Baubles for Mommy and Me, Crafted by Two Whimsical Jewelry Designers
“Emily saw my unicorn, and she bought one for herself, and then she made it up with real stones and in gold—it was the biggest compliment ever!” Maria Dueñas Jacobs tells me. It is a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, and we are on the rolling lawn of a Brentwood estate at a mommy-and-me event celebrating the collaboration between Jacobs, the owner of Super Smalls, and the jeweler Emily P. Wheeler. Jacobs’s company makes children’s fun-fake trinkets inspired by authentic jewels; Wheeler’s eponymous brand offers whimsical pieces rendered in the finest materials and the highest levels of craftsmanship, for real grown-ups who want real jewelry.
What the two have in common is a deep un-seriousness, a love of the uncomplicated pleasure that accessories bring—no matter how old you are. So perhaps it is not surprising that Wheeler would get the idea to make up a few Super Smalls baubles in fine materials, and that Jacobs would get such a kick out of it.
The unicorn pendant in question is a Super Smalls staple and Wheeler has transformed it in three stunning, 18 karat gold versions: in hand carved white agate, tiger’s eye, or black agate, variously enhanced with plethora of freshwater pearls, sapphires, and rubies. She also has taken Super Smalls’s real four-leaf clover pendant, sequestered it under a dome of rock crystal and surrounded it with ombre sapphires. Her interpretation of Super Smalls’s heart lock necklace in carved turquoise with diamonds comes complete with a Super Smalls key.
Mother’s Day is looming, so what better time to invite lots of L.A. mommies over for a day of jewelry shopping. It’s a sea of Cecilie Bahnsen frocks and Merlette sundresses and Horror Vacuii floor-sweepers, and Chanel! Chanel! Chanel! And on the children (overwhelmingly daughters): flowered smocks, miniature ballet slippers, tutus galore, and in one case a pair of Lilliputian red cowboy boots.
Though there are other distractions—among them a place where you can decorate your own crown (I am sorely tempted but resist. I’m working here!)—the center of the action is the jewelry table. It is a delightful mix of Super Smalls goodies—faux-diamond necklaces and Cinderella slippers with glitter trapped in their heels, rings that spin, fanciful swim goggles—and Wheeler’s exquisite fine jewelry including ear cuffs in ombre green tsavorite, heart-shaped Elsa rings, hinged emerald and turquoise bracelets, and of course, the collaboration pieces. But wait! There are four unicorns here? Didn’t Emily only make three? A Super Smalls beast has snuck in to cavort with Wheeler’s three fancy creations. Bejeweled animals, it turns out, are not snobs.
“I’m the target customer for that unicorn—the real one. I think jewelry is about spirit and fun,” Elshane—she goes by one name, like Madonna or Cher—tells me. Elshane, one of the event’s co-hosts, is a symphony in Chanel: Kelly green jacket, accompanied by a checkered mini and purple slides. She brought her two daughters, Sunday, seven, Vega, three, today. I ask Sunday to pick out her absolute favorite thing on the table and she bypasses the Super Smalls in favor of Wheeler’s emerald and diamond tiered drop earrings. Just goes to show that when it comes to jewelry, you can’t fool all of the little girls all of the time.
But not everyone has Sunday’s rarefied tastes. Willa, who is not allowed to wear jewelry at school, is brandishing something that would surely get her sent to the principal’s office—Super Smalls Days of the Week Lip Balm necklace. Another tiny person is wrestling with an anguished decision: Four Leaf Clover versus the Mermaid Pool Party Mega Set. Which would you choose? (“The mommies all like the mermaid—it reminds them of Celine,” Jacobs confides.) Towering over these little customers are three fully grown women who only have eyes for Wheeler’s offerings. One is already sporting Patchwork drop earrings, and she wants another pair, while her friend is collapsing over a diamond fringe necklace.
Hanging out at the jewelry table is a seminar in desire, and it proves that some things are universal: big or small, young or not-so, we want what we want. A high-pitched voice from someone whose head does not even come up to the edge of the display, and who is clutching a pair of Super Smalls goggles, is crying out, “Mommy, mommy, please, please, please!”
It’s enough to melt the heart of the strongest parent—and, well—they’re only $29. Now if only there were someone on the lawn, some invisible fairy godmother, who would heed my silent pleas, wave a magic wand, and gift me that tiger’s eye unicorn.
Originally Appeared on Vogue
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