Inspirations

Celebrating Elsa’s Gotcha Day with A Custom Pendant Necklace from Pinky Swear Jewelry

New York City. June 26, 2020. It’s hard to believe, but one year has passed since I flew home with Elsa, our rescued Russian Bear dog, or Caucasian Shepherd, from Sarajevo. For the past year, Elsa has obviously been a big part of my personal life, and she has also been the subject of a number of articles written to cast a spotlight on her Bosnian rescuer, Milena Malesevic, and her organization, Saving Suffering Strays (SSS). You may recall the series I wrote last year about my volunteer vacation and flying home with our 100-plus-pound former street dog. It was a powerful experience. (Click to read Parts I, II, III, and IV.)

Elsa, our Caucasian Shepherd/Russian Bear dog rescue from Sarajevo

Elsa, our Caucasian Shepherd/Russian Bear dog rescue from Sarajevo

After a social media post about Elsa this spring, a jewelry designer named Beth Wagner, of Pinky Swear Jewelry, asked me if I was interested in a custom piece of dog-motif jewelry that she would sell with proceeds benefitting Milena’s rescue work. Um, YES! It was so generous of her to offer. Beth had already done the same for a peer who fund raises for street dogs in another part of the world, and now she was offering to do it for Milena and SSS.

After seeing photos of my Elsa (think fluffy fur, a big rump, and a sweeping feathery tail), Beth created a stately, heraldic-inspired styling of a standing body as opposed to rearing up (“It was purely an aesthetic choice,” she explains). For a little more meaning, she researched the Bosnian flag and saw its line of stars; for her dog design, she borrowed three. The final piece has a coat-of-arms-like effect that she first sketched and then carved in wax.

“The three stars call to mind the stars in the Bosnian flag and represent the journeys of these rescue dogs: their difficult past, uncertain present as they heal and wait, and their bright beautiful futures, with loving families,” she explains.

For sure, Russian Bear dogs are uncommon in the U.S., so to have a piece made in Elsa’s likeness is incredibly special. I’ll be hash tagging photos on Instagram so breed owners worldwide can see what is now available to them thanks to Beth’s generosity.

And today, on Elsa’s Gotcha Day—we landed in Philadelphia on June 26, 2019—the jewelry is ready to sell! I bought an 18k rose gold number for myself. Wagner is donating a massively generous sum of 85 percent of her profit! That means for the $990 piece I bought, $680 of that goes to Milena’s efforts under SSS. Having seen Milena’s efforts firsthand last year, and following her for seven years, I can tell you that that money goes a long way toward saving street dogs and rehoming them.

My 18k rose gold Elsa necklace made by Beth Wagner of Pinky Swear Jewelry

My 18k rose gold Elsa necklace made by Beth Wagner of Pinky Swear Jewelry

Elsa necklaces start at $180 in sterling silver but are also available in 14k gold for $750 and 18k gold for $990. To see all the jewelry available for purchase, click here. For every silver necklace sold, SSS and Milena receive $120. For every 14k gold piece sold, Milena and SSS get $500. All of the money goes to dog rescue; Milena does not personally benefit.

Meanwhile, learn more about SSS on its website or on any of its social media channels, @savingsufferingstrays on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Yesterday, I conducted an Instagram Live with Maria Slough, one of the key players in SSS in the U.K., who helps get Milena’s rescued dogs into homes. Learn more about SSS and available dogs by watching the interview on my Instagram feed @jenniferheebner. See all adoptable Bosnian dogs online by clicking here.

Elsa necklaces start at $180 in sterling silver but are also available in 14k gold for $750 and 18k gold for $990. All are available for purchase on PinkySwear.com.

Elsa necklaces start at $180 in sterling silver but are also available in 14k gold for $750 and 18k gold for $990. All are available for purchase on PinkySwear.com.

