Trade Show Shenanigans

Petals, Pavement, Paper, and Plastic: BIJORHCA Paris Brings Beauty Back to Basics

Paris, France is otherworldly. Think about it; if you’ve never been there, it’s as foreign to you as a trip to one of Jupiter’s moons though thankfully not quite as cold, (at least in September). Known as the “City of Light,” Paris isn’t just a place on a map, but rather a genre; an attitude, an emotion, even. Feeling Parisian means one is serious about work but curious about life. It means one dresses the part of a runway model but makes love with the ferocity of an untamed beast. It means deliberate kisses on both cheeks, ice in your 2 o’clock glass of rosé, and never, ever wearing flip flops in public. Paris isn’t easy for the rest of the world to figure out nor does it wish to be, which is why the surprises that Paris presents us with are ones we mortals value, learn from, and not soon forget. And the BIJORHCA jewelry show was the perfect paradigm of the city’s glorious yet unexpected delights.

After landing at Charles De Gaulle airport and going through what felt like a year’s long line at customs, I was greeted by fellow American jewelry blogger Matthew Perosi, who graciously accompanied me on the shuttle bus to Porte de Versailles expo center – Paris’ largest – in the 15th arrondissement. BIJORHCA selected one blogger from the United States to send to the September show but they got a Buy One/Get One deal as Matthew lives in Bordeaux six months out of the year and decided he’d take the train over to Paris to accompany me for a few days. Upon our arrival we were met by Pauline Royer (our contact for the show) as well as Show Director, Aude Leperre, and Artistic Director, Richard Martin, all of who were impeccably dressed, stunningly kind, and gorgeously French. This is not the surprise I spoke of earlier.

Matthew and I settled ourselves into the press room so that I could get an espresso or six (I can’t sleep on planes) and so we could come up with a game plan for how best to tackle the show in the amount of time we had over our three days. Prior to my friend Jen Heebner telling me about BIJORHCA last year I was frankly unfamiliar with it, as I largely write about jewelry found in traditional jewelry stores or high-end boutiques. Fashion and contemporary jewelry just wasn’t much on my radar leading up to this year when I started a new InstaSeries, #50DesignersofJewelry. Researching designers for the social media series (which I was waiting to complete until after this trade show in case you were following along and wondering what happened) developed and grew my interest as it pertained to the creativity of contemporary jewelry designers, and I assumed that being at BIJORHCA was only going to enlighten me more. Now that all is said and done, however, I have to admit that “enlighten” isn’t severe enough a word. Let’s just say I had a complete and utter rebirth regarding what I feel about the jewelry industry now; about where it needs to go, and how open-minded it has to get if it wants to survive for generations to come.

Flint lapel pin by Marion Fillancq

Flint lapel pin by Marion Fillancq

The first booth I visited belonged to French designer Marion Fillancq, who started designing jewelry by using crushed mirrored glass, before venturing into her current designs which are made using prehistoric methods. Her pieces often contain uncommon center stones such as flint, and her metal of choice is brass coated in gold or silver. But the thing that grabbed me most was her tag line: “Brut & Chic.” If that mantra alone doesn’t make your ears perk up, I’m not sure what will.

Marion’s designs set the tone for what was to come in terms of nontraditional materials and everyday elements we would soon discover. Spanish design house Testone creates organic masterpieces in the form of brooches and pendants, by overlaying leaves and plants found in the wooded areas of Spain with a variety of non-precious and precious metals. French jeweler Le Côté de Guermantes (meaning, “time regained” [and also a novel by Marcel Proust]) makes necklaces and other items out of bronze and the pages of old, worn books; some in French but some also in English like the ”Pride and Prejudice” piece I nearly purchased for myself. Dutch designer Parsifal forms brightly-colored poppy flowers into lapel pins by immortalizing them with a clear coat of resin (and displaying them brilliantly in a rainbow pattern), and the husband and wife team of Christian and Malene Storm of Danish company Dansk Smykkekunst go out of their way to create affordable and fashionable jewellery and accessories by using a base material of copper overlaid in 14K gold, 925 silver, rhodium, or hematite. But the other important thing to know about Dansk Smykkekunst’s designs (as well as many others I saw) is their attentiveness to sustainability and green processes as well as their desire to keep their products as chemically free as possible. This is what many European and South American countries do that the United States struggles with, at least for now. Fairmined gold, ethically-sourced gemstones, and sustainable materials are going to be talked about and used more and more in the very near future and the companies who are already on board are going to reap the benefits of being the early game changers.

Sarah Cavender flower brooch

Sarah Cavender flower brooch

While the majority of the brands exhibiting at BIJORHCA were from Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa, there were also a handful of American designers showing their wares and having successful shows. I accidentally stumbled upon Sarah Cavender’s booth as I was leaving the press lounge and saw what I believed to be a necklace created out of some sort of fabric. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I went to touch the piece and it didn’t move. I was astonished to find out that it was made of brass mesh screening – a material that Sarah treats and folds into flowers, bugs, and other earthly shapes. Her degree from Philadelphia’s College of Art (where she majored in sculpture) had allowed Sarah to experiment with brass, bronze, and other metal wires until she developed a unique process working screen into various nature-inspired representations. Her creations consist of not just jewelry, but of belts and handbags as well. Her work was some of the most extraordinary I’ve seen in all my years working with metalsmiths and I look forward to watching how her brand grows.

Also from the States was Texas designer Claudia Fajardo, whose designs are brightly hued and border on a Native American vibe. Claudia uses glass beads and gemstones for color and contrasts them with hammered and satin finishes on her metals.

I noticed that acrylics like Lucite or Plexiglas played a huge role at this year’s BIJORHCA show, showing up in the form of everything from bangle bracelets to whimsical brooches to clutch purses. And while the artistry was awe-inspiring (and occasionally giggle-inducing), I couldn’t help but think back to that scene from The Graduate where Mr. McGuire tells Benjamin that he wants him to think about one word… just one word: “Plastics.” Companies like Jean Marie Poinot from France and Aramez out of Brazil are making playful acrylic accessories in the spirit used by a master metalsmith and it was clear that buyers were taking their work seriously, because both of their booths were flanked by onlookers.

