Sterling Silver

For centuries, we’ve been attracted to silver and gold. These metals connote affluence; wealth and prestige.  We continually see metallic influences in ready-to-wear, interior design, even our cars and phones!  Sterling silver with its soft, buttery patina epitomizes this draw.

Sterling Silver flatware is highly collectable.  The pattern variety is endless, over 1,000 patterns have been designed and manufactured in the US alone!

It’s fun to collect a series of pieces or place settings of different patterns to create table interest.   I like to mix a variety of styles to add uniqueness to my table.  Serving pieces are where sterling silver REALLY gets interesting! Most of the most unusual pieces were developed in the Victorian era, with their affinity towards excess. (More on this later) A cracker spoon, almond scoop, lettuce fork!?  My favorite?  The food pusher! This is one interesting piece of silverware. In Victorian society it was rude for anyone, even children, to touch food with their hands. Children were given food pushers to help them push their dinner onto their forks!

Sterling Silver flatware
Sterling Silver Food Pusher

I buy most of my sterling in antique shops, loving the thrill of the hunt. I actually prefer monogrammed pieces imagining the story behind each, who owned it.  How did this piece come to be sold? What happened to the rest of the set?  Honestly, the odder and more fascinating the piece, the more I want it on my table!

Sterling Silver Serving Pieces
Sterling Silver

You can also purchase pieces on several reputable sites. These sites are also a great way to educate yourself, researching the patterns you’ve found.

There are also multiple great books on Sterling Silver patterns –

Sterling Silver reference books
Sterling Silver reference books



Patterns often reflect the economic and social situations when they were made –

Edwardian – Styles were soft and elegant.

Mid 18th Century Rococo Silver – flamboyant, inspired by England’s court of George II and France’s Louis XV.

Federal Style – Popular during the founding years of the United States, classical and symmetrical.  Think Paul Revere, one of the most famous silversmiths, and how utilitarian his designs were.

Victorian Era – (1840 – 1900) THIS IS WHERE STERLING SILVER REALLY GETS INTERESTING!   Patterns indulged in grand excess showing a mixing of historic styles, with strong Asian and Middle East influence.  Victorian homes had a clear separation between public and private rooms.  The Dining Room was the second most important room in the home, after the Parlor.  Both rooms allowed homeowners to “showcase” their home.  By the 1830’s the factories of the Industrial Revolution were mass producing sterling silver patterns and the individual silversmith artisan slowly faded. Sterling silver could be “stamped” from sheets of sterling with stunning perfection on both front and back. Due to this mass production, Victorian patterns are the majority found today. This time of affluence and excess found sterling flatware with very specific functions.  Most of us are familiar with ladles however, silversmiths made ladles for specific purposes; bullion, cream, gravy, oysters, punch, etc.  There were different spoons for nuts, berries, bon bons, claret, mustard, and chocolate, pointed spoons to eat grapefruit, small demi-tasse spoons.  Imagine just how complicated setting the dining room table was?

Art Nouveau – Most popular between 1890 and 1910, rebelling against the Industrial Revolution with natural motifs and flowing asymmetrical curves inspired by the curved lines of plants and flowers.

Arts and Crafts continued this trend with toned down ornamentation.  Pulling from Medieval, Romantic, and Folk influenced, the Arts and Crafts movement is essentially anti-industrial.  Beginning in Britain, it was strongest from 1880 to the 1920’s.

Art Deco –  Rose to prominence in the first half of the 20th century influenced by Cubism and more modern styling. Think NYC’s Chrysler Building, THE monument to Art Deco.


American silverware has been made since our beginning, first starting out as “Coin” Silver. Sterling silver was rare in colonial America.  From around 1830 to 1850, silver was often marked CD, Coin or Pure Coin.  It doesn’t necessarily mean coins were melted down, (although they often were) but that the silver was the same purity as coins then circulated.  These silver items were hand made.

