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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I want to highlight one of the styles I introduced in yesterday’s post: the ankle bracelet, aka anklet.


My barbed wire anklet in platinum and diamonds. Click to shop.

While anklets have been around since ancient times and are still a perennial in some cultures, in the U.S. they’ve gone in and out of fashion. I say they’re due for a big, fine-jewelry comeback! In recent years, “arm parties” of bracelets; “finger parties” of rings; hand jewelry; ears full of studs, earring jackets, ear climbers and ear cuffs; layers and layers of necklaces; and body chains. Every body part has been loaded with jewelry except for the leg. The poor leg. THINK OF THE LEG FOR GOD’S SAKE!


My barbed wire anklet in 18K yellow gold and diamonds. Click to shop.

Summer with its leg-baring shorts and dresses is obviously the best season for showing off anklets. But you can also wear an anklet with a more covered-up look — even jeans — the way my former employee Eryn does.


My silver barbed wire anklet. Click to shop.

Before the weather warmed up, Eryn wore her anklet over socks.

For a long time, the only anklets I’ve seen have been woven ones — friendship-bracelet styles — worn by pre-teens and teens. That makes it seem a little subversive to wear a high-end ankle bracelet, and you know I like subversion! The platinum version of my anklet is especially amusing to me, because even in the fine-jewelry anklet heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, 14K gold was de rigueurLike I said yesterday, I want to shake up platinum a little and treat it/wear it in unexpected ways, so the anklet is going to be my No. 1 platinum look this summer.

Shop my anklets here!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It’s rare that I get to introduce a full collection (nearly) all at once. Usually I’m creating and revealing just one or two designs at a time. But today is different! June’s Jewels of the Month are the first nine styles of my brand-new Punk Platinum line.

I was inspired to do this collection after a conversation I had last year with the nice peeps at Platinum Guild International, the trade group for platinum jewelry. Even though some great designers have been making edgy, modern jewelry with platinum for years, the public perception of platinum seems to run to three categories: wedding jewelry, multi-million-dollar Oscar loaners, and blinged-out rap-star chains. I happen to enjoy wedding jewelry, over-the-top red-carpet pieces and big-ass chains. I design the first and last types of jewelry already, and I sure hope someone decides to order a 100-carat necklace from me soon.  But I also love a challenge, and the idea of doing a platinum line that didn’t fit the typical profile got me all excited.

I knew instantly that I wanted to “dirty up” the tarnish-proof metal by both blackening it and giving it my signature matte finish. I started thinking of metal objects that would normally be outside, exposed to the elements. I also wanted to create something that would represent my long-time appreciation of punk style. Barbed wire was clearly the way to go!

I introduced the first designs — stacking rings in two styles, in both 18K yellow gold and platinum with diamonds — back in November.


Click to shop.

Scarlett Johansson wore these in the March issue of W.

Now it’s time for the rest! I can’t quit single stud earrings, so there had to be a barb stud.


$800. Click to shop.

My 2″ platinum hoop earrings are sold as a pair.


$8,000. Click to shop.

I haven’t offered any bracelets in a long time, so I made an open bangle.


$4,000. Click to shop.

I’ve got two necklace styles, one with a single barb …


$2,400. Click to shop.

… and one with seven barbs.


$4,500. Click to shop.

I’m really excited to have a platinum anklet.


$5,000. Click to shop.

I have always liked platinum worn on digits/limbs that aren’t usually graced by the most precious of the precious metals: a platinum thumb ring, for instance.

The last style is a full-finger, hinged ring. In addition to the diamonds that all the pieces have, there are three tiny rubies on the underside of the ring, because … why not?


$10,000. Click to shop.

There you have it! You don’t have to be married, attending an awards ceremony, or getting wild on stage to wear any of these designs. They’re perfect for everyday wear and most of them — the necklaces, studs, stacking rings, bangle — can even be worn in a conservative office setting, for you down-low rebels. All the styles are also available in 18K yellow gold and a few are available in silver, but, to me, it’s still the Punk Platinum collection because that was the metal that inspired everything. I’m already working on the next group of platinum designs … and they’re not barbed wire. You’ll see them in a couple of months.