Daniel Espinosa dressed me up

Daniel Espinosa dressed me up

On a fun note (and I use the word “note” with all puns intended), it was a real treat to meet Allouche Ingrid, head designer at French jewellery brand Sing A Song, which makes men’s and women’s jewelry out of guitar strings and other parts of musical instruments (bonus points for their booth refrigerator which was a converted rock-n-roll stage speaker). Also glee-inducing were the designs of UBU Paris which played with elements such as buffalo horn, tin, resin, and enamel to create oversized baubles and eye-catching adornments. Spanish design house Ceraselle brought change to the table (literally) with convertible leather and button necklaces in colors brighter than Lady Gaga’s wig collection, and French designer Mere Guy utilizes hand-painted pasta… yes, I said PASTA… in their earring, pin, and pendant designs. The level of creativity in both materials and formats used was remarkable in my opinion, and even something as simple as a ribbon bracelet imprinted with fun sayings (like those we saw from the brand Lucky Team) stood out to me simply because it wasn’t something I was used to seeing. There were also a few brands using a process that would mold crushed or powdered gems (such as turquoise and pearl) mixed with resin or polymer into dramatic, vibrant “stones” that they then used in a variety of jewels. Uno de 50 was one such brand using this process, and Daniel Espinosa was another. In fact I felt that Daniel’s jewelry came across as brave and bold in more than one way. His use of a bronze base with 22K gold overlay allows his pieces to be affordable but in no way do they lack fine craftsmanship or detail. His collections draw inspiration from his Latin roots and religious beliefs and his creativity flows as freely as the forms many of his items take.

A couple of other standout jewelry designers I found exhibiting at the show were Brazil’s Léia Sgro and Greece’s AposTolos. Sgro hails from South America but has lived in London, Vienna, Boston, Tokyo, Madrid, and Rome, among other cities. Her designs are not just nature inspired, but also nature created, as she uses wood, leaves, and plants alongside precious metals and Brazilian-mined stones to form her wearable yet very feminine jewels. Apostolos Kleitsiotis draws his design inspiration from the sea and uses age-old Hellenic jewelry making traditions, precious metals, and gems to sculpt contemporary masterpieces worthy of Amphitrite, herself.

But the jewelry design house that affected me most out of all those that I visited had to be Portugal’s Mariadovale. Sisters Alexandrina, Sandra, and Júlia Saraiva each plays a role in the designs their company creates, and the thought process that goes into every one of their collections goes beyond whether or not their pieces are going to sell, and into the realm of wanting the wearer to understand the depth, meaning, and sometimes satire of their creations. In other words, these are not your grandmother’s jewels, so don’t expect rubies, pearls, or platinum. These are your granddaughter’s jewels; jewels for the future, so expect concrete, a story, and an entirely different type of worth. Not quite sure I mean by this? Then let’s look at a segment of the company’s bio from their website. It states, “Each piece of work is designed and produced having a classical approach where forms, themes, and trials are deconstructed and evolve against the concept itself. The concept is the core of each collection, approaching each strand and its respective conceptual unfolding. The motto of the collections appears based on values, feelings and experiences, and aims to call attention not only to daily problems but also to more profound levels of perception like enhancing a satirical view and focusing on dubious content of dogmatic truths – wishing to socially provoke others by those who are wearing each piece of Mariadovale work.” Like I said… not your grandmother’s jewels and not even your grandmother’s jeweler, and for that I’m quite grateful.

The design team at Mariadovale opened my eyes like never before. Their use of concrete (fittingly enough in their collection called, “Concrete”), stone, and metal as a representation of how our lives are bound by the cities in which we live nearly brought me to tears, but the meaning got even deeper when they showed me how the concrete is rough on one side, representing struggle, and yet smooth on another, representing ease; much like the struggles in our everyday lives, and yet both sides seemed to create something beautiful and unique. But it was their “Stone” collection that genuinely shook me to my core as the collection stemmed from words, and as you can tell by the 2,000+ of them in this blog post, words are where I live. When I asked Mariadovale’s marketing director about the collection, he returned my question with a question… “Have you ever heard of Fernando Pessoa? He was Portugal’s most famous poet. He wrote a poem called, ‘Stones in Life’ and it pretty much sums up what this collection is about.”

It reads (translated into English):

To be happy is to recognize that life is worth living, even with all its challenges, misunderstandings, and its periods of crisis.

To be happy is to stop being the victim of problems and being the author of your own story.

To cross deserts outside of yourself, and to find the oasis inside your soul.

To thank God for each morning for the miracle of life.

To be happy is not to be afraid of your own emotions. It is knowing how to speak about yourself.

To have the courage to listen to a “no.” To have the strength to receive a criticism, even when unjust.

Stones in the road? I save every single one, one day I´ll build a castle.

I would like to thank those responsible for selecting me to attend this season’s BIJORHCA Paris show. Not just for their help, their kindness, their welcome, and a really nice hotel room, but also for enlightening me and for broadening my horizons in a way I never thought possible.

To the brands mentioned above and all others I visited during my three-day excursion, thank you for taking the time to educate me and I wish you all much success in your futures. I truly hope we do meet again someday.

I will end this lengthy post by sharing something that I wasn’t aware of until my arrival at the show: BIJORHCA is actually an acronym.

BIJ meaning bijou, or, jewel

OR meaning gold

H representing horlogerie, or, watchmaking

CA meaning cadeaux, or, gifts

And while I touched on the jewels, gold, and potential gifts in this piece, I will be talking about the watchmaking I saw and watch brands I sat down with in a post coming soon over on my watch blog, WhatsOnHerWrist.com.

Thanks, as always, for reading. À bientôt.

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Uncategorized

The Rule of Three: Celebrating (Through Swear Words) Adornmentality’s Third Blogiversary

My junior year of high school – year three – was both my favorite year as well as one of my hardest. It was the one time I had ever not aced a subject – Physics – and while only failing one semester, it crushed, scared, and disappointed me, but even more importantly, it woke me up. It was also the year I broke free of the nerd label by going from ugly duckling to… well… bleached blonde guidette swan, I guess. And finally, it was the year I lost my virginity, though I don’t ever consider that situation as being good or bad, it just sort of exists, though if I could turn back the clock, I think I would have waited just a little longer and for someone who gave a flying wang about my well-being.

