Tag Archives: Ring

Hoops Spring Eternal

Ear piercing is one of the oldest known forms of body modification and has been a part of human culture since the earliest hunter-gatherer tribes. The 5,000-year-old mummified body found frozen in an Austrian Glacier in 1991 had pierced ears. Through the Neolithic Age, earrings were made mainly from stone, clay, bone and seashell. The oldest extant earrings from this period were unearthed inInner Mongolia, and dated to between 7500 and 8200 years ago. They are jade hoops, and the archeologist behind their discovery said it was almost unimaginable that people in ancient times managed to achieve such a perfect pair of hoops without modern tools.

In various tribal cultures the ears were pierced with precious metals to ward off demons, as the belief was that they could enter the body through the ears. Such may well have been the origin of all hoops. Starting with the Bronze Age, around 3,000 BC, metalworking lead to the production of more sophisticated earrings. Hoop earrings have been found in the royal graves of Persepolisin Iraq dating to about 2,500 BC, and surviving walls from the palace show carved images of soldiers from various parts of the ancient Persian Empire wearing them as well. In Egypt large gold hoop earrings became popular during the 18th-20th Dynasties. In Babylonia and Assyriafinely crafted gold earrings were worn by men to denote rank. In Greece gold hoops often had tinkling pendants attached, and Roman women wore precious stones on their hoops to show off their status.

For centuries hoops were not worn by most European women. They preferred styles such as the girandole, and later the pendeloque, to balance the high hairdos and big wigs that were being worn. One group that did keep wearing hoops through the 19th century were sailors, among whom it was common belief that if their ship wrecked and their bodies washed up on a shore, the person to find them would take the earring as payment for a proper burial. There was also a long-held belief that puncturing the earlobe was beneficial to increasing the acuity of eyesight, and pirates may have worn hoops for this reason.

Another group that famously maintained the wearing of hoops was The Roma People, or Gypsies. Gypsies are believed to have originated from the Punjab and Rajasthan regions of India, an area where elaborate gold hoops have been worn for centuries, and are often a part of the bridal dowry. Hoop earrings became so identified with Gypsies as to even be referred to as “Gypsy hoops.”

For centuries African women have also worn hoops, which are found throughout the many tribal regions in a great variety of forms and materials. Women in Egypt traditionally wear 22K-gold hoops, often decorated with many tiny gold discs that move and shimmer, especially on belly dancers.  Latin, French and Creole women, and sometimes men, also wore hoops right up into the 2oth century. The popularity of hoops among so many seemingly “exotic” peoples may have helped keep the majority of class-conscious European and American women from wearing them.

It wasn’t until after World War II that European and American women would appropriate hoop earrings. Manufacturing techniques made earrings lighter and more comfortable, and Hollywood icons such as Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe helped popularized hoops by sending out an implicit message that they were earthy and sexy. In the 1960s, hoops made a big comeback in hippie culture, perhaps for the very same reasons that women had avoided wearing them so long. Men also started wearing hoops again, and by the 1980s, the male fashion of wearing a hoop in each took hold. Hip-hop culture inspired considerable style innovation in hoops, with home-girls taking to wearing oversized, oblong shapes, often with whimsical design elements. Hollywood continues to glamorize hoops, with diamond-studded ones seen on a number of celebrities walking the red carpet in the past few years.

Today the vernacular of hoop earrings has expanded to suit the many facets of modern life. Many women opt for more conservative hoops with smaller, simpler designs. The very notion that some hoops can be considered “conservative” indicates just how mainstream hoops have become. Whatever the style, it is likely that hoops will continue to be a fashion staple for women, if not men, for years to come.

Let’s Talk About… Cocktail Rings: Shaken, Not Stirred.

Of all the jewelry available the one piece that makes the biggest statement will always be the cocktail ring.  It’s big and bold and is perched on the hand that’s holding the cocktail.  How perfectly suited to the ring’s history as the fashionable item to wear during prohibition. 

The golden age of Hollywood embraced the lovely baubles.  The starlets of the 1940s lifted the ring [and a few martinis] to a popularity that has lasted as a staple of every stylish woman’s wardrobe today.

