I’m definitely NOT feeling the love today, which is good, because it’s time for an anti-Valentine’s Day choice for my Valentine’s Day/anti-Valentine’s Day jewelry gift-guide countdown.
I’ve got a few suggestions today, starting with my GTFOH necklace.
GTFOH is what I thought when someone pointed out this Louis Vuitton hashtag earring to me last night.
Whenever I see some big brand selling hashtag jewelry — or some smaller brand getting glowing press for its hashtag designs — I have a flashback to July 2011, when Elle.com wrote about my hashtag ring.
I’m normally appreciative of any hard-won press, but this time … #nah. The Elle piece read [bold emphasis mine]:
“The ring’s ‘designed’ by journalist turned jewelry designer Wendy Brandes and it’s called the Hashtag# (yes, there’s really a “#” at the end a la DSquared2) and it retails for $115.”
The writer put sarcastic quotes around the word “designed”! Because when I do something, it’s not a design at all! It’s just something found in nature, I guess. Of course, that all-natural discovery happens to come in my choice of a specific jewelry category, made in sterling silver, in a carefully-considered-and-tested-for-comfort size and introduced at a specific time of growth in hashtag use.
By the way, I never called it a “Hashtag#” ring. I suppose that was the doing of my then-publicists, who were also the cause of this snarky sentence:
“A press release hails ‘the perfect statement piece’ as the best way to get in on the social media phenomenon enjoyed by celebrities like ‘Ashton Kushner’ (their spelling).”
Obviously, I was livid over the misspelling of Ashton Kutcher‘s name. I hadn’t seen the pitch, which was what it was, rather than a proper press release. Sometimes publicists send formal press releases to the world. Other times, they send out more casual, copied-and-pasted emailed pitches to their best contacts, probably because they need something to keep the intern busy in the morning. This was one of the latter. The very apologetic publicists said there were too many of those run-of-the-mill pitches for me to edit them all, but I insisted on editing everything from that point on until I stopped working with that firm. Based on this experience, I plan to keep editing things done in my name until the day I hire someone who has editorial experience to rival my own. When I can afford that person, I’ll delegate. Until then, I’ll make the time.
The gorgeous Hillary Hayward pointed out the Louis Vuitton hashtag to me yesterday. People often point out hashtag jewelry to me, because they know I did it a long time ago and they feel like I’ve been ripped off. I want to hug everyone who does that, because it’s so nice! (Thanks, Hillary!) But a hashtag is a hashtag and anyone can do it. I don’t claim ownership of it as a jewelry concept. I never have. Hashtags for everyone! It does, however, grind my gears …
… that retailers turned down my versions in every form, starting when I first introduced the hashtag ring as part of my swear ring set in 2008; made the ring available separately in 2011; and debuted a hashtag earring in 2012. But they were happy to pick up the same designs in crappier material from cheap wholesalers years later! Meanwhile, my press coverage included the sarcastic-quotes item above. Even the much-nicer Fashionista.com piece stemming from the same press pitch said, “As much as we hate to admit it, we think this ring is awesome.” If only I could go back in time and say, “No need for shame, kind Fashionista peeps! Someday Louis Vuitton will make hashtag jewelry too and it will all be okay!”
Apparently — judging from the wording on the item and the photo, though it doesn’t say it clearly — the Vuitton hashtag is a single earring. Vuitton is charging $225 for gold-colored brass costume jewelry. My made-in-New-York, sterling-silver hashtag earring is available as a single for $35, and as a pair for $70. I haven’t changed that price since 2012.
If you want to custom-order the hashtag stud in gold-plated silver, it will cost $50 for a single. Email me at info at wendybrandes dot com. If you want to custom-order a hashtag earring in 18K gold — your choice of yellow, rose or white gold — it will cost the same as all my other 18K gold single studs: $225. In other words, the same as Vuitton’s brass.
I see that Vuitton has an at sign and ampersand stud as well as letters. I’ve got those earrings too. Same prices as the hashtag. I’ve also got everything except the ampersand (which, again, you can custom order) available as big-ass sterling-silver rings.
Single punctuation and letter rings range from $55 to $220, depending on how much metal is used and where they are made. Still less expensive than that brass Vuitton stud. Save money — and prevent your fingers from turning green — by coming to me for all your hashtag fine-jewelry needs! And thanks for letting me vent. I feel #MuchBetter.