I think, however, it was my teachers that I remember most about that year of high school. Ms. Anna Votta, my political science and sociology teacher and one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, paid for me to attend my prom because my folks were too strapped to buy tickets for me to go. “You deserve to go to your prom” I remember her saying. It was an act that changed how I viewed the world. And Mr. Sandy Apa, whom I still call my very good friend, I recall his making calculus exciting because he taught it from a place of humor and laughter. And the wonderful Mrs. Jennifer Hack, who was as eloquent as she was gorgeous, had convinced me that my extremely high grades in English class would serve me well throughout my life, no matter where I lived or where I came from, and that I should keep writing poetry and expressing the pains of my upbringing through the written word, which she said, was my gift.

I don’t believe I’ve thought about my junior year much since I left it behind. It’s nice to ponder it now as I reflect on the first three years of this blog’s life. I owe a lot of who I am, what I am, and how I write to those who shaped me during those critical years of high school, and for that I’m ever grateful to the people who make up the pieces of my personal puzzle – as hard as it sometimes is to figure out – and as lost as some of the pieces have been over the years.

Having said this, however, it’s time to have a celebration. Adornmentality is now three years old, and there’s a little looking back and a lot of looking forward to do.

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Conclave has come and gone and Vegas has come and gone and New York has come and gone and you’ve barely heard a peep out of me. No “Tales From the Strip” series highlighting the usual shenanigans (yet). No feedback or comments about my unsolicited nomination for a WJA Award for Excellence (but thank you to whoever nominated me! HUGE honor!) No talk of summer baubles, trends of the moment, or which Pantone colors will reign come 2017. No, my friends, I’ve been quiet for a while, but mostly just because I’ve had a plate as full of itself as Donald J. Drumpf. But thanks to my editor – aka – the man who impregnated me with redheaded babies (twice!), I was reminded that on August 8th, Adornmentality turned three.

So… what have I learned over the last three years of this blog’s life? Well, plenty. Let me elaborate.

3year1I learned, most importantly, that no matter how few posts I publish per week/month/year, people understand that I won’t half-ass my work, and they’ll wait to see what I have to say because they know that I say it thoroughly and with heart and/or facts to back up my opinion.

I learned that Millennials in the jewelry industry are smart, dedicated, and hardworking, and that they don’t deserve the lazy labels often applied to them by people who need someone/something to blame because those people can’t figure out a way to stay current or successful in their businesses.

I learned that politics still rule this industry, sadly, and that if you’re not warming up to the “right people” it could really screw up your advantages. I learned it, but that doesn’t mean I live it. To hell with politics. To hell with the old way of thinking. To hell with complacency. I’m in this to change the game, give voice to the voiceless, and bring awareness to the things we think about but don’t dare discuss. If those ideas makes me an outsider, so be it. Two of my favorite quotes about writing freely come from Salman Rushdie. He said, “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” And also, “What one writer can make in the solitude of one room is something no power can easily destroy.”

I learned that the Swiss, on the whole, can be a fun group if you know which parts of their bodies are ticklish.

I learned that figuring shit out on your own will garner you a much better reputation than asking everyone’s opinion on every move you should make.

I learned that being an underground sensation is better than openly having your ass kissed.

I learned that the jewelry industry produces some really, REALLY tall women.

I learned that for black-tie events, I can buy floor-length designer gowns at the local “rich lady” consignment shop for the same price I would pay for a temporary gown from Rent the Runway and then RE-CONSIGN the dresses at the shop’s competition a mile away in order to get half of my money back. It’s called creativity, people. A writer’s gotta eat.

I learned that the people who attend the AGS Conclaves are overall some of the greatest people on planet Earth.

3year2I learned that if you hit someone in the face with a mini bottle of single malt scotch during a presentation they won’t complain because they now have a bottle of single malt scotch.

I learned that not working for anyone but myself means that I can say “fuck” more. FUCK. FUCKITY FUCK FUCKER FUCK FUCKWAD. I threw the “wad” part in for good measure.

I also learned that being a woman and saying “fuck” doesn’t mean you have less class. It simply means that you have more guts.

I learned that a title, while being overall worthless, still gives a person all the feels when they see it written on their business card for the first time.

I learned that no matter how good I think I am at the English language, I need my editor, and not just to kill spiders and change the oil in my car.

I learned that a Fairfield Inn by Marriott can feel like a Ritz Carlton when you’re paying your own way to be somewhere for an article you’re writing but when you’re working for someone else and have a company credit card you would never be caught dead in one.

I learned that truly creative and talented designers who are just starting out in this business need more financial breaks and fewer requests of “send it to me on memo.”

I learned that watches are for everyone no matter if you have a penis, a vagina, or both.

I learned that sexual harassment in the workplace still exists and should be discussed more openly in our industry. I also learned that I don’t stand alone in my thinking.

I learned how to polish a diamond thanks to Evert Botha.3year3

I learned that if a watch company has a name like “Ball,” the written jokes are endless. ENDLESS.

I learned that everyone wants to throw an extra “a” into my blog’s name. Once and for all, folks, it’s ADORNMENT (like a piece of jewelry) and MENTALITY (like your way of thinking) combined. ADORNMENTALITY. Not, “AdornAmentality”; I am not a Christmas blogger.

And finally, I learned that people like Brandee, Bern, Amanda, Alexis, Anna, Ben, PJD, Denise, Jason, Marc, Byron, John, Jim, Ashley, Michael, David, Jen, Jay, Sabrina, Marla, Hannah, Wendy, Jennifer, Wes, Lauren, Nicole, Britt, Rebecca, Scott, Bill, Des, Adam, Payal, Michelle, Monica, and so, so many others, are going to be the people who are the changemakers in this business. These are the people whom I want to always be surrounded by. These are the voices that may not quite be the loudest, but in my mind these are the ones that will forever be the clearest.

Now, as far as looking forward goes, here are my plans for the future of this blog.

I intend to write a combined piece about the 2016 AGS Conclave as well as what to expect at the 2017 AGS Conclave in Hollywood. This was a promise I made to Ruth Batson and I would never go back on something like that.

I also still intend on writing a Vegas recap. Unfortunately I didn’t see many of my jewelry friends in Las Vegas as I was largely covering watches during the show, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t stories to tell, moments to rehash, or spouses to get in trouble.

