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Joining me at the "More is More" exhibit at Gemological Institute of American in Carlsbad was late Tony Duquette co-designer and business partner Hutton Wilkinson

Joining me at the “More is More” jewelry exhibit at Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad was the late Tony Duquette’s co-designer and business partner, Hutton Wilkinson

Talk about a “Wow” evening! I knew my visit to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Carlsbad for the grand opening of legendary jewelry designers Tony Duquette’s and Hutton Wilkinson’s “More is More” exhibit would be grand, but I must admit, I didn’t expect it to be as spectacular as it was. The two men – the late Tony Duquette, a multitalented designer who created movie, dance and theater sets, interiors and jewelry for private clients, and his equally talented business partner and co-designer Hutton Wilkinson – were magic together. And, the jewelry is the proof!

Please take the time to view the photos I took of the stunning jewelry pieces they created. Wilkinson, attending the glamorous sold-out affair for 350 guests, said the two started picking up loose stones on their trips around the world, where they purchased bags upon bags of colorful gems and began constructing one-of-a-kind pieces in their hotel rooms. “We first started collecting stones in India,” Wilkinson shared. “We had suitcases filled with emeralds, sapphires, amethysts, and citrines.” He further shared that Bergdorf Goodman got wind of their one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry and invited them to create an exclusive, high-end jewelry line for the luxury retail store. The duo’s eye for color and combination of materials was avant-grade, flamboyant and totally unique, and their favorite stones turned out to be malachite, pearls, emeralds, tourmalines, coral, amethyst, citrines, and sapphires.

McKenzie Santimer, Project Manager for Exhibit Development at GIA, and Terry Ottaway, GIA’s Museum Curator, were responsible for showcasing the jewelry, and they did it in wonderfully artistic ways. Using items from the Duquette estate, they draped jewelry on bird cages and featured it with geodes of amethyst, malachite and tourmaline, as well as coral and shells. Gold is featured prominently, i.e. lobsters and picture frames, as Duquette was known for using gold leaf throughout his designed homes and movie sets. It was all exquisite! One of the stones Duquette was most known for was the semi-precious mineral called malachite. That’s why the 20-foot-high malachite print draperies that were featured in the exhibit entrance were so appropriate, as well as the jewelry vitrines lined in malachite fabric. One of the pieces of jewelry, called the “Pebble Bracelet,” was a cluster of multi-colored sapphires lying amidst of bed of succulents. It was magnificent. A suite of tourmaline jewelry draped over bulbous hunks of malachite took your breath away, and a coral necklace encrusted with popcorn-sized pearls and cabochon peridots was another showstopper. I could go on and on, but please look at the photos. They tell the story.

Johnny Holiday and his band entertained with Johnny and a talented singing twosome named Coco and Ruby singing ’30s and ’40s standards like “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You,” “Pennies From Heaven” and “Red Sails in the Sunset.”

Although Duquette has been gone since 1999, Wilkinson continues to create the bold, statement jewelry the duo became so known for. Wilkinson has captured their jewelry journey in a lavish book called “Tony Duquette/Hutton Wilkinson Jewelry” and much of the jewelry featured in the book is on display in the exhibit. It is a fun read hearing about how the Duchess of Windsor saw Duquette’s jewelry collection at his one-man show at the Louvre in Paris and commissioned him to a create a necklace of citrine, peridot and pearls. The 18k gold wreath of vines and flowers became a favorite of hers and started the trend of wearing gold jewelry after five o’clock. Most women wore only platinum jewelry at the time.

Other GIA executives greeting guests included President and CEO Susan Jacques, Manager of Photography and Visual Communications Robert Weldon and VP and Chief Marketing Officer Kathryn Kimmel.

The exhibit closes March 31st, so please visit the website, guestservices@gia.edu, for info and tickets. I promise you won’t regret it!

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