A Mad Fantasy Tea Party

This past Monday we had a spring tea party to launch our new Fantasy Garden Collection, a vintage inspired capsule collection and collaboration with New York based jewelry company Ciner. I don’t know if it is the recent release of Beauty & The Beast, spring in general, or the fanciful nature of this new collection but I have had a tea party craving for awhile now. Talented Charleston-based illustrator Daniel Velasco did our invites and we purchased teacups that doubled as party favors for all the guests and turned Candy Shop Vintage on Cannon Street into a tea room for the afternoon.


Thanks to Ooh events, we were able to squeeze in seating for 18 people down the length of the store. We served Charleston grown tea from The Charleston Tea Plantation in three flavors – Charleston Breakfast, Peach and Earl Grey. Frampton’s Flowers provided some beautiful fresh ranunculus for us in shades of pale pink.


Out tiered tea towers were brimming with homemade goodies from local bakeries and caterers – Hamby’s, Sugar bakeshop and scones from Wildflour:



And one of the best details were the beautiful, hand painted unicorn macaroons from Mercantile & Mash:







11 12


The centerpiece of our new collection, The Unicorn Fantasy Necklace:



Our floral selfie wall was also a lot of fun:



As were the unicorn horn party hats from Meri Meri party:



I only slept about two hours the night before but still had a blast:





Thanks to all who came and contributed to a magical afternoon in Charleston!

The New Fantasy Garden Collection

I am so excited to finally announce our collaboration with 125 year old jewelry company CINER and the Spring collection we have designed together, The Fantasy Garden.

Because CINER has been around for so long (over a century!) I became used to seeing their name and mark on one-of-a-kind vintage pieces I collected, like these fabulous giraffe earrings. The quality of their pieces is always unparalleled. Through a friend visiting Charleston, I came to find out that CINER was still manufacturing and producing their beautiful line out of their New York City showroom and factory. So, I flew up from Charleston, SC for a meeting with CINER V.P. Kris Ciulla and owner Pat Ciner to learn more. Needless to say, we all had a lot in common and it was absolutely magical to see their showroom and production facility where so many of my favorite vintage pieces had been born. We decided to come together to produce our own capsule collection with me pulling designs from their archives and refashioning them into a modern, whimsical collection with a candy colored color palate. And so our collaborative collection, The Fantasy Garden was born:


The Fantasy Garden Collection is available exclusively through our website, our store and cinerny.com.


On my two visits up there I say down with Pat and Kris and curated this collection of pieces which is a combination of Southern, botanical themes, one of their classic Ciner bees and an element of fantasy – the unicorn (based on a vintage brooch they once produced):



Ciner has remained in the same family for all 125 their business as been operating. Pat Ciner, left, the third generation of the Ciner family, remains at the helm of the business which is celebrating its 125th year in 2017. It was such a pleasure working with Pat and her team:



Their showroom is filled with beautiful pieces, new and old – a virtual treasure trove of costume jewelry complete with vintage advertisements dating back to the 40’s and 50’s.


Behind their showroom is a full manufacturing facility with jewelry artisans who paint enamel, cast, and set stones by hand.




Below, a member of the Ciner team dedicated to polishing pieces during production works on a design.



We are thrilled with how the collection turned out! You can see it and shop it here. The wonderful combination of southern botanical influences and elements of fanciful creatures. All behind-the-scenes photography by Lydia Hudgens.

A Vintage Inspired Kitchen

Ever since we moved into a new house in Charleston last fall and have been sharing snippets of our home renovation on Instagram, there has been universal appreciation for our somewhat retro looking kitchen. So, I thought I’d share a few more photos. Not unlike the process I follow with designing jewelry, I tried to take the best elements of our vintage kitchen and bring them out with timely, but updated details. We left wonderful features like the breakfast nook, the original oven hood, the mint green tile (in the most perfect shade of mint I just cannot imagine we would find it again) and most of the solid wood built ins. We took out some of the worst features – the accordion door to the pantry, the dark paint, the chair rail molding and the old appliances. I did have to scrub the tile within an inch of its life but the bright white paint we used all over really helped make it look much more recent than it is (1948!). We also added these fun, retro custom height light fixtures from Schoolhouse Electric that I loved for their chic simplicity. Sarah Yoder’s contemporary painting brought from our previous house and reframed brightened up the breakfast nook perfectly and this fun, vintage pink dining set from Indigo Market (State of Grace Collection) in Charleston looks like it was always meant to be in our kitchen. Olivia Brock of Torrance Mitchell Designs absolutely nailed the paint colors and the updated yet classic brass hardware we put on all the cabinets. I loved working with her because she really honors the spirit and era of a house in her thoughtful, sophisticated selections. Here are the photos – if you scroll to the bottom of the post you can click see the “before” pictures too.


