Ruth Bashinsky

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Local Jewelry Designers’ Labors of Love Make Perfect Gifts

Hand-fabricated bracelet in sterling silver and 22K gold with diamonds, $360.

Elizabeth Taylor once said, “Jewelry has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique.” Shall we say more?

In our pursuit of the most unique and personal gifts to give this holiday season, we found an assortment of bracelets, bangles, necklaces and rings, each handcrafted from a variety of local jewelry designers. For those obsessed with fine gold and precious metal to colorful beads, stones with healing properties or just bling, we’ve got you covered.

Each artist is passionate about their craft, which is translated into their designs.

Designer: Annie Fensterstock Fine Jewelry

Specialty: Annie is known for her intricate designs that utilize ancient goldsmithing techniques. She works in 18-karat gold, 22-karat gold, sterling silver and platinum. She uses precious gemstones including less traditional cuts of diamonds as well as rubies, sapphires, opals and Paraiba tourmalines. Many of her bracelets, earrings and necklaces feature open framework that lends itself to the Renaissance, Baroque, or Art Nouveau style.

“All of my jewelry is individually hand fabricated. I don’t use molds and I alloy my own gold. I combine traditional goldsmithing techniques with a modern aesthetic to make jewelry for the strong, independent woman,” she says.

Description: Edgy chic, timeless.
Inspiration: Art, architecture, music and family.
Prices: $200 and up.
Where to get it: anniefensterstock.com

Union Jack Guitar String Bracelet made from
nickel-wound “E” guitar string, silvertone and
glass beads with microphone charm detail on
pick with lobster clasp, $35.

Designer: Black Flamingo Designs 

Specialty: Owner/Designer Louise Iacono uses guitar picks and guitar strings that she upcycles to create one-of-a-kind bracelets and earrings. Some of her customized picks feature unique designs from an Australian-based artist she works with. Many of her clients are guitarists and music aficionados.

“Guitar string bracelets are my creation,” she says. “Some customers send me their own strings and picks. One customer found her late grandfather’s guitar after 35 years. I made a bracelet out of the guitar strings for the girl’s mother for Christmas. She was so choked up. I love doing stuff like that.”

(Side note: Louise made guitar string bracelets for Bret Michaels, the ex-lead singer of Poison, and each band member.)

Inspiration: Any type of music, especially classic rock.
Price: $20 earrings; men’s guitar bracelet $35; women’s guitar bracelet $25-$30.
Where to get it: Available at bkflamingo.etsy.com and the Tri-County Flea Market through Christmas.

Maude Graham Aquamarine Intention Necklace with druzy, clear quartz crystal and Buddha charm, $500. Available at shopsaylavieboutique.com

Designer: Maude Graham

Specialty: Jane Zuckerberg, owner of Say La Vie, a clothing/accessories boutique in Cold Spring Harbor, formerly the tie-dye lady, started creating jewelry under a pseudonym.

“I couldn’t find any jewelry that I wanted to wear so I figured I would create it myself,” she says. Zuckerberg uses freshwater pearls, a combination of beads that she says possess healing properties, and a buddha or druzy for glitter and she always adds quartz crystals to the mix for what she describes as The Master Protector.

“I only create jewelry when I feel calm, happy and centered,” she says. “Everything is made with love. There is an energy to the stones and crystals I use.

“For example, Amazonite has a peaceful, calming vibe and Labradorite offers protection from negativity,” she continues. “Citrine attracts abundance and Lepidolite is a mood booster. Buddha reminds me to live and treat others as I wish to be treated and Ganesha is the remover of obstacles in one’s path.”

Description: Jewelry with a spiritual edge.
Inspiration: Nature and the ocean and the beach.
Prices: $20-$35 baby jewelry; $45, $60, $75 bracelets; $295-$500 and up for beaded jewelry with diamonds and gold.
Where to get it: shopsaylavieboutique.com

How to Organize Your Closet Like a Pro

A man's professionally organized closet on Long Island.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your closet? Do you spend hours trying to find that cute outfit you bought but have no idea where you put it? Do you feel like you are having a wardrobe meltdown every other day because you cannot locate anything you like?

For some, keeping your closet organized can be a daunting task. Jamie Hord, owner of Garden City-based, Horderly Professional Organizing and National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) member, offers these organizing tips to help get you on the right track.

TIP #1: ONE IN AND ONE OUT

Each time you bring in something new, let go of something old, says Hord. “I have many clients who shop a lot and are bringing new pieces into their closet weekly. I tell them to keep a donation basket or shopping bag in their closet at all times, so they are always making room for the new items and keeping their clothes streamlined.” If you are not sure what to eliminate, a good rule of thumb, she says, is to give away clothes or shoes you have not worn in a year.

A capsule wardrobe on a hanging rack.

TIP #2: UNIFORMITY

Discard all the plastic and metal hangers your closet may be hanging onto and invest in matching felt hangers, she explains. The slim design saves space and slides easily along the rod, she says. For men who may want a more masculine look for their wardrobe, Hord uses a slim wooden hanger that works well and looks handsome in a closet. Unlike a felt hanger that may pucker the fabric, the wooden hangers feature a thicker rounded end that keeps pants wrinkle-free and the jacket intact.

Another tip she encourages is to be consistent and stick with the organizing system put in place even when it’s time to put away that dry cleaning. “I tell my clients to treat their dry cleaning like it is their groceries. Once you unload your items, you discard the bags. The same applies to your dry cleaning. Switch out the flimsy metal hangers with the felt or wooden hangers.” Keeping everything uniform, ensures Hord, will help save time.

“You want to be able to shop your closet,” says Hord. “You can easily access everything, and it will be easy to get dressed.” 

A married couples shared walk in closet.

TIP #3: CATEGORIZING

First sort clothes by type, says Hord. For tops, place long sleeves together followed by short sleeve tops, sleeveless tops, dresses, skirts, etc. Within the category place them from darkest color to lightest color. Same applies to menswear, categorizing polos, t-shirts, long sleeves, sweaters, etc.

Button-down shirts, she explains, are organized by solid colors, stripes and checkered patterns also working from dark to light. Hord typically hangs cardigans and open sweaters and likes to fold turtlenecks. For those who prefer their t-shirts to be folded, Hord suggests folding them in short stacks. Otherwise, she explains, it may be more difficult to maintain.

Depending on the type sweater, for more delicate fabrics that may pull easily, Hord likes to fold them. The same applies to that chunky sweater since it would be too bulky to hang.

For footwear, Hord categorizes by type of shoe or uses a color coding system. For her female clients, stilettos, wedges, cork heel, open or closed toe, boots, and booties are put in groupings. Loafers, dress shoes, sneakers, and boots for her male clientele.

“I like to encourage my clients to keep everything out so they can see it. If you have it in a box they are most likely not going to use it,” says Hord.

For those who may not have that spacious walk-in closet, there are still space-saving techniques that can keep you organized. For one, get rid of the shoe boxes once you bring that new pair of shoes home.

“They just take up too much space,” she explains. “If you have a lot of shoes I use the clear shoe boxes This way you can see the shoe and the boxes are stackable which maximizes the space.”

An over-the-door shoe storage tree for the inside of your closet is also a great option.