About breadandcake

I am a full-time jewelry fan. I shop for it, admire it, stalk it, make it, think about it, and dream about it. Now, I write about it too. I don't know why it is my drug of choice but it is and has been since I was a little girl tying string around my wrist. My other life consists of being married to a strange guy who goes by the handle R.JXP. I'm not sure of his real name. I'm also not really sure what he does when I'm not around. We live in San Francisco with our awesome and clever dog, London, and two old-man cats, Wade and Marten. If you're in San Francisco and some woman is eying your earrings, don't be nervous. It's probably me.

I am resurrecting Bread + Cake for the sole purpose to give a shout out to Cari Streeter.  This story is a bit of a long walk.  Hear me out.

About two weeks ago, my little dog, Roo, (a.k.a. chuckle-head or chicken bone) decided to pick a fight with a bigger, stronger dog.  She ended up with a big mouth, full of big teeth, around her as she made the biggest fuss you could possibly imagine.  The humans broke it up and that was when Roo made an even worse choice than her selection of opponent – she ran.  She ran and ran and ran.  I chased and chased but I was no match for the frightened chicken bone.  Eventually she was just gone.

May I pause a moment to write a brief love letter to the good people of San Francisco?  People ran into the street after Roo.  They shouted to drivers to alert them to the presence of a “DOG IN THE STREET!!!!”  Joggers and bike riders gave chase.  One guy left his own dog at a cafe to search for mine.  One lady found some treats to give to Roo for “when you find her.”  Man, do San Franciscans love dogs and, man, do I love them for that.

But, back to the action.  So, Roo was gone.  The trail, after about 30 minutes, had gone cold.  Just then, I encountered some joggers who had seen her about 10 minutes earlier.  One of them mentioned that she still had her collar.  That was an incredible relief because I was sure it had been lost in the fracas.  Suddenly, I thought.  Collar.  Tags.  Phone numbers.  My phone!  I looked down to find several missed calls.  I looked up to see my husband answering his phone.  Roo had been found!

If you are familiar with San Francisco, you’ll know the Hayes Valley and the Fillmore/Pac Heights areas.  Roo had made it from Hayes Valley, where the fight happened, to Fillmore.  On Fillmore, Cari Streeter spotted an unattended Roo running down the street and jumped in to help.  As Cari went after Roo, Roo found Browser Books (my favorite bookstore).  Roo ran inside the bookstore and right behind the counter.  It was then that the John and I started getting calls from Cari and the good folks at Browser Books.

John and I hightailed it up to the bookstore.  When we arrived, there was Roo surrounded by adoring humans and seeming just fine, if not a little tired.  As we thanked everyone, Cari, who was still there comforting Roo, mentioned that she was on her way back to her trunk show at Gallery of Jewels just down the street.  The Universe is a funny place.

We got Roo checked out at Pets Unlimited/SFSPCA, who has saved our furry butts more than once, and discovered that all her wounds were superficial.  Not a single puncture wound.  No sutures needed.  A miracle and, honestly, a credit to the other dog who surely could have chomped Roo in half.  I’d love to be able to tell the other owner of the restraint of her dog.

After that, John and I went to find Cari at her trunk show.  There, we met her husband Rory, too.  What an awesome pair and what an amazing concept for a personalized and collectable jewelry line made with precious metals and real stones.  Cari and Rory also provide a fun experience — they take the jewelry-making show on the road.  Rory turns up at the trunk show with a small, portable jewelry bench so he can stamp personalization on the jewelry or adjust chains before your eyes.  It’s a great idea to bring the customization to you.

Of course, I could not resist.  I was so pleased to find that Cari and Rory have included zodiac symbols in their collection.  (I have been thinking for some time that the zodiac symbols should be on their way back.)  I put together a Virgo symbol with a sapphire drop on a chain and I’ve been calling it my “September necklace.”  It has not left my neck since that fateful day.

I love my Cari Streeter original.  I love that, when I look at it, I don’t think about the day we lost Roo.  Instead, I think about the day that we were so lucky and we were showered with so much kindness by so many.  For me, that’s the power of keepsakes — which are so often in jewelry form — the energy put into them can transform an experience and set a memory in place.

In any case, if you’re in market for a lovely, personalized piece, buy it from Cari.  She loves dogs.






By my calculations, about three years and four months ago, I walked into Manika Jewelry for the first time and struck up a conversation with the owner, Peter Walsh.  I went on and on, as I do, about how much I love jewelry and that, in another life, I should have been a jewelry designer.  Peter, as a I recall, listened patiently to my ravings and then mentioned that there were places where one could take lessons in metal-smithing and jewelry-making.  In particular, he mentioned a nearby school, the Revere Academy.  It was a startling revelation that jewelers — these magicians of art and science — were not born with pliers in one hand and a torch in the other.  Someone taught them … that was something that could happen!

