Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Better Late Than Never...

Wow!  It's 2011.  What's even more amazing is that we're over halfway through January 2011.  I've been quite busy over here, which explains the lack of blogging on my end.  December was a mad rush of trunk shows and traveling, filling last minute orders, and scrambling to get my Spring line ready.  I managed to do it all, and I even launched the new  Many more exciting things are in the works too!

At the beginning of December, I flew out to LA to do a few trunk shows at the Nordstrom stores in Santa Monica, Topanga, and Fashion Island.  It was great to be in the stores and talk to customers face to face, although I'm not going to lie - it was also nice to get out of the mad rush that is NYC before the holidays.  LA was so warm and sunny, and I met up with an old high school friend, who took me to some cool spots.  I also filled up on Mexican food, which is soooo amazing out there.  It's funny - I grew up in Texas and couldn't have cared less about Mexican food until I moved to NYC and suddenly no longer had it at my fingertips.  Now I crave Mexican like nobody's business.  I pretty much ate my way through all the Mexican restaurants in LA.

I came back to NYC, did a few more trunk shows, and filled last minute orders before heading to my parents' house in North Carolina.  It was so nice to have a break - well, a small one, at least.  I spent a lot of time at home designing.  It's the only chance I get to step back and focus only on being creative.

I'll have my Spring 2011 line up on the site before too long - I'm really excited about it, and I'll give you a sneak peek here:

Malé Drop Earrings

Jaipur Collar Necklace

Palm Spring Cuff

I also launched a collection of beaded clutch bags, which I'm super excited about!!  More about those soon.

Here's to a great 2011!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I Did This Fall

Fall is not over yet, but for some reason my brain thinks so.  My mind divides the year into only 2 seasons: summer and winter.  I often feel like everything after September is winter, or at least if the temperature is below 50, my body interprets it that way.   It must be the Texas girl in me that didn't grow up with a distinct fall (in Texas, 50 degrees is winter, you see...).

What I'm trying to get at, is the title for this post isn't that a propos, since we're in the middle of fall (and I'm still doing things in fall).  However, what I did at the beginning of fall seems so far away now- as if it took place in a completely different season.  Enough with the talking in circles, and I'll just show you. 

carefree clouds over the desert
 juniper tree overlooking the desert
 The Courthouse Towers - Arches National Park
 Window Arch at sunset - Arches National Park
 Double "O" Arch - Arches National Park
 Delicate Arch - Arches National Park
 a juniper tree - maybe thousands of years old
Monument Valley

I went to the desert.  
When I graduated from high school, my best friend and I convinced our parents to let us drive out west.  We wanted to take a real road trip, the kind that Jack Kerouac wrote about.  It was on that trip that I experienced the desert for the first time, and it made a huge impression on me.  Northern Arizona, and the Grand Canyon in particular, pulled at me with a yearning I have not felt since, and made me promise to return again soon.  

On this trip, a friend and I meandered through Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, in an area of unparalleled beauty known as the Colorado Plateau.  This whole area at one time millions of years ago was covered by an ocean, which gradually receded, leaving salt deposits.  Throughout the next few million years, sand blown from the west alternately layered on top of red soil draining down from the Rocky Mountains, to form the striped rock layers seen there today.  Wind erosion has caused a lot of the rocks to form natural arches and other amazing formations.  We saw such formations at Arches National Park and Canyonlands Nation Park, which are both outside of Moab, Utah.  It's impossible to convey the grandeur of these massive monuments through a photograph; somehow, pictures can't do it justice.  It's one of the most amazing places I've been.

Later we drove through the desert on our way to the Grand Canyon.  There is something very peaceful and serene in driving through such infinitely open spaces, bordered by a sky of the deepest blue and plateaus of rusty vermillion.  In a space so wide, you'd think the whole landscape would be laid out bare before you, unable to hide any aspect of its being, yet around each bend in the road, the scenery will change quite dramatically and very unexpectedly.  There is always another perspective offered to you, each one more intriguing than the next.  It's amazing how each slightly different angle can change what is observed by such a drastic degree.  This was especially true as we drove further south through Utah and into Monument Valley, on towards Kanab, Utah, where we stayed the night.

