Print Edition: November 9, 2011
In 2005, a diamond necklace crafted for and owned by Russian empress Catherine the Great sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $1.5 million. The late actress Elizabeth Taylor’s exceptional 300-piece jewelry collection (valued at $30 million) was recently auctioned off by Christie’s. Taylor, in her book My Love Affair with Jewelry, referred to her many jewels as “…temporary gift[s]. In truth, we ‘owners’ are simply the caretakers.” There’s definitely a sort of romance in the idea of owning something that was so personal and treasured by great historical figures, or even a much-admired family member that lends an air of careful preservation. As if a person’s very being can be conserved inside of their gem collection.
Jewels, as a status symbol, prized possession, or cinematic crime target, have always seemed to fascinate the public. There’s something about their value, or their continuity, that possesses an almost universal appeal. After all, where did Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s go when she felt down? The diamond counter at New York’s Tiffany & Co, of course.
Fall 2011, from Oscar de la Renta’s epically-sized rings and bracelets to Roberto Cavalli’s fluorite and Swarovski crystal fox necklace, has capitalized on the human fascination with sparkly things, and set light to a season that is fuller than ever of glitter and gold.
Carat couture, why must you be so darn delightful?
The average UFV student probably can’t fathom forking out $3 million for a pearl necklace (the winning bid at Christie’s auction for Elizabeth Taylor’s La Peregrina pearl), or even the slightly lower price tag of $1,120 for Cavalli’s fox necklace. While the decadence-factor of such iconic jewel tales is riveting, this particular fashion columnist rarely finds her bed laid with sapphires, with an invitation bidding me to “choose one” (as 1930s US Ambassador Jock Whitney once did for his then-lover, actress Tallulah Bankhead). The truth is, however, it is not as difficult as it seems to find truly exceptional jewelry and just plain fun pieces at a somewhat comprehendible price tag.
So what do the average student’s jewelry prospects consist of? Retailers as affordable and close to home as H&M, Bootlegger, Guess, Le Chateau, and Aldo present a wide array of trendy and unique pieces that provide the perfect addition to any fall look. Gold jewelry, while often mistakenly railed against as “tacky,” is fantastic as statement or simple jewelry set against a sleek black outfit. Large pieces of costume jewelry, such as rings or chunky bracelets can be found just about anywhere, and bold, Eastern-influenced pendants inlaid with motifs of elephants, tigers, or birds can contribute a necessary “wow” factor to an outfit, and lend truth to the notion that jewelry can very well be central to a look. In fact, the choice of jewelry can provide a fabulous starting point and inspiration in terms of piecing an outfit together. All it takes is a few essential pieces to get you started. Feathers are great as earrings, on necklaces, or as hairpieces, and can add just the right amount of hippie-esque glamour. The trick is to not shy away from pieces that at first glance can appear “loud” or “gaudy.”
With the increasing nearness of the Christmas season, there is also no better time to glitter. Rich coloured jewels such as reds, blues, and purples are in this season, and it’s possible to achieve a completely couture-worthy jewel-look without breaking the bank. The truth of the matter is to be not afraid of the rhinestone. Fear not of the imitation topaz! There is no shame in shamelessly copying. A huge amount of stores sell faux jewelry that is as beautiful and awe-inspiring as their genuine counterparts. Aldo currently stocks a large collection of elaborate, exotic and glittery bracelets that provide the perfect amount of sparkle. Guess sells many different styles of earrings that are colourful and unique enough to top off an outfit beautifully.
Fall is a season of statements, and even in the realm of amped-up costume jewelry, there is something for everyone.
‘Tis also the season, and is arguably always the season, for reusing the pieces of old. As a self-proclaimed (and often outspoken) believer in modernizing the retro, I have had many a fruitful search through old jewelry boxes. What to wear with my contrasted rocker/semi-Victorian ensemble of a lace top and leather jacket? Why, an heirloom cameo necklace! How to amp up my winter uniform of a black coat, skinny jeans, and black suede boots? A huge, hand-me-down Tiffany ring. I was recently gifted with an antique silver wristwatch that possesses sentimentality along with its rare elaborate design that I’ve yet to find in any jewelry store. I’ve worn it with a number of outfits, and have been impressed each time with how well it blends into today’s looks.
Jewelry is, and will always be, yet another fabulous mode of fashion-related self-expression. Fall is the perfect time to experiment with different looks, and there are so many experimental opportunities out there. It just takes a little bit of imagination, and perhaps some iconic inspiration.