In praise of versatile pearls


, , ,

A smashing rope of pearls with a baroque pearl pendant caught my eye while perusing the news. It turned out to belong to a Romanov grand duchess, who escaped the Russian revolution with the help of her jewel box. According to a fascinating story in the National Post, Olga Alexandrovna, sister of Tsar Nicholas, lived out her last days in Canada, on an Ontario farm, courtesy of that string of pearls. (And many others like it, I’ll wager.)

Her pearls give the term investment dressing a whole new meaning.

Will you look at those pearls!

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: pearls are the best buy when building a jewellery wardrobe. You’ll wear them over and over again, all your life: from your wedding, to your business meetings, to parties, to your children’s soccer game. And they’ll still look good on you at your great-grandchildren’s recitals. And let’s not forge that your heirs will be delighted to be reminded of you, generations from now, when the pearls’ timeless beauty will still be fashionable.

Bonus: if worst comes to worst, they’re easy to carry when you’re fleeing the country.


Theodora inspired by 1930s mannequin


, , , , , , , ,

There has been no living with Theodora since she heard about a mannequin who was so famous in the 1930s that she made the cover of Life magazine.

Great. Now my model has a role model.


Cynthia, the star mannequin of the 1930s

Theodora got particularly excited when she learned that Cynthia, as this single-named celeb was known, was invited to the wedding of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Now she has an eye (so to speak) on all the upcoming royal nuptials. And no one likes dressing for a posh wedding more than Theodora.


Inspired by Cynthia, her demands don’t end there. She wants to be featured more on the blog and in Instagram as part of her own “personal branding” campaign.

She wants to do more selfies with the clients, which is tricky since she lacks arms.


I fear that I may have created a monster. Good thing I’m too much of an introvert to act as her publicist.

But it does make me wonder what made Cynthia’s minders take a publicity stunt to such great lengths? Her inventor was trying to sell customers on these new oh-so-realistic mannequins and so he gave her a fake real life. She had a newspaper column and a radio show (despite her chronic laryngitis she was said to have been a good listener). And Saks even gave her a credit card!

What were they all thinking?

Maybe Cynthia was a nagger? Theodora certainly is. Which is why you will find her at my Oct. 25 and 26 trunk show at the Granville Island Hotel, angling for attention. She makes a good case that without her modelling, it’s hard to see how you can extend your own necklace wardrobe by layering single strands into scene-stealing statement necklaces. But I warned her that if she nags anyone to do selfies with her, she’s going home.

Really, I’m not sure how much I should indulge Theodora on this?

Then again, if Theodora is willing to take over my often-neglected social media, maybe I should just let her have the Instagram account?



Shop closed until October 2, 2019


, , , , , ,

I’m on vacation until Oct 2, and I’m sorry to report that my project of training Theodora to fill orders has been a fiasco. She’s a lovely model, but a lousy assistant.


So no website orders will be filled until I return. But if you’re in Vancouver you may want to wait a few weeks, until my big fall show, which is loaded with one-of-a-kind pieces.



My biggest trunk show of the year is happening this year on Granville Island


Friday Oct. 25 — 11 a.m. to 7 p.m

Saturday, Oct. 26 — 10 a.m to 5 p.m.

My pop-up coincides with the Vancouver Writers Festival and I think we book-lovers should stick together. So I’m offering anyone who brings a ticket from an event 10 per cent off the items they buy at my show.

As always, Theodora will be present, and yes, she does pose for selfies. Just don’t let her try and charge you.


Daring to be creative, while aging


, , , , , , , , , ,

Excuse me: do you happen to know who decides when we are “too old” to do something?

I was reading articles about middle-aged Madonna, being “too old” to make pop music and it occurred to me that if I had listened to that ageist nonsense, I’d have never had a career as a jewellery designer.


Witty Fiona Sturges in the Guardian expressed my outrage over the unvarnished sexism aimed at Madonna, and by extension, all Baby Boomers and GenXers who refuse to be invisible: “In the minds of her most vicious detractors… she would be better off binning the fishnets, putting on a nice cardie and waiting for death.”

