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From Nasty Women to Bad Hombres: Holiday Gifts for the Politically Passionate On Your List

Sooo, uhhhhh, yeah.

I’ll admit it; I had to rewrite some of this year’s holiday gift guide to coincide with the election outcome. I’ll admit that I expected to have an undertone in this piece that would poke fun at the experience of the 2016 electoral process as well as celebrate the smashing of that final glass ceiling. I had the jewels all picked out and the stories to go along with them, and it was fun and light and cheeky and very, very Barbara. But then, November 8th happened and the light immediately fell dark. The fun no longer seemed believable, at least, at the time. And I struggled with feeling anything other than worry, anger, and a lot of sadness.

Those emotions were real not just for me but for millions of others, and if you’re reading this and you’re having those feelings still, don’t let anyone tell you can’t or you shouldn’t. We fight for so much in this country and we love us some God-given freedom, but what many out there refuse to accept is that freedom also means that we’re free to feel, free to mourn, and free to write. And while the journalism of yore is dying off and being replaced by people like me (bloggers), and people not like me (people who *think* they’re bloggers), right now, we still have the 1st Amendment covering Freedom of the Press. So for today I’m going to use that right, as well as the right to free speech, and I’m going to pen my yearly holiday gift guide in the manner in which you’re used to it being presented – through satire. I hope it brings you some laughter, gets you thinking, and hell, maybe even offends you a little. After all, if we don’t experience these emotions, then how are we to know that we’re still alive?

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For Your Tan-Skinned Pharmacist, Maria

plukka-ramses-ii-18k-gold-diamond-spike-ringSure, Maria was born here in the United States to a Portuguese mother and a Peruvian father, and sure, her parents became U.S. citizens even before she was ever conceived, but that doesn’t mean Maria hasn’t experienced her fair share of difficulties pertaining to the treatment she’s gotten this election cycle (particularly by that one a**hole customer who has waited for her twice after work and who keeps asking her for a chimichanga when he picks up his monthly prescriptions of Propecia and Viagra [um, throw rocks/live in glass houses much, dude? I don’t think baldness and floppiness are the only reasons you can’t get a date, bruh]), which is why there is no better gift for the lovely Maria than something to protect herself with. Something that says, “Hey, hombre, if you come anywhere near me again I will make your face look like Marty Castillo from Miami Vice.” Something like Plukka’s 18K rose gold, sterling silver, and diamond “Ramses II” ring should do the trick. It’s spikey, yet stylish, and can also be used to flatten the tires on creepy guy’s pickup if… you know… a situation called for it.

For Your Jesus-Loving Aunt Betty

aunt-betty-links-of-londonGod bless your sweet Aunt Betty. I mean it, too. If peach cobbler, gummy bears, and a baby seal could take human form while simultaneously driving a yellow Ford Focus and singing G-rated show tunes, your Aunt Betty would be the result. Even though she voted differently than you, Aunt Betty never once called either candidate a terrible name, nor did she spread fake news or blatant lies about those running for office. She had her reasons for voting how she did and honestly, how could you be mad at her for that? I mean you could, but look at her. You can’t be mad. You just can’t. She smells like toffee. She sends you balloons on your birthday. And she’s a darn proud hand-knitted-American-flag-sweater-wearing American, which is why this Stars and Stripes covered sterling silver apple charm by Links of London will be a gift she’ll cherish forever. Can’t you just see her adding it to the empty link between Winnie the Pooh and the New Testament charm (complete with a verse from 2 Corinthians!) on her bracelet? She’ll show it off to all her friends on bingo night, even if she does refer to you as her “liberal niece, but not like a ‘Rachel Maddow’ liberal.” Bless her heart.

For Ken, Your Confused Step-Brother

Ken has serious identity issues but because you really like your step-dad, you don’t have the heart to tell him that to his face. You’ve ridden in the car with Ken when he’s gone off on rants about how we don’t need any help from the government right gp-1966-the-mapbefore he hit a pot hole and started screaming that the city needed to “fix that sh*t.” You’ve witnessed Ken wearing a “Don’t Tread On Me” t-shirt as he planted marijuana seeds in his backyard while belting out Indigo Girls’ tunes. And if all of that wasn’t enough to prove that Ken is a living, breathing, walking oxymoron, Ken goes and votes for Gary Johnson. Dafuq, Ken? I’d almost rather you penciled in “Dick Cheney’s Man-Sized Safe” as your choice of candidate. So, since Ken isn’t sure about much of anything other than he’s sure he’d rather live here than in one of those “socialist countries,” methinks something that could show Ken the world might be in order this holiday.

Back in 2014, esteemed Swiss watch manufacturer, Girard-Perregaux, introduced three limited edition watches with Cloisonné enamel dials to add to their 1966 series, one of which was named, “The Map.” For reasons obvious to Ken, he’s really going to love you for getting him this gift and won’t believe how much you spent on him this year, especially since he only got you a bottle of Dewar’s. For reasons obvious to you, it was worth the money to know that Ken will now and forever wear a watch that he doesn’t even realize contains the city of Aleppo. Feel the Bern, Kenny. Feel it for a long time, pal.