So what exactly should you look for in a cocktail ring?  Think of it as the coffee table book.  You may only look at the pictures a few times, but something about it is so compelling and wonderfully oversized, that it’s a perfect book for your guests to peruse while you finish off the canapés in the kitchen.  It is a conversation piece – and never meant to be taken too seriously. 

Your cocktail rings should have the same effect as fascinating objects that evoke conversation.  They say something about your personality and your taste – and communicate a little something about you that you might have been too shy to say.  It is little wonder that so many of them are enameled animals, or great big fake stones in fabulously unnatural colors and sometimes pom-poms of crystals that jingle and flirt.  The one commonality amongst them is that they are bright as a smile on a gorgeous day – your smile.

These days it isn’t unusual to see cocktail rings worn for everything BUT cocktails.  With busy schedules and much to do, sometimes the easiest way to spruce up an outfit or add some interest to a day dress is to toss on some simple earrings and a luscious ring.  If it ever gets in the way with running errands or isn’t appropriate for that meeting with your very serious boss, you can slip it off and tuck it away till later when you meet up with friends for… well… cocktails.  After all, they have a history.



Style Lesson Number 1:

Next time you’re packing for a trip, maybe all you need in your luggage is a couple of simple, elegant outfits and a few deliciously chosen pieces of jewelry.  And don’t forget the cocktail ring.  You never know where it will take you.

Go from Brrrr to Purrr this Winter!

Just because a leopard can’t change its spots doesn’t mean you can’t change yours. Go wild this season by adding leopard-print accessories to your look!

CZ Leopard-Enameled Bypass Ring

Make the exotic part of your everyday style when you wear this bypass design of leopard print enamel edged with white cz.

SusanB.charmed Sterling Silver Leopard Murano Glass Charm

The exquisite color and shimmer of hand-blown Murano glass are shown off to perfection in the unique and simple design of the SusanB.charmed system. Here mottled leopard spots sparkle from a glittering translucent bead set in sterling silver, making a gorgeous accent or centerpiece for your SusanB.charmed collection.

Leopard Print Scarf

Instant interesting! A scarf is the most essential and versatile wardrobe accessory for women, period. Around the neck, head, waist or purse handle, a simple scarf can turn boring into brilliant. And you’ll go wild for our luxuriously soft microfiber Leopard Print Scarf. Measuring a generous 33 square inches, you can drape, roll, fold, twist and knot this into the purrrrr-fect accessory, everyday.

Gold-over-Sterling Silver CZ Leopard Print Teardrop Earrings

Here is a pair of earrings that are sure to make your outfit wild. With gold-over-sterling silver settings and an intriguing combination of leopard-print enamel and brilliant cubic zirconia, these pieces will unleash your fun-loving side.

Gold-over-Sterling Silver Leopard Print Enamel and CZ Band Ring

Your natural animal magnetism gets a little boost with the sexy and seductive On the Prowl Band Ring. An elegant gold-over-sterling setting serves as the perfect backdrop for the crisscrossing bands of leopard-print enamel and 22 diamond-like cubic zirconia accents that make the On the Prowl Band Ring such a tempting piece.

Leopard-Enameled CZ Band Ring

Everyone will compliment your unique taste! This band-style ring has leopard-print enamel highlighted with rows of white cz-27 in all!

Gold-over-Sterling Silver Enamel and CZ Animal Print Bangle Bracelet

Style-hunters have always been wild about animal print. Add some primal elegance to your look with the On the Prowl Bangle Bracelet, a leopard-print enamel stunner set in luxurious gold over sterling silver and accented with 55 brilliant cubic zirconia accents.

Gold-over-Sterling Silver Simulated Smokey Topaz Leopard Print Enamel Ring

Let yourself go a little wild with the On the Prowl Ring. A seductively stylish combination of gold over sterling silver, leopard-print enamel and over 1.09 diamond equivalent carats of white cubic zirconia accents serves as the perfect backdrop for the On the Prowl Ring's gorgeous round-cut lion's eye weighing almost 5 carats.

