JennaViv jewelry line makes a splashy debut for Passionate Collector!!
If you follow this blog at all, you know I adore fine jewelry. I love to look at it, try it on and wishfully think about wearing it. A recent event hit my radar and I had a scheduling conflict. I knew *exactly* who to ask to cover this story for me: fashionista and friend Christina Adams who is a noted writer and author in her own right. So we get to live vicariously through Christina going through the gemstone looking glass at this fabulous party on the Newport Coast that reeks of luxe living and fine jewelry.
Take it away Christina (sigh I am so jealous!)
Can I just say how great it is to have an excuse to skip a presidential debate and go see jewelry on pretty models and nibble great food instead? I don’t feel guilty, I swear. Especially not when I valet-park outside this enormous faux-Italianate home high above the darkening ocean in Newport Beach, click-clack in my Beverly Feldman crystal thong sandals down the stone staircase, and realize at first glance that this jewelry is really good. Debate-skippingly good, even for a former Washington, D.C., political girl like me, who quit that habit when I hit Cali and no one cared—the opening line from single guys here was “Where do you work out?,” not what party you were.
LA alpha female Stevie Wilson, editor of LA-Story.com, knows I’ve been travelling the world lately and seeing lots of jewelry. So my fiancé Tony and I gladly accepted the chance to report on the new jewelry in our own back yard. Yes, he loves jewelry, it’s not a misprint. He’s a manly man who jumps out of airplanes, drives a race car and– like the star pieces of this evening– he’s one of a kind.
Tony and Christina with the Panache earrings.
The party is the debut of a delectable new line of jewels called JennaViv, designed and executed under the highly innovative eye of exuberant blonde designer, Jennifer Mankin. It’s primarily a private gathering of her friends and supporters who know how talented she is. During her previous careers at Tiffany and Philippe Charriol, she was asked “not to wear my own designs to work any more, because clients would say, Do you have something like that?” Because those brands didn’t, she formed her own line. It’s carried by ThePassionateCollector.com, whose owner Susan Shieldkret hosted the event.
Not only is the food hearteningly great and plentiful for an event of this type (by Crème de la Crème foods of Costa Mesa), with rosemary scones stuffed with smoked turkey and Dijon mustard and open-faced tuna sandwiches topped with tiny tomatoes and wisps of salad. The cheese tray is unusual with offerings like roasted pistachios, light bleu and nut-stuffed cheeses, nary a cheddar cube in sight, which means someone really cares about us!
The mini chicken curry empanadas and tender steak skewer with a warm chocolate-coffee sauce remind me of a great South American dinner I had with the former head of the Chilean Air Force, who plied me with personal cuts of meat and an $800 bottle of pear liqueur. Later I learned that his organization had (allegedly) pushed civilians out of airplanes over the ocean, alive– as good a reason as any that we should eat, drink and try on jewelry while we can!
Model with Panache earrings and Pendant! (*yum!)
Now that we’re full, Tony and I hit the jewelry. It’s good that we ate first, because the jewelry is delicious-looking and you’re not supposed to shop on an empty stomach, it can make you irresponsible.
The Nipa, a large caramel tourmaline ring set in 18K rose gold, looks smooth and lickable like a cooled dollop of caramel sauce. It’s nearly a 29 carat stone, with just over a carat of surrounding diamonds. One of a kind, it’s a size 7, and for the women who enjoy wearing tasteful show-stoppers, it’s very reasonable at $4,500. There are other large rings set with bright lemon and creamy rose quartz. They look good enough to swallow whole, but you’d have to chase them with the papaya-infused martinis so they wouldn’t choke you before the security guys did.
The NIPA Ring
Appropriate for the night’s ocean setting, the Mermaid ring reflects a refined use of coral, a truly classic material that never goes out of style.
The Mermaid Ring
This too is a 29-carat cabochon, but of pink coral rimmed with diamonds and set in 18K white and yellow gold ($16,500). Jennifer is wearing this ring herself, and I am sad. Tony always wants to buy me a piece of coral jewelry, but so far, I’ve only seen run-of-the-mill red or orange pieces. Now here is the ring of my dream, and the economy’s tanking. (But not for everyone.)