UPDATED TO ADD: Thanks to gorgeous Jennifer Heebner, senior editor at JCK, for being the first one to write anything about my new collection. Click here to see her blog post!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

In case you missed it, here’s what’s been on the blog for the past two weeks.

And here are some of the Instagram highlights.


The Cleves ring in 18K gold and black diamonds, from beginning to end.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Father’s Day is next Sunday, so I’m putting some cufflinks on sale now for those of you who need a gift for a French-cuff-loving guy. Order by next Wednesday and delivery is guaranteed for the June 21 holiday.

My emoticon heart cufflinks are always popular … after all, who doesn’t love a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve(s)?


Click to shop.

Is the father of your kids a connoisseur of the your female form? My Mud Flap Jill links will remind him of how lucky he is to have you.


Click to shop.

For the fella who spends a lot of time in a tuxedo, go wickedly luxurious with the Medici poison cufflinks in 18K yellow gold and diamonds.


Click to shop, you naughty thing.

Yes, they open. And, no, I won’t give any advice about what could be stored in there! People need to stop asking me that or I’m going to lawyer up!

Friday, June 12, 2015

I finally got to meet my Florida-based customer Hi-Rez in person when he played the Studio at Webster Hall on June 3. He put on a great show with guest appearances by rappers Emilio Rojas; Joell Ortiz of Slaughterhouse; Smoke DZA; and Cory Gunz. I got some good mid-air shots of Cory.


Cory catches air.

This isn’t my best shot of Rez but I did catch him showing off some old-school breakdancing moves.


Here’s a better photo.


Rez did his famous McDonald’s order live.

In addition to meeting Rez and his awesome manager Andrew — and seeing Rez perform, of course! — I had a special reason for being in attendance that night.  I needed to snatch the chain I made for Rez last year, in order to polish it up and replate it. Both Hi-Rez and Andrew told me that Rez NEVER takes the chain off, so it was showing a little wear and tear. I’m just happy that he’s loving it that much! My concert-going friend Jessie and I waited till after Rez did his meet-and-greet with his fans, so that he’d be wearing the chain in all their photos. Finally, he and I struck a pose …


… and then I ran off with his chain. Jessie and I had a great time posing with it.

Sorry, Rez. We couldn't help ourselves.

Sorry, Rez. We couldn’t help ourselves.

I’m having the piece plated in a specially heavy layer of 22K gold and Rez will have it back next week.

You can check out Hi-Rez’s music on YouTube and SoundCloud. Follow him on Twitter here. Take a look at this BET feature on him too.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

In 1982, when I was in high school, the Who went on a farewell tour. My gorgeous but strict mother, BarbaraB, wouldn’t let me go to the New Jersey show. I cried and cried because, after all, it was a FAREWELL TOUR! My last chance EVER to see The Who!


I can’t find a 1982 photo right now, but here’s one from 1983. Close enough! I adored the LeSportsac bag that you see in the foreground.

Last chance, that is, until 1985, when the group reunited for Live Aid.  Another reunion took place at the Brit Awards in 1988. By 1989, The Who was back on a real tour, but I didn’t see them that year. In fact, I didn’t see the band live until its set at the Concert for New York City in 2001. I finally caught them on a big tour in 2006. The not-so-great seats I had for that show didn’t make up for my 1982 trauma, so, last October, when I saw the Who was going on tour to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary (I can’t resist a big anniversary!), I got fancy-schmancy VIP-package tickets to the May 26 show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

By the time the concert rolled around, I had forgotten what benefits came with the ticket package, so my concert-going friend Jessie and I were baffled by an email that instructed us to get to Barclays by 4:45 p.m. We didn’t think anything special was going to happen but we dutifully showed up, and it was a good thing we did! We were two of about 60 people — ticket-holders and press — who got to sit in on the Who’s soundcheck. I was so thrilled I finally forgave BarbaraB for keeping me home in 1982. Then I found out that my idol Joan Jett, who is opening for the Who on this anniversary tour, had also opened for them on the ’82 tour.  I missed Joan the year that “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” was a huge hit! I hate to tell you this, BarbaraB, but you are …


Jessie can testify that I actually discussed these issues OUT LOUD with her — while we sat in our awesome sixth-row seats waiting for the show to start, and after I had my photo taken with Simon Townshend, the guitar-playing young brother of Who guitarist/composer Pete Townshend.


