For the past few years, we've been avid and faithful readers of Erin Gates' daily posts on her Elements of Style blog--between her eye for style (in both the fashion and home arenas), her ability to bring to light a fabulous brand or product, and her genuine, approachable voice in writing, she keeps us informed and entertained each morning.  (Or...if it's really busy, we save it for an afternoon break...either way, it's a great part of our day.)

It is perhaps her honesty and integrity that we love best--both have earned her a growing and loyal readership and the attention of several sites and magazines.  (She recently wrote an article for Good Housekeeping that is not to be missed...and we were delighted to see her offices and apartment featured on TheEverygirl this month!)  Though her stylish suggestions are right-on, her candor when it comes to relationships, self-esteem, body image, attitude, and priorities are real and relatable.  We find ourselves nodding in agreement equally when she tells it like it is in the post-awards-show run-down of fashion AND when she's admitting she's working on loving her self more, a challenge for many of us.

Clearly, Erin was a Leading Lady before we even began this series, so it was never a question that we'd ask her to join us...and we were thrilled when she agreed.  We started out by asking Erin to assemble an inspiration board for us--though we have come to know her overall style fairly well through her blog, we wanted to see how she envisioned this particular design, and we loved seeing her selections:

We immediately decided this design would be more akin to one of our Deb Collection necklaces, using repurposed vintage chains as the foundation of the composition, and we knew a Maltese cross (we have long been fans of Verdura and his work for Chanel...even writing a grad-school paper on the topic!) had to factor in to the arrangement.  So, we sent along images of these materials, culled from our in-house collections, for Erin to see and consider:

[a few Maltese cross designs we liked from our vintage holdings]

[several vintage gilt, brass, and goldtone chains that might work]

[touches of faux malachite and onyx to mix in for variation with the chains]

Our first attempt (and sadly this photo is terrible, but so was the design, so let's just call it a wash) used the malachite beads more sparingly, to let the cross and chains take center stage.  We liked it, but didn't love it...and thought we'd let Erin have a look to get her insight.  After all, this is a collaborative effort AND she is a designer--we loved hearing her opinion.  And, honestly, this is why having a client's feedback is so crucial sometimes--it's easy to find yourself so caught up in the design that you lose a bit of perspective.  Not only have the materials been staring you in the face for a few hours (or days, whatever the case may be) but you come to a gridlock with them, unable to try anything else until you're sure the one on which you're stuck will not work.

When Erin mentioned that, though she loved the overall concept, that she wanted to change up the malachite a bit, we were relieved.  (And laughing--she said something about the beads reminded her of peas...not something we would have ever considered, so back to our "feedback is so crucial" statement above!)

[first attempt...not there yet.]

So...we took a few suggestions from Erin (perhaps a strand of malachite mixed with the chains? pearls or other beads mixed in?) and added some additional beads to break up the green/gold pattern--black glass in matte-finish rounds and larger faceted nuggets were just the thing to add interest, we think, especially in fun, random patterns.

We think the results are a great  mix of edgy, sophisticated, and fun--a mix of materials that can work the room of a cocktail party just as easily as a business brunch--perfect for a gal like Erin who likely attends both. (And...the Maltese cross brooch is detachable, so the chains and strands can be worn unadorned if the occasion calls for it, though we're loving the Verdura/Chanel-inspired lovely at the side!)

[the final]

Erin loved it--and we're digging how she styled her new necklace--perfect with a tailored blazer and jeans.  Many, many thanks to Erin for following along on this design adventure...and we look forward to seeing where the jewels go now that they are part of this Leading Lady's lovely life!


  • Posted byEmily Maynard /


  • Posted On June 26, 2012 by Janell Beals

    Fabulous necklace and post, fun series! Janell

  • Posted On June 23, 2012 by Kerri S

    Wow, Emily. You’ve outdone yourself! I would snap up many of this style/length in different colors.


    -Elva Love,

  • Posted On June 20, 2012 by Bette Cobb

    Fabulous and stunning,

  • Posted On June 20, 2012 by Gray

    I love YOU and I love HER and I love your JEWELS, so this post is FABULICIOUS! tHANKS!!!

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