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Jewellery Mavericks: An interview with Beth Bernstein, from Bejeweled Magazine

A jewellery historian and expert with an unmistakable flair for period and antique pieces, Beth Bernstein is a tour de force in the industry. Founder of the online magazine Bejeweled, Beth is a journalist that has focused on fine jewellery for the past 20 years. As a jewellery consultant, Beth is a tireless advocate of personalised jewellery with a story, as well as having a penchant for discovering new talents in the modern design world.

Beth is the author of four books, including her memoir, My Charmed Life, and has a new book on the art of pairing antique jewellery with a modern wardrobe, due out in Spring 2021.

For our next installment in our Jewellery Mavericks series we have asked Beth to share what excites her when it comes to custom designed pieces, and what are her most cherished bejeweled possessions.

Beth Bernstein

Beth Bernstein

Who was your greatest influence in shaping your jewellery taste?

My grandmother. When I was very young, we would watch old movies with Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and we would dress up in her faux and real jewellery while we were watching them, drinking ginger-ale from champagne glasses. The next day she would take me to the five and dime and we would buy similar jewels to the styles I saw on these glamorous yet very elegant actresses in faux crystal or sparkly rhinestones…It did its job!

If you could only wear one piece of jewellery for the rest of your life, what piece would you choose and why?

A charm necklace that represented love, luck and protection in its medallions and imagery.


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Is there an item which you consider both a simple accessory and a piece of art, both everyday and statement?

An Art Deco wide diamond bracelet with different cuts of diamonds which create almost a mosaic pattern. It’s an extremely well thought out design, yet it can also be worn with a T-shirt, jeans, a white shirt or an evening gown. Also a plique-à-jour dragonfly brooch with wings that look almost true to life—the enameling of the Art Nouveau era was such an incredible art.

What is your favourite coloured gemstone?

Ruby because it means passion. It’s fiery and all about desire and love. My second favourite is blue moonstone because I find them magical and they have so many great meanings.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Learning about the history of jewellery. I also love meeting truly creative modern-day designers and getting to see their collections evolve and come to life. Also going to the heritage departments, seeing the original pieces from renowned houses, and museum quality antiques that are over 300 years old.


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What are the biggest trends you’re currently seeing in the jewellery industry?

Symbolism. Especially now, people are drawn to new talismans, which aren’t copies of pieces from ancient times or from antiques, but are inspired by the past. Also, alternative bridal rings, meaning anything that isn’t manufactured. People are drawn to the design, the coloured gemstones, different exclusive cuts of diamonds, old diamonds used in modern-day settings.

Is custom designed jewellery a passing trend or is it here to stay? What are the advantages of custom pieces to off-the-shelf ones?

It’s here to stay. I love the idea of being involved in what the piece is going to look like and to have something unique to me and completely different from anyone I know. I am a big fan of antique jewellery because of the beauty and stories of the past, but it also spills over into the fact that all of the pieces are one-of-a-kind that I have collected or loved.


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Are there any rules to follow when designing the dream engagement ring or should it be led by imagination only?

The one rule I would say is that it needs to be in sync with the wearer’s lifestyle so they get the most enjoyment out of it and don’t put it away to be ‘safe’. It should be a ring that has some sentimental value and speaks to the couple getting engaged.

What are the most common misconceptions of the jewellery industry you believe first time buyers have?

That they will be ‘taken for a ride’ by being overcharged and taken advantage of. This sometimes does happen, but not with reputable stores or online companies that want to please the buyers and keep them coming back.


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When you think about customisation of a ring or jewellery piece, what gets you excited?

That I am the only one that will have that ring. That it will be a stone I love, that I could personalise it to my heart’s content. It’s so important that a ring will really say something about me and not just about the designer.

Thank you to Beth for her wonderful musings on all things jewellery related. We love her insightful, fascinating blog and often find inspiration in her articles when designing bespoke rings. We look forward to everything to come from Bejeweled!

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