We only removed cabinetry in two places – the wall behind the sink and the righthand side of the wall in between the kitchen and dining room. The later we did in order to open up a window to the dining room, which brought so much more light in and is great for serving. The cabinets above the sink were also removed to let more light in from that window and help it not to feel so boxed in. Also, I like seeing all my vintage glassware in display.


The pass through window to the dining room probably made the biggest difference in feeling open. I also found those great, vintage pink storage canisters on Etsy and a new marble kitchen island really connects the space.


I absolutely love the House of Antique Hardware knobs and pulls we went with thanks to Olivia. Plus, how great is the towel bar? We changed out the fixtures on the sink to gold (but kept the original, enamel sink). And Olivia was also able to perfectly match the paint on the side door – Douglas Fern Benjamin Moore – with the mint tile.


Mix and match vintage glasses.



Adding a glossy chartreuse to the swinging kitchen door was a fun detail.


The island is so great for storage and giving us space to spread out when we are cooking.



The original vintage hood is still amazing, it just needed a little cleaning. Our appliances are all new but from the GE Artistry collection that has a great vintage look.

As you can tell from the before photos (click below) the floors were also refinished. For a kitchen that had to be done quickly and on a budget I am really happy with the way we preserved the integrity and charm of its original design and updated only the necessary details.

click here for before photos

Holiday Events and Trunk Shows

Our trees at Candy Shop On Cannon are already trimmed and we have a few Holiday events and trunk shows lined up over the next few weeks. Of course you can catch us at our Charleston store at 9 Cannon Street Tuesday-Saturdays 10AM-5PM but we will also be at these fun events and trunk shows:


The Holiday Sip ‘N Shop

Shop local businesses and enjoy specials at local restaurants in Cannonborough/Elliotborough in Downtown Charleston.

When: Neighborhood wide shopping event from 5-8PM on Friday, December 2

Where: Candy Shop Vintage at 9 Cannon Street and participating Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood businesses in Downtown Charleston, SC.


The Junior League of Columbia Holiday Market

Holiday market and fundraiser for the Junior League of Columbia, SC.

When: 9AM-5PM starting Thursday, December 1 – Sunday, December 4 

Where: Cantey and Goodman Buildings at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, located at 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC 29201.


The Gibbes Museum Holiday Trunk Show

The Gibbes Museum holiday trunk show. Shop from a variety of curated local vendors after their Wednesday evening program.

When: 6-8PM on Wednesday, December 14

Where: The Gibbes Museum in Charleston, SC


Gwynn’s Holiday Trunk Show

Holiday Trunk show at Gwynn’s in Mt. Pleasant with our Charleston Rice Beads, Candy Shop Collection jewelry and vintage jewelry as well as other featured local vendors.

When: 10AM-7PM on Saturday, December 17th and 12-5PM on Sunday, December 18th

Where: Gwynn’s at 916 Houston Northcutt Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC.


The Queen of 80’s Bling: An Interview With Wendy Gell

I found my first pair of Wendy Gell earrings in a dusty antiques mall in rural South Carolina. They stood out among a lot of run-of-the-mill vintage jewelry, with details like hand cut leather flowers and high quality Swarovski stones. They were signed on the back and I bought them at the time for my One Kings Lane shop where they were listed for just a few hours before they sold. I was intrigued by the handmade, sculptural style combined with the exquisite quality. I started researching her pieces on Etsy and Ebay and finding interesting tidbits about her designs and career online- she was one of Oprah’s favorite designers and had even been interviewed on her show, she created pieces for runway shows and held licenses to many Disney characters and designed lines around Disney movie releases like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Her opulent, over-the-top pieces were collected by celebrities including Princess Diana and splashed all over the pages of VOGUE in the seventies and eighties.


