Jewels Take to the Red Carpet at 86th Annual Academy Awards

Posted in Design, Trends with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2014 by stefaniesomers

The Stars! The Fashions! The Jewelry… y’all KNOW that’s why I was watching, right? While the rest of the world is rooting for their favorite movie, I’m sitting on the couch shouting, “C’mon chandeliers! Let’s see some dangles! Bring on the bracelets!”

Yes, we do have a somewhat unusual household. But I digress.

Who were the standouts, the real fashion stars last night? Follow along, and let’s revisit the carpet (and the podium) and see who was wearing who…

Jennifer Lawrence was drop-dead in a Dior Haute Couture slim fitted gown with a fabulous peplum, accessorized with a gorgeous Neil Lane necklace worn to the back, just as she did at last year’s awards. The $2 million carved rock crystal Art Deco stunner features 100 carats of diamonds – LOVE the casual way Jennifer draped it. She topped it off with 10 carat diamond studs and platinum and diamond ring – another cool million on her hand alone!

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Kate Hudson was Greek-Goddess-Gorgeous in draped and ruched white with just a touch of shimmer. Wrapped tight around her hips, the killer Versace had a touch of the shoulder about it with a great pseudo-cape/jacket thing going on – an almost-echo of the 80’s. Kate’s signature plunging neckline of course gave her that perfect vertical. Jewelry was very simple with small diamond earrings and bracelet- I would have loved to have seen a bit more – but the overall look was smashing. We have to include Kate for flawless lines and killer attitude, even if she was just a little sparse in the jewels department.

Kate Hudson in Donatella Versace

Sandra Bullock rocked the navy wave in a fabulous Alexander McQueen strapless, accented with Lorraine Schwartz earrings in a floral spray design familiar to ballroom dancers everywhere – even sparklier in beautiful pear-cut diamonds! A wonderful round pavé diamond bangle finished her look. LOVE the hair off the one ear so we could see those spectacular earrings!

Sandra Bullock in Lorraine Schwartz

Best Actress winner Cate Blanchett positively sparkled in Armani Privé and an incredible pair of Chopard opal and diamond earrings set in gold that are being described as “giant” by the mainstream fashion press. We do have to snicker at that one… Cate’s sparklers are impressive, and we do love them, but not quite sure they actually qualify as “giant”… We report. You decide.

Cate Blanchett in Chopard

Charlize Theron… A silhouette of perfection, love,love, LOVE the sheer straps! The sheer black delicately banded look from Dior (reminded me a bit of Ashley Tribble’s USA look for Marissa Powell) was accented to the max with $15 million of Harry Winton glam. And we never even saw the security guard.

Charlize Theron in Harry Winston

The Baby Bump Brigade made a grand showing, with Olivia Wilde and Elsa Pataky both looking simply “Mah-Velous!” in gowns by Valentino and Elie Saab. Olivia chose cool white elongated drops by Lorraine Schwartz and a stack of sparkly bangles. Elsa  wore beautiful teal hoops from Graziela Gems and a bracelet from Dana Rebecca Designs.

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Elsa Pataky in  Graziela Gems

The jewelry star of the evening was definitely Catherine Martin. The Australian costume designer picked up the Oscar for costume design for her unmatched work on The Great Gatsby – she had previously won for the 2002 spectacular Moulin Rouge, also a jewelry lover’s dream! Catherine wore an amazing amethyst, gold and diamond pendant to pick up her Oscar – for which she plucked her acceptance speech from her bra! No word yet on the designer of the gorgeous necklace, but it is certainly a breathtaking piece, and wins the SSC jewelry of the evening award!

Catherine

Seriously, we want to know where Catherine Martin scored that amazing amethyst bauble. Awesomely gorgeous piece on one very talented lady!

The Toughest Dog in The world

Posted in Inspiration, Musings on May 16, 2013 by stefaniesomers

The toughest dog in the world died yesterday. We never knew for sure how old she was, but when she came to live with us, the vet told us she had to be at least seven or eight years old. That was almost thirteen years ago.