Anyway, it was a thrill to finally see Joan Jett live, especially right after she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As you can see, she looks and sounds great!

I was so obsessed with her cover of “Do You Want to Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” back in the day, especially the part in the video when she yanks open a black trenchcoat to reveal a bikini. Hawt! Here she is performing the song at Barclays — there’s no bikini action, but rocking a red glittery jumpsuit at age 56 is fucking impressive.

Click the photo of Joan below to see all my best pictures of her on Flickr.

Click her!

Click her!

Pete Townshend turned 70 a week before the Barclays show and he’s rocking hard too, as is 71-year-old singer Roger Daltrey. People always think they’re very clever when they make fun of the Who for the “I hope I die before I get old” line in 1965’s hit “My Generation” (written by Townshend when he was just 19). Like we’ve never heard that joke before! Pete himself was a good sport and much more entertaining in his introduction of the song. Noting that the band had played “My Generation” at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, he said there were “special buses, wheelchairs and breathing apparatuses” for anyone old enough to have caught that performance. The audience, by the way, was made up of all ages. At the end of the show, Roger handed his tambourines to two pre-teen kids in the front rows.

The things you see at a concert when you’re really up close are incredible, even if no one gives you a tambourine. This is why I’ve gotten so addicted to the front few rows, even if I have to stand for 10 hours at a general admission show. For instance, two weeks before the Who’s performance at Barclays, Pete told Rolling Stone something he has said before: “People don’t really believe me. But I don’t enjoy performing. I don’t feel uplifted on the stage.” But look at his little smile in this short video I took a the beginning of “Pinball Wizard”!

A video posted by Wendy Brandes (@wendybrandes) on

Pete, you can’t deny having a little bit of on-stage happiness. I have evidence!

As for Roger, maybe his voice doesn’t soar quite as easily as it did in, say, 1982, but it was still impressive. He killed “Love, Reign O’er Me.”


And Pete blew us all away. He had walked into the soundcheck a little late, having been delayed by traffic, according to Roger. Jessie and I loved the way Pete eventually strolled on stage where everyone was already set up, picked up his guitar and started churning out power chords like it was no big thing. He still has his windmilling guitar moves too. And it might be hard to see in this photo, but I caught him mid-leap during the concert itself.


Admittedly, he caught more air in 1973.

Jessie was hoping Pete would go old-school and smash a guitar, but no luck. He hasn’t done that in years. He did tell a funny story about how the Who didn’t make much money at first because the guitar-smashing habit was so expensive.

If you’ve never seen a Pete Townshend guitar smash, this edited clip from a 1967 performance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is the classic, to me. Not because of Pete, but because crazy drummer Keith Moon (who died of an overdose in 1978) put extra explosives in his drums. He normally blew up his drums, as well as hotel toilets, but he decided to go really big this time. Oh, and he didn’t tell anyone in the band to brace for a bomb going off. Roger and Pete were pretty much blown off the set.

The uncut version of the Smothers Brothers appearance is here. Another great video is from the Who’s notorious 1973 Cow Palace concert, during which Moon passed out on his drums due to a mix of tranquilizers and brandy. He was revived once, but the second time he was out for good, so Pete asked the audience, “Can anyone play the drums?” and a 19-year-old kid named Scott Halpin got up on stage and sat in on the drums for the remainder of the show. If you love wild rock and roll stories, Keith Moon — aka Moon the Loon — is your man and I recommend this book.

Finally, you can see all my best Who photos here.

I’ve got more music posts to come. And, yes, I have been on my feet for 10 hours at a general admission show very recently.

P.S. Don’t worry, Mom. I’m kidding! Mostly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

E! Online has compared Lady Gaga’s latest hairstyle to Pippi Longstocking‘s braids.


Click to see E!’s original tweet.