Last year, as part of the CJCI Conference in Rhode Island – I had the opportunity to take one of Wendy’s workshops, learning how to make some of her trademark, over-the-top wrist cuffs or “wristys” as she calls them using her everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach.


A few of Wendy’s original, handmade designs

As the conference was in New England, I thought using a giant lobster as a centerpiece was appropriate – it looked fabulous but the process was definitely labor intensive and involved a lot of glue!


Make-your-own wristy, starting with a raw, brass cuff


My finished lobster wristy

As you can imagine, spending time with her was a lot of fun and we decided to do an interview with her for the Candy Shop Vintage blog about her prolific career.

How did you get started in jewelry design? 

I was a songwriter working in New York City, part of a singing group called Gell & Gellman and we had nine records but no hits. When my business partner got married and moved away and I had to find a new way to make a living. I started driving a cab and one day went down to Canal Street which, at the time, was filled with hardware stores and where a lot of old junk went and I found these brass bracelet bases outside in a box. I bought them and just started making jewelry with them. A guy at one of the hardware stores showed me how to use a glue gun, which I had never heard of, and I was so excited because you could glue things and make them stick as fast as your imagination can go. Of course you have to use other kinds of glue to really make it stick but the glue gun is just for placement. So I got started like this at my kitchen table.




Some vintage Wendy Gell Earrings


A vintage Wendy Gell Bracelet

How did you market you designs and get them out there for people to see? 

I was living in the Village and I took my “wristys” around in a wine box to different stores and got my first account. Shortly after that, I had a bold moment and called Vogue and asked for the accessories editor at the time, named Madeline Parish. I told her who I was and that I was interested in showing her my jewelry. She’d already seen my jewelry around town and liked it very much so she took a meeting with me and we got along fabulously well. Madeline and I then worked together for years – she would tell me what the trends would be before the issues came out and I would do special projects for them. All through the 80’s I got great press – VOGUE in several countries, serious publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Eventually I moved out of my apartment up to an office 37th Street where the industry was. At one point we had around forty employees.


Some of Wendy’s Press coverage including German Vogue, Harper’s and Cindy Crawford and Oprah Winfrey both wearing her earrings.

How did some of your editorial press jump to Television coverage?

It was July, 1986 and I had just returned from a tour of California for Nordstrom and the Disney Stores. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was get on another plane. But Oprah’s producers called me and said that she had a show out there that was about to go national and she collected my jewelry and said I really ought to come out and do an interview. I didn’t know at the time that she was about to become the biggest thing ever!

Who were some of your other well-known clients?

Princess Diana was given a Jessica Rabbit pin by The Disney Company when the Movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit opened. She loved it and started buying my jewelry. Bill Clinton also purchased a cherub pin from someone at one of his rallies and gave it to Hillary Clinton. Cher also collected my jewelry as well as Lauren Nyro, one of my favorite songwriters at the time.


Wendy Gell for Disney Jewelry and Accessories

Tell me about your partnership with Disney

I was doing the Pret-a-Porter trade show in New York City and a women approached me and asked me if I would be interested in acquiring the Disney license and be able to work with the characters in my designs. I flipped out and levitated to the ceiling and when I caught my breath and told her I would love to! It turned in to a major project and we spent a fortune on models and molds. I got to do Roger Rabbit, Dick Tracy, Wizard of Oz, Phantom of the Opera and all of the other characters… I was called The Queen of Disney Licensing. We produced these pieces – jewelry and accessories – for five years and they completely sold out.





We closed the company in 1991 and after living in my house in Connecticut for a number of years I moved to the West Coast, to Oregon about thirteen years ago. I now work out of my house – I have a studio in my house that is my workshop – filled with beads and components and stones and pearls just spilling out the back door. I take orders and do a lot of commissions – I do a lot of cherub pieces for people’s weddings and have an active Etsy shop and e-commerce site. I make a lot of one off pieces for collectors and bring my jewelry classes around to different conferences and institutions around the country. I’d love to do something in the LA area next. I am also doing a series of paintings and have an art show coming up in Ashland in May.

Wendy Gell’s designs can be purchased on her website and in her Etsy Shop and various vintage pieces of hers can often be found from other people scrolling through Ebay and Etsy. I purchased one of my favorite pieces of hers last year after her class, an enormous cockatoo wristy. 