For Clover, Your Vegan Liberal Arts Major Daughter

For the record, we all know that you didn’t name your daughter, “Clover Windsong” at birth. We know that it took you almost the entirety of your pregnancy to come up with a name you felt could benefit her in her life; one that would sound strong rather than delicate. One that brought about the feelings of both grace and confidence in her as it fell from her lips when she introduced utedecker_ring_2_shapes_goldherself to her peers and/or Chris Hemsworth, who you were sure would be her husband one day. You felt that “Catherine” was indeed that name, and that it would be one she’d thank you for after hearing it over the sound system as she received her doctorate in biophysics and her masters in environmental law.

Yeeaah, no. Sorry, ma. Not the case.

Clover voted for Jill Stein for President. So rather than get into how silently disgusted you are in that little morsel or how depressed you are over her legal name change, choice of boyfriend, CHOICE OF SCHOOL, CHOICE OF CAREER PATH, CHOICE OF CAT BREED, HAIR COLOR, PIERCING LOCATIONS, AND MANY, MANY OTHER THINGS, you know that these are likely just things that kids go through, right? I mean, you were young once, weren’t you? And tongue tattoos are all the rage right now. But just because you haven’t voiced your disappointment in Dandelion – sorry, sorry – I mean, in “Clover” (I get my weeds mixed up), doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel your disappointment, so how about you pick up something you know she’ll love this season.

This Ute Decker Double Ring made with sand-textured, fair trade, ethically sourced 18K yellow gold would make for a very thoughtful gift for your girl, but if you really want to watch Clover turn Crimson, have it engraved with “To: Catherine, Love: Ma” on the inside, and when she reads that out loud on the first morning of Hanukkah, turn to her and say, “gotcha!”

For Your Recently Converted Cousin Lisa

You remember Lisa, Right? Lisa… the cousin who apparently converted to Buddhism on November 9th when she began tenderly calling for the country to come together, get along with one another, accept the election results, and unite under one flag, because, you know, we all should love our country as much as we love our freedom to vote. THAT Lisa. Oh! Wait, you haven’t met that Lisa yet, have you? Oh, RIIIIIIIIGHT! You only remember the “old” Lisa who as recently as November 7th had a Facebook profile picture depicting a dreadlocked Senator Clinton as a character in the television series, “Orange Is the New Black,” and a tara-buddha-mama2cover photo stating simply, “GUNS ARE FUN” written in red, white, and blood. But silly you, that was the Lisa of yesterminute! Today’s Lisa carries her 38 Master semi-automatic Smith & Wesson (5” barrel) in a gentler and kinder fashion. She’s now spending her days trying to calm the liberal’s “aggressively” peaceful protests and “violently” civil telephone calls to their local elected officials. She’s even meditating every morning to the soothing sounds of Dr. Ben Carson’s voice reciting the poems of Francis Scott Key. Mmmmmm… dreamy. And with her newfound interest in a peaceful transition of power (a term, by the way, which she referred to merely weeks ago as a p***y-filled transition of power), she might want to start taking this Buddhist thing to the next level, which is where you and Grandma Nora come in.

See, what Lisa doesn’t know is that Granny made you executor of her Last Will and Testament. And now that Granny sees just how much Lisa is benefitting from her suddenly Buddhist mentality, the two of you decided that instead of giving Lisa Granny’s beach house in Tybee Island, Grandma Nora would sell the house, split a large portion of the proceeds up into donations for the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, and Planned Parenthood, and then with what was left, purchase the MOST gorgeous diamond and emerald “Tara” necklace by Miami-based luxury jewelry designer, Buddha Mama as something Lisa would treasure forever and wear during those moments of clarity that have unexpectedly found their way into her heart – and Facebook newsfeed.

For Tom, Your Republican Business Partner

Well, what can anybody say to Tom other than his guy won, and your gal lost, right? Tom exercised his right to vote and he did so secretly, which you’ll admit, probably pisses you off a little. Tom never told you how he was voting. He never put a bumper sticker on his car, never brought up Megyn Kelly at the water cooler, and never once trashed Hillary. Tom’s vote came as an utter shock shinola-ramblerto you and the only reason you even know which way he voted was because when you stumbled into the office at 1:00 in the afternoon on the day after the election, still a little drunk and wearing yesterday’s socks (and probably underwear if you were even wearing any), Tom looked fresh as a daisy and offered to get you a cup of coffee. That… that was when you knew.

“Et tu, Tom?” said you.

“I felt like we needed a change.” said Tom.

