After her stepson adopted a cat, Wendy Brandes started pining for a kitty herself. “Cats are so amusing—they’re in your bookcase, hanging from curtains,” she notes of their quirky characteristics. Another plus: Cats are social media superstars. “I’ve had dogs for years, but cats are so much hotter online,” adds the New York City–based journalist, blogger, and jewelry designer with a love of history and a distinctly humorous and irreverent sensibility.
So in 2012, Pekingese owner Brandes—mom to fur child Henry, who died in December 2014 at age 8—went online in search of a suitable sibling. Partial to flat-face animals, Brandes searched for kitties with similar looks and learned about exotic shorthair Persians. Like Henry, this variety of cat looked sort of “disappointed in you,” Brandes giggles. Also like Henry: The cats were available in orange.
Brandes flew to Syracuse, N.Y., to adopt a seven-month-old male. She named him FitzRoy, which is of historical significance and in keeping with a theme: Henry was named after Henry VIII, and Henry FitzRoy was the name of one of Henry VIII’s illegitimate children.
Shortly after bringing FitzRoy home, he took up residence in an orange bowl given to Brandes and her husband as a wedding gift. The couple had never used the bowl, which fit FitzRoy perfectly when he curled up in a ball. Sometimes, a leg inadvertently escapes for supercute photo opps that Brandes documents in @fitzroy_the_cat on Instagram, an account that has 10,100 followers.
Not surprisingly, the cat’s popularity combined with Brandes’ love of animals paved the way for a FitzRoy the Cat line of fine jewelry, starting with birthstone stud earrings and jackets that debuted in January. To date, they are sold only on Brandes’ website, though she is open to wholesale accounts. Made in 18k gold, retail prices range from $2,250 to about $4,000. Of course, there will be more styles. “I have ear climbers done, and a pendant is in the works,” says Brandes. “They will be a perfect rendition of FitzRoy sitting in his bowl—on his back in a round shape.” In the first pendant, FitzRoy will be holding a beautiful 6 mm black Lightning Ridge opal bought on impulse at last year’s JCK Las Vegas show and will be surrounded by orange sapphires. Eventually, she’ll create a ring with moving parts. The jackets, meanwhile, nod to FitzRoy in another relaxed pose.
And because FitzRoy is such a fun pet, Brandes bought him a flat-face companion last summer. Enter Purrkoy, a name that fits in ideally with Brandes’ historical theme, as it is a variance on Purkoy, the name of a lap dog that belonged to Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s wives. PK, as Brandes and hubby affectionately call him, also has his own Instagram account at @purrkoy_the_kitten, which has a respectable following of 3,897.
“If I do silver versions, it’ll be called the PK line because he is gray and white,” explains Brandes. And while PK’s perch of choice is unclear, Brandes’ gratitude to the gifter of FitzRoy’s orange bowl, where many a comical cat pose takes place, will last forever.
“Whoever gave it to us—thank you!” she says.
The Style 360 blog is your editorial source for the newest jewelry, trends, market analysis, trade show insights, designer profiles, and more.