However, the Victorian era with its affinity towards excess, layered with the Industrial revolution, launched Sterling Silver onto the map.  “Sterling” silver was born around 1860, and more widely after the Civil War. A piece marked “sterling” means it is 925 parts pure silver out of 1000 parts metal.  This is a U.S. Government mandate.  The “sterling” mark was required on sterling silver produced after 1907.

Silver of other countries is controlled as well, although English and American silver has to have a higher % of pure silver. English Sterling, like American is 92.5% Silver, 925 out of 1000 parts. In Europe, this formula varies by country.  German silver is 80% pure, Russian, 84%, etc.   The attached link is a great resource for researching your American or foreign silver……….


The discovery of a very rich silver deposit, The Comstock Lode in 1859, made Sterling Silver affordable for the middle class.  Sterling Silver flatware was one way the middle class could show they had “arrived”.

Sterling vs Silver Plate

In 1847, Rogers Bros. Silversmiths developed silver-plate, an electroplating process of binding sterling silver to a base metal.  This brought silver to most of the classes.  However, as Sterling Silver flatware will last a lifetime, silver-plate will usually last only 20 years, until the finish has worn off.  I have a few silver-plate pieces and you can definitely tell the difference.


Unfortunately for sterling flatware collectors, Silver hit $50.00/ounce in 1980 and many antique pieces were lost to smelting.  (As comparison, today finds silver at $18.04/oz.)  Many unique and handmade pieces were lost.  This fact has increased the antique value of sterling which has remained.


Have you ever Fallen In Love?

Have you even fallen in love?
I LOVE antiquing. From an early age I antiqued with my mom and sister in western Pennsylvania where I grew up. My California grandmother collected. Our home was filled with beautiful hand carved one-of-a-kind pieces. When they say “They don’t make them like this anymore” they are absolutely correct! The quality and styling are unmatched. Artisanally hand-made, not massed produced.

Each antique shop is like its own mini museum. Usually every item has a small tag with a bit about the piece, approximate date, the manufacturer. Antique cases are rented space with the seller usually having a specialty;
Carnival Glass, Antique Sterling (one of my favs), Cameos, Old Coins, Biedermeier, etc.
So you come away with a little sliver of how life must have been then. Who used this piece? It’s survived so many years in such great condition. You surmise it was a family treasure or lay somehow forgotten in an attic.
So this summer on our annual Maine vacation, I found THE most interesting, creative antique store I’ve EVER had the pleasure to meander through (that’s what you do in antique stores; meander, stroll, no running or going. It just doesn’t work that way).


The Art of Antiquing
Round Pond Maine

It was love at  first sight.   The Art of Antiquing is one of the most interesting antique shops I’ve seen in my 40+ years of antiquing. Perfectly merchandised. Being an ex-high end retailer, I totally appreciate eye catching vignettes, each with its’ own story, point of view. They have to be clean and uncluttered

This store is special.
Curated by (once again, back to museums) Margaret Brown, the antiques are very high quality and stunning! She merchandises the space incredibly well, placing pieces that work with each other for a lifestyle story.
She sources from Europe and the United Kingdom-Hand-picking items spanning the centuries.
Additionally, she does a bit of research on each piece and provides it with your purchase

For example, I brought home a piece of Castle Hedingham Pottery from England. Edward Bingham produced the pottery from 1864 until 1901, reminiscent of medieval and Tudor styled pieces.

Diana Jarvis
Pottery – the Art of Antiquing
Round Pond, Maine

The Art of Antiquing is located in the center of Round Pond, in a restored old building.
Living in London in the winter months, Margaret ships containers of her finds over as soon as the weather breaks.
As she quotes on her website: “We specialize in unique, sometimes dramatic, one-off pieces. As a result, things are always changing here, which makes each visit to our store a shopping experience unto itself—no two trips will be the same.”
The Art of Antiquing is open from June until the
Middle of October. You can sign up on their website for a preview of arriving containers.
4 Back Shore Road
Round Pond, Maine 04564
+1 (207) 529-5300

The Art of Antiquing, Round Pond MAINE
The Art of Antiquing
Round Pond, Maine

FAVE PAGE: November / December VERANDA

My FAVE PAGE this month is found in the Nov/Dec issue of VERANDA magazine.  VERANDA is absolutely my favorite and this issue didn’t disappoint.