I thought of all the male pop musicians who were before my time, and yet still seem to make it to the stage. No one comments on Mick Jagger’s age, 75, unless it’s to give him a fist-bump for having another child. His hard-partying bandmate Keith Richards, also 75, has long been celebrated for rocking-on another year. What’s the old joke about nuclear war? The only things that will survive are cockroaches and Keith Richards.

They are saluted, as they should be, for their long careers and their big influence on our culture.


So why is it that Madonna, a mere 60, is being dismissed as “grandma”? And while we’re on the subject, when did “grandma” become an insult?

In short: when, exactly, did it become a sin for a woman to be creative, while aging?

I was never a particular Madonna fan (my tastes run to R&B) but I think the Material Girl has earned a right to the spotlight. If she still has something to say, why wouldn’t we be inclined to listen?

Well, we all know the reason.


That’s the reason I became a jewellery designer, by the way: ageism in fashion. There wasn’t much out there for adult women who wanted to look like grown-ups, not frumps. It was either stiff, boring “fine jewellery” that reminded me of 1950s matrons. Or fast-fashion glass and plastic, aimed at teenagers.  I was on the hunt for a statement necklace that would do much the same job in my wardrobe that a power tie does for a man’s suit.

Where was the stylish jewellery for grown-ups who were looking to elevate a basic capsule wardrobe, featuring a lot of T-shirts and jeans, I wondered? Frustrated, I started making necklaces for myself. And, well, you know the rest.

On the bright side, that sexism-in-fashion has led to a lot of designers like me running small businesses producing long-lasting clothes and accessories for women who want to avoid the fast-fashion junk.

But make no mistake, my foray into jewellery design began as a private solution to a growing public problem: women-of-a-certain-age are belittled or ignored in the market square, while their male counterparts are considered to be in the prime of life.

It’s particularly annoying when the discriminatory drivel is printed in a place like the New York Times where Madonna’s new album, Madame X, earned a shade-casting profile, “Madonna at Sixty.” It focuses on her age and her looks and dismisses her in an off-handed way you can’t imagine them applying to any man who had achieved half as much.

And then, as they alienate women, they wonder why advertisers don’t flock to their doors?


Toronto marketing consultant Joanne Thomas Yaccato could explain their little advertising problem to them. In 2003, she wrote a book called The 80% Minority: Reaching the Real World of Women Consumers, in which she discussed how the business world’s bone-headed insistence on ignoring and insulting women undermines their own businesses.

You see, women make most of the buying decisions. They buy about 80 per cent of all the things there are to buy (which explains the book’s ironic title). And any product, including a newspaper that sneers at women, might just find itself having some troubles in the sales department.

Not that the Times was the only paper to slag Madonna for having the nerve to be creative, while aging. But somehow it’s worse in a newspaper that often brags about its own importance to democracy.

I was particularly baffled that the writer, a woman, went on and on about how surprising it was that Madonna was beautiful. Why? She was always beautiful. And she’s healthy, wealthy and fit. So why wouldn’t she still be beautiful?

Oh. Wait. Could it be that the writer thinks “aging” and “ugly” are synonyms?


I’m not going to speculate on why she thinks such sexist thoughts. I don’t have to. The Times told us why in a 2017 article about the declining fortunes of women at the paper, which is dominated by men who claim the majority of the most senior and influential jobs.

But with the age-bashing I wonder if they think Millennials (who shun their paper) will suddenly race to subscribe if they find articles dissing artists from the Baby Boom and GenX?

In short: what are they thinking? Well, my guess is they’re not thinking at all. So why should I continue reading their paper?


But I may write them to pass on a little tip I picked-up in all those business workshops I’ve done. While insulting women may look like a swell sales strategy when they’re sitting in their boys’ club meetings, they may want to consider the numbers. Together, Baby Boomers (the largest generation ever, born 1946-1964) and Gen-Xers (1965-1983) are a huge market. And we’ve lived long enough to have a little cash.

So here’s my question for the purveyors of misogyny: Do you really want to be alienating millions of women with your lousy products and ignorant, insulting journalism?

In the meantime, I need to get back to being #creativewhileaging before someone informs me that I, too, am done. I figure that if someone as accomplished as Madonna is not safe from that kind of ageist attack then no woman over 50 is.