Ballet Flats Portable Foldable Black and Animal Print

Heels may be the literal height of fashion, but after a few hours your feet might wish you were less fashionable. Still you don't have to run off like Cinderella, or worse, pull out those unsightly sneakers that clearly belong in your gym locker. Simply slip into a pair of Spare Soles, the sleekly designed, foldable flats that you can take anywhere. Choose from plain black, black reptile and leopard print to coordinate with your wardrobe. Each pair comes in a matching little wristlet bag that expands into a delightful tote for stashing your heels. Spare Souls have waterproof, grip bottoms, so not only can you wear them on the dance floor, you can also walk home in them. So go ahead and dance the rest of the night away! Your feet will have a great time too, and can still look fashionable the next day. Now that's women's liberation!


SusanB. Fall/Winter 2011 Lookbook





Kenneth Jay Lane loves a lady in red, and he searched the world for the most flattering shade. Make the most of his “pigeon blood” ruby bead necklace and bracelet by showing them off against rich purple-reds and magentas. The gold tones of Kenneth Jay Lane’s cuff bracelet and dome ring heighten the ruby warmth and add bright punctuation to your ensemble. Some luggage-colored leather, in this case maryjane platform shoes, grounds all the tones of your palette while keeping the focus on your jewelry. For a luxurious final touch, a versatile black stole collar with tie-able tails lets you dramatically wrap up your study in reds.






The mirror gleam of silver jewelry and the iridescence of indigo fox fur make for stunning silver alchemy. Enhance its effect on a canvas of pale dove-gray tones and basic black. Mix and layer various silver bracelets and chains – their reflective surfaces combine almost seamlessly so that they don’t look too busy. A softly draping, open cardigan over a chiffon tank-top with intricate detailing help accentuate the luxurious texture of fox earmuffs and handbag. Wide-legged black pants, a staple since Coco Chanel, add a base layer of depth, popping up the rich subtleties of granulated, hammered, meshed and spun silver.






Genuine or simulated, eye-catching pieces of turquoise, emerald, peridot, aqua and lemon quartz jewelry are best shown off against yellow and chartreuse. Our “Anatomy of a Diamond Ring” scarf with SusanB. logo and blueprint design has just the right tones for these gem colors. We’ve paired a genuine emerald tennis bracelet with the glittering blues and greens of Kenneth Jay Lane’s exotic snake bracelet, and culminate with lemon quartz ring dramatically poised on the third finger. Molly Sims crystal dangle earrings pick up on all the blue-green iridescence and gold. Or make your focal point a blue-crystal medallion pendant from Rodrigo Otazu.






For the woman who love pearls, but wants to take their appeal in a whole new direction, chocolate is the way. The rich, sensual color and luster of chocolate freshwater pearls sets a sumptuous tone, and SusanB. offers them in several lengths (18”-60”), so you can layer them opulently. To play up their color, honey browns and tans are ideal – with some printed pattern to mix it all up. For fire, some brigh rings and earrings in gold with amber and honey-colored stones Kenneth Jay Lane’s ever-perfect gold cuff heightens the brightness, while gold-accented chocolate brown shoes reiterate it all. Throw the entire palette into sharp relief with a navy scarf, or Miguel Ases’ blue crystal dangle-earrings.









Rich-hued blue stones such as sapphires are fantastic to spotlight against a background of deep black and dark silver. Here Kenneth Jay Lane’s gold-link station necklace of simulated sapphires and faceted crystals is featured on a charcoal sateen jacket-blouse together with a long rope of black pearls to amp up the shimmer. Mongolian black fur scarf and handbag give the look playful luxury, while the strap’s gold chain echoes the station necklace. Reprieve the theme with bold gold-tone rings featuring rough-cut sapphire or blue agate, and a twin Shambala ring from SusanB. The finale: black diamond or black pearl earrings.







For a bold, beautiful statement, mix several different blue-hued gemstones, highlighting their celestial radiance against a muted, but rich tone, such as this doe-colored suede dress. A pair of turquoise tights reinstates your gemstone colors and dramatizes the dynamic of earth and sky tones. This is not only perfect color blocking for the season, but an exciting new play on large-stoned pieces. Add a fluffy, cloud-like handbag of white Mongolian fur and you will have beautifully mastered all the elements.