And with that punch in the gut you realized why the results of this election came as such a surprise to you: because Tom and you genuinely like one another. You went to college together, and while the khaki pants, conservative haircut, and Range Rover hinted to Tom’s political preference, you never wanted to ask, because it never really mattered. You’re an atheist and Tom’s a Christian. Did that ever matter in business? No. Did it ever matter when you were out partying or seeing a live band? No. And so that was the kicker. You were appalled by the actions of some of those Trump supporters but never in a million years thought Tom could be one of them because he wasn’t loud, he wasn’t rural, and he wasn’t angry, at least, on the outside. And so now it becomes a little clearer. Not all Trump supporters are bad. And not all Hillary supporters are bad. You all – we all – had to make a decision to vote one way or the other, and so with that in mind, the Christmas gift I recommend getting for Tom is the Shinola Rambler Tachymeter with red bezel and black nylon strap, because if you’re going to be a sarcastic son-of-a-b*tch this holiday season, there’s no better place to interject a 1940’s colloquialism than right here, right now, with your good ol’ buddy Tom. #ifyouknowyouknow

And finally…

For Your Grandma Nora

She’s been your champion since you could remember. Even when your mom would tell you to “sit like a lady” and not play in the dirt, Grandma Nora would let you do the complete opposite. She was the first person to give you a cigarette when you were fifteen only to tell you immediately after you nearly choked to death that you should never smoke again (and you didn’t). She’d let you hang out an hour later than you were supposed to when you spent those occasional weekends at her Upper East Side apartment.

She taught you how to make a proper martini, how to appropriately apply winged eyeliner, and what to say to a man to make him feel like he was the only man who ever existed. She could handle her men, that Granny of yours. She’d been married thrice and heaven knows how many hearts she broke before, during, and after those ceremonies. She fought for women’s rights when it was unheard of to do so, she burned bras on the boardwalk during the Miss America pageant, and she marched in protest more times than she could remember. But her one wish – the wish she had since her sorority days – was to see a woman become President before she ventured on into her next exciting life.

Close, Grandma Nora. How very close you came to being granted the only wish you ever truly had.

And while her wish may not come to fruition now, Granny still has most of her memory, most of her health, and most of her bad habits, which is why there is no better gift for you to give to her this Christmas than a “NASTY” necklace by jewelry designer, feminist, and proud New Yorker, Wendy Brandes. Not only does Granny deserve to be called, “nasty,” but her feeble ass might just run out and get a tattoo to match. DO NOT DARE HER.

That’s it for this year’s gift guide, y’all. Thanks for reading and I hope there was enough here to offend everyone. OH I KID! NO, YOU SHUT UP!

I welcome any and all comments below but do ask that you keep a respectful tone.

Happy Holidays, and God bless us, EVERYONE!

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What It’s Sometimes Like to be a Woman in the Jewelry Industry: One Person’s Story

When I wrote my anniversary post back in August I talked about some of the lessons I’d learned while blogging for three years as well as some of the goals I still wanted to accomplish as a writer. One of the things I mentioned learning was that “sexual harassment in the workplace still exists and should be discussed more openly in our industry” and one of the things I said I wanted to accomplish still was, “taking on tough topics” which I intend to do in this very piece.

For the record, this is not meant to be a political post. This is not meant to sway you one way or the other as it pertains to for whom you should vote, not that you could be swayed at this point, anyway. It’s simply to put out in the open what exactly it feels like to be talked down to, mansplained to, mentally abused, sexually harassed, or even worse, sexually assaulted in the workplace; in our workplace… our tight-knit community of jewelry people who come from all walks of life. And I have read and seen and heard too many arguments about what doesn’t constitute as assault as well as too many instances where someone didn’t believe the woman (or person) making the claims. This is what prompted me to write this post. This has been a work in progress and it is something that has been sitting on my desktop for several months. Now, however, is as good a time as any to tell these few disturbing tales.

beating-a-rug-2Let it be clear: I can’t speak for every woman. I absolutely don’t believe what has happened to me has happened to everyone, but these instances have happened to at least one and so it’s likely the case that they have happened to some. But as far as this post goes, this is strictly about my experiences over the last two decades. No names will be named. No stores or brands or designers or sales managers will be at risk, and I’m not even using specific dates, but these are stories that aren’t often told yet desperately need to be, and heaven knows I’ve never walked away from a topic that others may try to sweep under the rug. In fact, today, right now, consider the rug lifted, taken out back, beaten with a broom, cleared of all the dust, and sold at a yard sale. The rug is gone now. It’s time to refinish the floors. It’s time we see our own reflections in them. And it’s time we’re happy with what we see.

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A Jewelry Trade Show, This Year

I had just gotten off the plane and headed directly to see some of my friends who were showing their designs at one of the major industry trade shows. After about an hour or so I saw a male jewelry personality whom I have a decent relationship with and have known for many years. He was visiting a friend’s salon and when I approached them both they greeted me with smiling faces and open arms. “Let’s all get a picture!” said my friend, who handed her phone to another one of the vendors in the room. “You get in the middle,” she said to me, “you’re the tallest.” It’s not an uncommon request so I cheerily stepped between her and the gentleman to my left. As we stood steadily posing for the third of many shots being snapped, with our arms wrapped around one another and smiling our jewel-induced grins, I felt the man’s right hand reach between my legs and his fingers push into my genitalia. I immediately jumped back and he turned to me, smiling. I nearly vomited on the spot. This was a man known by so many important people in our business. His name is synonymous with the jewelry industry and I knew that there would be no way anyone would believe me if I reported what he did. Or rather, they might believe me because of his underground reputation as a creepy guy, but they likely still wouldn’t do anything about it because of who he was.

I knew that if I reported him to security I could kiss my future in this business goodbye. I knew that it would be his word against mine and so, like so many times before, and like so many women before me, I kept my mouth shut and tried my best not to think about it.

