What does luxury mean now? Well, boxfresh is so boring. The only way is down for a white pair of trainers. Scratch-free, stain-free, unused. These don’t fill me with joy but dread. I don’t want to brace myself for how bad I’m going to feel the first time I mar a new product. Its like watching myself damage as I consume. That’s not how I want to shop.
Give me something that will improve with time. As I’m living with it, we will age together, and we will age well.
Wabi-sabi is a concept that has been newly reembraced as we realise the beauty of imperfection. Its the idea that nothing is perfect, nothing is finished, nothing lasts forever.
Thinking about jewellery [I can’t stop, actually], there was a time when Elizabeth Taylor’s diamonds were my ultimate definition of luxury. Why? Breaking it down I suppose it was exclusivity, glamour, jewels as tokens of love and success, and the mesmerising sparkle of a perfectly cut, flawless stone. It was having a lifestyle in which this jewellery was appropriate to wear. Of course, there is still a place for Cartier and Boucheron, but in my life, my normal, lovely life, what do I actually want to wear?
Something that enhances me, my outfit, and people’s perception of me. Something that does the talking so I don’t have to. Something that elevates my everyday. But I still want exclusive, I want to be the only person in the world wearing this necklace, I want to feel like I’m wearing treasure. But to not be ostentatious, somehow.
For years, this meant wearing vintage and antique jewellery. Not only is it affordable and often excellent quality, the biggest appeal is that it is unique. But what I’ve discovered is that it can be hard to make it modern, to wear it relevantly. Dainty Edwardian pendants are lost on my tall frame. Stunning silver and gold bangles just feel too fussy with their machine turned decoration. Gorgeous old cut diamonds are trapped in stuffy engagement rings. It would seem scale, detail and fashion do matter in jewellery, especially if it is the focus of one’s outfit.
As a collector and sometime dealer of antique jewellery, it can still sometimes feel so wrong to rework or downright destroy a piece, with the aim to make it wearable. But it has got to be better than never wearing something. Of course you can find a way to make an heirloom serviceable without harming it, and that’s a wonderful thing to achieve, but I don’t think we need to be as precious about preserving history for history’s sake. People have always reworked jewellery; that in itself is historical. And in the past, there were ingenious ways of wearing the same jewel in so many different ways [ as a ring or as a lapel pin, for example].
Because the thing about jewellery is that its never practical. Its not about what will ‘do’. You absolutely HAVE to love it. Its emotional. Its the icing on the cake. Its as personal as perfume. Its about how it looks, but even more its about how it makes you feel.
I spend my time reworking antique pieces of jewellery. I mix them with vintage and discarded, salvaged, more modern pieces. Because using unique materials that have aged well guarantees a unique design. Because a light carbon footprint also sparks joy for me. Because I want to wear things that have also made other women feel special. Because I want to create value from individuality, exclusivity from design, and if an Elizabeth Taylor diamond winks at me across a room, I can twinkle right back knowing that pinning down my glamour is as complex as the history entwined in the piece I am wearing.