DALLAS, May 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is written by Lorraine DePasque for the American Gem Trade Association:
Actress and singer Taraji P. Henson says she likes to "shake it up" and take on unexpected roles—like her Oscar-nominated portrayal of Queenie in fantasy drama, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, or like one of her latest parts: as a celebrity spokes model for the 2014 AGTA Spectrum Awards™ jewelry collection. "I love jewelry, and seeing the pieces at the photo shoot we did, I was especially thrilled because I've never seen designs like these," she says about the winners of the annual competition, sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), now in its 30th year and considered North America's premier natural colored gemstone and cultured pearl jewelry design contest.
"When it comes to jewelry, we should explore and have fun and not confine ourselves to one color, one cut, or one size." The September-born beauty, whose birthstone is sapphire, owns a few pieces in the precious gemstone—"I even chose sapphire for my high school ring"--but she adds, "I thought sapphire was only blue. Then when I saw the AGTA Spectrum Collection, I found out it comes in all different colors. I think a lot of people are like me and may not realize some things like that about jewelry. And they may not be aware of all the incredible jewelry that's out there, either. They should make a point to look for it!"
That's what Henson does. Despite an active schedule juggling film, TV and theater roles, she confesses she always finds time for shopping. "I love it. I'm a real girly-girl. As a child, I loved to play dress-up. I have so many pictures of me wearing my mother's shoes!"
These days, part of what makes shopping fun, says Henson, is that, "I wear high/low all the time—like a Valentino bag and shoes with a Zara sweater and pants. You can do that with jewelry, too. I bought myself an Hermès watch and I own a lot of vintage Chanel jewelry, and I mix it with modern pieces. And keep it real by wearing pieces in all prices."
Certainly, it's symbiotic that Henson's fashion preference is broad, something she self-describes as "from classic and ladylike to funky and more rock 'n roll." It's not uncommon for her to buy big, colorful statement jewelry as well as small and simple designs. Says the Washington, D.C. native, "My mother lives in Florida now and, years ago, when I first started my working and making money, she took me to a jeweler there. I wasn't looking to buy anything when we went, but then I zeroed in on some estate pieces and wound up getting a diamond cluster ring from the Sixties, which I wear a lot, diamond studs—a carat each ear, and a diamond tennis bracelet."
Emphasizing the idea of mixing and being daring, Henson says, "A great thing about fashion today is that it allows you to be creative and pair neutral basics with more artistic, out-of-the-ordinary designs like in the AGTA Spectrum Collection. They're the pieces that will make you look special—the ones you'll put on and get compliments about whenever you wear them."
Recalling the amazement she felt on seeing a certain two-finger ring in the Spectrum collection, Henson says, "I put it on my finger and it blew me away! It had this diamond polar bear jumping between two opal 'icebergs'—it looked like life on my finger!" The 18K white gold piece won Third Place in the Evening Wear division of Spectrum. It is from Gwennie by Michael John, Michael John Jewelry, Los Angeles, California, with opals (33.77 ctw.) and diamonds (4.12 ctw.).
"Also, because I'm a rock star inside, the Robot Heart necklace really caught my eye. You expect jewelry to sparkle, but you don't think it will have an actual light on it like that piece does!" National editors who previewed the AGTA Spectrum Collection obviously agree with Henson, as the entry by artist Katey Brunini of K. Brunini Jewels, Solana Beach, California, won the 2014 "Editor's Choice" Award in addition to taking First Place in the Fashion Forward division. The sterling silver and 18K yellow gold neck piece features a 1363.96 ct. opal heart, accented with diamonds (1.53 ctw.).
Although Henson hadn't previously considered buying opal jewelry, it's another opal necklace in the AGTA Spectrum Collection that she finds particularly striking. "I put it on for one of the shots, and the necklace almost looked like part of the dress!" In 22K and 18K yellow gold, featuring different shapes of opal doublets, with diamonds accenting (1.86 ctw.), the "Blue Waters" necklace is by Jonathan Lee Rutledge of Jonathan Lee Rutledge Inc., Evanston, Illinois, and it took First Place in the Business/Day Wear division.
Any accessorizing tip Henson recommends? "If you own a lot of black clothing, as I do—that's part of my classic side—some colored gemstone jewelry is often just what you need. Two of my fashion favorites are red and purple, so wearing any gems that come in those colors is a good place to start. And I love a red shoe or a red lipstick for accent, too—they're both so classic. Among my purple pieces, I have these outstanding 1970s wide-bell purple Missoni pants. Oh, and an Alexander McQueen bootie in eggplant. It's like art."
That's also how Henson thinks of the 2014 AGTA Spectrum Collection. "It's art you wear--something fabulous you put on and feel great in." Like the white tiered Roberto Cavalli gown she wore to the Academy Awards® the night she was a nominee. "It was one of my favorite things I ever wore—and, of course, that was important because it was the biggest moment of my professional life."
This year, Henson's professional life includes the release of three films, From the Rough in the spring, Think Like a Man, Too at the end of June, and No Good Deed, scheduled to hit theaters in September. And meantime, while fans follow the star's inspiring performances, style lovers will continue to follow her inspiring—and sometimes unexpected—jewelry and fashion looks.
Contact: AGTA Office, 800-972-1162
SOURCE American Gem Trade Association