Wendy Brandes in a modified version of her ‘Swear’ ring design. Image edited by Observation Mode
I adore gorgeous Wendy Brandes’s covetable luxury fine jewelry and so do the likes of red carpet royalty like Liv Tyler. Her jewelry has been featured in leading magazines such as W magazine, Marie Claire, GENLUX,O-The Oprah magazine, ESSENCE, Modern Jeweler, Jezebel etc. The great press is a no-brainer as her pieces are eye catching, bold and utterly clever. I am particularly drawn to Brandes’s strong mechanical (think delightful pieces that can be unscrewed, twisted or open and close) designs.
A wonderful theme that seems to be the ongoing inspiration for her pieces is strong women with intriguing stories. Think designs inspired by the unfortunate wives of Henry VIII, Nefertiti and other interesting women
Everyone in blog land adores her witty blog which features everything from humor filled musings to her lust inducing designs. I was honored to interview the very busy Wendy, read on for a fabulous piece.
1. Hi Wendy, hope you are well darling. One funny thing from your week so far?
Last week, when I started working on this interview, two friends in different parts of the world sent me photos of hilarious drink names: Diet Cock and the Ike Turner! What made it even better was that neither of my friends knew I was writing a post about drinks at the time. http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2009/12/outfit-post-almost-starring-jude-and-sienna/
2. Tell us a bit about your stunning jewelry…
I work in 18K gold, platinum and silver. As you say in your intro, mechanics are my signature. That means lockets http://wendybrandes.com/pro-detail.php?colid=29&collect=true&id=256
, poison rings http://wendybrandes.com/pro-detail.php?colid=28&collect=true&id=414 ,things that twist and turn http://wendybrandes.com/pro-detail.php?colid=30&collect=true&id=204 .
Another characteristic of my jewelry that you can’t see in pictures — so it always shocks people — is how much heft my rings and necklaces have. I don’t skimp on metal. When you pick up my handmade Nuit ring http://wendybrandes.com/pro-detail.php%20colid=28&collect=true&id=475 you find out what an ounce of gold feels like. That says “Luxury” to me. Of course, my earrings aren’t that heavy. I wouldn’t want the customer to wind up with lobes that stretch to the ground.
3. I read that your first designs were your engagement and wedding rings. How did this come about?
Standard diamond solitaires depress me. I wanted something that represented my style. In fact, I wanted everything related to my wedding to represent my style. A lot of women think, “I’m going to have this ring/these pictures forever, so they have to be classic.” Boring! Bring on the leather outfits and crazy cakes. http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2009/09/your-wedding-wish-is-my-command-now-vote/ . I only regret that I wasn’t wilder. I look at the wedding photos now and think, “Too safe”!
4. You seem to be inspired by strong historical women from English Royalty to Nefertiti. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’ve always been intrigued by women who led extraordinary lives in times and places where they had no real rights. Empress Matilda is one of my favorites, kicking ass and taking names in the 12th century. It took me three blog posts to cover her; http://wbjewelry.blogspot.com/2008/04/book-club-empress-matilda-part-i.html,, http://wbjewelry.blogspot.com/2008/05/book-club-empress-matilda-part-ii.html and
And check out the necklace I named after her! http://wendybrandes.com/pro-detail.php?cat=true&id=406
5. Lipstick shade that you are currently addicted to?
I’m all about red and I just can’t quit MAC’s Lasting Lust http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2008/07/red-lipstick-1-macs-lasting-lust/ .I need to get some more. I’m on my last tube right now.
6. If you could only wear one piece of jewelry. It’d be?
Definitely my one-of-a-kind onyx skull ring with hidden diamonds http://wendybrandes.com/pro-detail.php?colid=32&collect=true&id=420 ). My website says the price is available upon request, but I’d rather that no one request it. I only want to sell that ring to Lady Gaga, Madonna or Beyonce. It either goes to a megastar or it stays with me.
7. You are throwing a fancy dress party, what or who do you go as?
You might think Marie Antoinette (I’ve already done Anne Boleyn– http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2008/10/anne-boleyn-postmortem ) but I’ve always wanted to look like Jim Morrison for a day.
8. Your Party trick?
I wish I could say that I tie cherry stems into knots with my tongue, but that would be a lie. Instead, I entertain people by opening up three or four pieces of jewelry to show them various hidden compartments. A few years ago, when I was the only not-famous person at a dinner, Queen Noor of Jordan saw me open a bunch of rings and left off talking to Michael Douglas to say, “Ooh.” That’s all she said: “Ooh.” And it’s still one of the best compliments I ever received.
9. Your current collections?
You mean stuff I collect as opposed to my jewelry collection, right? In that case, I’ll say “grievances.”
10. Last movie you watched?
“Precious.” I still have my 1996 original edition of the book (“Push” by Sapphire) on which the movie is based. I also remember sitting on the beach with my mother and reading that book. My mother asked, “Would I like that book?” and I considered a moment and said, “NO!” I can barely remember what I did yesterday, so I’m not sure why I recall that little exchange from 1996.
11. Love your gorgeous jaw dropping ‘Venus’ earrings from your ‘Eden’ collection. Tell us a bit about that collection.
With my queen-related and historical pieces, I usually work from a concept and find the materials to bring that concept to life. The pieces in the Eden collection are more likely to be inspired by the gems I find. For instance, the cabochon-cut rose quartz that I used for the first Venus pieces immediately brought the “Morning Star” concept to mind, complete with diamond “stars.”
‘Venus’ earrings by Wendy Brandes, image courtesy of Wendy Brandes
12. Your blog shows a love of vintage, you have some great pieces by designers like Ossie Clark, Patrick Kelly, Moschino Cheap & Chic etc. Most recent vintage fashion purchase?
A black Patrick Kelly dress that’s covered with little bows in rainbow colors. While researching the dress, I found a clip of Bette Davis mentioning Kelly on the David Letterman show in the ’80s. I’d been looking for that footage for a while http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2008/05/meet-80s-designer-patrick-kelly/ . Bette was a damn good salesperson. I wish she were around to wear my designs.
13. You are a proud New Yorker, if a tourist had an hour to see NY for the first time where would you take them to?
I’d do what I did with gorgeous blogger Solo Lisa and take you to St. John the Divine and the Columbia University campus. http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2008/10/bloggers-invade-upper-west-side/
14. You recently had a two day pop shop, tell us about it.
I don’t have a regular storefront where I can show my full line so it’s great to have the opportunity to personally show the whole collection. (About a dozen of my pieces are available in a great store called Broken English in Santa Monica, Calif.) I love to tell people, “Hold out your hand!” and then drop a one-ounce ring or pendant into their palms. Their stunned expressions are priceless!
15. Five words synonymous with your designs…
Amazing, amusing, feminine and feminist. Yeah, I’m counting “and” as one of the words!
How witty is Wendy? I adore the lady,her answers are brilliant! Drooling over every single design. I’m all for personal,strong pieces.Cookie cutter jewelry is far too boring. Wendy pieces are timeless,organic and unique. Simply love pieces that tell a story and these do that in heaps and bounds. Thank you for the interview Wendy!
Interview republished with kind permission from Wendy Brandes. Originally published on mariankihogo.blogspot.com in December 2009.