A Jewelry Trade Show, Some Years Ago

Male Sales Manager (showing me an Instagram picture of some female CrossFitter): “If you had tits like her you’d be making a lot more sales.”

Various Times on Social Media in the Year Two-Thousand and Fourteen

In the same way that a woman’s clothing choice doesn’t give a man an excuse to rape her, a woman’s selfies or beach vacation bikini pictures or post-marathon shots shouldn’t give a man the right to make crude or lude comments either publicly or privately. Nor does it give a man the right to view her profile on her social media pages (uh, hello, we can see you doing it on LinkedIn) several times per day, day in and day out, for months at a time. This happened to me with two different men in the same year, and even after blocking both of them, they individually changed their screen names (more than once!) and tried following me again until I finally reported one of them for harassment and contacted the other one’s superior at their job. Two different middle-aged divorced men whom I barely knew each sending me squeamishly inappropriate messages. Fun stuff, this being a girl thing.

Somewhere in the U.S. in the Last Decade

Male Store Owner: “Who’d you vote for?”

Me (writing up sales proposal): “I’m sorry?”

Male Store Owner (now glaring at me with disdain): “I’ll bet you voted for Obama.”

Me: “Sir, I’m not supposed to discuss politics with clients. I could lose my job.”

Male Store Owner: “That response alone proves to me you voted for him. I don’t know what would have been worse; having him in office or the bitch.”

Me (doing all I could to keep calm and continue writing): “Sir, please… I really…”

Male Store Owner: “Come to think of it, I think Obama is Clinton’s bitch.”

To say that I was fighting back tears would be a grave understatement. But they weren’t tears of sadness; they were angry tears. I sat there, typing on my laptop, looking down at the keys so as to not make eye contact with this man as he continued to talk at me knowing that there wasn’t a damned thing I could say back to him. If I wanted the sale, I needed to keep my mouth shut while he tortured me and while he knew he was torturing me. And at the end of the day, the proposal was back-burnered. He claimed he didn’t have the money to commit. He put me through mental hell for nothing, but it wasn’t anything I wasn’t already used to.

When I was Sales Director for a Major Internet Retailer in Atlanta, Early Two Thousands

We had just hired a new bench jeweler; a “good ole boy” from Georgia with tons of bench experience but not a ton of etiquette as it pertained to how he spoke to women. Having grown up with two older brothers and having worked around men my entire adult life I was used to the innuendos, the off-color jokes, and the inappropriate comments, and while I never took them lightly, I learned to drown them out, until, of course, I felt that a line had been crossed.

I was in the jeweler’s room, cleaning a customer’s ring while he was setting a center stone for a different client. The cleaning process usually takes several minutes as the rings needs to be soaked in the Ultrasonic cleaner before being steamed and brushed – which he knew – and so I assume that’s why he made an attempt at small talk.

Him: “So, what part of town you live in?”

Me: “Oh, well, we’re close to Midtown.” (I didn’t know him well enough to want to give him an exact area so I made my answer as vague as possible.)

Him: “Oh yeah? You in the gay neighborhood? I’ll bet they love you there.”

Me: “No, we’re not. We’re about a mile away from there.”

Him: “There any good restaurants where you’re at? I wanna get down there soon.”

Me: (Now, honestly trying to be helpful) “Oh, totally! Lots. We love Manuel’s Tavern. Oh, and Pura Vida. Great, great tapas. Great food.”

Him: “They got manly food at Pura Vida or is it just them tapas?”

Me: “Oh, they have lots of different foods there. They’re Latin-inspired so they specialize in meats.”

Him: “Oh, you like meat, do you? You eat a lot of meat?”

Me (unsure of whether or not he was being serious): “Uh, I eat steak, yeah.”

Him (stopping his work, turning his chair toward me and looking at me in what can only be described as *that way*): “So you like your meat, huh? You like good meat? You like it thick? How do you like your thick meat?”

I felt my skin crawl. I was genuinely afraid that this was the type of guy who would wait for me in the parking lot after work. I’d been there before. I’d been in those situations. I would not allow myself to be put at risk again. I was older, smarter, and stronger than I had been in the past, and so I took the appropriate steps to make sure I wasn’t harmed, including telling my then boyfriend who was twice the guy’s size and likely twice as crazy.

It was the first time I’d ever reported someone for blatant sexual harassment, and kudos to the guys I worked for at the time; they took it very seriously, and Creepy McJewelerstein was gone shortly thereafter.

These are not the only stories I have, sadly. There are others; many others. I realize that some people out there might be unhappy with the language or content in this piece, but for every person who thinks it inappropriate to share what I just did, there is a woman who is nodding her head because she’s been there, or worse, she is STILL there. Those are the women I’m speaking to right now. If it’s you, or you, or you, then listen up now… you stay the course, and whatever you do, don’t forget these words:

warrior-princessYOU ARE NOT ALONE.

YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT.

YOU ARE NOT A COMMODITY.

YOU ARE NOT AN OBJECT.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STAY QUIET.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO FEEL SHAME.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK.

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, YOU ARE STRONGER THAN THEY THINK.

