Accessories Of Dress - Jewelry
( Originally Published 1924 )
It is always pathetic to see a woman loaded with jeweled ornaments. As some one says, a woman who decks herself with jewels, regardless of art, is vulgar enough to quarrel with her cook. A brooch or any decoration which detracts interest from the wearer is defeating the first intention of decoration. Many women who are sensitively artistic in their dress and can financially afford it have their jewels especially designed, so that in form and effect they will enhance the line of costume and give individual grace to the woman.
Beads are not merely evidence of lingering traits of barbarism; sometimes they are really artistic. If a costume is dull and stupid and uninteresting, a string of beads of contrasting color will give accent and interest to the costume.
With the bead craze came the acceptance and appreciation of semiprecious stones, and those who hammer and polish and puncture metals into hand-wrought designs have had much to do with the growing appreciation of these stones. Twenty years ago in Albuquerque, the hungry Indians who bartered at kitchen doors would exchange a colorful turquoise matrix from the not-far-distant New Mexico mines for an orange. One day on the train from El Paso to Alberquerque, a Priest held out for the view of his companion a handful of opals which glimmered like captured moonshine. Some of the stones dropped on the floor of the car but were disregarded, as pebbles might have been.
The length of the strand of beads may, however, ruin all the good it was designed to accomplish. A very long strand gives length and rhythm to the movement of the figure, but the short woman who wears a very long strand will find that it is not flattering. The woman with a full bust should wear a pendant of long slender design with the cord long enough to bring the point where it is attached a little below her breast. Stout women should never wear beads which are not sufficiently weighted by an ornament to make a point at the bottom. The choker effects in large round beads are most trying, and few can wear them effectively. The color of the beads is a more important consideration than the line, but both can make or mar a picture.
Strings of pearls enhance a soft, lacy costume, or by their luster and contrast give distinction to a black satin gown. They have the same result on velvet, but should never be worn with gingham, or tweeds, or serge.
A topaz necklace worn with a brown costume will awaken its somberness, especially if the stones are cut with many facets to give out sparkling lights. But better than a string of topaz is a long pear-like pendant, with a few sparkling diamonds where it is attached to the cord. The pendant idea is one which the woman of subtlety and restraint should use. It gives that feeling which Worth, the famed designer, had in mind when he invested the money left by his daughter's grandmother in one perfect, flawless emerald.
Coral is lovely with soft gray. Sets consisting of earrings, brooch, bracelet, and beads give to demure gray the warmth which some personalities need to lift them from a dreary plane of obscurity.
Amethysts cut in squares of diminishing sizes may be set in large hoop earrings, with brooch and ring set in this same manner. How lovely for a real lady ! Grandmother, in her soft gown of blonde lace over natural color silk, could give a royal setting for the richness of amethysts. These jewels are not good with black or any but the most neutral colors.
A strand of cut jet beads alternating with crystal will relieve a dull black dress and give accent to a white costume, but they should never be worn with red or blue.
A pendant or even a strand of crystal will give to one's costume the scintillating light of diamonds, but with less harshness than the more costly stones. An evening frock of yellow chiffon with touches of silver could be made quite fascinating by a strand of crystal beads.
Mounted in platinum or in pierced white gold, the bloodstone, that stone of clear deep red which occurs as occasional spots in dark green jasper, may give the effective touches of color so needed to lighten up a rather severe out-of-door costume.
The limpid aquamarine is a sea-blue or sea-green variety of precious beryl. This stone is suitable for afternoon wear, giving the effect of a rare gem. The aquamarines may be used for more formal wear when they are combined with pearls and diamonds, emeralds and sapphires, in necklaces, earrings, finger rings, brooches, corsage ornaments, or fan decorations.
The deep greenish blue of lapis lazuli lends a brighter note to the somberness of navy blue.
Jade beads with a golden brown costume are similar in value but so contrasted in hue that the accented note is most pleasing. "This is a rather cold world!" is the reaction.
Red beads cheer, but, unfortunately, inebriate as well. Certain people, usually dignified and sane, can be metamorphosed by them into almost commonplace-looking individuals. It is far more distinctive to wear one large ruby—not necessarily one of the crown jewels of Russia, but a piece of dexterously cut glass. Then surround it with dull green gold; beneath it attach a tassel of the same dull green, and wear it fastened to a slender black cord. Behold the effect ! Color, interest, every-thing the red beads could give are there, but gone is the vulgarity.
Sapphires are as inscrutable as an Indian swami. Their beauty of color is held in a depth of tone that is almost black. Their blue is intense, but so dark as to seem almost lifeless. Unlike the ruby red stones they are not at their best when isolated. Strands of garnets, strands of sapphires—these two stones must be used in groups, but never as brilliant focuses of color such as the ruby or topaz.
A strand of carved sandalwood with a large oblong pendant will give just the right note of color to a knitted sports dress of brown. Precious stones, of course, are never worn with sports clothes, but certain beads can not be included in the category of jewelry any more than the colored strappings on shoes.
Beads may have a transition mission. A gray-haired woman was wearing a pearl gray costume, with shoes, hosiery, and gloves to match. She had on a hat of orchid-color faced in flesh, the top trimmed with pansies of purple and lavender. Around her neck she wore a long strand of amethyst beads sparkling and exquisite. See how the beads blended the hat and costume, giving them balance and harmony ! The amethyst beads were really necessary to the costume, and, because of that, were artistic.
