Category Archives: Jewellery

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get your rocks off at the spring gem expo in toronto!

Here’s the ultimate “rock concert” – if you like gorgeous gems and baubles, then this is the show for you.20180316_144750Big thank you to Salim Moorani, Founder of The Gem Expo, for inviting me to come out to the spring show which opened today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King W in Toronto – show runs tomorrow, Saturday Mar.17th  10am-6pm and Sunday Mar.18th 10am-5pm.  www.thegemexpo.com  Salim greeted me at the door along with his charming wife and daughter (below) and then let me wander the aisles, meeting up with vendors and gem ambassadors.20180316_135028I was pleased to run into the lovely folks from Sonatona Natural Gemstones & Minerals (below) who I met last year…they’re always ready with a smile and willing to share their extensive knowledge about their precious and semi-precious stones. www.stores.ebay.com/sonatona20180316_140551 20180316_140636Lots of ready made jewellery as well as loose gems for crafters and home bead-makers….20180316_140802 20180316_14081420180316_14131920180316_14103120180316_141910One new vendor I was delighted to meet was Deb from Karibu Beads, featuring hand-made Kazuri Beads from Kenya. The story of these beads is fascinating so I encourage you to visit www.karibubeads.com to learn more. Here are just some of the gorgeous colourful beads I saw….20180316_142719 20180316_142724 20180316_142745The Gem Expo also features some stunning glass work, too, including these giant “crystal balls” and some spooky stone skulls. Groovy, baby!20180316_135155 20180316_135219How about some fossils? Check out these prehistoric shark teeth…yikes!20180316_135320Meet another new vendor, Ryan Desantos of Laya Skye Jewelry (below).  He brings in handcrafted designs from Bali and I particularly liked the amazing “floating” rings that are all sterling silver with a rotating element so you can fiddle away and calm your nerves with them. One of them almost fit…I was soooo tempted. His new website is currently under construction but do check it out next month: www.LayaSkyeJewelry.com20180316_142957 20180316_143403More fabulous bling…..what’s a girl to do?!20180316_143615 20180316_135642 Lots to see and buy so come on down this weekend – most vendors take credit cards and Debit cards/Interac, plus there are cash machines in the hotel.20180316_141521

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GLORIA BASS CELEBRATES SUCCESSFUL TORONTO TRUNK SHOW WITH CELEBRITY VISITORS

Last Sunday & Monday, Montreal-based jewellery designer, GLORIA BASS, welcomed celebrity visitors from the Canadian music industry and theatre, capping off her 2-day Christmas trunk show held in the heart of Toronto’s Yorkville village. She brought her unique designs made from 18kt gold and the finest precious stones and pearls to a special “pop-up” gallery, just in time for Christmas.20161128_125530

2016 Grammy-nominated Canadian flutist and composer RON KORB (above right) dropped in with his wife, Jade (above centre, with Gloria’s assistant Marie-Josée at left), to check out potential red carpet gems for next Spring’s awards season (Ron may be nominated again in 2017). Having been photographed by the world’s entertainment media when they walked this year’s Grammy red carpet in Los Angeles, Jade & Ron know the importance of wearing just the right accessories to make an impact and Gloria’s stunning, unique designs will definitely make an impression.20161128_130350-1 20161128_131255 20161128_131307 IMG_2395-1-sJade tried on some lovely freshwater pearls (above) and listened as Marie-Josée explained the handcrafting process of one particular white gold necklace featuring black Tahitian pearls, diamonds and rubies…wow!

Jade also loved the 18kt gold & diamond necklace (pictured with Gloria, below), part of a special line designed for Canada’s Remembrance Day programme in the form of poppies.20161128_131448-120161127_105054A little later that same day artist, playwright and actor PHILIP CAIRNS (below) dropped in – Philip  has recently been nominated for a Broadway World Theatre Award and was looking for something with which to make a splash at the upcoming ceremony. Marie-Josée showed Philip a number of pieces but he soon spotted a stunning Prasiolite & ruby pendant in 18kt gold that he thought would make a fabulous accessory to his awards tux…and it seems that Gloria thinks so, too!20161128_16061420161128_163210 20161128_163329Several established clients of Gloria’s dropped into the pop-up store located on Yorkville’s Bellair St, and considering the number of sales, me thinkst Santa is gonna need a bigger sleigh this year!

