Opinion

Everything You Need to Know About Red Carpet Jewelry Placements (Hint: Some Are Ads)

NEW YORK. Shortly after the 69th Emmy Awards took place, a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to an article from HollywoodReporter.com: “More Stars Are Getting Paid to Wear Jewelry on the Red Carpet.”

One of my snarkier friends had this to say about the news: “Duh.”

I don’t disagree. Seriously, who doesn’t know this by now? Many jewelry placements on stars are paid ads.

Way back in 2005, the Los Angeles Times ran “Red Carpet Revenue,” perhaps one of the earliest—and best covered, since some brands went on record—pieces addressing the topic. Those paid placements paved the way for today’s social media posts that have often gone unchecked and unmarked as ads and an effort to conceal the truth. Undisclosed paid jewelry placements that masquerade as “news” and “trends” drive me nuts. This is fake news; if you have enough money, you can buy coverage in the form of placements positioned to appear as authentic star style choices that the press writes articles about as if it was all genuine news. Gag.

This spring, the Federal Trade Commission did crack down on some offenders, calling out some high-profile influencers like Kim Kardashian for not clearly labeling paid social media posts as ads. However, aren’t stars who are paid to walk the red carpet in jewelry from big houses and do not reveal those relationships and arrangements offenders, too? Shouldn’t statements be issued to clearly say that someone is wearing a jewelry brand because the brand paid them to do so?

The biggest takeaway from star jewelry at awards’ shows should be the silhouettes and colors—are folks wearing collar necklaces, amethysts, stiletto drop earrings, pink gold, or stack bracelets? Those lengths, colors, and styles will influence real jewelry collectors to make looks their own through inspired purchases. Inspired silhouettes and colors—not design copies—are key; you have your own style, so let it speak for itself.

And while some of the specific jewels worn by stars are worthy of admiration, know the truth about them even if the brand doesn’t want you to: it’s likely a paid placement and a non-disclosure that puts smaller designers at a competitive disadvantage.

And out of curiosity, I asked some of the public relations’ firms handling promotion of jewelry brands worn to the Emmys to tell me if the stars wearing their pieces were paid to do so. Here’s what I found out.

Reese Witherspoon, nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her portrayal of Madeline Martha Mackenzie in the hit Netflix series, Big Little Lies, wore David Webb jewelry. Among her selections: a pair of 18k white gold and platinum cabochon-cut sapphire earrings with brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds and a crossover ring in 18k white gold and platinum with carved ruby and sapphire leaves and brilliant-cut diamonds.

Was she paid to wear these pieces? No, according to a PR firm for the brand.

Reese Witherspoon in David Webb jewels at the Emmys

Reese Witherspoon in David Webb jewels at the Emmys
Credit: @davidwebbjewels on Instagram

 

Nicole Kidman, winner for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie for her portrayal of Celeste Wright in the Netflix series, Big Little Lies, wore $2 million of jewels from Harry Winston. Among her selections: a platinum link bracelet with 35.16 cts. t.w. diamonds and platinum drop earrings with 13.77 cts. t.w. diamonds.

Was she paid to wear these pieces? In-house PR officials could not comment.

Nicole Kidman in Harry Winston jewels at the Emmys

Nicole Kidman in Harry Winston jewels at the Emmys
Credit: INSTARImages

 

Robin Wright, nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series for her portrayal of Claire Underwood in the Netflix series, House of Cards, wore jewelry from Nirav Modi. Among her selections: Celestial Lineal earrings and three Slim Embrace bangles with diamonds.

Was she paid to wear these pieces? No, according to a PR firm for the brand.

 

Celestial Drop earrings with diamonds from Nirav Modi

Celestial Drop earrings with diamonds from Nirav Modi
Credit: Nirav Modi

Slim Embrace bangle from Nirav Modi

Slim Embrace bangle from Nirav Modi
Credit: Nirav Modi

 

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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Opinion

Safety Pin and Hoop Earrings are Top Style Contenders at the U.S. Open

NEW YORK. While I’m frantically taking notes on spring 2018 attire appearing now during worldwide fashion weeks (New York City’s took place Sept. 7–14), I am still personally stuck on U.S. Open style.

