Our game started in early November after one of my closest friends, the brilliant novelist Alyson Richman, had received some sad news about a friend. Typically, we’d arrange a trip to the city as a distraction but due to Covid, that was out of the question.
So, I sent off this email:
Here’s something to take your mind off everything. Just for fun – to see what’s the most Magnificent Jewelry for sale in the world right now.
She emailed back.
Oh, my goodness…what gorgeousness. Can we play a game over the weekend where we have to pick what we’d buy from each row? That would be the best distraction.
And so, began the game we now call Shopping Sundays.
Before the pandemic, Alyson and I met at least twice a month for a lunch and museum or shopping foray into New York City. Part of the joy of our excursions was getting dressed up. Since we both love jewelry so much, we tend to dress for our pieces. On any given day Alyson would choose a 1950s style fit and flare dress and I’d wear a black silk tunic from The Row with Louboutin ballet slippers. And then we’d open our jewelry boxes and pick that day’s finery.
For lunch we’d meet at Sant Ambroeus on Madison if we were going to the Met, the Neue Galerie or the Guggenheim. Or we’d make reservations at The Astor Court or BG if we were going shopping Bergdorf’s. And twice a year we’d splurge on lunches at Grenouille for our birthdays. On those days our dressing up moved up a notch and we got to wear pieces we didn’t bring out all the time.
Our friendship isn’t based on consumerism but our love of beauty and grace. We appreciate each other’s ability to find joy in what is glorious in art and nature be that a Fortuny dress, a Van Cleef brooch, Hilma Af Klint painting or the wisteria vines growing up a brownstone in the east 70s.
And our afternoons together always celebrated that.
It’s been nine months since we spent a day together in the city and we had both been missing our excursions so much until two months ago when we invented our game.
Now, once a week, on Sunday, we visit an online auction preview or jewelry store and we fantasy shop.
The rules are simple. We examine the offerings item by item discussing those that attract our attention, looking for the five pieces that we each are the most drawn to and the one we would buy be if given the chance (and the funds).
We don’t just do a yes, no of each item and move on. We study the pieces we like and discuss how and where we’d wear it.
On a recent visit to Verdura.com I chose a Fulco Y necklace that we decided would look perfect with my favorite black cashmere turtleneck and Alyson chose an amethyst pebble bracelet. We then hopped over to the Metropolitan Museum Costume Collection website then because I remembered a 1950s that would go perfectly with that bracelet.
On a virtual walk through Macklowe galleries Alyson picked out a Lalique Aquamarine Anemone de Bois pendant.
“It’s just perfect to wear on my celadon green chiffon dress as I walk leisurely through the Tuileries garden,” she mused.
I chose a garden influenced brooch as well, from Boivin and joined her in the Tuileries where we imagined stopping to sit in those green metal chairs by the pond and watch the children sailing their toy boats.
Our 90 minutes flights of fancy and the imagination that the game inspires soothe and energize us and gives us an escape from so many things there’s no need to list here.
Our most recent visit was to Kentshire.com where I chose a ruby and diamond flower brooch. “I think this would be perfect to wear for a lecture at the Metropolitan Museum on the Language of Flowers featuring their Dutch still lives,” I said.
Alyson chose an Etruscan necklace and immediately envisioned it as the perfect statement piece. “All you need is an elegant silk black dress and that necklace and instantly you have the most perfect outfit!”
She also found a lovely ring that I still think she should have bought on the spot.
We found we both yearned for the same pair of art deco jade and onyx and diamond earrings and had a semi-serious conversation about which of us saw them first.
As Alyson wrote to me after this past Sundays’ virtual trip, “It’s amazing how friendship and beauty can really pull you through dark clouds.”
M.J. Rose is a New York Times bestselling author; her most recent novel, Cartier’s Hope, (Jan 28th, 2020) has been called “A bold, satisfying tapestry. Smart, fierce, lovely, and intricate,” Kirkus (Starred Review). Her next novel, The Last Tiara will be released February 2, 2021.