Michael O'Connor of Platinum Guild International - Talking Diamonds with a Jewelry Genius

The entire penthouse suite of the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills was emptied of all original furnishings and replaced by a single table extending the entire length of a wall. On top of this lone table were diamonds, upon diamonds, upon more diamonds all set in white platinum to create necklaces, bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, watches, and broaches all neatly arranged on luscious cream velvet display cases. The jewelry sparkled in the morning sun radiating through the French doors leading to a balcony that rivaled the size of the penthouse. I had walked into jewelry heaven!

For the 2006 Emmy Awards, Platinum Guild International compiled an awe-inspiring collection of jewelry from all around the world. For three days, this rare collection was on display for celebrities and their stylists to view and borrow for the biggest night in the television industry. Stylists surveyed the collection deciding on the perfect pieces for their clients, TV crews filmed the sparking gemstones, and members of the media jotted down notes about the glittering atmosphere.

Surrounded by diamonds and cameras, I had a chance to chat with Michael O'Connor, esteemed member of Platinum Guild International (PGI) and world renowned jewelry designer and expert. This jovial, gemstone genius was eager to talk jewelry and we certainly did! After all, what do you get when you put a fashion stylist, a jewelry wizard, and millions of dollars worth of diamond and platinum jewelry in the same room? A conversation oozing with enough excitement and pizzazz to rival a Mikimoto cocktail ring!  

PGI unites collections from designers all over the world in order to create a centralized place where stylists and celebrities are able to see and shop for many different aesthetics at once. Thus, PGI eliminates the endless hours a stylist spends traversing from showroom to showroom, and calling and emailing with numerous publicists representing numerous designers. 'Celebrities and stylists can come here relax, and see up to 40 different aesthetics all at once,' says O'Connor. A chance to relax before the Emmy's? Count me in!

With a gleaming smile, O'Connor sweeps his arm over the seemingly never ending grand display of jewelry and adds, 'All of this is the best of the best. We've got the best designers in the world, the best metal, which is of course platinum, and the best gem stones be it diamonds, colored diamonds, or colored gem stones.'

The pieces were as eclectic as they were rare, with most of the collection going from the red carpet to the Houston Museum of Natural Science never to be worn again! This is strikingly different than the normal loan process, as most designers lend their pieces over and over again. This year, however, celebrities lucky enough to obtain jewelry from PGI, will be the first and only people to wear these wonderful one-of-a-kind creations.

Michael O'Connor's expertise in predicting and determining trends in jewelry has extended his reach far beyond jewelry design houses like Gucci and DeBeers. He is interviewed regularly on TV, Podcasts, radio, simply everywhere. Of course, I had to ask a diamond connoisseur about trends to expect on the red carpet as well as in every day life.


According to O'Connor, fashions at the red carpet will consist of a few different looks. From a color standpoint, we can expect to see two disparate color trends. 'First, we're going to see black and white,' says O'Connor. The perfect jewelry to pair with an all black or all white outfit is, of course, platinum and diamonds. Why? 'Platinum is a naturally white metal and diamonds are naturally white,' explains O'Connor.

In addition to the black and white outfits dotting the red carpet will be a tremendous amount of color. 'We're moving away from pastels that we have seen previously,' says O'Connor, 'and really moving towards much more vibrant colors like fuscias, reds, and purples.'

'When you have a colored dress,' explains O'Connor, 'you can either color coordinate it or create a monochromatic look by matching the gemstone to the color of the dress.' Naturally, the PGI collection was heavily equipped with colored diamonds and gemstones. From a blue sapphire cocktail ring to an amethyst and diamond bib-style necklace (both by Ernesto Morrera), nearly every color in the rainbow, or geological world, was represented. According to O'Connor, colored diamonds and gemstones set in platinum work best when wearing a vibrant color because the platinum does not fight with the color of the gemstone or the color of the dress, thus working as a neutral background.

