Privilege Blog

Princesses Of Our Own Lives, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:13am

Happy 2022! Shall we begin with a searing re-examination of life and meaning in these times? Or, instead, a teeny jaunt through the re-making of shiny stuff? I thought so.

Over the years I had accumulated a lot of unworn jewelry. But even though I kept it locked up, I felt it. A gold chain from my college boyfriend. A pearl from my stepsister at her wedding. A bracelet from a friend I no longer speak to. My first engagement ring, sapphire and two pear-shaped diamonds, from a now-closed jeweler in San Francisco. A white gold and diamond bracelet from my husband.

Bits and bobs of metal and life.

I wanted to make the tangle into something that might represent the way in which we can, by holding our history in heart and mind, rework our story. Or something like that, because who can tell the difference–sometimes–between pretty and the meaning of life.

Right before the pandemic I had planned to go East, to see two dear friends and also meet with Wendy Brandes to discuss a jewelry remake. We all know what happened next. But in November of 2021, Wendy came to San Francisco. Masked, sitting in the lobby of a hotel, we spread everything across the table, and talked about my hopes for a new piece. I handed her the goods. Just before the end of the year, voilà.

The bar is textured; the stones hang from wires, not chains, and are attached to the bar in a hidden interior compartment I just discovered. It’s cool. It’s beautiful. That you can see.  The invisible part is how we got there, and you might be interested in the process.

I had thought along the lines of an Alexander Calder mobile, as per the little sketch encircled in Schiaparelli pink.

Wendy pointed out that the Calder approach would tangle brutally, and a straight bar might feel too manufactured. That’s why you work with a real designer. So we iterated. The cone shape proposed above was pretty, but felt too large for me.

The curved modern bar slightly too, well, modern.

The above, executed in black wax here, was closer, but High WASPs do love a slash of astringent self-discipline. Hence the straight-line bottom of the bar in the final version. Wendy and her goldsmith were great about honoring my collaborative desires.

Wendy signs her pieces. Were I to do this again, I’d add my own name on the back, but I didn’t even think of it. (UPDATE: Wendy read this and says she’ll engrave my name on the next time I come East. Huzzah!)

The image is blurry. So is life.

I also thought, after more than one person responded to my Instagram story, you might like to see how I’d wear my princess necklace. For that’s how I feel in it, like a Principessa. (Sturdy Gals don’t do Queens. We wouldn’t feel right about it.)

First, with what I have right now in my closet, I could go all out.

Why the blue dress (Miranda Bennet)? I need a neckline that gets out of the way. Why the crystal-toed pumps (Jimmy Choo, from my wedding)? Because I need shoes, because what, I’m a barefoot princess? And I have to balance the sparkling feet and décolletage with earrings that take up space, so although you can’t see them, I’m wearing Blue Nile gold danglers. I felt the pale lip and messy hair brought that edge I can’t leave home without.

But how about a pair of pants? We Sturdy Gals love our trousers, that we do.

Rummaging in the same closet, as I have only one, I found this 15-year old Bogner jacket. I can’t tell you how Generous Upper East Side matron I feel. Surely I could fundraise in this? Who knew Eileen Fisher Lantern pants could add good humor to a cosseted lady top? Earrings in this case step back, letting the neckline ruffles and cinched waistline carry on.

But in the end, truly, I’d want to wear my new piece with less formality. A pair of loose jeans, maybe. But all my tops are crew or boatneck, except two turtlenecks and they are strongly-patterned.

So I’ve ordered two new shirts. Who wants to guess what kind? I give the floor to one and all. Smiling broadly.


Have an absolute princess of a weekend.


52 Responses

  1. What a brilliant idea and a great way to start the new year. I love the beautiful necklace and most of all, your gorgeous smile! Happy 2022, Lisa, and I hope you have a princess of a weekend as well! <3

  2. If jewelry is part of years past I have a small collection. Sometimes they remind me of how young I once was.
    I too love your smile bold princess! May you and all your readers have a Happy New Year!


    1. Happy New Year to you Luci! We were all so young once. I wish for all of us to have our young princesses there in our hearts to keep us alight.

  3. That turned out inspiration for what to do with all my accrued treasures that I don’t wear anymore.!

    1. Thank you. I would highly recommend the process, for both aesthetic and inner world reasons.

    1. Thank you so much! I had a haircut in September, and the shape has lasted a long time even as my hair has grown. I am quite grateful, as I don’t really feel like getting my hair cut again right now:)

    1. Thank you! And, one extra benefit, some of the cost of this kind of work can be defrayed by trading in extra gold as scrap.

  4. What a great concept, and well executed. Looks arty enough to handle almost any level of formality in modern wardrobes. The sequence of your expressions from first look to final smile is fun. I have an asymmetrical artist-designed ring that incorporates diamonds from my mother and grandmother. It gives me a little jolt of warmth, along with the sparkle. Hope this necklace gives you layers of pleasure as well.

