Alex Sepkus’s Belle Epoque

“Diamond beads threaded as a necklace may be the ultimate in casual chic.” In a 1993 essay, Dodie Kazanjian, the irreverent former art and fashion critic for Vogue, described a necklace “made out of old Indian round diamonds strung on platinum wire, with nine very rare diamond briolettes hanging down from it like teardrops.” Until recently, these faceted teardrops of carbon were used almost exclusively in one-of-a-kind pieces, for the simple reason that they weren’t readily available. Even if they were, chances are nobody would have understood their subtle appeal a decade ago. Then, big and showy was the preferred style for jewelry. When Kazanjian wrote her diamond essay, fashion was searching for a Nineties identity. By late 1993, it was poised somewhere between ecclesiastical severity and rumpled khakis. The Casual Friday idea was gaining momentum, anything glitzy or sh

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