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?


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.


Tales From the Strip 2015, PART SIX: Let’s Get This (expletive) Over With

For the love of Pope Francis, am I STILL talking about Vegas? Has this series become like the Sagrada Família, or what? It’s never ending… or is it?

I last left you with the story of our annual Friday night Vegas Gems gathering but this here post is going to cover the following three (count ‘em!) evenings I spent in la Ciudad del Pecado. First up… SAT.


For some reason, and it’s never planned, I wind up staying in on Saturday night every year in Vegas. I know, totally lame, but it just kind of happens that way. Don’t get me wrong, I had more than my fair share of invites to play…

[segment of a text message]

Millennial: “Hey, um, want to meet me at Hakkasan? Calvin Harris is spinning.”

Me: “Man, that sounds awesome, but, I think I’m going to pass. Mainly because I have no idea who that is.”

Millennial: “Yeah, I really don’t know either. I just wanted to sound cool.”

Did I mention I love what I do for a living?

So Saturday was a bust but that was okay with me, because I got to catch up on sleep before Sunday night’s “Rocks the Beach” par-tay down at the other end of the strip. And thanks to the eternally lovely Hayley Henning, I finally had my ticket.



KaterinaPerez.com and her accountant

My attire for the show floor on Sunday was a little more conservative than usual. Mainly because I had an appointment with someone who wasn’t exactly a fan of a particularly short shirt I wore to the Centurion Show earlier in the year, so I was hell-bent on making sure that I did my best not to offend him this time.

I wore a suit.


Remy, Haley, and the tax collector

This surprised several people. Gannon asked me why I was dressed like an accountant and Natalie with Omi Gems let me do her taxes. (By the way, Nat, no, you cannot write off keg-parties or male strippers. The IRS frowns on that. Sorry, girl.)

When the official work day came to a close, We The (Jewelry) People poured ourselves out onto the Wynn’s patio for a post-show shindig and ass-kissing socializing opportunity. With prosecco in grasp, I made my way through the crowd, kissing hands and shaking babies until the time came for me to bid that world adieu and prepare myself for the *other* world…





It was time to head down to Mandalay Bay.



Beach Pixie

“Rocks the Beach” had been a highlight for me these last couple of years. Not because I care anything about who is on the stage at the time the concert is happening, but because of who is off the stage when it is. As I have quoted my friend Wendy Brandes in the past… “It’s a concert in a pool!” And, who doesn’t love being soaked, drunk, and covered in sand while you make up song lyrics with some of your favorite people in the world, amiright?

When I arrived at Le Beach (in my heels, because now it’s just a game to see how long I’m able to stand in them on the sand) I headed straight for the bar, because Jeebus knows I can’t do this without liquor. I stumbled walked gracefully through the sand in search of any of my peeps and then a lightbulb came on… the WJA had a cabana. And that’s what I set out in search of.


I could hear the yells coming from the other side of the pool. I could somewhat make out what appeared to be Tinkerbell waving her arms and throwing pixie dust in my general direction then realized it was the one and only Bern Mack beckoning me.

“Damn. That’s one big-ass pool” I thought to myself. I was kind of trapped. They (my WJA sisters) were all the way on the other side of it, which meant I had to walk completely around it and past the JCK Cabana, but, I saw no other way to get there, and so I started walking, until I noticed that one part of the pool was… well… different.

It was dark, so I wasn’t one-hundred-percent certain that what I thought I was seeing was actually a thing. I mean, I looked like it could have been a thing, but I wasn’t wearing my glasses (because vanity) and I pretty much downed that first Dewars (because gluttony) so I seriously wasn’t sure. If I attempted what I was about to and failed, then let’s just say I’d be all washed up. If I attempted it and succeeded, then, well, it will make for one hell of a grand entrance, so I held my breath, lifted my black strappy stiletto, and stepped foot into what looked like the water.

You see, this pool had a transparent runway of sorts extending from one side to the other, but it was about three to four inches below the pool’s surface, so it wasn’t obvious in the dark, which made for a rather interesting sight.

Yes, my loves… to the unsuspecting eye, I appeared to have been walking on water.

And not only was I walking on water, I was walking on water to cheers and laughter from the crowd, which clearly I hate (sarc.) I was swaying my hips, splashing my heels, and cat walking the sh*t out of that pathway, so much so that when I got to the other side I heard one of the gals say… “Greatest. Entrance. Ever.”

AHHHHH! MY SISTERS!!! MY SISTERS WERE THERE! Deb Hiss, and Anna Samsonova, and Bern, and Wendy, and Erika Winters (who was celebrating her fortieth birthday!) and Britt, and Andrea Hansen, and Jessica, and so, so many of my lovelies. I even got to meet Sarah Keicker for the first time after having been social media pals for a while. It felt so good to be there. Felt like home, ya know? Only thing missing was our fearless leader, Monica Stephenson.


And then I woke up…

I eventually made my way back down to the beach where I found Amanda, Molly, and Hayley in time to pose for a #TallGirlClub picture. I also ran into a plethora of Dutch folk, namely Edward and Mike Asscher, while I waited for the man of the hour to arrive…

Oh, I don’t mean musical act Gavin DeGraw… I mean That Kid From Ritani… and sure enough, he did.

There is just something about a 6’4” crossfitter wearing a sleeveless Bengal tiger t-shirt and pink shorts walking across a fake beach. I mean, where else on earth other than Vegas (well, maybe Japan) could one see a sight such as this? Nowhere, people. Nowhere. And thank lawd for that.

“Babs! Em, what ya doin’?”

(I love it when the English rid themselves of those pesky prepositions.)

We chatted for a moment but then I did something I’d been wanting to do for several months… I introduced TKFR to Mr. Best Dressed himself, Mike Asscher.

It was weird to see so much handsomeness come together in one square foot of space. The coalescence of beauty nearly caused the two industry stars to become supernovae, blinding those around them as they smiled their sickeningly perfect smiles.

