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B Chic

Rhinestone Revival

It seems every year something in the fashion world reignites the fire of the rhinestone. Mad Men has undoubtedly influenced designers from the runway to the red carpet this season with sleek hair, classic lines and sumptuous statement pieces, making their way into every woman’s wardrobe. Only further proof that magnificent, bejeweled treasures can take the little black dress from simple…to extraordinary.

The rhinestone has adorned everything chic from stilettos and ballet flats, to handbags, huge collar bibs and chunky cuffs for decades. Fashion houses have put bling back on the map in big geometric designs as well as classic combos with pearls. You may recall seeing its appeal just a few years ago with the brooch revival, a trend that still retains its popularity. Over time, wearing fine jewelry has driven me to the sobering realization that, such pieces, though quite classic, could never command an audience like my costume jewelry beauties - for these show-stoppers always draw praise. Of course, I will never reveal this little discovery to my husband.

 As a young girl, I recall admiring my mother while she readied herself for a dinner in 1960s Palm Beach. From time to time, she would accompany my father when he was asked to dine on Worth Avenue. Although she didn’t often get the chance to get dolled up and paint the town with five children at home, when the occasion arose, she always turned heads. Whether with pearls or a brooch placed in just the right spot, my mother and all other stylish women quickly discovered how to use rhinestones to their advantage.

 I’ve been an ardent collector of fine costume jewelry and rhinestones for more than two decades, and I don’t mean the ones that riddle the attics of our grandmothers. I’m referring to fine costume pieces by Miriam Haskell, Stanley Hagler, Chanel, and Kenneth Jay Lane, the designers that catered to Hollywood and high society. Such pieces are difficult to come by and are like small, wonderous works of art; each being highly collectible and can still fetch a lofty price tag on the auction block.

Today’s elite designers have embraced the past and continue to maintain the integrity of fine costume jewelry in their contemporary designs. Chanel introduces new limited edition pieces each season to its accessory line, while Kenneth Jay Lane continues to keep his classic collections on hand for his clients. Glamorous styles of the 50s and 60s continue to lure us all. It’s hard not to step into every starlet’s shoes when we wear rhinestones. No matter if sparkle is woven into your garment or if you’re sporting a single piece, all eyes are drawn to you. There’s a bit of magic that takes over. Like Cinderella, after the fairy godmother visits, or Holly Golightly during her early morning visit to Tiffany’s, the power of bling takes hold.

Whether worn on the red carpet or with a favorite pair of jeans, you’re sure to make a statement wearing vintage, or vintage-inspired rhinestone jewelry.

Vintage Jewelry at Cupidz Clozet, Austin

Shopping Trip

Brilliant’s top spots for treasure hunting in the Lone Star State and on both coasts.

AUSTIN Feathers Boutique: 1700B S. Congress, Austin, TX 78704 (512) 912-9779. DALLAS Forty Five Ten: 4510 McKinney Avenue, Dallas 75205 (214) 559-4510. SAN ANTONIO Otra Vez Couture Consignment: 134 W. Olmos Dr., San Antonio, TX 78212 (210) 826-0606. HOUSTON More Than You Can Imagine: 2817 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77098 (713) 668-8811. LOS ANGELESDecades: 8214 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA (323) 655-0233. NEW YORK New York Vintage: 117 W. 25th St., New York, NY 10001 (212) 647-1107

STORY: Robin Campbell