I intend on covering designers, taking on tough topics, and occasionally talking about life outside of jewelry.

Most importantly, however, I intend to keep this blog sponsorship free. Is my husband happy about that? Not particularly, as he knows how much money I *could* make if I were to go the route of advertorial. But there are, in my mind, some things that are sacred. You know, as my readers, that when you read this blog, you’re getting a relatively unbiased opinion. I say “relatively” because yeah, I might include the designs of people I like over the designs of people who have treated me like shit, so I guess you could call that a little biased. But you know what? Sue me. I want to always have this blog as my outlet. I want it to always be around for me to use when I want to tell a fun story or express my anger about an unjust act. I wouldn’t want my “sponsors” getting pissed or threatening to withdraw their ad dollars. That’s not what this blog is about. It’s never been what it’s been about. I get the whole advertorial thing. I get it. And I have done it and may do it again on my separate watch blog, but not here. Not here. Not now. Not ever.

On that, on this day, on this anniversary, you have my word.

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Uncategorized

#50DesignersofJewelry: A New Adornmentality InstaSeries (With a Disclaimer)

millen

It’s been a while since I’ve done an InstaSeries, but with Jewelry Week in Vegas behind us, I felt the time couldn’t be more appropriate, so starting tomorrow, on the @adornmentality Instagram page (as well as on the Facebook page) I will highlighting one designer per day for the next fifty days. But I have a few things to say about this series and every series henceforth before this one begins.

First thing’s first, this series is based on one person’s opinion: mine. This is neither a contest nor is it an award. It’s simply an opportunity for me to give a shout out to some smaller jewelry designers who I feel need it and deserve it, mainly because they’re doing awesome things but they’re not in Big Box retailers, and not always on everyone’s lips, minds, or fingertips.

The reason (or actually, “reasons”) I have to make the disclaimer above is because I actually caught shit from folks during my last two InstaSeries’. That’s right, I caught shit for trying to highlight fifty high-ranking women in the jewelry industry who are often overlooked, and for highlighting fifty young jewelers/designers/retailers/editors who are making a difference in our industry. People are f*cking bananas, aren’t they? Let me elaborate a little on what exactly I went through:

During #FiftyWomenofJewelry I had people pressuring me to include certain women who I needed to “pay my respects” to because they were of the hierarchy and had been around a lot longer than some of the women executives I had already highlighted had been.

After #FiftyWomenofJewelry I had people upset with me for not including a woman they “would have included” or that they “felt should have been included.” I have five words for those people if they’re reading this right now: Make Your Own G*ddamned List. Just like I did, folks! Don’t like how the system works? Create your own system. WordPress isn’t expensive. Create a domain name. Buy your website. Start your own blog, and go for it.

During #50MillennialsofJewelry – and this one was the most astonishing one yet – I had a Millennial WHO WAS ON THE LIST complain that they hadn’t been highlighted as well as some of the others on the list. Jesus Ephing Christ, people. Really?

Also during #50MillennialsofJewelry, I received messages and emails from people afterward asking why they weren’t included. For serious. Can’t make this shit up. Entitled much?

And lastly, I had some folks soliciting others who they knew were friends of mine to ask me to include them on the list. That’s not cool, people. That would be like me asking my friends to nominate me for a WJA Award or a GEM Award. There are just certain things one mustn’t do. If your work is solid enough, you’ll eventually be recognized. Take it from me… it took twenty years in this industry to get a nomination for anything. It will come. Just have patience. It will come.

So, with that being said, here is my plan for this series which really was no different than my plan in any of the others: I want the underdogs/the lesser-knowns/the one-woman or one-man operations to get some attention. This series isn’t going to include the David Yurmans of the world, (BEFORE I CATCH MORE SHIT I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST DAVID YURMAN, PEOPLE) meaning, David put his time in and caught his break, but these folks, well, they’re just not there… yet. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be, or they won’t be, which is why I’m choosing to highlight them now.

If you’re one of these designers I’ve described and I don’t include you this time around, it’s cool, okay? I’m nobody. Really. Don’t get hurt. Don’t get offended. Just know that, for me, 50 is a number that works. There are thousands of you out there and I would love to get to you all someday. If not today, maybe tomorrow. Maybe next year. Or maybe some other bloggers will take the initiative and get to you. In the interim, keep working hard, smart, and most importantly, WORK TRUE.

Peace out, people. Peace out, and read on, and stay the course, and don’t do drugs.

Layteh.

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OFF TOPIC

OFF TOPIC: One Man (Whom I Happen To Love) Writes His Story of Orlando

For a while now I had toyed around with the idea of creating a category specifically for non-jewelry related topics. When my husband came home from work yesterday – distraught after a day of reading headlines, watching videos, and listening to podcasts about the mass shooting in Orlando this weekend – and said to me, “I need to write. I don’t know what else to do. I have to write.” I knew the time had come.

The story below is one man’s story. One man, who was born and raised in the city on everyone’s mind today. One man who danced on sweaty nightclub floors next his multitude of friends – gay and straight alike – who is wounded, sickened, and torn apart by the events that took forty-nine innocent lives at Pulse.

The only thing I was able to do for him to help heal his pain was give him a platform. I ask that you read it, and share it, and feel today that you, too, are Orlando.

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I am Orlando. 

maptodd

Circle Number 1 is where so much of it begins for me. As a matter of fact, it is where it all began for me. You see, I was born there right on Circle Number 1, way back in the mid-60’s. As was my sister. What is now Orlando Regional Medical Center was once known simply as Orange Memorial Hospital. Of course it was called that, right? There are fewer orange trees in the City limits Orange Memorialtoday, now mostly limited to someone’s vanity orange tree (or tangerine, tangelo, or kumquat tree – if you’re from my hometown, you know what I’m talking about), in their backyard. Maybe it doesn’t even give fruit that you’d want to eat, because you haven’t really taken care of it, but my, it certainly looks pretty through the kitchen window, doesn’t it? My hometown was a lot different then, although in many ways I still recognize it every time I return to visit.

Circle Number 1 is where most of the victims of this weekend’s shootings were taken for treatment. And it is where some of them, if we are to believe the reports of the conditions of several of the wounded, will die. They will die where I was born. They will take their last breath where I took my first.