A costume of dull black crêpe worn with a black hat needed something to give life to the appearance of a rather worn looking woman. A bit of sparkle was introduced. Earrings of jet with a little cut steel began a series of sparkles which was harmoniously carried out from top to toe. A strand of jet and crystal beads ; a long knitted handbag—the slenderizing type—with a cut steel chain and embroidered design of cut steel beads; cut steel buckles on the shoes completed the costume. The sparkles became a decoration, because they satisfied a need. They gave animation to the costume and, by their repetition, a feeling of rhythm, and thereby was the wearer enlivened and made interesting.
Often do people compare earrings with the nose-rings of barbarians, but surely earrings can not cause the inconvenience which would follow an ornament in the nose. The former practise of piercing the ears is no longer followed, but a screw sufficiently tight to hold the earring on the ear is used instead. If the ornament is heavy, there is a strain on the lobe of the ear; hence, some makers of earrings sometimes use a curved wire to fit over the ear. This is not so satisfactory because it does not remain in place, and an earring askew gives one an intoxicated appearance.
As with all other jewelry, the earring must add to the picture or give an attractive note without which the harmony would be incomplete. Since harmonious dressing consists of no useless appendages which look as if they did not "really belong," earrings, in order to add a distinctive note, must be just right in color, form, and material. While pearl button earrings, pendants, or hoops may be worn with other jewels, it would not be wise to wear Chinese amber beads with amethyst earrings. Lapis pendant earrings will help to awaken a monochromatic dark gray outfit. Amber, especially if highly polished so that it catches and reflects golden lights, will set a dark brown ensemble to glimmering. Light gray with amethysts, shiny jet with dull black, coral with tan, turquoise with sea-green—one can vision many delightful combinations of color which can be acquired by the right earrings.
One's style of hair-dressing, the shape of her face, the length of her neck, and the width of her shoulders should determine the design of her earrings. Circles increase the appearance of roundness, so the woman with a plump face should avoid all round designs. The placing of the button earring near the face on the ear lobe will make the face look more slender than when it is placed as far from the face as possible. The line of the neck can be lengthened or curved according to the length of the pendant earring. Long earrings should never be worn with an uptilted nose.
With the adoption of sleeveless dresses for afternoon as well as evening, came a call for bracelets to be worn on upper arm or wrist. How varied they are! Strands of pearls to be wrapped round the wrist; onyx armlets to be worn above the elbow; delicate glass bracelets with twisted strands of light inside their crystal, green and gold, or blue and gold, or molten red,
The wrist-watch is worn as a bracelet, too, often with much artistry. The tiny silver, white gold, or platinum watch (an elderly woman should always choose one of these metals) may be held to the wrist by a circlet of ribbon of black or gray or a harmonious metal mesh-strap. The black makes the wrist appear smaller and gives a touch of contrast, which may be very good with an indeterminate costume. Gold watches are worn more for utility than as decoration. A metal ribbon or a gold mesh-strap holds them to the wrist, but a leather strap should be worn with a silver watch for sports wear. There are jeweled watches so tiny that they may be worn either as bracelets or metamorphosed to a ring or pendant.
When wearing evening dress one should be sure that the wrist-watch blends decoratively with the costume.
The shoe buckle is often an heirloom, and so is somewhat of an aristocrat among ornaments.
Buckles are made of nickel, gun-metal, oxidized silver, or wood or leather. The latter when worn to accompany a tailored skirt or coat dress are rather jaunty and novel. Cut steel buckles, round or square, large or small, may be worn on patent leather or on the dull kid shoe which harmonizes with a costume of rich fabric. Rhinestones set in silver, diamonds in platinum or white gold, give an air of richness to one's evening shoes; these buckles are rather small. Silver buckles, slenderly oval and delicately carved, may add a note of luxury to a dark brown suède or black kid slipper.
Even the sports costume may demand a buckle, if the shoe is a sandal. The broad ankle strap fastened at one side may have a brass saddle buckle !
Individuality governs the choice of jewelry more than any other part of women's dress. It shows a woman's "fineness of soul."
In Saint John's visioned city of Revelations—jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, topaz, amethyst were the chosen jewels. These and other semiprecious stones may emphasize beauty, character, art, and expression. One's love of color may find its complement in the combination of stones. A woman may not choose to adorn herself with multicolored fabrics, but she has no hesitancy in awakening a costume with the vividness of jade, amber, or amethyst.
But when a woman selects her necklace, she should first of all make an inventory of her personality, her complexion, hair, height, width of shoulders, length of nose, and, above all, her temperament ! The necklace should increase her present charm by emphasizing its best points.
A pretty, butterfly woman would lose her diminutive charm by wearing anything but light and delicate jewelry. A woman whose shoulders are narrow. should not wear a heavy necklace.
Nearly all stones give increased life to one's personality. However, a woman no longer young chooses, not the sparkling scintillant stones, but onyx and pearls and amethysts; she may also wear sapphires and pale coral.
Bizarre designs and color combinations are for the statuesque in build or for those whose picturesqueness is inclined to be somewhat theatrical.
Clothes must be neutral in tone and simple in line if striking jewelry is worn.