Gloria would like to thank everyone who dropped into her Toronto trunk show and she looks forward to welcoming new clients via her online gallery. If you would like to see more of her beautiful designs and one-of-a-kind handcrafted works, please visit her website: www.gloriabassdesign.com

In the meantime, here are a few more sparkly gems to whet your appetite including my fave earrings (centre pic) featuring Tourmalines and Diamonds in 18kt gold, and the perfectly matched string of delicate pink “ombre” pearls (bottom).banner1 tourmaline and diamonds 2c30e9fd96eba8f2ea2f72188f9cec1d20161128_130451

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DIAMONDS AND EMERALDS AND PEARLS, OH MY! GLORIA BASS BRINGS HER AWARD-WINNING DESIGNS TO YORKVILLE TRUNK SHOW – TODAY IS LAST DAY!

On Sunday Nov. 27th, Montreal-based award-winning Canadian jewellery designer GLORIA BASS launched her 2-day Christmas trunk show at 24 Bellair St in Yorkville, Toronto, and oh my, what wonderful bright sparkly treasures she showcased! Like the stunning Labradorite necklace above, each piece is unique and hand-crafted by Gloria and her goldsmiths so if you’re looking for a little luxury for this year’s festive season (or any season!), please drop in todayMonday Nov. 28th, between 10am and 5pm to experience the ultimate in bling!  Here’s just a little taste of what you’ll see……20161127_10451620161127_10493320161127_10583120161127_10493820161127_104649Gloria only uses the finest quality gemstones sourced from around the world and works in 18kt gold; she also works with exquisite pearls from the south seas, Tahiti and freshwater or cultured pearls from Japan.  You can see more of her innovative designs on her website:  www.gloriabassdesign.com  She also works on commission, as well as custom bridal pieces.20161127_11010520161127_11012120161127_11043020161127_104535As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of pearls and Gloria has created a special “ombre”style design (below) with perfectly matched Tahitian and South Seas pearls….what do you think of these beauties?20161127_110227There are many different pieces featuring South Seas, cultured or fresh water pearls set with precious stones in 18kt gold from which to choose…20161127_11571320161127_105029

20161127_105023You simply MUST come in to see these treasures in person.  You will not find Gloria Bass Design jewellery in any department stores so today is your last chance to view work from one of Canada’s leading designers. Again, 24 Bellair St, Yorkville (close to Bay & Bloor) from 10am until 5pm. Cash, credit card or debit.

Gloria (left) & her assistant Marie-Josee

Gloria (left) & her assistant Marie-Josee

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Amethyst and Tahitian pearls

AWARD-WINNING JEWELLERY DESIGNER GLORIA BASS TO PRESENT CHRISTMAS TRUNK SHOW IN TORONTO

Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Montreal-based, award winning Canadian jewellery designer GLORIA BASS (pictured below R with her assistant Marie-Josee) who was hosting a special 2-day spring trunk show here in Toronto.20160515_133859(0)Her sumptuous big statement necklaces, delicate stacking rings, ballsy bracelets and elegant pieces featuring stunning Tahitian pearls in a rainbow of natural colours captivated my imagination…..I wanted to play dress up: perhaps as a Maharani or a Tsarina, a princess or the queen of the south seas, perhaps? Oh, the feel of the cool gemstones and 18kt gold against my skin transported me to exotic lands as my imagination ran riot!

A glass of chilled champagne and shared laughter soon brought me back down to earth as Gloria told me about her design esthetic, her favourite materials and finest precious gemstones, and how she wanted to personally bring her glorious (no pun intended) jewels back to Toronto’s discerning fashion mavens.20160515_133757 20160515_133746I’m thrilled to announce that we will have another opportunity to experience Gloria’s superb handcrafted designs this November 27 & 28 when she again hosts a special Christmas trunk show in a “pop-up” retail location in the heart of Yorkville.Nov Trunk Show adI asked Gloria if she would kindly share a little of her design philosophy and life story with my readers prior to the big Toronto event so scroll on down to meet Gloria Bass…banner1What first inspired you to take up jewellery design – was your family involved in jewellery or fashion?  No, my family was not in either the fashion or jewellery business but I always enjoyed working with my hands. When I was a teenager, I made my own clothes and did all the handicrafts – knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, etc. Early in my marriage, my husband and I spent two years in Southern California where I took a course in making jewellery. I went on to take private lessons for a short time and fell in love with it.Photo1What was the very first piece you created and sold?  I can’t remember the first piece I created but I do remember the first sale at a gallery!  Upon returning home to Canada, I set up a workshop in my house. When I had produced enough, I went to see someone at the Canadian Guild of Arts in Montreal and an exhibition was mounted for me. I remember coming in to the gallery the day before the show opened and was told that a gentleman had just purchased one of my bracelets. That was enough to send me flying……and then I found out that it was Peter Bronfman!