    1. Your ring sounds like it gives you exactly what I’ve found with this necklace. And thank you, yes, I feel like the piece will work from jeans to charmeuse, probably even tulle if I wore it, so I am very pleased.

  5. The necklace is truly a work of art but the smile is priceless. Never leave home without it. As my daughter once said to me, « You’re not fully dressed without a smile. »

    1. Thank you, Susan. The whole project has brought me a good deal of happiness, as does coming back to the blog:)

    1. Thank you:). As we know, the Sturdy really need support to swerve Glam, so, much appreciated!

  6. The necklace is amazing,a piece of art indeed-I like it very much. You look happy and beautiful. Happy New Year,Princess!

    1. Thank you so much! Now I wonder, how do you say Princess in Croatian? Is it Princeza, as Google tells me?

  7. Your necklace is beautiful. I love it. In particular, I like the length, which I think makes it work with a variety of necklines. Before I saw your photos wearing it, I imagined it longer, and was thinking it might get in the way of things when you leaned forward. You look gorgeous in the black outfit. (Shocker, I know, that I like that one.:) Recently, I did the opposite of what you did, and worked with a lovely estate jeweler in Sausalito (via Wales) to sell all my jewelry and watches except the few pieces I wear: 1970s Rolex watch, platinum hoop earrings with horizontal baguettes, pearl stud and drop earrings, tiny platinum hoop earrings, my pearl necklace with a custom Mansoor & Gore clasp, my mom’s pearl necklace my dad gave my mom when one of we four kids were born, my great grandfather’s pocket watch, a narrow platinum band ring with baguettes from the State Street Marshall Field’s store in Chicago, and a heavy sterling silver soul catcher pendant by Ed Archie NoiseCat. I considered making my three-stone engagement ring into earrings, and I considered keeping a platinum band baguette ring I loved to wear. But, both rings had complex associations, which would sometimes bring up sadness, so I chose to let them go. I’m trying to lighten actual and psychic loads. I still have Indigenous pieces and some artist pieces to sell or donate, but I’m taking a pause before I move on to those. I’m glad I made my choice for me, but I love yours for you. A clarification? What does “ga barefoot princess” mean? I tried looking up GA in an acronym list, and I got nothing, or rather I got a lot that didn’t fit. (Maybe it’s an extraneous g?) I ask because I recently sent a full-body photo of myself to a friend in LA. I’m wearing a gray t-shirt, jeans, and have bare feet. I went back and forth about the bare feet, because though I get pedicures, and my feet look fine, I don’t use nail polish and my bare feet seem very… bare.:) I finally chose to go with my bare feet because at home that’s the way I roll. My bedroom slippers get ignored, and my socks are for wearing within my shoes when I go out. Happy Saturday from my side of the bay. I hope you’re sharing our sunny afternoon, hatched from our overcast morning. xoxoxo.

    1. Happy sunny Sunday! It’s gorgeous over here today, hope the same is true for you. I think an entire article could be written on women at this age, and what happens to their jewelry. I had mine remade, you have lightened yourself, others with less good fortune, it occurs to me, may sell theirs from necessity. The pieces you’ve kept sound exquisite, which fits the idea I have of you. Thank you, as always, K, for your eloquence.

  8. What a happy way to refine and remember, to create something that honors all the bits and bobs that make up a life and yet is also something so perfectly in keeping with who you have become. And so what a great way to begin a. new year as well. You look fabulous! Hope you have a fabulous year.

    1. Thank you, Mardel! And it is exactly that. I wanted to represent who I have become while recognizing the role who I was has played. I hope you have a fabulous year too.

  9. First of all, you, and your necklace are absolutely gorgeous. The necklace is so beautifully made too, very important to the look, especially for an “arty” piece.

    I’m guessing you ordered V-neck tees? But I think a crew neck tee (white or grey) would probably be great with it too.

    I have a “family” necklace that I started with a diamond from my grandmother’s engagement ring – Pippa Small made it for me. Just awaiting (on Tuesday) and small emerald charm to commemorate the birth of my new granddaughter.

    These pieces with sentimental value and meaning, are priceless.

    Your smile is so beautiful and infectious.

    My first comment was more articulate but as you know, I couldn’t post it from my idiotic computer, so this one will hopefully do. You did such a beautiful job and what a great “distraction” from this unending pandemic.

    1. Thank you. Exactly articulate for your points. I agree, the way the necklace is made is a huge part of its appeal. I will have to show you all a photo of how the dangling stones are attached in the little “ditch?” in the bar.

  10. I just read Katherine’s comment, and I also love what she did with her stuff. I find I’m wearing less and less and want to sell a few things that have no sentimental value.

    However, I am always sorry I sold a diamond ring from an ex-husband, because I got nothing for it, and it was a substantial size stone, and although there are memories attached, certainly not all happy, it was part of my history…so I like that you incorporated some of the things that weren’t all “perfect” in your life as well.

