Oh sure, there are lots of fashion street style stars who wear major jewelry. It puts a punctuation put on their lewk. Yet there are is only one street style star I know who makes jewelry her focus. Since 2009, Liza Urla of the Gemologue blog has been documenting her favorite jewelry ensembles not to mention causing a sensation with some of her most outrageous stylings like the time she covered her face in ‘pearls.’ Well now, the London based, New York City-educated gemologist and devoted jewelista has put together a book, Gemologue: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips. It covers her favorite jewelry moments over the years.
As a pioneer in the digital space, I wanted to know how Liza has seen things change, not to mention her process for her unique and of the moment publication and what she plans for the future. She graciously told me everything. Read our interview below.
In your book you mention that when you started Gemologue, you just photographed jewelry in the street because designers were reticent about sharing their jewels online. When do you feel that changed and why?
The fashion industry was the first to embrace the internet and social media, and the jewelry world followed, albeit reluctantly. The main concerns of jewelry designers were that showing their creations online destroyed the value of jewelry and they were afraid to be copied. The fashion world shows many more collections annually and they don’t face the same issues as the jewelry world. However, jewelry brands have finally embraced the fact that more collections have to be presented annually and not necessarily remain permanent for years to come.
Who was the first big or well-known name to let you photograph their work?
I am struggling to remember who was the first well-known name to let me photograph jewelry as I have photographed thousands of jewelry brands since 2009. However, I did take photos of Harry Winston’s private office in the first few months of founding Gemologue. I also feel that I took some of my first pictures of fine jewelry at Sotheby’s.
Today, you have carte blanche to photograph just about any designer in the world. Travel and jewelry are the main focus of Gemologue. Can you tell me someone on your wish list to cover in the future?
What I truly desire is to visit India as I have never been there. I feature fashion jewelry, antique jewelry and fine jewelry and it will be a true gold mine for me to feature Indian jewelry within the fashion context. Another dream of mine is to feature more tribal jewelry from Africa! After all, Gemologue is all about my personal jewelry journey and the world has so much to offer when it comes jewelry as it is closely interconnects with history.
Your tips are great fun. They remind me of Diana Vreeland’s column at Harper’s Bazaar “Why Don’t You…” when she advised readers to do whimsical things like “tie black tulle bows on your wrist.” If you had to choose one piece of advice for people to make a standout photograph what would it be?
I would tell them: “Follow the source of light.” The best jewelry photography is shot in natural light in order to avoid jewels looking flat and gemstones losing their true colors.
Are all the photos in the book from Instagram or are others only featured on your blog? Are some images new to the book entirely?
Yes, some images are new to the book entirely and some are from gemologue.com and my Instagram. The archive is very big and I put a lot of effort in maintaining and organizing it in the same way as fine jewelry brands present their design drawings. Instagram is just 10% of all the jewelry I am fortunate to photograph in order to feature on Gemologue website.
Why did you decide to leave captions off the photos and the jewelry designer’s names?
Because it is not a catalogue and no preferences were given. However, you can find a full list on gemologue.com I have had a very positive feedback from readers as it encourages them to start the conversation about jewelry and to get in touch.
Why did you feel the time was right to do a book?
Fashion street style has been a big deal for a while, whereas the same thing cannot be said about jewelry street style. When I first started working on the book there was no jewelry street style books out there. I wanted to show people that jewelry is desirable and exciting and should be integrated in our daily life. I was very happy to work with ACC Art Books on this jewelry book, as they have published some of my favorite jewelry books including Understanding Jewelry.
Could you pick few of your favorite photos from the book and explain briefly what you like about them and why you feel they are successful.
I took this photo at Corso Como concept store in Milan. I love looking at jewelry, and I often stop people on the street to chat about their jewelry style.
I took this photo at Frieze Art Fair London. I love the symbolism and jewelry self expression as crosses have always been a strong identifier in the jewelry world and at the moment a strong movements thanks to the exhibition “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” at the MET in New York City.
On this photo I am wearing contemporary jewelry by an emerging jewelry designer Sari Rathel at Theo Fennell initiative “The Gilded Youth Project” photographed by Julia Flit. This jewelry photo went viral and shows a new facet of jewelry design exploring the body physically.
I took this picture at the Number Sixteen Hotel in London South Kensington. I just love how this style is sophisticated and relevant to a modern woman.
This photo by Julia Flit is of Buccellati rings on my hand. I am a big fan of Buccellati’s superb craftsmanship and I love to photograph jewelry in clusters. This photo has a “wow effect” and lets you see so many rings on one photo.
I took this photo during Paris Fashion Week just outside Colette concept store which has now sadly closed its doors forever. This photo is the epitome of jewelry street style.