What are your favourite materials to work with – gold, platinum? And favourite gemstones?  18 karat yellow gold is my favourite material by a long shot! I love the rich colour and the metal responds the best to hand fabrication.Photo (1)My personal favourite gemstone is red! Rubies and red spinels. But I love all coloured stones – even though some are difficult to work with. Diamonds always add the final touch and lately, I work with a lot of different colour fancy diamonds.Ruby fringe with pearlsYou use a lot of Tahitian pearls in your designs – do you think pearls have been given a bad rap (grannies love their pearls) and do you think young women should embrace them like diamonds and other precious stones?  I most certainly do!!!! There are so many types and colours of pearls today. Pearls just light up a face and look good on everyone. I do so many different pieces with them – some very modern and cool!collection-gloria-titillium_15Do you have any favourite designers (current or historical) whose work you admire?  I think the Cartier and Tiffany pieces from the Art Deco period are sensational. That type of craftsmanship is very rare today. I identify with Suzanne Belperron’s esthetic taste. I also like the work of the German house ‘Hemmerle’ as well as de Grisogono for what they do with colour.

You’re coming into Toronto at the end of November for a special 2-day “trunk show” in Yorkville – what new pieces are you creating especially for this show?I’m making an amazing pair of earrings using over 23 carats of sapphires ranging in colour from almost white to yellow to orange. Also, I have a fabulous ring with a 22 carat opal and a pavé of multi-colour stones, a ring with a labradorite scarab, and a lot of pieces with my signature “coil” work. And always….new additions to my endless stacking rings (pictured below)!!s-rWhat trends (or colours) do you see for jewellery and accessories going into 2017?   I don’t follow trends too closely although I think big pieces that make a statement are always on my radar. I will continue to make pieces that are wearable on a daily basis but just not mainstream.Image-1 Pearls_watermelon tourmaline & green diamondsAny advice for young designers looking to go into the jewellery or gold-smithing business?  It’s a tough world out there and there is more competition than ever now. If one has the passion and drive, one can succeed.

Thank you, Gloria.  I encourage you to visit her website to see the beautiful, innovative designs that have become her signature www.gloriabassdesign.com   In the interim, enjoy some of her outstanding work here….. necklacesIMG_7098Even men can wear pearls…as cufflinks (below)MG_01062or opals, too!MG_00412

Gloria makes sure our men look elegant, too.IMG_7311See how women are wearing Gloria’s designs….
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GLORIA BASS DESIGN

Toronto Trunk Show

Sunday November 27th & Monday November 28th

10am to 5pm

24 Bellair St, Yorkville

www.gloriabassdesign.com

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MEET FLO BARON, FASHION STYLIST TO HOLLYWOOD STARS AND NOW TORONTO’S WOMEN OF DISTINCTION!

A couple of months ago, I was pushing my cart up the aisles of my favourite supermarket and kept running into the same lady reaching for the same products. We both laughed “we gotta stop meeting like this…” then began trading nutrition recommendations and handy menu suggestions as we hit the fruit & veggie dept. together. She was delightful and had a wicked sparkle in her eyes. I had just met fashion powerhouse and stylist to some of Hollywood’s great old-school stars, FLO BARON.  bf1b00_fc6f7ba492fd4571b29f6d13d52d74d3-mv2Flo and exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet for tea, and within the week I found myself sitting in her super glamourous Yorkville condo surrounded by artworks collected over many years and her elegant black and white furnishings. Very Busby Berkley, very Flo Baron! Flo not only loves styling women in fashions that compliment and enhance their body shapes, she also offers opportunities to purchased some pretty stunning designer lines from the States. She has an adjoining private “salon” and holds court each week with an exclusive group of clients, putting together their outfits, accessorizing and offering wardrobe tips.20160819_134852I asked Flo to share a little of her background and fashion career and she revealed some wonderful stories and anecdotes that I’d like to share with you here…..

Although her family wasn’t involved in the fashion industry, Flo Baron always knew she was destined for a life surrounded by beauty, design and creativity. As a young girl in Chicago, she dreamt of fabulous fashions and always appreciated the feel and look of fine fabrics. Flo won a scholarship to secretarial school where she excelled but fashion always beckoned, perhaps she would become a model. Her idol was Jinx Falkenburg (pictured below), one of the highest-paid cover-girl models in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.Jinx Faulkenburg In the early 50’s, Flo answered a newspaper ad from a modeling school who wanted someone to teach make-up, personal grooming and dress styling to women going into the corporate sector for the first time (yes, these were pre-Mad Men times). She landed the job and taught hundreds of young women how to present themselves in the most fashionable manner for their 9-5 jobs as well as cocktail parties.

