From a doorknocker-like Chrysoberyl pendant accented with Paraiba and canary Tourmalines and tsavorite Garnet from Erica Courtney to a gumball-size fancy-cut Citrine two-finger ring by Paul Klecka for Somewhere in the Rainbow to a bracelet of Muzo-mined cabochon-cut Emeralds as wide and dazzling as Arnold's smile, each one-of-a-kind piece the actress and singer put on enhanced her star power in a manner that would have overwhelmed most.
"Tichina has an incredibly glowing personality that held up to the jewelry—it added to her persona instead of taking away from it," recollects Douglas K. Hucker, CEO of AGTA, who was present during her photo shoot with the 2018 winning pieces.
Another key participant during the photography: longtime stylist Tod Hallman, who has known Arnold for years and knew exactly which winning jewels would complement and not compete with the mega-wattage light that Arnold brought to the studio. "I wanted her to look vibrant and colorful," explains the celebrity dresser and fashion show producer who once (mistakenly) thought only diamonds were red carpet ready. Now in his seventh year of star wrangling and styling for AGTA, he knows better—including that color isn't just for special occasions or safekeeping in a vault. Color is fashion and beauty and for everyone, not just star clientele like Arnold, whose radiant, high-profile energy lent extra luminosity to the special gems.
Arnold is a Queens native and a self-professed jewelry lover with a penchant for pieces as big as some of the characters she portrays. Arnold fell hard for the "Phoenix Rising" necklace, a vibrant piece featuring mandarin Garnet, Paraiba and other color Tourmalines, Sapphires, fire Opals, Rubies, tsavorite Garnet, and Turquoise made by Ricardo Basta for E. Eichberg that took the "Best Use of Color" prize. "I felt like Wonder Woman when I put it on," she gushed. Some of her strong female characters on TV wear equally big—albeit less colorful—silhouettes. Think of Rochelle in "Everybody Hates Chris," who would wear bold gold button earrings and oversize white Pearls to drive home her authoritative presence in that TV family, and Tina, Arnold's newest character, in "The Neighborhood," a wife in a middle-class family who wears a cross necklace in every episode. Hoop earrings are another familiar sight on this new set, though the style also has a place in Arnold's off-screen life. "My go-to look for jewelry is my hoop earrings—and the bigger the better," she explains during a phone call from the set of another project.
During the AGTA shoot, nearly all of the jewels and their makers were new to Arnold, save for the handiwork of Erica Courtney, maker of the oversize pendant necklace set with a variety of verdant gems—a piece that took an Honorable Mention recognition. Another stylist had dressed Arnold previously in jewels from Courtney, who is renowned for making attention-getting styles that are as drop dead gorgeous (the artist's tagline) as those who wear them.
For sure, Arnold uses jewelry to complete outfits and play up moods. Arnold's favorite colored stone? Amethyst, but she also loves Citrine and Emeralds. The color she avoids? Pink, because of her skin tone. But even if a jewel isn't right for her, she can appreciate it. "I love looking at jewelry," she says. "Some pieces make me feel flirty while others can make me feel demure or laid back."
In a shot with a voluminous platinum bracelet set with Aquamarine, Tanzanite, blue Zircon, lavender Spinel, and Tourmaline from maker Deirdre Featherstone that took the "Best Use of Platinum and Color" award, Arnold loved the intricacy of the design. She also recalled an Opal, Garnet, and Tourmaline piece from designer Brenda Smith that she thought was "gorgeous," along with Courtney's over-the-top numbers. But the actress's favorite jewel from her play date with AGTA winners was by far the Phoenix necklace. "That [bleep] was ridiculous!" she blurted out in enthusiasm, reinforcing the effusive and visceral effect that special gemstones inspire in individuals.
"Jewelry transcends my professional life," Arnold continues. "If I'm wearing jewelry, then I'm really into it—kind of like wearing pieces made by a good friend. I'll dress down in jeans, a blazer, and a T-shirt so the jewelry can shine."
And while Arnold's personal and red-carpet style continues to evolve, a constant is her passion for accessories. "My love for jewelry goes far and beyond," she notes.
Arnold noted a number of statement jewels—including a thick gold bracelet while she was working on "All My Children"—purchased over the years as rewards and to celebrate milestones and suggested there could be a place for gemstones in her future. "I like buying pieces when a designer really puts her heart and thought into pieces," she explains.
Friend and stylist Hallman could see that happening. "She is a great person for gemstones because they have these personalities based on color and opulence, and that is Tichina!"
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