Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Delfina Delettrez

Delfina Delettrez Fendi, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

My name is Altocat & I am a blingaholic. I have loved jewelry since childhood & I was always begging my mother to let me wear her 50's rhinestone pieces, or, failing that, for money to buy others' old costume sparklers at garage sales. In those days (the mid-late 1970's) no one in the small-town midwest wore such things any more & I could pick up fabulous, dangly earrings & dramatic bracelets that would now fetch good money at an antiques show for a quarter, sometimes less. Sigh.

Once you're hooked on jewelry, it's pretty much impossible to stop loving the stuff, & my inner magpie is still alive & well. To this day, I wear tons of vintage pieces, from costume to fine. Actually, when we were dating, I told Mr. Altocat that I wasn't obsessed with stone size, but if he proposed, he'd better do so with a vintage ring in some form of white metal or the deal was off. He came up with a 1940's platinum & diamond ring (okay, I found it while shopping alone, but he loved the design & agreed to it) so I kept him.

I will freely admit to being a total design snob about new jewelry. Most of the "fine" pieces in my/our price range are utterly boring. I did succumb to the Tiffany key pendant trend this spring, but only after I found a very large sterling one that looks like it could be an actual house key. There is some fun, playful work being done in costume jewelry these days, however, even that tends to be too trend-conscious & imitative for me to plunk down my credit card unless it's by Kenneth Jay Lane or Lulu Guinness. When it comes to accessories, I'm not one to play it safe - I like big, odd-looking pieces, or smaller ones that you look at more closely & exclaim "That's a spider! Eeeew!"

Which brings me to this picture of Delfina Delettrez, heiress, member of the famed Fendi fashion family, & a truly brilliant jewelry designer in her own right. Mr. Altocat & I discovered her jewelry a while ago on a trip to South Beach & now it seems her work is in every fashion magazine I pick up. We wandered into Alchemist, a high-end shop on Lincoln Road, while killing time on our last day in town, & I admired some of the dresses they had for sale, but almost immediately headed over to the jewelry case. Nearly every piece was by Ms. Delettrez & I swooned over her sterling & enamel floral ring. made a bit memento-mori-ish by the inclusion of a tiny skull in the design, her flapper-length strand of cultured pearls spiked with a sterling silver fingertip every so often (the nails are all different colors & can be repainted if the owner is bored with her necklace's manicure) & the piece in this picture, a spectacular sterling silver bracelet in the shape of a spider. Upon opening the spider's back in locket fashion - well, perhaps in poison ring fashion - you discover that she is pregnant; her belly is loaded with cultured pearl "eggs". I tried the bracelet on & wore it around the shop for a while as we chatted with the sales associates, who couldn't have been nicer & admired my antique angel skin coral & diamond ring, an auction find - actually, an amazing score - from a decade ago. Alas, wonderful as they are, most of Delettrez' designs are way out of our price range at this time. The "Black Widow" bracelet pictured retails for $3800. I did manage to find a few of her pieces on Opening Ceremony's website for $190-470, but they don't pack quite the punch that this arachnid delivers.

Ever the bargain-huntress, I recently spotted Martha Rotten's pieces in a local store & they do have a similar creepy-but-very-well-made feel. Skulls, bugs, & eerie baby doll faces abound in Ms. Rotten's work, & prices start at around $38. If you don't live in Baltimore, you can view her work at


  1. Wow I love Ms. Fendi's pieces. But they are way beyond my price range for jewelry. I will definitely check out Martha Rotten! Thanks for the suggestion.

    You have such a great eye for jewelry. I would love to see a costume jewelry retrospective that exhibits some of your favorite pieces from your jewelry box.

  2. My pleasure, Jess! I tried on a bunch of Martha Rotten's pieces at Paradiso last week, but couldn't decide on one, so I'm waiting.

    Aw, you're sweet. I should post some of my jewelry for fun... I'll be amazed/appalled at how many sterling lockets I have, haha.