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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Inspirations

Pinky Swear’s Jubilee Cake Ring Is a Three-Tiered Celebration of the Talents of the Maker’s Mom

New York City. May 10, 2020. Designer Beth Wagner’s quirky and fun Pinky Swear jewelry routinely captures whimsical memories and playful present-day themes, but her Jubilee cake ring may represent some of her all-time favorite childhood recollections.

Wagner’s crafty mom loved making festive cakes for her daughter’s birthdays. Think plump rosettes and decadent curlicue ropes of frosting swirling skyward atop white cakes that in Wagner’s memory were always fabulous.

“I loved all of her cakes, and the frosting was always really special,” says Wagner, whose Jubilee ring is an ode to these memories and confections. “Her cakes are one of the touchstones of my childhood.”

In old family photos, a young Wagner is plainly pleased by her mom’s decadent desserts. In a grainy photograph, a one-year-old Wagner watched in delight as her mom lit the candle on a white frosted double-layer cake. On her third birthday, an even happier Wagner smiled widely before a pale pink sheet cake with deep-rose-colored flowers and white trim. During the summer, angel food cakes with strawberries were a household staple. By the time Wagner was in junior high, the entire family agreed on one favorite birthday cake they requested for every celebration: grandmother’s recipe for a chocolate devil’s food cake with caramel icing.

A one-year-old Beth Wagner watches her mom light the candle on her homemade cake.

A one-year-old Beth Wagner watches her mom light the candle on her homemade cake.

Beth Wagner on her third birthday with the cake her mom made.

Beth Wagner on her third birthday with the cake her mom made.

But these cakes didn’t stop baking when Wagner reached adulthood; her mom even made her five-level wedding cake. “My wedding cake was white with raspberry between the layers,” she says. This is why Wagner crafted Jubilee, a wearable homage to these gorgeous gâteaus and her mom’s commitment to creating sweet memories.

Beth Wagner on her wedding day with the cake her mom made.

Beth Wagner on her wedding day with the cake her mom made.

“My mom whipped up stuff like that my whole childhood,” says Wagner. “She made you feel like a star.”

The ring is readily made in sterling silver but can be ordered in karat gold.

Jubilee ring in sterling silver with pink sapphires, $540; available online at Pinky Swear Jewelry

Jubilee ring in sterling silver with pink sapphires, $540; available online at Pinky Swear Jewelry

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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Inspirations

Alexa Sidaris’ Radiant Jewelry Collection Has the Strong Words to Express How We All Feel Now

New York City. June 4, 2020. If you are finding yourself at a loss for words this week, Alexa Sidaris’ funky noun-rich jewelry may be able to quietly articulate the right message for you.

The Malibu, Calif.–based Sidaris, a longtime jewelry designer and onetime retailer in New York City, unveiled her Radiant collection—the name a nod to the beaming, sunburst-like font she adopted and refined from 1968 Mexico City Olympics signage—as an homage to her dad. He directed television sports coverage for more than 30 years, including the 1968 Olympic games and other events like surfing and racing, and had a way with language that was as colorful as the range of gemstones Sidaris has sold.

“My dad had the language of Tony Montana in Scarface,” she recollects, adding that her father died 13 years ago. Still, she describes him as “vivacious, generous, and a warm man who wanted to elevate everyone around him.”

So Sidaris channeled some of her dad’s memory in the Radiant word choices. Love was first, followed by other familiar terms (think Mom and XO). But it was when she added Motherfucker that the collection really clicked. “It was meant for him,” she laughs. “I was infusing more of him and his personality into the words.”

While original creations were engraved, the aesthetic evolved to feature the raised lettering evident today. Inspired by the 1968 Olympics artwork, she made her lines more condensed and rendered them herself in CAD for ease of scale manipulation. “I made the lettering bolder and less busy, but I can easily do more delicate versions. There are lots of options, and I want to start adding gems. It’s customizable; whatever is in your head, we can make it.”