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She was a Red Heeler, an Australian Cattle Dog – an old cow dog. Her face had character, and there was tremendous loyalty in her eyes. My daughter found her, wandering the neighborhood, all those years ago. No doubt she had been dumped, as so many dogs are where we live. My daughter tried to name her several noble names: Tuscany. White Wolf. They weren’t her. A family friend, upon meeting her for the first time remarked that she looked like she had liver spots. And so Liverspot got her name. Not noble, but along with her nickname – NumNums – she loved it, and would come lumbering happily whenever she heard it.

Liverspot made it her job to guard our family and environs against the giant rolling cows that invaded on a daily basis. Every day, she bravely stood down the huge brown cows bearing the letters UPS, and the scary white ones with the blue and orange FedEx on their sides. The small ones with the eagles seemed to especially delight her, and when one day, two brown ones, a white one, AND an eagle all descended at once, well, Liverspot was in her glory, barking and circling, herding all the offending giant rolling cows together, finally running them all off triumphantly, tail wagging and held high. She slept well, and snored loudly that night, knowing she had protected her family from a major invasion.

Liver was an integral part of the “Cartwright Clan”. The Cartwright Clan was our tight little posse of four dogs: Liverspot was “Pa Cartwright”, the elder statesman, not prone to wandering, a homebody, wise and calm, and brave against the rolling cows. Cleo, the Black Lab was “Adam Cartwright”, the one in black, the brains of the outfit, the lover, the wanderer, and also the first to leave. Krissa, the Chow mix was the lovable, strong, but not always bright “Hoss” – good for muscle, a great party, but not the brightest bulb on the tree. And Elvis, the Jack Russell was “Little Joe” – the youngest, cutest, the sweetest. We’d laugh, watching the four of them charging down the field, side by side as if choreographed – you could hear the theme from Bonanza as they ran. Cleo and Krissa both left us this past year, but Liver endured, the Energizer Bunny of dogs, never slowing down. Cleo’s loss was especially hard on her – she wailed and wandered for two weeks, looking for her friend. But she recovered, and life went on.

Liver was run over last year, and two vets told us she wouldn’t make it. They were wrong by quite a few months. She survived, and made an incredible recovery. The toughest dog in the world. But she was slowing down, and we could see it. we had a feeling this would be her last summer, but we thought she would have the summer. As it was, she only had the spring. Her usual afternoon nap in the garage yesterday was to be her last. Pa Cartwright slipped over to the Rainbow Bridge, met by Cleo and Krissa, along with so many more that have played and guarded this family: Sparky, Chewy, Gracie, Fifi, Thumper, Oreo, so many wonderful friends. Our bridge must be very crowded. Who would think that Pa Cartwright would outlive the younger Adam and Hoss? And what will Little Joe do all alone now? He has new friends to keep him company, but we know it’s not the same.

The toughest dog in the world died yesterday. She outlived everyone. She kept us safe from the rolling cows. What will we do without our Liverspot?

COUTURE vs COLLECTION: Which is Right for YOU?

Posted in Design, Trends, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2013 by stefaniesomers

Ever since we launched our new Stefanie Somers Collection line, I get a lot of questions on what the difference is between Collection and our Couture pieces. This is understandable – after all, many of the designs in the Collection are modeled after Couture designs, and in photographs it can be very difficult to tell them apart. So, what IS the difference between Couture and Collection?

On the left, our CALIFORNIA Couture. On the right, Collection CALIFORNIA, both is clear Crystal - virtually identical by photo

On the left, our CALIFORNIA Couture. On the right, Collection CALIFORNIA, both in clear Crystal – virtually identical by photo

First and foremost, each and every Couture piece is handmade in our Texas studio, one at a time, specifically to each individual order. Components that make up  couture pieces are hand cut and finished, usually of a fine gauge brass, and are therefore extremely lightweight, even when stoned. Because each piece is individually hand stoned, the pattern and selection of stones is unique, so no two pieces are alike. We can make a tweak here or there, or a complete change, of color or even shape. Because we have the flexibility to change stoning patterns, we can use virtually any color palette, even if it means altering the usual cuts or sizes on a design. So, even choosing an existing Couture design assures you of a unique, OOAK (“One Of A Kind”) piece of jewelry that is yours alone, made for you from beginning to end.

