Monthly Archives: October 2009

Spooky jewels

The fast-approaching trick-or-treat-fest that is Hallowe’en has inspired me to think about designing some spooky jewels, but designers Zoe & Morgan – “luxury jewellery with a rock and roll edge” – have already beaten me to it… Check out their creepy crawly Love Bite ring (seen here on Vogue’s website) and earrings, which are in the form of scary spiders… Eeeek.
And there are other gorgeous frights too, such as snakes, black hearts and of course the obligatory skulls. Fabulous.
Visit the Zoe & Morgan website and you can download their look book. Scary sights aside, I am in lust with their Foxy Diamond Eyes ring (hint hint…). No online catalogue or shopping available there yet, but apparently their e-shop is coming soon. Can’t wait.

The cat in the (witch’s) hat

Hallowe’en is just a few days away – not that anyone needs reminding, everyone’s gone ghosties-and-ghoulies crazy this year, it seems – so to celebrate the oncoming date here are some photos of pets dressed up as witches, courtesy of some of the lovely (and possibly slightly crazy) members of the US website peoplepets.com.

First up is Finnegan, snapped last Hallowe’en and looking resplendant in her pointy hat and cape. And then there’s Petey the little Yorkie, who’s doing a rather wonderful impersonation of the Wicked Witch of the West, green face and all (I hope they only used food dye to turn his fur green…). Ah, only in America eh?
And before you ask, my own furry twosome, Buddy Love, the pooch, and Precious Jade, the kitty, have refused point blank to don any kind of outfit this Saturday.
Looks like it’ll be up to me again then.
Check out the PeoplePets website for more spooky cat and dog dressing-up madness….

Calling all Mrs Robinsons

The must-have accessory du jour isn’t, as you might think, an ‘it’ bag or strappy skyscraper heels. Oh no. The thing women want right now is a toyboy. Well, allegedly, that is.
Blame Courtney Cox, whose hit US TV show Cougar Town is all about older women getting it on with younger men, or Cathering Zeta-Jones, whose new movie, The Rebound, tells the tale of a 40-year-old woman falling in love with her babysitter (blimey – that’s a real stretch for Catherine, being married to someone so much older than her in real life).
But age-gap relationships – where the woman is the sugar mom – are apparently all the rage, so much so that a new internet dating agency called Toy Boy Connection has just been launched here in the UK.
Says the website’s founder Nick Burnham: “Nobody can deny there’s been a real dating revolution over the last few years. Many of our female members are youthful, attractive, independent and single well into their 40s, 50s and even 60s. They certainly know what they want from life – and often this isn’t a guy of similar age with a thinning hairline and thickening waistline.”
But what of the guys who sign up to Nick’s agency? “Our male members are expressly looking to date older women precisely because they seem as more self-assured, free-spirited and appealing than women their own age.” Okay, I can buy it.
Being married to a younger man myself, I can see the attraction (okay, he’s only three years younger but it’s nice to daydream…).
Of course, toyboys are nothing new. Kate Moss has had a few – Pete Doherty was five years younger than her, plus her affair with former public schoolboy Jamie Burke saw her date someone 20 years her junior. Other so-called cougars include Helena Christensen (she dated Jack Huston, who was 14 years younger than her), Cameron Diaz (Justin Timerlake was eight years younger), Madonna (nine years older than Guy), Susan Sarandon (11 years older than husband Tim Robbins), Joan Collins (more than 30 years older than husband Percy Gibson – go Joan!) and Elizabeth Taylor (20 years older than one of her husbands, Larry Fortensky). Then of course there’s Courtney Cox herself, who’s seven years older than husband David Arquette (some people will go to any lengths to research a TV role, huh?) and probably the most envied cougar in current times, Demi Moore, whose married to 15-years-younger Ashton Kutcher.
As you’ll notice, some of the above relationships are standing the test of time  – while others have already hit the rocks hard. Dr Lisa Matthewman, a chartered psychologist at the University of Westminster, says age-difference relationships can be successful, but it’s rare. For older women especially, she says, it doesn’t look good. “On the whole, the long-term future may not be that attractive for the younger man because his biological tendencies will inevitably take over and he’ll want to find a partner of a similar age with whom he can have a family,” Dr Matthewman explains.
But hey – so what if it doesn’t last forever? At least you’ll have had a whole lot of fun.