My friend had never been to The Grand Canyon, and I think it's something everyone should experience, so we had to go.  We got up at 5am the next morning to drive to the North Rim in time to see the sunrise over the canyon.  I had not seen a sunrise anywhere in such a long time, but to experience it in such an awe-inspiring location was magical.  When the sun rises, it's as if its rays start to paint a rainbow over each layer of rock in the canyon.  Nothing but stillness and quiet prevail, and an overwhelming sense of peace and gratitude take over.  I felt like being there restored my sense of well-being and centeredness.  Suddenly none of the things that seem so important in "normal" daily life seemed to matter.  I was able to find contentment in just being.

sunrise over the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Later we went on a ten mile hike along the edge of the North Rim and came to a beautiful look out point, where we could see so many layers of the canyon.  I wanted so badly to abandon our schedule and just hike further and further inside it.  I can't come close to describing the effect this part of the world has on me - it's like no where else I have ever been.
Grand Canyon North Rim

We had to get back on the road, and I think my favorite part of the trip is the drive from the North Rim to the South Rim.  Right outside of the North Rim, driving through Navajo land, the sky is vast and blue.  Red cliffs frame the landscape, and blond desert brush paints the ground.  There are small canyons, and huge rocks near a place called Cliff Dwellers, where people built houses in the sides of the boulders.  

Cliff Dwellers, Arizona

After driving about 4 hours, we made it to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in time for sunset.

Grand Canyon South Rim right before sunset

After watching a great sunset, our time in the desert was over.  I didn't want to leave, but I promised I'd be back again very soon.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wear What Makes You Happy

I was at Henri Bendel for a trunk show this past weekend, where I got to meet a lot of new customers and hear feedback about Suzanna Dai.  Many of the women I met were visiting New York from places like Seattle or Florida.  They seemed to fall in love with the jewelry but expressed a hesitation to wear it.  I heard so many reasons why they couldn't wear it, based on insecurities and fear of what others would think.  Yet they kept coming back to admire it.  After hearing all of this, I decided it's important to address these concerns and give reasons why these fears are unfounded.

Concern #1 -
One of the things I heard went something like this: "It's so beautiful, but I'm from such-and-such a city, and no one wears things like this there.  People would think I'm crazy if I wore this, or they'd say, 'who does she think she is?'"

Refutation of Concern #1 -
It doesn't matter what other people think!  If you like something, that's all that matters.  You should hold your head up high knowing that you look amazing wearing something you love.  Do you think people that got anywhere significant in life, or bothered to chase their dreams, spent so much time worrying about what other people thought?  NO.  Why?  Because it doesn't matter.  Also, because they were too busy trying to make their dreams a reality.  The only thing you should focus on is what will make you happy.  Life is hard enough without having to worry about other people.  Chances are they're more worried about what you will think of them.  If everyone stopped worrying so much about what everyone else thought, there'd be a lot more happy people in the world.  So forget about other people and do what makes you happy, even if it means wearing your Suzanna Dai to run laps around the track (just to clarify, this is not a suggestion).

Concern #2 -
I also heard this from a few people: "oh, it's so beautiful, but it's too fancy.  I'd have to have an event to wear it to, with a ball gown and everything..."

Refutation of Concern #2 -
Ok, first of all, where have you been the past 10 years??  There's been a revolution in fashion, and the new rules are, there are no rules!  You don't have to wear a fancy dress with a fancy piece of jewelry - that's the old way.  The new way is to mix high with low, fancy with casual - add a twist of the unexpected.  Make your own rules, and then break them, but only if you feel like it.  I often wear my Suzanna Dai with jeans and a t-shirt or tank top, and a jacket.  It's a way to transform a casual outfit into something less casual, without going totally over the top.  I also sometimes wear it with a simple black sheath dress. Think Breakfast At Tiffany's - classic, with a modern twist.  Suzanna Dai doesn't have to be held for a special occasion - if it makes you feel special, that is occasion enough!

Concern #3 -
Another thing I heard was: "This jewelry would draw too much attention to me.  I don't want people to look at me that much, and I don't want to draw attention to myself."

