Opinion

Guest Post: Don’t Doubt the Significance of Jewelry Says a Catholic Nun Who Dishes on Her Own

Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 16, 2021. As a sister of Saint Joseph, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, I, Sister Dorothy, have devoted my life to ministry, social services, and education, but I still enjoy jewelry and have three rings that I wear on a regular basis. Each piece holds symbolism that is indelibly etched into my heart and mind. After much reflection (and a request from Jennifer to share my story), I realized my rings certainly do have stories to tell. Theirs is my own story—a story as well-worn and lived in as these beloved pieces of jewelry.

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My first story begins with my mother’s wedding ring. Not long before she died, my mother gave her ring to me. The engraving inside are the words “From me to you.” I discovered in my later years that these were the words my father always used when he gave gifts to my mother. This message was my father’s signature expression of his love for her.

I wear my mother’s wedding ring to remind me of my parents’ love for each other and their children. From their union of love, they instilled a passion for family and friends into my brothers and me. Wearing this ring reminds me of the good times and all the adventures we had as a family.

The second ring story centers on the ring I received when I received my doctorate in education. My brother gifted me a karat-gold signet ring engraved with my initials “DAB.” The ring is significant because it was given to me when I received my doctorate in education. The doctorate opened new and diverse educational avenues on the university level of adventures, friendships, and blessings that I cherish forever, and that ring is a constant reminder of them.

My third jewelry story involves the ring I received when I made my final profession as a Sister of Saint Joseph. This ring’s design is a three-strand braid and symbolic of the three vows, Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, that I made when I became a vowed religious woman.

The design of this ring is simple, symmetric, and rich. Each strand of the braid is raised like a cord to stress the binding force of love. Designed in a Grecian style and as a band, the ring is meant to be reminiscent of a wedding ring, signifying the nature of the vows I made. Wearing this ring reminds me of the blessings and happiness I have experienced as a Sister of Saint Joseph.

While my rings may not be from high-profile designers like Kendra Scott or Marco Bicego, they hold a value that is priceless because of the memories. My rings tell a story that I carry with me; they remind me of who I am and those who have journeyed with me. They reveal their stories in time and prove that every piece of jewelry has the potential to be priceless if we research the heart of the story buried within.

The karat-gold signet ring given to Sister Dorothy by her brother when she received her doctorate in education degree.

The karat-gold signet ring given to Sister Dorothy by her brother when she received her doctorate in education degree.


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Opinion

Have a Heart: 10 Pieces of Heart Jewelry You’ll Actually Want to Own

New York City. Feb. 12, 2021. Love them or hate them, hearts are still having a big moment in jewelry. It’s a trend that started gaining momentum among high-end makers in the past few years and rages even stronger around Valentine’s Day, which is this Sunday. So, with hearts on the brain, here’s a roundup of some fresh looks up for grabs from some of the fantastic talents we have in jewelry.

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Morgan Patricia Designs just unveiled a Joyful Hearts collection of one-of-a-kind heart-shape gem necklaces. A few have already sold! The one below is still available.

Deep Sea Heart pendant necklace in 14k gold on an 18-inch chain with an intarsia heart of amazonite and lapis lazuli with flecks of pyrite; $660, available online at Morgan Patricia Designs

Deep Sea Heart pendant necklace in 14k gold on an 18-inch chain with an intarsia heart of amazonite and lapis lazuli with flecks of pyrite; $660, available online at Morgan Patricia Designs

Emily P. Wheeler debuted a Valentine’s Day capsule collection of three pieces featuring heart-shape gems. The one-of-a-kind Eternity choker for $38,000 has already sold!

For Eternity band in 18k gold with 5.87 cts. t.w. heart-shape ombre pink, violet, and gray sapphires, $8,900; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

For Eternity band in 18k gold with 5.87 cts. t.w. heart-shape ombre pink, violet, and gray sapphires, $8,900; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Robinson Pelham recently debuted a pixelated pavé setting in a heart motif. Since color is Pelham’s M.O., pieces in the collection include pink, blue, or yellow sapphires as well as a tsavorite and a rainbow sapphire/tsavorite version. (Colorless diamonds are also an option.) The hearts feature a hinged bale, allowing fans to wear it on a necklace or bracelet.