Gold pieces with turquoise, coral and other colored stones come to full flower when set against the earthy warmth and sensual appeal of browns. As with blacks, you can combine browns in various tones to heighten their depth and textures. Setting the textural tone here: sumptuous brown fox over a cocoa suede dress. The golden tones of the fur are mutually highlighted by those of stacked bangles worn over luggage leather gloves, while an English tan color wrap bracelet serves as harmonious focal point. Brown tights and patchwork suede shoes reiterate the whole delicious palette.








Not only can different shades of brown be mixed to great effect; elements of different styles can as well. A piece of statement jewelry such as Kenneth Jay Lane’s gold-studded, pyramid cuff bracelet makes a perfect mixer for haute style and rock n’ roll edge. Tailored leather pants in darkest brown, topped with a trim luggage-color leather belt give biker chic an elegant spin, and are made sexier by a smartly cropped knit. A big, reflective gold shoulder bag adds bright contrast and plays up goldtone earrings, bangles and rings. Finish with your favorite pair of lace-up boots to add a casual edge to your high-end jewelry look.






Icy blues beautifully set the stage for silver and gold, turquoise, diamonds, colored pearls and beads, black stones and anything nacreous. They also provide rich contrast for some dramatic two-tone fur pieces, used here to break up the different shades of blue, while adding depth, texture and of course winter warmth. A neutral-color quilted bag with pearlescent finish and gold chain, and shoes with metallic detail play up the blues, and especially highlight the featured jewelry, in this case a Kenneth Jay Lane turquoise and sapphire feather pendant and Miguel Ases black onyx earrings.



Multiple layers of black can prove essential in winter, but take on new significance as backdrop to jewelry with crystalline sparkle. A dramatically scaled pair of glittering earrings normally relegated to evening wear are boldly featured here without regard to the hour, lending glamour to a short quilted jacket, and aristocratic flair to a fur-trimmed and nylon trapper hat. We’ve balanced the stellar earrings with an opulent mix of silver bangles and rings with crystals, black pearl and onyx. A trim double-belt in brown leather breaks up the black on black, as does the strap and brass hardware of a compact utilitarian shoulder bag.













Classic winter whites are given an unexpectedly exotic turn when paired with the glimmer of gold and sheen of satin. First, a multi-tiered, hammered gold-coin necklace, and a pair of gold and crystal earrings pop dramatically against the soft textures of cream-colored knit capelet and buff mink earmuffs. For more bright contrast and tonal depth a long dress in taupe satin with a peek-a-boo marigold lining highlights the goldtone bracelets and rings. Crystals and even peach pearls all help transport those winter whites to warmer latitudes.






For anyone who thinks pearls are too classic or sedate to give an evening look significant “wow”, a stunning rebuttal. The trick is more and larger pearls, and in different colors – doesn’t matter if they’re genuine or simulated. Strands of oversized baroque pearls in black and white, and pearl drop earrings shimmer magnificently atop a vertically sectioned black dress of various textures and transparencies, including a sequined segment that recapitulates the pearly glimmer. The vertical play is amplified by mixing pearl bracelets together with gemstone and crystal ones, and is punctuated by a big pearl ring.


KENNETH JAY LANE INTERVIEWJorge Socarras: I’m here with famed jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane, whose amazing career of almost fifty years has been an amalgam of creative vision, social prowess and business savvy. His delightful book, “Faking It,” is storied with as many glittering personalities as it is fabulous jewelry designs. I’m hoping Mr. Lane will give us a few insights into his career, his creativity, and his sense of style. Hello, Mr. Lane. Thank you so much for having us here in your beautiful home, first of all.


Kenneth Jay Lane: Well after that introduction, what can I say?

JS: I’m sure there’s lots more, hopefully. I’d like to start at the beginning. Your remarkable career as a jewelry designer started at an equally remarkable time, the early 1960s. How would you describe your mindset as a young designer working in NY and Paris in the early 1960s?

