Article From Hudson Valley Magazine by Liz Stein- 1/08

Remember back when we were in the third grade and had an obsession with EZ 2 Do? We loved designing our own bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings. We’d spend endless hours at sleepovers, tediously crafting our very own jewelry collections (usually of the gaudy “gemstone” or beaded variety) — and, of course, embellishing any piece of fabric we owned with our trusty BeDazzler (I think I even tried to BeDazzle a pair of satin leggings … what’s worse, that I did this, or that I owned a pair of satin leggings?). Then there was lanyard (also known as Boondoggle or gimp) — yards and yards of the plastic lace, in a vast rainbow of insanely bright colors, which we used to create bracelets, key chains, and other vibrant accessories. And you can’t forget that huge pink caboodle, filled with thousands of tiny, sparkly beads and elastic thread. I even recall a few of my über-crafty friends using their Easy-Bake Oven to manufacture their own clay beads. Weren’t we always so proud of our jewelry? Our colorful little bracelets were truly an expression of ourselves — a representation, if you will. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t a very talented jeweler — at all, now that I think about it.)

Anyhow, the point is, I was accessories shopping this past Monday and couldn’t help but notice how utterly mainstream everything appeared. It looked as if there was one giant fashion house designing all of our jewelry (and I’m not just talking about Forever 21 look-alikes). From the cheap little bodegas in the malls to the racks at retail chain stores to the counters at Saks, it’s all one big heaping mess of long chain necklaces, chunky bangles, and large Beyoncé-esque earrings these days.

Whatever happened to our girl’s nights of beading and bedazzling? Have they been completely displaced by Mojitos and stiletto-wearing evenings out? I’m not suggesting a need for the revival of slumber parties, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a fabulous necklace that no one else has, everyone loves, and doesn’t bear the label “Made in Korea”?

Well, as I stated before, I’m no craft queen. But these days, I do have a penchant for unique bling — as well as an aversion to the commonplace, blah status of mass produced-jewelry. To satisfy my craving, I tracked down a handful of local jewelry designers (yes, they do exist north of Soho), and to my delight, I found oodles of fantastically fun — and classy — pieces for every style preference and occasion. Ranging from welded cuffs to beaded earrings and gold necklaces, these artists have given me a breath of fresh air — and an outlet for my latest fashion fetish.

Larchmont’s Pam Older, who previously had a career in magazine publishing, launched her jewelry company in 2003. She was profiled in the January 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, and last year her jewelry was shown on Desperate Housewives. You can purchase her colorful, elegant designs on her Web site or at boutiques and galleries all over the country.

Vermeil Nugget Hoop Earrings, $125
Teardrop hoops in 22k vermeil with a thin layer of 22k gold over a sterling silver bead

Four Strand Vermeil Bracelet, $165

Four strands of vermeil beads joined with a bold toggle clasp; also available in silver

Here are a few local stores that carry her wares:

Woodstock Designs, Woodstock

Wondrous Things, Croton On Hudson, NY

Glass Onion, Pleasantville, NY

Mary Stuart Designs, Lenox, MA

Hoadley Gallery, Lenox, MA