My favorite Wendy Gell piece from my personal collection, with a cockatoo made out of minerals accented with blown glass leaves and Swarovski crystal stones.

Neighborhood Sidewalk Sale & Sample Sale!

Tomorrow, our Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood in Charleston where our Candy Shop Vintage shop is located is having a neighborhood wide sidewalk sale featuring discounts and specials at all the neighborhood shops:

We’ll be hosting our first sample sale at the store with tables of discounted jewels out in front of the shop. If you don’t live here, not to worry! Add us on Snapchat and shop remotely:


Happy hunting!

Perfect Pairings… Save The Date for November 28th

My sister-in-law Cate West Zahl and I have more in common than just a last name. With a similar and often complimentary aesthetic we have been chatting for awhile about doing some type of collaboration in the design world. Cate is a hugely talented painter whose soothing, sophisticated abstracts will instantly upgrade any interior.

She works out of a light-filled studio in Downtown Charlottesville, VA and occasionally from her favorite New England coastal spots she visits with her family in Nantucket and Long Island. Not surprising since her work, while not exclusively coastal, invokes a landscapes and layers of intersecting planes and colors which, as she describes, “leads to a process of making choices of what to put in, and what to erase so that only the necessary components are left on the surface.” Isn’t this studio just perfect?

And our work was recently featured side by side in Glitter Guide editor Caitlin’s November edit:

So we’ve decided to come together this November in Charleston on Small Business Saturday for an exclusive show of her paintings inspired by my new Celebrate Collection:

If you are in Charleston on Small Business Saturday (November 28) from 2-6PM please join Cate and I us for a few hours of shopping, sipping and snacking and peruse Cate’s beautiful work at Candy Shop Vintage at 9 Cannon Street! And, as a special treat, we will also have fashion illustrator Daniel Velasco on hand doing LIVE PORTRAITS for $35 each all day on the 28th from 11AM – 5PM. Click here to reserve your spot now with Daniel (he booked up fast last time!). 

– Deirdre Zahl (Owner & Designer at Candy Shop Vintage)

Shaken Not Stirred: Our NEW Celebrate Collection

Our complete Fall/Winter 2015 Celebrate Collection is now online and available! A sweet variety of party ready jewelry to help you toast the upcoming holiday season. And great as gifts, too! We shot our lookbook last week with talented Amanda Greeley with our go to model Adrienne (who I just love because of how expressive she is) and Dannon Collard doing makeup.  I have lived in Charleston eight years now and I am constantly impressed with how accessible all the talented, creative people are here are and how easy it is to come together and collaborate. Loved working with all of these ladies!

The “Celebrate” Collection is based around the ingredients to my favorite cocktail – The French 75. In addition to The French 75 Cocktail Bracelet (a highlight of the collection) you can also buy all the charms separately as earrings and pendants. The French 75 Cocktail Bracelet is available now for pre-order and will ship in approximately ten days:

Also new is our convertible brooch pendant necklace that can be work two ways:

As well as our festive multi-strand Charleston Rice Bead Bib Necklace and Triple Strand Earrings:

So go ahead, get started early on your celebration!

The Costume Jewelry Collector’s Conference

Two weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a very fabulous, inspiring conference in Rhode Island called The Costume Jewelry Collector’s International conference. This is a bi-annual event (with smaller meetings on off years) where high-end costume jewelry collectors and dealers from all over the map come together for a weekend of selling, trading, learning and making. I only recently learned about the group, helmed by Melinda Lewis (who wrote one of the best books on vintage costume jewelry that’s ever been published) and Pamela Paschal Wiggins who are fabulous, dedicated ladies who know their vintage costume jewelry and own some of the best of it! I attended this conference with another designer, Justin Giunta behind Subversive Jewelry as I knew his talent for assembling his luxury statement pieces would put him in a position to appreciate a unique experience. We stayed in Downtown Providence in one of my favorite neighborhoods – Federal Hill. Its new England charm is enough to make me painfully homesick for the Northeast every time I visit – so I soak in as much as possible each visit I make to RI:

Everyone at the conference was dressed fabulously! This woman came from Canada to attend with her husband and literally had a different amazing vintage outfit and coordinated vintage jewelry for almost every hour of the conference. I loved seeing all her wardrobe changes…

I was fortunate to kick-off the weekend with a class with Wendy Gell – a designer who rose to fame in the 1980’s for her sculptural, over-glued cuffs (or “wristies” as she calls them), hair pieces, earrings, and pretty much anything else you can glue things on. She was so sweet and taught us, over several hours, her step-by-step intricate gluing technique. LOVED meeting her and will be following up with an interview with her in the next few weeks.

