I know you’re all just dying to know what I do during that time of year when there are few gifting holidays. How do I manage? How do I keep my spirits up in those dry, dreary months without a shopping excuse?
Luckily for me, my mother was considerate enough to birth me at the end of April. Not only did she present me to the world during the month that claims the diamond as its birthstone, but she also gave the gift of shopping for me to friends, family and even people who don’t know me personally but who might happen to read my columns. This sort of selfless generosity runs in my family.
Surprisingly, this exciting opportunity hasn’t really caught on over the years (it took a marked downturn when I stopped having a pony at my parties), and so, at the ripe old age of 20, I started the tradition of buying myself a birthday present of fine crystal. Why crystal, you ask? Let’s just say there was a wedding planned for a friend … and then there wasn’t. Happy birthday, Kristy, enjoy the non-returnable Waterford champagne flutes!
So now the blessed event is upon us again, and off I go to find my sparkly expression of self-appreciation. Stalwart shopping buddy Montese is back on the scene this month, and she’s exactly the right person for this particular expedition, seeing as how she collects the exact same pattern (Lismore) as I do … though she has more of it. Clearly this situation needs to be rectified.
I bribe her, as always, with lunch first at Crissy’s at Bayfront, which just happens to be a couple of doors down from Jennings of Naples, a classic source of china and crystal. Crissy’s Reuben proves a sturdy base on which to build an afternoon of shopping, though Montese goes in an entirely different direction with a healthful salad. Hmm, well, she’ll pay later when she’s feeling all light-headed and hypoglycemic.
Jennings has my requisite Lismore pattern, but I become distracted by the Vinum syrah set. Now, I’m not ready to give up my heavy lead crystal, but there is something about the slick lines of the Vinum syrah that has me returning to the display. Could there be a crystal rebellion this year?
The decanters are especially enticing (you’re not still pouring your cabernet from the bottle, are you? Quelle horreur!), and I can’t help picking one up. It’s astonishingly light and delicate, and I earn a concerned look from the salesman when I mention that I could juggle three of them without breaking a sweat.
I don’t, of course. I’m much too refined, and besides, I can only juggle two items with any proficiency.
Starting off my birthday torn between two brands has me disconcerted and feeling rather sorry I ate that entire Reuben. But Montese points out that we are in Naples, and, really, there are other places to shop. She might even say something about Naples being an oyster, but I am already out the door. Despite her meager salad, she somehow marshals the strength to follow me.
Pavillon Christofle at Waterside Shops doesn’t exactly narrow my choices down. I am entranced by the silver, especially the Vertigo salt and pepper mills, and I have to be kept on my crystal track with a firm nudge from my friend. The Iriana Collection is especially lovely, and I add the red wine glasses to my list of possibilities, thus confusing me further. Could my Irish Waterford live happily next to French Christofle?
I decide not to chance it and move on to Tiffany & Co. Please. What was I thinking? Who can possibly look at crystal when presented with the jewelry at Tiffany? We spend some time gazing lovingly at the pearls, but I finally pull Montese away from the case and make a final dash to Fabec-Young & Company in The Village on Venetian Bay.
I know, they don’t carry Waterford either. But now that my horizons have been expanded, I want to check out their collection of Annieglass. The Shell Series, with its translucent glass accented with gold or platinum, has captured my fancy for years, and before I make a final decision I want another look.
I am still thrilled with Annieglass’ work when we stroll through the always delightful Fabec-Young, but I have to admit that I’ve continued to dwell on the Vinum syrah. And so it’s back to Jennings, just as Montese is looking slightly faint. The salesman appears a little nervous when we return (no doubt envisioning my juggling routine), but he’s all smiles when I claim the Magnum decanter and the Vinum zyrah set as mine.
Now I have sleek modern Bohemians living side by side with my classic Irish, and so far it’s a peaceful crystal world. Oh, happy, happy birthday to me!
Crystal Clear Choices
Jennings of Naples
"O" series Magnum decanter, $199
Vinum syrah set of two, $50
Waterford "Lismore" oversize wine glass, each $130
"Vertigo" pepper mill and salt mill, each $295
"Iriana" wine glass, each $64
Fabec-Young & Company
Annieglass Shell Series "Volute" large bowl, $172
Annieglass Shell Series "Tiburon" large platter, $126