Moving to California with her husband in the mid 50’s, Flo’s life took an exciting turn when she landed a job in the dress shop at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel. She helped style Hollywood’s most glamorous stars of the day including dancer and movie star Cyd Charisse, Dorothy Lamour, Elizabeth Taylor and even Zsa Zsa Gabor who would frequently drop in and demand Flo bring her everything on the racks in her size! “Polly Bergen walked in one day wearing a full length mink coat. She put her arm around me, winked and whispered “I did it all by myself!” What a fabulous lady she was.”bh hotelSome years later, after a brief stint as a production secretary on a popular TV show, Flo became intrigued by interior design and decorating. “I love anything with an artistic value, anything that was created by an idea in somebody’s mind.” So along with a friend, she soon launched a home accessories and bathroom design business. Flo loved intricate fixtures and bathroom furnishings so she soon had every garage mechanic in San Fernando Valley working with her to handcraft her metal bathroom, tabletop and furniture designs. After the successful debut of her line at a Los Angeles trade show, she opened her own factory, hiring a workforce of skilled craftspeople to produce her line which was sold in the US,  Canada and internationally. After 40 successful years, Flo sold that business and in 2005, she moved to Toronto to be closer to her daughter.

Over the past ten years she has developed relationships with a number fashion designers from New York, California and Canada. Flo has brought back these lines with her to share with friends and personal styling clients. Due to her background in fashion, décor and design, Flo has developed a loyal following of clients who look to her for guidance with their clothing choices, as well as purchasing unique and affordable fashions that she personally curates for each client’s wardrobe. “I love helping women discover their true inner beauty and elegance by enhancing their appearance with clothing and accessories that are not only timeless but very affordable.”

20160905_144857 20160905_162628When you visit Flo Baron’s style studio, you will enjoy a personalized wardrobe consultation, and get to try on various fashion pieces and accessories to enhance your own personal style.  Whether you need something casual, a business outfit or an elegant ensemble for that swanky soiree, Flo can put together a head-to-toe look that will make you feel like a million dollars…but with a much more affordable price tag. She has also just launched a “young & chic” division catering to the younger fashion followers and coordinated by her assistant Michelle, seen below assisting another client. 20160905_144916One of Flo’s clients is the Canadian actor, playwright and entrepreneur Nonni Griffin seen below getting the full Flo experience!IMG_20161005_162252 IMG_20161005_161907 IMG_20161005_164509If you want to learn more about this wonderful and talented woman of influence, please visit her website: www.flobaroncollection.com

And check out these gorgeous scarves for fall that just arrived in the salon, as well as some great bling to accessorize your own outfits.20161007_130144 20161007_130610 20161007_130622 20161007_130628 20161007_130637

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Playing hooky mid-week in Port Hope!

Earlier this week, as Toronto sizzled and steamed, my friend Teresa and I played hooky and journeyed the 50 minutes east to the wonderful lakeside town of Port Hope (my fave small town in Ontario).  Over the past couple of years, Port Hope and I have become good friends – the welcoming shopkeepers and cosy cafes, the historic restored Capitol Theatre, the stunning Municipal Building, the charming little beach and the tumbling Ganaraska River have all worked their magic on my soul.

As per usual, our first port of call was a visit to Kenneth Bell – the king of bling, the sultan of sparkle, my go-to guy for all things fabulous! I managed to get Teresa into a tiara, too, so we now have matching crowns!! Below, Teresa meets Kenneth for the first time…a match made in bling heaven! Follow Kenneth-Bell-Fashion-Accessories on Facebook.20160726_120435 20160726_123212 20160726_120517 20160726_122852 20160726_123339Next door to Kenneth’s shop is the always-awesome Queenie’s Bake Shop where we indulged in some deelish lunch sandwiches. Both Teresa and I were so brave – we resisted the incredible giant strudel and cookies on the front counter (sssh, don’t tell Teresa but I snuck home with a couple of their famous butter tarts). Follow Queenies Bake Shop on Facebook.20160726_113232 20160726_113235A littler further up Walton Street we found Bubbles and Gems, another fab fashion house where Teresa found a cute skirt and I found these amazing cushions…something for everyone at 20% off!  www.bubblesandgems.com20160726_130124 20160726_130130 20160726_130148 20160726_130327 20160726_130314 20160726_130501We walked past Holton Flowers who always have fabulous arrangements in the windows…we went inside to find floral heaven!20160726_13244620160726_132434We dropped in quickly to G. Facey’s, another fave fashion store of mine, where Teresa found a few more additions to her wardrobe, then down to the new Joie de Vivre store (below) where Teresa found some sweetly fragranced body creams. The new store is twice as big as the previous location further up the street, and offers a lovely range of goodies for your face, body and mind.  www.joiedevivrearomatherapy.com20160726_134850 20160726_134855One of the new Walton Street shops we found (new to me, anyway) was the Marche 59 cafe and artisan bakery (below) offering organic breads, vegan and gluten-free tasty treats and all sorts of goodies from local producers. Must give ’em a try next time I’m in town. www.marche59.ca20160726_132750 20160726_132754Time to head over to the beach so we made our way down Walton Street, past these beautiful hibiscus pots, along the riverbank to Teresa’s car parked near the Municipal offices….20160726_135057 20160726_144822…then over to the lake (Lake Ontario). Wow, what a lovely glimpse of the beach (below)20160726_14575520160726_145915We even saw a dad teaching his son how to fish…so cute!20160726_150323Thanks again, Port Hope, for your warm welcome – it always feels like coming home for me. See y’all again real soon.20150613_111719