KJL: Ah, good heavens, my mindset! Well, I had half a mind then; I think it’s grown a bit, I hope. I hadn’t studied jewelry design, but I was very fortunate because I’d seen a lot of very good jewelry on ladies. I wrote in my book about snake bracelets going up the wonderful long arm of Marella Agnelli, a woman who had great style, and one sort of stuck in my mind, so one of the first things I ever did were snake bracelets. But actually it’s just perchance I did some jewelry for a collection by Arnold Scaasi, who was a very important designer then and we were making shoes for him. The shoes had flat-back rhinestones glued on in a special way so they didn’t come off, and they were on the tips of shoes, on the heels, and sometimes the entire shoe – women could dance in them, walk in them and they stuck. So I thought, in conversation with Arnold, why don’t we do some buttons to match the shoes? And then the buttons developed into earrings, and into bracelets. I knew nothing about jewelry manufacturing, so I bought plastic bracelets at the 5 & 10 and had them covered with stones. My next great idea again came from shoes: covering plastic bracelets with cobra skins, snakeskin and even alligator skins. I had those done by the people who covered the heels of shoes in the factory. And the rest is history.

JS: So would you say there was a lot of experimenting in the beginning?

KJL: Oh, yes, yes!

JS: But you did get ideas of what you wanted to see.

KJL: Well, I went through various stages. There was a moment of Pop Art, so I did Pop Art jewelry. And there were all those various sort of fads, which I went along with for a little bit and played with. Then I got really involved. You see, fashionable women in the early 60’s didn’t really wear costume jewelry. Costume jewelry sold in department stores, but it was much more middle of the road – little broaches for a lady to wear to church on Sunday. A woman wore earrings the way she wore gloves. I started having fun with jewelry. Fortunately, I knew some very attractive New York ladies who started picking up on my stuff, including the marvelous Diana Vreeland, who was then editor of Harper’s Bazaar.

KJL with Diana Vreeland

JS: When did feel or get a sense that you had arrived as a jewelry designer?

KJL: I suppose when I was able to pay my bills. I started in a very small way and was very fortunate because within about a month I was selling in every store on Fifth Avenue. It was easier then because it was pre-computers, pre-computer codes. If something was in a magazine, it could be in Saks Fifth Avenue’s window the next day – that’s almost impossible today.

JS: One of the things that really comes across from your book is how asides from your wonderful jewelry designs, you came to be revered as a personality for your own personal sense of style and your charm, and so many fabulous women have befriended you over the years.

KJL: Aren’t they lucky?

JS: I’d say so! And I’m not even going to name them – there’s too many to name. If anybody wants to know they should read your book because that’s part of the fun of it.

KJL: I was very fortunate, and I will name just a few because after they left us, their jewelry and other things were sold at auction. One of them was the Duchess of Windsor, and they found ten years after she died about twenty-eight pieces of my jewelry, which were sold at the big Windsor sale for huge amounts of money. Even more so, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who was a wonderful friend. I think my jewelry went for over a million dollars at the sale – costume jewelry! The only thing I ever made on commission for anyone, I made for Jackie. She asked me to do a version of this Van Cleef necklace that I’d never seen her wear. It went for $90,500. And three strands of pearls that were not extraordinary – just very normal pearls – went for $211,000 at auction.

JS: With all the marvelously glamorous women you’ve known, is there a trait these very stylish women have in common – something identifiable?

KJL: I think a sense of themselves. And they haven’t all been rich women; some of the most fashionable women that I’ve known were not rich – some were, some weren’t. Some of them were extraordinary beauties – not pretty necessarily, but wonderful looking – a wonderful aura about them. There are still some women who are beautifully dressed in New York, who have a great sense of style: Mica Ertegun, whose husband, Ahmet Ertegun, started Atlantic Records; Annette de la RentaOscar’s wife; Carolina Hererra, who designs herself. There are so many attractive women. There are a lot of attractive young women too.


JS: Happily.

KJL: Happily. Unfortunately, there are women celebrities who wear borrowed clothes and don’t know how to move in them – they just stand in them. It takes time, you know. A little girl puts on her mother’s jewelry, clothes, hats, shoes that are much too big for her, looks in the mirror – she’s play-acting, but that’s the beginning. Then she’s got to grow into it. It’s hard to grow into it if you’ve only worn blue jeans all your life.

JS: Among the many wonderful women, some of which you’ve named, you mentioned Diana Vreeland – she obviously had a special place in your life. What’s something you learned from such an extraordinary women?

KJL: What I learned from Diana Vreeland was positive thinking.

JS: Really?