Custom variation on the CALIFORNIA Couture, not possible with the Collection version - note the stoning on the back

Custom variations on the CALIFORNIA Couture, not possible with the Collection version – note the stoning on the back

Collection designs have been designed to the same shape and form as our Couture styles, but with an eye to allowing faster production and stoning by skilled stone setters, and therefore a somewhat lower cost, while keeping our quality consistently high. Collection designs are cast and plated in our Rhode Island factory, where our trained artisans hand set each crystal in a pre-set pattern and colorway. Just like their Couture counterparts, Collection designs use only Swarovksi Elements crystals assuring you of the sparkle and clarity you’ve come to expect from the Stefanie Somers brand. Because they are cast metal rather than cut, Collection designs are a bit heavier when compared to similar designs from Couture. Because Collection designs are set up to be duplicated by our factory, there can’t be any deviation in the colorways; because they are cast there can be no changes or alterations in the size or shape of the components – it is essentially a “ready-to-wear” line, available as presented.

On the left, BRITTANY Couture, on the right, the Collection counterpart - here we've changed the Collection version to a earwire due to Swarovski availability of the large top pear shaped stone

On the left, BRITTANY Couture, on the right, the Collection counterpart – here we’ve changed the Collection version to a earwire due to Swarovski availability of the large top pear shaped stone

So, which should you select, Collection or Couture? We’ve tried to structure Collection with the aim of creating pieces that will match or complement most gown and cocktail collections. We think we’ve hit that mark – you can find something in Collection to go with the vast majority of gowns and dresses that you’ll find off the rack. If you’ve selected a custom gown with exceptional colors or details, or a gown with an unusual color combination, or if you just want something that’s unique and totally you – then Couture may be something to explore, whether for a specialized colorway or a complete custom design.
That’s the overview: cut metal vs cast metal, freehand stone setting vs pre-set patterns, “anything-goes” color vs preselected colorways. We hope this gives a good primer on the differences between Stefanie Somers Collection and Stefanie Somers Couture. We always want you to feel welcome to call or email should you have any questions about either line, or if you’d like to know what’s possible, and we’ll do our best to answer anything we can. We want to make you sparkle!

To explore the range of our new Collection, visit www.StefanieSomers.com/Collection, or www.Shop-StefanieSomers.com

For an overview of Couture design, click on www.StefanieSomers.com/Couture

It IS easy bein’ green – A quickie primer to the color of 2013

Posted in Trends, Wardrobe with tags , , , , , , , on February 16, 2013 by stefaniesomers

Okay, I’ll admit it – I’ve never really been a big fan of green. I’ve generally preferred to keep my green in plants and dollars… LOVE it on the outside, complete with woods and lakes, on the inside, well, not so much. Swarovski got me, though, with their latest entry, Fern Green. A crisp, cool, vibrant shade, Fern really turned me around, and just in time, too, considering that 2013 is, according to worldwide color authority Pantone, the year of the green.Beyoncé made it official at the inauguration with her stunning Lorraine Schwartz emerald clips!Beyonce

Fern seems to have unlocked the color chords. Standby classics Emerald and Peridot have new life when Fern is added. More recent additions Erinite and Chrysolite round out a perfect five note phrase. The missing color has come home. Like a pinch of salt brings out the sweetness, Fern has brought out the beauty and depth in Swarovski’s verde catalogue.

Let’s take a look at these various shades and their applications, and how they might work in your wardrobe:

Fern Green, the big kahuna in my book. When Pantone released their “color of the year”, (Pantone # 17-6541) the actual shade is closest to Fern, despite their naming it “emerald”. Crisp and clear, not too dark, not too bright, not too yellow, not too blue, truly a perfect green. Alone, Fern should work well on all but the sallowest complexions. Unless you have an olive-y or ashy undertone, wear Fern with abandon! Luckily, Swarovski has made a serious commitment to their new baby, releasing it in all the basics, and many of the so-called “fancy” cuts that make up many of my couture designs. I can play with this one! I also predict that this will become a favorite for gown stoning, wherever real Swarovski crystal is used. As an exclusive Swarovski shade, it will be interesting to see what happens with some of the cheaper knock off stones that frequently show up on so many gowns these days.