If you feel an urge to respond, you can find me at info(at)

Perhaps that ageist criticism of Madonna rankled so much because I have been hard at work preparing for the LeslieJane fashion show on Saturday, June 15, which includes my jewellery. I was just thinking about how lucky I was to have found work I love to do, although I found it relatively late in life. (Designing jewellery is my third career).

You can learn more about the West Vancouver shop that has become an institution, here. And reserve tickets.

LeslieJane’s Fashion on the Pier
Saturday June 15, 3 p.m.
Ambleside Pier, at the foot of 14th St.
West Vancouver

RSVP for free tickets

They’ve been in business for more than 40 years and I have a theory as to why they’ve lasted so long. They provide superb customer service in every sense of that phrase. They carry high quality garments by a range of designers, many of whom are women-of-a-certain-age. And their shop is a welcoming spot for women of any age.

I’m thrilled to be part of their annual fashion show for the first time. Not least because no one there would ever think to ask how I have the nerve to be #creativewhileaging



Meet my new friend LeslieJane


, , ,

You can now find Anne Carson Design at that Vancouver fashion institution, LeslieJane in West Vancouver at 1480 Marine Drive.


The charming shop just celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, which is no mean feat in this economic climate.

The store was named for the founder Leslie Jane Tyrell, a fashion illustrator who wanted a boutique that sold the kind of clothes she preferred. She sourced stylish pieces made by small fashion houses that did limited production lines made from high-quality fabrics. LeslieJane has always catered to women who want a look that is all their own.

It’s the sort of fashion I prefer, and I’ve shopped there for years. So I was delighted that her son Paul, who has kept the family business alive and thriving, will be including my jewellery at LeslieJane beginning this month.

Yvonne, LeslieJane’s Paris-based buyer

I love their sense of fun and the enthusiasm for fashion. These shots are from their fall buying trip to Paris, which included goofing around in the Palais Royal garden as well as hoofing it through the ateliers and trade shows.


They search Paris, Milan, London, and Los Angeles to find the unique garments that comprise the LeslieJane look and you can follow their adventures on the blog, where it seems they’re having too much fun to call it work.


Yvonne with the designer of my favourite cashmere sweaters, Lara of La Fee Parisienne

LeslieJane is the only shop that carries Anne Carson Design in Vancouver and they carry about three dozen pieces that complement their stylish garments. You can still find one-of-a-kind pieces via my monthly newsletter — sign-up here — and if you’re in the U.K., my jewellery is carried by the online retailer, Emma & Louise.

And I’m still doing small, private trunk shows. If you’re interested in arranging a showing, please contact me — info(at)



The case for a Canadian book flood


, , , ,

I think I’ve finally figured out why those Scandinavian countries are always topping the international happiness lists: they read. A lot. In Iceland they even have an event called the Christmas book flood and it sounds as if it could easily become my favourite holiday. On Christmas Eve everyone gives everyone else books as gifts and then all 330,000 of them hunker-down, with good food and grog, to read. 

Well, sign me up! As it happens, I already have a private holiday that is very much like this. On one day over the winter break, I like to lounge around in my pyjamas reading the books I got as gifts and eating every delicious food I can find.


(Currently on my nightstand. And I recommend it.) 

Although it’s also true that I’m often thwarted. Other people have other plans for holiday things and introverts like me are told to just suck-it-up and make merry, dammit!

So I think we bibliophiles and introverts need to reserve a day that the party-hardy crowd can’t hijack. Since they’ve already claimed Christmas Eve, let’s make the Canadian book flood the last Friday in December. It’s cold, it’s dark, and we’re all exhausted from the holiday rush. What better way to celebrate surviving the season than by getting all hygge and curling up with a glass of wine and a good read.

Want to join me? I’m sure a Canadian book flood would make us all very happy.


Come to my show; explore Main


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Part of the fun for me in doing a trunk show on Main Street is that it gives me a good excuse to visit shops and restaurants outside of my neighbourhood. And if you’re visiting my pop-up shop this week, I recommend you visit them too.


I open at 11 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, so if you’re dropping by midday, may I suggest you have lunch at Coco et Olive at Main & 22nd — the hot chicken sandwich is worth driving across town for.  If you’re arriving later in the day — I’m open until 7 p.m. — the French Table is just four blocks north of my trunk show at Little Mountain Shop.

