Gorgeous blogger Becky Stone of Diamonds in the Library included this necklace in her recent roundup of feminist jewelry. But what really delighted me was that she went beyond highlighting the individual piece to point out the underlying theme of my entire line, writing:
“When it comes to fine jewelry, few designers are representing the feminist agenda more thoroughly than Wendy Brandes.
Her ‘BOSSY’ and ‘NASTY’ necklaces come to mind first, but if you look through Wendy’s website, you’ll see that the majority of her high end pieces are inspired by great women of the past, and her entire ‘Maneater’ collection is dedicated to the idea of powerful women. Then there are all of her delightfully irreverent emoji studs, which can be worn in any number of ways.
Purchase of the BOSSY or NASTY necklaces also gets you a donation to Planned Parenthood in your honor.”
I’ve always written about how my jewelry is inspired by powerful women, but it’s still gratifying when a jewelry expert like Becky peruses the line and puts the concept into her own words. Becky also captured another reason I love representing women in jewelry when she wrote, more generally:
“I love feminist jewelry because there’s something deliciously subversive about taking an item that’s ostensibly intended to adorn women, something delicate and pretty, and turn it on its side as an expression of defiance and strength instead.”
To me, a bonus of creating this kind of piece with precious metals — gold, platinum, and silver — is that fine jewelry can last for millennia. My Hathor ring and earrings are direct descendants of the ancient Egyptian swivel rings I like to visit in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
And the satin finish on all my 18K gold pieces is a tribute to the patina of surviving Roman jewelry.
Of course, jewelry connects us to our more recent history too, as illustrated by the Twitter account @i_wore_hers, which reposted tweets about what women wore to vote for the first female presidential candidate on November 8. Grandma’s pearls, mother-in-law’s bracelet, daughter’s necklace, mom’s ring. All varieties of female relationships were represented, mostly through jewelry — though I must give a special shout-out to the woman who wrote, “My grandma voted for Trump. To spite her, I wore her sweater when I was casting my vote for Hillary.”
It’s obvious that jewelry with meaning — especially fine jewelry with meaning, especially fine jewelry that rises to the level of wearable art — doesn’t end up in a landfill like a two-year-old iPhone. When the materials used are inherently valuable, you will pass that jewelry along to your daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, daughter-in-law, goddaughter, niece, or dear friend. Those people then pass it along until, maybe, ultimately, it winds up in a museum, just like the Roman and Egyptian pieces that millions of people are able to enjoy. Jewels are for the ages, as Elizabeth Taylor, a great collector, knew well. She wrote of her jewelry: “I’m here to take care of it and to love it, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty.” Therefore, if there’s a jewelry design — mine or anyone else’s — that speaks to you, pay no heed to that internalized, sexist buyer’s guilt that tells you that anything beautiful created specifically for a woman is somehow silly compared to a supposedly “manly” (but really unisex!) purchase, like the latest smartphone or a certain type of car. While those latter purchases might necessary for day-to-day life, they’re still destined for the scrapheap. Jewelry, though — jewelry has a life of its own.