KJL: Yes. If it wasn’t positive, it didn’t exist. And that is a wonderful psychology to follow. Another might be: don’t really expect anything because anything that happens then is wonderful. You know, she was very philosophical; it wasn’t only fashion. And of course her beau mots were extraordinary – some of them by mistake.

JS: Supposedly the “Think Pink” number from Funny Face was inspired by her.

KJL: Oh yes. She was going to come to India with me when I went, and didn’t at the last minute. Her motto then was, “Shocking pink is the navy blue of India.” So I sent her a wire from India: “Can’t stand all this navy blue!”


JS: (laughs) Regarding style, fashion obviously can be studied; it can be emulated. Can style be learned and cultivated?

KJL: Oh absolutely. You know, women shouldn’t be afraid of clothes or accessories. Everything should suit the lady who’s wearing it, of course, but it isn’t a matter of size or shape. For instance, Helena Rubinstein, who was 5 by 5 – she was really like a square – had great style because she was obviously aware of her style and her looks, but wore a lot of jewelry. It was very curious: when she died her jewelry was sold at auction, and some of the stones were real and some were fake. Lets say, a necklace with five strands of pearls that looked wonderful on her – half of them were not real.

JS: Interesting. What would you say is a strong point of style for American women? What do you think they have most going for them?

KJL: Dress to suit yourself. Have a three-way mirror. (laughs) Don’t be afraid… well, in my case, of jewelry. With precious jewelry, if a lady’s wearing six strands of real pearls, it would be showing off her wealth. But six strands of imitation or simulated pearls – that’s fashion.

JS: When you’re out and about town, what do you notice about the way people look?

KJL: I try not to. (both laugh)

JS: When a woman goes shopping for jewelry, what should she take into consideration? If she sees something she thinks is beautiful and feels she has to have it, is that enough?

KJL: That’s plenty. You know, if you think of the great jewelers – Tiffany, Cartier, etcetera – they don’t change their collection every year. Elsa Peretti’s jewelry at Tiffany is still their best selling collection and it hasn’t changed in fifty years.

JS: Amazing. What would you say to a young woman today who’s aspiring to great style?

Kenneth Jay Lane Red Coral Beaded Dangle Earrings Clip On

KJL: That’s a very difficult question. Not every woman has to aspire to great style – there are other things in life. But style isn’t only about the way she looks. It’s the way she walks; it’s the way she talks – voice is important. It’s the way she lives. I mean, great style isn’t just on the street; it’s in her house. And again a woman doesn’t have to be rich to have an attractive house. You don’t have to be rich to entertain. You could make spaghetti for people and they’re very happy. Some of the best dinners I’ve ever been to were just spaghetti dinners with salad and cheese. Depends on the people who are there. What’s curious is that while driving to the airport there are all these tall buildings, and if you look into most of the windows you see white. People are afraid of color. But with style, one shouldn’t be afraid. One should have fun with it. The whole thing with fashion is fun. When I was growing up, women on the street wore hats or flowers in their hair, or little combs with funny things, and gloves – there were so many more things that gave women pleasure. Then that terrible thing called minimalism came along! (JS laughs) It takes the pleasure out of dressing. On the street when you see a woman in a red coat, you really look because it cheers the whole street up. Color cheers one up. I believe that a woman should wear, say, turquoise beads or earrings, or coral in the middle of winter. If she’s all in gray, the color picks up the costume. So many colors one sees on the street today are rather boring, quite honestly.

Kenneth Jay Lane Turquoise and Sapphire Feather Pendant

JS: Those are very good tips. And speaking of fun and enjoying things, you mentioned before that the most important thing is that you still love what you do. Is there anything else you could imagine having done that you would love as much as making jewelry? Not to say that that’s the only thing you do.

KJL: Well, I used to paint when I was in school. I painted the same church out of my window in Providence, Rhode Island, about twelve times. When I came to New York, I got busy – I’d been having too much fun – and my brushes dried out. I put them in turpentine and they disintegrated! So perhaps I would have liked to have been a painter.

JS: Yet the artist in you very much stayed alive and expressed himself through your work – there is continuity, obviously.

