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Tag Archives: jewelry

Mockingjay Jewels Catching Fire

They let you wear one thing from your district in the arena. One thing to remind you of home. Will you wear this?”  The mockingjay pin from The Hunger Games has become as synonymous with the story as Katniss Everdeen herself, and a symbol of rebellion against the atrocities of the Capitol.  The pin shows a bird in flight – the hybrid of a mockingbird and jabberjay, the fictional bird created by the government to spy on people in the outer districts of Panem, to report any sort of uprising brewing.  For the film, former Tiffany & Co. designer Dana Schneider (pictured, below) was hired to created the symbolic accessory.  She had previously worked with the movie’s costume designer, Judianna Makovsky, and is a favorite among clients, including Cher and Marilyn Manson.  According to the New York Times, Schneider doesn’t own the copyright (the design is author Suzanne Collins and a Brooklyn couple’s creation) and despite endless requests to make copies, the jeweler only made four pins – three for the film, one for herself!  Even though we can’t get one of Schneider’s original creations for Katniss, dozens of sites are selling their own version.  Cafe Press has pages of accessories, as well as Amazon and Etsy (for all of Schneider’s success, she does actually have her own Etsy store!)  This editor isn’t proud to admit it, but after I finished reading The Hunger Games, I jumped on the craft site and bought a mockingjay necklace, bracelet and pocket watch… hehe.  But that bird represents bravery, honor, sacrifice, rebellion, survival and standing up for what’s right – in these precarious times, that is certainly an accessory we can get behind.

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The Way W./E. Were

We’re not exactly Madonna fans here at theSkinnyStiletto.  After viewing the more realistic “love story” between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII in last year’s Best Picture winner, The King’s Speech, and how much pain and embarrassment he caused his younger brother with a speech impediment, who would have to take the throne following his abdication, this romance certainly lost any allure that Elaine was yammering on about when she made herself sick on a piece of their wedding cake on Seinfeld.  Considering those two facts (and that this film opened to horrible reviews), W./E. wasn’t exactly on our must-see list of 2011.  But, the photos of the costumes are so delicious, we’re quite tempted to rent this flick!  English actress Andrea Riseborough plays the American socialite that throws the line of British royalty out of whack, when King Edward decides to leave the throne, in order to marry the twice-divorced American.  (Riseborough was fantastic in 2010’s Made in Dagenham, if you’re looking for a good movie to see her in.)  Even though W./E. didn’t get positive reviews, Riseborough looks pitch-perfect as Wallis Simpson.  In fact, she actually even reminded us of Madonna herself, when she played a 1940s dark brunette in A League of their Own (the only film associated with the Material Girl that has a good reputation.)  James D’Arcy was also exceptionally well-cast as the young, slender blonde king.  Some of the film’s stills look so real, they could pass for actual historical photos.  Madonna hired costume designer Arianne Phillips to create the outfits for the film, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her stunning work.  (We think she deserves this Oscar!)  Phillips began work on the film a year prior to filming even began, studying costumes at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York and Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris.  Many of Simpson’s original dresses have been kept in museum archives, which were unavailable for Madonna’s production.  Many couture houses offered to recreate outfits for W./E., including Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli and Balenciaga.  (Fun Fact: Madonna asked for a wedding dress from one of Phillips’ competitors for the Oscar this year, Michael O’Connor.  The gown was on display at the National Museum of Costume in Scotland, whose general manager agreed to lend Madonna the dress.)  Co-stars of the film also looked fabulous in their various looks.  Abbie Cornish (pictured, above left) plays a modern girl researching Wallis, and looked wonderful in an all black shift with a matching cardigan, purse and pumps.  Natalie Dormer (pictured, above right) looks fantastic as a young Queen Mother.  In the above scene, she’s being fitted for a hat by the famous milliner Stephen Jones, which is Elizabeth and her daughter’s go-to accessory.  Phillips told W Magazine, “To me, Wallis Simpson was a style icon, but I didn’t know she was a couture client well before she met Edward.  She was also a hungry whore for jewelry.  Edward gave Wallis jewelry to make her feel royal.  My first task was figuring out how to re-create those famous gifts.”  Phillips contacted Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels to replicate several pieces from Simpson’s jewelry collection, including a famous emerald cross bracelet Edward gave to her.  Phillips also got in touch with luxury goods company Alfred Dunhill and Savile Row to get original fabrics and wool from the mills that actually created clothing for King Edward.  Phillips’ work and research on the film was not only thorough, but absolutely gorgeous.  Any one of Wallis Simpson’s beautiful outfits is inspiring today, even 80 years later.  We’re rooting for Arianne this year!