 

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MONTREAL JEWELLERY DESIGNER GLORIA BASS BRINGS STUNNING COLLECTION TO TORONTO POP-UP BOUTIQUE

The other day I received this invitation (below) via email and being located only a few blocks from my home, I decided to visit the pop-up shop in Yorkville and meet fine jewellery designer Gloria Bass. I’m sooooo glad I did!gloria-bass pop upJust extended for one more day, the pop-up is located on the West side of Bellair just past Sassafraz, in the Ritchie Estate Jewellery store at #24, the walls are lined with display cases filled with Gloria’s exquisite jewellery. My photographs don’t do the “wearable art” justice so I borrowed a couple of shots from her website (linked at end of story) – I encourage you to visit online for descriptions of each unique piece, handcrafted with the finest gems and metals (18ct gold) and South Sea pearls of varying sizes and colours. Gloria’s signature filigree gold wire accents and clasps are intricately woven into each piece.20160515_133740 20160515_133746 20160515_133755collection-gloria-titillium_15For over forty years, Ms. Bass has channeled her passion for design and her skills as a goldsmith, to steadily build the reputation of Gloria Bass Design. As the soul of the company, her sensibility can be found in every Gloria Bass Design creation.20160515_133905(0)Based in Montreal, Gloria (above Right, with her charming assistant Marie-Josee, above Left) and her team of highly skilled assistants and craftsmen continue to serve an international clientele. The pieces of jewelry produced in her workshop are the outcome of her curiosity, creative talent and thought. They evoke sensuality and elegance.  The unique Gloria Bass Design style is easily recognized in each stunningly beautiful and quality-made piece of jewelry. The world’s most voluptuous pearls and breathtaking gems are combined with distinctive goldsmithing techniques to become wearable, and at the same time, extremely comfortable pieces of art. Insistence on precision and detail, and the use of the finest materials, ensures superior quality.s-rThe exhibition and sale has been so popular that Gloria is extending the pop-up for another day (Monday May 16) before returning to Montreal, so if you’re in Toronto, please make sure you drop in anytime tomorrow between 10am and 7pm to see the magnificent statement necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and men’s cufflinks. 24 Bellair in Yorkville….and be sure to tell Gloria and Marie-Josee I sent you.      www.gloriabassdesign.com/

 

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KENSINGTON MARKET (TORONTO) – LAST “PEDESTRIAN SUNDAY” OF THE YEAR

Today, the sun was out and so was half of Toronto (it seemed) on the streets of Kensington Market to celebrate the last “pedestrian Sunday” and to support the art fair featuring local artists and craftspeople.20151025_132739My bestie, Erena, and I wandered down Augusta Ave where we saw lots of vendors and all the regular stores were decked out in their finest Halloween decorations. Best place to find groovy costumes for trick-or-treating!20151025_134254 20151025_142559 20151025_142811 20151025_143737Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I was one of the thousands of starving artists, actors or musicians who shopped, dined and partied in Kensington Mkt. This was the first period of vintage clothing crazes Toronto went thru and Kensington was the coolest neighbourhood where all the second hand and vintage togs were affordable….Courage My Love, Exile, Black Market….all my old haunts for buying clothing, shoes, jewellery. Nice to visit and see some of my old fave places still there and thriving. Nice to see the old House of Spice still there although it seems they’re more into incense than actual spices. Used to buy my curry powder there.20151025_143629 20151025_143818 20151025_135110But today was all about the artisans and street performers. We met the delightfully bright and cheery Whitney French (poetrybusker.tumblr.com) who was typing instant custom poetry and prose on her portable typewriter. 20151025_133803 20151025_133800