Fortune heart charm (chain not included) in 18k gold with sapphires and diamonds, £3,480; available online at Robinson Pelham

Fortune heart charm (chain not included) in 18k gold with sapphires and diamonds, £3,480; available online at Robinson Pelham

Jewelmer accents one of its gorgeous golden pearls with a gold heart. Timeless.

Petits Coeurs pendant (chain sold separately) in 18k yellow gold features an 11 to 11.5 mm natural-color golden South Sea pearl grown in the Philippines, $2,250; available online at Jewelmer

Petits Coeurs pendant (chain sold separately) in 18k yellow gold features an 11 to 11.5 mm natural-color golden South Sea pearl grown in the Philippines, $2,250; available online at Jewelmer

Modern heart motifs are included in LoriAnn Jewelry’s Unity collection.

Heart pendant (chain sold separately) in 14k yellow gold with enamel, 0.83 ct. t.w. multicolor sapphires, and 0.015 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,550; available online at LoriAnn Jewelry

Heart pendant (chain sold separately) in 14k yellow gold with enamel, 0.83 ct. t.w. multicolor sapphires, and 0.015 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,550; available online at LoriAnn Jewelry

Rosa Van Parys jewelry is big, bold, and gloriously badass! Of course, her hearts ooze powerful cool vibes in color and silhouette.

Amor ring in 18k rose gold with black diamonds, $3,900; available online at Rosa Van Parys

Amor ring in 18k rose gold with black diamonds, $3,900; available online at Rosa Van Parys

I’m a big fan of Campbell and Charlotte’s whimsical designs! Of course, there’s a heart or two in the mix.

Juju heart charm necklace in 14k rose and white gold with 1.14 cts. t.w. pink sapphires and rubies, $3,840; available online at Campbell and Charlotte

Juju heart charm necklace in 14k rose and white gold with 1.14 cts. t.w. pink sapphires and rubies, $3,840; available online at Campbell and Charlotte

Pamela Zamore’s pieces have a fantastic texture that lives on in a number of familiar forms, hearts included.

Eight Point Heart pendant necklace in 18k yellow gold with a 0.06 ct. diamond, $4,150; available online at Pamela Zamore

Eight Point Heart pendant necklace in 18k yellow gold with a 0.06 ct. diamond, $4,150; available online at Pamela Zamore

Julez Bryant has a history of making great hearts! The heart is a staple in her line.

Lizz rectangular bracelet in 14k rose gold with a heart motif and 0.11 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,998; available online at Julez Bryant

Lizz rectangular bracelet in 14k rose gold with a heart motif and 0.11 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,998; available online at Julez Bryant

I continue to obsess over all of Acanthus’ moody heart motifs. Black and gold hearts? Yes, please.

Heart-wrapped Star earrings in oxidized silver with 24k gold and diamonds, $560; available online at Acanthus

Heart-wrapped Star earrings in oxidized silver with 24k gold and diamonds, $560; available online at Acanthus


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Opinion

Guest Post: The Significance of Signature Style, and What My Own Budding One Looks Like

Jaipur, India. Jan. 8, 2021. Hello again! It’s me, Aparna Sarogi, the intern for JenniferHeebner.com and a fashion design student at The New School, Parsons School of Design, in New York City. As I continue to take classes remotely from home in India, I learn more and more about design and, specifically, the importance of a signature design or signature style, a topic Jen often focuses on in jewelry.

What a Signature Style Looks Like

From logos to prints and patterns, a signature style helps creatives develop a brand. In the clothing arena, Chanel uses its iconic interlocked CC on designs ranging from garments to accessories, and the brand’s famous tweed suits are status symbols. Iris Van Herpen enjoys success with her eye-catching fusion of technology and traditional haute couture involving voluminous layers of fabric with movement. Then there’s Alexander Wang’s spin on a classic white tee and denim—his signature is subtle changes to familiar silhouettes, like moving the location of a zipper—keeping the brand fresh for youth. Meanwhile, Maison Schiaparelli is renowned for surrealism, such fingerprints as polka dots and rings in the shape of fingers. In shoes, shiny red-lacquer soles stand out as the signature of the Christian Louboutin brand.

Couture Designer: A garment from Maison Schiaparelli’s Fall-Winter 2020 season features fingerprint polka dots.