Something Blue

Something old, something new, something borrowed… Now THIS is “something blue!”  Prince Charles purchased a 12-carat oval sapphire surrounded by 14 rounds of diamonds set in an 18k white gold band from Garrard Jewelers.  (Fun Fact: Garrard Jewelers prides itself on being the world’s oldest jewelers since 1722.)  The ring was purchased for his future bride, whom we all know was Princess Diana.  The original purchase price was £28,500 [about $40,000 in 1981] but now that it is connected to the royals, the ring is currently valued at £250,000 [about $416,000 in 2011].  William said that his mother’s engagement ring was very special to him, just as Kate is, and that it was right that the two were put together in a way in which his mother wouldn’t miss out on their special day, and the rest of their lives together.  William told ITV, “I had been carrying it around in my rucksack for about three weeks before the proposal.  Everywhere I went, I was keeping ahold of it, cause I knew if this thing disappeared, I’d be in a lot of trouble.”  Catherine won’t be overshadowed by Diana’s legacy, and sure isn’t trying to fill any shoes.  Since Prince William’s younger brother Harry had inherited the ring, and he gifted it to his brother, it now has a special bond between all the members of William’s immediate family.  Catherine is her own person who wears the ring beautifully and elegantly, in a wonderful tribute to her husband’s mother.


Kate Middleton: Accessory Buyer to Jigsaw

This isn’t the creep from the horrible Saw movies.  This Jigsaw is a women’s clothing retailer that was founded in 1971 and based in London, with 43 stores across the United Kingdom.  And the reason we’re talking about this company is because fashion icon and future princess Kate Middleton used to work for Jigsaw as an assistant accessories buyer.  Kate used to worked four days a week (Monday-Thursday) when she was hired by the brand in December 2006.  Her mother, Carole Middleton, helped design the Jigsaw Junior website.  The company is owned by fashion bigwigs John and Belle Robinson, who also own Kew womenswear.  Jigsaw was one of the first stores to ever carry a size 16.  As Belle Robinson is 5’10, and the mother of five, she admitted to the Evening Standard that no amount of diet and exercise would ever make her super-skinny, which is why the store has been sympathetic to full-figured gals.  The Robinsons happen to know Kate Middleton’s family, although Belle claims they aren’t very close, but that Kate fit right in at Jigsaw.  “She sat in the kitchen at lunchtime and chatted with everyone from the van drivers to the accounts girls.  She wasn’t precious.  A lot of people have distorted it to say we’re friends with her parents but I’ve only met them four times,” Belle told the Evening Standard in 2008.  Jigsaw states on its website: “Jigsaw remains focused on selling desirable, high quality clothes and accessories in individual and stimulating shopping environments.  We are always striving to find a creative balance of inspiring our current customers whilst enticing in the new, offering collections made up of ‘on trend’ elements as well as beautifully cut wardrobe classics… No two Jigsaw stores are the same.  We are not formulaic; every store is designed to be sympathetic to its surroundings and with respect to the existing architecture.  Our store teams are carefully selected to ensure that they can offer our customers friendly, genuine, knowledgeable and impartial advice in a relaxed environment.”  In 2007, jeweler Claudia Bradby worked with Middleton to create a silver pendant for the chain “Kate was very clear in what she wanted,” Bradby told People. “She wanted a very simple bean pendant that a mother and daughter could both wear together… It was completely her initiative because she thought there was a gap in the market for something real and sophisticated, that had longevity for that age group.”  The simple silver necklace features with rose quartz and freshwater charms has been re-released in honor of Kate’s upcoming wedding, and retails at £54.  Even though Kate doesn’t work for Jigsaw anymore, it’s interesting to where the princess dabbled in professional fashion before moving onto royal duties… maybe after all this wedding stuff is over, she can come out with her own line!