20151025_133810Before heading over to the art fair, Erena and I just HAD to go grab some Turkish Delight…the best in the city…from a little spice and nut store on Bladwin St. They have THE best rose-flavoured fresh TD (see below)20151025_134633 20151025_134648…and as we walked away I noticed their next door neighbours. Their signage made me laugh – “hustlin’ since 1965″!20151025_134904Round the corner at the art fair, I met the lady at the BB Tresors handmade jewellery booth. I really liked the bracelets which reminded me of the California-based Satya line…but hers were half Satya’s price. Wow.  Check out the Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/bbtresors20151025_140715

20151025_140851 20151025_140725Along the next aisle was a real cute art/ceramics booth (below)20151025_141151…then I met Marcella Valentino of inch x inch. What super cool handcrafted jewellery designs (below). Loved the big pendants made from metal washers or oversized crystals.  www.inchxinchxmv.etsy.com20151025_141411 20151025_141453 20151025_141456One of the artists I had already scoped out online was Ralph Alfonso of BBAM! Gallery in Montreal, a rock’n’roll photographer whose pictures showcase the great bands of the 70s and 80’s and who was himself a music manager (The Diodes). http://www.bbamgallery.com/ Here’s Ralph (below left) surveying the scene.20151025_141912 20151025_141922

20151025_141940Here’s a cool way to light your home. Veggie lamps. Yes, artist Masa Lizdek creates plaster molds of vegetables & fruit, then handcrafts them into stunning porcelain lamps (below) under the designer name Ripe – check ’em out at www.masalizdek.com/artdownload IMG_7165 IMG_7177Erena and I were hungry and thirsty so we went looking for some nibblies…we shoulda grabbed some Rasta Pasta but the line up was too long!20151025_142622And of course, I wanted to ride the pony (below) but couldn’t find an actual pony anywhere!20151025_143018No idea what this was supposed to be (below), but that’s half the fun of Kensington Market – finding all the wacky characters and street art. I thought Lady Gaga had arrived with a giant eyeball or albino boob. I dunno – what do you see?20151025_144827So much to see, hear, smell, taste, touch….I needed a whole month of Sundays but will certainly make another visit soon during the week. Here are a few more photos and a couple of videos I shot – enjoy!20151025_135253 20151025_143625 20151025_134050

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JOIN ME FOR A TRIP TO PORT HOPE

What a beautiful Sunday morning, blue skies, warm sun and the open road ahead of us. My best friend, Erena, picked me up in her fab ’85 Corvette (below) and we headed East to the town of Port Hope, an historical little gem about an hour east of Toronto.

20150517_181323We found Port Hope just like the touristy photos showed us online….quaint, turn-of-the-last-century buildings, a riverside haven for weekend fishermen and people like us seeking to escape the big city noise and pollution. So charming and quaint.

20150517_114641The town really welcomes visitors and this is reflected in their free parking lot behind the municipal offices (below). Tons of space, surrounded by lots of trees and chirping birds.

20150517_113854Our first port of call was a charming little tea room called Queenie’s (the grey building below) where we enjoyed lattes and a light lunch. It was recommended to me by my Facebook friend, Sharon, who knows relatives of the previous owners. Good call, Sharon. It was great.

20150517_114818The girls working there were friendly and offered some suggestions for boutiques to visit. Nothing like a little retail therapy to go with the sunshine, eh? We sat outside and watched the cars drive by – here’s our view…

20150517_121542A couple of doors down from Queenie’s was the fabulous Kenneth Bell bling boutique….I was in sparkle heaven!

20150517_123453 20150517_123501 20150517_123515 20150517_123527Never come between ladies and their bling!  Ken helped Erena and me try on all sorts of necklaces, bracelets, scarves……

20150517_123449 20150517_131450…and the King of Glitz himself let me try on a tiara. I was having a flash-back to one of my favourite episodes of Big Bang Theory when Sheldon presents Amy with a tiara so I was doing my best impression of Amy (below)

20150517_125754Then before I knew it, my bestie did a deal with Ken and…I got my tiara!!

