Welcome to the third installment of our new blog feature, My Jewelry Box, where we chat with some of our favorite (and most stylish!) customers about their personal collections, their relationship to their jewelry, and their thoughts on adornment and the act of collecting.
This month we feature Los Angeles-based Alison Bennett, a television + film writer and the driving force behind some of the funniest shows on TV, such as “You’re the Worst,” and “LA to Vegas.” Alison cut her comedy teeth at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York, but she originally hails from central Pennsylvania where her father owns antique malls, giving her lots of early exposure to the art of vintage jewelry collecting.
Alison is basically a jewelry junkie: she collects a wide variety of styles, and she mixes high/low and vintage/modern effortlessly into her everyday style.
Alexis: You mentioned that you are an “occasion dresser” – so you mean you don’t rock these crystal snake shoulder dusters on the regular?? What would you wear to the writers’ room, or an important project meeting, or a fancy industry event?
Alison: I'm more of an occasion shopper. I love to buy jewelry to mark big life events. Not just romantic milestones, but also jobs. Friendships. Vacations. Babies. When I was pregnant, I heard about the concept of a "push present" (getting a gift for the physical act of giving birth) and was immediately repulsed, until I realized it was an excuse to snag a new ring. Then I was like, "Wooo! Push present!" At the risk of sounding ninety, most of my jewelry is connected to a specific memory -- even my cheapo rhinestone snake earrings. I got them when I was drunk-shopping at the Excalibur in Vegas during a bachelorette party. Gotta mark the day I saw Thunder Down Under!
And it sounds corny, but I usually wear talismans for big meetings or pitches for good luck. I never want to look distracting, but I also never want to walk into a conference room without twenty rings on. It's a struggle.
AA: What are some of the stories behind your favorite pieces? Like this EGOT friendship necklace, or the moonstone hand ring?
AB: The EGOT friendship necklace was a gift from my husband for our first dating anniversary. He had once joked that maaaaaaybe together, we could EGOT (I think John Legend was on the brink of EGOT status at the time). I have "Emmy Grammy" and he has "Oscar Tony" because we are trash. In fact, we spent a lot of our first year dating wandering around the DTLA jewelry district and buying gold charms. I can't believe I married someone who loves jewelry as much as I do -- he's the only dude I know who has multiple ideas for concept pinkie rings. Soulmates!
The moonstone fortune-telling ring is one I'm borrowing it from my best friend Eva. It belonged to her mom, who was once a magician's assistant and is an overall groovy lady. The ring doesn't fit Eva so it's been on loan since I saw it in her jewelry box and gasped out loud. It gets a ton of compliments, but I never take the credit!
The little Victorian snake ring was one I saw while working at my dad's antique mall in Pennsylvania. I was a teenager and couldn't afford it -- I think it was $70, which seems like a steal for that old gold now. My dad saw me admiring it, secretly bought it, kept it in his desk for months, and gave it to me for my birthday that year. I was so happy and it really kicked off my collection of Victorian jewelry, which now includes a wood-carved figa with a gold snake in the fist. That's probably the fanciest piece in my collection.
AA: So your dad has an antique mall in Pennsylvania. Did growing up around that shape your appreciation for vintage jewelry? You have so many interesting pieces, some of them quite whimsical. Are there things that you look for when shopping for vintage, or is it more of an emotional sort of attraction?
AB: I spent my tween and teen years working at my dad's HUGE antique malls in Central PA (The Roller Mills and Street of Shops**) and that definitely sparked an interest for vintage jewelry. Because I've seen so much of it, I'm definitely attracted to weirder pieces and stuff I haven't seen before. I also like vintage jewelry with organic-looking shapes that feel modern. My engagement ring, from Esqueleto, is a perfect example of that!
AA: Do you believe that vintage objects hold some energy from the previous owners? This music box pendant necklace clearly has some powerful juju for example….or is this whole convo getting way too L.A./woowoo for you?
AB: I don’t usually sense energy from previous owners, but I've been wanting to expand my collection to include some Victorian mourning jewelry so getting haunted is a real possibility! I'll keep you in the loop!
AA: Besides your vintage collection, you seem to favor bold and edgy contemporary pieces. Who are some of your favorite designers?
AB: Erica Meredith, WWAKE, Annie Costello Brown, Polly Wales, Mociun, Katrina LaPenne, Rebecca Overmann, Erie Basin, Scosha, Rachel Comey... a friend of mine once said the only thing I follow on Instagram is "rings."
AA: Finally, and most importantly, I’m dying to know: is Rhoda (the dog) named after Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary Tyler Moore’s BFF?
AB: You know it!
** The Roller Mills