This hi-rise condo in Downtown Houston is home to a fashion industry couple, no surprise!

Crisp, edited, and sophisticated.  Simple but multiple layers of texture and light play.   The matte of the zebra rug and  linen dec pillows with depth added by cherry blossom twigs and draping tulips.  A sheen of metallics, both chrome,brass & gold.  I love the dark wood floors and window frames accenting the whites and ivories of the room. This room also has a linear plan with the  horizontal tables, windows, books accented by a vertical screen and artwork.  The ivory screen with a sunburst mirror allows your eye to pause in the room, enjoying every detail before venturing out to the Houston skyline.

The rest of the home is equally lovely.  (Kitchen with grey cabinets, RH lighting, and Carrera Marble counters – STUNNING!)  Hone your colors and the  result is pulled together, a cohesive neutral pallet. Layer on pops of color with art or flowers.  WOW.  This Houston couple has it figured out.

Interestingly, I vacationed in Houston this month.   The NICEST people!  Helpful,  polite.  Really incredibly genuine.   More on this soon – an amazing art museum  and fabulous restaurants!Use UBER  to get around.




My Top 5 Interior Design Books

Interior Design Book
Suzanne Kasler , Timeless Style

Suzanne Kasler: Timeless Style

Her second book.  I LOVE her!! She has such a high spirited, classic style.  Her homes would be so fun to live in, tons of bright energy, extremely liveable. Rooms are uncluttered yet impactful with well-chosen pieces. Just the right amount of Patina, Sparkle, & Texture.  Excellent focal points in her rooms.  Another high point:  Kasler does an incredible, creative job with artwork placement. On colors:  Page 76,,,,”Champagne, blue-gray, and a touch of raspberry”. Stunning!

Simply SereneThomas Pheasant: Simply Serene

“There is nothing more luxurious than space to breathe”.  When you get his book, actually READ it.  His homes are beautiful, uncluttered.That about says it… Love the black & white photos, complimented with the Silver pages.


He starts by defining the space than layers in

  • A truly beautiful room is beautiful before it’s ever decorated.



Jennifer Boles, In With the OldJennifer Boles: In with the New

Jennifer is creator of one of the top interior design/lifestyle blogs, the Peak of Chic.

She takes us alphabetically through vintage objects, maybe you’ve seen these in old movies, at your grandmother’s home, or on a trip to a museum.  Incredible design, but dated?  Jennifer shows us – absolutely not!  Think “modern transitions.”  Next time you’re strolling your favorite antique store, or inherit a piece that reminds you “when”, grab this book and recreate it.  You’ll look at everything with a fresh eye.  This is an amazing book, she writes so well.  You can see why her blog has been around since 2006!


Rhonda Rice Carmen, Designers at HomeRhonda Rice Carmen, Designers at Home

Popular lifestyle blog “All the Best

Tour designers homes and provide insights on they design their personal spaces.

New look at interior design books.


Interior Design Book
The Art of Classic Details, Theory, Design, and Craftsmanship

Phillip James DoddThe Art of Classic Details: Theory, Design, and Craftsmanship

OMG – This book made me cry, it’s so beautiful. Every… single… page.  The Forward, by David Easton is perfect:  “Journey through the Art of Classical Detail with a nod to our past and a keen eye to our future.”  Dodd, with a Masters for Architecture from Notre Dame and accolades decades long, does a magnificent job putting this tomb together.

This work is divided into two sections:

The Essays: Written by top architects, scholars and craftsman, it illustrates classical design detailing and artisanship. Lots of references to the Villas of Renaissance architect and builder Andrea Palladio.