I know many of you have a thing for beautiful stationery with clever sayings on it, so don’t miss The Regional Assembly of Text, near 24th. The shop has a vintage feel, not least because of all the typewriters decorating it. And who doesn’t need a tea towel with a map of Vancouver on it?

I can never get enough of independent bookshops and there are two near my trunk show. Book Warehouse on Main is just three blocks away from me, and is also dog friendly. And then there’s Carson Books, a secondhand bookstore just a few doors down. No relation, but obviously a kindred spirit.

Pulp Fiction on Main, is farther north, near Broadway, but since you’re already on Main, why not go a few extra blocks? (Yes, this is my rationale for hitting every independent bookstore on the street: when will I get over to Main next?)

At the top of my reading list: Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black, which just won the Giller Prize.

Need to supply yourself with greenery and flowers for parties, stocking stuffers for the green-of-thumb, or maybe sign-up up for a wreath-making workshop? The Flower Factory is just a block away and they have a lovely Instagram.

And I’m sure I’ll have a few more  Christmas shopping recommendations by the time my show is done. Hope to see you there:

November 21-23

4386 Main Street (near 28th)

Little Mountain Shop

Wednesday, 4 pm – 7 pm

Thursday and Friday, 11 am to 7 pm


Christmas pop-up shop Nov 21-23


This year Theodora and I will be doing our Christmas show on Main Street in the trendy Little Mountain neighbourhood. It’s happening mid-week, Wednesday to Friday.

Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Friday, Nov. 23
4386 Main St. (near 28th Ave.)
Wed – 4 p.m to 7 p.m.
Thurs, Fri –  11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
(or by appointment)



This necklace is fresh off my workbench and headed straight to the trunk show: Blackened silver and creamy baroque pearls, punctuated with a sparkly spinel clasp.

And I think the upside of winter is that it just gives us new ways to wear jewellery. Like my scarf pins. These are new for me and I have only a few in stock; I’m taking commissions. Sterling silver pins with big, bold baroque pearls, silver charms, and semiprecious stones bring some glamour to a simple scarf.





Beautiful & life-saving


, , ,

It’s fair to say that I would rather nosh on glass than discuss my health with anyone but a doctor, so you can imagine my horror when I learned I was going to have to wear a MedicAlert bracelet.


“It’s bad enough I have to advertise my personal info in public, but now I have to display it on jewellery I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing…,” my inner 20-year-old was wailing.  I know; bad joke. But really: medical jewellery. When did it come to this?


I tolerated the ranting of my inner brat for a moment or two before grown-up me returned and I remembered: this actually fits my philosophy. I’ve always believed that the things we wear every day should be beautiful and longwearing, and contribute to our quality of life.

So I’ve been experimenting with bracelets and necklaces for myself, attaching the medical medallions where I would normally add a crown or a feather or some other charm with charm.

And I can do it for you too, if you happen to need such a thing.

When it comes to medical medallions, there’s a silver lining (and a gold one). You can buy them in sterling silver or other precious metals and I can incorporate them into the design of any necklace or bracelet you like.

And I’ve been thinking about how to weave the different shapes of medallions into bangles and gemstone bracelets.


We can come up with something that lets the family member or friend who will inherit the piece — someday! a long, long time from now! —  remove it easily.


Yes, there’s another thing I don’t like talking about, except when I’m talking to brides. They’re delighted by the idea that someday their children and grandchildren will inherit a signature necklace that carries so many memories. And while it’s true that, ideally, all our good jewellery will be worn long after we’re gone, I just hate thinking about the “gone” part.

So that’s how I’ve dealt with my resistance to wearing my medical history in public. I’m trying to make it as beautiful as possible now, so that whoever inherits it will be delighted to wear it later. Much, much later.

My first creation is a simple charm bracelet in a big link silver chain, with a stylish lobster clasp and some decorative silver beads. It’s ideal for layering with other pieces, like my watch, and a simple leather-and-silver-bead bracelet that has been in my wardrobe for years.

But my next life-saving piece could be anything that delights my senses. Or yours.


Which is all to say that while I’m not up for talking about my health, I’m always happy to discuss medical jewellery from the aesthetic point of view.