My New Fashion Fetish

18 January 2011

I don’t know about you but I have experienced a sort of style shift in 2011. I honestly  think I could live in my jeans and a selection of blouses and spend all my money on jewellery and accessories. I’m choosing my moment carefully to tell you this because I am off to the shows soon and I know I’ll probably have a long lust list of clothes again. But right now my new fashion festish is….labradorite!

Let me explain. For a start, it’s got nothing to do with dogs. It’s a stone, mined in the northern reaches of Canada (Labrador, of course). It all started before Christmas. The lovely people at Astley Clarke hosted a crash course in gemology at their bijou showroom in Paddington where we had tea and croissants (surrounded by bijou-s) and listened to an expert from Hatton Garden explain fascinating facts like how diamonds were valued, the difference between a ruby and a spinel, how many colours of sapphire there are (five), and why Kate Middleton’s engagement ring is a gemologist’s fantasy (impeccable stones apparently). I am vaguely hoping that the more I know about this, the more I find I’ll need to know.

Anyway, our giggly group of fashion girls spent two happy hours looking at raw and cut stones and playing with Astley Clarke’s fabulous stock. We all know about diamonds and emeralds, but have you ever seen pink beryl or a padparadscha or a garnet topped doublet? No? You haven’t lived! And next time you are feeling low, go have a look at a watermelon tourmaline and I guarantee it’ll perk you up in a heartbeat.

My epiphany happened as we were about to leave when someone asked what was the difference between precious and semi precious stones and our expert explained that he didn’t like to think of them that way as there was a finite supply of so many. He used labradorite as an example of an unsung hero of the jewellery box. He showed us a necklace by Pippa Small that looked like something flat and grey on a stand, but came to life on skin, with more lights and reflections than the aurora borealis. It was a stormy sea and a cloudy sky in a piece of polished rock, millions of years old. I was in love.

But I couldn’t buy it. It was the 3rd December. I had to prioritise: a turkey and Xmas tree and stocking fillers. But I obsessed about it. And I talked about it non stop. My friend Nicola, who knows a thing or two about grown up jewellery knew all about it, ‘Oh darling, labradorite is fabulous,’ she said on the phone like I’d just discovered a well kept secret.’

I’ve been pining ever since, but a looming tax bill meant I just had to suck it up. Then, last week, the Astley Clarke lady called and said it was in their sale. Grazia Girls, the style director hesitated three seconds and caved. It’ll be brown rice and baked beans until the spring, but who cares about food when you have the consolation of (semi) precious stones?

Labradorite from Astley Clarke,


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