Ugh. I’m ill. Moving on…

Shortly after Breakin DeLaw Gavin DeGraw hit the stage, I hit the bricks, as I was being beckoned by some of my clients down at the Wynn to come on back for some Oban and shenanigans. And when clients beckon, Barbara obeys, because that’s what you do in the land of the sale.

It was a fine, fine evening down at the beach, and I was so happy to have been able to take part, yet again, in the fun and frivolity.



“You mess with the ram, you get the horns…”

The last day of the Couture show was still a fairly busy one for us. Our appointments ran well into the afternoon until at last we were allowed some down time, which is when I FINALLY got to visit my darling Michelle Peranteau over at Baume et Mercier.

Someone said to me recently, “You know, there is jewelry and there is watches and never the twain shall meet,” but I disagree with that statement. There is definitely a disconnect between the two genres of the adornment world, but there are crossovers as well as enough crossover people (and writers), and it’s about time the two are desegregated.

By Monday night, everyone in Vegas and I were exhausted. I opted for burgers and a beer (oh, the humanity) at Bobby Flay’s joint just off of the strip. I was accompanied by a good friend of mine who had only a few hours before they had to catch the red eye. Then, I took one of my final cab rides of the trip to see the one human being I had yet to see because he was stupid enough to change a light bulb by himself…

Michael Schechter.

Why do they let him near electricity?

Why do they let him near electricity?

No Vegas experience is complete without a night in Eye Candy with Sketchy McNerdystein, so even in my sleep-deprived haze, I made it a point to spend time with one of my favorite people on the planet. And yes, I realize just how much crap I’m going to catch for voicing that morsel of information, but what the hell, you only get one life, right? May as well share your feelings before dementia sets in. And it will. Sometimes purposely. I think for me it will be deliberate dementia so that I don’t have to remember this sh*t when I’m older.

And with that, my people, this year’s Tales From the Strip series comes to a close. Before it does, however, let me give a shout out to Ben Guttery who has given me you-know-what about my not mentioning him in any of these posts. Here ya go, Ben. You get your own paragraph and all.

Until next year, Vegas! Cheers!

Until next year, Vegas! Cheers!


See you next year, effers!


#50MillennialsofJewelry – A New Adornmentality InstaSeries

Hey y’all –

I figured it was time to start a new project since lawd knows I don’t have enough to do. This one is pretty important, though, and I hope you’ll check out my social media pages so that you, too, can follow along.

millennialsWhen I started in the jewelry industry I was twenty-three-years old. I was the epitome of a Gen-‘X’er and could have really used some guidance, or even a kind word to help me along as I explored an industry I knew little about. I had no real mentors and no real training but I knew I was loving what I was doing, and that’s what kept me going and keeps me going today.

There are a plethora of Gen-“Y”ers in the jewelry business right now who have tremendous talent, are armed with education and experience, and who are as passionate as anyone who has been in the industry twice as long. In this latest series I’ll be highlighting one young person every day for fifty days who is making waves/standing out/working hard/following their passions. This is my way of saying, “you’re doing great, and you’re getting noticed” which I know, first hand, can make all the difference in the world to someone.

Please know that even though the list will comprise fifty women and fifty men, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t others who are just as awesome in this biz, and as always, I welcome anyone’s opinions about it, as well as anyone’s recommendations for it as there are some spaces left to fill. I can be reached by email (adornmentality@gmail.com) if you feel the need to reach out.

So, enjoy. I’ll be mixing in some stats about Millennials throughout the series, so maybe we’ll all learn a little something by the end.




Tales From the Strip 2015, PART TWO (a): Three Male Escorts and a Really Big… Gun.

After handing off my broken luggage to the lovely bellman at the Wynn, Jorge then took me across town to the Mandalay Bay convention center.

I had several hours to kill before I needed to be on the COUTURE show floor for setup, and decided it would be better to work on getting information for the blog I write (and don’t get paid for) than to go to the pool and relax because, well, in the eyes of the medical world I’m what they would technically call, “stupid.”


And away… we… go!

Walking the tan carpeting for what would be the second to last time that week was surreal for me. JCK is where a lot of my friends are, and they are definitely a huge reason I would miss showing there, but, you know… COUTURE has… well… it has Gannon, so… ‘nuff said, amiright, girls?

I headed straight for the press room (thank you, JCK, for having an actual press room and not a press stage [I’m glaring at you, Joshua] so that the members of the press can adjust their wedgies when needed) and picked up my press badge. Little did I realize, however, that the badge given to me was for the JCK show, and not for LUXURY, which was the invite-only show taking place on the day that I arrived. This little morsel of information will come in handy later on in the post, so back burner that shit, ya dig?

Once badged-up, I scoured the room for familiar faces, and sure as hell, the face I saw first was the exact same one I saw first last year… fellow blogger, Robyn Hawk. I mentioned in my original post from last year’s TFtS series that Robyn was the gal who snapped a great picture of me, clad in badges, and it was so awesome seeing her again. I was less giddy this time around since last year I was a pressroom virgin and practically peed myself when I saw the swag bags. But this year I knew better…

I wore a diaper.

After catching up with Robyn and the TREMENDOUSLY WONDERFUL AND UNDERSTANDING AND DIPLOMATIC AND FREAKING AWESOME AND RAD Rebecca Moskal, it was time to go say hello to some of my homies, so I walked toward Elite Enclave where I knew I’d find LUXE Intelligence.


Wearing Daria DeKoning’s Druzy Necklace in 18K Gold

WOW. Just, wow. What a difference a year makes.

Andrea Hansen and the LUXE team have assembled an incredible amount of talented designers to date. I mean, Payal Shah alone lights up even the darkest of spaces, and yet there was so much brightness and such a multitude of stars coming from each and every direction of their salon. Let’s put it this way… I COVET the designs of Kerri Halpern and her Madstone Jewelry collection, so it was awesome seeing her in person, and I’m a great big fan of Daria DeKoning’s work, as well. (And don’t you get me started on those ROYAL ASSCHERS!) Naturally, though, I had to pay homage to two women I’ve known since my days at LAGOS: Anne King Lagos and Toni Leslie… aka REALM jewelry. Philly is as Philly does, yo, and if we don’t have each other’s backs, ain’t nobody gonna have our backs.