    Katherine, you sold yours after a lot of time and thought, I sold this ring in haste, so you won’t have regrets, I’m quite sure

    1. It is a time of life to run our history through our fingers and clearly understand what we let go of, what we remake, and what we simply honor. And a privilege to have the space to do so, as these comments have reminded me. Thank you, KSL.

  11. I just love that necklace design! It’s so you, and looks modern while at the same time honoring the provenance of the components, if that makes sense.

    You look splendid in both outfits! I keep hoping Eileen will do those lantern pants in a navy…

    1. Thank you! And thank you for introducing me, as I think it was you/your blog that did, to Wendy’s work! I exactly wanted to honor the provenance and bring it all forward.

      I wish Eileen would do the lantern pants in all the colors, and more of that felted wool for warmth.

  12. “My first engagement ring, sapphire and two pear-shaped diamonds.” I am imagining that these 3 same gems sit at the tip top of your pin, naturally because it’s from that beginning came your two beautiful children. I could be wrong. I’m feeling cranky [sorry] that I can’t tell who posts what in the comments section, ie if a reference is made to _____, I can’t find that reference to form a completed thought. Happy New Year, Dear Heart. Sorry for being a GROUCH!

    1. You are not a grouch! My blog needs a complete technical overhaul, and that’s right up on my 2022 list of what I have to do. The three gems are at the top solely because that’s where Wendy thought they looked best, but now that you mention it, I love the extra meaning that my children are honored even though they haven’t started giving me jewelry. Yet;).

  13. Happy new Year! I love that remake and the thoughtfulness of the design choices. Personally, I love it against the black and think it would look great just with a plain black t shirt but not a scoop as I think those look too matronly which is not you at all.

  14. I love both the idea for this piece, the process of articulating and designing and tweaking it, and then the final iteration — Gorgeous! And the ways that you’ve styled it, demonstrating how well this adapts to your lifestyle and will be worn again and again, that concatenation of memories and associations brought along in your daily life! I just love it. Brava You! Brava Wendy B!

  15. It’s a splendid necklace from a lovely idea. I have a stash of unworn jewels squirrelled away as well; I’ve considered having them reworked into something new, but such things take commitment. I’m not prepared to relive my life, even if it sparkles.
    You look beautiful with your hair styled this way.

    1. Thank you so much. It has taken a while to be ready to remake these pieces. I also just got rid of some things in this process, as scrap gold helped defray the cost a little bit.

  16. I love your idea of re-using jewellery that you do not wear anymore. In a much more modest way I did something similar a few years ago. I had inherited a necklace from my great aunt, made up of four strands of ivory beads. I knew I would never wear it, and it is also forbidden (for good reasons) to sell ivory in any form. So I undid the strands and threaded them again with a mixture of glass and wooden beads from all over the world. The results were a couple of very individual necklaces and bracelets. Some of them I wear myself, others I gave away to good friends.

    1. Eleonore, this sounds wonderful!!! I imagine you and your friends enjoying these pieces enormously!

  17. A gorgeous necklace from a talented artisan and such fun dressing up to show it off! Your keepsake piece is truly lovely…something to wear to elevate a simple white tee and jeans or add sparkle to your dressier outfits.
    Happy New Year!

  18. Brilliant! What a clever idea Lisa, I love that it was a labor of love with like minds. I am going to look at my jumble of jewelry with a keener eye now. Many thanks for that. Always love your fashion choices and you look stunning in them. My goodness, twelve years blogging. We started around the same time. So glad to have let the connection going. Wishing you well from New Hampshire! Jeanne. xx

    1. Thank you, Jeanne! It was really wonderful to collaborate with Wendy. Our aesthetics diverge in some ways but the overlap is spectacular and infinitely better I think than anything I could have done had I chosen more safely. If that makes sense.

  19. Is it my imagination, dear Lisa, but isn’t there in your blog archives a stunning wide sculptured silver cuff bracelet to which you had affixed a quite glorious brooch from one of your grandmothers? I’ve coveted that bracelet – and I finally found a similar undulating silver cuff, but oh where to find the perfect brooch? Your re-fashioning of your bits and bobs into an equally stunning, and unique, necklace has encouraged me to look deeper into my own cache of unused jewelry for inspiration. . .

    You look great, by the way – and I love your twinkle-toe shoes!

    1. Ah, yes, it’s gold. My Dad’s mom wore it. Where to find the perfect brooch? I’d look at a vintage store, or even at the estate counter of your local jeweler. If your cuff is silver, why not a marcasite brooch? Some of them are absolutely gorgeous.

      And thank you! No way I was going to get rid of my wedding shoes;).

  20. Please repost the post where you discuss take ng a family brooch and having it attached to a gold bangle. I love that piece.

  21. Greta post. I have re-purposed so many stones and gold into other lovely things that still carry the memory of the gift.

  22. How discreetly eye-catching; I love it! What a great idea showcasing each of the memories together in a single piece. You wear it well.

  23. Lisa, Wow , firstly you look terrific! Secondly , love love love the necklace: the story/ design and how it looks on you!

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