While bib-style necklaces are all the rage (i.e. Keira Knightly adorned one of these brilliant bibs at the Academy Awards this year as did Stockard Channing last year at the Emmy Awards) and will undoubtedly be seen at the Emmy's, they are better suited for women with a certain amount of stature.  O'Connor recommends that ladies with a more petite frame (a la Jaime Presley and Sarah Jessica Parker) wear necklaces that have more of a vintage look. 'Vintage-style pieces are just very, very delicate,' says O'Connor as he calls attention to a gorgeous Mikimoto pearl, diamond, and platinum necklace that, despite being bib-style, remains very open and delicate.  Vintage-inspired necklaces like the Mikimoto bib were 'created in the way jewelry designers from the Eguardian era used platinum to focus in on the gemstones, to focus in on the diamonds,' explains O'Connor.

Also in the Mikimoto collection was a delicious diamond and platinum heart pendant necklace that would look spectacular on anyone regardless of their stature. Mikimoto is no stranger to the red carpet with good reason. As O'Connor says, 'Everyone knows a Mikimoto pearl. Everyone wants a Mikimoto pearl!' Speaking of pendants, O'Connor suggests that petite women wear an important pendant that sits closer to the neck, and create length by adding a longer necklace.

How often are we chatting away with a world renowned jewelry expert? Not very. Always keeping readers in mind, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask Michael O'Connor his advice on building a jewelry collection with and without diamonds and platinum.

'There are staple items every woman should own,' advises O'Connor, 'two pairs of earrings that are totally different in style: something that sits up on the ear for days when you want to wear your hair up or when you want a more tailored look, and something hanging for days when you want something with a little bit more drama.' The hanging earrings, according to O'Connor, should have a tremendous amount of movement and are perfect for days when we just need to feel like a princess (I think that's everyday for me). For a woman building a jewelry wardrobe, O'Connor recommends keeping the color combinations clean and simple. Platinum and white diamonds are best because they will go with whatever fashions you are wearing. OK, with our two pairs of earrings we have now created two completely different looks. Check.

On to necklaces! 'Every woman needs to have two necklaces very much along the lines of their earrings,' says O'Connor. Of these two necklaces, O'Connor advises, one should sit up close to the neck that is either a very fine, complete necklace that goes all the way around the neck or an important pendant that can be added to. The other necklace should be a longer piece that can wrap around the neck a couple of times. Remember, the longer the necklace, the more drama it creates. 'A length of 20 inches is best because it will hang below the shorter necklace or lay over a sweater in the winter time very, very nicely,' says O'Connor.

Now that we have our earrings and necklaces, it's time to decorate our arms! O'Connor thinks that women should also have a bracelet in their jewelry arsenal, preferably a diamond and platinum bracelet, like a tennis bracelet, that can be worn with everything and everywhere. While bangles are fashionable, 'they are not as easily worn to every occasion,' says O'Connor.

O'Connor is a true believer in a watch. Despite living in the era of cell phones, 'every woman needs to have a watch even if it's just for business purposes,' O'Connor explains. Like the rest of the jewelry in our wardrobe, our watch should be able to work for many different occasions. The best way to do this, according to O'Connor, is 'with a watch that has interchangeable straps, a dark colored band, a metal band, or a watch with classic and simple lines that can be dressed up or dressed down.'

Ok ladies, let's go through our check list: 1) Two pairs of earrings, one pair that sits up on the ear and one dangling pair with a lot of movement. 2) Two necklaces, one that sits closer to the neck, like a fine, wrap around piece or a pendant, and one longer piece that is optimally 20 inches in length. 3) A diamond and platinum bracelet or a bangle. 4) A watch that can be worn with many different looks.

'When you are trying to build a jewelry wardrobe, you don't want to go into overkill right away,' says O'Connor wisely. 'You need pieces that are going to mix and match and coordinate to create different looks.'

Yes, Mr. O'Connor and I could have spent the entire day discussing jewelry. Sigh, if only'

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