Since Christmas is a colorful, joyous time of year–a time when we love to give gifts to our loved ones–my thoughts generally turn to jewelry. The stores and Internet are jammed with a conglomeration of bangles, baubles and beads for women and men. I can’t believe I just spent an hour online searching for pictures for this blog and have to admit I got carried away… I wasn’t even Christmas shopping, but I soon began choosing items for various members of my family.

I found a plain cross that would be ideal for grandson Johnny, small sapphire earrings for either granddaughter Kimmy or Ashley, more silver earrings for Mindy’s collection, a strand of milky pearls for… Well, you get the idea…

I love jewelry!

Inspired by my Aunt Tommie’s love of turquoise and silver jewelry–what we called “Indian jewelry” back in the day–I’ve been a jewelry collector all my life. She was my father’s youngest sister who moved from Kentucky to Arizona when she married. Whenever she visited us in Ohio she brought lovely jewelry to my older sisters, giving me loose change because I was the youngest and preferred candy bars from the corner store. Typical kid!

It wasn’t long before I began to crave one of those pretty bracelets, though, and Aunt Tommie knew when the time was right. I still recall how proud and happy I was when she sent me a small, intricately carved, silver bracelet with a teardrop turquoise in the center. It was my eighth birthday and that was my first piece of jewelry. I treasured it for years.

The next piece I received was a tiny gold locket, a Christmas gift from my father; that began a wild collection and through the years I’ve amassed so much bling it fills a jewelry box and three drawers of my dresser. I have everything from the usual gold chains to a large Native-American cuff bracelet similar to the one in this photo. If you don’t believe me, ask my friend Linda. We “played jewelry” when she visited me from Maine and we giggled like school girls while going through my collection. When she found a crocheted “soleless thong” that I wore in my younger days (the kind you wear on your feet, of course), she laughed so hard she cried as she persuaded me to model it. Are any of you old enough to remember this bit of bling from days gone by? Hmmmm…

Betty's "soleless" thong

(Incidentally, “playing jewelry” was something my sister Billie started years ago. She was a gemologist for a large jewelry store in Palo Alto, California for many years, so amassed even more bling than I did. Whenever we visited each other, we compared jewelry and often exchanged pieces we tired of.)

I apologize for lacking the time to take photos of my own collection, but since this is the busiest time of year, I know you’ll understand. Instead, I chose a few Internet photos of items I think are lovely and are similar to ones I own. The following snippets might help you with your own Christmas shopping.

Since Kay Jewelers is one of the most popular chain jewelers, I started my photo search there. (BTW, I think their slogan “Every Kiss Begins with Kay”– meaning that if a man buys his sweetie a gift from Kay she will reward him with a kiss—is a clever play on words. Good marketing strategy…LOL) Since I’m past my diamond stage, there was little in their collection that caught my eye, but they have some attractive men’s crosses and a fine “Open Hearts” women’s line designed by gorgeous actress Jane Seymour.

I also visited because lovely Leah DeVon, a supermodel and singer featured in my latest book Dream Reachers (co-author Chase Von), is Zale’s spokesmodel; see accompanying photo. Zale’s, of course, is noted for their breathtaking diamonds, but what I admired were a few “peace signs” fashioned of black and white diamonds…just perfect for our own Dame Laurel Rain Snow who came of age during the “hippie generation.”

Last, I visited Home Shopping Network because they have some great buys and I wanted to see some more bling-things I treasure: purses. OMG, they have an ostentatious purple patent-leather purse that I’d die for. Can you imagine the photo ops I’d have with that slung over my shoulder? (If any of you are buying for MOI, take this as a big hint!)

While at HSN, I also admired actress and supermodel Molly Sims’s “Grayce”

Molly Sims gold ring

line of jewelry, a sophisticated mixture of vintage and modern designs that look fabulous worn alone and just as great layered together. I was most impressed with it and learned that Molly’s love for jewelry had been inspired by her mother, as mine was by my aunt. Supermodel Iman is also hawking her line of bling on HSN, including purses.

HSN spoke my language with some of the funkiest bling I found in my search. I love it!

No use going into the history of jewelry because it’s been with us since the dawn of civilization when cavemen first discovered some “pretty” rocks in a riverbed, no doubt. From that humble beginning, is it a leap of faith to imagine diamond-encrusted cell phones? Vertu, a subsidiary of Nokia, produced 200 diamond-encrusted mobile phones, the most expensive costing around $88,300. Those were all pre-sold, of course, but don’t worry, they also produced a “cheaper” handset that only costs around $5,300.

I know… I know, it’s not exactly jewelry, but I love ALL bling, so forget the purple purse! I’ll take two cell phones, please; one for me and one for my best friend. Now that’s the true spirit of Christmas.