Circle Number 2 is where my mother went to elementary school, when it was called Delaney Elementary. It’s now the Beardall Senior Center, Delaneyand this is where the families of the victims were taken yesterday to be cared for while they waited on word on the fate of their friends, loved ones, children, lovers, sisters, brothers, and coworkers. I try to imagine what it must be like for them to sit in a building that is nearly 100 years old – that oozes the perfume of the breath of so many children who were taught how to read, and write, and listen, and love – and have to simply wait…

Circle Number 2 is where so many will have to start to learn to love again, after they learn to live with loss. Many may never learn to live with it. But it will all start right here, again, for another group of Earth’s children.

Circle Number 3 is where my mother went to Junior High School (back before we had invented middle school, at least in the South). Good old Cherokee Junior High. They closed this one down too – we used to joke that my mother had a real knack for forcing the closure of fine institutions through the city – and it is Cherokeesomething else entirely now. It’s the farthest as the crow flies from the epicenter of the horror everyone is talking about, but when you are talking an extra half mile, it isn’t really that far at all.

Circle Number 3 closed down when I was in between 7th and 8th grades, and many of my good friends for the rest of my Junior High life then came to Howard Junior High, joining me as we figured out organized sports, pizza parties, and kissing girls. Howard was a magnificent building, originally Orlando High School, and far too grand for the likes of us 12-year-olds roaming its corridors. I was now connected to the kids from that part of town. Of course, what seemed like a million miles of distance between our neighborhood and theirs was really just an illusion. The highway that bisected the neighborhoods only made us feel like we were far removed from one another; on a map we were just a mile away.

Circle Number 4 was where my mother graduated from high school. If not for the intentional gerrymandering of the school Booneboundaries by the wealthy folks south of the expressway around the time I was in junior high, I would have graduated from there too. But the area I lived in had the “projects.” Laughable to use that term because if you picture the projects in your head you don’t picture these projects. The projects in Orlando were, well, kind of like most other things in Orlando: a bit whiter than average, a bit cleaner than expected, and just not quite gritty enough to be called projects. But alas, when “those kids” were swept out of Boone’s district, I floated away right along with them. It never really bothered me, beyond missing out on the opportunity to graduate from the same school as my mother. Life is made more interesting by those simple coincidences. I ended up at Boone’s biggest rival in town, so things did stay pretty interesting after all.

Circle Number 5 is where my mom lived growing up. There was no bridge across Lake Lucerne back in 19xx (she’d be quite upset if I lucernetold her age), and no high-rises to the north. Where the grand old house she called home once stood is now a parking lot. At some point decades ago that house came down for something else – an office building, I think – and they just never got around to putting something back up. You can still see the walls that surrounded the yard if you look closely. Which I do every time I go home. I always chuckle when I think about the people who park there and wonder “Why the hell would someone build this ugly old parking lot and then take the time to build these beautiful and sturdy brick walls around it as decoration?” “Because they weren’t decoration, because they were there for a reason.” That’s always what I imagine I’d say to them.

Circle Number 5 is where my mother learned to love everyone. It’s where she was taught to teach everyone with respect, no matter their skin color, or religion, and – I like to believe, anyway – where she learned subconsciously that the orientation of ones sexuality was another characteristic to be added to the list of inconsequential things. It’s largely why I feel the way I do about everyone who is different than I, and especially those who I know struggle with feeling different than all others.

And we end up at Circle 1 again. Where it all began, all those years ago. My grandmother was in the first graduating nursing class of Orange Memorial in the late 1930’s. Her picture hangs on the wall in the basement, right there for anyone to see who might pass by, or wonder what nurses looked like way back then, or who accidentally hit the wrong button on the elevator. I tell people I’m “Old” Orlando, and inside the walls of this hospital hangs the proof.

I believe that if my grandmother were alive and working this weekend, she would have rolled up her sleeves and tended to the injured, and stayed as long as it took to give comfort to the fallen, and shown them that they were loved, and cared about, and in good hands. That they were valuable in her eyes and that she would see to it that they were given all the care that all of us deserve. No matter what color, or age, or religion. No matter what side of the interstate you happened to live on. No matter how much money you had or whether you had even enough money in your tattered wallet to pay for the bandages she held against your injuries. No matter who you loved.

I look at the map at the top of this page, and I see my mother’s lifetime within these Circles. Birth, school, work, kids, and beyond. I think of all the memories that were made inside these few square miles of Orlando real estate. And I am in awe of how far her journey took her, and how her journey helped me start my own, right here way back all those years ago.

I hurt for the people whose stories ended inside this circle. I hurt for my mother’s memories, darkened by the senseless act of a madman, a criminal, a tormented human with no thought for others; with no compassion for the Circles he broke this weekend. I hurt for my own innocent memories of what growing up in Orlando meant to me, and I am as confused as any other as to what can be done about it, what can be done to fix such a wound in the geometry of my life. And the lives of all others. But I’ll go on, like we all must, and like we may always have to. And in the meantime…

I. Am. Orlando.

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What's On the Brain

“What’s On the Brain?” May 2016 Edition: (Even More) Jewelry Fo Yo Momma

You know I couldn’t let y’all down, right? You know I’m not that kind of blogger. I’m here for you, people. I’m here to deliver the goods that you’ve been promised: the laughs, the cringes, the eye rolls, the smirks, and the occasional shocks to your system. I’m standing (technically sitting) here, guns (keys) a blazin’, fully prepared for backlash, but knowing that deep down, you really do want the stuff that’s bad for you. So I’m happy to be your fried food, your candy bar, your mistress, or your fourth martini. Maybe I won’t make you feel great about yourself later on when you step on the scale or notice the overabundance of middle-aged acne, but I sure as sh*t can handle being what makes you feel good right now. So with that being said, for the third year running (if you missed the previous two, go here, and here to read ‘em), I bring to you a non-traditional Mother’s Day Gift Guide in the form of what you should consider buying for the woman in your life who now pees her pants when she coughs or laughs because your head was so g*ddamned enormous at the time of your birth. This is the 2016 version of Jewelry Fo Yo Momma

Connected Mom

Altruis Gold and White StoneLet’s be honest with ourselves here, is there a mom out there right now who’s not a “connected” mom? Raise your hand if you’re a mother who’s slept with your cell phone under your pillow or taken your iPad into the bathtub. Yeah. Thought so. But the unfortunate thing about those instances is that being electrocuted not only makes your hair frizzy, it also causes your life to come to a halt, which is why Vinaya – a London-based technologies company – introduced an affordable line of connected jewelry called Altruis. And while there is no shortage of connected jewelry lines available right now, I was drawn to the esthetics of the pieces in the Altruis line, particularly the Cleopatra ring which is made in white ceramic and rose gold-plated metal. Now your mom can look uber-chic while knowing just how many times you never call her per day, per month, and per year.

