S ince taking the reins at InStyle magazine in 2016, Laura Brown has imbued the glossy with an ever-relevant sense of inclusivity and undeniable joy, whether it’s Ciara testing the boundaries of her dance moves to polka music, or Sesame Street stars receiving a designer makeover in honor of the show’s 50th anniversary. Brown’s Badass Women series recently won the ASME 2019 Best Fashion and Beauty Cover award for its Serena Williams-fronted August 2018 issue, and this spring, Sotheby’s is thrilled to partner with the Australian editor-in-chief, a badass in her own right, for its Magnificent Jewels and Fine Jewels auctions (17 April, New York). “There’s a spirit of spontaneity with how Sotheby’s handles its jewelry, which actually really surprised me,” Brown shared on her experience selecting and styling her favorite pieces from the sales. “It was quite approachable, so I loved it.” Ahead, the effervescent editor and soon-to-be bride talks Panthères, Palm Beach, Pierpaolo Piccioli and plans for her wedding day.
What was your first piece of proper jewelry?
A deco ring by Stefano Canturi, which I am currently wearing. All my jewelry is by him, including my engagement ring. I used to never wear jewelry. I’m pretty simple – I like a shirt and a good pair of jeans, so the idea of wearing a lot of jewelry seemed quite odd to me, until I met someone who worked with this Australian brand Canturi, and they so kindly gifted me this incredible deco ring that gets an unbelievable amount of compliments. I love that they are from Sydney, and over the last ten years or so, Stefano and his wife Patricia have become dear friends of mine. I started wearing a lot more diamonds on the regular, and I never thought I’d be that guy, but I love it. Sometimes I forget that I have a lot of diamonds on me because I’m just going about my day. If you’re so lucky to have beautiful things, you have to enjoy them. Now I feel like I’m hooked.
"You can put eight Cartier panthers on my fingers, and I will have no problem with it."
Who are some of your other favorite designers and types of jewelry?
Verdura. Bulgari. Cartier. I love anything vintage from the 1960s and 1970s with a Palm Beach feel – those bold, turquoise kinds of jewels Liz Taylor would wear at a cocktail party on a yacht with Richard [Burton]. That era was ballsy, spontaneous and very colorful. I especially love jewelry with a history. I want to feel the heart and stories behind them as much as the carat.
What was it like going through the two sales and selecting your favorite pieces?
It was so fun! I’m not necessarily a name synonymous with magnificent jewels, but as an editor, I’ve developed a certain knowledge and appreciation of fine jewelry over the years. What I loved about working with Sotheby’s was that it was never haughty. That’s why Frank [Everett] is brilliant because he loves and respects the jewelry but he’s not reverent about it. That’s how I think everybody should be. Jewelry should give you joy, and you should layer it on.
Was there a specific style or piece that pleasantly surprised you upon trying it on?
A diamond necklace from the 19th century, which made me want my own abbey. You’d think it would be a bit old fashioned, but it was really gorgeous. It’s quite intricate, but it looks very modern when you wear it with the right thing.
If you could keep one piece that a stylist or jewelry house loaned you, which would it be?
Probably a Cartier Panthère. You can put eight panthers on my fingers, and I will have no problem with it. They can be covered in diamonds, if you'd like. That would be such a treat. Or, a big fabulous Verdura cuff. I love Chanel fine jewelry too, especially now that Karl [Lagerfeld] is gone. I’m a sucker for their classic gold jewels with multicolored stones.
Do you have a power jewel?
I would say my Bulgari Serpenti watch. I admired Serpentis for a long time. I love that my watch has two types of gold, and how it so seamlessly circles my wrist. I can just fling it on, and it’s gorgeous.
Tell us the story behind your engagement ring.
I’m quite overstimulated, and I forget a lot of things. For instance, I liked this ring on Canturi’s Instagram last July, which I did not remember. I commented an excited “woohoo” face Emoji. My fiancé Brandon commented underneath with a terrified Emoji, and then I commented again with a big smile. When he called Canturi and said he was ready to do the deed, Patricia sent Stefano a screen grab of the Instagram, so it was done! He got that so easily. Instagram can come in very handy. We have videos of Stefano making the ring. It’s really awesome and special.
What can you reveal to us about your wedding day look?
We have a lot of time still so nothing is set, but what I can say is that I’m really great friends with Pierpaolo Piccioli from Valentino. We will have to do the dress before we decide jewelry.
Given your predilection for statement jewels, could you picture yourself going bold for your bridal look?
I’m definitely not opposed. I love a big fat chandelier earring! Don’t wear jewels that don’t want to be seen. Why be coy?