Though my husband and I have taken tennis lessons on and off for years, I’m only mildly interested in watching the sport—I do, however, admire the athleticism of the players. But one morning in late August, a text from a friend who owns a jewelry store reminded me why I care about tennis style if not the game: “I just got a request for safety pin earrings. Off the top of your head, who makes them?” I knew exactly why she was getting this request and which jewelry designers made them.

Maria Sharapova, the Russian tennis player who fell from grace after a doping scandal in 2016, had played Simona Halep the night before in her first round at the Open. Though I didn’t watch the match in its entirety, I caught a glimpse of Sharapova in a follow-up interview. I spied a chic little safety pin earring on her left ear, an understated boss look that perfectly complemented her Riccardo Tisci designed, Nike-made, black-lace-accented tennis dress adorned with Swarovski crystals. Swoon! (I live in tennis skirts in the summer so I was smitten with the frock and the cool earrings.) Sharapova wore them again in a different match with the white version of that Nike dress. I made a mental note to nab a pair of safety pin earrings for myself (see options below).

Maria Sharapova in a Riccardo Tisci designed, Nike-made, black-lace-accented tennis dress adorned with Swarovski crystals

Maria Sharapova in a Riccardo Tisci designed, Nike-made, black-lace-accented tennis dress adorned with Swarovski crystals

Although the U.S. Open isn’t a major jewelry-watching moment—unlike the Oscars and the Golden Globes—I was interested in the earrings because they were probably ones she owned. I favor real-life looks at folks’ style preferences over the paid-for jewelry placements seen at most red-carpet events. I’m not impressed by jewels that a brand pays someone to wear, because, first, it’s not an authentic occurrence, and second, those jewels are often a snooze-fest to view. All the best jewelry is made by independent artists like the ones I cover on this website; folks who can’t afford to buy an appearance, and their designs are always a thousand times more interesting and innovative. So, I rattled off the name of designers who made safety pin earrings in gold—Sydney Evan, Lauren Klassen, Ileana Makri, Lauren Stewart, and Anita Ko—for my friend and kept my eye on a few more televised matches to see what other players were wearing.

Venus Williams was next up. I adore her—she is elegant, a phenomenal athlete, loves jewelry, is now something of an underdog in her late 30s, and makes her own line of beautiful tennis clothing. After seeing her in a coral, gray, and black abstract-pattern dress with oversize drop-hoop earrings—one of which flew off during a match—I jumped online to order my own outfit. (I’ve already got hoops.) I snagged a lavender, white, and gray floral tennis skirt, and my 80-year-old mother-in-law bought a pair of navy leggings that are as fly as she is. Williams wore these same earrings to another event before the Open, so again, I’m thinking they belong to her. They looked great on her long slender neck, but I can’t help but wonder how a pair of golden pearl earrings and a matching pendant might come to life on her beautiful skin.

Venus Williams in oversize drop-hoop earrings and a coral, gray, and black abstract-pattern dress from her Eleven by Venus line

Venus Williams in oversize drop-hoop earrings and a coral, gray, and black abstract-pattern dress from her Eleven by Venus line

And while other players took home awards—Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan Chan won the Women’s Doubles Final, and Sloane Stephens took home the U.S. Open Title—their jewelry and attire were less than exciting. And the men? Fuhgeddaboudit. I’ll shift gears now to Fashion Week newness, though I may be doing it in a tennis skirt and tee until the weather turns cold.

 

Make the Looks Your Own

Safety Pin earring (single) in 14k gold, $275; Loren Stewart

Safety Pin earring (single) in 14k gold, $275; Loren Stewart

 

 

Safety Pin necklace in 14k white gold with an emerald accent, $607; Lauren Klassan

Safety Pin necklace in 14k white gold with an emerald accent, $607; Lauren Klassan

 

Safety Pin earrings (sold as a pair) in 14k gold with black rhodium and diamonds, $660; Sydney Evan

Safety Pin earrings (sold as a pair) in 14k gold with black rhodium and diamonds, $660; Sydney Evan

 