Diamonds by any other name

Okay so I know there’s a recession going on (only too well, unfortunately) and that we’re all cutting down on life’s luxuries. But surely sometimes it’s better to go without than to make do with cheap alternatives, especially when it comes to diamonds?
Honestly, I can do without designer clothes and shoes – especially when so many massive fashion names are designing high-street ranges for knock-down prices anyway. But when it comes to the ultimate gemstone – and let’s face it, they really are a girl’s best friend – I’m not so sure.
The reason I’ve brought this up is because I’ve just come across Brilliant Inc, which has two stores in London – one in Canary Wharf and the other just off Sloane Square (well, where else?). They sell a very specific type of jewellery – that is, jewellery made from ‘simulated’ (a posh word for fake) diamonds. These ‘diamonds’ are very precisely ‘grown’ in labs, and according to the company’s website, gemmologists have declared them ‘the finest diamond simulants ever’. Praise indeed.
These ‘diamonds’ are expertly cut and set in sterling silver, plus 9k, 14k and 18k gold. And yes, they look amazing, all glittery and glistening, just like the real thing. According to Vogue, it’s ‘nigh impossible’ to tell them from real diamonds with the naked eye. They can even cut through glass, just like real diamonds, and, because they’re not mined, they can be termed ‘ethical’.
Oooh, perfect for the credit crunch, I thought initially. Their prices are hardly Primark-bargain level though, but for that level of craftsmanship they are still jaw-droppingly less expensive than real diamonds (£185 for a 1ct emerald-cut solitaire set in white gold – bargain!).
Then I thought, but why would you? I love diamonds as much as the next person – probably a lot more, actually. But I don’t think I’d be tempted to buy a fake, not even an incredibly good one. And it got me thinking about why I like real gemstones so much. It’s something about the fact that they came out of the earth. I mean, such beauty, such dazzling colours and textures, and all completely natural (well, in truth many natural gemstones are heat treated and even dyed to enhance their colours, but we all need a little bit of cosmetic enhancement from time to time, and at least they weren’t grown in a lab).
In fact, raw diamonds are my real passion. Diamonds that haven’t been cut or polished to within an inch of their lives. That’s real beauty, if you ask me.
Someone did once tell me that I loved gemstones because I had a need to feel connected to the earth, and – despite the New Age blitheringness of that remark, I think he was dead right. Rok Chix jewellery only uses real gemstones – no glass, fakes or man-made crystals – many of which are raw and uncut. And, for me at least, there’s obviously a deep-rooted reason why.
So as far as amazingly good ‘simulants’ go, credit crunch or no credit crunch, I think on this occasion I’ll pass.

Nightie night

Seen the new Kate Moss pieces for TopShop yet? Well they’re previewing on the TopShop website now, and on sale next Thursday. According to the blurb, the KM Christmas 09 collection brings ‘an oriental opulence’. And for the first time, silk nightwear a la Mossy will be up for grabs. Picture the scene: a nation of Kate Moss fans getting up on a dull Monday morning wrapped in silk kimonos instead of tatty old, oversized t-shirts. Not bad, old girl.
There’s even an interview with Kate on the website, where she spouts: “I love beautiful nightwear, it makes you feel great. Over the years I’ve collected millions of vintage slips, nighties, camis and bed jackets. Who doesn’t want fab nightwear for Christmas?”
Who, indeed, Kate? I suspect ‘millions’ may be a slight exaggeration though (who knew our Kate had leanings towards hyperbole, huh?).
But hang on, she’s probably right. Thinking of my own collection of frilly nighties, comfy t-shirts, sports bras and boxer shorts and all manner of other, occasionally bizarre, nightwear I’ve worn over the years, yes there have been many. So I thought I’d share some of my current faves…