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NICKI, from Stefanie Somers Couture; please inquire

Emerald… This is the deepest, darkest, most forest green in the range. Rich and quite similar to the gemstone whose name it bears, this is a great crystal shade for look-of-real designs. As one of Swarovski’s oldest shades, it can be a bit left behind at times when colors are being assigned for new cuts, though, so sometimes the newest and coolest shapes can’t be had in beautiful Emerald. As a basic gemstone color though, there’s little chance of it being dropped from the library altogether. For you May birthdays, this is your stone!

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KIRIN, now available from SS Collection as well as from Couture. Shown in Lush

Peridot, August’s crystal, is another of the shades that’s been in the lineup for many years. A clear, bright green, it often gets lucky and is assigned to newer cuts, unlike it’s darker cousin. Together with Emerald and Fern,
Peridot tops out a lovely three note color chord that will serve many green ensembles quite well, and almost any green print.

There are a few more “supporting actors” in the green repertoire… Chrysolite, a pale, crisp shade that’s gorgeous with any of the big three; Olivene, a rich slightly yellow, well, olive green! Much prettier than it sounds, it makes a beautiful unexpected partner with purples and blues! Played with the other greens though, it can have a bit of a camo look, and it’s a tough shade for most of us to wear near the face. Erinite is an interesting shade. A medium green with just a hint of blue, and just a touch greyed out. A fairly easy to wear color, without a lot of yellow, but sadly, not overly available from Swarovski.

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The new PETRA design, coming soon!

You may come across a few bit players as well if you look carefully: Palace Green Opal (a medium green, with a non-sparklyopalescent finish), Sage (a very grey, pale almost-green), and Mint Alabaster (a marble-like pastel) we don’t use a lot of these last three at SSC – not enough sparkle for us! – but these shades can be just the ticket to some great summer and suit looks, so always feel free to ask about them!

Our green palettes – Lush, Fern, Forest and Fatigue – build upon these colors in various combination with some neutrals to bring out the feel of almost any green themed outfit you can throw at us. Visit our COLORS page to take a look at these and more of our exclusive color palettes. We know that color is not only what it’s all about, it’s also one of the toughest things to navigate when you’re thinking about custom jewelry. Our palettes make it much simpler, and give you a great jumping off place to visualize your new piece!

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Fabulous Couture “LYNNE” bangle from SSC, in the Lush palette

Give the Gift of S.S.C. for the Holidays!

Posted in Gifts with tags , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by stefaniesomers

Now you can give the gift of S.S.C. for the holidays. After hundreds of requests, I’m finally making a limited number of gift certificates available for purchase this year.

Standard amounts are $50.00, $100.00, $250.00 and $500.00. If you would like a different amount, please call me to see if your desired amount is possible.

Order by December 7th for standard delivery, or by December 17th for expedited shipment. Last minute printable email certificates will also be available for those true procrastinators among us!

Physical gift certificates will arrive boxed in our custom Couture boxes, with optional giftwrapping available upon request. Standard UPS ground shipping is free; expedited service is available at cost. Printable certificates orderable through noon on Christmas Eve, as long as they’re still available.

I’ve only set aside a fixed amount for certificates, and once that is reached, no more will be sold, so order early!

Certificates can be used for anything custom, and do not expire. This is a wonderful way to give your favorite competitor a head start on next year’s wardrobe, and take one extra stress off your holiday shopping list at the same time! Click here to shop S.S.C. Gift Certificates

Call or email with any questions, and remember, there are a limited number available!