Safety Pin earring (single) in 18k yellow gold with diamonds, €895; Ileana Makri

Safety Pin earring (single) in 18k yellow gold with diamonds, €895; Ileana Makri

 

Safety Pin earring (single) in 18k yellow gold with diamonds, $2,000; Anita Ko

Safety Pin earring (single) in 18k yellow gold with diamonds, $2,000; Anita Ko

 

Spirograph hoop earrings in sterling silver, $168; Jane Diaz

Spirograph hoop earrings in sterling silver, $168; Jane Diaz

 

Antiope hoop earrings in sterling silver, $255; Jill Platner

Antiope hoop earrings in sterling silver, $255; Jill Platner

 

Mobius Teardrop earrings in sterling silver, $275; Somers

Mobius Teardrop earrings in sterling silver, $275; Somers

 

Reckless Eclipse drop-hoop earrings in 14k rose gold with black diamonds, $4,245; Lana Jewelry

Reckless Eclipse drop-hoop earrings in 14k rose gold with black diamonds, $4,245; Lana Jewelry

 

Drop-hoop earrings in 18k rose gold with diamonds, $6,995; Frederic Sage

Drop-hoop earrings in 18k rose gold with diamonds, $6,995; Frederic Sage

 

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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Opinion

10 of My Favorite Jewels from the AGTA Spectrum Awards

NEW YORK. Every year, there’s a prestigious jewelry competition that many aspire to win. The contest is organized by the American Gem Trade Association, a group of like-minded and credible U.S.-based gemstone and pearl dealers, to promote the beauty of colored stones. The contest is called the AGTA Spectrum and Cutting Edge Awards, with the former division casting a spotlight on innovative uses of colored stones in finished jewelry and the latter celebrating expertly cut loose gems. Entries to both categories in the longstanding contest—it’s been happening for 33 years—end up in stores nationwide for sale to the public.

Doug Hucker, AGTA chief executive officer, told me at an editor’s preview day this week that entries numbered about 480 pieces. Among the trends: less Ethiopian opal and more black opal from Australia in Spectrum entries. “We had a lot of nice sapphires in all colors, spinel is still seeing a lot of play, and we still saw some big morganite,” Hucker explained. A surprise in Cutting Edge: no loose rubies. Still, overall entries and the level of talent evident make judging tough.

The judging process is rigorous (I know because I served as a judge several years ago) and is carried out by jewelry store owners, notable stone cutters, and designers. It takes place over an entire weekend because there are hundreds of entries. Opinions about the winning pieces are as abundant as the styles submitted, and everyone who sees the entries walks away with personal favorites, myself included. I saw the pieces up close and snapped photos of my favorites before they return to their makers. (To see a complete list of winners and honorable mentions, check out the AGTA website.) Enjoy!

 

Earrings in 14k yellow and white gold with polyhedral agate druzy slices, green tourmalines, pink topaz, amethyst, and diamonds by Mark Loren Designs; 239-482-4664; marklorensan@gmail.com

Earrings in 14k yellow and white gold with polyhedral agate druzy slices, green tourmalines, pink topaz, amethyst, and diamonds by Mark Loren Designs; 239-482-4664; marklorensan@gmail.com

 

Earrings in 14k yellow gold with titanium vapor-coated agate druzy spheres by Mark Loren Designs; 239-482-4664; marklorensan@gmail.com

Earrings in 14k yellow gold with titanium vapor-coated agate druzy spheres by Mark Loren Designs; 239-482-4664; marklorensan@gmail.com

 

Kunming Remains with Me earrings in 18k yellow gold with carved labradorite, green pearls, and blue zircon by Heath London Jewelry; 805-698-0100; heathlondon@gmail.com

Kunming Remains with Me earrings in 18k yellow gold with carved labradorite, green pearls, and blue zircon by Heath London Jewelry; 805-698-0100; heathlondon@gmail.com

 

Goddess brooch in 18k yellow gold with a specialty-cut ametrine, blue-green sapphires, purple sapphires, and diamonds by Pheap Lorn-Canossi of Phenomenal Jewels; 626-731-3533; pheap@phenomenaljewels.com

