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Last updateThu, 23 Mar 2017 12am

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The Affair of the Necklace - Romance. Scandal. Intrigue.

There’s something magical about a necklace. Thirteen women in Ventura, CA recently embarked on an adventure that transformed their lives when they collectively purchased a $37,000 diamond necklace. Appearing on “Good Morning America,” they promoted their book “The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives.” Talks for a movie are in the works.

When the perfect strand of diamonds caught Jonell McLain’s eye at the window of Van Gundy’s Jewelers, a spark was ignited. Not one that would normally invest that amount on a luxury impulse buy, Jonell nevertheless couldn’t get the necklace out of her mind. She started thinking creatively. What if some friends were interested in sharing it? A plot was hatched. Thirteen women would share the necklace, each having it for one month - a time-share for jewelry - including Priscilla Van Gundy, the store owner’s wife.

“Jewelia,” the newly-named necklace, would be used for fundraising efforts to support charities. The thirteen women, ages 50-62, discovered a newfound fellowship that deeply touched and transformed each of their lives.

Jewelia re-ignited routine marriages. “It made me feel sexy again.” The necklace was worn for special occasions - “it made me feel like a movie star” - as well as boogie-boarding in Hawaii. It gave a sense of hope, of second chances, of a new life, of rebirth. “I felt alive.” It bonded the women together in unexpected ways. “What had been a symbol of exclusivity became a symbol of inclusivity.”

The story touches a nerve. It taps into the current trends of women buying their own jewelry, of jewelry being used to promote charities and of innovative techniques for people to own a piece of something spectacular - renting designer dresses, handbags and jewelry.

This is not the first story of the transformative value of a special necklace. De Maupassant’s classic “The Necklace” tells the story of a wife of modest means who, craving something more, borrows her neighbor’s diamond necklace for a special party. In a Cinderella moment, she metamorphoses into the belle of the ball. Every eye is upon her.

As she returns home, she is mortified to discover she has lost the necklace! Biting the bullet, she and her husband take out a massive loan, replace the necklace (they are too ashamed to reveal they have lost it), and spend the next decade of their lives working to repay the loan, sinking into a life of drudgery and near poverty. A chance meeting when the loan is finally repaid uncovers an ironic twist. The neighbor reveals the necklace was paste. The couple’s lives had been determined by the unnecessary repayment of a debt which was not due.

A necklace can not only transform the life of an individual or a group, it can even transform a society. “The Affair of the Necklace,” the 2001 movie starring Hilary Swank, reveals the real-life scandal involving Marie Antoinette that helped precipitate the French Revolution. It’s a colorful tale involving romance, scandal and intrigue that could hardly be imagined if it weren’t true!

In 1772 Louis XV commissions a spectacular necklace for his mistress, Mme. du Barry. The Crown Jewelers Broehmer and Bassenge take several years to assemble a world-class collection of large diamonds and fashion them into a magnificent elaborate design. Unfortunately, Louis XV’s untimely death almost bankrupts the jewelers who have not yet been paid for the piece.

Enter Jeanne de La Motte-Valois, an orphan who, fighting to restore her name and place in society, hatches a plot to sell the necklace to Marie Antoinette. Jeanne collaborates with Cardinal Prince Rohan, an out-of-favor courtier. The fascinating plot involves a famous mystic, Count Cagliostro, romantic intrigues - including Jeanne’s affair with the Cardinal - and secret meetings with mistaken identities.

Although Marie Antoinette ultimately refuses the necklace (perhaps she did not want a piece designed for another woman, and a mistress at that!), she becomes embroiled in the widely publicized trial which further tarnishes her reputation, already weakened by gossip and scandal. The resulting strain on the monarchy hastens its collapse... the French Revolution.

So the next time you put that special necklace in your display case, think for a moment. How will this transform someone’s life? The truth may be magic.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning, internationally celebrated couture jewelry designer, specializing in one-of-a-kind and limited edition high-end necklaces with precious gems in 18-24 karat gold and platinum. Her Collections, which have been worn by A-List Hollywood celebrities, are featured in many top galleries and stores throughout the country, where she regularly hosts Trunk Shows. Contact Mia via her website, http://jeweljewel.com, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (877) JEWEL-MY.

The lore and lure of gems

Sparkling. Enticing. Enchanting. Do you secretly covet a large, flawless diamond? Are you mesmerized by the rich beauty of emeralds? Do you treasure tantalizing tanzanite?

Throughout the ages, gems have captivated us with their alluring magic. The ancient Egyptians revered midnight-blue lapis lazuli, pairing it with purest gold in striking ornaments for their royal pharaohs. In the India of antiquity, rubies were known as the "king of gems". Warriors, believing these precious gems to convey invincibility, wore them into battle for protection. The Chinese have venerated jade for millennia, considering it a celestial blessing, a harbinger of happiness and prosperity. Rich purple amethyst, included in the British Crown Jewels, has been favored by both royalty and clergy. According to lore, its influence helps prevent drunkenness! Shining turquoise, the color of the sky, was sacred to the American Indian, and is still widely used in Native American jewelry.

The Retailer’s Perspective: We need to talk!

As a card carrying member of the jewelry industry, I speak from experience when I say “we need to talk” to my customers. In all reality though, I’m just trying to save them from a very costly lawsuit against me. Because, if we don’t have ‘the talk’ first, they may be foolishly thinking that the thingy they are trying to hand me is actually worth something. Because, when it all goes to hell on my bench, they may actually try to sue me for negligence which is hardly ever true. In most cases, the problem they are bringing to me today started in a faraway land several years ago.

The Retailer’s Perspective: It’s the Hollywood Way

*Opening scene* Neal Lane walks through the sparkling clean jewelry factory, exuding power and authority.  Neal will be wearing a dark blue Armani suit with a red power tie.

*Production Note* This set has been built on soundstage 7. No, we can’t shoot this scene at a real jewelry shop. Have you ever seen how dirty and disorganized those places are? Yuck. We need clean and shiny, just like the real world.

The Retailer’s Perspective: Welcome to 2017!

I saw him get out of his car, walk up the sidewalk, and head towards my front door. I knew right where this one was heading. I could see a watch in one hand, and a watch battery in the other. I could tell what it was because it was in that oversized blister pack you get if you buy a single watch battery at Walmart instead of at my store. And, to make matters even worse, I had just sat down to my lunch of caramelized onion and cream cheese chicken enchiladas. I hadn’t even taken my first bite yet!

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