The Dangling Dollar Dilemma

Posted in Wardrobe with tags , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2012 by stefaniesomers

I talk to a lot of pageant competitors every day. Lots of questions…. What’s the best shape for my face, what goes with my neckline, what colors should I choose. Amongst almost everyone I talk to, there runs a quiet thread of, dare I say, dread, no matter the age or pageant system… “how can I spend so much money on my jewelry? My mom (husband/credit card/conscience) is gonna kill me!!! And to go with just one gown!!!”

I get it – good earrings are expensive, and it is a shame to relegate a beautiful piece of jewelry to just one outfit, no matter how perfect a match.

So what to do? There are the usual options:

1) Wear a basic with every gown or outfit (bor-ing…)

2) Choose inexpensive enough options that you can have them in every color (can we define “inexpensive” please?)

3) Get the perfect earrings each time, and sell them with the gown (if you can bear to part with them!)

My suggestion is to use a combination of these three techniques to not only make the very best impression you can, but to also start building a wardrobe that you can wear for a lifetime. Let’s start with the big-ticket place that’s always the first to make your budget hemorrhage: Evening Gown.

Let’s be honest – you shouldn’t scrimp on your competition evening gown. Nor should you scrimp on the earrings. There are other places you can save some money, but this should not be one of them. Get the best you can comfortably handle, both gown and earrings. If budget is a consideration for you, leave off a bracelet, and spend a little less on shoes. Yes, we know you love shoes, but really, when was the last time you saw a pageant winner photographed smiling and crying, wiping her tears away from her shoes? Rein in the shoe budget a bit. (I’ll be taking calls from shoe designers from 10 am to noon on alternate Wednesdays, thank you)

You can also do a little long range planning here, and stay to more neutral gowns throughout your career, if they work well with your coloring (and you don’t get bored!) A gorgeous pair of Crystal and Crystal AB earrings can go with an amazing number of gowns and look like they were custom made for the occasion. This doesn’t necessarily mean a white or silver gown… if you pay close attention to the stoning or beading on a gown, you can frequently use those Crystal & AB earrings with a gown of another shade, as long as the TRIM has Crystal and/or Crystal AB worked in with it. This is especially true for darker haired ladies – fairer haired girls tend to do a little better bringing a bit of the gown color up to the face. If you especially favor nude or champagne gowns, you’re in luck, as these shades are über blendable, and what works with one will usually work with another.

Above: A few great options for designs that will work with a number of gowns, in neutral shades of clear Crystal and Crystal AB:

So, you can save some serious change on earrings over several gown iterations just by paying attention to the details on the gown you choose – and by being very disciplined in what gown you ultimately choose. This method does discard taking the architecture of the gown into consideration when choosing your earring, relying solely on color. But then, if we had a bottomless wallet, we wouldn’t be here, would we, lol!!! You may not always get perfect here, but you can get pretty close.

Now that you have your competition evening gown chosen, what about the rest of your wardrobe? A girl could go broke accessorizing all these clothes! This is a great place to call in some of those inexpensive options we talked about earlier. While I would never recommend that you wear, ahem , shall we say… less than perfection? on your ears for the evening gown competition, let’s face it, for swimsuit… not so much. If they are looking at your ears while you’re strutting around in a bikini, you’ve done something seriously wrong. And besides, big ole earrings can be a little out of proportion with swimsuit. For swimsuit, you can stick to the tried and true gold or silver hoops, and you really won’t hurt my feelings. They’re light, breezy, work well proportionally, and best of all, you can get ’em at the mall for next to nothing. Works for me! The exception to this would be if there is a special theme for the swimsuit competition, like Salute the 80’s, or Victoria’s Secret, or any of a number of theme’s I’ve worked with that DO demand something more than a simple hoop. Barring that – go for simple.

Interview can be a bit tricky, depending upon which system you’re competing in. For some systems, discretion is the order of the day, and you really need to go smallish and conservative. Other systems the look is more trendy and cutting edge fashion – be sure to scope out what your director or judges are looking for before making your choice. Either way, the good news here is that you don’t need to spend a lot on jewelry for interview. For one thing, too much or over-jangly jewelry can be distracting during interview, and you want all eyes and ears to be on what you’re saying. Depending on the outfit you’ve chosen, a little glitz can be very appropriate but you never want to over-do – save that for the evening gown stage! If you do want a larger earring, there are always lots of options in the mall with metals, chains, and geometric shapes. I do feel that it’s better to do a nice metal piece than a cheap initiation rhinestones piece for interview – if you want Crystal, go smaller, and go quality.

