The familiarity of certain pieces of jewelry, from those we wear every day to those we wear every once in a while, serves as a source of comfort to us all. Maybe it's because those pieces are heirlooms and they remind us of loved ones, or maybe it's because the pieces remind us of special memories of travels, milestones, or other special occasions.
While we are all homebound, it's become apparent that upholding certain habits — like donning beloved pieces of jewelry each morning — truly lifts our spirits and puts us in a more productive state of mind. Charming discoveries collected over the years or pieces with a story behind them shine with a deeper brilliance now.
Here, designers and tastemakers reveal what jewelry pieces bring them joy and why wearing them now feels more important than ever.
Jane Scott Hodges
The New Orleans–based fine linens designer and hostess extraordinaire understands the necessity of maintaining decorum during fraught times.
"Obviously, we're wishing we were dressing for the office, client meetings, or headed out on scheduled trips," Jane Scott Hodges says. "This is an odd time — to put it mildly — but I think many of us are trying to continue to create beauty and support each other. This is not easily done in our pajamas! I am still trying to keep the daily routine: Wake early, walk Audubon Park with my husband and dog, and return home to shower and dress for the day."
Hodges considers herself a maximalist when it comes to selecting bracelets, bangles, and cuffs, which is why she looks to Jody Candrian's creations for style and comfort. Introduced to her by Laura Vinroot Poole of Charlotte boutique Capitol, Hodges found herself captivated by Candrian's artisanal beauty and craftsmanship.
"Each piece I have collected from Jody has a special meaning and a sense of place for me," says Hodges. "She and I became dear friends when she lived near me in New Orleans. Though Jody is back in Charlotte now, I keep her close to me by accessorizing with her gorgeous pieces."
For Soledad Twombly, keeping an uplifted outlook in the midst of the unending stream of overwhelming circumstances these days is paramount. "We certainly need to keep a positive mentality to overcome the tragedy of what we are living in in Italy and worldwide," says Twombly.
Born in Argentina and having lived in Buenos Aires, New York, and now Rome, the ever-busy Twombly decorates interiors and designs clothing while also running her latest boutique, L'Archivio di Monserrato. Her worldly, layered, and sophisticated sense of style is enviable, for sure.
Her current uniform: "I have designed a collection of caftans to wear in the house that are comfortable yet glamorous to enhance the spirit," says Twombly. "I wear them with a piece of jewelry by Fabio Salini, my neighbor in Via di Monserrato, in Rome. It's a long thread of yellow amber stones with a rope and gold clasp."
Valérie Messika, the founder of modern Parisian jewelry house Messika, is continuing to dress for the day with pieces that remind her of her family: "In my everyday life, I never remove my Move Romane and Move Noa bangles," says Messika. "The idea behind my founding designs of ‘Move’ is that it represents my idea of love, with the three diamonds representing the love of yesterday, today, and tomorrow."
Named for her daughters, these bold and iconic collections, which also include earrings, cuffs, rings, necklaces, and chokers, are a tribute to her children. "Having these bangles on my wrists makes me feel like I always have my girls with me," Messika says. "It is a way of expressing my love for them."
Cece Barfield Thompson
Cece Barfield Thompson, the New York City–based interior designer who honed her skills under Bunny Williams, is a thoughtful collector when it comes to jewelry.
"My charm bracelet is my most comforting and nostalgic accessory," she says. "It includes inherited charms and pieces that I've collected over the course of my life: talismans from trips, holidays, and special occasions. Most dear to my heart are the family heirlooms it holds. There are charms from my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I feel their presence and wisdom when I wear it."
Thompson's bracelet conjures many happy memories for her. For example, the phone charm she was gifted from her aunt Amanda and godmother represents all the phone calls Thompson made when she was only 5 years old.
Commemorating the small moments of joy in life is something Thompson hopes to pass on to her two daughters: "They are only toddlers, but I’ve started a charm bracelet for each of them," she says. "Both of their first charms are animal pendants designed by my friend and neighbor Aurelia Demark. I hope the charms will one day remind my girls of playdates with Aurelia’s daughters while their mom laughed in the background."
JJ Martin, the American expat who's been living in Milan for the last 19 years and founder of the dizzyingly colorful lifestyle brand La Double J, is leaning on ancient history to help keep her centered.
"Last year we launched a collection of ready-to-wear that was inspired by a wonderful book I read called Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives," Martin says. "It explains how the principal Greek goddesses represent universal female archetypes and how by studying these stories, we can begin to see which aspects, habits, strengths, and weaknesses of their behavior we too possess. Their stories become beautiful learning lessons from an emotional, behavioral, and spiritual standpoint."
Martin keeps it comfortable while on lockdown in her Milan apartment by donning La Double J's goddess T-shirts: "Athena, the goddess of wisdom, when I need to tap in to my logic head for my business meetings, and Persephone, the queen of the Underworld, when I need to settle down and just be with the moment, no matter how dark or bleak," she says.
"When I really feel like a lift, I wear these moon-shaped earrings that were inspired by Artemis, the goddess of the moon and the hunt. I’m really suffering not being out in nature as I used to be, so having these turquoise charms is a great reminder and reconnection to the earth."
Known for her breath-of-fresh-air spins on traditional design, Florida native and New York City–based interior designer Ashley Whittaker is standing by her morning routine as a way of maintaining stability into her days. "Quarantine or no quarantine, my Vaubel gold chain link bracelet is the first thing I put on each morning," says Whittaker. "The sheer weight of it makes me feel invincible, even if I am only headed to the market for fresh produce."
The familiarity of this action helps keep Whittaker grounded, not to mention feeling chic and put-together. "Wearing the same bracelet every day provides a sense of glamour and continuity, regardless of the agenda," she says. "Needless to say, a little bling and normalcy are both worth their weight in gold these days!" We couldn't agree more.
Michelle Nussbaumer, the Dallas-based but globe-trotting interior designer, shop owner of Ceylon et Cie, and author of Wanderlust: Interiors that Bring the World Home is known for her layered, artful style. Lately, Nussbaumer has been looking to two of her whimsical, meringue-shaped rings for a morale boost and a moment of visual delight.
"They are talismans that bring grounding energy, and the bands are surrounded in small diamonds, which are uplifting during these times," she says. "With no manicure done, I love being able to look down and see some beauty on my fingers with these rings."
A feast for the eyes, indeed.
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