For a jewellry writer and former auction reporter, 'too big" is not an option. In fact, like a bank account, jewels can never be too big. I've tried on a 56-carat diamond and thought it would be perfect for daytime. No one would think it was real.
I've heard everything from the 'sensible', "100,000 USD for a perfect strand of white 16mm pearsl? That's a bargain!" to the 'sentimental', "You know, a ring like that---20 carats, D-flawless--really shows how much your husband loves you but after a few months it will start to look small. Believe me, it's true!!"
"No more shoes, bags and clothes for me. Just bling. It must be my age," said my jewelry converted friend who is in her thirties.
It may be her age but it could be that she found a jeweller (Yewn) that she liked introduced by--ahem--moi!--in a city that has probably the largest volume of diamond sales in the world.
This incident became a sparkling inspiration for me to think of my top three jewelry brands. I have decided to write only about jewelry brands that I think are worth noting not just for their original design (organic, teetering between real and costume, recognizable only to collectors)and everyday wearability but also their limited distribution. And the final qualification is: That I would want anything and everything.
No one could go wrong if they gave me anything (even a pouch) from these three lines:
(Okay--of course, there is Joel A Rosenthal's Paris-based JAR but I think I have to own an oil field, marry a vault or be a big time Colombian cocaine dealer to own something from him)
One of Verdura's catalogues has the following opening statement by their CEO Ward Landrigan, "If this portfolio of Verdura classics has made it into your hands, and you are a devotee, it should remind you why you fell in love with Verdura jewelry in the first place. If it is your first encounter with Verdura, prepare yourself --this may be the start of a long romance."
This statement epitomizes everything I have experienced with the brand. As a penniless fashion student in New York in the Eighties, I remember being mesmerized by this line. I vowed that one day I would buy a Maltese Cross bracelet. But life and other brands got in the way and I completely forgot Verdura until I saw it on someone years ago.
What do they say about love being lovelier the second time around?
My second time wasn't just lovelier, but utterly passionate as I ended up with a few bracelets. But VERY FEW....(It was like ending up in bed all day with someone you worshipped from afar--and I'm not talking about letting your new Pomeranian sleep in your bed)
Verdura's original designer was the Sicilian artistocrat Duke Fulco di Verdura who was born in 1898. He designed what we know today as Chanel's Maltese Cross. In 1939, he set-up shop in New York City backed by Cole Porter and Vincent Astor. Babe Paley (after whom they named a collection last year) and Greta Garbo were clients. For their 70th anniversary this year, they will be introducing another blockbuster line.As Doris Duke reputedly said about her jewels, "Sell everything except the Verdura." Enough said.
A selection can be found at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and the full line is available in their beautiful, destination boutique on Fifth Avenue, laid out like a grand New York flat with fabulous views.
I don't know very much about the history of Iradj Moini and have never interviewed him. It is a relatively new company, having started in 1989 but it has changed to way I look at 'real' and 'costume' jewelry. In fact, the collection literally straddles both sectors of the market because it mixes semi-precious stones, roughly cut precious stones, pearls and Swarovski crystals. The large, chunky stones are combined with an eye to appearing like costume jewelry and the rough cuts relieve real gems of their 'preciousness' if they are otherwise cut in perfect, light reflecting facets.
If Verdura epitomizes Upper East Side chic, Iradj Moini is throw-away, jet-setting hippie-chic. Completely different but it wouldn't surprise me if they had some similar customers.
The collection is not for the faint of fashion "Comme des Garcons applique" heart. It is in fact, for someone who is 'bold and beautiful' (like me!) enough to carry the chunky designs. Iradj Moini is probably the Tony Duquette of our times. (Yet another jeweler that warrants mention)
The website lists only one shop in New York Soho's Spring Street but there are independent antique and jewelry dealers (such as Domont on Sunset in Los Angeles) that sell the line in their shops or online.