A garment from Maison Schiaparelli’s Fall-Winter 2020 season features fingerprint polka dots.

Source: @schiaparelli on Instagram

In jewelry, signature style examples vary and seem easier to identify than in clothing. Examples include David Yurman’s cable, John Hardy’s Balinese dot, and Ray Griffith’s crown work. Italian designer Gina Ferranti, of the jewelry brand Gigi Ferranti, always has bright colored stones wrapped in gold. Most of her inspiration stems from her Italian roots, and she wants to create an experience of Italy for her wearers.

Jewelry Designer Ray Griffiths has a signature style of crown work in karat gold.

Jewelry Designer Ray Griffiths has a signature style of
crown work in karat gold.

Sometimes the signature styles of jewelry and clothing collide. Paco Rabanne’s clothing consists of chain links and metallic pieces because he learned these skills from his sister, a jeweler. This is why he began his fashion career at Balenciaga, Dior, and Givenchy making jewelry before launching his namesake brand as a couture designer with a chainmail-intense signature style.

Developing My Own Signature Style

Studying the works of couturiers helps me understand my own budding sense of style and direction. At an early stage I took inspiration from Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, and Vera Wang, who play with fabric on a dress form before sketching a garment on paper. Similarly, my own design process starts with brainstorming forms, textures, and fabrics, rather than sketching the silhouette. I usually have an idea of colors and fabrics, and as I start to put everything together, the vision becomes clearer. With a minimalist approach right now, my developing aesthetic includes neutrals and pastels, like The Row uses. I also use prints like florals, but I’m not sure those will endure. I know I want to design for working women. For sure, my look is bold yet clean, and a work in progress.

Aparna Sarogi: A drape from my personal archive reflects how fabric sits and molds itself onto the body.

A drape from my personal archive reflects how fabric sits
and molds itself onto the body.

Accessories complete and complement fashion looks, so I consider how jewelry will enhance my designs. Just as jewelry designers keep the necklines of a particular season in mind to create their neck accessories, I keep accessories in mind as I design clothes. If I’m creating a V neck silhouette, I think about the jewelry that will pair well with it. If I design a high neckline, I think about whether or not it will need a necklace or if earrings will suffice. And if I’m designing a neckline with ruffles or bows, then I probably don’t need a necklace at all.

A Strong Signature Style Is Built to Last

The point of a strong signature? It’s meant to last. Memorable brand DNA helps it survive in today’s competitive market. But establishing one look doesn’t mean it remains stagnant; a look has to evolve over time while remaining true to its roots. That’s how a designer of any type becomes globally renowned. This isn’t easy to do!

Each season is an opportunity to breathe new life into one’s DNA; designers must keep enhancing it with some new aspect while keeping the core style present. Why? If a new generation can’t relate to it, it won’t sell.

Couture designer Zac Posen drapes fabric on a dress form in Central Park; the drapes are created with pins and the positions are inspired by New York City.

Zac Posen creates couture in Central Park using pins and fabrics with drapes inspired by New York City.

Source: @zacposen on Instagram

Chanel is a good example of an established brand that still works—it continues to add enough newness to its core (like varying tweed suit silhouettes) while retaining its classic voice. Same for Hermès, one of the oldest fashion brands. It’s known for its orange color and Birkin bag. Hermès also uses a lot of brown and maroon colors. All effects are classic, never dull, and continue to make fans stand out in appealing ways. Some brands that I think try too hard include Moschino and Michael Kors; Moschino is too trendy and doesn’t focus enough on a classic vibe (something that can be worn daily) while Kors used to be considered a luxury but now anybody can have it. I’m not sure how long-lasting these brands can be. What I do know, however, is that I still have a long journey ahead of me as I develop my own signature.

Do you have a favorite design DNA in clothing or jewelry? I’d love to hear about it.

Click here to read my first blog post!


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Opinion

Should I Get My Daughter’s Ears Pierced Now or Wait Until She’s Older?

Philadelphia, Pa. Jan. 4, 2021. Hi! I’m Nora, the recently appointed editorial coordinator for JenniferHeebner.com. In addition to helping Jen obtain daily birthstone jewels and organize new press kits and potential article ideas, I’m raising my six-year-old daughter Ria with my husband. In his Indian culture, many girls get their ears pierced at birth, but this American was too nervous to pull the trigger on an infant Ria! Now that she’s in first grade and has been gifted several pairs of earrings (including a pair of adorable puppy dogs in gold), she wants to get her ears pierced, but I’m not sure she or I are ready.