KJL: Well, I’m very fortunate. For me, my designing my business is like a hobby – more than a hobby; it’s a great enjoyment. And hopefully my things have a slight lightness of touch, a bit of humor, because I think humor is very important. It’s important for style too. I mean, a lady has to laugh at herself sometimes.

JS: I think all the qualities you mention definitely come across in your jewelry designs. They come through you as well – you’re a delight, as is your work. It’s such a pleasure to be here speaking with you, and I want to thank you so much.

KJL: Well, thank you. It’s a pleasure talking to you too.

JS: Thank you, Mr. Lane.



SusanB. Pearl Style Guide


SusanB. Pearl Style GuidePearls

Whether a strand of pearls, a gorgeous cocktail ring or a conversation-starting brooch, pearls have been and will be treasured for ages – so congrats on making them your signature piece! “Pearl girls” know that these beauties can be worn often and in many unique ways. Once a special occasion item, pearls are now an everyday piece – and super stylish to boot. So let your creativity shine! Layer, wrap and stack pearls to wake up your wardrobe while keeping it classy.

Cherished and collected for over 4000 years, pearls are our oldest prized gems. Pearls are found in mollusk shells – oysters, mussels and clams, although most cultured pearls today come from mussels. A pearl is formed when the rim of a shell is damaged such that nacre, part of the inner shell also known as mother of pearl, is released. Over time a pearl forms around the nacre as a result of the healing process.

Pearls are naturally occurring in both saltwater and freshwater mollusks, but are very rare and hence expensive.

Nearly a century ago, the pearl industry changed forever when modern culturing was perfected. Cultured, or humanly encouraged pearls form the same way as natural pearls, however in cultured pearls the nacre is planted into the mussel and harvested a few years later. 99% of all of pearls sold today are cultured pearls.

So what’s the difference between cultured pearls and freshwater pearls? All freshwater pearls are cultured, but not all cultured pearls are freshwater, some are saltwater pearls referred to as akoya pearls.

Akoya (aka cultured or saltwater) pearls are the most lustrous, round and, next to natural pearls, the most sought-after pearls on the market today. Their shine and luminosity is unrivaled. However, their beauty comes with a small caveat. The surface of saltwater pearls is soft so they require a bit of care. The best way to care for your cultured pearls is to keep them in a separate pouch and simply wipe them with a damp cloth after wearing. These two little steps will keep them looking gorgeous for a lifetime.

Freshwater pearls are often more oblong and have slightly less bright finish than the lustrous akoya pearls. However, because freshwater pearls are more solid, they are far more durable than akoya pearls and require little care. Although they are less valuable than their saltwater relatives, freshwater pearls are very affordable, beautiful and come in a rainbow of colors.

Manmade or shell pearls are made out of the thick shells that are cut, polished and dyed to resemble real pearls. Although technically made out of the same genetic material as genuine pearls, shell pearls are not considered “real pearls”.

Simulated pearls are made out of everything from glass to acrylic to resin. They are very inexpensive and vary in quality and durability. You can tell real pearls from faux pearls by rubbing one against your front tooth – if it feels a little gritty you know you’ve got the real thing!

* For more information, visit SusanB. Pearl Style Guide.



SusanB. Wedding Style Guide

If there is one day to truly honor who you are, it's your wedding day.

Bridal Jewelry

All eyes are on you and it’s your time to shine. As you embark on your future with your special man, you can show your true colors not only by wearing the right dress, but also the perfect bridal jewelry. No doubt you’ve long envisioned your wedding day wardrobe, whether a traditional long gown with a train, a sleek modern shift, an exquisite handmade vintage dress, or something made-to-order in your favorite color. Once rife with stuffy rules, today’s weddings are all about the bride and are truly a celebration of her style and personality. So toss aside the rulebook and explore the wonderful options in wedding jewelry and bridal style that await as you plan your magical day!

Today’s bridal fashions bring the catwalk to the wedding aisle, so keep an eye out for looks that you can translate into your bridal look. The key is balance. A simple dress often calls for a statement: multri-strand pearls, simulated diamond brooches and necklaces, etc. The more elaborate your dress, the more simple and classic your selections. Like cultured pearls, heart pendants, or diamond earrings.

* For more information, visit SusanB. Wedding Style Guide.