Blog posts tagged with 'pearls'

Vermeer's painting of A Girl With A Pearl Earring has captivated many an admirer -- its name and subject seem simple enough, but inside her stare lies a deep level of complexity for a young woman. And then there is that pearl earring.... Several years ago, we had some fun inserting my daughter Camille into the painting with her sideways glance. It made me think that just by virtue of insertion, she might be able to better interpret the original painting-- wouldn't that be an interesting basis for a film or a novel!

More recently, I came across the black and white photo of a woman and her son-- she gazing lovingly at him and he at us. And then of course, there is the pearl ring she is wearing... I was instantly enraptured! I have always been drawn to the clever, classical woman who dresses simply so that her jewelry can make a statement. People ask me where the ideas for my jewelry come from and I can tell you that they are inspired by a glance at a passerby, a character description in a novel, or a photograph of an unknown woman wearing jewelry like this one. Up to this point, I had only been designing and manufacturing costume jewelry, but this pearl ring started a conversation in my head about creating a capsule collection of fine jewelry.

It's funny how an image can ignite the creative mind-- this one led me to venture into the world of fine jewelry and design my own version of this pearl ring. I wanted the simplicity of a solitaire design with big impact. I designed a shank that was substantial enough to support a large pearl yet simple enough to let the pearl shine on its own. I sourced South Sea pearls in San Francisco and found a spectacular few of the large size I was seeking. Pearls in and of themselves are worthy of an entire essay-- It all starts with grit, the grit that irritates the oyster that makes the pearl. Pearls are many things if not metaphors for life itself. We all know that life requires a great deal of grit!

You can't go wrong being a girl with a pearl! xx Carla

Summer's gifts of gentle breezes, brilliant sunshine, and time off-schedule are enough to make our minds wander to beautiful places and times well spent. For every summer story that is told, we can be sure that there is a whisper and a nod to sea shells. They are the jewels in the stories of our childhood memories at the beach. They become precious keepsakes for first loves, long walks on the beach, and times spent watching our children splash about in the sea.

When I was a girl, my mom had a beautiful pale pink shell (shown above) sitting in the soap cove of her bath. I would soak in her bath, hold the shell to my ear, and listen to the gentle breeze that played inside. It was like a modern-day playlist of all my memories growing up at the beach. It is one of my greatest treasures and eventually influenced my jewelry designs.

Shells have been symbols in architectural design, furniture design, jewelry, and paintings for centuries. They are the symbols of sensuality seen in works by Botticelli, in the designs of Leonardo da Vinci who often drew upon nature for his inspiration, and in the Rococo shell chairs Matisse painted in the 18th century. More recently, Tony Duquette's use of shells was reflected in his opulent design style, Thomas Boog continues to create over-the-top objects in his Paris design studio, and iconic jeweler, Verdura, is known for using the shell motif in many of their designs.

When I began imagining and developing my first collection of upscale jewelry in New York, I referenced my youth growing up near Santa Barbara and time spent at Miramar Beach. The Camille K Miramar cuff and earrings make strong statements, ones that are very personal to me. Of course, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the Couture shell cuff (shown above) that started it all! It features real turban shells sewn on 18th century French gold and silver bullion trims. We continue to sell these as limited pieces upon request.

Many years ago after a visit with my Mother, she handed me a small wrapped package along with her hug goodbye. Inside was the shell from her bath... and in her soft voice, she advised me to listen in whenever I felt too far from home.

May you enjoy your last days of summer and savor all the memories you make.

xx Carla

I recently came across the Netflix show, VELVET while browsing their content. The story centers around fashion in a high-end Madrid department store in the 1950's with references to Coco Chanel, Balenciaga and Dior. We see their designs upstairs on the selling floor and can dream about them with the seamstresses downstairs in the atelier. And then there are actors like Miguel Angel Silvestre who plays the prodigal son Alberto that we can just simply dream of...

Besides fashion, love Spanish style plays a big part in this show. With its cast of beautiful characters, we get to fall in and out of love, experience the high drama of their escapades, and admire the intensity and loyalty of their friendships. Having lived in Madrid in the 70's and having dated 3 men all coincidently named Carlos, makes this show even more enjoyable for me. I am reliving my Madrid moment while revitalizing my Spanish language skills (The show is in Castilian Spanish with English subtitles) -- so much fun!

My fashion education and my love of pearl jewelry began that year in Spain. I admired the dark-haired Spanish beauties that invariably wore pearl earrings and necklaces as their everyday accessories. The Majorica Pearl Company was well represented in the department store El Corte Inglés and pearl jewerly graced the windows of fine jewelers along the Calle de Serrano and the Gran Vía. I lived on a small street off of the Gran Vía with my Señora Carmen and had the pleasure of window shopping and people watching on my way to and from school each day. I still have the pair of pearl earrings I eventually bought for myself....

The women I most admired had beautiful posture -- dance posture, and dressed in navy blue straight skirts with silk blouses and wore high heeled pumps. Their hair was often secured in a bun and their white pearls glistened against their creamy skin and dark hair. In VELVET, the actresses that play Clara, Isabel Navarro and Gloria all have Spanish dance training and it shows. With great posture, all the clothes that they wear look even more exceptional.

Currently, in the fall collections, Valentino's designs make me think of the ladies in VELVET and of all that I loved about the stylish Spanish woman. I am reminded of the first fashion advice I received at the age of 20 (albeit given to me by my flamenco dance instructor!)-- To find your style, you have to find yourself. With that confidence you begin to carry yourself differently and then with that posture, elegance walks into the room.

¡ Hasta Pronto! xx Carla


My love affair with the City of Lights began early in my childhood when someone gave me a book called: France, Country of Delight: Paris and the Provinces. It came with color slides that I viewed on my Panorama illuminated viewer! It also came with a 33 record featuring Charles Boyer as tour guide. Between his French accent and a view of the City, I fell madly in love. 

I believe, that if we wish for something from a young age, and we continue to nourish it, we get closer to living it later on. My dream of Paris began with this book and was nourished by travelling to Paris in college and then marrying a Frenchman later on.  To live a dream is to live a life fulfilled!   After all this time, I can now call Paris my home...

As I gather my belongings together for this upcoming trip, it should come as no surprise that I start first with my jewelry.  You know that I love every piece of jewelry I make but sometimes I do play favorites!  I always take pieces from the Biltmore and Lucky Collections ( Click on your favorite piece for detailed information )-- Simply said, they just speak to me!  
Watch for the rest of jewelry I'm taking with me to be featured on next week's blog.  Then it's off to Paris where I'll be sending you Letters from Paris -- my insider view of this amazing City!


xx Carla