Jewelry has been a topic of gossip for millenniums, I’m sure the noblewomen of ancient Egypt had a thing or two to say when Cleopatra may have gone overboard with the bling a time or two… “ Natasha, would you look at her? Who does she think she is? The Queen of the Sheba?!” I’m sure Cleo had a huge jewelry box or two full of eye-popping baubles in her heyday.
The taste in the style of jewelry, of course, varies depending on what part of the country—or world—you live in. Turquoise encrusted silver spurs, belt buckles, and bolos don’t exactly cut it here as a fashion statement on Marco Island unless you’re attending the Cattlemen’s Convention at the Marriot!
The folks in these here parts of South West Florida are a mixed bag of styles and taste. I’ve been in a constant quandary on what would be desirable here on the island and what would not be year after year. My best bet has been nice sea-life jewelry, big flashy gold, and diamond designer pieces might work in nearby Fifth Ave Naples, but not here in the town of “Melancholy Marco by the Sea,” jewelry tastes here are more conservative. I only need a second or two to size up where folks are from by the jewelry they wear or for that matter don’t. Many times, I have waited on older couples who literally “sold the farm” in Rural Town USA like Chicken Scratch, Arkansas for example; buy a house or a condo and retire here to Mayberry with sand and live happily ever after.
The entire jewelry collection between the two of them is usually two gold wedding bands, and Grandpa’s pocket watch, I’m not knocking them; I now have a farm upcountry, and I love the simple lifestyle that comes with peace and quiet. Who needs to impress the cows and chickens with unnecessary bling? Sometimes Abner wants to buy the Mrs. something shiny and pretty to wear around the island or when rubbing elbows with Marco’s elite at Wednesday night’s Bingo or Mahjong gathering.
My article about judging a person by the watch they wear raised a few hairs on some folk’s necks, it was all in fun and at the same time took me many years of study, research and scientific analogy to astatine. For instance, the gentleman before me lamenting over the emotional and financial loss of his now hopelessly rusty 50-year-old Timex he paid 12 whole dollars for, more than likely has underwear older than me, and never heard of Sirius Radio, especially in his 1963 four-door Rambler. Okay, ‘nuff said!
Pigeonholing people’s personalities is not rocket science, sometimes I get it wrong— though rarely! I just know people, however, what they crave in jewelry year to year and that’s another science I’d love to get a handle on.
Every now and then when I “get it wrong!” I’m surprised by the taste in bling by someone I figured would never go there and buys something off the charts, a piece that is incredibly flashy, meaning, “Are you sure you can’t add more diamonds, Richard?” it’s definitely a piece of jewelry that will get people talking. “Holy cow! What the heck… did you see that huge diamond ring? What did they win the lottery or something?”
I have learned long ago that a nice piece of jewelry doesn’t have to be outlandish, garish or off the wall to get attention; sometimes the simplest designs get noticed more. Take for instance the Calusa or as it’s better known… “The Marco Cat,” is kind of like a wooden prehistoric Felix the Cat looking thing some might say…
Okay, I’m kidding. Take it easy you Marco Cat Lovers. I’m with you on the cat… all 11 of you.
Seriously though, you can make the cagy cat large or small, fully 3-D even side profile in platinum, gold or silver, put in diamond or emerald eyes, even cover the cat in diamonds, I’ve done it all in 25 years here, and to me, my simple no frills or gemstones solid gold or silver rendition of the beloved wooden feline speaks volumes.
Don’t forget an impressive pair of simple round diamond stud earrings can also be an eye-catcher, and a reason for gossip especially when they are four carats or more total weight, “You think they are real or are they cubic zirconias? He would never spring for the real thing, would he?” You would be amazed at just how many “Cubic Queens” roam South Florida sporting all kinds of not exactly real diamond jewelry.
The job of being a jeweler is sometimes comparable to a priest in a confessional box. A smart jeweler never divulges information to anyone about anybody’s diamonds or non-diamonds or anything for that matter, and never questions to whom a particular expensive gift may be presented to unless he wishes to spend half of his life as a top witness in divorce court settlements. What happens in the store stays in the store.
Mama Mia, the factually juicy life experienced soap-opera-like novels I could write from my experiences in this business would be on the best-seller list! That won’t happen because I prefer my ocean swimming without cement shoes or a navy anchor pendant and chain.
A lot of guys from big city areas love the big gold look, it’s alive and well, even though Elvis and Liberace are… not so much! I just saw “The Irishman” on Netflix; loved the old school gold strap watches and jewelry they wore in the flick. Back then it was all about the flashy gold, watches and big diamond pinky rings, and I sold and made a lot of them back in the day at my Uncle’s shop for more than a few “wise guys” and wannabee’s. Boy, the 70s were really something, at least what I can remember. I once heard someone say if you remember the 60s… then you weren’t there!
My late Nana (That’s grandmother for you non-Italians) always had the ladies talking, my grandfather worked in my Uncle’s jewelry/pawn shop in the 1930s 40s and 50s, a lot of buying off the street and selling went on there. Whenever something really big, gaudy and off the wall was purchased, Pa would give it to my grandmother, the baubles she had would rival most European nobility! She never wore the same piece of jewelry twice it seemed. And she loved large amethyst jewelry. I’ll bet Pa just re-cycled her stuff through the store, sold pieces she may have become tired of and replaced it with another new one?
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and boy have I seen some real beauties!
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith Marco’s Island Jeweler since 1994 and welcomes your questions and comments about All That Glitters. Contact at www.harborgoldsmith.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.