Parts of your pageant wardrobe are ripe for inexpensive pick-up earrings. Arrival outfits, rehearsal clothes, meet and mingle.. anywhere that you’re not actually being directly scored, that’s a good place to same some $$ on your accessories. If you want to have a stash of pieces in colors to match anything you have, here’s the place to wear them. There are so many great options available today in resin, metals, amazing new materials. You don’t have to have glitz on everything. Yes, I really did just say that. Don’t tell anyone – let’s keep that between us, okay?

Talent… well, we’ll tackle that another day. Long subject! Soooo many directions to go with talent…

So, put the most into your evening gown jewelry, just as you put the most into your evening gown. That’s where you really need to blow it out of the water and just STUN. Do what you can here, and don’t look back. I strongly suggest purchasing the best earrings you can, with the understanding that “bigger” does NOT necessarily equal “better”… Quality – which in the case of evening gown means nothing other than Swarovski – is what you want to aim for. To save a bit, look for styles that are built with Swarovski crystal ONLY, no cheap imitation rhinestones, but perhaps a bit airier in design, with more space in between, and lots of articulation. You don’t have to have a thick, dense earring to get a luxe look, but you DO need Swarovski. That’s just not somewhere you should be willing to compromise.

Made in America…

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , on November 4, 2012 by stefaniesomers

For years, the tiny state of Rhode Island was known world wide as the “costume jewelry capital of the world”. The finest, most intricate, best made fashion jewelry came from the it’s cities and factories, made by folks for whom – in many cases – jewelry was a trade handed down over many generations. The best model makers, casters, the finest plating, stone setting, stringing, knotting, handwork.. any type of technique was either done there or perfected there.

How times have changed.

The tipping point seems to have come somewhere in the early 90’s (A Competitive Assessment of the US Jewelry Industry, Phase I: Costume Jewelry. Report to the Committee on Finance, US Senate, October 1986), when imports from off-shore more than doubled, and US employment in the jewelry industry began to decline. As early as 1998, a full 50% of the jewelry sold in the US was imported (Costume Jewelry Industry Yearbook, 2001) Between 1997 and 2002, the number of US jewelry manufacturers dropped by more than 29%… by 2008, it was a 43% decrease. Some industry insiders put the loss of business at 85% or higher – 85% of the US manufacturing facilities shuttered and closed over the last 25 years. This despite booming domestic sales in fashion jewelry for most of that span.

When I began to assemble the team to launch my new line, I had no idea the situation had deteriorated to this point. I made dozens of phone calls, sent hundreds of emails and faxes, only to be told time and again “You can’t make jewelry here. You have to go offshore.” It would seem that Thailand, India, and especially, China, had swallowed alive the once grand American Jewelry Industry.

But not quite all of it.

If you know me, you know I don’t give up easily, and that taking “no” is not in my nature. It’s still here – the jewelry industry – and it’s still in Rhode Island. Many of the artisans are scattered; tremendously gifted model-makers delivering pizzas to make ends meet brings tears to my eyes, but they are there. And they are still working. And now, some of them are working for The Stefanie Somers Collection.

We’re just a part of a very vigorous movement towards “Made in America”, and we will stay that way. While we are also tremendously proud to be a Swarovski Elements partner, and that huge portion of our jewelry is not, of course, US in origin, as much of the rest as is humanly possible is – our casting, plating, finishing, assembly, stone-setting, beading, packaging, everything else is Made in America.

I urge you to be aware of the where what you use and wear was born. Some industries are by nature based in specific parts of the world, but others… The United States WAS the fashion jewelry industry for most of the last century, until cheap off-shore labor lured all those dollars halfway around the globe. We have the capability to bring it back, and we will continue to do whatever we can to bring it home.