The times, my friends, they are indeed a changin’, but unless we talk about the issues and start the uncomfortable discussions, it will take a lot longer for that change to happen.

Peace out, share your stories (even anonymously) below, and as always…

#vagpower

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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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#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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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.

*********

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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From Lovers to Your Landlord: Holiday Gifts For Every Man in Your Life

You knew it was coming. You knew I would never let the year come to a close without my infamous holiday gift guide (you all remember “From Mom to the Mistress,” right?), only this year I decided I’d throw the guys a bone, BP style. Meaning, I’m going to help out you ladies (and gay men [Hi Adam!]) by giving you some suggestions as to which jewelry-related items you can buy for the men in your life. Only I’m going to do it in the most inappropriate way possible and make coffee come out of your nose in the process. De nada. So grab yourselves a Talisker, gals, pull up the leather Duresta, and slip on your partner’s Lorenzini dress shirt, ‘cause we’re going to have us a little fun today.

FOR YOUR DAD:

If your pops did what he was supposed to do when you were growing up – meaning he worked hard, loved harder, and put your family and you before anything or anyone else – then that makes one of us. But just because my father deserves a flaming bag of buffalo poop hand delivered to him by the ghost of Benito Mussolini wearing nothing more than a chainmail thong and spiked dog collar doesn’t mean that your dad isn’t rad. And you know what rad dads would look even radder wearing? A cool watch. Nothing crazily complicated, mind you, because let’s face it, isn’t your dad the guy who never fully figured out the VCR and doesn’t he still try to expand your pictures on Instagram no matter how many times you tell him he can’t? Yeah. Complicated isn’t going to cut it, but “American Made” will.

lovers1The Rambler GMT by Detroit-based watch company, Shinola, was the first dedicated travel watch introduced by the company in time for BaselWorld earlier this year. Its features include a Detroit-built Argonite 515.24H movement, 24-hour hand and turning top ring bezel, 44-millimeter stainless steel case, screw-down crown, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and of course, the Shinola handcrafted leather strap. The watch is available in four different dial/strap combos but the natural with dark royal blue dial screams your dad’s name (in a positive way, unlike how it was in my house growing up), don’tcha think?

FOR YOUR BROTHER EARL:

Admit it… your friends probably liked Earl when you were growing up more than they liked you, and while that pissed you off when you were sixteen and he was twelve, now that you’re older and wiser and once you figured out that there was no way to get him adopted by that Bulgarian family without your parents knowing, you gave in to his charming ways and actually became his friend. Earl’s a cool guy, too. How many people can say their brother is a slide-guitar-playing fly-fisherman who teaches English to Ethiopian kids during the day and works as a pastry chef at a James Beard-nominated restaurant at night? (Come to think of it, maybe it is time to start disliking Earl again. Eph this overachieving a-hole.) (J/k.) In fact, Earl’s so cool you should give him a gift designed by the King of Jewelry Cool, himself… Hot Reed. I mean TODD Reed. Sorry. Sorry ‘bout that. Freudian slip.

lovers7I’m thinking brotherman could rock this badass belt buckle the next time he plays an impromptu gig with his old college roommate, Jesus Christ Jared Leto. The buckle contains over thirteen carats of cabochon blue sapphires burnished into a patina-finished sterling silver oval, accented with a .10 carat raw diamond. Earl will be so thrilled you didn’t get him *another* Ed Hardy shirt that he might even let you hang with him backstage the next time Queens of the Stone Age comes to town.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, right. Keep dreamin’, sister.

FOR YOUR MOM’S JEWISH LIVE-IN BOYFRIEND:

Look, you and I both know that his toenails are disgusting but the guy’s been in your life for almost six years now, he’s mostly nice to you, and truth be told, he makes your mom happy, so why not just bite the bullet and spend a little on him, huh? You don’t have to go crazy but the man gets up and goes to his law office every day, and while his suits still come from the Men’s Wearhouse (you just cringed, didn’t you? I mean, doesn’t he know how much money he makes??) he could use a little help in the style department.

lovers6These “Guilty/Not Guilty” cufflinks by London design house, Benson & Clegg, are the ideal lawyer gift for Hanukkah. They’re stainless, so he won’t have to worry about losing something costly, and they’re inexpensive enough that you can still afford to buy him gifts for those seven other crazy nights. Just please remember that the bacon-flavored rugelach didn’t go over as well as you had hoped last year, m’kay?

FOR YOUR FAVORITE EMPLOYEE

You are not mistaken. This means exactly what it says. If you read last year’s gift guide (and by “if” I mean “since you obviously”) you may recall that I made a point to talk about what gift to get your female boss, but since this post is geared toward telling women what to get for men, the #bossbase I referenced previously means YOU, sweet cheeks. Now you just have to figure out who your favorite worker bee is, and no pulling the *diplomatic mom* bullshit by saying “I love them all equally,” either.

lovers2Whoever you choose as your bestest, you won’t go wrong with a fancy schmancy pen as your gift choice. Since your three employees are all comic book geeks (which is one of the things you like about them) they’d likely go *KAPOW* over one of Montegrappa’s limited edition DC Comics pens released in February. I’m thinking The Riddler will do since you sometimes look at their work and wonder what the f*ck they were thinking when they handed it in. But make sure you give him the gift when no one else is watching. You don’t want one of the other two hacking into your computer for revenge and finding those NSFW images you took on your business trip to Louisville BECAUSE YOU KNOW THEY WILL. 