20150517_130648(0)If you visit Port Hope you simply must drop in on Ken – we had so much fun and he’s definitely the town’s #1 goodwill ambassador.  http://kennethbell.com/

Next stop, Engine Gallery.  You may recognize the name as owner Steven Schwartz (pics 2 & 3) used to have an art gallery in Toronto’s Distillery District before moving to Port Hope. What a gorgeous (and very big) space he has there. His colleague, Marilyn, showed us around and I was thrilled to recognize some familiar names and work (incl. Kelly Grace – see earlier blog). The gallery offers stunning large format paintings, modern sculptures and some fun retro images. Check out their collections here: http://enginegallery.ca/

20150517_133504 20150517_133824 20150517_134249 20150517_134355 20150517_134358Our next stop was G. Facey, a grand old-fashioned ladies’ and men’s clothing store that carried high quality designer duds and of course, Miss Erena went to town on the racks. We can always find groovy clothes for her…me, not so much. I really must make an effort to loose this damned weight :>(

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IMG_0115 She shops…she scores! Erena found a ton of cute tops and while she tried them all on, I chatted with Teri-Jo (above at cash register) who told me about the wonderful arts community around Port Hope. This talented lady is also a theatre director so we chatted about potential projects as I wandered around the store…creaky original wooden floors and lots of vintage fixtures…a great located for a “murder-mystery” play perhaps…hmmm?  http://www.gfaceys.com/about/

Just around the corner from G. Facey was the Capitol Theatre, a stunning early 20th century theatre space that presents concerts, plays, all sorts of entertainment. What a treasure. There was an event going on when I stepped inside so I wasn’t able to see inside but I betcha it’s glorious. I found an old B&W vintage picture showing the town and theatre in their heyday…cool, eh?  http://capitoltheatre.com/ 

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th (6)It was soon time to bid aloha to Port Hope…but we’ll be back. We never made it to the beach so next trip, we hit the sand! Yes, there’s a beautiful picturesque beach on Lake Ontario just 5 minutes from the historical old town so…I’m bringing my bikini and sunscreen next time..LOL!  We walked back along the river and found more fishermen casting lines for trout and lots of spring lilac shrubs.

20150517_16420620150517_164422And when I got home, I tried on my new Port Hope tiara and voila…I was a princess!!

Princess2Thanks to all the friendly folks of Port Hope. Erena and I had a wonderful visit and I’m sure we stimulated the local economy a little, too. LOL!

 

 

 

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MEET TORONTO JEWELLERY DESIGNER PAMELA LAUZ

I had the pleasure of visiting one of Toronto’s hottest new jewellery designers, Pamela Lauz, this afternoon at her Carlaw Ave design studio and oh my, I felt like I’d walked into Aladdin’s cave…surrounded by beautiful sparkling gems, pearls, gold, silver, platinum all displayed in a beautiful gallery atmosphere.

20150429_140814I first met Pamela at last year’s Toronto Outdoor Art Show held annually at Nathan Phillips Sq. , when I was drawn to her booth by her delicate and dainty “Acorn” collection of earrings and necklaces. After visiting her online gallery and store, I was blown away by her architecturally influenced collections and range of materials, so when I was invited by Pamela’s sister and business manager, Natalia, to visit the studio I jumped at the chance to interview Pamela while I played “dress up” with some of her gorgeous pieces.

20150429_141049Do you select your own gemstones and how does that process work? Do you have specific stone requirements for completed designs, or do you pick the stone first then design around that gem?
PL: Genuine gems are at the heart of many our designs and I love to personally select each gem. Our custom designs begin with specific gemstones in mind, especially when restyling our clients’ treasured gems. When creating our signature collections, I think of how the gem’s colour and shape will interact with the design in mind – a true marriage of stone and metal.

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IMG_8377Gold, silver, platinum or other metals – what is/are your favourite materials?
PL: Every precious metal has its own wonderful properties and I enjoy working with silver, platinum and 15 different gold alloys.
Silver is a true white metal that allows us to create jewellery in a wide range of sizes.
Platinum is the strongest white metal and it provides the most secure hold on gemstones. When it comes to gold, 18K white gold is the strongest, most durable white alloy, while 14K yellow gold is the strongest yellow alloy. When it comes to colour, nothing beats the richness in colour that 18K yellow gold provides and we also have 3 gorgeous shades of rose gold.IMG_8257Costume vs. fine jewellery – what do you recommend fashion conscious women buy?
PL:  Jewellery and other fashion accessories look their best when selected to complement’s one’s own style rather than the current fashion trend. To me, jewellery is an investment to be enjoyed for years to come. For this reason an item’s durability is as important as its design longevity. Most costume jewellery available today is not as durable as well-crafted fine jewellery. Below, Natalia showed me a few choice baubles…

20150429_141002How does your earlier engineering career and passion for architecture influence your jewellery designs?
PL: Architecture is my main source of inspiration – I love to explore buildings and attend architecture lectures.
My engineering education helped me refine my attention to detail. Every aspect of a given design is thoroughly considered: from the comfortable fit of a cocktail ring to the perfect symmetry of a pair of earrings and the balanced drape of an asymmetrical necklace.
Moreover, jewellery is best enjoyed when designed to suit one’s lifestyle and this can only be achieved by thoughtful observation of my clients’ personalities and preferences. A great deal of thought is also placed on the tools and techniques to craft the best realization of a specific design.