We strike up a conversation with a man in a blue shirt, whose wife is a jewelry collector, much to his bemusement, since “she’s sort of plain in everything else,” as I can see–she wears unadorned gray clothing and no makeup. However, she tells me, “Jewelry is a gift from God. It wants to be worn and to come out into the light. Look at the facets, the way it shines. It likes to be worn.”
I know she’s serious because she insists that her husband buy his little girl the JennaViv diamond flower necklace tonight for her sixteenth birthday. It’s around $1,600 tonight with the party discount– and due to the sophistication of the elongated petals that hold the diamonds, will wear well as she ages. I think if they’re shopping for her here instead of American Eagle or The Limited, it’s the right choice. (The mom says she doesn’t like to buy her daughter and friends sterling silver, because it tarnishes, so she buys platinum if possible. I’m tempted to ask if she’s on Facebook.) In her mind, Tiffany wants too much for their offerings lately. Thus this necklace will be Daddy’s special present to his daughter.
I can relate–sort of. My dad bought my two sisters and I the diamond “Journey” necklace with the seven stones arrayed in increasing size for our Christmas gifts last year, and I think it’s nice for a girl to get diamonds from her dad though I had to wait long past prom age and well into the high school reunion cycle for mine.
I consider this a character-forming experience, of which I have many from Dad. I can think of my necklace as a payback for cutting firewood in the snow with no gloves when I was sixteen, nearly a diamond for each frozen digit, as we had no heat in our house because we couldn’t afford oil that winter. “It’s the economy, stupid,” right?
How is that debate going, I wonder, as I watch the couple make the transaction with Jennifer. Even this generous dad tells me he’s sitting tight watching his housing development construction business fall, fall, fall, although he still has a nest egg and many connections in the biz (he thinks it’ll get better “in a year or two”). Rome may be burning but fine jewelry is like money in the bank.
I’m sure the pieces in this line are going to keep well. They are made in Europe, and it shows. Tony and I check out the “Panache” earrings, which look like hanging palm fronds with their jointed leaves of 18Krose gold and diamonds. A chocolate pearl hangs delicately at the tip of each earring, while a brown diamond tops the setting where it enters the ear.
The Panache earrings that have Tony and Christina enthralled.
There is a matching necklace. We want it. We want it all. But we tell ourselves we don’t need it because we have each other.
As platinum-haired models walk through the crowd to music, displaying more necklaces, earrings and rings, it’s obvious that the JennaViv Collection has an amazing and fresh way with diamonds too.
The “Amoeba” necklace and “Trifle” earrings are free-form lines of fine, swirling diamonds, but with a classic edge which makes them timeless ($3,300 each). There are also some fresh and contemporary Deco-inspired pieces.
Tonight, the night of her debut, it’s clear that Jennifer Mankin is going to go far. She deserves to wear the beautiful 72.92-carat black diamond opera-length necklace she’s got around her neck–she made it, after all, and it’s only $7,590.
Her prices are good, so this is the time to buy if you’re longing for a fresh yet classic addition to enhance your jewelry-wearing pleasure. You can’t make a mistake. Unlike a bad line delivered in a vice-presidential debate, or a few too many new-home developments in ye olde housing market, these jewels won’t come back to haunt you. Wear them, love them. They want you to.
Bio: Christina Adams enjoys sparkly things in Orange County, California. She’s the author of A Real Boy: A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention and Recovery (Penguin). Her recent engagement is featured in the Fall issue of The Autism File Magazine. www.christinaadamswriter.com
LA-Story.com thanks Christina Adams and her fiancee Tony for going the distance and foregoing the debates to check out this ephemeral jewelry line. Sounds like they were the winners in the debate (not the red or blue people). They definitely won because not only did they see fabulous, fantastical jewelry, they got to see it in a glorious location and got great nibbles as well. (we are even more jealous!)
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