FOR YOUR LOVER(S)

When it comes to this term, the women of today are the men of yesterday, so if you’re a man and you’re reading this, I suggest you take notes.

Back when I was writing EveofForty, I penned (keyed) a piece about the term, “lover.” It was titled, “It Ain’t Just For Meat and Pizza Anymore” and it went on to explain my feelings about the word and the stigma I felt was attached to it. Your lover could be your husband, or a sex partner, or a boyfriend, or an affair – of the heart, mind, or otherwise. Maybe your lover is a friend with benefits. Maybe he is the man you married. Maybe you have more than one lover, and that’s cool, too, because in a society that judges people (mainly women) based on what has been considered the norm, I find it refreshing that more are realizing that sex, love, dating, and marriage doesn’t have to be as black and white as the much-outdated book of life states it should. So, having made clear my thoughts on the word, lets now discuss what this special person (or people) deserves for the holidays, shall we?

lovers4Marco Dal Maso should always be associated with desire, in my mind. Maybe it’s the Italian swagger. Maybe it’s his head of hair (clearly I have a thing for curly and grey… don’t go there) or maybe it’s the fact that his pieces – which he creates under the brand, Marco Ta Moko – are made with such intense passion that you can feel the sensuality by just looking at them (anyone else in here hot all of a sudden?). For this reason alone, his lapel pins are my choice of gift for your lover, particularly his Toki Red Tiger Eye pin crafted in 18K black gold and containing 0.72 carats of red fire sapphire surrounding a carved red tiger eye center stone. Have more than one lover? Marco has more than one pin, but I suggest you always go with something red. You know what they say about the color red, don’t you?

FOR YOUR LANDLORD

Don’t be angry with me. The only reason I included this jerk was because I needed a catchy title for the post so now I’m kind of stuck and have to run with having him in it, but don’t worry, it’s all going to work out. Trust me.

lovers3You LOOOOOVE it when he shows up unannounced at your apartment, don’t you? Isn’t it awesome when he stinks your place to the high heavens because his clothes smell like he washed them in a solution of tobacco, salami, and Drakkar Noir? Yeah, he’s pretty terrible, which is why I’m thrilled to hear that you’re moving in two months. But before you do, give him something to remember you by, like these “Screw U” earrings by my friend and fierce jewelry designer, Wendy Brandes. Nothing says, “get the hell out of my life” like a pair of insulting yet manly earrings, which – because he’s stupid on top of being an idiot – he’ll probably be complimented by, thinking that he’ll be offending others when he wears them. Little does he know, he offends others by the mere sight of him, but maybe you just roll with it and let him believe what he will. He’ll be a blip on your screen soon enough, my dear. An overweight, underheight, greasy screen blip soon enough.

FOR YOUR HUSBAND

Did I just hear you roll your eyes? Okay, I PROMISE not to get all lovey-dovey on this one. I’ll spare you considering a plethora of you read my recent Letter to The Editor piece. You all know how I feel about my husband already, so let’s talk about how you feel about yours.

Is he pretty rad? Does he make you feel wanted? Does he remind you, frequently, how lucky he is to have you in his life? Does he show you in ways that go beyond words? That’s the key. Words can be empty as many of us know, but actions – they’re the telltale. Does he love you with his actions? If you checked the “all of the above box” then good on ya, woman, and I hope you’ve been saving your pennies, because showing him you appreciate him is about to get pricey.

lovers5This Bremont limited edition Wright Flyer in 18K Rose Gold (BCW/01) features some of the original muslin material used to cover the 1903 Wright Flyer aircraft flown at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The 33.4mm automatic contains twenty-five jewels, has a double reverser bi-directional winding mechanism to achieve 28,800bph, a 50+ hour power reserve, a Nivarox CT balance spring and Nivaflex 1 mainspring. If none of what I just wrote means anything to you, just know that it’s a frigging beautiful and well-made watch that your significant other is going to go apeshit over. He’ll research the important stuff if he wants to. You’ve done your part. That’s all that matters.

That about ends it for this year’s gift guide, loves. Hope you enjoyed the read and hope you come back again and again.

Happy ChristmaKuhWanzaaStivus!

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Girl Time: Desperately Seeking Women in the Watch World

It was my first time in Switzerland. We had taken a day trip over to the country from Lago di Como, which was the beginning leg of our sixteen-day stint across Northern Italy.

I knew my then-boyfriend wasn’t a “watch guy” but he agreed to go with me into what I remember to be a nineteenth-century clock and watch shop. It was old, and dark, and so goddamned cool. It smelled of wood and mold, having been on the shoreline of Lake Lugano for deity knows just how long.

We walked around as several suspicious Swiss eyes followed us. Ah, the Swiss. I believe that the term, “meh,” was likely coined somewhere in that country. So neutral. So indifferent. But so, SO, serious about their timepieces.

And then, it happened to him. I had no doubt it would. I had been working in the watch and jewelry industry for about five years at that point and I remember the first time it happened to me.