Learning Responsibilities

Being six, she is just learning about responsibilities. I am still licking the wounds over our battles for her to make the bed and brush her teeth in the morning! I am, however, finally raising the victory flag on my “Wash-your-hands-as-soon-as-you-walk-in-the-door” mantra. I don’t know if I want to enter what I imagine would be a new war zone of clean your ears and “No, you do not have time to change your earrings” before-school meltdowns. Getting out of the house on time with Ria is a battle in itself. Some mornings I catch myself looking to see if any windows are open for fear of the neighbors hearing our loud play-by-plays and, worse still, if the neighbors knowing who’s winning. But Ria’s classmates are beginning to get their ears pierced, so she continues to ask. To help me determine the best course of action, I talked to a few moms who have already gone down this path.

Meaghan Weighs In

I spoke with Meaghan Flynn Petropoulos, co-founder of jewelry sales and marketing firm For Future Reference and mother of 15-month-old daughter Paloma, who is happy with her decision to have her daughter’s ears pierced at four months old. At this age, Paloma wouldn’t fuss with them.

“Can you imagine a four-year-old constantly touching her newly pierced ears?” Petropoulos says. “The snapping of the gun scared her more than the piercing itself. It was done in 45 seconds, she never really noticed, and she lets me change them.”

Meaghan thought also that having her daughter’s ears pierced early—and by a nurse with a medical certification to do so—would avoid a lot of issues. “The earring was surgical-grade plastic, and we chose the age based on her immunization schedule,” she says. Kids who are pierced in the two- to six-year-old range can develop keloids, but adults, too, can have problems.

“I have 40-year-old clients with no pierced ears or manipulated ears because they got them done too late,” she explains. “I see different relationships women have with their ear holes, some resorting to surgeries or getting Botox fillers later in life because they lose volume in ear lobes with age.”

Plus, Meaghan recalls having her ears pierced at age six and not enjoying it. Why? The pain of the ear gun (“We definitely went to a kiosk in the mall,” she recollects) and the cleaning aspect (gently twisting and wiping them with alcohol) was somewhat traumatizing.

Talking to More Moms

My friend Stephanie, an author, airplane broker, and mom of two boys and one girl, also had her daughter Jessica’s ears pierced at four months old and is happy with the decision. Stephanie’s motivation to get them pierced young was the thrill of having a girl after two boys. “I wanted to do all the girly things,” she says. Stephanie also recalls her husband, Almir, being just as excited. “We were both gung-ho to have a girl, and it was Almir who suggested we look for a place that would pierce them after the pediatrician said he wouldn’t do it.” (Their pediatrician doesn’t pierce ears until age five.) Similar to Meaghan, Stephanie did not have a good experience getting her ears pierced young, at about age six, and recalls them getting infected, so she had to let them close and re-pierce them when she got older.

Meanwhile, Tara, a funeral home proprietor and mother of two girls, had a similar experience to Stephanie, getting her own ears pierced at age six and having to let them close because they were uneven, re-piercing them when she grew older. Yet Tara recently took her daughters, Lucy, age six, and Lydia, age four, to get their ears pierced. The experience was a success. “We made cleaning part of their routine along with brushing their teeth,” she says. “They seem to understand the consequences of them getting infected if they don’t.”

A pair of 14k gold puppy dog earrings gifted to Ria from a family friend. Ria is eager to wear these!

A pair of 14k gold puppy dog earrings gifted to Ria from a family friend.
Ria is eager to wear these!

Making Up My Own Mind

Considering all these experiences has given me some great insight, but I think the jury is still out on my final decision. I asked Ria why she wants to get her ears pierced, and she says it’s because she wants to wear the dog earrings. (I want her to, too, but I’m still not convinced that’s a good enough reason.) So, her wants are a driver, and she adds a little peer pressure: “Everyone is getting their ears pierced,” she insists. Unsurprisingly, Ria’s flair for the dramatic is ever present; everyone consists of two girls in her class. For me that is not a compelling enough argument. What will be? This nervous mom isn’t yet sure.


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