Erotica Reading Mom

I know. I knoooooww. You don’t want to think about the fact that your mom has an original copy of The Story of O on her night stand. I know it nauseated you when you found her entire Lords of the Underworld series in a cardboard box next to the washing machine marked “BIBLES FOR THE POOR” (and they weren’t dusty). And I know marla aaron locksthat you nearly spewed your skinny chai latte across the table last Mother’s Day when your father tried to present her with the hardback version of Fifty Shades of Grey (though you secretly smiled when she responded to him with, “While I love you for the thought, dear, I wouldn’t own that sh*tty book if you hired John Hamm to act out each of the scenes that Hugh Jackman was hired to read to him. However, this silk scarf is lovely, thank you.”) But while you’re doing your best to deny the idea, your mom is still a sexual being, so why not give her a little wink and a nudge by gifting her with one or more of Marla Aaron’s super fashionable jewelry LOCKS. Available in everything from sterling silver to green gold, with gemstones or without, Marla’s LOCKS will give your mom not only the idea that she can somehow use them on your dad during “play time,” but will also provide her the variety she’s been looking for in life without having to visit LionsDen.com so often.

“My Kids Are Grown So I Adopted Nine Cats” Mom

fitzroy the cat necklaceOh boy. Okay, so, um, this is an interesting mom, to say the least. Yeah, she’s your mom, and she’s really sweet, and we get it, but dude, she’s bordering on f**king weird these days, I’m sorry. I mean, three cats? Okay, I see it. Four? Well, maybe she’s just really, really, REALLY lonely. But NINE?? Aren’t you afraid she’s going to ingest too many hair fibers? What if they all go into heat at once? WHO COULD STAND THAT SOUND FOR MORE THAN TWO MINUTES??? Plus there are an odd number of them! Do cats even have threesomes? Okay, fine. She’s not my mom so I’ll just go ahead and do my job of suggesting what you could get her as a present. Let’s see now, she already owns seventeen kitten sweaters, has a two-year subscription to Catster Magazine (formerly Cat Fancy), and had her name legally changed last month to Furball McFluffytail. What do you get a woman who has all of that and way too so much more? A-HA! I’ve got it! A FitzRoy the Cat necklace from designer Wendy Brandes would be PURR-fect! (Yeah. I went there. Sue me.) FitzRoy is not only an Instagram sensation, but this version of The Cat in The Bowl is made in 18K yellow gold with orange sapphires and he’s holding the most beautiful opal in his paws. Furball will think this is such a MEOWvelous gift that she may just wear it with that skullcap she knitted last December using what I can only imagine were remnants from the various pet brushes scattered about the apartment. No thanks needed, pal. I’ve got your back.

Rock Climbing Mom

Laurie Kaiser ear climberAh, the adventure mom. Buns of steel. Thighs of high. Abs of Fab. This is the mom I wish I had time to be. She lives in Colorado, and New Mexico, and Wyoming. She is naturally tan without looking like she’s been visiting the same salon as Donald Trump and John Boehner. Her hair is long and sun-tinted; her hands, calloused yet ultra-feminine. And man, does she know how to live life to the fullest. If this is your mom, don’t let the lack of rings and bracelets fool you; that’s only because they’d be in the way while she was free climbing the Black Canyon above the Gunnison River. She’s fit and fearless, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be fashionable, so I’m recommending this pair of earthy-feeling diamond ear climbers by Laurie Kaiser as her gift this year. She’ll love the fact that you got her something that not only “climbs,” but that will refrain from getting in the way of her helmet straps when she goes out snowboarding. Cowabunga, mama!

Just Got Engaged For the Fifth Time Mom

I kind of dig this mom. This is one non-settling mother. She’s ballsy, confident, and has been heard quoting Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White in the movie Clue: “Husbands should be like Kleenex: soft, strong, and disposable.” Yet while she’s Jane-Taylor-B923F-hook-bracelet-with-blue-topaz-and-diamonds-in-white-goldnever killed off any of her exes (that we know about) she’s accumulated plenty of spectacular jewelry pieces along her marital journeys, which is why you’ll need to be creative when thinking of a present to get her that she can wear on this wedding day or even on her wedding days to come. This blue topaz and white gold hooked bracelet from designer Jane Taylor’s “Rosebud” collection is as versatile as your mother’s wedding planner and costs a lot less money. It’s the perfect “something blue” for a woman who should absolutely not be wearing white, and I’m sure she’ll love it a lot longer than she’s loved any of her previous and possibly future spouses.

Legally Married Thanks To the Supreme Court Moms

hattie rickards flipWhile your friends all thought you were the coolest girl on the block growing up because you were the only one with two moms, you knew that the impending arrival of Mother’s Day meant that you had to work an extra shift at the Pizza Hut because you always had two bouquets of flowers to buy. But now that you’re grown up, well-adjusted, successful, and happily married to Tim (the podiatrist), Hattie Rickardsyou’re looking forward to this Mother’s Day since it’s the first one that your moms can celebrate as a married couple in the eyes of the law. Matching multi-colored sapphire kinetic flip rings by London jewelry designer Hattie Rickards would be a wonderful way for you to show your moms just how much you appreciate their love, still. The rings are made in 18K Fairtrade yellow gold and are a load of fun to toy around with as they flip and spin thanks to hidden mechanisms. They’re colorful, playful, and responsible… just like your moms.

Full Time Writer Mom

COOMIHey look, you know I usually throw in one for me, right? Not this year, though. All I’m hoping to get from my family this year is their continued support as I embark on this new journey and do the thing I’ve wanted to do since I was in high school. That, and one of those rad Antiquity collection necklaces by COOMI. But if they can’t do both, just the COOMI necklace will do. I’ll get the support I need elsewhere. Maybe Facebook or something.

