Here’s the ultimate “rock concert” – if you like gorgeous gems and baubles, then this is the show for you.Big 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.I 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/sonatona Lots of ready made jewellery as well as loose gems for crafters and home bead-makers…. One 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…. The Gem Expo also features some stunning glass work, too, including these giant “crystal balls” and some spooky stone skulls. Groovy, baby! How about some fossils? Check out these prehistoric shark teeth…yikes!Meet 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.com More fabulous bling…..what’s a girl to do?! 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.
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 today, Monday Nov. 28th, between 10am and 5pm to experience the ultimate in bling! Here’s just a little taste of what you’ll see……Gloria 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.As 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?There are many different pieces featuring South Seas, cultured or fresh water pearls set with precious stones in 18kt gold from which to choose…
You 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.
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. Flo 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.I 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. 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.”Some 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.”
When 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. One of Flo’s clients is the Canadian actor, playwright and entrepreneur Nonni Griffin seen below getting the full Flo experience! If you want to learn more about this wonderful and talented woman of influence, please visit her website: www.flobaroncollection.com
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!Just 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. For 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.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.The 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/
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.
We 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.
Our 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.
The 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…
…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)
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/
Our 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 :>(
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/
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.
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.
I 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.
Do 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.
Gold, 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.Costume 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…
How 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.
Your 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.
Do 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.
If 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.
Any 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.
….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/
Pamela 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!
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
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/