20150429_141226Your designs have sleek clean lines and lack the fussiness so many designers have been incorporating into their current flowery collections. Do you feel your more classical themes will have a longer lasting appeal and wearability for your clients?
PL: Our clients share our affinity for contemporary lines and clean polished surfaces. We find balanced simplicity timeless.  However, we are lucky to be exposed to as wide a range of designs as there are aesthetic preferences.
Personally speaking, I am at my creative best when designing sculptural forms. I thrive in the challenge of distilling an idea into its key essence and interpreting it through subtle yet meaningful details.
I also enjoy collaborating with my clients in materializing their creative vision for their custom-designed jewellery and I welcome the opportunity to take my design aesthetic to different horizons.

TerraBracelet_FBDo you see any design trends as far as metals or gems for 2016? 
PL: Gems are a very personal choice. The larger gems are selected as a wardrobe staple and are considered an investment to be enjoyed for many years to come. These statement pieces suit one’s own colour palette and seldom follow fashion trends.
Our clients also like to represent their families through birthstones. To add meaning to their cherished jewellery, we frequently personalize designs like the Infinity pendant with colourful birthstones. On the metal front, I see a growing preference for rose gold, which looks fantastic and provides a unique warm glow on many skin tones. Yellow gold continues to be very popular and white gold prevails as the ideal setting for sparkling diamond jewellery.

PLauz_Infinity_5gemsIf you could design a commissioned piece for any celebrity (or royal family member), who would that be and what would you design?
PL:  I’d be honoured to create jewellery for Cate Blanchett (below) who is not only a brilliant actress but also a theatre director, wife and mother of four. She portrays a wide range of personalities with outstanding versatility but also with fine taste.  Outside movie sets, I admire Ms Blanchett’s timeless style and effortless elegance. These are qualities that inspire me to create designs that bring forth one’s confidence, transcending trends and time.

blanchett blanchett2Any upcoming trunk shows or special events where we can see/buy your stunning designs?
PL:  Our studio on Carlaw Avenue in Leslieville is always open for visits to view our signature jewellery or to discuss a custom design or restyling project. We will participate in the Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Festival on Sept 11-13 and then at the One of a Kind Christmas Show from November 26 to December 6th.

Pamela also specializes in re-designing and re-purposing clients’ much-loved existing pieces so I decided to take my humongous 1980’s smokey quartz cocktail ring and ask her how she would re-design this stunning stone into a more fashion-fwd gold setting. She asked me all sorts of questions about shapes and how I would wear the ring and she came up with a brilliant new setting, turning the emerald-cut stone on its side, with a wider band…..that will be my Christmas pressie to self at the end of the year.

20150429_133406 20150429_133827 20150429_134057Before leaving, I was treated to some deelish cupcakes (thanks Pamela & Natalia)…

20150429_141128….and got to check out Pamela’s collection of Jeremy Guy contemporary abstract sculptures (below) – I love these tactile pieces (Nova and Mobius, respectively) and I hope to meet and interview the talented artist soon. http://jeremy-guy.com/

20150429_140838 20150429_141112Pamela also showed be a special treasure she found on a recent visit to China – this stunning silver necklace (below) from the Miao hill tribe, made from one single length of silver. OMG, it was amazing to see it and hold it in person!

20150429_145850If you’re looking for unique jewellery for yourself or as a gift, Pamela has 2 great offers currently available:

Happy Mother’s Day: Receive 10% off and receive free shipping  https://www.pamelalauz.com/MothersDay2015
Give Mom a special gift and save 10% on pre-tax purchases of $150 and over. Enjoy this offer by entering promo code “MOM15” at checkout.
As an added bonus, we will ship your order for FREE within Canada!  There is no minimum purchase required to receive free shipping.   Offer available until Sunday May 9th, 2015
OR
Receive a FREE Tungsten Band  https://www.pamelalauz.com/free-tungsten-band
Receive a FREE Tungsten Band with your wedding ring or custom design project – a $250 value!
These cutting-edge rings are made of tungsten carbide, the most durable jewellery alloy. They are highly scratch resistant, virtually indestructible and will look new for many years to come – ideal for everyday wear.  We’ve got many great modern designs to choose from.
This offer is available exclusively at our studio and online store with a minimum pre-tax purchase of $1,000 until May 31st, 2015.  

Pamela Lauz designs can be found at select boutiques but I encourage you to visit Pamela’s website for pictures of her designs and information on her custom wedding bands, re-setting service and commissioned work.  You can purchase directly online or in person at her studio. https://www.pamelalauz.com/

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