Shopping at Gallery 24 Jewelry
A Hidden Gem of Designer Haute Couture
By Barbara Beckley
Pea pods. Cherries. Legumes. No these aren’t foods. These are gorgeous necklaces and brooches-- hand made in Paris! I’m in one of the desert’s most elite boutiques – Gallery 24 Jewelry – where the rich and famous really do buy their costume jewelry.
Tucked away (on purpose) at the back of the Palm Canyon Galleria on North Palm Canyon Drive, owner Carlos King uses his French connections and sparkling personality to amass a treasure trove of the best in Parisian haute couture, and oh-so hard-to-find designer costume jewelry from the 1930s to the present. Many pieces debuted on the fashion runways.
“Jewelry is for the bold, chic and beautiful,” Carlos says. Amen to that! “I’m known most for my unusual costume jewelry – specifically vintage and Parisian jewelry,” he continued. To insure his collection is fresh, Carlos travels to Paris several times a year to commission and source his designer darlings.
His boutique is dripping with necklaces, bracelets, cuffs, earrings and broches by Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Lauren, Christian La Croix and other French favorites.
Hard-to-find pieces – like those of BillyBoy Surreal Bijoux and William de Lillo – aren’t that hard to find here. Carlos told me he’s the only person in the U.S. who reps BillyBoy, a French socialite/artist/jewelry designer, who was the muse of Andy Warhol. “BillyBoy was the last portrait Warhol painted,” Carlos confided.
William de Lillo designed for Adolfo and Bill Blass. His chunky costume creations were worn by Lauren Bacall, Liz Taylor, Dolores Hope, Barbara Sinatra and other glamour girls. “Who else could spend $30,000 on a piece of costume jewelry,” Carlos enthused. “De Lillo was and BillyBoy is very protective of their work. They wouldn’t sell a piece if they didn’t want to.” And so is Carlos. Carlos’ private collection includes a stunning BillyBoy necklace worn by Bacall.
Back to the pea pods. The luscious legumes are custom made (of enameled resin) for Carlos by Cilea Paris. Carlos replenishes the crop annually, so look for new fruity fun in September. Beginning around $90, I plan to purchase one.
“It’s very French to wear fruit on your jeans jacket. And on your straw hat,” Carlos advised. To assist in the latter, Carlos also carries French straw and lace hats – custom made for him, of course, by a Parisian milliner. The milliner also creates custom earrings at Carlos’ request – using straw and antique cameos. Who would have thought?! But then Carlos is also an interior designer. The Marion Davies Estate in Rancho Mirage was a recent commission – so designing is his forte.
Who buys Carlos’ finds? “Diplomats’ wives, celebrities and socialites from the desert and around the country come annually to purchase new pieces for the social season,” he said.
And now we all can! Gallery 24 Jewelry is open year-round by appointment, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from mid-September to mid-June.