Goddess brooch in 18k yellow gold with a specialty-cut ametrine, blue-green sapphires, purple sapphires, and diamonds by Pheap Lorn-Canossi of Phenomenal Jewels; 626-731-3533; pheap@phenomenaljewels.com

 

Open ring in 14k white gold with aquamarine, seed pearls (set inside the shank and atop), and diamonds by Christine Lloyd of Stuller; 337-262-7786; nichole_guillory@stuller.com

Open ring in 14k white gold with aquamarine, seed pearls (set inside the shank and atop the ring), and diamonds by Christine Lloyd of Stuller; 337-262-7786; nichole_guillory@stuller.com

 

Ring in platinum and 18k yellow gold with a golden South Sea pearl and diamonds by Judy Evans for Oliver & Espig Gallery of Fine Arts; 805-962-8111; gallery@oliverandespig.com [This ring took a third-place prize in the Bridal Wear category of the Spectrum Awards.]

Ring in platinum and 18k yellow gold with a golden South Sea pearl and diamonds by Judy Evans for Oliver & Espig Gallery of Fine Arts; 805-962-8111; gallery@oliverandespig.com
[This ring took a third-place prize in the Bridal Wear category of the Spectrum Awards.]

 

Suite of blue-green Sugarloaf-cut tourmaline by Mikola Kukharuk of Nomad’s; 212-221-1207; tracy@gemsbynomad.com

Suite of blue-green Sugarloaf-cut tourmaline by Mikola Kukharuk of Nomad’s Co.; 212-221-1207; tracy@gemsbynomad.com

 

Ring in platinum and 14k rose gold with a blush-colored South Sea pearl and diamonds by Evan de Jonghe of de Jonghe Original Jewelry; 518-587-6422; evan@djoriginals.com

Ring in platinum and 14k rose gold with a blush-colored South Sea pearl and diamonds by Evan de Jonghe of de Jonghe Original Jewelry; 518-587-6422; evan@djoriginals.com

 

Wonder Woman bracelet in sterling silver and 22k gold with a Boulder opal and diamonds by Michael Endlich of Pave Fine Jewelry; 510-547-7000; Michael@pavefinejewelry.com

Wonder Woman bracelet in sterling silver and 22k gold with a boulder opal and diamonds by Michael Endlich of Pavé Fine Jewelry; 510-547-7000; Michael@pavefinejewelry.com

 

 

Solar Flare backdrop necklace in 18k white and yellow gold with citrine, aquamarine, yellow beryl, and diamonds by Ardeshir Dabestani for Asha Gallery; 480-577-2742; ardeshirasha@yahoo.com [This piece took the Fashion Forward award in the Spectrum division.]

Solar Flare backdrop necklace in 18k white and yellow gold with citrine, aquamarine, yellow beryl, and diamonds by Ardeshir Dabestani for Asha Gallery; 480-577-2742; ardeshirasha@yahoo.com [This piece took the Fashion Forward award in the Spectrum division.]

Solar Flare backdrop necklace in 18k white and yellow gold with citrine, aquamarine, yellow beryl, and diamonds by Ardeshir Dabestani for Asha Gallery; 480-577-2742; ardeshirasha@yahoo.com
[This piece took the Fashion Forward award in the Spectrum division. The smiling model? Hannah Becker of Diamondoodles.]

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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Opinion

Talking to Jewelry Lovers

Talking to Jewelry Lovers

NEW YORK. In the digital space, I’m not the first person to connect with jewelry lovers, but I hope to help increase exposure for those who mine, make, and sell the gems and pieces we adore. Some of my peers have been doing this for some time, and I’m inspired by their efforts.

For example, Severine Ferrari of Engagement101.com started talking to newly engaged brides—real people without high-profile names or connections—out of a love for the human angle of stories. Ferrari came to jewelry publishing from writing about wedding dresses and eventually found a home in the engagement niche. An engagement, observes the Paris transplant to New York City, is first about connection and a ‘why’ behind the commitment. Sure, the jewelry is pretty, she continues, and couples always talk about engagement rings, but that is not the reason for the union—it’s the love, baby!

Severine Ferrari is the publisher and editor in chief of online engagement magazine Engagement101.

Severine Ferrari is the publisher and editor in chief of online engagement magazine Engagement101.com.

