How Do I Start a Jewelry Collection?

I have never thought of myself as a jewelry person. When I was a small girl of perhaps 3 years of age my mom had my ears pierced and it hurt a lot. The memory has faded over the years but I clearly remember lots of crying triggered by fear and pain. The wailing was uncontrollable. To this day I wonder if my ears are unevenly pierced because I wiggled. The lady drove a needle through my ears to create the piercings. Balls! Brave, I am not.

Do I plan to get more piercings or painful bodily modifications? No, thank you.

In fact, I probably felt a little resentment against something or someone after that day. As a result, many gold earrings were lost during my childhood and well into my adulthood...last time I lost an earring I lost the matching pair to two of my favorite earrings on the same day (but that was well over 7 years ago). In general, I think giving children gold jewelry or any jewelry is foolhardy. If I had a daughter I would not have her ears pierced. It's her choice, not mine. At last, we don't select the culture we are born into or dictate our parents' decisions.

But let's be honest, I did get another piercing on the upper part of my ear when I was 18 or 19 (and I was brave! Though it did hurt a bit). I let it shut down after a year or two. It was not for me.

But jewelry is not just about earrings although earrings are fun.

On my tenth birthday, my dad presented me with a gold necklace with a round pendant with my first name's initial. Unfortunately, many years later I lost the pendant while I was taking a shower. For some strange reason, I did not ask for help to retrieve it (I am pretty sure it was because I was under the impression that all drain holes turn into black holes). Oh well. I did learn to keep jewelry away from drain holes or close drain holes before handling jewelry. For some reason, I keep my everyday jewelry in the bathroom, do you? My dad also went on to present to me at least one more piece of gold jewelry until my parents got divorced.

Since I got married, my mother-in-law has presented me with many interesting jewelry pieces. The most special item I've received from her (although it is by no means the most expensive) is a Robin Rotenier necklace with a bee pendant for protection. It's like an amulet and I wear it often. I like the imaginative aspect of this piece and I treasure it.

Of course, I also have a few pieces from my mom which I've borrowed permanently. My favorite piece is a substantial onyx ring set in sterling silver and marcasite stones. When I wear it, it reminds me of her and I think it's sort of Mom protection at work.

As to my own purchases, I collect pieces in sterling silver and steer clear of fashion or costume jewelry unless it is a reputable brand that produces quality pieces (sometimes its a hit or miss). I don't like the smell of nickel or cheap jewelry, or wasting my money. My most recent purchase is a Robin Roternier bracelet in sterling silver which I love. See above for reference. It is substantial and very comfy for a girl that sits at a computer for a large part of the day.

I am also a big fan of vintage jewelry. I like the glamour and hippie nature of olden times. Back in our early days of dating my husband presented me a bag full of costume jewelry which we found at one of the thrift stores in Ocean Beach in San Diego. It's been a treasure trove of random tidbits.

My jewelry game has matured a bit in the last couple of years. My jewelry goals are to be like Rachel Zoe. She's really over the top with her jewelry not unlike a Christmas tree with fancy decorations. I dig it. Nay, I love it. But I have my doubts whether I will ever attain this level of jewelry game.

I don't think I have the personality to pull it off.

A more reserved part of me thinks I should wear layered jewelry like many of the women on Instagram that layer dainty necklaces brilliantly. Of course, being practical, as I am, it is difficult to imagine myself wearing a lot of jewelry. The truth is working on a computer desk with lots of arm candy can and often is bothersome, too many bulky things around my neck can draw attention to my broad shoulders and poor posture, heavy earrings are a nonstarter for me, and well I would honestly need to hire a security guard to keep me from getting robbed. Hehe. Personal reservations aside I have a confession:

Lately, I've been obsessed with all things Cartier. Yup, the big luxury jeweler has caught my attention, which brings me to today's topic: How do I start a jewelry collection? 

Like the collection of any other object, to start a cohesive and well-curated jewelry collection you need to choose a theme for your collection. You can focus on a particular material and further refine your criteria by focusing on the purity of the material, color, era, style or even country of origin.  Similarly, you can just collect pieces from just ONE or a handful of designers whose style resonates with you. Further, designer pieces (especially those purchased second hand) tend to retain their value so you can sell it in a pinch. To recap:

1. Select a theme e.g. choose one designer whose pieces you like, pieces of a certain metal and desirable purity level, or pieces with a certain style for example tribal or art deco.

2. Make a list of your favorite jewelry pieces and think about what you wear all the time: Is it a ring? Earrings? Bracelet? Necklace?

3. Save up and buy a piece of your most worn type of jewelry. For example, get a ring if you often wear rings (you will be able to see the beauty on your finger), and gradually build up from there.

As for me, I collect pearl pieces by Mikimoto and sterling silver pieces in art deco style. My favorite sterling silver jeweler is Robin Rotenier. Although Robin Rotenier committed suicide a few years ago by jumping off his apartment in an NYC high rise, which is terrible and tragic, his talent was magnificent and his brother Remy Rotenier continues the family legacy. He is also a jewelry designer and although his stuff is sold through mass-market channels like QVC (potentially putting a damper on the resale value of the piece), the Rotenier style is reminiscent of art deco meets goth infused with a little rock'n'roll which results in stunning pieces.

Getting back to Cartier.

My obsession with Cartier makes me think I am a basic bitch (in the loving and well-meaning kind of way, or an ideal consumer driven by what's popular with celebrities).

In my imaginary Cartier collection I would own a rose gold set of love bracelet and matching ring as well as a juste un clou bracelet and matching ring, and while I am at it, a diamants legers necklace in rose gold would be nice as well. All would be slightly encrusted in diamonds and let's not forget my puppy, a diamond encrusted choker for him. Hehe, I hear the tune of Santa Baby playing in the back of my head which makes me giggle..."Santa Baby, I want a yacht and really that's not a lot...Been an angel all year...I've been a really good girl this year....

While I am not ready to make any such purchases, and doubt whether I will be anytime in the near future or otherwise, I think it is important to organize one's jewelry collections thoughtfully.

For me, jewelry is like armor. You wear it to protect yourself. And well, as I continue evolving my style I wonder how my armor will evolve, will it become more decorative and pretty or will it grow spikes? Right now, it seems to want to sprout flowers although I think Cartier pieces are timeless.

Anyway, be it jewelry or artwork, glassware or what not, having a thoughtful collection will make you very proud to display it. And after all, what's the point of jewelry other than to display it to yourself and others? What kind of jewelry do you collect? And, what role does jewelry play in your life?



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