Elizabeth Taylor’s Jewels to be Auctioned Off

The Taylor-Burton Diamond

Taylor with the Famous "La Peregrina"

“My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring.  I was hooked,” the late Elizabeth Taylor famously stated about her fascination with diamonds, gems and pearls.  Taylor may be gone, but her ridiculous collection of jewels is still here.  But, apparently not for long…  Taylor’s jewelry is going to auction at Christie’s, for a once-estimated $150 million.  Celebrity jeweler Lorraine Schwartz spoke of the actress, saying, “The studios, in order to make her happy, they’d always give her jewelry.  So she grew up collecting it.”  And boy, did she ever.  Taylor received a 69-carat, pear-shaped diamond necklace as a present from 5th (and 6th) husband, Richard Burton, which was renamed the “Taylor-Burton Diamond,” in honor of its owners.  It also sold for a record 1 million dollars.  She also owned the “La Peregrina Pearl” necklace, which once belonged to Anne Boleyn and Queen Mary I.  It was a Valentine’s Day gift from Burton, and their Pekingese dog almost destroyed it when he decided to chew on it during one of the couple’s spats.  (One of our editors is a Tudor history buff, and this little anecdote made her literally gag.)  Taylor’s favorite piece was apparently the 33-carat, emerald-cut Krupp diamond ring that Burton also bought for her from Sotheby’s.  The Krupps were a German industrial family that donated to the Nazi Party, so she found it amusing that it ended up in a Jewish girl’s hands (even though she was a convert, but that’s beside the point).  Taylor apparently wore it everyday of her life after receiving it.  Among her other baubles were the the Duchess of Windsor diamond brooch and the Grand Duchess of Russia emeralds.  In 2002 Taylor published a book about her love of jewelry called, My Love Affair with Jewelry, as well as creating her own jewelry line called House of Taylor.  From crowned royals to Hollywood starlet, it’ll be interesting to see where these precious gems go next!

Her Favorite 33-Carat Krupp Ring

Taylor in Grand Duchess of Russia Emeralds


Tom Binns: Jewel of the Emerald Isle

Tom Binns is the famous designer behind many of the beautiful baubles First Lady Michelle Obama dons on a regular basis.  Our editors thought it made sense to feature this Irish designer in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.  Binns was born in Belfast, Ireland (the ancestral hometown of our editors, which only endears him to them further), and has been living in Venice Beach, CA for the past few years.  He graduated from Middlesex Polytechnic in 1981 with a degree in jewelry design, and got his start during the “Punk Era” in London.  Binns was influenced by the Dada Movement, and is now considered the pioneer of the “junk-jewelry.”  Aka, he’s an alchemist – he makes garbage into gems.  The low-key designer seems to be making fun of high-priced accessories as often as he… well, makes high-priced accessories.  In his early days, Binns made pirate jewelry for Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s “new romantic” clothing lines, and his love of skulls stayed with him, as he’s made the unusual shape pretty popular with his famous rings.  In 1981, he created his first collection, made entirely of rubber – and his rubber fish bracelets became quite a hit.  He eventually went on to work with other offbeat materials, such as safety pins and nails, as well as beach glass and driftwood for his collaboration with Calvin Klein.  Binns won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Accessory Designer of the Year Award in 2006.  Binns’ most notable fan is the current First Lady.  Michelle Obama has been seen wearing his creations at a party thrown for her by notorious Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, and above at a White House gala.  Binns went on to open his first store in New York in 2009.  Last year, Binns collaborated with Disney Couture for the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland to make Lewis Carroll-esque pieces.  (One of theSkinnyStiletto‘s favorite style inspirations).  Prices ranged from $100 to $1,500.  The resulting mismatched hearts, teapots, rabbits, and keyholes cemented the idea that the quirky tale was a perfect match for the quirky designer.  Tom Binns is something quite rare in the jewelry industry – original.  It’s no wonder other designers copy his work.  Binns’ pieces are creative, glamorous and fun, and we’re looking forward to his career in the fashion world.  That’s why theSkinnyStiletto crowns him the jewel of the Emerald Isle.

Tom Binns for Disney Couture Alice in Wonderland Necklaces