John's Inspiration: Our New Tortoise Collection

One of the things that makes design modern is unexpected pairings. This season I broke the rules by mixing classic good-taste tortoise with notice-me Hollywood bling. The results have been a surprise and a successful modern vintage mash-up; it is one of our best selling-collections of the season!

For years we’ve thought of our popular tortoise shell jewelry collections (which in the name of accuracy are actually modern, cruelty-free resin!) as primarily tailored, Fall looks. I embellished pieces with acorns and leaves, amber accents, and rich antiqued gold and silver metals.  One of the key images on my inspiration board was of Jackie O walking down Madison Avenue on a crisp Fall day, hiding behind an enormous pair of tortoise framed glasses (and I have similar memories of my own mother doing the same in the ‘70’s!)

Well, a quick glimpse of a 1950’s link bracelet at a London flea market stopped me in my tracks and began this new collection. The chain alternated links of tortoise and paved metal. It struck me as fresh, unexpected, and high on our in-house measure of gotta have it-ness!  It, and the collection that I built from that bit of chain, combines the tailored with the glamorous in a fun, fresh way.


I then added my pretty and bold take on the season’s must-have tassel. Swinging dramatically from a lariat necklace (Sophia Lauren would rock this one), or accompanying a perfectly proper bracelet for some unexpected Hollywood fabulousness (Grace Kelly in Rear Window?)

OK, so what do YOU do with all this inspiration and information??

You add polish and pizazz to your look, whether it’s a cozy fall sweater or a chic strapless sheath. Wear it with neutrals, with animal prints, with a LBD…. Wear it out to dinner, to a school meeting, to church… Wear it stacked with a watch, mixed with pearls, or on it’s own.

And worthy of special note, my two favorite pieces: The 5 strand cuff bracelet, and the lariat tassel necklace.  To me the bracelet defines my collage aesthetic—mixing materials in a way that transforms them into something else. One of those designs where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The tortoise, baroque pearls, and textured chain come together and say WOW! Here we are, ready to make friends and start conversations!

As for the lariat tassel necklace, the first thing you’ll notice is the adjustable clasp. You can go traditional with a deep ‘V’, or you can increase the drama the higher up you clasp it, and the more exaggerated you make the Y.  One approach is to follow the shape of your outfit’s neckline—a gentle V with an open blouse, for example.  Alternatively, do a long Y with a crew neck top for some real modern glamour~





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  • Wendy McKitish

    In the pic of the new tortoise jewelry which I am going to order, the sweater is stunning on your model. I love the look of the lariat tassel necklace with that sweater. Can you tell me where that sweater is from? Perfect outfit with the necklace. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,

  • robbin cook

    this is a fabulous blog/story. Lauren can you email JUST the story in a week or two? I think people will read it and love it…really draws you into our world.