  1. First up, three sets of black v-neck, long-sleeved tops with matching long pants – all from Next, of course, with the most recent bought by my lovely mum-in-law last Christmas (plus points: the bottoms double as jogging bottoms, you can even go to PIlates in them, while the tops will do as daytime tops if you’re a bit behind with your laundry…).
  2. Then there are my all-time favourite cotton pyjamas, which are black with little pale pink polka dots. I have to admit I’ve worn these to death. And they were a bargain too, from Florence & Fred at Tesco (minus points: the pink dots have worn off in areas like the arse, knees and elbows… well, you get what you pay for huh?).
  3. A giant black cotton kaftan, not sure where I got it, some hippy shop probably (plus points: it really is huge, so you can bloat out as much as you like in it, plus it can be worn on its own in summer or with a pair of those Next black pyjama bottoms – see point 1 – when it’s colder).
  4. Novelty red and white snowmen t-shirt-style pyjamas complete with fluffy snowman on the front of the top half, a present from my mum and only ever worn when I’m on my own (when Nick, my better half as they say, is away) or when I want to regress into my childhood (minus points: despite big points for comfort, these PJs look particularly revolting).
  5. Bright red kimono dressing gown, complete with massive square sleeves and lots of embroidery on the back – hah, so I do have something in common with Kate after all (plus points: easy to throw on when the postman rings the doorbell before I’ve woken up properly).
  6. Special mention goes to my bedsocks, probably the most luxurious item of nightwear I own. Two pairs, specifically – both cashmere, one baby pink and one raspberry pink. Amazing. Like having your feet gently caressed with baby duck feathers (not that I’d know, honest).

So what’s your favourite bedtime outfit?

Favourite jewellery designers… #3

Third in my series of inspirational bauble-makers – in no particular order, you understand, I mean how on earth could I rank such an illustrious bunch – is the fabulous Solange Azagury-Partridge. Why do I adore her? Well take this for starters… “There comes a day in every woman’s life when she wakes up wanting diamonds,” says the Azagury-Patridge herself on her website. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Better still, Solange A-P has no formal jewellery training – hurrah! – which makes her see things in a very different light to others who have been through the degree-in-silversmithing mill. Her designs are delightfully quirky and sumptuous, they break all the rules and are all the more fabulous for it. I absolutely love her sense of humour too – one of my favourite SA-P pieces is her Heart of Gold and Bleeding Heart pendants, which are modelled on real hearts, complete with pumping veins and arteries.
Grazia is writing about her today, specifically her Hotlips ring – an enamelled silver ring in the shape of a puckered mouth. Lovely! Sienna Miller, Daisy Lowe, Elle MacPherson and Erin O’Connor are all fans of the Hotlips ring, which you can buy in a special RED edition that donates 50 percent of profits to an AIDS charity called Global Fund, for the princely sum of £980.
It reminds me of a charm I made for a necklace that used to be in the Rok Chix collection – I discontinued it last year to make room for new designs – that also was in the shape of lips and enamelled red on silver. Here’s the photo…
If anyone wants one (the charm or the entire necklace) I can make to order – and for much less than £980 (sorry Solange).

India calling

I’ve never been to India. There, I’ve said it. Of course I’d love to see the country with all its amazing sights, sounds and smells, that goes without saying. But the real reason I’d go to India is to see the gemstones – the gem markets in Mumbai and Jaipur, the stone-studded jewellery in Hyderabad and Nellore, the diamond cutting in Trichur… I could go on.
The real reason I haven’t gone – apart from my famous dislike of air travel – is because I know very well that I’d be bankrupt within minutes of arriving. So until I’ve enticed a rich banker to finance such a project (or, perhaps more realistically, made some spare cash of my own), I’ll have to make do with the new exhibition at the V&A, Maharaja: The Splendour of the Royal Courts (on now until January 17).
Actually the phrase ‘make do’ is a huge understatement. Truth is, I can’t wait to see this exhibition, with its promise of rich, exotic jewels not to mention elaborate saris, ceremonial swords and all sorts of lavish items that would have graced the royal courts in India between the 18th century and the middle of the 20th century. Huge rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds spring to mind…. (drool).
But what I’ve found surprising is that, given the amazing craftsmanship found in Indian jewellery, both past and present, some of that worn by Indian royalty at that time was commissioned by European jewellers such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. One that’s showing in the exhibition and definitely not to be missed is the Patiala necklace (see it on Vogue’s website), which apparently is one of the items in Cartier’s largest single commission ever with its 2,930 diamonds, no less. Now that’s what I call opulent.
If you spy me there, stuck tight to the glass of the display case and babbling, do me a favour and put me out of my misery!