Rings by REALM. Feeling goddess-like.

It was fabulous seeing all of the wonderful designers in that salon, as well as Ms. Hansen and Helena Krodel, but it was time to walk the aisles of the LUXURY show itself, so after a brief conversation with my friend and colleague, Jay Mednikow, I scooted toward the Rio Tinto booth to find the one and only Brandee Dallow.

Every time I see her I want to sing her namesake song. I mean, she must get that shit all the time but I’m filled with musicality and GOSH DARNIT, I WANNA LET IT OUT. Before I could start embarrassing myself, however, Brandee said, “Come here… I’ve got to show you this” and took me over to what I assumed could only be their Oculus Rift virtual mine tour. “You want in? Want to try it?” she said, and while every ounce of my being was shouting from inside of me… “Yes, dork, you know you want to try it. You rode the Great American Scream Machine eight times in a row at Six Flags without vomiting, so clearly, you want to try this thing” I looked at my watch and realized it wouldn’t be long before I’d turn back into a cinder-covered servant and my horses would soon become mice. “B, I want to so badly, but I really need to get going.” Which is when Brandee whipped out her IPhone and a pair of what looked like welder’s glasses, and said to me, “Then here… at least try this…

Technology blows my mind, man. I mean, not in a “how in the hell do people watch the Kardashians?” kind of way, but more in like an “I can’t believe that dude carved Lincoln’s portrait out of a single grain of salt” type of way. Rio Tinto has created an Oculus Rift app that will allow the viewer, using special glasses and their own smartphone, to virtually visit their mine and see what is going on in 3D.

I don’t know about you, but my head just exploded while typing that.

Before I left RT, however, Brandee said to me, “You’re in for tonight, right? I asked Monica to join us, too. Giada’s new place. See you at 8?” To which I replied… “Oh yeah, I’m there.”

With that, I knew I just had one more stop to make before I left; one more very important person to see…

You’re looking smart in your glasses, Mr. Lucking.”

BABS! What are you doing here?!?”

You see, even though I made a point (or several) in last year’s posts about just how dreamy and desirable “that kid from Ritani” was, he’s actually a pretty rad dude who I’ve come to know fairly well. We chatted briefly about work and plans before I had to head out, but I knew it would only be a matter of time before Thor would be in my presence again.

While walking toward the exit, though, I suddenly found myself surrounded by three armed security guards, and not in a “let’s replay a scene from my bachelorette party” way, either.

“Miss, you don’t have proper access to this part of the convention” the small one said. I guess they let the small ones do the talking so that the bigger ones can play the “bad cop” roles.

Me: “Really? I think I do. I just picked this badge up. It’s a press badge. That gives me access, yes?”

Small cop: “Only if you’re here for the JCK show. Your badge says ‘JCK.’ This is ‘LUXURY.’ You need a LUXURY badge or else you can’t be here.”

Me: “Oh. Okay, that’s cool. I’ll just head back to the press room and grab a Luxury badge. No biggie.”

Tiny cop: “We can’t let you go unescorted. We’ll have to go with you.”

Me: “(Laughing) Are you serious? You’re giving me an armed escort to the press room?”

Itsy bitsy cop: “We have to if you don’t have the proper access to be here.”

Me: “This is *so* going in my blog.”

Microscopic cop: (((Silence while walking behind me with his AK-47 or whatever the hell he was carrying)))



My escorts (escorts in Vegas… imagine that) accompanied me back to the press lounge in time for me to make out with celebrity stylist Michael O’Connor (you had to be there) and share a moment with my BLOGGERATTI – aka – Monica Stephenson, Katerina Perez, and Danielle Miele. I cannot thank the three of these women enough for the positive feedback and support they gave me leading up to our “Power of Blogging” panel. Not sure I could have done it without them, and I’m dead serious when I say that.

Once I arrived back at the Wynn I picked up my “PROPER ACCESS” badge for the COUTURE show and headed off to meet my Gumuchian crew. After a quick conversation with the Adventurine creators, I walked through the doors of the Lafitte ballroom and nearly ran right into Swoonon… I mean, Gannon… who appeared a little frazzled and not quite as Gannonish as I’m used to seeing him. “Hey. Just to let you know, the panels haven’t arrived yet with the illustrations. Just letting you know.”

Nice to see you too, GB.


5425 had its advantages

But, you know what? This is the GUMUCH crew, man. No panels? NO WORRIES. We don’t sweat it. We’re excited to be here – Chris, Myriam, Jodi, Tat, and I. We got that booth set up in a matter of minutes, panels or not. And when all was said and done, I headed up to my room on the 54th floor, drew back the curtains, took a deep breath, and took in all of it, all while sipping on a glass of Macallan 12 that another not-so-secret admirer had sent to my room.

This has all been so nice so far” I thought to myself. “But, I’m thinking I need a little girl time. And maybe just a little naughtiness.

And that’s exactly what I was in for.

To be continued…




(And if my little girlfriend is reading this from her bed, and you know who you are, I’m thinking of you and hope this brought you some laughter… hugs and kisses…)


Podcast Virgin, No More: My Radio Interview on FourGrainer.com

Yo! If you’re a reader of this blog and a lover of the jewelry industry, then go ahead and check out my interview with Rod Worley of the “Inside the Jewelry Trade” radio show on FourGrainer.com. Rod asked some great questions and allowed me the time to answer them in my own way, which was rad of him, ’cause deity knows I could talk a three-year-old kid hyped up on grape soda and Jolly Ranchers to sleep.

