose-gold tongues. The diamonds in their horns are set in platinum. And each dragon has two tsavorite eyes, even though one of the eyes is hidden when the earrings are on.

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See the second eye?

There’s a funny anecdote in the Wall Street Journal story, related by the son of the late designer Munnu Kasliwal of Gem Palace in India. Siddharth Kasliwal remembered, “‘One lady asked, “Why should I pay for the reverse when nobody sees it?” He said, “Why do you buy expensive lingerie when nobody sees that?”‘” I’m not obsessed with lingerie, I admit, but I have always enjoyed the jewelry equivalent. The onyx skull ring at the top of this blog was my first design of that ilk.  I think it looks spectacular at first glance …

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Click for more photos.

… but the diamonds inside are the real turn-on for me.

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Makes it even more special, right?

Right now, the ring that’s decorated inside is my favorite style of what the Journal called “covert luxury.” As I’ve said, the Frog and Prince ring is the first of my Maneater collection and the next two designs are well underway. I can’t wait to show you their hidden treasures!

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10 Responses to ““Covert Luxury”: Jewelry With Secrets in the Wall Street Journal”

  1. Wow, I had no idea the onyx skull ring had diamonds inside!

    I just read that March Vogue article about using social media to sell jewelry. You should have been covered in that one too. I wonder how hard these article writers try to find the talented people they should be covering. Isn’t it a no brainer to find and cover someone whose jewelry is winning prestigious awards?

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Always a mystery to me as to why I pitch certain ideas to stores/press for years — literally, years — to no avail, then when someone picks up on the concept, I’m not even included! I keep trying, though….

  2. Val Sparkle says:

    Your pieces are amazing! It’s nice to have a little secret detail – they’re magic!

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      When I started designing, I felt like the hidden details were very anti-”bling.” I was tired of the pave diamonds set in white metal that were super-shiny and very “look at me!” I wanted to create jewelry that said, “Doesn’t matter if you know everything about me, I’m doing it for myself!”

  3. Those necklaces… when I earn more with my company, the first thing I’ll do is to get a piece of jewelry from you. I recently showed your work to a friend of mine. Marketing…

    Thank you for your kind words… It really touched me what you wrote! I’m going thru some tough times right now but I believe in better days.

  4. Eli says:

    The frog ring is so spectacularly beautiful, it really is ART. You truly are an artist Wendy. Thank you for making this world more beautiful.

  5. stacy says:

    Like a pretty girl who is smart too…? Isn’t that YOU?