What’s the hold-up?

What is it about a recession that makes everyone think more about sex? Perhaps because it’s free (well, for a lot of people anyway)? Well Marie Claire is today reporting on a growing sexy trend for wearing – steel yourself, girls – stockings and hold-ups. We’re told the folks at figleaves.com claim sales of stockings are up by 35 percent and suspender belts up by 40 percent. Hmmm. And, as usual, it’s all down to those pesky celebrities, says Marie Claire. The likes of Lily Allen, Katie Perry and Rihanna have all been sporting risque underwear lately, and now we’re all doing our best to emulate them. Well that’s the theory anyway.
But stockings aren’t for the faint-hearted. Number one – it’s almost winter, and stockings aren’t going to keep you warm in places you’d rather not get a blast of icy-cold wind. And number two – they can be a bit pricey. I found a lovely pair of silk stockings – black, seam-free, totally indulgent – on the Agent Provocateur website that retail for no less than £35! Lordy.
The good news is you can cheat. Chanel has a pair of tights that look like stockings, apparently (Lily A wore them during the famous Chanel farmyard fashion show recently). Time to start saving…

By Royal Appointment

I’m excited to announce that Rok Chix jewellery will soon be available at Daniel Stores in Windsor, a family-run department store that bears the ‘By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen’ seal, no less!
A charming, old-fashioned department store, Daniel is located right in the centre of Windsor, near the central rail station and the castle. And from mid-November it’s launching a new jewellery department that will feature a range of pieces from the Rok Chix collections.
If you’re in the area (or even on your way to Legoland…), drop in for a spot of retail therapy.
The internet is, of course, our main retail outlet, with the collections available on rokchix.com and notonthehighstreet.com, with a few items also available on jewellerytolove.com. But we also have a few bricks-and-mortar boutiques stocking Rok Chix jewellery, including:
Katherine Jayne in Newbury (21 Market Place, 01635 44000)
Eden Boutique in Bingley (150b Main Street, 01274 564850)
Polomo in Chiswick (5 Chiswick Common Road, 020 8995 1717)

Where Rok Chix leads, Grazia follows (at least, just this once…)

Hah! Just two weeks after I write about how Shaun Leane (aka Shauny) is one of my fave jewellery designers – see post dated Sep 29 – here he is being interviewed on today’s Grazia Daily website. Check out the photo of him with statuesque supermod Erin O’Connor… Poor Shauny looks positively diddy next to her (but then she is about 10ft tall).
In the interview, Shauny waxes lyrical about his new Cherry Blossom collection for Astley Clarke (which, ahem, I also wrote about last month). ‘It is,’ he says, ‘a beautiful collection inspired by one of Japan’s oldest tales. It is believed that the flower is named after a beautiful goddess who sprinkle [sic] seeds from the clouds and [sic] would flourish into dazzling white and crimson flowers. The beauty of this story is captured in the collection.’
Whoah there, Shauny. Enouogh with the flower descriptions (no pun intended). But I must admit, the Cherry Blossom pieces are gorge!
‘What type of woman will be wearing this Cherry Blossom line,’ asks Grazia? ‘Confident, graceful and chic,’ replies Shauny.
Describes me perfectly, I thought.
Oh alright then, but a girl can dream, can’t she?