And given the high emotions and strong words being expressed now nationwide, Radiant could silently deliver any number of powerful statements. “‘Unity’ is a big word on people’s minds, as well as ‘Speak up,’” says Sidaris, who is giving thoughtful consideration to future text. “Emotions are high and I’m trying to think of how to best express what is happening. I want to be respectful.”

In the meantime, best sellers are the Love necklace and the Motherfucker ring. Expect initial earrings and gold cuffs to appear in the nearish future. Goddess, Magic, and Unicorn are also options, with the last word a happy reflection of where she resides. “There are lots of kids here in Malibu, so it’s a really lighthearted community.”

Editor’s Note: To strengthen communities nationwide, go to donorschoose.org and donate to worthy public school projects.

Love necklace in 14k yellow gold with a 0.025 ct. diamond, $835; available online at Alexa Sidaris

Love necklace in 14k yellow gold with a 0.025 ct. diamond, $835; available online at Alexa Sidaris

Motherfucker band in 14k yellow gold with a 0.025 ct. diamond, $955; available online at Alexa Sidaris

Motherfucker band in 14k yellow gold with a 0.025 ct. diamond, $955; available online at Alexa Sidaris

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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Inspirations

Alejandra Weston’s Junk Food-Inspired Craving Collection Honors Grandma, Burgers

New York City. May 26, 2020. Early memories of Alejandra Weston’s grandmother, a south Texas–based businesswoman, jewelry lover, and junk food fan, paved the way for her present-day Craving collection.

“My grandmother was a hardworking widow and mother of seven,” recollects the Los Angeles–based Weston, who debuted her Ale Weston jewelry line in 2018. “She taught me to dress up for myself every day, wear red lipstick, and that jewelry has sentimental value.”

Further cementing these life lessons during Weston’s teenage years were the times she accompanied her grandmother late at night to check on her hotel and restaurant businesses—acts that often inspired cravings for favorite midnight snacks:  burgers, fries, and strawberry milkshakes from a Whataburger drive-through.

“It wasn’t just about picking up the food, it was about going back home and enjoying it together and talking about life,” Weston adds. “We would have the best times, and those are moments I will cherish forever.”

Ale Weston as a child with her grandmother

Ale Weston as a child with her grandmother

To make these moments tangible, Weston created Craving, a collection of 43 different sterling silver and 14 karat gold styles featuring burgers, fries, and pizza. All pieces are made with the lost wax casting method, which Weston, a onetime marketing major in college, learned taking jewelry-making classes in Los Angeles. (To date, she’s working her way through a graduate gemology degree from the GIA.)

The cheat foods are depicted as pendants, drop earrings, charms, mismatched studs, and more, and gemstones further drive home their true-to-life forms. For example, tiny rubies on slices mimic pepperoni, while garnet-, peridot-, and citrine-topped styles suggest veggie toppings. Meanwhile, all stones, including diamonds, are conflict free.

“I set out for the designs of this collection to be fun, but above all, to be a celebration of everyday life,” Weston says. “This is something which I believe we often take for granted and is even more relevant in the world we inhabit today. The Craving Collection is about making the ordinary things in life extraordinary.”

Retail prices start at $95 and the jewelry can only be purchased on her website.

Pepperoni Pizza bracelet in 14k yellow, rose, or white gold with rubies, $510; available online at Aleweston.com

Pepperoni Pizza bracelet in 14k yellow, rose, or white gold with rubies, $510; available online at Aleweston.com

Rainbow Mix & Match Love Fries stud earrings in 14k yellow, rose, or white gold with rubies, pink and blue sapphires, amethyst, and emeralds, $560; available online at Aleweston.com

Rainbow Mix & Match Love Fries stud earrings in 14k yellow, rose, or white gold with rubies, pink and blue sapphires, amethyst, and emeralds, $560; available online at Aleweston.com

Diamond Cheeseburger pendant necklace in 14k yellow, rose, or white gold with diamonds, $1,575; available online at Aleweston.com

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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