But when I saw E!’s tweet, I didn’t think Pippi at all. What I thought was, “Been there, seen that, got the t-shirt.”


This is homegrown vintage — pre-1995!

The braided lady on that t-shirt is gorgeous Wall Street Journal artist Noli Novak. When I worked at the Journal in the early 1990s, I shyly gawked at Noli from a distance for a while. She was by FAR the coolest-looking person there. When I finally worked up the nerve to talk to her, I found out that she was the lead singer of a band called Gluegun. I got the shirt and a CD — which I also still have — at one of their shows. The braids were Noli’s onstage ‘do.


Photo courtesy of Noli Novak.

I interviewed Noli and her bandmate for a free Manhattan magazine called City. I’m going to dig up that clip and do a little email interview with Noli to get the update on what she’s doing musically when she’s not doing art for the Journal. Yep, she still does the Journal’s iconic stippled illustrations! But I couldn’t wait to share her 20-years-before-Gaga braids. There’s truly nothing new under the sun.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cindy Edelstein of National Jeweler reports in her weekly Trend Tracker post that turquoise is “having a real moment in the sun.” That’s an appropriate description, seeing as the cheerfully colored stone is perfect for summer.

Of course, just because we use a bright color in our jewelry doesn’t mean we can’t be our morbid, skull-loving selves. My one-of-a-kind, turquoise-and-ruby skull ring is number 18 in Cindy’s gallery of turquoise jewelry.


Click for source.

Here’s another view of the ring.


Click to see on my website. Price upon request.

You can check out my original blog post on this ring to see pictures of it in progress. I have a couple of pairs of complementary earrings coming up. The first pair won’t feature an actual skull, so if you love the combination of turquoise and rubies as much as I do, but don’t like “skeleton heads,” as a friend’s kid once described skulls, you’ll be in luck!

Big thanks to Cindy for including my piece in her report!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Thanks to Accessories Magazine for including my raised hand emoji earring in today’s “Trend Finders” post!


$35 for a single sterling-silver stud. Click to purchase.

In case you missed it last month, the Unicode Consortium — aka Emoji Headquarters — revealed 38 new emojis that are proposed for a June 2016 launch. The list includes crossed fingers, which I already have in jewelry form …


$35 for a single sterling-silver stud. Click to purchase.

… and a “call me” hand that looks much like my “shaka” hand turned on its side.


$35 for a single sterling-silver stud. Click to purchase.

As we found out from the last, bigger emoji release, Unicode’s approval of new emojis doesn’t make them instantly appear on your phone.  The likes of Apple and Google have to add the new designs to their operating systems in a separate step. Last June, Unicode announced new emojis would be available in a month, but it took until this April for Apple to release iOS 8.3, which included, among other things, the long-awaited racially diverse emojis.  Just today, Apple announced its next operating system, iOS 9, which will be released later this year, meaning it will come out ahead of the new emojis, so we’ll have to wait for a later update to encompass the crossed fingers, call-me hand and — most importantly, perhaps — the bacon emoji.

Meanwhile, my latest emoji designs — teased here — will be on my site this month and I just ordered up a new one today! Anyone want to take a guess at what it is? I’m excited to tell you how I decided to do that one, but that’s a story for another day.

The gorgeous Brittany Siminitz of JCK has another tease for you (a jewelry tease, you perverts!). She’s got the first close-up photo of my new Dragon and Knight Maneater ring. You’ve seen it from a short distance, modeled by the dashing Craig Selimotic Danforth of the Gemological Institute of America. For a better look, visit Brittany here. This is one ring that’s going to take about eight photos and a video in order to display all its details, so there’s much more ahead.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Someone, somewhere, declared that June 4 is National Hug Your Cat Day.  It’s also Throwback Thursday. To cover both these events, here is a December 2013 photo of me hugging a very disgrunted FitzRoy.


FitzRoy did not want this.

And here is a July 2014 hug bestowed upon a somewhat startled Purrkoy.


He was such a baby then!

You can follow both my Exotic Shorthair kittehs on Instagram. To become one of FitzRoy’s 11,000 followers, click here. Purrkoy just broke 5,000 followers today!


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