Click the link in the tweet here:

And looky looky at what some of the best in the biz thought about the podcast:

If you liked what you heard after listening, feel free to come see me LIVE (as opposed to unconscious, which will likely happen later in the evening after a few hours at Eye Candy) at this year’s “JCK Talks” education sessions taking place on Thursday, May 28th in Las Vegas. I’ll be joined by other members of the “Bloggerati” (Katerina Perez, Danielle Miele, Monica Stephenson, and Diane Warga-Arias) for a seminar titled, “The Power of Blogging.” Come meet the five of us. Maybe one of us will give out chocolate.





A Diamond in the Buff: How the Naked Body Became the Ideal Canvas for Feminine Jewels


Images taken by Sean Murphy. @murphyphoto on Instagram.

Back when I was about to turn forty, I wrote a blog, quite different from this one. It was a countdown to a pinnacle year in my life and each story was presented firstly by how many days I had left until it arrived. I also had a bucket list of sorts, which included some rebellious things I had never done before but wanted to accomplish because, f*ck it, why not? One of the things on my list was to have professional photos taken of myself in the nude. I had a confidence now at forty that didn’t exist even ten years prior. My body – with all of its scars, battle wounds, tattoos, and two-time pregnancy reminders – was still unscathed by reconstructive surgery, liposuction, or Botox, and I wanted to document what it felt like to be naked in this form, at this point in my life, and at my age. I was empowered – not by any man or the almighty dollar – and felt that the time was right to see this wish through.

When I first had the idea, I spoke to my husband at length about it. He didn’t want me to use just any photographer because, let’s face it, I’m still the mother of his children and the internet is a dangerous thing. Thankfully, he is longtime friends with a badass rock photographer in Hollywood. Sean Murphy has shot everyone from the Beastie Boys to Green Day to Kid Rock, and his resume includes some of the most well-known magazines in the music and surf world. I had to wait for a time when Sean would be on the East Coast to do the shoot, so on a Saturday afternoon in July of 2012, we rented a space on the Westside of town; off went the clothes and out went the inhibitions. But there was one thing I remember making clear to Sean during the process… no matter how naked I got, I wouldn’t be taking off my jewelry. It was part of who I was, and whether it was a shot of my husband and me together with my wedding rings in focus, or the topless pictures in the middle of a field with my feather necklace blowing in the wind, my jewelry was prevalent, and my body – sometimes – became a backdrop to it.

The process and the PG-version of the shoot was written about in a follow-up post, and to this day, I’ve not regretted my decision. I felt alive then, yet not just in a sexual way. I felt free of consequence, even as cars whizzed by and beeped their horns. In my mind, I was living my very own version of burning my bra in the 60’s. It was liberating. It was far from conservative. It rocked. And my jewelry was a very special part of it.


Jewelry by Jacquie Aiche. Images from @jacquieaiche in Instagram.

When I see the tweets of jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche, I’m often brought back to the experience of that day, which sure as shit makes me smile a huge smile. Aiche’s Instagram feed is also filled with gorgeous bodies draped in precious gems in the form of earrings, rings, necklaces, and body chains, yet they’re tastefully taken pictures clearly geared toward women. One of Aiche’s biggest fans is ultimate bad girl, Rihanna, and I guarantee you RiRi is buying those jewels for herself.

While some feminists might cringe at the idea of naked women in social media, I take what Aiche is doing as a sign of new feminism through women showing their bodies in the way they choose to. For years women weren’t *supposed* to talk about what they desired, sexually. They weren’t *supposed* to use swear words, hold high-ranking positions, or wear pants. Today’s women are saying, “Yeah, well, guess what? We don’t want to wear pants now. You know why? Because we don’t want to wear anything. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Montana.” Yet Aiche isn’t the only designer using the female form to woo women buyers.


Body chains by Amrit Jewelry. Images from @amritjewelry on Instagram

Jennifer Aniston was caught twice (to the dismay of those who believe you can’t do something twice if you’re famous unless it’s get divorced, or arrested for cocaine), wearing the same black diamond body chain by Amrit Jewelry (designed by Sat Hari) on the red carpet, yet the red carpet isn’t only where she wears it. Aniston – now forty-six years old – also wore it unapologetically in an interview on Access Hollywood. And while early in her career she shied away from showing her skin, these days it seems she’s caught a bit of the “f*ck it” bug, too, allowing these beautiful body chains to compliment her newly outed braless breasts. Sat Hari’s designs are popular with the starlet set, but that doesn’t mean they’re not for gals like you and me.


Starting at top left going clockwise: Images: @loreerodkin, @zoechiccojewelry (for Victoria’s Secret), @gemgossip, and @gemaporterblog, from Instagram.

Also embracing the naked female form is the always interesting Loree Rodkin as well as the subtly sexy Zoe Chicco. Rodkin’s creations are often in a class by themselves and her frequent bird flips on Instagram prove that she doesn’t give a shit whether you think she’s a feminist or not. Zoe Chicco’s designs, however, are less about being worn while completely in the buff and more about never wanting to remove them because they’ve become part of your physique.


Designs by Maggi Simpkins. Images from @maggisimpkins on Instagram.

Now, I don’t want you to think that it’s just the middle-agers embracing body jewelry as some sort of way to prove we’re still here; the twenty-somethings are at it as well. I’m not referencing the kids doing it to feel popular, either. I mean the clearly talented and rightfully confident young women who are both designing and buying jewelry for their bodies. Women like my gorgeous friend Maggi Simpkins, who currently makes brass and gold body armor and sells it under the brand M By Maggnolia. Maggi started designing jewelry back in 2008 but it’s her body chains and body armor that have caught the eye of Grammy nominated stars like Jhené Aiko. And it isn’t just designers showing us what they’re made of either. Don’t believe me? Then follow the feeds of bloggers Gem-a-Porter and Gem Gossip to see just how happy they are with not only their bodies, but how they think jewelry feels on those bodies. Want one more example? Broken English Jewelry. But don’t take my word for it. Go visit them on Instagram.