Her creative process is so different than mine – she starts with raw materials and assembles them organically. I start with an idea and figure out how to execute it and what materials I need to do so. It was good for me to have to be a little more freewheeling in my approach and less rigid. So much fun, although I think I inhaled enough glue fumes to last a lifetime.

I thought the lobster as a centerpiece was in keeping with being in New England for the weekend. It got me craving lobster and later that day I ordered a lobster roll for lunch.

Here are a few of my fellow classmates glueing away. It did take a fair amount of patience (and a few hours) to let the glue dry enough to keep working on our pieces. Wendy can do this in her sleep but we definitely struggled a bit more.

The conference provided us with plenty of “jewelry education.” One of my favorite speakers was Kris Brandriff who was kind enough to take me to lunch (and on an emergency post office run!) the first day of the conference. She is a native Rhode Islander and helmed the Quality Control at one of the most incredible vintage jewelry houses – Trifari – for a decade who once operated out of Rhode Island. Here is a picture from one of their factories – I love how elegant everyone looks while assembling jewelry. Bow ties and all!

Justin and I also had a chance to take in a little local culture and visited the RISD museum, which has both a wonderful permanent collection and had a great temporary exhibit by contemporary artist Martin Boyce – really worth seeing if you are in Rhode Island this fall/winter.

Probably the best part of the conference was the shopping. Tables upon tables of jewelry from dealers who know their stuff! I got some really beautiful pieces there – some of which can be viewed and purchased at Candy Shop Vintage in Charleston.

The “finale” evening of the conference had a 1960’s “Glam to Groovy” theme – and involved these wild centerpieces on ever table. We definitely had fun with the theme and it came as no surprise that a group who loves to collect big, bold pieces of jewelry also likes to party. There is something so fascinating and wonderful about people who collect a lot – or in some cases too much – of anything. Where there is passion, there is education, fun, and always an opportunity to learn more than what you already know. I felt really lucky that my career landed me amongst such a passionate, entertaining group of people for a weekend. Looking forward to the next one!




Sharing The Love: Summer Hostess Gifts

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend and the kick-off to summer – otherwise known as houseguest season. Being a host is hard – but being hosted can be even harder. Whether you’re visiting a friend out at the beach for the day, tagging along for an afternoon barbecue, or crashing with someone for an entire weekend, being someone’s guest can often be navigating some very murky waters of etiquette.  How early do you arrive? How late do you leave? When do you pick up the check? Some of those things just take experience and good intuition but one thing is for sure – the worst houseguest can be forgiven – even invited back – if they bring a great gift:

1. DINNER GUEST: These sweet macaroon trinket boxes, at $12 they are less than a good bottle of wine and will last longer.

2. OVERNIGHT GUEST: A turquoise Charleston Rice Bead bracelet is an affordable token of affection with a great story behind it. Leave it behind on your pillow with a thank you note or even order one online after you leave and ship it directly to your hostess with a Candygram.

3. WEEKEND GUEST: These embroidered pink elephant cocktail napkins along with a bottle of your favorite spirit are the perfect contribution to your farewell round of cocktails with your hostess.

4. WEEKLONG GUEST: Being a guest for more than a weekend means one thing – your host is a veteran. Contribute something that can become a permanent fixture in their home and that can be put to use like these whimsical Charleston linen guests towels. 100% heirloom linen and 100% washable.

5. FOR THE LITTLE ONES: Until we have Charleston Rice Beads for kids, you can grab one of these adorable Color Charleston books at Candy Shop On Cannon for just $12 whimsically illustrated by my talented friend Mary Mac and hand bound with red thread.  Also available on her website.

6. LOANER VACATION HOUSE: When someone loans you their house – whether for a week or even just a night –  it’s appropriate to spoil them a bit with something special that only they can enjoy, like our Crescent Necklace – new for summer – in Pool Blue. It’s still just a drop in the bucket compared to the money you would have spent on rent or a hotel. And don’t forget to make the beds before you leave.