The Projects: Presents an intimate look at 25 classically-designed homes in Great Britian and the United States. It details the interior design and detailing as well as the impressive classically influenced home exteriors and gardens.

For any remodeling project, this book is a fabulous reference.

My FAVE PAGE here is #106.  Chesney’s Georgian Marble mantle with charcoal walls and a crystal chandelier.  WOW.



Luis Bustamante – Brilliantly Merging Antiquities with Contemporary

LUIS BUSTAMANTE – Madrid Interior Designer, Sculptor, Painter

Navigating the random “Design Alleys and Avenues” of Pinterest, I found Luis Bustamante,a Madrid Interior Designer. Trained as a Sculptor and Painter, you can appreciate his sense for combining these critical aspects into his work.

Remember the first time you visited the Egyptian Antiquities room on a museum trip? My museum moment was the Carnegie MuseuLuis Bustamante library photom of Art in Pittsburgh, a 9th grade field trip. That trip changed me forever. I had never known such beauty. The calming museum room peaceful & elegant……Lofty carved columns seemed to climb to the sky. Hand etched carvings displaying written language of the past through falcons,eyes, reed boats and odd symbols. Sometimes the museum would even let you run your hand over the etchings!

Luis Bustamante uses these powerful influences yet layers in contemporary pieces. His favorite color is white,so his rooms are crisp and fresh. He will recreate your “museum moments” so you can relive them forever. He’s on THE LIST!
Please visit his site He also has a book available through Amazon.
Interiores: Luis Bustamante

Blue is the New Black

Sandra Bullock - Oscar Dress
Sandra Bullock – Blue is the New Black

tAs I watch the Oscars,  I see home fashion trends.

In my previous life, as the high end home textile conduit for my company, I was the bridge between design and sale-ability.  As designers, we always looked at the Academy Awards & Oscars for inspiration in designing the latest home bedding and bath lines for Neiman’s, Bloomingdale’s and international luxury boutiques.   It typically took 3-4 years for ready-to-wear styles and colors to work their way into the home, so we had plenty of time for creativity and adaptation.  So with years of precedence…I’d like to give you my “forecast” for the future of home design based on this years Oscar’s ensembles.The big Ellen, Sandra Bullock and Lenoard DiCaprio are among those that wore dark navy in lieu of the rote black.

Interior Design Inspiration
Leonard DiCaprio at the Oscars
Interior Design inspiration

So you have to start thinking how this will translate into home design.We’ve  already seen the resurgence of Blue & White. Watch my boards on Pinterest.

Fave Page - Veranda Interiior Design

So how will this play out in our homes? I see balance from Greens, whether from plants or objects along with clean Ivories, Cottonball  or other slight off Whites, Crisp!


This is by far my FAVE PAGE of all the Interior Design Shelter magazines this month.

Fave Page - Veranda Interiior Design
Fave Page Jan/Feb 2014


Designed by Atlanta Interior Designer Susan Ferrier, the colors used here are serene, peaceful, stunning.  It makes you question – which came first?  The artwork or the furnishings?  (I vote for the artwork).  Incredible color play here, deep, drenched color lightened by shades of white and touches of metallic gold.

A very impactful room and it wins my vote for FAVE PAGE of January 2014.

My Top 10 Interior Design Books for 2012

1. The Age of Elegance: Interiors by Alex Papachristidis 

The Age of Elegance; Interiors by Alex Pachristidis

Born and raised in New York City, Papachristidis launched his career while still at Parsons School of Design.  Traveling extensively from an early age, he was exposed to and influenced by many beautiful homes and buildings. “Look at everything, go everywhere” is his mantra. His style:  Classic, lots of marble, leopard, cheetah, and gilt; he makes linen look luxurious.   His rooms are always very well balanced, I don’t mean physically…but visually balanced.  Never staid; traditional elements with amazing touches of the unexpected. Lots of design layers, both objects and fabrics.  The book cover itself, speaks for his style. My FAV page in this interior design book is the cover (see pg. 157).