Fashion jewelry and designer jewelry are in a different league than say, bridal. Designers – female designers, especially – are at an advantage more now than ever as it pertains to how women feel about themselves and their needs. Showing your female customer that it’s okay to feel sexy in the jewelry they select for themselves is a new norm. No matter the size, stature, or skill set, every woman can put on a necklace, or a body chain that she purchased for herself, and feel a bit like Joan of Arc. We can dress ourselves in an armor of our jewels and conquer the planet one slaughtered stereotype at a time.

The women of this world are taking their bodies back. They are adorning them in gold as if to make a statement not unlike a garbage can on an Atlantic City boardwalk during a Miss America pageant in the 1960’s. They are all around you, and they are saying the following:

“Look at us before you, not naked, but rather cloaked in creativity, determination, sensuality, and spontaneity. Our bodies are the canvas on which our talented voices will be painted upon. It is, however, our brush to hold and our paint to stroke. You cannot rush the process. You must wait your turn to see our masterpiece.”


“What Golden Globes?” A New York Jewelry Events Novella

LaGuardia is the only New York airport I fly into anymore. Partly because of their improved Delta terminal with better restaurants and a zillion places to plug in. And partly because every time I fly out of JFK, a piece of my luggage goes all Dave Chappelle on me. But mostly because I know that the view coming into New York City is my generation’s version of my great-grandparents’ “arrival on the boat”… meaning, if I’m sitting on the left side of the plane, it’s assured in good weather that I’ll lay eyes on dear Lady Liberty. Her sea foam-colored arm raised toward the heavens, she’s a reminder to me that I’m here to make my ancestors proud. I see her, and I want to work harder. I see her, and every memory of this place – good and bad – comes flooding back. But I see her, and I’m certain that I’m absolutely where I’m supposed to be.

Hello New York; my lover and friend. It’s good to see you on this frigid January afternoon. Let’s grab ourselves a skinny latte, check into our Eastside hotel, and make our faces a whole lotta pretty, ‘cause the hours are limited and baby… it’s show time.

Thursday, January 8th: The Diamond Empowerment Fund GOOD AWARDS

No sooner did my flight land did the texting frenzy begin. It took an hour to get from LaGuardia to the GUMUCHIAN offices which left not a ton of time to work with Jodi on some suites for our VIPs to wear at the weekend’s “big three,” and even less time to get all fancied up for the Good Awards. Eventually my Uber arrived and I was off to 42nd and 2nd, where I was to meet my jewelry bestie, fellow blogger, and roommate for the next two days, Monica Stephenson of Idazzle

(Now, if you read this blog you’re already aware that when the two of us get together mayhem has been known to ensue, right? Good, then you won’t be surprised or offended. Carry on.)

I should have known she was walking through the revolving door when I heard the sounds of trumpeting archangels in the distance. There she was, all five feet, eleven glamorous inches of her, slow-motion walking in my direction as the bellhops carried bags in her shadow while trying desperately not to fall over one another’s snow boots.

“You’re here!” I exclaimed from the check-in counter. “I’m here!” she replied, as she coolly removed her sunglasses. We hugged. We kissed. We immediately went to the bar for wine. I was so excited to have her as a roomie. If we smoked ciggies, sang, and did mud masks we’d practically be a scene out of Grease.

GEMgrid3Black was our chosen color for the night, but since the evening was all about Diamonds Doing Good, both of us wore diamond jewels by GUMUCHIAN. Our arrival to the Empire Penthouse Lounge was on the earlier side but we were greeted almost immediately by lovely familiar faces and a few, not as familiar. Monica and I were the last to jump into an already packed elevator car of party attendees who weren’t quite as, shall we say, “vertically gifted” as the two of us. This made for a bit of banter on the ride up to the event, and started the night the way all nights should begin… with laughter.

The bar area and lounge had a warm feel to them with views of the Empire State Building hard to match anywhere in the city. After kisses to JA President Dave Bonaparte and some other guy named Tratthew Matner or something, I zoned in on one of the guests of honor having her picture taken in front of the step and repeat.

Jane Seymour is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actress. She is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire; a title bestowed upon her in the year 2000 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Jane is also an artist, receiving accolades and great success for her works, painted mostly in oil and watercolor. One of her original works – titled “The Open Heart” – was the catalyst for the design of the jewelry collection “Open Hearts by Jane Seymour” which is available at Sterling stores such as Kay Jewelers and Jared. The collection is only one part of her Open Hearts Foundation, whose mission is to impact young people in the arts, sports, wellness, and education. It is this reason that one of the 2015 GOOD Awards was to be presented to her.

We watched as she stood solo; camera lights flashing while she smiled a still youthful and perfect smile. Monica and I then approached her to introduce ourselves and have a professional picture taken in front of the S & R, but before making our exit, I powered up the front camera on my phone and said… “Jane! Selfie with me?” to which she replied, “Well, I’m not really good at the selfies, but yeah, alright.”

And that, kids, is how you take a picture with a celebrity.

When the time came for the awards to be presented, a hush came over the crowd as Dr. Ben Chavis spoke. You remember Dr. Ben, don’t you? He’s the kind-faced gentleman I mentioned in one of my Tales from the Strip blog posts from Vegas. To my surprise, not only had Dr. Ben remembered who I was, but went as far as to say “I loved what you wrote about Vegas. I tweeted it!” Um, I’m in love. I think I found my next ex-husband. Todd, you’re out. Dr. Ben… you’re in.

Jane Seymour graciously accepted her award by sharing with the crowd an anecdote about her mother, while images of the two of them together rolled behind her. She explained that her mother would remind her that “love had no boundaries” and that whatever happened, if she kept an open heart, love would always find its way in, which was the inspiration for not only Jane’s painting, but also her jewelry collection.

