Saturday, January 16, 2010


Once the cold spell finally lifts, the Florida Botanical Gardens is a great place to visit.

I hope the icy weather hasn't damaged its varied gardens and natural habitats too much.

Florida is also the home base of vintage couture jewelry brand House of Lavande.

As I was preparing this write-up, it occurred to me that authentic vintage jewelry, like the splendid pieces unearthed during archaeological digs, are antiquities.

They are reflections of a historical period and these bygone days are identified through the pieces' design, style, and colors.

Unlike the remnants found during excavations, which are usually put on display in museums, rare vintage pieces are more readily accessible (albeit they can be a bit of a challenge to locate).

Tracy Smith loves perusing flea markets for vintage, couture jewelry while traveling abroad; however, building a viable business from the spoils she collects was not a motivating factor.

"It never started out as a "business" idea; I always enjoyed combing flea markets for great finds. On one particular trip, I had an epiphany and I thought,"Why not start a new kind of vintage shop where people can find treasures that don't require digging?"

In the tradition of Fred Leighton Jewelry, two-and-a-half years ago Smith established her company House of Lavande. The store boasts a customer-friendly environment without glass-case displays, with over 6,000 signed and unsigned pieces from the Art Deco and Retro eras, among others, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel, and Kenneth Jay Lane.

Smith follows a simple guideline when selecting the jewelry, which echoes with an ulterior motive. "I buy what I would wear myself. I don't just consider what will be popular or what will sell," she says. "In the event an item doesn't sell, I can always make it a part of my private collection."

These beautiful pieces, with their lovely faux gemstone and gold plating, do sell and are red carpet ready worn by Zoe Saldana, Hayden Panettiere, Katherine Heigl, and Vanessa Hudgens.

I like the idea of Young Hollywood going for Old Hollywood glamour while also exposing this style of jewelry to a younger generation, possibly peaking their interest in the jewelry's historical significance.
Items from Smith's collection are regularly featured in such publications as Essence, Allure, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Elle.
Photo 1 (top right): Gold-Plated Barclay Necklace with Heart-Shaped Leaves and Mulit-colored Rhinestones
Photo 2 (left): Sandor Ornate Filigree Cuff with Clear Glass Crystals
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