Refutation of Concern #3 -
I think this fear stems more from a confusion about drawing negative attention versus positive attention to yourself.  Usually if you wear something beautiful, you will draw positive attention to yourself and get lots of compliments - and who doesn't like compliments?  This is a good thing!  Drawing negative attention to yourself, on the other hand, might result from mixing lime green and yellow polka dot pants with a pastel floral blouse.  If this makes you happy, by all means, do it, but I think you catch my drift...  The only way you could draw negative attention to yourself by wearing Suzanna Dai is if you wore too much of it.  That's easy to remedy - remember to keep it simple.  If you're going to wear a big necklace, go light on the other accessories by pairing it with small stud earrings, and keeping everything else clean.  You can pair a big cuff with some big earrings, but don't mix in a big necklace too - it becomes overwhelming and starts to look cluttered.  If you still don't want any attention, even if it's positive, try a pair of button earrings, such as the Windsor, Copenhagen, or Prussia styles, or a more subdued and muted necklace, like the Saint Petersburg.  I can't promise you won't get any compliments, though.

Windsor Button Earrings

Copenhagen Button Earrings
Prussia Button Earrings

St Petersburg Necklace

I think the main thing is to wear what makes you happy.  Everyone I've talked to who's worn their Suzanna Dai has told me it does just that.  Based on the reactions I got from the women who purchased their Suzanna Dai this weekend, I do believe it's true.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dreamy Hollywood Glam

The last Monday in August, my friend Mondo, who is an amazing make-up artist, and his friend Irving (who does hair) wanted to put together a photo shoot using some of my jewelry and vintage clothing.  It was about 95 degrees that day, and we were all out in the park, dressed for fall weather, futilely trying to stay cool.  Despite the weather, I must say the shots came out pretty great!

The first shot we did used a random collection of pieces from my line, all piled on top of each other, for an over-the-top shot.  Most people aren't going to wear it this way, but it's a really impactful image to see so many detailed pieces right next to each other.  The model is wearing the Paris Cuff in silver, Windsor Cuff, Rouen Cuff, Constantinople Cuff, Barcelona Cuff, Paris Necklace in copper, and Copenhagen Triple Drop Earrings in champagne.

Then they made up one of the models to be a 1930's/1940's vamp.  She is wearing the Copenhagen Petal Drop Earrings.

The next shot has a 1920's look and features the Copenhagen Triple Drop Earrings in champagne, and the Copenhagen Necklace.

The last shot conjures up a feeling of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.  In some of the shots, the model also resembles Joan Crawford.  I think these are my favorite.  She's wearing the Windsor Drop Earrings, Windsor Cuff, and Constantinople Cuff.

We had so much fun dressing them up, and I can't wait to do it again!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


What do you think of when you hear the name "Windsor"?  I think of opulence and English royalty, with a heavy Victorian influence.  It's fitting, then, that the Windsor Collection is named as such.  While I was designing it and picking out the gems in subtly different hues of black diamond, smoky topaz, and dusty mauve, it struck me as something so ornate and delicate - something fit for a queen.

Windsor Necklace

I didn't realize it at the time, but upon later reflection, I discovered that the design of this collection had been influenced by the film "The Young Victoria."  All of the costumes and jewelry in the film were amazingly rich with detail.  I'm also a sucker for the story, since it is, after all, a dramatic and somewhat tragic love story.

As the young heir to the British throne, Victoria was in a fragile position, and many people were trying to sabotage her position and gain power for themselves as the head of the English monarchy.  She couldn't even trust her own mother, whose lover was trying to usurp the throne.  Naturally, she was wary of her many suitors and resisted being pushed into marriage too quickly.

Prince Albert courted her for quite some time.  After several meetings, and much correspondence, the developed a strong friendship.  She finally felt she could trust him, and she proposed to him!  They were married in 1840.  After a happy marriage of 22 years, however, he died suddenly at the age of 42, plunging Victoria into a deep mourning, which lasted for the remainder of her life.  She retreated to the privacy of Windsor Castle and became known as "The Widow of Windsor."

Although a tragic story, it is also a beautiful one.  She found in Albert her soul mate, which is more than most people ever find in a lifetime.  It is a rare thing indeed, to be cherished, much like the Windsor Collection.
Windsor Drop Earrings

Windsor Button Earrings
Windsor Cuff

You can find pieces from the Windsor Collection at Henri Bendel (512 Fifth Avenue, NYC), Scoop NYC (various locations), Nordstrom (Santa Monica), and Sucre (357 Bleecker Street, NYC).

Monday, August 9, 2010


I can't remember when I first found out about a place called the Maldives, but I do remember the effect discovering such a paradise had on me: instant, intense feelings of yearning and strong desire, no - NEED to go there.  I must have been in the travel section of some book store, and stumbled upon a cover photo of a beautiful desert island, with white sand, turquoise waters, azure skies, and a hammock effortlessly strung up between palm trees, swaying lazily in the breeze.  Or maybe I came upon it while doing an internet search.  In any case, once I was aware of it, i knew I MUST one day go.