Jeweler’s For Children’s David Rocha received the night’s other GOOD award for his work with children’s charities and tireless fundraising efforts in the jewelry industry. I’ve known David for a few years now but we didn’t really know one another’s story. This past August, David learned a little about mine and in turn, I learned, firsthand, of the wonderful work done by Jewelers For Children. My son was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was sixteen weeks old. The first several years of his life were a blur, and a nightmare, but thankfully the seizures eventually came to a halt and now, at eight years old, my son is a brilliant third-grader with a passion for running. To raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation, each year he and I run the Magnolia Run 5K together. When I posted the link for Roman’s fundraising page to Facebook just three days before the race was to take place, the first donation that came through was quite substantial, and quite familiar…

It was from David Rocha.

Watching David be recognized by the Diamond Empowerment Fund was personal for me, and I was thrilled to stand in the crowd and celebrate all that he, Jane, and the DEF are doing to help children both abroad and here in the United States. Three students – hailing from Tanzania, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe – were also on hand to share their stories of how the Diamond Empowerment Fund enabled them to further their education through sponsorships and programs. Emmanuel Ewald Mushy’s goal was to get a better education in order to return to his native Tanzania and “change the system.”

After the awards part of the evening was over, the socializing continued. Maybe some of us took to the dance floor. Maybe some of us tortured the young, cute waiter who taunted us with warm chocolate chip and M&M cookies. Maybe some of us borrowed a buck or two to give to the bathroom attendant and somehow wound up with an extra forty dollars before the night was over (??). And maybe a bunch of us eventually made our way down a freezing, Manhattan street to a tiny, warmly lit oyster bar, and maybe we drank and we laughed and we talked and we made memories. Maybe. I guess you just had to be there to know for sure.

I’m thrilled to have attended this heartwarming event as well as to share the news of the DEF’s consumer site, diamondsdogood.com. I want to thank the beautiful (inside and out) Nancy Orem Lyman for her kindness and for enlightening me on this foundation which is now a part of my jewelry story.

Monica and I drifted off after recalling many of the wonderful experiences of the night. I can’t speak for her, but I know I fell asleep with a smile on my face and a giggle in my heart.

Wait, where did this pocket square come from?

Friday, January 9th: The GEM Awards

It’s snowing. Rad.”

Rad? I’ve got to go to the Village for brunch. I’m not prepared for snow.”

The two of us looked out of our tiny, 14th-floor window at the snow-covered brick building across the street. It really was beautiful, in reality. Atlanta doesn’t get a ton of snow, and despite what people believe about Seattle, it really doesn’t, either. Plus, it’s New York. I mean, who doesn’t love New York when it’s snowing, right? Unless you live in the city, of course. Or if you drive Uber. You must hate that shit if you drive Uber. Or if you’re one of those Time Square fake Elmos. I mean, the snow must be hell on your already ratty costume. Though it might actually clean it a little. The naked cowboy dude must hate snow, too. Hard nipples suck. I’ll tell you more about those later on. Anyway, where was I? OH! It’s GEM AWARDS DAY!!!! (Does happy dance that I finally get to write about it!) GEM AWARDS! GEM AWARDS! THREE CHEERS FOR GEM AWARDS! And how does one prepare for the GEM Awards, you ask? Beer with Michael Schechter, naturally.

I don’t drink beer. For me to drink beer I have to be one of three things:

  1. In Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany on my birthday
  2. Standing in front of our Heavenly Father at the holy gates after He gave me the choice between drinking beer or drinking poison
  3. With Michael Schechter

I’ve never acquired a taste for beer. And, no offense, beer-drinking lady friends, but, there is nothing that makes me cringe more than when a woman is dressed to the nines, all decked out in designer everything with pristine makeup, Jimmy Choos, and perfectly coifed locks, and I see her holding a beer bottle. It makes me want to smash it in her youthful-looking face, I’m not going to lie. GET A GLASS, FOR F*CK’S SAKE. Save the beers for bars, girls. Bars and boats. Bars and boats and Michael Schechter. That is when you are allowed to drink beer. And if you find a boat with a bar and Michael Schechter on it, you can drink it straight from the keg, for all I care. Knock yourself out.

I picked up Mikey at his office and we walked a few blocks to District Tap House for lunch. There, I made him give me the rundown of how the next night’s 24K event would go, and picked his brain about writing for money (BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Writing for money?! Who on earth writes for money?? HILARIOUSNESS!). I also asked where he thought the industry was headed in terms of the old way of thinking… in other words, will women ever dominate an industry created for them? I pointed out that the highest paid positions are still held largely by men, and that’s when Mike dropped a truth bomb of wisdom unlike any I’ve ever heard spew from his bacon-consuming mouth…

“Yes, but there is a layer of penis in the industry that is slowly going to die out.”

There you have it, gals. In black and white. All we need to do is wait for this penis layer to *die out* and we’re in. The money is ours. It’s so simple. It’s always been right there in front of us. (And by the way, I’ve already copyrighted “Layer of Penis” so that I may use it as the name for my all-male, jewelry designer rock band I plan to front, so don’t even THINK about taking it.)

Needless to say, lunch was a BLAST, but it was time for Mike to get back to the job he acts like he works at and I was getting pretty close to GEM Awards prep time, so off I headed in my Yellow Cab chariot to turn myself into Cinderella for the evening.

My gown for this night was a white Ralph Lauren that had a crystal neckline and slit on the left leg. For my jewels, I selected a pair of gorgeous Gumuchian platinum line drop earrings with diamonds and huge rock crystals as well as a massive Bubble collection domed diamond ring. Monica decided on a Wendy Yue original ruby rose necklace to accessorize her beautiful black and white strapless gown. As we were getting our hair and makeup done, we realized at one point we were both standing in the room sans clothes but avec heels. It was quite the site, I have to admit. We laughed and I immediately said… “Oh, if Dallas could see us now….

We thankfully arrived at Cipriani at the same time as our other #VegasGem, award-winning designer and beautiful gal, Wendy Brandes.. I looked up at the room and was mesmerized. Enthralled, even. Cipriani looked like something I’d only seen on television during awards season. It was a majestic space, decorated splendidly, with huge screens that stated, simply…

The Gem Awards

I was here. I was really here. Nineteen years in the business, six jewelry jobs, and two blogs, and I was finally standing here, with the people I’ve admired from a distance and looked at only on the pages of my favorite publications. Sure, I knew a lot of the guests, but not everyone. And this was different. I was here to cover the event; to write about it. But I was also here to enjoy all that jewelry is and is capable of being.