To wit, Ferrari posts as many as 10 stories a month on her web-based magazine and one micro-story a day on social media about couples in love and how they got engaged. She talks to them about how they met and how they picked their ring and strives to find a diverse lot—same-sex, well off, on a budget, etc.—of couples.

“We in jewelry love jewelry, of course, but it’s a symbol of love and important to remember how meaningful that proposal moment is for a couple,” she says.

Also important: video stories (subscribe to her YouTube channel here—and mine, too, here!). Ferrari has been making them for 10 years to better share her readers’ tales. Plus, video consistently gets more clicks than photos alone. (Here’s one of her stories, complete with video of a couple who got engaged in New Zealand.) Spoiler alert: you may cry!

“As a publisher, I like to share stories, but it’s also a learning experience for me,” she says. “Data is important but so is talking to people to understand how couples stay together longer, why they do or don’t have kids before marriage, and to understand my audience. If we better understand them, then we can better understand where they go to get their jewelry.”

A blogger in a non-niche segment of jewelry is Catherine Cason, who debuted GemHunt.com just a year and a half ago. Cason isn’t from the jewelry world, either—she’s a beauty consultant—but started writing about it because she couldn’t find jewelry-specific content she enjoyed.

“I wanted to know more about jewelry but felt that a lot of the voices were talking to themselves,” she says.

Catherine Cason is the blogger and founder behind GemHunt.

Catherine Cason is the blogger and founder behind GemHunt.com.

Instead of that off-putting, barrier-rich approach—in my opinion, a result of the jewelry trade’s own outdated, super formal and technical, and ‘you can’t sit with us’ way—from brands or stores, she took an informal, friendly approach.

“I get excited about jewelry,” she says. “I put each ring on my finger and tell readers how it makes me feel, I tell readers the story that the jewelry is telling me and the emotions it creates instead of just, ‘It’s 1.2 carats—take it or leave it.’”

Jewelry, she continues, means a lot to people, and as I’m also finding, women are willing to talk about it. Every piece has a story, and Cason dismisses the taboo idea that just because something has a high price point, you can’t talk about it. (Of course, many of us who talk to collectors about their jewelry realize the importance of not revealing any information that could compromise subjects’ privacy—like last names, which this site, as well as GemHunt and Engagement101, don’t use.)

According to Cason, some conversations—like one she had with Jocelyn in February this year—prove that talking about your jewelry can be cathartic. (Read her story, but the Cliff Notes version is that the subject was robbed and online friends donated pieces to rebuild her collection.) “It was very emotional,” notes Cason about the story filed on her Diamond Blog under ‘Real Women, Real Jewelry’ on her site.

Finally, there’s Jackie Cohen of My Story Jewelry, whose line of customizable nontraditional mother’s jewelry was created to celebrate her own story of adopting daughter Julia. Once other women started asking her about pieces, she learned their stories, and it snowballed into a riveting collection of empowering tales that she now shares on My Story Mondays on her website.

“When you open up to people, they open up back to you,” she explains.

Jackie Cohen of My Story Jewelry with her adopted daughter Julia.

Jackie Cohen of My Story Jewelry with her adopted daughter, Julia.

The stories—often acquired at in-store trunk shows—are inspiring and offer hope and encouragement to other women through the lens of another female’s own personal triumph. Her first one, published in the fall of 2016, shared the story of Jenny, who left her husband on July 29, 2004, but also met her soulmate and future husband on the same date later in the day. With that newfound love and support, they had a child, and she accomplished great career success. Cohen now publishes about two stories a month, which have become popular among her fans.

“I meet the most amazing people—women who have lost children, survived breast cancer, written children’s books—and these awesome people need an outlet to be heard,” she continues.

The jewelry hook? All these remarkable tales result from either outreach to Cohen, whose family has been in the jewelry industry for decades, or meeting with her about her jewelry. That’s the power that fine jewelry possesses—the ability to connect people who otherwise might not ever meet simply by admiring a glittering accessory.

Do you have a jewelry story to tell? I’d love to hear it. Please reach out to me at Jennifer@jenniferheebner.com or weigh in with a comment below.

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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