Love at first bling

Buying jewelry is a lot like eating ice cream: it is a decadent joy.  You don’t need it but you desire it. Once you have it, you still want more of it. But although it is never fattening (sigh, sigh, sigh…) it obviously will never be as inexpensive as my favorite dessert. No, not even in my wildest dreams.

The good news is, you can dream on and, from time to time, even succumb to your whim. I define maturity in shopping as gracefully knowing, and accepting, that you do not always have to have everything you want. But in the same breath it is also in knowing exactly when to bend so you don’t break, when you can splurge and be totally at peace with it. Yes, every once in a while you are allowed to guiltlessly pamper and reward yourself.

For me that happens when, instead of purchasing many little items throughout the year that I “kinda love,” I wait until I find that one certain something that stops at nothing to take my breath away. I know when that happens because that one something will have my name written all over it, it will make my heart skip a beat, and it will be nothing short of love at first sight.

Almost always, jewelry seals the deal for me. Over a great bag, fantastic shoes, or a handful of dreamy dresses, I would rather spend good money on jewelry. That is a no-brainer for me. If I like a really beautiful designer bag (and there are many out there) the one thought that stops me from buying it is knowing that the same amount can already get me a beautiful piece of art that I can wear — on my finger, around my neck, on my earlobes.

Fortunately, these are exciting times and gone are the days when jewelry was all about diamonds and pearls. There is a kaleidoscope of other gemstones out there to adore, each one just as beautiful as the next. With romantic names that roll around the tongue like velvety candy, they are called such lovely things as rose quartz, morganite, chalcedony, tsavorite, moonstone — aside of course from the iconic emerald, ruby, sapphire. They do sound very much like sparkly, sexy stars.

I have yet to meet a gemstone I did not like. Even my birthstone, the turquoise, which I once upon a time thought was far from pretty, I now love. I love it so much I wear it often and much — from the small oval turquoise earrings simply bordered with tiny diamonds given by mommy when I was in elementary, to the large carved turquoise flowers that covers my earlobes unrepentantly — I find myself wearing them every chance I get.

My maternal grandmother, Lola Carmen, was a jeweler and she passed on her love of jewels to all four daughters (my mom was the youngest girl). When I was around seven years old (my daughter’s age now) Mommy started to allow me to tinker with her jewelry boxes — under her supervision, of course. She would open the vault and patiently tolerate and feed my curiosity as I made friends with stones whose names I was too fascinated to ever forget, touching them with my little fingers, hardly being able to wait until I was big enough to also wear them.

Mommy was a clotheshorse, too, and she always wore jewelry, changing the set (back then most everything came in a set) depending on the color and style of dress she was wearing. Lola Carmen, on a different level, was that way as well. Even when she was already sickly (she was a naughty diabetic, always sneaking in a bar or two of chocolate and hiding them in her bag or under her pillow) and was too tired to leave the house, she still wore earrings, rings, and lots of bracelets with her colorful muumuus. Every day after lunch she would watch Santa Barbara and after that, The Bold and the Beautiful, her fine white hair either combed back in a low ponytail or just hanging loose, and when her mahjong friends would come she would put on lipstick from Revlon in a shade called Wine With Everything. I loved watching her touch the chubby mahjong blocks, several rings piled together casually on a finger, and on her delicate arms bangles and bracelets that tinkled and clinked with every little movement. She would mix white gold with yellow gold, chunky with dainty. She did not conform to any rules; she made her own.

I guess that should be the way with gems and the countless beautiful designs they can possibly take on. Their obvious beauty should not amaze too much that it intimidates and stops you from wearing them the way you want to, when you want to. We all should just have fun with it.

There will always be “it” bags and shoes but I think having fine pieces that are truly special to you will transcend time and trends.  Jewelry has a solid charm all its own — you can wear it no matter how old you are, whether you’re fat or thin, happy or sad, feeling pretty or caught in a bad hair day, at home or in the grandest party in town.

My love affair with jewelry shows no sign of tapering off, not that it should or that I want it to. As you grow older (and wiser, hopefully), the facets of your personal style just become more defined. You already know what you want and don’t want. You know what you will and will not wear. You don’t buy to impress others; you buy to please yourself. That others agree with your choice should just be incidental. You learn to wear jewelry unapologetically, every day if you want to. And like my Lola Carmen, even if you are just home.  Yes, you learn to wear it primarily for yourself, not simply for others to gawk at. That is the way it should be.

Somewhere in this page are some of the most breathtaking pieces of fine jewelry you will ever see. They are contemporary beauties destined to make you melt and surrender, each piece a testament to how much local talent we have. All are original designs from the women of Jul B. Dizon Jewellery Salon — Jul, Candy, Janina, Lucille, Ginny. They are a family of award-winning jewelry designers.  Incidentally, this month they are celebrating 30 years of making sparkly, beautiful things. If you think about it, that is a long time to stay beautiful and, on top, proof perhaps of the fact that they must be doing something right.

The late great fashion designer Joe Salazar made clothes so well you could wear them inside out. It is not very often that the same can be said of fine jewelry, if that is at all possible. I love that each Jul B. Dizon piece is always wonderfully and beautifully made — a marriage of good taste, great design, and impeccable workmanship.  I often say that if money grew on trees I would go to their salon at Edsa Shangri-La or The Pen and buy something I really, really love, every single month of the year.

Sometimes you step through their doors and immediately fall in love at first sight with an item you see on their velvet-lined showcase. Or you may want a certain piece tweaked a little here and there, in which case custom-made is the way to go. Other pieces either grow on you or come alive the moment you try them on.  Regardless of your choice, you are bound to end up with something that you can marry with your favorite look, your personal style.

There is a distinct look to their jewelry, a trademark so subtle it is almost an afterthought. Maybe it is in the way they use and combine colored gemstones, or how they ground modern elements with classic touches. It could also be that little detail that is beautifully off-kilter, whimsical even. There is always something unexpected happening somewhere, a pleasant surprise waiting to be appreciated.

I guess therein lies their strength. Their design aesthetic effortlessly merges with one’s tastes, resulting in a piece that flatters in a most personal way. Oh, the joy that a truly beautiful thing brings!

Buying your own jewelry can be empowering. You learn quite a few things about yourself, such as why your heart beats for this one piece when all the fashion magazines say the other is more “in,” or why sometimes you are willing to wait and other times just wonderfully impulsive. At the end of it all, when buying jewelry, it should simply be about you.

About how it makes you feel.

About how you will want to keep it forever to pass on to your children.

It is about how it won’t make you sleep at night.

It is about the joy of finally taking it home with you, where you feel it belongs.

It is all about celebrating the choices you’ve learned to make.

The designer does all the work. Your personal style gets all the credit. That is a pretty lopsided deal that ain’t so bad at all. And for sure the talented women of Jul B. will not mind. They are there to make you shine.

They say that bliss is as fleeting as a raindrop. But sometimes bliss is very simply the ring on your finger, the pendant hanging serenely on the hollow of your neck, the very pretty brooch resting comfortably on the lapel of your blouse. Yes, admittedly and very easily, bliss can be found in the Jul B. Dizon Jewellery Salon.

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Call Jul B. Dizon Jewellery Salon, located at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, and The Peninsula Manila, at 634-7448 / 633-6553 / 886-4638.

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