"I'm just going to pick this up here so my husband doesn't find out about it," whispered a woman to a sales rep at the Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf trunk show, held Thursday.
The lady behind the counter -- Kat Tanita -- giggled conspiratorially and quickly swiped the other's credit card, brokering her desire for an ASHA by ADM Zodiac Ring, an otherwise cliché choice of jewelry, if not for the milky white mother of pearl face and 14-karat vermeil coating. She's a Cancer, by the way.
It was easy to understand the secretive fuss. ASHA and two other jewelry lines, Jane Basch Designs and Wimberly, were laid out like assorted candies, sans their designers, at the high-end boutique's trunk show. How could any of the girls milling around in their rich-casual clothes resist?
There was another set of gold in the store: Jane Basch's glimmering initial necklaces, which retail from $200 to $1,350. Basch's father-in-law owns the fine jewelry line Basch & Co., and the daughter has cleverly branched out on her own with Jane Basch Designs, a line she started three years ago. Basch's jewelry stands for something -- literally, as buyers of her pieces find themselves privy to personalized initial emblems in materials of gold, sterling silver or encrusted with diamonds.
"Every piece is hand-drawn and hand-cut," said Ashley Harward, the line's designated rep, who sported her own Basch necklace.
The bright orange jewelry stands attached to ASHA by ADM, Ashley Dodgen-McCormicks' line of geometrically themed circle and oval drop earrings, statement necklaces and zodiac rings, made even richer by blue and white topaz, quartz, carnelian, amethyst and rock crystal stones aplenty, only helped to magnify the line's brilliance.
"It's architecturally inspired by the designer's travels," said Tanita, the rep present in Dodgen-McCormick's absence. The idea for ASHA began during Dodgen-McCormick's matriculation at Georgetown University and her studies abroad in Florence and Paris.
Wimberly's jewels, ranging from $60 to $195, are heavy on bright-colored bracelets. Designer Wimberly Shook Tribble's Dallas-born and bred influences are evident in the big, bedazzled, boss-girl bangles, perfect for any big, bedazzled, Texas boss-girl. Wimberly, who now lives in Austin, became a jill-of-all-things-handmade under the tutelage of her grandmother; she was taught how to needlepoint, crochet, hook rug and quilt by her mother's mother, and when she grew up, she expanded her skills, learning to paint and sculpt.
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Her versatility shows. Her bracelets are precisely embellished with either a single symbol (a black butterfly, perhaps) or an homage to her childhood learning with cross-hatched gold marks.
Elin Jackson, jewelry and accessories buyer for Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf, thought up the idea for a trunk show where ladies could buy ready-to-wear jewels. Think Walmart, only no long lines and your purchase might set you back a paycheck (or two).
"I just wanted fun, cute jewelry that they could take out," Jackson said.
It's not too late to get your shop on! Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf will be having an encore trunk show today, 6-8 p.m. 1180 Uptown Park, Blvd. #8. Call 713-622-1331 for more information.