6 Women Who Have Mastered the Art of Accessorizing
As the director of talent development for the Miss Universe Organization, Esther Swan, 50, travels the world, picking up trinkets along the way. "When I walk into a store, I head straight to the jewelry counter," she says. Most of what she wears comes from thrift shops and bazaars. The common denominator: "Things with a sculptural quality, done in unusual shapes." That's why Swan gravitated toward these geometric gold pieces, such as a wristful of hammered bangles a triple-link necklace, and a cuff with graphic cutouts.
Bangles, AMI Clubwear, $15 for set of five; Sharelli, $250 for set of three. Necklace, Stella & Dot, $89. Cuff, Fantasy Jewelry Box, $48. Link bracelet, Sequin, $48. Flower ring, Monet, $48. Tiger ring, Kenneth Jay Lane for QVC, $45. Dress, Max Mara.
Anna Merola, 49, likes to take timeless pieces and give them a tweak. (Her charm bracelet holds no charms at all; dangling from her everyday watch is a tiny silver horn, a nod to her Italian heritage). Then there are her pearls—Merola is an assistant retail manager for Honora, the freshwater pearl importer, which gives her free rein to dress herself in strands of baroque, button, and keshi varieties, in colors from azure to charcoal (from $165 each; all, Honora). She incorporates other styles, too, like a necklace woven with denim ($450) and a ribbon-and-chain bracelet ($298; both, Camilla James). But it's the pearls that define her look. Says Merola, "The color, the texture, the sensation on my skin—they make me feel alive."
Stud earrings, Jenny Bird, $40. Smoky quartz druzy ring, Gara Danielle, $165. Headband, Emi-Jay, $6. Dress, Max Mara.
When Samantha Shaw, 29, was growing up, she'd sneak off to school wearing a fuchsia feather boa hidden under her winter coat. Now she's the director of public relations for jewelry designer Alexis Bittar, where she's paid to indulge her flair for the dramatic. Standout pieces—an enormous wooden bangle encrusted with crystals worn between metallic bracelets, for instance—are her signature. The rings (green turquoise and white jade two-finger ring, Jasmine Pennamma, $295; chrysoprase and gold vermeil ring, (Alexis Bittar, $385) are oversize, too, as are shoulder-grazing earrings made of embroidered fabric. "It's all or nothing for me. I wear either just my wedding band or something so huge it's almost ridiculous," says Shaw. Her style icons—Grace Jones and Joan Collins—would likely approve.
Crystal-encrusted wooden bangle, Alexis Bittar, $945. Metallic bracelets, Alexis Bittar, $215 each. Earrings, Dori Csengeri, $343. RinLeopard-print top, Dolce & Gabbana.
It's a koan-like riddle: Can a Zen Buddhist wear jewelry? Sonja Nuttall, 45, the creative director for Urban Zen (Donna Karan's foundation to promote well-being and cultural preservation), used to avoid it. Then she discovered A. Jason Ross, who recycles things like belt buckles to create one-of-a-kind accessories, and "I fell in love with his whole philosophy," says Nuttall. The two began collaborating for Urban Zen's retail shop on cuffs that combine vintage watches with elaborately wrapped straps made from old belts. Here, she wears one on each wrist, paired with Tag Heuer and Cartier watches (12369 by Ross and Nuttall). "I love that it comes from an organic place," she says.
Short leather necklace, $75; long leather cord, $395; brass and copper bracelet, $495; all, Jason Ross from Artemas Quibble. Pearl rings, Evon Mignot, $200 each. Belt, A. Jason Ross. Jacket, tank, pants; all, Urban Zen.
"I wear jewelry with an attitude," says Lesley M.M. Blume, 34, contributing style editor for The Huffington Post and author of an upcoming book about retro fashions called Let's Bring Back . Her favorite way to make a splash is with costume baubles, the more outré the better, and Art Deco–era pieces. Blume often reaches for her enamel Egyptian pharaoh collar, purchased at a vintage shop in Miami, and mixes it with equally glamorous items, like a wide resin cuff (Landver, $80), thin resin and cubic zirconia bangles (Miriam Salat, $250 each), and a chunky gold, onyx, and diamond ring (Camilla Dietz Bergeron, $1,650). Completing the look are the gem-packed tassel necklace ($445) and earrings ($205; both, Ben-Amun by Isaac Manevitz). "Whether I'm wearing something I inherited from my grandmother or bought, my jewelry is about its history," says Blume.
Wide resin cuff, Landver, $80. Thin resin and cubic zirconia bangles, Miriam Salat, $250 each. Ring, Camilla Dietz Bergeron, $1,650. Blouse, Nellie Partow.
Jewelry designer Caroline Ellen, 46, crafts delicate pieces from lush yellow gold that feel modern when layered. Her collection, Caroline Ellen, includes many of the staples she wears herself, such as a chain with black diamond beads ($2,650), plain and engraved rings (from $1,400 each), diamond eternity bands (from $2,650 each), and a faceted oval ruby ring (on index finger, $2,050) that's striking in its restraint. "The Earth is a treasure box of all these beautiful stones," says Ellen. "I don't want to detract from them with complicated settings." Her everyday accessory, a heart-shaped pendant engraved with her two children's initials, is especially cherished—and among her favorite styles to personalize for others (chain, $2,420; pendants, from $1,450 each). "This kind of sentimental jewelry is so much a part of me that I feel naked without it," she says.
Earrings, Temple St. Clair for Target, $30. Diamond flower pendant and chain, Caroline Ellen. Blouse, Diane von Furstenberg.
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