2. Around Beauty, by Barbara Barry 

Barbara Barry, Around Beauty

Barbara Barry’s first home design book!  Outlining her daily search for beauty, how she finds it or creates it. Her signature calligraphic scroll,  free form yet stylized, she took it from her doodles! She refers to them as her “slinky ovals”. Take your time, curl up with a nice cup of tea. It’s an amazing “curl up” book. Peace and contentment and beauty. Simplicity, clarity, confidence. She and Jan Showers have the most beautiful lamp cords (see page 287). Colors and textures of nature.  Wrought iron wall paper, sheet patterns, dinnerware, structured yet relaxing, and lightly elegant. High end distribution of her products:  Lighting, furniture, fabrics, carpets, tile, sheeting, luggage, dishes, etc.. can be found at Bloomingdale’s, Neimans, etc.

3. The Houses of Veranda, by Lisa Newsom

The Houses of Veranda, Lisa Newsom

Veranda is one of my favorite shelter magazines.  Evolved from Southern Accents, with a clean, sophisticated sense.  This interior design book takes you through many of their featured homes: bright, comfortable, simple, sophisticated. Every home featured is stunning. Different homes, different designers.  My hands down FAV PAGE here is 61.  The simple yet strong contemporary art piece  (Rothko having a rigid moment in gold and white) is amazing over a more traditional hall table.  The lines in this arrangement, vertical carvings in the table, fluted columns and the horizontal movement of the painting, are impactful. Layer in the more ornate black sphinx, crown molding, candelabra pieces, and it all comes together.  Suzanne Kasler, one of my favorite interior designers actually designed this room (her book is included on my list, too!)

4. Flowers, by Carolyne Roehm 

Carolyne Roehm, Flowers

Carolyne Roehm worked for Oscar de la Renta, was married to Henry Kravis, friends with and inspired by Bill Blass. You can see the Blass influence.  She bring strong Haute Couture to home design, which is well balanced with her strong Midwest roots. Bill Blass called her the “Ultimate Tastemaker.”

I’ve met Bill Blass in my previous life – my former company designed and marketed his bedding line for several years.  Talk about a tastemaker, the man was stunning.  I remember his shoes were impeccable!

Actually, I love everything Carolyne Roehm has ever touched, have every book she’s ever written.  She first introduced a seasonal collection of books, almost 10 years ago.  This was my first taste of Carolyne Roehm in the late 1990’s.  I’ve followed her ever since. Please read about her renovation of Weatherstone, her cherished Connecticut home, after the fire.  She’s currently working on a second home in Charleston.  Equally beautiful!

Here is a list of Carolyne Roehm’s books, if you’d like to explore more!

Every single page in her books are flawless.  She shows the most refined taste level – I started with her, she inspires me!

5. A Visual Life: Scrapbooks, Collages and Inspirations, by Charlotte Moss 

Charlotte Moss, A Visual Life

Charlotte Moss is another prolific interior design writer with more than 5 books (OK, 8) to her credit. She used to have a store on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, which closed down in 2008.  Despite being open for only a short time, the store had such a wonderful respite.  I love the way it was merchandised:  it was a journey of perfectly decorated rooms.  The shop was located in an old townhome in which I could spend several hours. Each room is well layered.   It’s a great place to find that unique, tasteful gift.  My favorite of her books, A Visual Life,  is a creative scrapbook layout.  Each page offers a style collage, your eye wanders and learns.  A lot of focus on garden exterior shots….C’est Inspire tab on her website.  Stunning website…look at her pictures. She used to work on Wall Street, their loss!

6. The Collected Home: Rooms with Style, Grace and History, by Darryl Carter 

Darryl Carter - the collected home

I was actually exposed to Darryl Carter by a client of mine. Her home was put together so well; it sold immediately! She had impeccable taste, so I thought “why not”?