Recently, just after the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, I wrote a short piece on my FB page about satire, and humor. It began with the following statement: “The jewelry industry is one of the few industries out there that exists, primarily, to bring people joy. We buy jewelry for ourselves when we get the bonus we wanted at work. We buy jewelry for others when it’s their birthday or anniversary. We wear jewelry on special occasions, or when we’re attending important events. We give jewelry to our family members so that they may remember us after we’re gone; so that they think fondly of us and smile, and potentially pass it down to the next generation of wearers. Jewelry brings happiness, memories, and a sense of satisfaction to those who make it, own it, buy it, give it, and wear it. And the industry, for as serious as it can sometimes be, is also known for its whimsy and playfulness.”

On this night, in this space, all of the above rang true.

gemgrid1Monica, Wendy, and I were met on the red carpet by a cameraman and a gorgeous South African. For the first time, the GEM Awards were being broadcast via livestream on the Jewelers of America website, and industry sweetheart Hayley Henning was playing the role of Ryan Seacrest. “Hello gorgeous girls,” said Hayley, and there we were, for all of America to see, with the major difference being that when Hayley asked us who we were wearing, NO ONE mentioned the dress, and EVERYONE mentioned the jewels.

I’d like to take a moment to give a major shout out to my friend and colleague, Amanda Gizzi, who did an unbelievable job pulling everything together flawlessly for this event. Amanda, you are AMAZING, and if you know me, you know that I only whip out that word about once a year, so you’ve already used it up for me for 2015… that’s just how awesome you are, babe! Great, great job.

If you haven’t already heard, the 2015 nominees for Design were Alexis Bittar, Todd Reed, and Stephen Webster (or as they’ll soon be known… “Layer of Penis”), with Webster walking away with the prize and exclaiming via livestream “This industry has been f*cking amazing!” That prompted cheers from the crowd as well as a text from my husband (who was watching from home) saying, “That man just said ‘f*cking’ on live T.V. Thank God there was no five-second delay. I might have missed that.” The nominees for Marketing and Communications were Forevermark, Tudor, and Shinola. Super model Carolyn Murphy accepted the award for Shinola, who took the prize. The nominees for Media Excellence were Claudia Mata of W Magazine, Maria Doulton, of The Jewellery Editor, and Jack Forster of Revolution Magazine USA. The GEM award in this category went to the lovely Ms. Mata who gave a truly fantastic acceptance speech. And the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Neiman Marcus’ Larry Pelzel who has worked in the high-end luxury jewelry business for 34 years, having joined Neiman Marcus in 1980, or, as Mike Asscher calls it, THE YEAR HE WAS BORN.

Our table (#powertable48) comprised Wendy Brandes, Monica, WJA President Andrea Hanson, Helena Krodel, designer Malak Atut, designer Jules Kim, Bernadette (Pix) Mack, designer Allison Neumann, and yours truly (or as we’re soon to be known… “Layer of Vagina.”) Amanda knew to put us waaaaaaaay in the back because, well, she probably figured we’d go apeshit once Michael O’Connor starting comparing sex to jewelry design in his award presentation speech. I mean, I nearly did go out for a cigarette at that point, since two of the guys up for it were Todd Reed and Stephen Webster.

Oh and hey, since this IS my blog, and since I really don’t care who thinks what about how I write it, I’m going to go ahead and throw some thoughts out to the people I saw at the GEM Awards, so here goes:

Michelle Peranteau: I love you! You’re the best and I miss you. And I need you.

Matt Tratner: Don’t ever ignore us again. Stalkies will haunt you. You’ve been warned.


Brandee Dallow: Where the f*ck were you last night?

Craig Danforth: Don’t go anywhere near a bathtub, dude. Not tonight.

Dallas Selsey: I’m sorry I poked you in the eye. No bra. Cold outside. You get the point. (Literally.)

Stephen Webster: Damn, you fine.

Carolyn Murphy: DAYUM girl. You finer.

Haley Henning: You are flawless.

Terry Chandler: Enough with the slit comments.

Fran Pennella: No one wears fringe like you do.

Beth Bernstein: So nice to meet you!

Bill Farmer: You complete me.

Cameraman: Thanks, bro. You know what for.

Uber driver: YOU HAD MINTS!

Wendy Brandes: That bitch.

Bernadette Mack: You had me at “throat punch.”

Dave Bonaparte: Give Amanda a raise.

That’s all the shout outs I have at this time. Now, off to Whiskey Blue, girls! Taxi!

Monica, Malak, and I hailed a cab and arrived at the bar at the W hotel only to be bum-rushed upon arrival by three Yale hockey players with offerings of drinks. Um, take it down a notch, boys. We’re old enough to be your babysitters… uh, no, that might only add to the flirtation. Wait, we’re old enough to be your stepsisters… no… no… that could be a turn-on, too… um, jeez… okay, we’re married? And old? Still not getting rid of you, huh? Okay, just gonna step on over here a moment and hang out with my girlfriends…. NO. NO. Not my literal… ah, hell, can we just go somewhere else?

Before the evening ended, we, as a group, were faced with that inevitable industry question that is so frequently asked. The conversation goes a little something like this:

Random bar guy: “Are you here on business or pleasure?”
Me: “Business.”
Random bar guy: “Oh. What business are you in?”
Me: “Pretzel.”
Random bar buy: “Pretzel? You’re serious? You’re in the pretzel business?”
Me: “Yep. All about the pretzels. Can’t have a world without pretzels.”
Random bar guy: “I didn’t realize the pretzel business was so glamorous.”
Me: “Oh, you have no idea.”

