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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.


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
La Rioja
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.


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 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.


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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I’m mad that I didn’t see this vintage Moschino dress on 1stdibs.com before someone else bought it.


From seller Wonderland Capri via 1stdibs.com. Click for source.

I already have two Moschino “message” dresses. I wore my “You Can Dress Me Up But You Can’t Take Me Out” dress for the first time in 2010.

The same dress in 2010 and 2013.

The same dress in 2010 and 2013.

In 2014, I got the “Not Just a Pretty Dress” dress.

Seen in 2015.

Seen in 2015. Click for original post.

If I got a third Moschino word dress, it would officially be a collection! I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled.


Monday, January 25, 2016

While doing errands last week — before the big snow — I took a few photos of things that entertained me.

This No Parking sign on 5th Avenue always makes me laugh.


Don’t tell me what to think, dammit!

I promise you that if you go to the Rockefeller Center skating rink on Valentine’s Day, you’ll see at least one proposal if you wait long enough.


A view of the rink.

If you’re looking to hook up with the perfect man before Valentine’s Day, I found him for you.


One of my witty Instagram followers said, “Yet in reality, he’s made of cheap stuff, hollow inside, and doesn’t care if he leaves a stain on your clothes.”

New York is definitely getting geared up for Valentine’s Day. Even the traditional black-and-white cookies are feeling the love.


Pink-and-white Valentine’s cookies.

I’ll be doing some posts on Valentine’s Day jewelry soon. If you don’t have someone else to treat you to some jewels, treat yourself! Self-love is very important.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

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

Over on Instagram, I featured two different examples of 18K rose gold and platinum in rings. The first was Helen’s redesigned engagement ring, which I wrote about extensively here last week. Then I stacked my own platinum thumb ring with two rose-gold barbed wire rings. I’m liking this metal combination more and more.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

It’s a good day to stay inside and be cozy. Let Purrkoy show you how it’s done!


Meanwhile, FitzRoy is keeping an eye on things from the safety of his orange bowl.


Be warm!

Friday, January 22, 2016

You know the phrase “a diamond in the rough”? Well, this is aquamarine in the rough.

I’m considering buying some of this in order to have it cut and polished to my specifications for a major new jewelry design this year. We’ll see!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I was so excited to see this 1980s photo of Madonna. Not only is she wearing her famous Maripolitan rubber bangles, but she’s wearing matching rubber earrings.

Here’s a 1986 photo of me wearing the same earrings. Woot!

Click for original post.

Click for original post.

You can also glimpse one of them in this picture.

Click for original post.

Click for original post.

I’m sure I got those earrings because I saw them on Madonna, but, because I lost them, I’d forgotten the connection. (I also lost my 80 Maripolitan bangles in a move, but I think it was at a different time.)

At least I held onto the heart earrings that Madonna wore in her “Borderline” video.


I’ve shared photos of them before.

Click for original post.

Click for original post.

I still wear those to Madonna concerts.

But, man, do I wish I had that rubber jewelry! I swear, my favorite materials for jewelry are 18K gold, platinum and black rubber.

The “Borderline” video had such great fashion. I still covet everything Madonna wears in it, including the hat. If you’re not familiar with the video, check it out now.

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