(Cue flashback filter a la 1980’s television sitcom)

“That’s a Vacheron Constantin” she said.

“I’m sorry, it’s a whattie-what-whattateen?” I replied.

“A VASH-ER-OHN CON-STAN-TEEN” she giggled. “My lord, woman. I need to get you around rich people more often.”

I was a lower-middle-class Italian gal from South Philly. Vagabond Florentines weren’t exactly in my repertoire. But I was working for LAGOS at the time and had gotten in tight with the watch buyer at Govberg Jewelers in Philadelphia. And if there was one place you bought your high-end watches from if you lived in or anywhere around Philly, it was Govberg.

This was not a woman’s watch I was looking at. It appeared to be about 38mm in diameter. Maybe it was smaller, but I didn’t have my gauge on me. It was heavy, and beautiful, and man, it felt expensive.

“Girl, I’m telling you, you need to learn more about watches. It’s an entirely different world than what you’re used to in jewelry.”

(Cue flashforward filter a la 1980’s television sitcom)

“My lord, what is it?” he whispered to me.

“It’s a watch,” I assholishly replied.

(Now rolling his eyes.) “I know it’s a watch, but what kind of watch? I don’t recognize the model.” he said.

“It’s a Jaeger-Le….”

Watch Women

#WOMW – What’s On My Wrist, or rather, has been on it in the past.

THAT is a Jaeger-LeCoultre” remarked Swissy McSnootiestein, descending from his very chocolate-colored, meticulously made wooden throne. “Are you familiar with Jaeger-LeCoultre?” he said, very much not to me, but rather directly to the handsome man standing on my left.

The Aries inside of me couldn’t help its vehement self.

“He isn’t, but I am, a little,” I stated. “I know that the company was started in the 1830’s as ‘LeCoultre & Cie’ and that at some point in the 1930’s the company was renamed after the Jaeger guy – a French Naval officer I believe – joined forces with them and they created the world’s thinnest movement. I know that there was a big connection to Cartier for a while, too, but there was a period of about fifty years where they didn’t go by the complete name… until the eighties, maybe? Am I right?”

Swissy held my stare for about five seconds. Not impressed, (sky is blue/Pope is Catholic/yada yada) he turned back to Todd and proceeded to school him on the importance of this particular timepiece.

Sir, this is a very special watch. You should try it on. It is a magnificent piece: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic in Rose Gold, 18K. Now, it is water resistant to fifty meters, and it is a little over 41mm in diameter which would be a perfect size for you since you’re such a tall man and I am a small, poor excuse for a human being who is incredibly meeker than you. (Okay, he didn’t really say that last line but in my mind he did.) It has a sapphire crystal, and the strap is made of crocodile. It’s a fine timepiece. You may not find this in your American watch shops.”

Todd looked at him and nodded in approval, and even though he and I had only been dating a brief while at the time, I knew that what he actually heard Swissy say was this: “Mr. American man, this watch is expensive. It sells for more than the down payment on the house that you will eventually buy with that overly-confident woman to your right. Let me repeat: it’s really, REALLY expensive. It costs more than your car, your wardrobe, and all of your electronics, combined. You are not worthy of this watch. I don’t even know why I’m showing it to you. I think I’m only letting you see it because I want for you to feel like less of a man. That will make me happy since you’re much younger and more attractive than I am. Yes. That’s right. Look at this watch that you will never afford. And believe me, if I were French, I’d have sex with your girlfriend, too. But since I am Swiss, I really don’t care to. I don’t care about much, actually. Did I mention I am Swiss?”

“Sure. I’d love to try it on” Todd said.

I knew where he was going with this.

One of the things that attracted my (eventual) husband and me to one another is that we’re damned good under pressure, both of us. If put on the spot, especially by someone in the service industry, all we need to do is give one another “the look”… It’s sort of a “do you want this one or shall I take it?” look, and on this day, we both decided we’d go in together.

“I like it, I’m just not sure I like how the strap feels.”

“Which do you think you like better? This one or the Vacheron we saw up the road? Or maybe even that Audemars?!”

“Oh, I loved that Vacheron. I mean, that was absolute perfection and fit my wrist exquisitely. But I don’t want you spending that much on me. This one seems like it is fairly less expensive.”

I could see Swissy turning the background color of his national flag, but before he could jump in I said, “Don’t be silly, babe. I can tell you don’t love it. Come on, let’s go get the other one. (Turning to Swiss Mister) “Thank you ever so much for your time. Maybe we’ll stop in when we’re back next year before heading to Monaco.” And off we went to buy our imaginary Vacheron with our imaginary tens of thousands of dollars.

What I took away from that experience was, a) Never date the Swiss and, b) No matter how much I showed I knew about watches, it was still my male partner whom the male salesperson kept in his sights. And now, more than twelve years after that initial run-in, I’ve decided to delve into the question many before me have pondered but few have publicly asked:

Why is the watch world still mostly a man’s world?

Let’s start by factually backing up the statement that the watch industry is largely a sausage fest (or in the case of the Napolean complex guys, a Vienna sausage fest) with a look at the average watch consumer: the buyer, collector, and wearer. What do the majority of the aforementioned have in common other than their love of timepieces? Well, for one, they likely have money to spend.