So, my obsession having been seriously ratcheted up by my conversation with Peter, in due course, I began to take jewelry classes at Scintillant and I started this blog.  I am sorry to say that I had forgotten how all this began.  However, it all came back me to me two days ago while out for a stroll in the middle of the day with a coworker friend of mine. (Did I ever mention that I’m a federal employee?)  It was on our walk that we stumbled upon Manika’s new, gorgeous location at 645 Market Street, San Francisco.  As Peter Walsh recalled that I had been in the store before, in a flash, I realized that it all started with him.

With that, allow me to tell you about Manika.

41f1f9_47858a8ca27da20495c931dd0ddc9740The new location is stunning with lots of light and spacious cases that show off the collection in way that is not overwhelming.  The collection itself has a nice variety.  There is something for everyone but it all hangs together — fine craftsmanship being the running theme.

The real secret to the Manika experience is Peter.  He loves what he does and it shows.  He is welcoming and kind.  He seems to genuinely enjoy discussing the collection with those who wander into his store and not simply for the purpose of making a sale.  Call it being a nice guy or call it stealth salesmanship, his time with customers like me is an investment and it is how businesses should be run.  While one might not always be in the market to drop money on fine earrings, when the time comes, he’s the guy you want to give your money to.

During my recent visit, Peter said, “I could talk about what I love about jewelry all day.”  He says it like a fact without a hint of forced enthusiasm.  It is that clear enjoyment of the art that allows him to curate the store so beautifully.  He obviously connects with jewelry artists who are thinkers.  They work the details and take a creative approach to function.

While much can and should be said about each and every designer carried at Manika, I leave that for another day.  Those posts along with one about Manika’s new custom designer GiGi Gruber — a delightful presence in the store — yet to come!

What do you see?

The aesthetic appreciation of color is tricky. You can never be sure if you are really seeing the same color as someone else. We all know that there is such a thing as color-blindness but perhaps we fail to consider how subjective color is and how different it can seem to different people.


color wheelWhen I first saw jewelry made with kingfisher feathers, the effect was instantly burned into my memory.  More than any color I have ever seen before it makes me wonder how other people perceive it.   Is it blue?  Is it green?  Does it appear solid like a shell or like vapor?  I have never seen a blue that has such an impact on everything and every other color around it.  It is not just the sheen of the feathers, although that it certainly a part of it. No, it’s the color itself. These feathers are an otherworldly balance of navy, lavender, teal, and lime.  The overall color should be turquoise but it’s not — it’s more.  Mysteriously, I find that the color manages to avoid all suggestion of the delicate or pastel. Rather, I think that the color has a substance to it — an opacity.  But, what do you see?

Kingfisher-8Having seen some gorgeous kingfisher feather jewelry in person, I have to say that photos do not really do the color justice. Nevertheless, I found some lovely examples of antique pieces to share.

Be good.

In the last week, we had some family in town. Some of that family is young and small. Thus, we took in a lot of family-friendly sights and activities. Twice, we ended up at an aquarium. I guess that stands to reason in San Francisco, what, with all that water. One of them was the impressive aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. It was there that I spotted some information about coral.  Coral, as I am sure everyone knows, is often used in jewelry.  That, as the California Academy of Sciences explained, is not a good idea for our precious underwater ecosystems.  For more on this, there is this little piece from the amazing designer and all-around jewelry goddess, Temple St. Clair, whose name I only utter in hushed tones.

Declaring Coral Too Precious to Wear — by Temple St. Clair.

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

While we are at it, check out this fun, beaded play on coral!

Faux Coral Beaded Necklace with Matching Bracelet

Beaded faux coral by Threadsandpins on Etsy.

This doesn’t hurt anyone.  This is better.

Teeny, tiny, little lapis pieces.

I am often in awe of jewelry that is not necessarily right for me. When it comes to picking out jewelry for myself, I go for the miniature and impossibly delicate. That’s kind of sad for me because I also love all things lapis. That gorgeous stone — like pieces of the night sky.  I never tire of looking at it.  Lapis has a funny habit of being invited into bigger and bolder pieces. (Perhaps, that is because it is a fairly soft stone and it is more durable in bigger chunks.)

This last weekend, my husband and I made a stop at the Union Street Festival in San Francisco.  There, among the many booths of handmade goods, food, and services, I found this little gem:

Beautiful Lolabean lapis bracelet.

Beautiful Lolabean lapis bracelet.

Tiffany Rodgers Bean of Lolabean makes many sweet, delicate items and it is worth checking out her other work.  With this piece, I love being able to have my favorite stone showcased so simply and in just the right amount.