That about does it, loves. Now go make your brunch reservations, call 1800-Flowers, and invest in some fine Swiss chocolates, but whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET THE JEWELS.

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Uncategorized

An Oscar Jewelry Post for Those Who Don’t Give a Crap About the Oscars or Jewelry

They say, in book writing, that a good title can pull anybody in. Let’s see how that works today.

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Look, I know that the Academy Awards isn’t everybody’s cup of Jameson-laced herbal tea. I realize that there are people out there who look down their noses at those of us who huddle around six forms of technology simultaneously so that we can be the first person to tweet about some likely overpaid, undertalented E! “news” correspondent because she remembered who supplied her stylist with the jewelry that she’s now wearing even though she pronounced the designer’s name wrong. (For those unfamiliar with the English language, what I just wrote would be considered the poster child for the “run on sentence.”) And to be perfectly frank, if I didn’t love what I do so much – meaning love working in an industry that not only makes people feel good, but that also combines talent, art, culture, craft, and history in a single genre – I might find myself being one of those people who snobbishly thinks that their time is worth too much to waste on the Hollywood elite and “who they’re wearing.” But fortunately for my readers, I’m not. However, I also understand that many out there are not me. They don’t think like I do, like the things I like, or hell, come to this here page only for the entertainment factor, so today, I’m writing an Oscars recap for those folks (while slipping in some jewelry info as well).

FOR THE POLITICAL JUNKIE WHO HAS BEEN WORKING THE PHONES FOR BERNIE SANDERS

joe-biden-oscars-2016-1Dude! Did you see Joe Biden?! Wasn’t that awesome?! Wasn’t HE awesome?! I mean, you love Joe Biden. Who doesn’t love Joe Biden, right? That man’s teeth are as white as pretty much every gemstone we saw adorning the ears of every A-lister walking the red carpet, including his wife, Second Lady, Jill Biden (who, by the way, has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, master’s degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University, and a doctoral degree from the University of Delaware. Slacker.) Dude, how about when old Joe got that standing ovation? That was nice, wasn’t it? We’re going to miss his Scranton, PA charm, aren’t we? What’s that? You need to go make a phone call because it’s Super Tuesday? Okay, well, have fun. And, uh, good luck with that. Hope it works out for ya.

FOR THE SPORTS DAD WHO IS PISSED THAT HE MISSED A BASKETBALL GAME OVER THIS

635922888759062240-88th-Academy-Awards---Knap960x0-1Aaron Rodgers is DA MAN, YO. And his girlfriend is SO. FREAKING. HAWT. I mean, it’s just like when we were in high school, isn’t it? The quarterbacks are still getting the hot chicks. What’s her name, Olive or something, right? Nun? Numm? MUNN! That’s right, Olivia Munn. Man, he must be getting some serious you-know-what, especially after buying her that badass diamond Forevermark bracelet designed by Jade Trau. Wait, what’s that? What do you mean he didn’t buy her that?? The guy’s worth millions! He’s a five-time pro-bowler and has a damned Super Bowl ring for eph’s sake. He can’t buy his girlfriend a diamond bracelet? Freaking fraud. You should have TOTALLY watched that basketball game instead, man. At least those guys own their own jewelry.

FOR THE AFFECTED HIPSTER ELITIST WHO ONLY USES THE COMPUTER AT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY

(While reading this, be sure to insert ‘upspeak’ at the end of every sentence.)

Ugh. So, like, you know who Rooney Mara is, like, riiiight? Well, she like, *totally* gave a major “screw you” to the establishment by pretty much, like, being, like, ‘I will totally wear my hair to the Oscars like I’m a character in a Tim Burton film’ and like ‘Diamonds are for cutouts, people, not wearing as jewels because baby elephants in Africa die every time a diamond is mined’ and like, she was so badass without ever saying like a word or even smiling. She’s so true, you know? She’s like, sooooo against what Hollywood stands for, you know? She’s like real. Not that you watched it because, like, I know you sold your T.V. last year for a basket of gluten-free, vegan corn muffins made with corn grown on the High Line, but, I wanted you to know that like, if you, like, *had* watched it, you would have like totally been all, like… ‘yeah.’

cf4d00be2cf454e76ea286a1522a190c39962042145a0b4c9d3b6a8abbd8e8a0-1FOR JADA PINKETT SMITH

Can we move on, now, JPS? Or did Chris Rock piss you off even more? Come now, girl. I mean, Will is good and all, but he ain’t “Denzel” good. He ain’t “Jamie” good, either. I mean, I love the man… he’s my hometown boy (West Philly, representin’! Although Will grew up in the nice part of West Philly while I was eating welfare cheese, but that’s for another post.). But come on, Jada, let’s just say you made your point, and you’re right, racism does still exist really strongly in this country and in Hollywood as well, and so does sexism. But boycotting did nothing but make you the butt of the joke. Wanna change Hollywood? Play a great part in a great movie that isn’t a sequel to The Nutty Professor. Can’t get cast? Write your own movie. Can’t get backing? Back your own movie. Be the change you want to see, and be in their face. Not showing up just makes you forgettable.

FOR THE FRAT BOY WHO HAS HAD FOUR TOO MANY BEERS THIS MORNING

Charlize-Theron-Oscars-2016-Red-Carpet-Fashion-Christian-Dior-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-1-1THERE WERE SO MANY AWESOME BOOBIES ON THE RED CAAAAAAARRRRRRPET!!!!!! BOOBIES ARE THE BEST!!!!! Oh my g*d. Oh my g*d. Bro. No joke. Charlize Theron had that diamond thingy on and it was all hangy and stuff. But like, bro, her boobs? NOT HANGY. Totally real, man. That jewelry piece had to be real too. I think it was from Harry Winston, so, you know, they’re like ballers. HAHAHAHahahahah. Man, OH! OH MAN, and Olivia Wilde, bro. SHE WAS LIKE ALMOST NAKED. People were talking about some Neil Lane choker and I was all, “WHO’S LOOKING AT HER NECK, BRO?! Y’all are FOOLS.” And bro… bro… Kate Blanchett… I mean, first, she’s pretty much the hottest MILF alive (no idea how three kids came out of that body) and then… then she makes a movie where she’s making out with a GIRL. I mean, is Hollywood kidding me with this? Radical. HAHAHAHAHAHahahahha. Lol.