The Maldives are made up of 26 atolls with over 1000 islands, off the coast of India and Sri Lanka, in the Indian Ocean.  They are very shallow; in fact, 99% of the country is under water.  Many of the islands disappear during high tide, but all of them are beautiful, with pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear water, swaying palm trees, and breath-taking views.

It always seemed like a far away dream, but fast forward to two months ago, and the brilliant idea popped into my head.  I knew I would be going to India, and the Maldives is just a hop, skip, and a jump away, right?  It was the perfect opportunity.  It only took a little persuasion from my Japanese neighbor, who had been there a few years earlier, and the tip from my sister that the islands are actually sinking, to convince me that it was now or never (I am very open to suggestion, especially when travel is involved).   So it was decided, we were going to paradise!

I didn't realize that you have to really want to go to the Maldives to get there.  It's not an easy trip.  There were no direct flights from India, so we had to fly through Sri Lanka, spend the night in the Sri Lankan airport, fly to Male the next morning, and then get on a speedboat for an hour in order to get to our island.  Of course, I thought it was all worth it for the "pot of gold" at the end of the rainbow, but I could tell all this travel was wearing on my parents.  I kept reminding them how amazingly beautiful it would be when we got there, but I had the feeling that, with each delayed flight, they were believing me less and less.  Truthfully, I was having to go overtime to convince myself too.

See, we were supposed to leave Delhi that evening at 7:15pm, arrive in Sri Lanka at 10:40pm, check into our hotel and sleep a few hours, and then leave for Male at 7:30 am the next morning.  Sri Lankan Airlines had other ideas...  Our flight was delayed until about 11pm and did not arrive in Sri Lanka until 2:30am.  We figured it would be pointless to go to a hotel and sleep for at most an hour, so we decided to settle in at the Sri Lankan airport with all the other passengers on lay overs.

They should really think about making that airport a hotel.  Either that, or fix the flight schedules!  Practically the whole place was filled with people camping out, waiting for flights, and it was hard to find an empty row of chairs to use as a makeshift bed.  I think I got at most an hour of sleep that night - probably 30 minutes is more accurate.

Then our flight to Male got cancelled and moved to 11am.  But then that got delayed another hour.  I think we ended up finally leaving the God forsaken Colombo airport at 1pm, and I truly believe it was a miracle.

On the plane, I pushed past my fatigue and started to get excited again.  We were so close!  I got a window seat and had my camera ready for what I anticipated to be amazing photos of the islands on our descent into Male.  Upon my first glimpse of pale turquoise water, I started taking shots.  It was so beautiful!  I couldn't wait to be off this plane and into paradise!!!

a glimpse of a far-off island 

beautiful turquoise water

After claiming our luggage and taking the boat transfer to our hotel, we finally got to our resort.  The room was so nice, and the bathroom was amazing - it was half covered by the thatched roof, and the other half looked up to open skies.

the shower opened right up to the sky

On the back side of our room, there was a small patio, which led to the beach.  I could see the bright turquoise water through the lush tropical greenery and was so excited to rush down and start taking pictures.  The pathway opened to a shallow lagoon, with a few stingrays swimming along the edges.  As far as you could see, everything was turquoise and green, with pops of fuchsia and orange from the tropical flowers.

a view of the lagoon 

I love this pop of pink against the bright green leaves

a sting ray, skimming along the edge of the water, looking for food

There were lots of interesting creatures and plants on our island, and we spent the next morning exploring and taking photos.

coconuts on a palm tree

these lizards were everywhere!

I love these palms!

a little hermit crab

a view of the beach

there were so many hibiscus, I had to put one in my hair

Since it was monsoon season, it was a bit overcast, but that did not make it any less beautiful.  There was usually sun in the morning, and the clouds rolled in around two or three in the afternoon.  

If it did rain, it was still hot, so the rain felt good.  My mother and I spent a lot of time combing the beach for shells and tiny pieces of coral.  It was so nice to be in such a beautiful, relaxing place.  I think all the hassle in getting there was worth it, and I would love to go back.  The last night, I took these pretty photos:

I would love to go back someday, when I have more money and more time!