Ancient Wisdom

I’m like a ferret.  Dangle a shiny thing in front of me and you have my attention.  It could be a button or it could be a diamond.  It doesn’t really matter.  I have numerous childhood memories of rifling through sewing boxes, old jewelry boxes in attics, or long-forgotten purses under beds. All in search of something that might adorn.  Strung on a string or wrapped around a wrist.  Anything might be possible.  I spent a good deal of time in the care of other people as a kid and letting me search for treasure (read: junk) was the way to engage me.  Looking back, engaging me might not have otherwise been the easiest thing to accomplish.

In my personal psychology, the drive for things of adornment might have been about a lot of things.  A creative outlet or even a way to bond with women who were not my mother but nonetheless my temporary caregivers.  But, I think we all know the desire to create and wear jewelry is not unique to me or our time.

A brief search of Ebay easily bring up items such as these:

While I cannot verify the authenticity of any of these items, I have no reason to doubt it.  Of course, there are places all over the world that buy and sell antiquities and, certainly, sometimes those items are jewelry.  For me, setting aside the flat-out weirdness of being able to buy, from Ebay, the personal item of someone who died centuries ago, it is interesting to connect with the idea of adornment as simply a human thing that refuses to be defined by time or place.  It is just something we do and, seemingly, something we have always done.

For more on this topic, check this out:

Egyptians Created Jewelry From Meteorites

What can I say?

Here, I so often try to find new things to say about design elements that speak to me. Sometimes, I just want to just share something I’ve found and say, “Hey, I love that. I would wear that.”

But, really, shouldn’t I say more? Shouldn’t I say why? You know, it’s just not that easy. It’s easier to speak of lovely technique or innovation but it’s harder to say why something just strikes a chord.

Among the lines of jewelry that cause words to fail me is the work of Erin Jane.

White Jade NecklaceLong White Jade Necklace

So, about this, I can scare up a few words.  As I’ve said before, one of the things I most appreciate in jewelry design is when the designer really makes necessary components do some of the aesthetic heavy-lifting.  Jane has done this here with the silver band connecting the pendant to the chain.  With this little maneuver, she’s cleverly elevated the design from what could of have been a much more forgettable necklace.

Gold Bracelet with White Topaz (2)Gold Bar Bracelet with White Topaz

Nice. Clean. Simple.

Chocolate Diamond NecklaceChocolate Diamond Three Stone Bar Necklace

I didn’t write fast enough.  This has sold.  It’s beautiful, though, and maybe she’ll make more.  I love dots.  I love mixed metal.  This is no brainer.  Love it.

Pierced Through The Heart

I was not allowed to get my ears pierced until I was eleven. Eleven! The shame. It took an all-out campaign to get my dad to acquiesce.   Even then, he wouldn’t take me.  Having acquired permission, I had to talk a babysitter into it.  Once pierced, I quickly accumulated a collection of crappy earrings.  I loved them all and no morning was complete until I worked a pair until those elusive holes.

Every so often I will notice an adult woman who has never had her ears pierced. As important as it was to me as kid to have it done, now, I sort of admire the restraint it took to not mutilate ones ear lobes in order to wear Claire’s finery.  Admiration aside, when I see such a stalwart, I wonder: “How did you make it through your adolescence that way?  Did your parents just never give in?  Did you ever try bargaining for it with a good report card?”

These days, and I am not sure when it happened, I don’t wear earrings very often.  Usually, I forget to put them in.  And, when I go looking to expand my now meager earrings collection, I come away disappointed.  It all seems so done and predictable.  Ultimately, I think earrings have a tall order to fill.  They are, after all, next to one’s face.  The can’t just be pretty objects in and of themselves — they have to be flattering. 

But, I looked hard, dear readers, and I found signs of life.  In particular, I found that Heidi Daus’ earrings have a great deal of life.  She has a wonderful line jewelry that is all worth a comment.  But, today is about earrings — so here we go.

Life is complicated …

The title of this post is the beginning of one of my personal catch phrases.  “Life is complicated … (and a beat later) … morally ambiguous.”  I am not sure that the second half of that has much to do with my point.  Mainly, I am claiming that my absence from this blog is because life is complicated … and busy.  Oh, that sounds so lame.  But, it’s true.  This is not a hyper-personal blog but I will share that the last few months have been a time of adjustment in my life.  When I had time, I found that I had little to say about the art and design of jewelry that I love so much.

Out of curiosity, I logged on today to this little blog that contains my little musings.  I was so pleased, alarmed, and touched to find that it still, in my absence, receives daily hits.  And so, I determined that I should find more to say.  It makes me happy and, if others enjoy it, all the better.  So, here’s to the future and more to come.


Sometime back, I learned that my identity had been stolen.  Ironically, a good deal of mainstream jewelry from national retailers was purchased.  The humor in that was not lost on me.  I learned from one of the fraud investigators that the woman, with a fake ID with her picture and my (old) information, seemed to know a great deal about me.  She talked too much and shared information that either came from this blog or my Etsy profile.  I am here to say to that person, should she be reading: life is complicated … and morally ambiguous.  I get that.