FOR THE STRUGGLING MUSICIAN WHO DOESN’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SH*T BECAUSE HER AGENT IS GOING TO CALL ANY MINUTE

screen-shot-2016-02-28-at-10-05-07-pmOkay look, I know you don’t have time to read this. I get it. I know. I know. Your agent’s going to Skype any second so you need to make sure that the line is free. But… you missed Dave Grohl singing “Blackbird.” I KNOW!! I know that’s your favorite song. I know, and I really hesitated to…

…okay, I’ll hold.

(waiting.)

(waiting.)

(waiting.)

Wasn’t him? Okay, so anyway, I really hesitated to tell you because…

…yeah, I’ll hold.

(waiting.)

(waiting.)

Still not him? Oh, it was your mom? Tell her I said hi. WELL NO I DIDN’T MEAN RIGHT N…

You know what, I’ll just call you later.

(Click.)

Hope y’all enjoyed this year’s unconventional Oscars Red Carpet recap. Thanks, as always, for reading and following along on social media, and be sure to stay tuned for my new female-friendly watch blog, WhatsOnHerWrist.com, launching next week.

Peace, bro.

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#jewelrypeople

The Day Our Industry Wept: Why There Will Never Be Another “Jewelry Biz Guru”

cindy2a

Vegas, 2014 – Cindy and those who adored her

Cindy Edelstein was hard on me.

She didn’t coddle me. She never blew smoke up my ass. And she was quick to tell me when I said something or did something that she felt was wrong.

For a while I struggled with knowing what she thought of me or about me. She kept me guessing, which kept me on my toes, but as I reflect on our relationship, I think that was her plan all along.

Cindy Edelstein was exactly what I needed at a time when I had no idea what it was I needed.

And today, her family, our industry, and I mourn her passing.

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I had seen her face and read her name in a thousand articles I’d viewed over the years I’d been in the business, so in the summer of 2013 when she walked up to the SJTA trade show booth I’d been working in, I knew exactly who she was.

She was there, at the Atlanta Jewelry Show, to teach a course to those in attendance. I had just started writing Adornmentality and to my surprise, Cindy already knew of me. Her daughter, Remy, and husband, Frank, accompanied her on her road trip, and so I gave Remy some pointers on the cool neighborhoods to visit around Atlanta, as well as the areas she’d be able to find vegetarian restaurants. I remember looking at Remy – a not-so-shy high schooler with a unique sense of style and vibrant character – and thinking about my own daughter. My mom wasn’t a cool mom. She didn’t let me do funky things with my hair and hated that I was into The Cure and The Smiths, but Cindy seemed completely comfortable with Remy’s path. She seemed to not only be content with the daughter she’d raised, but encouraging of her individuality. That… that earned my respect well before I ever knew all she had done for the industry and for countless jewelry designers in it. That holds my respect and will continue to for a long, long time to come.

From that point forward, Cindy and I were part of one another’s lives. We saw each other at trade shows, shared drinks at Women’s Jewelry Association events, and co-tweeted many an awards gala red carpet, but I still couldn’t figure “us” out. Where did I stand in Cindy’s mind? Did she think I was another false industry prophet? Another “come out of nowhere” superstar whose flame would die out long before ever reaching orbit? I couldn’t get a read on her, or what she felt about what I was doing. But the more I thought about it, the harder I tried to get her attention through how hard I was working and what I was saying.

Cindy, by all accounts, was “no bullshit.” And I think she eventually saw that I was “no bullshit,” too.

cindy1

Post Atlanta Jewelry Show Dinner at SOHO in Vinings

I’ll never forget the day she emailed me to ask me about spearheading an Atlanta chapter for the WJA. We went back and forth via email and spoke on the telephone several times regarding who we knew and what could be done. When I told her that I was more than happy to help out in any way I could, but that with the amount of travel I did for my job, plus the blog, plus trying to be a mom to a three-year-old and a seven-year-old child, I wasn’t able to take on the role of President, she tried to convince me otherwise. “If anybody can make this happen, you can. I know you can.” It was the first time I felt like she believed in me, which made it all the more heartbreaking to have to still tell her I just couldn’t. I thought I had killed my only shot of earning her respect, but that’s not how she worked, and wasn’t who she was. She was hard but still very soft; guarded, but just as open. She had her passions and her muses but I promise you, she watched us all. That’s probably one of the best ways I could describe Cindy Edelstein: she was a watcher. She watched, and she listened, and she knew more than any eyes, ears, or brain in this biz. That alone set her apart. That alone will make her irreplaceable.

Over the years that followed our first encounter, Cindy had asked me to help judge a couple of design competitions, and involved me in various WJA and industry discussions and gatherings, and that gave me the sense that she was cool with what I was doing. I think Cindy could read that I wasn’t the type of person who needed to be coddled. There are plenty of those types out there, but she sensed that I required mentors with balls (figurative balls, not literal balls) and so she did her fair share of reprimanding and head-shaking as it pertained to things I did. But see, I need that in my life. I would vomit if I was constantly told how awesome I was and rarely heard how I could improve. I don’t want that in a mentor nor would I be that in a mentor. NO ONE is that awesome. We should all be improving, every damned day. Cindy not only understood that fact, she lived it. She lived it, and taught it, and has left it with us to nurture in her memory.

To the hundreds if not thousands of designers whose lives and livelihoods were enhanced and improved because of their association with the late Cindy Edelstein: I offer you my sincerest condolences and can only suggest to you that you do what Cindy would have done. Think, “WWCD”… What Would Cindy Do?

To Cindy’s jewelry family (her WJA sisters [and brothers], fellow writers, trade show associates, and those she mentored): we are feeling your loss with you. She was the kin who always showed up to the reunion with a couple of bottles of tequila, and we’re all greatly missing her presence, already.

Finally, to Frank, and to Remy: No one knows the pain you are feeling right now. No one feels the heartbreak you do. But, if there is anyone who might come close to knowing, be comforted in the fact that it is not just one person, but an entire world. The jewelry world loved, adored, emulated, admired, respected, valued, and needed your Cindy. She was yours. She was ours. And now, she is her God’s.

Rest in peace, Cindy. Watch over us all. We’re counting on you.

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