Darryl Carter believes in the “collected home”, an architectural envelope enhanced by individual possessions layered in over time. This interior design book leads you through the design process. His chapters include: Feel, Collect, Curate, Evolve. His rooms are neutral and uncluttered, yet collected. Primarily darker woods with very light walls make strong, visually interesting rooms. Carter uses lots of antique architectural elements with natural patina, old leather trunks, beams, repurposed doors. Layer in key pieces to finish with simple sophistication.

He’s also sprinkled tips throughout.  Anyone starting a renovation or filling a new home, must read The Collected Home. He’s an amazing writer, with strong choice of words. A great read!

OK, So the next 4 aren’t from 2012…but they’re amazing books by incredible interior designers and I had to make sure they were on your radar.

7. Suzanne Kasler: Inspired Interiors, by Suzanne Kasler

Suzanne Kasler, Inspired Interiors

Suzanne Kasler is one of my favorite interior designers.  Her gorgeously elegant rooms are rooted in classic design, but with a light, feminine touch.  A pink-velvet seat cover here, a scarf used as a throw there, Her rooms are dressed up but comfortable and liveable,  It’s no wonder she was named one of the top 100 designers by House Beautiful. She is one of my all time favorite interior designers.  She has a new book out this year, Timeless Style…we’ll cover that later.


8. Mary McDonald: Interiors, The Allure of Style, by Mary McDonald

Interior Design top 10

Although I don’t embrace her style completely, there are things she does very well. “Old school and elegant with a touch of whimsy”. She’s eclectic, classic, and clean, very clean and crisp. She starts neutral and adds pops of color evenly. The end result often shows strong use of color in traditional settings with layers of pattern, texture and color.  Some of her rooms almost have a Kelly Wearstler approach to color.  Dec pillows, draped fabrics and upholstered pieces show perfect dressmaker detailing.  Along with fantastic wallpapers, this is her focus.  One of my favorite rooms is totally papered in leopard. (I might tone it down and do a single wall, but the look is incredible). My favorite color choices, chocolate, taupe, and the palest blush pink.  So rich!  She’s very good at taking older pieces of furniture and updating them via color and or fabric.  If you’ve inherited some great pieces and aren’t quite sure how to layer them in, you’ve found your source. PS – She’s somewhat of a local girl; she went to BC before Parsons!

9. Glamour at Home, by Nancy Corzine 

Nancy Corzine, Glamour at HomeHer website features furniture, lighting, fabrics, and accessories (home textiles coming soon!) I personally COVET her Marston bench, stunning in a soft, buttery leather. Nancy Corzine’s style is Hollywood upscale chic with a touch of whimsy.  She has an amazing color sense.  Her colors are very light and airy. Her interior design book is broken up with lessons on how to choose the right pieces for your room.  She focuses on making even the practical spaces look inviting.  Office space, kitchens:  a huge focus for her is your foyer.  “It should reflect and make a place where an exceptional a statement should be made, an unforgettable first impression.” Her rooms are always well done. Favorite color combination: soft robin’s egg blue with shades of sand, taupe.  Friendly and inviting.

10. Glamorous Rooms, by Jan Showers 

Jan Showers Glamorous Rooms Book

Look at her Louis Mirror:  This overscaled soleil mirror makes in impactful statement in any room. She does an amazing job with  lamps from well shaped shades to the stunning silk twisted cords.  There are some similar styled lamps in the Cottage, Concord. She has the BEST customer service staff, Natalie Nix is amazing.  When you’re in Dallas, stop by Jan’s showroom.  Natalie will make you feel welcome! She’s friendly and efficient, great follow through! Jan’s style is clean, fresh, bright.  Nice use of color, very user friendly color combinations. Jan Showers also has her own blog, which you can sign up to receive on her website. I know it’s going to be an incredible day, when I see it in my mailbox.  If only she knew how happy she makes me!