Holiday Happenings Replace Election Ennui

The floodgates just opened on the holiday season, or so it seemed last night, as I waded through at least four different invites. Since I can never resist a discussion of jewelry, my first stop was the Aaron Faber Gallery for “Jewelry in the Age of the New Luxury: A Look at Jewelry Design and Desire” Though I was unfamiliar with this store located next to MoMa, I quickly realized their penchant for artisan crafted fine jewelry. Last night’s panel was moderated by Victoria Gomelsky (JCK Magazine) and included Shannon Adducci (writer and stylist), Patricia Kiley Faber (Co-owner of the gallery), Will Kahn (Fashion Market & Accessories Director, Town & Country), Lisa Koenigsberg (Initiatives in Art & Culture), Ellianna Placas (Creative Consultant & Stylist), and Peter Schmid (Jewelry Designer at Atelier Zobel).

Jewelry by Kim Rawdin

The first topic discussed was what are the chief drivers behind today’s jewelry consumption? Ms. Faber remarked on how you can’t minimize the effect of power and personal expression that people get from a piece of jewelry whether it’s purchased as a gift to mark an occasion or purchased by oneself. Koenigsberg agrees that most jewelry is bought for an occasion and “marks a moment,” perhaps now signaling a “broader notion of what those moments should be,” besides just traditional jewelry events such as engagements and weddings.

Jewelry by Peter Schmid

Investment value was discussed — both intrinsic and extrinsic. Adducci (whose parents own an auction house) mentioned the emotional ties a piece of jewelry symbols to its owner/wearer. “The heart has to be there,” she said. “What does the word investment mean? Are these the pieces that you pass down, the pieces that stand the test of time? They hold their value and hold their emotional value as well. One should have a visceral reaction but the art and design have to be there.” Khan mentioned that signed pieces such as those by JAR and new jewelry wunderkind Lauren Adriana fetch more at auction. Schmid said that his pieces are selling on the secondary market for the same amount that they would as new pieces while agreeing that “the emotional response is important.”

What makers are showing up on the 21st century canon of jewelers so far? I learned new names such as the aforementioned Lauren Adriana, Daniel Brush, Wallace Chan, Hemmerle and garnered that a few 20th century names are still going strong such as David Webb.

Patricia Faber

Sustainability entered into the conversation as Faber adds “the millennial customer is interested. Recycling is more ethical but ethical mines? It’s really difficult to be ethical and sustainable through the whole process.” Koenigsberg mentioned Chopard who tries to make their gold sustainable as well as their fair mined diamonds. “Everything from cars to home building is asking this question,” she said. Designer Schmid queried his supplier in Germany as to where the gold comes from and was told that 95% is recycled. Moderator Gomelsky adds that the ban on Burmese jade and rubies was just recently lifted.  “Diamonds and gold have come a long way in the last decade. Colored stones are still the wild, wild west.”

Jewelry by So Young Park

So what of the aspiring collector?  How to begin determining what speaks to you? Placas says it’s a matter of personal taste and what you’ve been exposed to, influences from your family and an emotional connection. Names such as Fred Leighton, FD Gallery and of course, Aaron Farber are recommended for the uneducated to get another perspective on the world of jewelry.  Of course, a lot depends on your budget.  Adducci recommends checking out jewelry auctions.  Here you’ll find “the classics, investment pieces that have a legacy.  Some pieces are accessible,” she adds showing off her jade bangle which she purchased for $20.  Gomelsky recommends checking out the online auctions. Khan tells of how when he came from W,  his new T&C boss EIC Stellene Volandes (whose Rizzoli book on the subject he plugs: (See here))  sent him to Verdura to have a look around.  He highly recommends not only the jewelry, but also the surroundings,  china and coffee at the venerable jewelry house.  And what of the fear of exploring the auction houses or the major jewelry establishments with no intention other than to educate yourself.   “These stores don’t get much traffic and they’re there all day,” quips Placas.

The role of customization and storytelling were touched on.  “The more we know about a thing, the more we like it,” said Gromelsky.  “We don’t just want a diamond, we want to buy it from the Grace Kelly Room of Cartier,” joked Khan referencing another Town & Country article.  (See article) While they are discussing “makers with a story” I immediately think of my favorite brand — John Hardy. Weirdly, Khan reads my mind mentioning their Bamboo pattern which plants 20 bamboo trees in Bali with purchase.

What jewelry trends can we look forward to seeing?  “Chokers, baguette cuts, two-tone watches, yellow gold in general (rose gold had its moment), more bold, chunky pieces such as earrings,” said Khan.  Koenigsberg adds that mixed metals are big as well as unique surface treatments likening them to “textiles in fashion.”

And here it where I learn that the lede was buried.  Gromelsky is asked to tell her story which appeared in yesterday’s New York Times(See article)  In short, Gromelsky tells how in 2013, while making the rounds at Basel World, Shinola  (now a lifestyle brand), had just started doing watches. Most were of a railroad style however they had just designed their very first ladies watch and it needed a name. A chance encounter with owner Tom Kartsotis, founder of the brand, ended with a very special tribute. After spending an hour with Gromelsky, which she thought was odd for a random press appointment, she found out that Kartsotis had decided on a unique naming idea. “Right before I got there he had uttered the words ‘Fuck it, the next person who wanders in, we’re naming it after them.'” And now, here she was, wearing the watch that bears her last name on the dial.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows
Click image for full size view

After the panel wrapped, I walked over to Bergdorf’s where the holiday windows had just been unveiled with a cocktail reception. The theme — “Destination Extraordinary”– is played out predominately in rich blues and greens with various iterations including “A Bird’s Eye View,” “Hitchhiking,” “Winging It,” “The Scenic Route,” and “The Book Club,” giving a lush and verdant, jungle-like atmosphere to the urban jungle.

Bergdorf  Goodman holiday windows
Click image for full size view

This makes sense when I learn that the inspiration for the windows are the paintings of Henri Rousseau as well as trips to the American Natural History Museum.  David Hoey, Senior Director of Presentation says of the six-months project:  “The windows are like magical realist versions of natural history dioramas.”

There’s no forgetting that Trump Tower, now attracting more camera phone wielding tourists than Tiffany’s, is less than a block away. Luckily the underage protesters that I’d seen earlier in the day were gone, the night had cleared, the air was crisp but not cold and the mood was celebratory as dozens of erstwhile photographers stood on the sidewalk in front of Bergdorf’s taking in the masterful window displays.

Dee Ocleppo & Linda Fargo

Inside the store, the crowd was thinning (literally), as I bumped into two incredibly tall, rail-thin model types exiting the revolving doors. Another tall woman namely Dee Ocleppo was there talking to Linda Fargo (wearing signature Libertine) as well as other fashion and social mavens. Bergdorf’s is magical assuming its place at the top of the retail hierarchy — decked out for the holidays with many custom accouterments.

Items display on the floor

These include strategically placed tables displaying fabulous clothes, handbags and decorative items from many of today’s most sought after designers wearing the tag “Linda Loves.”

Not wishing to ruin the highbrow sophistication of the evening with the denouement of a trip downtown to an event of unknown pedigree, I gave myself the permission to head home.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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