This is when you know it’s time to say goodnight. Monica and I made it back to our room only to stay up talking another couple of hours. On two hours of sleep, Monica said her goodbye and there I lay, alone, thinking about doing it all over again for one more night. But not just yet. I’m going back to bed, for now.

Saturday, January 10th: 24K Club of New York Banquet

I had a day to myself in the city, and it was nice. I walked from the hotel down to Grand Central Station and opted for a gin martini and lunch at their world famous Oyster Bar. Wearing a black Lycra turtleneck and last night’s mascara, I felt a little like Audrey Hepburn only without the beauty and grace. Or the talent. Or money. Okay, I felt nothing like her but felt I was channeling her independence.  A half-dozen oysters were probably the last thing I needed at that moment but I couldn’t resist. I knew that these were my last 24 hours in this wonderful city – a place that both scares the hell out of me and brings me immeasurable joy. New York represents so much to me, and leaving it is often as hard as leaving my kin.

Post lunch coffee was spent with my friend and fellow Philadelphian, Jennifer Heebner. I don’t get to spend much time alone with Jen but when I do, it’s always worthwhile. Jen speaks my language, just like Peggy Jo Donohue does. We South Jersey/Philly types understand one another. We’re what we call “no bullshit” and that can sometimes come off as “bitchy.” I speak bitchy, and Jen speaks bitchy, so there’s an understanding between us and that usually makes for some great conversation.

The clock was winding down so I headed back to start the process of getting ready for the third night in a row. My feet ached the good ache. My stomach was flat from the lack of food consumed due to socializing, but all systems were go and all thumbs were up. This would be my second 24K Club event in a year, but my first with the massive metropolitan chapter. I opted for a cognac colored strapless gown with train (I know, I know Michael O’Connor. I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. I will never do a train again) with muted gold medium heels and small gold clutch. My hair was down and curled, and my jewels – Gumuchian, of course – were 18K Rose Gold and Diamond, from the Gallop collection.

GEMgrid2The last time I stepped foot into the Waldorf Astoria was to take dance classes from master Broadway choreographer, Frank Hatchett. I don’t even want to tell you how long ago that was, but it was long ago enough to say that I had forgotten the grandeur of the hotel. The pre-banquet suites were in full-on party mode by the time I arrived. I was invited to spend some of the early hours in the Rio Tinto suite with my friend Brandee Dallow. It was nice running into Victoria Gomelsky there as well as THE Michelle Orman and THE Beth Anne Bonnano (EAB in the house, yo…). I eventually made my way down to Howard Hauben’s Centurion suite where I mingled with clients, and took pictures with my dear friends Dallas and Craig. Then, as the room became overly crowded, I slowly moved out into the hallway where I ran into my brother in nerdhood, Mike Schechter. “Dude, I can barely move in there.” “Can’t talk. Gotta go. Myriam’s got me doing tasks.” My boss, Myriam Gumuchian, was in charge of taking care of the 24K VIPs and with 1,000 attendees, we barely saw one another all night. As I made my way down the hall toward the Richline Room, I felt a tug at my arm.

“PEGGY JO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

There is no sight for me like that of my PJD. Any nervousness or doubt completely escapes my body, and I am finally myself, f-bombs and all.

It was truly a mind-blowing experience. So many people from our piece of industry and business were compiled into this one place. Owners and designers, and 5th-generation jewelers. Editors and publishers. Cutters and artists. They are all here in this one hotel for this one night, once a year. Even the industry’s best dressed/best looking man is here! There he is, look! With his dad, brother, and sister! And he’s wearing sparkly Michael Jackson shoes! Boy, oh boy, this is going to be a fun night.

As we made our way to our tables, I was happy to see some familiar faces around me. Joe Carullo was one, and Hedda Schupak another. Joe makes me DIE. Joe always says that the best compliment he’s ever received in his life is the time I told him that he doesn’t creep me out. I mean, by rights, he should totally creep me out. He fits the bill, ya know? Mid-fifties, divorcee, single, salesman. That’s got creeper written all over it. Hey, look, I know myself, and I’m SURE I fit someone else’s bill of what creeps them out, too. I mean, yeah. I’ve been known to be inappropriate. Anybody here surprised? But Joe, he’s so good. He never crosses the line, and that means a lot to me. So, Joe’s my guy, and it was good to see him.

The VIPs were introduced, the blessing was said, and the dinner began. Toward the end, however, my phone started blowing up. I have some g-damned funny people in my life, and I thank big baby Jesus every day for them. You know who you are if you’re reading this. You have a knife and a wrist and you just may use them.

The entertainment was… shall we say… interesting. Um, I won’t really express an opinion one way or another on the choice of entertainment since I was someone’s guest but I will say that I never knew how much I disliked socks until I witnessed what I did.

When it was time to have a drink, I found my way to the Bull and Bear, where the other folks my age (not really… they were much younger) were one step and three vodkas ahead of me. As I ordered my scotch, I found myself with an audience. I hate that. Not.

Me: “Do you have Oban?”

Male server: “Yes ma’am. We do.”

Me: “I’ll have that, please. And how big are your rocks?”

You’re welcome, my friends. Consider it my gift to you.

By 2 a.m., I had mingled, danced, talked, laughed, socialized, schmoozed, sang, and swore. I loved every moment of the last three days and hated to see it come to an end. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and so, declining the offer of those much younger than I to go out clubbing until I likely could stand no more (Julia, Rebecca, Allison, Lita, Kendra, Sam, Mike, and Guido… thanks for the invite. Hope you kids all had a blast,) I pulled a Cinderella, took my pumpkin, mice, and shoe, and walked out into the cold, crisp city night, making an ever-so-less than perfect exit, but still an exit, nevertheless.

Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible. Thank you to the three of you left reading this… my longest post in history at over 4,700 words. But thanks mostly to my husband – my support system – for without whom I would never be able to experience things like these. You make it all possible, and I would call you “amazing” but I’ve already used that word on Amanda Gizzi this year.

Seacrest, out, peeps. Oh, and, this industry IS f*cking amazing, Mr. Webster.