Women of Watches

The four watch women in my #fiftywomenofjewelry InstaSeries.

A 2014 report by Lisa Keister at Duke University’s Department of Sociology showed that just under 98% of the country’s top 1% of earners were male. Women only make up 11% of Fortune 500 CFO’s, and we all know about that magic 79% wage gap number, now, don’t we? Yet while women have for years been accused of being shopaholics (and rightfully so) the tide is shifting when it comes to luxury items. In 2013, for the first time in China, their male population outspent the females when it came to buying luxury goods, spending 52% more than women spent on watches, according to an article posted on MarketingtoChina.com. And if numbers and facts make your head hurt (I’ll refrain from inserting Donald Trump jokes here, but I know you know what I mean) you needn’t look much further than any middle-aged-man-with-a-love-for-mechanical-things’ Instagram feed to see how many dudes really cherish them some wrist clocks. (Raise your hand if you love colloquialism!)

Let’s experiment a little, shall we? Let’s head on over to the ‘gram, right now, together. Click your search icon, and key in, “#WOMW.” Now, GO.

At the time I wrote this paragraph, 372,084 Instagram posts popped up with that hashtag. I had to scroll through sixty-nine posts of watches on the wrists of men before I got to the @ferniezap (Fernanda Zapata) image of her wrist wearing a Martenero New York watch to accompany her uber-cute black-and-white fall sweater. That averages out to under a 1.5% ratio in case you were wondering. And in making the previous statement I made about Fernanda’s clothing, I’m also posing an additional sub-question: are women just more interested in things other than timepieces?

I write mostly about jewelry, and people in the jewelry industry. For the record, this is only the second post I’ve written solely about watches and the watch industry since I started this blog in August of 2013. But it isn’t because I didn’t care about watches or didn’t want to talk about watches. I frequent the popular watch blogs, follow all of the major watch websites, and stalk read most of the famous/infamous watch editors. But even amongst them, female faces are few. Roberta Naas – the founder/editor-in-chief of ATimelyPerspective.com – was the first female watch editor in the U.S. market, and is still largely the only female face I see in pictures that include groups of watch editors scaling glaciers in Greenland, dogsledding across Alaska, paragliding while blindfolded, or jumping off of sixty-foot cliffs on behalf of Breguet, Bremont, and others. But, WHY? It can’t be because women don’t like adventure. I, for one, love adventure. When Gandalf went looking for Bilbo, he was originally looking for Barbara Palumbo (if you say it really quickly it sounds a lot like “Bilbo,” trust me. But you have to say it, like, super-fast, while drinking scotch.) So why are there not more Robertas out there? Or more Hyla Bauers? Or even Cara Barretts? And what about the prominent positions within the major watch companies? See many women in those? Off of the top of my head I can recall Mercedes Abramo of Cartier North America, Aletta Stas-Bax of Frédérique Constant, and Stacie Orloff of Bell & Ross, but how many more exist? Out of the eighteen North American brand presidents at Richemont, seventeen of them are men. One woman. Una. That’s it. Again, though… why?

WJA AFE

With Michelle Peranteau of Baume et Mercier, nominee at the 2015 WJA Awards for Excellence in the watch category. Photo by Bart Gorin.

The answer could partially be this: watches are machines, and machines require engineers, and well, there’s a huge gender gap there, too. According to Joanne McGrath Cohoon, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Virginia, only about 18-20% of engineering students were women as of 2012. And while that figure is up drastically from the early 1980’s when fewer than 6% of engineering students were women, this fact could also shed some light as to why there are far fewer women than men who are interested in watches and watch careers.

The cold, hard truth is that the gender disparity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs is widely known and has been researched, greatly. There are many who claim that a lack of female engineering role models is largely to blame for more women not pursuing careers in that field, but in that respect the same could be said for the science (or is it, art?) of horology. Although, hell, why not change it up from a retailer level, too? Ever walk into a brick and mortar store that sold both fine jewelry as well as fine timepieces? If the answer is no, then here’s another experiment for you… do so, and first ask to speak to their David Yurman specialist. Once you’re finished speaking with HER, ask to see their Rolex specialist, then tell me how the conversation went with HIM. It’s not an exact science, but you get what I’m saying, here. The industry could and should do more to allow women the opportunities that their male counterparts have had for years. And to not wag fingers at men only, more women should insist that they are interested in something substantial in terms of inner workings and complications rather than being content with having to be the staff member who shows the customer how pretty a sterling silver piece looks from the outside once it’s completed.

I would love to say that having more women in the watch field is a work in progress, even if I don’t see that work happening on a day-to-day basis. But, I’m also not at the watch shows, nor do I attend Basel, nor do I jump out of airplanes with the crew from Breitling. Not that I wouldn’t, mind you (pssst… Breitling… call me.) But I will say this: it would be nice, if the next time I do a series on the Fifty Women of Jewelry (ask around), I could have more than four female faces in the group who are from the watch circuit.

And maybe… just maybe… many years down the road when someone else writes a piece on industry women, they will ask why there aren’t more watch writers like me.

Just sayin’. You never, never know.

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